Two weeks ago, there was an avalanche of notable releases. Last week, there wasn’t much to talk about.
So, what’s this week like? Eh, somewhere in the middle.
DC marks the 20th anniversary of Batman: The Killing Joke with a recolored hardcover edition, and introduces a new kid-friendly — and toy-friendly — title, Super Friends. At Marvel, Garth Ennis and Howard Chaykin reintroduce a character from the late ’60s in War Is Hell, while The Order sees its penultimate issue.
Elsewhere, NBM Publishing releases the first volume of Dungeon Monstres, by Sfar, Trondheim, Mazan and Menu, and Andi Watson brings his Princess at Midnight to Image.
To see what other titles Chris Mautner and I think are worth mentioning, just keep reading. As always, let us know your choices in the comments below.
Kevin’s pick of the week: Strangeways: Murder Moon
In the interest of full disclosure, let me first say that Strangeways writer Matt Maxwell is an online acquaintance, and that I have an unapologetic affection for werewolf folklore and the Old West.
Now that that’s out of the way … Maxwell and artist Luis Guaragna combine those two legends for a dark and moody tale of a Civil War veteran who travels to the American frontier, only to find himself under attack by the mythic creatures. What’s more, his friend is accused of being a werewolf, and the sheriff of the wonderfully named Silver Hand hides a dangerous secret.
I read the first issue of Strangeways more than two years ago, when it was destined to be released by the upstart Speakeasy Comics. But when the publisher collapsed, Maxwell shopped the book around before finally deciding to release it himself. I’m glad he did. The story is tense, atmospheric and, despite being set on the American frontier of the 19th century, incredibly claustrophobic — perfect for supernatural horror. A PDF preview can be found here.
Chris’ pick of the week: Phoenix, Vol. 12: Early Works
Don’t let the title fool you. This isn’t officially part of Osamu Tezuka’s century-spanning magnum opus. This is actually a collection of early short stories (real early — 1954-57) that hints at some of the same themes Tezuka would explore more fully in Phoenix. Despite that caveat, this is pure gold for serious Tezuka junkies like myself — a chance to see how the artist developed, both thematically and artistically. It’s not the place for newcomers, obviously (that would be Phoenix, Vol. 4), but it’s a good after-dinner mint.
Al Capp’s Complete Shmoo: The Comic Books
Chris: Now this is interesting. Apparently, the Shmoo character from Al Capp’s L’il Abner strip was so popular he spun off into his own series of comic books, all of which are collected in this lavish $50 hardcover from Dark Horse. It’s a select audience to be sure — I don’t doubt that even owners of the Kitchen Sink Abner series might think twice about this book — but I’m glad to see it out on the stands just the same.
Batman: The Killing Joke Special Edition Hardcover
Kevin: Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s influential 1988 one-shot receives a new hardcover, completely recolored by Bolland, for its 20th anniversary. This new edition, which also features “An Innocent Guy” from Batman: Black and White, seems particularly well-timed considering that Christopher Nolan has cited this version of The Joker as inspiration for the character’s portrayal in Batman: The Dark Knight.
The Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century, Vol. 1
Super Friends #1
Kevin: In a throwback to Kenner’s Super Powers action figures, Mattel launches a Super Friends line and DC rolls out a new kids’ title to support it. Or maybe it’s the other way around. In any case, this Johnny DC series will replace Justice League Unlimited, which ends in June.
And in another case of corporate synergy, DC collects the first six issues of The Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century … just as the cartoon on which it’s based is officially canceled. Justice League Unlimited and Teen Titans Go! both marched on after their animated counterparts ended, so maybe there’s still a future for this title.
Princess at Midnight
Kevin: Cartoonist Andi Watson adapts and expands his all-ages fantasy that originally appeared in The Mammoth Book of Best New Manga, and turns it into a graphic novella. It’s a delightful story about a home-schooled girl who at night becomes Princess of Castle Waxing, where she leads a battle against the Horrible Horde.
Repo trade paperback
Kevin: Rick Spears and Rob G’s miniseries about futuristic repo agents gets collected.
Franklin Richards: Spring Break! #1
Kevin: If you’re in the market for child-appropriate comics, you could do far worse than Marc Sumerak and Chris Eliopoulos’ series of adventures starring Franklin Richards and his robot pal H.E.R.B.I.E.
The Immortal Iron Fist #13
Kevin: By now you probably realize I can’t allow a month to pass without singing the praises of The Immortal Iron Fist. That’s with good reason, though. I’m particularly excited this month, as focus returns to the main storyline: The tournament of the Immortal Weapons at the Heart of Heaven. Plus, Xao finally launches his attack against K’un-Lun.
The Order #9
Punisher War Journal, Vol. 2: Goin’ Out West
Chris: It’s a good week for Matt Fraction fans, as we see the next to last issue of his team book and a reasonably priced trade collection of his Frank Castle saga.
Kevin: I held off picking up this series, mostly because my reservations about J. Michael Straczynski outweighed my fondness for mythological characters (even when they’re clad in Spandex). You have to admit is recent superhero work has exactly inspired confidence, and the idea of plunking Asgard down in Oklahoma isn’t all that thrilling. But from most everything I’ve seen — save for the side trip to New Orleans — the relaunched Thor is actually pretty good. This issue in particular piques my interest, as well-regarded cover artist Marko Djurdjevic moves to interiors.
War Is Hell: First Flight of the Phantom Eagle #1 (of 5)
Kevin: This new MAX miniseries by Garth Ennis and Howard Chaykin tells the story of World War I aviator Karl Kaufman, who sets out to “fight and kill the Hun.” It’s an update of the character created in 1968 by Gary Friedrich and Herb Trimpe. I’m guessing the Ennis-Chaykin version will be a lot more violent than his Silver Age counterpart.
All We Ever Do Is Talk About Wood
Chris: One of those Drawn and Quarterly books that completely slip under the radar, Wood is a collection of “bitter” gag cartoons by one Tom Horacek, about whom I know nothing. The cover images shows a pair of melancholy beavers, if that helps you understand the title (and the book’s sense of humor) a bit better.
Dungeon Monstres, Vol. 1
Chris: I rarely like saying dull-witted stuff along the lines of “you can’t call yourself a (blank) fan if you don’t like (blank).” That being said, this is the sort of thing that is tailor-made for fantasy fans and would, in my mind, serve as a pretty good yardstick for measuring someone’s taste for the genre. This new collection features none other than L’Association publisher Jean-Christophe Menu and Mazan focusing on some of the supporting characters in the Dungeon world. Previews here.
Gakuen Alice, Vol. 2
Chris: Tokyopop was betting a lot on this series, about a young girl who enrolls at a magic school (shades of you-know-who), since it’s been such a huge success in Japan. It’ll be interesting to see how the succeeding volumes fare here in the U.S.
Maintenance, Vol. 2
Kevin: A second collection is out, and I still haven’t fulfilled by pledge to check out Jim Massey and Robbi Rodriguez’s science fiction-comedy.
Chris: The latest issue in the ongoing fanzine devoted to underground comics and various things pertaining to them. This issue features a cover by Robert Crumb, Jay Lynch and Ed Piskor talking about Chester Gould, a look at the early days of Bill Griffith, art by Mary Fleener and Frank Stack, and much more.
New Tales of Old Palomar #3
Chris: Offered again through Fantagraphics is the third volume in Gilbert Hernandez’s Ignatz series. Don’t worry if you didn’t catch the first two — unlike some of the other Ignatz books, this doesn’t depend so heavily on the overarching storyline that new readers will feel lost.
Voltron Complete Omnibus hardcover
Chris: Unless this book comes complete with a blazing sword or can turn into a giant robot lion, I’m not interested.
With the Light, Vol. 2: Raising an Autistic Child
Chris: The title makes this manga series sound like some dreadful didactic “educational” comic, but actually it’s a heartwarming, insightful, really smart manga that manages to teach while involving you in the characters’ lives. It’s probably the vest book Yen Press has going right now and I really recommend it, whether you’ve got a serious interest in the subject matter or not.
Here’s the full list of comics shipping this week:
DARK HORSE COMICS
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