9 to Watch in 2009: The Comics

9 to Watch in 2009: The Comics

The New Year is wide open with comics firing on all cylinders in the upper echelons of superhero comics to the vibrant field of modern comics. But who rests at the top? Who are the biggest and brightest – who are the ones who pose to make 2009 a breakout year for themselves? From characters to comics to creators, and even to the wider spectrum of television and movies – who will be the breakout stars?

Newsarama gathered the facts, analyzed the fiction and reviewed the rumors to delineate who we think will the top – the 9 to Watch in '09. All this week, we'll be picking out the 9 To Watch in '09 in five categories: comic characters, comic creators, comic series/books, movies and television shows. The first three are clearly comics-centric, while the last two are wide open.

Previously this week we have covered the Comic Creators and Comic Book Characters to Watch in 2009, and now we turn our focus to the series and books that host them. Final Crisis is in its final throes and Secret Invasion is all over, and there's a whole new world of comics to look forward to.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 3: Century (Top Shelf)

The third volume of Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neill's masterpiece series comes to us in 2009 from a new publisher: Top Shelf Productions. This is also the first volume published outside of DC Comics after the acrimonious split between Moore and DC some time back, and the book's new home has been liberating according to Moore. Told in a series of three 72-page issues, LOEG: Century is a time-spanning story featuring Carnacki, Mack The Knife, Captain Nemo, Allan Quatermain and Mina Murray.

The Flash: Rebirth (DC)

Geoff Johns has become the key writer in the new age of DC Comics, and in 2009 he's returning to the character that brought him into the fast lane: the Flash. The Flash: Rebirth is a six-issue miniseries by Johns and longtime collaborator Ethan Van Sciver, who previously collaborated on a similar themed "rebirth" series, 2005's Green Lantern: Rebirth. It is said to begin with the return of Barry Allen in the pages of Final Crisis, and is said to feature "all" of the various Flashes through history according to the creative team. Flash's rogues’ gallery is already quaking in fear according to Final Crisis: Rogue's Revenge, and fans are quaking with excitement.

Image, "United." Click for the full sized version
Image, "United." Click for the full sized version
Image United (Image)

Image United is the #3 publishers answer to the crossover events of the big two: a six-issue miniseries with the characters of each Image founder (excluding Jim Lee) and written by new Image partner Robert Kirkman. The book has each character illustrated by the man who created it, including Cyberforce, Shadowhawk, Savage Dragon, Spawn, Youngblood, Witchblade and the Darkness. It will also feature a new character by While Portacio (Wetworks). Although the release of the similarly planned Image's 15th Anniversary book experienced severe delays, let's hope this one makes it in on time.

Dark Avengers (Marvel)

In the aftermath of Secret Invasion, Norman Osborn is the U.S. government's no. 1 man and he's got the keys to the flagship superhero team of the Marvel U. In Dark Avengers, Osborn has assembled his own team of "heroes". Far from just an updated version of his Thunderbolts, these are villains in the garb of classic Avengers, including Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Wolverine, Ms. Marvel and Iron Man. Written by chief Marvel architect Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by former Thunderbolts artist Mike Deodato, this is poised to be the key title in Marvel's Dark Reign.

Secret Warriors (Marvel)

Formally introduced in Mighty Avengers #13, the Secret Warriors went into full action in 2008's Secret Invasion miniseries and graduate to their own series in early 2009. The team is led by the fugitive Nick Fury, and their task is to resist the then-impending Skrull invasion. Now with the invasion over, this team of Secret Warriors has a new role: resisting Norman Osborn and the Cabal's Dark Reign. Created by Brian Michael Bendis, he is co-plotting the book with hot writer Jonathan Hickman. Buzz increased considerably with a secret message in the solicits for the second issue of Secret Warriors that lead to a tie-in website to promote the series, with more promised to come.

Superman: Secret Origin (DC)

Dubbed by DC as the "definitive" origin of Superman, Superman: Secret Origin in DC's "New Earth" scenario. This six-issue monthly series is created by the two of the most vital Superman creators of the day: writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank. Told entirely from the perspective of Cllark Kent, this one has it all: from Smallville to Superboy, the Legion of Super-Heroes to Metropolis and even working at the Daily Planet. If Geoff Johns were doing a Superman movie, this would probably be it.

Batman: Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader? (DC)

One of the hot announcements from 2008's San Diego Comic-Con, we're only weeks away from seeing it come to fruition. DC has paired up writer Neil Gaiman and artist Andy Kubert for what has been called the closing chapter on an entire age of Batman following Batman: R.I.P.. The title itself is a homage to Alan Moore's 1986 Superman masterpiece Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? which similarly spanned Superman and Action Comics. There's many reasons why its so important: Gaiman's return to comics, its relation to an Alan Moore masterpiece, and being held up as a defining moment for the caped crusader.

N. Image one
N. Image one
Stephen King's N. (Marvel)

Marvel's adaptation of The Dark Tower has just the beginning: in 2009, Marvel and King will further their collaboration with an adaptation of the 2008 short story "N." from the short story collection Just After Sunset. The series had a high power marketing campaign in 2008 with the release of 25 two-minute animated comic episodes by Marc Guggenheim and Alex Maleev. With this online comic series receiving over 1 million views, the 2009 print books is bound to be popular.

Green Lantern: Blackest Night (DC Comics)

The third in a trilogy of Green Lantern stories by Geoff Johns, Green Lantern: Blackest Light debuts in July and is told through the monthly GL titles. First mentioned in the conclusion of the "Sinestro Corps War" in Green Lantern #25, the story is this: a Guardian prophecy called "Blackest Night" tells about the two exist corps being joined by five new ones, each driven by a specific emotion and powered by a specific color. The teaser image shows a rotted hand breaking forth from a grave with a black ring that bears the symbol of the Green Lantern villain Black Hand. The dead will rise apparently, with everyone up for grabs … even Martian Manhunter and the Arthur Curry Aquaman.

In The Corner Of Our Eye

In the end there can be only nine, but there were many contenders who made the short list and we wanted to mention those as well.

Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka (Viz)

Manga-ka Noaki Urasawa (Monster) takes on the legendary story of Tezuka's Astro Boy in a reinterpretation featuring a Europoel robot detective trying to solve the case of a string of robot and human deaths. Previously unavailable to English-speaking audience except by illicit downloading, this series begins in the U.S. in 2009.

Ignition City (Avatar Press)

Described as "Deadwood meets Buck Rogers" by writer Warren Ellis, the upcoming Ignition City series has been long-talked by the Transmetropolitan writer and its on the schedule for release this year from Avatar Press.

BPRD 1947 (Dark Horse) This five-issue minseries continues BPRD 1946 as a look into the early exploits of Hellboy's Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. The series debuts in June and features writer Joshua Dysart and sequential superstars (and brothers) Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba.

Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk (Marvel)

Over four years in the making, this long-delayed miniseries has an end in sight according to Marvel and its writer, Lost's Damon Lindelof. Only two issues of the projected six have come out so far, with delays in script leading artist Leinil Francis Yu to find some fill-in work on two books you might know: New Avengers and Secret Invasion But with those books finished and Lindelof's scripts turned in according to Marvel EiC Joe Quesada, the third issue is scheduled for a March release with the final three soon after. Can we get our hopes up?

Haunt (Image)

It all started with a challenge by Robert Kirkman to Todd McFarlane at a San Diego Comic-Con panel, and now its turned to one of comics big books for 2009. Not much is known about the series besides this, but it promises to be a stellar collaboration and Todd McFarlane's full return to illustrating comics.

Incognito (Marvel/Icon)

Considered by some to be a superhero follow-up to Criminal, Incognito shows longtime collaborators Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips teaming up for a story about an ex-super villain living in Witness Protection trying to leave his old life behind.

But...that’s just us...and there are many, many close calls to this list - with "Batman" leading... What say you? What book is poised to make 2009 its year? Not just a name – get your reasons in there as well...


Ed Brubaker on Incognito

Image Founders Unite

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