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 March 14, 2011.
Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)
What it’s about: After breaking on to the scene with the Vertigo book Y: The Last Man, Brian K. Vaughan has been one of the most wildly creative and talented comic book writers of the past few decades. And after he took his talents to the mega-hit TV show Lost, he became one of the more in-demand writers in Hollywood. But now after years of absence, Vaughan returns to comics with his Image title, Saga, a sci-fi/fantasy book that looks to blend popular mythology with alien action.
In this debut issue, we’re introduced to an intergalactic war that has turned society into a morose mess filled with violence and hatred. Through the eyes of new parents Marko and Alana, we see how the war affects the civilians on the ground, not just the soldiers fighting it. But the happy couple is being hunted because as it turns out, they are each a member of the species on the opposite side of the conflict.
This is more than just a Star Wars rip-off or a Lord of the Rings clone; Saga mixes advanced technology and planetary battles with the type of mythology found in any adventure story. It’s a brilliant blend that makes the story much more personal than most sci-fi comics that come down the pike.
This first issue certainly features a barrage of exposition for what is to come later, but Vaughan does a good job keeping things interesting at all times. And with the help of the brilliantly realized art by Fiona Staples, Saga looks like it is setting up for bigger and better things as the series moves along.
Green Lantern #7
What it’s about: Ever since Green Lantern was relaunched by writer Geoff Johns in September, the book has gone in a much more palatable direction for fans new to the franchise. Instead of getting bogged down in continuity and backstory, Johns has made Hal Jordan’s adventures more relatable by reintroducing the human element of his life to the stories.
Throughout the first six issues, Johns has made Sinestro--Hal Jordan’s longtime nemesis--into a member of the Green Lantern Corps as Jordan struggles with his banishment from the Corps. But Jordan soon realizes that if he ever wants to be a Green Lantern again he'll have to lean on his former enemy for guidance.
What to expect this month: The tenuous partnership between Sinestro and Jordan continues as the duo investigates the mystery behind the Indigo Lantern Corps, a group inspired by the compassionate light of the color spectrum. In the last issue, Sinestro saw a glimpse into a prophesized future that foresaw the Green Lanterns replaced by the Indigo Lanterns by the Guardians. And with all of the death and destruction that he saw, Sinestro decides to figure out what the Indigo Corps are really up to.
The dynamic between these two mortal enemies is the driving force behind this book, and Johns brings an intensity to every panel they are in together, thanks to his intimate knowledge of their history. Plus, artist Doug Mahnke has proven himself to absolutely own these characters over the past few years.
Thief of Thieves #2
What it’s about: Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman is back with his latest title for Image Comics, Thief of Thieves. The story revolves around a man named Redmond, a master thief looking for a way out of his lifestyle. In the first issue of the series, Redmond’s world was introduced during a pulse-pounding heist that would put the stars of Ocean’s 11 to shame, but when the adrenaline wore off, Redmond announced that he was quitting the thief game.
What to expect this month: After Redmond’s announcement, we’re given more backstory for him as it becomes clear that his feelings were tied to his ex-wife and mother of his child, Audrey. As a man constantly on the run from the law and with a target on his back, Redmond strives for a normal life, and Kirkman’s handle on the character makes this motivation as fleshed-out as any movie or novel.
The non-linear storytelling featured here is a great way to separate this book from how comics are usually presented, and the art by Nick Spencer adds a heavily-shaded sense of mystery to this world. There is wit and charm on every page that helps add to the fresh tone of the book. As usual, Kirkman crafts stories that don't just have great plots, but memorable characters and a unique atmosphere too.
Avengers Assemble #1
What it’s about: This book is about as mainstream as it gets. Reteaming Brian Michael Bendis with his Ultimate Spider-Man collaborator Mark Bagley, Avengers Assemble aims to appeal to both fans of the Marvel movies as well as longtime comic book followers. By bringing a more simplistic continuity and characterization to the book, Marvel is hoping that Avengers Assemble can convince people waiting for The Avengers to hit theaters this May to start picking up comics again.
Here we have an Avengers roster like the one seen in the movie. Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Hulk are front-and-center as they do battle against an updated version of their classic villain, The Zodiac.
The real star of the book, though, is the art by Mark Bagley. His clean storytelling ability and eye for action is the perfect style for a book that is as well-rounded as this one. If you’re looking to get into comics for the first time, Avengers Assemble is the perfect jumping-on point. And for longtime comic readers, this book could be a nice throwback superhero title that reminds you of the old days.
The DC Universe By Alan Moore
What it’s about: If there is one comic that you pick up this week/month/year, make it this. The DC Universe by Alan Moore is a collection of some of the prolific author’s best works at the company, including Batman: The Killing Joke, Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, For the Man who has everything, and more. These stories aren’t just good; they’re great.
Moore breaks the down preconceptions of the superhero genre by adding nuanced characterizations and unpredictable plots to each story. From the far reaches of outer space, to the homey confines of Arkham Asylum, this book runs the gamut of genres and story types. Moore proves that in the end these godlike heroes are nothing more than maladjusted, broken characters with severe emotional baggage and overactive libidos.
With all of the stories that are included in this book, the $39.99 price tag is a steal. The Killing Joke is one of the top three Batman stories of all time, these Green Lantern issues still influence the comics today, and Moore's work on Superman is a love letter to the character’s Silver Age roots. This book is just as much a history lesson as it is an entertaining read.
If you want to a bit more sophistication from your comics, then this book is the perfect item to add to your bookshelf. Without Moore’s influence, the comic book world would have never reached the creative heights it hit during the ‘80s.
Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)