So the most disappointing comics news I’ve read in the last month was that Marvel fired writer Chuck Wendig from an upcoming “Darth Vader” miniseries. It’s not disappointing because I was particularly excited to read it (I’m sure it would’ve been fine), but because of his social media presence where he routinely fought back against angry fans who had issues with his politics and decision to insert gay characters into his “Star Wars” novels. Letting him go for this reason sends a message to these fans that they can get creators they don’t like fired if they’re persistent enough. It’s also another example of corporate inconsistency after Lucasfilm stood by Wendig after his novels came out. I’d like to see Marvel reconsider their decision, but history has taught me not to hold my breath in regards to these things.
In lighter, and Bat-penis-related, news the controversy over “Batman: Damned” has had a knock-on effect with other titles slated for the “Black Label” line and the DCU itself. Apparently the other “Black Label” titles have been given a thorough going-over to address similar content with some previous promises to creators being rolled back along the way. It’s also been said that content for DCU titles, which has been slowly pushing the envelope over the years, is going to receive a scrubbing as well. All this over one man’s penis. It’s funny to consider that “Damned” writer Brian Azzarello was more concerned over the defacement over a religious object in the issue’s final page and had no idea that artist Lee Bermejo’s interpretation of one casual scene he wrote would turn out the way it did.
Last thing: Charles Soule is wrapping up his “Daredevil” run and “Return of Wolverine” is reported to be his last go-round with that character for the time being. What’s next for him? More “Star Wars” series. No word on what he’ll be writing, but with Kieron Gillen set to check out after his fifth arc my money would be on Soule getting a shot at the main title after delivering solid and surprisingly good work on “Poe Dameron” and “Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith,” respectively.
Young Justice #1: Bendis teams up with his “Superman” artist Patrick Gleason to launch the latest version of DC’s young heroes title. Make all the jokes you want about someone his age writing a team full of teenagers, but he did give us Miles Morales and Riri Williams so there’s some reason to be optimistic here. Ditto for Naomi #1 the new series he’s writing with David Walker. I say this because the last time Bendis co-wrote a series, it was the first volume of “Secret Warriors” with Jonathan Hickman, and that turned out pretty well (after Bendis left). So here’s hoping that “Naomi” will finally (FINALLY) be the series that gets people on board with Walker’s writing.
The Other History of the DC Universe #1: This is another new title for the “Black Label” line, and the one that was most likely exempt from any “scrubbing” prompted by “Bat-penis-gate.” That’s because it’s coming from Academy Award-winning writer John Ridley, someone who strikes me as having the presence of mind to include provisions in his contract against such meddling. As for the series itself, it’s a prose/art series with illustrations from Alex Dos Santos that explores the history of the DCU from the perspective of ethnic minorities. It’s a setup that makes this seem like a “message” comic rather than one that tells a proper story. Ridley managed to deliver both quite well with his “The American Way” series so I’m not going to rule this series out as medicine just yet.
Mysteries of Love in Space #1: Just wanted to point out that there’s an anthology one-shot with this title coming your way in January.
Batman #62: Wherein the boy who wanted to be Bruce Wayne returns and Tom King tries to make a case for him as a proper Bat-villain and not someone whose edgelord scarring turned him into a joke. Best of luck to him and artist Travis Moore in trying to pull that off here.
Transmetropolitan: Book One: A whole lot of stuff is being re-offered or repackaged in a new edition with these solicitations. “Transmet” gets a mention not only because this new edition collects the first twelve issues in one volume, but because the series (sadly) hasn’t become any less relevant since the last time I talked about it.
Fight Club 3 #1: I have yet to get around to checking out the first sequel to “Fight Club,” but it was apparently well-received enough to allow for this second sequel. Writer of the original novel and comic book sequel Chuck Palahniuk returns as does “Fight Club 2” artist Cameron Stewart.
Avatar: Tsu’tey’s Path #1: Even as they lose licenses to Marvel and BOOM!, Dark Horse continues to find new ones to replace them. That said, I’m really curious as to how an “Avatar” comic is going to be received this far away from the release of the first film and with the sequels still nowhere in sight. This is written by novelist Sherri L. Smith with art by the artist who helped give us the best “Star Wars” comics at Dark Horse, Jan Duursema. As for the plot, it involves the title character’s life getting turned upside down by the arrival of the film’s protagonist, Jake Scully. Which sounds fine enough, but gives you the impression that James Cameron isn’t letting the company explore his world any further than what we saw in the movie.
Aliens: Resistance #1: I imagine that the hook this series offers for most people is that it features Amanda Ripley, the protagonist of the “Alien: Isolation” game. Not me, though. I never got around to playing the game. What interests me about this series is that Brian Wood is writing it and bringing back his “Aliens: Defiance” protagonist Zula Hendricks. Zula needs help to expose a bio-weapons program and she figures the daughter of Ellen Ripley, who has had her own life-changing encounter with a xenomorph, is the best person to help out. “Defiance” was the best “Aliens” comic I’d read in a while and I wish that it had gone on for longer than it did. Though I’m not expecting a straight continuation of that series, Amanda seems like someone who’d work well with what Wood has established here. Speaking of the writer…
Terminator: Sector War: Wood teams up with artist Jeff Stokely to give us a story that retcons the first film just a bit to allow for another Terminator to come back in time. While we all know about the one that went after Sarah Connor, this Terminator went after NYPD Officer Lucy Castro. Why? Obviously because she’s of great importance to the human resistance in the future and needs to be taken out now. I’m betting that Wood has prepped some twist on that setup because he knows that this kind of story will need it. While I don’t have many “Terminator” comics in my library, I’ll be picking this one up because the writer has delivered consistently good work on all of the licensed titles he’s written for Dark Horse in the past.
Tom Clancy’s: The Division -- Extremis Malis #1 (of 3): Ubisoft’s open-world-shooter-that-plays-like-an-MMO gets a spinoff comic. I’ve played the game (after picking it up for $5 one Black Friday), made it through the campaign with a friend, and have yet to go back to it. Story was not its strong point as you played the one competent member of the Division who had to reign in the chaos of a post-pandemic NYC. This comic doesn’t look to feature any of the game’s named characters or any creators that I’m familiar with (though the cover by John Paul Leon is nice).
The Mask Omnibus vol. 1: I could’ve sworn that Dark Horse had collected these comics before in omnibus form, and I was right. This is a reprint with a new cover which spotlights the real draw of this series: Creators John Arcudi and Doug Mahnke. Before they found fame with “B.P.R.D.” and “Green Lantern,” respectively, they cut their teeth on these crazy comics that inspired the movie from way back in ‘94.
Blade of the Immortal Omnibus vol. 8: Wanted to spotlight this not just because it features the storyline where Shira finally gets what’s coming to him, but because it looks like the entire series will be collected in omnibus form in two more volumes. That’s in stark contrast to Dark Horse’s other signature manga series, “Oh My Goddess!” whose omnibus release looks to have stalled out with vol. 6 as of last October. While I’m glad that “Blade of the Immortal” has remained popular enough to ensure the publication of these omnibi, the old fanboy in me is just a little bit sad that “Oh My Goddess’” time looks to be well and truly over at this point.
Conan the Barbarian #1: Jason Aaron and Mahmud Asrar are a team that I can get behind for this latest relaunch of “Conan.” I’m even okay with the fact that their first arc is going to be a twelve-issue epic called “The Life and Death of Conan.” What disappoints me, and makes me fear for the barbarian’s future at Marvel, is the fact that the company is going to be launching two more monthly Conan comics after this one with precious little to distinguish them from each other. Marvel clearly hasn’t realized that people don’t want to have a whole line of titles shoved down their throat all at once. All three titles should start strongly and then see their numbers fall precipitously as the months go on. Likely to the point where people start casting doubt on Conan’s future at Marvel by the time Aaron and Asrar’s story is done. Which I’d be fine with since I’d like to see Dark Horse get another crack at the license so that they can finish their ongoing adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s stories.
Guardians of the Galaxy #1: The “Thanos Wins” and “God Country” team of Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw take on the “Guardians.” This sounds like a PERFECT mix of creative team to subject so I’m completely on board with seeing what kind of crazy directions they’re going to take Marvel’s premier cosmic team in.
Captain Marvel #1: Kelly Thompson’s writing a “Captain Marvel” comic? Guess I’ll have to start reading this one.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #’s 1&2: Do we really need another monthly “Spider-Man” comic when “Amazing” usually ships twice a month? Well, when it’s coming to us from Tom Taylor and Juann Cabal, who gave us the excellent “All-New Wolverine vol. 5: Orphans of X,” I’m actually inclined to give it a look. However, Marvel’s billing of this as “the most local Spider-Man ever” is nothing if not eye-roll inducing. Better to call it “The most Effin’ Spider-Man ever!” (Because “Friendly Neighborhood” shortens to “F.N.” which sounds like… well, you get the idea.)
Age of X-Man: Alpha #1: From Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler, a couple of writers who have yet to deliver a really good “X-Men” related story, and Ramon Rosanas, whose art is always welcome around here, comes what appears to be the setup for the next big “X-Men” event. Nate Grey is back and I guess he’s looking to remake the world in his image? We’ll see how that goes, and if the actual storyline looks to play out in the Thompson/Rosenberg/Brisson “Uncanny” series.
Deadpool: Secret Agent Deadpool: The digital series gets a print edition. This comes to us from writer Christopher Hastings and artist Salva Espin, and has the Regeneratin’ Degenerate killing the wrong secret agent and then taking his place to complete his mission. It’s a familiar setup, and here’s hoping that Hastings will use that familiarity as a hangar on which much absurdity and ridiculousness will be hung. I expect nothing less from the writer of “The Adventures of Dr. McNinja.”
Black Panther Book 6/Captain America vol. 1: I’m lumping these two volumes together because they represent my (last?) hope that the writing of Ta-Nehisi Coates will finally click for me. His work on “Black Panther” has had some interesting bits to it, but he doesn’t do superheroes talking to each other instead of fighting in a way that’s very compelling. “Black Panther Book 6: The Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda vol. 1” is at least giving us a major change in setting as we look at what T’Challa’s reign has begot across the multiverse and features the always-impressive art of Daniel Acuna. A similarly impressive artist, Lenil Yu, handles “Captain America vol. 1: Winter in America” as the writer tackles the character’s time as a fascist in “Secret Empire” head-on. They both sound promising, so here’s hoping that the third time is the charm for my experiences with Coates’ comic work.
Infinity Wars: Is this the latest big Marvel event? It gets so hard to tell these days with so many events happening all at once. Anyway, this is an Infinity Gem-themed event because the company likes to have something, no matter how tangential, to tie in with their big summer movie release. This comes to us from Gerry Duggan who wrote a “Deadpool” comic so bad that I stopped reading his ongoing series then and there. We’ll see if he’s become a better writer since then. At least he’s got Mike Deodato Jr. (and Mark Bagley on one of the supplemental issues) on board to make what he’s writing look good at the very least.
Extermination: Hey, here’s another (“X-Men” related) event! Are the time-stranded X-Men finally going to go back to their original era? Or did writer Ed Brisson draw the short straw and wind up with the dirty job of killing them off? It’s a story that had to happen eventually so let’s hope that Brisson, and his editors, have put some thought into how things are going to play out.
Spider-Geddon: And another (“Spider-Man” themed this time) event here too! Long story short: The ultra-boring Inheritors have broken out of their radioactive prison planet and are headed to our Peter Parker’s Earth for a lot of payback. Expect every Spider-Person ever to show up along with a few more that were created just for this storyline! The real challenge here is seeing whether or not writer Christos Gage (with Dan Slott on hand for his Spider-victory-lap) can make the Inheritors interesting after their genericness dragged down the original “Spider-Verse” event.
Cosmic Ghost Rider: Baby Thanos Must Die: So, in “Thanos Wins” Donny Cates gave us a Frank Castle who became the Ghost Rider, who was further empowered as a Herald of Galactus, before siding with Thanos as his Black Right Hand. He died in that storyline, but this storyline brings him back with one mission. No points for guessing what it is, though it sounds like a pretty good indication of the level of crazy the writer, and artist Dylan Burnett, are looking to bring to this series.
Criminal #1: Wow. After I heard that Ed Brubaker would be working on Amazon’s “Too Old to Die Young” series, I thought that we wouldn’t be seeing anything from him and Sean Phillips for a while. But not only have we been graced with their first original graphic novel “All My Heroes Have Been Junkies” we’re getting an all-new “Criminal” miniseries in January! More “Criminal” is always a good thing, especially when it focuses on the ne’er-do-well members of the Lawless family. Which is the case here as Teeg Lawless finds himself in a ton of trouble thanks to his son, Tracy. That may be a little bare-bones as far as plot hooks go, but with “Criminal’s” history it’s enough to get me excited again.
Oliver #1: Re-imagining a famous literary character (or characters) in a post-apocalyptic scenario isn’t the novel idea that it once was. Yet that’s what we’re getting with this new series from writer Gary Whitta and artist Darick Robertson which transplants Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist to a war-ravaged England. And gives him superpowers too, because why not. Even with Whitta’s solid resume (he’s written “The Book of Eli” and “Star Wars: Rogue One,” and contributed to the first season of Telltale’s “The Walking Dead”) it’s hard to get excited about this kind of setup. Robertson’s presence is more of a selling point since between “Transmetropolitan,” “The Boys,” and his Marvel work, the man has shown that he can do no wrong as an artist.
Jesusfreak HC: A 64-page graphic novella from writer Joe Casey and artist Benjamin Marra. It promises a bloody, two-fisted tale of historical heroic fiction, which sounds like an excuse for Casey to have the Son of God get up to all sorts of crazy stuff. Especially with Marra illustrating it as I’m still unsure after all these years whether his “Terror Assaulter: O.M.W.O.T.” is either the greatest or dumbest thing I’ve ever read.
Hey Kids! Comics!: Howard Chaykin’s acid-drenched valentine to comics is collected. I’ll admit that the promise of his take on comics’ sordid history makes it sound more interesting than his other solo work to come out of the publisher. What really sells it for me is the photo cover of a fan at a convention passing on buying some comics by saying, “Nah… I’ll wait for the trade!” I can relate and I’ll be sure to pick this up just to show you all how.
Barrier Limited Edition Slipcase Set: I was wondering when we’d get a collected edition of Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s latest miniseries. With this, the answer appears to be “Not anytime soon” (the actual word they used was “Never” but you know how that is with comics…). However, in an attempt to cater to trade-waiters like me, Image is releasing all five issues in a slipcase set. Which I’ll be picking up because, hey, it’s Vaughan and Martin.