by KC Carlson
There are a number of new Marvel projects this month falling under the banner of “Women of Marvel” – spotlighting not only Marvel’s fascinating female characters, but also the creators who wield the pencils and brushes and tap those keyboards. First up is Girl Comics, a three-issue anthology series featuring work by women only. (The book will probably be printed by men, though.) The first issue sports a great She-Hulk vs. Iron Man cover by the amazing Amanda Conner – and it’s not the battle you’d normally expect. I’m looking forward to seeing the work of Ann Nocenti, Devin Grayson, and Trina Robbins, all of whom haven’t done much superhero comic work of late, as well as current faves including Colleen Coover and Stephanie Buscema.
Three of Marvel’s female characters will be starring in their own one-shots this month: Sif #1, written by Kelly Sue Deconnick (Sensual Phrase), features Thor’s fellow Norse warrior; X-23 #1 is written by Marjorie Liu (NYX) and penciled by previous character miniseries artist Alina Ursov; and She-Hulk: Sensational is a special 30th anniversary story written by Peter David and Brian Reed and penciled by Iban Coello.
Also, legendary Marvel writer and editor Louise Simonson returns to the House of Ideas to write X-Factor Forever, a new ongoing series featuring all-new adventures of the five original X-Men as the original X-Factor team, similar to the X-Men Forever book in format. Plus, don’t forget the all-girl X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back #2, by the almost all-girl creative team that includes Kathryn Immonen and Sara Pichelli. Too bad the cover is by that yucky boy Stuart Immonen.
Additionally, there’s Women of Marvel: Celebrating Seven Decades, a 100-page magazine featuring reprints and articles about Marvel’s leading ladies. But the main reason I’m getting it is for the stunning new covers by Alan Davis, which form one image that is also available as a 24”x36” poster.
Meanwhile, in more macho comics, Jonah Hex continues to be the “little comic that could” – the title generates a lot of buzz and manages to lure a lot of top artists to its pages. Sadly, this has not led to a huge upsurge in sales, and the book probably only survives by the skin of its teeth due to the good graces of the talented folks working on it (and maybe a little because of the upcoming Jonah Hex movie). In addition to the regular issue of Hex this month (#53, drawn by Billy Tucci), and a new TPB collection, Six Gun War (collecting #44-49), the very first original Jonah Hex graphic novel – Jonah Hex: No Way Back – is being solicited (due out in May). It is illustrated by the legendary Tony DeZuniga – Hex’s first artist, and the creator who set the Hex style. All of these are written by ongoing Hex writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti (although a flip in the credits for the GN may indicate a bit more Palmiotti involvement in that project). No Way Back will provide a lot of touchstones for long-time Hex fans, with the return of El Papagayo and the promise of more unrevealed details from Hex’s heartbreaking and brutal past. If you’ve never checked out one of comic’s best-conceived characters – in any genre – this is the place to start. And if you’re already a Hex fan, I’m a-bettin’ that your fingertips are already itchin’.
DC also has a bunch of other interesting collections and graphic novels this month, including a new hardcover graphic novel written and drawn by master storyteller Joe Kubert, known for his excellent war comics throughout the decades. Dong Xaoi, Vietnam 1965 is based on a horrifying true story of Special Forces soldiers on a simple recon mission that turned deadly. Kubert tells the story based on details provided by survivors of the incident. The 200-page hardcover ships in May but is listed this month.
Another classic work by a master artist, Murphy Anderson, is being collected for the first time. The Atomic Knights is one of the finest, and much beloved, series from the legendary Science Fiction comics edited by Julie Schwartz. Written by John Broome and illustrated by Anderson in the early 1960s, the Atomic Knights told the story of the post-apocalyptic future of 1992 (!) where a group of heroic survivors banded together against a petty tyrant while trying to rebuild their ravaged civilization. It’s quite quirky stuff, with the Knights wearing medieval suits of armor because they were impervious to energy blasts, and they rode around the country on giant mutated Dalmatians. Only 15 stories were ever created (all collected here), and the series was a creative high point for both Broome and Anderson. Obviously, it’s now dated, but the series was unusual in its time for giving all the team members – even the girl! – individual personalities and motivations. The storyline eventually tied into the DC Great Disaster future timeline, but it’s no longer a part of current DC continuity. Beware of the artwork that DC is using to promote this series. Although by Anderson, it shows a much later, much inferior incarnation of the Knights (from the 1986 Who’s Who) that has virtually nothing to do with the original stories collected here.
Also this month from DC is Power Girl: A New Beginning, collecting the first six issues of the series by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Amanda Connor that I raved about here several months ago. Plus, there’s another volume of Crisis on Multiple Earths (Volume 5), featuring more classic JLA/JSA team-ups by Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin, George Perez, and others. Finally, Showcase Presents one of DC’s quirkiest (it’s a nicer word than silly) Silver Age series – the legendary (in some circles) original Robby Reed Dial H for Hero, by Dave Wood and featuring wonderful artwork by Jim Mooney. Starring the strangest heroes you’ve ever seen. Plus Plastic Man. You’ve heard about it for years – now witness the magic of Dial H for Hero yourself (assuming that Mark Waid doesn’t buy up all the copies!).
Dark Horse is continuing to reprint the classic Harvey comics characters with a new line of trade paperback collections, each one featuring 200 pages of full color reprints – all for under $15! First up in the new Harvey Comics Treasury series is Volume 1: Casper the Friendly Ghost and Friends. Featuring Wendy, Spooky, and Baby Huey, these are stories from Harvey’s golden years and represent some of the very best kids comics ever produced. Also from Dark Horse this month: the Usagi Yojimbo Plush Figure! The most cuddly – but deadly! – plushie ever made! Just check out that picture! The ronin rabbit stands a full 12” tall, ears included, and was approved by creator Stan Sakai.
More great newspaper strip reprints this month include the always gorgeous Walt & Skeezix Volume 4: 1927-1928 by Frank King from Drawn & Quarterly. (Volume 3 is also relisted this month.) From Fantagraphics comes Walt Kelly’s Our Gang Volume 4 (from 1946 and 1947), a new Peanuts volume (Volume 13: 1975-1976) featuring Snoopy’s extended family, and Basil Wolverton’s Culture Corner with strips that haven’t been reprinted in over 60 years. Over at IDW, they’re starting up Al Capp’s L’il Abner Volume 1 from the beginning (1934-1936), this time including the full-color Sunday pages that have never been collected in book form before. Finally, if your tastes run a bit more modern, there’s a new Pearls Before Swine volume (50,000,000 Pearls Fans Can’t Be Wrong) by Stephan Pastis.
First Wave #1 (of 6) debuts from DC this month, continuing from the recent Batman/Doc Savage one-shot. I was a little cool about this concept at first. Early reports were that it was just another DC world where a bunch of licensed pulp-era characters like Doc Savage and the Avenger would adventure together, but now that more info is leaking out, adding characters like the Blackhawks (although not THE classic Blackhawks) and the Spirit (although one wonders what Will Eisner would have to say about all this), makes it a lot more interesting, at least on paper. Adding Rags Morales as artist is a great move, as he was born to draw a project like this, and Brian Azzarello continues on from the aforementioned (and great) one-shot. A moody cover by J.G. Jones (and a variant by Neal Adams!) means that I am now officially excited about this potentially fascinating new concept.
I’m really happy that Marvel is doing Breaking Into Comics The Marvel Way by C.B. Cebulski with Brian Michael Bendis, Marc Guggenheim, Peter David, Kathryn Immonen, and others. Mostly so that people stop asking me how you do it. I really have no idea. But you can learn all (or at least some) of the secrets in this special two-issue guidebook, with some stunning covers by newcomers (I assume) Matteo De Longis and Lost Fish. Hope Marvel knows what they’re doing with this…
Oh yeah, Blackest Night is wrapping up this month, Seige ends next month, and apparently the long-running mutant storyline of House of M/Messiah Complex is also wrapping up with X-Men: Second Coming and X-Men: Hope #1. But we’re guessing that you’ve probably heard all about these mega-storylines already.
SHORT TAKES – Is Hercules dead? Apparently Hercules: Fall of an Avenger #1 says Yes! … There are a lot of rumblings that Green Arrow will be one of the characters to watch in 2010, and apparently that starts this month with the beginning of The Fall of Green Arrow in Green Arrow #31 and a shocking secret revealed in Justice League: The Rise and Fall Special #1 … Meanwhile, GA’s former partner Roy Harper has problems of his own in Justice League: The Rise of Arsenal #1, featuring what may be one of the most horrifying covers in comics (assuming it’s actually used) … The true identity of Black Mask is revealed in Batman #697 … Cloak and Dagger return in a new one-shot by Stuart Moore and Mark Brooks … Brainiac and the Legion of Super-Heroes begins in Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton #1 when Brainiac attacks New Krypton (and Superman still isn’t back in costume yet!). The storyline will cross over into most of the other Superman titles, as well as Adventure Comics … Too Much of a Funny Thing? Dept.: The Deadpool Corps debut in Prelude to Deadpool Corps #1-5, adding Lady Deadpool, Headpool (the Zombie head of Deadpool), Kidpool, and Dogpool! Each issue is drawn by a different artist, including Kyle Baker, Philip Bond, and Rob Liefeld. Hope the joke will still be as funny three months from now! Plus there’s a Deadpool Corps Marvel Universe Handbook. Don’t wait ‘till I get home! Shoot me now! … Mike Grell’s The Warlord #12 “throws away the rulebook and takes a turn you never saw coming” when a hero dies in a battle with the resurrected Deimos … A brand-new hero debuts in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #8, and “it’s a name that will make you burst out in applause!” My guess: Applause! … Who are the Spider-Girls? Guess we’ll find out in Peter Parker #1 (Yes, it’s a new Spidey book!) … Iron Man 1.5 #1 (of 3) chronicles the adventures of the movie Iron Man, set between the first and second movie … Nation X #4 answers the question that everyone has been waiting for: “Where does Emma get all those Jimmy Choo’s?” OMG! Oh, also Doop returns. Maybe he knows … The Twelve return (sort of) in an untold tale of the team in The Twelve: Spearhead one-shot … Uncanny X-Men #522: “She’s been gone for a long time, but she’s coming back. This isn’t a hoax. This isn’t a joke. CLASSIFIED is back in this oversized special issue of Uncanny X-Men.” I’ve never heard of CLASSIFIED. Is she related to Applause? … Green Hornet #1 from Dynamite is based on Kevin Smith’s unproduced Green Hornet film. At least it’s already written. Let’s hope no one ever finds Kevin Smith’s used kleenex … Fall of the Hulks wraps up in Hulk #21, just in time for the next big Hulk storyline – World War Hulks! Does this mean that every country on Earth now has its own Hulk? Can’t wait for United Nations Hulk … Jughead trades his metabolism to a witch in exchange for a mega-cheeseburger in Jughead #200. My question: What metabolism? … It says here that one of the Pet Avengers will die in the first issue of Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers Unleashed #1. That can’t be right! Surely the pet in question is simply being sent to Uncle Stan’s farm, where it will have plenty of room to run around and play with other super-pets every day! That’s what’s really happening, isn’t it? Right, Marvel? … Mighty Avengers #35: “…and when it’s over… not everyone will be coming back!” Yeah, that holiday travel was really bad this season, wasn’t it?
CREATOR WATCH – Blast from the Past! The Mystic Hands of Dr. Strange is a black & white magazine like the classic Marvel mags of yesterday – but with all-new stories! And it features a new story from a very important Strange creator from the past – Frank Brunner! Plus Strange stuff from Ted McKeever and Peter Milligan! Hope this sells well, so we can see the sequel: The Omnipresent Feet of Dr Strange! … Tony Harris: Art and Skullduggery is the latest art retrospective from IDW and Desperado Publishing featuring work from the Eisner Award-winning artist and Gaijin Studios co-founder. Best known for his long runs on Ex Machina and Starman, the book displays Harris’ work from Marvel, Innovation, Topps, White Wolf, and other publishers. The oversized hardcover also features a complete career retrospective, works from his journals and sketchbooks, design work, and personal photos. There’s also a signed and numbered edition, with a special bookplate, limited to 500 … Spider-Man battles Peter Parker in The Gauntlet when Mark Waid writes Amazing Spider-Man #623 and 624 … Remember that classic Roger Stern-written Spidey vs. the Juggernaut story from long ago? Stern returns to Amazing Spider-Man #627 – and he’s bringing Juggy with him, in the first of the three-parter! Art by Lee Weeks! … Ultimate Frank Cho is penciling Ultimate Comics New Ultimates #1, featuring Ultimate Thor Reborn! It’s written by Ultimate Jeph Loeb. It’s the Ultimate!
THIS AND THAT – Civil War Adventure Volume 1 is the first in a series of meticulously researched graphic novels by Chuck Dixon, Gary Kwapisz, and Enrique Vilagran. First up: the battle of Bull Run! In an exclusive for Westfield Comics, all copies sold through Westfield will be signed and include a mini-poster. Also, watch for the upcoming blog interview with Dixon and Kwapisz … Archie Wedding: Will You Marry Me? collects the story that everybody’s been talking about (or been upset about) from Archie #600-605, plus the epilogue from Archie #606 … Speaking of a story that everybody is talking about (for completely different reasons), BOOM! is finally collecting Don Rosa’s excellent Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Volume 2, reprinting in hardcover the last six chapters of the 12-part adventure of how Scrooge built his fortune. Good stuff! … It’s not exactly comics, but Wacky Packages New New New HC reprints all 206 rare Wacky Packs (like Windaxe cleaner) from Series 8 through 14 from 1974 and 1975 in the sequel to the best-selling original Wacky Packages book from 2008 … Watch out for a super-deluxe hardcover version of the Simpsons/Futurama Crossover Crisis, complete with new material, supplemental stories, sketches, designs, pin-ups, and a bonus facsimile reprint of Simpsons Comics #1, all in a double die-cut slipcase. Excellent! … Over in DVD Land, Warner Bros. releases the first in their new Cartoon Network Hall of Fame series – Johnny Bravo: Season One, including all 13 episodes (on two DVDs) of this early CN series. It’s out in May, but order it now! Whoa, mamma!
KC CARLSON: Buying and reading comics since 1960.