Doctor Who #1

Written by Tony Lee
Art by Andrew Currie
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

Writing a licensed comic for a current property isn’t easy, because you’ve got to simultaneously come up with ideas for the characters and also not create anything long-lasting because there’s something else that automatically trumps anything you think of. So on the one hand, I’m willing to allow a little leeway. On the other hand, there’s also room for less leeway because if you don’t like the comic, well, you’ve got the original to check out instead. You know how that goes.

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Locke & Key: Keys to the Kingdom #1-2

Written by Joe Hill
Art by Gabriel Rodriguez
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

I feel slightly late to the party with Locke & Key, now in its fourth 6-issue mini-series from IDW. I’ve been hearing great things about Joe Hill’s novels and short stories for a while now, and the praise didn’t stop when it came to his comics. But with so many comics, and already being way behind, I figured it wasn’t worth trying to dive in at the halfway point in a series scheduled to run 36 issues in all. A friend kept assuring me that I’d have no problem giving the new mini-series a try, though, and what I found was a book full of some truly creepy images.

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Phoenix Without Ashes #1

Written by Harlan Ellison
Art by Alan Robinson
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

Never let it be said that Harlan Ellison allows an idea to go to waste. For those unfamiliar with the television show The Starlost, it aired in the 1970s for a single season, originally created by Ellison. He withdrew from the series before it aired, though, and took his name off it and the pilot that he’d written. Since then, he’s published the script under the title he’d given it, Phoenix Without Ashes. And now, it’s back for a whole new generation who have probably never heard of it, as a comic-book mini-series. Here’s the thing, though: I’m not entirely convinced it needed to come back.

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Dungeons & Dragons #0

Written by John Rogers and Alex Irvine
Art by Andrea Di Vito and Peter Bergting
24 pages, color
Published by IDW

I have a confession to make: about 25 years ago, I was a big Dungeons & Dragons geek. Played it all the time with friends, read the novels and comics, even helped maintain one of their official areas on a computer network back in the day. But 15 years ago, I fell away from it all and I haven’t come into much contact at all with the game or products since then. So when a copy of Dungeons & Dragons #0 ended up in my mailbox, well, I couldn’t help but get curious. I’d loved the comics by Jeff Grubb, Rags Morales, Dan Mishkin, Jan Duursema, and Tom Mandrake that DC had published many years ago. Could this be my new "gateway drug" back inside?

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Strange Science Fantasy #1

By Scott Morse
28 pages, color
Published by IDW

One of the things I like about Scott Morse is that you never, ever know what you’re in store for. He jumps genres and formats faster than people can keep up, and often morphs his art style to match. So when I picked up a copy of Strange Science Fantasy #1, the only thing for certain I knew was that the cover reminded me a lot old B-grade movie posters. Turns out that’s more or less what was waiting for me on the inside, too.

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Angel: Lorne

By John Byrne
48 pages, color
Published by IDW

When actor Andy Hallett passed away in March 2009, it left the publishers of the Angel comic at IDW in a slight quandary. While not the main character of the series, Hallett’s character Lorne had shown up on a fairly regular basis. Deciding that they would at least temporarily retire the character, the Angel: Lorne one-shot was conceived. And as a way to say goodbye to the character? Well, it’s not going to knock you out, but its heart is in the right place.

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Complete Bloom County Vol. 1

By Berkeley Breathed
288 pages, black and white, plus color
Published by IDW

In the 1980s, my two favorite newspaper comic strips were easy to identify: Peanuts and Bloom County. The funny thing is that especially at an early age, I think it’s fair to say that a lot of Bloom County went over my head. Even as I approached becoming a teenager, I didn’t get a lot of the political humor that Berkeley Breathed infused into Bloom County. So a joke about Cuba sailed right past me, to say nothing of references to various politicians. The thing is, even then, there was always something that would make me laugh. I might not know who was being parodied, but I got the punch line none the less. Now that I’m going back and re-reading Bloom County, though, it’s a very different experience.

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Clive Barker’s Seduth

Written by Clive Barker and Chris Monfette, with creative consultant Robb Humphries
Art by Gabriel Rodriguez
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

When I think about Clive Barker and comics, the first thing that leaps to mind for me is the Hellraiser series from Epic. Barker has a much larger connection to comics than just Hellraiser, of course; numerous stories and novels over the years were adapted into comics, and at one point there was even an entire short-lived line of comic series based off of Barker’s concepts. Hellraiser, especially in the early issues, was a top-notch horror series. Reading the new Clive Barker one-shot Seduth reminded me more than a little bit of those Hellraiser comics, but at least in part it’s a been-there, done-that sort of way.

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GrimJack: The Manx Cat #1

Written by John Ostrander
Art by Timothy Truman
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

It’s been a few years since John Ostrander and Timothy Truman ventured into the world of GrimJack, right? When IDW began their Legend of GrimJack reprint series in 2005, accompanying it was a GrimJack: Killer Instinct mini-series. Since then, it’s just been reprints; or at least, that’s what I’d thought. Turns out ComicMix.com has run an entire new GrimJack story online since then, one that they and IDW are now bringing into print. It seemed like a good a time as any to check back into the city of Cynosure and see just what Ostrander and Truman have done while I wasn’t looking.

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Angel #24

Written by Juliet Landau and Brian Lynch
Art by Franco Urru
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

The last time I looked at IDW’s Angel series, it had just wrapped up the long-running "After the Fall" story (detailing what happened after the show’s conclusion), and seemed to be trying to find a new direction. To that extent, Angel seems to be working on the latter, opening with a story that takes place before "After the Fall" and focusing on a popular supporting cast character, Drusilla. Honestly, though, I was a little surprised to not see a huge "written by Juliet Landau!" (the actress who played Drusilla) byline across the cover. It’s definitely the greatest selling point of this comic.

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