Every month throughout 2015, I’ll be taking a look at the most interesting comic book trade collections released, or available for pre-order. The goal is to give new and long time comic book lovers a good sense of what’s available this month, and what comic book trades you might want to add to your growing collection. Without further ado:
Our first book for February comes from legendary sequential art expert Scott McCloud. For the unfamiliar, McCloud has written some of the absolute best graphic novels on the medium of comics as a form of literature and storytelling, including “Making Comics” and “Understanding Comics.”
It’s slightly lesser known that McCloud is also a heckuva creator himself, having proven himself in the late 80’s and early 90’s with “Zot.”
McCloud’s back at it with Sculptor, and if you’re an artistic soul, it sounds like a fascinating conceptual plot. From the solicit:
“David Smith is giving his life for his art—literally. Thanks to a deal with Death, the young sculptor gets his childhood wish: to sculpt anything he can imagine with his bare hands. But now that he only has 200 days to live, deciding what to create is harder than he thought, and discovering the love of his life at the 11th hour isn’t making it any easier!”
If that doesn’t interest you, try this quote from Neil Gaiman, author of Sandman and American Gods:
“Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor is the best graphic novel I’ve read in years. It’s about art and love and why we keep on trying. It will break your heart.”
The Earth One series of standalone graphic novels has been pretty phenomenally successful for DC Comics, in a way that say Marvel’s “Season One” books don’t achieve. Earth One provides DC’s creators the chance to reimagine the DC trinity (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman) outside the sticky confines of 70+ years of continuity.
There are plenty of detractors of J. Michael Straczynski’s “Superman: Earth One” series, and the criticism I agree with the most is just how slight much of Earth One feels. These are gorgeous hardcover collections, but the pages breeze by in one sitting all too easily.
Of course, the accessibility is an enormous part of the appeal, and a big reason why Superman: Earth One has been of DC’s best selling books this decade. From the solicit:
“SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE VOL. 3 follows a young Clark Kent as he continues his journey toward becoming the World’s Greatest Super Hero. After defeating villains terrestrial and beyond, Superman faces a threat that he can’t simply outmuscle. A threat smarter, more cunning and deadly than he can imagine: the Luthors!”
If you’re a fan of Rick Remender from his Marvel Work (Uncanny X-Force, Uncanny Avengers, Venom, Franken-Castle…), there’s a great chance you’ll want to give Black Science, his creator owned work from Image, a read.
From the solicit:
“In this second volume of the hit series, the Anarchist League of Scientists dives further into the Onion construct of reality than ever before, jumping wildly through worlds of wonder, fantastic beauty, and cosmic horrors.”
The Geoff Johns written Rebirth of Green Lantern was essentially my introduction to the character and the Green Lantern mythos, and was easily the reason I first fell for DC’s Emerald Knight. These are fantastic comics for new Green Lantern readers, steeped in DC lore, expanding on elements of a great short comic written by Alan Moore in the 1980’s, and introducing lasting concepts such as the Sinestro Corps.
I highly recommend this series for anyone looking for good starting places in the DC Universe. Johns’ start on Green Lantern are some of my absolute favorite DC stories.
From the solicit:
“It’s been years since the the death of Hal Jordan and the end of the Green Lantern Corps. But as the Torchbearer Kyle Rayner is about to find out, the adventure of epic and mythological proportions is about to begin as the former Lantern returns to the land of the living to atone for his sins. And the cosmos will never be the same as Sinestro wages his war against the Green Lanterns with his newly founded, Sinestro Corps!
This volume collects: Green Lantern Rebirth #1-6, Green Lantern Corps Recharge #1-5, Green Lantern #1-25, Green Lantern Corps #14-18, Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Special #1, Green Lantern Secret Files 2005 #1, Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Superman Prime #1 and Green Lantern/Sinestro Corps Secret Files #1.”
It’s tough to not at least consider a new ongoing series from Robert Kirkman (of The Walking Dead, and Invincible fame). With Outcast, Kirkman seeks to do for demonic possession what he (and Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard) did for zombies.
From the solicit:
“Kyle Barnes has been plagued by demonic possession all his life and now he needs answers. Unfortunately, what he uncovers along the way could bring about the end of life on Earth as we know it!”
Admittedly, I’m not caught up on my Legendary Star-Lord. That said, If you’ve fallen head over heels for Guardians of the Galaxy, this one’s worth a shot.
“Exploding from the pages of Guardians of the Galaxy! Peter Quill battles the Badoon, fights to save an orphanage, and still finds time to flirt with the X-Men’s Kitty Pryde – all in a day’s work for the legendary Star-Lord!
If you haven’t read any Love & Rockets from Los Bros Hernandez before, then you almost certainly don’t want to begin here. Fortunately, publisher Fantagraphics has a solid guide to getting to know Love & Rockets, one of the “most important and enduring alternative comics series in the history of the medium.”
Love and Rockets is incredible, and a complete about face from superhero comics if you find yourself growing tired of the Big 2. From the solicit:
“In this seminal graphic novel series’ latest installment, Maggie and Hopey finally go on a road trip, and there’s more B movie fun with Fritz and Killer.”
Peter Bagge is up there with Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez as alternative comics creators from the 80’s and 90’s that you’re cooler just for knowing. Bagge’s “Buddy Does Seattle” is one of the funniest comics you can read, taking the mundanity of Seinfeld and warping it through a weirdo slacker filter.
Unsurprisingly, Bagge’s latest from Fantagraphics sounds highly intriguing:
“This situational comedy graphic novel is about a newspaper strip “sweatshop” of aspiring cartoonists who are attempting to make it big like their boss, but on their own terms. Mel Bowling is the unhappy, out-of-touch creator of a very bad, daily newspaper comic strip called Freddy Ferret (a cross between Dilbert and Garfield). He spends most of his time listening to Rush Limbaugh and coming up with horrible catchphrases to merchandise, while his “sweatshop” cast of studio assistants grind out all the hard work.”
Warren Ellis is one of the all-time comic book writer greats, and the first six issues of his new ongoing series with Jason Howard, “Trees,” are now available in collected form.
I was honestly pretty non-plussed with the first few issues of this series, but looking back, I was likely impatient with some slower world-building. There’s never been any doubt that Trees is a fantastic concept:
“Ten years after they landed. All over the world. And they did nothing, standing on the surface of the Earth like trees, exerting their silent pressure on the world, as if there were no-one here and nothing under foot. Ten years since we learned that there is intelligent life in the universe, but that they did not recognize us as intelligent or alive.”
I’m a month early with this one – March 31 release – but it’s tough not to get a little excited for the latest Marvel Original Graphic Novel, “Avengers: Rage of Ultron” from Uncany Avenges creative duo Rick Remender and Jerome Opena.
The synopsis here seems bonkers enough that I have to assume this OGN will remain out of Marvel continuity at large. Nonetheless, you start throwing out phrases like “When Titan, birthplace of Thanos, falls, Planet Ultron rises in its place!” and you can just take my money.
From the synopsis:
“Now, years later, the homicidal artificial intelligence – so long devoted to ending life on Earth – has a new world to conquer…one with its own horrific legacy. When Titan, birthplace of Thanos, falls, Planet Ultron rises in its place! Thanos’ brother Starfox must seek the aid of his former allies – but the Avengers he finds are radically different from the ones he once knew. Among them is Ultron’s creator Giant-Man – and when Hank Pym confronts his now planet-sized “son,” the responsibilities of fatherhood have never loomed so large.”
The second volume of Cullen Bunn’s high quality Magneto provides one of the best tie-ins leading up to Avengers vs. X-Men: Axis. In my opinion these issues were the strongest conceptually of anything involved with Axis, and Bunn’s Magneto has yet to disappoint.
From the synopsis:
“When Magneto discovers that mutants are being hauled away to a re-education camp, he investigates…and discovers that the Red Skull is behind the operation!”
COLLECTING: Magneto 7-12
This is the point in Jonathan Hickman’s run where Avengers and New Avengers begin crossing over in the lead up to Secret Wars. You’ll definitely want to have read Avengers and New Avengers issues up to this point, but if you’re caught up, the official start of the “Time Runs Out” saga is a bewildering yet thrilling ride.
From the synopsis:
“Following the startling events of Original Sin and the revelations as to what the Illuminati have been up to all this time, this cataclysmic saga jumps forward to the day of the Final Incursion.”
COLLECTING: Avengers 35-37, New Avengers 24-25
I’ll be perfectly honest in admitting I had no idea Marvel even published the first Star Wars comics back in the late 70’s. The house that Lucas built has been a Dark Horse property since I was a lad. Nonetheless, this well-timed Omnibus (coinciding with the release of Jason Aaron and John Cassaday’s Star Wars #1) is an extremely interesting collection, and let’s face it, Omnibus (plural form: Omnibeese?) are awesome, and always run out quickly.
From the synopsis:
“It’s the return of the Jedi to Marvel in an opening volume that begins with A NEW HOPE and ends with THE EMPRIE STRIKES BACK. Luke goes back to Tatooine, Leia battles alone, Han and Chewie play the deadly Big Game, and Darth Vader hunts for answers!”
COLLECTING: STAR WARS 1-44, Annual 1
Just so the Trekkie’s don’t get upset I included the Star Wars omnibus. You know how touchy they can get.
From the synopsis:
“For the first time ever, a visual presentation of the much-discussed, unrevised, unadulterated version of Harlan Ellison’s award-winning Star Trek teleplay script, “The City on the Edge of Forever!” See the story as Mr. Ellison originally intended!”