In a tight economy, it's not always clear what you should spend your hard-earned money on, and with comic books getting more and more expensive, your dollar doesn’t go as far at the comic shop as it did in the past. We here at Complex feel your pain, so we're providing you with a rundown of the best comics coming out on June 1, 2011. Note: Due to Memorial Day, some comic stores will either get books late in the day or they will be delayed until Thursday, so call ahead.
What it’s about: In recent years, Geoff Johns has become the modern architect of the DC Universe. Working on pretty much every major character in the company, Johns has gone to great lengths to update and modernize DC's roster of heroes for a more sophisticated audience.
The Flash is one of the characters that John has had the biggest hand in updating. From showcasing a rogues' gallery that nearly rivals Batman's, to bringing Barry Allen, the Silver-Age Flash, back from the dead, Johns has become the definitive voice for the Scarlet Speedster. In Flashpoint, he places Flash in a strange alternate reality where heroes are now villains and Aquaman and Wonder Woman lead armies for world domination, all of which happens to the tune of Andy Kubert's beautiful artwork.
What to expect this month: After the stunning revelations of the first issue, Barry Allen must deal with the realization that the Batman of this world is not Bruce Wayne, but instead his father, Thomas Wayne. As the Flash deals with this much more violent version of the Caped Crusader, he must also try to find out where the rest of Earth’s heroes are and stop the violence perpetrated by Wonder Woman’s Amazons and Aquaman’s Kingdom of Atlantis.
Fear Itself may be getting more press, but it’s Flashpoint that might appeal more to comic fans, both casual and hardcore. While alternate realities are commonplace in the DC Universe, Flashpoint has so far been a very clean story with very little extensive knowledge needed to fully enjoy it.
Flashpoint: Batman Knight Of Vengeance #1
What it’s about: After the events of Flashpoint #1, it's revealed that Thomas Wayne is indeed that reality's Batman. Living in a Batcave with a portrait of his one-time family hung on the wall and an ominous gun displayed under glass, this Batman is somehow even more moody and violent than his normal DC counterpart. He has no moral code against killing and actually seems to get a thrill out of watching the bad guys drop to their deaths.
Normally tie-in comics aren’t necessary, or even any good, but with Brian Azzarello on the writing duties and Eduardo Risso providing the art, Batman: Knight Of Vengeance is easily one of the most highly anticipated books that DC has put out in a long time. This is the award-winning creative team that was behind the Vertigo classic 100 Bullets and Batman: Broken City, so Knight Of Vengeance will easily rival the main DC Batman titles for superiority.
And for Batman fans who aren't reading Flashpoint, this book will provide an interesting look at a Caped Crusader that seemingly went down the wrong path in life.
Amazing Spider-Man #663
What it’s about: Since its launch in 1963, Amazing Spider-Man has enjoyed enormous success and has been home to some of the most important stories in comic book history. However, an over-reliance on crossover events and “shocking revelations” robbed the book of its heart, soul and charm for nearly a decade.
Recently, though, Amazing Spider-Man has slowly regained its position as one of Marvel’s most important and entertaining books. Written mainly by Dan Slott, with some issues penned by Christos Gage, this book has put the focus back on Peter Parker’s relatable struggles instead of overblown crossover events featuring countless guest stars.
What to expect this month: Longtime Spidey fans will certainly feel chills trickle down their spines when they see the title of this story arc: The Ghost Of Jean DeWolff. DeWolff is, of course, the murdered NYPD Captain and the Wall Crawler's close ally from the '80's. Her death remains one of the most memorable Spider-Man stories.
This issue will also bring back Eddie Brock, a.k.a. the original Venom, in his new guise as the Anti-Venom. And if that wasn’t enough, Amazing Spider-Man #663 also features an Infested backup story as the title counts down to the upcoming major arc Spider Island.
Fear Itself #3
What it’s about: As Marvel’s requisite summer crossover book, Fear Itself pits Earth’s heroes against the God of Fear and his avatars, known as "the Worthy." As the Avengers fight off these brainwashed supervillains and heroes, they must also come to grips with their own anxieties and fear as they try to save Earth without the help of Odin or the Asgardians.
Writer Matt Fraction and artist Stuart Immonen are attempting to change the perception of big comic crossovers by including some political and social commentary to go along with the super brawls. The result is better than some of Marvel’s lesser crossovers (such as Secret Invasion and Siege), but it remains to be seen if it will reach the heights of Civil War or House of M.
What to expect this month: With Washington D.C. having been nearly wiped out in an attack led by Sin, the Red Skull’s daughter, the heroes must now deal with a rising body count and a populace on the verge of insanity. Not only do they have to stop Sin, but they must also protect the people of Earth who are now struck with terror. What’s worse is that some of the most powerful villains and heroes in the Marvel Universe have been brainwashed and turned against Earth thanks to the God of Fear.
This story has been much more brutal and devastating than anything Marvel has featured throughout the past decade, and the sheer amount of destruction is at times too much to process, but it still hits all the right notes for a crossover. Issue #3 will be a major indication for how the tone will be moving forward, and with more major deaths promised in the series, Fear Itself hasn’t even begun to truly hit its stride.
Moon Knight #2
What it’s about: Marvel has been trying to launch a successful Moon Knight book for the better part of a decade, yet up until now things haven’t quite worked out. Not only do most audiences look blankly at the mention of Moon Knight's name, but the creative teams behind the character have never really presented its books as anything more than a generic, ongoing vigilante story.
Marvel seems to have figured out where they went wrong with this new series, though, as they placed writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev on the book in order to drum up some interest. Bendis and Maleev are perhaps best known for their character-defining run on Daredevil, and that kind of clout ensures a level of quality that previous Moon Knight books failed to provide.
What to expect this month: In Moon Knight’s debut issue, it was confirmed that Marc Spector is still Marvel’s resident nut-case, as he spent the whole story having a conversation with the Avengers. The problem is that the conversation was all in Moon Knight's head and it turned out he was just speaking to the furniture. Yeah, he’s completely batshit.
In this second issue, Moon Knight must find out who the new Kingpin of Los Angeles is and just why he’s trying to buy an Ultron robot on the black market. So it’s up to Moon Knight and his imaginary team of Avengers to put an end to this crime spree before it takes over Cali.