Things to Come for January 2014
with Kenneth Kimbrough
Welcome to 2014, the year we first get attacked by kaiju and the year when Solid Snake grows a pretty rad stache. As a part of the new year, I’m introducing a feature to the site in which I highlight new releases, reprints, relaunches and just about anything else that tickles me. All of this information can be found in the retailer catalog—PREVIEWS—which your local comic store should carry. It looks something like this:
Even though most of these books won’t hit until March, they have to be ordered by January 23, so if you see anything you like, be sure to let your local comic store know as soon as possible. They may even have some handy customer order forms.
Also, please note that these are products that I find interesting. They are by no means everything in the book or even the best things in the book. So please don’t be offended if I left off your favorites.
FREE COMIC BOOK DAY MERCHANDISE
Skottie Young T-Shirt
Orders for Free Comic Book Day start early. For those of you new to the event, it occurs on the first day of every May, and most stores have sales and other events to bring in new customers. You also get some free comics out of the deal, so there’s that too. As part of the celebration, an artist usually makes an exclusive t-shirt sold only that year. This year, it’s Skottie Young with a pretty sweet design.
DARK HORSE COMICS
Beasts of Burden: Hunters and Gatherers by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson
Imagine TalesfromtheDarkside meets HomewardBound, and you’ve pretty much got the recipe for Dorkin and Thompson’s Beasts of Burden, a supernatural series that follows a group of pets as they protect the neighborhood from all sorts of monsters. It’s a rare treat to get a one-shot, and the painted artwork and spooky story should make this book worth every penny. The majority of the series has already been collected in a nifty hardcover, and I imagine the Hellboy crossover will be collected in the next.
Blackout #1 (of 4) by Frank Barbiere, Randy Stradley, Colin Lorimer, Doug Wheatley, and Wes Dzioba
My first attraction towards this book is just how much the suit reminds me of the Guyver (for any of you who’ve ever watched Americanized tokusatsu). And although I haven’t read Five Ghosts, Frank Barbiere’s Image book, I have read some of White Suits from Dark Horse Presents. As for the book’s plot, it sounds like the One Ring in the form of a power suit. The protagonist can move back and forth through dimensions and must save his benefactor. As for the artist, Colin Lorimer, a quick Google search brought up a hybrid between EC-style moodiness with a touch of clean line work here and there. At four issues, I’ll at least check out the first.
The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys TP and Ltd. Ed. HC by Gerard Way, Shaun Simon, Becky Cloonan, and Dan Jackson
Did you miss out on this series? Did the name Gerard Way bring up images of annoying pre-teens in white makeup? Shame on you. Shame. Shame. Shame. This is one of the best miniseries of 2013, and you should do yourself a favor by getting it in trade. As for the plot—let’s just say it’s dystopian teenage rebellion future with a superhero tinge. Becky Cloonan does an awesome job rendering the world, and everything about this book screams cool. If I could, I’d pick up the hardcover.
Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell HC by Paul Dini and Joe Quinones
Paul Dini loves writing Zatanna, and honestly who can blame him? But what appeals to me about this book is what appears to be a break with New 52 continuity by showing Black Canary and Zatanna in their older costumes. It’s a small change, I know. And Joe Quinones on the book makes it even more appealing.
JSA Omnibus Vol. 1 HC by Various Writers and Artists
This is a beast of an omnibus, collecting the series originally launched by James Robinson and David Goyer and later picked up by Geoff Johns. If you want a history of the DCU told through awesome stories, this is the book for you. If you don’t root for Golden Age heroes by the end of this book, then I don’t know, go watch TV or something?
Tales of the Batman: Carmine Infantino HC by Carmine Infantino, Gardner Fox, and others
Carmine Infantino is almost single-handedly responsible for everything you know about Silver Age Batman, which probably would have been cancelled in the early 60s if not for him. Next time you’re in a comic store, look for a cover where Batman is running at the viewer. It’s probably Infantino. Also, Batgirl.
American Vampire: Second Cycle #1 by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque
Yes, yes, yes! I jumped when I saw that American Vampire’s lengthy hiatus is finally coming to an end. This is hands-down one of the only vampire things I can recommend in good conscience, and it has been an awesome historical romp. One of my favorite features about this book is that each arc takes place in a specific decade as we follow the titular vampires, Pearl Jones and Skinner Sweet. Now that we’re picking up in the 60s, I can’t wait.
Jonah Hex: Shadows West TP by Joe R. Lansdale, Timothy Truman, and Sam Glanzman
Finally the Vertigo Jonah Hex series will be collected in a single trade. Penned by Joe R. Lansdale, these are some of my favorite Jonah Hex stories, and they proved what the “mature readers” label could let loose in the Old West. The answer to that, my friends, is a bounty hunter named Jonah Hex.
Charles Schulz’s Peanuts: Artist’s Edition HC by—you know—Charles Schulz
I don’t know how I missed this on my first glance, but IDW is putting out Peanuts as one of their Artist’s Editions! For any aspiring cartoonists, Schulz is an excellent way to learn the art of expression, emanata, and the philosophy that less is so much more. If I weren’t ordering Kirby’s FourthWorld from last month’s PREVIEWS, I would probably pick this up too.
Ghostbusters: Total Containment Over-Sized HC by Erik Burnham, Dan Schoening, and Tristan Jones
I’m always skeptical about licensed series, but Ghostbusters is written by fans for fans and not at the cost of a good story. If you enjoyed the movies, the TV show, or even the game, there’s something here for you.
Rocky and Bullwinkle #1 (of 4) by Mark Evanier and Roger Langridge
Speaking of licensed comics, here’s another. Normally, I would write this off, but as I said, IDW is putting out some really, really great licensed comics. Along with Samurai Jack, Godzilla, Powerpuff Girls, and X-Files, my pull is veering increasingly towards licensed. Also, Evanier and Langridge are great.
Alice in Comicland HC by various writers and artists
It seems to me that Lewis Carroll’s Alice is especially well-suited to the comics medium. Despite the original stories being something of an extended pun and a satire of language, what really makes the story for me are John Tenniel’s bonkers illustrations (trust me, you’ve seen them). Now we get to see collected in a single volume Alice as interpreted by Charles Schulz, Alex Toth, Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Davis, Dan DeCarlo, David Berg, Walt Kelly and George Carlson. All right. Shut up and take my money.
Speaking of Image, go pre-order the upcoming documentary The Image Revolution, here.
Stray Bullets: Killers #1 by David Lapham
I’ll admit I never read the original run on StrayBullets. There, I said it. And as a fan of crime comics, it makes me ashamed. Now’s my chance to finally remedy that problem.
Starlight #1 by Mark Millar and Goran Parlov
I have a love/hate relationship with Mark Millar. When he’s not making fun of comics fans, he can tell some of the most inspiring, heartfelt stories I’ve ever read (see his work on Superman). Looking at the preview pages for Starlight, an homage to sci-fi serials like Flash Gordon, it looks like Millar might be returning to his earlier themes. Also, Goran Palov’s art is a wonderful example of what color can do for even simple—but not simplistic—line work.
Fatale: Deluxe Edition, Vol. 1 HC by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
And capping off Image for me is this beauty of a hardcover. For those of you not following the book, it centers around a femme fatale constantly on the run from gangsters and occultists. Think of it as Raymond Chandler meets H.P. Lovecraft. My favorite part is all the extras reprinted here. This will look great next to my Criminal hardcovers and The Art of Sean Phillips.
Daredevil #1 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee
This one’s kind of a cheat. Anyone who read my Best of 2013 list (or Cory’s for that matter) knows that I love Daredevil. Was it any surprise that I would pick up the book chronicling his move to San Francisco?
Moon Knight #1 by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey
Warren Ellis has a strange habit of taking books that do moderately okay and pumping out definitive runs (see Thunderbolts, Iron Man, or Secret Avengers). I loved the way he wrote Moon Knight character in Secret Avengers and I can’t wait to see how he and Declan Shalvey, who is severely underrated, handle Marc Spector.
Silver Surfer #1 by Dan Slott and Michael Allred
When he’s not writing earth-shattering Spider-Man stories, Dan Slott tends to focus on what makes comics fun. And I can’t think of a better team to take on the Sentinel of the Skyways than Slott and Allred, both of whom are heavily inspired by the cosmic fun and scope of the Silver Age. Seriously, sit down and read any Dan Slott comic and see how much he writes his dialogue like Stan Lee.
All-New Ghost Rider #1 by Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore
Ghost Rider has always struck me as something of an adolescent fantasy, which is by no means a dig at the character or any of the previous books (because really, how many comics do I read that actually are adolescent fantasies?). As such, it’s a nice surprise to see manga-inspired Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore take on the book. I’m willing to give it a shot.
Daredevil and Elektra: Fall From Grace TPB by various writers and artists
This is more of a personal thing for me. Chichester’s run on Daredevil is often maligned as nineties-style excess, which is a fair assessment. However, Julian Darius’s essay on the topic in The Devil is in the Details has made me reevaluate the run, and I’m curious to revisit it after so long.
Thor Epic Collection: A Kingdom Lost TPB by Chris Claremont, Alan Zelenetz, and various artists
If you’re a marathon reader like me, it’s pretty easy to see the appeal of Marvel’s Epic Collections. I keep blind-buying these things because they’re a great way to read up on a character without sacrificing precious longbox space. DeFalco and Frenz reminded me how fun Thor can be, so I’m eager to read this volume.
Action Lab Entertainment
Ghost Town TP by Dave Dwonch, Ryan Lindsay, Daniel Logan, and Justin Greenwood
I had the fortune to read this series recently, and I was struck by how much I enjoyed it. This is a survival story akin to Criminal—each arc focuses on different characters—and this first trade shows us the inciting event (what if terrorists sent a bomb through time?) and the dystopian collapse that ensues. It’s definitely worth picking up if you’re a fan of any of those things.
Archie Comic Publications
The Fox Volume 1: Freak Magnet TP by J.M. DeMatteis, Mark Waid and Dean Haspiel
I missed out on the first issue of this series, but Mark Waid and Dean Haspiel seem to be the perfect guys to revive this Golden Age character, so I’ll probably pick up the trade. I like my comics to be fun.
Magnus: Robot Fighter #1 by Fred Van Lente and Cory Smith
Oh, Magnus. My favorite robot-punching hero is getting yet another relaunch, but Fred Van Lente and Cory Smith are behind this one, and if the art’s any indication, it could be pretty great. I’ll probably pick this one up for at least the first few issues.
:01 First Second
The Undertaking of Lily Chen GN by Danica Novgorodoff
Corpse marriages are a difficult subject to talk about without getting into the problem of orientalism and ethnocentrism, so I won’t attempt that here. All I’ll say is that corpse marriages are an ancient tradition in which the dead are married so that they don’t enter the next world alone. That being said, I’m especially curious to read First Second’s graphic novel on the subject. Clocking in at a little over 400 pages, this book is a tome.
Young Romance 2: The Early Simon and Kirby Romance Comics by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
Simon and Kirby are often cited as having invented the romance comic genre, and here is the next volume in Fantagraphics archival series. Although a historical touchstone in comics history, these stories are also surprisingly entertaining. If you’re a fan at all of Kirby and Simon, this is a nice break from their prolific cosmic, superhero and horror work.
Comics Art HC by Paul Gravett
This book was hyped by BleedingCool as the new Understanding Comics, and as a growing scholar and aspiring comics creator, I’d love to read it. I’ve seen some preview pages, and it appears to be a solid look into the fundamentals of the comics medium. Here’s hoping.
Top Shelf Productions
Despite how you may feel about Alan Moore’s more recent work, Nemo: Heart of Ice was a nice change of pace from the overall weirdness of Moore’s most recent League stories. It seems with Janni, Moore is able to tell some more straightforward adventure stories while still commenting on twentieth-century fiction. It looks like this volume will focus on the beginning of World War II as Janni fights Adenoid Hynkel (from Chaplin’s The Great Dictator) and his own version of the League.
That’s it for me this month. If anything, I hope I’ve steered you towards some great releases in March. Be sure to check back next month for even more Things to Come!
Follow Kenneth Kimbrough on Twitter: @KKimbrough44