10 Feb 2017

Ten Forward: April 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 February issue which includes comics scheduled to ship in April 2017.

ALIENS: DEAD ORBIT #1
Writer: James Stokoe
Art: James Stokoe
Dark Horse $3.99

Stewart R: If James Stokoe draws it, I am pretty much guaranteed to buy it. There are many artists out there today who get my attention when a new release arrives on the shelves with their stunning illustration lighting up the inside, but Stokoe sits at the very top of the list thanks to his unique, detailed style and the fact that he also tends to write the stories which he is depicting upon the page. Now he's getting his hands on an Aliens project. In fan-space, everyone hear me scream!! Aliens: Dead Orbit will follow the fraught situation of an engineering officer stuck on a crippled space station, being hunted by one of the most dangerous beings in the galaxy. I'm expecting high tension and a claustrophobic feel to what I'm sure will be an essential xenomorph read.

DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER #1
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Art: Pere Perez
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: Yeah, I hear what you’re saying. It’s either “Who needs another Deadpool Vs. comic?” or it’s “Who needs another Punisher Vs. comic?”, and normally I’d agree with you – how ubiquitous do these characters have to be before we no longer care? – but let’s take step back from the kneejerk reaction for this one. Several years ago Fred Van Lente took a B-list villain – Taskmaster – and put him in a town full of Hitlers for the ‘Unthinkable’ storyline and it remains one of the PCG’s favourite miniseries in recent memory. Funny, irreverent, smart and bonkers, it was an unexpected delight, and with that in mind I’m prepared to take a look at what seems to be the most cynical of team-ups on the surface but could turn out to be something far more off-the-wall and wickedly entertaining.

ROUGHNECK GN
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Jeff Lemire
Gallery Books $29.99

James R: What a time to be a Jeff Lemire fan! The Canadian maestro seems to be stepping away from his Marvel books but his output right now remains phenomenal: the new (and amazing) series Royal City is just starting up, Black Hammer continues to be one of the best books around, Descender continues to impress... and now this! Roughneck is a graphic novel about a brother and sister who reunite after years apart to break the cycle of abuse and violence that has blighted their family. It sounds a harsh read, but Lemire is at his best when examining the seared edges of human emotion, and this looks as if it is a natural progression from Essex County and The Underwater Welder. Both of those were essential reads, and I have no doubt this will be too.

BLACK CLOUD #1
Writer: Jason Latour & Ivan Brandon
Art: Greg Hinkle & Matt Wilson
Image $3.99

Matt C: File this under ‘I don’t really know what this is but it’s from Image and check out that creative team!'. The pitch is a bit vague but the general gist seems to be that we’re dealing with the aftermath of a world where dreams became reality and then they went to war. There’s probably numerous different ways to spin a premise like that but with Jason Latour (Southern Bastards), Ivan Brandon (Drifter), Greg Hinkle (Airboy) and Matt Wilson (The Wicked + The Divine) all chipping in, it’s another debut of an Image comic that will need sampling.

X-MEN BLUE #1
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Art: Jorge Molina & Matteo Buffagni
Marvel $4.99

Andy H: As a longtime fan of the X-Men the last few years have been hard for me. The X-Men I loved were gone. What was left was, at best, just a shadow of what had come before. Reboots and restarts had taken their toll and my X-Men reading flatlined. I am an eternal optimist though and maybe, just maybe, my X-drought is over. 'ResurrXion' is here and two distinctive and recognisable teams rise to the occasion. X-Men Blue goes old school, bringing the original but still time-displaced X-Men together. The team dynamics are different now as Jean Grey takes the mantle of team leader and Magneto is their mentor. While I'm still not totally convinced by their presence in the present, I will be happy to see a return to an X-team I can relate to. Writer Cullen Bunn is no stranger to the Marvel mutants but has his work cut out to reach the lofty heights the X-Men once claimed. As an added bonus, Art Adams provides covers for the series and that's a real throwback to the good old days. Fingers crossed, this will be the start of something big. I for one am truly X-cited!

X-MEN GOLD #1
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Art: Ardian Syaf
Marvel $4.99

James R: I have always had a soft spot for the X-Men, and a few years back I was happily picking up two X-titles: Jason Aaron's much-missed Wolverine & The X-Men and Kieron Gillen's Uncanny X-Men (which I still think is his best mainstream comics work to date). Then in a moment of editorial madness, the X-titles were handed over to Brian Michael Bendis, who brought the 1960s incarnation of the team through to the present day. The move never worked for me, and I have been an outsider to the X-books ever since, with none of the various events persuading me back to the Westchester school. But comics fans never say never - and I am going back in with X- Men Gold. Marc Guggenheim is a name I trust and the man can certainly write a team book. The art from Ardian Syaf looks nice, and the roster of the team has got potential for some great stories. I am suspicious of the 'twice monthly' shipping ploy, but I can't help but want this to be a win - I've missed having Marvel's mutants on my pull-list.

WORLD READER #1
Writer: Jeff Loveness
Art: Juan Doe
Aftershock Comics $3.99

Stewart R: I do like the occasional comic book gamble and the one popping into view would be this new 'spiritual, sci-fi horror' following a psychic astronaut as she travels to dead worlds, interacts with the spirits of the departed and tries to identify just what is carving a swathe of death across the universe. Loveness is on my radar because he's currently writing Nova (a series I've not quite settled with yet) and Aftershock are certainly a publisher willing to go with the writers and see just what might prove to be a solid hit. I like the idea of a psychic detective travelling the galaxy looking at how worlds perished in an attempt to save her own, it's just maybe hard to get a read right now as to whether this book'll get its hooks into me.

BRITANNIA #1
Writer: Peter Milligan
Art: Juan Jose Ryp
Valiant Entertainment $3.99

James R: Every now and then a title slips through the net. Only after an arc or a few issues do you realise that a great book has debuted and you're late to the party. This is definitely the case with Britannia - Peter Milligan's series about a Roman detective in the Britannia of 65 AD. I love the pitch alone; Milligan describes the book as "Gladiator meets Druid-era Alien." I have heard nothing but good things about the first arc, so along with picking that up in trade, I am looking forward to jumping on with this first issue in the new storyline. Detective Antonius Axia's new case finds him back in Rome, and once again Juan Jose Ryp is on art duties for this four-issue run. With my pull-list looking a little light over the last few months, Britannia will be a welcome addition.

NICK FURY #1
Writer: James Robinson
Art: Aco
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: I’m not entirely sure which version of Nick Fury features here as I lost track of who was who when the classic version of Fury became the new Watcher or whatever it was that happened. I know there was some sort of 'son of Nick Fury' who looked an awful lot like like Ultimate Nick Fury a while back, and I have no idea where Ultimate Nick Fury is post Secret Wars, or if he even still exists, but I’m putting this book on my pull anyway. Why? Well, Robinson is a generally a very reliable writer but I was rather taken with the preview art from Aco which seems to be channelling some ’60s-era Steranko, going all psychedelic on us (complete with a Red Skull Warhol painting!). That’s no indication of the book’s quality I guess, but it’s sufficient reason to cast an eye over the debut issue at the very least.

REDNECK #1
Writer: Donny Cates
Art: Lisandro Estherren & Dee Cunniffe
Image $3.99

Stewart R: 2017 looks to be something of a prolific year for Donny Cates with God Country having lit the fuse in January and come April, Redneck will add to the growing tally. I have to tip my hat for the clever title job with this one too; what else could you call a tale of a family of vampires trying to live a secret existence in the heart of Texas whilst running a barbecue joint?! Cates plays well with characterisation and seems to enjoy mixing up and playing with the conventions of genre so I'm expecting to see a little something out of the ordinary with this one... along with a fair amount of blood and gore amongst the ribs and wings!

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