With the DC Universe re-launch right around the corner, we saw a lot of concluding storylines and one-shots from DC, but Marvel has some re-launches of their own going on and other relatively new storylines dominating their line-up. With that in mind, here are my top five comics released on Wednesday, August 24th, 2011.
1) DC – Batman: Gates of Gotham #5 (of 5): With Batman being the least affected character by the upcoming universe re-launch, DC needed an arc that would help push Dick Grayson out of the role of the Dark Knight and allow Bruce to re-claim the mantle full-time. Gates of Gotham is an arc that helps do that. While still continuing the recent new villain push with the story’s main antagonist, the Architect, the ending also reveals Bruce’s return to Gotham after sowing the seeds of Batman, Inc. around the world. To make the transition back to Bruce a smooth one, this arc pushed Dick to his limits as a person and as a crime-fighter. This makes it easy to write that his confidence has been marred after the carnage caused by Architect and that Bruce recognizes that by Dick returning to his role as Nightwing, where he’ll have less pressure on him to perform and fill Bruce’s all encompassing shadow, he can re-find his groove. The idea seems to be positively embraced by most, if not all, fans of the Dark Knight. Now it’s just a matter of the new #1s to start rolling out. If you haven’t been following this mini-series, then you might want to wait for it to be collected before jumping on this issue, but if you followed it to this point, this concluding chapter will not disappoint.
2) DC – Superman Beyond #0: A one-shot that follows a future Superman set in the Batman Beyond universe, this interesting comic still finds a way to encompass everything the Man of Steel represents while giving him new and creative threats, and even more new and creative allies. Hoping to ride on the coat tails of the Batman Beyond series’ popularity, which has been put on hold for the time being for the DCU re-launch, Superman Beyond #0 is written by legend Tom DeFalco and drawn by one of his favorite partners in crime, Ron Frenz, who are both hoping that the one-shot will be popular enough to ensure a monthly spin-off once “The New 52” expands into something more like the “The New 75” later this year. Much like what happened with the original 100+ issues of Spider-Girl that spawned off after another one-shot they had done for Marvel back in the day. If you are a fan of either the Batman Beyond comic or the late 90s cartoon, this one-shot is something you’ll want to take a look at, whether it spawns a monthly or not.
3) Marvel – Uncanny X-Force #13 – Rick Remender continues his brilliant run on this young series as we look at Part 3 of “The Dark Angel Saga”. Wolverine and the rest of X-Force have traveled to the Age of Apocalypse universe to try to acquire a life-seed in order to save their universe’s Archangel. Things go wrong though when they are un-surprisingly betrayed by Dark Beast and must confront the new AoA Apocalypse, who is really that universe’s Wolverine. Although successful in acquiring a life-seed, it comes at a great price as AoA’s Nightcrawler is killed and AoA’s Jean Grey is captured before Wolverine and X-Force are thrown back into their universe. Wolverine has little time to grieve over old wounds that have been ripped open though as Archangel has been busy without Psylocke to keep his Death persona in check. Now, even the life-seed may not be enough to save their universe as Archangel has awoken Onslaught and with the aid of Dark Beast, Ozymandias, and the new Four Horsemen, looks to rise up as the new Apocalypse. Brilliantly written and chock full of action, Uncanny X-Force has been a rare series that does not disappoint month in and month out. Try to gather the first two issues of this arc if you can, but if not, definitely jump on now as the X-Men universe is likely never to be the same when this is done.
4) Marvel – The Ultimates #1 – Although not re-launching all their titles, Marvel did decide to re-launch their “Ultimate” universe with the recent announcement of the new Spider-Man Miles Morales and now a new The Ultimates, which follows that universe’s Avengers. Clearly a ploy to help capitalize on their movie franchises, people who had followed the original Ultimates will see clear similarities between those characters and those that will be seen in next summer’s blockbuster movie and have been already introduced on the big screen. For those who never got into the series the first time around, this could be an interesting new jumping off point though. This could irritate some comics’ fans just as much as excite them so the biggest reason why I’m recommending this is it’s polybagged because Stan Lee signed a handful as they went out into the circulation so its like buying a ticket in the comic book lottery if you buy one.
5) IDW – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 – After a long absence from the comic book scene, the four turtles in the half-shell have come back to their comic book roots with this stellar return to form by original co-creator Kevin Eastman writing it. Although in color and not black and white like the original 1984 comics, the TMNT definitely reek of nostalgia with this opening issue as it both begins to explain an updated origin story featuring Baxter Stockman, Casey Jones, and April O’Neil, sow seeds of their personalities including Raph’s rebellious nature, and features them all wearing the same red colored bandanas, just like the originals. Including alternate covers all featuring a different turtle so you can pick your favorite (I got mine in Donatello), this issue looks to kick off a triumphant return for the lean, green, fighting machines and is a must have for anyone who has ever been a fan of TMNT at some point in their lives.