Number Ones in the New Year

 

2015 arrives and with it, more new titles. Are any of them worth getting? Let’s look at a half-dozen which might.
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Ant-Man by Nick Spencer and Ramon Rosanas for Marvel. This week, we finally got to see the generic Ant-Man movie trailer. Marvel smartly comes out with an Ant-Man ongoing the next day, and seeing as it’s largely a comedy, it gets the Ant-Man movie’s vibe a lot better than that trailer did. Now, I’ll miss Irredeemable Ant-Man forever, but I did like Scott Lang as Ant-Man quite a lot in the Allreds’ FF. Nick Spenser’s take on the character is THAT Ant-Man, which makes me happy, though I found the laughs were sometimes a bit forced. See, Spencer’s evaluation of Scott is that he’s essentially a quitter. He’s never been on a team for long, he’s been bounced from one comic or status to another, and that reflects badly on him. He’s always tries to be a good father though, and that’s the one exception in the pattern. In the first issue, Ant-Man is on a job interview, but can he prove reliable? Set up as the guy who makes bad decisions, we can perhaps accept where this all goes, but there’s bad and then there’s dumb. Spencer pushes the “comedy of the pathetic” perhaps a bit far  to make his script work. That said, there’s a lot of amusement to be had here. Scott Lang’s voice is an interesting one, the book is techno-savy like its probably audience, Spencer finds news ways for Ant-Man to use his powers, and the family drama aspect should ring true for a lot of kids and adults. Rosanas’ art could be a little more expressive, but serves the book well enough, his pages packed with story.
Recommended? I think this is a very good introduction to the character, leading readers into the tone of the upcoming film. I smiled more than I laughed, but how is that a negative?
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Graveyard Shift by Jay Faerber and Fran Bueno for Image. A cop on the night shift runs afoul of vampires… So the question you need to ask yourself is: Are you still interested in vampires? Faerber addresses this in a text page, saying the glut of superhero books doesn’t stop comic book publishers from releasing more superhero books, so why are vampires any different? He also wants to do vampires right, none of that shining in the sun nonsense. Graveyard Shift features some pretty sharp turns over the course of its first issue, keeping things alive (and uhm… undead) with a certain unpredictability. It’s violent, but not gross-out violent. Bueno’s art has a nice observed quality, getting characters’ expressions right and giving them immediate charm… just so it’ll be harder to say goodbye when the body count indubitably starts to climb.
Recommended? I was afraid the idea was already played out, but the first issue has a good hook or three.
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Lady Killer by Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich for Dark Horse. This black comedy, told in 5 issues, is all about a 50s house wife who is also a hired assassin. Good thing Josie knows how to get those pesky blood stains out. Lots of period detail from artist Joëlle Jones, whose style has a mad edge that suits the two main ingredients of the story: violence and repression. The contrast is a fun one. I’m actually less interested in the contract hits than I am in how Josie can keep her double life from husband and family. The text page had ample opportunity for satire, but doesn’t quite gets there with a faux 50s advice column that’s too much like the real thing to actually be funny. Hopefully, this doesn’t mean the series itself will blow its punchline.
Recommended? If you like your comedy dark, you’ll find something to like in Lady Killer.
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Operation S.I.N. by Kathryn Immonen and Rich Ellis for Marvel. Okay, Ant-Man’s trailer premiered this Tuesday, but just before that was Marvel’s Agent Carter pilot, following the 1940s adventures of one Peggy Carter from Captain America: The First Avenger, in which Howard Stark and Jarvis co-star. So Marvel’s got a book about THAT too, only it’s not called Agent Carter. Operation S.I.N. is a title that’s, as of the first issue (of 5), still baffling, and only seems designed to attract the attention of Marvelites who liked the Original Sin event and/or its tie-ins. Which this doesn’t seem to be. At least not yet. Flawed branding aside, the book actually takes place later than the TV series, during the Cold War, but Peggy is still full of sass and vinegar. She has some nice chemistry with Howard Stark who means to employ her on a mission she cares nothing about, and the title perhaps promises to be a kind of 50s SHIELD. If it’s successful, or if the television show is, it could give us more adventures in this period (perhaps even under a proper Agent Carter banner), but for now, this is a good-looking attempt at Marvel Comics in a different period, with fun characters and a story that could go anywhere.
Recommended? Sure. Get in on Peggy Carter comics’ ground floor. Shame about the strange branding, this should be catching TV fans’ eye, but won’t. Unless they’re reading this?
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Rocket Salvage by Yehudi Mercado and Bachan for Archaia. Hard to believe 6 issues will be enough to explore the world of Rocket Salvage. Whether we’re talking writing or art, this thing is DENSE. In a good way. Combining space opera, robots, monsters, clone families, super-abilities, mythical weapons, criminal underlords, and high-octane racing into a single tale, this book exudes charm and humor and intrigues with every background detail or throw-away line. Bachan’s art has an animated quality that fits the overall family tone, but Rocket Salvage also has some adult moments, though nothing “mature readers”, in case you want to fob this off to younger readers. Good fun, and loads of potential. Depending on where this ends up, I’d be game for return engagements.
Recommended? Yes. An excellent and cool-looking mash-up that should amuse and entertain.
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The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson for Marvel. If you like Boom!’s Adventure Time comics, be sure to check out the new Squirrel Girl series crafted by two of Adventure Time’s stalwarts (and if you aren’t a fan of those books, why the heck not?!). So yeah, Squirrel Girl has always been a big joke, but North and Henderson embrace that completely. Where Ant-Man’s comedy made me smile, Squirrel Girl’s made me laugh. She’s just started going to college, and if she can stop blurting out superhero stuff, she just might keep her secret identity safe from her new roommate. At least she doesn’t seem to mind her squirrel sidekick–I mean, pet! Starts off as a charming humor comic, but gets better, especially for long-time fans of the Marvel universe when the mystery bad guy arrives. I get the feeling Squirrel Girl will be facing all the biggest, baddest threats the Marvel U has managed to spawn, and she’ll be defeating them with cleverness and more than a little meta-textual luck/knowledge. Thank God for that Deadpool app!
Recommended? If you like a good humor comic set in one of your favorite superhero universes, grab this one. It probably won’t be for everyone (looking atchoo, readers who keep the super-serious New52 alive), but I think most will get a kick out of it.

But what did YOU think? More next week, I’m sure. Oh, and if there are new books (or revamps) you’re desperate to see me cover, let me know.

Siskoid is obsessed with obscure characters, so perhaps his sudden interest in Squirrel Girl isn’t surprising. When people ask Who’s This?, he’s usually got an answer.

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