Welcome to the Honor Roll, featuring my five favourite reads from the comic book releases of January 16, 2013. There’s a whole slew of publishers in this week’s list, showcasing a lot of quality entertainment from across the industry. As always, sound off in the comments! Let me know your top 5!
This comic book is a riot. Archer & Armstrong has been Valiant’s strongest title month in, month out, in my opinion, and #6 continues that trend. Archer & Armstrong, themselves, are the most entertaining duo in comics, and you add in a brother and a new Geomancer and you’ve got a really fun read. Van Lente is one hell of a writer and his dialogue is sharp and biting, fast paced and entertaining. Lupacchino’s art is absolutely fantastic. She’s proving herself to be a high-caliber artist and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her on a lot of big-time-big-two projects sooner, rather than later. The first arc was a lot of fun, but this second one is prepping to blow it away as a high octane adventure buddy book that is full of great action, great adventure, great laughs and great characters.
THE BLACK BEETLE: NO WAY OUT #1
Written by Francesco Francavilla
Art by Francesco Francavilla
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Issue #0 blew my mind, and Francavilla didn’t stop there. The series “proper” begins here with material that hasn’t been released in any other publication and I loved every second of it. Francavilla is obviously a top notch artist, we all knew that long before The Black Beetle was on the scene, but what struck me with this comic was his writing. The script was perfectly paced and a lot of pulpy/noir fun. I understand that “noir” and “fun” typically don’t end up in the same sentence often, but it fits this comic well. This story is easily accessible and I highly recommend trying this comic. This comic will sell out as word gets out. Get it now, while you can!
G.I. JOE #21 is a classic Joe adventure featuring good ol’ Hawk. This is a well done single issue story that does a great job of fleshing out what makes up Hawk. He may be “retired” but that isn’t something that really happens for Joes, and I liked that Dixon didn’t mince any words and make Hawk pine for peace: “this is life, this is how it is, I’m Hawk and I’m gonna deal with it”. This isn’t the most devious or clever book on the stands, but it was an entertaining read, and a must have for any G.I. JOE fan. Rosado’s art is solid throughout the book, and has a very “G.I. JOE” feel to it. His pencils are clean and well defined, and his style matches the book well. Solid JOE comic, all in all.
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #11
Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art by Stefano Caselli
Publisher: Marvel Comics
This title is one of the best team books on the market, simple as that. This is, for the most part, the movie crew + a couple others and Kelly Sue DeConnick does a great job of capturing the magic of what made these characters work on the big screen. I would argue that this is the best book coming out of the Avengers office at Marvel as it is solid in its entertainment value and a great bang for your buck. This team actually seems like a family in this comic: there is a warmth that all the other books are missing. The team dynamic beyond “the world is going to end, let’s get this done” is on full display here with witty banter and a camaraderie that would exist between these heroes. This dynamic gives Avengers Assemble a warmth and heart to it that all other team books are missing right now, and I love it for that. Caselli’s art is fantastic, Kelly Sue is one hell of a good writer, buy this book!
DEMON KNIGHTS #16
Written by Robert Venditti
Art by Bernard Chang
Publisher: DC Comics
The writer of X-O Manowar and The Homeland Directive launches into Demon Knights with issue #16, his first issue in the series, set decades after issue #15. His story works brilliantly as a jump on point, as I am lapsed reader for this series and I jumped in easily and didn’t miss a beat. This arc of the story is shaping up to be a great read with tons of fantasy content, serving a market completely under-served in comics. Venditti does a great job of mixing in story building with action, teasing what is going to be an amazing war and some great plot lines. Bernard Chang sticks with the series on art, and does an excellent job with the art in this comic. His lines are crisp and precise, providing an excellent visual for Venditti’s script. This could be one of my favourite creative teams in a couple months, time will tell, but for now, dive into Demon Knights.