Welcome back to The Matt Signal! As I did in previous years, instead of looking back and doing a "Best of the Last Year," I'm going to do a, "Things that I Really Want to See for This Year." It looks like there's a lot of great comics coming out next year, so, without further ado, here we go!
Glen Weldon's The Caped Crusade: The Rise of Batman and the Triumph of Nerd Culture
If you've never read Glen Weldon, he writes for NPR on books and comic books, and a couple years ago wrote Superman: The Unauthorized Biography, a great book about Superman's history. For this year, he's moving on to Batman. Now, you know anything Batman has me excited, and this past year for the 75th Anniversary we got the beautiful Batman: A Visual History from DK Publishing, but that book is a comic book history of Batman. Weldon is going to be looking at Batman's history in pop culture, from the comics, to the Batmania of the 60s, to Burton in 89, to present. Weldon is a witty guy, and someone who loves comics and Batman, so if I'm not going to be writing this book, I'm glad to see that Weldon will be.
Now, I'm not sure about Convergence proper; I don't know if I know enough about it to pass any judgement. But some of these tie-ins? Yes, please! Greg Rucka and Cully Hamner returning to the Rene Montoya Question is a no-brainer, made even better by Rucka writing Two-Face again. Gail Simone writing Oracle is exciting, and the fact that Nightwing co-stars is even better. I think Doc Shaner might have been born to draw Shazam's retro-world, if his work on the recent Flash Gordon series is any indication. Len Wein returning to Swamp Thing is very cool, and bringing Kelly Jones, who drew an amazing Swamp Thing during his run on Batman makes it all the better. And Booster Gold is back. These are total fangasm books for me, and you know what? I'm ok with that.
I've been reading Fables since issue #1. It's not the first longform Vertigo series I read, and it won't be the last, but for it's sheer scope and length, I would be impressed. The quality has been consistent since issue one. And ending the run with a one hundred fifty page issue? That's impressive in a whole new way. I am excited to say goodbye to all these old friends, and see where they're going.
Thrilling Adventure Hour comes to Image Comics
Because a weekly podcast isn't enough for it's rabid fans, creators Ben Acker and Ben Blacker are doing to series based on characters from their fan favorite, "new time podcast in the style of old time radio." It's a mix of comedy and action, bending genres together in new and exceedingly bizarre ways that never fails to surprise and delight. In February, we get Sparks Nevada, Marshall on Mars, a sci-fi Western with a touch of soap opera, about a lawman on the rights the outlaw wrongs on Mars with his Martian companion in a classic odd couple partner situation, and March sees the release of Beyond Belief, about those married mediums Frank and Sadie Doyle, who will drink you under the table, all while correcting your grammar and stopping demons, vampires, werewolves, and anything that goes bump. I reviewed the digital zero issues of the series earlier this year, and I will keep talking about it until everyone is listening to the podcast and reading the comics.
Princeless: The Pirate Princess
Readers got their first taste of this series in the Free Comic Book Day Princeless story in 2013, so it's been a year and a half since the last Princeless story featuring the main cast. Still, good things come to those who wait, and the story of Princess Adrienne, who decides to stop waiting for a prince and saver herself and her sisters, and her companions Bedelia, who is a dwarf but not the short kind, and Sparky, her dragon, is still one of the best all ages comics of the past five years, twisting genre stereotypes. This volume adds a new character to the cast, the titular Pirate Princess, who is going to bring her own problems on top of the knights pursuing Adrienne on her quest. It's a series to share with everyone, and I'm glad to see it back.
A.K.A. Jessica Jones
There's been an increase in quality comic book based TV this season, and there's more on the way. And while I'm a long time and confirmed Daredevil fan, the Marvel series from Netflix I'm really looking forward to is A.K.A. Jessica Jones, the adaptation of Alias, Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos's MAX series, the story of a former superhero turned private investigator. If it approaches the original, it will have a grotty noir vibe that will mix nicely with the superhero aspects of the show, and I'm a sucker for mystery and p.i. stories. The series is starring Krysten Ritter, who I've liked since her turn on Veronica Mars, and between that and her performance on Breaking Bad, I think she can capture the brittleness of Jessica, a character who starts the series just on the right side of complete collapse, and can also show the toughness underlying that. And since the show is on Netflix, I hope they can at least keep a bit of Jessica's trademark swearing. I miss Jessica cursing every third word like she did when she was introduced, something that had to be sacrificed when she moved into the Marvel Universe proper. I know Marvel is going to keep it a little cleaner, since it is an MCU property, but if there's any project that can have an edge, I think this is the one.
Every character from Guardians of the Galaxy got a big spotlight shone on them this summer, and while Star Lord, Rocket, and Groot were the breakout characters, Gamora is the character I have the longest history with, and the most affection for, and so knowing we're getting a Gamora ongoing this year has piqued my interest. This has a lot going for it in the current Marvel landscape, with the success of so many other female lead books and the heightened focus on the cosmic corner of the universe. The series is going to be written by Nicole Perlman, who co-wrote the screenplay for a certain Marvel movie this summer, so she has some history with Gamora. Perlman says that the series will reveal more about Gamora's history, about why she decided to leave the service of Thanos, and seems to be deeply entrenched in the cosmic Marvel Universe I grew up with. The series looks to dig into the psyche of Gamora, a character who was given plenty of layers by Jim Starlin, her creator, so I'm curious to see which layers Perlman is going to unwrap.
Our Expanding Universe, a new graphic novel from Alex Robinson
OK, first thing I have to admit is I know next to nothing about this project except for that name and the creator. But that's really enough. Alex Robinson doesn't release a ton of work, but when he does, it's always outstanding. Box Office Poison, his first major work, a comic series about growing up in your twenties, was the first truly independent comic I ever read; it was black and white! It was also full of characters I recognized, characters I wanted to be, and characters I wanted to flee from, but they were all real people. It's an underrated classic, something that belongs in the same breath as books like Blankets. Since completing that book, Robinson has released two graphic novels, Tricked and Too Cool to be Forgotten, both smart and affecting stories. New work from a cartoonist of Robinson's caliber is something to be excited about. Now, Robinson's publisher is Top Shelf, which it was announced today was purchased by IDW, but the announcement doesn't indicate any changes to their publishing schedules, so I hope that means we'll still get this book in our hands this year.