13 Jan 2017

Ten Forward: March 2017

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 2017.

ROYAL CITY #1
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Jeff Lemire
Image $4.99

James R: March looks like being a great month for comics, and this for me is the standout book. Jeff Lemire is not only a long-standing, firm favourite of the PCG, but he's arguably in the form of his life at the moment, writing and drawing some of the best books out there. Royal City marks a return to the lo-fi storytelling of Essex County, the book that really established him as a phenomenal talent. It centres around Patrick Pike, a fading novelist who returns to his home town and finds both his family and the town itself struggling to survive. This is the first book that Lemire has written and illustrated since the peerless Sweet Tooth and the terrific Underwater Welder. 'Fevered anticipation' doesn't begin to cover my excitement for this - it may be early days, but I feel this could be the highlight of the year.

SAVAGE THINGS #1
Writer: Justin Jordan
Art: Ibrahim Moustafa
DC/Vertigo $3.99

Matt C: The pitch is that kidnapped children are transformed into ‘chaos agents’, growing up to cause unrest across the globe and perform executions, up to the point where they go rogue and start wreaking havoc across the United States. And only one man can stop them (natch). Even if I didn’t know the creators involved I’d be all over an idea as explosive as this, but the fact that I’m familiar with the work of both Jordan and Moustafa (to varying degrees) means I’m confident that this miniseries will deliver on the promise of that cracking high concept.

X-MEN PRIME #1
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Art: Ken Lashley
Marvel $4.99

Andy H: It's been a rough year or so for the X-Men. Seemingly on a Marvel blacklist, the mutants looked to be facing publishing extinction. Sad times for a once great comic franchise. But wait. Has there been a change of heart? It looks like the X-Men are about to make a comeback. This March, X-Men Prime by Marc Guggenheim and Ken Lashley brings back some familiar faces and sets the scene for the return of some familiar looking teams. This is what the fans have been waiting for. The last few years the various X-titles have just been going through the motions. Now we get a return to some classic teams, the original X-Men and the X-Men of the late '70s. Names and faces we know and love. It looked like Marvel were trying to shoehorn the Inhumans as a replacement for our mutant heroes but it hasn't quite worked out. This month also sees the release of Inhumans Prime. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top, though I think the smart money will be on Team X! Don't let us down Marvel, give us the X-Men we deserve.

COPPERHEAD #11
Writer: Jay Faeber
Art: Drew Moss & Ron Riley
Image $3.99

Stewart R: When Copperhead launched back in 2014, it instantly grabbed me with its Western frontier storyline wrapped up in a science fiction landscape and with strikingly catching visuals from Scott Godlewski. What unfolded through two arcs was a terrifically tense tale of Clara Bronson trying to settle into a new town both as Sheriff and as mother moving on from previous troubles. Now writer Jay Faerber returns with the next arc and a new interior artist onboard in the shape of Drew Moss. Top quality writing will always shine through and I'm in no doubt that Faerber absolutely nailed the scripting through the first ten issues of Copperhead, however, losing the talent of Godlewski and his distinct style is going to be a tough thing to overcome and I'm very interested to see how Moss will keep the feel while placing his own mark on the book.

REBELS: THESE FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES #1
Writer: Brian Wood
Art: Andrea Mutti
Dark Horse $3.99

Simon M: There are few things that stir American spirit in the way that the stories of the American War of Independence do. There have been some very good television dramas based around the Founding Fathers recently (John Adams and the History Channel’s Sons Of Liberty) and in 2015 Wood and Mutti brought us their take on this pivotal piece of American history in the series Rebels: A Well-Regulated Militia. That run primarily followed the exploits of fictional character Seth Abbott and the non-fictional militia group the Green Mountain Boys from Vermont set in 1775. In the new series, we follow Seth’s son John from the early exploits of the U.S. Navy and the building of the famous 'Six Frigates' in 1794 through to the build up to the War of 1812 with the British. Wood is one of the best at writing political and historical fiction and has a resume that is impressive to say the least. Mutti’s art in the original was fantastic and demonstrated the wide scope of his artistic skill, depicting everything from panoramic landscapes to the close confined chaos of battle. This is an opportunity to learn some history, while being thoroughly entertained by a fantastic team of creators. Don’t look know but the Red Coats are coming!

PROVIDENCE #12
Writer: Alan Moore
Art: Jacen Burrows
Avatar Press $4.99

James R: Alright, so this is one of those rare cheats from us. Absolutely not the first issue (in fact, it's the diametric opposite) but Providence deserves a spot in our list as the arrival of this finale is a big deal for a couple of us here. Moore and Burrows' series has continued to confound expectations, and also be that rarest of things - a horror comic that is genuinely unsettling. Moore's script set up a suitably apocalyptic finale, and if the great man truly has retired from comics, this will be his last ever monthly comic. I can't wait to see how he signs off on both one of the most memorable series of the decade, and from a frankly peerless career.

IRON FIST #1
Writer: Ed Brisson
Art: Mike Perkins
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: March sees Iron First get his own solo book again, for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on at the moment. Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and David Aja raised the bar for this character several years ago with their Immortal Iron Fist series but to be honest none of his appearances since then have really appealed. Brisson has had my attention since the excellent ‘pre-apocayltic’ series Sheltered, so while this is in a completely different genre, I have confidence in his talent, as I do in Mike Perkins, a man who’s plied his trade across a number of titles across the years, of particular note for me being his work on Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America. It would be great to have an Iron Fist book on my pull-list after a period of absence, and I’m hopeful this will be the one to fill that slot.

GRASS KINGS #1
Writer: Matt Kindt
Art: Tyler Jenkins
BOOM! Studios $3.99

James R: Along with Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt is another writer in fine form going in to 2017, and I was thrilled to see a new title from him listed in Previews. Following the otherworldly adventures of both Dept. H and Ether, Grass Kings is rooted in a far more familiar place. The narrative focuses on the lives of three brothers who are rulers of a trailer park called 'Kingdom'. The images from Peter Panzerfaust artist Jenkins look beautiful, and when BOOM! Studios suggest this is one for 'Fans of True Detective Season 1 and Scalped', it is fair to say I am right in the middle of that demographic. This dark, brooding tale of a place far from the beaten tracks looks immensely promising.

AMERICA #1
Writer: Gabby Rivera
Art: Joe Quinones
Marvel $3.99

Stewart R: I'll be rather straight here; I'll be picking up America #1 for no other initial reason than seeing what comparison the book may have to the Joe Casey and Nick Dragotta Image title coming out in 2017 called All-America Comix. Both these books will focus on a young, female Latino character with superpowers called America, albeit with differing surnames. It's quite clear at this stage that the character of America Chavez, who Casey and Dragotta introduced in their Vengeance series for Marvel, is the template for their 'new' character, America Vasquez, so it'll be intriguing to see how writer Gabby Rivera and artist Joe Quinones may develop Chavez for Marvel along a new path and how similar or different these books may turn out over the course.

BATWOMAN #1
Writers: Marguerite Bennet & James Tynion IV
Art: Steve Epting
DC $2.99

Andy H: Batwoman has never gone away, she still pops up in various Batman-related titles but it's been a couple of years since she had her own solo book. Well, time to rectify that. DC Bombshells writer Marguerite Bennett breathes new life into this fan favourite character. She'll have some big shoes to fill though: Greg Rucka and J H Williams III crafted a work of beauty a few years ago. Check out Batwoman: Elegy if you need proof. There are a lot of layers to Kate Kane/Batwoman, maybe more than other masked superheroes. This first story arc, 'The Many Arms Of Death', features the always stunning artwork of Steve Epting. The Bat family has grown over the years and introduced us to some strong characters - Batwoman certainly deserves to be part of that family.

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