Are we really already discussing comics scheduled for release in 2015? Between the comic books themselves and their film and television adaptations, we could be looking at quite a year for comic book fans. The new year will bring us "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and "Ant-Man" from Marvel Studios and the rebooted "Fantastic Four" from Fox to theaters; "Daredevil," Marvel's first Netflix series, "Marvel's Agent Carter," "iZombie" and a "The Walking Dead" companion series will hit the small screen. On top of all that, "Star Wars: Episode VII" will hit theaters before the year's end. 2015 looks it could be a year to remember.
That list of live-action projects just proves that everything starts with the comics themselves -- and that even includes the new era of "Star Wars" comic books as they return once again under the Marvel umbrella. With January 2015 solicitations now released from Diamond's five "Premier Publishers" -- Marvel, DC Comics, Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics and IDW Publishing -- here are the buzzworthy books from those companies that are poised to kick the year off right. From exciting licensed properties to intriguing new series and the return of a DC icon, these are the books fans will likely be talking about the month that the sure-to-be-eventful new year begins.
Writer: Joe Harris
Artist: Colin Lorimer
With Halloween almost upon us, what better time to discuss "Millennium," one of the greatest horror television series of the past few decades. "Millennium" starred Lance Henriksen as Frank Black, a man gifted with psychic powers who solved some of the most chilling cases the FBI ever confronted. "Millennium" was a spinoff of the "X-Files" and it even out-disturbed its parent series at times by featuring some of TV's most perverse serial killers and monsters. IDW Publishing, the same company responsible for "The X-Files: Season 10," is bringing "Millennium" back with an in-canon story that takes place fifteen years after the show ended. If you've never watched this series, there's plenty of time to catch up before the comic begins with the DVD you should prepare for "Millennium's" arrival to comics by catching up with the series on DVD.
"Uncanny Avengers" #1
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Daniel Acuna
Covers: Daniel Acuna, Gabrielle Dell'Otto, Ladronn, Skottie Young
Between "Uncanny X-Force" and the first volume of "Uncanny Avengers," it has been proven time and again that few can do big like Rick Remender. Now, Remender and Daniel Acuna kickstart the second volume of the X-Men/Avengers mash-up series "Uncanny Avengers" -- and look at that team! The all-new Captain America, Rogue and the ready-for-Hollywood Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and the Vision. The villainous Sabretooth and the surprising Brother Voodoo round out this new roster. Remender wrote the vastly under-appreciated "Doctor Voodoo: Avenger of the Supernatural" series from a few years back and it will be a pleasure to see him return to a character that he barely got to explore before the series' premature cancellation. Wherever Remender goes, grand adventure, epic storytelling and controversy are sure to follow.
"Star Wars" #1
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: John Cassaday
Covers: John Cassaday, J. Scott Campbell, Bob McLeod, Joe Quesada, Alex Ross, Sara Pichelli, Skottie Young, John Tyler Christopher
As mentioned above, "Star Wars" is returning to theaters in December 2015, and we couldn't be more excited. The countdown begins in January when Marvel travels to a galaxy far, far away with the launch of their first "Star Wars" series in decades. Marvel and "Star Wars" have a long history; in fact, many believe that "Star Wars'" arrival to comics in 1977 saved Marvel from possibly going bankrupt during one of the toughest economic times the industry ever faced. Now, after years of brilliant and compelling comics from Dark Horse, "Star Wars" is back at Marvel -- and Marvel seems to understand how important that is. Marvel's top creators are chronicling the further adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia as evidenced by writer Jason Aaron and artist John Cassady taking the reins of this inaugural "Star Wars" title. These are adventures crafted by some of comics' finest in an era that fans have been longing for -- the days following the events of "A New Hope." December 2015 can't get here soon enough, but Jason Aaron, John Cassady and Marvel can help fans ease their anticipation as "Star War" comics return home.
"Unbeatable Squirrel Girl" #1
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Erica Henderson
Covers: Erica Henderson, Arthur Adams, Siya Oum, Skottie Young
Who says comics can't be fun? Yes, Marvel has dared to give a solo title to the last character most would expect to have her own book, let alone an ongoing. Steve Ditko created Squirrel Girl back in 1992, and the young lady gained quite a fan following in the pages of Brian Michael Bendis' "Avengers." Now, Marvel's fuzziest hero stands in the spotlight alone. There's more to comics than doom and gloom, mega-crossovers and epic battles. Sometimes, a girl, her nuts and her fuzzy tail are all you need to make a great comic. Marvel has been striking a chord with readers with other left-of-center titles like "Rocket Raccoon," "Deadpool" and "She-Hulk," and it could be very exciting to see what kind of vibe the House of Ideas can come up for Squirrel Girl -- the unlikeliest hero of all.
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Ramon Rosanas
Covers: Mark Brooks, Jason Pearson, Chris Samnee, Skottie Young
With a film due out in the summer of 2015, Scott Lang is ready for Hollywood. Marvel is doing the wise and marketable thing by making sure he stars in his own title to warm fans up for the July release of "Ant-Man." Nick Spencer is the first reason to get excited about this book. The writer was at the top of his writing game in 2014 with his hilarious work on "Superior Foes of Spider-Man," the bone-chilling "Bedlam" and the innovative storytelling on "Morning Glories." Spencer is the perfect choice to explore Scott Lang as we gear up for the film. This new "Ant-Man" title could give fans a taste of what they're in store for when Paul Rudd gets tiny in the "Ant-Man," and Scott Lang is a veteran Marvel character who has been deserving of his own comic for a very long time.
"The Dying and the Dead"#1
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art & Cover: Ryan Bodenheim
Between "Manhattan Projects," "East of West" and the sporadically published "Secret," writer Jonathan Hickman's recent work at Image has been some of the finest, most surreal, and most daring on the shelves. Now, Hickman adds to his already impressive Image resume with "The Dying and the Dead," a book Image has described as "'Indiana Jones' with bed pans." The book seems to be an adventurous look at the Greatest Generation's last hurrah. Hickman's creator-owned work is always a joy to read, full of experimentation, surprises, chutzpah and heart, meaning this latest one should be among the most entertaining titles of 2015.
Writer: Todd McFarlane
Art: Szymon Kudranski
Covers: Todd McFarlane, Greg Capullo, Skottie Young, Jock, Sean Murphy, Philip Tan
You have to give it up for "Spawn." Through a constantly changing industry, changing trends, the rise and fall of companies, the arrival of digital and the evolution of the direct market, "Spawn" has endured. Now, Todd McFarlane's greatest creation hits its triple sized 250th issue. In this age of constant reboots, a 250th issue of anything is cause for celebration -- and this issue promises to be a great jumping on point for new readers. Lapsed "Spawn" readers will be happy to know the landmark issue features the return of original Spawn, Al Simmons. It also marks the last chapter before acclaimed writer Brian Wood and artist Jonboy Meyers join the creative team starting with issue #251.
"DC Multiversity Guidebook" #1
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artists: Nicola Scott, Gary Frank, Klaus Janson, Cameron Stewart, Dan Jurgens, Chris Sprouse, Ben Oliver and others
Covers: Rian Hughes, Tom Fowler, Phil Jimenez, Grant Morrison
You want new concepts? How about the Agents of W.O.N.D.E.R., The Light Brigade, the Super-Americans, the Love Syndicate, the Accelerated Man, Aquaflash and BiOmac? You want the top artists in the industry? Well, how about that group of MVPs listed above? Judging from the three "Multiversity" books published so far, the prolonged wait for this project has been worth it, and this Guidebook seems to be filled cover-to-cover with concepts and ideas that have sprung forth from the most fertile imagination in comics. This book is the place to go to enhance the "Multiversity" reading experience with, as DC puts it, "a detailed concordance featuring each of the 52 worlds in the Multiverse, a complete history of DC Comics' universe-shattering 'Crisis' events and a map of all known existence." After all, not many comics provide a map of all known existence. Morrison also promises a team up between Kamandi of Earth-51 alongside the post-apocalyptic Atomic Knight Batman of Earth-17 and chibi Batman of Earth-42. This one could be a mind-altering trip to start the new year off right.
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson
Covers: John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson, Kevin Nowlan, Lee Moder
Since Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr. launched their run on "Superman," the title has been reinvigorated. The duo have married a classic sensibility with the New 52's mission statement of keeping things fresh and surprising. This double-sized issue promises a new costume for the Man of Steel, which is a development that should excite DC fans who never took to his New 52 suit. The issue also promises both a new direction and new powers for Superman. Well, you have our interest. This could be what Superman fans have been clamoring for since the New 52 began.
"Batman and Robin" #38
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artists: Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray
Covers: Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray, Dave Bullock
Speaking of classic characters with new powers, in this issue of the always solid "Batman and Robin," DC has said that the returned Damian Wayne will get new abilities. This would mark the first time that a Robin has had meta-human abilities, thus setting the Boy Wonder down a fascinating new direction. We don't know how or why Damian is back, nor do we know why he has a super power -- or even what that power may be -- but we do know that the team of Tomasi and Patrick Gleason has been consistently producing high quality Batman stories for several years now. With the return of Damian Wayne and his mysterious new power, look for plenty of repercussions from this issue.
"Conan Red Sonja" #1
Dark Horse Comics
Writers: Gail Simone and Jim Zub
Art and cover: Dan Panosian
It's been way too long since the Hyborian Age's greatest warriors rode into battle together. Red Sonja was initially introduced in the pages of "Conan" and became a huge part of the Barbarian's world. Some wonky licensing agreements have created a world where these two complimentary sword and sandal legends could not cross paths, but that all ends now. Conan and Red Sonja will meet again thanks to the combined efforts of Dark Horse Comics and Dynamite Entertainment, bringing with them great creators like Gail Simone, Jim Zub and veteran artist Dan Panosian. This could be the greatest meeting of the two mighty warriors since the Roy Thomas/John Buscema days of the 1970s.
"Groo: Friends and Foes" #1
Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Mark Evanier
Art and Cover: Sergio Aragones
Anytime Sergio Aragones sets his sights on his most famous creation, there is reason to get excited. This new series will feature Groo on rampaging adventures paired with one of his fan-favorite pals or enemies. The first issue sees Groo and his pup Rufferto teamed up with the dumbest and most dangerous seamen of the seven seas, Captain Ahax. This is a book with a legendary creative team on every level. From Aragones to comic historian and veteran writer Mark Evanier, to Eisner Award-winning colorist Tom Luth to the industry treasure Stan Sakai on letters, "Groo: Friends and Foes" is like a bunch of Hall of Famers returning for another season while still at the top of their game.