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 January 18, 2011.
Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)
What it’s about: Everybody knows what Batman is all about by now. It’s the title that's given us classic stories like Year One, Death In The Family, Hush, and countless others, and even after DC Comics relaunched the title in September of last year, Batman continues to feature gripping stories and eye-popping art.
Here, in Scott Snyder’s introductory story arc, Batman goes up against the mysterious Court of the Owls, a cult that has been working behind the scenes in Gotham since before Bruce Wayne was born. The only problem was that for years Batman ignored their existence and the warnings of their impending attack. Now it’s too late as the Court is preparing to take Gotham City away from the Caped Crusader.
What to expect this month: As we saw at the end of last issue, Batman has fallen prey to the Court’s trap and now he finds himself stuck in their twisted labyrinth hidden below the city’s surface. With Batman missing, Commissioner Gordon and the Bat Family must keep the city safe while their mentor and leader is fighting for his life.
Which will be a lot easier said than done, though, as Batman struggles with his own paranoia and fear below the city. Not only has the Court attacked him physically, but they now own him mentally. This is a story that tests the Caped Crusader's will and character as he's broken down emotionally like never before, and writer Scott Snyder has done a terrific job of providing a real sense of danger for the Dark Knight for the first time in a long time.
Wonder Woman #5
What it’s about: After years of toiling in mediocrity, Wonder Woman is back with an all-star creative team and a vision that propels the character into the 21st century. Playing out more like indie comic than a superhero book, Wonder Woman combines Greek myth with fully fleshed-out characters in order to finally make the character and her supporting cast more relatable.
In the span of five issues, writer Brian Azzarello has crafted a modern epic that pits Wonder Woman, Hermes, and a young woman named Zola, who is pregnant with Zeus’ child, against a horde of other Gods looking to destroy them. And with Zeus currently missing, there's anarchy on Mount Olympus as all order has evaporated.
What to expect this month: Now that Wonder Woman has left Paradise Island, she and Hermes must map out a strategy to keep Zola safe from Hera, who wants her dead for carrying Zeus’ child. But as other Gods begin to emerge on their position, Wonder Woman soon realizes that there aren’t many places on the planet she could run to. And there's also the small issue of the gigantic dead sea monster that washed up in London.
Azzarello succeeds here by humanizing these omnipotent Gods by giving them real-life hang-ups just like they were portrayed in the original myths themselves. Also, while artist Cliff Chiang is sitting this issue out, his replacement, Tony Akins, is more than capable of giving Wonder Woman the swagger she deserves.
What it’s about: In what has become perhaps the best all-around comic on shelves, Chew follows the life of FDA Agent Tony Chu, who happens to be a Cibopath. A Cibopath has the ability to get a psychic reading off of whatever he/she consumes, so that means a nibble on a murder victim can tell Chu about the last moments of the victim’s life.
Writer John Layman fills each issue of Chew with relentless humor and off-the-wall plots that dwarf the originality of any other comic. And once you add Rob Guillory’s unique and stylized art to the equation, it becomes quickly evident why Chew has been so successful since its launch.
What to expect this month: When we last left Tony, he was captured and beaten senselessly by a crazed man with a baseball bat. Now we find out that the attacker was his girlfriend’s ex, who has kidnapped Chu and is forcing him to help him out with his book idea: a compilation of salacious sex stories involving popular Baseball players.
Watching Chu get force-fed corpses of ball players from decades past in order to find out who they have slept with is perhaps one of the most bizarre comic book moments of the past decade, but Layman pulls it off with a certain morbid charm often only found in a Kurt Vonnegut novel. The rest of the issue contains the normal pervasive humor, extreme gore, and cybernetic lions that fans of the series have come to expect.
There aren’t many ways you can be this entertained for a mere $2.99 nowadays, so if you have some extra pocket money then go out and buy this issue. And, like every other Chew issue, Layman makes this story easy to get into for fans new to the series, so you don’t have to worry about missing any previous issues.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #6
What it’s about: Ever since 2000, Ultimate Spider-Man has been giving longtime comic fans a more modern take on the Web Slinger’s life. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, the book deftly combined the high-octane life of a superhero with the mundane life of a teenager, and for over eight years, the book was one of the best at Marvel.
But over time, the freshness began to wane and Ultimate Spider-Man was stuck in a series of predictable plots and situations. So to spice things up, Bendis decided to kill off Peter Parker, a.k.a. the original Spider-Man, and replace him with a half-black, half-Latino teen named Miles Morales. And, like the title did over 10 years ago, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man is back at the top of Marvel's heap.
What to expect this month: We’re six issues in and just now is Miles Morales finally in the suit as Spider-Man. While that type of decompressed storytelling might seem dull to some, it actually worked wonders in order to help fans get acquainted with the character's personality. This issue opens with Miles taking down his first group of muggers as the city gets its first bit of evidence of a new Wall Crawler in town.
But for every group of muggers in the Marvel universe, there's also a high-powered supervillain waiting to be unleashed, and this story arc sees the debut of a new version of The Scorpion. Don’t expect the same spandex wearing megalomaniac version of the Scorpion from the Steve Ditko days; instead, fans should be on the lookout for a more musclebound, realistic interpretation of the character to be Miles’ first real test.
Uncanny X-Force #20
What it’s about: There's no doubting that the X-Men universe can be a scary and complicated place filled with countless characters and years of back-story, but Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force bucks that trend by introducing streamlined storytelling and characters to the X world. Comprised of mutants that are a little rough around the edges (Wolverine, Deadpool, Fantomex, and Psylocke), X-Force is a much more intense X book than what most comic book fans are used to.
So far during his run, Remender has pitted the X-Force against classic foes like Apocalypse without ever rehashing the same tired storylines from decades past or getting bogged down in its own excess.
What to expect this month: Anyone looking to get into Uncanny X-Force should be happy to know that this issue marks a great jumping-on point for uninitiated fans. After Remender’s epic 18-issue Dark Angel Saga came to an end, the mutants now have to deal with the aftermath of the story as new plots and problems are being set up.
In this issue, the trial of X-Force member Fantomex begins after he killed a child that he was convinced would grow up as a reincarnated version of Apocalypse. The trial is being held in The Otherworld by the Captain Britain Corps, the guardians of the various dimensions in the world. With great art and hard sci-fi scripts, Uncanny X-Force is the most intelligent book currently at Marvel, despite the occasional high-concept madness.