"Darth Vader," "Multiversity" & More - CBR's Buzzworthy Books of February 2015

February is certainly known for the holiday of love -- Valentine's Day -- and there's plenty of love for comics fans in February 2015. Not only are there a plethora of new series launches from the top comic book publishers, there are a few that really raise the bar in terms of new debuts.

From an "Orphan Black" series from the creators of the critically-acclaimed BBC drama and the 200th issue of "Dark Horse Presents" to a number of new projects from Grant Morrison, the official launch of the new "Spawn" creative team, and Marvel's launch of "Darth Vader" and "Spider-Gwen" ongoings, here are the main reasons it'll be great to love comics in February 2015.

"Orphan Black" #1

IDW Publishing

Writers: John Fawcett, Graeme Manson & Jody Houser

Artist: Szymon Kudranski

Cover: Cat Staggs

"Orphan Black" creators John Fawcett and Graeme Manson are set to expand the world of the popular BBC television series in comics. Due to the involvement of the show's creators, it's easy to anticipate that IDW's "Orphan Black" could become essential reading for fans. This new comic series could be an entry-level experience into the world of Sarah, Alison, Cosima and sweet-but-crazy Helena, the clone "sisters" that have enthralled viewers around the world. If you're a fan of the TV series, any chance to experience more from our favorite group of clones is more than welcome.

"Joe Frankenstein" #1 (of 4)

IDW Publishing

Writers: Graham Nolan & Chuck Dixon

Artist and Cover: Graham Nolan

There's reason to take notice when industry veterans like Graham Nolan and Chuck Dixon have a new project -- Dixon was an architect of the DC Universe in the '80s and 2000s, while Nolan is one of the finest draftsmen in modern comics. The fact that both are turning their attention to a modern day take on the Frankenstein myth makes "Joe Frankenstein" an exciting project, indeed. Protagonist Joe Pratt finds out he's the heir to the Frankenstein legacy -- but only after a meeting with the iconic Frankenstein's monster. Certainly, Dixon and Nolan's timing is impeccable -- with Universal Studios set to spring modern day takes on their horror icons in a new Universal Monsters cinematic universe, classic horror is primed for a comeback. Certainly, there's no better place to start than a series by two of comics' greats.

"EI8HT" #1 (of 5)

Dark Horse Comics

Writer, Artist and Cover: Rafael Albuquerque

Writer: Mike Johnson

Rafael Albuquerque's work on "American Vampire" exhibits an incredible amount of artistic brilliance -- but what can he pull off when left to his own devices? With writer Mike Johnson ("Supergirl"), Albuquerque's "Ei8ht" is a mind bending sci-fi trip that introduces the concept of the Meld. Albuquerque can do horror -- evidenced by his "American Vampire" work -- so it will be fascinating to see his trippy designs as he takes readers on a tour of the Meld. If this sounds familiar to hardcore Albuquerque fans, don't worry -- "Ei8ht" is based on the artist's webcomic "Tune 8," but only at its core. A lot has changed from the original series to better fit a 5-issue miniseries. Either way, Albuquerque's incredible design and linework will be on display, which is more than enough to merit a look.

"Dark Horse Presents" #7

Dark Horse Comics

Writers: Mike Mignola., Fred Van Lente, Alex de Campi, Damon Gentry, Ed Brisson, Matt Kindt, Brendan McCarthy, Mark Evanier Gustavo Duarte), Gillian Flynn

Artists: Matt Kindt, Brendan McCarthy, Dave Gibbons, Fábio Moon, Miguel Sepulveda, Jerry Ordway, Aaron Conley, Michael Walsh, Sergio Aragones

Cover: Gabriel Bá, Eric Powell

It's difficult to find a more impressive array of talent under one cover. In the 200th overall issue of "Dark Horse Presents"(#7 in the current volume), Dark Horse has assembled some of the greatest modern creators in one place to pay homage to the multi-Eisner and Harvey Award-winning anthology. It wouldn't be a Dark Horse celebration without Hellboy, and Mike Mignola is here along with artist Fábio Moon as they present a follow up to the "Hellboy" classic, "The Coffin Man." Plus, Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier collaborate on a brand new "Groo" story; Jerry Ordway adds his iconic artistic style; Matt Kindt brings his own contribution, as do "Gone Girl" author Gillian Flynn and "Watchmen" artist Dave Gibbons -- and that's just scratching the surface. "Dark Horse Presents" is always one of the best buys for your comic dollar, and the publisher is certainly upping the ante for its anniversary celebration.

"Star Wars: Darth Vader" #1 & #2

Marvel Comics

Writer: Kieron Gillen

Artist: Salvador Larroca

Covers: Adi Granov, John Cassaday, J. Scott Campbell, Alex Ross, Michael Golden, Mike Del Mundo, Skottie Young, John Tyler Christopher, Whilce Portacio

Marvel's second "Star Wars" era begins in January, but for Valentine's month, it's time to love the greatest villain in the "Star Wars" saga in "Darth Vader" #1. Salvador Larroca has a great handle on the Dark Lord of the Sith, while Kieron Gillen has proven capable of writing sympathetic villains during his "Journey Into Mystery" run. "Darth Vader" -- much like the other Marvel "Star Wars" books -- looks to help establish a whole new continuity for the beloved character under the auspices of Disney. Gillen and Larroca intend to take a look at the character beginning after the destruction of the first Death Star, chronicling his rise back to power when audiences see him again in "Empire Strikes Back."

"He treats people in 'Empire' with more contempt than he treats them in 'A New Hope,'" Gillen told CBR in July. "So something happens between those two films. There is the question of what the destruction of the Death Star actually created. So this story is basically the fall and rise of Darth Vader and all the things that happen along the way."

"Guardians Team-Up" #1 & #2

Marvel Comics

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist & Cover: Art Adams

Covers: Skottie Young, Pasqual Ferry, Ladronn

The Marvel Universe is expanding its "Guardians of the Galaxy" line in February with "Guardians Team-Up," and the first issue boasts a full issue by Brian Bendis and industry legend Arthur Adams. The debut issue finds the entire Guardians team in a "massive" meeting with Earth's Mightiest Heroes, the Avengers, and Bendis has already teased that readers will see the return of a "fantastic" villain that hasn't been seen for a while. Not only that, but the series is set to cross over with "The Black Vortex" Guardians/X-Men crossover event in 2015, which allows Bendis to share storytelling opportunities with "Legendary Star-Lord" and "Black Vortex" scribe Sam Humphries for the series' third issue. Teased team-ups include a Rocket Raccoon/Deadpool jam; Gamora and She-Hulk, and more.

"Spider-Gwen" #1

Marvel Comics

Writer: Jason LatourArtist and Cover: Robbie Rodriguez

Covers: Kris Anka, Skottie Young, Adam Hughes

Jason Latour and Robbie Rodriguez's introduction of Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman in "Edge of Spider-Verse" #2 was incredibly popular -- so much so that Marvel is launching a "Spider-Gwen" ongoing series in February with Latour & Rodriguez at the helm. While her web-slinging adventures will certainly be part of the book, much of the draw for readers will be Latour and Rodriguez's take on Gwen's personal life -- which manifested in "Edge of Spider-Verse" in her role as a drummer in girl band The Mary Janes.

"Her relationships out of costume is what will drive the book, but the costume itself and actually becoming a superhero [is] especially [like] what we saw in the first issue," Latour told CBR's Jonah Weiland at NYCC 2014. "It's a bunch of people trying to define what Spider-Woman is. The book itself is about how does Gwen try to define who she is, even in the mask."

"Thor" Annual #1

Marvel Comics

Writers: Jason Aaron, CM Punk, Noelle Stevenson

Artists: Rob Guillory, Marguerite Sauvage

Cover: Rafael Albuquerque, Rob Guillory, Marguerite Sauvage

Jason Aaron brought Thor vast numbers of new fans during his tenure on "Thor: God of Thunder," and his recently-launched "Thor" introduced readers to a new Goddess of Thunder. "Thor Annual" celebrates Aaron's take on all different flavors of Thor with some notable collaborators. The Annual issue not only marks the Marvel Comics debut of "Lumberjanes" scribe Noelle Stevenson, but also the comic book writing debut of WWE Champion C.M. Punk.

In a triple-threat issue, Aaron revisits the future-shifted King Thor; C.M. Punk and "Chew's" Rob Guillory take Young Thor on a drinking competition; and Stevenson and Marguerite Sauvage tell a new tale of the modern Goddess of Thunder. There's a little something for everyone in this annual issue -- and the debut of one of the WWE greats and a noted comic book fan as a writer is certainly a reason to get excited.

"Spawn Resurrection" #1

Image Comics

Writer: Brian WoodArt/Cover A: Jonboy Meyers

Cover B: Todd McFarlane

Any fan of "Spawn" knows that the return of Al Simmons is a big deal -- and there's a one-shot to mark the occasion. "Spawn Resurrection" #1 kicks off the new run by incoming creative team Brian Wood and Jonboy Meyers, developing a new direction for an Image Comics icon -- and he's back a changed man with newly-acquired Spawn powers following "Spawn" #250. With Wood onboard as ongoing writer, expect a lot of character-driven plot points.

"There is a lot of primal stuff going on in the book -- forces of good vs. evil, as well as really relatable characters and conflicts and emotional beats," the writer told CBR in October. "The genius of this title isn't the crazy monster designs or shifting costumes, but a rock solid emotional core."

"Nameless" #1

Image Comics

Writer: Grant Morrison

Artist & Cover: Chris Burnham & Nathan Fairbairn

"Batman Incorporated" collaborators Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham reunite in February for "Nameless," a new creator-owned series whose description raises more questions than it actually answers. A murderous astronomer; a character called the Veiled Lady who hunts her victims in their nightmares; an occult hustler called The Nameless; an evil asteroid called Xibalba about to collide with Earth -- these enigmatic teases certainly pique the imagination, but the solicitation's assurance that "nothing is what it seems" and that a terrifying human experiment is about to begin certainly makes for an exciting debut.

Burnham has promised that the creative team's mission statement on "Nameless" is, "Let's just do the worst, most horrible comic ever" -- so, get ready, horror fans.

"The Surface" #1

Image Comics

Writer: Ales Kot

Art & Cover: Langdon Foss, Jordie Bellaire

Covers: Marco Rudy, Michael Walsh, Jordie Bellaire

With "Zero" from Image, writer Ales Kot proved he was a major creative force. "The Surface" sounds like a book that is pure Kot, a socially aware, political sci-fi thriller that Image has compared to a mash up between "District 9" and the art of Moebius -- and who better to illustrate such a project than Langdon Foss, artist of Vertigo's "Get Jiro" OGN. Image loves to stretch the boundaries of any genre it publishes, and Kot doing experimental sci-fi -- especially after experiencing "Zero" -- sounds pretty darn good.

"The Multiversity: Mastermen" #1

DC Comics

Writer: Grant Morrison

Art & Cover: Jim Lee & Scott Williams

Covers: Jim Lee, Aaron Kuder, Yanick Paquette, Grant Morrison

Grant Morrison's "Multiversity" has been going strong, each issue part of Morrison's mad tapestry, while still standing as an independent narrative. With "Mastermen," Morrison will explore the Quality Comics creations of Earth X, a world where the Nazis won World War II and hold the whole of that reality in their iron grasp. Old fans of the Freedom Fighters will want to pick up this issue to see what Morrison does with classic creations like Uncle Sam, The Ray, Black Condor, Phantom Lady and Doll Man.

Plus, the artist on the issue is none other than DC Comics co-publisher and comic book icon Jim Lee. Fans only got a brief taste of what Morrison and Lee could do as a team in one issue of the "WildCats" relaunch in2006. Morrison and Lee plying their trade on a group of characters in need of a new coat of paints sounds like it could be one of the highlights of the already impressive "Multiversity."

"Harley Quinn" Valentine's Day Special #1

DC Comics

Writers: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti

Artist: John Timms

Covers: Amanda Conner

Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti have a lot of fun with "Harley Quinn" -- and it's certainly paid off for DC, with the series consistently in the top ten bestselling issues every month with no sign of slowing down. February brings a Valentine's Day Special for Harley, and considering the subjects of her other one-shot specials -- like "Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International" or the rub-and-smell "Harley Quinn Annual" #1 -- it should be a lot of fun to experience. The issue promises to put Harley on a date with Bruce Wayne after she wins a charity bachelor auction. Putting the serious billionaire Batman up next to Harley is sure to bring some hilarious situations to the fore -- even if it's just to watch Bats squirm a little.

"Suiciders" #1

DC Comics/Vertigo

Writer, Artist, Cover: Lee Bermejo

Variant cover: Jock

Lee Bermejo -- perhaps best known for his work on the "Joker" graphic novel with Brian Azzarello -- lends his artistry and writing talents to "Suiciders," a creator-owned look at a broken world as only Bermejo can imagine. The book focuses on two boxers in a futuristic nightmare, one on top of the world and one on the bottom of the hellish pit society has become. "Suiciders" is set to be an examination of class warfare in the futuristic setting of New Angeles, a world that could only come from Bermejo's mind and pen.

Certainly, the series has been a long time coming. "Suiciders" was announced in 2013 as part of the new Vertigo lineup, and is one of the two remaining titles from the announcement that has yet to see print.

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