Each week, 8th Dimension’s Jeremy Bulloch reads every new comic that comes out and recommends some of the best titles for you to check out. Here are this week’s picks!
Sword of Sorcery: Featuring Amethyst #0 (DC Comics)
I was so excited to finally read this. Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld is one of the best comics that DC ever produced, and the revamp fills a desperate void as a cool female character who isn’t just a knockoff of a successful male hero. Amy Winston is an outcast. She and her mother live a transient lifestyle, always on the move. She long ago gave up trying to fit in at school, and just tried to keep her head down and stay out of trouble. It’s the day of her 17th birthday, and her mother has a special present for her. They’re finally going to go home. They’re returning to where their family is from, and where her father is buried. They don’t plan to ever come back. If you like high fantasy, sword-fighting, and other such awesomeness, buy this comic.
Green Lantern: The New Guardians #0 (DC Comics)
Kyle Rayner is one of my favorite characters, and his era of Green Lantern stands out as one of my all-time favorites. To me, there’s much more interesting stories told from the point of view of an artist than a egotistical test pilot. Not that I dislike Hal Jordan, John Stewart, or even the one true Green Lantern Guy Gardner, but I just like Kyle the most. Rather than retell his origin, this #0 issue serves a different purpose and connects the events of New Guardians with the adventures of Hal Jordan and Sinestro in the flagship Green Lantern series. Kyle is somehow able to channel the powers of the other Lantern corps. He’s going to need that ability to defeat the new outbreak of Black Lanterns that have seemingly slain Hal and Sinestro. The best part of this issue is that Star Sapphire gets a costume that actually covers more than 4% of her body. It’s about time that Carol is portrayed as something more than a super-stripper.
Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #3 (DC Comics)
This issue is among the final artistic projects by the late, great Joe Kubert, and it’s a fitting sendoff. Kubert’s artwork always excelled at depicting fundamentally good and strong people fighting against seemingly impossible odds. His inks perfectly complement the pencils of his son, Andy, and really elevate the story. In JMS’ script, both Dan Dreiberg and Hollis Mason are good men, trying their best in a world that seldom has a place for good men. Both men are driven by their own moral compass, and have to follow wherever it leads. For Dan, that means getting involved in an investigation that the police feel is beneath them. For Hollis, it means writing the memoir that will forever change the costumed world of the Watchmen.
Ghost #0 (Dark Horse Comics)
Writer Kelly Sue DeConnick is a rising star in comics. Her Captain Marvel series has been really good, and the Castle hardcover that she co-wrote with Brian Michael Bendis perfectly captures the tone of the TV show. Now, she’s relaunching Ghost for Dark Horse Comics. While not as well-known as its contemporaries Hellboy and Concrete, Ghost was actually one of the books that helped put the fledgling publisher on the map almost twenty years ago. If you never read the book back in the day, that’s fine. This is a complete update and re-imagining of the series. Phil Noto’s artwork is always cool and sexy, and this is some of my favorite stuff of his since his run on Birds of Prey.
Star Trek: The Next Generation – Hive #1 (IDW)
One of the best moments in Star Trek history was the TNG third-season finale, “The Best of Both Worlds.” In that episode, Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise is captured and assimilated into the Borg collective. He was now Locutus of Borg. Sure, they eventually un-assimilated him, but for that entire summer every Trekker was losing their damn mind. This miniseries, based on a story by Brannon Braga, is set 500 years later. At some point, Captain Picard was re-assimilated by the collective and restored to his cyborged-out splendor. The Borg eventually crushed the Federation, along with all other life in the universe. They achieved total assimilation, but were now without purpose. After centuries of stagnation, Locutus now has an agenda, and he will see it completed no matter what. Back in the future-past of Stardate 59844.9, we see lots of familiar faces. The first issue feels just like an old TNG episode, and I think that’s pretty cool.
Blue Beetle #0 (DC Comics)
Khaji-Da is name of the alien war-machine that has bonded itself to the spine of Jaime Reyes, making him the superhero called the Blue Beetle. Jaime and his scarab have a very strained relationship. Khaji-Da wants to destroy and enslave for its masters, the alien horde called the Reach. Jaime wants to…NOT do that stuff…and use the powers to be a superhero, he guesses. Jaime is not the first creature to host the scarab though. Khaji-Da has long had problems controlling its symbiote, and this issue tells those stories. It serves as a good jumping-on point for a new reader, and also sets the stage for the next story arc.
Justice League #0 (DC Comics)
SHAZAM! After months of overshadowing the main story in Justice League, SHAZAM takes center stage this issue. It’s among the best things that Geoff Johns has ever written. When troubled youth Billy Batson meets the wizard, it plays out with much more nuance than ever before. The wizard is frustrated by Billy’s obvious imperfections. He was seeking somebody pure to battle the evil Black Adam, what he got was a liar, a cheat, and a thief. There are embers of good inside Billy though. Nobody is all good or all evil. There have been times that Billy Batson has lived up to a more noble potential. Perhaps he will prove worthy of the power of SHAZAM. Then again, maybe he’ll give in to base instincts like Black Adam did. The book never wallows in darkness for darkness’ sake though. It’s still a SHAZAM comic, so there is still a playful since of fun and whimsy to it. When Billy shows his new powers off to his friend Freddy, it plays a lot like Tom Hanks in Big. There are very interesting things happening with the magical characters of the DC Universe. The SHAZAM story directly ties into the so-called Trinity of Sin consisting of Pandora, the Question, and the Phantom Stranger. All of their stories will be further explored in the pages of Justice League over the next year.
Spider-Men #5 (Marvel Comics)
This ends the crossover between the mainstream 616 Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe. I gotta say, I liked this way more than I anticipated at the beginning. It’s really interesting contrasting the mentor relationship that Peter Parker has with Miles Morales to the strained relationship that he has with Alpha in Amazing Spider-Man. The book ends with a cliffhanger that I hope gets resolved someplace soon. There are so many Spider-books; it could get dealt with in any number of places.
Wonder Woman #0 (DC Comics)
Structured as a flashback to a comic that doesn’t exist, the retro trappings of this origin story are a lot of fun. They’re just the window dressing though. At its core, this is a dark fantasy story, just like the rest of Azzarello and Chiang’s run. Diana is different, an outsider. This story is set years ago, when a young Diana still believed that she had been sculpted from clay. Diana thinks that it’s the circumstances of her birth that make her different from the rest of the Amazons. To an extent, they do, but that’s not the only difference between them. The Amazons are warriors, but there is much more to life than combat. Her time as an outcast taught her empathy and compassion that the Amazons just can’t relate to. This is the story of how Diana learned mercy, something that is as important to defining her as a strong sword arm.
Daredevil #18 (Marvel Comics)
First off, have you ever seen a cooler cover? The correct answer is: no, you have not. The pages inside the cover are just as awesome. It’s been less than a day since Foggy Nelson tossed Matt Murdoch out of his life. Matt has apparently lost his mind. All signs point to him robbing his father’s grave and taking the remains with him to work. The fact that Matt doesn’t remember any of this just shows how crazy he’s gotten. Now things have gotten much worse. Matt’s ex-wife Mia is in his bed, remembering nothing about her own institutionalizing or the annulment of their marriage. There’s only one person that he can call, and Foggy is NOT happy to hear from him.
Batwoman #0 (DC Comics)
Such a great issue. I’ve been a huge fan of Kate Kane since she was introduced during the year-long 52 miniseries. This is the story of how Kate was trained to become a costumed vigilante after her expulsion from West Point under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” It’s also largely the story of the relationship that Kate has with her father. As always, the artwork of J.H. Williams III is amazing. There is nobody else in the business today that has his ability at conveying mood. Kate’s body language is so different here. She’s lost, hurting from the death of her mother and twin sister. Every detail, from the look in her eyes to the way that she stands depicts a woman who is broken on the inside, but trying desperately to keep up a façade of toughness. She’s not Batwoman yet, not here. She’s still just Kate Kane. By the end of the issue, that’s all changed. You could take out every line of dialog and you would still see the transformation. By the end of the comic, she’s Batwoman.
Spike: A Dark Place #2 (Dark Horse Comics)
Fables #121 (DC Vertigo)
The Walking Dead #102 (Image Comics)
Ultimates #15 (Marvel Comics)
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #15
Supergirl #0 (DC Comics)
Nightwing #0 (DC Comics)