Stray BulletsTHE STORY: “Stray Bullets” by David Lapham — El Capitan Books

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: An anthology series set in the '80s that revolves around a group of recurring characters and chronicles the unintended effects of violence and crime upon both the perpetrators and the victims. The primary character is a young girl named Virginia Applejack who witnesses a murder that reverberates throughout the rest of her life.

WHY IT WORKS: Lapham masterfully creates a set of characters that are both sympathetic and repulsive while effortlessly tying together separate narratives to weave a larger story. Virginia's tale is particularly compelling, as we watch her struggle to deal with the violence in her life while growing into a strong young woman. Equally riveting are the vignettes about small-time crooks who think they can break away from their life of crime. Not every character survives as their past catches up with them and there are no happy endings. Read More...

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Axe CopTHE STORY: "Axe Cop" By Malachai And Ethan Nicolle

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: At the scene of a fire, one cop found the perfect fireman axe. Armed with a new identity, Axe Cop now holds try-outs seeking the perfect partners for missions ranging from dinosaur extermination to reuniting unicorn-horned babies with their genius parents on snow planets created by the wishes of flute-playing avocado soldiers... and that's just the beginning.

WHY IT WORKS: "Axe Cop" is the brainchild of five-year-old Malachai Nicolle with art by his 29-year-old brother Ethan. As such, readers are sucked in by stories dripping with untainted imagination while more experienced, but no less kinetic lines keep them coming back for more.

Simply put: It's the comic every kid wishes they could draw and every adult wishes they could write. Read More...

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Dynamo 5THE STORY: "Dynamo 5" by Jay Faerber (W) and Mahmud Asrar (A) - Image Comics

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Captain Dynamo is the guardian of Tower City and one of the world's greatest superheroes — until he's found dead and naked in a hotel room, seemingly murdered by one of his mistresses. In light of his demise, Dynamo's wife and former government agent Maddie Warner assembles five of the superhero's illegitimate children and exposes them to the same radiation that gave Captain Dynamo his superpowers in the first place.

The result is the formation of Dynamo 5, a superhero team intended to carry on Captain Dynamo's legacy — but how can they be trusted to protect Tower City when they can hardly trust themselves and each other? Read More...

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King CityTHE STORY: "King City" by Brandon Graham (W/A) - Image Comics/Tokyopop

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A 20-something, lock-picking adventurer named Joe returns to his home city of the future with unclear intentions and a kind-hearted friend named Pete who gets in over his head while agreeing to help some Mafiosos take care of a life-size sea-monkey girl they've been raising for illicit purposes.

Joe gets dragged back into the rough rackets of King City, all the while on a seeming collision course to rendezvous with his ex-girlfriend.


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Heavy LiquidTHE STORY: "Heavy Liquid" by Paul Pope (W/A) - DC/Vertigo

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: "S," the hero of this bizarre urban future tale, agrees to hunt down a sculptor who will turn a chunk of the ultra-expensive white material he is addicted to into an exquisite work of art. The mercurial lava he carries brings a cartel of oddly masked thugs after him, though.

It's a conspiracy story filled with chases, creative passion and betrayal that takes him from New York City to Paris with a look somewhere in the overlap among James Bond films, "Trainspotting" and Grant Morrison's "Invisibles." Read More...

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3 StoryTHE STORY: "3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man" by Matt Kindt – Dark Horse Comics

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Born to a single mother following the death of his soldier father, Craig Pressgang outgrows everything and everyone around him as the result of a rare tumor.

Told through the eyes of the three women who would share each stage of his life — from child to university student to spy — Craig's story is a vibrant, but ultimately incomplete portrait of a man disconnected from the world by biology and celebrity. Read More...

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Ultimate Spider-ManEDITOR'S NOTE: With the "Spider-Man" movie franchise scheduled for a 2012 reboot, it seemed appropriate to focus this week's "Adapt This" feature on a Spidey story that would be a good fit for Peter Parker's revamped return to the big screen. -RM

THE STORY: "Ultimate Spider-Man" #16-21 by Brian Michael Bendis (W) & Mark Bagley (A) - Marvel Comics

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A reality TV star based on the original Marvel Universe villain Kraven the Hunter shows up declaring that he wants Spider-Man as his next trophy. He's wrestled "50-foot crocodiles" in his native Australia, and he declares that he's going to take his show on location to New York City and bring Spidey home in a body bag. Read More...

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Ex MachinaTHE STORY: "Ex Machina" by Brian K. Vaughan (W) and Tony Harris (A) — WildStorm Productions

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Mitchell Hundred is much more than just The Great Machine, a superhero gifted with the unprecedented ability to communicate with all forms of technology and machinery — he's also the mayor of New York City, a position he was elected into after saving one of the Twin Towers on the fateful day of September 11, 2001.

Hanging up his superhero duds for a suit and tie, Mitchell is forced to wade through the murky waters of political and super-powered threats alike, learning along the way that those two worlds aren't always mutually exclusive. Read More...

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DreadstarTHE STORY: “Dreadstar” by Jim Starlin — Marvel Comics, First Comics and Bravura

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Vanth Dreadstar, a haunted, seemingly immortal warrior and the lone survivor of the Milky Way galaxy, loses his chance for peace when his wife is killed in a senseless attack. In response, Dreadstar assembles his crew — a cyborg sorcerer by the name of Syzygy Darklock, a catman called Oedi and Willow, a blind cybernetic telepath — to seek revenge and to find a way to end a 200 year interstellar war between two corrupt empires: the Church of The Instrumentality and the Monarchy.


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Atomic RoboTHE STORY: "Atomic Robo: " by Brian Clevenger (W) an'd Scott Wegener (A) – Red 5 Comics

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Unveiled by Nikola Tesla in 1923, the automatic intelligence known as Atomic Robo receives full United States citizenship after completing a top-secret mission predating America's entry into World War II. After the war, Robo founds Tesladyne, a world-renowned think tank entrusted to stand against the kind of threats that personify speculative science fiction.

With a brilliant mind, near-invulnerable fists and a laser-sharp wit, Robo and his action scientists face down the impossible on behalf of all mankind.


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