Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Jumping On Points 03/16/2011

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 a mercenary killer, an angry hulk, a pulpy throwback, or some tattooed chicks out to solve crimes, among more. This is a pretty good week for trying something new.

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.

Captain America and Crossbones #1

Written by William Harms
Pencilled by Declan Shalvey

“Cap's assassin stars in his own horrific comic!

When a monstrous virus overtakes an isolated island, the skull-faced psychopath is unleashed to rescue the one person who may deliver resistance to the terrifying outbreak. But can the man who shot Captain America be trusted to do the right thing? Writer William Harms (Impaler) and artist Declan Shalvey (Thunderbolts) deliver the twisted answer in this extra-sized shocker!”

I’m not planning on buying into every one of these Cap one-shots as we lead up to the movie’s release but I must admit many of them look damn fine. This one in particular. I’m a massive fan of Crossbones, have been since I read Streets of Poison way back in the day. He’s an interesting character and it’s always nice to see a villain who is so taken with how much of a bad guy he is. There is no redemption in his future, and hopefully never will be. Even his time on the Thunderbolts didn’t yield much positivity. I buy this one-shot because it sounds more like a Crossbones one-shot, and that I’m willing to support.

The other reason to get this comic is Declan Shalvey. He’s an artist I’ve talked about enough by now, surely. There’s something about his art and style that just captures me. I loved his work on Thunderbolts and I’m hoping for more goodness here. I mean, c'mon, look at that cover, by Greg Tocchini, Crossbones is a good looking character. This is going to be wild and wacky stuff.

Prior Knowledge Needed – I get the feeling it probably wouldn’t hurt to know a bit about Crossbones’ history but hopefully only the major brush strokes are necessary. Crossbones is a big bruiser who just likes to get rough. He’s been a pretty big nemesis for Cap in the past, though he’s usually just the right hand of the Red Skull. A few years back he managed to kill Cap. It didn’t stick.

Deadpool MAX: A History of Violence

Written by David Lapham
Art by Kyle Baker

This massive one-shot collects the first 3 issues for only $4.99. That’s a pretty good bargain. What I don’t get is, why collect the first 3 issues when this month also has issue 6 hitting shelves. What are people supposed to do about issues 4 and 5? Otherwise, much like last week’s Uncanny X-Force one-shot with the same size and price, I think this is a smart initiative for people to catch up on.

For those who haven’t read Deadpool MAX, wow, I don’t even know what to say. It completely takes advantage the MAX line by being as crude and lewd as it possibly can. In the first issue, you’ll see faecal jokes, buggery jokes, and lots of violent interplay set up for humour. The comic might be an assault on your senses, but it is also funny. But only if you find this kind of thing funny. Maybe don’t buy it if Deadpool isn’t your thing, especially Deadpool as we know him now dialled up to 12. This isn’t something to buy your nephew.

Prior Knowledge Needed – Deadpool’s a bit of an asshat. Go.

Fear Itself: Book of the Skull

Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Scot Eaton

“All the Red Skull's terrible secrets and plans are in the hands of his evil daughter, Sin, who's intent on outdoing her father... Now find out about the Skull's most-dangerous World War II mission, that he risked everything for...and how it's going to tear the Marvel Universe apart today. FEAR ITSELF starts here...in the darkest secrets of the past!”

Don’t think of this book as anything to do with an event comic. This one-shot is Brubaker making with some Golden Age tales as The Invaders go to work around WWII. This is Brubaker’s wheelhouse and while The Marvels Project wasn’t perfect it certainly was good. I expect this one-shot to also be good. A little faith can’t hurt.

This one-shot is going to set up some very important stuff that the Fear Itself event will use. I’d like to think that you can just take this one-shot and enjoy it on its own without ever knowing what comes next. That’s my hope.

Prior Knowledge Needed – During WWII, Cap used to roll with Bucky and Namor and other supers and really get down to dirty business. I don’t think this is referencing anything in particular, though.

The Grim Ghost #1

Written by Stephen Susco & Tony Isabella
Art by Kelley Jones

“The Grim Ghost is the story of The Fringe, the realm that exists between life and death. The living can't see these "Fringewalkers" but they can see us. And there's a war raging in the Fringe between Matthew Dunsinane, better known as The Grim Ghost, and his arch-enemy, a man simply known as Braddock. This is a war that's been raging for hundreds of years. The arrival of a powerful new soul in the Fringe sets Dunsinane and Braddock on a final collision course that will literally bring Heaven and Hell raining down on all of us."

This is another old Atlas character relaunch but it should stand on its own to be accessible and new for readers unfamiliar to the character. The solicitation information above certainly paints an intriguing concept. Whether the comic will capitalise on it is another question.

Having Tony Isabella raises my interest, I haven’t read anything of his in ages. Then having Kelley Jones on art is even more insane. This comic could very well look the business.

Prior Knowledge Needed – I doubt you’d really need anything. Any references will be so think that you’ll survive without the understanding.

Hulk #30.1

Written by Jeff Parker
Art by Gabriel Hardman

“START READING with this Point One issue. For years, General Thunderbolt Ross chased the Hulk across the planet, hoping to capture and defeat the Jade Giant. Now, Ross himself is a gamma-irradiated force of nature and a new enemy emerges to fill the general’s army boots. His name is Fortean. His mission: to enact vengeance on the beast that took the life of Thunderbolt Ross. Little does he know that the beast and the man are one and the same! Prepare for the birth of the next great Hulk villain!”

One of those fancy Point One issues that Marvel was making for new readers to use to jump onto a title. It’s like they knew this column was coming along. I’ve been listening to Tim Callahan and Chad Nevett talk about the Point One issues on their Splash Page podcast and it’s been informative, to say the least. They don't think any of these Point One issues actually help someone come right into the fold of that title so maybe Parker will stick the landing.

This issue heralds the beginning of a new Hulk villain, so at least we know this is the start of something not just built upon something else. I’d give Jeff Parker enough faith that he could do this one right.

Prior Knowledge Needed – There are two Hulks now and one is Red. This Red Hulk is actually Thunderbolt Ross. The previous run on the title by Jeph Loeb wasn’t reviewed too well by the world – though some seem to feel it was a really good, kids, comic. The jury is still out but Parker and Hardman have been getting good press.

Iceman & Angel #1

Written by Brian Clevinger
Art by Juan Doe

“Nothing ruins spring break faster for Iceman and Angel than a giant monster stomping through the streets of their city. But what are two young mutants to do when all the “real” superheroes are too busy to help? And why is GOOM, The Thing from Planet X running amok in the first place? It’s a superhero mutant monster spring-break bash! Woo!”

Man, Brian Clevinger (of Atomic Robo fame, ladies and gentlemen) is getting some more Marvel work. Imagine when he actually gets an ongoing, something obscure and it won’t sell but the ardent fanlads will love and mourn in equal measures. I look forward to those days but for now it’s Iceman & Angel one-shot time.

Of course, Clevinger pits his bromantic one-shot in spring break with some weird monster run amok. You either roll your eyes or lick your lips at that one. Me, I’m keen. The art is by Juan Doe, and if you’ve ever seen his work before you’ll know it’s usually pretty fun, a little quirky, and should make for a fun comic.

Mostly, I’m just loving that these two characters were chosen. Neither are holding their own solo ongoing together and this one-shot probably won’t sell greatly, but it will be fun. I have time in my pull list for the odd issue of fun. I like it, it’s fun!

Prior Knowledge Needed – Both Iceman and Angel are X-Men, original ones, in fact. They’re both not the most serious of characters (well, Angel wasn’t until he became all broody and Four Horseman-ised). This issue should be relatively continuity free, I feel. As for GOOM, well, he was this weird monster created in the 60s in Strange Tales. He’s generally awesome but drastically under used. That ends now, hopefully. This issue has greatness written all over it, or automatic fail, I can’t translate the dialect.

The Spider #1

Written by Martin Powell, Gary Phillips
Art by Pablo Marcos, Roberto Castro

“A Moonstone “Return of the Originals” event!


For the first time ever…since his beginnings in 1933, pre-dating Superman and Batman, The Spider now has his own ongoing straight-up comic book series!

The most relentless destroyer of the guilty the world has ever seen is back in all of his “bloody pulp” action! Even the Punisher can’t hold a candle to the body count The Spider racks up! There was no escape for Nita Van Sloan, abducted by a horde of inhuman monstrosities, doomed to become the victim of a diabolical experiment. The Spider, Master of Men, strikes back with a vengeance, fighting alone against the brutally brilliant creator of the Frankenstein Legion, in a desperate race against time to save the only woman who shares his darkest secrets!

And then, double-shot action with Operator 5 by (Vertigo’s) Gary Phillips (Covers are 75% Brereton, 25% Pagacz)”

If you’ve ever read Jess Nevins’ back matter in Criminal and Incognito (and if you haven’t either shame on you for skipping those pages or shame on you for trade waiting) then you are as intrigued by the old pulps as I am. Here we get a dose of two such pulps, and Nevins even covered them both in essays in the back of Incognito #3 and #4. Look it up, check it out, enjoy.

The Spider tale sounds pulpy and lethal. Can he really out-kill The Punisher? And a hint of a Frankenstein Legion, that’s exactly the sort of thing I want from a book like this. Golden.

Also, an Operator 5 back up. I’m very intrigued to dip a toe. It is extremely hard to track down original tales of these characters so I’ll take some new ones instead.

Then there’s the cover by Dan Brereton. That’s how you lure people through the gates, you look better than everything else. Love it.

Prior Knowledge Needed – These characters were printed in pulp magazines back in the 30s and 40s, that’s a long time ago now. They might be updates slightly here, and I’m sure they’ll offer you explanations for who these people are and what they do, so no need to worry. They had plenty of adventures back in the day but even they they’d often ignore it from week to week to let the dead rise so we can skip it and start afresh here.

Suicide Girls #1

Written by Brea Grant
Art by David Hanh

“Sexy, mysterious, and more than a little bit dangerous, the Suicide Girls are about to change what you think beautiful girls can do! This wild adventure pits the SG against a deranged killer and a crazed corporate cabal. Written by writer/actress Brea Grant (We Will Bury You) and drawn by David Hahn (Bite Club)-with covers by Eisner-winner Cameron Stewart (Seaguy)-there will be tattoos, piercings, and a whole lot of butt-kickin' girls and burlesque. This is not your mother's pretty-girl comic!

Bullet Points:
Plotted by Steve Niles, Missy Suicide, and Brea Grant!”

The Suicide Girls run a website that features fanlad interviews. It also features tattooed and pierced fanlasses in different states of undress. They’re a niche market and seem really good at what they do.

How that makes a comic I am uncertain but I can see this selling really well to their audience. At least it’s not just about them making the donuts for their website. No, they have an actual story and it sounds kind of mental/metal. If IDW wants to give me a preview copy I’ll review the hell out of it.

This just makes me think of those old comics about real life sports stars and Mr T and what-have-you where they got into these mysterious and amusing situations. I wonder if this comic can be as fun as those. Putting Cameron Stewart on covers is definitely a smart choice in the right direction.

Prior Knowledge Needed – The Suicide Girls are all about their tattoos and piercings. I think they’re about female empowerment, too. I don’t check their site often but every now and then they have a kick ass interview with a comic creator so I take my hats off to them for that. This comic might not be for you, that’s cool, but don’t rag on it. For those who it is intended, it will surely be book of the week.

Thunderbolts #155

Written by Jeff Parker
Art by Kev Walker

“The team is back in action after word has come down on high about a weakness in Thunderbolt’s, and they must bolster their ranks to deal with the imminent magical threats. Luke Cage calls on New Avenger DOCTOR STRANGE to help find the perfect candidate to fill the role, but bringing this person in is far from easy--which is why SATANA will make a fine Thunderbolt. Back at The Raft, the status quo is changing to an even greater extent without Luke's knowledge. Get ready for new levels of lightning-like justice!”

Look kids, it’s not a #1 issue or a one-shot. Finally. Though I could have used the last Thunderbolts issue as well, but didn’t. Fail. But I’m here to make up for it because this issue should help you delve in quite easily. In fact, Parker has been really good at making lots of issues of Thunderbolts new reader friendly – one of the few Marvel books to do so.

This issue sees Dr Strange help the team get a mystical warrior to stave off the team’s mystical threats. Though the rest of the team is set this should still be a pretty good jumping on point as it’s looking forward. There might be hints of past events but mostly T-Bolts always looks forward.

Prior Knowledge Needed – Luke Cage runs the team now. The team once had Crossbones but he got a Terrigen Mist high and went a little crazy (not kidding). Man-Thing wants to be there. Oh, the team in general is a bunch of villains forced by the government to do good. If they try to do something bad Cage, or someone else, will activate the nanites in their system to bring them down.

Uncanny X-Force #5.1

Written by Rick Remender
Art by Rafael Albuquerque

“START READING with this Point One issue. When a situation calls for hard choices, the X-Force is there to step in. Lady Deathstrike, with the deadly Reavers at her side, set out to destroy the X-Men in their home! Deathstrike will obliterate the X-Men or die trying, and this new Uncanny X-Force is more than happy to oblige. As the line between right and wrong become more and more blurred, will the Uncanny X-Force be heralded as heroes…or villains?”

It seems weird to offer a jumping on point so early in this series but who cares? You get another great Remender issue, but more importantly you get to see Rafael Albuquerque draw the Uncanny X-Force. That’s a sale right there, good people.

This issue seems to be a standalone one-shot, which is perfect. It might not tell you what’s specifically going on in the main series, but it will give you an idea of how Remender creates this world and treats these characters. That’s exactly what you want from a jumping on point.

Prior Knowledge Needed – There’s actually quite a bit. X-Force are the covert X-team, run by Angel, that kills. There’s also Wolverine, Psylocke, Deadpool, and Fantomex, but none of them are as annoying or overly saturated as you might think. Remender uses them all smartly. Lady Deathstrike is the Wolverine villain with those long nails. Reavers aren’t anything to do with Firefly, calm down, they’re just cyborgs that kill what Lady Deathstrike wants them to. That’s probably it, but know that Remender uses continuity but doesn’t rely on it, he moves forward. If you only get what he gives you it’s mostly more than enough to get by with.

Xombi #1

Written by John Rozum
Art by Frazer Irving

“You can’t keep a good XOMBI down! The immortal David Kim – kept “alive” by nanotech enhancements – returns to the DC Universe in a new ongoing series! Creator John Rozum and hot BATMAN AND ROBIN artist Frazer Irving team up to deliver the finest in contemporary urban horror – with a Super Hero twist! As an undying, unchanging Xombi, David Kim must watch the world consume itself and burn while humanity grows more distant from each other due to the rise of technology. What would a Xombi do just to feel change again? And where will he ever be able to find a kindred soul?”

There used to be an old Xombi comic. It’s about a scientist who becomes a techno-organic zombie of sorts, or something. It sounds like a wacky 90s concept, and it is.

The big draw here for many will be Frazer Irving on art. Plenty seemed to love his work with Grant Morrison on Batman & Robin, though many others hated it. Oh well, you make your individual minds up people, don’t follow any tide.

Prior Knowledge Needed – Here, this relaunch looks to put this unique character into new readers’ hands. I doubt then that they’ll reference the past too much. But the solicitations doesn’t give much away, does it?

If you pick up any of these issues let us know in the comments if they are indeed great jumping on points.

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sdelmonte said...

There's one more #1 of note this week, Ruse. And Waid has made it clear that no prior knowledge of the late, lamented CrossGen series is needed.

Fenris said...

Tim Truman did two The Spider miniseries for Eclipse back in the 90s. They were killicious.

Matt Duarte said...

Meant to say it the other weeks as well, but thanks for all the info about other jumping points. Ryan does his best to get as many of them as possible, but he is only human (last time we checked) so we encourage you all to play at home and let us know of the ones we missed.

Cooldude said...

Captain America and Crossbones <---- really a good read for beginners and pros alike :)

Ryan K Lindsay said...

@sdelmonte - thanks for the heads up on Ruse, I hadn't included either CrossGen relaunches because I really wasn't sure if there were jumping on points...

@Fenris - Tim Truman did some Spider back in the day, damn. I'd check that out, for sure. Having read a sneaky preview of this Spider issue, I'd suggest picking it up. It's light but fun, some good art in moments, and only $2.99. Support it so we get more.

@Matt - Only human, surely you jest...?

@Cooldude - I hope everyone buys a copy of Cap and Crossbones!

maskedmanissue1 said...

Should be a good week for the ".1" issues. I know the X-Force is going to be good, but I'm very interested to see where the Hulk issue goes. To put Ross into Banner's pants and have him chased by the people that worked for him and the introduction of "the next great Hulk villain" promises to be quite a bit of fun, and indeed a great jumping on point.

Plus it doesn't hurt that Gabriel Hardman, who in my opinion draws the baddest meanest Red Hulk ever, is in charge of the art.

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