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 August 17, 2011.
Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)
Captain America #2
What it’s about: In an attempt to take advantage of the popularity of Captain America after his blockbuster film debut, the folks at Marvel relaunched the Captain America comic series from issue #1. This new book is still being written by Ed Brubaker, but now he is being joined by the ultra talented Steve McNiven on art.
This new beginning for the character is designed to appeal to fans of the movie who might not have an encyclopedic knowledge of Captain America’s 70-year history. But despite the glossy new packaging, the contents of the book still holds appeal to old-school comic fans looking to get their red, white, and blue fix from somewhere else besides Fox News.
What to expect this month: Cap explores the mysterious events behind a seven-decade-old WWII mission that involved him, Nick Fury, and a former ally who is currently trying to kill them. And just how does legendary Cap villain Baron Zemo fit into all of this? This new Captain America series may be lighter on the gritty espionage than Brubaker’s other work on the character, but he and McNiven really play up the blockbuster action aspect of Cap nicely, complete with jaw-dropping visuals and baddies galore.
It’s not too often that a comic can actually build off of the success of a movie, usually it’s the other way around, but this new Captain America series plays up the aspects that worked in the film and adds the explosive pop-art that only the comic book medium can showcase.
What it’s about: Remember how you watched on in horror during the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan when the American troops were getting mowed down mercilessly on Omaha Beach on D-Day? Well, that’s how the whole month of August is going to be for comic book fans as they watch their favorite DC titles get canceled one-by-one before the massive relaunch this September.
This week marks the last issue of the current volume of Batman, one of the company’s longest-running titles. Sure the book will restart in September written by the mega-talented Scott Snyder, but fans will always long for the old numbering, which was a sign of dominance over lower numbered titles. Whether the new Batman title can live up to the 72 years of greatness that its predecessor enjoyed remains to be seen.
What to expect this month: There won’t be much fanfare for the last issue of Batman, nor will there be any tears shed. This last issue deals with Dick Grayson’s waning days as Gotham’s Caped Crusader and how he deals with sharing the spotlight with a returning Bruce Wayne. With so many Batmen running around, Dick must come to terms with who he really is as his very identity begins to get questioned.
Writer Fabian Nicieza has the thankless task of capping off a legendary series without much prep time or build up. However, despite the strange situation he is in, this last issue of Batman is a must own for any fan of the Dark Knight, as one of the most memorable series of all time is at the end of the road.
What it’s about: It may not seem like it, but some of the best comics to ever be released don’t feature grown men running around in frilly costumes judo-throwing nefarious gangsters into submission. Instead, the best comics of the past few decades pay homage to both classic and modern literature, and often transcend the comic book medium with sophisticated art styling and nuanced writing.
Bill Willingham’s Fables is a perfect example of this alternative comic movement. The book features characters ripped from classic fairytales and injects them right into our modern world, with humor, action, and a ton of political satire. Never before have public-domain characters been so much fun.
What to expect this month: The Fables have been spread across various realms to escape from war and death, but there is really no escaping the inevitable. As the characters scrounge about to find peace, Snow White and Bigby’s cubs begin a journey towards living up to their parents’ expectations, but it’s a harsh world out there and the death toll has been rising recently.
Also, the winged monkey, Bufkin, journeys back to Oz to free its inhabitants from its evil ruler. With a little internet research, it shouldn't be hard for new fans to ease into this story arc. However, we suggest you starting picking up the collections beginning with Volume 1. It's well worth it.
The Walking Dead #88
What it’s about: Robert Kirkman is a living, breathing anomaly in the comic book world. Not only did he create one of the hottest properties in the comic book world in The Walking Dead, but the book has gone beyond comics and morphed into a successful TV show and a soon-to-be-released video game.
Rarely does a non-superhero comic engross fans like The Walking Dead has, but Kirkman has proven that all you need to succeed in the medium is a little bit of creativity and balls the size of cantaloupes.
What to expect this month: If you are attempting to catch up to The Walking Dead after seeing the TV show, then read no further; we’re about to enter SPOILER TERRITORY!!! Recently, Rick’s son, Carl, had been shot in the head and was left in a coma. After issues of waiting, Carl finally woke up, much to Rick’s surprise. However, it was revealed at the end of the last issue that he is suffering from amnesia and doesn’t even remember that his mother has died.
The Walking Dead #88 deals with Rick trying to adjust to his son’s condition and torturing himself at the thought of having to tell him about his mother all over again. Kirkman is downplaying the action and concentrating on the drama in this story so far, which is a staple of this book. But it’ll be interesting to see just when and how Kirkman pulls the plug and lets all hell break loose again.
What it’s about: Ever since Frank Miller took over the writing duties on Daredevil in the '80s, the character has rarely had a break from the grim and gritty stories that eventually defined him. There was never a year that went by that Matt Murdock didn’t suffer an enormous tragedy in his life, and all of that trauma eventually led him to suffer a nervous breakdown and go a bit whacky with his hardline view on justice.
Even though these were all good reads, it felt like the constant suffering of the character made him a little too much like a Spandex wearing Job. But with Mark Waid now relaunching Daredevil, the focus is back on action and adventure, as opposed to crime and punishment.
What to expect this month: It’s not coincidental that Captain America guest stars in this issue just weeks removed from the release of his movie, but Waid is talented enough to produce quality work despite editorial mandates. It turns out that the good Captain is here to confront Daredevil about his violent actions during the past few months, including the events of the dreadful Shadowland story.
As Daredevil attempts to explain his past sins to Cap, he must also contend with the master of sound, the Klaw. Who better to challenge a man sensitive to sound than a maniacal terrorist with a sonic gun? Gripping stories by Waid, and some out-of-the-box art by Paolo Rivera, has made Daredevil one of Marvel's most interesting titles just two issues into its existence.
Tales Of The Batman By Gene Colan Volume 1
What it’s about: One look at this beauty should have any self-respecting Bat fan drooling themselves into dehydration. The late Gene Colan was the master of atmosphere and had a knack for combining elements of horror and gore into mainstream superhero books. This unique perspective on things made his art stand head and shoulders above everything else being done at the time.
Colan brought a foggy, murderous ambiance to the Batman books during the '80s and, in turn, revolutionized some of the most grotesque members of the Dark Knight's rogues gallery. DC’s giant hardcover collection of Colan’s best work on the character features the Caped Crusader going against the monstrous Man-Bat, the Monk, Poison Ivy, the Mad Hatter, and plenty more.
These stories have been overlooked since they debuted in the '80s because they don’t feature a classic Joker story, nor did Christopher Nolan ever name-drop them during an interview. But make no mistake about it: these issues typify the character of Batman and provide more genuine entertainment than most of the Bat books to come out in the decades since.
In reality, though, stories take a back seat to the brilliant penciling of Gene Colan. His style fits the murky alleyways and cavernous valleys of Gotham’s skyscrapers perfectly. He refused to draw these issues in the typical superhero fashion, and instead threw piles of filth and grime on top of Batman’s world. He created a look that has since become the norm for the character.
Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)