Savage (Dragon) Politics

One of the beauties of comics is the speed in which they can be made. After 9/11 the comics community was the first medium to tackle the complexities and heartache that went with that heartbreaking day, while film took years to tell their tales. This year, as US politics takes centre stage again (in the 2000 presidential race, Lex Luthor won in the DC Comics world) the real life candidates become comic book figures once more. Just take a look at this variant cover for Savage Dragon #137 by creator (and until recently, Image head honcho) Erik Larsen. The finned one leaves no mysteries as to where his vote is going. The 32 page ish goes on sale September 3.

As reported in the New York Times, a former presidential candidate will give his endorsement for this years’ race in SAVAGE DRAGON #137, as the titular character supports Democratic nominee, Barack Obama!

“Four years ago the Dragon was a reluctant presidential candidate,” SAVAGE DRAGON creator Erik Larsen said. “Fans have asked if he’ll be running again, but given the importance of the upcoming election it seemed appropriate that he would back Barack Obama, the candidate whose politics most reflect his own. Savage Dragon will be giving Barack Obama his full support.”

Savage Dragon made his initial play for the presidential election in the 2004 campaign, but rescinded once the man claiming to be his running mate turned out to be Dreadknight, a supervillain bent on world domination. SAVAGE DRAGON #137 will sport a special 1:5 variant cover featuring Dragon formally endorsing the one candidate he is confident is not a potential nemesis, Barack Obama.

A week after Dragon makes his political leanings public, so do a whole bunch of DC heroes, in the 4 ish mini-series, Decisions, by Judd Winick, Bill Willingham and Rick Leonardi, which has various characters weighing in on some fictional candidates in the DCU.

And, finally, IDW also get in on the act. Their comic biographies of Obama and his arch-nemesis John McCain go on sale on October 8. Comics and politics – what a combo!

Justice League Film?

When I first heard about the Justice League film I was excited like most fan boys. Then I learned it was to be helmed by director George Miller (Happy Feet) and would star a bunch of almost unknown actors. As I then reflected upon Warner Bros. history of screen adaptations of their DC heroes (Catwoman) I prayed that the JLA film would never be made. With the writer’s strike, it’s all been up in the air anyway, but Variety has an interview with DC VP Gregory Noveck and WB dude Jeff Robinov regarding this potentially awesome/potentially disastrous film. In their words:

Either way, there’s no question Warner Bros. will produce more superhero pics. The question is when.

“These are big, iconic characters,” Noveck says. “So when you make them into a movie, you’d better be shooting for a pretty high standard. You’re not always going to reach it, but you have to be shooting for it. We’re going to make a Justice League movie, whether it’s now or 10 years from now. But we’re not going to do it and Warners is not going to do it until we know it’s right.”

At least they’re smart enough to know not to rush it. Marvel will surely beat them with Avengers in 2011 anyway, but us DC fans know how to be patient.

Justice League On Film

Flash Gordon

Not to be confused with the DC Comics character who runs fast and wears a red costume, (that’s The Flash), Flash Gordon is the creation of comic strip artist, Alex Raymond. Conceived by Raymond in 1934, the character went on to star in three film serials in the 1930s and 40s, a TV series in the 50s, (and a recent, unpopular version) with a few cartoons along the way too. For many pop culture lovers (including painter Alex Ross), and Gen-Xers however, Flash’s most well loved incarnation would have to be the 1980 film. Who could forget Queen’s awesome theme song, the garish costumes, winged warriors, evil Timothy Dalton and a bald Max Von Sydow as Ming the Merciless? High camp has never been so much fun! CBR has a great round table discussion with the original creators and cast, involving the Star Wars inspiration, the film’s limited American success, and chasing dwarves around on set. Let the nostalgia wash over you. And while you’re reminiscing about awesome 80s films that flew under the radar, check out Krull from your local high quality DVD purveyor. Like Flash Gordon, it’s a film with fantasy and sci-fi elements, swash buckling and derring do, but Krull is much darker, with surprising deaths throughout. Check out the trailer below to either refresh your memory, or be introduced to another classic.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Review

The Star Wars universe is a vast one. The six live-action films would be all that most people would know of George Lucas’ most famous creation, but they are a drop in the ocean, compared with the complexities of the ever expanding saga. The dozens of books and comics plus numerous video games have broadened the scope beyond Luke, Leia, Han and co. to millenia either side of their cinematic adventures.
Along with next month’s awesome The Force Unleashed console game, Clone Wars is the latest to add details to the events between the two film trilogies.
Directed by Dave Filoni (episodes of TV toon, Avatar) and written by three virtual newcomers, the film certainly has Lucas’ imprint in it, namely family friendly action and light hearted humour.

From the first few seconds however, it’s obvious that this isn’t a typical Star Wars film. The traditional theme music has been slightly altered and the text crawl is lacking, replaced by a narrator explaining the set-up. Also, despite Samuel L. Jackson (Mace Windu), Anthony Daniles (C-3PO) and Christopher Lee (Count Dooku) reprising their roles, the rest of the prequel’s cast is absent. Not that it matters.

Clone Wars is essentially the pilot of an upcoming half hour animated TV series. When George Lucas saw these first few episodes, he decided it looked too beautiful for the small screen, and deserved a cinematic release in their own right. Lucas is right. This is a great looking film. Today’s CGI effects are well suited to the expanding Star Wars mythology with the multitude of alien races, planets and vehicles, and the numerous space battles are grand, though not comparable to the excellent opening scenes in Episode III.

It’s with the scenes of humans (and humanoids) interacting that the CGI look may be a let down to some, expecting a Pixar level of sheen. The characters’ visuals are simple, as are the textures when examined closely. Don’t expect hyper-realism here, as the look of the film is based on the two series of cartoons that ran on the Cartoon Network from 2003 to 2005. The film is a continuation of that series, set in the time period between Episode II and Episode III. In other words, Anakin is not yet Darth Vader, his lover, Padme is still alive, and Luke and Leia are yet to be born.

The plot involves primarily lots of fighting (either with swift light sabre moves, or swift space craft moves) and the race to capture Jabba the Hut’s son, Rotta, otherwise known as Stinky. Anakin Skywalker receives a surprising padawan, ie, apprentice in the form of “youngling” Ahsoka Tano. This is a novel concept and the friction and eventual respect between the two Jedis is the highlight of the film. From their crafty defeat of Dooku’s force’s shield generator, to the protection and delivery of Rotta, the new duo’s initial friction gives way to respect as they fight an assortment of droids, drones and a dual-sabre wielder, in the form of Asajj Ventress, Dooku’s new partner in crime. Of course, Dooku’s and Jabba’s alliance is nothing of the sort, as the Jedis must prove their innocence in the greater fight for the vital trade routes for the ongoing war. When Anakin and his new student arrive on Tatooine, Anakin’s home planet (and scene of his Tusken Raiders massacre in Episode II) only then do we see a hint of his darkness that is central to the whole Star Wars saga. General Obi-Wan Kenobi flies to Jabba’s palace to assure him of his peaceful attentions and runs in to Ventress and Senator Amidala takes another route in assuring peace – meeting Jabba’s greedy uncle, Ziro the Hutt in Coruscant and gets duly punished for her good deed.

Star Wars purists will be disappointed with Clone Wars. It can’t compete with the more sophisticated CGI films on offer these days, and its roots as a TV show quickly become evident. It just doesn’t have the usual epic Star Wars film feel stamped on it. No doubt the kids will enjoy it, but some may be lost, without prior knowledge of the characters. I’d recommend watching the original Clone Wars cartoons on DVD over seeing this, but the continuation of this film onto our TV screens should be worth watching, as that is the format its designed for.

Mighty Marvel Muggs

Who ever thought a biker with a flaming head, and a devourer of worlds could look so cute? I saw these in the display at Comic-Con and wanted every single one of them. Considering I’m mainly a DC devotee, that just goes to show you how adorable they are. These unique Mighty Muggs from Hasbro have limited articulation, and some come with character specific accessories. I picked up the Con exclusive Peter Parker/Spider-Man one and now it makes all the girls swoon. You can check out the larger range here of these arty interpretations, and sample some of my faves from the new wave below.

Just try and resist, I dare you, as you park your peepers on Captain America, Ghost Rider, Thor, Wolverine and Venom.

Robert Luedke Interview

I met Robert at Comic-Con, where he preached at the CCAS Sunday service and did an inspiring job. My interview with the creator of the Eye Witness series of graphic novels is now up at Sight here. The EW books are unique in that they present a modern adventure tale, while similarly exploring the roots of Christianity through tales from the Bible. Great to look at, powerful and encouraging, they are a great resource for the interested Christian and/or comic book fan, with plenty of political espionage and military conspiracies thrown in for good measure.

The third book, Rise of the Apostle has just been released and looks at the life of that crazy man of God, Paul. It comes in at 96 pages, from Head Press Publishing, and is available for purchase here.

Simpsonised Superheroes

The Simpsons is a wonderful creation. Able to merge all facets of pop culture effortlessly the longest running animated series is a fanboy haven of in-jokes and parodies. The tie-in comics by Bongo have been written by one of my fave writers, Chuck Dixon, and an issue of Simpsons Comics even featured a fight between writers Grant Morrison and Mark Millar.

And now, there’s this. The product of artist Dean T. Fraser, Springfield Punx takes some great characters from the halls of pop culture and re-designs them as they would appear on The Simpsons. There’s much more at his blog, but here’s a few of my faves – Superman, Batman, Nightwing (AKA Dick Grayson, the first Robin), Robin III (AKA Tim Drake in his cool new costume), Joker’s main squeeze, Harley Quinn, amputee Aquaman from his morose days in the 1990s and finally, Lion-O, leader of the Thundercats. Still hungry for more? Then you can also check out Project Rooftop, which is filled with even more wild re-imaginings of superhero costumes from a gaggle of talented artists.

From Hard Candy to Hard Cover

Hard Candy is an awesome film. Directed by Brit David Slade in 2005, it was his first film, before going on to make the 30 Days of Night adaptation. (Go here for my interview with 30 Days artist Ben Templesmith) Hard Candy stars Juno’s Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson and is a mature, squirm inducing cat and mouse game between two mysterious people. The roles of villain and victim are always in question and a deft hand guides it throughout. Well worth watching. It’s just two people talking, but is more mesmerising than anything Michael Bay creates. It also has some fanboy cred, as the two stars have both played comic book heroes – Page as Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat) in X-Men: The Last Stand and Wilson as Nite Owl in next year’s Watchmen. Well, IDW is just about to release Slade’s weird animal creations in the Fubear HC. From IDW’s official press release:

What is Fubear? Fubear is the schism that exists between “funny ha-ha” and “funny-strange.” At least that’s what creator David Slade tells us.

Coming this August from IDW Publishing, Fubear is a nice, small, square hardcover collection of the illustrations which served as inspiration for the animated comic/horror short “Meatdog: What’s Fer Dinner”, a short film that premiered at Comic Con in July 2008 and will play to the over seven million users of Xbox LIVE this fall.

David Slade, the man behind the bear—Fubear Studios that is— is a motion picture director best known for his 2005 thriller and cult hit Hard Candy, as well as the 2007 movie adaptation of the IDW graphic novel 30 Days of Night, which opened at No. 1 at the box office. Slade, who originally trained in fine arts in his hometown of Sheffield, England, works not only in film and animation, but is also known as a brilliant graphic artist.

“Making films, dark thrillers, sometimes you need some light, but it has to be sincere,” says creator David Slade, “so I set off in search of my psyche in just my underwear, taking with me a handgun, a crutch, a pencil, and a shovel. In the end they all came to play, but mostly just the pencil. The pencil became a computer and various printing techniques, and that most recently became animation. I love learning craft and technique, and I delve into my psyche to get the meat.”

Fubear Studios brings a collection of Slade’s characters to life with his vivid illustration style. Included are “Meatdog” himself (a dog made of meat cuts); “Bearleftbear” (obsessive-compulsive bear in a car); the “Alienbears” (hungry, carnivorous octarian creatures from another universe); “Drumming Dogs,” “Hazmat Bears” from a chemical psychoverse, and many more.

In “Meatdog”, the animated short for Xbox, Slade sends a church of evil occult pigs, a carnivorous rabbit, and a slobbering hound in pursuit of Meatdog, pitting our unlikely hero against, well, unlikely villains.

Fubear Studios’ Site

Below is the trailer for Meat Dog’s XBOX Live adventures. It’s…interesting, kinda like a more arty and abstract version of Happy Tree Friends.

Ben Templesmith Interview

Ben Templesmith has hacked out quite an eerie niche for himself since his breakout art work on IDW’s horror comic, 30 Days of Night, and has since become a formidable creator on books like Singularity 7 and Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse, for which he received an International Horror Guild nod. He’s had two art books released, (Tommyrot and Conluvio), has been nominated for an Eisner for the last four years, and along with superstar writer Warren Ellis created a new comics format with their FELL series. And if that wasn’t enough, he’s also an Aussie. What a guy!

Ben, when you were growing up in Perth, were you an avid comic fan with ambitions to work in the industry. Was that always the dream?

Yes, my one burning ambition was to get published telling stories in Anglo-American comic books basically. Since I was about 13.

Your style is very distinctive. Was it equal parts experimentation and admiration for other artists that brought you there?

Everyone has influences and usually they’re much more prominent when you’re first starting out. I guess you could say my current style is the end product of loving people like Ash Wood, Victor Amrus, Richard Searle and Ralph Steadman, and the fact I have to do what I have to to meet a deadline. That forces you to streamline a process quite a bit too. Especially on the computer side of things.

What’s the reaction when you tell people you create comics for a living?

Usually a blank look. Then they assume I mean Superman or Spider-Man or something. Then once I’m past the “No, I create my own comics, things without the guys in tights you’ve heard of,” I have to explain how comics are actually made from the ground up as most people are largely ignorant of anything to do with comics in general. I never do, but I should probably just shut up and say “Yeah, like Batman and stuff,” and leave it at that, rather than try to fight perceptions and stereotyping.

Were you able to play much of Dead Space while working on the comic tie-in? Are you a hardcore gamer who throws things at the TV when you’re frustrated, or do you just pick up the controller every now and then?

No, I didn’t play any. I watched others. I could have played some when I was up at EA headquarters. Nope, I’m not a hard core gamer. I just got an XBOX actually. I’ve long preferred strategy games on a PC more than the console shooters, though they’re good for a bash when in the right mood for sure. There’s a helluva lot of artistry in them these days and that attracts me as an artist now as much as anything.

30 Days of Night was undoubtedly the book that gave you your first taste of huge mainstream success. With all the attention that the film bought, how did you react to that level of interest?

The movie did little to nothing for my comic book career. That was all started by the movie optioning hype 5 years before the film came out. But since the film, I’ve now got somewhat of a profile among the types that look to make movies, so it’s a good way to springboard into other media thanks to the movie I guess, but I don’t think it really made too much difference to my core work, which is comics, as I love them. Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse and FELL, with Warren Ellis have really developed that audience far, far more I think.

Moving from artist to writer, as you have done with Singularity 7 and Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse must be quite satisfying. Would you like to continue with that dual-creator role or will you always be a penciller at heart?

I was always thinking of my self as a “creator”, not just an artist who gets told what to draw. It just so happened I started out as only a work for hire artist. After that one book (Hellspawn for TMP) I’ve been doing creator owned, or part creator owned work that I own
a piece of for the most part ever since. It’s trying to create new things that you yourself own a stake in that drives me. I just like feeling personally invested, (apart from trying to tell stories and have an audience for them, which is why I love comics in general) and I’m lucky enough that IDW Publishing are willing to give me and a few like minded creators a home like that.

I should add that I’ve never been a penciller. I produce complete artwork. I’m an artist. I do the lot. Pretty much at this point the only thing I don’t do is the lettering, and I’d love to start lettering my own books too. Man, pencillers have it so easy! Especially now colourists are expected to be full painters, fleshing everything out far more than in earlier years. Colourists deserve more credit on a lot of books as far as I’m concerned.

You moved to San Diego only a few months ago, from Australia. What are the major differences that you’ve had to adjust to?

The timezone. The higher taxes. Absurd health care costs, absence of public transport, lack of intelligent planned city development and disorganized disfunctional bureaucracy, both public and private. Hey, you did ask! Perspective from other countries is a wonderful thing I reckon. Other than that though, San Diego and the US is a great place, full of opportunity, wonderful people and things I grew up with as a kid only seeing on TV.

IDW Publishing has been your creative home for the last few years. Would you like to eventually draw spandex clad superheroics for Marvel or DC at any point?

IDW Publishing have been fantastic to me and very supportive. I’d happily work on some spandex clad superheroics at Marvel or DC. They’d just have to ask. I’d still rather make up new characters though, rather than service existing ones. I could could even do that at IDW at some point, who knows.

How has working with Warren Ellis on FELL changed you as a creator?

Yes. I now cry myself to sleep every night. Warren had changed me long before I was even working in comics. Thanks to his vocal nature on the way of all things comics, as well as his work on things like Transmetropolitan, I’d already pretty much agreed with his idea of
the way things should work. Thanks to FELL though, I think I had a brand new audience get exposed to my work, some of which has followed through onto other things, which was an added bonus. I also got to grips on how comics storytelling, pacing, etc can really work, much more than before. ( FELL being a 9 panel grid thing ) I owe Warren muchly, not least for working on a book fantastically written, breaking a format in and being critically acclaimed.

I’m guessing you’re a horror fan? Any favourite films or books of that genre?

I’m more into dark sci-fi fan than horror. I don’t like to squirm. I like to think and squirm at the same time. So stuff like Aliens, The Thing, Dark City I really dig. Huge historical epic fan too though, even if they never get the history right. I really should go and see Mongol.

Lastly, are there any hidden talents you possess that the Templesmith fans of the world should know about, like do you make a mean lasagne?

Well, I make a mean powered baby chowder but I’m not meant to say that in public apparently. My lawyers get upset, what with the murder trial coming and all.

Ben Templesmith’s Blog Welcome to Hoxford Preview

Saving the Superman Films

MTV’s new comic-centric web site is smart enough to go to the right people for opinions on DC’s film adaptations of their beloved characters. Now, if only Warner Bros. could wisely do the same!

Novelist/comics scribe Brad Meltzer (who was interviewed with writers Mark Waid and Grant Morrison about how to save the Superman films) had this to say:

“Superman is a character more recognizable than Abraham Lincoln or Mickey Mouse,” Meltzer said. “But no one knows crap about Mickey Mouse. He’s a symbol. Understanding a soul is much harder. So don’t treat him like a walking American flag.”

To understand Superman, Meltzer says, you have to know why Superman was created in the first place — because a young Jerry Siegel’s father was shot and killed in 1932 (a fact first uncovered by Gerard Jones in “Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book”).

“Superman was created not because America is the greatest country on earth, not because Moses came to save us from Krypton, but because a little boy lost his father,” Meltzer said. “In his first appearances, he couldn’t fly. He didn’t have X-ray vision. He was only bulletproof. So Superman’s not a character built out of strength, but out of loss.”

Read the full article at MTV’s Splash Page here.

Pretty Pics

Because the inter-web is chock full of pop culture pearls, here’s a look at a this week’s pictures. First up is the cover of Gigantic #1 from Dark Horse, who have this to say about the November launching 5 issue mini-series:  It was a beautiful spring day in downtown San Francisco before a gigantic armored alien appeared from out of nowhere and began smashing things all to hell! Who is this invader? Why is he being attacked by strange alien beings? And why is he so GIGANTIC? A twist on The Truman Show, Gigantic focuses on a brainwashed, alien superhero deposited on Earth to be the spotlight of an intrusive, around-the-clock television program being filmed without his knowledge.

Critically acclaimed writer Rick Remender (Fear Agent, The End League) teams up with groundbreaking artist Eric Nguyen (X-Men, Sandman) in the merging of big, visually exciting art with a story examining America’s consumer-based culture.

Sci-fi thrills and superhero action from the one and only Rick Remender!

This is the cover to the third part of the awesome Braniac storyline currently running in Action Comics, by the always reliable Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. #868 is out tomorrow.

The last two are covers from Marvel, namely this week’s Captain Britain & MI 13 #4, and the second printing variant cover of Hulk #5, featuring the Thortastic art of Ed McGuiness.

Freedom Formula #1 Review

Radical Comics are the newest publisher on the comics market, and so far, they seem to be making waves. They have wisely partnered with the Singapore based Imaginary Friends Studios to bring in the next level of gifted creators. However, as unveiled at July’s Comic-Con, they’ll also be working with such well known names as writer Steve Niles, and director John Woo is interested in a film adaptation of their Western series, Caliber. They also have projects involving Weta Workshop (the Lord of the Rings SFX gurus) and painters Luis Royo and Jim Steranko.

After reading the first issues of both Hercules and Caliber and being somewhat underwhelmed, I wasn’t expecting much from Freedom Formula. Thankfully, I was wrong. A tonal departure from those books, this is a futuristic adventure set post world war (isn’t every futuristic tale?) where the sport of high speed competition in hi-tech bikes (VXs) rules the roost.

Courier driver Zee becomes embroiled in the race as the competitors pass through his home in the Wastelands. After hiding as a pit crew member he visits the mammoth city of Los Petropolis and gets embroiled in another accident waiting to happen, namely his death.

Subtitled Ghost of the Wasteland, this five issue mini-series shows the most promise of all Radical’s books and I wouldn’t be surprised if it it eventually becomes an ongoing. There are facets that we’ve seen before – the corporations controlling society, the division between the “norms” and the “eugenes” (genetically engineered), the popular sport of advanced racing, but with Zee’s secrets about his late father (for whom he’s delivering a mysterious package) and enough hints of more menace to appear Freedom Formula may just rise above typical sci-fi fare.

What truly makes this book rise above, however, is the art. It’s simply amazing. With an organically creepy look reminiscent of Jae Lee (Hellshock, Dark Tower) and beautifully designed pages in the vein of Christian Gossett (Red Star), Chester Ocampo and Kai stamp a very appealing visual style on the pages of this book. Each page is different enough, but not wildly so. Writer Edmund Shen is wise enough to free the pages of verbose dialogue and unnecessary exposition and lets the pages speak for themselves. After adapting Yoshitako Amano’s Mateki: The Magic Flute, he knows when to humbly let great art do it’s thing. And there’s plenty for it to do. From the intro of the racers under the bright lights, to the sparse darkness of the Wastelands, to the unveiling of Los Petropolis, your reaction will be the same as Zee’s, namely, “Whoa.” Some, if not most of that can also be attributed to Mr B (apparently it’s a prerequisite that all of Radical’s artists have names like rappers), the visual effects designer who knows when to bathe the art in light and when to be subdued. This a good package and if this standard is maintained (Radical are not flooding the market just yet) they could develop into comics’ next big thing. Director Bryan Singer (X-Men, Superman Returns) has just picked this up for a feature film at some point, so now’s the time to get in on the ground floor and see this title for yourself before Singer puts all the characters in leather and removes the fun. If you’re still not convinced, check out the nifty trailer for the series below.

Dave Sim: Zombie Mocker

Cerberus creator Dave Sim is a legend of independent comics. He guided Cerberus the Aardvarks’ genre bending adventures from 1977 to 2004 single handedly and fought for creator’s right along the way. His latest project is entirely different. Glamourpuss is a look at the history of fashion magazines as well as photo realism in comics. Sort of. It’s unlike anything else on the stands. My respect goes out to anyone that can do what they love for so long, and he’s received equal parts adoration and hatred over his controversial views on feminism and religion over the years, but he keeps on pressing on. Glamourpuss #2 has a great feature on the back cover poking fun of all the zombie craziness that Marvel have focused on in various mini-series and x-overs in the last 2 years. Read it and laugh, because the undead are funny, unless they’re eating your loved one’s brains.

Dave Sim’s blog (complete with pretty pics)

Image Welcomes Newbies

Image Comics is a publisher free from the multi-layered complexities inherent at Marvel and DC, and therefore have become a haven for new readers. They may not have pop culture screen stars like their more famous competition, but that’s sure to change with Hollywood’s fruitful love affair with sequential art.

This month’s Monster Pile-Up #1 offers four new short stories of relatively new characters. All produced by their original creators its an accessible introduction in to some of Image’s titles. Firstly, a four page look at Gary Hampton’s world. Every full moon he becomes The Astounding Wolf-Man (complete with simple, but cool costume) and is currently on the run for a framed murder. Next up is a look at teenager Duncan Rosenblatt, otherwise known as the winged Firebreather, son of the monstrous Belloc. In this five page tale, all he wants is to get a grasp on his geometry homework but receives an attack from a wannabe super villain hoping to prove his worth. Then a tale in which The Voices of the Night radio show receives calls from people detailing their experiences with The Perhapanauts, members of The Bedlam (think Hellboy’s B.P.R.D. but more fun) Lastly, a teaser for Proof in which we see a Christmas tale from 1805 where Bigfoot aids American explorers, Lewis and Clark. All four adventures give enough of a taste of these unique series to decide if you’d like more. In a world of comic book confusion, it’s a nice sampler of new-reader friendly creations.

So is Invincible. One of Image’s most successful series, it follows the adventures of Mark Grayson, AKA the titular hero. Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) is a great writer and handles Mark’s romance with fellow hero Eve just as deftly as he does the battles. It’s obvious he’s building a saga here, but one that can be understood in bite sized chunks. I’m not a regular reader but this month’s #51 is a great jumping-on point. Mark gains a new blue costume and a younger brother/sidekick and there’s enough out of costume moments to keep interest, such as family dynamics and brief intros to teams in Mark’s world, like the Teen Team and Guardians of the Globe. Kirkman and penciller Ryan Ottley have been the book’s regular creative team for the majority of the book’s run and are here joined by new colourist Fco Plascencia. Nice touches abound in this ish, such as the discussion of code-names (Omni-Boy or Kid Omni-Man?), the Firebreather preview and the announcement in the letters pages of the new Invincible web-toon series. This is a book crafted with care. That’s why its legion of fans are growing and will surely continue to after more newbie friendly issues like this.