Lazarus #1

Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Michael Lark
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

If you already read Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s collaboration (plus co-author Ed Brubaker) on Gotham Central back in the day, the fact that Rucka and Lark are teaming up on this new series Lazarus is probably all I need to tell you in order to make you run out and buy a copy right now. But if you haven’t (and if that’s the case, it’s all collected into four volumes and you owe it to yourself to buy it), then you might need some convincing. And either way, here’s the good news: the first issue is excellent.

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The Red Diary/The Re[a]d Diary

Written by Teddy Kristiansen and Steven T. Seagle
Art by Teddy Kristiansen
144 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

The Red Diary/The Re[a]d Diary is one of the strangest and most inventive graphic novels I’ve seen in a while, but it takes a little explaining. Teddy Kristiansen wrote and painted a graphic novel published in France titled Le Carnet Rouge (or The Red Diary). In bringing it to North America and an English translation, he came to his friend and often-collaborator Steven T. Seagle. He’s part of the Man of Action Studios collective, which has a deal with Image, but (as Seagle explains in the book) he needed to be a co-creator in order to publish it, and he wasn’t sure that just providing a translation would suffice.

So, Seagle came up with an inventive plan. He’d take the French graphic novel and on his own write a brand-new script over top the art, trying to fit his script into the narration boxes and word balloons, and keeping in any names that didn’t require translation. Then, once he’d done that, he’d also (with the help of Kristiansen) script an actual translation of the graphic novel, and the two would be published side-by-side. The end result? The Red Diary, which contains Kristiansen’s original story, and The Re[a]d Diary, with Seagle’s brand new story "remixed" into Kristiansen’s art. It’s bizarre and off the wall, and yet? It utterly works.

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Happy! #1

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Darick Robertson
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

Grant Morrison recently announced the end dates for his two ongoing work-for-hire titles for DC Comics (Action Comics and Batman Incorporated), and while he still has a handful of company-owned projects still in the pipeline (Multiversity and Wonder Woman Year One for starters), he’s going to start concentrating more on some new creator-owned titles. The first of those is Happy!, a four-issue limited series with co-creator Darick Robertson. Reading the first issue, I have to say that this is a distinct change for Morrison. If I hadn’t known better, I’d have thought it was written by an entirely different big-name-creator.

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Thief of Thieves #8

Story by Robert Kirkman
Written by James Asmus
Art by Shawn Martinbrough
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

Thief of Thieves, for those coming in late, is Robert Kirkman’s new ongoing series that follows master thief Redmond. The series has a series of co-authors attached to it but plotted overall by Kirkman and drawn by Shawn Martinbrough, similar to how a television’s writer’s room works. Thief of Thieves #1-7, the first storyline, was scripted by Nick Spencer and now it’s James Asmus’s turn in the hot seat for the second storyline. And so far? It’s not a bad start.

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It Girl and the Atomics #1-2

Written by Jamie S. Rich
Art by Mike Norton
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

I remember buying the very first issue of Michael Allred’s Madman back in the early ’90s, with its blue-and-black duo-tone scheme and flip-a-mation dance in the lower-right-hand corner. Over the years I read most of the incarnations of the title, although it was around the time that the Atomics got their own series that I fell away from the series for a while. I find that a little ironic because it’s one of the Atomics that takes center stage in It Girl and the Atomics, a new series from Jamie S. Rich and Mike Norton. And while I’ve read very little about the Atomics, what I do know about the various Madman comics makes me feel strongly that this is a worthy successor.

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Revival #1

Written by Tim Seeley
Art by Mike Norton
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

There are an awful lot of zombies these days; between comics, television shows, book, and movies, there’s a certain saturation to the market that’s hard to ignore. I think what ended up working for me with Tim Seeley and Mike Norton’s new series Revival is that it appears to have started with that same germ of an idea, but taken it in a quite different direction. Seeley’s giving us the small city of Wausau, Wisconson where the dead are coming back, but with its quarantinedby the CDC/enthralled by religious fringe groups/debated on the airwaves status, we know almost instantly that Revival is going for a slightly different take. We follow officer Dana Cypress in Revival, a police officer who’s about to be assigned to dealing as the law enforcement liaison between the CDC and the locals. Through her eyes we get our first direct glimpse at just what the "revivals" are like, and how they differ greatly from actual zombies.

It helps that Seeley and Norton quickly establish a creepy mood in Revival #1; the strange being in the woods that groans and slides among the trees, the image of Martha standing on the bridge looking at the cold waters below, even the strange opening scene of the fleeing, stumbling zorse (a horse/zebra hybrid). Norton’s been juggling multiple projects lately (Battlepug, Revival, It Girl) but you’d never know it based on the art here. It’s clean and attractive, and the storytelling is quite strong, something that’s a must in order for him and Seeley to build up the tension as the issue progresses. By the time we hit the issue’s climax, new questions are being opened about the nature of the "revivals" and the set-up is strong enough to want to see what will happen next. This is a good first issue; if you check it out for yourself, I suspect you’ll be quickly hooked. I know I am.

Hoax Hunters #0

Written by Michael Moreci and Steve Seeley
Art by JM Ringuet
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

I hadn’t heard of Hoax Hunters until this special was released; originally it ran as a back-up feature in the pages of Hack/Slash. With an ongoing series planned to debut shortly, though, this was clearly meant as a way for people like myself to become familiar with the comic, and hopefully get interested. And while there are parts of Hoax Hunters that didn’t entirely work for me, there’s enough good material here that I feel like that mission has been accomplished.

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Hell Yeah #1

Written by Joe Keatinge
Art by Andre Szymanowicz
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

After reading Joe Keatinge’s first issue of Glory, seeing his name attached to the new series Hell Yeah made instantly intrigued. After all, if he could make Glory an interesting comic, what would an original creation of Keatinge’s look like? What I found was a book that feels like it’s attaching itself to the trend of of "real world superheroes with violence" but in a way that’s worth picking up a second issue.

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Glory #23

Written by Joe Keatinge
Art by Ross Campbell
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

Of the various rebooting of Rob Liefeld’s Extreme Studios properties, it was Glory that simultaneously had the least and most potential. It’s the one that has the least-interesting character hook—it’s a thinly veiled rendition of Wonder Woman—and what little we saw of even Alan Moore’s take on the character wasn’t that exciting. At the same time, though, it meant that Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell would have the most room to play with Glory and transform her into something interesting. And so far? Well, similarity to another comic aside, this is the most interesting I’ve found Glory, ever.

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Thief of Thieves #1

Written by Robert Kirkman and Nick Spencer
Art by Shawn Martinbrough
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

With several wildly successful ongoing series currently being published (The Walking Dead, Invincible, Super Dinosaur), the debut of a new series helmed by Robert Kirkman is bound to grab some attention. Thief of Thieves is using a writing team style that’s normally seen in television rather than comics; four different writers will be co-writing the series with Kirkman, with Nick Spencer being the first out of the gate. And so far, I’m liking what I see.

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