Technical issues aside — curse you, WordPress! — it looks to be a pretty good week.
DC Comics ramps up for this summer’s big Final Crisis with DC Universe: Zero while Marvel paves the way for Alex Ross’ Avengers/Invaders miniseries with a greatest hits-style compilation of the teams’ previous meetings (while bidding farewell to another super-team title, The Order).
Elsewhere, Vertical unleashes the first volume of Tezuka’s Dororo, Dark Horse rolls out new volumes of B.P.R.D. and the Buffy omnibuses, and IDW Publishing releases the fourth installment of Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy.
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.
Chris’ pick of the week: Dororo, Vol. 1
Osamu Tezuka’s horror/action story doesn’t have the sort of experimentalism and adult melodrama that marks works like Ode to Kirihito. What it does have is a great hook: through the use of some rather spectacular artificial limbs, a young man devoid of just about every essential body part (eyes, ears, you name it) becomes a great swordsman and sets about trying to track down and kill the various demons that have his vital organs (long story).
All right, so it doesn’t all make cohesive sense (I did mention this takes place in feudal Japan right?), but Tezuka makes the whole thing sing anyway, thanks to his remarkable storytelling skills. His ability to set mood and place and depict action are awe-inspiring to me. I wish more Western authors would follow his lead.
Kevin’s pick of the week: Showcase Presents: Challengers of the Unknown, Vol. 2
I can’t help it. I have a soft spot for those wacky sci-fi adventurers of DC Comics’ early Silver Age — characters like the Sea Devils, Rip Hunter and Cave Carson. (Hey, I still love ’60s TV shows The Time Tunnel, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Land of the Giants. Let’s hear it for Irwin Allen!)
But first and foremost is the proto-Fantastic Four, Jack Kirby’s Challengers of the Unknown. So, any book that collects some of the team’s classic adventures is cause for celebrations. The issues in this volume are post-Kirby, which means they pale by comparison. Still, alien pets, mutated animals, giant robot gladiators, Volcano Men — how can you resist?
B.P.R.D., Vol. 8: Killing Ground
Kevin: It’s hard to believe that this Hellboy spin-off series is on its eighth volume — well, ninth if you count 1946, out now in single issues. Or tenth if you count The Warning, which kicks off in July. Or … okay, you get the picture. Killing Ground collects one of the strongest B.P.R.D. miniseries in recent memory, which is saying a lot.
The Complete Green Lama, Featuring the Art of Mac Raboy hardcover
Chris: The draw in this collection of stories about some green-caped Buddhist superhero is the artwork by Raboy. This is the first, I believe, of a projected two volumes.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus, Vol. 4
Kevin: Smartly taking advantage of the attention heaped on Season 8, Dark Horse keeps churning these brick-thick collections of older Buffy works. This latest volume gathers some of the earliest comics: Issues 9-11, 13-15, 17-20, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Bad Dog, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike and Dru, Who Made Who, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel: The Hollower.
Blue Beetle #26
Kevin: This is the special 40-page Spanish-language issue that Michael May spoke about with writer Jai Nitz earlier this month. The premise makes perfect sense: Jaime (Blue Beetle) takes Traci 13 to his family reunion, where she’s the only one who doesn’t speak Spanish. (Don’t worry, the translated script is included.)
DC Universe: Zero
Kevin: Part of me is excited that this special issue puts us that much closer to Grant Morrison and J.G. Jones’ Final Crisis. However, that part is quickly reminded that Zero apparently was deemed necessary to bridge the gap between (shudder) Countdown and DC’s big summer event. I like most of the contributing artists individually — George Perez, Aaron Lopresti, Carlos Pacheco and the aforementioned Jones, among them — but more often than not these all-star efforts end up producing a hodge-podge. Also, Morrison, whose work I typically enjoy, co-writes it with Geoff Johns, whose idea of good superhero comics doesn’t really mesh with mine. (Please, don’t send me hate mail.)
On the plus side, it’s just 50 cents.
So, I guess I’m … cautiously optimistic? Once bitten, twice shy? I don’t know, I’m something.
Gon, Vol. 4
Chris: Awwww. Look at the widdle dinosaur upset the natural order! How cute!
Teen Titans: Year One #4 (of 6)
Kevin: If DC cared anything about me, they’d make this an ongoing series — hell, make it the only Titans series.
Daredevil: Blood of the Tarantula #1
Kevin: The late ’90s Spider-Man villain turned Daredevil supporting character gets a one-shot in which he teams with Matt Murdock to save Hell’s Kitchen from a powerful new gang.
Giant-Size Avengers/Invaders #1
Kevin: To prime the pump for the upcoming miniseries by Alex Ross & Co., Marvel re-releases the first appearance of the World War II-era super team The Invaders in The Avengers #71 (1969), packaged with Invaders Annual #1 (1977), Giant-Size Invaders #2 (2005) and extra material.
The Immortal Iron Fist #14
Kevin: At long last, the conclusion to the entertaining “Seven Capital Cities of Heaven” storyline. Unfortunately, it means we’re one issue closer to the departure of Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and David Aja. Sigh.
The Order #10
Chris: And so it ends.
The Punisher: Circle of Blood premiere hardcover
Kevin: I’m not complaining, mind you, but it seems kind of odd that Marvel is collecting The Punisher’s original 1986 miniseries as a premiere hardcover.
Thor, by J. Michael Straczynski, Vol. 1, premiere hardcover
Kevin: I presume Straczynski’s name is in the title to avoid confusion with other incarnations of Thor, and not because of some demand to give writers marquee status (a la Stephen King). In any case, this collects the first six issues of the new series which, by most accounts, is pretty good.
Thor: Ages of Thunder #1
Kevin: The God of Thunder gets some extra attention with this one-shot by Matt Fraction and Patrick Zircher recounting some of the character’s high and low points.
Black Summer #6
Chris: The penultimate issue in Warren Ellis’ and Juan Jose Ryp’s ongoing “superheroes as metaphor for abuse of power” series. Expect to see lots of things go all explodey.
The Complete Dick Tracy, Vol. 4, hardcover
Chris: More hardboiled crime madness a la Chester Gould circa 1936-38. Still no crazy-faced villains, but lots of guns and blood and good-old American violence.
Chris: Hey, everyone! It’s Dave Sim’s first comic book in … well, a long time. Anyway, it’s a pretty good book, and I say that as someone who wasn’t a big Cerebus fan even before Sim joined the He-Man Woman-Haters Club. Still, its circle of interest is likely to be limited, as it pertains mainly to exploring the joys of the soap opera comic strips of the 1950s and making fun of fashion magazines.
I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space #1 (of 6)
Chris: Man, I am so tired of these whiny autobiographical comics.
Local #11 (of 12)
Chris: Why, hello there. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?
Dondi, Vol. 2
Leonard Starr’s Mary Perkins On Stage, Vol. 4
Chris: Speaking of soap opera comic strips of the 1950s, here’s the fourth volume of Leonard Starr’s seminal strip, not to mention the second volume of Irwin Hasen’s lovable orphan.
Chris: I remember as a kid there used to be a lot of pickle joke books, for some reason. They’d be full of really dumb riddles like, “What’s green and bumpy and sings ‘Love Me Tender’? Elvis Pickle!” Ho-ho. Anyway, this new children’s graphic novel by Scott Morse, part of an ongoing series he’s doing with Scholastic, feels sorta like that, though one would hope the wit flows a little easier.
Chris: Manu Larcenet’s warm, emotional graphic novel about a photographer entering a crossroads in his life won all sorts of awards in France and got totally ignored when NBM published it here a few years back. Let’s hope this re-release, in preparation for the upcoming sequel, What Is Precious, gets more attention.
Thoreau at Walden hardcover
Chris: I have to say, the Center for Cartoon Studies books have been pretty stellar so far. This latest one, by John Porcellino, seems right up the artist’s alley and could well be the best of the bunch.
Here’s the full list of comics shipping this week:
DARK HORSE COMICS
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