Tuesday 13 September 2011

Weekly Treats! Crossed, Blue Estate, Supergod, Amulet

Monster! An absolute monster of a week I'm, quite frankly, terrified to say. I don't know whether to laugh or scream like a little girl. So let's not panic. Take my hand and we'll practice fight or flight management techniques by breaking it down into manageable chunks beginning with DC (as it is DC-eptember after all).

I'm going to go for four flagships this week. Batman & Robin #1 has Bruce Wayne back in the driving seat of course but now with the new dynamic of working with his son (I sense surliness with a side order of surly from Damien) and you can now find out - as if you didn't already - why Batwoman #1 is one of the most eagerly anticipated releases even before the DC re-numbering. At least JH Williams should have had plenty of time to get a sufficient number of pages done for future issues. Green Lantern #1 appears to be the title that needed least tweaking as both Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke return although the face behind the ring is somewhat of a surprise - well, it was when it was announced several moons ago - and it's the title that gets a hot variant this week. And I'm hereby promoting Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1 because Jeff Lemire wrote the best reviewed comic from last week (Animal Man #1) and I'm sure it'll be a lot of peoples first curiosity flick for the day.

The rest of the releases reads like a list of DC outcasts and anti-heroes. There's Deathstroke #1, Demon Knights #1 from Paul Cornell, Grifter #1 with a neat high concept (he's hunting inhuman creatures hiding in human form whilst being chased by the authorities for being a 'serial killer'). There's also Red Lanterns #1, the bad cop Lanterns from Peter Milligan and Ed Benes and the dependable Abnett & Lanning breath life (ha!) into Resurrection Man #1, seeing him gain new powers and some attention from mysterious forces. Harley Quinn's new costume hasn't had good press but maybe it's a question of different outfits for different occasions as she heads out on government sanctioned ''suicide'' missions in Suicide Squad #1 and Superboy #1 is another character who undergo a make-over. He's still the confused clone, but now he looks the part a little more.

We'll also be receiving re-orders for sold out titles including Batgirl, Detective Comics and Omac.

This week Marvel puts up a fight. Captain America's shield broken? Spider-Man making a life-altering decision? Converging forces stand ready for the battle to come? Must the penultimate chapter of Fear Itself #6. Fairly unmissable I'd say. Then there's the third part of the well-received Spider-Island story in Amazing Spider-Man #669, meanwhile the curtain officially rises on the new Ultimate Spider-Man in the speculator-friendly Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #1. Uncanny X-Force #15 continues to do destruction with considerable style and in New Avengers #16 Daredevil finally gets an Avengers club badge. Talking of which there's my favourite Marvel comic; Daredevil #3. And finally Fear Itself: Monkey King #1 - 'nuff said.

There is just one other first, beginning, re-launch, seductive temptress of a comic. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Nine #1 written by Joss Whedon (presumably whilst they're setting up takes on the Avengers movie) and he's promised a more focused, tighter season than the previous one.

Still with me? Great, because there are some books you may want to look at too. But in the case of Crossed: Family Values (Avatar), only look if you know what exactly you're letting yourself in for - once you've seen you can never un-see and there's some pretty nasty stuff in David Lapham's non-consecutive follow-up to the Garth Ennis series about human savagery.

In the last year Image Comics have been earning a lot of critical approval with their recent clutch of new titles and with generally lower print runs than The Big Two it's often been a case of first come first serve. Happily those titles have been slowly making it to trade paperback. The Blue Estate vol. 1 is a high energy crime series with a smattering of art from hot talent Nathan Fox (Flurescent Black) featuring strippers, mobsters, b-movie action stars and a private eye out of his depth. Moriarty vol. 1 however represents their foray into direct graphic publishing and follows the infamous Professor James Moriarty several years after Sherlock Holmes' death and blackmailed by MI5 into taking up a new case. Then there's the visually arresting action, industrial sci-fi comic Carbon Grey vol. 1. The first three issue story arc is included along with deleted scenes, concept art and ''new content''. The comics world needs Image firing on all cylinders and offering a mainstream alternative and I'd say that it's currently meeting that challenge.

Warren Ellis' Supergod (Avatar) has been hanging around in comic form for so long that some upstart has come in a nicked its title (see Grant Morrison's Supergods). As the publisher nicely puts it, where Black Summer was about superheroes that were too human, Supergod is about superhumans who have left the human bit far, far behind and are now Ellis' brand of out of control (ie think global destruction). One his big ideas books where superhumans are like manufactured superweapons.

And finally (sorry I'm belting through this a bit) I wouldn't want to leave you on such an apocalyptic note so I've saved Amulet Book 4 (Scholastic) for last. This is a really good all ages title in that Bone-type young-and-old-will-enjoy-it mould. Sure to be filmed one day, it's filled with plenty of heart, magic, alien worlds and monsters.

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