This week marks the release of Prince Valiant #1, and with it, the final building block in the foundation of Dynamite's increasingly weird "King" universe. Built around the King Features characters that are best known as newspaper strips --- and in the case of The Phantom, a Billy Zane movie that invited viewers to 'slam evil!' --- the line got its start in the Kings Watch crossover in 2013. While Flash Gordon has stuck around and been pretty fantastic, it's only in the last month that the rest of the characters have rolled out into their own books to flesh out the world.
Now, with everything in place, the King line has pulpy sci-fi, mystic adventure, superhero action and swords and sorcery from the days of King Arthur all jockeying for position and trying to come together as a cohesive unit. And to be honest, it's actually pretty awesome to see.
The question most often asked of the ComicsAlliance staff is a variation of, "Which comic books should I be reading?" or, "I'm new to comics, what's a good place to start?"
Indeed, the Wednesday deluge of new comic books, graphic novels and collected editions can be daunting even for the longtime reader, much less the comics-curious totally unfamiliar with the creators, characters and publishers the industry has to offer, or the sometimes confusing system of periodicals, trades, crossovers, pre-ordering, variants, reprints, and all the other dark mysteries of comic book shopping.
It's with these challenges in mind that we've created Best Comic Books Ever (This Week), an ongoing guide curated by rotating members of the ComicsAlliance staff. This is where new comics readers will find the easiest access to the best variety of cool books our storytelling medium has to offer, and where seasoned Wednesday shoppers can find recommendations for new titles to try out.
Hot on the heels of yesterday's announcement that Dynamite is relaunching The Spirit with writer/artist Matt Wagner, it looks like the publisher is once again expanding its line with another unexpected revival. This time, it's Justice, Inc., starring The Avenger --- Paul Ernst's frozen-faced pulp hero --- making a return to comics in a series by Mark Waid and Ronilson Freire.
Every now and then, an announcement comes along that seems so perfectly natural that you start to wonder why it hasn't happened before. Case in point: Dynamite announced today that they are reviving Will Eisner's The Spirit as an ongoing series written and drawn by Matt Wagner, set to launch at this year's Comic-Con International in San Diego.
The Spirit is, of course, one of the most groundbreaking comics of all time, originally appearing as a newspaper strip that in many ways reads like it was 20 years ahead of its time (while also, it should be noted, featuring the problematic elements of its era). With over 30 years of experience writing and drawing some of the best comics around, Wagner is a natural choice to put his spin on the character.
Dynamite has announced a new big event series from Gail Simone and Sergio Davila, Swords of Sorrow. Crossing over between many of their female characters, the series will lead into a series of tie-in stories written by some of the most talented women in the business, including Marguerite Bennett, Leah Moore, Mairghread Scott, Emma Beeby, Mikki Kendal, Nancy Collins, and G. Willow Wilson.
The Wall Street Journal published Diamond Comic Distributors' list of the top-selling comics publishers for 2014 Friday morning, and for the most part, it's all the usual suspects. Marvel was No. 1 with more than a third of the market share, in both dollars and units. DC was reasonably close behind. Image, IDW, Dark Horse, Dynamite and Boom Studios took the next spots.
Then comes number eight. Eaglemoss Publications. Wait. What? Who?
For a comic that's only two issues in, we've talked about David F. Walker and Bilquis Evely's Shaft comic a lot. There's been a review of the first issue, an interview with Walker, and now, with the second issue hot off the presses this week, we're going back to the well to talk about it again. The reason for all this ballyhoo from your pals at ComicsAlliance is simple: It's already one of the best comics in recent memory, and well worth your attention and ours.
The first issue started that trend, but in the second, things are heating up, and while the storyline follows a pattern that you probably expected going in, it's executed in an incredibly entertaining way.
The last twelve months offered comic book readers a wide variety of work ranging from the most crowd-pleasing superhero epics to the most idiosyncratic of indies, and the return of old favorites to the emergence of exciting new talent. It was a busy and productive year for the industry, and one we’re pleased to celebrate with what we’re certain will be an uncontroversial, unenumerated list of awards that will prompt only resounding agreement and unbroken fellowship amongst our readers in the comments below.
Evil sorcery is a problem for the people of a certain age undreamt of, and apparently it's gotten so bad that one Hyborian hero is no longer enough to stop them. That's why in January, we're getting a team-up in the form of Conan/Red Sonja, in which a pretty fantastic creative team of Gail Simone, Jim Zub and Dan Panosian are teaming up the two heroes to stop -- you guessed it -- evil sorcery.
Of all the comics that could indulge in one of my beloved Holiday Specials, Flash Gordon seems like a pretty unlikely candidate. I mean, now that I think of it, if comics can give us that story where Superboy gets caught up in the Christmas Spirit and decides to get the Legion of Super-Heroes to hunt down the star that the Magi followed to the manger and ends up rescuing a race of alien bird-people from a flood in what can only very charitably be called a miracle, I guess you can wring a little holiday cheer out of just about anything. Still, the adventures of three humans trapped in an alien empire full of tree monsters and beast-men doesn't quite seem like it would easily lend itself to the spirit of the season.
And yet, that's exactly what the folks at Dynamite have done with the new Flash Gordon Holiday Special one-shot, and while I could not possibly be more in the target audience for this thing -- my interest in space adventure is only outstripped by my love of Christmas -- it's well worth picking up.
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