February 2011 Previews Recommendations

Dark Horse Presents #1

Anthologies are difficult to sell, sometimes, unless they’re strongly themed or otherwise reassuring to the customer that the ratio of good stuff is high enough for the cost. (It’s not that anyone sets out to put in “bad stuff”, but to the buyer, “stories I’m not interested in” or “don’t want to buy” feel similar.) Dark Horse is bringing back one of the historical best anthology titles, and with Dark Horse Presents #1 (FEB11 0009, $7.99, 80 color pages), the strategy is simple: outstanding creators providing new material with well-known characters. I’m interested for the “new, all-color Finder story” by Carla Speed McNeil, but they’re front-loading the series with lots of big names:

  • Paul Chadwick provides a new Concrete tale
  • a sneak peek of Frank Miller’s 300 followup prequel, Xerxes, for those who haven’t yet tired of his blocky, violent work
  • New stories by Howard Chaykin, Neal Adams, and Richard Corben

DC Comics — Mostly Snark

Others have already pointed this out, but since DC starts off their section with a “letter” explaining their new rating system … I’m disturbed to see that they consider almost all of their superhero comics “appropriate for readers age 12 and older.” I’m shocked that the level of blood, gore, and exploitation they’ve been building their events on is considered only “mild violence”. The only teen plus, 16 and up, books are Green Arrow, Jonah Hex (appropriate, given a story about cannibals — which will apparently only have “moderate” instead of “intense” violence shown), Secret Six, and Titans. Weird Worlds, starring Lobo, is a T, but Zatanna is T+. Only Vertigo is Mature.

Typical of rating systems, this one makes little sense in the details. What makes a book mature? Extensive (instead of mild) profanity, nudity, or sexual themes. You can still be T+ if the book has “graphic imagery”, showing the typical U.S. double standard: naked bodies bad, but excessive violence just peachy. I can’t find the rating on the covers of the comics that came out either this week or last, although they’re labeled April 2011 (cover date) and are thus supposed to carry them. I also notice that the books, the reprint collections, aren’t rated — and why should they be? Bookstores have a very different history from comic shops in terms of being raided.

We3 Deluxe Edition cover
We3 Deluxe Edition
Buy this book

While we’re mentioning the company saying one thing and doing another, why is Batman Incorporated #6 (FEB11 0141, $2.99) listed as shipping April 20? I like the Grant Morrison-written series, but due to delays, issue #3 isn’t even going to come out until next month, March. The DC site has the next few issues shipping every 2-3 weeks to make up the schedule, but it also says #6 is coming in May.

Also out from Morrison, and recommended if you don’t already have it, is the We3 Deluxe Edition hardcover (FEB11 0270, $24.99, June 15, 144 color pages). They’re promising “new story pages by Morrison and [artist Frank] Quitely” in order to tempt those of us who own it to re-buy. It’s an excellent story, true, but I don’t have a spare $25, or the shelf space, I’m afraid.

Judging by the merchandise section, DC is busy erasing Wonder Woman from its front line of heroes. The lead Graphitti item is tagged “The DC Franchise”, promoting the “Big Three”, which now equates to Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern. There’s another attractive tee, a “Justice League retro” shirt, but that grid of nine includes, in addition to those three characters, Flash, Robin, Green Arrow, Aquaman, Hawkman, and Plastic Man. No space for even the secretary? Let’s hope that her upcoming TV show is a success so we can get more merchandise.

Some Recommendations

Image has had the most interesting high-concept miniseries launches recently, with books that aim at the traditional comic shop crowd but have something a bit different to them. The premise usually isn’t too hard to explain, but it suggests some intriguing possibilities, and the limited length allows for an actual ending. Plus, thankfully, they’re not all horror comics, which are a glut on the market. Infinite Vacation, Who Is Jake Ellis?, now Nonplayer (FEB11 0397, $2.99) by Nate Simpson, a six-issue miniseries about a girl and her life in an online fantasy game. Art looks gorgeous.

Miss Fury cover
Miss Fury
Buy this book

Ah, the mixed messages of comicdom: Trina Robbins edits Miss Fury (IDW, FEB11 0371, $49.99, 240 pages), “the first female superhero created & drawn by a woman cartoonist” (Tarpe Mills), but the cover shows the title character topless (breasts shielded by an arm as she takes off her cat costume).

These books available this month have already been reviewed by me, in case you’d like to learn more in detail:

And one more: Yehuda Moon & the Kickstand Cyclery (FEB11 1072, $14.95, April 6) is the first collection of Rick Smith’s bicycle webcomic, containing a year’s worth of color strips. If you visit the website shop, you’ll see that two more volumes are planned later this year.


5 Responses to “February 2011 Previews Recommendations”

  1. Anthony Says:

    Yes, pretty sad that apparently none of DC’s line of comics (that aren’t Johnny DC ones) are deemed unsuitable for anyone under 12 (way to build a future reading audience, there). I also wonder about the criteria for the ratings (I wouldn’t be surprised if the Joker’s usual tiresome Idi Amin levels of carnage will be more “okey dokey” than, say, some detailed story about Batwoman’s love life…).

  2. Grant Says:

    I can not wait to get my hands on that Miss Fury collection. I wonder if they’re going to include the Schomburg covers for the Timely reprints.

  3. Dee Says:

    But you got to admit Miss Fury was fantastic back in the 40’s and Tarpe Mills was a pioneer in her day blazing the trails for such writers as Gail Simone.

  4. Johanna Says:

    I’m not familiar with the Miss Fury material. I’m hoping I have a chance to check it out, because it does sound like an interesting piece of history.

  5. dee Says:

    It is it really is a fantastic piece of Women in Comics history.

    Tarpe along with Dale Messnick really where the trailblazers along with Hasegawa
    Machiko who created Sazae-San in late 40’s Japan.

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