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 29, 2012.
Written by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)
The Goon #41
What it’s about: Featuring story-lines that deal with the paranormal and the undead, along with a gruesomely violent look and a raucously funny tone, Eric Powell’s The Goon is one of the premier ongoing indie comics around. Over the years, Powell’s gruff, antisocial Goon has punched, stomped, and bludgeoned a whole assortment of hideous monsters, and has become a cult icon along the way. If you haven't given the series a chance, now is the perfect time.
What to expect this month: The Goon is finally back, and, unsurprisingly, Powell has delivered another great issue in the series that could easily stack up against the title’s prime years. In this issue, the Zombie Priest returns as a bedraggled pauper performing magic-for-hire on the streets. Along the way, he narrates his sad tale of the human race as he recounts all of the magic jobs he has done for the amoral masses. His tales of the greed and selfishness of society go right for the heart because as an outsider, The Zombie Priest sees people for what they truly are. Like the classic O. Henry tales, the tragic irony of each short story he tells is both bleak, yet utterly fascinating to flip through.
This main story is also backed by Powell’s tremendous artwork, which is about as good as we’ve ever seen him. The gloomy coloring and grotesque detail physically bring the ugliness of the scripts to life. Unlike most Goon stories, this one doesn’t bring any humor to the page. What we’re left with is the ramblings of a crazed old man that Powell somehow makes absolutely riveting. Even the Goon takes a backseat to the Zombie Priest, only appearing in flashbacks and a menacing little bit at the end.
There's also a short Goon backup story at the end by Powell and artist Mark Buckingham. It’s a bit more in line with the tone of typical Goon stories, and the black and white art by Buckingham adds a bit of nostalgia to it. It’s a nice palette cleanser after the somewhat dreary main tale, but nowhere near as thought-provoking.
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Return of the Master #1
What it’s about: Although all of the recent B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth miniseries have acted as standalone stories, they have also been building up to this epic arc titled Return of the Master. Throughout the series’ history, Dark Horse Comics has shied away from giving this book an ongoing numbering system; instead, it has just been releasing each storyline as separate miniseries. But that all changes as Return of the Master #1 begins the march towards the new B.P.R.D. #100 at the end of the arc.
The title's debut issue serves as a mere setup for what's to come, but writers Mike Mignola and John Arcudi don’t just fill it with dull exposition that serves a utilitarian purpose; here, every scene is well-crafted and vital for the overall picture. The B.P.R.D. is woefully short on its most established agents, so it must put its trust in some untested members as the rumblings of an evil Messiah’s return begin to grow louder. There's a dark cloud hovering over this issue as it becomes apparent that the agency doesn’t have the means or manpower to fight off the evil that begins to rear its head here.
The mystery behind the “Master” hasn’t been revealed quite yet, but we have a feeling that it will tie neatly into Hellboy’s vast mythology. It’s a testament to their talents that Mignola and company have been able to keep this current storyline so engrossing without fan favorites like Liz Sherman, Abe Sapien, and Hellboy showing up, even though Abe does appear briefly on life support in this issue.
This installment also features some terrific art by Tyler Crook. He doesn’t really have much to do in the way of big action or fantasy moments, but when Crook finally does get to unleash, he hits the spots perfectly. Like the best comic book story-lines from Mignola, Return of the Master begins with a slow burn that is sure to keep building as the five-part miniseries progresses. B.P.R.D. newcomers might be a little lost during this tale, but for seasoned vets, this issue promises some interesting developments ahead.
Steed and Mrs. Peel #0
What it’s about: The Avengers colective that hit the big screen earlier this year wasn’t the first team of adventurers to use that name. In fact, in the early ‘60s, before Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, The Avengers was a British TV show focusing on spies John Steed and Emma Peel as they took down any threats to Britain or its people.
In this new comic series by writer Mark Waid (Daredevil), Steed and Peel are back in the 1960’s as they investigate the appearance of a brand-new Hellfire Club. When the first Club appeared in the original series, it was a intellectual cult that was obsessed with medieval culture and world domination. This latest version of the group still wants the domination part, but now they are obsessed with the future, even going as far as to imagine what the year 2000 would like look in their headquarters.
Here, the club has been kidnapping agents and infecting them with a potion that makes them age rapidly in an attempt to destroy the government. The story could get a little contrived at times, but Waid manages to pull off the relationship between Steed and Peel well. Hopefully once the series actually kicks into gear after this preliminary zero issue, Waid can deliver the types of engaging plots for which he's known.
This issue might not mean much to people unaware of the original show, but for any Avengers fan out there, or anyone that enjoys that whole ‘60s British spy vibe, Steed and Mrs. Peel should be quite satisfying. Waid brings all of the dry wit from the series onto the page, while artist Steve Bryant captures the likenesses of the show admirably. Some of the illustrations can fall a bit flat at times, but overall there's a uniquely European style that fits the story well.
Written by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)