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 May 9, 2011.
Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)
The Walking Dead #97
What it’s about: The unfortunate fate of most great indie comics is that the general unawareness of their brilliance is ultimately their downfall as most of them are cancelled well before their time. Thankfully for Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, that isn’t a problem. Not only is it one of the best-selling indie books on the market, but it's now the focus of one of the most popular television shows on the air.
In recent issues, Rick Grimes and his clan have come across another society of survivors and, shortly after, decided to work together to create a new community. But, as always, when things start looking up, Kirkman usually has something sinister lurking up his sleeve.
What to expect this month: “Something to Fear” begins this month as Rick and crew encounter a group of renegade humans running a protection racket on the highways. After a brutal, and delightfully classic, Walking Dead encounter, the racket is done away with as Rick’s new, ruthless views on life continue to strengthen. Artist Charlie Adlard really sells this scene with his usual propensity for bringing us shocking gore, with the fluidity of an expert craftsman.
From there, Kirkman slows the pace down and concentrates on the story's more human aspects, such as Glenn's reaction to Maggie's pregnancy. But all the while, a looming cloud hangs over Rick’s community, especially with the last, ominous page. This story arc begins the big lead-in to Walking Dead #100, so you can be sure to count on some big things in the future, which Kirkman seems to be planting the seeds for here.
What it’s about: With crooked cops, beautiful dames, and blood-thirsty demons, Fatale is easily one of the most unique and pulse-pounding comics on the shelf. Blending the look and tone of a classic noir tale with the violence and scares of a horror comic, writer Ed Brubaker has put together a book filled with twists, turns, and gorgeously rendered art by Sean Phillips.
What to expect this month: The first narrative arc on Fatalecomes to an end as crooked cop Walt Booker goes in guns blazing to destroy the cult that has ruined both Josephine's and his lives. And he comes in right in time as Hank is about to be sacrificed, just days after his wife and unborn child were murdered by the cult. Or so we thought.
Like any good story, we’re left with a cliffhanger so surprising and gruesome that we’re already craving new Fatale issues immediately. Brubaker has really knocked it out of the park here with an opening arc that is equal parts shocking, terrifying, violent, and nostalgic. Also boasting some moody and atmospheric art by Sean Phillips, Fatale should be a book on everyone’s radar.
Thief of Thieves #4
What it’s about: In yet another one of Robert Kirkman’s series at Image Comics, Thief of Thieves follows the life of burglar Conrad Paulson, a.k.a. Redmond, as he juggles his personal drama with his career as a crook. Along with some spectacularly on-point art by Nick Spencer, Kirkman’s scripts for this series have a style unlike his other work; not to mention, this crime-thriller is also filled with some engaging family drama.
Just four issues into its run, Thief of Thieves is already shaping up to be one of Image’s more unpredictable titles, which is a good thing considering that AMC is eyeing it for a TV series.
What to expect this month: Kirkman ratchets up the domestic drama here as Redmond’s son tries to follow in his dad’s footsteps a little too closely. The only problem is that he’s not nearly as slick and suave as his old man, and he’s soon busted by the FBI. In non-linear fashion, Kirkman explores Redmond’s son’s past and his interrogation by Redmond’s unfortunate acquaintance, FBI agent Elizabeth Cohen. This issue is incredibly breezy, but it’s more of a character development piece that sets up later dynamics than it is a complete story.
Spencer works wonders here on the art as most of the issue is just talking-head scenes, but he manages to perfectly capture each little emotion in a way that brings energy to each conversation. If you have been reading this series up until now, there's no reason not to continue here. Kirkman is setting us up for something big—we just don’t know what yet.
Uncanny X-Force #25
What it’s about: It's been nearly 50 years since its creation, so it’s hard for a franchise like X-Men to truly be a part of anything genuinely shocking anymore. But every once in a while, a writer comes along and completely changes the way we look at Marvel’s band of merry mutants. That’s exactly what writer Rick Remender has done in Uncanny X-Force, which is undoubtedly the best X book in the market. And perhaps the best X book since Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run early in the 2000's.
In this book, Remender takes a squad of less-glamorous mutants, including Nightcrawler, Deadpool, Psylocke, and Fantomex, teams them up with Wolverine and unleashs them into a mind-bending, gritty, sci-fi world that is seldom seen in superhero comics.
What to expect this month: “The Final Execution” story arc begins here! The X-Force’s “kill first, ask questions later” team vision has begun to make enemies around the Marvel Universe as the Omega Clan begins arming the Marvel Universe's villains with some advanced weaponry to counteract Wolverine’s assassination squad.
As with every Uncanny X-Force issue, expect a copious amount of violence, killing, and out-of-the-box ideas by Remender and crew. This double-sized anniversary issue is the perfect place for curious X-Men fans to hop on and experience a more morally ambiguous, intricate title that stretches its creative muscle well beyond the superhero genre.
Silver Surfer Parable
What it’s about: Moebius and Stan “The Man” Lee—when Silver Surfer Parable came out in the ‘80s, this was a blockbuster artist/writer team-up that most fans probably assumed would never happen. Thankfully it did, giving birth to one of the most memorable Silver Surfer stories of all time. Now Marvel has finally reprinted the story in a brand-new hardcover for a younger generation of fans to discover one of the company’s most experimental graphic novels ever produced.
After Galactus comes to Earth in his ship, he commands the population to treat him as a God. Weak-willed and compliant, mankind obeys, much to the dismay of the Silver Surfer, who confronts The Devourer of Worlds about his sudden appearance. Complete with plenty of action and introspection, this graphic novel is a beautiful tribute to the nature of comics. In one scene, Moebius could be focusing on a citywide battle between the Surfer and Galactus, while the next could feature a solemn Surfer meditating on the very nature of humanity. In whatever setting it’s in, Moebius’ art is beautiful and poetic.
Lee’s script is equally powerful in this story as he crafts the Surfer with a delicate touch as he is basically a mouthpiece for his own views on the world. There are powerful philosophical themes running throughout, as this story barely resembles any superhero story currently on the market. It’s a shame that companies don’t put out more books like this.
Batman Volume 1: The Court of the Owls
What it’s about: This brand-new hardcover collects the first six issues of Scott Snyder’s run on the newly-relaunched Batman title, and it’s easily among the best adventures of the Caped Crusader that you will read all year. The book opens up with Batman taking care of his usual business as he pounds away on some of Arkham Asylum’s most nefarious goons, but things get out of hand real fast as a centuries-old organization known as The Court of the Owls aims to destroy Bruce Wayne, Batman, and Gotham City itself.
What Snyder does better than most Batman writers of the past decades is that he actually gets inside of the character’s head, as opposed to making him a stoic, invincible creature of the night. Snyder’s Batman bleeds and gets beaten, all of which happens as he is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Every layer of the character is carefully peeled away as Snyder reveals Batman’s insecurities and weaknesses like exposed nerve-endings.
As strong as Snyder’s scripts are, the art by Greg Capullo is just as fitting. With a generous amount of detail, and the stylization of a grotesque cartoonist, Capullo populates the Dark Knight’s world with some expressionistic illustrations that add a sense of panic and madness to the work.
If you’re a Batman fan who has fallen behind on your comic book reading, The Court of the Owlsis the perfect place to pick it back up. This is just the beginning of what we’re hoping to be a creative renaissance for the character, courtesy of Snyder and Capullo.
Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)