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 December issue of Previews which includes comics scheduled to ship in February 2012.
CONAN THE BARBARIAN #1
Writer: Brian Wood
Art: Becky Cloonan & Dave Stewart
Dark Horse $3.50
Rob N: If I were to draw up a short list of popular comic writers who’d be well suited to scripting Dark Horse’s Conan title, then Brian Wood would stand a good chance of being number one. His work on the Vertigo title Northlanders proves he can do fantasy of the pulp ‘blood and snot’ variety. Becky Cloonan as artist is rather more unexpected, but nonetheless very welcome from my point of view. I've always thought of Miss Cloonan as a very talented artist, though I’d be hard pressed to suggest she has the sort of style you’d naturally associate with Robert E Howard adaptations. But that point aside she does have a proven track record working alongside Brian Wood, no matter what they do. The chemistry is there, and that’s worth a great deal in any medium. This reboot corresponds with an interesting period in Conan’s chronology – his years spent on the high seas as a pirate, alongside the swashbuckling love of his life, Bêlit. Marvel managed to spin the original short story (‘Queen of the Black Coast’) out into 43 issues of their own monthly title, and it was pretty much a high point of the Roy Thomas/John Buscema years. I’m hoping the Wood/Cloonan team will produce something equally impressive here.
BATMAN BEYOND UNLIMITED #1
Writer: Adam Beechen, Derek Fridolfs & Dustin Nguyen
Art: Norm Breyfogle, Dustin Nguyen & Derek Fridolfs
Stewart R: Over the past couple of years we’ve had a few Batman Beyond efforts come our way: the initial miniseries leading on to what appeared to be an ongoing series from Adam Beechen before that was quickly knocked on the head by some strange marketing relaunch by DC (Now what could that have been...?!). At that time it was stated that the futuristic crime fighting shenanigans of a young Terry McGinnis and an old Bruce Wayne were only being put on the backburner while the New 52 kicked in to gear and so come February 2012, Batman Beyond is back! However... the new twist is that this 48-page comic will be a monthly collection of digital comic strips released weekly in the preceding months AND include a strip focusing on Justice League Beyond created by Nguyen and Fridolfs. The fact that this endeavour is essentially a digital product first with print seeming to be the afterthought has me a little concerned on how it’ll feel collected, but Beechen’s writing was strong before so I’ll return for that alone and see how things pan out.
WINTER SOLDIER #1
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Butch Guice
Matt C: A lot of us have been waiting for this moment since Brubaker did the impossible (the unthinkable!) and brought Bucky back to the contemporary Marvel Universe in such a way that you could do nothing other than applaud. His time in the Captain America costume had its high points but I know I wasn’t alone in wanting him to jump off the grid and deal with his shady past as the Winter Soldier. Fear Itself #7.1 (the only decent thing to come out of that entire event!) set the ball rolling, suggesting Bucky and the Black Widow will be out on the road, under the radar, with Bucky getting to grips with the crimes he committed at the behest of the Soviets. Hopefully the crack team of Brubaker and Guice will keep this book well away from any crossovers/events/cynical cashgrabs, and if that’s the case it will suit me just fine!
ALPHA GIRL #1
Writer: Jean-Paul Bonjour & Jeff Roenning
Art: Robert Love, Dana Shukartsi & Diego Simone
Stewart R: Image have had such a good couple of years that I’m willing to take a punt on more of their new titles these days. Alpha Girl is one such comic that springs up in early 2012 offering flesh-eating zombie-women, the men who can’t help but desire/hunt them, and Judith, ‘the 17-year-old, chain smoking delinquent’ who could very well be the last salvation that the streets of 1984 are calling out for in their hour of need. The blurb in Previews and around the net seems to focus heavily on the more memorable events of that year so I expect quite the nostalgia-filled bloodbath and the art has that dark, humourous, cartoon vibe that has worked so well in books like Chew so I’ll certainly hand over the pennies for the first ‘bite’ of the action.
ROAD RAGE #1
Writer: Stephen King, Joe Hill & Chris Ryall
Art: Nelson Daniel
Simon M: This February sees the release of Road Rage from IDW, a four-issue limited series based on two short stories. The first two issues are subtitled Throttle, which was written as a collaboration between Stephen King and his son Joe Hill in 2009. The story was a tribute to Robert Matheson's work and released in a limited edition anthology called He Is Legend. Issues #3 and #4 are subtitled Duel; this was originally written by Richard Matheson in 1971 and is the story that inspired King and Hill to pen their tale. Nelson Daniel will move up from colouring duties on Joe Hill's The Cape to pencil the two issues of Throttle and Rafa Garres will be pencilling issues #3 and #4. Chris Ryall has taken on the task of adapting the two stories to the comic medium. Both focus on a mysterious truck, in Duel it is a lone driver that is being antagonised and in Throttle it is a motorcycle gang that gets to grips with the big rig. The short stories were written by two of the modern day masters of prose and they should translate well to the comic form. So get your motors rolling for some high-octane action.
SECRET AVENGERS #22
Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Gabriel Hardman
James R: I've been enjoying Warren Ellis' Global Frequency-inspired one-shots on Secret Avengers, but I'm absolutely psyched to see the new creative team - Rick Remender (who has being doing a superb job writing team dynamics on Uncanny X-Force) and Gabriel Hardman on pencils look as if they'll be giving this title something of a turbo-boost. Now sporting Hawkeye as team leader, and - yay! - Captain Britain in the ranks, this new era of Secret Avengers could well be some extra goodness for those of us enjoying the brilliance of Remender in the X-universe!
PETER PANZERFAUST #1
Writer: Kurtis J, Wiebe
Art: Tyler Jenkins
Stewart R: Kurtis Wiebe has been doing a terrific job on his Green Wake title, making it an intense, simmering look at a potential afterlife for those weighed down by their own insurmountable guilt... heavy stuff indeed! I’m certainly going to be happy to have the opportunity to see him do something a little lighter and a bit more madcap when Peter Panzerfaust hits the shelves! J.M. Barrie’s classic tale gets the World War treatment as Wiebe looks at Panzerfaust's and his ‘Lost Boys’ fight against the Axis of Evil. Wiebe has said that each arc will be based on the perspective of a different Lost Boy and how they remember the heroic lad named Peter Panzerfaust which should allow for the use of occasional Barrie ‘magic’ (I’m not expecting anyone to fly but you never know...) in and amongst the carnage of war without feeling out of place.
THE TWELVE #9
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Art: Chris Weston
Matt C: No, you’re not imagining it, there really is another issue (two in fact!) of The Twelve coming out in Feburary 2012. That’s a gap of over three years, a well-publicised one which had many people (including me) wondering if we’d ever get to he end of this rather excellent series. Depending who you believe, both Stracyicski and Weston became distracted by other projects (although personally I’m of the opinion that the former was far more responsible for the delay) but have finally got their act together and promised the series will be completed. There are several questions that raise their heads here: will the quality still be present? Will the finale be worth the wait? Will I remember anything that’s happened before?! I imagine it will be a wise move to spend January rereading issues #1 to #8 and then start crossing fingers for a satisfying conclusion!
THIEF OF THIEVES #1
Writer: Robert Kirkman & Nick Spencer
Art: Shawn Brough
James R: Well, this one was a no-brainer for me! As a confirmed fan of both 100 Bullets and everything Messers Brubaker & Philips do in terms of modern noir, I'm excited about this: Robert Kirkman (of Walking Dead fame) teaming up with Nick Spencer (Infinite Vacation) on a modern crime tale. The plot centres on Conrad Paulson, a master thief forced to deal with the family he deserted before the Feds catch up with him... and that's just the start of his troubles. The preview pages look like storyboards from a classy HBO drama, and with the talent involved here, this should be another quality release from Image.
MALLEUS MALEFICARUM: A GUIDE TO CATCHING WITCHES GN
Writer: Heinrich Kramer, Jacob Sprenger & Mike Rosen
Art: Mike Rosen
SLG Publishing $12.95
Rob N: Latin for ‘Hammer of the Witches’, this was originally an infamous treatise on the nature of witches, how to spot them and perhaps most importantly, how to burn them, written in 1486 by a Church Inquisitor who, it is safe to say, wasn’t a very tolerant man. It was undoubtedly responsible for the murder of many thousands of innocent women who just happened to look a bit like Stevie Nicks circa 1981. Slave Labor Graphics has taken the basic principle and text of the Renaissance book and turned it into a satire on humanity, religion, paranoia and the brutal treatment of women both in the past and (sadly) the present day. Or, to quote the advertising blurb: 'nothing makes for a fun read like torture, murder, infanticide, and disembodied penises! Always fun and educational.' Quite.