31 Aug 2011

Incoming... 31/08/2011

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: The old DC Universe is dead. Long live the new DC 52! Having given Flashpoint something of a wide berth in recent months, now even my head turns back towards DC’s big barn doors to see what will burst through this week and how it will change the very fabric that holds the DC Universe and the multitude of characters within it - be they heroes, villains or Jimmy Olson - together. I have to say I like DC’s style when it comes to events and times such as this. Back at the end of 2009 when the Blackest Night event was drawing to its close they put everything else on hold for that final week of the year and ensured that the climax - admittedly one that I found to be a touch underwhelming at the time - was the only comic to ship that week to eager and panel-hungry readers.

With their latest, and boldest move they are bringing the Flashpoint event to a close with #5 and then throwing back the curtains, which until now have been hiding their shiny new playground like some Copperfieldian (we’re talking David here folks) illusion of wonder, and thrusting Justice League #1 into our eye sockets. My first proper DC comics experience of the 21st Century was actually Justice League of America vol 2 from Brad Meltzer and Ed Benes some 5 years ago to the very month. It initially grabbed me with the promise of adventures of epic scope that incredibly skilled and powerful superheroes such as the JLA should be able to deliver but ultimately disappointed with a strangely intimate and claustrophobic look at a a team and an ideal in crisis. By the time the late Dwayne McDuffie came on board the dye had already been cast and the wider title-spanning events and creative machinations occurring in the DC boardroom had already taken the heart, the founding members and the enthusiasm out of the title. I dare say that I wasted my time picking up about 20 further issues just hoping that it was going to get better, that the Justice League would get the book that they deserve, but that book was not forthcoming in that particular guise.

So here I stand (who am I kidding, I’m sat on my ass!!), some 3 years on with bunch of JLA titles growing dusty and slightly resented in a storage box, wondering if DC can finally get it right? My gut feeling is that they may just nail it this time.

Geoff Johns is the guy steering the creative vision of the new DC era having seen Green Lantern Hal Jordan through his ‘rebirth’, guided us through Blackest Night into Brightest Day, thrown us over, in and around the War of the Green Lanterns and broken out the fingerpaints of ‘what ifs’ and reinvention’ with Flashpoint... and that’s just the past six years! And of course Jim Lee is an artist with a career spanning three decades, helped to launch Image Comics and his own Wildstorm imprint and who to this day is still credited with having illustrated the best-selling comic book of all time in 1991’s X-Men #1. I’d say that these guys have the pedigree to make Justice League #1 a success!

Fair enough the news of the week is going to predominantly focus on the two titles that DC are flinging at the shelves but there are still same damn fine efforts in need of deserved attention this very Wednesday and by Jove I’m going to tell you about them! Image as usual have a healthy handful of titles out and of them all I think Butcher Baker Righteous Maker #6 has to sit atop my excitement-o-meter as Joe Casey really is coming up with entertaining and interesting plot twists each and every issue. In this latest instalment it appears that we’re going to get a look at the origin of one of Baker’s deadliest and most calculating foes in the form of Jihad Jones which I imagine could be an eye opener! Image also have Last Mortal #4 dropping in to say ‘hello’ as this miniseries draws to a close. Having got caught up in the relative hysteria of Image’s big push for new comics earlier in the year I had found the first issue of this crime mystery to be a touch underwhelming but as it’s progressed it’s actually turned out to be quite the page turner as Alec King has been beset on all sides by corrupt policemen and criminals all aiming to put a bullet in his head yet not realising that the down-and-out has recently developed an immunity to death.

Right, let us dive quickly into the swimming pool that is the Marvel solicitations list and have a paddle around shall we? Olivier Coipel, Matt Fraction, Galactus, Odin, Mighty....Thor...#5. Not sure much else needs to be added there, well apart from Volstagg taking on a tiny town of belligerent and unappreciative humans of course! Uncanny X-Force #14 is definitely going to be unmissable this week as Rick Remender and Jerome OpeƱa - yes, he’s back on art duties after Mark Brook’s brilliant stint - cauterize the wound that is the Age of Apocalypse and leave Wolverine and the rest of X-Force with a terrible choice to make in order to save their friend and their world. As far as I’m concerned this is the most consistent book in terms of tension that Marvel have on the shelves presently and I suspect that this issue is only going to reinforce my belief on that!

Finally, I’ll draw some attention to Cullen Bunn who’s giving us a double-dose of his writing in comic book form this week as Sixth Gun #14 and Fear Itself: The Deep #3 grace the shelves with their presence. Sixth Gun is the comic I turn to for my fix of the Wild West with an added hint of the supernatural and it’s been a pleasure month in, month out to read the ongoing adventures of Drake Sinclair and Becky Montcrief as they try to keep the six guns of apocalyptic power away from evil hands. Meanwhile, The Deep has been giving a much needed boost to the Fear Itself event as Bunn and artist Lee Garbett have been doing a great job of showing how Namor and his kingdom has been affected by the Serpent’s plan and giving these creators opportunity to play around with a new Defenders line-up at the same time. Good stuff!

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