Welcome back to the boundless realm of comics, where superheroes and monsters can be themselves, free from the constraints of CG effects or television studios. This week: The Avengers have a new series. Hellboy is in Hell! Darth Vader is purging. And a Las Vegas grifter discovers an unusual superpower after a plane crash. And much, much more!

So I'm taking over the comics coverage from Cyriaque, and I will endeavor to uphold the amazing standard that he set. I should confess up front that I've been away from comics for a few years now — I used to read a dozen titles a week, for years and years, but I drifted away around the time they started having more than two Hulks and more than two colors of power rings in Green Lantern. So it may take me a little while to get back up to speed.

Top image: I Love Trouble #1.

First Issues

The big news among first issues this week seems to be Avengers #1, the launch of a new title featuring Marvel's biggest heroes fighting threats on an interplanetary scale. It's written by rising star Jonathan Hickman (The Nightly News, FF) with art by Jerome Opena. And apparently it's going to be three issues of the whole team, followed by three issues of smaller teams, "rinse and repeat," until Hickman gets tired.

Also from Marvel, there's the first issue of the rebooted Thunderbolts, which by now bears no resemblance to the supervillains-gone-straight book that Busiek launched back in the day. This time around, the team is led by "Thunderbolt" Ross — hence the name, I guess. According to Marvel:

Red Hulk, Venom, Elektra, Deadpool, the Punisher. Forget the courts, the jails, the system - this team of Thunderbolts fights fire with fire, targeting the most dangerous and lethal players in the Marvel Universe with extreme prejudice.


Why doesn't anybody ever target anyone with mild prejudice?


Then meanwhile Image has a couple of really intriguing new series out — at left is the cover to Blackacre #1, a dystopian science fiction series that has been getting lots and lots of early buzz. Here's what Image wants you to know about it:

100 YEARS AFTER THE FALL... A NEW GREAT GAME BEGINS. A retired soldier on a secret mission... sent out from the walled city and the only life he's ever known into the violent wilderness of the world after the fall! Tribal cults, roaming bands of barbarians, vicious warlords! A startling new take on the post-apocalypse and the most auspicious comics debut of the year!


And the top image, featuring the woman apparently about to balance an airplane on her nose, is I Love Trouble — in which "Felicia Castillo, a New Orleans grifter, is on the run from mobsters in our premiere issue, when she discovers she possesses an unusual superpower in the middle of a plane crash." That's from Kel Symons and Mark Robinson.


Meanwhile, from Dark Horse, there's Star Wars Purge: The Tyrant's Fist #1, written by Alexander Freed (The Old Republic.) Here's the skinny:

Shortly after the birth of the Empire, Darth Vader master of combat, terror of his enemies, continues his purge of the Jedi Knights on a planet where his Jedi prey are revered. Amidst a planetwide insurgency, the Dark Lord must snuff out one surviving Jedi, as well as kill the fire of rebellion in the native populace. All will bow to the power of Vader and the Galactic Empire!


But also, there's Hellboy in Hell #1, with interior art by Mike Mignola. I know, I can hardly believe it. There is a preview over at Comic Book Resources, and here's what this comic is about:

After saving the world in The Storm and The Fury, but sacrificing himself and Great Britain, Hellboy is dead, cast into Hell, where he finds many familiar faces, and a throne that awaits him... Mike Mignola returns to draw Hellboy's ongoing story for the first time since Conqueror Worm. It's a story only Mignola could tell, as more of Hellboy's secrets are at last revealed, in the most bizarre depiction of Hell you've ever seen.


Trade Paperbacks

Valiant Comics has the first volume of the new XO Manowar series, in case you want to get up to speed on what's been happening to the Valiant Universe.


Dark Horse has volume two of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 — so if you're reading this series in the trades, like I am, you can finally find out what happened with her pregnancy and stuff. I hope it's twins! Also, there's
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth Volume 4 - The Long Death & The Devil's Engine, in case Hellboy in Hell didn't satisfy your Mignola cravings.

DC has the fourth volume of Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus, to help you get up to speed for Darkseid's rumored role in the Justice League movie. There's also a fourth volume of iZombie and a second volume of Superman: Grounded. (Will Superman ever learn to ask to be excused before leaving the dinner table? Maybe eventually it'll turn into Superman: Curfew.)


IDW has the first volume of Battle Beasts. Plus Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 1. And also the first volume of Kiss.


Image has a deluxe hardcover of Butcher Baker Righteous Maker, which I'm just going to quote the description of:


At one time, Butcher Baker was the preeminent, All-American superhero. Now he'sÖ getting laid. A lot. But one last mission could signal his return to glory, and now he's back on the blacktop!

It's a balls-out, pimp-slappin', surreal super-epic from the twisted minds of JOE CASEY and MIKE HUDDLESTON! LOADED WITH ALL-NEW BACKMATTER MATERIAL!


There are also trade paperbacks of Hoax Hunters, Pigs and Think Tank, about a genius military scientist who decides he's sick of creating weapons of mass destruction.


And Marvel has the collected Space Punisher, which is a series about the Punisher killing everything in space. I kind of need to read that. Also, there's Avengers: X-Sanction, where Cable comes back in time to kill the Avengers. And the second volumes of Brian Bendis' Moon Knight, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man and Uncanny X-Men.

Viz also has a number of graphic novels out this week, including Arata The Legend Vol. 12, Bakuman Vol. 17, D Gray Man Vol. 23 and Sakura Hime Legend Of Princess Sakura Vol. 09. And Oni Comics has Sixth Gun Volume 4.


So which comics are you most excited about this week?