Each Wednesday brings new comics worth reading. Some of them are about video games. This month, a lot of them are new DC super-hero comics, since that company is re-launching everything. Read on for recommendations of this week's best stuff and for my capsule reviews of DC's second wave of new books...
Batman #1 This is one of a batch of notable new DC books this week, as their month-long reboot rolls on. Batman stands out because it is written by rising star Scott Snyder and drawn by long-time Spawn artist Greg Capullo. Other potential winners are 100 Bullets writer Brian Azzarello's horror take on Wonder Woman, the renumbered Green Lantern Corps and writer Tony Bedard's Blue Beetle, but only the new Catwoman features Batman having sex with Catwoman, while they wear their costumes.
Chew Volume 4 Readers of this column love Chew (I still haven't read more than the first issue. Sorry!) Official summary of this collection: "These are strange times for Tony Chu, the cibopathic federal agent with the ability to get psychic impressions from the things he eats. Strange writing in extraterrestrial script has appeared in the skies of Planet Earth-and stayed there. People don't know if the end days are upon them or not, but they don't seem terribly concerned about the laws of the FDA, and what was once the most powerful law enforcement agency is rapidly descending into irrelevancy. So where does that leave the FDA best agent, Tony Chu? Presenting the fourth story arc of the Eisner and Harvey Award-winner series, as the twisted and darkly funny comic about cops, crooks, cooks, cannibals and clairvoyants takes a curious cosmic turn."
Daredevil #4: I'll stop recommending the best new series of 2011 when they have a bad issue.
Love and Rockets New Stories Vol. 4 The Hernandez Brothers' great creation continues with new Love and Rockets stories about the long-running Latino punk soap opera of sorts. Lately, Mario and Jaime have both been telling exceptional stories, Jaime in his realistic Hoppers world, Gilbert in his Palomar world and in weird sci-fi experiments. Jaime's "Browntown" story in last year's volume was one of the best comics stories I've ever read. A "sequel of sorts" is slated for this issue.
New Titans Games This is the most stunning release of the week, an original graphic novel by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, the acclaimed team whose Teen Titans comics were the hottest thing DC had in the 80's. Their X-Men essentially. This book was supposed to come out 20 years ago, but it took them this long to finish it.
Spider-Island Cloak and Dagger #2 My favorite writer not named Morrison or Aaron hits the mid-point in a series about two mis-matched, spooky heroes. Emma Rios' art on the first issue was beautifully sketchy. Official summary: "The insidious Mr. Negative poisons Cloak & Dagger against each other, as Spider-Man and his allies battle a deadly infestation in the thick of Spider-Island! Ty and Tandy always balanced each other out, but the corrupting touch of Mr. Negative makes Cloak & Dagger fated enemies!" Spencer's Ultimate Comics X-Men #1 also hits this week.
X-Men: Schism #4 New issue in the best big-event super-hero mini-series of the year. Official summary: "The events of Schism #1 have launched the world into turmoil, and the all-new Hellfire Club is ready to take advantage of the chaos. But when the survival of the mutant race is on the line, just how far will the X-Men go? Once a line is crossed, there's no going back. The event that promises to tear the X-Men apart at their very core continues, by writer and Marvel Architect Jason Aaron, and superstar artist Alan Davis!"
The Guild: Clara. Official summary: "Felicia Day is back with a one-shot spotlighting the Guild's heart and soul-or at least its dirty mind-Clara! A mother of three, or maybe five, Clara is the Knights of Good's most irresponsible and hedonistic member. When Clara's husband overhears her scheduling seventy-eight hours of game time, he hides the computer until she agrees to help him around the house, leading her to uncover a box of mementos from her past. What follows is a bizarre trip down memory lane for Clara."
Halo: Fall of Reach: Boot Camp (collection) "The legend of Master Chief begins here! The United Nations Space Command is engaged in a brutal battle against a growing tide of insurrection. Desperate times call for desperate measures - and under the threat of a prolonged civil war, the UNSC initiates the SPARTAN-II Project, a clandestine military program seeking to create a squad of super-soldiers. And so a great adventure begins! Once, he was a 6-year-old boy named John. But his superior speed, intelligence and adaptability to the SPARTAN-II training allow him to rise above the rest, starting his journey to become the most legendary warrior the galaxy has ever known!"
Mass Effect Volume 2: Evolution (collection) Official summary: "The Illusive Man sits at the center of many of the galaxy's greatest mysteries and is a key figure of Mass Effect 2 and beyond. Now, for the first time anywhere, the origin of the Illusive Man is revealed, in a story exclusive to this graphic novel!"
Mysterious Ways #3 Official summary: "The pieces are starting to come together for Sam, the alcoholic ex-cop turned serial killer suspect — literally. The pieces of silver in Sam's pocket are starting to form a picture, but if Sam is going to escape Agent Zassel he will need to make a leap of faith. Video game industry titan Jason Rubin (Crash Bandicoot) teams with Tyler Kirkham (Green Lantern Corps) to bring a dark, action-packed supernatural thriller that will have you questioning everything you believe."
The ComiXology Comics app and website offer a fresh batch of new and old digital comics this week (and as of this week, Marvel's are available on Comixology's website, instead of just on iOS… but still not on Droid). Highlights this week include any of the new DC super-hero books you're interested in and Marvel's Ultimate books, since they all hit ComiXology on the same day they come out in shops. Other notables include the first issue of Matt Fraction's newest, loopy Casanova spy adventures, more DC One Million cross-over issues, and the finale of Y: The Last Man, which is now entirely available digitally.
Here's what I thought of last week's second wave of books:
Batman and Robin. The idea to frame this as a father and son story is good, since Bruce and Damian, Batman and Robin, are just that. But Bruce didn't sound like a dad and Damian sure didn't sound like a 10-year-old. I'm not sure this is going to work...
Batwoman. Beautiful. It could have been wordless and it would have been worth buying. The story was good, but the draw is the drawing. J. H. Williams III is a master of great page layouts.
Deathstroke. I wanted to dislike this obvious attempt at tough-guy-comics. Deathstroke is the best assassin in the world. Big deal. But! I couldn't help but like the take here: old assassin trying to prove his vicious worth. He was ruthless in this issue in an unexpected way. I'll stick around a bit more.
Demon Knights. Fun, wicked medieval fantasy by writer Paul Cornell. We've got a hell of a cast, including an immortal villain, a guy who thinks his sorceress girlfriend has the hots for him but really lusts for the demon he turns into, a girl knight who appears to have Excalibur and more. Really good stuff.
Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE. So many fun ideas. Frankenstein is a super-agent. His home-base is three inches tall and he has to shrink to visit HQ, where his boss, Father Time, has just got himself a new body, that of a little girl. Frank's wife is also a star agent, but she's gone missing in a town over-run with monsters. She also has four arms and hasn't gotten along with Frank for, what, 70 years? Soooo good.
Green Lantern. Solid continuation of writer Geoff Johns' ongoing series. Having bad-guy Sinestro as Green Lantern is interesting
Grifter. Just didn't grab me. The guy is haunted, missing minutes or days of his life. His brother might be hunting him. I had trouble getting into this. Dropping it.
Legion Lost. Nothing to latch onto here either. I love the Legion and didn't find the time-shifted heroes interesting here. They're trapped in the 20th century, a decent idea that had almost no bearing on an issue-long brawl. Dropping.
Mister Terrific. Disappointingly ordinary. A little more sexualized and racial than I expected but also surprisingly bland until ... maybe the hero is actually a terrorist? If they go with that, I'll stick around, but I think he's really just being mind-controlled. I'll give it one more issue.
Red Lanterns. Felt like a sketch or a pilot. Nothing happens other than people getting angry. This would stand out if other DC comics weren't already full of angry characters and violence.
Resurrection Man. Good concept. The guy dies and revives with new powers each time. In this one, he is Chased by an angel. But once again we have writing that doesn't feel artful. And the third plane disaster of the week after Deathstroke and Grifter. I'll try one more issue.
Suicide Squad. Not what I feared. Skinny Amanda Waller is a bad surprise for long-time Squad fans, but the general idea of villains being manipulated to do government jobs is an eternal winner. It works here. The mostly new Squad characters aren't very interesting which will probably hold it back but there is potential here
Superboy. Surprisingly very good. Strong concept about a cloned half-Kryptonian, half-human... hero? Fun art. Our clone is a villain? The interesting supporting cast includes a sympathetic doctor, a bodyguard and a whistleblower. I think long-time DC readers have an advantage knowing who some of these people really are and where Superboy' DNA comes from, but maybe we are being played. I liked this a lot, the most surprisingly good book of week two.
Wow! That's it for this week. Tell me what you're reading this week and which great comics I'm missing.