The economy sucks, so it's hard to set a lot aside for funnybooks these days, but the need for escapism is only ticking up. So what comic books should you be checking out this month? Well, allow us here at Crave Online to make a few recommendations as to what to look out for on the November 2011 docket.
POINT ONE (Marvel)
This is 64-pages of Marvel setting the stage for everything they're going to do in 2012. Brian Michael Bendis, Jeph Loeb, Chris Yost, David Lapham and more are contributing stories previewing the new Scarlet Spider, the new Age of Apocalypse series, the next iteration of Ultron, whatever's going on with Nova and more they haven't told us about. If you want to be on board with the House of Ideas, this is where you jump on.
FANTASTIC FOUR #600 (Marvel)
Just to show all o' y'all who get all worked up about renumbering a thing or two, even though Fantastic Four has been FF (aka Future Foundation) for the last 11 issues, it still counts, and here's a nice big round number for you, just in time for the 50th anniversary of Marvel's First Family. Jonathan Hickman is giving us a 5-part story starting with this 96-page issue that will break off and run parallel to the ongoing FF title he's also writing. We've been promised the actual on-panel death of the Human Torch Johnny Storm for all the naysayers who believe he'll be back sooner rather than later.
VILLAINS FOR HIRE #0.1 (Marvel)
Misty Knight has been Control for the fledgling outfit known as Heroes For Hire for a while now, but something's changing, and we have no idea why. Where before, she was corraling people like Moon Knight, Silver Sable and even Spider-Man to bust up some nasty criminal activity, now, she's going to be employing the ne'er-do-wells she used to strive against. What happened? Did someone get to her? Paladin is still on board, but his moral compass is generally dubious – has he corrupted her? Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning will be bringing us this mystery, and they're pretty good at giving us the action. If you have a deep, abiding love of Marvel's B-listers, this is where you go to see them get some love.
JUSTICE LEAGUE #3 (DC)
Finally, DC's premiere superheroes have stopped having whiny slapfights with each other and actually have a real threat to unite against – namely, Darkseid's demonic Parademons. Also, we get to see Wonder Woman finally enter the fray. If the business in this story from Geoff Johns and Jim Lee doesn't immediately pick up here, there's something seriously wrong going on.
WONDER WOMAN #3 (DC)
Speaking of Wonder Woman, while Justice League may show us her first entrance into the superhero world, Brian Azzarello's series will be giving us her brand new origin. We discovered in #2 that Zeus, King of the Greek Gods, is actually Diana's father – something she'd never had before. How will that revelation change her sense of her own identity? More immediately, how will she be able to escape the jealous Hera's wrath? Big shakin's are afoot here.
TRANSFORMERS #30 (IDW)
Mike Costa and James Roberts have been charting an epic disaster on Cybertron that comes to a head here in the conclusion of the Chaos arc. Megatron is rebuilt and unstoppable, Galvatron is mystically-powered and deranged, and Optimus Prime and the Autobots are caught in the midst of the massive battle to determine the fate of Cybertron. Starting with Roberts' Prelude to Chaos, this has been some of the strongest Transformers writing to date. After this, the Transformers series unites and is supposed to be brought into tighter focus, and the painted-style art from Livio Ramondelli is not to be missed, if you're a fan of giant robots.
FEAR ITSELF #7.1 (Marvel)
Fear Itself as an event was a complete mess, but in this aftermath story, Captain America writer Ed Brubaker gets to reclaim his lead character of James Buchanan Barnes from Matt Fraction's murderous pen. Bucky was wearing the Cap uniform when he was cut down by the advance of The Worthy, spurring Steve Rogers to don the star-spangled identity once more. Now, we learn Bucky's fate. Is he really dead, despite everything Brubaker had set up for him to do before this ridiculous event started? If not, how will he live? If so… Brubaker's writing the eulogy, and that's not something to be missed.
THE INCREDIBLE HULK #2 (Marvel)
The jury's still out on Jason Aaron's take on the Green Goliath, but this is the issue where it'll start to really come into focus. The Hulk and Bruce Banner have separated now, and the Hulk has found peace in a subterranean village – only to be recruited into a fight against Banner, who has apparently gone mad trying to replace the Hulk by experimenting on other creatures. Just how nuts has he gone? Here's where we find out, and even if you don't like it, there's still the art from the legendary Marc Silvestri to enjoy.
AVENGERS ACADEMY #21 (Marvel)
Christos Gage's series about young superhumans on the tipping point between heroism and villainy has been a very compelling read, and here we see a brand new direction for the organization, as lead professors Hank Pym and Tigra take their students to the old West Coast Avengers hideout and throw open their doors to any young heroes looking for training. How will adding White Tiger, Julie Power and Butterball to the mix affect these disaffected kids? Gage has proven that he always knows how to make it interesting.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #673 (Marvel)
Dan Slott just showed the entire medium how to pull off a big event with Spider Island, and he's made the wall-crawler the most fun he's been in ages. So he's completely earned our trust, and we're all excited to check out the epilogue for that giant story and find out exactly where he's taking us next.
UNCANNY X-MEN #1 (Marvel)
We've seen the new beginning for Wolverine and the X-Men, but now here's where you see the Schism fall-out shaken out for the Cyclops side of things over in Utopia as Regenesis tries to freshen up the mutant titles and draw in some new readers. If you want to check in and see if you want to get on board with the new direction, this is your first stop.
FLASH GORDON: ZEITGEIST #1 (Dynamite)
The classic comic strip/movie serial hero comes to Dynamite and gets a new relaunch courtesy of the people who revere characters like this. Eric Trautmann gets to tell the tale of three people – Flash Gordon, Dale Arden and Dr. Hans Zarkov – getting plucked from 1934 Earth to the planet Mongo to fight Ming the Merciless. Step on board from the get-go.
AQUAMAN #3 (DC)
Geoff Johns has been addressing and dismissing every criticism people levy against the Atlantean king, and now that it's all out of the way, he can get down to the business of Aquaman kicking ass. Here, it's against a horde of really creepy looking fish monsters from The Trench, alongside the love of his life Mera, who is just as big an ass-kicker as Arthur is.
ACTION COMICS #3 (DC)
Grant Morrison continues to retell the origin of Superman, and Metropolis is not giving the loving embrace we're used to seeing from the good citizens of the DC Universe. If you want to know the new history of the Man of Steel, you'll have to read about him as a very brash Young Man of Steel.
BATWOMAN #3 (DC)
Hands down the best book in DC's New 52, J.H. Williams III's fantastically detailed and inventive art has taken Kate Kane's adventures and made them into must-reads. She's dealing with some strange spectral child-killer known as the Weeping Woman while training her cousin to be her partner and ducking pressure from the DEO. Do yourself a favor and read this book.
BATMAN #3 (DC)
Scott Snyder continues to reveal the hidden history of Gotham City, which is a mystery to everyone, including Bruce Wayne, whose family history is irrevocably intertwined with the Court of Owls and a long-running struggle for control. Will Batman's overconfidence get the best of him when he finds out the truth about his enemies? Who knows? But this is the best Batman book you can get.
ALL-STAR WESTERN #3 (DC)
Speaking of the history of Gotham City – Jonah Hex and Amadeus Arkham teaming up to deal with this Religion of Crime trying to take root in Gotham during the late 1800s sure factors into it. They want to make Gotham into their Vatican, but they likely didn't count on an ornery cuss like Hex getting involved. Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti continue giving us badass Hex adventures.
Incredible Hulks: Heart of the Monster TPB (Marvel)
Greg Pak's five-year run on The Incredible Hulk ended with this wild, woolly, crazy and sometimes silly arc involving a scientifically-engineered magic wishing well that creates an immense amount of chaos when the water splashes on all of the Hulk's friends and a bunch of his enemies, including Umar, Wendigo and the ever-lovin' Bi-Beast. The strain between Bruce Banner and his ex-wife Betty Ross comes to a head now that she's the Red She-Hulk, and it stands as a love letter to everything the Hulk was and should be.
Rocketeer Adventures Vol. 1 (IDW)
When Rocketeer creator Dave Stevens died far too young, he left a great character with an unfinished story. The all-star creators involved in this collection didn't dare try to put an ending on Stevens' main tale, but they gladly got together and crafted a lot of new adventures in the life of Cliff Secord, his main squeeze Betty and his amazing jetpack that made him a beloved superhero. Kurt Busiek, Darwyn Cooke, Mark Waid, Dave Gibbons, Bruce Timm, John Cassaday and more have all contributed to this collection honoring the spirit of Stevens' spirited star.
B.P.R.D.: Hell On Earth Volume 2: Gods and Monsters (Dark Horse)
The Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense continues their post-Hellboy existence by dealing with crab monsters, redneck preacher/mutilators and trailer park cultists despite being a very fractured and broken team. This amalgamation of creature-people in the service of humanity always provides us with a consistently good read.
DC Comics Presents: Batman – Don't Blink (DC)
We lost the great writer Dwayne McDuffie suddenly and far too soon, but he left behind a lot of work to enjoy. In this collection reprinting Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #164-167, we get his story of Batman facing down an enemy named Blink, who can see through the eyes of anyone he touches.
Lobo Unbound (DC)
Lobo co-creator Keith Giffen wrote this six-issue miniseries back in the early 00s with art from Alex Horley, and now it's being collected. Detailing Lobo clawing up from rock bottom to rebuild his rep, the carnage and craziness here is only for readers mature enough to handle this level of immaturity. Feetal's Gizz, indeed!
Uncanny X-Force: The Dark Angel Saga – Book 1 (Marvel)
Rick Remender lives in dark worlds, and he brings them to life with a highly compelling intensity. He's taken X-Force, a covert hit squad comprised of Wolverine, Psylocke, Fantomex and Deadpool, and put them up against their leader and benefactor, Warren Worthington, whose Apocalypse-inflicted evil personality Archangel has ascended to dominance over the mind of the heroic founding X-Man. His goal? To bring about a new Age of Apocalypse on Earth. How can this tiny band of hand-to-hand fighters deal with such an omega-level threat? We don't know, since the story hasn't even concluded yet in the main series (which you should also read), but you can get caught up with this collection.
Amazing Spider-Man: Matters of Life and Death (Marvel)
We've already told you that Dan Slott is a Spider-Man master. If you want proof, check out this trade collecting Amazing Spider-Man #652-657, telling the story of the Spider-Slayer and the Scorpion hunting down everyone J. Jonah Jameson loves on a revenge quest, forcing Spidey to call in the Avengers as backup… but even their combined efforts can't prevent tragedy. Check out the launch of the brand new Venom in these pages as well.