17 Oct 2014

Ten Forward: December 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 October issue which includes comics scheduled to ship in December 2014.

S.H.I.E.L.D. #1
Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Carlos Pacheco
Marvel $4.99

Matt C: Well, this was going to happen sooner or later. Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. may not have been the smash hit many had hoped for (although the second season has a seen a marked improvement on the middling first) but it’s still been successful enough a property that it made sense that the comic wing of the company would want capitalize on it, reversing the Marvel Studios trend of taking all the ideas from the printed page and instead bringing something from the screen to the four-colour world of comics. To be honest, this has limited appeal to me in general. I’m finding an increasing amount of enjoyment from the second season of the TV series but I don’t harbour any desire to see the adventures of the characters spill over into any other medium (or universe). Two things are making me open to the idea of giving this debut a shot though: Mark Waid and Carlos Pacheco. Pacheco’s never quite found the level of fame I think he deserves but I remain a big fan of his art all the same, and if anyone can make this concept work in comics, it’s Mark Waid. I have no real expectations for this, and I may not even pick it up come New Year’s Eve, but the talent involved means it’s not something that you can’t take the easy option with and dismiss out of hand.

Writer: John Arcudi
Art: James Harren
Image $3.50

Simon M: There are some creative partnerships that will tempt me with their wares no matter how bonkers the concept sounds and the team-up of John Arcudi (B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth, Abe Sapien, The Creep and Sledgehammer 44) with James Harren (B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth, Abe Sapien and Conan The Barbarian) is certainly one of them. Rumble is being pitched by Image as "Louis C.K. meets Robert E. Howard in a David Fincher universe", which sounds intriguing to say the least. What we do know is that we have a scarecrow warrior god, pyscho skinheads and giant mummies with the promise of an equal mix of terror and humour. The four preview pages look great so I am definitely on board for the start of this crazy journey.

Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art: Valentine De Landro
Image $3.50

Kenny J: I was impressed with Kelly Sue DeConnick’s creator-owned debut, Pretty Deadly, and if that title was an ode to spaghetti westerns then Bitch Planet is a riff on another filmic staple of that era, the exploitation movie (although without some of their more troubling aspects). Bitch Planet takes place on women’s prison planet as a gang of five inmates make a bid for freedom. Inspired by '70s revenge films, Valentine De Landro delivers up something far more stylized than I’ve seen previously from him on superhero books like X-factor and Marvel Knights. DeConnick has ploughed herself a furrow as a writer of strong female leads but the protagonists of Bitch Planet may be her strongest yet.

Writer: Eric Stephenson
Art: Simon Gane
Image $2.99

Stewart R: Eric Stephenson's Nowhere Men has been an involving read, spanning decades of story and reaching from the Earth's surface to the orbit far above it. He's clearly a talented writer who likes to mix-up his storytelling methods (he also holds the high rank of Publisher at Image if you didn't know). Now he's bringing us another Image book from his own mind called They're Not Like Us. There's plenty of mystery surrounding just what this book might entail, but the blurb suggests that it might look at the generational differences between the modern youth and those richer in years above them, who have repeated the mistakes of the generation before them. There could be a 'superpowered' element to things, or it could have more of a political, realism slant, but in any case the mystery and Stephenson's writing style is enough.

Writer: Ash Maczko
Art: Ashley Witter
Devils Due Entertainment $4.99

Simon M: Squarriors started out life as a Kickstarter funded project that I was aware of but missed the opportunity to become a backer of because I was too slow out of the gate. Luckily Devils Due Entertainment are now going to release it to the general public in December. Team Ash (Maczko and Witter) look to have created something with a rich story and strong characters. Neither creator has done anything considered mainstream as yet, but I think this has the potential to change that. The art for this book looks phenomenal and I love the Game Of Thrones inspired Midtown Comics variant cover ‘Spring is Coming’. The story centres around several clans of animals living in a world recently voided of humans. Since the demise of humanity, the remaining animal life on the planet has become intelligent. The sudden spark of rational thought creates an internal struggle for these creatures; instinct versus reason.

Writer: Roger Langridge
Art: Roger Langridge
BOOM! Studios $3.99

Matt C: From any other creator I may have dismissed this too quickly as being y’know, for kids, but Roger Langridge is an awesome talent who can conjure up charming, funny, irreverent oddball tales that have an appeal that transcends any specific age range. He’s been doing his thing for a long while now, but recent successes with The Muppets and Snarked! have thoroughly convinced me that anything he turns his hand to is worth some of my time. It may appear to be sweet and innocent on first look – young girl and yeti become best friends – but having so-called ‘Shadow Man’ on the snowman’s trail suggests a darker edge to the proceedings that should sit comfortably with the expected warmth and irreverent humour.

CROSSED + 100 #1
Writer: Alan Moore
Art: Gabriel Andrade
Avatar $3.99

Rob N: Well, it's fair to say I wasn't expecting this! In my opinion the two greatest horror comics of recent times were Garth Ennis' original run on Crossed and Alan Moore's miniseries Neonomicon (especially issue #2 which still rates as my favourite individual horror comic ever), both of which set new standards for not only horror in graphic form, but horror as a genre, full stop. On that basis the ideal package would be Alan Moore writing Crossed (much as I like him, Garth Ennis couldn't really write Neonomicon) and lo and behold, the Eldar Gods have nodded and made it so. Frankly, anything new by Alan Moore always warrants my full attention (and I'm looking forward to his new Lovecraft influenced project, whenever it comes out) but this in particular seems like a match made in heaven. According to the publicity, Alan Moore is taking as his subject matter the world of the Crossed many decades into the future, developing what the it might look like long after the plague has (apparently) faded away. Or has it? I really can't see how this project can possibly fail.

Writer: Gail Simone
Art: Ken Lashley
DC $2.99

Kenny J: There have been superior foes, suicide squads, and thunderbolts, but by far my favourite team of villains going - often unenthusiastically - straight is Gail Simone’s Secret Six. Although less overtly comedic and/or violent than its counterparts, Simone managed to guide a cast of C and D level crooks, like Bane, Catman and Ragdoll, through a story that actually made me care about them before its cancellation in 2011. Now it’s back, like many books in DC’s line, with a coat of New 52 paint and a fresh quota of the criminal fraternity post-Flashpoint, mostly created by Simone. Even with a recently relaunched Suicide Squad covering similar territory, there shouldn’t be any worry that Secret Six can’t find its own niche with Simone at the helm. That’s no secret.

Writer: Stjepan Sejic
Art: Stjepan Sejic
Image $14.99

Stewart R: The truth of the matter is that I'm already fully aware of Stjepan Sejic's work on Sunstone having been reading the unfolding story piecemeal as it has been released on DeviantArt. I imagine an awful lot of the incoming press will be directed towards the erotic, BDSM focused titillation that springs up from the talented pencilling hand of Sejic at odd moments through this modern day romantic dramedy, soon to be collected in graphic novel form. Yet, having read three of the four chapters I will vehemently argue that the characterization of Allison and Lisa's relationship is the thing that has stuck with me most and keeps the book centred. Sejic delivers a core cast of people lost in the 21st Century world of appearances, status updates and fear of judgement, who find some sense of well-being, unity and belonging by embracing that which they may have once feared, and opening themselves up to others in the process. I'd originally only followed Bleeding Cool's link to this work based on Sejic's fine work on Aphrodite IX and discovering the ups and downs of Allison and Lisa's relationship has been the thing to keep me around over a year later. Collected, this'll look damn fine and should probably be the one erotic comedy read you pick up this Christmas (and how often must we hear that time and time again...?)

Writer: Cullen Bunn
Art: Jeremy Haun
DC/Vertigo $3.99

Kenny J: Zombies have been done to death, vampires too, now is the time of the wolf. Not the warm fuzzy kind that have graced the silver screen recently but ones that are all tooth and claw. Give that book Cullen Bunn, a man who has experience in writing about lupine mutants and vengeful hunters. Dillon Chase is another reluctant protagonist forced to become a monster as he tracks down a werewolf, reconciling the fact that lycanthropes are also human, at least most of the month. With gritty interior artwork from Jeremy Haun, this looks action packed from the get-go, but its issue #1’s beautiful Jae Lee cover that gives us some idea as to the horrors that lie within.

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