16 Jan 2014

Ten Forward: March 2014

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 January issue which includes comics scheduled to ship in March 2014.

Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Chris Samnee
Marvel $3.99

Rob N: Daredevil was a title I passed on when it was relaunched a few years ago under the caretaker eye of Mark Waid. I'd been a big fan of the grim and depressing Daredevil courtesy of Brian Michael Bendis and his league of extraordinary successors, and so was a bit turned off by the idea of it returning to a more light-hearted crimefighting romp, even though I'm quite keen on that sort of thing for other titles. I had my eye on cutting back a bit on my pull-list due to an avalanche of miniseries that were somersaulting into view, and so this seemed to be a good jumping off point. After all, it wasn't likely to become a massive fan favourite, was it? I certainly do pick interesting times to drop books, as you don't need me to tell you that Waid's Daredevil run has piled on the accolades ever since it began. Being something of a collector, by the time I realised my mistake it was proving practically impossible to pick up the early back issues, and so I decided to wait it out until one of those massive Marvel hardback omnibuses collected the entire run. Basically, if I can't have the original issues I'll opt for the deluxe hardback volume. But anyway, now I have a new issue #1 on the horizon, designed as a jumping on point for people like me who missed the boat last time around, I have no excuse to miss out.

Writer: Evan Dorkin
Art: Jill Thompson
Dark Horse $3.50

Andy H: Every now and again a comic will come along and blow you away. For me, Beasts Of Burden is that comic and I want to share it with the world! This title has it all and Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson have never failed in bringing their best to the printed page. The 'beasts' are a group of cats and dogs that protect the town of Burden Hill from all things supernatural, be it monsters or witchcraft. Dorkin has established fantastic personalities for all the characters. There are moments of high drama and tension and others where you'll find your heartstrings being pulled all over the place. All this is brought to life with the simply stunning art of Jill Thompson. I always look forward to my next visit to Burden Hill and as they are fairly infrequent, this issue is eagerly anticipated. This is a standalone story so, if you have missed out so far, I urge you to check it out and discover this little gem. There is also a gorgeous hardcover available, collecting earlier issues so why not treat yourself?

Writer: Darren Arononfsky & Ari Handel
Art: Niko Henrichon
Image $29.99

Kenny J: Filmmaker Darren Aronofsky is no stranger to the comic book medium. Over the last decade his name was initially attached to not only The Wolverine but also a reboot the cinematic Batman franchise. Suffice to say that Aronofsky's Dark Knight would have been a very different animal to that depicted in Nolan's trilogy, with his previous work exploring various forms of addiction, often with strong theological and philosophical themes. It’s his 2014 movie, Noah, which promises to be his most overtly religious film to date, but I was pleasantly surprised to read in the Image solicitation for this hardcover adaptation of an early screenplay that it is taking more of a science fantasy tack than the final cinematic release. I wouldn't usually give any comic reworking my attention but, like the one that accompanied Aronofsky's other religion-tinged movie, The Fountain, this graphic novel is packed full with suitably awesome imagery by Pride Of Baghdad artist Niko Henrichon. As mentioned above, Aronofsky has had much experience with stories awash with characters all encompassed by their passions. You would be hard pushed to find another person in literature more committed to his than Noah.

Writer: Ales Kot
Art: Michael Walsh
Marvel $3.99

James R: It's not an incredibly explosive month for me in terms of new releases, but I know that the relaunch of Secret Avengers will certainly warrant a look due to the name of its writer: Ales Kot. Kot's precautious talent has been evident in his excellent creator-owned Zero, and he seems to excel in writing about the clandestine world of espionage. He's recently taken the reins of the current series from Nick Spencer, but this issue #1 seems to be very much Kot's project. I think this makes him a perfect fit for this title, and whereas I wince slightly at Marvel squeezing the Avengers brand for all it's worth, I can't help but be drawn to Kot's take on the shadowy side of the Marvel Universe. With the man himself describing it as "a combination of James Bond, Breaking Bad, Arrested Development and superheroes" in an interview with CBR, well, what's not to love there?!

Writer: Greg Rucka
Art: Toni Fejzula
Dark Horse $3.50

Rob N: I said some time ago that Greg Rucka cutting loose from the out of control DC (a publishing house that is looking more and more like a badly driven bus that can't cut its speed below 50 mph without setting off a bomb) would be a good thing as it would mean lots of independently owned works without the draconian editorial constraints that seem to be applied across the board at DC these days. Lazarus has been an excellent read; a perfect example of the sort of book Greg Rucka excels at, and here we have another new title that promises to be just as good. Kicking off with an amnesiac woman living alone in a subway, Rucka promises a horror story of sorts, though he is at pains to make it clear that it's likely to be an unconventional take on horror, and so far he's been fairly vague on details. But honestly, I've never come across a Greg Rucka book that I didn't like, so it's really not much of a gamble to pick this one up on faith alone.

Writer: Jason Latour
Art: Mahmud Asrar
Marvel $3.99

James R: Just when I was out... they pull me back in! Out of all the PCG team, I think I was the strongest advocate of Jason Aaron's run on the first iteration of this title, with it combining the difficulties of being both a student and a teacher with the 'outsiders' ethos that makes the X-Men work. When Marvel announced that the book was to end, I felt it had been a great run and that was that. How naïve I am! Marvel are relaunching their books with almost clockwork regularity, and so lo and behold, it's back but now written by a new Jason - Latour - and illustrated by Mahmud Asrar. To be honest, I'll be amazed if I like it as much as Aaron's run, but I'm certainly going to give it a try. School's in!

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

Rob N: These days comic fans seem be divided into two camps on the subject of Alan Moore. To some he is the man they love to hate, and to others he is the man they hate to love. Either way he's been attracting a fair amount of anger from people who used to worship the ground he walked on. And with that has come a general feeling that his books aren't really as good as they once were. My PCG comrades in arms recently expressed a certain dissatisfaction with the League books, post volume two; me, I still love them, though I do agree that the first volume was the best. The latest volume is set in 1941, and again stars Nemo's daughter who this time has to contend with the Twilight Heroes – a German counterpoint to the League. Like all the other volumes we can expect practically every minor character to be sourced from period fiction, and a wealth of detail hidden inside the panel structures. Whether you'll enjoy the actual story itself depends on what you think of recent League books. But to my mind Alan Moore's talent remains head and shoulders above practically all his peers. That is if he actually has any peers.

Writer: Dan Slott
Art: Michael Allred
Marvel $3.99

Kenny J: I’ve always preferred Silver Surfer stories in which old Chrome Dome is unencumbered by the shackles of planet Earth. Able to travel the space ways and exotic planets that populate Marvel’s cosmic universe carefree, although this isn’t a term often used to describe the Silver Surfer. Now it seems Norin Radd, under the creative guidance of Dan Slott and Mike Allred, has taken a cue from another lonely space explorer and got himself a companion in the shape of a Earth girl named Dawn Greenwood. I know he may not be to everyone’s taste but for me Allred could be the perfect artist, of those working at the Big Two at least, to realise the imaginative otherworlds and their bizarre populations that Dan Slott is sure to pen. I hope his bold Sixties pop art style, as always coloured by Laura Allred in her trademark vibrant tones, will make this new Silver Surfer title a fun and psychedelic road trip, and not so much fear and loathing in deep space.

Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Declan Shalvey
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: There was a time that any new title from Warren Ellis would grab my immediate attention and a firm slot on my pull-list, but of late he’s been a bit erratic in the comics world, with titles being abandoned left, right and centre and others being rather obviously work-for-hire quickies that hardly demonstrate his talent to its fullest. So now here comes Ellis on a relaunched (again) Moon Knight and although I’m curious, I’m not entirely convinced. Shalvey’s art helps to pull me closer towards a guaranteed purchase but then I still worry about it being Ellis on autopilot. But I guess I’m going to find it hard to resist, and that’s purely because, even though he’s a less reliable name in comics these days, he’s still Warren Ellis, and I shouldn’t have to provide anyone with any examples of why that still means something.

Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Art: Kev Walker
Marvel $2.99

Stewart R: There's little doubt that one of the true, unexpected successes of the Marvel NOW! initiative was Dennis Hopeless's Avengers Arena. At first glance it was going to be a Battle Royale rip-off full of lesser known, angst ridden teenage heroes, and many a nose did sniff in derogatory fashion at the premise, but once it got rolling it was clear that Hopeless' had thought long and hard about his story, jinking us back and forth between characters and between times to produce a layered, emotional and exciting plot that sucked you in and had you eager for more. And when it was announced that some of the survivors of that wretched deathtrap would then find themselves wrapped up in a mission to infiltrate the Masters of Evil, and some of those troubled teenagers may not find it easy to resist temptation and ignore those dark, murderous and villainous urges whilst trying to maybe do something heroic, those aforementioned noses did start to sniff once more, but you know what? They'll be expecting to smell sweet success and comic gold this time I'm sure!

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