2011 was a hectic year for comics. We lost the creators of two of the most recognizable comic book characters ever. The comic books not many people knew about continued to be the best. DC hit the reboot button on a scale not seen since Crisis on Infinite Earths. Marvel......didn't seem to do anything different, giving us yet another reboot of the X-Men franchise (they seem to happen every two years now), and killing Thor and Bucky. Again. Though they did let Jonathan Hickman's imagination run wild in Secret Warriors, S.H.I.E.L.D., FF, and Ulimates. Thats a good thing. With the year nearly behind us, it's time to cast our eye over the releases of 2012 (well, the first quarter anyway), and see what's in store to come...
SAGA (Image Comic)
Brian K. Vaughn has created some very diverse series' in his 14 years as a comic book writer. From the teenage super heroics of Runaways, to the apocalyptic road trip Y: The Last Man, and the political super hero epic that was Ex Machina, he has shown he is adept at crafting interesting and rich stories in any genre. With Saga, he, along with artist Fiona Staples, turns his hand to the fantasy genre. Described as Star Wars meets Game Of Thrones, it is the story of a couple, Marko and Alena, who fell in love despite being on the opposite sides in a brutal war. Dropping out of society, they eventually have a child, which is where the first issue starts off. Vaughn has high hopes for the series, which mixes technology and magic to create a unique fantasy world, even going as far as offering to buy back the first issue from people who didn't enjoy it (his address will be included in the books letter column). Saga is released March 14.
AVENGERS vs. X-MEN (Marvel Comics)
I'm not a man for the big, multi crossover events Marvel and DC put out every year. They are really just attempts by the publishers to squeeze more money from the fans by tying books that they normally wouldn't by into a universe altering event that really doesn't change much other than a few team iterations and a new costume here or there. But damn Marvel if they haven't got me excited for Avengers vs. X-Men. Being released as a 12 part bi-weekly series, it will be written by Marvel architects Brian Michael Bendis, Jason Aaron, Jonathan Hickman, Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction. It will be scripted by a different writer from issue to issue, with artists John Romita Jnr., Oliver Coipel and Adam Kubert drawing one of the books four issue 'acts'. It feels like Marvel are attempting a scaled down version of what DC did with their weekly series 52. If this series is anything like that, we are in for something special. Featuring the return of the reality threatening Phoenix Force, and Earth's heroes reaction to it, Avengers vs. X-Men promises to not just involve the company's marquee characters, but all of the Marvel Universe. The series launches in April, with a prologue book released the month before.
CONAN THE BARBARIAN (Dark Horse Comics)
Thankfully not affiliated with the disappointing movie from earlier this year, the new series of Conan, following on from the previous three series since the books inception in 2004, continues the tradition of adapting some of Robert E. Howard's original stories. The big news about the new series, however, is the reuniting of writer Brian Wood and artist Becky Cloonan, creative team behind fan favorite title Demo. The current iteration of the Conan comic book distances itself from the movies, being more faithful to the character and stories that Howard wrote. The new series kicks off with an adaption of the much loved 'Queen of the Black Coast', which finds Conan mixing it up with pirates on the high seas. Wood has shown his skill at writing time and time again, with the aforementioned Demo, DMZ, and Northlanders, a viking tale that shares some similarities with Conan. Cloonan's art is beautiful to behold (check out Demo and marvel at the fact that each stories drastically different style is drawn by the same artist), and the two have shown they compliment each other perfectly. Conan the Barbarian is released on February 8th.
WATCHMEN PREQUELS (DC Comics)
Though no release dates have being given, DC have said they hope to have their planned prequels to Alan Moore's 1987 deconstruction of the superhero genre Watchmen sometime in 2012. Not much is known about the project, other than it will chart the lives of the characters before the events of the book took place. The project is being masterminded by Darwyn Cooke, and he is said to have crafted an over-arching uber-plot that will tie the four planned mini series together. Many well known creators have being linked with the project, including J. Michael Straczynski, Andy Kubert and Brian Azzarello. Rumors have surfaced that The Comedian prequel will be written by Cooke and drawn by JG Jones. DC have been very tight lipped on the project so far. These books are no doubt going to divide fans of the original book. I'm still trying to make up my mind on wheater it's a good thing or not. They do have some very good writers and artist involved, but, to me, Watchmen is the perfect stand alone book. Any attempts to expand the story and universe could only serve to dilute them. DC are expected to unveil concrete details of the project in January 2012. I wouldn't be surprised if they are released during the summer, as DC have so far made no announcements of any events for that time. Thats it for what we know, so far, is coming in 2012. Now heres two series I HOPE are released in 2012:
UMBRELLA ACADEMY: HOLTEL OBLIVION (Dark Horse Comics)
Hailed as the best Grant Morrison book not written by Grant Morrison (By me. Just there), Umbrella Academy is the brian child of My Chemical Romance frontman Gerad Way. With art by Gabriel Ba, it casts the traditional super team as a dysfunctional family. Brought together by a man who shouldn't be allowed care for a plant let alone a group of children with enough power to end the world, these super powered kids grow up to be maladjusted adults brought back together by the death of their 'father'. The first two mini series were critically acclaimed, and featured a very rich and detailed world filled with talking monkeys, time traveling assassins, murderous orchestras, and Viet Cong mummies. The third mini series, Hotel Oblivion, was originally announced for release sometime in 2010. But sadly that wasn't the case.
BATMAN: THE WIDENING GYRE VOL. 2 (DC Comics)
The first volume of Kevin Smith's follow up to Batman: Cacophony wasn't well received by fans. Basically, it was six issues of Bruce Wayne having a mid life, debating whether to hand over the protection of Gotham City to new vigilante Baphomet, and finally finding happiness with old flame Silver St. Cloud. Then came the splash page that ended issue six, and you realized that the previous five issues were all part of along con. As Smith himself put it, This was only act two. The first volume was supposed to run from August 2009 to January 2010, with a break of six months between that and volume two. But book one was plagued with setbacks, and issue six didn't reach us until July 2010. There has been no word on when book two will be released. Smith is been known for delays on his books (the infamous Daredevil/Bullseye: The Target, released in 2002, has yet to get passed issue one), but he stated in August of this year that he had issue four nearly written, and artist Walt Flanagan was currently drawing issue three. Are DC waiting till all the issues are done before releasing them to avoid any more setbacks, or is an out of continuity tale that heavily references another out of continuity tale, Dark Detective, something that won't fit into DC's new universe?