Summer comics: 2006

Originally written for eVent! [ep] magazine on 06/01/06.

Last year I wrote about all of the comics that were coming out during the summer of 2005. The summer is traditionally a big time for the comics industry, since it doesn't have to compete with new episodes of television and if kids aren't being forced to read at school they sometimes actually want to read. What better to read than something featuring Spider-Man, right?

So once again I'm going to be giving out a look into my crystal ball at some of the comics that'll be on store shelves this summer that you might want to get into. These all should be easily available at one of the comic shops throughout the Okanagan, so just pop into one of them and ask for the following reads.

Title: 52

Publisher: DC

Writers: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka and Mark Waid

Storyline: DC, the company that brings us characters such as Superman and Batman, has just wrapped up a large-scale comic book event called Infinite Crisis. Sadly Infinite Crisis was one of those comic events that if you haven't been reading DC comics for the last twenty years you'd never understand it. When Infinite Crisis ended all of DC's major superhero books jumped forward by one year. What happened in the year between the end of Inifinite Crisis and the restart of all of their books? Well that's the story that's going to be told in 52.

What makes 52 unique is that it is a weekly comic, as opposed to a monthly comic. That means every Wednesday you can head to your store to find a new part of the story. Running for 52 issues the story will run in real time, or as close to it as you can in an industry that takes several months prep-time. Meaning if you buy an issue during the week of July 4th they are planning to have fireworks for Independence Day. The task of pulling off a weekly comic is mammoth, and it's taking some of DC's best writers to handle it. Already on its third week part of the suspense in the industry is whether or not DC can pull it off, as other weekly comics have failed spectacularly.

Be warned though, none of the big three DC characters (Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman) will be appearing in 52. Instead the book will be focusing on a few of the lesser known DC characters.

Title: Civil War

Publisher: Marvel

Writer: Mark Millar

Marvel, the company that brings us characters such as Spider-man, the X-Men and Captain America, has gone another way with its summer blockbuster epic book. It's superhero action with a political twist as a tragedy caused by a young team of superheroes known as the New Warriors destroys a school and the surrounding suburb. The fact that the entire incident was being recorded for a reality television show, and thus gets the sort of news coverage that Rodney King got with the footage being repeated constantly on the news, only makes matters worse. The public begins to turn against the heroes they once trusted to protect them and the government, always eager to read the direction of the polls, wants to force the superheroes to register and become government employees working for law enforcement like cops.

That's where the plot kicks off as some heroes, such as Iron Man and the Fantastic Four's Reed Richards, support the decision figuring it is the best way out of a bad situation. Others, like Captain America, see it as an attack on their civil liberties and refuse to register. When the pro-government camp is sent to bringing in the anti-government camp things start getting blown up but good. And since it's the summer we all like to see things get blown up but good.

The main storyline takes place in the limited series Civil War by writer Mark Millar. Other books will deal with how the events of the Civil War affect the characters in the books, such as Dan Slott's She Hulk, and Brian Michael Bendis' New Avengers.

Lastly I just wanted to mention that one great way to buy comics is to buy them in trade paperback form. Collecting several issues of one series, the trade allows you to read a complete story without the monthly wait. So every so often I'm going to recommend a trade that you should be asking for the next time you go into a comic shop.

Title: The Thing

Publisher: Marvel

Writer: Dan Slott

The Thing was recently cancelled, but it is one of the funniest superhero comic books out there and definitely worth buying in trade paperback form. Even if you don't really dig the superhero comics, this is one to pick up and give a chance. If enough people buy it then it may even get the monthly title resurrected. This collection comes out in July.