Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Jumping On Points: 03/09/2011

This column looks at the best access points in comics for new readers, and old readers looking for new titles. Hit the jump to see why you don't need continuity, background knowledge, or prior love to buy and enjoy everyone's favourite symbiote, a specific catch up one-shot to jump onto, or a hidden tale of Captain America's past, or the Batman. C'mon, kids, a chance to jump onto a Batman comic. Do it.

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. But 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.

Venom #1

Written by Rick Remender
Art by Tony Moore

Man, this is a perfect jumping on point. Venom, the symbiote, has been around the Spider-titles for some time. He’s been wrapped around a variety of Spider-villains and now he’s doing something a little different. He’s starting afresh, if you will, and this is a great time to see what happened because that creative team you see listed above is rock solid gold. They haven’t failed me yet.

Venom is a symbiote scorned by Spider-Man and Flash Thompson is a man who idolises Spider-Man, and yet spent his youth picking on the man in the costume, Peter Parker. Here we get the two put together in a superspy espionage tale of insanity meets cool that’s sure to please. Venom has been a villain, he’s been a Lethal Protector, he’s been a Thunderbolt and a Dark Avenger, but now Venom might just be something new again, he might be smooth. He might be the best spy the world has ever seen.

I’m not personally all that excited for Flash to be the man in the suit but the rules of the game are that someone can only use the suit 20 times so I’m kind of hoping someone else gets a chance soon.

In total, Venom = Flash Thompson = SuperSpy. That’s a comic that could be a breakout hit and you get the very first slice this week. I will not hear anything about Spidey 654.1 – this is the jumping on point, people. Right here!

Prior Knowledge Needed – The Venom suit is an alien goo that tries to bond to its host – and has been successful in the past as a variety of Spidey villains. Flash Thompson was a high school friend of Peter Parker (Spider-Man). Rick Remender and Tony Moore are damn fine comic creators. Have a little faith in them.

Uncanny X-Force Apocalypse Solution One-Shot

Written by Rick Remender
Art by Jerome Opena

This isn’t just a jumping on point, it’s THE jumping on point. So far, five issues of this series have shipped, and to critical and fan acclaim, and this one-shot gives you the first three issues (which would have set you back $12 retail) and only asks for five of your dollars. That’s good math no matter how you split it. You get issues 1-3 in this thick package that you simply must use to catch up if you haven’t tried this title yet. I’m sure your LCS will have issue #4 that wraps this introductory arc. This title is the best X-book shipping right now.

This X-Force relaunch came right after the previous X-Force incarnation ended yet this version, the Uncanny team, isn’t really that heavily related to what came before. A few characters carry over, and there was no Deadpool or Fantomex before, but in total this is pretty much a new title. It’s not often that happens but you can see it needed to because Remender is far too awesome to be linked to what came before.

The art in this book is phenomenal and it perfectly matches and accentuates the crazy story on offer as this new X-Force sets out to stop Apocalypse from being brought back. Having actually read these issues I can vouch for their level of quality. You really need to jump on this one-shot even if you don’t stick with the title, it’s great value and some of the best stuff Marvel’s put out in recent times.

Prior Knowledge Needed – There’s a few things it actually helps to know coming into this, let’s look at them. All of these X-Force characters have been used before. Angel is struggling with holding his two disparate personalities apart, and his lady love Psylocke (a telepath) is helping with that. Deadpool is terribly saturated in the market, and yet he’s written much better here than most other places. Fantomex is just plain awesome – and one of his powers is to make others hallucinate around him. Wolverine, well, he’s mostly what you know and are expecting. Finally, Apocalypse is one of the biggest and baddest X-villains of all time. He must be stopped.

Captain America and the First 13
Written by Kathryn Immonen
Art by Ramon Perez

There’s a Cap flick coming through so of course Marvel want to put out a bunch of Cap related product for the movie going public to find and pick up. For this to work the Cap material needs to be accessible. Jason Aaron’s current Ultimate Cap mini – that’s a bad example and not only doesn’t give readers something accessible, it doesn’t even give readers the Steve Rogers from the movie. Poor form. Hopefully this series of one-shots will hit the spot. The creative teams have certainly sparked interest.

Immonen has been tapped to write a WWII tale of Peggy Carter and Cap. It seems like it should be fun. It’s a rollicking spy tale that certainly sounds like it wants to stand alone and as much as it plays with the prior relationship between Peggy and Cap it also sounds like it wants to redevelop that relationship. That sort of creation should mean you can just pick up this comic and get all you need.

Prior Knowledge Needed – Captain America started in World War II. He’s a current hero now, sure, but he originated as a super soldier in WWII. He got frozen in ice, thawed out, assembled a kooky quartet, became a werewolf, renounced the shield, died, came back, fought a giant Red Skull, but that all takes place after this one-shot. Well after it. For now, just remember he started in WWII and don’t get confused that this tale is time travel or something.

Batman Europa

Written by Brian Azzarello and Matteo Casali
Art by Jim Lee

What if Batman were poisoned and his only chance for survival was to team with the Joker and travel across Europe to get the cure? That’s a pretty intense elevator pitch and the fact it comes from Azzarello adds it so much more gravity. This comic has the chance to really be something cool and special.

Picking up a Batman title can be a bit of a crap shoot as to whether you need to know plenty before or not. Obviously, it doesn’t hurt to understand Batman to a general degree, perhaps seeing the flick would be more than enough, but it seems like the rest of this story should stand alone. You don’t need to know what happened in Morrison’s fourth issue or which aspect of canon Kevin Smith supposedly ruined. This isn’t building from anything else, this is just a cool idea and each issue will offer a new artist; Lee starts and then we’ll get Giuseppe Camuncoli, Diego Latorre, and Jock. If anything, this should be one pretty four issue mini.

Prior Knowledge Needed – A rough idea of the Batman concept, as well as who the Joker is, but I think if you miss the specifics you’ll still get the thrust of this project. You might miss out on the odd reference, perhaps, but overall if you want to sample the Bat this would be a good place to start.

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

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Anonymous said...

Thanks a ton for the recommendations; I've been looking for a way to start getting into Spiderman post-"One More Day."

Anonymous said...

wow love ur jumping on points especially remenders titles

Anonymous said...

posted my saying about the xforce first 3 issues in one lol, love it

Matt Duarte said...

Bleeding Cool was reporting the other day that Batman Europa is not actually going to ship this week (or any time soon). I tried searching for it on DC's site, and it's nowhere to be found.

James said...

This is still just a list of first issues. What a novel jumping on point; the beginning. This seems very lazy.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

Hi James - did you see any other jumping on points for this week? If so please let me know. I'd still saying writing an article isn't lazy. But I can think of something that is lazy...

James said...

"I'd still saying writing an article isn't lazy. But I can think of something that is lazy..."

Improper grammar perhaps? Is that what you were still saying?

Ryan K Lindsay said...

James, does that mean you weren't able to find any other jumping on point examples for me?

James said...

Without much research, like I'm sure a "journalist" like yourself can be expected to do;
Batgirl #19 - just coming off of last issues stand alone story, I would think this is a great time to give this series a try.

Superboy #5 - following in the legacy of the great Superman Vs Flash races of the past, this 1st ever Superboy Vs. Kid Flash issue would be a great place to start.

Ultimate Comics Spiderman #155 - while soon coming to an end, this prelude issue would be a great place to enter into the last great storyline of the Ultimate Universe.

Also last week's Thunderbolts #154 - this stand alone story about the Man-Thing's current status quo would have been an excellent way to dip your toes into this popular series.

I'm am sure there are others, but this just four examples taken from a casual glance at the releases of the last two weeks that you seemed to overlook. Also, if you notice, not a one of them is a #1 issue.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

@James - excellent suggestions. Looking at the Superboy and Batgirl info I can't tell whether they are great dipping in points or not, truth be told. If I read the titles then I could surely know a little more...if you say they're good jumping on points then I urge others to try and duck in on this spot. I read the Batgirl solicit info and it says "The Lesson" continues. That doesn't sound very jumping on to me...but I don't know what The Lesson is.

The Thunderbolts issue is a no brainer - annoyed I didn't put it on. Damn silly oversight.

As for Ultimate Spidey - I don't know if I'd include it because it's an arc really working towards an end. It probably could be read on its own but I dare say it would also require quite a lot of background knowledge to truly get the best of it.

I must say, though, I'm just glad I pierced you enough to get your grammar to slip, ha, ;)

I am already assembling next week's list and I think there are a few non-#1 issues available, Thunderbolts already being one of them. Hopefully you'll find that one more up to muster. If not, let me know.

I try my best with this column but not reading every single title on the stands means I don't know everything about each of the titles running.

In other news, thanks to those who appreiate what I do and why I do it. This column is meant to be a help, that's it's purpose. It might not be the best help but it is what it is...I think...ha.

James said...

@ryan l. - I do like what you are trying to do with this column, I just honestly couldn't see you putting enough into it. Sorry about calling you out so forcefully, but these barb filled discussions can be fun if kept in a playful tone, which is what i intended. Thanks for responding, I look forward to next week's column.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

@James - a good calling out can only make me better, right?

I guess we'll only know next week, when the next instalment of "Number Ones Hitting This Week" goes live. See you then :)

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