What the normal transcript of Image solicitations for this March didn’t tell you was that there were three “classified” entries -- one of them priced at $60. It has since been revealed that all of these entries involve David Lapham’s classic indie series “Stray Bullets.” Lapham published forty issues of the series himself before finding regular work with Marvel, DC and Dark horse and a lot of people have been wondering when, or even if, he’d ever come back to it. That time is now as the three solicitations include a concluding issue -- #41 -- of the original series, a new miniseries called “Killers,” and an “Uber Alles” edition of the original series including the final issue. I’ve only read one volume of “Stray Bullets,” and that was some time ago. I remember liking it well enough, so I may plunk down the necessary cash for the “Uber Alles” edition because it also sounds like good podcast fodder to me.
Real Heroes #1: So what if the cast of “The Avengers” wound up having to save the world themselves? That’s the premise behind this new series illustrated and also written by Bryan Hitch. Only it’s not the cast of “The Avengers” but a fictional superhero franchise called “The Olympians” and there’s not much else in the solicitation text to give you an idea of what to expect regarding the characters and the nature of the threat they face. However, Hitch is a fantastic artist so it’s bound to look great… no matter how long it’ll take him to finish it. That said, he’s also writing it so there’s a chance cutting out the middleman in his artistic process may speed things up, even if it does add an extra question mark to its overall quality.
Starlight #1: Mark Millar does a riff on “Flash Gordon” and launches the “Millarworld Universe” in the process? Pass. However, I will admit to being quite surprised by the artwork I’ve seen from this series from artist Goran Parlov. Best known for collaborating with Garth Ennis on the latter half of “Punisher MAX” and the “Fury MAX” series, he has demonstrated a remarkable capability for depicting the ugliness of human behavior and violence in a modern setting, with a real talent for caricature as well. Seeing some of his work from the first issue, I could hardly believe they came from the same man. His style looks incredibly streamlined and open compared to his previous work, and perfect for the retro-sci-fi setting Millar seems to be shooting for. As impressive as Parlov’s apparent evolution of his style is here, one wishes that his writer would try doing the same at some point as well.
Noah HC: Director Darren Aronofsky (“Pi,” “Requiem For A Dream,” “Black Swan”) tries his hand at comic book writing again. Previously he worked on a graphic novel version of his film “The Fountain” through Vertigo which seems to have become little more than a footnote now. His latest film, a new take on the Old Testament story is also getting the graphic novel treatment with co-writer Ari Handel and artist Niko Henrichon. I’m curious, but more for the art than anything else as Henrichon can produce absolutely stunning work when he’s given the time to do so. Go check out “Pride of Baghdad,” which is also written by Brian K. Vaughan, if you don’t believe me. It also has a reasonable price point at $30 for 256 pages, so this is a “probable” buy for me when it arrives in March.
Skullkickers #25: Good to see this is coming back. In this issue, the Dwarf is forcibly returned to his homeland! I can’t imagine that they’ll want to be taking him back, so expect hilarity to ensue from that point.
CBLDF Presents: Liberty HC: Every year since 2008, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has put out an annual with exclusive work by creators that you won’t see anywhere else. This hardcover collects the annuals from ‘08 to ‘12 with work from: *deep breath* Jason Aaron, Ed Brubaker, Garth Ennis, Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Hickman, Robert Kirkman, Mark Millar, Charlie Adlard, John Cassaday, Dave Gibbons, Jim Lee, Frank Miller, Sean Phillips, Frank Quitely and a metric ton of other creators! Even if the proceeds weren’t going to support a great cause, the sheer amount of talent involved makes this an absolute must-buy. If you can honestly think of a good reason to turn down an anthology filled with all of these creators (yes, even Millar) then I’d sure like to hear it.
Chew vol. 8: Family Recipes: When we last saw cibopath Tony Chu, we found out that his sister Toni had left him one of her toes with the presumable intention that he’d eat it so that he could find out why she died and what the Vampire’s plans for her were. It’s demented cliffhangers like that which really underline why I like this series so much.
Crawl Space Omnibus HC: Before he hit it big at Marvel, Rick Remender did a lot of creator-owned horror work at Image. Most notably the pirate zombie series “Sea of Red,” that series, along with “Night Mary,” “XXXombies,” “Sorrow” and “Creature” are all collected in this massive 616-page omnibus for $50. Marvel could stand to learn a thing or two from that kind of pricing strategy. Even though I’m only somewhat familiar with “Sea of Red,” I may consider picking this up to see if Remender’s horror-driven work was any better than “Fear Agent.”
Atomic Heart and Other Stories: Simon Roy is one of the artists and co-writers on Brandon Graham’s “Prophet” and his opening arc on that title was one of its best. Here we have a collection of his other work which is said to “span time, space, and species.” It’s not the most descriptive of solicitations, but I’m curious enough to find out more about this creator’s skills to want to pick this up when it comes out.
Morning Glories vol. 7: Vol. 6 arrived earlier this week and I’m feeling a little trepidation in reading through it as this series appears to have passed the point where re-reading the previous volumes becomes a requirement to understanding what has come before. Maybe I’m wrong about this, but you can expect the full story when read through it and write up my review in the near future.
Rat Queens vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery: Five female adventurers, Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief, take the piss out of every fantasy convention there is. It looks like good fun in the vein of “Skullkickers” as it focuses on adventurers whose alignments appear to rise no higher than “chaotic neutral.” Hopefully it’ll be as entertaining as its concept makes it sound.
Saga vol. 3: Let’s be honest here: Who ISN’T going to buy this volume? I bet that guy over there isn’t! LET’S GET HIM!
Secret vol. 1: Never Get Caught: The “vol. 1” appears to be a misnomer here as I’ve been under the impression that this is going to be the ONLY volume of this title. Given that it exists at all is remarkable since its serialization was delayed for a year due to artist Ryan Bodenheim’s health problems. Still, it’s written by Jonathan Hickman as he looks at issues of surveillance, globalization and privatization through old spies trying to cope with this changing world. Obviously I’m buying this because of Hickman’s involvement, but it’s also worth noting that this is going to be the longest of his “short form” series -- previous ones have only been up to four issues in length. I can think of a couple of those that would’ve benefitted from the extra issues this one has *COUGH*PaxRomana*COUGH* so we’ll see how things turn out here.
Sex Criminals vol. 1: If what I’ve read is to be believed, Matt Fraction gave up writing Marvel’s “Inhumans” relaunch, “Inhuman,” to focus on “Hawkeye,” “Satellite Sam,” and this. The story of two people who have the power to stop time when they orgasm. I think he made the right choice here and am looking forward to reading my validation in March.
The Walking Dead vol. 20: All Out War Part 1: Two volumes it is then. With this first set to drop right in the middle of the second half of Season 4 of the TV series. I’m expecting it to be a bloody, violent and messy free-for-all even by the title’s usual standards. I can’t wait to see it all in action!