June's Number Ones Part 2

Comic book day and the July #1s are piling up already, so let's get through the last of the June #1s I wanted to cover. Because if I'm gonna cost/save you a dollar, I better be a little quicker about this.
The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie for Image. Not part of the Phonogram universe, but definitely its cousin, Gillen's new book takes the idea of Rock Gods fairly literally, with music the basis for cults of more than personality, and young people deified for a short time before their bright flame burns out (shades of Morrison or Joplin). In the first issue, we uncover the rules of this world and meet a couple of "gods" including Lucifer herself who gets into trouble showing off her powers, but the real focus, I think, will be on a young fan destined to become the next big thing (unless I misread the whole thing). The art is slick and gorgeous, just like on every project McKelvie has worked on with Gillen, no surprise there.
Keep reading? Yes, of course. This is a creative team I'd follow anywhere.
Figment by Jim Zub and Filipe Andrade for Marvel's Disney Kingdoms. Disney's first attempt at using Marvel to promote its own properties is a 5-issue mini-series recounting the origin of Figment, the mascot of the Imagination! pavilion at Epcot Center who'd previously appeared in some education films. The beautifully-drawn story is light-hearted steampunk, focusing on the inventor of a mind battery that frees his childhood imaginary friend, a purple dragon called Figment. While the issue plays as a sort of classic comedy set-up where the hero has to hide the magical being from prying eyes, it does seem to open up at the end and promises to explore a whole world of imagination.
Keep reading? Could be a nice one for kids with good reading ability, though it plays just as well for adults. It's certainly very pretty. I'm probably up for a second issue, but I'm not necessarily in a hurry.
Henchmen, Inc. by Tim Simmons and Jim McMumm for Monkeybrain. Meet Michael Finch, he's a small-time goon just out of prison and hoping to make good so he can be a father to his unborn child. He gets a job at Henchmen, Inc., where supervillains go to get all those themed goons, and they've got full health benefits! It's superhero fiction seen from the underbelly, well thought-out, frequently amusing, and with a lot of heart. I care about this guy, and applaud the send-up of the genre.
Keep reading? You bet. It's my favorite on this particular list.
Outcast by Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta for Image/Skybound. This double-length mag (the format makes me think every issue will be) unfolds like a graphic novel, with plenty of scenes that let the art tell the story (a moody, cinematic job from the excellent Paul Azaceta), and follows Kyle Barnes, a natural exorcist who has been hounded all his life by possession. Hell is trying to ruin his life and he doesn't know why. When I say "trying to", I really mean "succeeding in", as this is definitely a noir take on the subject. Kirkman weaves a story that initially thrives on ambiguity, with a broken hero and lots of potential.
Keep reading? Yes. It's got its claws hooked into me even if I'm not particularly a horror fan.
Red City by Daniel Corey and Mark Dos Santos for Image. A film noir cop'n'murder story told on an interplanetary scale, Red City is set on Mars, yes, but its scope covers the whole solar system. The first issue gets through a lot of exposition to get us up to speed with the geography and politics of this world, and while it's all competently done (words and art), it seemed to me like it could have taken place in the 1930s. Change the names, locations and the odd alien face, and you can still tell the same story. Reality might diverge more in later issues, but as of the first, I feel like I've been sold a sci-fi story, but got something else.
Keep reading? I didn't dislike it, but it's a skip for next time, I'm afraid.
The Empty Man by Cullen Bunn and Vanesa R. Del Rey for Boom! Is the "Empty Man" a contagious form of insanity? An urban myth perpetrated by the media? Demonic possession? Or something more monstrous still? The FBI is looking into it in this book that feels a little like Outcast, frankly, though the art is wonkier (I don't dislike that sort of thing, but the scale on some characters feels way off) and the threat more Lovecraftian in flavor. The creep factor is definitely similar.
Keep reading? A second issue will tell me if this is something worth pursuing, because it definitely has potential.

So there you have it. I probably won't wait 'til the end of the month to cover some of July's #1s. Look for a first batch of reviews next week!



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