16 Mar 2011

Incoming... 16/03/2011

New comics are released Wednesday in the States and guess what, in the UK too! Here's a brief look at our expectations for the books we're picking up this week.

Stewart R: We’re so used to seeing destruction on a massive scale in comics - the Mole Man unleashes monster hell upon New York, Ezekiel Stane attacks Stark operations across the globe with no thought for collateral damage, a super-sentinel reaps genocide upon the inhabitants of Genosha - but at the end of the day we know it’s not real and the destruction is rarely caused by nature on Earth simply going about its business. The events in Japan this past week have been simply heartbreaking as the world has watched as one disaster has rolled into the next while the people of that nation have coped with the awesome camaraderie and compassion for each other in the face of true adversity. As I sit here writing about what illustrated wonders I’m going to pick up this week and what adventures the heroes contained within are going to have I really do need to spare a thought for the heroes of Japan who are trying to find those missing souls still clinging to life, trying to clear the debris and destruction to get the country back working and to those 40 or so technicians literally giving their health and their future to tackle the problems at the stricken Fukishima plant. True heroes all...

One comic walks back into my life this week like some almost-forgotten stranger as Joe Kelly and Diego Greco finally get the T’s crossed and the lower case J’s dotted to bring us Bad Dog #4. When the Man Of Action guys clubbed together and said that they were going to be releasing a selection of comics through Image a couple of years ago I had really high hopes as some of the concepts seemed like fun and those boys do have some comic pedigree between them. Now, two years on, and we’re only now getting the fourth instalment of this supremely entertaining story of a bounty hunting werewolf who’d rather get drunk than bring in his next catch and I still sit by waiting month after month for Duncan Rouleau to bring us a conclusion to The Great Unknown and I suspect that my wait will continue long into this decade. It is a shame to face such delays with comic creators but Bad Dog as a series had a feeling that you could drop into any issue and enjoy the read without needing to know what had transpired before and I suspect that the same level of guns, sex, farts and booze related humour will run throughout this issue’s 32 pages.

There’s only one other non-Marvel title that I am due to pick up today and that is Vertigo’s The Unwritten #23 and I’m really unlikely to read it this week! Whoa, wait, before I get your hackles up hear me out. Mike Carey’s brilliant creator-owned series has been an enthralling read from the beginning and has been one of the most regular titles on the calendar - something that perhaps other publishers, writers and artists should pay heed to. During one of my busier comic reading weeks back in November or December I made the conscious decision to put The Unwritten to the backburner and build up a collection of issues to read in one dedicated hit during a quieter week. Carey has been filling each chapter with bundles of interesting characters, interactions and cliffhangers and I really am looking forward to sitting down and absorbing it all in one session in the not too distant future and I know that I’ll probably come away from that experience feeling that I’ve had a terrific and electrifying read.

And so we of course move on to the Marvel pile once more...

I think I said a couple of months ago that I wasn’t interested in Marvel’s ‘Point One’ scheme and yet here I sit with two comics owned, read and enjoyed with two more waiting in my Paradox pile today. The key success and reason for my turnaround on the matter has been the involvement of the key writers for each series. Dan Slott and Matt Fraction were responsible for Amazing Spiderman and Invincible Iron Man respectively and this week the burden falls upon the shoulders of Jeff Parker and Rick Remender. Hulk #30.1 will bring a feeling of the familiar to the life of Thunderbolt Ross this week as he becomes the hunted by a military force out for vengeance for the loss of none other than.... ummm, Thunderbolt Ross! Oh yes, Jeff Parker is introducing us to General Fortean who will stop at nothing to bring the gamma-induced Red Hulk down not realising who the big, red, radiating giant is and it sounds like a touch of genius to bring Ross’ story around in this manner.

Meanwhile Rick Remender pauses briefly between stories of Deathloks and worlds held in pockets to bring us Uncanny X-Force #5.1 with American Vampire artist Rafael Albuquerque and this dark interlude will show new readers just what Wolverine’s X-Force are about - retribution and stopping those persistent threats to mutantkind once and for all. This time we get to see the team go up against the latest incarnation of Reavers who have long been a thorn in the side of the X-Men and who have come close to finishing them off with lethal force in the past. Remender has done such an exceptional job with Uncanny X-Force so far that there was simply no way I was going to pass up an opportunity to read this additional issue!

Marvel’s big event for the Summer finally sneaks into view and Ed Brubaker and Scott Eaton kick things off today with Fear Itself: Book of the Skull #1 which acts as the prologue to the whole darn shindig and shows that the seeds to this threat were sown back when Namor and Captain America were kicking Red Skull ass back during the early-mid 20th Century. I’m quietly confident that the Fear Itself event is going to be a success as Matt Fraction has been doing sterling work for Marvel for some years now and he seems to work the ‘big concepts’ well. Giving Brubaker the baton on the leading leg seems like the right choice since it concerns the Red Skull and his psychotic nutbar daughter Sin and Scott Eaton has handled a few Cap issues before so is a good choice to bring to the party here. I guess we’ll have an idea in a few hours as to how good that party is going to be!

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