Diamond's five Premier Publishers have another big month planned for July, a slate that includes the second month of DC's refreshed line of books, more of Marvel's "Secret Wars" and related companion series, a passel of new titles form Image Comics and some deft genre exploration from Dark Horse Comics and IDW Publishing.
July is annually a notable month for the industry, as it's home to Comic-Con International in San Diego, the massive annual event that somehow seems to get bigger every year. July also sees the release of Marvel Studios' "Ant-Man" film -- honestly, could you predict a few years ago seeing an "Ant-Man" film in your lifetime. It's a big month, and to go along with these summer events are a bevy of promising upcoming comic releases, from DC's new "Cyborg," a return to "Civil War" and "Age of Apocalypse" and a crossover between two powerhouse sci-fi franchises.
"Barb Wire" #1
Writer: Chris Warner
Art: Patrick Olliffe, Tom Nguyen and Gabe Eltaeb
Cover and Variant Cover: Adam Hughes
This isn't Pamela Anderson, this is the original Barb Wire -- the bounty hunter extraordinaire who keeps the mean streets of Steel Harbor safe from all sorts of superpowered scum. It looks like Dark Horse is embracing the innate insanity of the concept and will be delivering a no-holds barred, high-octane action romp. Writer Chris Warner is no stranger to Barb Wire, as he penned many tales set in Dark Horse's old school superhero universe, Comics Greatest World. Joining Warner is comics vet Patrick Olliffe, who always brings his A-game. Judging from the tone of the covers released thus far, "Barb Wire" could appeal to fans of a good superhero farce and also drum up some '90s nostalgia.
"Negative Space" #1 (of 4)
Writer: Ryan K Lindsay
Art and Cover: Owen Gieni
From the writer of "Ghost Town" (Action Lab Entertainment) and "Headspace" (MonkeyBrain Comics) comes Dark Horse's latest foray into horror, a tale centered on a man whose desperate case of writer's block prevents him from penning his own suicide note. He uncovers a horrific conspiracy, and in the process becomes the only thing standing between reality and the ultimate darkness. When Dark Horse deems a horror comic worthy of publication, followers of dark fiction should take notice as the company has a strong track record of discovering new talents in the genre.
Writer: David Walker
Art and Cover: Ivan Reis and Joe Prado
1:25 Variant Cover: Tony Harris
Despite Vic Stone being on his way to cinematic DC Universe in "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" and a subsequent, already-announced solo film, the cybernetic hero has never headlined his very own solo title -- until July. Longtime fan-favorite "Teen Titans" and "Justice League" member Cyborg's series looks to have a strong sci-fi bent, with writer David Walker and artist Ivan Reis aiming to explore the nature of evolving technology in a superheroic setting. From the "Teen Titans" animated series to his upcoming live-action adventures, Cyborg has become one of DC's most prominent heroes, and now has the solo series to show for it.
"Batgirl Annual" #3
Written: Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher
Art: Bengal and Others
Cover by Bengal
Since Stewart, Fletcher and Babs Tarr took over the series, "Batgirl" has shot to the top of many "must read" piles. In July, hungry fans get an extra helping of the character -- but this isn't just more "Batgirl." In the annual, illustrated by Bengal, Barbara Gordon faces the current version of Helena Bertinelli for the first time, a character that has been a major supporting player in DC's "Grayson." There's a lot of contextual history here, given the "Birds of Prey" team featuring both Barbara and Huntress in DC's prior continuity. Then, in a backup feature, Batgirl visits Gotham Academy, deepening the ties between the Fletcher-written Bat-books.
"Justice League: Gods and Monsters - Batman" #1
Writers: J.M. DeMatteis and Bruce Timm
Art: Matthew Dow Smith
Cover: Francesco Francavilla
1:10 Variant Cover: Darwyn Cooke
A prequel to DC Animation's upcoming "Justice League: Gods and Monsters" animated feature, this pick features the writing of two legends: one of the greatest "Justice League" writers of all time, J.M. DeMatteis, and the godfather of DC animation, Bruce Timm. I addition to being a rare Timm-written comic, this book features a very different take on Kirk Langstrom, a character Timm did wonders with in "Batman: The Animated Series."
"Justice League: Gods and Monsters - Superman" #1
Writers: J.M. Dematteis and Bruce Timm
Cover: Gabriel Hardman
1:10 Variant Cover: Darwyn Cooke
Hey, it's DeMatteis and Timm again, but this time, the writing duo presents a different take on Superman in another "Gods and Monsters" prequel comic. This new Superman seems to be the embittered son of immigrant farmers, a very compelling sounding twist on the traditional Man of Steel mythos. To see Bruce Timm return to both Batman and Superman in the same month is a treat, and with Moritat and Matthew Dow Smith on art, we're even more excited about these stories. Keep in mind, both the Batman and Superman chapters of "Gods and Monsters" will be digital first releases that come to print in July.
"Civil War" #1-2
Writer: Charles Soule
Art and Cover: Leinil Francis Yu
In 2016, a whole new spotlight will be shined on one of Marvel's biggest events of all time. The cinematic release of "Captain America: Civil War" will bring new attention to the story that shattered the Marvel Universe in 2006, but well before then, Marvel returns to a world torn in two thanks to the war between Iron Man and Captain America. As part of Battleworld, "Civil War" features a reality where conflict has transformed Marvel's greatest heroes into two constantly warring factions, giving readers two crossovers in one as "Civil War" rages once again as part of "Secret Wars."
"Age Of Apocalypse" #1-2
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Art and Cover: Gerardo Sandoval
Many popular events are being revisited in "Secret Wars," but few of them were as popular as the "Age of Apocalypse." As part of Battleworld, the dystopian reality ruled by Apocalypse returns, written by one of the most popular X-writers of the '80s and '90s, Fabian Nicieza. "Age of Apocalypse" featured some of the most startling alternate reality versions of characters of all time, and and come July, we'll learn just how this world fits into the wider "Secret Wars" tapestry.
"Hail Hydra" #1-2
Writer: Rick Remender
Art and Cover: Roland Boschi
For years, Hydra has been one of Marvel's most persistent adversarial forces both in live action and in comics. Come July, writer Rick Remender and artist Roland Boschi present a world where Hydra has won. As part of Battleworld, the Hydra-ruled territory should be a unique and frightening addition to the publisher's "Secret Wars" proceedings. As fans of Remender's run on "Uncanny Avengers" and "Captain America" have experienced time and again, the writer loves to delve into alternate realities, making him perfect to bring to life Hydra's fight for dominance on a world where evil rules.
"Star Wars: Lando" #1 & 2 (of 5)
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Alex Maleev
Though Lando Calrissian has not been seen in any of the new "Star Wars" trailers, he's taking over the spotlight in one of Marvel's "Star Wars" titles. Who can resist an intergalactic heist story starring everyone's second favorite galactic smuggler, gambler and pirate? Certainly not Soule and Maleev, and we're betting you won't be able to resist "Lando's" charms either.
"We Stand On Guard" #1
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Art and Cover: Steve Skroce
"We Stand Guard" comes from the shared imagination of two of the greatest contemporary storytellers in comics as they craft the tale of Canadian freedom fighters defending their homeland against an invasion from -- the United States of America? Fans are well aware how seismic "Saga" has been to the comic book universe's landscape, and this mega-talented creative pairing could very well be the comic premiere of 2015.
Writer: Ales Kot
Art and Cover: Matt Taylor
Colors: Lee Loughridge
Over the past few years, Kot has delivered some of the most innovative and experimental comics on the stands. Joining Kot on "Wolf" is "Zero" artist Matt Taylor and the ultra talented colorist of "Deadly Class," Lee Loughridge, for what Image is hyping as "True Detective" meets "Sandman." When paranormal detective Antoine Wolfe has to protect an orphaned girl to prevent the apocalypse, the stakes are high, and Image may well have another cult hit on its hands. Plus, the first issue of "Wolf" is fifty-eight pages for just $4.99. These days, that's one of the best bargains you can find in comics.
Story and Art: Brandon Graham, Emma Rios and Ludroe
Cover: Brandon Graham
Image continues its experimental revolution with "Island," an anthology format comic featuring the artist of "Pretty Deadly" and the writer of "Prophet." This book is 112 pages for just $7.99, and will feature multiple chapters of original stories every month. Plus, the first issue contains an essay from "Bitch Planet" scribe Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Island" sounds like an old school literature journal in comic book form, promising fans a ton of ideas and innovation packed into every issue.
"Star Trek/Green Lantern" #1
Writer: Mike Johnson
Artist: Angel Hernandez
Cover: Gabriel Rodriguez
In "Star Trek/Green Lantern," two legendary sci-fi franchises collide for the first time and in the process makes us realize, man -- 1960s William Shatner would have been an amazing Hal Jordan. How will the Federation respond to meeting the Green Lantern Corps? Will a member of the Enterprise obtain a power ring? Can you imagine Shatner reciting the Green Lantern oath? The possibilities are endless, as the crew of the Enterprise boldly goes into the blackest night with an emerald champion to light their way.
Writer: Chris Ryall
Art and Cover: Gabriel Rodriguez
Chris Ryall and "Locke & Key" artist Gabriel Rodriguez join forces on "Onyx," a tale about a cyborg warrior who may be Earth's savior -- or destroyer. Both creators are no strangers to producing critically acclaimed work, so we're ready to see what happens when they team for the first time to bring their sci-fi hero to IDW.
"Godzilla in Hell" #1
Writer/Artist: James Stokoe
Kaiju fans have seen Godzilla fight countless enemies, from smog monsters to giant moths to three-headed, lightning-spewing space gods, but IDW seems to have come up with the ultimate adventure when the King of the Monsters goes to Hell. James Stokoe is no stranger to Godzilla, and will now be the first in a series of creators to guide the legendary lizard through the levels of Hell. Each issue of this high concept series will feature a new creative team as Godzilla brings his fiery brand of mayhem to the underworld this July.