If there’s one major take-home point from the Previews catalogue for December 2014 that says anything about the year ahead, it’s that Boom! Studios is going to rock 2015 even harder than they already rocked 2014. I can’t say enough about their line and how well-balanced its curation has been. Boom! is quickly becoming a go-to place for creators to go to fill niches and cater to an audience that loves offbeat, irreverent humor. Things like “Lumberjanes”, “Teen Dog”, and “Wild’s End” were among my very favorite things published by any company all year. That’s all to say nothing about their licensed properties like “Adventure Time” or “Regular Show.”
With that said, let’s take a look at my top 10 most interesting “best of the rest” picks from December’s Previews catalogue, and let’s see if you notice a trend.
10. A “Harbinger” of great things to come?
“Harbinger” was, for my money, the best series that came out of the original Valiant relaunch titles. That’s saying a lot, because I liked all of those series on some level, and had been pulling all of them for many months. “Imperium” looks to be the evolution of that title and, shockingly, seems to be taking the place that “X-Men” had on my pull list.
Written by Joshua Dysart
Illustrated by Doug Braithwaite
Published by Valiant Comics
Toyo Harada is the most dangerous human being on the planet. Imbued with incredible powers of the mind, he has spent his life guiding humanity from the shadows. But today he is a wanted man. His powers are public knowledge, his allies have turned to enemies, and he is hunted by every government on the planet.
Instead of surrendering, Harada has one last unthinkable gambit to play: to achieve more, faster, and with less, he will build a coalition of the powerful, the unscrupulous and the insane. No longer content to demand a better future, he will recruit a violent legion from the darkest corners of the Earth to fight for it. The battle for utopia begins now.
9. More “grim and gritty” Archie Comics
I’m a sucker for these sorts of revivals. I dug the last big Archie superhero reimagining, “The Fox”, from Mark Waid and Dean Haspiel. Archie also hasn’t failed yet when it comes to dark reinventions of classic properties, if “Afterlife with Archie” and the even better “Sabrina” are any indication. I’m pretty much down for whatever Archie wants to try at this point, because they’re knocking it out of the park.
Black Hood #1
Written by Duane Swierczynski
Illustrated by Michael Gaydos
Published by Archie Comics
NEW ONGOING SERIES from the brand new DARK CIRCLE imprint! “The Bullet’s Kiss – Part 1 of 5” When Philadelphia police officer Greg Hettinger stepped into the middle of a gunfight, hot lead shredded his face—and he pulled the trigger, blind. Now Greg is waking up in a world where he’s a killer, hopelessly scarred and hooked on painkillers. What does a man do when he can no longer face the world, yet still wants to do good? He puts on a hood…
8. Their the world’s (second) most fearsome fighting team
We’ve been pumping up the new(ish) “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” line here at Multiversity Comics for a couple of years now. And while our main squeeze is the main title, the miniseries have all been worth grabbing alongside it. With Paul Allor (who had a hand in the great “Turtles in Time” miniseries from last year) and Andy Kuhn (most recently seen doing terrific art work on “Wrestling with Demons” in “Dark Horse Presents”) on board, this is sure to be another hit.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutanimals #1
Written by Paul Allor
Illustrated by Andy Kuhn
Published by IDW Publishing
Old Hob, Slash, Herman the Hermit Crab, Mondo Gecko and Pigeon Pete have become a force to be reckoned with in the TMNT ongoing — and now they’ve got their own miniseries, in which their teamwork will be put to the ultimate test! When someone close to the group is kidnapped, the Mutanimals end up on an adventure more wild and dangerous than they could have imagined! What mysteries lurk at…The Null Group?
7. A more “kid-friendly” Gronk than the one that plays for the New England Patriots
Katie Cook’s comics could charm the pants off of the most skeptical anti-Brony. Okay, maybe that’s going a bit far, but if you’re looking for an all-ages book that’s cuter than hell and fun to share with young ones – look no further this month.
Gronk: A Monster’s Story – Vol. 1 TP
Written and Illustrated by Katie Cook
Published by Action Lab Entertainment
Gronk is a monster… and not a very good one. Gronk tells the tale of a young monster who has turned her back on monsterdom (mostly because no one found her scary) and has become fascinated with humans. She moves in with her human friend Dale and her pets Kitty and Harli, a 160 lb. Newfoundland Dale wants to declare as a dependent to the IRS. Enjoy the first installment from this popular kids webcomic in a wonderful, full-color collection!
6. An intelligent purchase
More of an art book with a heavy theme than actual comic book material, if Luke Ramsey’s “Intelligent Sentient?” is half as arresting and absorbing as his public art projects then we’re all in for a real treat.
Written and Illustrated by Luke Ramsey
Published by Drawn & Quarterly
Delicate, complex drawings tell of a science-fiction world
Intelligent Sentient? feels like an artifact from another time—a lost feature in OMNI magazine or the album booklet for a late-1970s Hawkwind record or perhaps a print version of Koyaanisqatsi. Beautiful, detailed filigreed drawings fold in on themselves and blossom out at the reader as time speeds up and contracts. A loose story is told that involves a society of giant people, strange art, and inexplicable scientific experiments utilizing nonexistent technology. Factories and tree houses teem with life, and the city nestles up against a landscape filled with dinosaurs, apes, and dragonflies living peacefully side by side.
Intelligent Sentient? is a series of images that are tied together not in narrative but in a progressing theme, the takeaway being that everything is connected. The drawings contain the fine detail of a watchmaker and the visual scope of a social reform muralist. This book is meant to be read forward and backward and returned to and treated like a mystical text.
5. The hero we deserve and the one we need right now
All Boom! Studios had to do was make reference to “Lumberjanes” for me to perk my ears up. “Lumberjanes” was the revelation of the year 2014, and I’m totally down for anything else like it coming out of Boom. Another creator-owned property that started out as a webcomic (an emerging theme of these “Best of the Rest” columns), “Help Us Great Warrior” is hilarious and cute, and even poignant sometimes. Give it a try. It’s in that “Lumberjanes”, “Teen Dog”, “Bee and Puppycat” wheelhouse.
Help Us! Great Warrior #1 (of 8)
Written and Illustrated by Madeleine Flores
Published by Boom! Studios
WHY WE LOVE IT: Madeleine Flores’ tale of a smart, hilarious, and intensely capable little warrior enchanted us immediately with its unique sense of humor and manga-influenced look and feel. We couldn’t wait to bring it to you!
WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: If you love the brand of kick-butt girl power that the Lumberjanes bring to the page each month, then this sword-wielding girl and her hilarious adventures will be exactly what you need to round out your pull list. Also, there are witches who turn everyone to hunks. What’s not to love?
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Based on Madeleine Flores’ popular webcomic, Help Us! Great Warrior is about a very powerful Great Warrior (natch) who protects her village from evil-doers and looks great in her armor while doing it. Possessing great strength and even greater self-confidence, she’s ready to kick some butts and save everyone, especially hunky guys.
4. The best Canadian sci-fi since Cube 2: Hypercube
I’d suggest watching Orphan Black before reading the comics – mostly because it’s one of the best recent television series, period. Not only does it feature a handful of arresting performances by its multi-role-playing star Tatiana Maslany, but it’s deeply-layered speculative storytelling that nothing else comes close to touching. I’ve always got reservations when it comes to licensed comics – especially with something as high quality as Orphan Black, but I’m hopeful. After all, the show’s creators are writing the comic too.Continued below
Orphan Black #1
Written by John Fawcett, Graeme Manson, & Jody Houser
Illustrated by Szymon Kudranski
Published by IDW Publishing
One. Of a kind. Sarah’s life was changed dramatically after witnessing the suicide of a woman who looked just like her. Sarah learned that, not only were she and the woman clones, but there were others just like them, and dangerous factions at work set on capturing them all. Now, the mysterious world of Orphan Black widens, with new layers of the conspiracy being peeled back in this miniseries by co-creators John Fawcett and Graeme Manson!
3. Turning my pull list into a science fiction-dominated cluster(expletive deleted)
A Dirty Dozen sci-fi epic, written by Ed Brisson – a man who knows how to get down and dirty with his characters. With “Sheltered” coming to an end, I’m going to need my fix of his particular brand of tension-filled drama. I recognize Damian Couceiro from his fill-in work on some of Mark Waid’s Boom! Studios comics (“Irredeemable” and “Incorruptible”). He’s got the chops to work within this genre.
Written by Ed Brisson
Illustrated by Damian Couceiro
Published by Boom! Studios
WHY WE LOVE IT: Ed Brisson (Sheltered) is one of comics’ best new voices and we could not wait to work with him on an original series following his run on Sons of Anarchy. After hearing his pitch for a gritty, violent, sci-fi epic in the vein of The Dirty Dozen, we knew there was no one better to bring the criminal cast of characters to life than the other half of the Sons of Anarchy team and Ed’s Murder Book collaborator, Damian Couceiro.
WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: Cluster is a series for fans of old-school, hard-boiled action. Brisson and Couceiro know how to tell stories about rich characters with criminal backgrounds, and the off-world setting allows them to tell personal stories with a massive scope. Have you ever wondered what a book starring all those lowlifes in the gutters of sci-fi havens like Mos Eisley would look like? Then we have the book for you.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: In the distant future, as mankind discovers life on other planets, it needs soldiers to defend its colonies and outposts across the stars. In order to increase the number of boots on the ground, criminals are offered the opportunity to serve in the place of incarceration. But as wars wage on and more soldiers are needed, small-time crimes are given long-term punishments. When a group of prisoners serving their time as soldiers become stranded and abandoned on a war-torn planet, they’ll need to work together to survive and uncover the truth behind Earth’s role in deep space.
2. The final color edition of “Scott Pilgrim” is going to make me think about death and get sad and stuff
Nathan Fairbairn (a.k.a. the most underrated colorist in comics) has done a bang-up job on these “Scott Pilgrim” color editions. But that’s not the only reason to pick them up. They’re also gorgeous hardcover that look great on a shelf and the interiors are significantly oversized when compared to the original, manga-sized editions. “Scott Pilgrim” is a precious little comic, and I’ll shell out for new editions of it until the end of time.
Scott Pilgrim Color Hardcover Volume 6: Finest Hour
Written and Illustrated by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Colors by Nathan Fairbairn
Published by Oni Press
Scott Pilgrim has faced down six of Ramona Flowers’s evil exes. But now that the happy couple is no more, was it even worth it? And if Scott and Ramona aren’t together, then why do the ominous messages from Gideon Graves keep coming? This the end of the Scott Pilgrim saga like you’ve never seen it before – in full, glorious color with a bevy of extras! This is truly SCOTT PILGRIM’S FINEST HOUR!
1. Damn you, Ferrier, you got me with a Tula Lotay cover
I mean, even if it didn’t have that Lotay cover, I’d still be in for “Curb Stomp”, because Ferrier is one of the smartest young writers out there. A femme punk version of The Warriors totally sounds like my jam. If the “Curb Stomp” preview art coming from Devaki Neogi’s blog is any indication, this could be the next big thing. Boom Studios, your cup runneth over.Continued below
Curb Stomp #1 (of 4)
Written by Ryan Ferrier
Illustrated by Devaki Neogi
Published by Boom! Studios
WHY WE LOVE IT: Punk rock isn’t dead…yet. Turf wars, breaking rules, crushing violence, and Black Flag—these are a few of our favorite things, and we can’t wait for Curb Stomp to straight-up knock our teeth out (in a good way).
WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: Writer Ryan Ferrier (D4VE) is a creator on the rise, and newcomer Devaki Neogi’s art will hook you with its aggressiveness but keep you coming back with its heart. Curb Stomp is an unflinching, visceral look at the lengths one woman will go to protect her friends, her family, and her home—perfect for fans of Rat Queens and the seminal ‘70s cult-favorite film The Warriors.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Three gangs. Five girls. No way out. Machete Betty leads a small gang of women under the self-appointed task of protecting their home of Old Beach, one of three boroughs surrounding a rich metropolitan city. When Betty takes the life of a rival gang member in an act of self-defense, she sets off a chain reaction of retaliation, gang warfare, and unlikely allies. It’s up to the The Fever—Machete Betty, Derby Girl, Bloody Mary, Daisy Chain, and Violet Volt—to defend their turf at all costs.