By Patrick A. Reed
Welcome to MTV Geek's New Comic Book Day Pull List! Each week We'll pick some choice titles that hit shelves on that holiest of holy days at comic shops both physical and digital: WEDNESDAY!
This week we've got picks from Image, Marvel, and Dark Horse.
"The Dream Merchant" #1 (written by Nathan Edmonson, art by Konstantin Novosadov, published by Image Comics)
Winslow is a young man who is unable to draw a clear line between real life and his own subconscious visions. He's living out his days in a mental hospital in Burbank, conversing with his friends, trying different treatments, and reading the books that the lovely young girl in the cafeteria loans him. Each day drags along, same as the last, until a new doctor attempts to use hypnosis to determine the cause of his recurring dreams – and in the process, unleashes some mysterious malevolent forces. Now, mysterious hooded figures are pursuing Winslow, leaving destruction in their wake.
Edmonson and Novosadov have spun an enthralling introduction here, showing a lot, while explaining very little – it's easy to follow, beautiful to look at, and reveals just enough to make me desperate to know what happens next.
"FF" #7 (written by Matt Fraction, art by Michael Allred, colors by Laura Allred, published by Marvel Comics)
The seventies-style speech balloons on the cover are an immediate indication that this book is going to be crazy fun. And the interiors don't disappoint: Fraction and Allred are firing on all cylinders as the replacement Fantastic Four battle the newest incarnation of the Frightful Four in the Negative Zone. Each issue of this series is cooler and nuttier than the last, and manages to build on what's come before while being understandable to first-time readers – it's the best comedic quasi-cosmic super-saga on the stands today.
"The Fall Of The House Of Usher" #1 (adapted by Richard Corben from the story by Edgar Allen Poe, published by Dark Horse Comics)
Richard Corben is an undisputed master of all things grotesque and gothic, and this, the first of two issues interpretating Poe's classic short story, finds him tackling a subject perfectly suited for his skills. Rather than a slavish adaptation of the source material, he produces something more akin to a jazz riff on a familiar melody – pulling elements from the original text, assembling them according to his whims, and blending in some elements from "The Oval Portrait", another Poe story, just for for good measure. The art is perfectly Corben, full of detail, beguiling and repulsing simultaneously. Corpses litter the entry hall of the broken-down old mansion, a naked model reclines as her picture is painted, a mysterious butler glowers in the shadows.
And a brief word of warning: this is no Classics Illustrated-style family-friendly literary comic. Corben maintains the sensibilities he honed working for "Heavy Metal" and other adult-oriented publications; nudity, death, and sinister machinations are the order of the day. The elements of underground comix, european graphic albums, and pulp thrillers are mixed together, left to simmer, and used to garnish a new twist on a time-tempered horror masterpiece.
"Avengers: The Enemy Within" #1 (written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, art by Scott Hepburn, colors by Jordie Bellaire, published by Marvel Comics)
The kick-off to a five-part crossover follows Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel) as she searches for a missing friend and copes with a mysterious lesion on her brain that limits the use of her powers. Meanwhile, a secretive villain is toying with her, and seems to know how to exploit her deepest personal weaknesses.
This is some heavy subject matter, but DeConnick keeps the tone fairly light – she skillfully mixes dramatic beats with stirring action sequences, and surrounds Captain Marvel with a strong supporting cast: Thor shows up to deal with some dinosaurs in Central Park, and Spider-Woman functions as the secondary lead character, joining Captain Marvel in her rounds, providing moral support and questionably appropriate wisecracks.
I've greatly enjoyed DeConnick's work on "Avengers Assemble" and "Captain Marvel," and I'm excited to follow this storyline that spans both series (after this one-shot, the story runs through the next two issues of each title). It's refreshing to read a crossover that focuses on personalities as well as punching, and this issue nails that balance – there's plenty superhero smashing to pull me in, and enough emotional resonance to make me stick around.