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 2, 2011.
Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)
What it’s about: In the futuristic world of Icarus City, an international company known as Vescell has introduced a technology to the masses known as “V-trans.” This allows people to switch their minds and spirits from one body to another. Vescell agent Mauricio “Moo” Barrino, who handles the most high-profile and dangerous cases, is the company’s best representative.
Vescell is a high-octane blend of noir storytelling and sci-fi bells-and-whistles that gel together to present one of the most unique titles in the market.
What to expect this month: Like any great piece of fiction, this issue comes down to a man named Lasa who is desperately trying to get laid. It’s a shame that he fell head-over-heels for a mysterious dame with a hypnotic stare. But that doesn’t matter to Lasa, a good cop that has been trampled for years by his greedy fellow officers, because he's got it bad for the gal with the purple eyes. He's beaten down, he hates his ex-wife, he's sexually inadequate, and it's impossible not to root for him.
Vescell's latest installment is filled with the type of seedy humans and raw sexuality found in any great noir film, but, much like Blade Runner, it does so in a futuristic world where advanced technology is the norm. This blending of the genres is what makes the title so unique. Writer Enrique Carrion and artist John Upchurch are bringing a breath of fresh air to the comic book store every month, and it’s a must-read for anyone looking for something a little bit different.
Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred #4
What it’s about: Writer David Hine and artist Shaky Kane have been peeling back every layer of the superhero/pulp genre ever since they unleashed Bulletproof Coffin onto the world. And now with the latest miniseries from the two, Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred, the duo has ratcheted up the postmodern vision of the book into one satisfying package.
Hard-boiled detectives, caped crime fighters, and Moon Communists all line the pages of this offbeat, yet brilliant, title. If there's a part of you that enjoys your comics to be a little twisted and depraved, then Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred should have you smiling from ear to deranged ear.
What to expect this month: Chances are you will never read another comic book like Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred #4. Instead of being set up in the fashion of a linear narrative, Hine and Kane present this issue in 84 separate panels that seemingly have nothing to do with one another. Sure, some of the panels connect to something larger, but most just stand alone as small ideas that burrow inside of your mind, leaving you both exasperated and fascinated.
The one-panel ideas here are fascinating, and some do come across like mini stories confined by four walls; others just make for quirky, humorous drawings. Elvis on the toilet, JFK taking a needle, Lee Harvey Oswald having some otherworldly assistance in Dallas, and an alternate take on the moon landing are just some of the bizarre tales being weaved here.
In its pure simplicity, this issue is absolutely brilliant. It’s not often that a creative team comes along and destroys our preconceived notions of comic books, but that’s exactly what Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred does. It’s a mad experiment that any fan of modern art and postmodern ideas should absolutely devour.
X-O Manowar #1
What it’s about: This week, Valiant Entertainment relaunches the cult-favorite comic book character X-O Manowar. Born a Visigoth under Roman rule, Aric Dacia bands together a small group of fighters to battle his suppressors. But when they run across a mysterious alien ship, he and his followers are attacked and brought on board. In the first part of the revamped origin of X-O Manowar, writer Robert Venditti, and artist Cary Nord have brought a newfound sophistication and detail to this story that fleshes out the characters more than they were in the past.
The story here presents Aric as a young, brash warrior that is headstrong, yet admirable in his bravery. Similar to characters like Thor and the Green Lantern, Aric’s abrasive personality will lead to some much-needed humbling later on, but his inherent bravery will also make him worthy of the Manowar armor. The story doesn’t exactly get very far into the character’s origin yet, but it’s definitely on the right track so far.
And for everything that Venditti gets right on the script end, Nord also nails all of his duties on the art side of things. The battle scenes are detailed and give a nice sense of scope, and the more dramatic scenes are appropriately crafted with the right amount of emotion and tension. For the first chapter of what is basically a company-wide relaunch, the first issue of X-O Manowar does its job nicely. Let’s just hope the action picks up more next time around.
Earth 2 #1
What it’s about: For decades, DC Comics has had countless alternate Earths that different versions of your favorite heroes would live on. On some Earths, every character was a vampire, on others all of the characters were black (really), but the most popular was always Earth 2, where the classic Justice Society of America resided. Yet after multiple changes to the continuity, and the “New 52” relaunch of last year, this Earth was all but abandoned. Until now.
Writer James Robinson and artist Nicola Scott bring Earth 2 into DC’s “New 52” in this new title. Focusing on alternate versions of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, and Green Lantern, this title is a love letter to fans out there that grew up on the classic comics of yesteryear. Here, Green Lantern (Alan Scott) and Flash (Jay Garrick) are the stars of the show as Robinson stays true to the pecking order of the original Justice Society.
Fans rolling their eyes over yet another alternate Earth shouldn’t be so cynical. Robinson is going out of his way to present the multiple reality concept in a way that is as easy to understand as possible. It’s also grounded in the relatable characterizations of the heroes, most notably in that of the Flash, who Robinson views as the reader’s entry point. But if all of these concepts are still too much for you, Earth 2 does feature some absolutely stunning art by Nicola Scott for you to ogle.
Avengers vs. X-Men #3
What it’s about: Much like its title suggests, Avengers vs. X-Menis a simple book to grasp. The Phoenix Force has come back to Earth to claim the mutant Hope as its next host. For the X-Men, if handled properly, this could mean a new start to a mutant race that has been decimated over the years. But for the Avengers, this could mean the destruction of Earth as we know it.
What would the fun be if the two sides decided on a compromise? A war has begun between the two super-groups, and the first two issues of the series have been sufficiently action-packed. With drama, explosions, and twists around every corner, Avengers vs. X-Men is the comic book equivalent of a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster.
What to expect this month: Writer Ed Brubaker takes over the script-penning duties as the Avengers and X-Men both try to find the host for the Phoenix Force before the other team does. Along the way, battles ensue as the two teams simply can’t stay off of each others’ throats. But the real conflict is between Wolverine and Captain America as Logan is viewed as playing both sides.
As both an X-Man and an Avenger, Logan isn't able to easily earn anyone's trust, creating a dynamic that the writers are finally getting around to exploring in the main book. Coupled with the always impressive artwork of John Romita Jr., this title has come out of the gate strong, and expect the story to really start picking up here after all of the exposition is now out of the way.