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Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Splash Page: Comic Con Edition

Welcome, dear readers, to a very special edition of The Splash Page.  This Splash Page is dedicated to discussing all things Comic Con.  Okay, maybe not all things, but at least some really awesome looking comics!  With all of the craziness of San Diego Comic Con winding down, it now becomes time to settle in and let all of the announcements process in our heads.  There has been A LOT announced over the past four or five days in terms of movies, television, and, of course, comics.  There are even things which would not necessarily be considered front page news which were announced at SDCC.  Since there is a lot of news to sift through from the past few days, I thought I would do a little bit of the work for you.  In this Comic Con Edition of The Splash Page, I will be taking you through some of the comics announced or expanded upon throughout the con which you should keep on your radar over the next year.  After all, it wouldn't be COMIC con without some comic news, right?  Right.  So, enough stalling, let's take a look at some new comics!

Please keep in mind that all opinions are my own, and you are certainly welcome to offer up your opinions in the comments below!

The 10 Most Anticipated Comics from San Diego Comic Con

10. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Publisher: IDW
Creative Team: TBA

In perhaps the most random announcement from the comic side of things at Comic Con, IDW made it known that they would be adapting Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas into a graphic novel.  Thompson's book is a masterpiece of counter culture which has become a classic in its own right, spawning a film starring Johnny Depp, which has reached the cult following attained by the book.  IDW has confirmed that the graphic novel will be based on Thompson's book and not the popular film.  Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas tells the exaggerated story of Thompson's drug-fueled trip to Vegas with his lawyer, Dr. Gonzo, to cover a horse race.  What evolves from that basic premise is a mystical masterpiece of journalism which asks tough questions about the death of the American Dream.  Adapting Fear and Loathing to graphic novel is a very odd choice, but could work well as it is a book with a lot of very odd visual descriptions.  If the art sticks to the style which artist Ralph Steadman put in the original book, it could be one of the most beautiful graphic novels of the year.  No creative teams have been announced by IDW just yet, so just keep it on your radar for now.  Release Date: TBA

9. Shazam
Publisher: DC
Written by Geoff Johns, Art by TBA

This is a very odd choice for this list as it is a comic which was never actually announced at SDCC, only hinted at.  Geoff Johns was very coy at the New 52 panel this weekend, giving yet another slew of hints that an on-going comic based on his new take on Shazam (Captain Marvel) would probably be Johns' latest project at DC.  Billy Batson along with his adopted brothers and sisters have been the stars of Shazam back-ups in Justice League for over a year, with the climax of Billy's fight against Black Adam being given a stand alone issue last month.  The reason this is a comic which makes my list is that Geoff Johns' did an absolutely phenomenal job on those Shazam back-ups, making Shazam perhaps Johns' most well-written character in the New 52.  These were back-ups which brought a new, refreshing take on the character, but also had a ton of heart.  With the back-ups ending and Shazam taking a spot on the Justice League, it only seems natural that the character get his own series, especially since the ending of said back-ups implied we had only seen the beginning of Billy Batson's adventures.  Again, Geoff Johns nor DC have yet to officially confirm this series, but it seems like such a sure thing that it deserves a place on this list.  Please, DC, make this happen.  Release Date: Unknown

8. Superior Spider-man: Darkest Hours
Publisher: Marvel 
Written by Dan Slott and Christos Gage, Art by Humberto Ramos

This is the only comic announcement on this list which is actually just a new story arc in an on-going title.  Hopefully my reasoning for including this on the list will make sense in just a bit.  Superior Spider-man is a comic which started off with a lot of promise, rising above the rampant criticism to prove why it was a Spider-man (Doctor Octopus?) story worth reading.  In recent issues, the series has taken a slight nose dive, losing some of its novelty in favor of making the Superior Spider-man (Doc Ock inside Peter's body) a very unlikable character and changing the status quo every four to five issues.  While this is not a status quo change, this is a story idea which seems intriguing enough to bring some interest back into this wavering series.  Beginning in Superior Spider-man #22, Darkest Hours is a four issue story arc which, as the image implies, sees the Superior Spider-man facing off against Venom.  For those who have not been reading Marvel recently, Venom is currently Flash Thompson, high school jock turned war hero, who uses the symbiote to serve on the Thunderbolts among other things.  Since Flash was always a big fan of Spider-man, it will be interesting to see how he interacts with the Superior Spider-man.  Whether it does anything to change the status quo (again) remains to be seen, but this should be a story worth checking out.  Release Date: November 2013

7. Black Science
Publisher: Image
Written by Rick Remender, Art by Matteo Scalera

Technically this was a comic announced a little bit before San Diego Comic Con, but Remender and Image took to SDCC to promote this new series.  Image is a comic company which has been on quite a roll lately, publishing several new creator-owned series over the past few months alone which are absolutely stunning.  Rick Remender is a writer who has gotten a lot of attention for his work over at Marvel on Venom, Uncanny X-Force, and, most recently, Uncanny Avengers.  Remender is not the first Marvel creator to launch an Image series lately, arriving on the heels of Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman.  Black Science is , if you could not tell by the cover, a science fiction comic.  The story is that a scientist, Grant McKay, and his team have been able to use Black Science to forge their way into another reality, one populated by strange lands and creatures, with the team's only way of escaping being to continue to press on through these strange worlds.  It is a concept which could make for incredibly exciting science fiction stories.  The art on the cover is very reminiscent of science fiction comics from the 1960's and 1970's, meaning that, if nothing else, Matteo Scalera's art should be great.  If Remender can craft a series anywhere on the level of what he has done at Marvel, this comic will be one you absolutely must pick up.  Release Date: November 2013

6. Afterlife with Archie
Publisher: Archie Comics
Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Art by Francesco Francavilla 

This is honestly a comic I never thought I would be putting on this list in a million years.  Now, I have been a big fan of comics for a little over a decade, but never in my life have I ever read Archie.  It is not that there was anything wrong with the series, it is worthy of respect simply for its longevity, it was just never something which appealed to me.  Once again we have another series which was not announced at SDCC, but they did premiere a trailer for the new comic in San Diego this week.   When you think of the idea of zombies in an Archie comic, things just seem a bit cheesy.  In fact, one may not be too far off to say that the zombie genre can now be officially called played out by the fact that Archie is taking part.  This was a title which I laughed off as a dumb idea, but then I read the story...and then I saw the art.  After the death of his dog Hot Dog, Jughead goes to Sabrina the Teenage Witch to bring his pet back to life.  The magic of bringing a dog back to life causes a virus to be let loose upon the town of Riverdale, sending a plague of zombies against Archie and the gang.  I only know Aguirre-Sacasa's work on Glee, but his description of this series as Archie meets Evil Dead sounded just too intriguing to pass up.  Francesco Fancavilla's art is just icing on the cake.  Release Date: October 2013

5. Velvet
Publisher: Image
Written by Ed Brubaker, Art by Steve Epting

My Top 5 begins with yet another comic not announced at Comic Con, but more heavily promoted.  Once again we have another Image series, and, as mentioned earlier, it is a company known for producing great comics from even better creators.  Velvet is a comic which re-unites writer Ed Brubaker with artist Steve Epting.  The team's most famous work, Captain America/Winter Soldier is, obviously, the basis for next year's Captain America sequel.  Ed Brubaker is known for writing stories of political intrigue, so it should not surprise anyone that this is a comic in that same wheelhouse.  According to Brubaker, Velvet tells the story of Velvet Templeton, a personal assistant in a major spy organization, who is forced to go out on her own to hunt down one of their own agents.  Velvet Templeton is described as a Moneypenny-type character, which only makes this comic all the more exciting to a Bond fan like myself.  Combine the James Bond-esque scenario with the Cold War setting of this comic, and you have pretty much already sold me on concept alone.  Then you throw in Steve Epting's gorgeous art, and you have got yourself the makings of a great comic.  Be sure to pick up Velvet as Image may have yet another hit on their hands.  Release Date: October 2013

4. Captain Ultimate
Publisher: Monkey Brain Comics
Written by Benjamin Bailey and Joey Esposito, Art by Boykoesh

It is no surprise that superheroes dominate much of the comics market today.  Marvel and DC's huge roster of superheroes continue to catch the attention of most comics readers, no doubt due to their exposure in a variety of mediums.  There has been an on-going debate in the comics community recently, however, if superheroes are getting too dark and gritty.  In the wake of The Dark Knight, superhero comics and movies have attempted to cash in on that success by offering more grounded, dark takes on various characters.  Some are more successful than others, but there are many fans who feel a lot of joy is lost in such an approach to superhero stories.  Enter: Captain Ultimate, a new comic series written by Benjamin Bailey and Joey Esposito, who you may know from their coverage of comics over at IGN.  Published through Monkey Brain Comics, Captain Ultimate seeks to put the brightness and fun back into superhero comics, telling the story of the world's greatest superhero (Captain Ultimate) who becomes inspired by the courage of a young boy to come out of retirement.  With writing from Bailey and Esposito, this is sure to be a comic that is a love letter to its genre with a lot of heart.  The best part?  Out of all of the comics on this list, this is the only one you can read right NOW!  Release Date: #1 available for $.99 on Comixology!

3. Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand
Publisher: Marvel
Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Art by Mark Bagley

Coming right out of the pages of recent Marvel crossover Age of Ultron, Cataclysm is a crossover that will deal with the Ultimate Universe's response to new threat Galactus (from the 616 Marvel U).  While, normally, I would not bat an eye at such an event considering Ultimate Spider-man is the only comic in that universe which I read, I decided this comic needed a place on my list due to one thing: ramifications.  Except for the aforementioned Spider-man book, the Ultimate Universe is one which has been in a bit of a state of disarray over the past few years.  The idea that, once dead, no one comes back was an idea which added a real sense of stakes that could not be had in the main Marvel U, but it made for a universe which shrunk very quickly.  It meant X-men and Ultimates teams which were greatly diminished in size, and a shadow of their former selves in writing as well as group size.  Where Cataclysm seems like it may have some major ramifications is that this could be the end of the Ultimate Universe as we know it.  Cataclysm will see the entire Ultimate Universe learning that there is more than one world like theirs, a discovery so far only made by Miles Morales (Spider-man).  This line-wide crossover may prove to be the biggest thing to happen to the Ultimate U ever, or it could be nothing.  Either way, you've got my attention, Marvel.  Release Date: November 2013

2. The Twilight Zone
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Written by J. Michael Straczynski, Art by TBA

Being the nerd that I am, there are a lot of television shows that I love.  One show I will always have a soft spot for in my heart, however, is The Twilight Zone.  Now, I'm not talking about the newer series, I mean the original, Rod Serling show.  At its best, The Twilight Zone was the pinnacle of satirical writing, great acting, and sometimes frightening stories.  Even at its worst, the series was still better than most anthology shows of its kind.  If you have never seen an episode of the show (which seems a bit unlikely as SyFy Channel is always looking for an excuse to air it), you probably at least recognize its theme song.  Frankly, The Twilight Zone has transcended television and become an integral part of our culture.  Imagine my surprise and excitement, then, to read that a Twilight Zone comic was in the works by none other than J. Michael Straczynski (Superman Earth One).  There have been a lot of comics to come along which are anthologies, so The Twilight Zone will undoubtedly be a perfect fit in the medium.  Where this series really becomes fascinating is in JMS' approach to writing it.  Instead of doing a series of one-shots in the style of the show, JMS plans to write four issue arcs which focus on a character, theme, and setting, with the next four issues moving to a different character.  It is a bold new way of doing The Twilight Zone and it should be quite intriguing.  No artist has been announced yet, so that could be the linchpin to this comic's success.  Release Date: TBA

1. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Publisher: Papercutz
Written by Stefan Petrucha, Art by PH Marcondes

Growing up as a 90's kid, I was a big fan of many of the television shows which now get constantly referenced on the Internet.  One of these shows which played a huge role in my childhood was Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.  I can distinctly recall coming home from school each day to watch Power Rangers and Batman the Animated Series.  Every single friend I had had their favorite Ranger.  Although I dressed up as the Red Ranger for Halloween, my favorite was always the Blue, although many people I knew loved Tommy, the Green/White Ranger.  While I kind of stopped paying attention to the series' numerous incarnations after the movie came out, I cannot deny that Power Rangers was something I loved (One of my birthdays was a Power Ranger party for crying out loud!).  The reason this comic takes my number one spot is simple: never in a million years would I have ever guessed I would get to re-live my childhood watching Power Rangers in the form of a comic book.  It is a brilliant idea which I am, honestly, shocked has not been done before.  Thankfully, comic company Papercutz took to SDCC to announce that this comic, starring the original Rangers, would be published in the form of graphic novels next year.  Serving as "lost episodes", these comics are sporting some stunning artwork by PH Marcondes.  While it is still a very long wait before I can spend time with the Rangers again, it is a comic which I know I will be rushing out to buy.  Release Date: May 2014

So there you have it, those are my most anticipated comics which were either announced or expanded upon at San Diego Comic Con this year.  It is truly exciting for me to look over this list and see that it is utterly dominated by indie titles.  Chalk that up to a rather disappointing comics presence by Marvel and DC, but it really shows the strength this indie movement continues to have.  What about you?  Were there any comics announcements made this weekend that you think will be awesome?  Tell me in the comments below!  Be sure to keep an eye out for the next volume of The Splash Page later this week, where I will return to my normal gig of reviewing this week's comics!  
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