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 July 11, 2012.

Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)

Follow @ComplexPopCult


Chew: Secret Agent Poyo #1

What it’s about: Spinning out of the ongoing Chew title, Chew: Secret Agent Poyo focuses on a homicidal, robotically-enhanced rooster tasked with saving the world from whatever evils may befall it. Written by Chew creator John Layman and illustrated by Rob Guillory, Secret Agent Poyo is a delightfully twisted journey through the minds of two of the sickest individuals working in comics today.

Within the first few pages of this standalone issue, we’re instantly transported to Hell, where Hitler awaits some much-needed butt torture and a seat is waiting for Michael Bay. With ease, Poyo eviscerates Satan and his minions, all while his physical body resides on Earth in an operating room. $6.2 trillion dollars later, the U.S. government brings Poyoback to life, complete with the latest robotic weaponry and enhancements grafted to his body.

From there, Layman crafts a story where the plot takes a backseat to bizarre, and often inexplicable, humor. But it’s so relentlessly funny and imaginative throughout that none of that matters.

This may be an inconsequential one-shot issue in the long run, but it easily ranks amongst the best Chew stories to ever be published. The art by Guillory is great as usual, with tons of small details that add to Layman’s script. To catch all of the jokes, a few additional readings may be required, but that's not a bad thing. It’s amazing how much character they get out of Poyo, despite the fact that he never utters a word.

It may finally hit you halfway through the issue that you’re reading a comic book about a government-sanctioned rooster killing machine, but if you don’t let that head-scratching premise get you down, you’ll see why Chew: Secret Agent Poyo #1 is one of the funniest titles to hit shelves in a very long time. We can’t recommend it enough.

The Massive #2

What it’s about: In a post-war, post-crash, post-everything world, a team of environmentalists must somehow find a way to help an Earth that seemingly doesn’t want to be saved. As the crew of The Kapital attempts to get to the bottom of "The Crash" (a natural disaster that wreaked havoc of the Earth), they must also locate the whereabouts of their sister ship, The Massive, which went missing during the chaos.

What to expect this month: Writer Brian Wood continues his environmentally-fueled thriller as this issue of The Massive serves to advance the current story, while also filling out the history of this post-apocalyptic world through the use of flashbacks. There are three separate story threads going on at once—all connecting to a larger narrative. But as confusing as that could potentially be, Wood pulls it off without a hitch.

The crew of The Kapital is still searching for The Massive, as a small group from the main ship attempts to divert pirates from their location on smaller water bound craft. As this happens, we also find out more about the relationship between Callum Israel, The Kapital’s captain, and Mary, the leader of the smaller craft. These stories intertwine seamlessly as the mysteries behind what happened to The Massive and the cause of "The Crash" continue to grow.

The art by Kristian Donaldson is the key to this issue’s success. He employs a style that's hyper-detailed and gives us a true sense of our environment. Everything from the ships to the waterlogged shell of Hong Kong is given gorgeous life through his pencils. This helps bring believability to the world that Wood has created. 

With just two issues completed at this point, The Massive is shaping up to be yet another success for Wood and Dark Horse Comics. There is no instant payoff in this issue, nor are there any cinematic action scenes, but if you like your stories to slowly and thoughtfully build up to a boil, The Massive should suit your needs.

Dancer #3

What it’s about: Like any great thriller, Dancer continues to twist and turn with every new issue. Revolving around a retired spy named Alan Fisher and his ballerina girlfriend named Quinn, Dancer deals with the lies we tell our loved ones and the different paths we could have taken in our life.

After Alan’s newly-discovered clone kidnaps Quinn, he's forced to spring into action again to save her. But how can you hunt down a man who thinks and acts just like you? Writer Nathan Edmondson and artist Nic Klein attempt to answer that question in this surprise hit series.

What to expect this month: With most of the exposition and set-up out of the way, Dancer's third issue is able to finally ratchet up the intensity as we finally see Alan attempt to take down his clone. But this isn’t done in a close-quarters fight; instead, it happens in a tension-filled sniper standoff in the city of Dresden. Edmondson pulls this off with the suspenseful choreography of a Hollywood auteur as this battle is just as physical as it is mental.

The book adds another layer to the story as Alan’s morality is tested towards the end of the issue, and we see just how desperate he is not to revert back to his killing ways from his spy days. This isn’t an espionage thriller that relies on the action to move the story forward; Edmondson goes to great lengths to make sure that we actually care about these characters as well.

Helping to tie all of this together is the artwork by Nic Klein, who manages to craft Dresden in an almost photo-realistic way. It’s staggering to think of the research that went into this book because everything from the architecture to the clothing is completely on-point. Klein’s near-flawless art helps add to Dancer’s cinematic mystique. This book crept up out of nowhere a few weeks ago, but now it’s firmly entrenched as one of our most-anticipated titles every month.

Conan the Barbarian #6

What it’s about: In Brian Wood’s new volume of Conan the Barbarian, he has a vastly different approach to the legend than other writers have had in decades past. Instead of portraying the character as a hulking, antisocial warrior, Conan is more of an impetuous youth—he's naive and stupid. For the first time ever, Conan’s adventures are driven by something everyone can understand: love.

Throughout the first five issues, Conan has fallen for Bêlit, a pirate of the high seas with loose morals. And after their planned heist of Messantia goes wrong, the lovers must find a way out of the besieged city and back to their ship.

What to expect this month: This issue features the Conan that most people have come to recognize over the decades. Covered in bloody wounds and boiling over with rage, the character finally breaks out of his passive slump of recent issues and dismantles the sentries of Messantia in gruesome fashion as he goes off to find his kidnapped lover. But despite all of the action happening on the page, Wood is sure to anchor it all with the type of thoughtful characterization that has made this book click so far.

The expansive city of Messantia is brought to life through James Harren's fantastic art, and Wood uses this beautiful canvas to reign terror down on its citizens. As the end of the second story arc in this title, Conan the Barbarian #6 is a satisfying payoff for readers who have been on board from the beginning, but it would still be easy to follow for newcomers also. And that has to do with Wood’s knack for crafting clean, easy-to-follow plots that never get too bogged down in pointless developments or characters.

Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)

Follow @ComplexPopCult