Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Jumping On Points: 03/23/2011

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 French guy who jumps, comics first family, a video nasty, the real American way, and a retro-noir lady. Note, I’m including a hardcover this week purely because the pickings were so slim.

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 #615.1

Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Mitch Breitweiser

"START READING with this Point One issue. Steve Rogers emerged from the super soldier program to become the first Captain America, the Sentinel of Liberty. When he died, Bucky Barnes took up the shield to become a new kind of Captain America. With Barnes on trial, who will wield the legendary weapon—who will become the new Captain of America? This is the start of a new era for the famed Avenger!"

Brubaker has generally been crushing it on his Cap run. And he's well into it so it might seem like a rough place to jump on but this might not be as silly as it sounds. Sure, Captain America is going to get a bright and shiny new #1 with the flick's release later in the year but the story seems like it will change over right here. So, if Brubaker's Cap run has intrigued you but you don't have the money for all the omnibi and you want to dip a toe this might be the place to do it.

Prior Knowledge Needed - Bucky isn't dead. He was just frozen. And have you ever taken a cold shower? Then multiply that by 15 million times and that's how many people he killed while under control of the Soviets as their Winter Soldier. Then he turned good again. So, when Cap got assassinated Bucky stepped into the role. He was so good, popular, at it that when Rogers returned he left Bucky to be the Sentinel of Liberty. Rogers became the new Nick Fury. But now Bucky is in trouble and might be sent mack to the motherland to stand trial for his prior indiscretions. That would leave a vacancy behind the shield, so Rogers might just get back into the saddle. If all that makes sense then you're ready to jump into some Brubaker Cap goodness.

Captain America and Batroc #1

Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Renato Arlem

"The phone rings. The voice speaks. They want you to fight Captain America. Again. The man who beat you before. The man who you know will beat you again. What can you say? You say “Yes”. Batroc: Traceur shows why and takes you every step of the road he walks. It's time to meet the man behind the greatest moustache in the Marvel Universe. Yeah, Stark. You heard."

You probably didn’t even know you wanted to read a comic about Batroc the Leaper. Neither did I (well, that’s a lie, I’ve always found him to be a guilty pleasure) A strange, and yet delightful, decision has been made amidst the Captain America one-shots to give over a few pages to Cap’s relationship with this almost farcical villain. So, will it be any good?

My instincts say, yes.. It’s written by Kieron Gillen, so that’s one plus. But I doubt he’d commit to this issue unless he knew he had something good to go with. This might not be a classic but I bet it will be fun with a few great moments. And Batroc needs a few great moments.

Prior Knowledge Needed – Batroc is a French guy who can jump really well and does parkour. I guess he’s got buff legs. And, according to the solicitation information, his moustache rivals Tony Stark’s. He’s got some history with Cap and I think this one-shot is going to deal with that so everything you need should be right here to enjoy.

FF #1
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Steve Epting

"It's the FANTASTIC first issue of FF! A bold new direction for Marvel's First Family featuring new members, old friends, older enemies and uneasy alliances that will send shockwaves through the Marvel Universe. With stunning art work by Steve Epting and Paul Mounts, please join writer, Jonathan Hickman, on the second massive arc in the bold new direction for the 'World's Greatest Comic'”

After the death of ***, Spider-Man is now joining the family (as well as being on two Avengers teams and his own Big Time solo adventures) and we get a big honking relaunch number 1 for our troubles. I get the feeling this one will sell pretty well, but it won’t do Death Bag numbers. The team gets all new white outfits, very scientific and snazzy, and otherwise it’s just business as usual for Hickman on this title.

My problem here is that the last issue didn’t end the story. Not at all, in fact. The death was a big moment but there’s still heaps to come. Hickman’s been writing for a while now and his story has been one big narrative. That narrative isn’t over so I don’t see how they can afford a relaunch number 1. Anyone stepping in now will have lots of back issues of information to deal with.

I guess I’m including this issue because it looks like such a jumping on point but it isn’t really.

Prior Knowledge Needed – Uh, where to start. *** is dead. There are four new cities, representing different species, and they might be going to war. The Baxter Building is now home to the Future Foundation, which includes the Richards children, Leech, Power Pack, and others. Uh…Franklin got his powers back. And apparently all hope lies in Doom. If you’ve got all that straight then you’re sweet. If not, well, you might find a lot of this calls back to immediate stuff that you don’t know. Hopefully they give it all to you again but that won’t necessarily be fun for the continued readers on the title.

Hellraiser #1

Written by Clive Barker and Christopher Monfette
Art by Leonardo Manco

"One of the greatest horror franchises of all time returns, now under the control of its original creator! Clive Barker has touched HELLRAISER only twice: once to write THE HELLBOUND HEART, and once more to write and direct the original HELLRAISER film. Now witness Barker's long-awaited return to tell a new chapter in the series' official continuity—a trajectory that will forever change the Cenobites... and Pinhead! So prepare your soul for an epic journey into horror from one of the medium's greatest voices, and starring one of the medium's greatest characters, in an unforgettable new chapter of HELLRAISER. BONUS: this epic 40-page first issue features a 10-page backup story written by the co-writer and co-director of THE MATRIX trilogy, Larry Wachowski! Featuring covers from legendary artist Tim Bradstreet and LEGENDS: THE ENCHANTED artist Nick Percival."

It's been a long time but Clive Barker returns to comics and I am pretty excited to see it happen. The man knows how to create uncomfortable horror and Hellraiser is a prime example of that. The fact this comic is at BOOM! tells me that anything can happen in this title, and probably will if given enough time. BOOM! is also pretty good at letting a title find its audience so I want to see what Barker will do with this canvas.

Though, there is a skeptical side of me that worries because the first Hellraiser flick was pretty boss and then the next million cash in sequels did nothing for the franchise. Hopefully the fact Barker is signed on to co-write this one should save it.

The Wachowski reprint in the back is also kind of exciting and alluring.

Prior Knowledge Needed - Hellraiser was a horror flick in the late 80s. Sort of the last of the video nasties, and well before torture porn. It deals with angels of pain, Cenobites, who lure humans in and tear them apart with hooks and chains and whatever else can inflict maximum damage. In the first movie, a wife helps an old lover who died come back to life by draining the blood of innocent men. Her daughter gets caught up in the horror of it all and she might just play a part in this comic.

Stumptown HC

Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Matthew Southworth
I’m highlighting this HC release because it was one of my favourite comics from last year. It’s a four issue arc about a case Dex Parios takes up, a case titled ‘The Case Of The Girl Who Took Her Shampoo But Left Her Mini’. It’s an awesome retro-noir tale that reads more like The Rockford Files than any old school hard boiled pulp detectives.

There’s so much heart in this comic and brains to boot. Our lead girl takes some hits but she just keeps going back to work. It’s almost inspirational. Also, the art from Southworth is pretty damn awesome. The monthly issues were plagued with delays but you need not worry here because the whole case is presented in one. You should get on it.

Prior Knowledge Needed – Nothing. This one stands completely on its own as a creator owned character and a whole new world and case. If you know a little about detective tropes that might not hurt but nothing is necessary to walk in and be blown away by this one. Enjoy.

Supergirl #62

Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Bernard Chang

"Nick Spencer (Morning Glories) assembles the cream of the crop of the next generation of DCU super-heroes in this issue – Robin, Static, Miss Martian, Blue Beetle, Batgirl, the new Impulse – to team up with Supergirl and take on a new villain who promises to define this generation as much as Darkseid, Lex Luthor and The Joker did prior ones. Good luck, kids!"

Nick Spencer just signed a Marvel exclusive but this issue comes before all that. This issue is when Spencer was going to take over Supergirl, but now he's just going to have this one issue. It seems DC didn't quite like his take on the character, if you believe some press, so the only chance you'll get of seeing Spencer's Supergirl is in this one issue.

From the solicit it sounds like he was aiming for something big. I wonder how it fares in just one issue, now?

Prior Knowledge Needed - There are a lot of characters mentioned in that solicit. I don't know a lot about many of them. That's not a good thing. The biggest thing you need to know is that whatever happens in this issue probably won't be followed up on. Ever. So just pick it up and enjoy.

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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Anonymous said...

im glad FF did a reboot only bc it will be 2.99 again :)

Klep said...

I've been reading Cap in trade where I think it reads best, so I'm still going to wait for that, but the last couple issues of FF have drawn me in to that (particularly with Hickman writing the best Peter Parker in #588 I've seen since JMS left ASM) and I'm definitely going to be picking that up.

Midnight Monk said...

I thought Static lost his powers in Teen Titans? Ah well, why should I expect continunity in DC now anyway lol

Can't wait for FF#1, I say the final issue of Three where Reed Richard went over the threats to Earth pretty much laid out what to look out for in this book

Anonymous said...

What a shocker that a Marvel fanboy like Ryan isn't familiar with lesser known DC characters, even ones with great runs (Batgirl) and increased exposure on exciting titles (Blue Beetle in Justice League: Generation Lost, Miss Martian in Brightest Day). It's totally cool that you only really pay attention to Marvel (no sarcasm), but don't sit there and criticize a minor DC crossover with a snide comment just because you're out of the DC loop and aren't familiar with some up and coming B-listers. It is neither accurate nor fair to the creative teams that have worked hard to flesh out fuller character developments.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

@Anon 4 - I was more meaning that with all those characters that's not good for a clean start. It probably helps to know a little bit about each one.

Which crossover am I dismissing?

I also say this comic won't be acted upon because Spencer got pulled off the title. That comes across, right?

Anonymous said...

teh first time i saw BATROC was in X-men to serve and protect #1 ... he was paired in a story with Fantomex...both being french theives and all..it was really great!!! i dont know how im gonna handle a gritty BATROC by brubaker tho...

maskedmanissue1 said...

I was not as optimistic of FF#1 (mostly for the reasons you very well state), but it does something surprisingly effectively as a jumping-on point: it shows who everyone is, and where they are at after everything that has happened. All that while being able to continue with Hickman's opus.

Not a jumping-on "issue one", but GL#64 (War of the Green Lanterns Part 1) could serve as such a jumping on point, in that a) it has a great intro section on the first page, b) it leaves Hal in epic dire straits but continues in GLC#58 (also out this week). Granted, to get full enjoyment of the issue, you would need a LOT of prior knowledge, perhaps more than FF#1.

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