DV8: Gods and Monsters #1

Written by Brian Wood
Art by Rebekah Isaacs
32 pages, color
Published by Wildstorm/DC Comics

I’m not what you’d call a long-time fan of DV8. I read the first ten issues of the series back in the day, but the writer who came on board after Warren Ellis didn’t interest me enough to stick around once Ellis and Humberto Ramos were gone. Reading interviews about Brian Wood and Rebekah Isaacs’s revamp mini-series intrigued my interest, though; maybe it’s because Wood has tried for several years to bring DV8 back, or maybe because the idea of superheroes viewed as gods had enough potential that I wanted to see where the creators would go with it. Considering how well Wood and Isaacs worked together on DMZ #50, it was definitely worth taking a look. And while it’s a slow start, there’s enough here to keep interest levels high.

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Spirit #1

Written by Mark Schultz and Denny O’Neil
Art by Moritat and Bill Sienkiewicz
40 pages, color, with some black and white
Published by DC Comics

As part of DC Comics’s new First Wave group of pulp hero comics, we’re getting another attempt from DC to use Will Eisner’s crime-fighting character, the Spirit. While I’m still not entirely convinced that crushing all these characters into a single "world" is a great idea, another The Spirit comic seems to make sense. After all, DC was already publishing The Spirit, so giving it an additional brand to draw attention to the title seemed reasonable. Now that I’ve read the first issue, though, I’m not so sure my gut instinct was correct on this one.

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Captain America: Who Won’t Wield The Shield?

Written by Jason Aaron, Matt Fraction, and Stuart Moore
Art by Mirco Pierfederici, Brendan McCarthy, and Joe Quinones
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel

I appreciate that Marvel has a sense of humor about itself these days. That’s a good thing, really, it shows that they aren’t taking themselves too seriously. But of course, humor is a subjective thing, and parody doubly so. With all that in mind, I’m not entirely sure who at Marvel first thought a one-shot titled Captain America: Who Won’t Wield The Shield? was a brilliant publishing strategy. To me, more often than not it feels like a series of inside jokes rather than something that the general readership might find amusing.

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Freewheel Volume 1

By Liz Baillie
96 pages, black and white
Published by Punchbuggy Press

When handled properly, a story that quietly shifts genres can be a real delight. That’s definitely the case with Liz Baillie’s Freewheel, which on the surface looks strictly to be a human drama, about a girl who runs away from her foster mother to try and find her missing brother and in the process discovers an underground network of homeless people. One of the many things that’s great about Freewheel, though, is how halfway through the first volume it quietly switches up on your expectations and adds a whole new dimension to its story.

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Brightest Day #0

Written by Geoff Johns and Peter J. Tomasi
Penciled by Fernando Pasarin
Inked by Fernando Pasarin, John Dell, Cam Smith, Prentis Rollins, Dexter Vines, and Art Thibert
56 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

For the past few years, DC Comics has experimented with the weekly series. We had three year-long series where one followed the next (52, Countdown to Infinite Crisis, and Trinity) plus the twelve-week Wednesday Comics. In terms of audience reception for the first three, it’s seemed like 52 is the favorite, and Countdown the least favorite, with the latter being a bit of a jumbled mess. With Brightest Day, DC has shifted to trying out an bi-weekly series (and Justice League: Generation Lost scheduled to fill the other weeks, both kicking off in earnest next month). In terms of storytelling, though, it feels like Brightest Day is trying to feel like 52. My initial reaction, though, is that this initial issue feels more like Countdown.

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Crogan’s March

By Chris Schweizer
216 pages, black and white
Published by Oni Press

One of my favorite graphic novels of 2008 was Chris Schweizer’s Crogan’s Vengeance, the first in a proposed series of stories about various ancestors of the Crogan family tree over the years. Schweizer’s story of pirates and high-seas adventure hit all the right notes for me, and since then I’ve been looking forward to seeing if he could capture that lightning in the bottle a second time with Crogan’s March. What I found was a book that takes everything I liked about the earlier volume, and then improves on it. Now that’s something you don’t see every day.

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Little Nothings Vol. 3: Uneasy Happiness

By Lewis Trondheim
128 pages, color
Published by NBM

Little Nothings is, quite frankly, one of the best titles for a diary comic that I’ve ever come across. After all, at the end of the day, the vast majority of diary comics are full of little, inconsequential nothings. They may be important (or not!) to the person they happened to, but to anyone else they’re a vague amusement at best. That said, I also think that Lewis Trondheim’s Little Nothings not only has one of the best titles of a diary comic, but that it’s one of my favorite diary comics. The book might be full of little nothings, but there’s something about Trondheim’s charm in his comics that makes it engrossing reading.

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Ristorante Paradiso

By Natsume Ono
176 pages, black and white
Published by Viz

Viz looks to be making a major push on Japanese comic creator Natsume Ono. Several months ago had the release of not simple, and House of Five Leaves is running on SIGIKKI as well as getting its first print edition later this year. They’re both strong comics, and after experiencing both of them it seemed like a natural to try Ono’s earlier work that just hit stores, Ristorante Paradiso. What I found, though, was a surprise in several different ways.

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Missile Mouse Vol. 1: The Star Crusher

By Jake Parker
176 pages, color
Published by Graphix/Scholastic Books

When I read Flight Explorer Vol. 1 a couple of years ago, one of the stories that stood out for me was Jake Parker’s Missile Mouse. It was a fun, exciting story that mixed fast-paced adventure with beautiful art. For that reason alone, I was delighted when Scholastic published the full-length Missile Mouse: The Star Crusher graphic novel. But even having read Parker’s short story, I’ll admit that I was a little surprised with the contents of Missile Mouse, which managed to give me both more and less than I’d hoped for.

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Chase Variant One Shot (Is All I Need)

Written by Rich Johnston
Art by Saverio Tanuta and Bagwell
28 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

I don’t mind when comic creators try and play with the format of comics; when done properly, I applaud it. When reading Chase Variant One Shot (Is All I Need), though, a corollary to that general rule quickly came into play. Not only do creators need to have a solid reason for playing with form, they also need to understand when that shift in format has turned from something different and interesting to a gimmick that’s starting to bore your readers.

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