The Professor Looks Ahead at 2012
A New Year is underway and classes have already begun. The Professor hollers at’cha about some of comicdom’s coolest offerings for 2012. That's right Gifted Readers, because I know you all to be gifted and devoted students of this little pasttime of ours, here's the new curriculum for your continued studies!
Last year was DC Comics’s year of the big splash with their New 52 Universe reboot and re-launch. Marvel’s looking to follow suit this year with yet another of their events (see below). But really, let’s be honest here: 2012 will be the year that independent and creator-owned comics make a—well, not sure if you can call it big splash in a commercial sense, but as significant a splash than they’ve made in recent years. In 2012, it looks like the comics entertainment industry has another really cool year in store for us. Here’s a look at a some of the offerings.
Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips’ FATALE
(JAN - Image)
This one has already made its splash with Fatale #1 hitting shelves earlier this month and #2 due this week. You know this super-hot collaborating duo of Brubaker and Phillips from such cult noir favorites as SLEEPER (WildStorm/DC), CRIMINAL and INCOGNITO (Marvel/Icon).
Well, those two dastardly best-selling fellows known for bringing critically-acclaimed crime/noir yarns are at it again, however this time they're adding yet another wrinkle to their award-winning formula -- horror, with a touch of science fiction and the paranormal. The last time I was excited for this specific heady blend of genres in a comic was probably Dan Brereton's THE NOCTURNALS (sigh, so sorely missed).
The skinny: A reporter in 2012 stumbles on a secret that leads him down the darkest path imaginable... to a seductive woman who's been on the run since 1935, a mobster who may be an immortal demon monster, and the stories of all the doomed men who've been caught in their decades-long struggle. All-Star writer Brubaker promises this to be a epic ongoing series as he has quite the long-form story to tell with this one.
If you've read Brubaker's work previously, specifically his CAPTAIN AMERICA work, then you know that when he commits to a long story the results are nothing short of epic. He's clearly one of the finest writers in our beloved medium. Like everything else this pair does, the first issue has gotten some high reviews across the board. If I were any of you, I wouldn't sleep on a series like this if crime and suspense comics are your thing.
Rick Remender Writing Secret Avengers
(JAN – Marvel)
Another situation already underway, Rick Remender's run on Secret Avengers, inherited from Warren Ellis (plus Nick Spencer and Ed Brubaker prior to that) began with the Marvel Point One issue SECRET AVENGERS #21.1 which came out last week on Jan. 25th (to mixed reviews).
The issue is primarily meant as a jumping-on-point for new readers who may not have followed the series previously, but it's also just a status quo reset/update issue as well, given that a new creative team is taking the title over, and also the introduction of a new team roster (and Captain America bringing Hawkeye in as leader). Uber-talented writer Remender star has risen considerably in the mainstream beginning with his consistently sold-out launch of Marvel's UNCANNY X-FORCE in the fall of 2010, and also his definitive, groundbreaking run on VENOM that began in early 2011 (both runs still going and promised to be very long). From what I've read of Remender's plans on this book, let's just say that fans of UNCANNY X-FORCE should probably flock to this title as well if they truly enjoyed the storylines there, especially the 8-part Dark Angel Saga.
20th Anniversary of Image Comics & the Image Comic EXPO
Sniffle. My baby is aw growed up. Image Comics turns 20 this year (which when I consider the fact that I have a 17-year old child it just adds to my usual feelings of oldness). I can still remember being that eighteen year-old geek reading my beloved X-books in late 1991 and early 1992 and seeing those adverts from Mile High Comics for YOUNGBLOOD (and later SPAWN, WILDC.A.T.Ss and others) wondering what the hell was going on with the artists/plotters I was reading monthly.
Little did I know that a few short months later I would find out that some of my comic creator heroes had started their own comic book company (initially published by Malibu Comics behind the scenes) and had left the X-books I was so in love with at the time. The rest, as they say, is history. This story has been well-documented over the last two decades.
So respectfully I say Happy Anny, Image Comics! You’re still my favorite publisher after all these years. My respect for you is eternal. Marvel might be the House of Ideas, but Image has been the House of NEW Ideas for most of its 20 years.
Coming to the Oakland Convention Center in Downtown Oakland, CA on February 24-26 in honor of this milestone year is the first ever Image Comic EXPO.
Now THIS is THE convention your Professor would LOVE to attend, given how important Image Comics have always been to me, not to mention my unwavering support and championing of the spirit of independence throughout the comic industry.
All the Image founders & partners—Todd McFarlane (SPAWN), Rob Liefeld (YOUNGBLOOD), Erik Larsen (SAVAGE DRAGON), Jim Valentino (SHADOWHAWK), Marc Silvestri (CYBER FORCE), Whilce Portacio (WETWORKS) and Robert Kirkman (THE WALKING DEAD)—will be there, sans Jim Lee (WILDCATS) who is now co-publisher of DC (such a shame he can’t participate. An aside: all tallied, Lee, who produced arguably some Image's best comics in the 90s, was only at Image for about 7 of its 20 years. Crazy.)
Who are the other independent comic creators scheduled to attend? Oh, they’re heavy-hitters like Ed Brubaker (FATALE), Joe Casey (GODLAND), Jay Faerber (NEAR DEATH), Jonathan Hickman (THE NIGHTLY NEWS), John Layman (CHEW), Ryan Ottley (INVINCIBLE), Steven T. Seagle (SOUL KISS) , Nick Spencer (MORNING GLORIES), Richard Starkings (ELEPHANTMEN), and Brian K. Vaughan with his SAGA collaborator Fiona Staples.
The Year of Wood: Brian Wood Rides Again… on a Dark Horse
(JAN - Marvel & FEB - Dark Horse)
The usually independent creator and acclaimed writer, Brian Wood is poised for a rebirth this year after a kind of death of sorts at DC's Vertigo imprint with the cancellation of his NORTHLANDERS series (a dark crime saga set in the the viking age) with various different illustrators, and the end of his long-running series about a dystopic New York called DMZ with art by himself, Riccardo Burchielli and others. He has the WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN: ALPHA AND OMEGA limited series (with artist Mark Brooks) that just debuted early January from Marvel. Next up are two new offerings from Mr. Wood: a CONAN THE BARBARIAN series with long-time collaborator Becky Cloonan as the illustrator.
And then the following month in Dark Horse's DARK HORSE PRESENTS anthology series, debuts a prequel serial of his forthcoming new creator-owned series called THE MASSIVE, illustrated by Kristian Donaldson. Wood, like Brubaker and Remender, like to tell long-form stories of epic proportions and has stated that THE MASSIVE will be exactly that. He is also immensely happy to have found a home with Dark Horse for his new creations. Apparently Dark Horse loves him equally back because in May they are also re-issuing the out-of-print collection of his cult classic series from the late 90's, a little series called CHANNEL ZERO, originally published by AiT/Planet Lar. It was a series that at the time forever won him the respect of one Warren Ellis, not exactly something that's easy to do (Ellis even had him provide some artwork for his own work). Brian Wood's unique voice is important to the industry and I'm glad he's got a new home at Dark Horse, and I don't doubt that Marvel will have more work for him in the future. Definitely DC's loss, considering the way that relationship ended, as well as certain changes in how they're running the Vertigo imprint nowadays.
The Walking Dead Mid-Season Return
(FEB on AMC)
The producers have warned that a significant character will die within these next six episodes. I can’t help but wonder: will this season contain that key scene from THE WALKING DEAD #6 comic where a certain unlikely character kills that certain significant character? ** Speculation/Spoiler Alert ** Could this be the end of Shane Walsh, considering that actor Jon Bernthal has been actively seeking a new job since Season 2 finished shooting? According to the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, Bernthal is rumored to be in the running for former The Walking Dead executive producer and showrunner Frank Darabont’s new series for TNT called L.A. NOIR (only in the pilot stage at this point), featuring a lead role I think would be excellent for the excellent actor Jon Bernthal. We’ll have to see how the second half of Season 2 plays out, although with cable series seasons being typically shorter (6-13 episodes) than regular network shows (18-24 episodes), he could just do double-duty. But that could also be very unlikely considering conflicts of schedule, not to mention physical appearance issues, etc. Keep a watchful eye close on this developing situation and by all means, enjoy the second half of Season 2.
AvX: Avengers versus X-Men
(APR – Marvel)
A rather unoriginal (considering we’ve seen this before, most notably in 1986), but somewhat inspired (various major storylines have been building to this), AvX is Marvel’s 9-Part, bi-weekly-shipping event mini-series that promises to change the Marvel Universe – wait for it – forever! Yes, you’ve certainly seen this movie before, but hey, not all big ideas can be ground-breakers. Thankfully some of my favorite writers at Marvel are involved, Jason Aaron, Ed Brubaker & Jonathan Hickman, so hopefully their presence will help ensure story quality and good, if not great dialogue. Art-wise Marvel has wisely enlisted the pencils & inks of a bullpen’s worth of talent to ensure on-time shipping as well as a variety in styles, etc. Hopefully this is a barn-burner of a story. I was a bit let down by their 2011 event story, FEAR ITSELF.
Also on the 2012 calendar...
February - THIEF OF THIEVES (Image) By Robert Kirkman (creator/plot), Nick Spencer (plot/script) & Shawn Martinbrough (art/covers).
March - SAGA (Image) By Brian K. Vaughan (story) & Fiona Staples’ (art); THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS (Image) By Jonathan Hickman (story/covers) & Nick Pitarra (art).
April - MASS EFFECT: HOMEWORLDS (Dark Horse) with stories by BioWare Lead Writer Mac Walters, some spotlighting all-new characters to the Mass Effect Universe.
May - Free Comic Book Day; The Return of VALIANT comics; THE AVENGERS (film)
June - MARVEL PROSE novels kick off with Marvel CIVIL WAR adapted novelization.
July - THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (film); THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (film)
FALL - LOVE AND ROCKETS: New Stories Vol. 5
Other things to keep a vigilant eye on: ITEM 1: Rob Liefeld’s Extreme Universe comics return via Image Comics – How will those titles fare in the modern era? ITEM 2: Brian Michael Bendis leaving the Avengers franchise – What are Bendis’ post-Avengers projects, and who are the lucky writers to inherit the Avengers titles? ITEM 3: The Marvel Universe, post-Avengers VS X-Men– A Reboot of some sort, perhaps? What will be Marvel's next-next big thing?
Notable Comic Convention Schedule:
Image Comic EXPO in Oakland, CA (February 24-26)
London Super Comic Con in London, U.K. (February 25-26)
C2E2 – Comic Con & Entertainment Expo in Chicago, IL (April 13-15)
Comic Con International in San Diego, CA (July 12-15)
Montreal Comic Con (September 14-16)
New York Comic Con (October 11-14)
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That's a wrap! You now have an idea of what your continuing studies will include this year, Gifted Readers and comic book enthusiasts from all over the world. I want to thank you for tuning in to my weekly (okay, semi-weekly) editions of PBX these past six months! Moving forward and beginning in February, an all-new PBX column will emerge as a monthly feature (can't abandon my students completely). Keep an eye out for the occasional PBXtra as well. To inaugurate the new column, I'm working on something special, something I doubt anyone else in comics journalism will think to do. Check it out in a month, m'kay? Until then my studious peeps... X out!
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