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 15, 2011.
Invincible Iron Man #505
What it’s about: Taking full advantage of the character’s recent popularity, Marvel launched Invincible Iron Man for a new generation of Shell Head fans. And while most new book launches lose their luster after a few months, Invincible Iron Man works because Marvel found a writer that perfectly compliments the character.
Matt Fraction’s handling of the character rivals Iron Man greats such as Dave Michelinie and Bob Layton and adds new layers of depth and intrigue to the Golden Avenger’s adventures. Taking a much more cerebral and sci-fi approach to the character, Fraction has revolutionized Tony Stark and succeeded in not only capturing the spirit of the movie but also improving on it.
What to expect this month: Yes, it’s another Fear Itself tie-in issue, but here’s the thing: it’s actually really good. Invincible Iron Man #504 saw Stark battling it out with a possessed and ultra-powerful version of the Grey Gargoyle in Paris. Now, that battle continues and Iron Man must get over the fact that the entire city has been turned to stone and the civilians are literally crumbling beneath the battle.
This is a deeply disturbing fight, especially when the body count is analyzed. But it’s not just there for shock value, Fraction is using this unsettling battle to further the aura of fear surrounding this book.
What it’s about: Usually one of the highest selling comics each month, Batman has undergone numerous creative visions and directions over the decades. And with Tony Daniel on as the writer, the book has taken a turn towards the more superhero-type tales that made Batman: The Animated Series so popular.
Featuring some of Batman’s most recognizable villains and supporting characters, Batman gives fans a bit of a break from the morose mystery stories and surreal adventures that are prevalent in other Bat books.
What to expect this month: Tick tock—with DC’s company-wide relaunch set to take place in September, each of its books is living on borrowed time. This month sees Two-Face dealing with the return of Gilda Dent, a.k.a. his ex-wife, a.k.a .the Holiday Killer. And with the return of the Riddler also inevitable, Batman must deal with both an assortment of classic baddies and Gotham’s most powerful crime families.
Enjoy these books while you can, because, before long, they’ll all be relaunched and renumbered with different creative teams. However, it was recently announced that Tony Daniel will return to Batman as the writer of Detective Comics for the relaunch, which will feature the return of Bruce Wayne as the only Caped Crusader in town.
Cinderella: Fables Are Forever #5
What it’s about: Every decade has three or four ongoing comics that completely reinvent the industry. In the past, titles like Transmetropolitan, Sandman, Preacher, and Sin City have all carried the burden of being industry-altering reads. Recently, Fables has become one of those books that carries on the beauty of comics with a wealth of imagination and intelligence, while leaving the tights and superpowers at the door.
Fables is set in a world where classic characters from fairy tales do exist, and they must go about hiding their identities while trying to coexist with humanity. Along the way, some of the best characters in comics have been introduced and now, in her own miniseries, Fables mainstay Cinderella gets a solo story revolving around her adventures as a spy.
What to expect this month: Cinderella continues her globe-trotting exploits, traveling everywhere from Switzerland to the Deadly Desert of OZ. This series is more reminiscent of The Bourne Identity than the other Fables books, and that’s the beauty of Cinderella—you never know what to expect from month to month. While superhero comics get all of the press, it's titles like this that keep the industry evolving.
What it’s about: As the central book in the Marvel Universe, The Avengers weaves in every major event and storyline covered in all of the company's titles. It's typically the place to go for the most exciting and visceral super brawls in comics. And with Marvel architect Brian Michael Bendis on writing duties here, and a blockbuster movie on the horizon, Avengers has become more important than ever before.
What to expect this month: Issue #14 deals with the fallout of Bucky’s apparent death at the end of Fear Itself #3. This issue will take the time to depict the reactions of the team after what happened to Bucky, providing an emotional anchor to the multilayered story. While the main Fear Itself book may be busy with an overblown plot, Avengers is all about character.
What it’s about: Here’s where things get a little confusing. Currently, there are multiple Hulks, from various She-Hulks, to sons of the Hulk and the ever-famous Green Hulk and Red Hulk. It seems like almost everyone in the Marvel Universe has been a version of the Green Man over the years. But this particular Hulk focuses on the Red one, a.k.a. General Thunderbolt Ross.
Jeph Loeb created the character in 2007 and wrote some laughably shoddy stories that are examples of the worst tales the comic industry has to offer. But ever since Jeff Parker took over the book last year, Hulk has actually become one of Marvel’s more solid titles. With rich characterizations, this is easily the best Hulk book on shelves at the moment.
What to expect this month: Planet Red Hulk, the story arc that begins here, kicks off with Ross taking a trip into outer space courtesy of Commander Steve Rogers. Now dealing with an alien war and gigantic monsters, the Red Hulk must smash his way through this cosmic odyssey in order to find his way back home again.
The Hulk books may not be in the best shape at the moment, but if you need your Gamma fix, then Hulk is easily the best choice out there.
Fantastic Four By Mark Waid & Mike Wieringo Ultimate Collection Vol. 1
What it’s about: Argue with us if you want, but Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo’s tenure on the Fantastic Four provided the best stories that the team has ever been experienced. Sure, Stan Lee’s tales had the humor and John Byrne’s had the emotion, but this run expands upon that and makes humor and emotion work in unison in order to create a modern comic classic.
Whether they’re fighting giant bugs, living mathematical equations, or dealing with Johnny Storm’s ego, this version of the Fantastic Four is easily more fleshed out than they have ever been. The team's family dynamic is also explored heavily without ever making the book seem juvenile or childish. These stories can make you think, laugh, cheer, and cry all within the same issue. And there's also the absolutely imaginative art of the late Mike Wieringo to help push this comic into the stratosphere.
Waid’s writing is the perfect example of how to keep a character’s legacy intact all while telling stories that have never been attempted before. He isn’t worried about continuity, crossovers or guest stars, instead Waid just concerns himself with presenting the Fantastic Four in a way that no one else is capable of. And with Waid’s upcoming run on Daredevil due out this summer, it’s entirely possible that he will forever change the Man Without Fear, as well.