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 December 28, 2011.
Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)
Captain America #5 and #6
What it’s about: When Ed Brubaker began his writing tenure on Captain America all the way back in 2004, the character had been forgotten by a younger generation of comic book fans. Cap was often seen as trite, clichéd, and safe in a landscape where heroes needed to be violent, gritty, and nearly sociopathic in order to be seen as “hip."
But by keeping the spirit of the character intact, and ignoring the pleas for more bloodshed, Brubaker made Captain America the most relevant hero at Marvel once again with his hyper-detailed plots and fleshed-out personalities. So when Marvel relaunched the patriotic title earlier this year, it was only natural for Brubaker to stay onboard and continue his unparalleled run on the character.
What to expect this month: After a few weeks of delays played havoc with the company's schedule, Marvel was forced to release both Captain America #5 and #6 today in order to keep everything shipping on time. In Captain America #5, Brubaker wraps up his introductory story arc, American Dreams, in which Cap is forced to take down a member of his old WWII squad named Bravo. But it isn’t hate that drives Bravo to attack Cap; rather, it’s his disillusionment with the current state of America and the greed that has taken control of the country. Combining superhero action with some political commentary, Brubaker has created a villain that is both dangerous and sympathetic in these current times.
In Captain America #6, Brubaker is joined by legendary artist Alan Davis. Here, a new branch of Hydra has formed and is gunning for Cap. With appearances by Baron Zemo and Batroc the Leaper, this issue sets up future plot points for the series, while providing the type of blockbuster action that everybody expects from a Captain America book.
Mighty Thor #9
What it’s about: In the early aughts, Thor was all but forgotten. His book was canceled and soon enough the character even disappeared from Avengers titles as well. However, thanks to a successful comic relaunch and a blockbuster movie, Thor has once again taken his place amongst Marvel’s elite. Mighty Thor, his new solo title, combines the best aspects of the recent Kenneth Branagh-directed movie and the older, classic comics into one complete package.
Writer Matt Fraction has proven that he has a solid grasp on the legend of Thor and all of the nuances that go along with it. His stories are epic in scope and backed up by a great mythology, and now he is supported by the fantastic art of Pasqual Ferry.
What to expect this month: After the events of Fear Itself, a mysterious figure known as Tanarus has come along and, with the aid of some dark magic, tricked the world into thinking that he is the real God of Thunder. With everybody in the Nine Realms seemingly forgetting that Thor even existed, the only person left unaffected by this is Loki. Now he must expose Tanarus for what he really is, but that won’t be an easy feat.
Meanwhile, with Thor being temporarily “dead” post-Fear Itself, he must battle his way through the afterlife and back into reality. With fantastic art and blockbuster writing, Mighty Thor is a perfect example of the type of fun and action a superhero book should provide every month.
What it’s about: Unlike Marvel, which focuses on multiple heroes and titles, it often feels like DC only cares about Batman and Superman. One of the biggest victims of this train of thought is the Flash; for years, his stories have been among the best at the company, but, until now, they've never received the proper respect they deserve.
However, after the title got rebooted earlier this year, the Fastest Man Alive has been the subject of a DC renaissance. The new Flash book, written and illustrated by Francis Manapul, is a throwback to the tone and style of the Silver Age, but with a modern eye towards storytelling. It simply works on every level.
What to expect this month: After an EMP blast left Central City in the dark, the Flash must track down the man, or men, that set it off: Mob Rule. This new Flash rogue has the ability to clone himself and terrorize whatever target he chooses. The only problem is that the clones are dying off quicker than expected, so Mob Rule has to put and end to that problem and the Flash all at once.
This issue will also flesh out the origin of Mob Rule, as well as his connection with the Flash’s civilian identity, Barry Allen. Much like Flash books have done in the past, Manapul is putting the focus squarely on the villain in order to make them more sympathetic, and, in turn, more interesting.
DC Comics Presents: Batman – Urban Legends
What it’s about: Recently, DC has been releasing short collections of long-forgotten stories under the “DC Comics Presents” banner. These collections are inexpensive ways for fans of these characters to get a taste of their less popular, but equally solid, stories. The latest collection, Batman - Urban Legends, contains two stories from the now-canceled title, Batman: Legends Of The Dark Knight.
The first tale is a short story titled Urban Legend, written by Fables creator Bill Willingham. In it, Willingham explores the relationship between Gotham City and Batman himself, as the Caped Crusader wakes up beaten and broken with no memory of his identity. In a time when a single comic story can take over six issues to tell, Willingham crafts a modern epic in just 22 pages.
The next story is called Lost Cargo, and it deals with Batman and Catwoman teaming up to take down human traffickers in Gotham. Because this area of Gotham is Catwoman’s “turf," Batman must go undercover as Matches Malone in order to not step on her toes. The tension between the two quickly flares up and the mission begins to get lost in the process.
While these stories aren’t classics like The Dark Knight Returns and Year One, Batman - Urban Legends is a cheap way to fill-out your Caped Crusader reading. It’s always nice to see DC focus its efforts on getting fans to pick up some of the companies forgotten stories, as opposed to just marketing the high-profile ones.