Image Month at Broken Frontier

To celebrate Image Comics’ 20th anniversary comics site Broken Frontier has launched Image Month, which is exactly as it sounds. There will be reviews of classic issues, interviews with creators and more. Check it out here and you can also read two of my reviews of recent Image releases, Whispers #2, which is awesome, and Hell Yeah #2.

While you’re there, check out my review of the new one-shot from Dak Horse Comics starring monster hunter Cal McDonald, and see a preview of the ish here.

Racing, Judging, Laughing And Chewing

Superman #709. I dropped the Superman monthly series last year when writer J. Michael Straczynski began the Grounded storyline, in which the Man of Steel walks across America. Yes it’s as boring and controversial as it sounds. Now that JMS has stepped back to focus on the sequel to the popular OGN Superman: Earth One, other writers have been taking over with his notes, and thankfully elevated the action and interest and all but dropped the boring bits.

This issue, co-written by JMS and Chris Roberson, with art by the reliable Eddy Barrows is an entertaining tale. I’m still wary of dedicating myself to this title again, but it’s full of promise once more. Supes, after trying to get a hold of his wife Lois, runs into The Flash (Barry Allen), after seeing the town he’s in quickly become a historic Kryptonian area, while parts of Krypton’s past ring in his ear. The Man of Steel realises it’s the Scarlet Speedster at the centre of all this, and saves him by lifting a golden headband off his forehead. The Flash admits that the headband fell to earth and his curiosity got the better of him, and he was all pretty much mind controlled when he put it on. Superman reveals that it’s a Kryptonian artefact, the two heroes go to a diner for a superspeed chat, (all in a second or two, while a waitress falls, but they save her after their discussion of course) about their respective proteges and who runs faster, and the headband situation disappears. I don’t know if its origin will be revisited in future issues, but this is a good story even without it.

There’s a flashback to a young Clark and Lex Luthor in detention (Clark was there for skipping school to save a burning town and Lex was there for stealing 40 cakes. Um…yeah, but it must be a reference to this classic kids’ book). That scene is unnecessary really, but at least it has one of those Superman quotes I’ve never forgotten, as spoken by Pa Kent – “There is right and wrong in this universe and the distinction isn’t hard to make.” I can’t recall when I first read that quote in a Superman comic, but it summarises what the Man of Steel is all about.

This was always going to be an ish with controversy, as Supes and Flash race (kind of) and it had so much that The Source, DC’s official blog had to disallow all comments from now on to try and stop the hate! Fanboys are passionate about such superhero matters.

Batman #708. Taking over from writer/artist Tony Daniel, David Hine and Guillem March do their thing in this 3 part tale that crosses over with Red Robin #22, before finishing in next month’s Batman.  Titled Judgement on Gotham, it has ex-cop Michael Lane, who’s the new Azrael calm down his new protégé Crusader, who has no nose, a scarred face and a knack for shouting Biblical passages. The third Robin Tim Drake, (Red Robin) and Catwoman showing up to help Dick Grayson (the new Batman) confront the zealot, and save some civilians who he almost purged with fire. With Dick Grayson suffering from side effects from Azrael’s burning sword in a previous ish, he sees false memories about childhood beatings, and gets fed up with the judgmental stance of Azrael and Crusader. It seems like this is a turning point in the relationship with the Bat family and the concept of Azrael as a righteous warrior.

March’s work has always dazzled me. I first saw it in Gotham City Sirens and I’ll grab anything that he’s involved with. More wispy and elongated than most superhero comics, March infuses his pages with the kind of dramatic emotion that Neal Adams can do so well, but with a P. Craig Russell-like sense of design. There’s a delicate approach when needed combined with a great sense of urgency and movement in the action scenes.

Iceman and Angel #1. This was such a fun read, which is no surprise really, as it’s written by Atomic Robo’s Brian Clevinger, who also put his comedic spin recently on Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet mini for Marvel. I’d like to spoil the jokes but I won’t as it’s so much fun to discover. Set in the First Class days of the X-Men, it has Iceman and Angel going on a holiday before a naked monster shows up looking for his son. Who’s in college. Hijinks, and great dialogue follow. Clevinger proves that superheroes don’t have to be all serious all the time and Juan Doe’s art is breezy and cool. Get this one-shot. It’s a refreshing change of pace from spandex melodrama and since it’s a done-in-one tale, it’s perfect for superhero newbies too. It has the best Namor cameo ever and some truly funny zingers.

Chew Script Book. Exactly what it says, but rather disappointing. It offers the entire script from the first issue and some sketches and that’s it. No insight into the origins of this hit Image series, no look at the initial proposal, just a script with a few pics thrown in. Grab this only if you’re a Chew completitst, or have no idea what a comic script should look like.

Then again, I’m neither and I bought this.

The Intrepids From Image

Looks like Image Comics has another intriguing creation on their hands. By the cover and description, it reminds me of a fun, modern Doom Patrol or rather, The Losers. Neato. Plus, I prefer the new title for this series.

The Intrepids is a 6 ish mini and you can check out a great preview of the debut issue, plus an honest offering of the genesis of the project at the official site.

MAD SCIENTISTS ARE A GIRL’S WORST ENEMY

New Title The Intrepids Arrives in March

Mad scientists are a disease and this March, fans will meet the cure: THE INTREPIDS! Image Comics continues to promote the best new talent by introducing this six-issue miniseries by the up and coming creative team of writer Kurtis Wiebe and artist Scott Kowalchuk.

THE INTREPIDS are a collection of runaway homeless teenagers that have been taken in and cared for by an aging inventor named Dante. Applying his brilliance, he crafts marvelous technological contraptions and with his vision and help, the motley crew he has assembled agree to use his gadgets for the betterment of mankind. Together, they combat tyranny and stop madmen from bringing harm to the world!

“THE INTREPIDS is a James Bond-style action-adventure that takes mad science to new heights. It’ll be wild, it’ll be action packed and it’ll have sexy dames with rocket packs!” says Wiebe. “It’s really our best case scenario to be publishing this book with Image. They’ve been producing some of the most engaging work in comics.”

“Kurtis and I have had a lot of fun developing this book,” adds Kowalchuk. “That fun will shine through. We’re extremely proud of the series, and we hope the fans will have as good a time with it as we do!”

Originally announced with the title of RAT BASTARDS, THE INTREPIDS reverted to the series’ original name to avoid a trademark conflict with a previously published title.

THE INTREPIDS #1 (JAN110555), a 24-page full-color comic book for $2.99, will be in stores on March 2, 2011. Meet the INTREPIDS at www.theintrepids.com.

Who Is Jake Ellis Launches In January

One of my fave mini-series this year has been The Light from writer Nathan Edmondson and artist Brett Weldele. Edmondson is definitely a writer on the rise, proving that his comics debut Olympus was no fluke. His next series hits shelves next year. I’m so there. Official details below.
Writer Nathan Edmondson made people afraid to look into the light with THE LIGHT, a sell-out five-issue miniseries drawn by Brett Weldele (The Surrogates). Now, he brings new life to the spy genre with WHO IS JAKE ELLIS?, an all-new series from Image Comics.
The first issue of JAKE ELLIS will be in stores in January 2011. Tonci Zonjic (POPGUN, The Immortal Iron Fist, Daredevil) joins Edmondson on the book, producing action-packed art and covers for the series.
“Tonci and I are bringing the idea of psychological thriller to a whole new arena,” says Edmondson. “One part mystery, one part friendship, one part James Bond and Jason Bourne lovechild, and one other part sci-fi spy. You’ll be asking yourself the whole ride through — just who is Jake Ellis?”
Jon Moore is the most sought after spy-for-hire in Europe’s criminal world. This is because of Jake Ellis, a man who is invisible to everyone except Moore. When a deal goes bad, the only one who can protect Moore from Europe’s most dangerous criminals is Jake Ellis. No one but Moore can see Jake Ellis. But Jake Ellis can see everything.
WHO IS JAKE ELLIS? #1 (NOV100403), a 32-page, full-color comic book from Image Comics, will be in stores January 5, 2011, for $2.99. THE LIGHT VOL. 1 TP (OCT100471), a 140-page full-color graphic novel for $16.99, will be in stores December 15, 2010.
For the latest updates, follow Nathan Edmondson on Twitter, www.twitter.com/nhedmondson, and check out the Jake Ellis website at www.whoisjakeellis.com.

Entry Level: October 2010

Hit the ground floor running with this selection covering a mass of genres for the discerning reader. If you’re tired of convoluted epics that make no sense to the newbie, these books will give you a good place to start, or add to, your graphic habit, whether they be the first issue of a new series, or a collection worthy of that lonely coffee table. Here’s a list of some of October’s best.

GUY RITCHIE’S GAMEKEEPER

Dynamite Entertainment

256 pages of vengeance from the short-lived Virgin Comics, given a new audience thanks to Dynamite. This omnibus collects both volumes of the action packed story, as Brock foregoes the quiet life he’s known and puts murder in his sights once more. Along with film director Ritchie, other creators such as Andy Diggle, Jeff Parker and Mukesh Singh fill the pages with tense drama and bloodshed. An awesome movie just begging to be made.

BRUCE WAYNE-THE ROAD HOME…

DC Comics

So, Batman was “killed” a while ago in the pages of Final Crisis, with original Robin as his current replacement. However Bruce Wayne has been working his way through the timestream to get back to modern day Gotham. This month sees 8 one-shots focused on how various characters react to Batman’s resurrection, including Red Robin, Oracle, Catwoman and the Outsiders. Also out this month is Batman: The Return from the great duo of Grant Morrison and David Finch, and the debut of the 6 issue Knight & Squire, focused on England’s answer to the Dynamic Duo.

GUERILLAS: VOLUME 1

Oni Press

Brahm Revel’s black and white tale of simian soldiers in Vietnam. Yep, you may be taken back just like Private John Clayton is in this collection of the original 4 ish mini.

EMITOWN

Image Comics

400 pages of two-colour diary sketches from Emi Lenox.  The challenge to draw her daily life, whatever that may encompass, has garnered the artist many fans. You can check out her work for yourself at her blog (www.emitown.blogspot.com) or in this first collection of her quirky, humorous work.

BLACK WIDOW: DEADLY ORIGIN

Marvel

This Trade Paper Back collects the 4 issue mini-series from writer Paul Cornell and artists Tom Raney and John Paul Leon (who handles the flashbacks). Guest starring Daredevil, Hawkeye, and Bucky Barnes as the new Captain America, Russian spy Natalia Romanova must investigate the Icepick Protocol and her own past to survive. If you liked the glimpse of the character in Iron Man 2, as played by Scarlett Johansson, this is the best place to discover more.

ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY #20

Drawn and Quarterly

This Hard Cover is the latest installment from Chris Ware’s acclaimed series. Titled Lint, this issue offers a Rusty Brown story, and also focuses on the tale of family man and C.E.O Jordan Wellington Lint. Bold and diverse story telling at its finest.

NORTH 40

DC Comics/Wildstorm

Effectively creepy writing from Aaron Williams and delicate, yet dazzling art from Fiona Staples from their 6 issue mini-series is gathered here. Residents of a small town discover the weird happenings and monstrous forces that are being awakened within their county. Despite the recent closure of Wildstorm, hopefully their remaining TPBs will come out as promised.

Nathan Edmondson Talks About The Light Ending

Over at Broken Frontier is my interview with writer Nathan Edmondson about his series The Light, which is one of my fave new series of the year. The 5th and final issue of the mini is out now from Image and the TPB comes out in December.

Light of the Meta Day

Traditionally the second issue of a new series drops dramatically in sales. I can testify to that. I have countless #1s sitting in boxes, and that’s because I always like to give a new series a chance. Occasionally a new series will tick the right boxes and I’ll follow it through. Lately, I’ve discovered 3 such series.

The Light, simply put is awesome. Nathan Edmondson (Olympus) and Brett Weldele (The Surrogates) are creating the best work of their careers. This 5 part mini-series from Image is just magnificent in its storytelling simplicity. The elevator pitch would be something along the lines of, “troubled father and daughter try to survive a mysterious virus within light sources that is brutally killing anyone who looks directly into…the light.” Each issue has been better than the last, and that’s a rarity within any new mini. Edmondson knows just how to throw the right story morsels at the reader, leaving them wanting more. In this 3rd ish (of 5) Coyle and his daughter Avery run into 2 armed brothers, who are filled with confidence and a cavalier attitude to the madness surrounding them, ie, people dropping dead and the safety of darkness. My first reaction was to expect some sort of disturbing backstabbing behaviour from the pair, but Edmondson presents them as a helpful duo (though that may change next issue). That and the startling transformation of some victims into walking torches, and the effect of the virus on local birdlife proves that The Light is far more than just a cool concept without any surprises. See a preview here and you can also grab the first 2 issues in one new, handy book.

Meta4 is another 5 ish mini from Image. From creator Ted McKeever it is enjoyably weird, like a David Lynch film. Trying to explain it after just one issue in easy to grasp terms is somewhat difficult, but I’m hooked already. His sketchy art style should appeal to fans of Sam Kieth and he uses black and white with the same skill that Frank Miller does in Sin City. McKeever also worked on 3 books for DC’s Elseworlds line that re-imagined Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman through the lens of classic German Expressionist films. Man, I gotta get my hands on those. Well, Meta4 (assumedly a reference to “metaphor” which descriptions of future issues indicates) centres on an amnesiac dressed as an astronaut  who wanders in to a petrol station, gets accosted by a grotesque hillbilly and then saved by a manly woman dressed as Santa, whose name is Gasolina. So weird, yes but strangely mesmerising too. McKeever could go anywhere from here, and his experiments with captions, and symbols as speech works a treat.

Daytripper from Vertigo is a 10 issue mini-series. If you like Demo, then this is for you. Created by Brazilian brothers Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba (who worked with Matt Fraction on Casanova), the series follows former obituary writer and novelist Bras de Oliva Domingos throughout his life at different ages. This issue he attempts to track down an old college friend who mysteriously vanished years ago. Like every issue in this series, it looks like a vibrant dream and is filled with unexpected emotion.

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