16 Jan 2015

Ten Forward: March 2015

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 2015.

BATMAN EARTH ONE VOL. 2 HC
Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Gary Frank & Jon Sibal
DC $24.99

Matt C: It’s been nearly three years since Volume 1 appeared, and during that time I’ve sort of uncoupled myself from the regular DC Universe thanks to an increasing sense of dissatisfaction following the launch of the New 52. That said, I'll still be picking up this second instalment. The first graphic novel was a decent, if hardly groundbreaking, take on the Batman mythos, but in many other hands, forking out for an expensive hardcover ‘Elseworlds’ type tale would be a no go for me. When Johns and Frank get together though, they create a special kind of magic, and I’d go as far as saying some of the very finest DC superhero comics of the past decade have been due to their collaboration (as well the reliable inks of Jon Sibal, who probably doesn’t get as much credit as he deserves). With that in mind, while I don’t expect anything out of the ordinary with this release, I am anticipating a finely crafted tale featuring the Caped Crusader.

PASTAWAYS #1
Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Scott Kolins & Bill Crabtree
Dark Horse $3.99

James R: I seriously love Matt Kindt. This creative genius is the driving force behind my favourite monthly comic, the magnificent Mind MGMT. I also love time travel tales too, as a sworn SF aficionado, so this new series is definitely my out-and-out pick of the month. Illustrated by the great Scott Kolins, PastAways tells the story of a group of future time travellers stranded in our present. Given Kindt's trademark intelligence and imagination, I can't wait to see what he comes up with when playing with temporal shenanigans. Kindt has said this book has a feel of the Fantastic Four about it, and with Marvel currently neglecting their first family, PastAways could be a perfect fit for the fan of high concept and high adventure.

RED ONE #1
Writer: Xavier Dorison
Art: Terry Dodson & Rachel Dodson
Image $2.99

Simon R: This was originally going to be released in France under the title Red Widow, but it was subsequently changed to Red Skin due to legal reasons. It will now get a North American/UK release in March, renamed again (Red One) so as not to cause offence. All that aside, looking at the preview pages available, this book looks fantastic. The premise is: what if America's greatest hero was actually a Russian spy? Set in 1977, at the height of the Cold War, Vera Yelnikov is an agent of the Russian military sent to Los Angeles to spearhead a propaganda campaign of communist ideals while becoming a true ‘American Superhero’. Vera has no clue to the American way of life and can be clumsy when interacting with Americans in her secret identity Alabama Jones. Xavier Dorison (Long John Silver, The Third Testament) looks to have created a good, old fashioned super spy romp with some beautiful art from the Dodsons (Uncanny X-Men, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Harley Quinn), so if nothing else, this book should be good fun.

THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS: THE SUN BEYOND THE STARS #1
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Nick Pitarra
Image $3.50

Kenny J: If you’re a fan of era-spanning alternative histories and you haven’t been reading this title then where have you been since 2012? Over twenty five issues, Hickman and his sometime collaborator, Nick Pitarra, have spun a hard science fiction tale about the figures behind the eponymous Manhattan Project and how they influenced the last century through their top secret experiments. Often madcap and sometimes bizarre, The Manhattan Projects has been no less epic than Hickman’s current work at Marvel. Now, with the initial suffix The Sun Beyond The Stars, the writer will be taking the book in a new direction with much shorter story arcs. First up is the tale of one Yuri Gagarin, recast as a cosmonaut lost in space. Let’s hope he finds his way home as the alternative future of science lies in his hands.

DESCENDER #1
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Dustin Nguyen
Image $2.99

Stewart R: Hmmmm, Jeff Lemire, writing a book about a young boy, isolated in a violent world that fears him and his kind, ever hunted by menacing forces... now where have we heard that before? Haha, of course there are sounds of the truly excellent Sweet Tooth there, but this looks to be quite a different project from a genre perspective - the boy here is an android and the setting is outer space - and thanks to the art duties being handed to Dustin Nguyen, it'll look quite different too. The blurb and the Previews interview with both creators has many ‘80s science-fiction series, movies and comics being mentioned as influences, which piques my interest, and there's no doubting that Lemire really does craft fine, emotional storytelling in his creator-owned works that makes them unmissable when they appear.

ALL-NEW HAWKEYE #1
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Ramon Perez
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: Sticking ‘All-New’ in front of a relaunched comic seems to be the done thing over at the House of Ideas at the moment, and while it’s a bit annoying, it’s clearly a business decision, so getting worked up about it is an obvious waste of energy. Instead, let’s use that energy and transmute it into excitement at the prospect of Clint Barton and Kate Bishop’s adventures being in safe hands following the departure of Matt Fraction. There are only a few writers in a position to take on this book that I feel have the right sensibilities to carry on with the left-of-centre approach that established Hawkeye as such a critical hit, and Jeff Lemire is definitely at the top of the list. A perfect fit? We’ll see, but I’m extremely optimistic!

CHRONONAUTS #1
Writer: Mark Millar
Art: Sean Gordon Murphy & Matt Hollingsworth
Image $3.50

James R: You wait forever for a great time travel series, then two come along in the same month! I'm more excited by Kindt's PastAways, but one glance at the creative team for Chrononauts tells you that this is one to watch. Mark Millar seems to have gotten his groove back with the excellent Jupiter's Legacy, and in Sean Murphy, he's working with an artist who is absolutely at the top of his game. The preview pages for this look stunning, and the tale follows the two pioneers of time travel as they step into the time stream for the first time. Millar has said that he wrote the book around the release of the Guardians Of The Galaxy movie, and that the tone between the two is identical. If he pulls that off, Chrononauts could be one of the high points of 2015.

INVISIBLE REPUBLIC #1
Writer: Gabriel Hardman & Corinna Bechko
Art: Gabriel Hardman
Image $2.99

Stewart R: Looks like March is the month for sci-fi adventure books as my second pick is Invisible Republic from the husband and wife creative team of Gabrial Hardman and Corinna Beckho. I've loved Hardman's art since I first discovered him on Jeff Parker's Hulk book and Agents Of Atlas, while I'm fully aware that he and Corinna have been crafting deep, involving, character-focused work with the Planet Of The Apes franchise over at BOOM! Now they're bringing us a secret history plot where an investigative reporter discovers the journal of someone erased from all historical records that suggests that a great hero, legend and leader of the people is not quite what he seems, or as innocent as people believe him to be. That's a great pitch and I just know that this partnership will give us a compulsive story that digs its hooks in deep. Roll on March!

SOUTHERN CROSS #1
Writer: Becky Cloonan
Art: Andy Belanger & Lee Loughridge
Image $2.99

Kenny J: Becky Cloonan seems to have easily made the transition from artist to writer, albeit with the majority being work-for-hire under DC’s banner. However, anyone au fait with her Ink and Thunder imprint, whether on Comixology or from the multitude of conventions she attends, will know Cloonan is capable of penning tense, dramatic stories that are full of pathos and often horror. It seems Southern Cross will be no exception as it charts one sister’s investigation into her siblings disappearance aboard a transporter bound for Saturn’s moons. This book is bound to be a heady mix of science fiction and the supernatural weaved in to a claustrophobic mystery as art duties fall to Andy Belanger, who is no stranger to the horrific side of comics having pencilled Swamp Thing. I’m sure his time drawing the Avatar of the Green has set him in good stead for rendering the orange rocky surface of Titan.

NEMO: RIVER OF GHOSTS HC
Writer: Alan Moore
Art: Kevin O'Neill
Top Shelf/Knockabout $14.95

James R: I'm sure you know the drill by now - it's Alan Moore, it's a new League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and that makes it an essential purchase. This book represents the third in the Janni Dakkar/Nemo series, which started with Heart Of Ice and continued with Roses Of Berlin. The latter of the two was certainly Alan Moore on form (and Kevin O'Neil is always brilliant) so I'm hopeful that this third book builds on that momentum. Set in 1975, the plot sees Janni travelling down the Amazon, and it will be great to see the League's version of South America. Even on a bad day Moore towers above other comics writers, and I'll be grabbing my next fix of the Bard of Northampton's work with both hands!

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