Jun 072010

Let’s Hear it for the New Kids on the Block!

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

Oh, oh, oh, oh

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

The right stuff!

Gotcha!  Just kidding!  I’m not actually talking about 80’s boy band New Kids on the Block… although being the cheesy chick I am, I can see how you mighthave thought that’s who I was referring to.  Nope, even I’m not that bad.  By “new kids,” I am referring to IDW’s recent launch of new titles that either introduce all new characters or use tried and true literary and mythology characters in a unique and clever way.  In an age where we see the never-ending progression of classic characters from both Marvel and DC, it’s nice to see a smaller imprint publisher take a chance with completely original fare.  Not that there’s anything wrong with the likes of Superman, Green Lantern, Wolverine, Spiderman and the list goes on and on.  I love me some Captain America, but come on, Jean Grey has been reborn, like, a million times.  I’m just sayin’…

IDW’s new titles are all very different in tone and offer a little something for everyone depending on your taste.  Let’s review, shall we?

  • “Kill Shakespeare” (writers: Conor McCreery, Anthony del Col, artist: Andy Belanger) is a dark interpretation of what would happen if the bard’s best known characters were pitted against  each other while on a quest to kill their creator, the  most famous poet of all time.  To start this tale,  Richard III sends Hamlet on a mission to kill  Shakespeare – a daunting task that can only be  accomplished by stealing his quill.  Sounds kinda easy,  right?  Nope, cause the oops-I-made-a-mistake-Prince  is about to meet up with some pretty interesting peeps along the way in the form of Iago, Puck, Romeo, Juliet and other Shakespearean classics.  This book is fun and made me feel much smarter than usual because I started remembering storylines from all of the Shakespeare I studied in college.  And anything that makes me all intellectual but is still a comic is all right in my book.  Two issues in and I’m ready for more… too bad we have to wait until July for the third (insert pouty face here), but for those of you who haven’t gotten a chance to read it yet, go catch up now.
  • “Pantheon” (writers: Michael Chiklis, Marc Andreyko artist: Stephen Molnar) – yes, that’s the same Michael Chiklis of “The Shield” fame.   And if you weren’t sure, just take a look at the cool cover art. “Pantheon” is the story of a crazy scenario – what if Zeus and the Greek Gods returned to Earth because man has nearly destroyed the planet by ravaging it to almost nothing?  Hmm, that actually doesn’t sound too far-fetched these days.  Well, the Earth part at least.  But yeah, they’d be so pissed.  And in “Pantheon,” Zeus is way pissed, people.  The dude is hopping mad as black-market treasure hunter Hamilton Finch figures out when he runs into Zeus in Old Miami, a destroyed version of the Florida city in the not-too-distant future.  “Pantheon” does a great job of setting the stage for things we sadly can all envision happening one day – mankind has almost ruined every resource on Earth when oil is discovered in Greece.  On the day of the ground-breaking, a terrorist bomb detonates and a crisis has begun.  Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, thieving artifact dealers are preparing to steal relics from Old Miami until Zeus steps in and introduces himself.  I love the use of Greek mythological characters and look forward to seeing how the story develops.  This too made me feel all smart and literary, so I’m in.
  • “Wire Hangers” (writer and artist: Alan Robert) is a creepy, gory tale underscored with the infinite sadness of its lead character.  Written and illustrated by rocker Alan Robert of Life of Agony,  “Wire Hangers” is IDW’s latest foray into the horror  genre.  The story begins when ballsy news reporter  Anna Davis goes undercover to investigate a series of  abductions in New York City in which the perpetrator  leaves a disturbing calling card.  Just when she thinks  she’s gotten an exclusive like no other, things take an  incredibly bad turn for the worse.  As Anna fights for her life, a scary, disfigured man descends upon the scene and she soon finds herself thrown into a dark world of government conspiracy, corrupt law enforcement, and grotesque murder.  Um, gulp.  Maybe she’s re-thinking that balls-out undercover thing she just did.  Well, too late now, honey.  Blood, and corruption and nightmares, oh my!  I’m so there.  Tell me more…. But if I could make one suggestion, it would be this – with only two issues into the series, I’m already starting to find it hard to keep the story straight and tell the difference between all of the characters.  It might be time to take a breather, not cram so much story into each issue and use the opportunity to allow the art to really distinguish the look of all of the main peeps.  Not a criticism, but just a thought so readers like myself don’t get lost on the journey and can really commit to the story.
  • “The Pilgrim” (writer: Mark Ryan, artist: Mike Grell.)  What’s cool about “The Pilgrim” is its use of history to tell a story and make it relevant to current issues.  Writer Mark Ryan has been noodling on the idea for over fifteen years when he first read about psychic experimentsconducted by the Nazis and Brits back in World War II.  In “The Pilgrim,” modern day military peeps have gone back to the same type of experimentation where they use clairvoyants to help them identify war criminals from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  I’m still a little unclear as to what or who “The Pilgrim” actually is within the story, but I’m intrigued enough to keep reading because the first issue had a vaguely reminiscent callback to the underlying story in Stephen King’s “Firestarter,” a book and movie I still love till this day.  And wouldn’t it be cool if we could just round up a few psychics, throw them in a machine and use them to help us find that rascally Osama bin Laden?   Think of how much easier that would be!  Dare to dream, folks, and maybe “The Pilgrim” will fill that fantasy void for us.  I’m staying tuned for now.

So there you have it, four new titles that are definitely worth checking out.  As avid comic readers, I hope all of you give at least one book a chance.  Let’s give a big round of applause to IDW for taking a chance on some newbies and let’s support them in their endeavor.  Taking a chance on originality should always be rewarded.  Cause if you don’t, I might have to start playing some actual NKOTB.  And no one wants to hear that.

(P.S. Fellow comic peeps, follow Stacey and Jason on twitter @TVStaceyLevin and @GoTodash!)