I suppose there isn’t much chance that that’s what Fall of the Hulks: Gamma #1 will be about, huh? The various Hulks all raking leaves, going for hay rides, hanging out at the high school football games and getting ready for the big dance? No, I think it’s probably simply the next part of the prelude to the next Hulk event, by regular Hulk writer Jeph Loeb and artist John Romita Jr. It’s $4, probably over-sized and, based on the cover, oughta feature just about every character in the Marvel Universe that you can loosely fit under the umbrella term of “Hulk.”
What else will be in shops on this, the last real New Comic Book Day of 2009? Let’s take a look, after the jump.
Agents of Atlas: Dark Reign: Hey Marvel Zombies who haven’t jumped on the Agents of Atlas bandwagon we online critics have been dragging around yet, this looks like a great chance to do so! This $20, 185-page trade paper back is stuffed with the first five issues of the recently hiatus-ed AoA series, plus an online comic Wolverine: Agent of Atlas (which was published in AoA #1, plus material from a couple of anthology one-shots. The events tie in to the Secret Invasion/Dark Reign state of affairs pretty heavily, which might help sell it to those digging the Marvel Universe in general, but it fits in so perfectly with the original AoA premise (good guys pretending to be bad guys) that if you’re completely agnostic of Dark Reign, it’s still accessible. Okay, pitch over.
Batman: The Wrath: The 2008 Tony Bedard/Rags Morales Batman Confidential arc “Wrath Child” was sort of headscratching in its choice of subject matter—it was as sequel of sorts to a 1984 one-shot where Batman was faced with one of those occasional evil opposite Batmen-types, and it was itself set somewhere in Batman’s past, as one dates Batman’s career based on what he and his sidekicks are wearing. Bedard’s story was quite serviceable though, offering the sorts of old-school, straightforward, publishing event-free entertainment that one used to be able to count on from books in which Batman appeared. And, thanks to Morales’ superior skills with a pencil, it was one of the better looking Batman stories published in the last few years. Anyway, this 145-page, $18 trade paperback collects their four issue arc, and includes the original Mike Barr/Michael Golden Batman Special #1 that introduced the Wrath character, which, as I recall from The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told, was pretty good for a 1984 Batman comic.
Blackest Night: JSA #1: This is the latest “Oh hey, Blackest Night is turning out to be a hit, let’s tie-in more books, huh?” miniseries, from the BN: Superman creative team of James Robinson and Eddy Barrows. I didn’t care for that one at all, and liked Robinson’s JLoA tie-arc even less, so I don’t have high hope for this one—but given how many dead Golden Age characters there are to bring back to life, who knows? Maybe there will be a zomibe Red Bee commanding pet zombie bees, and that will make it all worthwhile. According to the solicitation, Dr. Midnite, Mr. Terriffic and Sand will be fighting their dead namesakes. For original flavor JSA, this week also sees the release of JSoA #34 by regular writer Bill Willingham and guest artist Travis Moore.
Brian Michael Bendis: 10 Years at Marvel: This is sort of weird. Bendis has unquestionably influenced the direction of the Marvel Universe, and the company’s publishing line in general, whether for good or ill (Me, I’d say for good and ill) more than any other single creator over the course of the last decade. But does everyone get a special 10 Years at Marvel sampler anthology like this? Will Mark Millar? If not, is he going to be jealous? Here’s part of the solicitation copy, which just makes me sort of sad:
Writing as many as five Marvel titles simultaneously, Bendis has become one of the company’s most prolific creators during the past decade; his multiple Eisner Awards testify to quality that rivals such quantity. In 2000, the crime-noir veteran re-created Marvel’s most vital character for modern audiences in Ultimate Spider-Man, harbinger of the growing Ultimate universe and still thriving as it eclipses 100 issues. He shook the world of Daredevil by revealing the hero’s secret identity, setting into motion storylines whose repercussions will far outlast his departure. He next de- and re-constructed the Avengers, paving the way for the House of M crossover, which rocked the foundations of the Marvel Universe. And then he shook up the status quo again, unleashing a Secret Invasion of alien shapeshifters on the Marvel heroes.
That was obviously some big stuff, and Marvel owes the guy a lot, but, I don’t know…after all that great work on Ultimate Spider-Man, by far Bendis’ best and most consistent work for Marvel, what happened to the book, the line? And House of M may have launched the modern era of Marvel crossovers, but what did it really do for the quality of storytelling in the Marvel Universe since? (House of M in particular…it seems like all it did was erect certain fences that each X-Men writer has to jump over before telling their X-Men stories).
Wow, jeez, sorry, where was I? Oh yeah, this trade. It’s sort of a greatest hits-that-will-fit-into-a-single-trade collection, including some Ultimate Spider-Man and X-Men, Avengers of the New and Dark variety and Alias. Bendis has almost always worked with pretty solid art collaborators, so you know this is going to look nice. Mark Bagley, Mark Brooks, Frank Cho, Michael Gaydos, Jim Mahfood, Alex Maleev and Leinil Francis Yu are among those contributing. It will run you about $35, and weighs in at a whopping 370-pages
Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season 8: Willow: Hmm, I’m not sure how a one-shot fits into the TV-season-as-comic book series—Is it the equivalent of an episode focusing on a single character? A spin-off? The pilot for a new Willow show?—but Joss Whedon himself is scripting this, so I imagine it will be one Buffy fans will want to be sure to check out. Karl Moline handles the art and one of the covers; the other cover is by Jo Chen, who seems to only be basing Willow on Alyson Hannigan’s likeness from the neck up. Preview here.
Captain America: Who Will Wield The Shield? #1: Well, the returned-to-life original Captain America Steve Rogers has already started appearing in Avengers comics, even though Captain America: Reborn hasn’t wrapped up yet, so sure, why not publish a one-shot set after the final issue of Reborn? This is by Ed Brubkaer, Alan Davis and Butch Guice. For Bucky Barnes fan Rachelle Goguen’s sake, I hope the question of who gets to wield the shield is resolved by a shirtless wrestling match.
Garth Ennis’ Battlefields: Happy Valley #1: I’ve been reading these in trade, and I’ve liked them all so far. If you’re reading ‘em in singles, this kicks off the next one. Ennis will be collaborating with artist Paul Jason Holden, and the particular battlefield this time is Germany’s Ruhr Valley, which an Austrailian bombing crew is helping the British air force atack. For a little more on the book, our own Troy Brownfield chatted with Ennis about the next cycle of Battlefields miniseries here.
Great Anti-War Cartoons: The latest, quite welcome book edited by the very busy Craig Yoe is a $25, 190-page collection of anti-war cartoons of all forms reacting to over 200 years worth of different wars. You can take a closer look here.
Green Lantern #49: Your most-likely-to-be-most-relevant Blackest Night tie-in of the week, this issue is by Geoff Johns and guest artist—ugh—Ed Benes and will focus on John Stewart. You know, it seems to me the John Stewart sub-plot has been moving bizarrely slow so far. Like, think of all the places Hal Jordan has been and all the things he’s done during Blackest Night so far, whereas all John Stewart has done is descend from orbit around the planet Xanshi on to the surface of Xanshi.
Hellboy: Bride of Hell: Another of Dark Horse’s welcome program of one-shots, this one features a creative team to be reckoned with—writer/cover artist Mike Mignola and artist Richard Corben. If you read their Hellboy: The Crooked Man, then you already know what this will look like. If not, check out a preview here.
Incredible Hercules: The Mighty Thorcules: You may have heard that Incredible Hercules is an awesome comic book, and that this particular arc, in which Hercules disguises himself as Thor, is a particularly awesome one. You may have also heard that the climactic battle between Hercules in Thor, in which Hercules-disguised-as-Thor fights Thor-disguised-as-Hercules in the way in which he’d like Thor to fight him while trying to get Thor to fight him the way he himself would fight Thor if he weren’t disguised as Thor (I think I got that right) is one of the best goddam fight scenes in a superhero comic book ever. And if you haven’t heard it before, I just said it now. Anyway, this hardcover collection includes six issues, the complete “Thorcules” saga and the secret origin of Amadeus Cho. It’s $20 for 150-pages pages…I’d wait for the trade paperback version if I were you, though. The couple bucks you save on not buying the hardcover can be spent on something else, like, say, the monthly issues of Inc Herc, one of which is also out this week.
Last Days of American Crime #1: The title of this new series from Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini is intriguingly literal—in the near future, the U.S. has developed a high-tech way to completely erradicate crime commission. It’s set to go live in just a week, which means the career criminal protagonist has exactly one last chance to shoot for the one last big score brass ring. It’s $5.
The More Than Complete Action Philosophers!: It is with some regret that I must inform you that I long ago used up all of the different ways I could think of to describe how great Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey’s Action Philosophers! comic book series is. So I guess I’ll just have to say that if for some reason you haven’t checked it out in singles or previous trades, you must get and/or read this—a $25, 320-page collection of all nine issues, plus four new stories. If you like philosophy or comics, it’s a must-read, and if you like both, well then, may I present you with the ideal book.
Sub-Life Vol. 2: I was so excited about John Pham’s one-person anthology, that I’ve already mentioned it and raved about in in passing here before. This is a reminder that it should be in shops this week; do yourself a favor and check it out (and be sure to stroke the back cover). It’s $8 for 48 sturdy, 8.5-by-7-inch rectangular pages. Take a look.
WinterWorld: A new black and white collection of a 1980s comic from Chuck Dixon and Jorge Zaffino about…let’s see, just based on the cover here…I’m gonna say a buddy cop movie in which one of the buddies is a badger. Maybe? It’s $20, 150-pages and includes a never-before-published sequel.