Welcome to yet another edition of 'This Week's Essential Comics.' As always, a flood of brand new issues will come out this Wednesday and we want to help you narrow down your options. We've scanned the latest list of new releases and we've each selected a few that we think you should consider checking out. Once you're done seeing what we're all excited about, go ahead and chime in with the comics you're looking forward to the most. Don't be shy, join the conversation.
Tony 'G-Man' Guerrero's picks
Zero Year continues.
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have been delivering the goods each month and it's a safe bet that they will continue to do so with this issue. We may not have seen the Riddler much recently (most likely he'll show up in the final arc of Zero Year), but we are feeling the affects of his plot against Gotham City. As if dealing with the affects of all the power in Gotham taken away, Batman has to deal with the entire GCPD gunning for him and let's not forget Doctor Death is running around as well.
Of course that's not all. Synder's also been giving us glimpses into other defining moments from Bruce's past. Throughout the main story we've been getting bits and pieces about another moment and hopefully we'll find out more.
BLACK WIDOW #2
Marvel is being too good to us. The first issue of BLACK WIDOW by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto blew us away. The only complaint was having to wait for the next issue. It seems Marvel predicted this problem and is putting out the second issue only two weeks after the first. We could easily get used to this but, realistically, we can't expect this every month.
This series is new reader friendly. Black Widow is trying to atone for her dark past. She's taking on cases to make up for it all and kicking all sorts of ass. Edmondson and Noto are doing a wonderful job. This has already become one of my top favorite series for the year and we've only had one issue!
Sigh. The moment we've been dreading is here. The final issue of FF comes out this week. It's all been building to this. Scott Lang has been leading the Fantastic Four while the original members were off in time and space on their own crazy adventure. Ant-Man vs Doctor Doom. Does he stand a chance? You'll have to check it out.
This series has done so much. Matt Fraction laid out the groundwork for a fantastic series of adventures and Lee Allred has seamlessly taken over the reigns. Mike and Laura Allred's art and colors has made this a complete visual treat.
It might be a bummer that this series is ending but it should be a party for everyone. Check out the Preview Theatre video if you haven't already.
DEADLY CLASS #1
Image has another new series coming out this week so it's easy to assume it's going to be yet another awesome new series. If the Image brand alone wasn't enough, DEADLY CLASS is written by Rick Remender. It takes place in the 80s and involves a school for assassins. Have you called your local comic shop yet begging them to hold a copy for you?
The first issue introduces you to one of the main characters. This allows you to get to know him as well as this world. It's all set up nicely and you'll buy into the concept.
Visit CBR for more preview pages.
Honorables: ALL-NEW INVADERS #1, JUSTICE LEAGUE #27
Mat 'Inferiorego' Elfring's picks
ORIGIN II #2
I loved the first issue of this new mini-series. Sure, there's a lot of people not down with it, with one large question looming over all of our heads: "Is this story necessary?" At this point, it's too early to say yes or no, so it's best to forget what the title of this book is and just enjoy what's going on. I loved Kubert's art and Martin's colors on the first issue, and I can't wait to see where it goes from there. It may be a bit much to take in for Wolverine fans that both Sabretooth and Sinister are in this book, but I'm hoping this plays out. This might not be the redefining Wolverine story that ORIGIN was, but I'm along for the ride and I love exploring Wolverine's history.
CBR has the final preview page.
GEORGE A. ROMERO'S EMPIRE OF THE DEAD #1
When I was the ripe young age of 7, my grandparents bought me a VHS copy of Night of the Living Dead. Since then, I've been a HUGE fan of George Romero's work and always wondered why my grandparents bought me such a horrific film. As soon as I saw that Romero was writing this book, I was super-excited, since I was one of the few that enjoyed his last book at DC, TOE TAGS. While his name alone was what got me to buy it, once I realized Alex Maleev was doing the art, that was end game for me. I'm super excited to see these guys work together and while the zombie genre is come and gone, Romero is the father of the modern day zombie, so he gets a pass.
Honorable: X-O MANOWAR #21
Gregg 'k4tz' Katzman's picks
TMNT UTROM EMPIRE #1
City Fall put a major spotlight on the Foot Clan and showed us why they're big trouble -- both physically and mentally -- for the heroes in a half shell. However, as the team battled Shredder and his allies, we never really had the opportunity to chime in on Krang and Baxter Stockman. Remember they're building this little thing called the Technodrome and have big plans for Earth? And what's going on with Fugitoid?
Paul Allor is about to give them the panel time they absolutely deserve and former TMNT ongoing artist Andy Kuhn is back for more. To top it off, longtime fans of the franchise will recognize the return of an alien race: the Triceratons! IDW has yet to let us down with their take on the franchise, so if you're a TMNT fan, there's no good reason to skip this one.
ETERNAL WARRIOR #5
Gilad's taken out the "Goddess of Earth" and there's no turning back now. The roots which protected the world from the Dread Lord will fade away over the course of two thousand years and Gilad's son, Mitu, will be able to free the evil which was once trapped. So yeah, way to go, Gilad.
Instead of seeing what happens immediately after Gilad's actions and spending a bunch of pages talking about what'll eventually happen, Greg Pak is taking us two thousand years into the future and right into the conflict. Gilad's still the Eternal Warrior, but he's been given a promotion... he's now the Eternal Emperor. Valiant's latest addition to its catalog has been one hell of a ride, combining plenty of action with while also creating a world rich in fantasy. Yup, you can bet I'm anxious to see what'll happen next.
DEAD BODY ROAD #2
We've all seen a heist gone wrong story and we've most definitely all seen a story about someone being driven by revenge, but DEAD BODY ROAD takes these two familiar plots and puts 'em together. The concept alone may not be enough to reel you in, but what should give you faith in this book is the creative team.
With Justin Jordan writing, you know it's going to be a visceral and intense ride. We've seen just the bare basics of the premise and have yet to learn about the rest of the cast. I'm definitely curious to see how Jordan will link all of the pieces as the story progresses. Then there's Matteo Scalera's amazingly energetic visuals. The dude does brilliant work with motion and it absolutely matches Jordan's gritty tone.
Honorables: SAMURAI JACK #4, BATMAN & TWO-FACE #27
Corey 'Undeadpool' Schroeder's picks
ALL-NEW X-FACTOR #2
The debut issue of this series introduced us to a new X-Factor roster that was familiar enough with series alums Polaris and Quicksilver, but also threw Gambit into the mix alongside a potential new member. Peter David's return to the series he helped architect was essentially everything a fan could want: the tone of the book remains similarly upbeat, but with a lot of great potential for some heavy, hard-hitting stories and Carmine Di Giandomenico's art was as expressive as ever, so I see no reason to not get excited for whatever's next in this series.
HARLEY QUINN #2
SPEAKING of bright spots, Harley Quinn #1 maintained the series' bright palette, courtesy of Chad Hardin, and darkly comedic tone, courtesy of Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti. Even though the humor leans dark for its laughs, there's something to be said for ANY kind of comedy among the grim, gritty tone that most New-52 books strike, and seeing Harley reel it in slightly from the Deadpool-ish 4th wall breaks of #0 was a positive development. Ultimately, I'm just happy to have ANY book that can bring a smile to my face and still tell an interesting story. And interesting will be the word of the day with Poison Ivy and, apparently, a puppy/kitten heist.
The holidays may be over, but this hilariously bizarre series marches on! Having only somewhat recently been made aware of the legend of the Krampus (a demon that followed Santa, punishing naughty kids with far more than a lump of coal), I was startled to see that, apparently, the zeitgeist was with me. Brian Joines wasted no time in establishing a universe where multiple Santas existed across different cultures and that Christmas was SERIOUS business for each and every one of them, and Dean Kotz's visuals brought the whole thing to grimy, jagged life. It's not easy making Santas look like badasses, but somehow he succeeds. This entire concept is clearly ripe for some fantastic storytelling opportunities.
Last issue gave us the Sisterhood of Anti-Mutants (not the official name) and I think that, despite their very, very different origins, power sets and normal casts, that Brian Wood brought the team together in an incredibly organic way all united around a very, very intriguing goal. Between the new look for Deathstrike and the revival of dormant villains Enchantress and Typhoid Mary, I'm absolutely loving all the potential this storyline has and with the visuals by the Dodsons, there's no reason to think the sleek nature of the book will be changing anytime soon. When it began, I had no idea who MOST of the cast of characters were and now I can't wait to see what they do next.