Sandman Mystery Theatre Vol. 7: The Mist and the Phantom of the Fair

Written by Matt Wagner and Steven T. Seagle
Art by Guy Davis
200 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

The past few years, Vertigo’s released a new volume of Sandman Mystery Theatre just in time for spring. While I’ll admit that I’m a relatively recent convert to the series, it hasn’t stopped me from really appreciating what Matt Wagner, Steven T. Seagle, and Guy Davis all brought to the series. With the release of Sandman Mystery Theatre Vol. 7: The Mist and the Phantom of the Fair, though, this is a book that might have some special to Starman fans—especially with the Starman Omnibus series now hitting shelves.

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Bang! Tango #1-2

Written by Joe Kelly
Penciled by Adrian Sibar
Inked by Rodney Ramos
32 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

There’s nothing quite like picking up a comic off the stands and realizing that you’ve never even heard of it. That’s the only way to describe the surprise of seeing Bang! Tango, Vertigo’s new mini-series about dancing and crime. If you’re as instantly intrigued by that basic idea as I am, well, you’re in for an interesting surprise. I can’t help but think that this is going to be a comic that will be remembered by those who read it for quite a while.

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DMZ Vol. 6: Blood in the Game

Written by Brian Wood
Art by Riccardo Burchielli
144 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

I’m certainly always enjoyed Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli’s DMZ, an ongoing series about a journalist in the demilitarized zone of Manhattan where the United States and the Free States’s armies had originally collided. With this new volume, Blood in the Game, I can’t deny that I was initially a little thrown by its contents—perhaps because it seemed to be heading a direction that I wasn’t entirely sure would be as much of an attraction for me. The more I think about this change in the title, though, the more pleased I am with its new route.

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Unknown Soldier #1

Written by Joshua Dysart
Art by Alberto Ponticelli
32 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

When is an Unknown Soldier not an unknown soldier? In the case of this new revamp of the old DC Comics property, it’s when you know the titular character’s name and history from the opening pages of the comic, onwards. Joshua Dysart and Alberto Ponticelli’s take on this iconic character from DC’s past is breaking a lot of the old rules, here, and the end result is something that certainly bears paying attention to.

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Northlanders #9-10

Written by Brian Wood
Art by Dean Ormston
32 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

I don’t think there’s any way about it—Brian Wood’s ongoing series Northlanders is a bit of a gamble. At a glance, it doesn’t seem like too much of a reach; a series about Vikings told as realistically as possible seems like a sure-fire hook for readers, right? What makes seem a little less so, though, is that each new story arc stars a completely different set of characters, and often in a different setting entirely. In many ways, it’s really a series of mini-series about different Vikings, all under a single umbrella header. With the first Northlanders story having come to a close, it seemed like a good a time as any to check out the comic and see how the switch would be handled—especially after jumping from an 8-issue story to a much shorter 2-parter. And the end result? Well, I’m still not sure how the market in general will treat Northlanders, but my mind is certainly made up.

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Madame Xanadu #1

Written by Matt Wagner
Art by Amy Reeder Hadley
32 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

My past exposure to the character Madame Xanadu was in John Ostrander and Tim Mandrake’s run on The Spectre, where the character served as an advisor to the main character. She was an interesting character, one who could divine the future but generally speaking stayed out of the goings on the world herself. When DC announced Matt Wagner and Amy Reeder Hadley were the creative team for a new Madame Xanadu comic, I was cautiously optimistic. After all, I’ve enjoyed Wagner’s writing in the past, and Hadley’s art certainly looked nice in the promos. But really, you never know what you’re getting until the book shows up. And sometimes, the end result can surprise you.

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House of Mystery #1-2

Written by Matthew Sturges and Bill Willingham
Art by Luca Rossi, with Sophie Campbell and Jill Thompson
32 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

The new revival of House of Mystery sounded so strange that I simply had to take a look at it: part running narrative about a house that pulls people in and out of its grasp, part anthology thriller with guest artists illustrating short stories. It was, to be honest, a really different hook for a series. Now that I’ve read the first two issues, though, I have to give Vertigo credit for grabbing this pitch; in a market where single issue sales are falling by the wayside, this is a book where I want to buy every issue.

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Young Liars #1-2

By David Lapham
32 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

I still remember when David Lapham’s Stray Bullets #1 first hit stores. It was a huge leap forward for him artistically, and the writing was like nothing I’d have expected from Lapham. At the time he was best known for his work on books like Harbinger and Warriors of Plasm; his gritty, urban crime story was a far cry from psychic teenagers or inter-dimensional gladiators. With the debut of his new series Young Liars for Vertigo, I was ready to be blown away with a new Lapham creation. What I found, though? Certainly not what I was expecting.

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Hellblazer: Joyride

Written by Andy Diggle
Art by Leonardo Manco
192 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

If there’s one property that Vertigo will probably publish until the end of time, it’s Hellblazer. They’ve got good reason to; its staying power has proven in over 240 issues of the main comic, almost 30 trade paperback collections, numerous mini-series, and twenty years of continuous publication. What’s actually a little surprising, then, is that it not only continues to chug onwards but that writers are able to keep the series fresh—a feat that new writer Andy Diggle has succeeded with his start as Hellblazer‘s new writer.

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Dead Boy Detectives

By Jill Thompson
144 pages, black and white
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

When Jill Thompson wrote and drew Death: At Death’s Door, it was a charming little sidestep off of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman: Season of Mists, showcasing several of the other Endless as all of the dead came back to life. Now Thompson’s written and drawn a second Sandman-connected digest—and the difference between the two could not be more obvious.

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