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 July issue of Previews which includes comics scheduled to ship in September 2011 and, as September sees the launch of DC's 'New 52', we've got a special point five edition of Ten Forward - 10 DC titles and 5 from other publishers!
JUSTICE LEAGUE #1
Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Jim Lee & Scott Williams
Matt C: If you’re going to attempt a high profile, potentially incredibly risky relaunch of a lucrative fictional universe, you really need to lead with your best title. With this in mind, DC have wisely opted to put Justice League in pole position for their ‘New 52’. Maybe ‘best’ isn’t the right word because no one can argue that JLA (or whatever it’s been called recently) has been the best book DC have been putting out over the past few years. Heck, not only have I not picked it up for an age, I’d find it difficult to say with any confidence whether it’s still being published (is it?). I may not get Avengers, but I know its there and I have a vague idea what’s going on. JLA? Wouldn’t have a clue. I’m sure I’m not alone there (I know my Paradox colleagues don’t have it on their pull lists) and when you think about it, that’s a sorry state of affairs. The premiere super-team in the DC Universe (in comics?) and its existence barely even registers?! Something needed to be done and so DC have roped in a couple of chaps by the names of Geoff Johns and Jim Lee to take creative control. You may have heard of them. There’s little doubt in my mind that this will be the top seller of all DC’s #1s and I’m inclined to think, based on the previous work of Johns and Lee, that the contents will be pretty damn fine too. One thing’s for sure – the month of September has me excited about DC in a way I haven’t felt for years. Bring it on.
WONDER WOMAN #1
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Art: Cliff Chiang
Rob N: Over the last year or two the traditional DC books (i.e. excluding Vertigo) on my pull list gradually dwindled down to zero. Wonder Woman was the last to go when Gail Simone was kicked off the title to make way for J. Michael Straczynski's rubbish reboot. From my point of view, the strength of DC's big push with their 52 issue #1s is that I'm picking up ten of them. To go from zero books to ten suggests the relaunch isn't without merit. And that's squarely down to the interesting creative teams attached to some of the titles. None more so than Wonder Woman, which I shall welcome back with open arms now that Brian Azzarello is signed up as the writer. Despite the fact that he looks alarmingly like Alf Garnett with 'a funny beard' in his Wiki photo, and that he really wasn't suited to writing Hellblazer, I think Azzarello will bring a fresh approach to Wonder Woman that Strazcynski so obviously did not. I am genuinely excited to see what he comes up with.
ACTION COMICS #1
Writer: Grant Morrison
Art: Rags Morales & Rick Bryant
James R: There are a tonne of titles from DC's relaunch that I'm excited about but this one is definitely a must-read. I'd be on board as I'm a fan of Grant Morrison anyway, but even his detractors would have to admit he produced some of his finest work with All Star Superman. With Action Comics he not only gets the chance to weave that magic again, but start the Superman mythos from scratch. It would be brilliant to see Frank Quitely on art duties for this, but in his absence I'm hoping Rags Morales is going to turn in the best work of his career. In a recent interview Morrison said that Superman spends the entire first issue 'in motion', which suggests that he'll be using his convention-stretching writing skills to full effect. When John Byrne was asked to reboot Superman with The Man of Steel he produced an iconic run - here's hoping that lightening strikes twice for Kal-El!
RED LANTERNS #1
Writer: Peter Milligan
Art: Ed Benes & Rob Hunter
Stewart R: Things have been pretty interesting in the Green Lantern Corps post-Blackest Night with no less than three titles getting a regular release to provide the willing readership with stories featuring the wielders of willpower-infused light. Alongside the Hal Jordon and Co’s popularity it has been noted that quite the fanbase has arisen around the Red Lantern Corps, led by the rage-fuelled Atrocitus. So, what better time then to launch a title dedicated to the spewers of burning blood under the guidance of Peter Milligan, captured by DC supreme artist Ed Benes?! I for one have been enjoying the expansion of the spectrum of light and the Red Lantern Corps are certainly one of the most interesting groups whose motives and membership are all linked to hideous origins and a great need for vengeance. A truly new book for the new look DC and I’ll be picking this up for sure!
JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #1
Writer: Peter Milligan
Art: Mikel Janin
Rob N: I imagine there are more than just a few Hellblazer fans who are alarmed at the prospect of John Constantine heading up his own team of 'superheroes'. But for those readers who were there for Swamp Thing #37 and beyond, this is actually a very entertaining prospect. John's early exploits were pretty much centre stage in the DC Universe, with even an invite to the Justice League satellite during Crisis On Infinite Earths. In fact, much of John's early charm revolved around the way he sarcastically manipulated various established DC characters. And so, yes, I'm looking forward to John's 'Justice League'. Hopefully they'll meet in a Camden pub, despite other team members complaining, “I thought we'd get an orbiting satellite and teleportation rings?” and “How come we have to take taxi cabs everywhere?” That and the fact that John has obviously recruited women he has (Zatanna) or wants to (Madame Xanadu) shag. “So this late night crime-fighting meeting, John? How come it's in your bedroom, and how come you only invited me and Zatanna?”
SWAMP THING #1
Writer: Scott Snyder
Art: Yanick Paquette
James R: One of the most pleasing things about DC's relaunch is how two of their brightest new stars (and my personal favourites) Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder have been employed to explore the darker areas of the new DCU. I'm already won over by Lemire's work with Frankenstein in the Flashpoint event, but I'm even more jazzed to see what Snyder has in store for us with Swamp Thing. With American Vampire and his run on Detective he's shown he's got huge talent when it comes to all matters creepy, but what new directions will Snyder push Alec Hammond in? With the dynamite artistic pairing of Batman Inc's Yanick Paquette and Franco Francavilla on board, even for militant Alan Moore fans this title is the definition of a must-read.
DEMON NIGHTS #1
Writer: Paul Cornell
Art: Diogenes Neves & Oclair Albert
Andy H: Admittedly Demon Knights wasn't top of my wants list of new #1s. Sometimes you have to look again and I'm glad I did, or I could have been missing out on some good old-fashioned swords and sorcery. The demon Etrigan can be a take-it-or-leave-it character depending on how he is written - Paul Cornell definitely has the ability to make him worth a look. The clincher for me though is the inclusion of Madame Xanadu. After a sadly short lived run in her own Vertigo title I hoped she would make it into another book and here she is (now in two titles, look for her in Justice League Dark too). I hope Cornell can keep up the good work Matt Wagner started over in Vertigo. Set in the Dark Ages, Madame Xanadu and the Demon must stop a barbarian horde out to destroy civilisation. With the promise of 'surprise' heroes and villains entering the fray I'm glad I decided to take that second look.
Writer: Paul Cornell
Art: Miguel Sepulveda
Andy H: Ahh, Stormwatch. Great memories of the book under the guidance of Warren Ellis and its evolution into The Authority. Bit up and down since then. This latest incarnation of Stormwatch is really exciting as it's now firmly set in the DC Universe. This appears to be a bold step as what we know of the previous Stormwatch team is completely rewritten. Jack Hawksmoor is still here but who else is? Midnighter and Apollo are just being recruited and the biggest shocker is the inclusion of Martian Manhunter! JLA meets Stormwatch? How will this all work? Can it? With this many questions it's a must read. I need answers and I have to wait until September to find out!
Writer: Nathan Edmondson
Matt C: I’m not going to say I’m a first generation Grifter fan as the character only really clicked with me in Ed Brubaker’s Point Blank and Sleeper series and – especially – Joe Casey’s run on Wildcats. In the right hands, Cole Cash is a cool character and, based on what he’s been doing in Who Is Jake Ellis?, I think Nathan Edmondson has the right credentials to make this work. If artist Cafu can match the high-octane cover with similarly dynamic visuals inside we are at least guaranteed a good-looking book. I don’t quite know how well all these Wildstorm characters are going to function inside the DC Universes, and whether there’s a large enough audience who want to see them kicking it up outside of their original setting, but this is one of the ‘lower profile’ books from the New 52 that really caught my eye so it’s getting added to the pile.
ALL-STAR WESTERN #1
Writer: Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
Matt C: I’ve dipped in and out of the current volume of Jonah Hex (mostly picking up an issue based on whichever artist was involved) and generally I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read. I guess the standalone nature of each instalment may have put me off adding it to my regular stash, but the more I think about it, the more ridiculous that notion is. If it’s good, and I enjoy reading, I should be buying it, right? I hope to rectify this error in judgement by hopping on the bandwagon for this new series, which will not only feature Jonah Hex but expand outwards into the Western corner of the DC Universe. I love a good cowboy tale and with Moritat on artistic duties it’s surely going to look tasty, and, while the $3.99 price tag may put some off, the thought of 40 pages of comic for that price should bring them back.
HELLBOY: HOUSE OF THE LIVING DEAD HC
Writer: Mike Mignola
Art: Richard Corben
Dark Horse $14.99
James R: As much as I love Hellboy, when Mignola isn't on the illustration duties I have a long hard look at who is picking up the pencil before I hand over the cash. With this original graphic novel I have no hesitation in pre-ordering - I think Richard Corben is a great artist in his own right, and captures perfectly the Hellboy Horror house style! Add into the mix that this is a tale where Big Red is looking to avenge his friend - a Mexican Lucha Libre wrestler no less! - by stepping into the ring with a vampire wrestler, this sounds like a blast!
DONE TO DEATH GN
Writer: Andrew Foley
Art: Fiona Staples
Stewart R: The premise for this graphic novel from IDW instantly made me chuckle at the Previews meet this month. An editor, seriously annoyed at receiving Twilight knockoff after Twilight knockoff, does what any ‘sane’ editor would do: she starts hunting the writers down and murdering them. Meanwhile, an obese vampire is sick of the way his kind are portrayed and starts hunting those individuals down who he thinks have done his species an injustice. That’s comedy gold right there but when you add Fiona Staples on artistic duties to that dark recipe then I’m inclined to think that this will be an unmissable read. It’s not often I find myself picking up graphic novels so I’m hoping this is going to be as good as it sounds.
CASANOVA: AVARITIA #1
Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Gabriel Ba
Marvel Icon $4.99
Stewart R: When Matt Fraction hasn’t been writing Invincible Iron Man, Thor, Uncanny X-Men or Fear Itself in the past 12 months the chances are he’s either been watching a baseball match or, quite possibly, putting his creative ‘bonkers’ hat on and writing pages for the latest chapter in the Casanova story. I picked up the first issue of Luxuria - the first recently reprinted volume - on a whim and I’ve been sucked into the crazy tale of alternate realities, super spies, sex robots and psychic battles. Casanova Quinn came out of the Gula arc having family and friends hating him for the action he had to take to try to atone for past sins and this latest, brand new story will pick up with him at his lowest point, sick, beaten down and detested by everyone he holds dear. That’s where things will start but with this comic series you can have no idea where things will end up at the finish. Gabriel Ba returns to take over from his twin brother on illustration duties and this is sure to be a psychedelic tour-de-force to lead us into the Autumn months.
JIM HENSON'S A TALE OF SAND HC
Writers: Jim Henson & Jerry Juhl
Art: Ramon Perez
Rob N: I know very little about this, but on the strength of The Dark Crystal alone, I consider the late Jim Henson to be in the creative genius category. A Tale Of Sand is apparently a legendary 'lost project' - (and I'm quoting here) - 'a dark existential screenplay concerning a young man who is kicked out of a dusty town in the middle of an expansive desert with only a rucksack full of odds-and-ends to his name.' And that's pretty much all I know, except I've seen some samples of the art which looks great. I'm guessing it's a surreal 'road movie' of sorts but y'know, I don't really need to know anything more about it in advance. A lost Jim Henson project with top quality art is just going to be good. I have faith.
ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN #1
Writer: Nick Spencer
Art: Paco Medina
Andy H: It's the next phase of the Ultimate Universe and more importantly, the return of the X-Men (all new, all different etc). Hopefully this will pick up the story from the much delayed but very enjoyable Ultimate Comics X. There we saw a world where mutants are feared, more so than ever, with an undercover Jean Grey attempting to gather young mutants together. Will these gifted youngsters be the new X-Men? The son of Wolverine certainly seems to be involved and from the images shown so far so do Iceman, the Human Torch and Rogue. Quite a mix. I'm not totally convinced by Nick Spencer's writing on Secret Avengers at the moment but I think a younger team of heroes could be right up his street.