Whispers #1

By Joshua Luna
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

Joshua Luna and Jonathan Luna are best known in the comics industry, collectively, as the Luna Brothers. They’ve had three hit series from Image Comics—Ultra, Girls, and The Sword—and I think everyone assumed that their next project would also be together. With Whispers, though, Joshua Luna is not only writing but drawing this new series. And if this is what happens when one of the brothers works on a solo project? Well, nothing against their successful partnership, but I’d like to see some more solo comics from time to time.

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Witch Doctor: The Resuscitation

Written by Brandon Seifert
Art by Lukas Ketner
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

With the number of comics currently being published, it’s easy to have one (or lots) slip past you. That was the case with Witch Doctor, a mini-series from Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner, and published under Robert Kirkman’s imprint (Skybound) at Image Comics. Fortunately, Seifert and Ketner aren’t above giving readers a second chance, and that’s what I feel like I was handed with the Witch Doctor: The Resuscitation one-shot published last month. In many ways, it’s a model approach that I’d love to see more creators follow.

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Activity #1

Written by Nathan Edmondson
Art by Mitch Gerads
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

Nathan Edmondson is rapidly becoming "that guy who writes special agent comics" in my head. His mini-series Who is Jake Ellis? was one of my favorite surprises of 2011, and his Grifter series is entertaining me over at DC Comics. Both comics have fantastical elements at their core, though, which makes The Activity stand out that much more from the rest. Here, Edmondson and artist Mitch Gerads are telling straight-forward covert operations stories, and in an industry dominated by superheroes and other larger-than-life elements, The Activity stands out by virtue of not having any extra trappings.

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Mudman #1

By Paul Grist
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

Paul Grist is a creator on my "buy everything he works on" list. His police drama Kane was a dark drama with hysterically funny moments interspersed throughout (and I live in eternal hope of more material), and his Jack Staff comic was a wonderful explosion of old-time superheroics set in Britain, taking familiar concepts and twisting them into his own unique ideas. (A fifth collection for my bookshelf would be much appreciated, incidentally.) He’s now unveiled a new series, Mudman, and so far? It’s another winner.

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Liberty Annual 2011

Edited by Bob Schreck and Greg Tumbarello
48 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

I’ve always been a big fan of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (which defends comic creators and retailers against freedom of speech lawsuits), so when they started producing a Liberty Annual every year, I was on board. It features a wide range of top-talent creators old and new, from Matt Wagner and Fred Hembeck to J.H. Williams III and Carla Speed McNeil. While a lot of anthologies for a charity are slightly cringe-inducing (a mixture of good and bad because everyone was let in because of the charity nature of the book), it’s nice to have a comic like Liberty Annual 2011 that you can recommend with a clear conscious because it’s good.

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Strange Talent of Luther Strode #1

Written by Justin Jordan
Art by Tradd Moore
24 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

I know I’m not the only person who, back in the day, sent away for the free Charles Atlas guide to become a muscle man. I never actually read it, mind you; my sisters found out I’d ordered it and teased me so mercilessly that it got thrown out, unopened. But if you’ve ever read old comics, or issues of Boy’s Life (for all us former Cub Scouts/Boy Scouts), or anything else from back in the day, you’ll know about the allure of those advertisements. That’s what’s so great about the first issue of The Strange Talent of Luther Strode; Justin Jordan and Tradd Moore have taken boyhood dreams and turned them into something distinctly creepy.

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50 Girls 50 #1

Written by Doug Murray and Frank Cho
Art by Axel Medellin
28 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

There’s something rather odd in my head about Doug Murray (best known for writing Marvel’s war comic The ‘Nam) and Frank Cho (best known for his buxom blondes and comic strip Liberty Meadows) writing a comic together. The two come from such different pasts, in terms of comics, that 50 Girls 50 #1 became a "must read." Not because I was necessarily dying to read it, but rather because I wanted to see just what a synthesis of the two together would end up looking like.

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Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors #1

Written by Mark Andrew Smith
Art by Armand Villavert
40 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

There are times when the description of a book and the reality of it don’t match. Take, for example, Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors. A comic about future villains learning how to be evil sounds like it could quite easily be dark and mean and overly violent. It’s a reasonable assumption to make. Then you pick up a copy of Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors #1 and the reality? In a word: adorable.

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Super Dinosaur #1-2

Written by Robert Kirkman
Art by Jason Howard
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

These days, Robert Kirkman is certainly best known for his comics The Walking Dead and Invincible. They’re both aimed squarely at teenagers and older, though, so it’s nice to see that his new comic Super Dinosaur is meant to be read by all ages. And trust me when I say this in the most positive way possible: reading the first two issues of Super Dinosaur makes me wonder when the action figures and play sets are going to be available.

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Blue Estate #1

Story by Viktor Kalvachev and Kosta Yanev
Script by Andrew Osborne
Art by Viktor Kalvachev, Toby Cypress, Nathan Fox, and Robert Valley
24 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

With three writers and four artists attached to the first issue, it would be understandable if you thought that Blue Estate was an adaptation of a movie, or perhaps a video game. As it turns out, it’s not, but rather a comic that shifts its visual style on a regular basis, while telling a present day crime noir, (semi-)hardboiled detective story. And while it’s it not a bad debut, I do worry that at times Blue Estate #1 feels like it’s trying to get a little too clever for its own good.

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