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 October 5, 2011.
Reviewed by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)
Action Comics #2
What it’s about: When Grant Morrison was tasked with reimagining the early years of Superman in Action Comics, he didn’t tread over well traveled material from the past. Morrison took what worked from the character’s original run and infused it with aspects from the real world and his own political views.
The result is a street-savvy Man of Steel who has a heart and soul. He's the protector of the working stiff, and a crusader against those faceless power mongers that rule our world. Not since the character’s original 1938 debut has Superman been so socially relevant, and it’s just in time, too, because now is when the world needs him the most.
What to expect this month: At the end of last month’s debut issue, Superman was left battered and defeated after trying to stop a runaway train. This was all part of a plan hatched by General Sam Lane and Lex Luthor to capture Supes and see what makes him tick. Now, with Superman being held by shadowy members of the U.S. government, the world is about to see what happens when you rattle his cage.
The Superman character has been on life support for a few years now, and it seemed like for a while that his books were never going to have a clear direction again. But Morrison has brought the Man of Steel back to basics and made Clark Kent’s world meaningful again.
Animal Man #2
What it’s about: When DC's company-wide relaunch was announced, all of the premiere heroes had books featuring big-name writers and artists, while some of the smaller books flew under the radar. But after just one issue, Animal Man has bested the company’s higher-profile titles and solidified itself as one of DC’s most interesting titles.
Focusing on Buddy Baker, a.k.a. Animal Man, and his offbeat family, writer Jeff Lemire is crafting a tale that's both horrifying and mysterious, and strays far from the typical superhero plotlines. Animal Man proves once again that a great writer can make any book work, no matter how obscure the character may be.
What to expect this month: After last issue's startling final page, Buddy Baker must deal with his daughter’s bizarre superpowers before they get out of hand. As Buddy worries about his daughter, though, she might be the only one to help him fully understand his own powers and the mysterious Red that binds everything together.
Animal Man is a different read from all of the other books that DC puts out, but for people that fully embrace Buddy's strange world, it’s wholly satisfying. Combined with some great minimalist art by Travel Foreman, Animal Man is a superhero book for people that hate superheroes.
Detective Comics #2
What it’s about: Detective Comics has always been hailed as the Batman title that regularly challenges readers to use their brains a bit. Most Batman books either focus on needless publicity stunts that attempt to drive up sales or formulaic battles against the same villains over and over.
Detective Comics has always had a more methodical pace that highlights the more cerebral side of Bruce Wayne, instead of just focusing on the fisticuffs. Reading more like a forensic thriller, Tony Daniel’s newly launched volume of Detective Comics doesn’t stray far from what made the title a success in the first place.
What to expect this month: The debut issue of Detective Comics was a good read overall, but the downright startling last page was enough to make the wait in between issues nearly excruciating. As usual, the Joker has escaped from Arkham Asylum, but before he left, he removed his own face, with help from the Dollmaker, and pinned it to the wall of his cell. Now Batman and Gordon must find him before he kills again and stop a mysterious serial killer known as "The Gotham Ripper."
Truly disturbing and completely maniacal, Detective Comics certainly doesn’t play it safe as Daniel thrusts readers off the edge of sanity and watches as they plummet into the unknown. Exploring the duality of Batman, as well as the mind itself, Daniel’s writing will appeal to Bat fans from every generation. Plus, it’s also one of DC's most expertly illustrated books.
What it’s about: Tony Chu is a cibopath, which means he can get a psychic impression from anything that he eats. He can chew on an apple and instantly know what orchard it came from and identify anyone who may have handled it. It also means that Chu can nibble on a murder victim and instantly know what happened during the last moments of his or her life.
This ability makes him one of the best detectives at the FDA, but it also makes his life a living hell. Writer John Layman and artist Rob Guillory have brought humor back to comics in a way that is both absurd and grotesque, all while being infinitely charming.
What to expect this month: After Tony Chu gets demoted to being a lowly traffic cop by his hate-monger boss, he finds out that being a meter maid is a better gig than the short shorts would have you believe.
From the opening page through the final hilarious panel, issue #21 offers up the same nihilistic world view that the series is known for, though Layman is careful to slowly sew the seeds for future plot points throughout. While always funny, Chew doesn’t depend solely on humor in order to succeed.
What it’s about: Taking place at the beginning of the 20th century, Severed is a book that oozes pure atmosphere from every startling panel. Writers Scott Snyder and Scott Tuft aren’t penning your typical horror comic here; Severed is a methodically paced thriller that slowly builds from issue to issue and leaves the reader with an uneasy feeling at every turn.
Severed focuses on youth and innocence, fathers and sons, benevolence and malevolence. Twelve-year-old Jack Garron is bright-eyed and full of curiosity as he travels across country to find his long lost father. But the horror he finds throughout his travels is beyond anything he would ever fathom.
What to expect this month: Jack and his homeless traveling partner, Sam, are desperate to find their way to see Jack’s father, so they rely on his musical ability to bring them enough money to travel. But the mysterious Salesman isn’t far behind, and soon befriends the two. The issue mostly revolves around the Salesman attempting to win the two over with his silver tongue and crooked smile. It may seem simple, but Snyder and Tuft deliver moments of pure dread without ever relying on typical spooks and chills.
Severed #3 is both understated and horrifying, as a palpable sense of doom is hovers over the children. The book's true horror is as much psychological as it is physical, and, like a bad rash, the uncomfortable feeling has been spreading through every issue seemingly readying itself for a big climax.
The Walking Dead #89
What it’s about: Right about now, fans of The Walking Dead are coming apart at the seams in anticipation for the premiere of the second season of the hit AMC show later this month. Luckily for them, Robert Kirkman’s comic book series is just as good as it’s ever been nearly eight years since its debut.
Throwing typical zombie clichés out the window, Kirkman focuses this survival comic more on the human element that drives the characters forward, rather than the brain-eating zombies that populate their world. This makes for a book that 's both suspenseful and emotional as the characters begin to feel like family, not cheap plot devices.
What to expect this month: With Rick’s son, Carl, out of his coma, the group begins to tear apart as some of the longtime members begin to question Rick's leadership methods. Compounded with the fact that Rick has begun to emotionally decline ever since Carl woke up, the separatist survivors might be right afterall.
Kirkman brings The Walking Dead back to what made it so successful in the first place: the human struggle. Anger, grief, and paranoia rule the characters in Kirkman's world. As always, the minimalistic black-and-white art perfectly depicts the struggles and never lets glossy colors and unnecessary flash take away from the emotion.