Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wednesday is New Comics Day

I want to thank Dustin and the crew for inviting me to join the Heroes blog. Each Wednesday I'm going to run down the 5 most interesting comics and graphic novels that will be hitting the shop. Please feel free to add a comment and either wholeheartedly agree with me or tell us what you're excited about picking up this week.

Written by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction; art by Greg Land and Terry Dodson
Fresh off their acclaimed run on Iron Fist, Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction take over the flagship X-men title with it's landmark 500th issue (500? Why does that make me feel old?). Brubaker and Fraction have a lot of plans for the series and will be setting up a lot of future story lines with this issue. The first order of business is getting the team set up in their new hometown of San Francisco. As the writers have described in numerous interviews, San Fran is a logical place for mutants to hang out because it's a town where anyone can just let their freak flag fly. The fan favorite writing team is also joined by a new art team that consists of a couple of other popular guys in the comics world right now: Greg Land and Terry Dodson. Between the new status quo and the top notch creative team this is probably the most interested I've been in checking out an X-men book since Grant Morrison ended his run.

There's quite a few variant covers for this one including the Alex Ross one shown here. Check them all out plus a preview of the interior art here.

4. WAR HEROES #1 (of 6)
written by Mark Millar; art by Tony Harris
Image Comics
32 pgs | $2.99

Writer Mark Millar takes a break from all the work he's been doing in the Marvel Universe to get back to doing the type of creator-owned work that he's had some success with in the past (after the success of this summer's Wanted, everything this guy does is probably going to get optioned by Hollywood now). Teaming with artist Tony Harris (Ex Machina, Starman) on this new 6 issue mini-series, Millar introduces us to an America that has gone down the tubes after devastating nuclear attacks by Iraqi insurgents. In order to regain the global advantage it has recently lost, the government begins giving superpowers to all of its soldiers.

If you were a fan of Millar's paramilitary take on The Avengers in The Ultimates then you're sure to love this and since it's published by Image, independent of Marvel's corporate censorship, there's nothing holding back Millar's more controversial and R-rated tendencies.

Here's a preview of the first issue and an interview with Millar himself.

Written by Ray Fawkes; art by Cameron Stewart
Oni Press
144 pgs | $11.95

A book about a girl rock band traveling around a post-apocalyptic landscape being chased by mutants and pirates in between gigs doesn't really sound like something I'd usually like* but it's possible I'm just biased on this one since I'm a sucker for Cameron Stewart's artwork (Seaguy, The Other Side, Catwoman). With his crisp, Bruce Timm influenced style that gives him a knack for drawing really cute girls this is basically a book that just lets him do what he's good at and there's nothing wrong with that.

Here's a preview of all the apocalyptic goodness and check out the new Apocalipstix website here.

*Actually all those things are totally up my alley

By Various creators
272 pgs | $30.00

Meathaus is a collective of New York based artists that came out of The School of Visual Arts and, though many have pretty notable careers on their own right now, every once in a while they get together to put out an anthology of really nice looking art comics. This latest volume contains new work from folks like: James Jean (he of the Fables covers); Jim (Street Angel) Rugg introducing his newest character, Afrodisiac; Dash (Bottomless Belly Button) Shaw does the weird The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D.; plus Tomer and Asaf Hanuka (of Bi Polar fame), Brandon Graham (of King City fame) and veteran animation legend Ralph Bakshi (of Cool World and Fritz the Cat fame) all lend some work to the book.

Here's a preview over at the Totally Nerd Core website.

By Howard Chaykin
Image Comics
440 pgs | $49.99

There's a lot of pricey offerings this week but this one I think is totally worth it. American Flagg! fans have been waiting years for a nice collection of Howard Chaykin's groundbreaking political sci-fi sex comedy. Featuring recolored artwork, an introduction by author Michael Chabon and a brand new story by Chaykin, this hardcover volume justifies it's fifty dollar price tag. American Flagg! was a book that was truly ahead of it's time when it was first published in the mid 1980s. Not only because of Chaykin's sophisticated artwork and storytelling style but the ideas presented itself seemed to eerily predict our own future: a collapsed Soviet Union, American society revolving around super-malls and basketball, lingerie as outerwear, media saturation, the mainstreaming of pornography and more. The only things we're still wating on is talking cats and the U.S. government to relocate to Mars.

I'd put this series in my top 5 all time favorite comics so I'm hoping this book will look great and will lead to more collections of the rest of the series.


Andy Mansell said...

American Flagg-- the first 12 issues-- is mandatory reading for any comics fans. I am interested to see how well it has aged.

Jason Wheatley said...

Having not read American Flagg but only knowing of it and hearing about it in the past, I must wonder - would the title read as a little dated now, because so many of Chaykin's concepts, forward-thinking at the time, have come to pass?

Sort of the same thing that makes Watchmen and/or The Dark Knight Returns lose a little of their zip with people just reading them now - revolutionary concepts at the time, but now you've had a whole generation of people who've grown up with "gritty" heroes as the norm and superhero deconstruction everywhere you look.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Mark Millar, let's not forget the outstanding yet very creepy 1985 #3 that came out last week, which kicks the mini-series into high gear. Millar has introduced super-villians into the "real" world, and it really does feel like they're in my own neighborhood. Modok, for example, doesn't use his powers of mind control to get people to break into some research facility to steal a doomsday device to destroy Captain America. Instead, we see a long line of suburban homeowners in single file slowly walking into a lake and drowning themselves, including a woman and her infant. Tommy Edwards' art just makes it even more bizarre.

Vee ! said...

Soooo...would someone be so kind as to tuck away an issue of War Heroes #1 for me until I stop by again? You know, because I wasn't mindful enough to skim the new releases list before I left the house.

Dustin Harbin said...

Vee, we're happy to tuck if you like, but we ordered a ton of those in anticipation of next month when Mark Millar and Tony Harris are here in the store. What, you didn't know? Why, I announced it right here.

Jason Wheatley said...

I agree with "anonymous" - if that is your real name - that 1985 #3 was very good, very cool, and very creepy. I get the feeling that this title is being overlooked by a lot of people.

Rusty Baily said...

Jason-couldn't have said it better myself! I never read Watchmen when it was "fresh", and now, what, 20 years later, it doesn't hold ANY appeal to me what-so-ever. I wouldn't quite put The Dark Knight in that boat, but there are others I would. However, I AM looking forward to the movie.
And I have TOTALLY slept on 1985. I guess I'll have to check it out now. Thanx!

Rich Barrett said...

Yeah it will be interesting to see how AF! holds up. It's been years since I re-read my back issues. I think it will still be pretty enjoyable because there is a great cast of characters in that book and if you like Chaykin's art, this is his best work.

Just like I think Watchmen still holds up no matter how many gritty and deconstructed superhero comics you've read. There's more to enjoy there than the superficial things that have been copied from it ad nauseum.

Phil Southern said...

I excitedly bought Flagg! yesterday, but awoke to Howard Chaykin breaking into my house at 3am and stealing it. I think he doesn't want any of us to have it!

schmakt said...

I, shamefully, did not order AF! from our wonderful little store but, instead, pre-ordered it from Dynamic Forces wayyyyyyyyyyyyy back when it was first announced and when Howard showed up at HeroesCon. (was that really 2005?? I HIGHLY enjoyed meeting him and attended all his panels... man that was fun. *hint hint*)

I got an email from DF a week ago saying my CC was declined, but I had no clue what they were talking about. Of course, it turns out that it was for the S&N AF! HC. (abbreviate that!)

Chabon's intro is just gushing as he explores and almost deifies Chaykin and his masterpiece, but it was a fun read. (And he mentions Alfred Bester several times too. Rock on, Chabon.) I'm only a few issues in, but thus far, the story, the concept, and the art are holding up beautifully. The binding actually feels kind of cheap, but the pages look great.

I was torn b/t reading the new story first and reading the whole thing in order... I settled on holding off tho, so I can't yet comment on the new stuff. But, yes, this is a fantastic collection that is LONG overdue. It's heavy and wordy, but if you aren't looking for just a quick distraction like so many of today's comics offer, there is a wealth of entertainment to be had here. Although you should be able to pick up the original issues for much cheaper than the HC price, I still highly recommend this collection.

Dan Morris said...

I remember buying the first six issues of American Flagg a few years ago and just being really underwhelmed by them. While I feel Watchmen still has power because for me there's a genuine message in there, American Flagg just feels really topical to the time it was released. It's been awhile since I've read them so maybe I should go back check them out.