<i>Previews</i>: What Looks Good for December

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. We've each picked the five comics we're most anticipating in order to create a list of the best new stuff coming out two months from now.

As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.

Chris Arrant

Avengers #1 (Marvel): Has Marvel NOW! already gotten enough attention? Maybe so, but that’s partly the reason I’m highlighting this specific book. In the rising tide that’s pushed all of the Marvel NOW relaun!ches, for me -- as a fan and journalist -- the marketing has dulled the unique appeal of every book. Flipping through Previews and giving this a deeper critical eye, it made me realize – this is Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opeña doing Avengers, the de facto flagship book of Marvel since 2004. Opeña really turned a corner with Uncanny X-Force, and I’m interested to see how Hickman brings his meticulous plotting to a biweekly book with a cast larger than Circus of the Stars. And what’s interesting is that he’s done a version of this when he relaunched the “Ultimate” version of the Avengers in Ultimate Comics: Ultimates. I’m not saying this will be that re-heated over, but it’ll be interesting to see how he takes roughly the same characters and bobs instead of weaves.

Hiroaki Samura’s Emerald and Other Stories (Dark Horse): Samura’s Blade of the Immortal was a major manga when it debuted, but when you have one artist doing a long, drawn-out story it tends to dull in the eyes of fans on the outside looking in. But his short-story collection Ohikkoshi was fun, modern and completely different – a great bite-size snack from the eight-course meal/buffet that is Blade of the Immortal. This collection looks to be like that, centered around Samura’s western teen drama Emerald. I’ve heard of another set of stories called Bradherley’s Coach about a family whose business is to ferry orphans to their new home, which I hope is in here as well.

Mara #1 (Image): I’ve been loving Brian Wood’s work since he jumped to AiT-PlanetLar too many years ago, and seeing him branch out with another new series makes me wish for Brian Wood Month all over again. Besides swami Brian, it’s the artist he’s doing this with that really deserves some attention; Ming Doyle has killed it in her work featured on Project: Rooftop (shameless plug), and when she moved to doing shorts for Marvel in things like Fantastic Four she showed she could really play with the big boys. Seeing Wood and Doyle doing a sports-themed action series set in the future, this is a unique-looking story that’ll be at the top of my stack when it comes out on Dec. 26.

Hip Flask: Ourborous (Image): In comics today there’s a rare group of artists that are like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Ents; an older race who were once masters of the world but now subsist on making rare, but eventful appearances. Alan Moore is this way; so is Art Adams. To that list I’d like to add Ladrönn. This has my money, even if I didn’t know how great a story this is.

Orcs, Vol. 1: Forged For War (First Second): Speaking of Tolkien, am I the only one that felt compassion for the Orcs in Lord of the Rings? Well, this reprinted graphic novel by writer Stan Nicholls and artist Joe Flood brings the orc race to the forefront. Orc Stain was great, and this could be too!

Michael May

Criminal Macabre: Final Night -- The 30 Days of Night Crossover #1 (Dark Horse): I've been reading Steve Niles' Cal McDonald novels this Halloween season, and I'm good and eager to read about the tough old bastard's meeting up with Eben from 30 Days of Night. Niles promises that one of the series stars doesn't walk away from this crossover, and while I have no doubts about which it will be, it's going to be fun watching that one wrap up as the other is propelled toward its next stage.

The Hollows #1 (IDW): I'm thrilled that Sam Kieth is drawing a new fantasy series written by Chris Ryall. My favorite parts of The Maxx were when Kieth cut loose on all that dreamworld stuff, and I have no doubt that Ryall's creating an awesome playground for Keith to run around in. Also, I'll read any comic with giant tree-cities.

Plume #1 (Devils Due): I don't know anything about this webcomic-turned-print-comic except that it has to do with ghosts, Victorian England and expeditions to strange places. That's pretty much all I need to know about it though.

Roy Thomas Presents Phantom Lady: The Collected Works, Volume 1 (PS Artbooks): I like Roy Thomas and all, but let's not play games: this is all about the Matt Baker art for me. It's a limited edition hardcover (only 1,700 printed), but at close to 300 pages, I'd pay the $48 even if they printed a billion of them. (PS Artbooks is also publishing a second volume of Fiction House Collected Works: Planet Comics for the same price. Also totally worth it.)

A+X #3 (Marvel): Chris Bachalo draws and writes a team-up of my two favorite Marvel characters: Rogue and Black Widow. I don't think I've ever read Bachalo's writing, but I'm looking forward to seeing what he learned about writing Rogue after drawing her so wonderfully for so long.

JK Parkin

Last Call Vol. 2 (Oni): It's been about five years since the first volume of Vasilis Lolos' excellent Last Call came out, and now the long-delayed second volume -- which the artist talked to Chris about not too long ago -- finally arrives from Oni Press. It's been awhile since I read the first one, but I'll go dig it out in preparation for December.

Remake 3xtra (AdHouse): Lamar Abrams brings his crazy set of characters back for another romp, with three tales of Max Guy and his friends. The previous volumes could only be described as zany fun, something I could use more of in my life and in my comics.

Mermin Vol.1 (Oni): Speaking of fun: I was also excited to see that Oni Press will collect Joey Weiser's Mermin minicomics into a hardcover. Wesier has put out five Mermin minis, which are collected here, and he's said he's reworked some of the pages, added additional scenes, and colored the whole thing himself. This is a fun series, and I'm glad to see it get the attention it deserves.

Mara #1 (Image): Brian Wood and Ming Doyle -- two names that are great to see together -- team up for a new six-issue miniseries about a female athlete in a sports-obsessed future who gains superpowers on live TV.

Uncanny X-Force #35 (Marvel): The end of an era, as they say, but what a ride it has been. Rick Remender, Jerome Opeña, Dean White and friends set a high bar, and with Marvel NOW! their run concludes and X-Force becomes two different books. Remender, meanwhile, moves onto Uncanny Avengers and Captain America, while Opeña of course goes to Avengers ... but it'll be fun to see how things end for Wolverine and company.

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