20 Mar 2012

Ten Forward: May 2012

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 March issue of Previews which includes comics scheduled to ship in May 2012.

Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Gary Frank & Jon Sibal
DC $22.99

Matt C: I’ll preface this by saying I don’t think there’s much point in DC’s Earth One line, especially now they’ve rebooted their core universe. Stracynski’s Superman: Earth One, with its hoodie-wearing Man of Steel, held absolutely no appeal to me, and if DC really want to go the ‘Ultimate’ route, surely the original graphic novel approach isn’t the best way to test the market? But, hey ho, if that’s what DC want to do then it’s their call and their money, and the punters will be voting with the wallets. So why, having said all that, will my wallet be voting for this book to win? As is usually the case, it’s all about the creative team. Geoff Johns hasn’t tackled the Dark Knight much outside of team books, barring the occasional one-off story, so this is a pretty big opportunity to see if he has the same kind of handle on Batman as he does with a number of the other icons. Gary Frank is one of the best pencillers in the industry but the question mark hanging over this is whether his style is too “clean” for Gotham and its inhabitants. Based on their rather excellent collaborations on Action Comics and Superman: Secret Origin, I’m pretty confident there’s a decent chance that the synergy they had there can be brought across to this retelling of Batman’s origin, confident enough to fork out the cash for something I would normally consider outside my budget anyway. (NB Batman: Earth One is due in stores on July 4th).

Writer: Garth Ennis
Art: Goran Parlov
Marvel Max $3.99

Rob N: Ennis is a good choice to write a Nick Fury miniseries, particularly one with a historical setting, though you may be aware that previous shots at this character have apparently been met with controversy from, if the stories are to be believed, Stan Lee himself, and the Hollywood arm of Marvel complaining to the publishing house. Because let's face it, if you hire Garth Ennis to write a Marvel character like Nick Fury, you're going to have a version that is either extremely violent or extremely irreverent of the Marvel Universe, or perhaps both. As I said last month, Garth Ennis has more hits than misses as far as I'm concerned, so I'll be keen to see what he produces this time around.

Writer: Robert Venditti
Art: Cary Nord
Valiant Entertainment $3.99

Andy H: I have fond memories of the Valiant Universe. Back in the ‘90s Valiant were producing some fantastic comics and names such as Sean Chen, Bryan Hitch, Jimmy Palmiotti and a certain Joe Quesada all had a hand in making them great. So we now see the return of Valiant and first out of the starting gate is X-O Manowar. As in the original stories the star of the book is Aric, a Visigoth warrior more used to battling Romans, who is about to come up against a more otherworldly adversary. This is where there could be a bit of a grey area; how close to the original will this new version follow? All I know is the concept was fantastic (5th century warrior in alien armour!) and if they can put a fresh spin on it without spoiling too much, Valiant could be one to watch again. Plus, if you saw Cary Nord's work on Conan a few years back you'll know you'll be treated to a master class in furious fight scenes and mean and moody action.

Writer: China Mieville
Art: Mateus Santolouco
DC $2.99

James R: After Before Watchmen: Minutemen, this is easily my most anticipated comic of the year. I'm a huge fan of the novelist China Mieville (I thoroughly recommend checking out his novel The City And The City if you haven't done so already) and I was sad to see that his first foray into comics - a relaunch of Swamp Thing at Vertigo - was knocked back because of Swampy's inclusion in the New 52 (although that turned out pretty well in the more than capable hands of Scott Snyder). However, Mieville finally gets his chance to shine in Dial H, a reworking of the Dial H For Hero format. The comic will explore what happens when ordinary people are suddenly gifted extraordinary powers via the Dial H device. This could be pedestrian, but with Mieville's talent, I'm betting this will be extraordinary.

Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Matt Kindt
Dark Horse $3.99

Stewart R: More work from the marvellous mind of Matt Kindt? Yes please! The writer/illustrator who brought us 3 Storey: The Secret History Of The Giant Man is coming at us this May with a new ongoing series for Dark Horse that will look into the dark political realms of the human mind and a mysterious project known as the Mind Management program. The story will follow a young journalist, chasing a story on a commercial flight where everyone aboard lost their memories, as she stumbles across the secret organization and their hunt for their top agent, the only missing passenger from that flight. I’d pick up anything that Kindt puts his hand to, but the added bonus here is that he has this planned out for a three-year period - 36 issues - and it’ll be a pleasure to have a monthly fix of his work on my pull list.

Writer: Kieron Gillen, Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art: Carmine Di Giandomenico
Marvel $2.99

Matt C: A Marvel crossover!! Buy titles you don’t normally get just to read the complete story!!! It’s not a sales initiative I’m a particular fan of these days as I get enough comics already and don’t really like the idea of picking up titles I have no interest in just so the titles I do have interest in make sense. Exiled is a little different though. After this issue the story carries on through Journey Into Mystery and New Mutants, and as Kieron Gillen is corralling one of the best books (if not the best book) Marvel are currently putting out, I’m prepared to pick up a couple of issues of New Mutants to get the complete picture of his collaboration with DnA (who, after all, were responsible for some of the best Marvel cosmic books in recent years). Not something I’d usually flag, but the strength of Gillen’s work on Journey makes this somewhat essential.

Writer: Steve Niles
Art: Bernie Wrightson
IDW $3.99

Rob N: Despite owning a reasonably impressive comics (and related art) collection, there are some major gaps in what I've checked out over the years, and one of those gaps is the illustrated edition of Frankenstein that Bernie Wrightson drew many, many years ago. Wrightson is one of those artists who has to etch intricate pen and ink line work into every spare inch of a comics page, and some of his best work would probably ruin the eyesight of most people if they tried to equal it. I have never understood how a comic book artist could cram so much detail into a panel and still be able to generate enough work to pay the mortgage and eat properly. Now, Wrightson has chosen to revisit the scene of one of his greatest triumphs in the company of Steve Niles to tell the story of 'what happened next' from the Creature's perspective. I am slightly sceptical that it will be possible to complete a 13-part series with this astonishing level of detailed art within my natural lifetime, but I live in hope that Wrightson will manage to finish it before I'm too old to turn the pages any more!

Writer: Grant Morrison
Art: Chris Burnham
DC $2.99

James R: So, it looks like Batman Inc is back! The head of steam that was Grant Morrison's Bat-epic seemed to be derailed by the New 52 and with Scott Snyder (yep, him again!) turning in some of the best Batman issues in living memory, Morrison's work on Batman seemed a little *whisper it* clunky! However, the recent Batman Inc. one-shot did a fine job of reminding us what a special talent Morrison is when he's up for it, and I've invested too much time and money in his take on the world of the Dark Knight not to stick with this title. Not for everyone, I'll admit, but an essential purchase for a Bat-fan like me.

Writer: Jim McCann
Art: Rodin Esquejo & Sonia Oback
Image $2.99

James R: I love it when a new comic seems to be trying something other than the norm and attempting to break new ground, so I'm totally behind Mind The Gap. Jim McCann (author of the well-received Return Of The Dapper Men) has an intriguing tale that begins with a horrific act - a young woman called Ella is brutally attacked on a subway, and the story follows her inside her coma, and then onto another plane of existence as she fights to return to life and figure out who is behind her assault. It immediately reminded me of Alex Garland's novel Coma and Ian McEwan's The Bridge - both tales I enjoyed immensely - so I'm keen to see what McCann and artist Rodin Esquejo can conjure up with the same themes

Writer: John Byrne
Art: John Byrne
IDW $3.99

Stewart R: I’ve never read much of John Byrne’s work but I appreciate the comics legacy that comes with his name and so I will be taking a punt on his latest IDW effort, Trio. It certainly sounds like a ‘classic’ superhero book as we’re set to follow the crimefighting escapades of a team with codenames One, Two and Three who are better known to the world as Rock, Paper and Scissors! Okay, so there’s a possibility that this could fall into ‘an ode to golden times’ territory without being able to capture and engage modern audiences - I sampled that in the recent past with Chris Claremont’s GeNext - but the New 52 version of O.M.A.C. has given me a taste for a retro comic read and I suspect taking a gamble here could pay off with something quite decent and fun.

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