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Math Is Hard, Fraction Is Great

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If any other writer had three books coming out in one month—one the last issue of a cancelled series, one two issues before the creator was to leave the book, and one a lowly one-shot—you might think that the creator’s career was in trouble. Having them all come out the same week might mean that the company was trying to tell the writer something.

Not the case with Matt Fraction. Sure, The Order #10 is the last issue of that cancelled series, but Fraction is replacing that with work on a brand new Iron Man series, Invincible Iron Man, set to hit stores next month to coincide with the blockbuster Iron Man film.

Yes, Fraction and Ed Brubaker will be leaving Immortal Iron Fist after June’s issue #16, but Fraction will be joining Brubaker as co-writer on one of Marvel’s biggest titles: Uncanny X-Men. Of course, Thor: Ages of Thunder is just a single issue special, but it is only a taste of what to expect when Fraction writes Secret Invasion: Thor miniseries, which ties into Marvel’s big summer event.

Why is Fraction getting these high profile projects? Quite simply, it is because he rocks. And while his rise to superstardom was meteoric, it did not happen overnight.

Most editors at the big comic companies tell aspiring writers that if they want to work for them, start out with the independent publishers. Matt Fraction is living proof that stratagem works. He started out working in “the minors” before making it to “the big leagues”.

His first comics work was 2002’s The Annotated Mantooth, a graphic novel from AIT/Plant Lar which told the adventures of a simian super spy. He followed that up in 2003 with another graphic novel from the same company, The Last of the Independents, a crime drama about a big score gone horribly wrong.

From there, he moved on to a backup story in IDW’s 2004-2005 series, 30 Days of Night:Bloodsucker Tales, which led to his getting work at one of the “Big Four”—Image Comics. He created another graphic novel for that company, 2006’s The Five Fists of Science, before creating the series where many fans first noticed him. That series is Casanova.

Fraction paired with brothers Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon on the series, which tells the story of Casanova Quinn, an independent secret agent drawn into a reality spanning conspiracy against his will.

This series caught Marvel’s eye, and they soon came calling. As is the case with most novice authors working on the big two, he was given one of Marvel’s lower tiered characters to work on—Iron Fist. He partnered with superstar writer Ed Brubaker on the series, and the character who had not seen much love over the past few decades became a fan favorite.

From there, he was tapped to write the new Punisher War Journal series and the Civil War spin-off, The Order.

What makes Fraction so great? It is his unique voice. There is no other writer in comics that writes quite like him. He is adventurous in his plotting, mixes action with humor excellently, and has a distinct ear for dialogue. A Matt Fraction book that does not feature one character kicking another character in the head is like a day without sunshine.

Fraction, for me at least, has become one of those creators where I will buy practically everything and anything that has his name on it. He deserves to be a superstar writer on the level of a Bendis, Johns or Morrison. Hopefully, these new projects will shine enough spotlight on him that he becomes one.

Also out this week:

DC Universe Zero:

This was originally supposed to be Countdown to Final Crisis #0. But for whatever reason, DC changed their minds and made it a special one-shot issue. Maybe they were hoping for a change for the better.

But that wasn’t the only thing that changed. Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison have taken over the writing chores and a superstar line-up of artists, including George Perez, Tony Daniel, and J.G. Jones, will be providing the pictures. And if those facts weren’t enough to make it better than all of Countdown in your minds, this issue is priced at the consumer friendly price of fifty cents. You can’t even buy a soda for that much!

Finally, if that isn’t enough to make you pick this up, this issue will jumpstart Final Crisis. If you want to know what’s going on in that event, you need to pick this one-shot up. 

Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison (W), Various (A), DC Comics, $.50.   One Shot.

Giant-Size Avengers/Invaders #1:

If you’re like me, then you just can’t wait until next month for Alex Ross, Jim Krueger, and Steve Sadowski’s Avengers/Invaders series to start. But you might not be like me in the sense that I know just about all there is to know about the Avengers and the Invaders (what can I say, I’m a fan). For the rest of you, here is a primer.

This giant–sized issue gives you all you need to know about the history of both teams. It reprints the first meeting of the teams and vital stories from the team’s past. It will also feature dossiers on the characters to give you an idea of who they are and it gives you a sneak peek at next month’s series.

Roy Thomas (W), Various (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Giant Sized issue.

Blue Beetle #26:

Being a teenage witch is tough. Being a teenage witch dating Blue Beetle is even tougher. Being a teenage witch dating Blue Beetle and joining him at his family reunion where not only do you have meet his folks, but also are the only person who doesn’t speak Spanish, could be the toughest of all. That’s what Traci 13 has to deal with in this issue. Luckily, the Parasite attacks to give her something else to worry about.

The Blue Beetle was part of DC’s efforts to ethnically diversify their comic output. That effort continues with this issue, which is an extra-sized one written almost entirely in Spanish. An English language script will be included for those of us who do not speak Spanish.

Jai Nitz (W), Mike Norton (A), DC Comics, $3.50.  Ongoing Series.

Adventures of Tymm: Alien Circus #1:

It is many a child’s dream to run off and join the circus. The thrill of the big top and the smell of the grease paint is too much for some people to ignore. The spectacle that the three rings have to offer on Earth is nothing compared to the majesty an alien circus has to offer. But Tymm soon finds out that joining a circus is not all it’s cracked up to be, as he must try to make friends and try not to make enemies.

This series caused some controversy. It was created well over a year ago and sat on the Platinum Comics shelf until it was published in webcomic form on the Drunk Duck website. A minor, quickly fixed squabble of the omission of credits, and the controversy went away. Co-creator Dave Roman was left wishing that enough people would like the webcomic to encourage Platinum to publish a hard copy version of it. This week, that wish comes true.

Dave Roman (W), L. Frank Weber (A), Platinum Studios Comics, $5.95. Three-Issue Miniseries.

Elephantmen: War Toys #3:

MAPPO’s anthropomorphic army is just about done with its march through Scandinavia. They have created a wide path of destruction and crushed all resistance in its wake. But Hip Flask’s encounter with one of the last vestiges of humanity makes him realize that even though the current hostilities might cease, he will never stop fighting this war.

The miniseries detailing the early days of Hip Flask and his world finally comes to an end. If you want to see what made the beloved character into the hippopotamus man he is today, you need to pick this one up. It is a must have for all fans of the Elephantmen titles.

Richard Starkings (W), Moritat (A), Image Comics, $2.99.  Final Issue.

Witchblade/Devi #1:

Top Cow is the king of the intercompany crossover. It seems like all of their characters crossed over with other companies’ characters at one time or another. So it makes sense that one of Virgin Comics’ first major crossovers will take place with Top Cow. Why not go to somewhere where they know what they’re doing?

Detective Sara “Witchblade” Pezzini’s investigation of a murder takes her all the way to India. But her pursuit of answers brings her in conflict with the goddess incarnate, Devi. But will she help Pezzini, or hurt her? If the shared history of the various incarnations of Devi and Witchblade are any indication, it probably will be the latter.

This is the first of a two-part crossover. The second installment will be coming later this year from Virgin Comics.

Ron Marz (W), Eric Basaldua (A), Top Cow Productions, $3.99. One-Shot.

Ultimate X-Men #93:

Apocalypse is nearing his greatest victory. No one seems able to stop him, not the X-Men, not even Onslaught. Only one force in the universe can stave off his ultimate triumph. What is it? Well, since the cover features someone looking like Jean Grey surrounded by something that looks like the Phoenix Force, that might be a hint. But we all know that this kind of power comes at a great price. Will the only way to save the world from Apocalypse end up destroying it?

This issue marks the last issue on Ultimate X-Men for Robert Kirkman. Kirkman is one of my favorite writers, and the lack of his name in Marvel solicitations concerns me. Yes, we’ll always have Walking Dead and Invincible, but Marvel will be making a mistake if they let Kirkman go forever.

Robert Kirkman (W), Salvador Larroca (A), Marvel Comics, $2.99. Ongoing Series.

###

William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer. He also writes periodic comic reviews for PopMatters, is a weekly contributor to Film Buff Online and writes title descriptions for Human Computing’s Comicbase collection management software. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

 

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