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 June 27, 2012.
Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)
The Manhattan Projects #4
What it’s about: Combining fantasy and history, The Manhattan Projects takes a look at the group that constructed the atomic bomb in a much different light. Instead of crafting them as brilliant future-thinkers, writer Jonathan Hickman has portrayed the characters as a collection of maladjusted sociopaths with multiple personalities, drinking problems, and all-around evil intentions.
What to expect this month: Hickman continues his decidedly absurd take on the birth of the atomic age by throwing aliens and an evil version of Albert Einstein from an alternate Earth into the mix. Mostly filled with exposition, this issue furthers the story along nicely as we’re introduced to two potential conflicts that are no doubt on a collision course. But, as is the case with any great comic, there's no obvious destination in sight.
Hickman continues to introduce big ideas into The Manhattan Projects, but he never lets any of them overtake the main narrative. It’s the perfect balance between the satirical, fantastical, and thought-provoking. It’s also just a lot of fun to see Robert Oppenheimer interact with an alien species that has nothing but ill intentions for the denizens of Earth.
And for as great as the plot and characterizations are in this issue, the art, illustrated by Nick Pitarra, serves as the glue that binds everything together. His alien designs and use of nuanced facial expressions are all top-notch and help to seamlessly bring this world to life. Everything is so hyper-detailed and inventive here, even though most of the issue contains strictly conversational scenes.
Compared to the title's previous issues, Manhattan Projects #4, one of the better comics of 2012 so far, is definitely slower paced, but it’s setting up some very interesting developments that are sure to pay off later.
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth – Exorcism #1
What it’s about: There’s nothing like a good exorcism story, and the debut issue of B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth – Exorcism puts a unique spin on the familiar plot by putting us (the reader) right in the shoes of B.P.R.D. agent Ashley Strode. She’s a novice when it comes to the supernatural, and her lack of experience and genuine fear of all things demon make her a great gateway for the audience.
The story really takes off when Strode is called upon to exorcise a demon from a young boy in Indiana. Of course, she makes the rookie mistake of having a conversation with this winged ghoul when it makes its presence known. In short, she winds up making a deal with this demon to help free his master from the body of a 150-year-old former exorcist priest.
This introductory issue is pure B.P.R.D.-style fantasy at its finest. Writers Mike Mignola and Cameron Stewart offer up a fresh take on the genre by giving the story some genuine heart, as opposed to just focusing on cool looking paranormal monsters. These recent B.P.R.D. miniseries may not have the crossover appeal of some mainstream superhero titles, but they’re infinitely better written and help create a believable lived-in universe that this bizarre organization operates in. And once you're introduced into it, you won't want to leave.
Stewart also lends his artistic talents to this issue, and, as he usually does, completely nails it. His art brings a reality to this unmistakably fantasy-driven world, and his ability to tell a story just through facial expressions makes the character of Ashley Strode even more endearing. There's nothing groundbreaking here, but then again, it’s not meant to be. It’s simply a fresh story mixed with some tremendous art, and for fans of the franchise, it’s an obvious pickup.
Star Wars: Blood Ties – Boba Fett Is Dead #3
What it’s about: When the galaxy learned the news that the dreaded bounty hunter Boba Fett, had been killed, it was a time for much jubilation amongst the scum and villainy of the Star Wars universe. But it really shouldn’t have come as much of a shock when it’s realized that not only had Fett survived his apparent death, but that he had arranged the charade in order to find out who orchestrated his attempted assassination in the first place.
Now, as Fett gets to the bottom of this mystery, he assigns his “step brother” to protect his former wife as the situation begins to grow more dangerous.
What to expect this month: As has been the case with the previous two issues, Star Wars: Blood Ties – Boba Fett Is Dead #3 never takes itself too seriously. It's an action book with plenty of plots twists and explosions to keep us all happy, but there is no doubt that it works. Tom Taylor’s scripts have the old time serial vibe of the original Star Wars trilogy without getting too bogged down in worthless continuity and soft sci-fi plot points.
There are plenty of classic Star Wars characters and vehicles shown off here, an attribute that's highlighted by an appearance from Darth Vader himself. Just when the lighter aspects of the story begin to take hold, though, Taylor pulls it all back with a cliffhanger that promises nothing but misery for the main characters in the next installment.
The best part of this series is still Chris Scalf's beautifully crafted art. Unlike some artists who tackle this classic universe, Scalf doesn’t feel like he’s playing in someone else’s sandbox; instead, he makes it his own. There are a ton of Star Wars comics out in the world, and so far this one has gone a long way towards separating itself from the pack.
Superman: Kryptonite Nevermore
What it’s about: Throughout the 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s, Superman’s power levels seemingly grew more out of control every year. He started out as a super-strong crusader for social justice, but after a while his powers had gotten to the point that he was able to blow out suns as if they were candles on a birthday cake. But during the '70s, writer Denny O’Neil attempted to rectify that in his short run on Superman, which DC collected in this soft cover Superman: Kryptonite Nevermore book.
After a freak explosion at a science lab destroys all of the Kryptonite on Earth, Superman is seemingly left with no weaknesses. In fact, in order to show off a bit, he even takes a big bite out of a chunk of de-powered Kryptonite that a criminal tries to use on him. It’s pretty surreal. However, the explosion also created a bizarre alternate version of the Man of Steel made completely of sand. This mirror version of Supes has the strange ability to sap the real deal of his powers whenever they come into contact with each other. The loss of his powers would humanize the character for the first time in decades.
Superman: Kryptonite Nevermore came out during a time when DC was attempting to retool certain elements of the character that had grown outdated. O’Neil weaves the subplot of the “Sand Superman” throughout these stories until it all eventually comes to a head towards the end. But apart from fight scenes, this collection is a precursor to the modern comic book direction of making superheroes more like the readers themselves– complete with weaknesses and faults.
It might not read incredibly well for the more modern fan, but for people who grew up with these Silver Age/Bronze Age sensibilities, and, as a result, long for the good old days, Superman: Kryptonite Nevermore is a terrific read.
Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)