Every week finds its own rhythm and themes or categories that make themselves as much as they are defined by me. I try to let the releases and what I’m buying of them tell their own story, but some books I have to shout about. This week is a huge week for independent publishers, a big week for DC and only five books from Marvel.
Starting with the smallest grouping the big release from Marvel for me is the new PunisherMax #1. Garth Ennis had a seminal run on this book and doing Punisher in the Max line allows him to be more of a “real” character as he does not work as well with super heroes running around with him. Rick Remender’s Punisher book set firmly in the MU has been fun and almost convinced me it could work, but the deeper we have gotten into the series the worse that idea has played out, I mean Frank-en Castle. Jason Aaron (writer) and Steve Dillon (artist) are taking Frank back in time and starting off with a storyline of when Wilson (Kingpin) Fisk was just a bodyguard in the mob. This does not put them in competition with what Garth has done and allows them to still keep Frank grounded in the “real world”. As long as we avoid having super hero guest stars this book looks like it should be a good one. The rest of what I’m getting is Daredevil #502 – continuing the new creative team work, Strange #1 (of 4) by Mark Waid and Emma Rios, Moon Knight #3 and the First Realm of Kings book out of the cosmic side of the MU ROK Imperial Guard #1 (of 5).
DC is dominated by Batman family books this week. We have Batgirl #4, Red Robin #6, Batman #693, Batman and Robin #6 and the Batman Doc Savage Special #1. Batman and Robin #6 looks to be insanely good as Grant Morrison continues to make this the best Bat book on the racks and Philip Tan is wrapping up his turn as artist on this title. Some people have complained about the rotating artists, but I like it as it keeps the book coming out on time. The Batman Doc Savage Special looks to actually be special. Brian Azzarello is being given his own pulp fiction universe that will have a mini-series called First Wave coming out soon and this book is the introduction to that world. We have a gun toting Batman harking back to his first adventures in the late 30’s and Doc Savage. The concept just sounds awesome and I can’t wait to see how this all works (or does not work).
Vertigo always delivers good books, at least the ones I get are good or I would not get them. Anyway, Fables #90 is coming out and we have the Luna Park HC coming out. Luna Park is by Kevin Baker, whose work as a novelist I’m unfamiliar with and this is his first graphic novel, and Daniel Zezelj is the artist. I love Daniel’s work. It is a very dark style and he can sometimes stray to an almost impressionistic style and other times it looks very realistic with an almost charcoal etching feel to it. Bottom line the man does great art work and I would almost get this for the art alone, but the preview pages also have looked good and I trust Vertigo to get it right 9 times out of ten.
This week from Wildstorm are two books Stormwatch PHD #24 and The Authority The Lost Year Reader. I can’t remember anything like the Lost Year thing being done before. This issue is a reprint of the first two issues of the Authority done by Grant Morrison and Gene Ha. I never did read the exact story of what happened, whether Grant’s schedule blew up or what the heck happened, but it was a disappointment that the story never got done. Now a couple years later Keith Giffen is taking Morrison’s plot and will write the rest of the arc with various artists. This is a nice idea, not sure how it will work out in the wash.
Rounding out DC is Action Comics #883, JSA vs Kobra #6 (of 6), Blackest Night books that include Booster Gold #26, Green Lantern Corps #42. Rebels #10 (and more of the different color rings this week) and The Shield #3. Last and certainly not least is Absolute Justice HC. I was really unsure about this book as it was not the greatest story of all time, but it had Alex Ross artwork and a story that I think will read better as a whole. The actual series had such abrupt endings that it felt like the writer of it really missed knowing how to present this as chapters and decided to just writer a 240 page story and let the issues end wherever. Of course it will be years before I sit down and read this or maybe I’ll make a point to read it soon.
We have tons of great books this week from the other publishers. We have the always enjoyable BPRD 1947 #5 (of 5), the always over the edge Chronicles of Wormwood The Last Battle #2 (of 6), the wonderful Farscape Dargo’s Trial #4 (of 4), the continuing story of Gravel with Gravel #15, the marvelous Hellboy Wild Hunt #8 (of 8), Jersey Gods #9 and Walking Dead #67. This is quite a varied line up from Dark Horse, Boom Studios, Image and Avatar. Of all of these the one that I want to highlight a little is Jersey Gods #9. The passion and energy that these guys put into every issue makes each issue a joy to read. The slowed down publishing schedule has caused the momentum on this book to possibly make it a little under the radar, especially with Chew and Cowboy Ninja Viking garnering a lot of attention. This is a great series with the Young Romance meets New Gods genre mash continuing to excel. UPDATE: Dan McDaid the artist on Jersey Gods has corrected my view, the skip month after each arc was built into the scheduling of this book. That makes a lot of sense and good to know no issues with any production slow downs! Just go and buy this book it really is one of the best on the stands.
We have even more then that coming out from the non-big two publishers. Supergod # 1 (of 5), more of Ellis’ examination of the super hero, Echo #16, Terry Moore’s magnificent sci-fi human interest story set in the very near future, Locke and Key Crown of Shadows #1, another superbly written book with great characters and The Ghoul #1. The Ghoul should be great, but there is one artist who I would buy just to see his work and that is Bernie Wrightson. With Steve Niles aboard as the writer, these guys continue to redefine and define their own horror private eye genre. Niles has become a master of this with Criminal Macbre, but my enjoyment is doubled or more have Bernie aboard as the artist.
The last two things on my list this week are Comic Book Comics #4 and Strange Suspense Steve Ditko Archives HC Volume 01. I LOVE Comic Book Comics the history of comics done as a comic by the same boys who brought as Action Philosophers, Fred (Incredible Hercules) Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey. The amount of material these guys stuff into one issue is amazing. This is the best history of comics being done right now and certainly the most enjoyable history ever done. The Steve Ditko book is also interesting as it is collecting all of his pre-code horror material from early in his career. I’m wondering if this is all public domain stuff or what. I hope Ditko is making some money off of this, but who knows with his philosophy it may not matter to him.
The format for this column has been locked into one style for a long time now and I thought it was time to try and change it up a little. What this means is that this column will be going through some growing pains as I work out exactly what it will look like as time goes by. As I stated above I would love to hear comments. Does it suck, is it okay, where are all the covers, what is wrong with you, whatever. If, as per usual, we get limited feedback I will just continue to try and massage this format as time goes by and see what evolves.