Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Jumping On Points 04-06-2011

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 the greatest debut comic of 2011, or an old Robert E Howard character, or the pillars of the DCU, or Marvel's first mutant family, or many others.

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.

Blue Estate #1


"A powerhouse team of Hollywood and comic book veterans (along with special guest artists) presents a fast, funny, 100% cool new series for readers of all stripes. On the mean streets of Los Angeles, an alcoholic hit man and a desperate starlet dodge Russian mobsters, Italian gangsters, ninjas, hippies and the L.A.P.D. in a scheme to steal millions from a psychotic action movie hero. Featuring art by VIKTOR KALVACHEV (PHERONE, DMZ, The Incredibles), NATHAN FOX (Invincible Iron Man, Pigeons From Hell), TOBY CYPRESS (Batman/Nightwing), ROBERT VALLEY (Gorillaz, Tron), and written by Emmy Award winning screenwriter ANDREW OSBORNE.”

This comic is a good time of a crime yarn. It’s a mix between modern retro-pulp and just good old fashioned Elmore Leonard zaniness, but with a fatal edge at all times. Kalvachev is the impetus behind the tale but he gets others to help him with the script and the art. It’s a collaborative effort that does pay off. This is like Guy Ritchie’s work, but more from before Guy Ritchie even started doing this schtick. This is a wide scoped crime tale that looks good but gives the story up too.

Prior Knowledge Needed – Andrew Osborne, the guy tapped to actually bust the script out, wrote the screenplay for Sgt Kabukiman NYPD. That’s awesome.

Fear Itself #1

Pencils & Cover by STUART IMMONEN


In this time of global anxiety, of economic turmoil and mass hysteria, Sin, the new Red Skull, has made an awesome discovery...a shameful secret that will rock the foundations of the Marvel Universe! A revelation that will divide father and son, turn friend against friend, and herald the rise of Fear personified. HE IS RETURNING...and the world has nothing to fear but FEAR ITSELF. Matt Fraction and Stuart Immonen bring fans the biggest Marvel the biggest Marvel event since CIVIL WAR!”

Here’s the next Big Kahuna from Marvel (man, I wish they’d have an event called Big Kahuna, that can be the name of the central villain…anyway). Fraction and Immonen on creative duties has people excited and rightfully so. This was all assembled from the need for a big Captain America/Thor story. It’s not an event seven years in the making, which is nice. This is just a big story and it looks like Fraction might just be tying in some lesser known characters behind all the Avengers assembling.

The story is basically, Red Skull’s daughter, Sin (the new Red Skull) discovers and awakens a long forgotten Norse god of Fear. In doing so she becomes deified as well, and gets her own hammer, of which this god has many. Mayhem of an event level ensues.

Prior Knowledge Needed – Red Skull is dead and his daughter doesn’t like that. The Norse gods have long been in need of an ass kicking. Captain America is actually Bucky, Steve Rogers is out of the uniform. Anything else you need will be in our Primer.

Green Wake #1

Art & cover RILEY ROSSMO

A riveting tale of loss and horror. In the forgotten town of Green Wake, a string of grisly mutilations leads Morley Mack on the trail of a young woman named Ariel, who is the prime suspect. But when a stranger with startling connections to Ariel arrives under mysterious circumstances, Morley unravels a dark plot with a shocking link to his past.”

My pick for new release comic of 2011. This title should blow up big like Chew or American Vampire, even if it is just a mini. I like minis and this one is the business. It’s horror-noir and the doses are perfectly matched. If you only jump on one new title this week make it this one. Please.

Prior Knowledge Needed – All you need to know is that I vouch for this book unequivocally. This is my favourite thing being printed right now. Hands down, no contest. Buy this comic. It’s pretty, it’s smart, and it will draw you in. A quick flick through on the shelves will cement that fact.

Herc #1

“Written by Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente
Art by Neil Edwards

It’s an explosive opener taking place during the carnage of Fear Itself! Hercules has a new mission and a new code: take out the worst of the worst still walking the streets of the Marvel Universe…and always bring the big guns! But who’s first up on Herc’s hit list? And just what mythological weapons has he secreted away from the Ares’ personal arsenal to enact his revenge? Place your bets because it’s the world’s most seasoned warrior versus every member of Marvel’s criminal underground this April, only in Herc #1!”

Hercules used to have his own ongoing. Well, he stole it from The Incredible Hulk but he still made it his own and very awesome. Now he’s getting another chance, what remains to be seen is if the fans are still there and if the quality still remains. This kicks off with a Fear Itself tie in which could help or hinder, it’s hard to say.

Prior Knowledge Needed – Hercules is a larger than life character. He also died recently. That’s not hurting him anymore, obviously. He’s usually really good fun, makes with the funnies, and likes long walks on the beach. This is a dark horse debut and should rely on relatively little back story.

JLA 80 Page Giant #1


As the team faces Eclipso in the the pages of JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, Adam Glass, producer/writer for TV’s Supernatural, joins other talents to take us on a journey revealing key battles between the World’s Greatest Heroes and mystical, hellish beings, including the Demon, Zatanna - and an object that could blackened the heroes’ very souls."

Not sure where to start with the Justice League of America? Pick up this annual with plenty of pages to set you on your way. A stack of up-and-coming writers turn their hands at making the JLA accessible. The stories might be all over the place in tone and chronology but they’ll also be simple, easy, and fun, as well as self-contained. This is a great sampler.

Prior Knowledge Needed – The JLA gets most of the good heroes. You should find most of the big guns here, Superman, Batman, et al. Jumping on here means jumping on for lots of charcaters.

Nonplayer #1

Art & cover NATE SIMPSON

The future kind of sucks, and that goes double for Dana Stevens — she's stuck in a dead-end tamale delivery job, and she's way too old to be living with her mom. But in the online fantasy world of Jarvath, she's an elite warrior. When she slays the wife of celebrity game character King Heremoth, her fame seems all but guaranteed — that is, until the game spins totally out of control.”

This is the comic everyone is saying is the next big thing from Image. And it’s pretty good. It’s about futuristic people getting sucked into their MMORPG and things are just a little bit off. The art is pretty spectacular, though not completely my cup of tea. I think this one has already sold out so look for it at your shop to thumb through if not actually purchase. This book deserves your attention and might just be perfect for you.

Prior Knowledge Needed – MMORPG’s are online games like World of Warcraft where gamers can lose serious hours/days/etc in the make believe realms of fantasy and fun. This book looks at those but with its own narrative slant.

Skaar: King of Savage Land #1

“Written by Rob Williams
Pencils by Brian Ching (#1)
Cover by Michael Komarck &ED McGUINNESS

The Son of Hulk conquers a new world! Though Ka-Zar has long ruled the Savage Land, a battle for dominance is coming, and Skaar is not the only contender. It’s dinosaurs, giant robots and an ancient evil mastermind in Marvel’s finest jungle adventure tradition that will redraw the map of the Savage Land forever!”

Skaar is a character with a relatively short history, and yet he’s interesting and has been tied into plenty of recent events and big time characters, namely the Hulk, natch. Here he’s going into the Savage Land and facing off against Ka-Zar. Something about that just feels so right. This is a story off to the side of the central Marvel U, but it could be very fun.

Prior Knowledge Needed – Skaar is Hulk’s son, born on the world Sakaar after Hulk was exiled from Earth by the Illuminati (a group of the top heroes who took it upon themselves to watch the watchmen, basically). He came back to Earth, hates the Hulk, and now gets his own minis. Way to go!

Solomon Kane Red Shadows #1

“Bruce Jones (W), Rahsan Ekedal (P), Dan Jackson (C), Dave Stewart (C), Guy Davis (Cover), and Gregory Manchess (Variant Cover)
This first issue adapts Robert E. Howard’s taut, disturbing “Skulls in the Stars” short story! Beginning his adventures in England, Kane finds himself engaged in a supernatural battle on the dreary moor road to Torkertown.”

Robert E Howard was one damn fine writer. He created Conan and then the rest of his creations get pushed to the side a little bit, which is a massive shame. Dark Horse are doing great work putting some of Howard’s other characters back into the spotlight and this mini should be yet another feather in their cap.

Prior Knowledge Needed – Solomon Kane is not Conan. He’s a grim and sombre fellow who is out to make the world a better place, if he can. He’s wiping out evil centuries ago and usually doing a good job of it. This story was originally his first appearance so getting in here means getting in on the ground floor.

Uncanny X-Men #534.1

Pencils & Cover by CARLOS PACHECO
Magneto is an X-Man. This may not be news to you, but only a handful in the Marvel Universe know that the poster boy for Fearing Mutants is now living just off the coast of one of the United State's largest cities. How on Earth are the X-Men going to explain the presence of one of the world's most infamous super villains? This Point One issue provides the answer, and is a perfect jumping on point to the flagship X-Men book. And to make it even MORE special, superstar-artist CARLOS PACHECO (ULTIMATE AVENGERS, ULTIMATE THOR) gets in on the fun!”

There’s a point to jump on for Uncanny X-Men? These only come around with the passing of decades so you better get in quick. I kid, of course, kind of, but this Point One issue does slot into the start of Kieron Gillen’s tenure as the solo writer of this book and so if you want to see the status quo this is the place to get it. The greatest villain of the X-Men has always been Magneto, but now he’s with them, again. This issue will explain how and why, or at least attempt to.

I think with a title this long and diverse it’s hard to have any true and clear jumping on point but this might be as good as it gets, especially with a new arc starting the very next week, even if that arc is informed by Whedon’s run. Sigh, it’s never easy.

Prior Knowledge Needed – Magneto was always a bad guy, except for when he wasn’t. In the end, they’re all mutants and there’s only a handful of them left as mutants after Scarlet Witch culled a bunch of them after House of M because her editor thought it would be a good idea. Oh, and the X-Men now reside just off the coast of San Francisco.

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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Ivan said...

You don't like Whedon's run?

I saw Ig Guara's pencils for his JLA story and they look amazing. Grood of War too.

twobitspecialist said...

That Uncanny X-Men issue is exactly what I wanted Marvel to do for a while: a Magneto story dealing with him being back on the X-Men. Should be fun, especially if Gillen is doing it.

Anonymous said...

...pretty sure Whedon's run was universally praised

Ryan K Lindsay said...

@Ivan and Anon 3 - I didn't mean that I didn't like Whedon's run, I more meant that the next arc is informed by it, so it kind of helps to have read it, which means the jumping on point isn't as clean. Though I think it will be - but it just sucks to say come in on this issue, it deals with events covered in Whedon's 24 issue run...

Oh, and just because something was universally praised doesn't mean we all have to like it.

twobitspecialist said...

@Ryan - You didn't say you liked it, either. ;)

Ivan said...

Ah, I see. Anyway, did you read it? I liked it a lot, it's the only Omnibus I own.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

Ha, I was a little vague, wasn't I. I guess that's because this isn't a Whedon review post!

Nah, kidding, I got the two HC of the run and loved them. I really enjoyed so much about them, and I'm happy to see Gillen going back to address some more of that - not that I'll be reading because I don't buy, but good on him.

Tony Soldo said...

I can't wait for Green Wake and Nonplayer. Nonplayer has some of the most gorgeous art I have ever seen.

Retcon Joe said...

I'm enjoying this feature very much. It helps to get someone else's opinion. Thanks for putting this stuff up. Looking forward to Fear, Herc and the big JLA. Of course Blue Estate is more than intriguing.

btownlegend said...

Whedon's run was boring.

twobitspecialist said...

@btownlegend - Care to elaborate?

Steven said...

Pretty sure, if the recent Incredible Hulk story that leads up to the new book is any indication, that Skaar and Ka-Zar are on the same side.

Oh, and Skaar is over the hate daddy issues. They've grown quite close in both of the respective forms.

Steve said...

Uncanny .1 was the best this title has seen in years. Fraction's run seemed bereft of heart but Gillen seems set to continue introduction cool concepts you HAVE to like but with emotions engaged as well. Fear Itself? Yawn. Never even hinted about Norse baddie and a minor Captain America villain that's never appeared outside of a Cap story don't make for antagonists you can care about. Children's Crusade is a better Big Event and that one also tugs the heartstrings while having boo yeah moments...

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