Up, Up and Away with January's Previews

Jan 31, 2021
Cover of Superman: Red and Blue #1

Whilst I can't say I wouldn't rather be down the pub again, the monthly peruse through the Previews and DC Connect catalogues remains a perennial joy, even via the slightly restrictive medium of Zoom. There's a real feast for the eyes in this month's issues - with a new wave of stories from DC, gorgeous variants from Marvel and the independents producing more beautiful artwork than you can shake a gnarly staff at.

Don't forget that if anything here sets your comics taste buds to drooling, a quick message to your local comic book retailer will help them make sure you get your copy on time. We're running a tiny bit late this month so make haste!

Here's a run down of what gave us pause in issues due for release in March. Comments added to mine by PCG regulars Matt, James and Kenny.

Kenny: There have been few recent series that have captured a large scale, world-altering event combined with personal loss like Daniel Warren Johnson's Wonder Woman: Dark Earth. Now he brings his thick-inked artwork, reminiscent of some of my favourite creators, to Thor's horse-faced compatriot in Beta Ray Bill #1 as the titular hero faces Fing Fang Foom! Fantastic material for his style of monsters and superheroics.

Jo: We're celebrating some decades in March: writer Steve Orlando is looking to party on down to the Everglades for Man-Thing's 50th anniversary with a three-parter, Avengers: Curse of Man Thing #1 - teaming him up with the Avengers feels like the right direction for Big (Green) Ted and it's great to see one of our other favourite green giants, She-Hulk, front and centre on the cover - and Wade Wilson, looking all of his 30 years, probably a couple of times over, gets to celebrate a whole bunch of birthdays in the Deadpool Nerdy 30 #1 compilation - he appears to be wearing a certain metal mitten belonging to Thanos on the cover: that can't go well, surely?

Composite of Michael Cho Two-Tone variant covers: (clockwise from top left) Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow, Black Panther

In one of the first articles here on our new site, we talked about Marvel's season of Alex Ross variant covers and upcoming in March we're now looking forward to Michael Cho taking a turn, with a themed set of variants spanning the wide range of titles in the Marvel stable. All in striking monochrome with single colour highlights, a little reminiscent of David Aja's series of Scarlet Witch covers, they look to be highly collectible for fans of graphic design and those seeking striking representations of their favourite characters alike. 

Jo: I know that many comics folk treat events like DC's Future State with a certain level of scepticism, but personally I've enormously enjoyed the books I've picked up so far. DC have taken a different approach, rather than diverting their main books to whichever event is 'in' that month, they instead paused many of their main titles and tried something quite different, using the last-second reinstatement of the multiverse in the Death Metal storyline to give, well, a whole multiverse of non-canon options. Pausing the main titles means that there's no need for incoming stories to pickup the Future State threads, so lots of bright fresh new storylines should be the result, right? Well, Infinite Frontier #0 seem to suggest that will be the case - a bumper-sized tasting platter, if you like, of where our favourites will be heading next, with all the star-studded creator goodness you'd hope to see appearing in a DC line-up. 

Yasmin Putri cover of Sensational Wonder Woman #1

My particular pick for this new batch of tales is Sensational Wonder Woman #1 - the premise that Diana has been trapped in an alternate universe by Doctor Psycho is almost enough on its own, but add Hawkgirl (a secret favourite of mine), Stephanie Phillips on writing duties and wrap it in an absolutely captivating cover by Yasmin Putri and I reckon I'd be mad not to snap this up - and wow, it looks like it's only 99¢! 

A plethera of Supermans

Matt: I feel like I need a figure as hopeful as Superman back in my life with the real world in such disarray so, with a new creative team coming aboard Superman #29 and Action Comics #1029, now may be exactly the right time for me to pick these books up again. I've been impressed with writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson's world-building and characterisation on the Black Label sword and sorcery series The Last God, and while those skills don't necessarily translate across to the superhero genre, it feels like a positive sign at the very least ... and that's not all! We've had a number of Batman: Black And White series across the last few decades, we're currently seeing a Wolverine: Black, White and Blood series, and now we have Superman: Red And Blue #1 coming our way. Same concept: take a bunch of creators who may not be readily associated with the character and let them do their thing. Anthology titles can be a dice spin but these more high profile offerings usually have some great stuff within. 

Covers of Karmen #1 Nocterra #1 and Shadecraft #1

Jo: Image's pages in the Previews catalogue get off to a racing start, in quick succession three new beginnings all with female protagonists, which obviously gets a little additional attention boost from me. In Karmen #1, Guillem March, who's been a consistent workhorse at DC for some years, holds both sets of creative reins on a story about a very modern angel. Nocterra #1 takes a much darker turn, telling the story of Val, the driver of a huge 18-wheeler which ferries humans through a world in permanent darkness. Scott Snyder writes, and Tony S Daniel and Tomeu Morey share the art duties on this very stylish-looking post-apocalyptic story. 2018's Skyward was a favourite of mine due to its central story contrivance, the idea that Earth's gravity has failed and everyone is now used to having to hang on to something fixed to avoid drifting into space. The same writer/artist team who brought this to life are now putting together Shadecraft #1, in which the shadows in a small, weird town are coming to life, and our hero Zadie seems to be connected to this in some way. If they build something simlar to Skyward, I will be very happy with this. 

Matt: The second of three original graphic novels featuring Ethan Reckless, a fixer with a moral compass who'll help people out of jams for a price, Friend Of The Devil: A Reckless Book is a no-brainer because the team of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips appear to be incapable of putting a foot wrong, especially when plying their trade in the crime genre. The first instalment - simply titled Reckless - was a hardboiled delight, so we should be expecting more of the same with this sequel.

Cover of Stokoe's Orphan and the Five Beasts #1

Kenny: There is something about James Stokoe's art that fascinates me. It might be the intricate action scenes filled with debris and destruction, it might be the simple but effective expressions on all his characters' faces, it might even be the extra observations you make on repeat viewings - it is the only way to soak in every single detail. Aliens: Dead Orbit was a recent favourite of mine, a sci-fi epic set on a tiny space station, but with Stokoe turning his attention to kung fu in Orphan And The Five Beasts #1, you can count me in. 

Cover of Proctor Valley Road #1

James: A little while back, as comics to become source material for box office rocket fuel, a trend emerged where studios and stars began producing comic series almost as live-action pitches. With comics being a visual medium, it was logical to assume that if you could show how dynamic a film could be, and prove to financiers that there was a market for your story, a green light would await. Today, the relationship between comics and film has evolved again, with Proctor Valley Road #1, a new series from Grant Morrison and Alex Child (from BBC's Holby City - really!) with art from Naomi Franquiz. This series sees a group of teens against the evils of 'the most haunted, demon-infested stretch of road in America.' What's really remarkable here is that the book is being produced by BOOM! Studios and UCP, which is part of the Universal Studios Group. In short, this will be a comic series first, which Universal are then going to immediately adapt into a TV series. I'll be taking a look at this as I'm fascinated to see how this new symbiosis between comics and TV works out.

Jo: My level of esteem for the books that Artists Writers & Artisans are producing since their astonishingly timed debut on the cusp of the pandemic is undinted, and it's particularly pleasing to see this new start has a female artist its creator roster, something it seemed AWA have found a challenge so far. Chariot #1 had me at 'synthwave thriller' and its styling as an even-more-eighties-than-the-actual-eighties Knight Rider story is the shoulder pads in Krystle Carrington's evening gown - just unnecessarily fabulous. 


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