15 Oct 2015

Ten Forward: December 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 October issue which includes comics scheduled to ship in December 2015.

Writer: Simon Oliver
Art: Rufus Dayglo
DC/Vertigo $3.99

Rob N: I was 12 in 1976, which is more or less the age when you begin to take in cultural references and develop your own tastes in music and other forms of media, so to an extent I'm probably of the 'Punk Generation'. Whenever I see old news clips of the Seventies, often strangely tinted as if the ageing film stock has gradually decayed in a derelict warehouse over the years, the word 'beige' always springs to mind, and yet my memories of the decade are far more colourful. The Last Gang In Town is pitched as a retro-crime drama spanning three decades that kicks off in 'Punk' England in 1976, a year which I recall was a cultural wasteland, sandwiched as it was at the tail end of the mid-decade, somewhere between the cosmic 'anything goes' experimentation of 1970 to 1972 and the 'rip it up and start again' attitude of 1977 to 1979. Frankly, even Marvel and DC comics weren't particularly good in 1976. I suspect this new title will almost certainly over-romanticise the Punk movement and make it seem like everyone under the age of 19 wore tartan bondage trousers, grew a mohawk and put a safety pin through their nose in 1977, whereas in fact the typically bemused audiences at punk gigs tended to look like members of Oasis circa 1995, only wearing flared jeans and Led Zeppelin t-shirts, but I am resigned by now to the late Seventies being depicted in a way that would be unrecognisable to anyone who wasn't a regular at a handful of counter culture clubs in the back streets of London and Manchester. I recently read the superb The Long Firm trilogy of crime novels by Jake Arnott that takes a similar approach and succeeds to epic effect, so what I'm hoping for here is that this comic series may do something similar without sliding too far into the fictional clich├ęs inherent in the various decades.

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Art: Marcos Martin & Muntsa Vicente
Image $49.99

James R: Now, I'm old school enough that I'm not entirely convinced by digital comics yet - it's the same with a Kindle; I just prefer the real thing! However, there has been one digital experience for me that I absolutely loved - Brian K. Vaughn and Marcos Martin's magnificent detective-SF tale, The Private Eye. Set in a future where society has had to turn it's back on the digital world after a critical failure of the internet's privacy systems, The Private Eye both looked beautiful and was a corking read. Image announced that the webcomic would appear as a physical collection back at the Image Expo in July, and now it seems the wait is over. And not just any collected edition either - a deluxe hardback is entirely fitting for this brilliant series. For this month, this is my one, cannot-miss recommendation and purchase!

Writer: Charles Soule
Art: Ron Garney
Marvel $3.99

Stewart R: There’s no doubting that Mark Waid’s run on Daredevil was something special indeed, and he certainly gave me access to a character I’d never shown a great deal of interest in before and peppered Matt Murdock’s 21st Century world with problems, turmoil and transitions aplenty. Now it seems that in a post-Waid, post-Secret Wars Marvel Universe, Daredevil will once again be patrolling the streets of New York’s darker, dangerous neighbourhoods as Charles Soule brings him back to the Big Apple. Soule, a practising lawyer outside of his comic book work, already dabbled with Matt Murdock in his accomplished She-Hulk run, and I’m eager to see what he’ll bring to both Murdock’s courtroom battles as well as his crimefighting on the streets in Daredevil garb. The big hook for me is that Matt will be an Assistant District Attorney prosecuting criminal cases, where before he mainly acted on defence for those unable to defend themselves, and I’m looking forward to seeing how that shifts this hero’s focus as his story progresses.

Writer: James Robinson
Art: Vanesa Del Rey
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: Not an obvious choice for me. Much as I’ve loved James Robinson’s work on Airboy this year, his superhero work can be a bit hit and miss. Vanesa Del Rey on the other hand really impressed me with her work on Hit at BOOM! Studios, and she seems to be a talent on the ascendant. Add to the mix some covers by David Aja and it's suddenly making a book starring a character I can’t say has ever been one of my favourites all the more appealing. In a lot of ways I think the ‘second tier’ titles at Marvel are where you find a lot of their best storytelling these days, so if your worried that the big ‘franchise’ titles aren’t doing it for you, my advice is to look elsewhere!

Writer: Jeff Parker
Art: David Hahn
DC $2.99

Andy H: The Batman '66 comics have, on the most part, managed to capture the feel and the 'magic' of the old TV series (the Batman '66 Meets Green Hornet crossover was nicely done as well). Now we get to see another of my old favourites enter the fray as the Man From U.N.C.L.E. teams up with the Dynamic Duo. While the recent film was okay, it didn't - or couldn't - capture the feel of the original TV series. I'm hoping here that Jeff Parker will be able to bring some of that magic to this series. How Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin will go from super spies fighting regular bad guys to fighting costumed super villains is going to be the real trick but I think it will be fun. I imagine we'll get to see the famous pen communicators and hear the immortal words "Open channel D". You could say I'm a little excited by this one, but then, I do love the classics.

Writer: Cullen Bunn
Art: Greg Land
Marvel $3.99

Kenny J: It is fair to say that the X-men, and specifically the 'Uncanny' prefix, is what got me into comics, that and the early Nineties cartoon. For a long time it was a mainstay on my pull-list but recently I stepped away from the X-titles as I felt they had lost their way since Brubaker and Carey were writing them. In fact, it’s Mike Carey’s villain-peppered run that has me excited for this new iteration of the premiere X-team. That and the fact it’s Cullen Bunn writing Magneto again. This initial arc also boasts the return of Greg Land, an artist who has become closely connected with the X-men over the last decade. I will be curious to see if his style has evolved at all. Either way, this is going to be one interesting and gorgeous book.

Writer: Ollie Masters
Art: Tyler Jenkins
BOOM! Studios $3.99

Matt C: This is a great high concept. Imagine you’re a kid, and after sticking a picture up of your dad on Facebook you quickly realise you’re actually in Witness Protection after someone surfaces having seen the picture, hellbent on revenge. Classic crime viewed through a contemporary filter – it’s an idea that immediately captivates because it seems so obvious and surprising that no one thought of it already. I didn’t really get on with Masters’ The Kitchen and I’m not familiar with Jenkins’ work, but damn if that’s not a pitch that gets me willing to put my money down without much in the way of a second thought!

Writer: Peter Milligan
Art: Brett Parson
DC/Vertigo $3.99

Rob N: It wasn't too long ago that Vertigo was the one-stop choice for thought-provoking comic book proposals with a non-superhero agenda. But then DC's senior management team effectively gutted the imprint by transferring the non-creator owned properties back to the mainstream DC Universe, while simultaneously Image made a well-timed and successful play to steal Vertigo's thunder for creator-owned work. For a while now Vertigo has been floundering, launching a number of second rate titles that often felt like they may have been initially rejected by Image before crawling back over broken glass to beg for a home with DC. In truth, the main point of interest for me in New Romancer is the fact that Peter Milligan has his name attached to it. The concept pitch involves a computer dating programmer tasked with creating fake profiles to entice paying customers onto the site, who then somehow contrives to create a 21st century incarnation of Lord Byron, he of the 'Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know' tagline – a man who made big flouncy shirts, conspicuous decadence, sexual promiscuity, romantic poetry, and lying resplendently on Ottoman divans - while off your face on Laudanum - very fashionable in neo-Gothic circles. Without him would we truly ever have had Russell Brand? I think not. This feels like comfortable Peter Milligan territory and I suspect he's going to have a lot of fun with the possibilities inherent in this concept.

Writer: Ulises Farinas & Erick Fretias
Art: Dan McDaid
IDW $3.99

Kenny J: It is great to see a British comic institution such as Judge Dredd have such success Stateside, albeit under the guidance of IDW as a bit of an indie oddity rather than 2000 AD’s flagship franchise. The main book has had some great artists onboard who have managed to evoke the UK comic’s feel, one of them being Ulises Farinas, half of the writing team behind Monkeybrain’s fantastic digital anthology Amazing Forest. So I have high hopes for December’s relaunch with Farinas at the helm. Dan McDaid draws a mean Dredd, which is incredibly important when rendering Mega City One's most famous Judge, even when you are sending him back to a time before he was the law.

Writer: Rick Loverd
Art: Huang Danlan
BOOM! Studios $3.99

Stewart R: The previous couple of years have seen the cinematic world dip back into space-science for its action fix with Gravity, Interstellar and this year's The Martian all capturing the collective imaginations and attentions of large audiences. This seems to have coincided - though of course there’s no evidence of a link - with a rise in comic books, notably creator-owned works, exploring similar themes. Last month saw the release of Faster Than Light #1, Letter 44 continues to bloom over at Oni Press, and now we have Venus #1 from BOOM! Studios. This is a survival story where an American crew crash-land on the inhospitable planet and have to somehow make their way to the base that was to be their new home. I do enjoy a good castaway/survival romp and this premise has Earth’s resources depleted and Mars claimed by the Chinese, forcing America and her allies to pick the harsher realities of Venus for hopes of mining it. That’s an interesting political prediction and I’m interested to see how much that might play into the story here and how deep writer Rick Loverd goes into the science of surviving on the second closest planet to the Sun.

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