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 July 18, 2012.
Written by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)
What it’s about: Part Star Wars and part Romeo & Juliet, with a little Lord of the Rings thrown in for good measure, Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga is a true-to-form space opera for the comic page. This book follows Alana and Marko, a young couple who just had a child together. Unfortunately, these two are from opposite sides of warring species, and once they are found out, bounty hunters are sent after them and their newborn daughter.
What to expect this month: Saga #5 continues as Alana and Marko are surrounded by security forces. Meanwhile, The Will attempts to liberate an underage sex slave from an intergalactic bordello. Both of these plots do more to move forward the individual characters than the overall story, but Vaughan never lets this issue feel insignificant to the scope of the narrative.
The highlight of this issue is in Vaughan’s characterization of The Will, who's one of the book's more intriguing aspects. As a freelance hitman for hire, he would normally be portrayed as a typical villain, but here Vaughan shows that the character has a genuine moral compass. That kind of emotional complexity serves to ground this space opera in reality, much like great fantasy epics such as Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars have done in the past.
With an opening page that features the surreal image of a robot with a TV for a head sitting on the toilet, artist Fiona Staples pumps out perhaps her best work on the series in this issue. With a perfect blend of emotionally-charged conversations and gory action scenes, she’s able to show a wide range of abilities in one single issue.
Although not as captivating as previous issues, Saga #5 is nonetheless an important addition to the series and the best book you’ll see all week.
The Spider #3
What it’s about: Based on the 1930s pulp hero of the same name, The Spider focuses on billionaire Richard Wentworth’s attempts to clean up the streets of New York as a gun-wielding vigilante. Brought into the present by writer David Liss and artist Colton Worely, Dynamite Entertainment’s new version of the nearly forgotten vigilante has been a surprising alternative to the superhero comics from the mainstream.
Free from overwhelming editorial mandates and the continuity of most books, Liss and Worely are able to tell their crime saga with freedom and creativity. Their opening arc places The Spider against a strange Egyptian-themed terrorist group with a powerful gas that can turn the citizens of New York into mindless zombies.
What to expect this month: The Spider’s investigation into this group continues as these terrorists begin to get more brazen in their attacks. Times Square and Citi Field are all targets on their agenda as Wentworth must work behind the scenes to try to find a cure for this mysterious gas and figure out how it connects to his father's shady business practices.
Liss continues to focus his time equally on The Spider’s vigilante efforts, as well as the drama in his personal life, similar to the philosophy that made Marvel famous. Most of the time this works well, but the relationship between Richard and Nita could use a bit more development than just showing him grumbling about how much he misses her.
Worley again provides some great imagery of The Spider in action in this issue as he seems to be channeling his inner Batman when illustrating these scenes. But as great as the Spider looks, the conversation scenes between Richard and his supporting cast can be a bit stiff at times. Small gripes aside, this is still a highly-entertaining issue of a book that should bring a sense of nostalgia back for fans of these old school pulp icons.
Baltimore: Dr. Leskovar's Remedy #2
What it’s about: In writer Mike Mignola’s latest installment in the Baltimore series, the gothic vampire hunter crash lands on a beach next to a mysterious village in Croatia. Once there he learns of a nearby town filled with vampires that have made the area nearly uninhabitable. But he soon realizes that he must travel through this town in order to get to his destination. So he braves this vampire-filled nightmare in an attempt to continue his journey.
What to expect this month: In this issue, Lord Henry Baltimore comes face-to-face with the psychotic doctor that unleashed this vampire plague on the town. For fans of horror and gore, the finale of this miniseries should be pure nirvana as Baltimore hacks and slashes through an army of twisted creatures, spilling pints of blood along the way. Writers Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden bypass deep character introspection in order to give us a brutal bloodbath, and we wouldn't have it any other way.
With an issue so heavy on action and violence, it’s a good thing someone like Ben Stenbeck is on art. The morose, grey atmosphere in this book perfectly complements the tone and tenor of Mignola’s script. Best of all, his creature designs are reminiscent of Rick Baker’s best work. For anyone looking for a relatively concise read that is filled with horror, action, and atmosphere, Baltimore: Dr. Leskovar's Remedy should be perfect for you. We also suggest you pick up the rest of the Baltimore books as well.
Demon Knights Vol. 1: Seven Against the Dark
What it’s about: DC may be known predominantly for its superhero works, but with Demon Knights, the company has attempted to break the shackles of one single genre by introducing fantasy, magic, and horror into one of the most memorable titles at the company. Starring an unlikely team of misfits—including Madame Xanadu, Etrigan, Vandal Savage, and Shining Knight—this title focuses just as much on the tense team dynamics as it does on the overall plots of the story.
Collecting the first seven issues of this title, this trade paperback blends aspects from the classic fantasy tales of King Arthur and modern games like Dungeons and Dragons. Demon Knights is a book that builds a mythology completely separate from everything else in DC’s world, but there are also characters like Xanadu, Savage, and Etrigan who have appeared in the modern age as well.
Throughout the first seven issues collected here, we see the team take shape as they join together to face-off against the common threat of the Questing Queen. We also explore their individual back-stories and history, but in between the slower character-driven portions of the book, writer Paul Cornell throws us headfirst into intense action scenes.
Diogenes Neves' art manages to pull all of these bizarre aspects together by grounding the world in reality. The details are rich, the characters are all well-crafted, and the more unbelievable aspects of this world are pulled off without the slightest hint of camp.