Starstruck #1

Written by Elaine Lee
Penciled by Michael Wm Kaluta
Inked by Michael Wm Kaluta and Charles Vess
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

Starstruck has always been one of those semi-mythical comics that you hear a lot about, but probably haven’t read. It’s had several incarnations along the way; a strip in Heavy Metal that was republished in the ’80s as a graphic novel from Marvel’s Epic Comics, which was then followed by a mini-series. It was reprinted by Dark Horse in the early ’90s with the promise of more to come, but that’s when things started stalling out. Two publishers announced plans for various Starstruck material only to go out of business (Tundra Publishing and Marlowe & Co.), and from that point on it’s been curiously absent off of the radar. The idea that Starstruck is back is both exciting as well as a little daunting. After hearing about this project for so many years (and with such a high pedigree of talent), can it live up to its reputation?

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Veil #1

Written by El Torres
Art by Gabriel Hernandez
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

"I see dead people." It’s a statement that’s echoed through all sorts of media, for as far as history is recorded. So when you create a story these days about someone who is able to view ghosts, you need more than just that as your hook to draw the reader in. With El Torres’s and Gabriel Hernandez’s The Veil, the basic ideas in the first issue might be the same, but they’re able to bring a strong enough voice to the concept that I think they’ve successfully found their hook.

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Parker: The Hunter

Original novel by Richard Stark
Adapted by Darwyn Cooke
144 pages, two-color
Published by IDW

Depending on how you look at it, I’m either the right or the wrong choice to review Darwyn Cooke’s adaptation of the Richard Stark novel The Hunter. Stark (a pseudonym of author Donald Westlake) was the star of no less than 24 novels, and The Hunter was adapted into two movies, Point Blank and Payback. Of those, I’ve read and seen none of them. But I love books like Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’s Criminal, or Jamie S. Rich and Joëlle Jones’s You Have Killed Me. And in the end, I decided, surely that must be enough to get a good read on Parker: The Hunter and see just what Darwyn Cooke ended up bringing to life in comic book form.

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Angel #19

Written by Kelley Armstrong
Penciled by Dave Ross
Inked by George Freeman and Dave Ross
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

With the wild success (both creatively and financially) of Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight, it makes perfect sense that we’d see the same thing for Buffy spin-off show Angel. IDW’s Angel: After the Fall got to explore the entire city of Los Angeles being sent to Hell as a direct result of the end of the Angel television series; now that Los Angeles is back on Earth, the After the Fall subtitle is gone but the comic is continuing. With a new creative team on board, it seemed like a good a time as any to check the title out.

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Doctor Who: The Whispering Gallery

Written by Leah Moore and John Reppion
Art by Ben Templesmith
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

There’s no two ways about it, I love me some good Doctor Who. The problem can be, like with just about all licensed comics, actually getting just that. It’s a very difficult process to get both the writing and the art to not only mirror the original property that you’re supposed to be about, but also still feel fresh and different. It’s with all of this in mind that I felt like I had to take a look at Doctor Who: The Whispering Gallery, because if there was one creator whose work I wouldn’t have immediately pegged for this sort of project, it’s artist Ben Templesmith.

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Dead, She Said

Written by Steve Niles
Art by Bernie Wrightson
104 pages, color
Published by IDW

Does everyone remember those old commercials for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, where two people’s personal peanut butter and chocolate collide and the end result startles them into how good the mixture is? Well, I blame those commercials for every sort of mixture of genres, tastes, or ideas. Fusion restaurants, rap/rock duets, you name it, I know the cause. I’m not saying that they’re bad, just that I know exactly where they’re coming from. And now, to add to that list, Dead, She Said‘s mixture of pulp noir and 1950s science-fiction. Two great tastes you may have never thought of mixing together.

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Chiaroscuro Vol. 1

By Troy Little
240 pages, black and white
Published by IDW Publishing

Back in 2000, I picked up a new comic called Chiaroscuro, self-published by its creator Troy Little. It showed a lot of potential, and for seven issues I read along faithfully. In mid-2003, like so many self-published books, it stopped appearing and I thought that was the end of Chiaroscuro. Now, it’s back as a beautiful hardcover collection from IDW, with promises of more to come. Reading through those comics again, I can’t help but think that Chiaroscuro is a prime example of an artist learning his craft while already on stage.

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Therefore Repent!

Written by Jim Munroe
Art by Salgood Sam
160 pages, black and white
Published by IDW Publishing

It’s very strange when you’re reading a graphic novel and feel like it was formed by an entirely different set of creators. In some ways it’s a little unfair to do so to the actual creators, almost like you aren’t giving them their fair credit. None the less, if you’d asked me who’d created Therefore Repent!, I’d have probably guessed Jonathan Lethem and Farel Dalrymple (who coincidentally really are collaborators on Marvel’s Omega the Unknown revival). I’d like to assure Jim Monroe and Salgood Sam, however, that such a comparison really isn’t a bad thing at all.

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30 Days of Night: Bloodsucker Tales #1-3

Written by Steve Niles and Matt Fraction
Art by Kody Chamberlain and Ben Templesmith
32 pages, color
Published by IDW Publishing

Arguably the highest-profile book published by IDW has been 30 Days of Night by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, which along with its sequels (Dark Days and 30 Days of Night: Return to Barrow) has been determined to bring good old-fashioned terror back into comics. The latest title from Niles and Templesmith is the new anthology title 30 Days of Night: Bloodsucker Tales but unlike the other books there’s a slight twist; Niles and Templesmith are each working with a different creator to put together the two serials in Bloodsucker Tales.

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Legend of GrimJack Vol. 1

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

Everyone has them: those long-forgotten books that you’ve never read, even though all of your friends love it and swear by it. “How can you have not read (insert name of title)?” they’ll cry. “It’s the best thing since sliced bread! Wait, even better than that!” And so you smile and politely nod and promise that you’ll read it, even though you never do. For years, that was me and GrimJack. I had a great excuse, mind you: the series has been out of print for quite a long time. Then IDW Publishing had to go and bring it back into print, and suddenly all my excuses have vanished.

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