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 April 25, 2011.
Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)
Li’l Depressed Boy #10
What it’s about: For those unfamiliar with it, Li’l Depressed Boy was a cult-favorite web comic that Image Comics converted into an ongoing series. Created by S. Steven Struble, the title deals with a rag-doll-looking boy who strives to find love and acceptance in a world that's seemingly always trying to push him away.
It’s a quirky indie movie told with word balloons and pictures, but it will still take you through the range of emotions of any good drama. There's plenty of levity here as the series always finds a way to bring some laughs into each issue. If you’re tired of comic books that revolve around self-assured heroes saving the planet, Li’l Depressed Boy should remind you of how the world really is.
What it’s about this month: LDB gets a new job as a movie theater usher, but instead of it filling him with confidence and purpose, he soon finds it more like military boot camp. It’s an honest look at the anxieties of life and how they can either help us or hurt us as we grow as people. It might be strange to see this kind of story in a comic, but it completely works here as Struble seems to be drawing on his own life experiences to tell this tale.
This issue is also notable for featuring an appearance by Community's Donald Glover in his Childish Gambino persona. In the book's second half, Glover helps LDB break out of his shell and experience a larger world while attending Camp Gambino. It’s a small, unassuming story, but there is a message here that most anyone could easily associate with, too-cool-for-school or not.
Even the most jaded comic book reader should find something to latch onto in Li'l Depressed Boy. These stories have a universality to them that speak to everyone's difficulty with either growing up, romance, or battles with anxiety. There's a unique charm in every beautifully illustrated panel that won't be replicated by anything else on the comic book store shelf this week.
Avengers Vs. X-Men: Versus #1
What it’s about: Let’s get this straight: Avengers vs. X-Men is the main crossover storyline that Marvel is putting out this summer, but then there's also a tie-in book to the main one, titled Avengers vs. X-Men: Versus. The latter is purely an action title that pits members of each team against each other for the sole purpose of seeing some of the best artists in the industry tackle these titanic battles.
In the debut issue, we see Magneto take on Iron Man and Namor battle The Thing. Plot and substance aren’t a concern here, despite the terrific Jason Aaron on the writing duties for “Iron Man vs. Magneto”; instead, longtime comic book aficionados should just be pumped to see Adam Kubert back illustrating X-Men characters after he made a name for himself on Ultimate X-Men and Wolverine during the ‘90s and ‘00s. As usual, he absolutely kills it here as his Magneto is still one of the best versions of the character in the industry.
The book's second half features Namor vs. The Thing, written by Kathryn Immonen and illustrated by Stuart Immonen. His style is a bit more animated than Kubert’s, but it’s no less exciting. The Thing is his usually bawdy self, and everything about him is in direct contrast with Namor’s regal veneer. But these are two of the heaviest hitters Marvel has, so every blow is Earth-shaking.
For anyone looking for an old-fashioned superhero battle book, Avengers vs. X-Men: Versus is perfect. It’s like playing a round of Marvel vs. Capcom without having to shell out $300 for an Xbox 360. Just don’t expect your philosophies on life to be changed or your IQ to be tested.
Rebel Blood #2
What it’s about: Rebel Blood is Image Comics’ latest series featuring blood-crazed zombie-like creatures terrorizing the human survivors of a splintered population. But don’t worry, this series doesn’t just tread over the same exact ground as The Walking Dead. In fact, Rebel Blood manages to be much more manic and frenzied than the slow burn style of its zombie-based competition.
The main character, Chuck Neville, isn’t your typical put-together post-apocalyptic hero either. He’s a depressed loser with unfulfilled dreams and an unhappy marriage. This is basically the story of a miserable man stuck in a miserable, zombie-filled world.
What to expect this month: Writer Alex Link continues to make Neville twist in the wind as this issue starts off with him battling some victims of the infection as he attempts to hack and slash his way to safety. Here, though, the zombies have real personalities, as opposed to being simple plot devices to induce horror. They talk, they work together, and there's one overriding leader who bands them all together. This is what separates Rebel Blood from most every other zombie comic available. The zombies are more than just background noise; they’re real characters that are involved in the story. Coupled with the haunting flashbacks that Neville experiences throughout, this issue is extremely claustrophobic and violent as the final page delivers a terrifying cliffhanger to chew on until next month.
The appropriately gruesome artwork by Riley Rossmo drives everything forward and gives a sense of weight to Link's morbid scripts. For any self-respecting horror fan looking for something a little bit different from their comic book diet, Rebel Blood should do the trick nicely.
Batman: Knightfall - Volume 1
What it’s about: You won’t truly be ready for this summer’s The Dark Knight Rises unless you have read the entire "Knightfall" saga, which placed Bane at the top of Batman’s list of most formidable antagonists. Lucky for you, DC is re-releasing this story in mammoth collections that span the entire epic arc. The collection begins with Batman: Vengeance of Bane, the story that introduced Bane to the DC Universe and planted the seeds for his obsession with the Caped Crusader.
From there it moves on to the main "Knightfall" story that sees Bane release all of Batman’s greatest villains from Arkham Asylum in an attempt to weaken him in preparation for their final battle. Once the story really kicks into gear, Batman faces the likes of The Joker, Posion Ivy, Killer Croc, Scarecrow, and countless others as his physical and mental strength is pushed to the limits as he battles his way through a city under siege. But unbeknownst to him, Bane is sitting back and waiting for the perfect time to strike.
The plots and art here are all done by some of the best Batman talent ever assembled. During the ‘90s, when most comics were borderline unreadable, the "Knightfall" crossover was one of the only shining beacons of creative prowess. There are twists and turns in nearly every issue, and by the end, Bruce Wayne is left broken and a new Batman is left to take his place.
The story is grim and somber, but it moves along so effortlessly and with so much energy that it never borders on depressing. This is pure four color pop-art that should remind you of everything that is good about superhero comics.