Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Jumping On Points 03-30-2011

This column looks at the best access points in comics for new readers, and old readers looking for new titles. You must read this article before you hit your LCS this week to see what you can slip on into. Hit the jump to see why you don't need continuity, background knowledge, or prior love to buy and enjoy Superman’s Pal, more Captain America issues, vampire tales of varied varieties, one excessively vulgar yet entertaining debut, and plenty more.

It’s hard to get new readers into the comic stores and when you do stage a coup and get them across the threshold there so rarely much that seems approachable. Most superhero comics have continuity longer than anyone can reasonably chase down, and many indie comics are going the same way. However, there are jumping on points to be found and this column is going to highlight them. Sometimes it might be a new number one, other times a creative team change or new direction. No matter what, we’re dedicated to finding perfect points for you and your friends to try new comics without being weighed down by too much.

American Vampire #13

Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Rafael Albuquerque

“Part 1 of the AMERICAN VAMPIRE World War II Epic begins here with a tale of heroism – and horror!

Hawaii, 1944. For nearly two decades, Henry Preston and his wife, American Vampire Pearl Jones, have tried to live a quiet life. But with war raging overseas, Henry feels he can no longer live in the shadows, and makes a deal to join a covert mission to a remote Japanese island – an island inhabited by an enemy far more dangerous than any Axis powers. It’s the war in the Pacific like you’ve never seen it before with Pearl, Henry and Skinner Sweet at the heart of it all and more fangs and blood than ever before.”

Surely you’ve heard all the hype, right? This series is dominant and now is a perfect opportunity to find out how and why. Each arc relatively stands alone though always offering just a little more to the overall scheme of things. You can sample this issue, then the rest of the arc, and get caught up on prior events in trade. Trust me, you get the trades and you’ll want the future in floppies anyway, waiting won’t be enough.

Albuquerque is back on art and this title hasn’t missed a step. I imagine good things ahead.

Prior Knowledge Needed – WWII was a major conflict across the world with different battle theatres raging in many continents. Vampires are gruesome monsters that kill easily and certainly don’t shimmer.

Butcher Baker Righteous Maker #1

Written by Joe Casey
Art by Mike Huddleston

“Maybe you’ve seen the PR — now read the comicbook! At one time, BUTCHER BAKER was the preeminent, All-American superhero. Now, he’s getting laid. A lot. But one last mission could signal his return to glory, so he’s back on the blacktop! It’s a balls-out, surreal super-epic from creators JOE CASEY (GØDLAND, Ben 10) and MIKE HUDDLESTON (The Coffin), and it starts right here!


This comic has already sold out so I just hope you can even get your hands on a copy. This slice of offensive insanity looks to expose your brain to all matter of distressing scenes of sexual depravity and violence. Yet there’s an actual story beneath it all, and it should be relatively smart to boot.

It also looks gorgeous and unlike anything you’re going to pick up from either of the Big Two. And that’s a good thing, in this case.

Prior Knowledge Needed – Probably just read Automatic Kafka. The stories won’t intersect but it will open your mind enough to be able to accept this tale into your system. Oh, and good luck getting Kafka, they never collected it.

Captain America #616

Written by Ed Brubaker, Howard Chaykin, Mike Benson, Frank Tieri, Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, and more
Art by Butch Guise, Howard Chaykin, Paul Grist, and more

“It's the 70th Anniversary of Captain America's debut and we're celebrating by beginning a bold new direction. A double-size main story by award-winning writer Ed Brubaker sees Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes both struggling with the shocking ramifications of the Trial of Captain America and what comes next! A forgotten portrait of Captain America, painted in the waning days of World War II, brings up nearly forgotten memories of those turbulent and frightening years for Steve Rogers—memories of yearning, of loss and of innocence betrayed, brought to you by legendary writer/artist Howard Chaykin. Captain America falls under the vampiric Baron Blood’s spell in an untold tale of the Invaders! Plus: Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier, and the Secret Avengers investigate a modern day Hitler!”

It’s an anniversary issue so the red carpet gets rolled out, until the relaunch in a few months with a new #1. Don’t be cynical, just enjoy the great creative teams working hard to shoehorn as many pages and stories into your one issue as they can. Though Brubaker has been owning Cap for quite some time, this feels like a good point to jump in because a lot of threads are being tied off and a ‘new direction’ is starting.

It’s easier to sample this one issue than try to heft through a few omnibi to see if you like the title.

Prior Knowledge Needed – Captain America is a character with a long and storied history. You can’t know it all so perhaps feel alright coming in and not being able to reference every continuity beat. Enjoy each of these tales and perhaps work them out in context.

Captain America and the Secret Avengers #1

Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art by Greg Tocchini

“Steve Rogers’ black ops femme fatales go on the hunt for a rogue assassin! The Black Widow & Agent 13 join forces to stop an under-aged assassin from taking her revenge on a killer of a headmistress. Fierce fisticuffs, death-defying duels and good ol’ fashioned espionage ensue as everything comes to a head in the Big Apple where the gals go in guns blazin' against…teenaged versions of themselves?!”

Kelly Sue DeConnick writes Black Widow and Sharon Carter in a Cap one-shot. That’s the sales pitch right there and the reason you should get this issue. DeConnick generally writes good female character, but she writes kick ass action, too. If this is anywhere near as good as the Crossbones or Batroc one-shots then we should be fine.

Having Greg Tocchini on the art is also a major vote for buying this book.

Prior Knowledge Needed – Sharon Carter dates Steve Rogers, the original Cap. Black Widow dates James Barnes, the new Cap. Both girls also kick ass in their spare time without the bf’s around.

Cyclops #1

Written by Lee Black
Art by Dean Haspiel

“Scott Summers: Team leader of the X-Men, always helping people in need. Also: Never happy! Maybe a visit from BATROC THE LEAPER & the CIRCUS OF CRIME can shed some light on what makes Cyclops tick!”

What the hell, more Batroc in the same month…surely someone jests…? Why we would want to see Cyclops against Batroc is beyond me. I guess if anyone is even pitching this story, and seeing it into print, it must be pretty awesome. Or it might just be completely absurd. And won’t both entertain you either way?

I really don’t even see why Cyclops is getting his own one-shot. This is baffling.

Prior Knowledge Needed – Cyclops used to be the straight guy of the X-Men but now he’s the broody general forged through war and the emotional turmoil of a girlfriend who constantly died and resurrected in front of him.

Elephantmen: Man and Elephantman #1
Written by Richard Starkings
Art by Axel Medellin

“Hip Flask awakens one morning to find everything is not as it seems...

A great jump-on issue for new readers — in the style of INVINCIBLE RETURNS #1! Features the first of a triptych of retailer incentive covers by J. SCOTT CAMPBELL!”

Elephantmen is a critically acclaimed book by letterer Richard Starkings. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. It’s been going for a few years now but it still feels like so many people haven’t read it. This issue presents a perfect place for people to jump in and enjoy this anthropomorphised title of violence and emotion.

Prior Knowledge Needed – This book continues to garner industry acclaim and has a high chance of being the best thing you’ll pick up this week.

Jimmy Olsen #1

Written by Nick Spencer
Art by RB Silva

“The hit ACTION COMICS co-feature that everyone’s talking about gets its own collection, reprinting the first four parts of the story and presenting 30 all-new pages that bring “Jimmy Olsen’s Big Week” to a ridiculously over-the-top close!

When Jimmy Olsen finds out that his ex-girlfriend, Chloe Sullivan, is spending a week writing a profile about a young big-shot LexCorp employee, Jimmy is determined to prove to Chloe that he can have just as exciting and interesting a week. Cue bar fights with drunken aliens, a visit to the Yarn Barn with Supergirl, Fifth Dimensional stalkers, and Jimmy Olsen: Space Warrior!”

This back up was going to be the business, but then DC got out of the business of having back ups in their comics. The first part that I sampled for free was a whole stack of fun. This issue, expensive and oversized, will no doubt bring the fun throughout its entirety. Great writing and gorgeous art bring to life Superman’s pal, who doesn’t want that?

Prior Knowledge Needed – Jimmy Olsen’s entourage rolls deep, even if just with one man. He’s an intrepid reporter friend of Superman’s and so that’s put him into loads of adventures over the years.

Teen Titans #93
Written by J.T. Krul
Art by Nicola Scott

“A brand-new day brings a brand-new hero to the world of the Teen Titans! Strange disappearances on an archeological dig prompt Wonder Girl’s mother to ask the team for help. But what part does the new hero Solstice have in these mysterious absences? Will she help the Titans — or hurt them?”

A new creative team on the title bring a ‘brand-new day’ but not in that negative mind wiping manner. A title like Teen Titans should be something that lets readers in a lot easier so this issue should be fun to sample.

Prior Knowledge Needed – These are the junior heroes of the DCU. Try not to treat them like babies, they’re just sidekicks and slightly younger heroes, they still get the job done.

Undying Love #1

Written by Tomm Coker and Daniel Freedman
Art by Tomm Coker

“A horror-action tale, equal parts vampire mythology and Chinese folklore, set in modern day Hong Kong. Ex-soldier John Sargent has fallen for a beautiful Chinese woman named Mei. The only thing keeping the star-crossed lovers apart: Mei's a vampire. To free Mei from the curse, Sargent sets out to destroy the vampire that made her. The only problem: Mei was turned by one of the most powerful vampires in history...”

It’s a weird vampire-noir hybrid that’s surprisingly effective. The story is intriguing and the art is as spectacular as you’ll hear. This comic is going to be another surefire hit from Image. They just seem to be pumping them out lately. Good for them.

Prior Knowledge Needed – Apparently vampires aren’t over-saturated, there were just lots of them being poorly done.

Usagi Yojimbo #136Words and art by Stan Sakai

“The honorable rabbit ronin Usagi is accused of being a member of the Red Scorpion Gang––the same greedy, bloodthirsty miscreants that have been terrorizing the countryside!

To celebrate Dark Horse’s twenty-fifth anniversary, Stan Sakai created an outstanding variant cover for this issue. There’s a reason Usagi Yojimbo is one of Dark Horse’s longest running and most critically acclaimed titles: Stan’s swashbuckling stories of heroism and honor never fail to charm and entertain readers of all ages!

• Don’t miss the beginning of this three-part story line!”

This is one of those classic independent comics that not enough new readers are picking up today. It doesn’t help that there are so many trades to catch up on that it seems nigh impossible. So why not just jump into a new arc and see if you dig it? Sample a tale, Usagi is pretty good at usually having nice standalone tales that satisfy but give you an overall feeling of how the book is run. This three issue arc should more than set you up to see if this little guy is up your alley.

Prior Knowledge Needed – This comic is a classic. Classics are labelled as such for a reason. Give this a go, it deserves it.

If you pick any of these up throughout the week please let us know what you thought of them in the comments.

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Klep said...

No question I'll be grabbing the Captain America and the Secret Avengers one-shot. The Widow is my favorite character; I'll buy just about anything she's in. Having a great creative team on the book is a great bonus.

Brian Lee said...

I'm pretty sure the Cyclops one-shot (along with the Iceman & Angel one and a couple others) is part of the X-Men: First Class line. The cover art sure looks like it, and I could swear I read that somewhere. So I think he's getting the one-shot because he's majorly important in that and there's an X-Men: First Class movie coming out this summer.

By the way, the First Class line (X-Men, Wolverine) is really good. Especially Wolverine: First Class. It's aimed at a little younger crowd, but it's not dumbed-down at all. Very good writing, ideas and art.

Jake said...

J. scott's R-rated incentive cover! I think the guys pretty much retired from Comic book sequential drawing. it's just covers now.

The problem I have with Marvel's big three books is that it's hard to tell who they are. Tony Stark is not the Tony Stark from Civil War who didn't seem like Tony Stark no matter what they say. Thor has a boring costume. Steve Rogers isn't Cap and I guess he's from another time or something.

Get it straightened out, Marvel.

Jon Q. Citizen said...

Elephantmen: Man and Elephantman #1!!!!!! I can't recommend this book enough! The story & artwork are always great, the best comic book going today.

You're right though, I talk with so many comic book fans that haven't heard or this book, or are "afraid" to try it.....Starkings is a genius!

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