December 7, 2011 at 10:00 am By:

1) Defenders #1

Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson bring us a new incarnation of the Defenders this week.  This title has always been an odd one to grasp for some readers, but the creators and characters included on this launch suggest that Marvel is trying to raise the status of this brand.  There are classic Defenders like Doctor Strange, Silver Surfer and Namor around again, but this time there are also characters like Red She-Hulk and Iron Fist in the mix.  Suffice to say, this won’t be like the Secret Defenders title of the ’90’s.

2) Animal Man #4

Animal Man has quickly become one of the highest regarded of DC’s new 52 titles.  Though the book is quite horror-based for a mainstream DC book and could easily have been included among the Vertigo titles, it is maintaining its quality thus far because creators Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman balance the literal horrors with the psychological stresses of parenthood and the need to protect your kids against all kinds of threats.  This juxtaposition has its drama increased by the fact that Animal Man’s young daughter has developed scary powers of her own.  The result is a multilayered story of a family struggling with numerous difficulties, all wrapped in the bright colored trappings of a superhero comic

3) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Micro Series #1 Raphael

IDW’s recent success with their new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic has paved the way for this first of several micro series.  The solo Raphael tale is told by Brian Lynch and Franco Urru, and sheds new light on the cantankerous Turtle, while also featuring cameos from other popular characters in the Turtle-verse.  Plus, check out that nice cover from Mouse Guard’s David Petersen!

4) Bad Doings and Big Ideas: A Bill Willingham Deluxe Edition HC

Fans of Fables might not realize that creator Bill Willingham had a lengthy career in comics long before he crafted that acclaimed series.  This 450+ page monster hardcover reprints lots of Willingham’s pre-Fables Vertigo work all in one handy collection.  In addition to the entire miniseries Proposition Player, featured here are several of Willingham’s minseries and oneshots set in the world of the Sandman, including Merv Pumpkinhead: Agent of D.R.E.A.M., which features art from his Fables collaborator Mark Buckingham.  Also worth mentioning are some of the other collaborators represented here, namely Bernie Wrightson and Kevin Nowlan.

Fun Fact: Beautiful cover painted James Bennett who illustrated the New York Times bestselling picture books “Tell Me A Scary Story… But Not Too Scary,” written by Carl Reiner and “Halloween,” written by Jerry Seinfeld. His conceptually humorous illustrations have appeared as covers and interiors for The New York Times, The L.A. Times, Forbes, Time, Sports Illustrated, Mad, Business Week, New York, Smithsonian, among others. -r.

5) Avenging Spider-man #2

Upon looking over issue one of Avenging Spider-man, several things stood out:  1) Zeb Wells is an underrated writer, and seems to have quietly developed a nice voice for himself in recent years. 2) Though I’m still not crazy about Joe Madureira’s pencils going straight to color without passing through the skilled hands of an inker, this book looks much better than the murky final product of Ultimates 3.  3) In addition to being a really fun read, this book at its best reminded me of the simple, direct entertainment of the old Marvel Team Up title, which is a great compliment.  It’s nice to have a Spider-man book on shelves that isn’t too bogged down with lots of continuity, and thus easily accessible.

> Bonus Picks of the Week: Swamp Thing #4, Johnny Hazard Dailies HC vol. 1, Strange Talent of Luther Strode #3, Superman Secret Origin TP, Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus TP vol. 1, Mega Man #8, and Detective Comics #4.


Filed Under: DISCUSS, Spotlight on New Releases