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 February issue which includes comics scheduled to ship in April 2016.
Writer: Charles Soule
Art: Phil Noto
James R: He may have been given slightly short shrift in The Force Awakens, but the Resistance's best pilot has certainly gained some traction in the world of comics. Firstly, we learned all about his parents in Greg Rucka's Shattered Empire series, and now it's Charles Soule's turn to tell us about Poe Dameron's adventures right before the events of Episode VII. With luscious art from Phil Noto, this was an immediate 'Yes' for me as a rabid Star Wars fan. Given the track records of the creators in both comics and the Marvel Star Wars books, this looks like another successful addition to a line of titles that's quickly established itself as the market leaders in the mainstream.
DARK NIGHT: A TRUE BATMAN STORY HC
Writer: Paul Dini
Art: Eduardo Risso
James R: Certainly this month's most unique and personal releases, and arguably the most intriguing too. Paul Dini is beloved as one of the main creative forces behind Warner Bros' wildly successful Batman: The Animated Series of the 1990s but back in 1993, Dini suffered horrific injuries following a mugging. This book catalogues his recovery from that attack, with the artist imagining Batman and his enemies at his side throughout the ordeal. This looks to be a highly personal and revelatory work, which brings to mind Steven T. Seagle's 2005 It's A Bird... - that was a remarkable story, and I think this will be too. The fact that the art is from the brilliant Eduardo Risso certainly adds to the appeal - it's a premium book that will certainly be worth the investment.
Writer: Nick Spencer
Art: Steve Lieber
Stewart R: It seems that news broke of this Nick Spencer/Steve Lieber comic back in November 2014, initially teasing a 2015 release. Here we are in early 2016 and we'll finally be getting a taste of what the Superior Foes Of Spider-Man creative combo can bring in their creator-owned way with this new Image #1. Spencer is a scribe who manages to find that perfect balance between comedy and criminality in his characters, showing that not every ne'er-do-well is filled with malice and menace and that endearing qualities can be found in almost everyone. Working in tandem with Lieber - an artist who can capture expression across the spectrum and who arguably produces his best work when depicting humour - I'm sure he'll be bringing the laughs to a book looking at the mundanity and struggles of criminal life in the 21st Century, where old fashioned thugs, goons and henchmen are finding it hard to do business in a tech-savvy world that is steadily neutering their threat day by day.
BLACK ROAD #1
Writer: Brian Wood
Art: Garry Brown & Dave McCaig
Rob N: If there's one thing that Brian Wood excels at, it's slice of life angsty contemporary storytelling depicting the day to day existence of young people striving to find some meaning in their lives. But the second thing he's exceptionally good at is stories involving Vikings or Cimmerians with big sharp swords. Black Road happens to fall into the second of those categories and is a return in style to Northlanders, his impressive Vertigo series of years gone by. I've always had a sneaking admiration for those pagan Norsemen, ever since I started reading Bernard Cornwell's Uhtred saga, what with all their feasting, wenching, listening to Hawkwind and reading Thor comics, and like many fans of the genre I mourned the loss of Northlanders when it was cancelled by Vertigo. Since then those hairy Vikings seem to be somewhat in fashion, what with the eponymous TV series and the BBC adaptation of The Last Kingdom, and it may be that which has prompted Image to give Brian Wood a second crack at the genre. Hurrah for that.
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Greg Smallwood
Matt C: Warren Ellis’ and Brian Wood’s work on the previous volume of Moon Knight was most excellent indeed (unfortunately Cullen Bunn couldn’t quite live up to his predecessors when he saw out that run) but I’m perhaps even more excited about the prospect of Jeff Lemire taking over, not just because he’s the man behind Sweet Tooth, All-New Hawkeye and Descender, but because the idea of putting Moon Knight in a mental asylum is just too exciting to pass up! Greg Smallwood turned in some absolutely fantastic work on Brian Wood’s issues of the last series so it’s great to see him return to the character.
DIVINITY II #1
Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Trevor Hairsine
Valiant Entertainment $3.99
Stewart R: The first arc of Divinity, where Matt Kindt and Trevor Hairsine postulated a Cold War scenario where Russia's participation in the Space Race masked an intent to look further into the Universe, led to cosmonaut Abram Adams encountering a life-altering force and returning to Earth a changed man with near god-like abilities. It was truly one of the best miniseries of last year with a great sense of drama, a revisionist slant, and some Valiant superheroics thrown in for good measure. Now Kindt and Hairsine are returning with a new chapter to this story as focus shifts to another of the three cosmonauts sent out into the void. Miska, who like Abram will return to Earth, but her motivation is driven by a purely Communist ideology and what will that mean for the planet and for her former co-pilot? Like the first arc this is going to be done in four issues and you can bet it'll be one of the miniseries of this year too!
Writer: Adam Glass
Art: Pat Olliffe & Gabe Eltaeb
AfterShock Comics $1.99
Andy H: We all know it's a crowded market out there and it can take a lot to get noticed. AfterShock comics have produced some fine titles in the last few months but getting the readers to try that new #1 is not always easy. One of the best ways has to be the price and the next batch of AfterShock titles come with a $1.99 price tag. Rough Riders #1 at first glance reminds me of League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen but instead of literary characters saving the world, we have historical characters saving the world. Theodore Roosevelt leads a team, including Harry Houdini, Annie Oakley and Jack Johnson to Cuba to save mankind. Written by Adam Glass and with art by Pat Olliffe, probably best known for his work on Untold Tales Of Spider-Man and Spider-Girl, this should be an entertaining romp. Plus, this is a great way to check out AfterShock comics if you haven't already.
DEPT. H #1
Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Matt Kindt & Sharlene Kindt
Dark Horse $3.99
James R: My undoubted highlight of the month is this, a new series from the creative genius behind Mind MGMT, Matt Kindt. Now working in conjunction with his wife Sharlene Kindt (providing watercolours for the series) Dept. H is described as 'a murder mystery that takes place in a sabotaged deep-sea observatory.' That pitch alone would be enough to pique my interest, as investigator Mia fights against time to uncover the murderer inside the relentlessly-filling observatory, but given my love for Kindt's creativity and storytelling verve, I can see this being one of the highlights of 2016 in any medium.
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Art: Fabio Moon & Gabriel Ba
Dark Horse $17.99
Rob N: During your teenage years the opposite sex can sometimes seem like they're an alien species – mysterious, beguiling and incomprehensible - and so those initial approaches in your early teens can be daunting and rife with insecurities. Back in 2006 Neil Gaiman wrote a short story that took that theme to an extreme, focussing on a couple of young British teenage boys in the 1970s who gatecrash a party in the hope of meeting some girls, only to find that, in this case at least, girls really are an alien species, quite literally. Apparently soon to be a film (although these days, what isn't?) the story has also been adapted into a short graphic novel format with art by the ridiculously talented art team of Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá by Dark Horse – two artists who can do no wrong in my book. It's bound to be whimsical style Gaiman, tinged with nostalgia, but that's no bad thing in controlled doses.
THINK TANK: CREATIVE DESTRUCTION #1
Writer: Matt Hawkins
Art: Rahsan Ekedal
Image/Top Cow $3.99
Matt C: A very welcome return for this series (now in colour!) featuring David Loren, a kind of pre-Iron Man Tony Stark, who’s far more hip and has become a lot more self-aware of the consequences of his creations since we first met him. An immensely smart book, not only due to the intelligent way the stories are structured but because it weaves in a lot of bleeding edge science, always meticulously researched by Matt Hawkins. I don’t know if this will really serve as a ‘jumping on point’ (just pick up the trades, dammit!) but Think Tank has always been criminally overlooked and it more than deserves a wider audience.