Vimanarama #1

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Philip Bond
40 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

There are many different types and styles of storytelling; some can shift from one form of media to another with the greatest of ease, while others seem bound to a specific form. It’s important, though, to not get caught up in your assumptions of what can and cannot work. If so you’ll blind yourself that the impossible can be done… like, for instance, combining science-fiction comics with elements of Bollywood musicals.

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We3

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Frank Quitely
40 pages each, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

With so many comics being published every month, it’s easy for a stray mini-series to pass people by, even though it’s by creators with pretty big name recognition. I can only assume it’s why the top-selling comic this winter hasn’t been Grant Morrison’s and Frank Quitely’s We3.

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Sandman Mystery Theatre Vol. 1-2

Written by Matt Wagner
Art by Guy Davis, John Watkiss, and R.G. Taylor
112 pages & 208 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

I have a confession to make: when it was first published, I stopped buying Sandman Mystery Theatre after six issues. In 1993 I didn’t have much money to spend on comics, and comics quickly got dropped off of my list of things to buy if they lost my attention. Now that DC Comics has released the first 12 issues of the series in two collected volumes, though, I figured it was time to see if, a decade later, my tastes had matured a bit more and it would be more to my liking… or if perhaps I was right the first time I decided that the book was not for me.

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Books of Magick: Life During Wartime #1-2

Story by Si Spencer and Neil Gaiman
Written by Si Spencer
Art by Dean Ormston
32 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

What do you do when one of your flagship books is, well, flagging? The Books of Magic started as a mini-series written by Neil Gaiman, introducing Tim Hunter as the world’s most powerful magician provided he headed down that path. Next was a 75-issue Books of Magic series written by John Ney Rieber and Peter Gross, and the Hunter: The Age of Magic series helmed by Dylan Horrocks. And for a while… nothing. Now Gaiman’s come back to the fold to help give a new series its initial push out of the gate, but is it too late for Tim Hunter to make a return?

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100 Bullets #50

Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Eduardo Risso
40 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

How do you handle an anniversary story? There seems to be two different schools of thought on the matter. The first option is to make it a big payoff for your existing audience, throwing in everything but the kitchen sink that’s lead up until that point, a continuity follower’s delight and incomprehensible to anyone else who stumbles into the adventure. The second option is to go the opposite route, making a story designed to appeal to brand-new readers, even as your established audience quietly yawns and waits for it to be over so the story can start moving forward again. Naturally, Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso have decided to take the third option that almost everyone else seems to ignore: make a story that lets new readers jump on board while still greatly advancing the storyline for your existing audience. And trust me when I say that Azzarello and Risso make that look far easier than it really is.

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Bite Club #1

Written by Howard Chaykin and David Tischman
Art by David Hahn
32 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

Which came first: the title or the concept? While not as theologically sticky as the whole “chicken or the egg” question, I think it’s still a legitimate query. It’s certainly a clever name for a series, evoking a certain image in the buyer’s mind. But did the title come about because of the contents of the series, or did Howard Chaykin and David Tischman retrofit certain ideas into the comic after he decided on a name? Because right now, I’m leaning towards the latter.

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Swamp Thing #1

Written by Andy Diggle
Art by Enrique Breccia
32 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

Poor Swamp Thing. He never seems to get a break, really. After a 24-issue series in the 1970s, most would have thought that he’d slip back into the swamp, never to be seen again. Instead he got a new series in the early ’80s that lasted for an astounding 171 issues, followed by yet another series a couple of years ago starring his daughter that lasted for 20 issues until cancellation. Now a fourth series has begun, and the question remains: is it time for the character to be retired back into the bog, or is there eternal youth lurking in that swamp water?

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My Faith in Frankie #1

Written by Mike Carey
Penciled by Sonny Liew
Inked by Sonny Liew and Marc Hempel
32 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

It’s been a while since I’ve been so surprised by a comic. Usually when a new book comes out, I’ve read a bunch about it, know what to expect, seen an advance page or two… stuff like that. But somehow My Faith in Frankie fell completely off my radar. I knew it was being created, I knew that Mike Carey (whose comics I really enjoy) was writing it, and that Sonny Liew (whose Malinky Robot I reviewed about a month ago) was the penciler. But somehow, it just didn’t stick in my mind. Now that I’ve read #1, though, I won’t be forgetting it any time soon.

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Vertical

Written by Steven T. Seagle
Penciled by Mike Allred
Inked by Philip Bond
64 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

At a casual glance, it’s a gimmick comic. Take the normal dimensions of a comic and slice them in half so it’s only half as wide as normal. Then, let the comic open up from top to bottom so it’s twice as tall. What’s surprising, then, is that once you get past the casual glance that Vertical works quite well in these strange dimensions. In fact, I can’t imagine it any other way.

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Sandman: Endless Nights

Written by Neil Gaiman
Art by Glenn Fabry, Milo Manara, Miguelanxo Prado, Frank Quitely, P. Craig Russell, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Barron Storey
160 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

Fans of Sandman had to be happy when they first heard the news. The best-selling series, having ended in 1996 with its 75-issue run, was returning in the form of a brand-new graphic novel written by Neil Gaiman. Sandman: Endless Nights certainly set sales records thanks to high demand in both comic shops and bookstores—but once all the flurry dies down, how is the book itself?

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