What it’s about: Tony Daniel, the artist behind Batman R.I.P, has traded in his colored pencils for a word processor to take over the writing duties on Batman. Daniel’s book focuses on Dick Grayson’s adventures as Batman in a much more traditional way than Scott Snyder’s ultra-gritty Detective Comics.
Batman reads more like a traditional superhero book and that really plays to Daniel’s strengths as a writer. While not as dark or atmospheric as other Bat books, Batman is a fun read that still stays true to the character's roots.
What to expect this month: The Falcone crime family has forced it’s way back into Gotham City and it’s up to Batman to figure out just how far their influence reaches. And if that isn’t enough, Batman still hs to deal with Catgirl, aka Kitrina Falcone, trying to make a name for herself by claiming the family business.
This is a great book to pick up if you’re a fan of superhero adventures as opposed to mystery stories like the ones featured in Detective Comics and David Finch's Batman: The Dark Knight.
What it’s about: Dan Slott’s run on Amazing Spider-Man has found the perfect balance between humor, action, and emotion. Dealing with subjects we all face, such as growing up, love and death, Slott has turned Amazing Spider-Man into a slice-of-life book similar to any great coming-of-age film or novel.
The Amazing Spider-Man #656
While Slott still puts an emphasis on Spider-Man throwing haymakers like a punch-drunk prizefighter, Amazing Spider-Man delves deeper and explores the man behind the web-printed mask.
What to expect this month: One of the most talked about atrocities of the 90’s, the Spider-Armor, is back in Peter Parker’s life. The most notable appearance of the armor was in Web of Spider-Man #100 way back in 1993, when Spidey took on the New Enforcers. But thanks to Dan Slott and artist Marcos Martin, this new armor is neither as hideous nor as ill conceived as the previous one.
Slott will also be introducing Spider-Man to a new adversary called Massacre in this issue. We’re hoping this new villain actually catches on unlike Menace, Freak, and all of the other underwhelming post-2007 antagonists.
What it’s about: With Jeph Loeb's writing duties mercifully relinquished for this book, Jeff Parker has actually made Hulk readable again. Don’t be confused, though—this Hulk installment doesn’t star the Green Goliath that you all know and love. It's all about the Red Hulk aka General Thunderbolt Ross aka "The Rulk."
It's bitter irony that the man who was at one point obsessed with capturing and ridding the world of the Hulk has become a gamma-powered monster himself. With his newfound power, Ross finds himself feeling the same pain he caused the Hulk as he is now constantly hunted down.
What to expect this month: As another issue in Marvel’s "Point One" initiative, this issue of the Hulk is designed to ease new fans into General Ross’ adventures without bogging them down with too much back story. The issue also promises the appearance of a new villain that will be the focal point of Ross’ rage.
With the great writing of Jeff Parker teamed up with the rising talent of Gabriel Hardman on art, Hulk has gone from being an absolute joke of a book to one of Marvel’s more solid titles.
Invincible Iron Man #502
What it’s about: Arguably Marvel’s best book, Invincible Iron Man provides fans with great humor, fantastic action, and deep characters on a monthly basis. While Matt Fraction hasn’t redefined the series, he has recognized what makes Ol’ Shell Head such an enduring character and expanded upon it.
This is the best the character has been in decades and Fraction seems to be improving every month.
What to expect this month: Last time we saw Dr. Octopus, he was suffering from an incurable neurological condition and was circling the drain. Now he has found a way to be cured! Unfortunately, the only person who can cure him is none other than Tony Stark.
With two characters so similar in intellect yet so different in morals, this should be a fascinating character study of two sides of the same coin. Now is also a great time to start reading Invincible Iron Man—since the character is heading towards a new storyline, it'll be very easy for newcomers to get involved without feeling lost.
Captain America: The Captain (Captain America #332-350 and Iron Man #228)
What it’s about: The late Mark Gruenwald is considered to be one of Captain America's most prolific writers ever. His tenure on the character lasted about a decade, and during that time he created some of Cap's most memorable stories.
This collection includes perhaps his most famous story arc, one in which Captain America is forced to abandon his costume and shield after refusing to become an agent of the U.S. government. In place of the original Captain America, the government recruited John F. Walker to take over the mantle. As the new Captain America, Walker was forced to battle classic Cap foes such as the Red Skull and the Flag-Smasher.
All the while, Steve Rogers, the original Captain America, donned a new black costume and began fighting crime without the government’s permission. This is a huge collection that still only scratches the surface of Mark Gruenwald’s brilliant run on the character. Before you see the movie, Captain America: The First Avenger, this July, pick up this book.