13 Dec 2012

Ten Forward: February 2013

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 which includes comics scheduled to ship in February 2013.

Writer: Peter Milligan
Art: Giuseppe Camuncoli & Stefano Landini
DC/Vertigo $4.99

Rob N: Regular and faithful readers of this blog will of course realise that issue #300 of Hellblazer marks the end of an era that pre-dates even Vertigo, as John Constantine finally hangs up his trenchcoat and takes one last drag of a Silk Cut cigarette before fading into comic book oblivion, to be reborn as a permanently thirtysomething member of the conventional DC universe. I was there at the beginning with issue #37 of Swamp Thing and I'm still here many years later for the final issue. There were some dodgy runs from time to time, but on the whole Hellblazer was a flagship title for the *cough* mature readers imprint, and one that no one ever expected to succeed or last so long. Vertigo just won't be the same without him.

Writer: Jimmie Robinson
Art: Jimmie Robinson
Image $3.50

Stewart R: The son of a hired assassin is sent to the Five Weapons school to learn the art of killing and specialise in one of five deadly weapon forms. The problem here: Tyler Shainline has no skills in any of the five disciplines and plans to graduate from the deadly school using the only weapon he has in his possession - his razor sharp mind! I like the idea of a high school for assassins and I suspect that while this may get tense at times, the tongue will be placed firmly in cheek for much of the page count considering that this is coming to us from the creator of Bomb Queen. The only real question with Image debuts these days - how much competition from other Image titles are they likely to have in the same month?  For now though, this remains on the list of things to look out for in February.

Writer: Mike Hemois
Art: Nick Runge
IDW $3.99

Simon M: It doesn't take much to convince me to take a gamble on a war comic and come February Fever Ridge from IDW will be another offering that I'm very keen to try. Fever Ridge is set in WWII, but explores stories that have not been brought to the forefront too often. It's an 8-part miniseries that will delve into General MacArthur's campaigns in the jungles of New Guinea and the Philippines. Usually stories that focus on the Pacific Theatre involve the U.S. Marine Corp, but in this instance we are to be treated to the exploits of the 6th Infantry Division of the 6th Army (The Sightseein' Sixth) and their jungle commandos (the Alamo Scouts). The series is written by Mike Heimos as a tribute to his grandfather who was a decorated soldier. This is Heimos’ first creation but, from previous experience, if someone is writing with personal attachment to their story then emotion often shines through. Nick Runge (Judge Dredd, Ghostbusters) is on artistic duties for this tense jungle drama. His realistic style will suit this series perfectly and I can already feel the sweat from the jungle heat and malaria from those pesky mosquitoes. Welcome to the jungle baby!

Writer: Paul Jenkins
Art: Humberto Ramos
BOOM! Studios $3.99

Andy H: "Don't judge a book by the cover" we're forever told, but have you seen the cover to Fairy Quest? Aw, come on! This is gorgeous and, having done some digging on the net, I can safely say the interiors look stunning too. Okay, so not everyone loves Humberto’s work, but if you do this will blow you away. The pages I've seen are full of energy and larger-than-life characters all with that distinctive Ramos flair. So we know it looks good, but what's it all about? Well, in the land of Fablewood all the stories that have ever been told live side by side, basically retelling their tales day after day after day. Any sign of free will and Mister Grimm and his Think Police will wipe your mind in the Mind Eraser. Crikey, this is all beginning to sound a bit sinister! There are some folk that believe there is more to this life and Red and Mr. Woof will risk everything to discover the mysterious Real World. Paul Jenkins and Humberto Ramos floated this idea on Kickstarter and enough folk had faith in them to make this  book possible. Now BOOM! Studios are giving those of us that missed out a chance to jump on board and get swept away by a fantastic new take on fairy tales.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Chris Bachalo
Marvel $3.99

Stewart R: Wow, this really is a privilege; to be able to buy a copy of Uncanny X-Men #1 in my lifetime?!  How could I ever be able to affo... oh... yes, of course. Marvel and Brian Michael Bendis are up to their usual tricks of pressing the reset buttons on certain titles and so we get the second UXM #1 in the space of two years (which is just utterly stupid).  However, there are elements at play here that are making me really open my eyes and take a gamble on this one. Firstly, the sensible art choice has been made with the big-team talents of Chris Bachalo and Tim Townsend brought on board and that guarantees me picking up the first issue at least.  Secondly, Bendis has always seemed to me to be one of those ‘hit and miss’, 50/50 sort of writers and with All-New X-Men (while it is getting some reasonable reviews) I really think he dropped the ball, the time travel bonkers irrationality of it all (have Cable and Bishop taught the X-Men NOTHING??) keeping me on the steer clear. Therefore I predict that he may get things right here and with Cyclops and the remnants of his Extinction team coming together to forge a new path I believe this could be grounds for success!

Writer: Len Wein
Art: Steve Rude
DC $3.99

James R: So far, the Before Watchmen project has been very hit and miss – Minutemen is magnificent, Comedian and Nite Owl… hurm, not so much! However, I quite like the idea of a shorter story for the minor characters – Moloch is better for being a two-part tale, and I’m intrigued by this: the story of Dollar Bill, the unfortunate corporate-owned hero. It’s written by Len Wein, but the big draw here is that it’s illustrated by the great Steve Rude. I’m hoping that, as with Jae Lee, Amanda Conner and Adam Hughes’ efforts, taking on the Watchmen mantle will inspire Rude to even greater heights.

Writer: Pat Mills
Art: Kevin O'Neill
DC $49.99

Andy H: Sometimes you can only dream of one of your favourite books of yesteryear ever being reprinted. Mostly you would probably be disappointed... mostly. BAM! The glorious day has finally been announced. Marshal Law is being returning, and not just any old reprint - this is the Deluxe Hardcover edition! Be still my beating heart. These days possibly best known for his work on League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Kev O'Neill  delivers some of his finest work ever here. Who am I kidding? He's always brilliant but this was awesome. Just look at some of the panels in this book and there are all sorts of weird and wonderful things going on. Written by 2000 AD legend Pat Mills, Marshal Law is set in a crazy future world where super powers are commonplace and only the titular character can hunt down those that have gone rogue. The stories are littered with characters that will be instantly familiar to you but twisted in ways you can't imagine. This collection includes the classic original story and Fear And Loathing, plus loads more. Full of very dark humour, it’s a book that deserves a place in your collection. At 480 pages it weighs in at $50 (about £35) and is totally worth it! You can probably tell I'm SO excited to see this in print again, or have I been too subtle?

Writer: Alan Moore
Art: Kevin O'Neill
Top Shelf $14.95

James R: Just the words ‘Alan Moore’ would ensure I’d pick up a comic, but this is even more promising than that – it’s the first of the League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen one-shots. This tale features Janni Nemo, Captain Nemo’s daughter, last seen taking on her father’s science-pirate mantle in Century: 1910. It centres on Janni’s triumphing where her father failed – exploring Antarctica. As this is a League book, we’ll be treated to some Lovecraftian crossover (courtesy of Mountains Of Madness) and Janni is being pursued by agents of Charles Foster Kane! As always, it will be beautifully illustrated by Kevin O’Neill, and any time More and O’Neill work together the result is never less than spectacular. Officially my most keenly anticipated book of 2013!

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Andrea Sorrentino

James R: Alright, so it’s not a new title, but it might as well be! I make no secret of the fact that I’m a huge fan of Jeff Lemire, and it’s great to see that he’s taking over the scripts on Green Arrow. Lemire is at his best when telling stories which are grounded in the everyday rather than the fantastical, and with the adventures of Oliver Queen he’s got the opportunity to really put his mark on this title. As ridiculous as a man with a bow and arrow may be in a world of ultra-powered beings, I think it can also be a liberating plot device – look how well Matt Fraction is doing with Marvel’s archer! Green Arrow was also the last time Kevin Smith did anything worthwhile, so there’s definite potential there, and I’m excited to see what Lemire has in store for the book.

Writer: Andy Diggle
Art: Jock
Image $2.99

Rob N: Hardly a month goes by it seems without Image chucking out at least one miniseries that catches my attention. This time around it’s Andy Diggle's 'Hitchcockian thriller' that I'm told has been doing the rounds for several years now and showed its face for the first time in the Judge Dredd Megazine several months ago, proving that the gestation period in comics can sometimes rival that of film studios. Now tarted up with colour, it gets a rather more widespread release. Jock is a stylish and innovative artist who picks and chooses his projects very carefully. The combination of their talents once again in a genre similar to The Losers bodes well.

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