Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Post-Crisis Comic Book Previews for 02/20/13

It's time for your Post-Crisis Comic Book Previews, which means we have the good fortune of taking a quick look at some of the great comics coming our way on the morrow.  Including in this bunch are Black Beetle: No Way Out #2, the newest issue of Kill Shakespeare, Hellblazer #300, and much more.  Hit the jump to check them all out!

Major Releases

BLACK BEETLE: NO WAY OUT #2
Written by Francesco Francavilla
Art by Francesco Francavilla

While investigating a mysterious mass murder that leveled Colt City’s mob bosses, Black Beetle gets wrapped up in a puzzling maze of clues. Could the appearance of a costumed criminal named Labyrinto be related to the destruction of the powerful organized-crime racket? 

Grant: Francesco Francavilla is an artistic genius and he showed with last month's Black Beetle: No Way Out #1 that he can tell a mean story, too.  Black Beetle is classic noir, pulp, and super hero stories all rolled into one, so not only is it an incredibly well done book, it's a time saver, since you can scratch all those itches with a single comic.  There's much to recommend this book to you, but the best endorsement you can get is by picking up the series and seeing for yourself.  Go on, give it a shot.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #1
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by David Finch

• The march toward TRINITY WAR begins with part one of “WORLD’S MOST DANGEROUS”!
• Green Lantern! Green Arrow! Catwoman! Katana! Vibe! Hawkman! Stargirl! They aren’t the world’s greatest super heroes—they’re the most dangerous! But why does a team like the JLA need to exist? What is their ultimate mission? And who is pulling the strings?
• Plus: Find out why Martian Manhunter is the most dangerous of them all. Period.

Grant: This solicitation is oddly apologetic, as if DC needs to validate the existence of a book like Justice League of America.  I will admit that I don't quite understand such a strategy, but I'm no marketing person.  What I do understand is that Geoff Johns, while perhaps not as sharp of late, is still one heck of a writer, with an especial knack for elevating less respected characters in the eyes of readers, so a venture that unites a disparate group of them to enable him to work his magic on a large number at once seems like a pretty smart initiative from where I'm sitting.  Putting David Finch on art doesn't hurt either.

NOVA #1
Written by Jeph Loeb
Art by Ed McGuinness

The Human Rocket returns!

You’ve followed him through the history making (and changing!) AvX and now the mystery of the all-new Nova are revealed in this breathtaking new ongoing by the best-selling, award winning team of Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness (RED HULK, Avengers X-Sanction).

Sam Alexander is a kid bound by the gravity of a small town and a father whose ridiculous, drunken fairy tales about a “Nova Corps” were just another heavy burden in a life full of them. But luckily for Sam Alexander…soon gravity won’t even matter. And those troubles? It’s like they’re a billion miles away.

Grant: I'm not particularly familiar with Nova, but as we move towards the eventual Guardians of the Galaxy movie, it's inevitable that Marvel will be putting a particular emphasis on its cosmic line.  Tapping Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness to handle the character is an intriguing choice.  As is the decision to focus on a younger protagonist in Sam Alexander, the teenager with two first names.  I'll be interested to see how this plays out.

New Kids On The Block

ALPHA #1
Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov
Art by Nuno Plati

• From the pages of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, get ready for the greatest hero who ever existed…EVER!
• Alpha was having an awesome time of it, till that buzz-kill Spider-Man made him quit being a hero. But that was then …and this is NOW!
• Josh Fialkov & Nuno Plati (Amazing Spider-Man) reunite to tell the tale of a hero whos about to hit the BIG TIME!

Grant: Alpha's inauspicious start in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man was admittedly somewhat underwhelming, as is the character in the general to a certain extent, but Marvel seemingly wants more of the character, so here we are.  Fortunately, with Joshua Hale Fialkov on writing duties, there's the distinct possibility that this book could do some serious damage in fleshing out our youthful hero.  We shall see.

KILL SHAKESPEARE: THE TIDE OF BLOOD #1
Written by Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col
Art by Andy Belanger

The critically acclaimed series returns with a new adventure of Shakespearean proportions! With Richard III and Lady Macbeth defeated, Hamlet, Juliet, Othello and Romeo face an even greater danger—Prospero, a rogue wizard who plans to destroy all of creation. Hamlet must embark on a perilous journey to a remote island whose inhabitants have gone mad and want the Dane’s blood… if they aren’t beaten to the chase by one of Hamlet’s allies.

Grant: The original 12-issue run of Kill Shakespeare had quite the unique take on the Bard's canon, slamming the entirety of his works together into one overarching world of fantasy where all of his characters lived together in something that couldn't really be described as peace.  This week sees the return of that world at the hands of its original creators.  I often talked about my English Lit roots, so I don't think you'll be surprised when I say that my interest is piqued.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA'S VIBE #1
Written by Andrew Kreisberg and Geoff Johns
Art by Pete Woods

• No, that’s not a typo. Vibe stars in his own ongoing monthly title, starting with this debut issue cowritten by GEOFF JOHNS!
• One of the most unlikely members of the Justice League of America ever (okay, THE most unlikely) will soon discover he’s one of the most powerful individuals on Earth. But how did Vibe get his abilities? What is the cost to them? And why does the JLA want him on the team so desperately?
• Plus: We’ve seen the Red Room and the Black Room, but what is...the Circus?

Grant: Speaking of being overly apologetic, DC is two for two with their solicitation for Vibe.  We already know that it's a bit odd for the character to have his own series, so DC doesn't need to remind us throughout the book's description.  To be honest, it's already kind of embarrassing that they have so little faith that they throw Justice League of America in the title to distract from who the series actually stars.  I firmly believe that any character can be good in the right hands, but it would help if DC could at least pretend they have faith in this book.  When they don't, it's hard for a potential reader to understand why they should.

THE SHADOW: YEAR ONE #1
Written by Matt Wagner
Art by Wilfredo Torres

THE SHADOW is a character that has lasted through decades on the pages of pulp magazines, over the radio airwaves, thru the silver screen, and in the panels of comic books. Shrouded in mystery, his origins have been explored and hinted at over the years but never fully revealed.

Much is known of Kent Allard/Lamont Cranston's years spent in the Orient and Central America-wherein he gains his powers and purpose but not how he first developed his persona as the Master of Darkness.

Eisner Award-winning author, Matt Wagner is joined by artist Wilfredo Torres in an exhilarating 8-issue limited series that will explore the dynamic events that first drew Cranston back to the States, how he first met his companion and lover, Margo Lane, how he began to assemble his vast network of agents and how he first adopted the famous black hat and cloak as his alter-ego's disguise-all secrets that, up until now only The Shadow knew! 

Grant: Dynamite is clearly getting serious when it comes to their pulp-era characters, what with the Masks team book and the high profile creators they've brought on to write some of their series in the very near future.  Matt Wagner looks to be getting the chance to kick off the venture with a new Year One for The Shadow.  Dynamite has been publishing the character for a while, but if you've been looking for a definitive take, this will likely be your best shot.

Fond Farewells

ACTION COMICS #17
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Rags Morales, Brad Walker, Mark Propst & Drew Hennessy
Backup Story Written by Sholly Fisch
Backup Story Art by Chris Sprouse and Karl Story

• You don’t dare miss Grant Morrison’s stunning, extra-sized final issue of ACTION COMICS!
• It’s no small battle as Superman fights to save all of creation in this epic!
• This issue is destined to be a milestone in The New 52!
• Plus: In the backup story, whatever happened to the men of tomorrow(s)?

Grant: I haven't been following Grant Morrison's time on Action Comics, but it is still a pretty big deal that he's stepping off the title, especially when it looks like he'll be saying farewell with flair.  I figure there will be some good stuff going here on, despite the overblown description of the solicit.

HELLBLAZER #300
Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Stefano Landini

It’s the heart-rending conclusion of “DEATH AND CIGARETTES”—and the end of Vertigo’s longest running series. John Constantine has escaped, cheated, narrowly avoided and even reversed death on multiple occasions over the past 25 years. Now, we will test whether the old boy has one more second chance in him. Don’t miss this epic, oversized special issue celebrating everything that makes John Constantine so bloody unique.

Grant: Perhaps a bigger deal than Morrison leaving Action Comics is the end of one of Vertigo's mainstay titles.  I'll skip over the song and dance of Vertigo's wane - you've heard it before - to simply say that the comic book world is poorer to see such a long running title go the way of the dodo.  Obviously endings are rarely final, but things will certainly be different for John Constantine and his fans going forward.  Hopefully they'll have a sweet swan song to go out on.

You May Have Missed

BALTIMORE: THE WIDOW AND THE TANK
Written by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden
Art by Ben Stenbeck

Eisner Award–winning horror master Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden present this horrific double feature about a widow with a not-quite-dead husband and a child-killing vampire taking refuge from something even worse.

Grant: You've heard me say it before: Baltimore is amazing.  Mike Mignola has invented any number of brilliant, amazing characters, concepts, and stories, and Lord Baltimore remains among my favourites.  The setting of post-World War 1 vampire-infested Europe works for me in every single way, Christopher Golden has been a great collaborator, and Ben Stenbeck has been pitch perfect for each and every issue.  While I adore the idea of this book, I lvoe its look even more.  The best part of these recent short stories?  Dark Horse isn't throwing a number on this issue, because it's a one shot.  In an industry that somtimes seems to run on new number ones, that's class.

MIND MGMT #8
Written by Matt Kindt
Art by Matt Kindt

The psychic-spy agency Mind Management is being rebuilt, and Henry Lyme, the agent who brought it down the first time, will do anything to stop it! The next stop in Lyme’s recruitment drive brings he and investigator Meru to a quiet university where another defector teaches, but when the agents on their tail arrive, everything goes to hell! More secrets come out and the danger rises as MIND MGMT’s second arc heats up!

Grant: I've only recently come into Matt Kindt's Mind MGMT, but I've come into it in a big way.  This book is brimming with big ideas.  Shadowy government agencies.  Psychic powers.  Big ol' conspiracy theories.  This book has it all.  And it's also got wonderful writing and fantastic art from one talented gentleman.  On top of it all, Kindt adds in tons of little extras in the singles that won't be in the collection, so don't trade wait on this one, buy it now.

SAGA #10
Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Fiona Staples

Marko and Alana's long-lost babysitter Izabel finally returns to the fold, but at what cost?

Grant: Okay, I'm lying here.  There's obviously no way you missed Saga.  It's only the best book of last year, written by one of the best comic creators in Brian K. Vaughan, and painted by Fiona Staples who should be widely considered among the best artists of the medium.  A beautiful story about family and people, Saga is the book that everyone should be reading.  But you already knew all that.  Right?





Perennial Favourites

ADVENTURE TIME #13
Written by Ryan North
Art by Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb
Backup Stories by Josh Lesnick and Chris Schweizer

CRITICS ARE CALLING ADVENTURE TIME THE “BEST SERIES OF 2012!” Get the latest issue of the hottest all-ages comic on the stands! Join Finn and Jake as they work to save BMO from a magical virus…by going INSIDE THE GAME!

Grant: Adventure Time is the most fun.  It doesn't matter what is happening in this comic because you can depend on it being a good time.  Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, and Braden Lamb have clearly stumbled on the recipe for comic book story success, and they have been kind enough to share it with the wider world on a monthly basis.  Even better, they've been sneaking bits and pieces to other creators and featuring their takes on the formula and sharing their takes on the method in those ever-wonderful backup stories.  I'd accuse the whole lot of them of being witches if I wasn't too busy holding my sides and rubbing the feeling back into my ever-grinning lips.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #13
Written by Brian Wood
Art by Mirko Colak

Conan and Bêlit find themselves enemies when they become involved in a military conflict in Shem! Left behind on the Tigress as Bêlit visits home, Conan follows, determined to prove he can survive the desert. When events spin beyond his control, the Cimmerian is drafted into an army storming a Shemite fortress—with Bêlit defending the ramparts!

Grant: Brian Wood's Conan has truly made me into a Conan fan.  It's not something I ever thought I would be, but there isn't much about life that you can really predict.  One of the few exceptions to that rule is knowing that Brian Wood's Conan is going to be excellent.  The book is repeatedly a great combination of action, violence, and character, three things that go ever so well together.  So join me in the Conan Club, won't you?  We have a newsletter, meet biannually, and read wicked good comics.

BATWOMAN #17
Written by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman
Art by J.H. Williams III

• It’s the massive conclusion to the current storyline as Batwoman and Wonder Woman struggle to defeat Medusa and a horde of villains!
• Don’t miss the start of a surprising new status quo for Batwoman!

Grant: I'm genuinely thrilled for this issue to drop.  More Batwoman is always a good thing, particularly when it's the conclusion to what's been one heck of an epic narrative from J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman that's technically lasted for 17 issues.  That's dedication to a  story, and I can't wait to see how they wrap it all up.  This Batwoman- Wonder Woman teamup has exceeded my wildest dreams, and the only downside of the whole thing is that it has to come to an end.  The other sad part of this issue is that it shall be Williams' last one on art for quite some time as he frees up his schedule to work on that Sandman prequel that everyone seems to be so excited with ol' Neil Whatshisname.

WONDER WOMAN #17
Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Tony Akins and Dan Green

• Wonder Woman, War and Orion must join forces to save Zola’s baby from Hermes!
• Orion’s reasons for helping Wonder Woman lead to a disastrous betrayal!
• Plus: The truth about the dreaded First Born is revealed! Woe to the world...

Grant: Speaking of a certain Amazon, Brian Azzarello's Wonder Woman also has an issue hitting this week, which is often a good thing.  Azzarello has brought a clear direction to the character, and that has put her on a crash course with the reintroduction of the New Gods to DC's comic book worlds.  It stands to see how big of a role they will play in the coming issues, but hopefully they don't fade away completely.

Pick of the Week

We are once again blessed to have an onslaught of amazing comic books coming our way this Wednesday, and a whole bunch of them could legitimately lay claim to the title of Pick of the Week.  However, seeing as it's my list, I'm giving Batwoman #17 the nod, because that series has just been so dang good and I'll miss J.H. Williams III on art a heck of a lot.  If you were in my position, what would you have picked?


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