The GeeksverseNEWS Round-Up | Week of May 17, 2013

NEWS Round-Up | Week of May 17, 2013
Published on Saturday, May 18, 2013 by
Publishers spring their August 2013 solicitations on an unsuspecting populace! What will you be reading three months from now? Grab a drink, get comfy, and join us as we sift through the week’s announcements.

August 2013 Solicitations: DC Comics

Normally, we peruse publisher solicitations to organize our reading lists, budget purchases, and mark interesting titles for previews and reviews. In recent months however, reading DC Comics’ solicitations has been as much about waiting to find out which of the titles on our pull list is on the chopping block given how seemingly frequent the publisher cancels ongoing titles these days. Late last week, the announcement of DC’s August 2013 solicitations confirmed that Dial H, the offbeat “mad ideas”-styled reboot of Dial H for Hero that we opined was the biggest snub when the nominees for the Eisner for Best Continuing Series were announced a few weeks ago, will end with the series’ 15th issue. So long, Cock-a-Hoop, we hardly knew you.

cock-a-hoop

Joining Dial H on the thanks-for-playing side of the stage are Demon Knights (canceled with issue #23), the science-fiction-meets-superheroes title Threshold (ends with issue #8), and Legion of Super-Heroes (shuttered with issue #23).

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Say what you will about the polarizing effect the publisher’s interminable New 52 initiative (how long do we have to keep calling it “new?” The reboot/relaunch happened almost two years ago!) has on older readers and fans, but DC Comics continues to capitalize on its strong back-catalogue of  non-New 52 superhero comics and Vertigo Comics material and its experience as the dominant superhero comics player in the trade paperback/hardcover market. Just check out the stuff they have listed here. Below is a list of the selections that caught our eye:

Ame-Comi Girls, Vol. 1

AmeComiGirls_Vol1What is it? Ame-Comi Girls is a five-issue miniseries featuring versions of DC superheroines as they appear in the very popular Ame-Comi Girls line of collectible PVC statues made by DC Collectibles in collaboration with Kotobukiya. It sounds like a cash-in, crossover marketing dealie, but the artist line-up of “Amanda Conner, Tony Akins, Sanford Green, Ted Naifeh, and others” for this trade paperback collection of the miniseries has us intrigued, and we’re very interested to see what they can do with the Kotobukiya character designs. Also, the solicit says that the book will go on sale on September 25. What are these September products doing in my August solicitations, DC?

American Vampire Anthology #1

AV_ANTHOLOGY_CVRfinalWhat is it? An 80 page comics anthology (duh!) featuring vampires and such. We haven’t really kept up with Scott Snyder’s American Vampire series for Vertigo although we’ve only heard good things about it. Given all the positive buzz surrounding the book, we’ll assume its vampires are more of the True Blood type and less the glittery Twilight kind. The contributors listed for this issue feature a mix of heavy-hitters and fan-favorite creators—writers include Eisner Award winner Snyder and multiple Eisner Award winner Greg Rucka as well as critically-acclaimed scribes Gail Simone and Jeff Lemire while the artists list features top talent like Becky Cloonan, Francesco Francavilla, Gabriel Ba, and Fabio Moon—so it’s probably worth checking out even if you think vampires are sort of overplayed in popular media right now.

DC One Million Omnibus

DCONEMILLIONOMNI_PRESALEWhat is it? A massive 1,024 page hardcover collecting the complete DC One Million miniseries and all its spin-offs, tie-ins, and crossovers. We only have vague memories of the whole thing when it originally came out—you could say we were too busy partying like it was 1999 to pay attention, because it was actually 1999—but with over a thousand pages, at least some of it has to be good, especially when considering the names that worked on it (Grant Morrison, Mark Waid, Mark Millar, Garth Ennis, James Robinson, Val Semekis, Phil Jimenez, Bryan Hitch, Sean Phillips, Dan Jurgens, etc.). If you have a hundred bucks lying around and the biceps to lift the book, have at it. The book won’t be out until October 30, though. What is it about the phrase “August 2013 Solicitations” that is so hard to understand, DC people who are paid to write these things?

Neil Young’s Greendale

Greendale_CVR_MKTWhat is it? A graphic novel adaptation of the 2003 rock opera of the same name by Neil Young and Crazy Horse. Yeah, we had the same reaction you did: Neil Young was still making records in 2003? Seriously though, the line-up on the book—Joshua Dysart on (computer) keyboards, Jeff Chiang on lead pencil and cowbell—is rock-solid, and fans of Young’s music will almost assuredly be picking this up in decent numbers. Out on September 11, or as DC’s August 2013 solicitations writing team calls it, “August 42.”

Tom Strong and the Planet of Peril #2

TSTRONG_Cv2What is it? Not satisfied with Alan Moore’s public denunciation of Before Watchmen, DC continues to troll everyone’s favorite crotchety writer/wizard/beard enthusiast with another project based on his work. This time, it’s a continuation of the Tom Strong “science hero” comic Moore wrote during the late 1990s and early aughts (the exploitation rights to the character were originally held by Jim Lee’s Wildstorm Comics via its America’s Best Comics imprint, and the rights eventually passed on to DC via some contract or other). Original Tom Strong artist Chris Sprouse is on illustration duties, but given how Moore’s relationship with Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons deteriorated after the former was informed of the latter being a paid consultant on the Watchmen movie and the Before Watchmen comics, it’s probably safe to assume that this won’t mitigate Moore’s attitude towards DC continuing to use his old original works as a springboard for its projects. Still worth checking out regardless of Moore’s opinion, we think, as it has veteran 2000 AD and Terra Obscura writer Peter Hogan penning the story (Hogan’s Resident Alien is one of our favorite books of the year so far, if that counts for anything).

Trillium #1

Trillium_01_coverWhat is it? We’ll let the solicitation text do its work:

It’s the year 3797, and botanist Nika Temsmith is researching a strange species on a remote science station near the outermost rim of colonized space. It’s the year 1921, and renowned English explorer William Pike leads an expedition into the dense jungles of Peru in search of the fabled “Lost Temple of the Incas,” an elusive sanctuary said to have strange healing properties. Two disparate souls separated by thousands of years and hundreds of millions of miles. Yet they will fall in love and, as a result, bring about the end of the universe. Even though reality is unraveling all around them, nothing can pull them apart. This isn’t just a love story; It’s the LAST love story ever told.

Seriously, if that description doesn’t pique your interest even a little bit, you might want to check your pulse. Also, Jeff Lemire (the Eisner, Harvey, and Ignatz Award-nominated writer-artist of The Nobody and Sweet Tooth) is handling the writing and the art.

August 2013 Solicitations: BOOM! Studios

Robocop_Last_Stand_BOOM_Aug_prev

Robocop: Last Stand #1 (of 7) cover by Declan Shalvey

The first thing that greeted us upon checking our inbox Monday morning was a “visual press release” from our friends at BOOM! Studios announcing a new Robocop project called Robocop: Last Stand by creators Frank Miller, Steven Grant, Korkut Öztekin, and Declan Shalvey, scheduled for August. As big fans of the 1987 action-satire film, we were elated at the news. Yes, we know Frank Miller has been acting quite weird lately and his recent creative output has been, shall we say, “idiosyncratic,” [yes, let's go with "idiosyncratic"— ed.] but surely working alongside pro’s pro Steven Grant (a Leaving Proof favorite) should keep the controversial writer on an even keel. And even if Robocop: Last Stand turns out to be an unmitigated fiasco like a certain recent Miller project, well, even a fiasco can be instructive and interesting reading. At the very least, it can’t possibly be as bad as the Robocop film reboot seems to be shaping up to be if online fan reaction to that project’s footage and stills is to be any sort of bellwether. So here’s hoping that Last Stand lives up to the reputation of its original film inspiration, or barring that, that we don’t end up kicking ourselves three months from now for thinking that it could be entertaining or even potentially great in the first place.

As it turned out, that little visual press release was just the 20-second warning for a full-on barrage of announcements for August. The month has BOOM! leaning heavily on its licensed properties, with multiple releases featuring Robocop, Planet of the Apes, the works of Clive Barker, Garfield, Bravest Warriors, Regular Show, and its multiple Eisner nominated Adventure Time family of titles. It’s BOOM!’s  line of creator-owned books that has us most excited, however. Below is a small selection of the BOOM! books we’ll be keeping an eye out for as summer approaches:

Three Guns #1 (of 6)

3guns_01What is it? The sequel to Steven Grant’s action-comedy miniseries Two Guns. Here’s the solicit text:

Trench was a deep cover DEA agent. Steadman was an undercover Naval Intelligence officer. Now, after racing headlong across the Southwest, desperately outrunning Feds and mobsters alike while trying to clear their names, Trench and Steadman are pulled into another impossible situation: brokering gun deals between the Russians and antigovernment revolutionaries…from opposite sides. And little do they know, a Third Gun has her eyes set on the ultimate prize and she won’t go down without a fight.

Sounds like fun times.

The Hypernaturals, Vol. 2

hypernaturals_vol2What is it? In certain ways, Hypernaturals reads very much like an extension and elaboration of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s work on Marvel’s Annihilators and Annihilators: Earthfall. Think Fourth World/Eternals-era Jack Kirby and 1970s Steve Gerber/Jim Starlin cosmic superhero psychedelica filtered through more efficient, modern storytelling sensibilities. Despite the far-flung future setting and the galaxy and dimension-spanning adventures however, the story is always driven by a core human drama.

Six-Gun Gorilla #3 (of 6)

What is it? A comic book based on an obscure, public domain character from the 1930s, this book combines the Western and science-fiction genres into a bizarre, pulpy mash. We posted covers for the first issue of this miniseries—scheduled to hit stores on June 12th—earlier this week. Let writer Si Spurrier explain what the book is about in his own inimitable fashion in the video below:

Suicide Risk #4

SuicideRisk_4What is it? We don’t really know much about this series given that it only launched this month, but the Comixverse’s own Troy Osgood seemed to like the debut issue a lot, so it’s on the basis of his assessment of the series’ first issue that we’re keeping our eyes peeled for this one.

August 2013 Solicitations: Marvel Comics

Marvel’s August solicitations are significantly less verbose than those of its Distinguished Competition, but that’s fine by us. We like the suspense, and it lets us focus on the covers. So without further ado, here some of the more interesting covers from Marvel’s August solicitations announcement:

Cable & X-Force #12, Captain Marvel #15, Fearless Defenders #8, FF #11, Uncanny X-Force #10, Uncanny X-Men #10, Wolverine #8, X-Men #4

Check out the following covers:

You guys notice anything new or different?

All the superheroines above are wearing pants. No bikinis, fishnet stockings, thongs, short shorts, or fetish-wear-masquerading-as-superhero-costumes. They’re wearing honest-to-goodness skintight pants like their male counterparts wear. We don’t know if this is the result of an internal editorial stance on character design or if it’s just a manifestation of a growing design trend, but we like it. Don’t get us wrong, we love the female form as much as any fan of representative art, but male super-character design has been moving away from the “Captain Underpants” model for a long time now, and it’s about time that female character design does so as well.

The covers above reminded us of something artist Kris Anka—who drew the Uncanny X-Force cover above and who is responsible for the design of Psylocke’s current costume—wrote recently in his blog in response to some fans who complained that his Psylocke redesign covered up too much of her skin (emphasis via bolding is ours, and yes, there were quite a number of people who reacted somewhat irrationally to the development that Psylocke’s ass-cheeks would no longer be exposed in her new costume… we’d link to the various message boards and article comments section as proof, but we want you to retain some faith in the basic goodness of humanity):

One of the ideas that kept coming up [in the comments section of this article] was the notion that there is a trend in current female costume designs that the designer must pander to screaming feminists by covering the character from head to toe and take away all of the characters’ sexiness and by result make them boring.

Now I’ll be honest, I don’t like being yelled at by feminists. But I also don’t like to be yelled at by womanizers, or kids, or anyone. So I want to just rule that out as a motivation. No one wants to get yelled at.

Secondly, sexiness is subjective. A character can still be considered “sexy” even if it doesn’t fit with your tastes. To say that by giving a Female character a piece of fabric to cover her ass cheeks up is ruining her sexiness, ALL that means is that YOU think that an exposed ass is sexy. There is absolutely no way to make a blanket statement about that. Some people think a baggy shirt on a girl is equally as attractive as an uber skin tight shirt.

Sexiness has NEVER been a factor when I design a character. Sex appeal ONLY comes into play when the characters PERSONALITY dictates that as a factor.

The CHARACTER must be first and foremost the inspiration and guideline for all the decisions made when trying to design the clothing. NOT what you want to see on a characters to get your rocks off. I find that frankly immature, and an insult to the character you are trying to do justice to.

Granted, what is “correct” by the character is also incredibly subjective. Everyone sees a character differently… The best a designer can hope for is that their interpretation can ideally appeal to the largest majority possible of that characters fan-base. No one wants to have a design that fans hate, but you can’t please everyone.

And just to speak for myself, modesty was never a factor. I never approached Storm’s, or Psylocke’s, or Spiral’s design with the sole intention of hiding their skin. The amount of real estate that ended up being covered or not was ENTIRELY dictated by my attempt to respect the character. There was no “Psylocke has to be fully covered because it would be indecent for any of her skin to be showing”. I wanted to have her covered because I felt that a character who is performing stealth assassinations would want as little wound-able flesh showing.

My go-to example of a character that should be showing skin is, of course, Emma Frost. Here is a character who prides herself on her looks. She is an incredibly confident character mentally, and likes to show off herself physically. Emma Frost flaunting it works because it works for HER. She likes control, she likes power, and one of the best tools for that is her body. She can turn heads with her body, she can command attention with it. She wouldn’t even need to use her telepathy to have someone lose focus. Emma Frost is incredibly intelligent, she knows what she is doing. There has to be a REASON for the skin.

Even with male characters. Namor doesn’t need to cover up anything because he is indestructible. Armour would give him no benefit, and would probably hinder him. In fact, having Namor show off skin actually helps to tell a lot about him as a character. It shows his confidence, it shows he isn’t afraid to be attacked, and it largely makes sense given he lives in water…

To what tactical function would a spy need her cleavage hanging out? Does it help a character who is an acrobat?

There is nothing inherently wrong with cleavage, but it needs to be based on either the character’s personality or by what they do. I cannot stress this enough. It cannot just be cause the artist felt like drawing a zipper down.

Fan-Service is no longer a logical reason to do anything. The Story should be the Fan-service by being a good story and doing the character justice, and the art should support that.

Guardians of the Galaxy #8

GoTG_06By contrast, check out the cover to the right, which has the Neil Gaiman-owned, Image Comics import Angela (whose costume and appearance were designed by Todd McFarlane way back in 1993) showing up in the Marvel Universe. The design looks almost anachronistic compared to Marvel’s current designs, although we’d be lying if we didn’t say that it holds some nostalgic charm for those of us who grew up reading comics in the 1980s and remained fans even through the speculator boom-and-bust of the 1990s.

Indestructible Hulk #12

Our favorite cover of “August Solicitation Week 2013″ could very well be the cover below by Mukesh Singh.

indhulk_12_coverA

You’ve got the Hulk riding a paleontologically-contemporary depiction of a Tyrannosaurus (note the feathers), and he’s got three of Marvel’s classic “Western heroes” riding with him (that’s the Rawhide Kid, Kid Colt, and the Two-Gun Kid). That’s about as crazy and as perfect a superhero comic book cover as you’ll ever see. The variant “Mona Hulk” cover by Mike Del Mundo is a strong contender, too, though:

indhulk_12_coverBReally imaginative, funny, and beautifully-rendered efforts from both artists, somewhat reminiscent of Kaare Andrews’ eclectic Hulk covers from several years ago.

Rocket Raccoon: Tales from the Half-World

rraccoontfhw_01The cover to the right is a solid piece of art from Steve McNiven, but it isn’t actually what drew our attention to Rocket Raccoon: Tales from the Half-World. What made us sit up and take notice is the fact that this book reprints the original 1982 Rocket Raccoon miniseries by writer Bill Mantlo and a young Mike Mignola.

Now, if you are familiar at all with Marvel comics from the 1970s and early 1980s, the name Bill Mantlo should ring a bell. For many years, Mantlo was Marvel’s pinch-hitter, the bullpen’s so-called “fill-in king” who saved many a late book from an impending deadline. He also wrote many of the most popular titles of the 1970s and 1980s, including extended runs on Incredible Hulk, Fantastic Four, Spectacular Spider-Man, Alpha Flight, Cloak & Dagger, and fan-favorite licensed comics such as Rom and Micronauts. Mantlo was also a lawyer and a public defender affiliated with the Bronx-based Legal Aid Society.

Mantlo’s career as a comics professional and lawyer was tragically cut short in 1992 when he was hit by a car while roller-blading. The vehicle’s driver was never identified. Mantlo survived but suffered massive head trauma and because of the resulting neurological damage, has had to live with around-the-clock care in an institution for the past two decades. National Underwriter Life & Health‘s Bill Coffin wrote an absolutely heartrending account of Mantlo’s current living circumstances in 2011, and we encourage our readers to read it.

There have been a number of fundraising activities held over the years for Mantlo’s benefit, although to our knowledge, none are currently active. However, there exists a Bill Mantlo Project page on Facebook maintained by Mantlo”s daughter Corrina, and we suggest that readers who want to help out in any way use the page to get in touch with his family.

Avengers: Endless Wartime

avengers_endless_wartimeMarvel Comics has been the leading superhero comics publisher of the past three decades. Save for a brief stretch of several months immediately after the launch of DC’s New 52, Marvel has always held a small but seemingly insurmountable lead over its crosstown rival in terms of volume market share.

But while Marvel’s commercial dominance in the on-going comics series arena is unquestioned, it does seem to us that the publisher doesn’t have the kind of critically-acclaimed, commercially successful superhero graphic novel/mini-series that DC has several of in its back-catalogue. DC can point to Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, Batman: Year One, Kingdom Come among others as examples of standalone mainstream superhero works that have not only earned accolades in the comics community, but have also caught on with the general public and entered popular literature discourse. Marvel, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have iconic graphic novels in its publishing history (the closest thing to a Marvel version of Watchmen or Batman: Year One we can think of in terms of critical and commercial reception is probably X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills), although that doesn’t seem to affect their characters’ and comics’ popularity any. Avengers: Endless Wartime is supposed to change that. Written by Warren Ellis with art by Mike McKone, the book will be based on the “common-sense continuity” version of the characters that should make it accessible to readers whose only encounter with the Avengers is via the recent Disney/Marvel Studios films or through pop culture osmosis on the Internet. We can’t wait to see how it pans out.

Infinity #1 (of 6)

Here are four of the eight covers for Infinity #1, the first issue in Marvel’s upcoming summer crossover event. We like the Skottie Young cover the best, but the Art Adams one is also interesting, if a little odd in its composition. (How are Shang-Chi and Captain America floating in mid-air?  Or are they floating in zero-gravity space? How are they breathing, then?)

Daredevil: Dark Nights #3 (of 8)

dd_darknights_03Mark Waid found great success earlier in his current Eisner Award-winning run on Daredevil by shaking off the decades of built-up melancholy and angst and giving the book a much-needed infusion of good old-fashioned funnybook action. And while we really like what he’s done with the character, we have a soft spot for the Ann Nocenti and D.G. Chichester-era Daredevil that is too often overlooked because it was sandwiched between the more widely known Miller and Smith/Bendis years. This out-of-continuity miniseries anthology sees artist Lee Weeks (who illustrated one of our favorite Daredevil stories, Chichester’s “Fall of the Kingpin,” and is among our top three Daredevil artists of all time alongside David Mazzucchelli and John Romita, Jr.) taking on both writing and art duties for the first three-issue storyarc. Weeks described his story in a USA Today interview as a narrative “about hope against hopelessness and redemption,” Weeks explained. “No matter how heroic or how big anybody might be, there’s also a big element that nobody’s doing it alone.”

Hawkeye, Vol. 1

hawkeye_v1_hcGiven how poorly many comics artists portray archery, it’s great to see a cover that really goes out of its way to nail proper archery form down, especially since, you know, the protagonist is an archer. The timing for this hardcover collection’s release couldn’t be better, too, as Hawkeye‘s Eisner Award nomination for Best Continuing Series (it’s the only non-Image Comics title up for the award) is sure to give it a nice sales bump, regardless of whether or not it wins.

August 2013 Solicitations: Dark Horse Comics

One pattern we’ve seen emerging from Dark Horse’s marketing and promotion these past several months is that the publisher seems be intent on building up their original superhero comics catalog. Dark Horse’s strengths have traditionally been in its licensed books such as its various Star Wars, Conan, Aliens, Predator, and Buffy titles, pulp-y action-adventure, science-fiction, and horror fare like  the various Hellboy and Criminal Macabre books, and its Dark Horse Manga import line, letting Marvel and DC duke it out on the superhero comics front while filling unmet gaps in non-superhero comics demand. It’s a model that has served them well, considering that out of the many upstart publishers of the mid-1980s independent comics mini-boom, they’re the only one that’s still around and in a way, Dark Horse pioneered the diverse publishing blueprint that companies like BOOM! and IDW follow. There’s a lot of intriguing superhero stuff on tap for August, but the books that stand out to us are a mix of everything. Below are the covers and solicit text of some of the August Dark Horse titles we’ll be keeping track of in the weeks to come:

Avatar: The Last Airbender—The Search Part Three

avatar_thesearch_part3What the solicitation says: Avatar Aang travels to the spirit world to parley with an ancient power, bringing Fire Lord Zuko ever closer to discovering the truth about his mother’s fate—and his own past. 

Yet Zuko’s sister Azula is becoming increasingly dangerous, threatening to ruin everything that Zuko, Aang, Katara, and Sokka have struggled to achieve on their search!

What we say: We’re big fans of Gene Luen Yang’s work on on Avatar: The Last Airbender–The Promise and The Search, Part One already has us similarly impressed, so of course we’re down with this.

Colder

coldertpWhat the solicitation says: Declan Thomas is an ex-inmate of an insane asylum that was destroyed in a fire, he has the strange ability to step inside a person’s madness—and sometimes cure it. He hopes to one day cure his own, but time is running out, as a demonic predator pursues him. Collects the five-issue miniseries.

What we say: We’re sold on the cover alone. That is absolutely sick stuff from Rex Mundi artist Juan Ferreyra.

The Last of Us: American Dreams

lastofustp1What the solicitation says: Nineteen years ago, a parasitic fungal outbreak killed the majority of the world’s population, forcing survivors into a handful of quarantine zones. Thirteen-year-old Ellie has grown up in this violent, postpandemic world, and her disrespect for the military authority running her boarding school earns her new enemies, a new friend in fellow rebel Riley, and her first trip into the outside world.

What we say: The Last of Us: American Dreams is that rare comic book: A video game tie-in that is actually quite good as a standalone read. Heck, even if we weren’t so stoked about the PS3-exclusive The Last of Us, we’d still pick this up based on our impression of the recently-released first issue.

Mind MGMT, Vol. 2: The Futurist

mindmgmt_hc2What the solicitation says: We’ve learned some of the secrets of Henry Lyme; now get ready to meet the rest of Mind Management! With the remains of the Management attempting to reform and hot on Lyme’s tail, the former spy is forced to seek help from other defectors around the globe, including the deadly Futurist, Duncan! Meanwhile, losing her memory has barely slowed journalist Meru down, as an attempt on her life puts her back on the hunt for Mind Management—and on a collision course with the terrible truths Lyme has hidden from her! Collecting MIND MGMT #7–#12, plus stories from Dark Horse Presents and i09!

What we say: Mind MGMT is one of the most engaging books out there right now. Get caught up with the series before this hardcover comes out.

Resident Alien: The Suicide Blonde #0

residentaliens2_0What the solicitation says: Stranded on Earth, the alien living undercover as Dr. Harry Vanderspeigle continues his practice in the small town of Patience, USA! Assisted by Native American nurse Asta—the only person who suspects that he’s from another planet—Harry finds himself enmeshed in another murder mystery. Also: the feds are on to Harry!

What we say: Resident Alien, Vol. 1: Welcome to Earth earned top marks from us, so you can bet we’re onboard this new sequel miniseries.

August 2013 Solicitations: IDW Publishing

IDW Publishing has expanded prodigiously these past few years, and in recent months has nudged past Dark Horse as the market’s fourth largest publisher by volume market share, behind Marvel, DC, and Image. IDW has done this partially on the strength of its licensed titles: the publisher has scooped up the comics publishing rights to some of the most popular toy, game, television, and film-based properties, including Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dr. Who, The X-Files, My Little Pony, Ghostbusters, G.I. JoeDungeons & Dragons, and Magic: The Gathering and has managed to work out an agreement with Rebellion/2000 AD that allows the company to reprint classic Judge Dredd strips as well create an all-new, original Judge Dredd comic of its own and in February, IDW acquired the print publishing rights to digital publisher Monkeybrain Comics’ library. With its partnership with The Library of American Comics, IDW also has a growing classic comics reprint archive that rivals that of Dark Horse and Fantagraphics. The publisher has also taken an interesting approach with its high-end line of hardcovers, offering beautifully-constructed, very limited edition bound volumes at premium prices that play up the advantages of physical comics media.

Below are our top picks culled from their August 2013 solicitation announcement:

Joe Kubert’s Tor: Artist’s Edition

TOR CVR Previews copyWhat the solicitation says: Legendary creator Joe Kubert was responsible for an amazing stream of great works, for more than a sixty year period. Kubert was also the subject of the acclaimed Joe Kubert’s Tarzan: Artist’s Edition that came out last year. Now, in his second IDW Artist’s Edition, we present Joe Kubert’s Tor: Artist’s Edition, collecting four oversized issues and covers, along with the rarely seen Newspaper strip of Tor by Kubert, all in the award-winning Artist’s Edition format…

While appearing to be in black & white, each page has been scanned in COLOR to mimic as closely as possible the experience of viewing the actual original art—for example, you are able to clearly see paste-overs, blue pencils in the art, editorial notes, art corrections. Each page is printed the same size as drawn, and the paper selected is as close as possible to the original art board.

What we say: The concept behind the Artist’s Edition style books just blows our mind as comic art fans. The book offers the sort of visceral experience that just can’t be replicated by digital comics. A package this good needs extra time, though: While listed in the August solicitations, this book isn’t set to go on sale until September 18.

Fever Ridge: A Tale of MacArthur’s Jungle War, Vol. 1

FEVERRIDGE_DBD copyWhat the solicitation says: The South Pacific theatre of World War II is usually seen from the perspective of the Marines fighting from Guadalcanal to Okinawa. Unsung in WWII fiction is the story of the 6th Army’s 6th Infantry Division (“the Sightseein’ Sixth”) and their jungle commandoes, the Alamo Scouts, under the command of Gen. Walter Kreuger, the trusted and savvy lieutenant of “America’s Caesar,” Douglas MacArthur. Fever Ridge is the story of a secret that could have changed the War, and the world.

What we say: Writer Mike Heimos writes a WWII comic that rivals anything Garth Ennis has written in Vertigo’s War Stories and Dynamite’s Battlefields. Oh, and Nick Runge does absolutely stellar work in this series.

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents Classics, Vol. 1

TA_Classic_v01 copyWhat the solicitation says: T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents Classics brings back all of the original silver age comics from the beginning. Volume 1 contains issues #1–4 featuring the artwork of such comic luminaries as Wally Wood, Gil Kane, Dan Adkins, Reed Crandall, and more!

What we say: This volume makes for a fitting—if coincidental—posthumous tribute to classic T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents artist Dan Adkins, who passed away recently. Besides Adkins, the volume also features work by industry legends like Wally Wood and Gil Kane. It’s a perfect companion to IDW’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents relaunch (see next item).

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1

ThunderAgents01-cvrA copyWhat the solicitation says: The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents are dead, or will soon be, unless new recruit Dynamo can master the incredible but lethal power of the Thunderbelt in time to rescue his teammates from the mysterious Iron Maiden. The timeless heroes return to comics with a vengeance in this blistering first issue from writer Phil Hester (Godzilla, Invincible Universe, Wonder Woman) and artist Andrea Di Vito (Dungeons & Dragons)!

What we say: IDW is getting behind the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents relaunch in a big way, with five variant covers (including a folding cover that incorporates the other four cover images à la 1991′s X-Men #1E). We’re a little wary of any modern “re-imagining” of classic superheroes as there can sometimes be a sense of dissonance between the original aesthetics and narrative styles and contemporary sensibilities but we’ve got a lot of faith in the creative team of Hester and Di Vito being able to pull it off.

Torpedo, Vol. 4
NOTE: Mock cover

NOTE: Mock cover

What the solicitation says: Enrique Sanchez Abuli and Jordi Bernet’s masterpiece is a darkly humorous exploration of the criminal underbelly in 1930s New York City. Abuli’s distinctive narrative builds the story over time and Bernet’s masterful renditions of the title character and the city he inhabits are stunningly cinematic.

What we say: We laud IDW’s decision to reissue their six-volume library of translated Torpedo reprints as more affordable paperbacks (Volumes 1 to 3 are also available for re-order in August), as they should introduce more readers to the work of artist Jordi Bernet, a modern master who hasn’t seen a lot of exposure to American comics audiences but whose unmistakable influence can be seen in some of today’s top comics artists such as Goran Parlov, Eduardo Risso, Darwyn Cooke, and Adam Kubert.

August 2013 Solicitations: Image Comics

Image Comics executive director Eric Stephenson must be pleased with how his tenure is shaping up so far. Last year saw some of the publisher’s flagship The Walking Dead title achieve the kind of commercial, multimedia success normally reserved for Marvel and DC offerings and a number of its books also found their way to critics’ “best of the year” lists. When the Eisner Award nominees were revealed last month, Image was almost assured of a book in its stable winning the Best Continuing Series award, since four of the five nominees are Image Comics titles: Fatale, Prophet, The Manhattan Projects, and Saga). The writers on all four books are also up  for the Best Writer plum (out of a total of six nominees, giving an Image title a solid chance to sweep both categories). Not bad for a company that was once derided by fans as the home of terminally late, awfully-written, derivative superhero pap. There’s so much going on with Image’s August releases and so much that’s potentially good that we’ll just focus on the covers and issue descriptions that caught our collective eye:

Saga #13

saga13-coverSpeaking of eyes, check out the cyclops on the cover of Saga #13. Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ transgressive space opera has been in the news a lot lately because of some flap over comiXology’s censorship policy, but the book has a whole lot going for it than controversy. It’s funny and exciting as hell. Saga is up for nomination in two Eisner Award categories, Best Continuing Series and Best New Series, while Vaughan is also a nominee in the Best Writer category for his work on the title.

Skullkickers #24

Skullkickers024Writer Jim Zubkavich has been having a lot of fun at the expense of Marvel with his renumbering and adjective-based retitling of the Skullkickers series. This time, it’s artist Ed Huang’s turn to take a poke at one of the Big Two, with a cover that parodies DC’s Before Watchmen line.

Prophet #40

Prophet-40One of four Image Comics titles up for the Best Continuing Series Eisner Award this year, Brandon Graham (who is also nominated for Best Writer) has turned a book previously associated with the worst of 1990s “x-treme” comics excess into an occasionally bizarre but always interesting sci-fi hit.

Fatale #17

fatale_17Another Best Continuing Series in this year’s Eisners, Fatale has noir comics specialists Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips mixing in fantasy and horror elements in their work. As with Graham and Vaughan, Brubaker is also nominated for the Eisner for Best Writer. The art team has also received a number of nominations: Sean Phillips is in the running for the Best Penciler/Inker and Best Cover Artist awards and series colorist Dave Stewart is up for Best Colorist.

East of West, Vol. 1: The Promise

EastofWest_Vol01The first trade paperback collecting the sci-fi Western-meets-the-Apocalypse comic by Jonathan Hickman (The Manhattan Projects, FF) and Nick Dragotta (FF, The Age of Sentry). This should be all sorts of awesome.

The One Trick Rip-off + Deep Cuts

onetrickripoff_tpImage reissues Paul Pope’s excellent The One Trick Rip-off + Deep Cuts collection in a more affordable trade paperback format. There’s no excuse now not to get it (or at least the pricing will be less of an excuse).

 

Next week from Oni Press

These aren’t August solicitations, but here are a couple of short previews of single issues coming out next week (May 22) from our friends at Oni Press:

  • Sixth Gun #31
    • Cullen Bunn (story) | Brian Hurtt (line art) | Bill Crabtree (color art)
    • $3.99
    • Lost and unarmed, Becky Montcrief wanders the Winding Path… and she is not alone. Menacing skinwalkers pursue her, pursue her, hoping to kill the girl while she is at her most vulnerable, and the Hungry Ones lurk on the outskirts of the Path, awaiting anyone who might take a careless step. With the help of an unexpected ally, Becky is poised to learn the darkest secrets of the Sixth Gun.

  • Wasteland #45
    • Antony Johnston (story) | Omar Olivera (line art) | Christopher Mitten (color art)
    • $3.99
    • STANDALONE ISSUE, WITH ART FROM RISING STAR OMAR OLIVERA! In Newbegin, the custom is for men to venerate their fathers. But the last thing Jakob Ofoskorr wants is to look in the mirror and see his own father staring back… Now, with the Sunners facing new dangers and Marcus preparing for an unknown war, can anything drag Jakob out of the doldrums?

We swear, one of these days we’ll do a solid Wasteland retrospective on Leaving Proof. It’s one of the most consistently engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking post-apocalyptic ongoing comics series out there right now, and it really deserves more comics press coverage.

Some more comics news odds and ends…

  • Fred Van Lente and Ariel Olivetti set for Dark Horse’s Conan and the People of the Black Isle (Comixverse)
  • 2013 Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Nominees announced (Comic-con.org)
  • ABC rolls out blog/viral video-based marketing campaign for S.H.I.E.L.D. (Bleeding Cool)
  • Greg Rucka talks about the success of Lady Sabre & The Pirates of the Ineffable Aether and how crowdfunding will change how comics are published. (Comics Beat)
  • Kelly Sue DeConnick Talks Captain Marvel and Infinity. (IGN)
  • Select works by Johnny Ryan (Angry Youth Comix, Blecky Yuckerella) to be exhibited at London’s Pure Evil Gallery, May 17 to June 2. (Fantagraphics News)
  • Kevin Keller writer-artist Dan Parent receives GLAAD award for outstanding comic book. (GLAAD.org)
  • Frank Cho temporarily banned from Facebook (Comics Beat)
  • George Rohac departs from Oni Press (Comixverse)
  • DC Comics-based video game Injustice: Gods Among Us top-selling game in the US for the month of April. (Gamespot)
  • Rob Liefeld launches unique Kickstarter project to provide free print copies of the new Brigade #1 to comic book shops in the US and Canada and free digital copies elsewhere (Kickstarter) [Seriously? — ed.]
  • Newly-appointed Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara adds oversight of WB Interactive Entertainment to DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson’s responsibilities (Variety)
  • Police called in to break up clash between Star Wars and Dr. Who fans at a Norwich convention (BBC)

If you missed them…

… here are links to the latest trade paperback/hardcover previews on the site:

And if you’re a comics reader who also happens to be into running, don’t miss Leaving Proof 185 | On the biology of super-speed and other stuff, where we talk about the science behind super-speed, review a recent running shoe purchase, look at some marathon cosplay pictures, and more.

3 Responses
    • Admittedly, I’ve never read any Dial H comics. I’ve been watching Ben 10, and Dial H for Hero is credited as an influence on Man of Action studios that designed the Cartoon Network show. That makes me curious. Perhaps I’ll need to pick up some back issues sometime. Although I want to start with the older comics before I start any continuations or reboots (both have happened in their own way).

      • Now that you mention it, yeah, Ben 10 does have a big Dial “H” for Hero influence. The 1980s series even had a version of the H-Dial that was worn by one of the characters as a watch, similar to Ben 10′s Omnitrix.

        That being said, I don’t think familiarity with the older versions of the book is necessary to enjoy the current (and soon to pass) Dial H series. It’s very much a self-contained book, that I think should have been allowed to find a chance at finding a bigger audience as a Vertigo Comics title, where its offbeat stories might be a better fit than in the floundering New 52 line.

        • Trying to figure out the Ben 10 connection, I need to read the trades of the original comics. Those are the ones that the creators drew inspiration from.

          Since Ben 10 and Ben 10: Alien Force draw from DC familiar creators–Adam Beechen and Dwayne McDuffie jump to mind–the new 52 series might have a connection there that would be interesting to my current obsession. Although it looks like the short lived 52 Dial H has been consistently penned by China Mieville.

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