Comics

The Magnificent Seven

Heartache or not, renumbering is not exactly a new concept in comics. Believe me, almost 30% of my comic collection is plagued by renumbering, it’s a constant frustration, but hey, that’s life. Despite my reservations to openly embrace these new titles, there are seven titles that I am particularly excited to read. 

Although it’s a whole new DC, the higher-ups still haven’t forgotten how to makes readers excited about their books. Below are listed the seven books that I am most excited to read, and if you’re a little lost on what titles will be good or bad, here’s a guide to help you navigate the stormy seas of change.

 

Action Comics

Written By: Grant Morrison

Art By: Rags Morales

It’s strange that I chose this book. If you would have asked me during Batman R.I.P. that I was going to fall in love with Morrison-style storytelling, I might have punched you in the face for slander. But, here I am. This isn’t Morrison’s first go at the Kryptonian boy wonder. There was that little title with Frank Quitely called All-Star Superman, which has in recent years been published in every format that DC can offer. There’s something about Morrison’s storytelling that keeps me intrigued (even in the most acid-trippy of action sequences). Currently, Morrison is crushing it on Batman Inc., almost claiming the top spot for my favorite, current Batman comic (Sorry, but Scott Snyder’s James Gordon Jr. is delightfully creepy.)

What else can be said that hasn’t already been said about Rags Morales’ work. It’s visually stunning, and can almost stand alone without script (no offense Mr. Morrison). Of course, it doesn’t hurt that these two creators are handling the most iconic character in the comic book industry. Morrison developed a whole new world in Gotham, killing off Bruce Wayne and bringing him back with a much more global perspective. It’s exciting to see what he has up his sleeve for Metropolis, and more likely that not, things will never be the same.

 

All-Star Western

Written By: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Grey

Art By: Moritat

This was an easy choice. The main thing that the book Jonah Hex suffered from in its 60-plus-issue run was that it was too good all the time. Unfortunately, when a book is good all the time, it tends to not get as much mention as it should because the book sets the bar at excellence, and that can be hard to top. I was completely unfamiliar with Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Grey when I started reading the book about three years ago. But every issue is consistently brilliant. Although westerns is not my favorite genre, Jonah Hex was a book that reminded me of the storytelling potential that still lived in the wild West. 

From what I can tell (at least where writers are concerned), this book is a continuation of Jonah Hex. For .5 seconds I considered letting Jonah Hex rest with the final issue, and then I remembered the amazing Jeff Lemire penciled issue that came out last month and I couldn’t say no. I must say I’m not particularly familiar with Meridat’s work, but Jonah Hex had always had an amazing group of rotating artists, I can’t imagine All-Star Western being much different. It will be exciting to see if they try to integrate Jonah Hex more into the DC Universe, but either way, I’m saddled up and ready.

 

Animal Man

Written By: Jeff Lemire

Art By: Travel Foreman and Dan Green

The relationship with a reader and a writer is an interesting one. Once you read a title that absolutely blows you away, you are forever a loyal reader. Perhaps not reading every single thing that person writes, but there is an understanding that sooner or later, you will read everything that writer does. Thus is my relationship with Jeff Lemire. Lemire is young blood in the comic industry, getting his first foothold with his creator owned work, Essex County. But his first work I read was Sweet Tooth, kind of like if the apocalypse met Bambi. I quickly surveyed the rest of his catalog, made sure to purchase his first foray into superhero comics with Superboy #1, and even read the short Multi-Alien story in Vertigo’s Strange Adventures one-shot. Long story short, this guy does amazing work. There’s a simple elegance to his story telling, and there is definitely a unique voice. I’m glad that DC is recognizing the talent.

Although Lemire’s pencils are amazing, I’m glad they’re giving him artistic help with Travel Foreman and Dan Green. This means only good things for Lemire: more attention to story and he gets to keep working on Sweet Tooth. Happy Days! I don’t really have an opinion on the character Animal Man. The only exposure I've had to the character was Morrison’s work many years ago. Hopefully comic readers are willing to give Animal Man a chance, because knowing Lemire, it might be the best book from DC in 2011.

 

Batman

Written By: Scott Snyder

Art By: Greg Capullo

If you hunt around some photo albums that are neatly stacked in a cabinet at my house, I’m sure you’ll find a picture of me dressed as Batman ready to assume my role as the Dark Knight of Halloween. At that point in time, I was pretty chubby kid. To this day I have no idea how I fit my fat cheeks in that Batman cowl. So as you can probably already detect, there’s a little bit of personal bias going into this choice, but believe me there are valid reasons as well. Yes, much like everyone else, I grew up with Batman. Superman was fun and good and Spider-Man had cool super spider abilites, but none of them were Bruce Wayne, the OG badass of DC comics. In the last couple years, the cape crusader as gotten the royal treatment, easily considered DC’s strongest character. Not only was he kicking ass in the box office, but with Grant Morrison reimagining the character followed by Scott Snyder’s amazing work, Batman had been given new life. With Dick Grayson behind the cowl and Batman spreading his influence globally, Batman was fresh and exciting.

Now all that’s over. There are several questions on my mind regarding this title. Is Bruce Wayne Batman? Is all the R.I.P, Return of Bruce Wayne, Batman Inc., all moot? Is Grant Morrison pissed? A lot is uncertain, but what is definite, is that there is a strong writer to usher in the new era of Batman. Scott Snyder, much like the aforementioned Jeff Lemire, is new to comics. But don’t let his freshman status fool you, he has quickly became a big name in DC. He even teamed up with Stephen King for his Vertigo title, American Vampire. I guess he really likes bats. We’ve already seen Snyder’s writing chops on this character. He just understands Batman. Detective Comics is currently the best it’s been in years. DC made a good decision keeping one of their most talented writers on one of their most popular characters. I'll be there—Same bat time, same bat channel.

 

Catwoman

Written By: Judd Winick

Art By: Guillem March

For any frequenter of the blog, this pick should come as no surprise. A couple days ago I posted this article explaining my fanboy infatuation with writer and artist Judd Winick. I have a deep respect (jealousy) for writer/artists such as Matt Wagner, Jeff Lemire, Darywn Cooke, and Terry Moore. Winick is no exception. Winick has danced around the DC universe, almost writing every character possible. He recently did work on the successful Justice League: Generation Lost bi-weekly. Teamed up with Guillem  March, who isn’t new to drawing the infamous feline vixen (See Gotham City Sirens), this book is just built for success.

It was a sad day to watch Catwoman leave the shelves more than a year ago. The series had enjoyed an 80-plus issue run and had great writers like Darwyn Cooke, Ed Brubaker, and Will Pfeifer. It’s great to see the character in her own series again. Although she is just an ancillary character in Gotham, she holds a gravitas all her own that is perfect for her own title and Winick’s talents.

 

Green Lantern

Written By: Geoff Johns

Art By: Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy

With the recent events (last issue) of Green Lantern and Geoff Johns stating this is a continuation of the story, I have no choice but to keep purchasing this book. It’s no secret that Johns is a talented writer, but what really keeps him around DC is his ability to tell in-depth personal stories with larger-than-life superheroes, and of course, crazy freaking cliffhangers. Although it’s the latter that is pushing me to purchase this book, there’s no doubt that John’s grasp of the GL universe is sound. This is the definitive Green Lantern story, and DC would have made a huge mistake ending it before its prime.

Johns and Mahnke have been long time co-creators and are the authorities when it comes to the expansive DC Galaxy (I’m remembering you too Paul Levitz, you got the 31st century covered).  Now with the relaunch there are a few other GL books coming out of the woodwork. Red Lanterns and New Guardians both look intriguing, but I’m going to let first impressions circle back to me before I begin making any purchasing decisions. For those of you who are sad to see Guy Gardner and Emerald Warriors leave, be sure to check out JLA International featuring your favorite, redheaded ringslinger. The GL Universe, at least at first glance, seems unaffected by the events of Flashpoint. Although their might be minor changes here or there, this is one series that will not disappoint. Have no fear.

 

Swamp Thing

Written By: Scott Snyder

Art By: Yanick Paquette

This is the “gamble book” ladies and gentleman. But trust me, I don’t gamble unless the odds are stacked in my favor. By all appearances, it looks like a safe bet. Snyder, as previously mentioned, has already established himself as a top-tier storyteller, but he’s got some shoes to fill. That is the unfortunate side effect of amazing stories, all subsequent stories are compared to its greatness, and they ultimately pale in comparison. Of course I’m talking about Alan Moore’s monumental run on Swamp Thing back in the 80s. For Snyder, Moore's series is a godsend and a curse. On the one hand, it got readers interested in the character, but it’s inevitable that people are going to compare his story with Moore’s.

I’m going to give it to Snyder. I like his ambition. This character has been out of the DC limelight for sometime, so Snyder definitely has his work cut out for him. It’ll be interesting to see what he does with the character—If we will see flashbacks into Alan Moore’s work or if we will be seeing a completely new swamp thing. Snyder has yet to disappoint with any book he works on, I see no reason for him to start now.

Runners Up:

JLA #1 (Geoff Johns and Jim Lee)

Superman #1 (George Perez)

Batgirl #1 (Gail Simone, Adrian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes)

Aquaman #1 (Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis)

Frankenstein: Agent of Shade #1 (Jeff Lemire and Alberto Ponticelli)

Batwoman #1 (J. H. Williams, Haden Blackman and Amy Reeder)



Geoff Johns Makes Things Dangerous Fast

Geoff Johns has long been the kind of guy who has written the kinds of comics that I long to read. The kind of stuff that makes me feel like the world of super heroes is more than just a genre but an artistic format. He makes me want to write better and more often than not he just plain makes me want to write. I first encountered his work on a book that most people probably aren't even aware that he wrote. It was the summer of 2002 and I hadn't yet started working for The Fantasy Shop but I had inklings that I might be getting the chance. I was living in Saint Charles for the summer after my Sophomore year of college at Lindenwood and I had wanted to get back into more of the stuff that Marvel was publishing since I was trying to get a job working for a comic store and thought that it might be in my best interest to be a little more aware of the whole of the comics industry and not just concern myself with the goings on of smaller press concerns and what little DC I was buying at the time. So I checked out 2 mutant books, an X-Factor miniseries written by Jeff Jensen, whom I have not seen anything published by since, and a Morlocks miniseries written by Geoff Johns ... who has since become one of the most important comic writers in the history of the business.

I would then go on to find out about his work on JSA and later Flash and by then I was in love with his narrative style, his skill with mystery, and his grasp of the characters he chose to tackle. This is still way before he ever became the Event writer that he has become today, but I think that his work with a wide variety of characters went a long way to prove that he was going to be the kind of writer that would someday take the world by storm.

It was his Flash run that would wind up enamoring most people to his work. And when he left The Flash everything kind of wandered around in a bit of a mire. Once he returned to the book people started getting excited again and while some delays have occurred because of things here and there it has maintained the kind of excitement that most people would expect around a Geoff Johns book.

While many people may be saying that they don't get why there needs to be a Flash-centric event right now I can assure you that this isn't really a Flash event so much as it is a Geoff Johns event. This is Geoff Johns writing an episode of The Outer Limits in the DC Universe. And I must admit it was pretty freaking cool. Add to it that you've got Andy Kubert drawing the interiors and that they're far enough ahead on the book that we shouldn't see any delays and you're in the right kind of mindset to understand just how cool this book is going to be.

And it's going to be really, really cool.

The world is different from that which we know and in so many more ways than one might have imagined. Seriously you are all going to want to check this book out. It's going to be the kind of fun that a Summer event should be. Honestly. It's the kind of thing that might have an impact on the DCU after it's all over but that should really be left by the wayside. We're talking about a book that's going to be really fun to read, really creative, innovative, and is going to challenge a lot of your preconceptions about what kind of stories Geoff Johns wants to tell you.

Jason Aaron or: How I Learned to Stop Hating and Love the Wolverine (A Review of Wolverine #1)

I hated Wolverine. Seriously. Go ahead, start frothing at the mouth and forming your posts of venom and anger. I'm ready for them. The only good Wolverine stories I had ever read had been Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown (mostly for Jon J. Muth and Kent Williams' artwork than anything else) and Greg Rucka's run at the beginning of Wolverine Vol. 3 (which abandoned much of what had made Wolverine Wolverine for the previous 10 or so years and made him more of a hard boiled detective who sought revenge for the unfortunate innocents who had met him and in doing so had been caught up the wake of destruction that follows him). And then I read that one of my favorite writers was going to be writing a BRAND NEW WOLVERINE ONGOING! and I felt the overwhelming need to do two things: 1. Not read something written by one of my favorite new writers who I wanted so badly to support -or- 2. Bite back the taste of rising bile in my throat and Buy a Wolverine comic. He had managed to make me like Ghost Rider, a task I thought patently unachievable, so after giving it a lot of thought I wound up doing the latter and I wasn't disappointed. As a matter of fact it did what I had liked about the Rucka run. In many ways I found that written correctly ... I might even be becoming a Wolverine fan. And all it took was putting my prejudices aside and following, perhaps a little blindly, the instincts of a growing super-star: Jason Aaron.

The book was Wolverine: Weapon X and it promised to be a Wolverine book without being a Super-Hero book. And it was. And it was totally awesome as well. The first arc was Black-Ops Spy fare as Logan hunts down members of the BlackGuard Security firm (owned by the always villainous Roxxon Industries) who have been augmented by scientists using the files retrieved from the wreckage of the Weapon X program. Essentially laser claw wielding mercenaries who will work for the highest bidder is too much for Logan to bear and he goes on a hunt to find and destroy these men. The story was brilliant and carried the kind of voice and references that I had become accustomed to from Aaron. 

What he brings to the book is difficult to describe ... I've often said that he is the master of the moral grey and that he writes characters who are neither heroes nor villains better than almost anyone in the industry and also has sort of an everyman's literary style (I keep trying to come up with a better phrase than that but the only thing that comes to mind is "literary by way of gutshot last words" and I don't know how well that translates if you've not read his work) and he brings both of those aspects of his style to his Marvel work with great panache, but he also brings a sort of Grindhouse style to the world of super-heroics that seems at once strange and also immensely brilliant.

The arcs that followed in the Wolverine: Weapon X series would vary greatly. The second arc brought a horror story set in an insane asylum which brought numerous chills to my spine and the final arc was a sci-fi tale of Deathlok's coming back in time to kill threats before they reached adulthood ala Terminator but with a more interesting moral message. And then the series ended. As did all the other related Wolverine ongoing series. And a slew of NEW ONGOING WOLVERINE SERIES were announced. And once again Aaron's name was attached, and this time to the flagship title, and I was admittedly a little thrilled. 

This series starts from a pretty interesting point and also clearly continues the trend established in Weapon X of treating Wolverine more as a character who just happens to wear a costume from time to time than a costumed character. The first issue begins with Wolverine trying to understand his own place in the universe. After having had his entire life history unlocked during the House of M event he very quickly began a campaign of violence against those who had wronged him in the past. But now he finds himself at the end of all of that vengeance and is, in the wake of losing his best friend during Second Coming, starting to wonder how all the unchecked aggression is going to weigh on his immortal soul. And then things get weird. But weird in the kind of way that is signature Jason Aaron. It appears that Wolverine's body may have been overtaken by a demon, and the only way for that to have happened is that his soul is no longer in his body ... which opens up all kinds of pain for the man known as Logan. 

The series continues many of the narrative threads that had begun in Wolverine: Weapon X (perhaps most essentially his burgeoning relationship with San Francisco Post reporter Melita Garner) and so for those who had been reading and loving that title it's going to be an comfortable transition. For those who hadn't been reading the title it's going to be an easy transition as Wolverine is a renowned skirt chaser and has a trail of spurned and deceased former love interests as long as his origin story, but for an easy introduction pick up last week's (8/25/10) Wolverine: Saga for more information.  I think that this is going to be one of the more interesting eras for Wolverine and for Wolverine fans and I hope that Aaron's run is as long as it deserves to be (think Bendis on Daredevil), as his voice is the kind that has the potential to revolutionize the character and get the haters (of which I was one of their number) off James Howlett's back.

Sixth Gun Blows it's Free Comic Book Day Competition Away

When I think of Cullen Bunn I think of three things:

1. "Formerly the World's Youngest Hypnotist" (... yeah).

2. The really funny story about when he worked for the Fantasy Shop and was called to the old Saint Charles location by the cops when the security alarm went off in the middle of the night.

3. I can't imagine what it must be like inside the head of a guy who can craft complete worlds with such seeming ease.

One of Cullen's greatest strengths as a writer is that when you read his works you feel like the world is complete, from the ground up, you imagine that he knows the name of all of the characters who wander past in the background and that each of them has their own stories and that one day they might just become the focus of the story and you'll wonder how you never noticed them before. That is the kind of writer that Cullen is though, he crafts these complex and complete worlds and by the time you're finished reading the first issue of his most recent yarn you can't help but want to know everything there is to know about the nooks and crannies of the little lived in world to which he's just finished introducing to you.

It certainly doesn't hurt that he's got the partner in crime that he does. Brian Hurtt has a longer tenure in the comics industry (and if you haven't read his collaborations with Christina Weir and Nunzio DeFilippis or the criminally under-read and underrated Hard Time from DC/DC Focus then you should do yourself the favor and check them out as soon as is humanly possible) but you can tell when he works with Cullen that he does so with the energy of someone who is working on their very first comic, the excitement is clearly visible on the page (and when you're drawing as many characters who wear suits and ties as wander around in a Cullen Bunn penned story you'd better be pretty excited about it). This is also some of the best work of Brian's career as he has really honed in on the character designs, layouts, emotive quality of his characters, and the general cartooning overall. 

But enough about the creators of this work, let's talk about the book itself. Sixth Gun takes place in a Magical American West that we all might wish had been. Enchanted guns, truly mystical tarot decks, undead Generals, haunted gallows tree, and more than you could even imagine. If you tell me that the Pinkertons are going to appear in a comic then you've immediately got my attention but in this book they are more than just a private policing agency, they're so much more. Honestly the book was just incredible, and there is so much about the pacing and the writing and the way that the pages lead you into the next that made me really excited as I was reading this book.

I honestly think that it is probably the duo's best collaboration to date and considering how big a fan of The Damned that I am that is really saying something. It is just a really well crafted story with bits of Cullen's creepy imagination right alongside Brian's great eye for detail. Everything from the characters to the logo feels like it wasn't so much created as found and communicated to us by master story-tellers. I honestly think that this is going to be one of the biggest hits that ONI has had in quite a while and seeing it all in color (and don't even get me started on how great the colors are) will have fans rushing back to the store to get issue #2 when it comes out in July. 

But if you want to talk to the creators themselves then you need not wait too much longer as they will be signing at the Fantasy Shop in South County on Wednesday May, 5th, the Wednesday after Free Comic Book Day! So make sure that you have your copy of Sixth Gun #1 and be ready to jump in with both feet into one of the most surprisingly enchanting comics of the year.

The Guild = Comic'd

The Knights of Good are coming to your favorite comic store and we'll finally learn how Codex first encountered the World's Most Popular Fantasy MMORPG ... which shall remain nameless ... *wink*. If you're unfamiliar with The Guild then what you should really do is head over to  http://www.watchtheguild.com/ and get started with season one episode one. You won't regret it. Really, go watch. Alright, now that it is several hours later and you've watched all three seasons and probably rewatched a few favorites you probably understand why The Guild has won so many awards (2007 YouTube Video Award – Best Series, 2008 South by Southwest Greenlight Award – Best Original Production, 2008 Yahoo! Video Award – Best Series, 2009 Streamy Awards – Best Comedy Web Series, Best Ensemble Cast in a Web Series, Best Female Actor in a Comedy Web Series [Felicia Day]) and why it's eventual translation into the world of comics seemed so obvious to so many of it's fans.

The series follows Cyd Sherman (a.k.a. Codex), played by Felicia Day who also created and writes the show, as she sits at her computer and plays a Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game with her Guildmates "The Knights of Good " whom (as of the first episode) she had never met in person. The series is incredibly funny and very sharply written with really great and rather memorable characters and even more memorable and great lines and scenes (Doorstep'd).

With the recent Dr. Horrible One Shot that was released from Dark Horse, which also starred Felicia Day, it seemed like only a matter of time before the internet sensation found it's way to either the printed page or the screens of televisions the world over ... but I suppose rather than getting cancelled by FOX that the minds behind The Guild decided that it would be better to just go straight to comics.

The first issue (which comes out tomorrow, 3/24) starts before the events of the series and shows us what Cyd was up to before she became Codex, The Healer. The translation from webisode to comic is nearly seamless as we get the familiar Cyd speaking to Webcam framing sequence from the show (a duty she has been tasked to do by her therapist). Felicia Day also writes the comic and has either read a lot of comics, received some sagelike advice from her former director Joss Whedon (she also starred in several episodes of Whedon's most recent foray into television, Dollhouse), or just has a really good handle on how to write for comics as opposed to for the screen. Along with the really great and funny writing is really spot on art from Jim Rugg (who has drawn several other great comics including: One Model Nation, Plain Janes [and it's sequel Janes in Love], Street Angel, and Afrodisiac) who brings just the right mix of actor accurate representation and really great cartooning. During scenes where the action is taking place in the "Game World" there is an interesting choice made where the characters and backgrounds become even more rendered by Rugg and seem somehow more real than the scenes that take place in the real world. It's a funny device that gives you a good insight into the characters.

This is really one of the more entertaining times I have had reading a comic in a while and by that I mean that I was smiling or laughing throughout most of the reading and am gleefully awaiting the next issue. I don't know if there is a better compliment a book can receive than the reader being really excited to see what happens next, so take that for what you will.

Article'd

It Just Occurred to Me ...

In all the Sturm und Drang of the really incredible events of the last 18 months in the world of comics it is only now occurring to me that the main thrust of almost all of the really and truly great "Event" stories have been steeped in Sci-Fi themes and Cosmic execution. Between the New Gods angle of Final Crisis, the Skrulls of Secret Invasion, and the whole of War of Kings and Blackest Night the world of comics has been looking to the stars in a big way for the last 2 years or so. And consequently they have been creating a whole lot of really great comics that both fans of super-heroes and space operas can truly appreciate. Writers like Tony Bedard, Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi, Grant Morrison, Brian Michael Bendis and others have been given the chance to talk about the oft overlooked corners of the greater universes of both DC and Marvel Comics. Starting back in 2005 when Geoff Johns kicked off the reinvigoration of the Green Lantern franchise and Keith Giffen launched the Annihilation event at Marvel that introduced a whole new generation to Silver Surfer, Nova, Drax, and Thanos. In the intervening 5 years we have seen a great deal of new series launch that have been cosmic based and space has never looked brighter in the world of major comics publishing. And while many of them have developed rabid, hungry fan bases it seems like the really great titles often go overlooked, and so I decided that with my podium here on the front page I would let you know about some of the creators and comics that have been keeping the Sci-Fi nerd in me thrilled month in and month out (and I'll even talk about some of the lesser known titles that might be flying under your radar).

Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have been working together for the better part of 2 decades having worked on such seminal books as 2000 AD's Judge Anderson (a spin off character from the much more well known Judge Dredd) and The Legion of Super Heroes, but their recent works have held the rapt attention of a great portion of the comics community and perhaps deserves even more notice. Both of their ongoing series: Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy spun out of the events of Annihilation and both books are incredibly good. Nova has a much more serious feel and carries the feel of a Green Lantern Corps style book in the Marvel Universe, but for most of the series Richard Rider (Nova) has been alone in his efforts as he tries to slowly and deliberately rebuild the Nova Corps. The events of War of Kings created the greatest need for an expanded Nova Corps and so as the series progresses into the Realm of Kings era the book has taken on a larger cast and that is exactly the kind of thing that allows Abnett and Lanning to shine even brighter. No further evidence is needed of this simple fact than their other ongoing series, Guardians of the Galaxy. Put together by necessity rather than desire the Guardians banded together by Star Lord (who helped to stop the terrifying events of Annihilation) in order to undermine the efforts of the the Phalanx during Annihilation: Conquest. The series plays a lot like an intergalactic A-Team and has an incredibly unique story telling style where the events are narrated by the characters as part of their after-action reports. The series features a bizarre cast of characters that have incredible chemistry and manage both the action and the humor of the series with great class.

Another writer who is great with ensemble stories is Tony Bedard who really made his name when it comes to sci-fi story telling with Negation at CrossGen comics. His experience there spun into working on Exiles at Marvel and a few things here and there before he started work on another great space faring ensemble series for DC Comics: R.E.B.E.L.S., a book that benefited more from it's inclusion in the events of Blackest Night than any of the other so-called "Ring Books". R.E.B.E.L.S. follows the adventures of Vril Dox, also known as Brainiac-2, the former leader of the intergalactic Police-for Pay agency L.E.G.I.O.N. as he runs from the agents of the agency he once rain. Along the way he has encountered former agents as well as former enemies who have joined in his quest to regain the control of his agency. In his travels he has also come across an army of mindless soldiers controlled by Starro the Conqueror, who is apparently not the giant starfish we all though we knew, but is a warrior king from another galaxy that has overtaken planet after planet and with every new mind controlled he becomes even more powerful. They have also encountered the innumerable forces of the Black Lanterns during Blackest Night. Further proof of Bedard's skills are only made more evident with the recent announcement that after the end of the Blackest Night a third Green Lantern ongoing series, Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors which will be written by Peter Tomasi and Tomasi will in turn be leaving Green Lantern Corps ... on which Bedard will take up writing duties.

Be they space faring or earth bound there are a great number of other great sci-fi series being published by companies large and small, the adaptation of the Ender Wiggin series by Marvel comics or the continued adventures of the crew of the Farscape at BOOM! Studios even books like King City at Image, Resurrection at ONI, the Soleil publications released by Marvel (Sky Doll, Universal War One, Kookaburra K, and Scourge of the Gods chief among them), or even the great anthology series 2000AD. It couldn't be a better time to be a sci-fi nut in the comics world.

State of the Comics Industry Address ... We Will Return to Your Regularly Scheduled Programming Next Week.

My Fellow Americans, I come to you all today to inform you of some of the really exciting things that are going on in the comics industry. And while I will be focusing primarily on the actions of late of the "Big Two" as they have come to be known I will also take a few moments to discuss what is going on with some of the smaller companies involved as well. I will endeavor to remain spoiler free. I do this for you, the American People.

Things have been heating up in the world, some might even say that there is some hotness on the horizon. When these people speak of this there are two things of which they are likely to be speaking: the first is The Heroic Age. For too long now our Marvel heroes have been mired in Dark Days, perhaps even under a Reign of Evil of sorts ... and now they find themselves be-Siege-d on all sides. But worry not my fellow Americans, for brighter days are coming. A new and bold Heroic Age is only around the corner, should we all wish to see it. We need only persevere a brief while longer. And then these heroes, who have been New for so long, will return to being Earth's Mightiest Heroes. They will no longer have to hide out under rocks or in basements, they will be encouraged to come out into the sunlight and to be washed clean so that they may be once again seen as the heroes we had all known and loved. Perhaps you may have heard who will be bringing about this bold new age of heroism ... but perhaps you have not. For those of you who may find yourselves unaware two names will become important in the very near future, those of Brian Michael Bendis, and John Romita Jr. These bold men will usher in a new age with some familiar faces and with others that are new to our times. Some of these names have been revealed to us and we will share them here.

Richard Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes is a name known by millions in our country as he once stood bravely beside our greatest patriot, Captain America. But in recent years he has taken on the mantle of his fallen, but now returned, comrade. He may look different than we had become used to but he certainly wields The Shield of mentor with the same brazen bravery to which we had become accustomed. We welcome him with the same open hearts that we once opened to Steve Rogers.

The second name and face is also well known throughout not only our country but the entire world as it was worn by a recent invader as she and her people attempted to Secret-ly conduct an Invasion of our world from all fronts. The face worn by the Skrull Queen was that of Jessica Drew. The newly returned Jessica Drew, known the world over as Spider-Woman, has begun a campaign not only to show the world that she is still a hero and is not the menace who wore her visage for so long. She has been revealed as another Avenger as well as having joined one of our Intelligence Agencies, which has come to recent prominence in light of the same Invasion that was lead by the woman, nay creature, who wore her face: S.W.O.R.D. An off-shoot of the far more well known S.H.I.E.L.D. that has protected our earth from those who call her home and yet would seek to do her harm. S.W.O.R.D. protects us from the skies, from those creatures known and unknown who would see Earth as a pawn in a grand galactic game or perhaps as simply a rich source of fresh resources or a labor force awaiting enslavement.

The other source of heat that is on the horizon comes from our friends at DC Comics and is known simply as: The Brightest Day. While we have spent the last six months waiting with baited breath as The Blackest Night has held us all enthralled perhaps the more significant announcement has been the recent admission that after Blackest Night will come Brightest Day. Being brought to us by two names that have become synonymous with the Lanterns of Light, Peter J. Tomasi, and Geoff Johns, Brightest Day promises a year of bi-weekly updates as the universe becomes more illuminated under the watchful eye of The New Guardians. 

Another log on the fire is the recent announcement that many of the major players from Blackest Night will be given representation in the recently revived HeroClix game through an upcoming boxed set featuring the Bearers of many of the colors of Light that make up the primary excitement of the Blackest Night Event. The revealed images show both the bearer of the Green Light, Hal Jordan as well as the deputized bearer of Red Light Mera, Dethroned Queen of Dimension Aqua and current Queen of Atlantis. 

Also coming from DC Comics is the return of one of the most beloved characters of this or any age, Barry Allen. The return of the Fastest Man Alive of the Silver Age began in 2008 with his reappearance in Final Crisis and built last year as his Rebirth began and his reemergence as a front-line character was solidified by his part in the pages of the previously mentioned Blackest Night. But perhaps it is his return to ongoing comics that has people most excited. With this spring's Flash #1 written by the aforementioned Geoff Johns and with art by his recent companion on Adventure Comics, the incredibly talented Francis Manapul, Barry Allen couldn't be in better hands as he returns home as Central City's proudest native son and once again patrols her streets leaving behind justice and a tell-tale red blur in his wake. Along with the return of The Fastest Man Alive is another great piece of memorabilia from the folks at DC Comics and while we cannot promise that there will be a compact Flash Costume hidden in the secret compartment (or that there will even be a secret compartment at all) we can promise that this Flash Ring is going to be one of the hottest items of the Spring

Another announcement came recently from actress Erica Cerra who has stated a desire to be considered for the role of Wonder Woman in the eventual Big Screen Live Action Adaptation. And she proposes that her coming turn as Hera in Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief will prove to any doubters that she can pull off the other worldly grace that would be necessary to play Diana Prince, Princess of the Amazons.

Finally we come to the many wonders of the Small Press ... And while I would love to tell you about all the exciting things that are coming from companies like Dark Horse, Image, DDP, Dynamite and others I think that pictures will do them more justice:

 Dynamite Brings Kevin Smith's Green Hornet to LifeArchaia Goes Down to Fraggle Rock!Top Cow Open's Pandora's Box and Reveals 2 New Aritfact Bearers.Stuff of Legend Returns for 2 Additional Volumes.