59 mins. Christmas is just around the corner so we recommend a few comics to buy for those who may be new to this wonderful medium. We cover the gamut of styles and genres. There’s something for everybody! Also, putting a crooner in your stocking, and which Futurama characters we most closely resemble.
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BOOM! Studios recent acquisition of Disney’s/Pixar’s Toy Story, The Incredibles , Cars and Muppets franchises was a smart move. Sure, it would have cost them, but it’ll pay off. With their recent announcement of a deal that allows them to have these comics available in comics chops (obviously) and US newsstands, plus Trade Paperbacks eventually collecting the series available at bookstores, things are looking good for their new BOOM! Kids imprint. So good infact, that the debut issues of The Incredibles and The Muppet Show have all sold out the day before they were released, causing BOOM! to happily rush out second printings immediately. This is good news for kids who love Pixar films, and their parents who remember Kermit, Miss Piggy and the gang. So, are the comics actually any good? You bet!
The Incredibles #1, first of a four parter entitled Family Matters has the superpowered family visiting the Metroville Zoo when their lovely outing is interrupted by a mechanical baddie riding a dinosaur/elephant hybrid. He calls himself Futurion and he quickly re-makes the zoo’s inhabitants into mash-ups of various animals, so a hippo merges with a T-Rex and Pterodactyls merge with gorillas. The family put on their costumes and the action begins. After they round up the strange beasts and capture their master, the Parrs go home and receive a dressing down from dad for their reckless behaviour and disregard of his orders. Despite their neighbours popping in, Bob Parr AKA Mr Incredible goes back to the zoo after receiving a clue from son Dash, and finds that Futurion has left one last surprise at the zoo. However, as he reveals to pal Frozone, Mr Incredible has a surprise of his own – that he may not be so incredible after all.
With the voices of the Pixar film running in my mind as I read this, it goes to show how good that film was at creating rich characters and fun superheroey adventure. Writer, and EIC of BOOM!, Mark Waid captures the voices well and move things along at a brisk pace. Marcio Takara’s art is suitably fluid and full of expression, making certain this is a grand read for those who loved the film.
Another 4 issue series just released from BOOM! is also a fun look at costumed adventures. However, Caped is more mature than the Pixar adaptation. Written by Josh Lobis and Darin Moiselle, with art by Yair Herrera, Caped is made for older superhero fans. It’s a classy parody. Sure, we’ve seen a lot of those over the years, but fanboys don’t mind laughing at the objects of their obsessions. It begins with a dark Batman-inspired hero called Edge who arrives late to Gemini’s (think Two-Face) hostage maneuver aboard a train. The rescued hostage, Jimmy Lohman wants to be a top reporter, but instead gets a job as the 28th assistant for Grant Godfried, respected journalist, and you guessed it – alter ego of Edge, Capitol City’s nocturnal soldier. So why does a superhero need an assistant, you ask? In Edge’s words, because he can’t, “answer phones, wait for the cable guy and protect 8 million people all at the same time.” Good call. As the new pair start to track down the escaped Gemini, Jimmy is introduced to the world of big-time superheroics, witnessing the Edgemobile in action, dropping into the EdgeCave and glimpsing Edge’s suitably abled pals, The League. It’s here that Jimmy begins his training in the unique art of being a superhero aid by Marvin. This was a fun read. Fans who’ve been reading comics for a while may appreciate it more, but the characters are starting to be built well, and some humorous dynamics occur.
Lastly, The Muppet Show Comic Book #1. Written and drawn by Kiwi Roger Langrdidge, this embarces the wholesome zaniness of The Muppets very well. Fans of the TV series from the 1970s and 80s, or the cavalcade of films over the years will appreciate this. Rather than telling one long story, it’s split up into bite-sized pieces, much like the original show itself. Set behind the scenes of the TV show, like the first series was, it’s filled with great moments, such as the two grumps in the balcony remarking about how the Muppets will corrupt the medium of comics, to exploding frogs (not as gruesome as it sounds) to a sketch set on another planet, to the always amusing Swedish chef. There’s also a Pigs in Space sketch, a song from Kermit, plus a lot more. This is so much like the Muppets I remember on the glowing box in my living room that I had flashbacks. And that’s a good thing.
Thanks to BOOM! there’s now plenty of excuses for kids to read, and for parents to read along with them. Dive in.
I picked up War of Kings #1 when it was released a few weeks ago. I haven’t been up to date on all the Marvel happenings lately, but I’m glad I grabbed it. What a space epic! With a royal marriage, speeding spaceships and weird aliens, it was awesome. Now, you can read it for free, and if you like it, the second issue by the same creative team is due out on April Fool’s Day. (No kidding!) Press release below.
It’s winner take all as tensions mount and the cosmic powder keg prepares to blow in War of Kings #1 (of 6)! Wondering what War of Kings is all about? Well here’s your chance to get in on all the action for FREE courtesy of Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited right here! After the Skrulls threatened his kingdom during Secret Invasion, Black Bolt’s quest to ensure Inhuman dominance in the galaxy begins! The acclaimed team of writers Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, along with fan favorite artist Paul Pelletier, place the Inhumans on a crash course with the Shi’ Ar Empire and their deadly leader-Vulcan! With appearances from The Imperial Guard, Starjammers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and more, this is one cosmic war you won’t want to miss!
We have a feature about the new properties coming from BOOM! Studios in the upcoming second issue of Extra Sequential. They have some greta new properties including The incredibles, Cars and those loveable Muppets. Written by Mark Waid, with art by Marcio Takara, the four issue min-series The Incredibles, hits shelves on March 25. Preview pics at the link below.
That Logan fella sure is greedy. Apparently there’s no limit to the number of different series Wolverine can handle. Now, we can add another one as Marvel unveils Wolverine: Weapon X on April 8, a month before his big screen adventure in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Writer Jason Aaron (Vertigo’s Scalped) and artist Ron Garney re-team, after their Get Mystique arc, for this new ongoing series. Weapon X focuses on Rooxon’s attempt to create the perfect killing machine, all tied in with Wolvie’s past and the mysterious Adamantium Men. The first issue arrives with cover variants by Adam Kubert, Alan Davis and Olivier Coipel. See more pics below.
I became familiar with writer Mike S. Miller’s work a couple of years ago through his Deal with the Devil series, as well as The Imaginaries, which is simply a great concept. He’s done work for every major publisher (either as writer or artist) and is most famous for his work on the adaptation of novelist George R.R. Martin’s Hedge Knight series, with writer/artist Ben Avery. He’s a creator that is able to change genres with ease however, and has also written Zondervan’s excellent The Hand of the Morningstar as well as the fantasy, Lullaby. The Imaginaries launched from Image four years ago, before moving to Abacus, Miller’s own publishing company. The series is back, and now withBluewater Productions.
This has been one of my favourite titles since it began with the great creative pairing of Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuiness. Then Supergirl was fantastically (re) introduced into the DC Comics Universe, with late, great penciller Michael Turner. It’s been a while since it’s hit these former heights though. And this Annual doesn’t help. I will say one thing for it though – it’s a great place to start for comic book newbies.
Written by Wolverine creator Len Wein, with beautifully fluid art by Chris Batista, this stand alone tale is set in the past of the DCU. The problem with this extra-sized issue is that the dialogue seems straight out of an issue from 20 years ago. It just appears staid and corny, and Batman is largely out of character. There’s no sense of menace or danger about him, nor is there any hint of his typically antagonistic relationship with Superman. However, it does introduce readers to Superman, Batman (of course) Lois Lane, the third Robin and baddies Professor Ivo, Metallo, Mr. Freeze, Atomic Skull and Firefly, sporting his recent animated look from The Batman carton. There’s also a nice cameo of sorts that hints at the ‘future’ of the DCU, with a newspaper headline declaring Martian Manhunter’s capture of the Human Flame. Loyal DC fans know that late last year, Human Flame was instrumental in Manhunter’s death.
So, what is this Annual about? With a nice twist on the silver Age concept of a composite Superman/Batman, this modern take presents a similar being, with powers and costumes of both heroes unsurprisingly suffering a maddening identity crisis. He kidnaps Lois and Robin and eventually understands that being one hero is tough enough, let alone two. So he decides to rip himself in half.
This is not an issue for mature readers who expect more from their comics. They’ll find themselves asking, “Why hasn’t Robin picked his handcuffs?” and raising eyebrows at lines like, “Gee, I don’t know, do I look like I’ve recently lost my mind to you?”
For newbies though, this issue isn’t too bad. It looks great, has a simple story, and fans of Tim Burton’s Batman films will see a similar look to the Dark Knight and his Batmobile here. Consider this as an easy entry point to comics reading, but don’t consider it indicative of the much more dynamic offerings DC usually create. For a preview of this issue, go here.
Like Hulk? What about Thor? How do you feel about Wolverine? If you’re fond of those three Marvel superheroes, then the Hulk Vs DVD is for you. Being released on January 27, the animated film is made up of two features, where Bruce Banner’s alter ego battles the norse god Thor and the popular X-Man Wolverine. Marvel has just released some great concept sketches of the film, including some from Jeff Matsuda, art director on the recent The Batman cartoon. For more info on the DVD and it’s new-fan friendly features, go here, and for more art click below, or go here.
As revealed on the latest post at MySpace/comicbooks from Marvel head honcho Joe Quesada is this little gem – the first script for the Fantatstic Four spin-off, Fantastic Force #1, which features the Fantastic Four of the future. It’s written by comics newbie Joe Ahearne who comes from working on Doctor Who at the BBC. You can read the full script at the link below. I’d recommend this for wannabe comic scribes, as you’ll get a feel for the proper formatting, as well as an idea of the kind of time it takes from script to publication (see date below.) If you want more of Quesada’s entertaining tales and peeks at Marvel’s future, go here.
Fantastic Force Issue 1
“Shock of the Nu”
Script By Joe Ahearne
Revised 7th January 2008
1/ A devastated future Earth. Multiple rays of ultraviolet light with figures inside streak out into the sky and out of the panel.
CAPTION : They traveled 500 years from the future to escape a dying Earth.
2/ The rays land on the other side of the split panel in one of the recreated cities of Nu-World – contemporary Manhattan.
CAPTION : This is Nu-World. A facsimile of present Earth.
Designed for today’s elite.
3/ The ultraviolet light fades to reveal a crowd of people looking around at Times Square, awed at their new surroundings.
CAPTION : Now home to eight billion refugees.
And the last six heroes in history.
On January 27, Marvel’s newest direct to DVD animated feature hits shelves. Hulk Vs has the Jade Giant crossing paths, and trading blows with the blonde norse god, Thor and the scrappy X-Man Wolverine, in two separate films. The official site has just gone live. It’s filled with a picture gallery, clips, handy guides to all three characters and more.
Check it out here. This film will be a great jumping on point for new fans only familiar with these characters outside the comic books in which they exist. It will be available on DVD and Blu-Ray, in Standard and Special Editions, with some great features including trailers, looks at Marvel’s other upcoming cartoons featuring Wolvie and Thor, plus a doco on legendary artist Jack Kirby, who virtually created the Marvel Universe as we know it today, with writer Stan Lee back in the 1960s and 70s.
As usual, there’s a host of new comics from Marvel and DC this week. A good bet for newbies would be War Machine #1 from Marvel. It’s a new series all about Iron Man’s best buddy Jim Rhodes, with a funky suit of hi-tech armour all his own. Or you could try Black Lightning: Year One #1 which is a look at the early days of the electric Justice Leaguer. Both issues are released on January 2.
During the holidays, in between bouts of napping in your hammock and playing Scrabble, you might want to delve into a hefty book (with pictures) If so, then have I got some tomes for you. Both BOOM! and Top Cow have just released two hefty full colour volumes each, and both are perfect for new readers. Anything this size is known as an Omnibus in comic terms, or Omniboo in the plural, which is just such a fun word.
BOOM! has done very well with Warhammer, the venerable gaming franchise, creating some impressive mini-series in both the gritty sci-fi of 40K and the fantasy realm. The Warhammer 40,000: Only War Omnibus collects three different mini-series with those blood thirsty Space Marines and their never ending war. The Black Templars, Orks and Imperial Guard all are the focus of these brutal tales, with creators including regular Warhammer novelist Dan Abnett, Ian Edgington, Graham McNeill, Lui Antonio, Greg Boychuck and Tony Parker. Containing Damnation Crusade, Blood and Thunder and Fire and Honour, this 400 page book is an action-packed treasure.
If you prefer Lord of the Rings to Aliens, then the Warhammer: Blood of the Empire has got you covered. It’s Chaos vs the Empire in these three mini-series full of swords and sorcery. Collecting Forge of War, Condemned by Fire and Crown of Destruction, the 400 page Omnibus features work by Abnett and Edgington, as well as Kieron Gillen, Rahsan Ekedal and Dwayne Harris. Both volumes are a great find for gamers looking to cross-over into comics and are pretty cheap at only $US 24.99 each.
Not to be outdone, Top Cow are releasing their own Omniboo, or Omnimoo. Get it?
Anyway, the Witchblade Compendium Volume 1 collects the first 50 issues (!) of the series starring cop Sara Pezzini as the wielder of a mystical gauntlet. It also includes a complete cover gallery, and with work by Marc Silvestri, Michael Turner and a host of others, it’s a thing of beauty. The Darkness Compendium Volume 1 is also available and contains The Darkness Vol. 1 preview, issues #1/2 to #40 of the first series, Tales of the Darkness issues #1/2 to #4, Witchblade/The Darkness #1/2, The Darkness Vol. 2 #1 and the Darkness: Wanted Dead one-shot, along with a complete cover gallery. Whew. Both Top Cow books weight in at an impressive 1, 280 pages, and cost less than $US60. That oughta keep you busy for a while. Just make sure you have a good back before you pick them up.
This is one of those series, like Atomic Robo from Red 5, that both older and younger readers will enjoy. The Imaginaries follows the adventures of Superhero G and his friends and foes in the Imagined Nation, a place where imaginary friends go once children stop believing in them. With the concept alone, it should be Pixar’s next film.
Writers Mike S. Miller and Ben Avery bring this series to Bluewater after it began at Image in 2005. On board is new penciller, Greece’s top comics artist Nikos Koutsis, making this his US comics debut.
Preview pages available below.
Of the wide variety of comics available each week, those starring superheroes can be the most confusing. Here’s our recommendations for recent releases for the new superhero fan.
This issue is part 2 of the Super/Bat storyline, but reading last month’s issue isn’t necessary. All you need to know is this; Superman and Batman have switched powers, thanks to the supernatural power of baddie Silver Banshee. So, now, Batman (Bruce Wayne) has abilities such as flight and super strength, while Superman (Clark Kent) has no powers at all. This issue opens with the Last Son of Krypton teaching the Dark Knight how to use his new powers, with great descriptions by writers Michael Green and Mike Johnson. Batman takes to his new array of abilities well, with good coaching from Superman in his Fortress of Solitude, when their Justice League team-mate, magician Zatanna shows up. Zatanna (who wields her magic by speaking spells backwards) informs the duo that she’s found no trace of the Banshee. Batman seems to welcome his strange super powers and continues his crime fighting mission with such gusto that he leaves Robin (Tim Drake) behind in the Batcave as he’ll only slow him down. He then flies off into the night to clean up every inch of Gotham once and for all, something he’s never been able to achieve before. Meanwhile, Clark discusses his missing powers with his wife Lois Lane on the rooftop of their workplace, the Daily Planet. He still wears his costume under his business attire and feels his flight missing, like a phantom limb. Batman’s scary reputation grows in Gotham’s criminal underworld as he appears to be everywhere at once, and when he meets Commissioner James Gordon near the Batsignal, the head cop notes that it’s the first night they haven’t received a 911 call. Bats hears that the drug Venom is back on the streets in a stronger form and gatecrashes Bane’s castle in the Caribbean. Bane is the masked villain who used Venom to literally break Batman’s back in the awesome 1993-94 saga, Knighfall, which temporarily left Bruce Wayne a cripple. Now Batman is in the position of truly being stronger than his vicious enemy and seeks revenge. This ish ends with Clark and Lois strolling in Metropolis when a mugger shoots Clark in the stomach, leaving him bleeding in an alley, while Batman is in space gazing at the earth, crying with the new gifts given him, believing that he can finally save everyone. With Clark at death’s door and Batman going power mad, this story arc is heading for a dramatic showdown. The art by penciller Rags Morales (known for his work on 2004’s emotional mini-series Identity Crisis) is as realistic and dynamic as ever. Pretty much everyone on the planet knows who the titular characters are, and this title has always presented tight, action-packed storylines that operate outside of the confusion often inherent in the bigger picture of the DC Comics Universe. Download a preview of this ish here.
Sticking with DC Comics for a while, you might also like to check out the publisher’s other two-hero title. Green Arrow and Black Canary are two street level heroes, and newlyweds to boot! Green Arrow is an expert archer while Black Canary is a great martial artist and the current Chairwoman of the Justice League. She can also unleash a mean supersonic Canary Cry when she needs to, which is kinda like a sonic boom. This week’s issue 15 is a good place to start for newbies. With a new direction, after an earlier light hearted tone up to this point, this issue sees Canary at the hands of a villain in an alley while Arrow stares him down with an arrow poised at his jugular. It recaps Arrow’s origin fairly well, though with minimal detail, and ends with some disastrous results after the unleashing of Canary’s sonic scream. Download a sneak peek here.
The DC Universe Holiday Special is a nice intro in to some of the most popular heroes in the DC Comics world, and is made up of short stories by a host of talented writers and artist; all with wildly different styles. A look at a classic Aquaman tale, a night without crime in Gotham, a crook whose family has had run-ins with the three different Blue Beetles over the decades, and a night out with the Teen Titans (Robin, Wonder Girl, etc) in civvies are the best stories in this compilation. All the 10 tales in this hefty special have a nice Christmas theme to them, and some superb art. This would make a great stocking stuffer for the comics newbie in your house, and you can even download a preview here.