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 July 20, 2011.
What it’s about: In the early aughts, Daredevil was the book that launched the groundbreaking Marvel Knights line and ushered in a new era of story-driven comics for the company. Written by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated with a gritty flare by Alex Maleev, the book not only improved upon Frank Miller’s seminal work on the character from the ‘80s, but it was also one of the best comics in Marvel's history.
However, since Bendis left the title in 2006, Daredevil has had a hard time getting back on track. From middling story arcs by Ed Brubaker, to the dreadful Shadowland crossover, the character seemed directionless for the first time in a decade. But with Marvel’s latest relaunch under writer Mark Waid and artists Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin, Daredevil is primed to become the company's hottest character yet again.
Shedding the character's overly grim and gritty take that has been done to death since the ‘80s, Waid looks to return Ol’ Hornhead to his swashbuckling '60s roots. It’s a brighter, more hopeful take on the Man Without Fear, as Martin's and Rivera's art is beautifully rendered with bright colors and quirky panel layouts.
But don’t let this new layer of color and adventure fool you—Waid is one of the best writers in the comic biz, and it’s a sure thing that he will bring Daredevil back to Marvel’s elite class.
Batman: Gates Of Gotham #3
What it’s about: Scott Snyder has quickly become one of the best Batman writers in recent memory due to his run on Detective Comics. Snyder portrays the character as extremely flawed and human, which is a welcome change compared to the near invincible way some writers view the Caped Crusader. Now, along with Kyle Higgins and artist Trevor McCarthy, Snyder is testing Batman's resolve even more in a new miniseries that recounts the early days of Gotham City itself in Batman: Gates Of Gotham.
The story is a generation-spanning mystery that sees Batman investigate a mysterious bomber who's been destroying some of the city’s most important bridges and buildings.
What to expect this month: With a veil of mystery still shrouding what exactly the “Gates of Gotham” really are, Batman and Red Robin must square off against The Architect after he destroyed both Wayne Tower and the Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge. As the mystery grows more intense, so do the stakes as Gotham’s first families are being systematically targeted by a madman that knows more about the city than even Batman does.
Gates Of Gotham ranks right behind Detective Comics as the best Batman book on shelves. After DC’s September relaunch, there's no telling what will happen to the character, so this is a great book to read for fans of the classic Batman.
DC Retroactive: Batman The ‘70s #1
What it’s about: In order to pay homage to its roots before September’s major overhaul, DC Comics has been releasing many nostalgic books set in the universe's early days. First, the company released Legacies, a book that meticulously recounted the entire history of every major DC character, and now it's going even further into the old school with DC Retroactive. These books feature classic creative teams from decades past on brand new stories to appeal to a new generation of readers, as well as lifelong fans.
The first wave, titled The ‘70s, features a Batman tale written by legendary Dark Knight scribe Len Wein. Wein was one of the writers integral in bringing Batman out of the campy style of the ‘60s and back to the more dark and brooding style of story that the character is known for today.
Here, Batman goes up against The Terrible Trio, a group of bored millionaires looking to add excitement to their lives through crime. And because 26 pages simply aren’t enough for one story, DC is also including a reprint of a classic Wein story from the ‘70s to appease fans looking for even more historical content.
DC Retroactive: Wonder Woman The ‘70s #1
What it's about: DC isn't done with its history lecture just yet; here, Wonder Woman gets the Retroactive treatment, as well. Written by the comic writer royalty Denny O’Neil, this story puts the feminine hero back in her women’s lib persona. This early '70s version of the lasso twirling Amazon, named Diana Prince, was stripped of her powers and fought crime while solely relying on her wits and resolve.
Looking like she just got out of a pilates class, Wonder Woman's hip take was short-lived and became one of O’Neil’s rare missteps in the world of comics. But it’s an important part of the character’s history, so much so that DC felt it was necessary to revisit it. And, just like Batman's previously mentioned Retroactive book, this issue also includes an additional reprint of a classic story.
Invincible Iron Man #506
What it’s about: No one in their right mind would have ever predicted that Iron Man would one day become Marvel’s flagship character. But after 2008’s blockbuster film, the character has been thrust into the spotlight for the first time in his existence; now, the people at Marvel are counting on Ol’ Shellhead to carry the company banner for the foreseeable future.
In order to keep the Jon Favreau-directed movie's tone intact, the company hired writer Matt Fraction and artist Salvador Larroca to head up the newly relaunched Invincible Iron Man. The duo has brought humor, action, and layered plots to Iron Man for the first time since the ‘80s, and, in the process, created a version of the character that rivals anything the company could put on the big screen.
What to expect this month: Tony Stark is at the end of his rope after a traumatizing battle with the Grey Gargoyle in Paris, and he’s desperate to put an end to the God of Fear’s wrath. But between trying to repair his company, rebuild Asgard, and fighting off the new mystical threat, Stark has been stretched too thin to truly accomplish anything. It's a desperate time, yet Fraction manages to keep the story entertaining.
It’s rare that a tie-in book is ever truly worth the money, but Fraction has made Invincible Iron Man just as engrossing as the main Fear Itself storyline.
Thor: Heaven & Earth #1
What it’s about: Thor mania may have come and gone since the movie was released in early May, but that doesn’t mean that Marvel is about to stop pumping out monthly miniseries based on the God of Thunder. Written by the always reliable Paul Jenkins, and featuring art by the criminally underrated Ariel Olivetti, Heaven & Earth is yet another tale revolving around Thor dealing with an impending Ragnarok.
In Norse mythology, Ragnarok is basically a series of future events featuring large battles and natural disasters that will signal the end of days. With everything destroyed, including the Gods, the world will be reborn, repopulated, and begin anew. Naturally, this is a subject that comic book writers can’t wait to tackle in the pages of Thor, yet very few actually differentiate their stories from ones that came before it.
Thankfully, Jenkins is unike most other comic writers, and his stories usually travel the less conventional path in favor of a unique perspective on things. This one deals with Loki bringing on the events of Ragnarok and Thor inevitably trying to stop him; however, the God of Thunder soon learns that perhaps the end of days is necessary and that the cycle of rebirth may be the best thing for Asgard and Earth.
What it’s about: Released by Image Comics, Turf is a hardboiled detective story that features, what else, vampires and aliens. Set during the height of prohibition, Turf tells the story of a local street tough named Eddie Falco as he forms a tenuous bond with a creature from another world; together, they try to stop gang wars that have been ripping New York City apart.
Why join forces with an alien to take down some lowly gangsters? Because the Dragonmire family is poised to act on an ancient prophecy that can help resurrect the Old One, a slumbering vampire that would make the family the most powerful in the city. Written by Jonathan Ross, the host of BBC’s Friday Night With Jonathan Ross, Turf meshes a typical noir detective story with some horror and sci-fi elements to create a truly unique book that transcends the comic medium.
Ross’ script is sharp and intelligent, but it’s the art by Tommy Lee Edwards that really pushes this book over the edge. Having worked on numerous high-profile titles in the past, Edwards is a genius when it comes to crafting atmosphere and mood, so this melting pot of genres is perfectly suited for an artist of his talent. The premise may be a bit odd, but Turf is a solid read for fans of the offbeat.