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 September 21, 2011.
Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)
What it’s about: The talented folks at DC have done a much better job than expected at rebooting their comic book lines. Titles like Animal Man, Swamp Thing, and Action Comics have all been successful thanks to fantastic art and imaginative writing; all of those books were but a mere warm-up, though, compared to Scott Snyder’s Batman.
Speaking with us recently, Snyder explained that this introductory story arc will deal with Bruce Wayne’s relationship with Gotham City, and how a massive, ancient conspiracy rears its head in order to destroy the Caped Crusader. Making his life even harder, Batman is also confronted by familiar villains like Clayface, Two-Face, Mr. Feeze, and the Scarecrow; fortunately, he's aided by the familiar supporting cast of Robin, Alfred, and Commissioner Gordon.
This is one of the first times that Snyder will be solely focused on writing Bruce Wayne as Batman, being that his run on Detective Comics featured Dick Grayson as the Caped Crusader. This means that Batman will be a totally different animal from Detective, since Bruce's personality differs greatly from Grayson's. Snyder doesn't just recycle the same Batman stories that have been around for decades—he digs deep into layers of the character's psyche that few have ever dreamed of investigating. Which makes for highly unpredictable stories that never make an audience truly feel comfortable until the last page is over.
Artist Greg Capullo lends his hyper-stylized art to Batman's pages, helping to give the title a much different feel from the other Bat books on the shelf. His art is both heavily animated and detailed, as he brings Batman’s colorful, yet violent, world to focus. Don’t get us wrong, while there are cartoony elements to the art, it doesn’t look like a lame Hanna-Barbara regurgitation; instead, it’s comic book creativity at its finest.
What it’s about: She's one of the most popular characters in the DC Universe, yet Catwoman has very seldom had a comic dedicated to her that was a true hit. Writers have attempted in vain to redefine the felonious feline as a cuddly, upstanding superhero, but those directions have always felt flimsy and bogus compared to how the character should be portrayed.
Now as part of DC’s “New 52”, writer Judd Winick is taking his shot at launching a Catwoman title, along with artist Guillem March. Winick told us a few weeks ago that his desire isn’t to redefine Catwoman, but instead bring the character back to her original criminal roots. This includes working outside of the law and being a full-fledged cat burglar, as opposed to a heroine.
The opening story arc features a run-in with Batman, plenty of crimes, and a generous helping of sexiness, as the folks at DC hope that this title will present the character in a light that's both familiar to longtime fans and fresh for newcomers. And with Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) in tow for Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises next year, don't be surprised if this version of the character falls right in line with how the movie will handle her.
One of the reasons why March was chosen for this book is the fact that he draws absolutely beautiful women. He broke into DC with Gotham City Sirens, where he drew Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, and Catwoman on the regular, so he's deeply familiar with the character already, and his style lends itself perfectly to Selina Kyle's ultra-sexy world.
Wonder Woman #1
What it’s about: That’s right, Wonder Woman is relevant again. The higher-ups at DC finally got it through their thick skulls that the reason why the book hasn’t been selling is actually very simple: They never invested in a great creative team to go along with such an iconic character. But now that 100 Bullets creator Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang are in charge of the Amazon Princess, Wonder Woman actually has a chance to be one of DC's highlights for the first time in decades.
Having described Wonder Woman as more of a horror title in recent interviews, Azzarello is taking a much different approach to the character than has ever been attempted. There will be a larger focus on blending classic Greek mythology into a modern setting. A similar strategy that has worked over at Marvel on Thor for decades, and writers seem to finally realize that this is the way to go on Wonder Woman as well.
Cliff Chiang’s art is another radical departure from what we have seen in recent years. Gone are the over-sexualized splash pages where bust lines and curves are the main attraction; now, Wonder Woman has been given a more modern costume that makes her look like a noble warrior, not a fetishized piece of pop-culture eye candy.
Captain America #3
What it’s about: Relaunches and comic books go together like Americans and obesity, so when Marvel rebooted Captain America earlier this year, no one really gave it a second thought. Ed Brubaker was still staying on as the writer, and Steve McNiven, who has worked on the character before, was announced as the artist. Yet, despite the fact that there were so many familiar elements in the book, everything was somehow different.
Brubaker has taken a character that he has worked on for six years and presented him in a completely new way here. Gone are the action/espionage plots from his earlier works; in their place, we have a sci-fi/fantasy plot that seems like it jumped right out of the silver age.
What to expect this month: After a mysterious former secret agent seemingly returned from the dead to hunt down Nick Fury and Captain America, it was revealed that the agent had been stuck in an alternate dimension since WWII after an army experiment went awry. Now the agent and his bravo team are using the bizarre technologies and inhabitants from this strange dimension to take revenge on Cap and Fury.
The story isn't as intricate or downright depressing as the more recent Captain America titles, but this book still retains the character's greatness. This opening story arc, though not Ed Brubaker's most traditional work, is such a breath of fresh air thanks to its blend of fantasy, action, and sharp dialogue.
What it’s about: In an attempt to revamp some fledgling vigilante books, Marvel relaunched Moon Knight, Punisher, and Daredevil earlier this year with some of the best creative teams the company could muster. Moon Knight has since slipped off considerably after its first couple of issues, while Punisher is moving along nicely thanks to Greg Rucka’s plots. But it’s Daredevil that has been the real gem of the bunch.
Written by Mark Waid, with art by the alternating team of Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin, Daredevil has quickly become Marvel's best book in the span of just four issues. The great thing about alternating artists is that the approach makes issues come out much faster than usual, as we're already blessed with another installment of the series only a week after Daredevil #3 was released.
What to expect this month: With Matt Murdock’s reputation completely sullied after years of being linked to Daredevil, the blind ex-lawyer from Hell’s Kitchen must now find a new way to help the public in his civilian life. Always resourceful, Murdock realizes that if he can’t help his clients himself, he’ll simply teach them how to represent themselves in court.
Featuring stunning art by the brilliant Marcos Martin, Daredevil reads like a slice-of-life story about a brilliant lawyer that just so happens to run around in red tights at night. Mark Waid has turned this oftentimes morose character into a more hopeful adventurer with a sharp wit and an insatiable libido. It’s old-school, silver age fun that still retains modern storytelling sensibilities.
Infinite Kung Fu
What it’s about: Infinite Kung Fu is a rarity in the comic book medium: It shrugs off individual issues and is instead served as one complete story in a beautifully dense 456-page behemoth of a book. Solely the brainchild of writer/artist Kagan McLeod, who we talked to a few months back, Infinite Kung Fu is a stunningly gorgeous example of the offbeat stories that inhabit the world of underground comics.
The plot revolves around a young soldier named Yang Lei Kung, who is recruited by the Eight Immortals to defeat an evil emperor that is poised to destroy the universe. This over-the-top tale is depicted masterfully by McLeod, who balances some of the stranger elements of the book with a grounded handle on the kung fu culture. Drawing inspiration on everything from kung fu movies, to ancient texts and mythology, Infinite Kung Fu is an omnibus of action, fantasy, and cartoonish set pieces, all set against McLeod’s highly imaginative and stylized artwork.
McLeod’s unique brand of comic book wizardry practically oozes out of every panel as his art delivers animated stylings with a hip-hop flavor. Along the way, there are battles against undead foes, giant robotic statues, and enough severed limbs to create a bizarre reenactment of Hands Across America.
In short, Infinite Kung Fu doesn’t rely on household names and publicity stunts for attention; it is purely a treasure-trove for lovers of old kung fu flicks, zombies, and any other pop culture staple that appeals to people with a pulse.