More of December's Number Ones

Settle in for winter with some comics, and perhaps... something new? Here are a few more books that have come out this month. Maybe I can help you spend your Christmas money (or save it)!
Army of Darkness by Cullen Bunn and Larry Watts for Dynamite. Bunn has the comic timing to work on this franchise, of course, and he seems determined to send Ash where he's never been before. A space adventure? Yeah, why not? He takes care to give a brief recap of the premise from Evil Dead on, so someone not too familiar with the world of the Dead-ites won't feel lost. Essentially, this is a leave-your-brain-at-the-door zombie fighting comic where anything can happen and should. Watts makes the action dynamic and Bruce Campbell's mug is easy enough to render. They could have pushed the humor and the crazy action even more, but it serves the franchise well enough.
Recommended? Not revolutionary, but certainly enough there to satisfy fans.
Escape from New York by Christopher Sebela and Diego Barreto for Boom! Another cult film franchise that got its own comic this month, "Escape from..." doesn't force Snake Plissken to go back into postapocalyptic New York or L.A. That would be redundant. Instead, his new creative team is intent on exploring the rest of Escape America, starting with Florida. With the unfortunate headlines that have come out of that state in the past 10-20 years, that makes a certain kind of poetic sense. Barreto's art complements the action and wry humor of John Carpenter's vision well enough, and I look forward to him showing us more of this collapsed America through the adventures of one of movies' greatest badasses.
Recommended? Fans of the films should definitely pick this up. If you've never seen an Escape movie, you'll still find this a good action/satire comic.
Eternal by William Harms and Giovanni Valletta for Boom! What if, in the future, people could avoid death by jumping into a clone body? Well, if they could afford it, of course. That's the premise behind this 4-issue mini-series, a struggle represented by rebels/terrorists who have gotten their hands on the technology and can now make suicide runs on corporate facilities as law enforcement bears down. There's also a DNA trafficking element to the story. Harms gets us into this world neatly and quickly, and also shows how such technology would adversely affect culture. The stakes are social, more than anything. Valletta clean lines - aside from a couple of pages which seem harshly inked by someone else - look cinematic under Adam Metcalfe's moody color work, and if I were a Hollywood mogul, I'd be looking for mini-series just like this one to option their rights.
Recommended? Deep enough already that four issues scarcely seem enough to do Eternal justice. Fans of SF comics take note!
Rumble by John Arcudi and James Harren for Image. BPRD's creative team comes out with this beautiful-looking, but entirely bizarre new series about... Wait, what IS this about? Image's marketing department calls it "like a scarecrow-Conan fighting in a Louis C.K. TV show directed by David Fincher". Uhm... Essentially, it seems to be about a lowly bartender whose life is disrupted when a scarecrow man with a giant sword barges in to attack an old war veteran/regular customer. From there, it's anything goes. Comedy demons, possessed cats, bodies rising from the swamp... and as a counterpoint to the grimy urban stuff, an operatic opening sequence that's halfway between epic sword and sorcery and Jack Kirby's Fourth World. Harren draws great animals and they're all over the place, making this world more alive than most, full of background details and interesting designs. Arcudi's clearly having a lot of fun. You know what? I am too.
Recommended? A visual feast filled with humor and crazy concepts. No idea where it's going, but that makes it intriguing in the best possible way.
Solitary by C.W. Cooke and Nando Souzamotta for Devil's Due. This little Kickstarted series is about a superhero who caused the death of the wrong people, and seeing as he can't really die, is being tortured by a ruthless prison warden. A 4-issue mini, the concept should play itself out nicely without overstaying its welcome, using two time frames to tell its story. What exactly IS the tragedy that brought our protagonist to this point, and just how much punishment will be enough? If the book sounds violent and sadistic, it really isn't. It's not exploitative in its depictions of prison brutality. The art is just cartoony enough to avoid that anyway, preferring caricatured faces and bold contours to gritty realism. As for the writing, it's a relatively quick read, with little dialog or narration, even if it goes through several story beats in its first chapter.
Recommended? Definitely interesting, though I can't guarantee the entire series' quality based on a single issue.
The Valiant by Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, Paolo Rivera and Joe Rivera for Valiant. Valiant comics have been going from strength to strength and created, over the last few years, one of my favorite and most coherent superhero universes ever. The Valiant is a 4-issue Prestige mini-series that combines several elements from that universe into a single story and because of that - even if it provides short blurbs on each featured character - it won't make the best introduction to the comics line. It does look great though. Now, my favorite Valiant book is easily the always surprising and hilarious Archer & Armstrong, and The Valiant partly spins out of events that occurred in that book last year. I'd be slightly more enthusiastic if it had come out then, but if you're following Valiant through trades (and please, do get caught up), maybe it's a little more timely for you. The focus of the series is how Earth's current Geomancer is under threat from a really cool monster and the Eternal Warrior, who has consistently failed to save all the other Geomancers through history, can't let that happen again. Somehow, Bloodshot is also involved, but the story strands have yet to converge. This may be a story I wanted to read more than a year ago, but I'm more than happy to read it now, especially if it's going to look this good.
Recommended? A bit involved for Valiant neophytes, admittedly, but a great creative team doing great work on a great (did I use the word great too often here, well great) canvas. Valiant fans shouldn't skip it.



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