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Comicscape - September 2002

Fight the summer doldrums here!

By Tony Whitt     August 28, 2002

The summer doldrums appear to have gotten an extension this year, if this September's offering of titles is anything to go by. Not only do we have the usual mutant madness at Marvel, there's an "event" in which Bill Jemas reimagines the DC Universe (though I doubt the folks at DC have anything to worry about). Then there's the latest Superman crossover "event," the JLA's continuing crossover "event," and so many other such "events" that you'll wonder if you'll ever see that word without quotations again. There aren't too many must-haves this month, but here are some titles to be aware of.

The week of September 4:

It's back to the future of the STAR WARS universe as Dark Horse presents STAR WARS: EMPIRE, a series set during the time of Emperor Palpatine's reign, which ships this week. So, this is after the first trilogy but before the second? No wonder Darth Vader always sounds like he's in pain...

Gen13

Wildstorm's new series, 21 DOWN, in which a young man with second sight has only until his 21st birthday to live, sounds disturbingly like that MTV series, DEAD AT 21, doesn't it? Hopefully it'll have a longer shelf-life...even if its lead character doesn't.

The SUPERMAN books are having yet another "epic" in the months of September and October, this one titled "Ending Battle." The first part arrives this week in SUPERMAN #186, continuing each week thereafter with ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #608, SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL #130, and ACTION COMICS #795. If you'd rather not be bothered, of course, just wait a year or two for the inevitable collected edition - it'll be cheaper, and far less of a pain.

Cover for SMALLVILLE: The Comic Book

Speaking of collected editions, there's one actually worth buying this week as J. Michael Straczynski's twelve-part series MIDNIGHT NATION comes out in trade paperback from Image. It also includes the 12-page story which appeared in the WIZARD #1/2 issue. The 288-page volume is well worth the $29.99 cover price - and how often can you say that nowadays?

Image also ships STUPID COMICS #1 by Jim Mahfood this week, though given the quality of Mahfood's work, this collection of his well-known comic strip is probably the only book on the list this month that does not deserve that title.


The week of September 11:

The JLA epic "The Obsidian Age: The Hunt for Aquaman" continues this month with #71 shipping this week and #72 shipping next. Joy.

The journey is over, but is another just beginning? MIDNIGHT NATION wraps things up with #12.

Speaking of which, Elseworlds just can't do enough to the JLA it seems, and with PLANETARY/JLA: TERRA OCCULTA, a crossover event between Wildstorm and DC Comics (if that really counts as a crossover), they're at it again. If you simply can't get enough of watching Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman being reimagined over and over again, this 48-page one-shot will ship this week. Lucky you.

Hunter Rose returns in a new miniseries from Dark Horse - GRENDEL: RED, WHITE, & BLACK, the first issue of which ships this week. Artists such as Jill Thompson, Tom Fowler, Jim Mahfood, Andy Kuhn, and Stan Sakai are all contributing to this book, which may make it one of the most over-illustrated miniseries produced this year.

Art from 21 DOWN

Chris Claremont brings on yet another team of teenaged mutants, this time at Wildstorm in the form of GEN13, a new ongoing series. Better start writing up the inevitable continuity guide now...

Kyle Rayner battles an even greater foe than Nero - the evils of homophobia - as his friend is gay-bashed and left for dead in GREEN LANTERN #154. As I said earlier, there aren't many must-haves this month, but this is one of them.

Another possibility is X-MEN UNLIMITED #38, written by Greg Rucka, in which Nightcrawler and Kitty Pryde remember the hero Colossus. If you want to escape from the usual mutant madness this week, this is the book to pick up.


The week of September 18:

It seems like it would have been more appropriate for CAPTAIN AMERICA #6, which wraps up the terrorism story-arc, to have shipped last week, but the latest issue of this great new series ships this week instead - go figure.

CAPTAIN MARVEL's new look

SMALLVILLE fans, take heart! A 64-page one-shot based on the popular series ships from DC, and it's written by one of the series' writer-producers, Michael Green. Clark can't fly yet, but can this book do it?

And speaking of stuff that looks like SMALLVILLE but isn't, Just imagine Bill Jemas creating the DC Universe. God, do we have to? MARVILLE #1 is only one such creation, available with three (count 'em, three!) different covers.

ULTIMATE ADVENTURES #1, featuring the characters Hawk-Owl and Zippy, also ships from Marvel as part of the aforementioned "reimagination event." Since this one's not only written by Ron Zimmerman but also features character designs by Ralph Cerella, his pal from THE HOWARD STERN SHOW, you should be able to avoid this one with a minimum of trouble. In fact, you should avoid it to save yourself a maximum of hurt.

Cover art to SPIDER-MAN/BLACK CAT: THE EVIL THAT MEN DO #1

CAPTAIN MARVEL #1, also from Marvel, may be a good jumping-on point for new readers eager to check out what the company calls its "best-reviewed book." Or the one most touted by WIZARD anyway, which doesn't always make something the "best."

Last month's "X-Month" at Marvel isn't over yet it seems, as WEAPON X #1 ships this week. It's being touted as Marvel's take on SUICIDE SQUAD, featuring villains from the various X-books. Can't call them the House of Original Ideas this month, can ya?

Perhaps that's a bit harsh though. In addition to the aforementioned CAPTAIN AMERICA title, INCREDIBLE HULK #45 begins a new story-arc this week. Check out the title that one CINESCAPE reviewer called " a title living up to the name 'incredible'." (Actually, that was me.)


The week of September 25:

Wildstorm premieres yet another ongoing series with Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray's THE RESISTANCE, a story set in the dystopian world of 2280. The artwork looks great, but will everyone be off watching BIG BROTHER instead?

There's no escaping the JLA this month, as the Legion of Super-Heroes is about to discover in THE LEGION #12. Does this have anything to do with the current "The Obsidian Age: The Hunt for Aquaman" epic going on in JLA? Does anyone care?

PLANETARY/JLA artist Jerry Ordway at work

And for those who do care about such things, Kevin Smith's miniseries SPIDER-MAN/BLACK CAT: THE EVIL THAT MEN DO draws to a close with #4. I'm told by reliable sources - namely, my editor - that this one may be worthwhile. Don't let the name scare you off.

Comicscape is our monthly Comics column.



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