17 Jun 2011

Ten Forward: August 2011

Every month we spend an evening scouring the pages of the latest issue of Previews and pick the ten titles we are looking forward to the most. This month it's the June issue of Previews which includes comics scheduled to ship in August 2011.

Writer: Christos N Gage
Art: Rebekah Isaacs
Dark Horse $2.99

Andy H: The decision to split the Buffyverse between two publishers was always an odd one but I'm sure the reasons were good at the time. Now Dark Horse have it all under one roof and that should make it easier to keep some continuity between characters. They kick off with Angel but this time he's teamed up with Faith. Both have stepped over the line in the past so this will be a double act to watch and after the events of the last series of Buffy, Angel will have to work hard to make amends. Christos N. Gage gets the writing duties and Paradox Group favourite Rebekah Isaacs brings her artistic talents to the page. The IDW series lost it's way a bit so let's see if Dark Horse can keep them on the straight and narrow.

Writers: Scott Snyder & Scott Tuft
Art: Attila Futaki
Image $2.99

James R: Scott Snyder has had a magnificent record of late. American Vampire has won over many fanboys (myself included) who would normally steer clear of Vampire tales, by showing invention and a verve to his writing style that leaves you wanting more. On top of that he is rightfully being lauded for one of the best runs on Detective Comics in an age. I'm psyched to see that the DC top brass know a good thing when they see it and have given him the reigns on both Batman and Swamp Thing, but I'm equally excited by Severe, a creator-owned horror published by Image. Set in 1916, Snyder's tale focuses on a teenager, Jack Garron, who takes to the road and encounters a mysterious travelling salesman with a taste for human flesh. Snyder's script looks to be beautifully illustrated by Attila Futaki, and the writer promises that his tale will delve into the heart of the American psyche. At $2.99, I can see no good reason for not checking this out!

Writer: Greg Rucka
Art: Marco Checchetto
Marvel $3.99

Rob N: I’ve never been much of a Punisher fan. The character always seemed to me to be a cheap imitation of the plodding Don Pendleton ‘War against the Mafia’ Executioner books that my brother used to read avidly during the Seventies. I picked up some of the early Garth Ennis run, but by and large Frank Castle has always been a bit too single-minded and fanatical to appeal to me. No doubt he still is, but I’m willing to give the title another chance now that Greg Rucka is on board as the writer. I’ve often mentioned my deep admiration for Rucka’s Queen & Country series. Rucka is a writer who excels when it comes to contemporary action/thriller material, so he seems a perfect choice for a character who is essentially Jack Bauer-esque in terms of mindset and methods. Hopefully Rucka will root the character in a relatively realistic corner of the Marvel universe - a bit like Bendis did with Daredevil - and avoid some of the more ridiculous concepts that have plagued Castle in the past.

Writer: Enrique Carrion
Art: John Upchurch
Image $2.99

Stewart R: Image? Doing a new comic? Never... Haha, okay so it seems to be this publisher’s forte at the moment to bring us new stories and ideas from new writers and creative teams and it looks like that’ll continue into August with Vescell, a sci-fi noir comic looking at an age of technology and crime where the mind and soul of a person can be transferred into another body. This advancement of course allows for a new form of espionage and criminal activity to flourish and this book will focus on Agent Mauricio Barrino who works for the company behind the technology investigating and handling the most complex and high-risk of cases. I do like a good old fashioned, futuristic crime story - a phrase somewhat at odds with itself there - and the preview art from Upchurch reminds me of Diego Greco’s work on another favourite Image title of mine, Bad Dog, so all of the ingredients are coming together to make this an unmissable debut.

Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Esad Ribic
Marvel $3.99

James R: Gah, what a horrible, horrible title for a book! Of course, when the second-to-last issue of this ships it will be hugely pleasing to say "Ah! Penultimate Ultimate Comics Ultimates!" so I'll let that go for now. As for the book itself, I'd long since lost interest in the title after Millar and Hitch departed, but with this 'soft reboot' - urgh, that's a horrible phrase (sorry!) - I'm drawn back by the talents of one Jonathan Hickman. I'm yet to be convinced of Hickman on Fantastic Four/Foundation Funsize but his indie stuff is brilliant as his S.H.I.E.L.D. series. I'm really curious to see what he does with Marvel's big hitters and with artist Esad Ribic citing Appleseed as an influence on the look of the title, it looks like there could be all manner of greatness afoot here!

Writer: Bill Willingham
Art: Jim Fern, Craig Hamilton and Ray Snyder
Vertigo $22.99

Rob N: I know I’m pretty much a lone voice when I say this, but Marvel and DC do their regular main titles a disservice by publishing a flood of spin-off titles and miniseries. Hardly a month goes by without half a dozen new X-Men, Spider-Man or Batman books (either one-offs or limited runs) solicited in Previews. They very rarely have anything to do with the regular title, and since they involve different teams of creators the overall effect is a confused morass of conflicting continuity that dilutes the value of the original characters. Vertigo thankfully takes a rather more restrained approach to its books, and when a spin-off title does appear, it usually has some value. In this case the main series writer, Bill Willingham, is attached to the project, which bodes well right away. The book is a road movie tale of Bigby Wolf (a man who’s more Wolverine than Wolverine) as he searches for a new home for the exiled Fables community. His travels bring him to a town full of werewolves and no doubt some wolf-on-wolf conflict as fanged snouts clash. Previous Fables one-offs have all been rather splendid and well worth the prestige format, so I have high hopes that this one won’t break the established pattern.

Writer: Dan Slott
Art: Humberto Ramos
Marvel $3.99

Stewart R: For months the ground work has been laid throughout issues of Dan Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man but finally we all jump off the boat and find ourselves stranded on Spider Island! I know a few people who were full of enthusiasm for Amazing following Slott’s 'Big Time' arc but it appears to have been fading fast following a few stories that to some may come across as thumb-twiddling filler in the schedule before we arrive at this first big Spidey event for some time, where the inhabitants of New York City all manifest spider-like powers. My big hope is that Slott manages to remove Peter’s Future Foundation membership from prominent view and keep this as Spider-Man focused event as possible - I appreciate that it looks like a good many of Spidey’s New York based allies will be involved - as I’ve felt that that’s been one of the stumbling points which was adding one ingredient too many to Slott’s transformation of Peter from down-on-his-luck burnout to successful scientist, boyfriend and crime-fighter. Of the artists working on ASM at present Humberto Ramos is definitely the go-to guy for an event like this and I think our eyes may well be spoilt rotten this August.

Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Jamie McKelvie
Marvel $3.99

James R: Alright, so this is a bit of a cheat as it's not an issue #1, but given the caliber of talent involved, I felt it was worthy of attention. Whisky-powered comics overlord Warren Ellis returns to the Marvel Universe in the pages of Secret Avengers - pound-for-pound, the best team book Marvel are producing at the moment (in this fanboy's opinion anyhoo!) Ellis' run will consist entirely of one-shots and in an era of decompressed storytelling and endless crossovers, I think it's a brilliant idea that Ellis is delivering a run like this. I'm also psyched to see that Phonogram's artist Jamie McKelvie will be the artist for these issues. Some have questioned whether his idiosyncratic style is right for a book like this but I think it should be an unmissable experiment either way!

Writer: Ron Marz
Art: Darryl Banks
DC $4.99

Andy H: One of the biggest shake ups of a DC character was way back in the mid '90s when it was revealed we were getting a new Green Lantern. Goodbye Hal, hello Kyle Rayner. There was a storm of protest and rightly so. How could they do this? Luckily for me (and others I'm sure) we were in the safe hands of Ron Marz and Darryl Banks who created a well rounded and sympathetic character and Kyle has become a firm favourite moving on to greater things. Now Marz and Banks are back to tell a 'lost' story that will test the young Green Lantern. Always difficult to return to past glories but I'd be a Poozer if I miss this.

Writer: Craig Thompson
Art: Craig Thompson
Pantheon Books $35.00

Rob N: I was amazed to learn that Craig Thompson has been working on this book since 2004 – it’s apparently his first major work since his highly acclaimed Blankets - and if internet columns are to be believed, Habibi is as eagerly awaited by the comic book literati as the second coming of Christ is to Bible belt America. A hardback volume (cloth bound and stamped in gold foil, no less) weighing in at 672 pages of original un-serialised work by a single creator, this is surely what the term ‘Graphic Novel’ was meant to define. It takes as its theme a juxtaposition of modern and ancient Middle Eastern culture and faith told through a tale that takes in slavery, religion and a love story between a prostitute and a eunuch. The advance blurb seems to suggest a tone similar to early Salman Rushdie combined with the genre of Magic Realism. It’s probably a safe bet to suggest that Habibi is set to make the list of ‘serious literary’ comic books alongside the likes of Maus and Will Eisner’s A Contract with God. And let’s face it, it’s going to look good on your book shelf during middle class dinner parties.

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