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 13, 2012.
Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)
Conan the Barbarian #5
What it’s about: After numerous films and ongoing comic book titles all depicting Conan as a hulking, jaded warrior with biceps the size of beach balls and shoulders as wide as a Buick, Dark Horse Comics decided to give the character a bit of a makeover in its new Conan the Barbarian series. Written by Brian Wood, this version of the classic warrior is far younger and leaner than the classic depiction, but he’s no less fierce.
During the series’ first five issues, Conan has battled across numerous lands and fell in love with the mysterious pirate, Bêlit. Coupled with some great indie art, this new version of Conan should appeal to readers who crave a bit more of a human element to their ruthless Barbarians.
What to expect this month: Last we left Conan, he was sentenced to death in Messantia for his past crimes as part of a plan by Bêlit. This "public execution" would serve as a distraction as she pulled off a massive heist in the city. And in this issue, Wood gives fans of the character exactly what they want: bloodshed!
As part of a “Clash of Champions” to spare his life, Conan is pitted against a mountainous opponent as he buys time for his love to do her work. Of course, Conan and Bêlit had no plans on him actually dying on this day. The battle is terribly ugly and barbaric, and that’s exactly how we like it. Artist James Harren ratchets up the intensity as it’s basically one long fight scene. But Wood manages to keep thing interesting by advancing the plot through some well-placed character work.
This is one of the stronger issues of this series so far, and it seems as though Wood is beginning to hit his stride here. He has created a version of Conan that is different from what we have seen in the past, but still retains what made him endure for decades. Fans of sword-and-sandal epics won’t be disappointed.
What it’s about: Seemingly coming out of nowhere, the first issue of Dancer was a tour de force of spy/espionage action that was reminiscent of the best that the genre has to offer. Written by Nathan Edmondson (Who is Jake Ellis?) and illustrated by Nic Klein, this series is a grim, edge-of-your seat thrill ride that provides a twist at every turn.
Focusing on an aging secret agent as he settles down with his ballerina girlfriend, their splendid love affair is soon broken up by an assassin’s bullet. Now, as the agent tries to figure out who is after him, and why the gunman looks exactly like him, he gets pulled back into a life that he wanted to forget.
What to expect this month: Masterfully illustrated, energetically plotted, and composed with the eye of a Hollywood auteur, Dancer #2 continues to amaze with its sharp scripts and impressive grasp on the genre. The issue is filled with more exposition than its predecessor, but it’s equally as engrossing as the plot threads are beginning to come together. As Fisher learns that the man on his tail is actually his clone, he also discovers that his doppelganger has kidnapped his girlfriend, Quinn.
Edmondson is basically crafting a big-budget film that takes place in the comic book medium. It’s rare that a comic so perfectly captures the essence of a genre, but Dancer has the potential to be one of the best suspense/espionage comics that we have come across in a while. If you have any interest in films like the Bourne trilogy, this comic should be pure nirvana.
Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred #5
What to expect this month: Usually we would begin this review with a recap of what Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred is actually about, but each issue has been so vastly different from the one that came before it so far that it’s not necessary to get caught up on it. There's no ongoing storyline here; instead, writer David Hine and artist Shaky Kane are completely breaking down everything we know about comic books and replacing conventional stories with some truly mind-bending ideas in each new issue.
This issue is Hine and Kane’s love letter to the old-school Hateful Dead trading cards from the 1960’s. Kane has recreated the gory and disgusting art from those cards for this issue as Hine provides a story involving zombie soldiers during Vietnam. The plot here is pure, nostalgic comic horror as these merciless zombies rip through flesh on each page in a satisfying experiment in gore.
There are no panels or word balloons in this issue, but instead there are full page illustrations with narration underneath. Hine crafts a tale that's beautifully-twisted and filled with cringe-worthy twists similar to the horror comics of the Golden Age. But it’s the art by Kane that truly makes this issue work.
Filled with grotesque detail, each new image brings a bit more mayhem to the table. But for as gloomy as the story and art can be at times, the coloring and Kane’s natural style lends some much-needed humor to some of these pages. This issue is a unique blend of kitsch and bloodshed that will no doubt be something that most fans will keep revisiting over the years.
Batwoman Volume One: Hydrology - Hardcover
What it’s about: When this modern version of Batwoman was first created back in 2006, her big selling point was her status as one of the first lesbian crime fighters in the company’s history. What seemed like a cheap publicity stunt at first quickly became one of the most endearing characters in the superhero genre. And when DC relaunched Batwomanas part of its “New 52,” the book reached heights that most didn’t think were possible.
Dealing with a recent string of kidnappings, her hectic love life, and a shadowy government organization breathing down her neck, Batwoman, a.k.a. Kate Kane, has her hands full in this collection of the new series’ first five issues. Written by J.H. Williams III and Haden Blackman, with art also by Williams, this book is pure pop poetry with a Gothic twist. Williams and Blackman’s scripts are relatable and involved, with a mystery that grows more interesting by the page. Both writers also have the uncanny ability to make us care for these characters in a way that is often lost in modern books.
These stories aren’t about vigilantes in masks fighting crime; they’re about real human beings with problems that echo our own. The ability to relate to everything that is happening in this book on some level is what makes it succeed beyond what we see in most superhero comics. But even more so than the scripts, the art by Williams is the real draw of the series. From breaking down the typical panel structure, to bringing a beautifully detailed world to life, this isn’t your average comic book art. You can make a strong case for this being fine art that is truly museum-worthy. For the Bat fan in everyone, this collection shouldn’t be missed.
Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)