Monday, February 7, 2011

Looking Ahead: April Comics

[Looking Ahead is a monthly column where Scott scours Previews and highlights new and upcoming comics]

Greetings, earthlings! Lots of great stuff coming out, so let's get into it.

- The Fear Itself Prologue kicks off in March, followed by the first issue in April. This is Marvel's first major event since Secret Invasion, and they've put together a stellar creative team in Matt Fraction and Stuart Immonen. The storyline features the Red Skull's daughter, Sin, and the ancient Norse God of Evil. I'm happy that Fraction, who's become one of Marvel's go-to guys, and Immonen who is a workhorse and knows how to get product out on time, are working together. This is most likely going to be one of the two biggest events of the year.

Other Marvel Titles:

- Speaking of Matt Fraction, Thor relaunches with a new #1. I can imagine a couple people rolling their eyes right now, saying "Another #1 from Marvel? What a surprise." I can't lie, I feel the same way sometimes, but this is a book where you want to jump-on, not jump-off. The fact that Oliver Copiel is returning to Thor after a prolonged absence makes me very happy. His work with JMS for the first two years was stellar, and he's come a very long way since his Legion work for DC (see below).

- One of my favorite parts of the MU over the last couple years has been the Cosmic books. Annihilation, Annihlation Conquest, War of Kings and the recently-ended and supremely-awesome Thanos Imperative. Now, the writing team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (aka DnA) are back with The Annihilators. Think of it as a group of ultra-powerful Cosmic Avengers, taking on the Dire Wraiths from the old Rom and the Spaceknights books. Yes, it is going to be that cool.

- Another book that may have dropped under your radar is the 5-issue Silver Surfer mini-series. While the Surfer has never been the most popular of characters or considered an "A-lister", he's the Herald of Galactus and that makes him a force to be reckoned with. Greg Pak is writing this series, and Pak is responsible for two of the best Hulk stories in years: Planet Hulk and World War Hulk.

Some very cool Marvel graphic novels being solicited:

- Thor: For Asgard is a treasure. Written by Robert Rodi and drawn by Simone Bianchi, this Thor mini-series flew under the radar due to all the other Thor products being released. Don't miss out! Robert Rodi also wrote the wonderful Loki story that's being re-printed in February as Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers. 

- Thunderbolts Classics Volume 1 was a great series written by Kurt Busiek about a group of super-villains masquerading to the world as super-heroes. I'm psyched to see this back in-print.

- Marvel goes old-school with X-Men Lifedeath and Spider-man The Death of Jean DeWolff, both published in their Hardcover Premiere Format.

Diving deeper into Previews, I found some real gems.:

- From Dark Horse Comics, Dark Horse Presents returns! The legendary anthology is back, with a sneak peek of Frank Miller's prequel to 300, Xerxes.

- Alan Moore: Storyteller features interviews, art, photos, and an audio cd by the legendary writer.

- There is a plethora of all-ages material being published every month. From Fraggle Rock Volume 2 to Boom! Studio's numerous Mickey Mouse softcovers to all the Archie material, there's a tremendous amount of great product available.

- Speaking of Mickey Mouse, long-time independent publisher Fantagraphics has acquired the license to some of the Mouse's earliest works. Published in a similar format as The Complete Peanuts, Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Volume 1: "Race to Death Valley" is going to be the first of many reprints of this great material.

- In the mid-80's, Berkeley Breathed created a talking penguin named Opus and somehow turned his strip Bloom County into one of the great political newspaper comics of all time. Volume 4 of the Bloom County Complete Library has Steve Dallas getting his back broken by Actor Sean Penn. Ah, the 80's. Ack! Pthpw!

- Finally.  I have waited an eternity for these Legion stories to come out. A little back-story first: I was never a big Legion of Super-heroes fan (sorry, diehards); The large cast of characters, the epic back-story, it was all too intimidating. My personal tastes also veered towards stories that had a little edge to them, and the Legion always seemed bright and happy and cheerful.

Around ten years ago, DC decided that the Legion needed a shake-up, so they hired DnA and Oliver Copiel to wreak havoc on the LSH. Reprinted under the DC Comics Presents format, we see the first arc of their tremendous Legion run, Legion of the Damned, brought back in-print. When a Borg-like menace from deep space takes control of most of Earth and most of the Legion, the few remaining Legionairres are pushed to their limits in an effort to free their friends and everyone on earth from captivity. Featuring some of the first Big-Two work by Oliver Copiel.

The Legion of the Damned arc continues in one of my all-time favorite stories, Legion Lost. A group of Legion members are separated from their home galaxy in a freak accident. Lost, alone, and despondent, they're forced to find their way in alien space. As the 12-issue mini-series progresses, the team falls apart until the very end, when they're forced to face their very worst nightmare... and I'm not going to tell you what that is, because that'd just be cheating. You don't need to be a Legion fan to enjoy these stories.  Legion Lost will be published as a hardcover and comes with my highest "if you like science-fiction, the Legion, a great story, or any combination of the three" recommendation.

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