As the final days of 2014 close in on us, we take the opportunity not to look back in anger or nostalgia, but to look ahead to the wonders that 2015 will hold. (The looking back all happens in our podcast Issue 123 and our annual Panels Awards). Next year will be a massive year for geekery, containing some of the biggest comics, films, and event releases on record. It’s also the year that BEHIND THE PANELS gets out and about, does more live shows and gets deep inside your home town (assuming your home town is a major east coast city in Australia). We kick things off with a look at the biggest comics coming out in the next year. This is 2015.
Comics to Watch in 2015
CHRONONAUTS (Image Comics, March 2015) will come to us from the all-star team of Mark Millar, Sean Gordon Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth. Described in EW as “NASA meets time travel”, creator Millar adds “It’s essentially a buddy story about two best friends who can jump around between 16th-century Persia, the American Civil War or New York in the ’20s.” Yet perhaps even more exciting is the similar creative team on TOKYO GHOST (Image Comics, 2015), this time written by Rick Remender with the same artists on board. Set in New Los Angeles of 2189, it’s a dystopian future where people are addicted to technology. Given Murphy’s clear influences from Japanese pop culture, this one is set to be one of the most talked-about comics of 2015.
Grant Morrison continues his strong recent run with NAMELESS (Image Comics, February 2015), re-teaming him with Batman Incorporated artists Chris Burnham and Nathan Fairbairn. A very cryptic story involving an astronomer killing his family, a Veiled Lady of nightmares and a group of billionaire futurists called the Nameless, the solicits promise we should “abandon all hope and experience ultimate horror.” In addition to the end of his DC event The Multiversity, Morrison will also release SINATORO (Black Mask, 2015), part of the publisher’s “Slate Two”. Originally a film project for Morrison, announced back in 2010 with Adam Egypt Mortimer attached to direct, it will adapt the screenplay with Vanessa Del Ray (Hit) on art duties.
CLEAN ROOM (DC/Vertigo, Spring 2015) marks Gail Simone’s debut at Vertigo, teaming up with 2000 AD artist Jonathan Davis-Hunt. It promises to take us inside “the most dangerous room on Earth, and experience exorcism gone digital.” If Simone’s recent output is any indicator, then we are set for one of the best series of 2015. Similarly, anything with Becky Cloonan’s name attached is always worth a look, and SOUTHERN CROSS (Image Comics, March 2015) is no exception. If the “terrifying marriage of horror and sci-fi” wasn’t enough to hook you, then Andy Belanger’s art (with the wonderful Lee Loughridge’s colours) should make this worth a look in March. Speaking of Cloonan connections, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys co-writer Shaun Simon will launch NEVERBOY (Dark Horse, March 2015) promises to combine the real and the imaginary, and the dreamer and the dream, with art by Tyler Jenkins and Kelly Fitzpatrick (Peter Panzerfaust).
Mainstream fare is just getting weird in 2015. If you’ve been missing the Great Lakes Avengers, then THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL (Marvel, January 2015) is for you. Dubbed ‘Squirrel Girl goes to college’, there’s possible shades of Cameron Stewart and Brendan Fletcher’s Batgirl here, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but is an acquired taste. Writer Ryan North (Original Sins, Adventure Time) and rising-star artist Erica Henderson will initially tackle this, and it’s great to see another female lead from the Marvel stable. Keeping in the animal family is HOWARD THE DUCK (Marvel, January 2015), a character suddenly back in the spotlight after a surprise appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy. Sex Criminal artist Chip Zdarsky turns his hand to writing with artwork by Joe Quinones (Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell), and the results are hopefully everything we could expect from a talking duck in New York. Still at Marvel, Daredevil writer Mark Waid will take a crack at S.H.I.E.L.D. with artist Carlos Pachecho, and the Avengers NOW! initiative will continue with a well-timed new ANT-MAN series from the excellent Nick Spencer and artist Ramon Rosanas. (The embedded video below showcases more of Marvel’s releases)
Finally, Jeff Lemire swaps out green arrows for purple ones in the ALL-NEW HAWKEYE (Marvel, March 2015), where Lemire and Eisner Award-winning artist Ramon Perez (Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand) put Clint Barton and Kate Bishop side-by-side again. What could possibly go wrong?
Rounding things out are some of the licenced titles and familiar characters. Marvel will begin releasing STAR WARS comics from January 2015 set during the original trilogy. Creators include Jason Aaron, Kieron Gillen, Mark Waid, John Cassaday, Salvador Larocca and Terry Dodson with solo titles for Princess Leia, Darth Vader and more. FIGHT CLUB 2 (Dark Horse, April 2015) will see original author Chuck Palahniuk team up with artist Cameron Stewart for a 10-issue series that follows the events of the 1996 novel, later filmed by David Fincher. Will this be able to capture the angsty zeitgeist of the 1990s? If not, we can relive a different kind of male aggression when a new series of JAMES BOND (Dynamite, 2015) arrives from the Ian Fleming Estate and Dynamite. There are no creative teams announced yet, but with the new film (Spectre.) coming out in November, these could be huge, especially with the promise that it explores some of Bond’s origins.
Finally, just for the curiosity factor, Hellboy creator Mike Mignola’s take on FRANKENSTEIN UNDERGROUND (Dark Horse, March 2015) looks interesting, and the first ARCHIE (Archie Comics, March 2015) reboot in almost 75 years with writer Mark Waid (Daredevil) and artist Fiona Staples (Saga). We’ll definitely be checking out this fresh change in direction.
Events and Crossovers to follow in 2015
If the above list seemed a little light on DC titles, it’s because they kind of dominate the months of April and May with the massive event CONVERGENCE (DC Comics, April/May). Kicking off in March with a #0 issue, it actually promises to shake up the entire DC line, as it coincides with not only the end of Grant Morrison’s THE MULTIVERSITY (in March), but the cancellation of almost half the DC line. CONVERGENCE will be split into forty connected two-part miniseries, each with different artists and writers., it pulls on the DC’s past with pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths titles includingincluding Dan Abnett’s take on The Flash and the return of Marv Wolfman to Teen Titan and Len Wein to Swamp Thing.
Marvel’s own foray into the past will take the form of SECRET WARS: BATTLEWORLD (Marvel, May – September, 2015), drawing on the similarly named Secret War from the 1980s. With a core 8-issue series by Jonathan Hickman and drawn by Esad Ribic, it will draw on the Marvel multiverse including events and crossovers from classic Marvel runs. Indeed, there are a lot of parallels with the DC event, and it’s odd that they are running these around the same time.
On a slightly smaller scale, Marvel will also launch THE BLACK VORTEX crossover in early 2015, uniting Guardians of the Galaxy and the X-Men again. Kicking off in The Black Vortex: Alpha (Marvel, February 2015) writing its story across Guardians of the Galaxy, Legendary Star-Lord, All-New X-Men, Nova, Cyclops, Captain Marvel and more.
Graphic Novels to grab in 2015
In many ways, 2014 was a triumphant return for graphic novels as a format, with both DC and Marvel making significant contributions to a format that has almost been the sole dominion of the indies for the last few years. Despite a convergence, it’s all about EARTH ONE next year with no less than three new entries to the series. SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE, the book that started it all, will get a third volume (DC Comics, February 2015) from writer J. Michael Straczynski and artists Sandra Hope and Ardian Syaf replace Shane Davis. The long delayed BATMAN: EARTH ONE – VOLUME 2 (DC Comics, May 2015) comes to us from the killer team of Geoff John and Gary. We also hold out hope that Grant Morrison’s WONDER WOMAN: EARTH ONE (with art by Yanick Paquette) will also drop in 2015.
Over at the Marvel camp, where the official graphic novels really took off in the 1980s, the company continues its run of new Marvel Original Graphic Novels that began in 2013. Tying in with the sequel to The Avengers comes AVENGERS: RAGE OF ULTRON (Marvel, April 2015) from the Uncanny X-Force team of Rick Remender and Jerome Opeña. In this graphic novel, we’ll see Thanos’ homeworld of Titan bending to the will of Ultron, and Hank Pym holds the secret to bringing him down. It’s a red-letter year for all three of those characters, so expect this one to fly off the shelves.
A large number of sequels and follow-ups to award-winning books are also due out next year. Undoubtedly the headline grabber will be MARCH: BOOK TWO (Top Shelf Productions, January 2015), the story of the US Civil Rights Movement as told by Jonathan Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. The first volume was nominated for 3 Eisner Awards this year, and was the first graphic novel to win a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. Expect this one to take an early lead in the “best of 2015” lists. Closer to home, the beautiful NOCTURNE: VOLUME TWO OF THE WALLED CITY TRILOGY (Gestalt Comics, January 2015) follows The Walled City Trilogy Book 1: His Dream of the Skyland. Creators Anne Opotowsky and Angie Hoffmeister give new meaning to globalisation as Australia’s Gestalt Comics publishes a 456-page collaboration between an American writer and German illustrator that’s set in 1930s Hong Kong. While we are on the home front, CHANGING WAYS: BOOK 3 (Gestalt Comics, 2015) is due out from Justin Randall. Those of us left on a cliffhanger at the end of the second volume will have to wait a little longer as this one promises to go back and fill in a few gaps first. Either way, expect gorgeous art and disturbed dreams as a result of this volume.
Meanwhile, Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill bring their Nemo Trilogy/League of Extraordinary Gentlemen spin-off to a close with NEMO: RIVER OF GHOSTS (Top Shelf Productions, March 2015). We’re really excited that Steve Horton and Michael Dialynas are doing a follow-up to Amala’s Blade, with a second OGN called AMALA’S BLADE: POWERS OF NAAMARON (Dark Horse, 2015). That quote on the cover of the first volume is from one of the Behind The Panels writers, so you can bet we like it. There’s also going to be a HIP HOP FAMILY TREE BOOK 3: 1983 – 1984 (Fantagraphics, August 2015). Even if you don’t dig the music, Ed Piskor’s journey through the art of hip hop has been unique and stunningly illustrated its faux-pulpy and loving recreated document of an era.
Also watch out for the Pander Brother’s GIRLFRIEND (Dark Horse, April 2015), the first major comics work from the creators of Grendel: Devil’s Legacy, Exquisite Corpse and Batman: City of Light in a decade.
This is just a small portion of the huge amount of content due out next year, so make sure you check back here to the source that will at least try to cover a chunk of it.
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