STAFF PICKS OF THE WEEK: January 04, 2012

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You’ve seen the list of new comics that are arriving in stores this week, but what should you pick up?  Take the jump as the Major Spoilers Staff picks the books they are most looking forward to this week.

ACTION COMICS #5
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Andy Kubert and Jesse Delperdang
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
SOLICITATION:
As the assault from an alien threat takes a turn for the worse for Metropolis, keys facts about Superman’s past are brought to light for the first time! And how can certain elements from The Man of Steel’s future help to prevent the theft of the millennium? Don’t miss this awesome issue from series writer Grant Morrison and the guest art team of Andy Kubert and Jesse Delperdang!

ZACH: It’s time for even more flashback material with Action Comics #5. This issue is pre-Action Comics, which is pre-Justice League, which predates the current DC timeline by five years, boy do I love continuity. Grant Morrison has continued to write a story that I’m enjoying, and I’m looking forward to seeing if he changes up any of Superman’s early childhood.

ANIMAL MAN #5
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Travel Foreman and Jeff Huet
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
SOLICITATION:
With Ellen and Cliff’s lives hanging in the balance, Buddy finally faces off against The Hunters Three! But the fight doesn’t go as planned, causing the Baker family to go on the run. What dark new threat is chasing them – and why? Find out as the first arc of DC’s surprise breakout hit comes to a startling conclusion!

ROB: Definitely a leader for weirdest title in the New 52, Animal Man is about as strange as they come.  I’ve been continually looking forward to it every month and it quickly became my favorite title for the first week each time.

SWAMP THING #5
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Yanick Paquette
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
SOLICITATION:
Alec and Abby bring the fight to Sethe’s chosen servant in the blood-slicked slaughterhouses of west Texas! But while the battle is joined in America, the war may already be lost in the jungles of Brazil, as danger approaches for the Parliament of Trees…

GEORGE: I look forward to these books each month to provide a little seasoning to my usual spandexed superhero comics. Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder are creating some mind-bending adventures that bring something a little more horrifying to the overly staid lineups of Marvel and DC, creating real shivers in the process. These two books are hard to separate due to their thematic closeness and overall excellent quality.

ATLAS UNIFIED #1
Writer: Atlas Team
Artist: Jimbo Salgado
Publisher: Legacy Comics
Cover Price:
SOLICITATION:
The Grim Ghost, Phoenix, Wulf the Barbarian, and Detective Sam Lomax join forces for the first time in 35 years in a historical Atlas crossover event! Which enemy could make these Atlas Heroes set aside their differences, forge an alliance, and risk everything to defeat it?

MATTHEW: I may be one of the only enthusiasts of the old Atlas-Seaboard books at Major Spoilers, but that doesn’t mean I’m alone. The new Atlas revival has hit a lot of good buttons for me, and this big ol’ crossover is probably going to serve as bellwether of the lines long-term prospects. If it’s good, we get more new Atlas (and maybe the return of the Cougar!) If it’s Unity 2000, at least I’ll see the end coming.

AVENGERS ACADEMY #24
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Tom Grummett
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
SOLICITATION: The Academy continues to evolve in the world of Shattered Heroes, as X-23 struggles to fit in, White Tiger clashes with Reptil and more.

GEORGE: With Avengers Academy, Marvel has created young, new characters that a reader can care about, for the first time in long while. It’s got teen angst and time travel, and with a recent shakeup and relocation, now’s a good time to hop aboard. This book doesn’t always blow my mind, but it does consistently entertain on a monthly basis.

THE BOYS #62
Written by GARTH ENNIS
Art by RUSS BRAUN
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99
SOLICITATIONS: The new regime takes power in Washington DC, forcing the Boys to go on the offensive and Hughie to reveal a long-kept secret. Meanwhile at Vought-American other secrets are revealed, as Frenchie and the Female do what they do best. Rayner ponders high treason, the Homelander sets loose the dogs of war, and Butcher gives Hughie an unexpected present- in part three of Over The Hill With The Swords Of A Thousand Men.

MATTHEW: Violence and rude language on a downhill ride towards what will certainly be a horrible and entertaining climactic brawl-for-it-all.  I just hope Frenchie & The Female survive, and maybe get their own book, an Archie style humor book with art by Darick Robertson.  Hey, I’d buy it!

DEFENDERS #2
Writer: MATT FRACTION
Artist: TERRY DODSON
Publisher: Marvel
Cover Price: $3.99
SOLICITATION: First mission – first fatality?
What is the secret of Wundagore Mountain?
The Defenders vs. the Breaker of Worlds!

MATTHEW:  The first issue was impressive in all the right ways.  I’ve missed Marvel’s second-most important super-team (the first, of course, being the Champions of Xandar) and I’m totally psyched to see where Matt Fraction takes our motley band, even if Red She-Hulk seems like a pretty derivative idea.

FATALE #1
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.50
SOLICITATION: A reporter in 2012 stumbles on a secret that leads him down the darkest path imaginable… to a seductive woman who’s been on the run since 1935, a mobster who may be an immortal demon monster, and the stories of all the doomed men who’ve been caught in their decades-long struggle.

STEPHEN: I love the crime drama comics and Ed Brubaker has been on the top of his game recently with this genre. Mixing horror and noir together, set in the 1930s spells win for me, and I can’t wait to get my hands on this book!

FERALS #1
Writer: David Lapham
Art: Gabriel Andrade
Publisher: Avatar
Cover Price: $3.99
SOLICITATION: Officer Dale Chesnutt has a big bloody problem – slaughtered civilians are turning up in the sleepy town of Cypress and now it’s on him to figure it out. But while he is discovering more carnage, and his violent passions for a sexy mysterious woman, a vicious creature strikes again, this time at Dale’s own family. The horrific mystery begins to unfold with Gabriel (LADY DEATH) Andrade illustrating the on-going Ferals epic. Available with a Regular, Wraparound, Gore, and special Slashed Retailer Incentive cover by series artist Gabriel Andrade.

RODRIGO: I’m mostly interested to see what’s new out there, so I’m very interested in Ferals #1. Hopefully it’s NOT a story about a young man who finds himself afflicted with lycanthropy, because that story is so done most guys won’t eat it in a burger.

FLASH GORDON ZEITGEIST #2
Written by ERIC TRAUTMANN
Art by DANIEL INDRO
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99
SOLICITATION:
After crashlanding an experimental transdimensional spacecraft on the surface of an alien world, Flash Gordon, Dale Arden and Dr. Hans Zarkov come face-to-face with Ming the Merciless. Driven by an unquenchable thirst for conquest, Ming has plans for the “pathetic Earthlings”: death for Flash in Mongo’s arena, brain-stripping for the brilliant Dr. Zarkov, and a vile wedding ceremony for Dale. With the fate of our world extinct, can even Flash Gordon save us?

STEPHEN: Loved how Trautmann captured the feeling of the source material in the first issue, as the tale is told in a way that seems fresh and new. With two different groups of aliens on two different worlds (one hunting Hitler, the other seeking answers from Ming), I can’t wait to see how Flash and friends triumph and win the day against the forces of evil. EVIL!

GOON #37
Writer/Artist: Eric Powell
SOLICITATION: When several workers die in a girdle-factory fire due to poor safety conditions and an out-of-control taco cart, the union is in an uproar. But when the fat cats bring in a supernatural union buster, there’s only one man for the workers to turn to: The Goon.

ZACH: This is the start of a new story arc and will be my first read of Eric Powell’s “Goon”. I have checked out the issue’s preview on the Dark Horse website and I was immediately drawn to the art, which gives me enough reason to read this issue. Thrown on top of that is the Goon trade talk from the Major Spoilers Podcast, which even though didn’t receive stellar reviews from everyone does intrigue me enough to pick up a copy.


GREEN ARROW #5
Writer: Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens
Artist: Dan Jurgens and Ray McCarthy
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Cover Price: $2.99
SOLICITATION:
His touch melts flesh and burns through steel, and now the nightmare creature known as Midas wants Green Arrow dead! What secret from Green Arrow’s past fuels Midas’s rage, and how does it all tie in to the enigmatic woman known only as Blood Rose? Secrets are revealed as Ollie Queen’s past comes back – to kill him!

JIMMY: I have a feeling most people dropped off of this series already while J.T. Krul was writing it, but Keith Giffen is absolutely knocking it out of the park on this arc (which runs issues 4-6, after which a new writer is taking over). I don’t entirely agree with the direction they’re taking Ollie in the relaunch, but Giffen’s writing with Jurgens’ art is always exciting.

IRREDEEMABLE #33
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Diego Barreto
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Cover Price: $3.99
SOLICITATION:
The legendary Irredeemable/Incorruptible crossover continues towards its explosive conclusion! Part 3 of the 4-part crossover event, continued from last month’s Incorruptible #25. The Plutonian and Max Damage have always been epic adversaries, but why? The superhero epic that tells the story of their first face-off continues!

JIMMY: This is the third part of the Irredeemable/Incorruptible crossover, and I’m hoping this is where the action starts to pick up. So far the event has been an origins story, but with Incorruptible #25 we covered a lot of time. I love Mark Waid, and while I prefer the art in Incorruptible, I’m looking forward to this issue.

MUDMAN #2
Writer/Artist: Paul Grist
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.50
SOLICITATION: Welcome to Burnbridge on Sea. Ideal for that quiet little break when you want to get away from the crowd. Or the law. But Bank Robbers Vince and Dobromil find it’s not as quiet as it used to be. Not with Mudman around!

ZACH: Another book in a series that I haven’t read before but want to try this time around. I enjoy heros with an odd power set, my favorite book is Chew, and “made of mud” falls under this category. I also went back and read Matthew’s review of issue #1 and after seeing him declare this should be the next Invincible I totally expect to enjoy this book.

PENGUIN: PAIN AND PREJUDICE #4 (of 5)
Writer: Gregg Hurwitz
Artist: Szymon Kudranski
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
SOLICITATION:
In the penultimate issue of Gregg Hurwitz and Szymon Kudranski’s thrilling and disturbing miniseries, the cracks are beginning to show in The Penguin’s life. As he desperately grabs for more power, he puts himself in Batman’s sights! And when Batman gets involved, can an underdog like The Penguin hope to triumph?

JIMMY: This is probably my favorite book being published by DC right now. I had never heard of Gregg Hurwitz before this book, but he has crafted an elegant story that has somehow made the Penguin a sympathetic character. The most important part of this book is the art—Szymon Kudranski was born to draw Gotham City. Kudranski needs to be put on at least one other Batman book as soon as this mini-series ends.

SHINKU #4
Writer: Ron Marz
Artist: Lee Moder
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
SOLICITATION: THRONE OF BLOOD,’ Part Four As Shinku closes in upon an ultimate weapon to destroy the vampire clan, the vampires close in on her and her allies. There will be blood! But whose? The sellout monthly series from Ron Marz and Lee Moder races toward the climax of its first story arc!

RODRIGO: I’ve heard nothing about Shinku, but I can only assume that it’s the onomatopoeic sound that a katana being drawn makes, transliterated from Japanese. I’d be willing to drop into a number four issue, especially if it’s got some sort of recap.

STAR TREK/LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #4 (of 6)
Writer: Chris Roberson
Artists: Jeffrey Moy & Philip Moy
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Cover Price: $3.99
SOLICITATIONS:
Working together to find a way back to their respective timelines, the Starfleet officers and Legionnaires have split into two teams, with members of both groups on each team. One group travels back in time to the moment when their own histories were truncated and this new blended timeline came into being, while the other team travels to the heart of the Imperial Planets of Earth. So as one team finds themselves witnessing what happened in the deep past to change history, the other team discovers the far reaching effects of the aftermath in the present.

STEPHEN: Though the limited series is following the standard formula for a crossover event, Star Trek and the Legion of Super-Heroes seem to be a very good fit for one another. Now that the teams are working together to right their respective universes, and get back to their own time, I’m loving this above all other Legion of Super-Heroes books. And why wouldn’t I? It features art by Jeff Moy who did the work on The Legionnaires during my favorite Archie Legion run.

SUPER DINOSAUR #7
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Jason Howard
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
SOLICITATION:  As the Kingston family adjusts to living in the Dynamo Dome, Derek introduces Erin to her very own robot pal, Pixie! Meanwhile, Doctor Dynamo has to deal with the terrible truth that was revealed to him by Max Maximus… and the Dino-Men are up to no good!

ROB:  Super Dinosaur has consistently been on the top of my list for each week it comes out.  Kirkman has managed to make a fun, silly read that still has a surprisingly adult touch.

UNCANNY X-MEN #4
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Brandon Peterson
Publisher: Marvel
Cover Price: $3.99
SOLICITATION:  GUEST ARTIST BRANDON PETERSON!
The Phalanx return for a special one-shot issue of UNCANNY X-MEN.

ROB: While the title probably didn’t need a relaunch, the last three issues were a solid read giving us a good direction for where Cyclops and Gillen are taking the X-Men and I’m happily looking forward to where Scott takes his Extinction Team next.

VAMPIRELLA VS. DRACULA #1
Writer: Joe Harris
Artist: Jean Dias
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99
SOLICITATION:
Spinning out of Alan Moore’s retelling of the ageless horror classic, Dracula has come to America to play out his timeless narrative in this brave, New World. Only he didn’t realize ANOTHER vampire already beat him to it. Drawn to one another across continents and centuries by a mysterious force, both Vampirella and Bram Stoker’s immortal monster find themselves sucked into a time-tossed epic of love, hate, death and damnation. But can an epic built for one vampire possibly hold them both?

RODRIGO: I’m curious about Vampirella Vs. Dracula. I already know everything I need to know about the characters; Dracula is the dark lord of all vampires and Vampirella is a supernaked superhero with the ability to stick thin strips of fabric to her body and have them stay in place.