April showers us with plenty of great comics, including ADVENTURES IN OZ, KINGS IN DISGUISE, and the launch line up from First Second. Greg McElhatton navigates through the April fools to find the best new books available.
30 January 2006

Have you ever wondered if publishers are just pulling our leg with their solicitations? It's certainly happened before, like back when Malibu's Ultraverse line solicited EXILES #5 and 6 in an attempt to hide the secret that the entire team would get massacred in #4 and the book would end there.

But every now and then I can't help but scratch my head and say, "Who are they kidding? Is this some elaborate sort of April Fool's Day prank?" It would explain a lot, like a WOLVERINE: ORIGINS ongoing monthly (because his origin wasn't convoluted or ludicrous enough?), or Dark Horse's SPACE PINCHY books (why not just go all the way and publish porn instead of stopping just at the edge of good taste?), or for that matter DC Comics's CMX line (where whenever I see the books on sale, people have written their names in the layer of dust on top of them).

Well, I like to think it's all a massive joke in honor of April Fool's Day. And I'm sure I can find more as my perusal begins...


SUPERIOR SHOWCASE #1 by Nick Bertozzi, Mike Dawson, and Dean Trippe
FEB06 2786, p207, $2.95

After the success of PROJECT SUPERIOR, AdHouse's superhero anthology, we're back with a showcase comic of more alternative artists writing and drawing superhero stories. This will probably sell a fraction of the copies that the lowest-selling books from Marvel or DC do, and be a more satisfying group of superhero stories than most of their publications for the entire month. There's a joke in all of that somewhere, but I'm not laughing, just shaking my head in dismay.


WOLFSKIN #1 by Warren Ellis and Juan Jose Ryp
FEB06 2876, p233, $3.99

Up until now, I'd been ready to discount Juan Jose Ryp's incredibly detailed art as the work of someone who wanted to be Geoff Darrow but just wasn't quite up to par. Apparently, all this time the problem was that Ryp should've been working in color, not black and white. The color pages of WOLFSKIN on display at the comic's special preview site are beautiful, and the big problem I'd had in the past with Ryp art (where the figures seemed to all flatten together into a big jumble) is completely gone. Who knew? This will be something to watch out for.


DREADFUL ED HC by Andrew Cosby and Troy Nixey
FEB06 0075, p34, $12.95

Joke's on you, Dark Horse, if Troy Nixey hasn't already turned in his pages. But who knows, maybe he'll finally finish it, like JENNY FINN... oh, wait, never mind. (It's a pity, because I think Nixey's a really talented illustrator when he actually does complete a project. That just seems to happen rarely these days.)


ALL-STAR BATMAN AND ROBIN THE BOY WONDER #5 by Frank Miller, Jim Lee, and Scott Williams
FEB06 0218, p61, $2.99

Do I even need to explain why the joke's on everyone who's still buying this? (Don't worry, Jim Lee, all will be forgiven when you start drawing the Grant Morrison-written WILDCATS.)

SUPERMAN: STRANGE ATTRACTORS TP by Gail Simone, John Byrne, and Nelson
FEB06 0253, p76, $12.99

The joke's actually on us in this case; Gail Simone and John Byrne did a fabulous job on ACTION COMICS, but their run's already over in just eight short issues thanks to the 'One Year Later' shuffling of creative teams. Byrne's pencils never looked so great in years thanks to Nelson's inks, and Simone really understood how to write Superman. Here's hoping someone at DC tries to reunite this creative team on another Superman book soon.

SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY VOL 3 TP by Grant Morrison and lots of artists
FEB06 0291, p97, $14.99

If there is a joke to be had here, it's that Grant Morrison wasn't joking at all when he said he'd make comics like THE BULLETEER and FRANKENSTEIN interesting. I mean, FRANKENSTEIN, for Pete's sake! I feel like I should be writing letters of apology to everyone at DC Comics (but especially Morrison) to tell them that they were right and I was wrong, because this really is fantastic.


A.L.I.E.E.E.N. SC by Lewis Trondheim
FEB06 3050, p279, $12.95
FATE OF THE ARTIST SC by Eddie Campbell
FEB06 3051, p280, $15.95
FEB06 3053, p280, $14.95
SARDINE IN OUTER SPACE SC by Emmanuel Guibert and Joann Sfar
FEB06 3055, p280, $12.95

I have to give :01 First Second credit; this is one of the best launches of books I've seen in a very long time. Three of the four books are all definite winners, and based on that I'm willing to believe the same about the fourth (the only one I'm unfamiliar with).

A.L.I.E.E.E.N. is by Lewis Trondheim, and it's about aliens, which already makes it an automatic 'must buy' for me. Trondheim's books are an amazing mixture of whimsy and drama, with some of the best character designs in comics; one of those rare creators who can really develop 'all ages' material that will appeal to anyone and everyone who reads them.

Eddie Campbell was showing people advance pages of THE FATE OF THE ARTIST back at San Diego last summer, and even with just a small portion of the book in my hands I was blown away by it. It's a metafiction story about Campbell vanishing from comics, told in a manner that could only be achieved in comics itself. It shifts time periods, uses mocked-up old comic strips and newspaper clippings, and is as much about Campbell as it is about creating art.

If Trondheim has one equal in French graphic novels, it's Joann Sfar (the two collaborate on the DUNGEON books, in fact). Sfar's collaboration with Emmanuel Guibert is SARDINE IN OUTER SPACE, about a little girl who has to save every kid in the galaxy from the evil tyrant Supermuscleman. With pirates, cosmic squids, talking clouds, and space leeches all being promised, I'm not sure how this could go wrong.

Last but not least, I must admit that I know nothing about Grady Klein's THE LOST COLONY: THE SNODGRASS CONSPIRACY other than it's about a mysterious island in 19th century America. Based on its neighbors in the First Second line, though, it must be good to have earned a spot on this launch line-up.

(The joke? Most comic stores probably won't order any of these unless you pre-order them.)


THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB VOL 1 by Raina Telgemeier
FEB06 3075, p283, $16.99

A couple of months ago I wrote up how excited I was about Raina Telgemeier's adaptation of the BABY-SITTERS CLUB books into graphic novels, and how great it was going to be. Well, last night I actually got to read an advance copy of the book and... it's even better than I'd said. I should've been writing this column and instead I just kept turning the pages, giggling to myself. Now that it's been resolicited for April, here's another chance for you to order this. Trust me, this is just great.


ADVENTURES IN OZ by Eric Shanower
FEB06 3134, p292, $39.99

I absolutely adored Eric Shanower's OZ graphic novels; the first four were published by First Comics, the fifth by Dark Horse Comics, and they were all great. These were stories that were meant for adults as much as children, with civil wars, suicide attempts, the question of what 'family' really means, and much more. The answers to the questions that Shanower poses aren't always easy, and over a decade later I still remember entire sequences and scenes by heart. Add in some gorgeous artwork (which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who reads AGE OF BRONZE) in full color and, well, you'll quickly see why I'm utterly delighted that IDW is bringing these amazing stories back into print.


ASTRO GN by Nilson
FEB06 1758, p138, $6.99

Wow. I've never heard of Nilson before, but the preview pages of a little lost astronaut wandering about a strange planet? Utterly gorgeous. The color palette reminds me a lot of Scott Morse's work, but it's got a smoother, rounder edge to the artwork. This is the sort of book where if you buy it just for the art you're already a winner, and if the story's good? That's just gravy. Definitely check this out.

LOADED BIBLE: JESUS VS VAMPIRES ONE-SHOT by Tim Seeley, Nate Bellegarde, and Mark Englert
FEB06 1761, p141, $4.99

OK, please let this not be a joke, because I desperately want to see this book. The solicitation's so good that it's my pick of the month for the book where I let the hype speak for itself:

In the near future, the United States is ruled by bloodsucking vampire hordes. Only one man can end their reign of terror: JESUS H CHRIST. A tale of war, love, religion and severed heads, the controversial LOADED BIBLE answers an age-old question: "What Would Jesus Do?" Answer: He'd kick vampire ass.

I wish my friend Ian was still managing my local comic store, because I know he'd order 500 copies and sell every last one. Folks, this is going to be pure gold.

SPAWN #1 IN 3D by Todd McFarlane
FEB06 1766, p145, $5.95

The joke's on you, because in 3D the bad writing can jump out and gouge your eyeballs out even easier than before. Wasn't once enough?

GIRLS #12 by Joshua Luna and Jonathan Luna
FEB06 1778, p152, $2.99

'There are some things worse than death.'

Honestly, the jokes write themselves sometimes. (Will someone please teach the Luna Brothers how to write a solicitation?)


NEXTWAVE #4 by Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen
FEB06 2036, pM50, $2.99

I just read the first issue of NEXTWAVE and I'm convinced that it's a humor-level-scanner disguised as a comic book. If you read it and don't laugh at least once, then we know that your sense of humor levels are at an all time low and need to be recharged, fast. Really, this is just funny, funny stuff that shouldn't (and isn't intended to) be taken seriously. It's sort of like Marvel Comics on a sugar high that is never, ever going away. Now that's funny.


MY INNER BIMBO #1 by Sam Kieth
FEB06 3206, p307, $2.99

There are books that, based on the description, you might not trust until you know who created it. Take Sam Kieth's ZERO GIRL, about a high school student who is afraid of evil squares and has to use circles to save herself from the squares' plots. In anyone else's hands I'd have gone the other way and never looked at it again. Sam Kieth? Well, now that you mention it, yes please.

That's how I feel about his new mini-series from Oni Press, MY INNER BIMBO. A book about how a man's feminine side actually manifests itself as a separate entity and it's a bimbo? If anyone else handled this (like, for instance, the folks at Top Cow) I'd be cringing at the mere thought. With Kieth, though, I've got genuine faith that it's going to be a really good book. Not many people can make unworkable ideas work, but he's one. The stranger the better, really, when it comes to Kieth. No joke!


THE KINDIACHI CASE FILES VOL 13: HOUSE OF WAX by Kanari Yozaburo and Sato Fumiya
FEB06 3302, p338, $9.99

There was a rumor for a while that TokyoPop was no longer going to publish THE KINDAICHI CASE FILES, and I'm thrilled to see that rumor was wrong. A series of stand-alone mysteries, each volume pits high school student Kindaichi and his best friend Miyuki against a new case, ones that inevitably result in people dying. What's fun is that each one has a number of clues embedded into the story so you can try to solve the case even as Kindaichi puts everything together. Each book's really clever, and if you've never tried KINDAICHI CASE FILES before, this is a good a place to start as any, as Kindaichi is invited to participate in a murder-mystery party game that goes horribly wrong. Bring on the body count!


THE TICKING HC by Renee French
FEB06 3346, p346, $19.95

I just reviewed an advance copy of THE TICKING over at iComics.com last week, but if you didn't read the review (and what are you waiting for?), I loved it. It's a very subtle, quiet story about beauty and our perception of how the rest of the world will view us. French's art is utterly gorgeous, drawn in perhaps charcoal or chalk, but definitely looking like nothing else out there on the market. This book has been years in the making and it's been worth the wait and then some.


KINGS IN DISGUISE by James Vance and Dan Burr
FEB06 3405, p361, $16.95

There's one final joke here, dear readers... and it's that it took a non-comics-publisher to finally realize that James Vance and Dan Burr's KINGS IN DISGUISE being out of print was a wrong that needed to be righted.

Originally published by the now defunct Kitchen Sink Press, KINGS IN DISGUISE was an amazing story set in the Great Depression about drifters and homeless men in Detroit. It's one of those forgotten greats that should have never gone out of print, especially now when the greater public is just finally starting to understand that comics aren't a genre but an art form, and that they can tell stories of all shapes and sizes. Hurrah to WW Norton for bringing this great book back into the hands of readers. It's about time.

This article is Ideological Freeware. The author grants permission for its reproduction and redistribution by private individuals on condition that the author and source of the article are clearly shown, no charge is made, and the whole article is reproduced intact, including this notice.

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