Hello again, fellow comic readers!
A tale as old as time unites with a story as fresh as a newborn through conflict and intrigue in this week’s pick, “Saga.”
Writer Brian K. Vaughn is known in comic world for books like “Ex Machina,” “Y the Last Man,” “Runaways,” “Ultimate X-Men” and “Pride of Baghdad.” Fiona Staples is an brilliant artist who has been producing excellent work for years now and really deserved a big breakout hit. Their latest offering this week is "Saga" from Image Comics, and it delivers on all fronts.
Other comics offerings would be satisfied with just having a story of star-crossed lovers who had to actually cross the stars to find each other. That is Saga’s entry point, and it only builds from there.
Daniel Dean of Titan Games and Comics in Smyrna, Georgia, agrees that it is one of the year’s best offerings. “I know it's only three months in, so this might affect how seriously you take this statement; nevertheless: This is the best single issue I've read in 2012.
“There are more ideas jockeying for place here, more things going on, more characters I want to spend time with than in an entire year's worth of output from other books I shan't name.”
Betrayal, treasure, war, science fiction, magic, monsters, gunfights, monster fights, a live birth, bounty hunters, robots and spaceships are all at work. This comic even has a monkey in it.
Any time we get a new book from Vaughn, I find it a welcome thing; he manages to infuse each character with an instantly engaging blend of personality and detail that suggests not just lives lived but a world inhabited.
“You could talk about how we're dealing with a milieu more far-out than anything he's worked with, and yet we're still intensely grounded in very human drama and emotion,” Dean said of "Saga’s" broad appeal.
“I could even talk about how ‘Y the Last Man’ was a benchmark title for Vertigo in a post-‘Sandman,’ post-‘Preacher’ world and how I thought ‘Ex Machina’ was even better or how I recommend ‘Pride of Baghdad’ to people all the time.”
But why just talk about it? Check it out for yourself - if you still can. Image Comics just announced that the 'Saga' No. 1 first printing is sold out, meaning the copies you'll see on your local comic book shop's shelves today are all there is until Image decides to generate a second print.
I think "Saga" is going to be one of those books we'll be hearing about for the rest of the year. It's just that good. Let me know what you think if you read the book. Disagree with me and Dean? Prove it!
So, until next week, go forth and read, my people. And the reading will be good!
Here are some of the other comics scheduled to hit the shelves March 14. Your local retailer will probably have these and others, so make sure to check with them for more details.
This week’s pick is all about the politics of being pretty in a fairytale world.
“Fairest #1”, written by Bill Willingham on the Vertigo imprint is a lot of fun to read. It's a humorous extension of the universe Willingham helped create in the long-running comic book “Fables," another Vertigo title. (Vertigo is owned by DC Comics, which, like CNN, is part of parent company Time Warner.)
What is “Fables?”
There are five answers to that. It's a comic book about characters of fairy tales and nursery rhymes coming together under a truce to survive in modern-day New York City. It's a story about a war - both ground war and a war of attrition - between these inhabitants of Fabletown and the overwhelming forces that oppose them. It's a lovingly crafted melodrama (which is not a bad thing) detailing the passions, losses, betrayals and revenges of dozens of characters. It's a story of political intrigue and secrets. And it’s a high-adventure romp across an endless array of vibrant backdrops and colorful enemies.
In addition to being an excellent entry point into that world, "Fairest #1" sets itself up as something of a character anthology, featuring a rotating cast of awesome female characters from "Fables." FULL POST
When DC Comics canceled almost every book it published last August and relaunched with a few dozen new titles or reworked classics – the so-called “New 52” - it was the biggest story to hit the world of comics in quite some time. (Like CNN, DC Comics is owned by Time Warner.)
The New 52 roll-out offered consumers same-day digital distribution, gave a lot of relatively unknown writers and artists a chance to play for the majors, took some real chances on some lesser-known books and even rolled the dice on some creators who once strode the comics landscape like kings but had since fallen out of public favor.
The first book I recommended in this column was “Justice League #1,” the flagship title of the effort. It turned out to be one of the titles they took no chances on the art and writing whatsoever. FULL POST
You probably think you already know everything you need to know about The Flash. You should pick up DC Comics “The Flash #6,” which comes out this week, anyway. (Like CNN, DC is owned by Time Warner.)
It’s a crossover issue that builds on the pre-existing story and artwork by the always brilliant writer/artist Francis Manapul (“Witchblade,” “Legion of Super-Heroes”). It manages to bring that story to a conclusion and nicely set up issue No. 7’s introduction of the New 52’s vision of Flash’s nemesis – Captain Cold.
Our friend Daniel Dean from Titan Games and Comics in Smyrna, Georgia, thinks you should read "The Flash” simply because Manapul writes the book.
Francis Manapul, simply put, is "an artist who's never afraid to try something,” Dean said. “He usually succeeds, even on projects undeserving of his talents.”
“The Flash” has always been a divisive property, with different incarnations and different “definitive” takes on the character stretching back to the ‘30s. In the end, I think there’s a place for all of them. But the shifting around has understandably rubbed some comics readers the wrong way.
I went back and read some older issues of “The Flash.” I found that sharp thinking, a mind for science, and above-par intelligence were always at the heart of the comic.
Batman always wants to be better than his enemies. Superman always wants to represent a greater good. And The Flash always wants to be smarter than his enemies – and he wants to win. That's the jock and the nerd rolled into one. FULL POST
Dark Horse Comics and writer John Ostrander are teaming up again for “Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi #1.” While the recently released MMO “Star Wars: The Old Republic” is set long before the events in the “Star Wars” films, “Dawn of the Jedi #1” is set earlier still (long, long ago, if you will), dealing with the very foundation of the Jedi order and the events that helped shape their philosophies.
You can easily see a direct line between this story and story of Luke eventually finding Obi-Wan Kenobi in the deserts of the planet Tatooine. Our friend Daniel Dean from Titan Games and Comics in Smyrna, Georgia, has high hopes for the book.
“My store sees a lot of ‘Star Wars’ fans. It seems like every week, I have five new ‘Star Wars’ comics come out and I have customers who not only buy them all, but who would also buy more. My love of ‘Star War’s isn't quite as oceanic, but the waters do run deep.”
I'm a fan of new releases like comics, novels and video games that take thematic elements from the original “Star Wars” story but divorce them from the so-called “Expanded Universe” that acts as a sort of official timeline.
It allows developers and writers to tell an engaging, multidimensional story using elements so familiar that even people who haven't seen "Star Wars" will recognize them - but without the audience feeling like they have to track down random other bits of “Star Wars” lore to understand and enjoy it.
“I had a teacher who liked to say the reason ‘Star Wars’ was such a hit was because it was about good and evil, and everybody can appreciate good and evil," Dean said. "I don't think that's true. I think if you go back to that first movie, “Episode IV A New Hope,” it is an individual's capacity for good or evil, and the fact that they aren't mutually exclusive, which makes the characters and trappings really stick with people.”
“Dawn of the Jedi” takes readers back to a time when adherents to the Jedi order learned this lesson the hard way. It shows how early events shaped the views, and future actions, of the order.
This book offers a lot of good lore, a couple of “Expanded Universe” nods, an ominous antagonist and a big bad-guy throw-down.
And of course we get John Ostrander, who has been writing “Star Wars” titles for Dark Horse for more than a decade. So, yeah, I think those five-a-week "Star Wars" customers might have just added a sixth book.
Is there a comic out there that you really love? Let us know in the comments. We’re always looking for tips on good comics!
Here are some of the comics scheduled to hit the shelves on February 15, 2012. Your local retailer will probably have these and others, so make sure to check with them for more details.
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