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 11, 2011.
Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)
What it’s about: In Jonathan Hickman’s latest indie comic over at Image, the writer explores the murky world of corporations and the secrets that they possess. When a law firm’s security is compromised, a private security firm steps in to ensure their safety through the use of methods that are known only to them; the only problem is that the very people behind this firm might not be on the sides of law and order themselves.
This debut issue begins with a brutal home invasion that leaves the CEO of one of the nation's biggest accounting firms bloodied, battered, and missing a tooth. From there we’re thrown headfirst into a mystery that only begins to develop in this debut installment of the series. Hickman has been known as one of the more intelligent and cerebral writers in the comic book industry today, so there are plenty of details to absorb in this opening chapter.
Along with Hickman’s sharp script is the art by Ryan Bodenheim, who provides excellent storytelling in every panel and a color palette appropriate for each mood. Blood-red stains the pages of violence, yellow permeates scenes of fear, and grays fill the walls when the shadowy conspiracy begins to take shape.
There are no big-time action scenes or typical comic book soap-opera drama to speak of here, but Hickman’s opening salvo has piqued our interest enough to have us anxiously awaiting the next round.
America’s Got Powers #1
What it’s about: In a world where reality TV, social networking, and super-powered teens have run amok, America’s Got Powers is the perfect platform for the blood-lusting masses. Years after a mysterious crystal gave all of the unborn babies in San Francisco superpowers, these teen heroes compete in a nationally broadcast battle to the death called, appropriately enough, America’s Got Powers.
Written by BBC talk show host Jonathan Ross, and with art by The Ultimates’ Bryan Hitch, this book is the perfect modern look at how superpowers would really be treated in our money-driven society. These teens battle in violent contests all for the entertainment of audiences and advertisers alike. It’s a frighteningly desensitized world that fails to realize that these super powered beings are humans underneath it all.
Ross seamlessly blends social commentary with widescreen action as the characters in America's Got Powers are the type of jaded performers that we have come to expect from the entertainment world. But young Tommy Watts attempts to rise above all of that by genuinely appreciating his newfound gifts. How long will that naivety last in a society this cutthroat?
The book's strange world is pulled off with expert detail and action by Hitch. Famous for his work at Marvel, Hitch displays the same explosive art here that he had on Ultimates and Ultimates 2. He's a man rejuvenated and free to work at a pace more conducive to his style. So far, America’s Got Powers looks like yet another huge victory for Image Comics as it continues to prove that you don’t need movie stars and famous characters to make memorable comics.
Green Lantern #8
What it’s about: Forget about the horrible Green Lantern movie that graced screens last summer—the comic book character’s stories have never been more interesting or unpredictable than they are right now. Since writer Geoff Johns relaunched the series in September, he has put Hal Jordan through hell as he was stripped of his power ring, only to be granted a new one by his one-time nemesis, and converted Green Lantern, Sinestro.
Now both characters are forced to work together, despite their general distaste for each other, as they try to solve the mystery behind the mysterious Indigo Tribe, a group of aliens brandishing power rings of their own.
What to expect this month: Hal Jordan and Sinestro are trapped on the Indigo Tribe's planet as they try to work together to free themselves without their powers working at full capacity. Along the way, more about the Tribe is revealed, with Johns building up towards a much larger Green Lantern event in the future that will shed light on the Guardians’ plans to replace the Green Lanterns once and for all.
Johns’ mythology-heavy plots might be the selling point here, but the art by Doug Mahnke can’t be overlooked. For the past few years, his art has redefined Hal Jordan and his world, and he has firmly entrenched himself as one of the better talents at DC, despite being under-the-radar to most.
The Amazing Spider-Man: Hooky
What it’s about: Tired of watching your favorite Wall Crawler trade blows with The Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus over and over again? Marvel’s got you covered. Reprinting the lost and long forgotten graphic novel, Spider-Man: Hooky, the company is giving new fans a glimpse back at its experimental work during the ‘80s, a time when Marvel tried to compete with the sophisticated comics coming in from Europe and DC. Written by Susan Putney, and illustrated by the legendary Bernie Wrightson, Hooky is a supernatural tale that pits Spidey against Tordenkakerlakk, a disgusting villain from the dimension of Cloudsea.
There are elements to this story that don’t even resemble a Spider-Man comic, or any other superhero story for that matter, but it’s really all about the art. Wrightson is a master craftsman, and his work here is simply astonishing. He brings different worlds and creatures to life with a seemingly infinite amount of imagination. The composition is perfect and every panel is full of an undying energy that makes it impossible not to read the whole thing in one sitting.
Putney’s script is imaginative and full of life as well, and even though it doesn’t really resemble the Wall Crawler that we all know and love, there's an offbeat whimsy to the book that keeps it flowing. Don’t expect the norm from Spider-Man: Hooky—keep an open mind and surrender yourself to a vastly different take on a classic character.
X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga
What it’s about: The Dark Phoenix Saga is easily the best X-Men comic of all time, and it’s also among the top three Marvel stories ever printed. Detailing the climactic struggle between the X-Men and the power-mad Jean Grey, this is a story of morality and heartbreak as Cyclops looks to take down the love of his life for good.
This is one of the first times that a former hero ever went to the psychotic lengths of Jean Grey as she tears through the galaxy, ripping apart planets and ending countless lives. Eventually, the intergalactic empire of the Shi’ar decide that she must be put to death for her genocidal actions. But they are confronted by the X-Men, who still believe that Jean can be saved from the corruptions of the Phoenix Force.
Featuring blockbuster scripts by Chris Claremont and picture-perfect art by John Byrne, The Dark Phoenix Saga epitomizes the superhero genre, and, back when it was first released, the title helped usher in a more sophisticated vision to Marvel. This story has been collected before in the past, but the latest edition collects additional tales that further flesh out Jean Grey’s character. Also collected here is Phoenix: The Untold Story, which uses Claremont’s original script and Byrne’s original art to present us with an alternate ending to the story.
If you’re looking to dive into the history of the X-Men in preparation for Avengers Vs. X-Men, The Dark Phoenix Saga adds some much needed back-story for what is to come in that epic showdown. But even if you’re not reading that crossover, there's no reason not to pick this up and experience Marvel storytelling at its best.