13 Sept 2011

Incoming... 14/09/2011

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: And so the DC relaunch wagon rolls on unimpeded! The news flooding out of DC HQ is that nearly all, if not every single one of the New 52 titles rolling out of their Midtown Manhattan offices in the past three weeks has sold out the first print run at distribution and all of them are going back for second printings - so contact Andy H at Paradox Comics if you are still after a copy of any of those rip-roaring reads! It’s impressive that DC’s gamble seems to have paid off so well and must be a warning sign to Marvel that perhaps they may need to step up their game in the coming months to thwart DC’s continued encroachment upon their market share. Recent reports indicate that DC have been slowly chipping away at Marvel’s lead over the past few months and some people out there are predicting that DC could soon overtake its main competitor in terms of retail market share and units sold.

The encouraging news is that sales figures of comics from the American market in August of this year are up on the same time last year. We can only hope that this slight upswing and new emphasis by publishers ends up strengthening the industry and that can only be a good thing for retailers and readers alike. There is of course a chance that following this initial wave of August and September enthusiasm we may find that things reach saturation point and there is just too much quality choice out there for minds and wallets to take in. Certainly looking at my pull-list for the week that could potentially wind up being the case if it were to continue at such volume. With 15 titles lined up for purchase and a fairly even spread between Marvel and DC for the majority I’m going to go down the ‘list review’ method for this week’s Incoming...

This being September 2011, the month of DC, it seems logical to start with them so here we go!

Batman and Robin #1
Batwoman #1
Green Lantern #1
Red Lanterns #1
Superboy #1

After what had started out as a reserved dabble with the New 52 last week saw me picking up twice as many new comics as I had intended, this week sees me grabbing an even healthy portion of the fresh titles on offer. I say ‘fresh’ but several of these titles will have a more than familiar feeling to them thanks to a certain level of consistency in terms of the creative teams involved. Batman and Robin #1 sees a new pairing of the dynamic duo as Dick Grayson fades from the memory in his role as Batman (sadly!) to be replaced in the line-up by the original Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne, which will see a father and son crime-fighting partnership growing through its infancy. There are bound to be plenty of clashes of ego with Bruce being a much sterner and expectant type of mentor compared to Dick and I dare say we may see fireworks in this debut. Writing and artistic duties fall to Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, one of DC’s strongest partnerships and their previous work on the Dark Night vs White Knight arc in the last volume had me thirsting for more from their talented minds and hands.

Batwoman #1 will also have the air of familiarity about it as fan favourite artist and now writer, J.H. Williams III gets to finally kick off with his continuing tales of Kate Kane. Many of us amongst the PCG had been disappointed that the previously announced series from Williams III failed to appear following a promising #0 issue but it seems likely that DC took the decision at the time to suspend that series with the relaunch looming some six months away. To that end I suspect that we won’t see as big a change in Kate’s character or story as we have or may see with other regulars in the DC Universe, the big shift coming from Williams III and co-writer W. Haden Blackman’s scripting skills in comparison to Greg Rucka’s previous steering of the Batwoman adventures in Detective Comics. The artwork alone made this a lock for my pull-list anyway but I will scrutinize the writing to see whether this is a DC title that will remain a definite purchase every month.

Aside from the inclusion in Justice League #1, this week marks the true beginning of the new start for Lanterns of various colours and it’s very much a case of ‘something old, something new’ on the shelves tomorrow. Geoff Johns was the mastermind behind most of the pivotal events in the DC Universe over the past couple of years and considering the careful planning and plotting that has gone in to the expansion of the various Lantern Corps in that time I will predict that Green Lantern #1 will be one of those comics that sees little in the way of sweeping changes because of the relaunch. With the same writer/artist combination that has been pumping out great issue after great issue for quite a while now and the very interesting post-War of the Green Lanterns status quo to explore this would still be a perfect jumping on point for new readers regardless of the renumbering but should also manage to keep those loyal followers with a vested interest happy. The fact that Red Lanterns #1 has found a place amongst the New 52 shows just how dedicated DC are to expanding its Lantern-based properties and I’m glad to see that Geoff Johns' ground work has produced an off-shoot. I’ve little experience with Peter Milligan’s work so I will have to judge if his writing style is a good fit on an issue-by-issue basis but Ed Benes has been delivering high quality work on a consistent basis for DC for some years now and he’s a good choice to capture the rage-fuelled antics of Atrocitus and Co.

My big gamble of the week will be Superboy #1 by Scott Lobdell and R.B. Silva having never really been interested in the character before. The ‘escaped lab experiment’ nature of the released preview pages along with Eric Canete’s tech-laden cover do appeal though and I like the idea of following the character through the early stages of self-discovery as he begins to identify the lineage from which he originates. Fingers crossed that it impresses in this first instalment!

Right, onto Marvel’s bite of the Wednesday cherry!

Alpha Flight #4
Amazing Spider-Man #669
Criminal: Last of the Innocent #4
Daredevil #3
Fear Itself #6
Uncanny X-Force #15

While DC’s week is full of beginnings, there’s one Marvel comic that reaches the end of one particular road as Criminal: Last of the Innocent #4 from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips marks the end of this particular chapter of their big, black book of noir fiction! It took me a couple of issues and re-reads to get into this particular story but once I picked up the rhythm I was engrossed as Riley Richards went about plotting the lethal end of his glamorous and treacherous wife. The way that Phillips has managed to merge two very different artistic styles to tell one story has been a triumphant success and this has been one of those great reads where you don’t root or get behind any particular character, you just watch and wait to see who comes out the least scarred and damaged by it all.

Scarred and damaged certainly looks like a condition that Matt Murdock could find himself in within the pages of Daredevil #3 following the rather foreboding predicament he wound up in at the end of the last issue, being encased in machinery to transform him into the latest incarnation of the villainous Klaw! Mark Waid has really grabbed my attention with the first two issues of the new series and the delicious retro stylings of Paolo Rivera (Marcos Martin is back in the mix too from issue #4 - huzzah!) have been a brilliant fit for the sensory extravaganza that is the life of Daredevil!

Dashing quickly around the rest of the field I hope that Fear Itself manages to claw its way out of the pit of mediocrity that it has found itself in as an event with #6 tomorrow but I’ve suspicions that those tricky side walls will remain quite slippery until the very end. Uncanny X-Force #15 on the other hand is likely to once again be a read of the week and I’m happy as a mutated clam that we seem to be getting a double dose of Rick Remender’s mutant title each month presently. Jerome OpeƱa’s return to the pages of UXF has been a huge eye-stroking bonus and I can’t wait to see how he handles Archangel’s continued ascension. Spider Island seems to be doing pretty good numbers for Marvel and has certainly impressed this reviewer so my hands are already rubbing together in anticipation at placing them upon Amazing Spider-Man #669 where Peter may well get the first opportunity to lay a little smackdown upon Miles Warren’s stupid, furry face!

Phew, I guess I should go and bathe my eyeballs in preparation for another awesome comic reading Wednesday! Bring it on!


Joe T said...

Ahh big week for me, and a near even spread between both of the big 2!

On the Marvel side of things, Amazing Spider-Man 669 (suprised at how much I'm actually enjoying Spider-Island), Daredevil #3, and Uncanny X-Force #15

On the DC side, Demon Knights, Green Lantern, Red Lanterns, and Superboy. I've been very unimpressed with all Green Lantern stuff post Blackest Night, and I'm really not feeling any enthusiasm for the franchise. Geoff Johns has this first issue to convince me to stick around, otherwise I'm gone.

Justin Giampaoli said...

Hey Guys, just wanted to say congrats on the pull quote adorning the back of the SWEETS TPB!

Matt Clark said...

Ooh, exciting, I've not laid eyes on a copy yet, what does it say?