WLG #369: The Dog Days of Summer!

A column article by: Matt Spatola

The dog days of summer. That phrase is usually used to describe the time period from early July to early August. Historically this is because it is the hottest, most sultry time of the season. Basically it’s just a nice way of saying it’s miserable outside. So far, as we are still in the beginning weeks of it, it hasn’t been that bad.

But as much as I and everyone else would wish otherwise we all know the hot, steamy and humid days are around the corner. I wonder in a sense if that can’t be said to be somewhat similar to a lot of what’s going on with mainstream comics right now.

We are in the dog days and just waiting for the cooler, better days ahead.

I know I kind of touched on this last time I was here at What Looks Good HQ but I feel it's still something to mention. To me, there really is just this sense of malaise in mainstream comics right now. Even with two big summer events running at Marvel and DC I can’t help but still get that perception, from talking to readers, visiting the blogs and reading the message boards.

No one seems really excited about the 'now' right…er…now. We are all looking to the future. And the publishers are also to varying degrees.

With the relaunch of the main DC publishing line in September I don’t hear any 'buzz' on Flashpoint anymore or for its million tie-in series. Well the possible exception is the Flashpoint: Batman: Knight of Vengeance series which seems more popular than the main series if you judge by message board activity.

Basically it seems that DC fans are so focused on the relaunch coming out of Flashpoint that what is going on now in the DC line is 'old news' and greeted with a yawn and a let’s get back to talking about the costume redesigns in the NuDCU.

And at Marvel that’s an attitude a lot of readers are having with the X books. Schism, the next big X event is coming. The X-Men are breaking apart. So what. We all know Uncanny X-Men is getting the axe shortly and will be replaced by TWO new books almost immediately after- Uncanny X-Men with Cyclops ‘team’ and Wolverine and the X-Men with Logan and his guys.

SIDENOTE- So how many fans are going to buy just one of the books? I’m guessing that Marvel is thinking not many. I bet they are thinking that both books are going to sell great numbers, even with the horrible $3.99 price point and thereby be making them tons more money while further stretching and alienating the fanbase. That’s Marvel Math folks.

I guess I’m just hoping for some excitement for the lines from both companies; things are just coasting. I know DC has gone radical to shake things up. Marvel is always in flux anyway.

I’m just looking for things to excite me and its not always crossovers and death and black polybags.

Well enough of the soapbox-ing. Let’s get to the column shall we? So with that here we go…

MARVEL



Captain America #1 $3.99 (Ed Brubaker & Steve McNiven)

Bestselling Cap writer Ed Brubaker and superstar artist Steve McNiven bring you the next huge chapter in Steve Rogers life, and it's a perfect jumping-on point for fans of the Cap movie. A funeral for a fallen friend turns into a race against time as the original Captain America makes his explosive return!

So Steve Rogers is back as Cap just in time for the movie. Shocking. All sarcasm aside, this is great news to me as a huge supporter of this title in its previous volume and of Brubaker’s 7+ years guiding the character. I think it’s a great idea to have a title available that’s easy to get into for any new fans to the character following the release of the movie. Sure I miss the classic numbering but that’s going with the new Cap and Bucky title which I will also be picking up.

I’m guessing since this is geared towards the new reader there won’t be much mention of Fear Itself. This book seems to be taking place after its conclusion or at least after last week’s issue which had Steve wielding the shield once again.

Brubaker- always solid with action and character. McNiven- always great with art.

Can’t wait til Wednesday!

X-Men: Schism #1 of 4 $4.99 (Jason Aaron & Carlos Pacheco)

The X-Men event of the decade starts here! It's never been a more dangerous time to be a mutant. Even with their numbers at a record low, the world refuses to trust mutantkind…and after a mutant-triggered international incident, anti-mutant hatred hits new heights. Of course it's at this moment, when the mutant race needs most to stand together, that a split begins that will tear apart the very foundation of the X-Men. From superstar writer and Marvel Architect Jason Aaron and a full roster of comics' top artists, this is an X-tale that will reverberate for years to come! Come October, the X-Men landscape will be irreparably changed.

I know that it might seem strange seeing this issue here after what I wrote up there. But I disagree. This book looks good to me. Aaron is a great new voice at Marvel who has shown that he has a great handle on the X characters; some of the Wolverine stuff he has done the last couple of years was brilliant. So I’m looking forward to reading his take on the ‘event comic’.

My thing is that I’m not sure starting this series off at $4.99, even with the bonus pages- its being solicited as 48 pages- is a good omen for Marvel fans. If the sales are good I can see Marvel doing it more- bad news for the fan on a budget, which I’m guessing is like 90% of us.

IMAGE



The Red Wing #1 $3.50 (Jonathan Hickman & Nick Pitarra)

To stay alive in the future, the best fighter pilots in the world not only have to perfect their skills and master their aircraft, they also have to know how to travel through time. Brought to you by award winning writer JONATHAN HICKMAN and possibly the best new talent of the year, NICK PITARRA, the Red Wing is the story of the greatest battle in the history of the history of three worlds.

Can this be Image’s next big hit? Will it be the latest first issue sellout from the publisher? Ummmm….yes!

Hickman is great. His comic book writing is some of the best out there. I love the denseness and amount of gravity to his work. There is a real sense of atmosphere, of direction of reason. These are qualities missing from many comics out there.

While he’s certainly been focused on his Marvel work lately he’s said that he has a few creator series that he is working to develop, this being the first.

I saw preview pages for the series on Pitarra’s blog and also at Bleeding Cool. He is just doing beautiful artwork here. The linework is very fine and detailed. Everything seems so real, even the future technology seems real. He’s a great find that I’m guessing will be getting a bunch of offers come Wednesday afternoon.

ASPEN



Lady Mechanika #2 $2.99 (Joe Benitez with Peter Steigerwald)

From the imaginative mind of Joe Benitez with colors by the incomparable Peter Steigerwald, comes this all-new supernatural action-adventure series! The tabloids dubbed her 'LADY MECHANIKA', the sole survivor of a psychotic serial killer's three-year rampage through London. Found locked in an abandoned laboratory amidst countless corpses and body parts, with her own limbs amputated and replaced with mechanical components, her life began anew. With no memory of her captivity or her former life, LADY MECHANIKA eventually built a new life for herself as a private detective, using her unique abilities to solve cases the police couldn't or wouldn't handle. But, she has never stopped searching for answers! Now, disturbed by haunting memories from her past, LADY MECHANIKA is consumed by a need for answers and focuses all her efforts on investigating the mystery of the Mechanical Girl. The trail leads her to a traveling show run by a band of gypsies, where help might not come as easily as anticipated. But even with the aid of the Gypsy Queen, can LADY MECHANIKA discover who created the Mechanical Girl and why? And will the answers bring her one step closer to uncovering the truth about herself?

How’s that for solicitation copy? Wow! Not much to say after all that other than if you were one of the lucky few to pick up the 0 issue and the first issue then you and I know what everyone else has been missing.

This book is just beautiful- writing and art.

Aspen is really pushing this book and that’s great to see. Also available this week is a low priced collector’s edition which combines the 0 and 1 issues together for only $3.99.

So please check this out and even pick up the collector’s edition. This is a great indie book!



Well that brings us to almost to the end of this week’s column. Almost. Every three weeks you all come here and check out my picks for THAT week. But I miss things some times. And then afterward I want to share them with you guys. Basically I just want to spotlight a comic book that might have not caught your eye last week or in the last couple weeks. So here’s the first of an irregular feature with my column; What WAS Good.

Vengeance #1 of 6 $3.99 (Joe Casey & Nick Dragotta)

When MAGNETO of the X-Men tries to rescue a young Mutant on the run, he accidently kicks off a series of events that will shake the very Marvel Universe to it's core! Who are the new TEEN BRIGADE?! Who are the Brotherhood and what do they want with the YOUNG MASTERS OF EVIL?! And how is the RED SKULL pulling the strings from beyond the grave? Joe Casey (AVENGERS: EARTH'S MIGHTIEST) joins Nick Dragotta?(FANTASTIC FOUR) for some major acts of VENGEANCE!

I know its hard to imagine a Marvel book going unnoticed but really, when the publisher puts out 70+ books a week including trades its quite easy for a book, especially a miniseries to get lost in the crowd. Especially when it’s priced at $3.99 and not connected to any of the big crossover events.

But Vengeance was well worth that extra buck to me. Casey is taking a new approach to some of the big and bizarre villains in the Marvel U. Yeah we get Magneto but we also got the Red Skull, Hitler(!) and the Red Ghost.

The last few years at the Big Two comic companies have seemed to be very much driven by editorial and servicing the character for other media. Everything seems very constrained and dictated mostly.

Not here. This book reads as though Casey has been let loose in his own little corner to do his thing. I’ve always loved his dialogue and fresh approaches. Dragotta did a fine job on art, much like the recent issue of Fantastic Four.

So please if you have a chance go back and see if your LCS a copy on the shelves and pick it up. It’s not your typical Marvel superhero comic.

And we are at a wrap. Thanks for coming by and reading my ideas on What Looks Good in comics this week. Feel free to share your thoughts, opinions or crazy ideas over at the forum or drop me a line.

See you all in three!

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