2016 has already held a number of pretty impressive comic releases. Look no further than Ta-Nehisi Coates’s groundbreaking Blank Panther series for Marvel or Vertigo’s riveting The Sheriff of Babylon. But, thankfully for comic fans everywhere, there are still a number of good ones primed and ready for release. Below are a few select, highly anticipated upcoming releases from veterans and newcomers alike. Just think. A few years from now when everyone is excited about the upcoming film release, you can say, “I remember when I was just excited about it being an upcoming comic.”
“Twist” — Joss Whedon
The legendary Joss Whedon, having recently survived the apparently shattering experience of making Avengers: Age of Ultron, is coming back to the world of comics. Announced last year at the San Diego Comic-Con, Twist is planned as a six-issue miniseries to be released by Dark Horse. In Whedon’s own words, “It’s a Victorian thriller about a meek chambermaid who is fed to a dark horror — but instead of dying, she returns, with knowledge, power, and rage she can neither deny nor control.”
If that wasn’t enough for you, Whedon is pitching the main character as a “Victorian, female Batman,” too. There are rumors of some steampunk aesthetics being involved and, with Whedon involved, there will certainly be some notable political and social commentary, if smuggled in through some great one-liners. Maybe we can imagine something like Alan Moore’s From Hell, but, you know, not quite so unbearably dark and abstruse.
Besides creating one of the most successful action films in recent history with The Avengers, as well as one of the most critically acclaimed genre TV shows, with Buffy, Whedon is no stranger to the world of comics, either. He’s written for Marvel’s Astonishing X-Men series as well as Dark Horse’s Fray (itself set within the Buffy universe).
And, of course, he’s written and remained involved in the ongoing Buffy series of comics, which continue the storyline of the show. How much Twist will be a step tonally in line with these, and how much it will be a departure, remains to be seen. Coming from the pen of Whedon, though, we can rest assured it will be worth checking out.
“Sunset Park” — Ronald Wimberly
Ronald Wimberly might not have quite the credit list of Joss Whedon, but his work is regularly exciting and groundbreaking in its own way. Whether his illustrations in Sentences, the graphic biography of rapper M.F. Grimm, or his sensational The Prince of Cats — imagine Romeo and Juliet meet at the Coney Island Cyclone — Wimberly is always finding a way to push our expectations and arrest our attention. His upcoming title Sunset Park for Image Comics promises to be no different.
Sunset Park takes on head first the issue of gentrification in the Brooklyn neighborhood and beyond. Involving perhaps more than metaphorical “economic vampires,” the story follows a cartoonist as he attempts to recreate and comprehend the various journals, writings, and film strips he finds boxed up and left behind in his recently rented studio.
We can expect some meta references, given the media within media the story promises, as well as a few interesting and well-known characters. Rumor has it an old Warhol film (one featuring vampires) makes an appearance, as does a journal purportedly belonging to Jean-Michel Basquiat. Also, vampires — did we mention there would be vampires?
In case that’s not enough Ronald Wimberly for you, he’s also teased a new work Slave Punk. Or, perhaps, according to Wimberly, it would be more accurate to say he’s teased a whole new genre called Slave Punk, the first iteration of which will be his upcoming work White Coal.
“Snotgirl” — Bryan Lee O’Malley
First launched to fame with his inimitable graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim, and then solidified with his follow-up, Seconds, O’Malley already has a sizeable following, and perhaps one of the most exciting thing about his new series Snotgirl is that he’ll be moving from a graphic novel form to a monthly series, opening him up to a wider audience, and us to a lot more Bryan Lee O’Malley writing.
Co-created with newcomer Leslie Hung, Snotgirl is a dark comedy focused within the world of fashion, and specifically the world of fashion blogging. O’Malley has hinted in interviews that a central theme will be various (and often very different) multiple identities we seem to take on in the world of social media. While Lottie might seem like a perfectly happy and beautiful social media star, another darker self threatens beneath this. This is thrown into further turmoil when Lottie meets Caroline, who seems to be all of the good parts of Lottie, only made better.
Billed as something of a Sex in the City meets American Psycho, Snotgirl will be worth checking out, but if you’ve picked up any of the Scott Pilgrim series, you already know this. O’Malley’s writing is regularly unique, refreshing, and unrelenting in its pace. Thankfully, for those already fans, you don’t need to wait long. The first issue has just recently arrived.
“Heartless” — Warren Ellis
The exhaustingly prolific Warren Ellis has another one on his radar. He’s teamed up with artist Tula Lotay to create Heartless, something of a modern folktale with themes of love, revenge, and (of course) the supernatural. The series follows a musician as she returns to her family’s cottage, set in a forest in Northern England. Her goal is to burrow herself away in the forest and try to knock out a great second album, but apparently the forest has different plans for her.
Billed as both horror and genre-defying, it’s clear the story will focus on themes of our past and how it shapes us (both figuratively and literally), and it’s clear that the story will be relatively dark, as well.
Ellis and Lotay struck some gold with their previous series Supreme: Blue Rose, so here’s hoping they can do so again. Of course, this almost seems second nature for Ellis, at this point. From his early series Transmetropolitan to his work for Marvel on Nextwave, or his recent (and underappreciated) FreakAngels, Ellis has well earned his legendary status.
And, if you need something else to read while you wait for Heartless to come out, his New York Times best-selling novel Gun Machine proves he can work in more medium than one.