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 August 22, 2012.
Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)
America’s Got Powers #3
What it’s about: After a generation of children in San Francisco were mysteriously bestowed with superpowers when a strange crystal irradiated the city, shadowy government forces and sleazy TV executives joined together to launch America’s Got Powers. The fictional show places kids against each other in brutal fights to the death.
As the public eats the blood sport up, government officials are observing each participant in order to see which ones could be used for their own gain. But one youth has emerged as a potential savior: Tommy Watts.
What to expect this month: After a fairly long delay, America’s Got Powers returns with an issue that brings the action hard and heavy, but also moves the story along nicely. The issue opens with a flashback showing government officials experimenting on the children and planning to use them for their own nefarious ends. We then skip to the present where Tommy Watts is about to participate in his first official America’s Got Powers telecast since he was revealed to the public.
Writer Jonathan Ross manages to further flesh out this bizarre future and gives us small glimpses at the various characters that fill out his world. The different voices he uses when writing the government workers and the kids on the show are all unique and never border on cliché. This helps add to the believability of the story, especially when it comes to the motivations of the power mongers in charge of these kids.
But it's in Bryan Hitch’s art where this issue hits its stride. With plenty of multiple page spreads and colorful action scenes, this is pure cinematic art that looks like a $250 million blockbuster created for the page. There are a few wonky facial expressions here and there, and some of the inking is a little on the muddy side, but overall this is an artistic tour de force with enough eye candy to satisfy most readers.
Lobster Johnson: The Prayer of Neferu
What it’s about: One of the best additions to the Hellboy universe over the years has been that of Lobster Johnson. While most of the public believes that Johnson was merely a pulp vigilante back in the 1930s, the truth of the matter is that he is all too real, and he's ready to dispense his own brand of lethal justice at a moment’s notice.
In this latest Lobster Johnson one-shot, writers Mike Mignola and John Arcudi place Lobster in the middle of an Egyptian-themed part thrown by high society. There, an actual mummy is to be unrolled by an actress playing an Egyptian princess. But her real motives are much more sinister.
Like other Lobster Johnson stories, Mignola and Arcudi bring us back to the golden age of pulp heroes as Johnson swings into the party with his trusty pistols and swashbuckling spirit ready to dole out justice. But instead of getting bogged down in the violence and general nastiness of today’s comics, Lobster Johnson: The Prayer of Neferu focuses more on giving readers a sense nostalgic fun. You can practically hear the score for Indiana Jones playing in your head as Lobster engages in one pulse-pounding fight after another.
Wilfredo Torres handles the art in this book perfectly. His illustrations bring a classic Hollywood look to the backgrounds and costume designs in this issue, while the appearance of Lobster himself is still in-step with pulp icons. His lines are clean and crisp, and his style is very reminiscent of Darwyn Cooke’s at times. Yet, Torres does enough to distinguish himself from others with some truly inspired pages.
This one-shot doesn’t connect to a larger storyline, and it may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But if you want a highly-stylized love letter to the heroic adventures of last century, this book should provide it.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike #1
What it’s about: On a journey of self discovery and enlightenment, Spike (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) commands a spaceship filled with an army of oversized cockroaches to the dark side of the moon for some much-needed brooding. As ridiculous of that concept sounds, Spike #1 is a surprisingly funny book that should be a welcome read for longtime Buffy fans and newcomers alike.
Instead of boring us to tears by retreading these characters’ long and complicated histories, writer Victor Gischler has written a story so human and relatable that people should have no problem latching onto it. The whole issue basically revolves around Spike brooding on his ship about his life and failed relationship with Buffy. But rather than leaving him to wallow in his own self pity, his servants—a colony of intergalactic bugs—attempt to cheer him up.
Gischler completely nails the humor of the show as it’s the banter between the bugs and Spike that makes this issue work. One-liners and sight gags abound as the issue moves at a rapid fire pace, thanks to the strong dialogue. And when the action finally kicks in at the end, Gischler manages to retain the humor throughout.
Artist Paul Lee adds some strong pencils to this book as his use of facial expressions and backgrounds adds to the story being told. He doesn’t have a whole lot to do as this particular installment is mostly talking head scenes, but he pulls them off admirably. And we have a feeling that things will pick up with the second feed.
Swamp Thing Vol. 1: Raise Them Bones – Paperback
What it’s about: When DC launched its New 52 initiative last year, one of the characters that was given a much-needed face-lift was Swamp Thing. After years spent with very little direction over at Vertigo, the character’s book was cancelled and it looked like it would never return. But now with writer Scott Snyder at the helm, Swamp Thing is back and better than he’s been in decades.
This trade paperback collects the first seven issues of the new series, and is the perfect point for new readers to jump on. In it, Scott Snyder begins with Alec Holland completely stripped of his powers and memories as Swamp Thing. That is until The Green comes back for him as a war is brewing between the plant life on Earth and the deadly Rot looking to take it over. With scripts that have more in common with a Stephen King novel than a superhero comic, Swamp Thing is a full-on horror experience by one of the masters of the genre in the comic book world.
Along the way, we're reintroduced to Abigail Arcane, Swamp Thing’s former lover, as the mystery surrounding the Rot’s reemergence slowly unravels. Abby and Holland must work together to defeat The Rot and its army of minions. During these issues, Snyder pulled from decades of Swamp Thing mythology while also bringing completely new aspects of the character to life in a package that is wholly satisfying for fans of the character.
Alongside Snyder is a roster of artists headlined by the terrific work by Yanick Paquette. He manages to capture in stunning detail the lush, tangled roots and vegetation of the swamp world, and the disgusting, vile appearance of the Rot. It's the perfect dichotomy of the natural order of life, and it adds so much atmosphere to the already strong scripts.
The story is a slow burn, and Snyder sets up meticulous details to get us from points A to B, but it's so satisfying that by the end you won’t even notice the slower pace.
Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)