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 15, 2012.
Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)
What it’s about: Mixing the best elements of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings together, Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga is bringing the space opera back to prominence by focusing on elemental storytelling without getting bogged down in any sort of tech-talk or overblown mythologies. It's about a young couple from opposite, warring species that fall in love and have a child together. But like an intergalactic Romeo and Juliet, this couple’s love is forbidden by their respective races and they are now being hunted across the galaxy by a bevy of bounty hunters.
What to expect this month: In this issue, Alana and Marko travel with Izabel in hopes of escaping from the planet that they are on in an attempt to lose their pursuers. As they are doing this, the bounty hunters begin to turn on each other as the pursuit for the star-crossed lovers is beginning to take its toll on everyone involved.
But despite the series’ huge galactic settings and its multitude of spaceships, it’s the banter between the characters that makes this book work, especially when it comes to Alana and Marko. As of right now, there's no duo in comics that's better written than these two. Vaughan’s grasp on their personalities is like a vice grip as he continues to present their relationship in an honest and endearing way that also seems so relatable. It's also refreshing to see the woman in the relationship be the foul-mouthed badass for once, and there is a memorable scene towards the end of the issue that highlights Alana's "shoot first, ask questions never" philosophy on life.
It’s always going to be an uphill battle for a title like Saga to get much attention in a comic book world filled with superheroes and zombies, but if you want to leave your comfort zone for a bit, we can honestly say that there aren’t many books as satisfying as Saga on shelves now.
The Victories #1
What it’s about: Written and illustrated by Michael Avon Oeming (Powers), the debut issue of The Victories is an ultra-violent, gritty superhero tale with the same type of jaded nihilism of books like The Boys and The Authority. The main character here is a masked hero named Faustus, who is forced into a clash of ideals against The Jackal, a vigilante that believes killing is the only way to bring about justice. Both men have the same views on good and evil, but their ideas on how to achieve piece differ greatly, and in this first issue this leads to some deadly consequences for a judge and his young wife.
Right away, Oeming presents Faustus as a deeply disturbed, tortured hero who is wracked with guilt over his failings and takes it out on himself after every mission gone awry. In order to deal with his struggles he is constantly spouting smart-ass quips and one-liners to hide his own distress.
But aside from the psychoanalysis going on, The Victories #1 also features a good amount of crass humor and gore to go along with the character study of Faustus. This is perfect for fans of the superhero genre that are tired of the carefully-manicured storylines that the "Big Two" provide. No punches are pulled here as Oeming brings some absolutely satisfying brutality to the story and art. And speaking of the art, this is some of the better work of Oeming’s career as he has added a new dimension of atmosphere and ambiance to his already stellar pencil work.
We have no idea where The Victories is going at this point, but if it continues on this path and doesn’t go for a typical mainstream feel, this could be a title to watch over the next few months.
What it’s about: Since its debut earlier in the year, Fatale has quickly become one of the more interesting and complex titles to come around in recent memory. The creative team of writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips have crafted a story that is part noir and part horror tale with a look and flavor that is wholly unique. Centering on an ageless woman named Josephine, the series recounts her mysterious life and the deadly affect her appeal has had on the people around her.
What to expect this month: Brubaker and Phillips continue to explore Josephine’s life during the ‘70s in this second story arc on the title. Here she befriends a young actor who is in possession of a brutal snuff film that has connections to the deadly cult from the first story. But as she attempts the retrieve what was hers, she discovers that the demons from her past might not be as dead as she thought.
As Brubaker has done with every issue, Fatale #7 doesn’t look to answer many questions—it just raises more of them. But even though there isn’t any closure here, this issue is never frustrating to get through. Actually, each new wrinkle in the plot serves to enrich the overall story, as opposed to just making things overly complicated. And the last page gives us an ominous glimpse at the evil that is about to enter Josephine's life.
As always, Phillips adds the proper amount of mood to this issue with his atmospheric art style. Dreary cemeteries and seedy apartments fill this world and add to the desperate, gloomy look of the entire series. Like any noir story worth its salt, Phillips mixes heavy shading with strong, emotive characters in order to convey the tone and feel of each new plot beat and conversation in the story. The end result is a twisted take on ‘70s Hollywood that highlights the darker side of society.
Green Lantern/ Green Arrow – Paperback
What it’s about: When the Green Lantern’s solo book started to drop precipitously in sales during the early ‘70s, DC decided to pair the character up with the Green Arrow in hopes that a team-up comic would boost sales. In issue #76, Green Lantern became Green Lantern/Green Arrow, and it quickly became one of the most important comic books to ever hit shelves.
Written by Denny O’Neil, with art by Neal Adams, the series quickly introduced socially-conscious plots and themes into the character’s adventures that were ripped right from the newspaper. The stories revolved around everything from the drug epidemic to racism and Native American rights—this was unheard of at the time. It was pure counterculture. O’Neil was a trailblazer in the industry who he helped elevate comics from disposable entertainment into an artistic statement that encouraged intelligent thought and debate.
Adams' art, meanwhile, also ushered in a new era for comics as he brought a sense of realism and anatomy to the page that was often overlooked by most talent of the day. His heroes looked exactly like they would have to in real life, and all of his figures leaped right off the page with an uncontrollable energy that brought life to every panel.
This paperback edition features the entire O’Neil/Adams run in one package for the first time ever. If you want to learn more about the history of the industry, or if you just want to see a different side of the superhero genre, this is about as good as it gets.
Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)