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A new year and a new crop of comics

By Staff | Jan 26, 2011

A new year has arrived, and for comic book fans, that simply means the calendar is ticking another day closer to one hotly anticipated release or another.

Half the fun is in the buildup felt while waiting on new projects, and 2011 certainly isn’t lacking in excitement.

DC Comics is preparing “Flashpoint,” a storyline that will find Barry Allen, the recently returned Silver Age Flash, at the focus of a threat that has changed the pasts and futures of his superhero allies like Superman and Batman.

Hints have also begun concerning a story called “War of the Green Lanterns,” as friends will turn against each other in the aftermath of one of the darkest periods in the history of the Green Lantern Corps.

IDW has molded itself into one of the world’s biggest comic publishers with the help of their popular licensed titles, and they’ll use those big names to their advantage in a huge company-wide crossover this year, “Infestation,” in which zombies attack the disparate worlds of the Star Trek, Transformers, Ghostbusters and G.I. Joe titles.Not to be outdone, Marvel Comics is unleashing “Fear Itself.” The epic will begin in March and continue throughout the summer months, crossing over with most of Marvel’s main characters as they fight the god of fear in a world not too different from our own that is rocked by dread and uncertainty in every evening newscast.

Even sooner, death has been promised for one of the Fantastic Four in this month’s issue 587. The lid has been kept on tight concerning which of Marvel’s First Family it will be, but whether it’s Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, Thing or the Human Torch, it’s sure to have a widespread impact on this year’s storytelling.

Often more exciting than the stories on the page are when superheroes go mainstream and get their own big-budget Hollywood franchise. This year won’t be short on those either.

The mythical hammer-swinging “Thor” arrives on May 6, one day before the annual nationwide celebration of Free Comic Book Day.

A young group of mutants come together to portray the earliest days of the X-Men on June 3 with the prequel “X-Men: First Class.”

Ryan Reynolds will slip on the power ring to protect our particular sector of space in the June 17 opening “Green Lantern.”

“Captain America: The First Avenger” opens on July 22, just after Independence Day and in the midst of San Diego’s annual Comic Con International.

Other potential blockbusters include “Cowboys and Aliens,” starring Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig, based on the small-press sci-fi western of the same name; the Korean import “Priest,” with Paul Bettany as a religious warrior fighting vampires; “The Green Hornet” starring Seth Rogen; and the comedy “Paul,” which reteams “Shaun of the Dead” co-stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as two British comic book fans in America who stumble upon an alien life form.

These projects are just the things the comic companies have announced and movie studios have been working hard to promote. There are sure to be plenty of surprises in store in 2011 as well, which is exactly what keeps the fans coming back for more.