Comics for late August: Conan, Dark Horse, the JLA and more

<p>They're baaaaack! The world's greatest superheroes— or according to the title of the book only America's— are reforming the Justice League.</p>





Justice League Of America #1

DC Comics

$5.50/$3.99 US

**** 1/2 (out of five)

They're baaaaack!

The world's greatest superheroes— or according to the title of the book only America's— are reforming the Justice League.

DC's big three— Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman— are in for sure, but who their teammates will be in this re-launch by writer Brad Meltzer (Identity Crisis) and artist Ed Benes (Birds Of Prey) has had many a fanboy in a tizzy over past few months.

Over a year after the events of leading up to Infinite Crisis, which saw the JLA implode in a disaster of mistrust, there are plenty of heroes worthy of membership in a revitalized League.

Here's the early favourites to join the Big Three: Power Girl, Black Lightning, Arsenal, Captain Marvel, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), The Flash (Bart Allen) and Red Tornado.

Oh, and a DC insider tells me Hawkgirl is on the team.

Meltzer's love for the classic DC characters of his youth shines through again in this book, as it did in Identity Crisis, and when partnered with Benes' glitzy art, this book is guaranteed to be the cornerstone title that the world's greatest superheroes deserve.

Phonogram #1 (of 6)

Image Comics

$4/$3.50 US


Music is magic.

It sounds simple enough, but when that magic turns black on 'phonomancer' David Kohl, he finds himself in a rather unpleasant predicament.

After getting lured into a club with the promise of easily influenced young women, an old enemy with a score to settle catches Kohl -the walking embodiment of a phallus— with his pants down. The result is a surprising curse on Kohl and a stage set for five more issues of magic.

Rock-snob writer Kieron Gillen, whose pretentious "statement of intent" and glossary in this debut issue are both essential and somewhat insulting, and artist Jamie McKelvie, whose clean lines give this book an instant and distinctive feel, have come up with something original and appealing in Phonogram.

Noble Causes #23

Image Comics

$4/$3.50 US

*** 1/2

I've referred to Noble Causes before as one of my 'guilty pleasures'.

It is just about the closest thing to a soap opera as you'll find in capes-and-tights comics and its blend of 'sex, secrets and super-powers' is hard to match.

That being said, the first page of issue #23 caught me completely off guard and blew the socks right off my feet. Let's just say the 'sex' part of the equation just got kicked up a notch and you'll have to buy the book for a more graphic explanation.

It's awfully difficult to surprise me after the tens of thousands of comics I've read over the years, but kudos to writer Jay Faerber and new artist Jon Bosco for doing that - and for continuing to put out one of the most underrated and absorbing comics around.

The Escapists #1 (of 6)

Dark Horse Comics

$1 US


Maxwell Roth has found his purpose in life.

He's going to make people care about The Escapist, a World War II-era comic book superhero whose adventures are all but forgotten by the general public.

After Max finds his late dad's secret collection of comic books, toys, posters, etc. of The Escapist, he becomes fascinated with him, too.

So when he comes into some money, Max buys all rights to the character and, with the help of artist Case Weaver, plans to re-launch The Escapist's comic book adventures.

That's when the adventure begins for Max's best friend, Denny Jones. With Max's help, Denny, in order to garner free publicity for the new comic, is going to convince the world that the Escapist is real.

Critically acclaimed writer Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina), along with a rotating team of all-star artists, show some real flair in this expansion on the Escapist's adventures from author Michael Chabon's Pulitzer Prize-winning, The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier And Clay.

Don't let this series slip under your radar— it is a classic in the making.

Conan And The Songs Of The Dead #1 (of 5)

Dark Horse Comics

$2.99 US

*** 1/2

Mmmmmm… dog.

Times are tough in the deserts of far-off Stygia, so tough that the mighty warrior Conan is forced to feast on wild dog.

The tides of fortune appear to be turning for the Cimmerian when he rescues an old ally named Alvazar from certain death (he is buried up to his neck in sand), and is in turn rewarded with the mysterious Demon's Root, a magical object worth a fortune upon its delivery to an even more mysterious stranger.

Never one to turn up the opportunity to line his wallet, Conan sets off with Alvazar in search of this stranger, only to be caught up in a web of magic that requires our hero to lay down his sword and use a more *ahem* gentle touch to solve a problem.

The former Jonah Hex creative team of writer Joe R. Lansdale and artist Tim Truman bring a little bit of the wild west to the world of Conan and set the stage for what is sure to be a bloody good series.

Dark Horse Twenty Years

Dark Horse Comics

$.25 US


Dark Horse Comics has been around for 20 years, so they've decided to honour some of the great series and creators that that have helped establish them as one of the world's best publishers by giving you an anniversary present.

For a mere 25 cents (or maybe a few pennies more if you're north of the border), you can see Adam Hughes' smoking Hellboy, Frank Miller's stab at Usagi Yojimbo and Eric Powell's take on Star Wars. You see, instead of having all these outstanding creators do a one-page pinup of their own creations, they've all swapped. The result is some incredible work that more than justifies the meagre sum required to purchase this book.

With work by Art Adams, Sergio Aragones, Paul Chadwick, Matt Wagner and others, and a rare delve into art by Buffy The Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon, this issue is the perfect anniversary gift.

The Black Plague #1

Boom! Studios

$3.99 US

*** 1/2

Everyone who's ever read superhero comics is familiar with the standard 'misunderstanding fight'.

It's that tussle that happens when two heroes (or super-teams) encounter one another, each thinking the other is to blame for some injustice, and then they beat the heck out of each other before coming to their senses.

The same principle applies to bad guy-bad guy battles, but those are usually a little bloodier (see DC's recent miniseries Villains United for an example).

So what happens when the New York City mob, while trying to negotiate a deal with the powerful super-villain organization S.L.A.S.H., is interrupted by the thought-to-be-retired villain, the Black Plague?

A misunderstanding battle of epic proportions, baby!

And that's just what the Black Plague wants, as he's actually a mysterious young man trying to take down the underworld from within— with the help of the former villain himself.

Writer Joe Casey (Godland) and artist Julia Bax have a great time playing on that thin line between good and evil and lay the foundation for an interesting upcoming miniseries with this standalone issue.

Savage Brothers #1 (of 3)

Boom! Studios

$3.99 US

*** 1/2

Guns, beers and zombies— yee-haw!

Otis and Dale Savage may have missed out on getting called up during the Rapture, but that doesn't mean they can't still make a dishonest living off their fellow forsaken.

They promise people that, for a nominal fee, they'll obliterate their undead loved ones and guarantee them peace.

When a mysterious man in a dark suit pays a handsome price to have the good ol' brothers take out an undead scientist in Atlanta, the adventure begins. Next thing you know there're frogs falling from the sky, virgin strippers set to be sacrificed and the boys stranded in the middle of it all.

Writers Andrew Cosby (Damned Nation, X-Isle) and Johanna Stokes and artist Rafael Albuquerque all sparkle in this fast and funny look at the end of days.

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