Well, all that Xmas shopping hullabaloo is over, so you don't have to go hog wild trying to shop for the particular loved geek of yours. However, that's not to say there isn't still some good 'n' plenty stuff happening in January, the first month of the last year of humanity's existence, 2012. Why not spend the end times reading comics?
So here's a good look at what's hitting your local comic book shop this month. Buy comics, kids!
Chris Yost did the best work with Spider-Man during Fear Itself, and his reward is getting his own spider-title. This one finds the long-cursed spider-clone Kaine fully healed with a chance for a real life for the first time. So now, the rest of the country gets a web-slinger, too – starting out in Houston, Texas.
Things just got hectic last issue for Kate Kane – her cousin is bleeding out and was forced to give up her secret identity as Batwoman to the D.E.O.! Plus, she's still no closer to figuring out how to stop the Weeping Woman from her deathly spree. One of the best books in DC's New 52 continues with the amazing art of J.H. Williams III.
DARK HORSE PRESENTS #8
The latest issue in this anthology series features the debut of a new series from DMZ scribe Brian Wood entitled The Massive, as well as a new Skeleton Key and the conclusion of Howard Chakin's Marked Men. Not to mention a brand new B.P.R.D. story and a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Tarzan.
IDW's Infestation, their first attempt at an "event" combining their various titles into one universe under the threat of a zombie plague, was a bit hit and miss, but now they've swapped out Star Trek and Ghostbusters for Danger Girl and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for this second go-around under new writer Duane Swierczynski's pen. Don't fret – Transformers and G.I. Joe are still in the game, and 30 Days of Night is joining the party, too. This time, the threat is based around Lovecraftian monsters.
Ed Brubaker. That's pretty much all you need to say. After giving us Sleeper, Incognito and Criminal, he's back with Sean Phillips to bring us this new story blending noir and horror. Guns, sex, cults and monsters! Immortal demon mob bosses! You'll want in on this one.
Last month's surprisingly good debut carries over into the new year, as scribe Brandon Thomas joins with the great new artist Ariel Padilla to bring a new sense of scale, drama and danger to the story of the Defender of the Universe – who now has an identity and a personality beyond just being the sum of his parts. And the surprising truth behind the evil King Zarkon is unraveling, to boot.
STEED AND MRS. PEEL #1
It looks like Boom! Studios has given up the fight on referring to these folks as The Avengers, ceding the fight to the superhero parade that will be storming into movie theaters this year. So John Steed and Emma Peel will take up the good fight regardless, with new adventures written by none other than Grant Morrison. Also featuring art from Ian Gibson.
ALPHA FLIGHT #8
The thrilling conclusion to the epic miniseries that became an ongoing series for about a week! The Master of the World has taken over Canada and branded their premiere superteam as outlaws – and brainwashed a few of their members as well. Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente bring us the final chapter of this fun yet intense adventure, likely marking the last time we'll see these guys for a while.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #677 and DAREDEVIL #8
Mark Waid steps into the web-slinger's title to pen a Spider-Man/Daredevil crossover, centering around Spidey's pal Black Cat being arrested with Matt Murdock as her only legal option. There's also the promise of a brand new love triangle begs some interesting questions, too. After all, apparently, Felicia Hardy has been constantly schtupping Wolverine over in that Claws miniseries… could she also form a thing for Ol' Hornhead? Emma Rios handles the art for the Spidey issue, while Kano steps in on DD.
Scott Snyder's Court of Owls story continues to unfold, shaking Batman's confidence in what he thought he knew about the history of Gotham City – so much so that the normally astute detective walks right into the trap set by a secret organization which has been manipulating him surprisingly well. Snyder's really good at writing Batman comics.
PENGUIN: PAIN AND PREJUDICE #4
The penultimate installment in Gregg Hurwitz's darkly disturbing and emotional retelling of the origins of Oswald Cobblepot's criminal empire shows us what happens when Batman takes a direct interest in his activities, just when he's making a power play in the underworld. One of the best miniseries of the year promises to end as strongly as it began.
THE LONE RANGER #1
Ande Parks takes over the adventures of John Reid, the legendary western hero known as The Lone Ranger and his friend and kemosabe Tonto. With Parks comes Esteve Polls and a new six-issue story about hardships on the prairie with some extraordinarily victimized settlers.
ROBOCOP: ROAD TRIP #2
So Old Detroit has gotten so miserable after an OCP coup that Robocop actually has to retreat to Cleveland, of all places… and he's not even in his right mind. With killer robots on his trail, chances are the other side of Lake Erie won't be safe for him either.
TRANSFORMERS: MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE #1
Now that Chaos is over, IDW has streamlined the new direction of the Transformers epic into two new ongoing series. One is John Barber's Robots In Disguise, following life on the post-war Cybertron, but the other is helmed by James Roberts, the most exciting writer to hit this mythos in a long while. Roberts' series will be following Rodimus, the former Hot Rod, and his crew of Autobots who have left home in search of the fabled Knights of Cybertron, hoping this quest will ultimately allow them to know the greater history of their homeworld and figure out how to manage the peace.
I, VAMPIRE #5
Joshua Hale Fialkov's surprisingly interesting story of a suckhead uprising continues, as the vampire rebellion finds its way to Gotham City. How is the Dark Knight going to play into Andrew Bennett's ongoing struggle to end the threat of his own kind, including the woman he loves? Will Batman's 'no-kill' rule apply to the undead?
THE RAY #2
Awful costume aside, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray have forged one of the more fun new comics to hit superheroland in quite a while. They've refused to wallow in the traditional angst and have one of the more diverse casts of characters we've seen in a while. Giant monsters attacked in the first issue, and now, Lucien Gates' biggest challenge will be… dinner with his girlfriend's strict parents.
ALL-STAR WESTERN #5
Oh, and by the by, Gray and Palmiotti are also still kicking some ass with the western tales they've become nearly synonymous with. The unlikely team of Jonah Hex and Dr. Amadeus Arkham have once again joined together to break up a child-slavery ring of kidnappers underneath Gotham City, and it reinforces why Hex usually works alone. What happens when they stumble upon one particular cave? Also, check out the continuing origin story of The Barbary Ghost.
BATTLE SCARS #3
Sgt. Marcus Johnson has already survived an assassination attempt by the Taskmaster, and he's escaped from S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, to boot. But how is he going to deal with it when the Merc With A Mouth comes after him? Will Marcus ever figure out why he's been targeted by all these superheroes when, for all he knows, he's just a normal soldier? Chances are Deadpool doesn't know, but if he does, he'll probably blab it.
AVENGERS: X-SANCTION #2
Why the hell has Cable come back from the dead only to start trying to take out the Avengers one by one? What exactly are the Avengers slated to do to Hope Summers to provoke this fatherly wrath? This four-issue series is likely some crucial set-up to 2012's Avengers vs. X-Men slobberknocker, so you should probably check in and see what's what.
AVENGERS ACADEMY #24
Last issue featured a couple of comings-out, and this time, White Tiger is wilding out with new artist Tom Grummett. The young hero training institute has a killer in their midst, and while X-23 certainly fits that bill, she ain't the one causing all the trouble. Check out Christos Gage's compelling series about superhumans on the edge. Dire Wraiths, man. Bad news.
SECRET AVENGERS #21.1
Speaking of Avengers, January will not only see one last Warren Ellis issue of Secret Avengers, but we'll be getting a point-one issue here with new series writer Rick Remender, who's been kicking ass with Venom and Uncanny X-Force. This first installment pits Captain America and Hawkeye against an entire nation run by criminals.
AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #2
One more bit of Avengeresque stuff – Zeb Wells' hilarious and fun new Spider-Man team-up series tells the continuing story of Spidey, Red Hulk and J. Jonah Jameson's further attempts to free the Moloids from the new subterreanean warlords who have subjugated the Mole Man. And the Red Hulk just got chumped out.
UNCANNY X-FORCE #19.1
We mentioned that thing about Rick Remender and his ass-kicking? This is one of those places. Here's the chance to check out the first full-issue featuring the cast of the upcoming Age of Apocalypse ongoing series. Namely, the X-Terminated, a team made up of alternate versions of the biggest anti-mutant bigots in the 616, who are now heroes in the war-torn disaster area dimension they're in. Logan has ascended to the throne of Apocalypse, and it's time for the X-Men's last stand. Also, check out Uncanny X-Force #20, where we see the beginning of The Trial of Fantomex by the Captain Britain corps.
THE LI'L DEPRESSED BOY #10
Named as one of Crave Online's Ten Best Indie Comics of 2011, the saga of a young man fighting against his own anti-social nature continues as he starts a new job. The story of this oddly likeable emo kid avoids the trap of being negative and always surly, and occasionally manages to embrace hope.
Bill Willingham's consistently impressive story of storybook characters in the modern day drops the 'modern day' part for this stand-alone issue featuring guest art from Adam Hughes, Gene Ha and Karl Kerschl, instead setting the beloved characters in other times – the idyllic times.
DANGER GIRL: REVOLVER #1
The popular team of super-sexy superspies returns with a four-part miniseries from writer/creator Andy Hartnell and art from Chris Madden adds a new member to the team for the first time. Will she complement Abbey Chase and Sydney Savage or screw up their dynamic?
THE SHADE #4
James Robinson's droll and entertaining series about immortal darkforce-wielder Richard Swift's quest for some sort of adventure continues, with industry legend Darwyn Cooke checking in to handle the art alongside J. Bone. Cooke is perfect for this issue, flashing back to the 1940s and the Shade's early days as a criminal entrepreneur and revealing more of his origin.
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS #3
Nick Spencer's "Suicide Squad that doesn't suck" series deals with the fallout of their latest Dynamo being killed at the hands of Demo… as well as the revelation that the original Dynamo from the 1960s may yet be alive – and he happens to be the father of team handler Colleen Franklin.
WONDER WOMAN #5
Brian Azzarello's new take on the Amazon princess has definitely humanized her beyond the perfect idol made of clay, allowing her to make mistakes, succumb to her own anger and have unresolved daddy issues just like anyone else – and now her mother has paid the price for it. Jack of Fables artist Tony Akins checks in for this issue, focusing on two gods vying to become the ruler of them all.
SIX GUNS #4
Andy Diggle's rockin' adventure revitalizing Marvel's old western characters continues on, with the Two-Gun Kid, the Black Rider, Tex Dawson Texas Ranger, Matt Slade Bounty Hunter and Tarantula all converging on San Diablo, South America, for Sons of Anarchy-style hell on wheels.
RED HULK #47
There are very few people in the Marvel Universe who are aware that Thunderbolt Ross and the Red Hulk are one and the same. His daughter, Betty Ross, is one of them – since she's also the Red She-Hulk and loaded for bear with her own daddy issues. She's now a Defender and she's ditched the idiotic Jason Aaron Bruce Banner, so how is she going to relate to her father, the Avenger? We also get the return of the new, interesting not-entirely-a-villain Zero/One.
BATMAN: GATES OF GOTHAM
Collecting Scott Snyder's miniseries revealing the beginnings of his Court of Owls conspiracy currently runing through his Batman series, this delves deeply into the history of Gotham City and Bruce Wayne's ancestral legacy which threatens the modern day, as well as giving us Dick Grayson's last hurrah under the cowl.
While this technically has nothing to do with Bill Willingham's longrunning Fables series, it runs in an entirely different direction than his premise. Many great comics creators, from Mike Allred and Peter David to Jill Thompson, Nick Spencer, Terry Moore and Whilce Portacio, have fun with taking classic fairy tales and doing strange new things with them.
THE LONE RANGER: THE DEATH OF ZORRO
If you're expecting a team-up between these two iconic legends, think again – this series does not unfold the way you'd expect it to. Instead, it's the story of the Lone Ranger avenging the death and defending the legacy of Don Diego De La Vega against a marauding platoon of former Confederate bushwhackers who have taken over a village by violent means.
The best 'event book' of last year – and recent memory, for that matter- revolves around Dan Slott's masterful, breakneck-paced writing of the Queen of Spiders and her grand plan to utilize the Jackal's genius to turn the population of Manhattan into big creepy spider monsters she can control – starting by giving them all Spider-Man's power-set. This hardcover collects the Amazing Spider-Man issues, the Venom issues, the Deadly Foes chapters, and even the Infested prologues.
THE INTREPIDS VOL. 1
Kurtis J. Wiebe's story centers around a group of homeless and runaway teenagers who are given shelter by the eccentric genius named Dante. In turn, they agree to band together to fight crime, tyranny and general madmen using his elaborate inventions granting them all unique abilities. This first collection gives you the first six issues of the series. Great jumping on point.
HEROIC: A WOMANTHOLOGY
Still think women don't like comics? Well, in your face, because here's a collection by women who make comics. Showcasing well over a hundred different female creators of varying experience levels – from simple fangirls to upper echelon creators like Gail Simone, this is the perfect way to bring any borderline nerd girl into the funnybook-lovin' fold, as well as any comic lass looking for tips on how to better her skills and make her way in the biz today. Camilla D'Errico, Robin Furth, Trina Robbins, Colleen Doran, Fiona Staples, Ming Doyle, Renae De Liz, Stephanie Buscema, Anne Nocenti, Anya Martin, Barbara Kesel, Samantha Newark and many more.