The holiday spirit is strong with Image this year. They’ll be publishing three very different comics that spotlight the holiday season and its many attractions and horrors come December. Of the three, I’m looking forward to The Wicked + The Divine Christmas Annual the most as it pairs co-creator/writer Kieron Gillen with an impressive array of artists to display some rather mundane things. You know, like Inanna and Baal getting it on, Lucifer and Sakhmet getting it on, and (clearly best of all) Dionysus giving Baphomet a lift in a crappy car. Get it when it comes out in December or just wait for the promised collection of all the “W+D” one-shots that will be coming towards the end of the series.
All the way at the other end of the excitement spectrum for me is Spawn: A Holiday Krampus Tale. It’s a tale so epic that it needed three writers -- Todd McFarlane, Ben Timmereck, and the one-shot’s artist Jordan Butler -- to tell it. Who knows why we’re getting this story now, though it could be that McFarlane was emboldened by the success of the “Spawn Kills Everyone” one-shot and we’ll be seeing even more one-offs like this down the line. On a happier-ish note is the Curse Words Holiday Special where we get a flashback to see what Christmas was like for Wizord and everyone else back in the Hole World. It sounds promising in that it’s not just in the spirit of the season, but will likely flesh out some backstory for the cast along the way. Regular writer/co-creator Charles Soule writes this and is joined by Mike Norton -- someone whose style may not be crazy enough for this series, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt here. ‘Tis the season and all.
Rumble #1: No, I didn’t think this was coming back either. John Arcudi and James Harren’s series about a legendary warrior reincarnated into a scarecrow body to fight monsters was great fun over the three volumes published to date. However, sales declined with each issue and I figured that the dispiriting cliffhanger vol. 3 ended on would be the end of it. I’m glad to see that’s not the case as the series is getting a brand new #1 and artist as well. With Harren tackling new projects at Image and Marvel, the increasingly prolific David Rubin takes over. As he showed on “Ether,” Rubin is willing and able to draw the craziest things which is exactly what a series about a scarecrow fighting monsters needs.
Elephantmen #80: The long-running series about genetically engineered animals trying to fit into a future cyberpunk society and deal with their history as creatures bred for war comes to an end. I’ve been following it off and on over the past few years and while it has always been interesting, it’s never been compelling enough to get me to read it as it comes out. Still, I did pick up volumes five and six from creator Richard Starkings and artist Axell Medellin themselves at Comic-Con this year so I’m not done with it yet.
Paradiso #1: In which we’re told that something called the “Midnight Event” changed the world forever and that a man has appeared on the edge of Paradiso City with a fragmented memory and a device that could change everything. The main reason this caught my eye was that it featured a blurb of praise from Kieron Gillen where at first glance I thought it read, “The sort of comic where every panel contains a word. Savour it.” Which is kind of an odd way to praise a series. Coming from Gillen, however, I didn’t find it to be too out of place. Then I read it again and it turns out that “word” was actually “world.” Which does make it sound a lot more impressive.
Bitch Planet Triple Feature vol. 1: While vol. 1 of “Bitch Planet” set up what looked like it was going to be a fun prison-set struggle against the futuristic patriarchy, vol. 2 scaled things up in such a way that it felt like the revolution was coming on way too fast to make for a satisfying narrative. For the next installment of the series we’re getting an anthology series to further flesh out its world. While this could also derail what little momentum the series has left, it’s worth noting that the anthology approach actually worked for “Gotham Academy” in terms of getting back on track. Also, it has a wide array of familiar and unknown creators lined up who are all certainly itching to put their best foot forward when it comes to kicking the patriarch. Except for that Matt Fraction person. I’m pretty sure he’s only here because he’s married to series co-creator Kelly Sue DeConnick and not because of any actual talent he may have… *rimshot*
The Divided States of Hysteria: Hoo boy. Howard Chaykin is no stranger to controversy, but he really kicked off a firestorm with this limited series. The first issue debuted to angry cries of “transphobia” to which Chaykin responded by effectively saying, “Bitches get over it.” Chaykin may be at an age where he’s all out of fucks to give, but that’s still the wrong kind of response to give in our current political climate. Especially when it starts getting people on a “boycott Image” bandwagon to protest the series. Will I be buying this? I can’t remember the last solo Chaykin work I’ve picked up, even though I’ve enjoyed his collaborations with artists like Garth Ennis and that deplorable no-talent hack Matt Fraction. If anything, the controversy has made me more interested in picking this up just to see what all the fuss was about.
Generation Gone vol. 1: Young, twentysomething no-hopers get superpowers. Craziness ensues. At least, that’s what I’m expecting seeing as how this comes from writer Ales Kot.. He lives in crazy and his creator-owned works express that. Not always to good effect, mind you. I’ll probably pick this up just to see what side of the divide it falls on. Andre Lima Araujo provides the art, so we can at least expect the visuals to be good.
The Fix #12: The solicitation, “Roy has a plan.” Left out of it, “that will get everyone killed.” At least, that’s what I’m guessing. This likely marks the end of the third arc of the series and if corrupt-and-loving-it cop Roy does manage to get everyone else in the series but him killed that would be a fitting finale for it as well. I guess we’ll have to keep watching to solicitations for issue #13 or an all-new #1 issue to see what happens.
Happy! Deluxe Edition: The hardcover edition with its ten extra pages of story gets reprinted in softcover just in time for the Syfy to debut. I bought and enjoyed the original collection, but not enough to re-buy it in hardcover to get those extra story pages. This softcover edition does make the idea of re-buying the collection easier. However, I think I’ll wait to see if I can get it on sale via ComiXology sometime in the new year. You only win at re-buying something if you can get it in a vastly superior format or by spending as little as possible.
The Walking Dead #174: The latest volume is set to come out this week, but the solicitation of this issue already has me anticipating vol. 29. Titled “A Solitary Life,” it’s a spotlight issue on the sad, sorry, solitary life that Negan is currently enjoying with “Face it, true believers, he deserves this” tagged on as an extra burn. If I had to guess, I’d say that Rick kept his promise that Negan would be given an outpost to look over by himself. The solicitation text implies that it’s as soul-crushingly lonely an experience as you could hope for the for the mostly… somewhat… kinda reformed villain. Whether or not the assumed tedium of his current existence is enough to get Negan to fall back on his old ways… Well, I guess it all comes down to how much he believes in Rick Grimes.