We close out the month in comics, and have the lead up to Free Comic Book Day, with some number ones and some strong new titles. Here’s a look at titles from DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, IDW Publishing, Boom!, and Valiant.
Batwoman Annual #1
Or “DC finally wraps up this book’s previous plotline.” The closure is good, but still, fans probably won’t be satisfied.
Amazing Spider-Man #1
Peter’s back! And he’s naked! While the climax of Superior Spider-Man was every bit as rushed, dumb, and disappointing as the comic that launched it, it’s hard not to be happy Peter’s back… even if he is trying to figure out how to put his life back together. And, needless to say, that’s a wee bit more complicated than even Parker is used to. A hoot, and highly recommended.
Southern Bastards #1
Jason Aaron returns to rural noir, but Scalped this decidedly isn’t. Earl, our hero, is an old man returning to his old home county to clean up some family business. But the book takes some rather sharp turns that make it a lot more interesting than a standard noir, helped substantially by Jason Latour’s art and intentionally limited color scheme. Highly recommended.
Dream Police #1
It’s really, really hard not to view this book as a Sandman knock-off, right down to the dumb pun of a title. Bill Farmer and Sid Kotian use a grounded art style that makes the basic universe feel believable, but the script from J. Michael Straczynski is just something we’ve read before, and the ending is a bit of a dud. Why should a sudden change matter in a book chock full of them? Hopefully it’ll improve, or at least Straczynski will try a little harder.
Star Wars: Rebel Heist #1
Finally, we know what Han Solo’s been up to between the first two movies: Winging it, as always. Matt Kindt delivers everything you want out of Star Wars; this is smart, funny, and action-packed, with great art courtesy of Marco Castiello and Dan Parsons. Highly recommended.
Dexter’s Laboratory #1
Yes, the Cartoon Network classic gets a book of its own. And it’s actually pretty great. Derek Fridolfs and Ryan Jampole nail the tone and style of the show perfectly, making for a pitch-perfect book. A great book for kids and fans of the show.
Can an America divided between humans and vampires truly unite? Jonathan Maberry, the writer behind the superb Bad Blood, kind of whiffs this one, alas. The book’s a fairly standard conspiracy story, and honestly, the characterization is so flat and one-sided it’s hard to care about anybody in the book, even our alleged hero. Alan Robinson amuses himself with the gore, but really, this book is more a missed opportunity than anything else.
Matt Kindt and Clayon Crain’s story of 4001 Japan is gorgeous thanks to Crain’s artwork, but it’s a bit rushed in terms of plot. Kindt simply has to fit too much in to one issue, and it suffers for it. Not a bad start, but a bit unfocused.
Shadowman: End Times #1
Jack Boniface’s war with his shadow loa picks up some serious steam as this mini starts up. Peter Milligan has done wonders with this book, and his script is well paired with Valentine De Landro and Livesay’s clean, yet moody, artwork. A good place to start with this character, and highly recommended.
Batman Vs. Bane
Peter Tomasi always writes Bane well, and this enormous brawl between the Bat and the man who broke him is a fun read. Inessential, perhaps, but still a hoot.
Vertigo Quarterly: Cyan
Honestly, these nine stories vary so widely in theme and style that it’s difficult to peg this book. Fabio Moon and Joe Keatinge hand in a strong story, for example, but some others feel a bit like leftovers. Worth flipping through to see if you’re interested, but at $8, it’s a bit of a stretch to recommend.
Adventure Time 2014 Annual
Yeah, this is aimed squarely at kids, but it’s pretty adorable. Laid out like a storybook, it’s fairly ideal if you’ve got kids to give comics to, and well-timed for Free Comic Book Day.