Best From The Past Week: Punk Rock Jesus #5 – There were some other very strong comics last week (Batman #14 and Saga #7), but the first tiebreaker for me will always be the ambition of the story. Batman #14 excellent, but it is about 70 year old characters like Batman and Joker. PRJ #5 is about the meaning of religion and whether we worship unworthy people sometimes. PRJ is great and I’m impressed at how Sean Murphy is able to maintain his commentary on religion while also telling an entertaining story. With Murphy also doing the art, we knew this would be an attractive comic, but it actually had a page that made me spontaneously mutter “Oh my god…” [Note: I was alone in the room at the time…] when I turned the page. It’s really good.
Most Anticipated: Did you know that DC’s digital comics are now available sometime around 0300 in the morning? How cool is that? I already read Fables this week. Other than that, there’s not a whole lot that is lighting my toes on fire this week….
1. The Unwritten #43 – Since there is no comic I’m salivating at this week, it was hard to pick a #1 Most Anticipated. Why not give the top spot to a comic is almost certain to be (a) well written, (b) engaging, (c) attractive and (d) possessed of an excellent cover? I really enjoyed the return to a Tommy Taylor-centric story that we got in the last issue and will be curious to see what happens from this intersection between Tommy and all the animal characters.
2. Amazing Spider-Man #698 – Pat yourself on the back if this issue hasn’t been spoiled for you yet. I’m putting this issue of ASM this high mostly based on morbid interest because the story doesn’t sound like anything I’ll like. Honestly, I feel like Marvel is actively trying to push me away at this point. It’s like you drive over to try to reconcile with your girlfriend and she’s burning your belongings in the parking lot. Fine, fine….I’ll just go read Vertigo and Image titles from now on.
3. Judge Dredd #1 – I’m curious. Will IDW do a nice job with Dredd? I’ve read a little bit of 2000 AD, but wouldn’t call myself an expert. IDW’s $3.99 price isn’t exactly welcoming. Why didn’t they get an Englishman to write it?
4. Clone #1 – Of the two new titles to come from Robert Kirkman’s Skybound imprint at Image, I’ve loved Witch Doctor and thought Thief of Thieves was lame. Which will this be? Clone has Juan Jose Ryp doing the art and that’s always a plus.
5. Frankenstein Alive, Alive #2 – I don’t remember anything about the “story” from the first issue, but Bernie Wrightson is drawing it. That’s enough for me.
Pick of the Week: Thor: God of Thunder #1 – A fantastic first issue and easily the best “Marvel NOW” relaunch yet. A startlingly bold and ambitious new creative direction from Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic that succeeds on all fronts, dripping with dread, tension, and dark atmosphere. This was a book that felt truly epic in scale and time while emphasizing its mythological nature and the fact that, yeah, we’re dealing with gods here.
1. Captain America #1 – With the exception of Thor, many of the Marvel NOW relaunches have felt a bit safe thus far. Not so with Captain America, where Rick Remender basically completely abandons the template laid down by Ed Brubaker, instead opting for a completely different kind of Cap comic. It’s the sort of ballsy move that Remender excels at, throwing Cap into a hostile, alien dimension to battle weird sci-fi threats. Grounded spy thriller this ain’t. If Remender delivers as promised, this is the most dramatic departure from a property’s “mould” since Mark Waid broke the mould on Daredevil.
2. Indestructible Hulk #1 – Speaking of Mark Waid…honestly, I’m not the biggest Hulk fan. Then again, a big part of that might be due to the fact that for years now, Hulk comics have generally sucked. Jason Aaron’s run was, for various reasons, a mess. Jeph Loeb’s run is the stuff of infamous legend. And Greg Pak’s run between Loeb and Aaron might as well have been called Rainbow Hulks. Now Marvel is sending in Waid to right the ship and, quite honestly, if anyone can do it, it’s him. Fingers crossed. He saved Daredevil after the terri-bad of Shadowland and Daredevil: Reborn, after all.
3. Hawkeye #4 – Quite possibly the best book from Marvel or DC on the shelves right now. There simply is no other book like this. It’s just so startlingly fresh in just about…everything – the art, the lay-outs, the plot structure, the genuinely humorous (but also heartfelt) dialogue, this is a book that does everything right. If you read comics but aren’t picking up Hawkeye, you’re doing it wrong. No other way to put it.
4. Iron Man #2 – The first issue was a very conservative one with Gillen doing little more than introduce the general concept behind his run while giving us a taste of his take on Tony Stark. With those basics out of the way, I’m interested to see how things are as the comic really gets going. Given that the first issue was little more than groundwork, I would not be surprised if this is a case where the second issue is substantially better than the first.
5. Daredevil #20 – What I find so interesting about Waid’s Daredevil run is how he continually expands what is “the Daredevil story,” each time plugging DD into slightly different genres while keeping things firmly “Daredevil.” Last issue introduced us to what felt like a Daredevil horror comic and it worked extremely well, with Waid making great use of Matt’s unique sensory perception. As a fan of both Daredevil and horror fiction, I’m interested to see where Waid goes with this.