Lots of interesting new title announcements from Image coming out of the Emerald City Comic-Con a few weeks back: Joe Casey and Ulises Farinas are bringing us “The New Lieutenants of Metal” which is aiming to be as gloriously incomprehensible as early Image comics were. That sounds like a threat to me, even with art from Farinas. Justin Jordan is writing “Death of Love” about cupids and chainsaws and an “ocean punk” series called “The Family Trade.” He’s been more about style than substance in his work, so my “wait and see” approach is in effect here. Prolific colorist Jordie Bellaire is writing her first series, “Redlands,” with artist Vanessa Del Rey about a fictionalized version of a real place that contains everything the writer is most upset about with our country. Jeff Lemire is teaming up with artist Phil Hester for “The Family Tree,” a horror road comic about the journey to cure a young girl. Ales Kot also has two new series in the pipeline with “Generation Gone,” featuring a couple in a toxic relationship that gets superpowers after they rob a bank, and “The New World” which is about California after the second civil war. While these sound like straightforward premises, Kot tends to go to some really strange places for his creator-owned work which may render them irrelevant after the first volume.
However, the best news is that Matt Wagner will finally be delivering the final chapter of his “Mage” series. “The Hero Denied” is set to debut this August with a zero issue and run for fifteen issues. It arrives eighteen years after the end of “The Hero Defined” and promises an end to the saga of Kevin Matchstick. New editions of the previous two volumes are set to be reissued during the run of this series, so if you’ve only heard about “Mage” through its reputation this is your best chance to get on board.
Crosswind #1: A hitman and a housewife switch bodies -- “Freaky Friday” by way of “Goodfellas” as described in the solicitation text. The premise may sound high concept, but this series is most notable for the fact that it represents the Image debut of Gail Simone after a solid decade-plus of writing comics for DC and a few for Marvel. She had previously done a creator-owned title, “Clean Room,” for Vertigo which is set to conclude soon. The fact that she’s putting out this new series, with artist Cat Staggs, through Image should tell you all you need to know about the current state of creator-owned titles at Vertigo.
The Divided States of Hysteria #1: Howard Chaykin takes on our current sociopolitical climate. Expect to see humanity at its worse, right before things start getting really bad. It sounds like Chaykin is going to offer us a (hopefully fictitious) look at what happens when, instead of climbing out of the hole we’ve dug for ourselves here, we grab a shovel and start digging deeper and faster. Making that kind of approach work is tricky business. Given his past work, it’s possible Chaykin is nihilistic enough to pull it off.
September Mourning #1: I’m presenting the solicitation text in its entirety here because it is a thing of tortured and overwrought beauty:
“September Mourning has no past that she can remember, only a strange and shadowy present filled with the voices of the dead. Turned into a unique hybrid by the former Reaper of the lonely, injured, and abused, September Mourning is the only human/reaper to exist. Tasked with reaping the souls of the “worthless” by her mysterious tattoo, September hides and protects them until she can help them realize the last thing they had left undone in life. Whether it’s aiding souls to expose abusers, find lost loves, or settle old debts, in each case September is guided by voice of the Skullfly, which only she can hear.”
If I was a goth kid in the mid-90’s, this would sound like the most awesomest thing EVAR!!! As it is, I’m hoping for some of the so-bad-it’s-good hilarity that titles like “Wounded Man” and the first volume of “Terra Formars” managed.
Shirtless Bear-Fighter #1 (of 5): This, on the other hand, is clearly going for a so-bad-it’s-AWESOME vibe with its title that tells you everything you need to know about it. I could talk about the story that’s mentioned in the solicitation text but… It’s a comic called “Shirtless Bear-Fighter.” What more do you need to know?
Bulletproof Coffin: The Thousand Yard Stare: The original “Bulletproof Coffin” miniseries was a bravura work of metafiction from writer David Hine and artist Shaky Kane. They eventually wound up as characters in their own comic to help keep the conspiracy in place, in exchange for a ton of money. There was a sequel, “Disinterred,” which was something else entirely. Now Hine and Kane are back with this one-off where the plot is described as involving a bloody showdown between the two as the artist is promised the chance to draw his own comic free of the geriatric ramblings of the writer. Sounds like a return to form for me!
The Dying and the Dead #5 (of 10): So it’s a ten-issue miniseries. That’s good to know. Now I’m back to waiting for it to be collected in a single-volume edition.
Descender vol. 4: Orbital Mechanics: In which this series tries to get back some of its momentum after squandering it in the previous volume. I’d be feeling more optimistic about its chances of success if the solicitation text didn’t imply a plot point that is pretty obvious if you’ve read the previous volume. That would be the part about Driller’s role in the disaster that claimed the life of Andy’s mother, which was actually one of the stronger parts of vol. 4. Can writer Jeff Lemire find a way for this to play out that doesn’t conform to expectations? I’m betting the answer is “No,” but maybe he’ll surprise me.
The Wicked + The Divine vol. 5: Imperial Phase Part I: In vol. 4, the gods unshackled themselves from Ananke’s manipulations in suitably gory and violent fashion. Now they’re free to do whatever they want. I AM SURE THIS DEVELOPMENT WILL TURN OUT WELL FOR EVERYONE INVOLVED. Because really, when has giving teenagers incredible power and no responsibility turned out badly for anyone? At least with Gillen and McKelvie at the helm we’ll be laughing all the way to their equally gory and violent downfall.