Written by: Ron Bricker
The world of comics is complicated, with multiple companies (and universes) to keep track of. Luckily, CC2K has Joey Esposito, our resident expert on all things pulpy and good. Each week, Joey will break down what's happening in the world of comics, so you can pick up right where he left off. Today, he once more cedes the floor of best comic of the week away from Marvel and DC to a newcomer.
This week in comics proves to be another surprising week for me in terms of the books I've enjoyed most. Once again, the most intriguing story this week comes not from the main DC or Marvel Universes, but instead a brand new one. The superstar team of Alex Ross and Jim Krueger have seemingly hit it out of the park once more with Project Superpowers #0. This bargain priced $1 issue hit stands this week and seems as though its going to be living up to the standards that these guys have set.
What's great about this book is, similar to my much adored End League #1, the creators have created new heroes built out the well-established archetypes of the mainstream superhero genre. We have The Fighting Yank, a Captain America-esque hero, The Green Lama, the mystical hero with Dr. Strange and Spectre-like qualities, or the Mighty Samson, an ideological hero in the vein of Thor. Issue #0 opens with the Fighting Yank as an old man, haunted by his past sins and being visited by ghosts of his past, literally. This plot device allows for flashbacks into the golden age heroes, much of the back story taking place during WWII.
We are slowly introduced to some of the main heroes, and what is basically a setup for the main arc of the series. I won't ruin it for you, but it's very intriguing and involves many mythological elements, Nazis, and some beautiful art. It should be noted that although this is Ross' pet project, he is limited only to cover artist and "art director". The actual pencils in this issue are done by Doug Klauba and Stephen Sadowski, and they are gorgeous. The panel layout and "camera" angles reek of Alex Ross, which I suppose is how he gained the art direction credit. Even as a bonus in the rear of the book, there is an example of original pencils by Ross and how they come to be a work of the interior artists. I presume this book will be coming out monthly as a result of Ross not doing interiors, as it is usually is detailed and tedious art style that causes many of his books to ship on an irregular, or at least lengthy, schedule.
Again, as was the case with End League, we all know that the superhero genre has been turned upside down many times, and it ends with Watchmen. It's always interesting to read a new take on the genre, and I think that Ross and Krueger have a good shot at making this book something to be talked about, though, in this first issue at least, it seems to lack the kind of relevant social criticism that makes End League so endearing. Granted, there is plenty of talk of Hitler and the atom bomb, but somehow, at least thus far, this is more a story of these characters than it is of humanity. Only time will tell, I suppose.
This week also begins Dark Horse's epic Star Wars arc, "Vector", that is going to be crossing through all of the current Star Wars books, Knights of the Old Republic, Empire, Dark Times, and Legacy. What is interesting about this is the fact that the total span of these books, in Star Wars continuity, is about 4000 years. The masterminds of this arc have promised that the generation spanning epic will be important to every book that it touches, but it will not be necessary for readers of say, only Empire to pick up every other book that the story is in, and that each chapter of "Vector" will be self contained within each book. A heavy promise indeed.
The only Star Wars book I continually read is Dark Times, but I decided to jump onto the "Vector" arc and see what it's all about. Thus far, it's interesting to say the least. I will say I found it a bit difficult jumping into Knights of the Old Republic without knowing any of the main characters, but it was easy enough to figure out what was going on, and the appearance of Darth Vader in a timeline thousands of years before everything we know about the Star Wars Universe, is interesting at the least. Again, a promising start to what seems like it will be an epic story, but hopefully it stays this way and doesn't degenerate into a desperate attempt at trying to get readers to start picking up more books.
In terms of the mainstream universes, things are slowly, but steadily moving on their way to the huge events coming up. Countdown #13 continues the pace set by the last few issues, presenting us with a cataclysmic event that once again is caused by Superman(boy)-Prime. I'm going to bite the bullet and say that in creating Superman-Prime, Geoff Johns has given us the best new villain this decade. He's the most rage-fueled bad guy that I can think of in recent years, and yet his anger is understandable and well presented, even if one can not agree with the way he handles it. One of the best issues of the past year was the Superman-Prime issue from the Sinestro Corps War books. Anyone trying to get themselves primed (no pun intended) for Final Crisis should go back and re-read that issue. So far it seems as though Superman-Prime will be having a large role in the events to come, and if this past issue of Countdown is any indication, it should be intense.
As for the Marvel U, this week's New Avengers Annual #2 picks up directly from the last issue of New Avengers, and presents our characters with a whole new set of problems. Brian Michael Bendis seems to be barreling towards this summer's Secret Invasion full steam ahead. The book is jumbo sized (and jumbo priced), but unfortunately it acts as a continuation, rather that a diversion, of the main series, so those anticipating Marvel's next big event should pick it up.
That's all for this week, but one last very important note:
CC2K is currently putting together an official comics section to the site, that will include reviews of weekly books, trades, and coverage of alternative comics and graphic novels. We have plans for convention coverage, comic news, and more! But to do all these things we need devoted, passionate writers! If you have an interest in comics, buy books weekly, and have the writing chops to put together reviews, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. You should include a writing sample of your work (preferably comic-related), as well as a pull list of your weekly books and any relevant information you feel you'd like to share. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line. I hope to hear from you all soon!
This week's must read list:
Project Superpowers #0
New Avengers Annual #2
Countdown to Final Crisis #13
Action Comics #861