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 6, 2011.
Fear Itself #4
What it’s about: Ask any comic book fan what their opinion on companywide crossovers are and they will either boil over with anger or gush incoherently about their greatness. These stories are supposed to be like blockbuster movies filled with large-scale action set pieces and plenty of shock value, but sometimes they become bloated catastrophes that just leave people scratching their heads.
Thankfully for hot blooded comic fans everywhere, Marvel’s latest crossover, Fear Itself, has shed most of the negative preconceptions that usually go along with these events. The story pits the Marvel heroes against the God of Fear as they not only have to contend against this ancient evil, but also must save humanity from its own anxiety.
What to expect this month: Writer Matt Fraction has used the last two issues of this book to ratchet up the action as well as claim the story’s first casualty: Captain America. Not to worry, though, this is the replacement Cap, a.k.a. Bucky Barnes. Still, his apparent death at the end of issue number three is the biggest beat to come out of this story yet.
As the heroes continue to deal with the overwhelming evil that has taken over the world, this latest installment of Fear Itself will focus on the fallout from Bucky’s death and how the Avengers regroup. While it hasn’t been as socially conscious or emotional as Civil War, Fear Itself is proving to be one of Marvel’s more well rounded crossovers in recent memory.
What it’s about: Not to be outdone by Marvel, DC launched its own summer blockbuster event, Flashpoint. Centering on a parallel universe where the world’s heroes and villains are distorted mirror images of themselves, Geoff Johns has delivered an engaging and easy to follow story that casual fans can enjoy as well as the hardcore audience.
This story is important because it will be the lynchpin for DC’s upcoming September relaunch, so fans looking to have the full scope of that event should pick this book up in order to know all that there is to know.
What to expect this month: With his powers now restored, the Flash will need to round up a new Justice League in order to stop Wonder Woman and Aquaman from tearing the world apart at the seams. Nothing is as it seems on this world and it's refreshing to read a superhero comic that features such a blurred line between good and evil.
Dystopian worlds are always a good romp, and getting a glimpse of a crazed Thomas Wayne as Batman or a completely looney Aquaman is the real selling point of this series. Johns is simply changing familiar characters around in order to stay fresh, and it has worked pretty well so far. It also doesn't hurt that Andy Kubert is churning out some of the best artwork of his career in this title.
What it’s about: There is no real way to describe Chew other than to say that it’s the best comic that you’re not reading. It revolves around a detective named Tony Chu who gets a psychic impression from whatever he eats. This makes him a hell of a detective, but it also puts him in some uncomfortable situations. While it features a lot of grotesque corpse chewing, Chew also piles on the humor and absurdity in a way that no comic is currently doing.
Writer John Layman has brought levity back to comics as he simply shrugs off the current grim and gritty industry trends and focuses purely on entertainment. It doesn't feature any well known superheroes or villains, but Chew is the best example of what someone with a little bit of creativity can do with a somewhat stagnant medium.
What to expect this month: In part four of the Flambé story arc, Tony Chu and his insufferable sister travel to Area 51 to do some good ol' fashioned investigating. This story has already showcased alien vegetation, bloodthirsty chickens, and a massive government conspiracy, so don't expect this arc to pump the brakes for the big finale.
This book may seem off the beaten path, but once you get accustomed to the manic tone and hyper-stylized art, it’ll be evident why Chew is the best comic currently on the market.
Sweet Tooth #23
What it’s about: Much like Chew, Sweet Tooth is a groundbreaking comic that doesn’t rely on superpowers or garish costumes in order to be engrossing. Jeff Lemire's book, based in a post-apocalyptic world where a new generation of humans are being born as animal hybrids, is equal parts tragedy and fairytale.
Following the story of a deer/human hybrid named Gus, Sweet Tooth doesn’t spoon feed audiences happy endings that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. This is an unyielding book with a clear vision. It may not always be what you expect, but it’s always expertly crafted.
What to expect this month: The Endangered Species arc ends here with Jeff Lemire’s usual amount of heartbreak and loss. What promised to be salvation for Gus and his squad of misfits turned out to be nothing more than another example of the harshness of the world they live in. Don't expect this book to be the literary version of a dose of Prozac. Chances are you'll finish every issue feeling ragged and worn to your core.
Moon Knight #3
What it’s about: Marvel’s new “Big Shots” initiative places superstar creative teams on some of the company’s less high-profile properties. The first part of this launch is Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s new Moon Knight series. Placing the character on the West Coast (where no heroes seem to ever be), Bendis has amped up Marc Spector’s already schizophrenic mind and, in the process, has made Moon Knight relevant again.
Spector no longer thinks that he is fighting his war on crime alone; he now believes that the Avengers are right alongside with him. Here’s the thing: They’re all figments of his crazed psyche. So when Spider-Man or Captain America is seen prowling the alleyways of L.A., it’s simply Spector in a cheap Halloween costume. The book's concept is a bit gimmicky, no doubt, but it always makes for a pretty interesting read.
What to expect this week: How many mental disorders can fit in one issue? Moon Knight battles against the psychotic Bullseye as the mysterious Kingpin of L.A. continues his stranglehold around the city. Marvel has tried and tried again to launch a successful Moon Knight book, but it’s pretty clear that this one has the winning formula.
Red Skull #1
What it’s about: Just in time to milk the Captain America cash cow dry comes a supervillain book that is actually worthy of your time and money. Red Skull is an exploration into the early days of Cap’s greatest adversary and details just how the Skull rose up from poverty to become one of the greatest monsters in the Marvel Universe.
Greg Pak is the man responsible for 2008’s Magneto: Testament and he will lend the same sensibilities that made that book so great to Red Skull. Steeped in history with a realistic take on the characters, this book is a fascinating look at what drives a villain to become so unhinged and how a great society can so easily fall to the influence of evil.
Set against the backdrop of WWII, this story runs as a great counterpoint to the birth of Captain America on the other side of the battle. While the Red Skull has always been an interesting villain, this book should shed some light on what makes him tick and add a whole new dimension to a nearly 70-year-old character.
Saga of the Swamp Thing: Book Five
What it’s about: Swamp Thing may be best remembered for a tacky TV show and a string of B-movies, but in the '80s, Alan Moore wrote a highly successful Swamp Thing comic that was one of the hallmarks of his career and comics in general.
After Swamp Thing returns from Hell, he realizes that his girlfriend, Abby, has gone missing. After tracking her down to Gotham City, he must deal with Batman, Lex Luthor, and the whole G.C.P.D. in order to get her back. What makes Moore’s work on this book stand out is the fact that he treated the character with so much dignity and intelligence instead of just making him a one-dimensional superhero. There was a stoic beauty to Moore's Swamp Thing, as he was shown simply philosophizing in the swamp just as often as he was shown beating up on the bad guys.
Blending mythology with science, Moore created a work of fantasy that transcended the comic book medium and appealed to fans in all walks of life. This is book five of the collection, so it’s suggested that you pick up the previous volumes in order to truly understand just how groundbreaking Moore’s work was on this character.