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 10, 2011.
Review by: Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)
Fear Itself #5
What it’s about: The Serpent, a.k.a. the God of Fear, has returned to Earth and plunged the planet, along with all of its inhabitants and heroes, into perpetual panic. Even Odin has ordered the citizens of Asgard to retreat. With Sin, the Red Skull's daughter, leading the charge, the Serpent has already claimed the life of Bucky Barnes and leveled Washington D.C. Now it's up to the heroes to fight back.
Writer Matt Fraction has crafted a comic book mega event filled with large scale destruction and violence; in the process, he's also changed the Marvel Universe's landscape. It's not pretty, but Fear Itself accomplishes just what it initially set out to do: blow shit up.
What to expect this month: As Tony Stark is busy creating some advanced weaponry in order to fight the Serpent, the rest of the Marvel heroes are warding off the ever-growing army that has amassed around the globe. As seen at the end of last issue, Thor is ready to square off against a possessed Thing and Hulk, while Captain America leads the charge in Manhattan to take down Sin.
This book won’t change your views on comics, nor will you ever be in danger of using your brain too much, if at all, but Fear Itself is like a big-budget action movie spit out into 32 glossy pages of beautiful artwork by Stuart Immonen.
Detective Comics #881
What it’s about: When Scott Snyder took over Detective Comics earlier this year, the book was coming off several less-than-inspired months' worth of stories. In fact, besides a few brief glimpses of creativity, such as Paul Dini and Greg Rucka’s work, Detective Comics has been stale for years now. But Snyder saw this book as a way to not only tell some great Batman stories, but to also transcend the character and simply make a great comic.
Blending horror, suspense, action, and mystery, Detective Comics has been the best title that DC has put out all year, and perhaps one of the best since 2005's All Star Superman. It's perfect for readers tired of the overblown action and thin plots found in properties like Fear Itself and Flashpoint.
What to expect this month: Sadly, after all of that praise, Snyder’s run on Detective Comics ends with this issue. This bonus-sized comic wraps up the entire multi-faceted plot that Snyder has weaved throughout the past year as Batman and Commissioner Gordon finally confront James Gordon Jr., the Commissioner’s deranged son.
Now that Snyder’s magnum opus has come to an end, he will be taking over the main Batman title once DC relaunches the line next month. We’ll just have to wait and see if Snyder has the same freedom to craft intricate murder mysteries and gore-fests once he gets on DC’s most prestigious title.
Amazing Spider-Man #667
What it’s about: For nearly five decades, Amazing Spider-Man has been at the forefront of some of the most important comic book stories of all time. The title solidified the modern superhero genre and helped the character break out of the page's four-sided panels and onto the big screen in his own multi-million dollar movie franchise.
But the roots of the character will always lead back to Amazing Spider-Man, one of Marvel’s most hallowed titles. With writer Dan Slott and artist Humberto Ramos as the book's current custodians, Amazing has gone back to its roots, once again showing people why they fell in love with the character in the first place.
What to expect this month: The highly anticipated Spider Island officially begins here. After the citizens of Manhattan suddenly contract Spider-Man’s superpowers, the Wall Crawler must find out the cause of this plague and stop it before the whole island is overrun by madness. Meanwhile, the Jackal is back and organizing an army of wall-crawling villains to overthrow the city and create pure anarchy.
This title provides the action and suspense of most other comic crossovers, but with the smart characterizations and quirky artwork familiar to Slott and Ramos' work, respectively.
Hellboy: The Fury #3
What it’s about: Between fighting the usual assortment of ghouls, losing his left eye, and finding out that he's actually a descendent of King Arthur himself, Hellboy: The Fury has certainly reshaped the character and presented a much more serious tale with higher stakes than ever before.
As always, The Fury doesn’t leave novice Hellboy fans in the dust; in fact, it’s a perfect jumping-on point for them. But in this third and final issue, newcomers to HB’s world don't have long to get acquainted with the character because after all these years. Why? Hellboy kicks the bucket!
Writer Mike Mignola has always stated that there would be a definitive end for the character, seeing as he didn’t want to write new Hellboy stories just for the sake of writing them. Apparently this death is for keeps, as opposed to Marvel's way of cheapening death to become nothing more than a publicity stunt. Is this the last Hellboy story ever? Probably not. In a world filled with ghosts and zombies, death is merely a speed bump along the way. But make no mistake about it: This death will mean something other than driving up sales. The character will be changed forever after this series.
Fans of the character, whether from the page or Guillermo del Toro's movie adaptations, should do themselves a favor and pick up The Fury from the beginning in order to see how a great creative team handles death in the four-colored world of comics without resorting to cheap plots and PR stunts.
Baltimore: The Curse Bells #1
What it’s about: So how does Mike Mignola choose to relax after killing off his most famous character? He writes a story about bloodsucking vampires, of course. In a sequel to his illustrated novel, Baltimore, Or The Steadfast Tin Soldier And The Vampire, and its follow-up miniseries The Plague Ships and A Passing Stranger, Curse Bells follows the adventures of Captain Lord Henry Baltimore as he continues to battle the vampires and monsters that are torturing early 20th century Europe.
Baltimore takes no prisoners, nor does he go about his vampire hunt with kid gloves. He's a brutal hunter who makes Blade look like Elmer Fudd by comparison, and the art and atmosphere in the book only enhance his viciousness. While it’s recommended that you pick up the earlier Baltimore graphic novels in order for this one to truly make sense, the extra dollars spent won't be for naught. Mignola has crafted a brutal, visceral, horror tale that adds to the genre, instead of making a mockery of it.
Amazing Spider-Man By David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane HC Omnibus (Collects: Amazing Spider-Man #296-329 and Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #10)
What it’s about: In the late ‘80s and the early ‘90s, David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane finally updated the Web Head for a more modern audience. Up until then, most writers and artists clung to what Stan Lee and John Romita did on the character back in the '60s like a spoiled child holding onto their parents legs at the mall.
No one updated the look of the characters or their personalities; they were too scared. Michelinie and McFarlane came on like a hurricane and made Peter Parker and Mary Jane a hip ‘90s couple that fought, felt temptation, and, most of all, had a very active sex life.
This hardcover collects their entire run, even the McFarlane-free issues. Along the way, Spider-Man is introduced to the psychotic Venom and fights villains such as the Red Skull, Mysterio, Magneto, and the Hulk.
There's only one small drawback, however: The omnibus release costs around $100. Which is understandable, since it's a mammoth read that's only rivaled by a phone book in length. Only Spidey's hardcore fans should think about buying this collection, but those who do will gain access to some of the best Spider-Man stories before the character bottomed out in the mid-‘90s.