21 Jun 2012

Ten Forward: August 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 June issue of Previews which includes comics scheduled to ship in August 2012.

Writer: Howard Chaykin
Art: Howard Chaykin
Image $2.99

Rob N: The original Black Kiss series was arguably one of the most controversial comics that had ever been published by the time of the late ‘80s. Each issue was sealed in a plastic bag to protect the innocent from the depravities that lay within, and I suspect had Frederick Wertham seen a copy he would have had a heart attack on the spot. Everyone knew in advance that it was going to be pornographic, but what many readers didn't expect was the way the series set out to surprise you with its 'trapdoor' approach to genres. A 'trapdoor story' is a tale that appears to be one thing and then without warning suddenly turns out to be another genre entirely. Starting out as a pulp crime noir tale with lots of sex, after a few issues it became something else too, and then just when the readers realised they were witnessing a very clever fusion of genres, Chaykin threw in an extremely shocking revelation about one of the main characters that had never been seen before in a comic book series. Even unshockable me was going, “What the hell?” in 1988. The final issue pretty much put paid to a sequel, but in the same way a Minutemen prequel to Watchmen was always a possibility, the door was always open to Chaykin exploring and unravelling the events that took place prior to Black Kiss. It's unlikely that Chaykin can equal the shocks of the original because we now live in an age where nothing seems taboo any more, but the backstory hinted at in the original series is definitely strong enough to support this new tale.

Writers: Brian Azzarello & Len Wein
Art: Lee Bermejo & John Higgins
DC $3.99

James R: Another month, another part of the Before Watchmen onslaught! August sees DC bring us the first chapter in the Rorschach backstory, and for my money, this will be (along with Minutemen) the big seller of the project. Alan Moore has always been slightly bemused as to why the vigilante (based on Steve Ditko's Objectivist nutjob Mr. A) was so popular. To me, it's quite obvious - any character with unshakeable convictions is always fascinating, regardless of whether they are seen as good or evil. Rorschach also seemed the most sympathetic of the Watchmen characters, and his ultimate fate one of the most memorable moments of the book. This title will no doubt look to build on Walter Kovak's character even further, and in the hands of Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo there will inevitably be a fair few mean streets for him to walk down...

Writer: James Stokoe
Art: James Stokoe
IDW $3.99

Stewart R: There's love for Godzilla and then there's love for Godzilla; James Stokoe, writer and artist of the truly mindblowing Orc Stain, apparently had the mighty, towering lizard atop his wedding cake. With an enthusiasm for the character like that and the near-psychotropic artistic skills at his disposal, Stokoe is set to take us through a journey spanning five decades over the course of five issues as members of the Anti Megalosaurus Force (oh, to have such units in real life!) come into contact with the unrelenting behemoth at various stages of their careers. With Godzilla it's pretty difficult to use the giant lizard as any sort of protagonist – he's more a force of nature around which a myriad of plots and adventures can whirl - but I certainly like the idea of looking at his life alongside that of humans living in his often threatening shadow. From an artistic perspective Stokoe is a perfect pick for capturing the carnage of a Godzilla stroll downtown as he has an amazing grasp of the macro and micro and how the two can work together on the page and in a panel. I'm getting more excited by this the more I think about it.


Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: David Aja
Marvel $2.99

Rob N: I confess I'm losing faith in Matt Fraction these days. Invincible Iron Man remains my favourite mainstream superhero title, Immortal Iron Fist was brilliant while it lasted, and I still think Casanova is a work of genius (but bear in mind I'm a big fan of Moorcock's Jerry Cornelius stories, to which it owes a great debt), but recent projects have left me more than a little disappointed in comparison. Fraction should have been great on Mighty Thor, but, well... it's not really very good is it? Fraction hasn't nailed Thor's dialogue at all. The Defenders was also pretty poor, and yet here I am coming back and recommending another new Fraction project. Maybe it's because it reunites the writer with his Iron Fist collaborator David Aja, and maybe it's because I sense the low-powered character of Hawkeye will be more comfortable material for Fraction to tackle. Fingers crossed anyway. 

Writer: Thomas Kriebaum
Art: Thomas Kriebaum
Soaring Penguin $14.99

Matt C: There seems to be a fair bit of buzz surrounding this one. Originating from Germany, Soaring Penguin bought the English language rights to this book (although from what I understand, dialogue is at a bare minimum) about a diminutive salesman for whom all deals are final (and yes, that along with the title should give away what’s on the agenda here). Other than that I know very little about this but it’s one of those cases where you start hearing very positive things about a book from a number of different sources and it leads you to the conclusion that skipping it would be a huge mistake.

Writer: Cullen Bunn
Art: Dalibor Talajic
Marvel $2.99 each

Stewart R: I've never really been one for 'What If's' when it comes to comics, but every now and then a great idea raises its head and I take a bit more of an interest. Cullen Bunn's Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe is one such idea as it's just so extreme: what would happen if the Merc With A Mouth was actually a blood-thirsty serial killer, targeting the heroes and villains that we all know and love? Deadpool's mental health issues are a constant source of amusement month in, month out in any title which requires his participation and even the fact that he's a (relatively) successful assassin for hire is portrayed with a well placed tongue nestled into a ready and willing cheek. The thought of a far more sinister look at this character certainly appeals, as does the curiosity over who will literally bite the bullet and what their method of demise might be. Bringing Dalibor Talajic on for artistic duties definitely seems like the wise move as he's had plenty of experience capturing Wade Wilson's adventures in the past and even managed to make the ludicrous (yet highly enjoyable) Hit-Monkey seem semi-serious with his specific pencilling style. Four issues in the space of a month might seem a bit over-excessive – why not just release it as a graphic novel? - especially in these bulging times for pull-lists, but I'm more than willing to give this a shot.

Writers: J. Michael Straczynski & Len Wein
Art: Adam Hughes & John Higgins
DC $ 3.99

Andy H: Fed up of hearing about Before Watchmen yet? No? Good, as I have another title to add to the mix. For me this is the must have book of the bunch as it has two of my favourite creators involved. Writer JMS is generally top notch. I wanted to say always but I still have an issue with the whole leaving-Superman-and-Wonder Woman-titles-mid-flow thing, but that's just a small gripe. So much great stuff outweighs that blip. His runs on Thor, Amazing Spider-Man and The Twelve to name a few just blew me away. And what's this? Adam Hughes on the art!!! Jinkies, I'm in fanboy heaven! Better known, possibly, for his stunning covers on Wonder Woman and Catwoman he may not have been everyone’s expected artist on Dr Manhattan - a more obvious choice would have been Silk Spectre - but we know this guy can deliver the goods. I can’t remember the last time Adam worked on a full title so I'm very excited. Like all the Before Watchmen books so far, it's hard to tell what direction this will take, but JMS is a skilled storyteller and to learn more about Dr Manhattan has me more interested than any other title so far.

Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Chris Samnee
IDW $3.99

Matt C: I’ve enjoyed immensely the recent Rocketeer Adventures miniseries from IDW – it’s ignited my interested in the character and given a bunch of creators the chance to exhibit their unbridled love of the medium in a pure and uncynical manner. But I guess there’s only so much you can get out of short stories over a certain period of time, and the character does deserve a brand new tale that lasts more than a few pages. Enter Mark Waid, one of the most accomplished writers in the business, and arguably someone who has a better grasp of the many facets of the superhero paradigm than many of his contemporaries. Chris Samnee’s artistic style often has an overtly nostalgic feel to it, so this makes him a good match for the Rockeeter in my eyes. Now I just need to get around to reading Dave Stevens original stories (yes, I know – shame on me!).

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Jeff Lermire
Top Shelf Productions $19.95

James R: I make no secret of my fanboy love for the work of Jeff Lemire and I'm thrilled to see that this month sees the release of the Canadian maestro's new OGN - Underwater Welder. The story focuses on Jack Joseph, the eponymous protagonist of the tale who experiences something mysterious and inexplicable while working at incredible depths and pressure. What he sees changes his life and his outlook on his impending fatherhood, but what has he really seen? Lemire is a master at drawing an emotional response from his readers, and his themes here look as if they tap into his recurring ideas of family and responsibility. I've been waiting almost a year to read this, and Lemire always delivers the goods.

Writer: AJ Lieberman
Art: Colin Lorimer
Image $3.50

Stewart R: I really miss Cowboy, Ninja, Viking and while I've been able to get occasional doses of artist Riley Rossmo's work in other Image titles, things have seemed a little dry on the AJ Lieberman writing front. Well, here's why: Lieberman has been working on Harvest, a new, deeply dark look at the illicit and highly illegal world of black market organ transplants due to hit shelves in August. We'll follow Dr. Ben Walker, a disgraced surgeon, tarnished by his hedonistic lifestyle which resulted in the death of a patient on the table, as he tries to craft a new career for himself on the black market, surrounded by all of the unsavoury and down right dangerous characters that you could expect, and worse. Lieberman has mentioned that this is likely to be one messed up tale where even the best of intentions can turn sour very quickly and I like the sound of a comic where there's a great unlikelihood that a ray of sunshine will be spotted anywhere and the writer sticks to his guns in that respect.

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