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 April issue which includes comics scheduled to ship in June 2014.
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Art: Paul Azaceta & Elizabeth Breitwieser
Simon M: First off, plaudits to Image for giving us a #1 issue with 40 pages for just $2.99. This is a move they used for Brian K Vaughan's Saga to great effect. The story of Outcast centres on Kyle Barnes, a man who has been plagued by demonic possession since childhood and now needs to get to the bottom of it all. The only problem with that is the answers he seeks could lead to the end of the world as we know it. For Kirkman this will only be his second foray into the horror genre, obviously best known for The Walking Dead, and he has said "I think Kyle Barnes is every bit as compelling as Rick Grimes and demonic possession is way scarier than zombies –s o this is going to be fun.” I enjoy Azaceta's (Amazing Spider-Man, Conan The Barbarian) art style and his work in Graveyard Of Empires was phenomenal, but what will really jump out will be Elizabeth Breitweiser's colours. She has done some incredible work (Fatale, Captain America and Velvet to name a few) and I think she will bring the sense of dread that a demonic possession deserves. Outcast has already been optioned for a TV pilot, this might be the opportunity for all of us who missed out on The Walking Dead to be in at the beginning of the next big thing.
THE SUPERANNUATED MAN #1
Writer: Ted McKeever
Art: Ted McKeever
Rob N: More Ted McKeever (a name that my spellcheck system tries to turn into 'Makeover' whenever I write it...), and the premise of this one reminds me very much of Jack Kirby's Kamandi with the last man on Earth contending with a bunch of anthropomorphic animals, which in turn of course was loosely inspired by the contemporary Planet Of The Apes films. But obviously enough any comic written and drawn by Ted McKeever is going to be so far off the spectrum that it's not going to truly resemble anything you've seen before, no matter how familiar sounding the initial premise may be. Now I'm not going to try and convert anyone to his comics because frankly if you don't already like his art, the chances are you never will do. But if like me you find his style exciting and original, then here's some more of it, in a typically uncompromising 'won't fit inside your normal comic bags' format. Why does he do that?
Writer: John Carpenter & Eric Powell
Art: Brian Churilla
BOOM! Studios $3.99
Stewart R: There are many films from the 1980s that hold a special place in my heart, but many of them would never make for a good crossover to the medium of comic books. Big Trouble In Little China, however, does stand out as one that could make the grade and do it well. Ever since seeing Eric Powell pull off a brilliant Jack Burtonesque impression on a 'We Are BOOM!' promotional video for the comic at LSCC, I've been itching to get a look at what he can do with such a fantastical guns and martial arts world. The story apparently picks up right at the moment John Carpenter's film left off: Jack barrelling along through the pouring rain in the Porkchop Express, a beastly passenger towing a sneaky and dangerous ride, and with Carpenter's blessing and assistance we're going to get to see where Burton's luck takes him next. Can't wait!
THAT'S BECAUSE YOU'RE A ROBOT (ONE-SHOT)
Writer: David Quantick
Art: Shaky Kane
James R: David Quantick might not be a household name, but he's been a contributor to some of the high points of British comedy over the last 20 years. The Day Today, Brass Eye and TV Burp are just three of his peerless credits on TV, and so I'm thrilled to see him make the jump to comics with That's Because You're A Robot , a one-shot that features two Policemen on patrol in their car… but only one of them is human! Finding out who is who forms the basis for this potentially fascinating plot, and with art by Shaky Kane (of the Bulletproof Coffin fame) this is undoubtedly the comic that I'm looking forward to the most this month. And as a word of warning, it's a one-shot, so get your pre-orders in now!
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Art: Jamie McKelvie & Matt Wilson
Kenny J: When one thinks of famous duos in the field of music-based art there are many greats to choose from: Simon and Garfunkel, Morrissey and Marr, Sonny and Cher, and now Gillen and McKelvie. It’s that latter pairing that delivered two volumes of music as magic comic Phonogram through Image, with a third to follow soon. But first, they will be introducing us to a tale of gods as artists, musicians and creators in The Wicked & The Divine. Every ninety years these deities reincarnate as veritable rock stars in their chosen discipline with all the plaudits and reverence that position brings. Then two years later they are dead. Both writer and artist have proven they have the ability to deal with such supernatural beings on a slew of other company and creator owned properties, including their recently completed run of Young Avengers run. McKelvie’s art and Gillen’s words can instantly imbue any character with a trademark youthful, pop swagger. No matter how ancient or powerful they are.
Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: John Romita Jr & Klaus Janson
James R: OK, strictly speaking this isn't an 'Issue One' but it certainly has the feel of one, as after a long period in the creative doldrums, DC seem to have got an all-star team on what should be one of their flagship titles. As the company have themselves trumpeted in many in-house ads, this issue marks the arrival of John Romita Jr. to the DCU. Add to that, the script is being written by Geoff Johns, who whilst not quite being the creative powerhouse of a few years back, is definitely a writer who 'gets' the Man of Steel - his run on Action Comics in the pre-New 52 days was one of my favourites. I would love to see DC get its collective end in gear after an endless stream of mediocre titles of late, and I'm hoping that this issue and run marks the start of a turnaround in fortunes for both Superman, and the company as a whole.
Writer: Chris Miskiewicz
Art: Palle Schmidt
BOOM Studios $3.99
Rob N: Andy H, Paradox store owner extraordinaire, pointed my comic-sniffing nose in this direction by suggesting that it could possibly fill the gap vacated by the absence of Hellblazer, and indeed the publishing house in question seems to be at pains to tell us that it's the perfect pick up for fans of the 'real' John Constantine, as opposed to the cartoon clown currently masquerading in the New 52 (though with the number of cartoon clowns in evidence there these days, he's only fitting in with the crowd). There is the danger of course that John Constantine is now something of a cliché that writers turn to whenever they want a rude, swearing, urban-magick anti-hero. It could be a case of give Thomas Alsop a trench coat, a packet of Silk Cut, have him say 'bollocks' a lot, and there you go – Hellblazer! The truth of course is that Hellblazer at its prime was far more than the composite of the standard trademarks we associate with Constantine, so whether this title is able to faithfully carry on the torch remains to be seen.
Writer: Matt Hawkins
Art: Linda Sejic
Image/Top Cow $3.99
Stewart R: Matt Hawkins has partnered with Stjepan Sejic to great effect on Aphrodite IX for Top Cow, creating a landscape ravaged by the cost of humankind's ignorance when it comes to the world they inhabit, and now the skilled writer is partnering up with Sejic's talented artist wife, Linda, for another science-based tale. Wildfire takes a look at the positives and prices to be paid for genetically modifying our food sources, with Los Angeles bearing the brunt of an unforeseen disaster following scientists striving to discover the key to accelerating plant growth. Hawkins excels at thought provoking stories, expanding the readers minds with well researched plot threads and this sounds like he could be adding another critical success to his record.
Writer: Alan Moore
Art: Dave Gibbons
James R: When Previews merely lists the price as 'Price on Application', you can almost feel your wallet contract in painful anticipation. I genuinely have no idea how much this would set me back, but yikes-a-hooty - check this out! Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen is rightfully lauded as one of the greatest comics masterpieces of all time, and as a fully paid-up acolyte of that series, I can tell you that Dave Gibbons' pencils and creativity were absolutely at the apex of their powers here. The chance to seer the book stripped down to just Gibbons' pencils is an enticing prospect for a wild-eyed Watchmen fan like me, and I'll be consulting with Andy H to see just how many vital organs I'll need to sell on the black market to get my sweaty fanboy mitts on a copy!
WITCHFINDER: THE MYSTERIES OF UNLAND #1
Writers: Kim Newman & Maura. McHugh
Art: Tyler Crook & Dave Stewart
Dark Horse $3.50
Rob N: I don't normally pick up the various Hellboy spin offs (despite being a purist Hellboy fan) but Kim Newman is one of my favourite horror writers, along with Christopher Fowler, and so his name as co-writer is enough to get me to sample this new limited series that explores the background of the Victorian Occult Detective, Sir Edward Grey. If you're not familiar with Kim Newman's fiction, the best recommendation I can make is that he was doing League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen style stories long before Alan Moore, and doing them exceptionally well too, with a series of books stretching from Victorian Britain to the late 1950s and beyond, in which pretty much every single character referenced therein derives from the pages of well-known and very obscure novels, films and comics of the day. Whether this inspired Alan Moore or not is a moot point, but I'd be very surprised if Mr Moore isn't familiar with Kim Newman's work.