Every week, Comics! The Blog goes through the list of new releases and we tell you which comics to plug into your mind hole. Your mileage may vary.
AN ABUNDANCE OF “A” ADVENTURES (Marvel and DC Comics)
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN # 679
ANIMAL MAN #6
Listen, I know this is supposed to just have five issues in it every week, but I needed to talk about Spider-Man or this bus would explode and I also couldn’t not talk about the consistent brilliance that is Animal Man.
First, in Amazing Spider-Man #79, we get to see conclusion to the last issue’s story where Spider-Man is racing against the clock to prevent a catastrophe from occurring at 3:10pm, the aftermath of which he saw when he went “missing” for a day to briefly travel to the future where he was missing for a day and couldn’t prevent the mystery disaster.
It’s… all very complicated.
Unfortunately, it’s 3:09pm and Pete has no idea what to do in the next minute. Could this be the end of our hero and of New York? Oh come on, pull your head out of your ass. There’s a giant Spider-Man event starting in like a month and he kind of has to be alive for that. Plus, killing the company’s mascot wouldn’t be good for business. Still, I have no idea how he’s going to get out of this and there is no better feeling in comics than that. Dan Slott, you complete me. You too, Humberto Ramos. Hug? Hug.
Instead of an ending, in Animal Man #6 we’ll see a brief interlude after the terrifying conclusion to the first arc in Issue #5, where, you know, Buddy and his daughter accidentally helped the evil force known as The Rot spread throughout the world, risking the very future of the earth as we know it! GODDAMN, comics! In this interlude, we get a callback to the series’ first issue, where Buddy mentioned trying his hand as an actor in a low budget but critically-acclaimed superhero movie, except now we get to watch the movie, starring a comic book character, in a comic book about the fictional actor, giving me my first meta-storytelling fix of 2012.. Eat your heart out, Grant Morrison!
Okay, to be totally honest, I missed the third issue of this because I am an idiot and I am kicking myself over it. Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman’s story set before the first Planet of the Apes movie is actually making me want to watch all those old movies and have some serious Ape Talk because even from just the two issues I’ve read so far, it is exactly the Apes story I want. It’s got intrigue! Politics! Hard questions about society! Violence! Bearded men with loincloths! Everything you could want, really.
Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes tells the story about how the world of the original Charlton Heston movie became aligned the way it was in the years preceding it. However, instead of just being a prequel and contributing little other than nostalgia, Bechko and Hardman have taken a world that is familiar to even the most casual Apes fan (me) because of its timeframe and used it to tell an ambitious story about society and how it treats change. Plus, it certainly helps that Hardman is producing one of the most beautiful, breathtaking books on the shelves. That dude just loves himself some apes and hey, if he wants to draw the heck out of those and some gorgeous environments, who am I to not start giving him all my money?
DEFENDERS #3 (Marvel Comics)
If you’ve visited the site before, you’ll be familiar with this drill. There is a new Matt Fraction comic! You will buy it! It has pretty Terry & Rachel Dodson art! Where did all your money go?
For those who are less familiar, I’ll elaborate. Defenders is a book about the Hulk bringing together a group of the few people in the Marvel Universe that he believes he can trust, and asking them to take care of a little problem: a being of pure rage and destruction – and for the Hulk to be saying this, I imagine this qualifies as Serious Business – that might destroy everything if they don’t stop it first. But they can’t tell anyone, so they ask Iron Fist to come along so they can use his experimental billion dollar private jet to get around secretly. They immediately get it destroyed and then the team gets involved in sci-fi religious fanatic’s desire to also destroy everything so that he can get to a better universe.
Defenders is an exciting book, full of big, bold ideas and a relentless enthusiasm that the creators get to tell this story in this medium. Fraction has described Tom Brevoort selling him on doing the book by reminding him that he could write all the characters he loves but who couldn’t carry a solo series at the moment, and his love for all of them, from Iron Fist to She-Hulk, shows. Reading it, it feels like a modern spin on old Silver Age styles of storytelling, with a voice that’s unmistakably Fraction’s. It’s a team book that has the kind of action you expect with a sly, subversive note running through it. Plus, the Dodsons make some super pretty art!
I am not usually a horror fan, though I am definitely a crime fiction fan. Despite this, it took me a shockingly long time before reading Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ series Criminal last year. Of course, I fell in love because a) it is brilliant; 2) Last of the Innocent has some riffs on the Archie Comics characters and that is just wonderful. Fully jazzed on the power of comics (and murder), I jumped wholeheartedly into Fatale, the pair’s latest creator-owned story combining crime fiction and horror, with a mysterious woman with an unnatural lifespan and strange power over men at its centre. Fatale #1 blew me away with how elegantly it presented the world of the comic – a recognizable world with something sinister peeking in at the periphery of the mind – and drew me into the emotions of its lead characters. As always, Phillips’ art was beautiful and he and Brubaker remain one of the partnerships in the world of comics.
Fatale #2 looks to deepen the world of the comics with more exciting, terrifying events and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. There’s a bonus, too! If you didn’t manage to get a copy of the first issue, its second printing arrives in stores tomorrow, so pick both up at once and thank me later (preferably with baked goods, email me for my address, non-perverts). If you like it, remember to tell your shop to order it in for you so that you never miss an issue!
WINTER SOLDIER #1 (Marvel Comics)
In his first Captain America story, Ed Brubaker brought back the character of Bucky Barnes, long thought dead, as the Soviet-brainwashed covert operative known as the Winter Soldier. Throughout Brubaker’s years on the title, we’ve seen him kill Steve Rogers and have Bucky take over for his friend and mentor. What many heralded as a cheap storytelling ploy became one of the most rewarding serial stories around, as we got to see Barnes grow into his new role, become accepted, and eventually “die” in the service of the country, allowing Rogers to take up the shield once again. Throughout his rise and public fall, readers grew to love and accept Barnes all over again and now, in the next phase of Brubaker’s operatic story, we get to see what Barnes does after taking back his Winter Soldier persona to right the wrongs he committed before. Basically, I am on board because this sounds incredible.
This could blow everything about James Barnes open all over again. He grew into the role of Captain America, growing up and finding himself, but never really finding peace. That seems to be the goal of his new series, with one part road trip/travelogue and another part tension-fraught action-espionage story. What will Bucky and the Black Widow do? Who will they cross and how will they grow? I feel like the sky’s the limit. And with Butch Guice and Bettie Breitweiser bringing their artistic chops to bear, the series is going to look absolutely gorgeous, with both realism and a smoky, distorted feeling to give the series a riveting, ghostly air.
Guys, I fuckin’ love comics and stuff like this is a big reason why.
These are slightly more than five of the many great books being released this week! You can find the full list of comics being released here. If you have any other recommendations, let us know in the comments below.