Newsarama's NEWSWORTHY NEW RELEASES For 12/14/11

<i>By <a href=http://www.twitter.com/albertxii>Albert Ching, Newsarama Staff Writer</a></i> <p>The holidays are almost here, but there are plenty of treats just around the corner, courtesy of another New Comic Book Day. <p>This time around, we're looking at a few new series, a couple of old series, a seasonal one-shot, a bunch of new original graphic novels and one massive hardcover that's roughly as many pages as <i>War and Peace</i>. <p>Click "start here" in the upper-left corner to take a look at Newsarama's picks for 10 of the most newsworthy new releases out in shops on Dec. 14. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>

STAR WARS: AGENT OF THE EMPIRE #1

Genre conventions collide in this five-issue miniseries introducing Jahan Cross, an agent in the Empire's secret service. <p>The series is written by John Ostrander and illustrated by Marvel and DC cover vet St&#233;phane Roux. Ostrander is no stranger to espionage he created the '80s version of <i>Suicide Squad</i>, after all. Of course, he's no stranger to Star Wars, either, having written a myriad of miniseries for Dark Horse in recent years.

THE NEW 52 HARDCOVER

The concept behind this hardcover is a simple one. It's each #1 issue of DC's September relaunch, "The New 52." All of it. Even though they aren't self-contained stories, and most of them don't really have anything to do with each other. They're all right here, in one gigantic volume. <p>At $150 for 1,216 pages, that's a savings of around $8 (52 x 3 + 2 since <i>Justice League</i> and <i>Action Comics</i> are both $3.99) from the original cover price of each issue. Sadly, if you get hooked on this format, there's no giant #2 cover planned yet.

CARNAGE, U.S.A. #1

<i><a href=http://www.newsarama.com/php/multimedia/album_view.php?gid=3861&page=5>Click here for a preview!</i></a> <p>Zeb Wells and Clayton Crain, the team behind 2010's <i>Carnage</i> miniseries return to Cletus Kasaday for a five-issue story taking place in the American heartland. <p>Spider-Man and the Avengers are both promoted as appearing within the story, but this book should have plenty for hardcore Carnage fans, the type that are still holding onto their red SNES <i>Maximum Carnage</i> cartridge. (And we're proud of it.)

JINGLE BELLE: GIFT-WRAPPED

The Jingle Belle "Grounded" story from last year's <i>Top Cow Holiday Special</i> gets reprinted on its own in this one-shot featuring anti-Santa Krampus, presented with six pages of new content. <p>Here's what writer <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/paul-dini-jingle-belle-animation-comics-1110124.html>Paul Dini told Newsarama</a> about the comic: "It will include a reprint of the "Grounded" story, but we're also putting in some new short stories and one-page strips and things like that, to make it more of a bonus for readers who want to see some new Jingle Belle material this year."

THE STRAIN #1

<i>Hellboy</i> director Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan (the novelist who wrote <i>Prince of Thieves</i>, the book that inspired 2010 film <i>The Town</i>) released <b>The Strain</b> in 2009, the first part in a trilogy of vampire novels. <p>Two-and-a-half years later, it's becoming an 11-issue comic book miniseries, with the first installment out this week. At the introductory price of $1, it's certainly a low-risk way to encounter "Dr. Ephraim Goodweather and his team of expert biological-threat first responders."

THE RAY #1

With all of the miniseries that have been released in the past few months <i>Huntress</i>, <i>Penguin: Pain and Prejudice</i> The New 52 is more like The New 56 or 57 at this point. <p>The latest is <i>The Ray</i>, a four-issue miniseries debuting a character new to the mantle, Lucien Gates. It's co-written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, with art from Jamal Igle, last seen on <i>Zatanna</i> in the pre-New 52 days.

WITCHBLADE #150

Ron Marz's seven-year run on <i>Witchblade</i> brought a new tone to the series, and after 70 issues, he's stepping away with this week's issue #150. <p>Here's what Marz told Newsarama about his run on the series: "I'm very pleased that during my run we were able to broaden the mythology of the Witchblade and set it in the larger context of the 13 Artifacts. I'm proud to have been able to put a specific origin for the Witchblade, which previously had only been revealed in bits and pieces, with nothing terribly concrete to it. I thought that after 10 years the audience deserved to know what the Witchblade really is and where it came from."

UNCANNY X-FORCE #18

<i><a href=http://www.newsarama.com/php/multimedia/album_view.php?gid=3862&page=10>Click here for a preview!</i></a> <p>The eight-part "Dark Angel Saga" wraps up this week, and it certainly looks like some major status quo shake-ups are in store for <b>Uncanny X-Force</b>. For one, it's a little suspicious that Archangel isn't in any of the "Regenesis" promotional art, right? <p>Here's what <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/dark-angel-saga-rick-remender-110319.html>series writer Rick Remender told Newsarama back in March</a>: "It's a big, big, big story. Nothing will be the same afterwards and I'm guilty of saying that sh*t myself, but hoo-wee, this one's gonna shake some business up. #18 ends this, and then by #19 all-new, all-different X-Force." <p>Oh, and while you're at it, check out Marvel's <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/uncanny-x-force-18-teaser-111110.html><b>Uncanny X-Force #18</b></a> teasers.

A TALE OF SAND/EVERLAST/STORYTELLER

<i><a href=http://www.newsarama.com/php/multimedia/album.php?aid=45128>Click here for a preview!</i></a> <p>Archaia specializes in hardcover original graphic novels, and this week are pulling off a hat trick with three high-profile releases. <p><b>A Tale of Sand</b> is artist Ram&#243;n P&#233;rez's adaptation of an unproduced screenplay by Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl, and is coming to comic book shops in limited quantities one to two copies per shop. More will be available after the holidays. <p>In more plentiful supplies are <b>Everlast</b>, a "pre-apocalyptic tale" written by <i>One Tree Hill</i> actor Chad Michael Murray and <i>Jim Henson's Storyteller</i>, an anthology based on the TV series of the same name. <p>Also in stores this week from Archaia: <b>The Sigh</b>, a short story from <i>Persepolis</i> creator Marjane Satrapi.

AVENGERS: X-SANCTION #1

<i><a href=http://www.newsarama.com/php/multimedia/album.php?aid=45080>Click here for a preview!</i></a> <p>Cable died at the end of "Second Coming" back in July 2010, but he's back as of this week's <b>Avengers: X-Sanction #1</b>, the first of a four-part miniseries that's serving as a prelude to the recently announced <I>Avengers vs. X-Men</i>. <p><b>Avengers: X-Sanction</b> is also the reunion of writer Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness, who you might remember from <i>Hulk</i> or <i>Superman/Batman</i>. <p>Here's what we want to know, though: Should readers be concerned that Falcon is so prominent in images <a href=http://i.newsarama.com/images/AvengersXSanction_1_4_YuVariant.jpg>like this one</a>? He hasn't exactly been at the forefront of the Marvel Universe lately, and historically when a second-tier figure gets focused on in an event like this, it isn't always good news for the character. But maybe Falcon's just getting a boost in elevation here either way, it should all become clear soon enough, through, y'know, reading the comic.

Newsarama's NEWSWORTHY NEW RELEASES For 12/14/11

Date: 13 December 2011 Time: 09:16 PM ET