This month’s big launch is Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson’s “Happy” which is quite a feather in the company’s cap. It comes down to Morrison’s involvement as, aside from his stint on “New X-Men” and a handful of smaller projects, the writer has been joined at the hip with DC since the start of his professional career in the states with “Animal Man.” While he has had an incredible amount of freedom with his superhero projects over the years, the man also pursued a number of creator-owned projects through Vertigo including “The Invisibles,” “The Filth,” and more recently, “Joe the Barbarian.” Whether it was the tightening of the imprint’s creator-owned rules, dissatisfaction with the delays in “Joe” or something else entirely, the fact that he’s doing a mini-series for Image speaks volumes about the company’s new status as a haven for creators looking to offer something new and different from the big two.
Happy #1: With Morrison out of the way, let’s talk about the artist on this project. After his work on “Transmetropolitan,” “Wolverine,” and “The Boys,” I don’t think anyone’s willing to doubt Robertson’s artistic chops. Even though Morrison can be very demanding of his artists, I’m sure that after having worked with/survived stints with Ellis and Ennis, that he’ll have no trouble keeping up with the writer. When I say that, I mean he’ll be more like “Frank Quitely in the first half of ‘Batman Reborn,” than “Phillip Tan in the second half of ‘Batman Reborn.’” As for the content of the comic itself, the solicitation text says it’s about an ex-cop turned hitman who survives a hit gone wrong and is about to have his life changed at Christmas by a blue horse named Happy. Sounds pretty Morrison-esque. Pretty sure it’ll be worth reading too.
Valentine vol. 1: The Ice Death: Though it’s described as a hit online comic, this is the first I’ve heard of it. Not the first I’ve heard of the writer, Alex DeCampi, who gave us “Smoke” and its “ill-fated but still chugging towards publication sequel ‘Ashes.’” I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the idea of two Russian soldiers in the War of 1812 becoming caught in a supernatural plot intrigues me. It sounds different enough that I’d like to check it out when it arrives rather than wait to find it in a half-off bin at Comic-Con in ten months.
Bloodstrike vol. 1: Zombie black-ops commandos comin’ at ya courtesy of the Extreme relaunch! It sounds absolutely ridiculous (which is part of the charm) but the main reason I’m interested in this is because of a review I read of it on Comics Alliance by Chris Sims a few months back. The crux of Sims review was that this is essentially the over-the-top action movie that all the Image series in the 90’s wanted to be but failed at miserably in the process. If there’s anyone on the internet who knows whether stuff like this hits the mark, it’s Sims. That makes picking this up in September an easy choice.
Haunt vol. 4: Joe Casey and Nathan Fox take over. It’s hard to imagine that there won’t be a significant uptick in the quality of this series with their run, even if the sales currently indicate that their take hasn’t caught on with the title’s existing readers. Considering what the first two volumes were like, that almost feels like an endorsement. Personally, I’m hoping for a little of the “Wildcats 2.0/3.0” magic with Casey giving us a drastically different take on the characters as I doubt that the man is coming on just to maintain the status quo.
Secret vol. 1: Still no real idea as to what this series is about. I do have faith that Jonathan Hickman won’t let me down. So “watch this space” to see if I still feel that way in a couple months.
Thief of Thieves vol. 1: I have to admire Robert Kirkman’s desire to not rest on the success of “The Walking Dead” and “Invincible” and how he’s using his success to launch new titles and give other creators a leg up via his Skybound imprint. Though some of his efforts didn’t really click (“The Astounding Wolf-Man,” the first two volumes of “Haunt”) this one apparently has. Conrad Paulsen is a master thief who is now making a living by stealing from other thieves. It’s a clever high-concept idea for a series and the fact that the early issues collected here continue to warrant additional printings and it has already been licensed for a potential TV series would seem to bear out its quality. The book also has a quality co-writer in “Morning Glories’” Nick Spencer and artist in Shawn Martinbrough. Martinbrough is best known to me as the artist for a good chunk of Greg Rucka’s run on “Detective Comics” where he nailed the look and feel of the Dark Knight and his city. Hopefully, it’ll turn out to be as good as its hype.