23 Dec 2015

Ten Forward: February 2016

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 December issue which includes comics scheduled to ship in February 2016.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Sara Pichelli
Marvel $3.99

Billy P: Those who read the PGC regularly will know I have made no secret of my chagrin about Marvel’s ‘All-New, All-Different’ initiative. Today, you find me less cynical – well, not really, but less negative, certainly. Tom King’s The Vision and Jason Aaron’s Doctor Strange have been firmly solidified on my pull-list, so it’s not all bad. And despite my newfound distaste for relaunches, especially those that continue as if Secret Wars hadn’t happened, I am truly pleased that Miles Morales now inhabits the 616. More than that, I am happy that Brian Michael Bendis returns as writer; but, even more than that, I am ecstatic that Sara Pichelli is back on pencils! I honestly believe that Miles Morales is a wonderful creation, especially given that the Marvel multiverse is populated by numerous so-called ‘Spider-Totems,’ within which Miles is but one of many. But where the Ultimate Universe succeeded in many ways was to scribble in the margins of the main Marvel Universe without affecting the sacrosanctity of continuity. Of course, Peter Parker will always be THE Spider-Man, but the introduction of Morales – a young, Hispanic web-slinger – to replace a deceased Parker as the Spider-Man of Earth-1610 was a spectacular coup de théâtre. But despite Bendis remaining as writer throughout the character’s career since his inauguration in 2011, I found myself jumping-off once Pichelli left the book. I used to believe that a good writer could save bad art, and that the converse was untrue. However, Pichelli forced me to change this viewpoint. Will it be ‘all-new,’ or ‘all-different’? It certainly has the potential: after all, this is a new canvas for Morales, both literally and figuratively. Given my disappointment with the Amazing Spider-Man relaunch and my belief that it is time for Dan Slott to move onto newer pastures – with thanks for his services – Miles Morales may be the Spider-Man I am looking for.

Writer: Joe Harris
Art: Martin Morazzo
Image $3.99

James R: It's a new Image title, so that would usually qualify Snowfall for a look, but this series from writer Joe Harris and artist Martin Morazzo piqued my interest as I love me a good dystopian tale. It's set in 2045 where the Earth's climate has left society splintered and more polarized between the haves and have-nots than ever. In the middle of this comes the White Wizard - a man waging war against the system using the forces of nature. I sense this will be either something that misses the mark for me, or is an immediate 'Yes', and in a very thin month for new releases I'm hoping this is a diamond in the rough - or the snowdrift.

Writer: Shawn Aldridge
Art: Scott Godlewski
DC/Vertigo $3.99

Simon M: Vertigo look to be sending us an early Valentine treat on the 10th of February, in the guise of The Dark & Bloody. Horror is one of those genres in comics that tends to go really well or severely underwhelms. The storyline for this book follows a returning veteran from the Iraqi war coming home to the backwoods of Kentucky. Iris Gentry just wants to do what is best for his family during lean times. Due to the fact Iris lives in a 'dry' county, he sees an opportunity in running moonshine with his former ranking officer from the war. This brings the pair back together following some involvement with 'otherworldly' forces in the Middle East. It goes without saying that having returned Stateside is not enough to ensure safety from a revenge driven paranormal entity. Shawn Aldridge is probably best known for his creator own book Viv Boone and has stated that "The inspiration came from my own childhood in Kentucky, local folklore like the Bell Witch, and Southern Gothic fiction". Scott Godlewski has done some excellent work on Copperhead for Image comics and thinks this is right inside his wheelhouse.

Writer: David Walker
Art: Sanford Greene
Marvel $3.99

Stewart R: With the Netflix Marvel wagon on quite the roll it was only a matter of time before the comic publishing arm started to flex its muscles with the two other characters slated for their own series in the not-too-distant future. I absolutely adored Kaare Andrews recent take on Danny Rand and very much enjoyed Luke Cage's presence a few years back as the begrudging leader of the Thunderbolts. Now the pair are being put in the hands of David Walker and Sanford Greene to establish a new, current dynamic between them whilst perhaps giving a small nod here and there to the classic, late '70s amalgamation of titles by Chris Claremont and then Jo Duffy's run. The art from Greene is sure to be exciting and I'm gonna guess that there'll be a comedic edge running through this as the boys get into scraps and scrapes as they try to keep the streets clean! Can't wait!

Writer: Stephane Levallois
Art: Stephane Levallois
Humanoids $24.95

Matt C: If I had the time, I would be looking at a whole lot more Euro comics from the likes of Humanoids and Cinebook, because who knows what kind of brilliance I'm missing out on, but unfortunately time is a premium, there’s a lot of other pop culture stuff vying for my attention, and also there’s, you know, real life to think about. But every once in a while something will spring out and demand that I make some time for it. It’s described as a “nearly silent allegorical fable of man vs. nature” and apparently focuses on a lone figure dragging an enormous wooden ark through the desert. I haven’t got much more than that to go on at the moment but for some reason, that’s enough.

Writer: Grant Morrison
Art: Yanick Paquette
DC $22.99

Billy P: As DC continues to mistreat and, arguably, misinterpret the Amazonian Princess, the awesomely cerebral Grant Morrison takes a stab at Wonder Woman for the first time. Now, colour me biased, but Morrison is my favourite writer and I cannot wait to see what he brings to the table with this publication. Since the advent of the New 52, the Wonder Woman series – at least, for me – has been disastrous. Unlike some readers, I think that Azzarello and Chiang’s run was emphatically poor, not least because of their own unique take on the character. Sure, it was written and drawn well, but it was not Wonder Woman (handbags at dawn!). And do not get me started on the recent Finch partnership. Indeed, I often find myself channelling classic Harry Enfield and screaming: “Oi! Finches! Nooooooo!" The last great monthly run has to be Greg Rucka’s, which still remains a personal favourite, alongside George Perez’s reboot in the aftermath of Crisis On Infinite Earths way back in the mid-1980s. Morrison has stated that he researched the history of feminism and the S&M intonations of creator, William Moulton Marsden, to prepare for this foray into a parallel universe reboot of one of the DC Trinity. This month’s solicitation, however, has me somewhat anxious, mainly because of Yanick Paquette’s pencils. Put simply, the book cover just looks awful. Given that this will be released prior to Wonder Woman’s appearance in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, let us hope that Morrison and Paquette kickstart a Wonder Woman renaissance, one that the character certainly deserves.

Writer: Kelly Thompson
Art: Corin Howell
IDW $3.99

Ann L: We haven't quite finished singing 'Jingle Bells' yet, but already fans of IDW's Jem And The Holograms can set their sights on the spectacular Valentines Day Special. If you're like me, you haven't even cracked the pages of the Holiday Special yet, but I am super-excited for this Valentines edition. Let me tell you why. IDW is turning the variant covers of eleven of its comics (Jem included) into actual valentines that you can give to your sweetheart... (a collective 'awww' here, please, and what a creative marketing tool!) For Jem readers, this fits perfectly with the original tone of the book, but it also foreshadows that the 'dark period' we are currently experiencing will soon be coming to an end... will we be seeing our first 'Jem Death' before Christmas?! Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell (formerly Ross Campbell) have delighted me for nine issues already, bringing to light all my favourite cartoon characters from the mid-to-late 1980s, with similar storylines, but with 21st Century pizazz. The book is beautifully written, drawn and inked. For my inner girlie-girl, this is my go-to comic, but guys, don't be put off... this comic is reaching a growing base of fanboys, too. The Valentines Day Special is not one to be missed, but even if it's not for you, why not get a copy for that special lady in your life... might be just the gateway she needs into the world of comics!

Writers: Ed Brubaker & Greg Rucka
Art: Michael Lark, Stefano Gaudiano & Kano
DC $99.99

James R: Still one of the greatest comics of the 21st century, Gotham Central was the magnificent brainchild of two of comics' brightest criminal (comics) minds, Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka. Focusing on the machinations of GCPD's Major Crimes Unit, this series never hit a bum note - each of the arcs mixed hardboiled crime fiction with the Bat-family to absolute perfection. Years later, its influence can be seen in both the Nolan movies and on the Gotham TV series - but this remains the original and best. If you've never read it, I can only beseech you to pick this up - the cases of Allen, Montoya and Bullock remain one of DC's high points this century.

Writer: Ian Edginton
Art: Oscar Bazaldua &Various
Space Goat Publishing $3.99

Andy H: The Evil Dead is undeniably a cult classic. There have been plenty of Evil Dead/Army of Darkness comics over the years and the latest additions from Space Goat Publishing have been a welcome addition to the franchise. February we get to see Ash go up against a batch of undead baddies in a series of one-shots, and first up is Hitler! It's been discussed many times by the PCG at just how often Hitler has been used as a comic book villain, and he's back again. Written by Ian Edginton, who has some previous with zombie stories (check out Victorian Undead), the Fuhrer is resurrected and only Ash can stop him and his undead army. Possibly a bit tasteless, probably tongue in cheek, but definitely worth a look.

Writer: Sophie Campbell
Art: Sophie Campbell
Oni Press $19.99

Ann L: I was only introduced to Sophie Campbell (formerly Ross Campbell) this year when she teamed up with Kelly Thompson to create what has got to be one of my favourite comics right now, Jem And The Holograms. How excited was I to hear that Wet Moon, one of Campbell's earlier works, first published in 2005, was set to be re-released by Oni Publishing, with her new name (she's been transitioning for the last year and came out as transgender on the pages of Jem) in April 2016. Wet Moon tells the story of Cleo, a college student who is transitioning into the world of adulthood, while dealing with the traumas of her past. Besides boasting her new name, the comics will also have new cover art from Annie Mok. Campbell and Wet Moon have received accolades for the ways in which female identity has been portrayed, as well as female body image and queer characters. Oni Publishing will release each volume of Wet Moon every six to nine months, but Campbell is reportedly working on volume 7. So, if you missed Wet Moon the first time around, sit back and prepare yourself for some ingenious storytelling and some amazing artwork. Campbell is definitely one to keep an eye on.

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