This year’s seen many, many great comic-books debut. Some are mid-way into their first arc, with collections due later in 2017, while some have rounded up, and have their first volumes neatly collected in trade paperbacks. It is the former we are focusing on, spotlighting what made them such good reads, and why we can’t wait for their second volumes.
Rom (IDW) by Chris Ryall, Christos Gage & Dave Messina
The second coming of everyone’s favourite spaceknight (are we allowed to call them that anymore?) is a legend of sorts by now. Super-fan writer Chris Ryall realised an old dream of rebooting the beloved character after IDW’s long quest to get the rights. The story is of Rom, a member of the benevolent Solstar Order and greatest of the spaceknights, interstellar soldiers and a centuries-old war with Dire Wraiths, a race of alien invaders who’ve destroyed many planets and infiltrated Earth.
The first volume of IDW’s take on Rom, titled ‘Earthfall’, will hit stores in January 2017 and it’s going to be a doozy, loaded with all kinds of extras. While we’re stoked for it, we’re even more anxious about the continuation of this excellent series into 2017. Before then, though, fans of Rom will have to make do with his guest appearances in various other IDW books like GI Joe, M.A.S.K and Transformers, having crossed over in the publisher’s epic ‘Revolution’ event. Not to mention the first annual, also due next month.
It’s safe to say it’s due to Ryall’s doggedness that Rom’s current incarnation is in comic-book shops today. His take, with elements of horror and sci-fi, is somewhat true to the original, at the same time feeling fresh, helped by a bevy of new supporting characters. Add the numerous super-cool covers by a stellar roster of artists, and it’s a neat book that shouldn’t be missed.
Did we mention an annual, also due in January? It tells the spaceknight’s full, unfettered origin story, by the same creative team which gives us the ongoing series.
Renato Jones: The One % (Image) by Kaare Andrews
Writer-penciller-inker-colorist-letterer multiple-threat creator Kaare Andrews’ opus, the infectious Renato Jones: The One % debuted to strong sales and rave reviews, and it’s all well-deserved. Everyone, it seems, loves to see the super-rich get, well, super-f*#*ed like the promo material says.
Debuting right after the home run that was Marvel’s Iron Fist: The Living Weapon, Andrews’ writing and art is solid here, as ever. The protagonist, called The Freelancer, and his colorful supporting cast wrangle in crazy scenario after crazy scenario which are so psychotically cinematic in scale that it would be a shame if Hollywood doesn’t bite this property, and soon. Oh, and did we mention that Andrews is a kick-ass director, too?
The pitch goes: They’ve crashed economies, bought governments, and amassed more power than any other group in history. And they still don’t have enough. With this kind of power, how can anyone make them pay? Who will make them pay? Enter Renato Jones, a mysterious vigilante, out to even the score.
The collected edition, titled Renato Jones: The One% Season 1, will hit stores January 2015, so naturally a new volume should be in the works. We can’t wait to see where it will all head to, even though for the super-rich, it’ll certainly be South.
Empress (Icon/marvel) by Mark Millar & Stuart Immonen
Yes, we love Mark Millar, and shamelessly too. Who doesn’t? His always-fresh creations and team-ups with A-list artists practically demand attention, and anyone with a taste for well-crafted comic-books better pay the man and his collaborators some. Empress sees the titular character, the wife of an intergalactic tyrant, run away with her bodyguard, incurring her husband’s biblical-in-scale wrath. A chase ensues, revealing all kinds of intricacies to the story, as well as layered characterization.
The writing is typically blockbuster Millar, with twists, high-octane action and explosions. On art, Stuart Immonen brings his A-game, and then some. Beautifully designed worlds, tech, spacecraft and alien creatures are so well-realised that some of it even feels familiar, and in a good way. Of course, like most of the Millarverse properties, there’s a movie deal lurking somewhere.
The first collected edition, in hardcover, will be in stores February 14, 2017. But the hope, as fans, is that a second volume is also in the works.
The Dark and Bloody (Vertigo) by Sean Aldridge & Scott Godlewski
Newcomer (to Vertigo, anyways) Shawn Aldridge shows huge chops with The Dark and Bloody, about a soldier with a soft heart amidst hard surroundings. The comic-book rings true to its name, being dark and bloody in many places, sometimes invoking Gaiman, sometimes feeling like Morrison all the while having a flavor all its own.
Artist Scott Godlewski’s work is certainly in the tradition of the best whose works have graced the pages of Vertigo’s most successful titles from over the decades. Gorgeously painted by Tyler Crook, the covers are the perfect tone-setters for the story within.
The pitch goes: Iris Gentry thought the worst was over. A veteran of the Iraq war, he returned home shaken and psychologically scarred, but with body and spirit intact. A dry county in rural Kentucky, however, isn’t an easy place to make a living. To provide for his loved ones, he’s fallen back on an old family tradition: moonshine. Breaking the local liquor laws isn’t what’s keeping him awake at night, though. Something very bad happened in Iraq. As soldiers, Iris and his squad sowed the wind. Now, the whirlwind has come for them—and, as always, the innocent and guilty alike will suffer in the reaping.
The strength of Aldridge’s writing first lies in the characterization, then the horrific mystery which is introduced weaves everything into a tale that intoxicates like many a tasty margarita in the afternoon, but all laced with cyanide. While the story ends at the sixth issue, seemingly well-resolved but bittersweet, we can’t wait to see more Dark & Bloody from this creative team in 2017. Seconds anyone? (And the crowd roared “Yes!”)
Note: Someone needs to try out this creative team on a Swamp Thing series, or special at least. No, seriously.
Huck (Image) by Mark Millar & Raphael Albuquerque
Yes, another Mark Millar book is on this list. This time it’s Huck, with Rafael Albuquerque on art, about a small town that’s hiding a big secret, which happens to be the titular hero. A gas station attendant who moonlights as a do-gooder, he uses his powers for good.
The story is loaded with interesting characters, as well as the right balance of action, romance, angst, and drama. Also somehow having an old school Americana feel to it, the art is as perfect a fit with the story that any Millarworld title could possibly boast of. PR buzz described it as “heartwarming” and “fun”, but they forgot “heartbreaking.”
What can we say about Albuquerque’s art that hasn’t been said before? He captures any mood the story is going for perfectly, aided by the drop-dead gorgeous colours of Dave McCaig. Both artists combine to deliver a visual wallop that lingers long after the reader’s done
A Huck movie is in the works, as Studio 8 reportedly picked up the rights, now out to writers and directors to adapt the series. Jon Silk will oversee the project for the company. Here at Comic-Book101.com, we think Channing Tatum would be a perfect fit for the tender-hearted titan, as Huck would be perfect for the actor.
While we wait in hope for a second helping of Huck, wherever Millar & co. head with the character in 2017, we’re sure to follow.
By Abdulkareem Baba Aminu
- What do you think of our list? Do you have yours, too? Do share with readers below in the comments section.