In a rather large oversight, I failed to mention what will likely be the biggest book of the month in my last roundup of Previews Picks for Image. “The Walking Dead” hits issue #150 in January with a dramatic cover and title, “BETRAYED,” to mark the occasion. Who will Rick be betrayed by? Before we all rush to say Negan, betrayal implies a breach of trust and it’s safe to say that Rick has none for his former adversary. Given the way this series operates, it’s more likely to come from someone we least suspect. Maggie? Michonne? Carl? ...Okay even I’ll admit that last one is (hopefully) mere speculation. That said, the previous volume did indicate that Maggie and Rick now have diverging ideas on how to enforce the law and carry out justice in this new world. Could their views diverge even further in the next six issues for her to stab Rick in the front over it? And will Rick actually survive this betrayal? Glenn didn’t survive the series last major milestone issue. Maybe Rick’s time has finally come with issue #150.
Snowfall #1: Writer Joe Harris and artist Martin Morazzo, the creators of “Great Pacific,” re-team for this series about a post-climate crash civilization where the Cooperative States of America is propped up by the Hazeltyne Corporation. Fighting against this new world order is someone known only as the White Wizard, who is able to use the weather itself as a weapon. I’d like to say that this sounds promising. The only thing is that the two volumes of “Great Pacific” I read (never got around to vol. 3) never realized the potential of that series. While Morazzo’s art impressed, Harris skimped on the worldbuilding necessary to make the idea of a country situated on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch truly compelling. Hopefully Harris has taken the time to re-think what went wrong with that title in order to make this one work.
Chew #55: Hailed as the last issue of the second-to-last arc. It also comes with the advisory of a major plot point: the death of an important character. Uh… given that the death of a certain individual was foreshadowed at the end of the previous volume, it’s hard to get worked up about their demise here. Unless writer John Layman has taken all this into account and was just trolling us there. So that person is probably safe and it’s SOMEONE ELSE who is going to die in this issue. Or maybe I’m overthinking this? GAH! You win this round Layman!
Bloody Mary: Now this is interesting. Here we have a new collection of the two miniseries from Garth Ennis and Carlos Ezquerra that were originally published through DC’s short-lived sci-fi imprint Helix before being collected by Vertigo. Now it’s being re-published through Image. Why is that? Were I to guess, the Vertigo edition went out of print and all of the rights reverted back to Ennis. While Dynamite has picked up some of his older series, the writer may be putting this out through Image to see if it can find a wider audience coming through this publisher. If it succeeds, then maybe we can look forward to seeing some all-new creator-owned work from the writer though Image. As for the series itself, I remember it being a solid dose of sci-fi action. Probably not the best showcase for the writer’s skills, though it features typically great art from Ezquerra.
The Fade Out vol. 3: In which we find out whodunit! Seriously, after the first two volumes, I’m very much looking forward to the wrap-up of this latest series from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Also, since it’s going to be a three volume series, I can easily take the time to re-read volumes one and two to see how everything comes together for the finale. I’m saying this because I’m currently in the process of re-reading thirty-seven volumes of “Gantz” for the podcast following the one going up on Wednesday. So yeah, I’m feeling particularly appreciative of the “short but sweet” mindset embraced by the creators for this series.
Nailbiter: The Deluxe Murder Edition, Book One HC: I’ve yet to check out this series about a community of serial killers, but this hardcover edition of the first two volumes does pique my interest. Not because it represents a good value -- you can get the first two volumes on Amazon for much less than the $35 cover price of this oversized collection -- but because it also offers some intriguing extras. While the standard bonuses of sketches and script pages are included, this edition is also noted to include a copy of writer Josh Williamson’s original pitch and a process section for the making of an issue. These are the kind of behind-the-scenes extras I like. If I have to pay a premium for it, then so be it.
Phonogram vol. 3: The Immaterial Girl: Emily Aster was a memorable part of the original “Phonogram” series as her bitchy support of protagonist David Kohl was refreshing in how it both helped and called him out for his self-absorption. It turns out that she became the way she is after she made a deal to sell half of her personality to someone/thing. Now that deal is going bad and the half of the personality she sold is looking for some revenge. Given that this series has been a real labor of love for Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (along with the fact that they’re one of the best and most consistent creative teams of the industry) I really don’t think I’m going to be disappointed with this third volume. No, really. Well… maybe if it leaves me wanting a fourth volume after they’re done with “The Wicked + The Divine,” because then it’s going to be a long time coming.
Thief of Thieves vol. 5: Take Me: Thinking about it now, maybe it wasn’t the best idea for this series to start off with its master thief deciding that he wants out of his particular line of work. Because if he succeeds, then what happens to the series? In fact, Conrad Palmer appeared to have successfully extracted himself and his family from that life in the previous volume. So where to now? The answer that writer Andy Diggle has come up with is for someone to have taken up the Redmond name and start pulling heists without Conrad’s involvement. Given the person on the cover, it’s hard to imagine Conrad not taking this personally. This will probably be a good read (like the series has been so far), but one wonders how long this series will be able to serve up credible excuses for Conrad to “get back in the game” before it stops being fun.
The Tithe vol. 2: Islamaphobia: The first volume of this series was entertaining enough. However, it sold itself as being one about the FBI’s efforts to investigate the heists perpetrated on corrupt megachurches and then proceeded to wrap all that up in its first arc. It effectively wound up being the story that writer Matt Hawkins and artist Rahsan Ekedal had to tell before they could tell you this one. Which involves Islamic terrorists bombing three major U.S. churches and our three FBI protagonists finding out that the threat is much greater and reaches all the way to Washington D.C. So, it’s a series about church crime now? Kind of a niche market. Well, if it’s as good as the first volume then I think that the creators may be able to make it work after all.