An issue of “The Walking Dead” topped the sales charts in October, the first time it has done that this year. However, unlike the previous times issues of this title hit #1, it wasn’t due to an anniversary issue or mass of variant covers. No, this time it was all thanks to Loot Crate and the additional 150K to 200K copies of issue #132 that were included in that month’s shipment. This isn’t the first time Loot Crate has helped a title sell an extra hundred thousand copies. The first issue of Marvel’s “Rocket Raccoon” title sold over 300K copies in its first month thanks to the company including it in one of their previous shipments. It’s clear from these numbers that Loot Crate represents a valuable marketing tool and source of good buzz for comics companies. Does including these issues in a Loot Crate result in increased sales down the line? I’m thinking the answer is “No,” given how “Rocket’s” sales have crashed down to more earthbound numbers since its debut. Still, expect to see lots of other companies working with Loot Crate in the next year to give their titles a boost.
Spawn: Resurrection #1: Ah, ha, ha, ha… No. My appreciation of Brian Wood only stretches so far. It’s going to take a lot of “Even if you don’t like ‘Spawn,’ go read this,” reviews to get me reading about Todd McFarlane’s signature creation.
Nameless #1: Now this is more like it. Grant Morrison re-teams with his “Batman, Inc.” collaborator Chris Burnham to give us a story featuring a lot of disparate elements. An astronaut who kills his family. A woman who hunts people through their nightmares. The title character being recruited by a group of billionaire futurists for a mysterious mission. How do these things all fit together? Had this come from another creator, I’d be deeply skeptical about the whole project. Coming from Morrison, and with his skill at tying such strangeness together, I’m very much looking forward to reading this. It’ll also look fantastic coming from Burnham, and that’s a plus too.
Postal #1: In which a small town in Wyoming wakes up one day to encounter its first official murder in 25 years. The catch here is that the town is actually a haven for wanted fugitives trying to escape the law as they lay low here and wait for new identities to be forged for them. You can imagine the problems such an “official” murder would create for such a community. This sounds interesting enough, though I wonder about the general competency of the FBI in this world as they’re described as having repeatedly failed to try and slip a mole into the town for years now. Now they’re pinning their hopes on the oddball son of the family who runs the town as he works in the post office. This could work if the creators play it for Coen Brothers’-style black comedy.
The Surface #1: From the writer of “Zero,” Ales Kot. That’s a series I’ve been reading, but just haven’t gotten around to writing up here yet. It’s an interesting take on the espionage story trope of the spy who realizes that the people he’s been working for aren’t the good guys here. It appears to have wrapped up and now Kot is working with artist Langdon Foss on this new sci-fi title about hackers in Africa looking for a mythical place known as The Surface. This all sounds well and good, but I’m going to need a bit more information before I start getting excited about reading this title.
Bang! Tango: In another sign of the times, this old Vertigo miniseries from Joe Kelly and Adrian Sibar is being re-published by Image. It’s about Vinnie, a former mob hitman who got out of the game and is living a quiet life in San Francisco. That is, until Autumn, the one who broke his heart blows back in town with a special request: Rob his old boss so that Autumn can afford the gender reassignment surgery she needs to become the woman of Vinnie’s dreams. I don’t remember when this was originally published, but I can only imagine that its offbeat subject matter will find a more receptive audience in this day and age.
Chew vol. 9: Chicken Tenders: The series has been on a bit of a roll with the past couple volumes, so let’s see if they can keep things going here. While the solicitation text tells us that protagonist Tony Chu will be travelling to the far corners of the Earth to tackle various cases, the rest of the book’s supporting cast (including his daughter Olive) will be getting ready to take on the Vampire. Given that the series will be three-quarters of the way through its run with this volume, I’m betting on things going badly for Olive and co. and paving the way for Tony’s inevitable showdown with the monster who killed his sister. Also in this volume (in case you were worried that things were going to be too serious): The WARRIOR CHICKEN POYO one-shot, whose title should be pretty self-explanatory regarding its content.
Criminal vol. 2: Lawless: So they’re bringing over a new volume every month? If you haven’t read this series before, then consider yourself VERY lucky to get these new editions one after the other. Particularly this volume as it introduces us to one of the title’s few recurring characters: Tracy Lawless. He’s one of the most interesting and -- dare I say it -- likeable characters in the whole series. Frankly, if Brubaker and Phillips wanted to keep telling stories about him for the rest of the title’s run, I wouldn’t mind.
Deadly Class vol. 2: Kids of the Black Hole: I liked the first volume well enough, but wished we could’ve seen more of the assassin academy that’s located underneath San Francisco. Exploring this location and its function may be on the cards here as the solicitation text tells me that we’re going to learn more about Marcus’ secrets and just why the school’s headmaster, Master Lin, invited him to attend. If I finish this volume feeling like I have a better sense of the world Rick Remender and artist Wes Craig have created here, then I think I’ll be sticking around for the long haul with this title.
The Fade Out vol. 1: After several series where they’ve infused noir into other genres, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips finally get a chance to tell a story set in the genre’s golden era. It’s the 50’s and a movie is stuck in endless reshoots while its cast and crew confront their own personal demons. Needless to say, I’m onboard. It’s also pretty remarkable that after all these years Brubaker and Phillips have managed to amass such a dedicated readership that they’re able to put out a title that can be charitably described as “decidedly uncommercial.” If anything, I’m hoping that this represents a return to form for the creators after “Fatale” turned out to be “good” rather than the greatness they’ve delivered in the past.
God Hates Astronauts vol. 2: A Star is Born: In which Admiral Tiger Eating a Cheeseburger and his army of space crabs launch an attack on Earth and NASA’s solution is to send up a guy with a ghost-cow head and his superpowered friends to stop them. The first volume was brilliant in its ridiculousness and I’m expecting more of the same here.
Low vol. 1: The Delirium of Hope: Remender strikes again this month with the first volume of his other Image sci-fi title. Greg Tocchini provides the art for this story about a future where mankind has fled to the bottom of the sea in order to escape the scorching radiation of the sun. Okay, I’m down with that. Mankind has also sent probes out into the galaxy to search for a new home, and this will apparently have some bearing on a family being torn apart by some unspecified conflict. That’s a bit too vague for my liking, but Remender has earned enough goodwill from me to consider checking this out.
Prophet vol. 4: Joining: From the solicitation text, “The Superbeing Troll’s plans to lure out Badrock come to a head.” I’ve read the previous three volumes and even I don’t know what the hell that means. Good thing I’m already invested enough in Brandon Graham and Simon Roy’s “Space Conan” saga that such descriptions are irrelevant at this point.
Trees vol. 1: Warren Ellis and Jason Howard’s series about how life on Earth goes on after mysterious alien pylons are thrust into the planet gets its first collection. It’s an interesting concept, and one that really wasn’t communicated well at all in the original solicitations. That said, while the first series will end with sales of the single issues above the 10K mark, Ellis has made some offhand remarks in his Orbital Operations newsletter about how there aren’t a whole lot of people actually reading it. One could take Ellis’ cynicism as read, but it apparently got Rich Johnston’s attention and the man behind “Bleeding Cool” has run a few articles imploring people to check it out. A crafty one, that Ellis is.