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 September 12, 2012.
Written by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)
What it’s about: He may be unremarkable on the outside, but Tony Chu does have one thing that makes him stand out from the other agents at the F.D.A.: He’s a cibopath. Meaning, Chu can get a psychic impression from anything that he eats. For instance, if he enjoys a nice steak, he gets an image in his head of who slaughtered the cow and when. This makes Chu indispensable as a detective, even if he has to solve most of the murders he encounters by doing a little corpse munching.
What to expect this month: After a porterhouse dress explodes at a food-inspired fashion show, agent John Colby is tasked with finding out how someone could weaponize a piece of steak. But he can’t do it alone, so he’s forced to break Tony out of his hospital bed, even if it takes a fistful of painkillers to get him somewhat coherent.
Even though this issue's cover announces that it's the third part of a five-part story, Chew #28 reads so cleanly that you won’t need much background on the series in order to grasp what's going on within its pages. As usual, writer John Layman’s knack for throwing us into this bizarre, cartoonish world is unparalleled. Each joke ricochets off of each other at such a fast pace that it requires multiple readings just to soak it all in; one scene set in the hospital, in particular, is top-notch stuff as we flashback to an awkward night between Tony’s sister and agent Caesar at a rowdy NASA party.
Chew's many jokes wouldn’t have a chance of landing if it wasn’t for Rob Guillory's artwork, which brings serious energy and style to each page. Things like facial expressions and sight gags work beautifully simply because he's so in-tune with Layman’s sick mind. The highlight of his art is the full-page spread when Colby finally lets agent Poyo off his leash. You’ll never see a rooster mutilate so many angry Frenchmen like this again in your life.
If you’re not picking this book up, you’re missing out on one of the freshest titles in the market today.
Conan the Barbarian #8
What it’s about: With Brian Wood on as the writer, Dark Horse’s latest stab at Conan the Barbarian is a much different beast than what's typically found in stores. The character is no longer the brutish, jaded warrior of past stories; instead, Conan is more relatable than ever as his impetuous nature gets him into the type of trouble we have all found ourselves in during our younger days. It’s a much different take on the legend, but it’s one that modernizes a character that so desperately needed it.
What to expect this month: Conan #8 picks up with the titular bruiser and Bêlit trying to track down a murderer in Cimmeria who has been masquerading as the barbarian. As they try to track down this criminal, Conan and his lover discuss the differences between their two lands and how they were shaped by their surroundings.
Without much action to speak of, Wood takes time out in this issue to meditate on the larger society in the world of Conan. As a result, we get more insight into what makes the character tick, and how the fatalistic temperament of his people drives him to save them from this imposter. This issue, above all others, is more reminiscent of Wood’s brilliant work on Northlandersthan any of the title's past installments.
By concurrently expanding upon the both the book's main characters and world as a whole, Wood manages to bring depth and life to everything on the page. And remember, all of this is happening while the plot itself doesn’t move along much. That’s a testament to how engrossing Wood has made each aspect of Conan.
Manhattan Projects #6
What it’s about: Jonathan Hickman’s bizarre re-imagining of the politics of WWII and the Cold War in Manhattan Projects has been completely maddening and undeniably brilliant. By blending real aspects of history with the psychotic fantasy leanings of the comic industry, Hickman has given birth to one of the most unique books we’ve seen in years.
Focusing on characters like Albert Einstein, the psychotic Joseph Oppenheimer, a crazed Harry Truman, and a whole mess of other oddities, Manhattan Projects shrugs off prototypical plot conventions in favor of something much larger and more satisfying.
What to expect this month: In this installment, Hickman places his cross-hairs on Helmutt Grottrup, a brilliant rocket scientist who has been at the mercy of both the Nazi party and the Soviet Union. In a broad sense, Hickman shows us how monstrous each regime really was and how they beat down their societies into submission. But in relation to the overall story, we start getting an inclination as to where Hickman is actually going with the plot, especially with the last page’s unholy alliance.
The character of Grottrup is one identified by pity and disgust as he gets strung along by both parties with hopes of achieving his freedom. His pained world is brought to life by artist Nick Pitarra, who perfectly captures every pathetic moment of his life. So far, the plot of Manhattan Projects has been very loose, and this issue hardly deviates from that template. It’s more about a series of ideas and concepts that tie into a larger narrative. For people who want immediate closure and satisfaction, this chapter provides none of that. If you have the patience to stick with all of Hickman’s machinations, though, it's an experience that should prove worthwhile.
The Massive #4
What it’s about: Following “The Crash,” the world's economy is finished and climate disasters have all but destroyed what was left. It's a post-apocalyptic world, and no one seems to know what to do. As the captain of a ship named The Kapital, Callum Israel leads his team of environmentalists throughout the open sea in order to find any sign of its sister ship, The Massive.
What to expect this month: After spending the first three issues mostly at sea, Callum Israel docks outside of Somalia, the world’s capital for black market goods. Here, he hopes to find the supplies he is looking for, like food, fresh water, and fuel. Along the way he meets shifty warlords and an old friend from his not-so-glorious past.
This issue marks the beginning of a new act as writer Brian Wood shifts his focus in order to let us in on Israel’s past as a mercenary for hire and how he wound up as an environmentalist. After a hostile meeting with an old army buddy in Somalia, we see the route that he was on in his previous life and how he chose a different path.
Along with continuing his unwaveringly solid character development, Wood is still letting us in little by little on the new state of the world, and just how ugly things have gotten. It’s pure anarchy across every country as people kill each other over fresh water and shark fins are used as currency. It’s like Mad Max with a Green Peace twist as Israel fights an uphill battle to keep his pacifism alive in a nihilistic world.
Artist Garry Brown adds to Wood’s scripts by bringing that sense of ugliness to his illustrations. The people and cities in this issue all seem exhausted and ravaged as the global meltdown has stripped the world of its humanity. The Massive is a bleak book, but it’s far from overbearing. Wood is really hitting his stride here.
Written by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)