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 December 12, 2012.
The Massive #7
What it’s about: The Massive follows the crew of The Kapital, a ship populated by environmental activists in the wake of a “Crash” that has thrown humanity into anarchy. Climate change and constant war have all but destroyed civilization, and Callum Israel and his shipmates must figure out what to do as environmentalists in a post-apocalyptic world. Their first mission is to find their missing sister ship, The Massive, and rescue anyone on board.
What to expect this month: The Massive keeps getting better with each issue. Brian Wood has found finding his storytelling stride in recent months, so it should come as no surprise to learn that this is easily the best installment yet. In this issue, Callum Israel and the crew of The Kapital visit a mammoth oil rig that is now acting as its own sovereign nation in the wake of The Crash. Once aboard, it's initially viewed as paradise, but as the issue unfolds, secrets are revealed and the peace-loving residents of the rig begin to show their true colors.
Wood manages to perfectly blend suspense and moral philosophies with geo-political brushstrokes to create one of the freshest books on shelves. The plotting here is extremely delicate as every line out of the rig director’s mouth is appropriately creepy. Not because he’s overtly evil, but because in this post-apocalyptic world, this community just seems too good to be true. Much like we have seen The Governor do in The Walking Dead, he lulls Callum and the crew into a false sense of security, which could potentially make for the series’ first real antagonist.
Garry Brown again does wonders on the art, especially with the double-page spread of the rig, which is both beautiful and ominous to look at. It’s baffling that this book doesn’t get more attention. If you liked Wood’s work on DMZ, or if you just want to read a comic book with some brains, you should take the money you would otherwise spend on a superhero title and give this a shot instead.
Conan the Barbarian #11
What it’s about: For the past few years, there was very little reason to pick up a Conancomic. The stories, while still entertaining, became stale, and the character of Conan himself failed to grow at all. He seemed stuck as a bulky, yet hollow, husk, who would only spring to life during pointless action scenes.
But then Brian Wood came along and injected the barbarian with some much-needed youth and energy for this latest take on Conan the Barbarian.
What to expect this month: A plague is spreading on Conan’s ship, yet somehow he’s the only one not affected by it. So after he docks in a nearby city, Conan instantly seeks out a healer that could help his shipmates and his lover, Bêlit. But once he finds the healer he's looking for, Conan begins to question his relationship with Bêlit and whether or not he would be better off leaving his shipmates and exploring the world on his own.
After a few issues' worth of really exploring the character of Bêlit, Brian Wood puts the focus squarely back on Conan, who seems more destined to sit on a therapist’s couch than a king’s throne in this issue. This once-proud warrior begins to doubt everything in his life and sees his lover, his shipmates, and his life as a fighter as nothing more than an anchor around his throat. The conflict is typified in a dream sequence that's both simple and poignant. Conan is a man who has only known conflict, so when the opportunity comes to break those shackles and see the world for what it truly has to offer, the thought is too tempting to pass up.
Declan Shalvey's art is definitely suitable for this issue, if not unremarkable. His art from last issue seemed to flow a bit better, but he gets the job done. That being said, the image of Conan he leaves us with on the last page is pure gold. Shalvey captures every ounce of self doubt and torture going through his mind in a terrific close-up. It’s very similar to the somber penciling of John Buscema or the late Joe Kubert. And if you know your comics, that’s high praise.
The Victories #5
What it’s about: In Michael Avon Oeming’s The Victories, a group of heroes from all walks of life bands together to save their city from the violence, drugs, and corruption that have overrun it. Mainly, though, the book focuses on one hero in particular: Faustus. This masked vigilante has a closet full of skeletons and pitcher full of booze to help him deal with it all. He’s a hero to some and a menace to others, and he fits right in with this vile world.
What to expect this month: In many ways, The Victories is a despicable comic. The foul language and disturbing plot points of pedophilia might be enough to turn some readers off completely, but if you’re into the Sin City brand of shocking neo-noir storytelling than this should fit you like a blood-splattered glove.
This is the final issue of the first miniseries of The Victories, and it sees Faustus go in for the kill on The Mark, his former master who defiled him as a child. The result is an all-out action set piece as The Jackal goads Faustus into killing his old teacher, even though it goes against his morality. The idea of killing as a means to an end has been dissected throughout the whole series and Michael Avon Oeming finishes up strong here, albeit in an incredibly crude manner.
Oeming’s strength lies less with his writing and more with the art he provides, which is a mix of the cartoonish and ultra-violent like his past work on Powers. It’s an incredibly satisfying blend that further drives home the feeling that this is a twisted fairytale with brightly-colored superheroes on one side and sadistic rapists and murderers on the other.
The Victories really isn’t for everybody. The subject matter could be a bit overbearing at times, but if you want a down and dirty superhero stories like publishers came out with in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, this is a solid way to go.
Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)