Walking Dead #69

Written by Robert Kirkman
Art by Charlie Adlard
32 pages, black and white
Published by Image Comics

I have a confession to make. I stopped reading The Walking Dead a few years ago. As much as I’d enjoyed the early storylines, the series started coming across a little too grim and unforgiving. That’s a slightly strange comment to make about a story where the world is taken over by zombies, but it just got to be too much. For better or for worse, Rick and company simply couldn’t catch a break at any time. Everything always went badly before too long, and it was an ongoing crawl through barbed wire. But when I heard that The Walking Dead was (at least temporarily) locating to Washington DC, I had to give it another shot. The lure of the book being set where I’ve lived for over 35 years was a little too hard to ignore.

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Chew #1

Written by John Layman
Art by Rob Guillory
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

For a non-comics related project, I recently had to perform a lot of research about avian flues. You can imagine my surprise and amusement, then, to read Chew #1 and discover that one of the plot points involves, yes, avian flu. But I have to give John Layman and Rob Guillory credit, this is absolutely not the way that I’d have expected such a take on current events. Anyone else might have served up a grim, depressing story, but Chew is a funny dark comedy with a sharp premise.

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Bad Dog #1

Written by Joe Kelly
Art by Diego Greco
40 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

Everyone knows the old "they fight crime" game; you take two radically different professions and adjectives, attach them to people, and announce that they fight crime. Just like that, you’ve got a movie or television pitch just waiting to happen. In the case of Bad Dog, I can’t help but think that Joe Kelly did just that but changed the ending to, "They’re bounty hunters." It would certainly explain a lot towards the genesis of this strange little comic.

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Soul Kiss #1

Written by Steven T. Seagle
Art by Marco Cinello
28 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

I’ve been reading Steven T. Seagle’s comics for a really long time, and the one thing that has connected them all is an apparent willingness to keep from being pigeon-holed into a single genre or style. So while Soul Kiss may not have any specific hook or twist that you’re used to seeing in lots of other Seagle books, I somehow couldn’t help but feel that it was recognizably written by him. I guess when the closest you can get to a writing trait is, "Anything can happen," that’s not really a bad thing at all.

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Youngblood #1-6

Written by Joe Casey
Art by Derec Donovan
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

Ah, Youngblood. The very first publication of Image Comics back in 1992, Rob Liefeld’s creation is one that has shown up in many different forms and incarnations—but ultimately ones that never quite seemed to last. This latest incarnation is courtesy Joe Casey and Derec Donovan, who are in many ways taking Youngblood back to its original concept. I have to give them credit, too; for the first time that I can remember, that concept seems to have actually shown up in the comic itself.

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Phonogram: The Singles Club #1

Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Jamie McKelvie, Laurenn McCubbin, and Marc Ellerby
28 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

I liked Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s original Phonogram mini-series. It was a clever comic, with Britpop being used as magic in a story that served as both a musical and magical history of the UK. Both have gone on to other comics, like McKelvie’s Suburban Glamour and Gillen’s Newuniversal and X-Men Origins one-shots for Marvel. Now that they’ve reunited for Phonogram: The Singles Club, though, I’m not only happy that they’re back together, but I’m tentatively saying that this new Phonogram mini-series may well knock the socks off their earlier collaboration.

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Spawn #185

Written by Todd McFarlane and Brian Holguin
Pencils by Whilce Portacio
Inks by Todd McFarlane
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

I will be the first to admit that I cannot remember the last time I actually read an issue of Spawn. Even as it continues to chug away (185 issues already? Really?), I’d stopped paying attention to Todd McFarlane’s creation. He himself had left the helm a long time ago, and neither the character nor any of the creative line-ups over the years had made me think I needed to jump back on board. But I must say, my curiosity got the better of me when I’d heard that Whilce Portacio would pencil the book, with McFarlane co-writing and inking. So for that alone? They got me. And I bet I’m not the only one dying to know what the end result was like.

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Back to Brooklyn #1

Written by Garth Ennis and Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by Mihailo Vukelic
28 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

With Garth Ennis’s run on The Punisher now over, I was starting to wonder where I could get another sharp, well-written crime drama on that same level. And, as if on cue, Back to Brooklyn showed up, a new mini-series co-plotted and written by Garth Ennis. No super-powers, no fantastical elements, just a gritty real life drama involving the mob and someone trying to get out with his family. But would it be able to measure up Ennis’s earlier highs?

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Suburban Glamour Vol. 1

By Jamie McKelvie
104 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

There’s an old chestnut about out there how there are only so many stories out there, and that everyone is just repeating them over and over again. It’s a slight exaggeration (you really have to break the stories down to their absolute basics in order for that to work) but the important point behind it all is that more often than not, it’s not what you’re telling in your story but rather how you’re telling it. I think that’s very much the case with Jamie McKelvie’s Suburban Glamour; the absolute core of the story is nothing you haven’t seen before, but it’s his storytelling abilities that make the comic shine.

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Vix! #1

Written by Rantz A. Hoseley
Art by Matthew Humphreys
28 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

If you ask people what super-power they’d like to have the most, flying tops the vast majority of lists. It’s easy to imagine why; being able to just glide through the air is something that would have so many possibilities, as well as being something that will definitely be out of our personal reach for a long time to come (if ever). When it comes to Rantz A. Hoseley and Matthew Humphreys’s Vix!, getting that desire the fly out there is definitely the high point of the book.

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