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 February 22, 2011.
Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)
Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred #2
What it’s about: Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred is the sequel to last year’s Bulletproof Coffin, which was a bizarre love letter to old pulp comics and the superheroes of the Silver Age. The first Coffin was a perfect blend of superhero staples and indie-comic quirkiness. Thankfully, fans curious about all of this won’t need to read the original series to be able to enjoy Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred.
The series' debut issue detailed the plight of detective Johnny P. Sartre as he attempted to solve the “Full Moon Murders." But he was soon consumed by paranoia and apophenia, which led him to kill his partner, Ginger Palmer. Deranged and at the end of his rope, Sartre once again assumed his former superhero identity, The Shield of Justice.
What to expect this month: While this issue continues following Sartre’s madness, it soon turns into a peculiar anthology of postmodern stories that are so downright fascinating that it more than makes up for their apparent randomness. These tales are about love and madness as each one dissects the bleak lives of the insane.
The included short stories range from a shoddy doctor performing surgery on his ailing wife, an intense intellectual trying to “fix” his stuttering girlfriend in gruesome fashion, and a woman overcoming her fear of hair by killing the "hair" on the inside. It all sounds ridiculous, no doubt, but the tales are incredibly deep and challenging as they look at some truly maladjusted characters. Imagine the writing of Chuck Palahniuk mixed with the directing style of Terry Gilliam and you'll have an idea of what Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred accomplishes.
Writer David Hine and artist Shaky Kane explore the morbid and the grotesque here, and there are enough truly unsettling moments throughout to keep you both disgusted and hooked.
No Place Like Home #1
What it’s about: Make no mistake about it: This isn’t your typical re-imagining of the Wizard Of Oz. Unlike Marvel’s recent straightforward retelling of the classic tale, No Place Like Home reads more like something that would have sprung from the mind of Stephen King, not Frank L. Baum.
No Place Like Home starts out familiarly enough when Kansas is rocked by a tornado, but instead of whisking Dorothy off to the Land of Oz, the story takes some distinctly different turns. Here, the focus is on a girl named Dee who comes back to Kansas after her parents are both killed during the storm. After the funeral, she slowly begins to realize that this isn’t the first time her town has been rocked by tragedy.
Don’t expect any Cowardly Lions, Tin Men, or Scarecrows, though, since this first issue introduces a complex mystery that grows increasingly more gruesome on every page. There's a twisted fairytale aspect to this issue as writer Angelo Tirotto introduces horror and violence to the world that Judy Garland made famous. Not to mention, Richard Jordan's art is stunning. Similar to the type of pervasive gore and raw emotion that Darick Roberston brought to The Boys, Jordan’s art is grimy and visceral, with a real sense of energy and, in some cases, panic.
There are no yellow-brick roads, wizards, or munchkins yet, but No Place Like Home holds a lot of promise. Maybe we’ll get more Oz elements in future issues, yet even without them this issue is a clear winner.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #7
What it’s about: When Brian Michael Bendis relaunched Ultimate Comics Spider-Man last year, he didn’t just retread the same old stories with Peter Parker under the mask that we have all read countless times over the years. Instead, he killed Peter and replaced him with a half-Latino, half-black teenager named Miles Morales.
And don’t worry, this replacement Wall Crawler isn’t just a vapid publicity stunt; in fact, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man has quickly become one of the best titles at Marvel. The first five issues of the series detailed Miles’ origin into Spider-Man in a way that was both sympathetic and unpredictable, and now Bendis is letting Miles settle into his groove as he begins a life of crime-fighting.
What to expect this month: Miles' world gets a lot more complicated as the public finds out about the new Spider-Man. With everyone wanting to know about the man behind the mask, Morales is still struggling with his new abilities.
As the new Spider-Man grows into his role, he must also deal with the Scorpion and his unsavory connections with his criminal uncle. This has all the makings of a classic Spider-Man soap opera from the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko days, and Bendis has been writing Spider-Man for over the decade now, so he unquestionably has a firm grip on the character, no matter the skin color.
Batman Versus Bane
What it’s about: For fans of the Caped Crusader that haven’t really delved into the character’s comic book history, Batman Versus Bane is a great place to start before The Dark Knight Rises hits theaters this July. This book collects Batman: Bane and Batman: Bane Of The Demon, both written by Chuck Dixon, the man who not only created Bane, but also one of the only writers that truly "gets" the character.
Batman: Bane was designed as a prologue to the Batman crossover event, Legacy. It revolved around Bane hijacking a nuclear-powered ship in order to use it to destroy Gotham. It’s not the most intriguing Bane story out there, but there's plenty of action to keep anyone’s interest piqued.
However, it’s the collection's second story that's the real selling point. In Bane Of The Demon, Bane squares off against longtime Batman foe, Ra’s Al Ghul, in a battle of wits that shows how Ra’s looks at Bane as Batman’s equal, and truly illustrates Bane’s intelligence better than most stories.
It's also interesting that DC's includion of this story might further hint at Ra's Al Ghul and Bane's connection in director Christopher Nolan's upcoming movie. Batman Versus Bane should easily set the mood for The Dark Knight Rises, but other than that, it should make all the doubters out there realize that Bane is more than just a muscle-bound freak in a luchador mask.
DC Universe: Secret Origins
What it’s about: For anyone who appreciates the wacky plots and tongue-in-cheek humor of the Silver Age of comics, DC Universe: Secret Origins is the Holy Grail of hardcovers. This collection includes Secret Origins #1, More Secret Origins #1, Even More Secret Origins #1, and Weird Secret Origins #1. And, altogether, the cost is only $39.99.
The featured comics all tell the origins of DC’s superhero and villain rosters as they appeared during the ‘50s and ‘60s. We see how Superman, Batman, Flash, Wonder Woman, and others all came to be, along with some odder discoveries, like how Superman was as a baby and how Jimmy Olsen and Robin became BFF's.
DC Universe: Secret Origin's stories may seem a bit strange and, often times, nonsensical, but for any old-school comic book fans out there, these tales have the same off-the-wall attitude and whimsy that made the medium great during its early years. Where else can you visit Bizarro World, discover the origin on Congorilla, and see Aquaman as a baby all in one book?