In a week when Marvel unleashes some 34 titles on comic stores, IDW Publishing provides some unintentional relief by shipping … none (the books are tied up in U.S. Customs, so watch out for next week).
Marvel’s avalanche includes three Secret Invasion tie-ins, Joss Whedon’s final issue of Runaways and Matt Fraction and David Aja’s final issue of The Immortal Iron Fist, and the second installment of Marvel 1985. DC’s output — about half that of its competitor — features the second issue of Final Crisis, the long-awaited All-Star Batman hardcover and the collection of Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan’s critically acclaimed Demo.
Elsewhere, Dark Horse releases the first volumes of Gantz and Indiana Jones Adventures – opposite ends of the spectrum, certainly — Drawn and Quarterly gives us Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s Good-Bye, and NBM Publishing rolls out hardcovers of Bluesman and Ordinary Victories.
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: Good-Bye hardcover
The third and final volume in Drawn and Quarterly’s collection of Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s seminal Geikga short stories, edited by Adrian Tomine, is the best of the three. The characters are a shade more nuanced and self-aware, the art is a little sharper (though, thankfully, no less cartoonish) and, most significantly, the social commentary is more up-front and pointed, especially concerning the American occupation of the post-WWII years. All three volumes are excellent and, ideally, you should start with the first book and work your way through, the full effect of Good-Bye thereby being that much more pronounced. If you only can afford one book, however, this is the one.
Kevin’s pick of the week: Demo trade paperback
Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan’s Eisner-nominated series, originally released in 2003-2004 by AiT/PlanetLar, receives the Vertigo treatment in this 328-page trade paperback, which whets our appetites for the upcoming Volume Two limited series.
For anyone who may not have read the original 12 issues, or the digest-sized collection published by AiT/PlanetLar in 2005, Demo depicts the lives of teens — many of whom have superhuman abilities — as they grapple with love, death, family and belonging in separate, complete stories. Demo is engaging, challenging, beautifully illustrated, and occasionally haunting and frustrating. It’s also the book that helped to propel Wood and Cloonan to comics stardom.
B.P.R.D.: The Ectoplasmic Man #1
Kevin: And so continues the series of B.P.R.D. one-shots, this one telling the origin of everybody’s favorite disembodied ectoplasmic spirit, Johann Kraus, and tying into the character’s appearance in Hellboy II: The Golden Army.
Gantz, Vol. 1
Kevin: Dark Horse begins the North American release of Hiroya Oku’s weird and hyper-violent sci-fi series about the newly deceased who are transported to a limbo — it looks suspiciously like an unfurnished Tokyo condo — where they’re forced by a black sphere (Gantz of the title) to complete a series of dangerous and complex missions, which may or may not be part of an elaborate Battle Royale-like game. (I’m pretty sure that’s the longest sentence I’ve ever written.) Wearing suits that amplify their speed, strength and agility, and saddled with miniature explosive devices in their brains to keep them in line, the dearly departed are sent to hunt down aliens. If they die (again) on assignment, they’re simply replaced.
If you’re looking for lots of blood, violence, weirdness and a high cast-turnover rate, you could do worse than Gantz.
Indiana Jones Adventures, Vol. 1
Kevin: Following the model used for its popular Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures, Dark Horse releases this kid-friendly trade paperback drawn in an animated style. Blog@ JK Parkin interviewed writer Philip Gelatt last week.
All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, Vol. 1, hardcover
Chris: If you were waiting for the trade for this … man, you had an awful long wait. But it looks like your patience will finally be rewarded. You lucky goddamn soul you.
Crossing Midnight #19
Kevin: Mike Carey and Jim Fern’s modern fantasy comes to an end with this issue. It was a good series, but I wonder if, like so many recent Vertigo books that didn’t take off, it suffered from a lack of quick-and-easy “hook.”
Final Crisis #2 (of 7)
Chris: I appear to be one of the few who actually enjoyed the first issue of DC’s mega-mega crossover, though I admit it was all setup and may have frustrated those looking for more of the punchy-kicky stuff. And no, it’s not a book the casual reader can pick up, but let’s be honest, neither is Secret Invasion. (Who exactly were those guys getting punched around Manhattan in the last issue?) Anyway, here’s the second issue, chock full of Morrison/Jones goodness. I’m sure there will be a swath of pissed-off readers calling for DiDio’s head minutes after reading it, which should make the Interwebs a fun place to be for the next few days.
Madame Xanadu #1
Kevin: A secondary player for the past 30 years in DCs supernatural fringe, the mysterious Madame Xanadu gets another stab at a solo series, this time under the Vertigo imprint. (She previously was the star of the short-lived 1978 series Doorway to Nightmare, and a self-titled single issue in 1981.) This time, the book is by Matt Wagner and Amy Reeder Hadley, who apparently are approaching it as a “fantasy epic.” I enjoy Hadley’s art. You can see a preview here.
The Programme #12 (of 12)
Chris: I was more than a little disappointed with Peter Milligan and CP Smith’s revamped Cold War-take on the superhero genre. It varied wildly from perceptive and smart to blitheringly obvious and thick-headed, and Smith’s blotchy, heavily blacked-out art style didn’t really suit the material very well. Still, I confess to being curious to see how the whole thing ends, and I have too much fondness for Milligan’s original comics work not to pick up the last issue.
Pilot Season: Alibi #1
Kevin: Top Cow’s “Pilot Season” returns with Alibi, by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Jeremy Haun, about an assassin who’s often a suspect in high-profile hits, but always seems to have an airtight, um, alibi. You can see a preview here.
Angel: Revelations #2 (of 5)
Kevin: I liked the first issue of this miniseries, by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Adam Pollina, well enough. But in retelling the origin of Angel, aka Warren Worthington III, I wonder if they’ve tinkered too much with one of the essential “facts” of Marvel pseudo-science: that mutant powers manifest themselves around puberty. In Revelations, Warren is in prep school, and appears to be an upperclassman. Eh, maybe I read too many X-Men comics as a kid.
The Immortal Iron Fist #16
Kevin: Co-writer Ed Brubaker bowed out a couple of issues ago, but this story — “Happy Birthday, Danny” — marks the departure of the rest of the original creative team: co-writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja. I’m going to miss them.
Marvel 1985 #2 (of 6)
Chris: You know, I was much more interested in this series when it was originally planned to be a fumetti. Now all I’ve got is that Bowling for Soup song stuck in my head.
Marvel Atlas trade paperback
Kevin: Even as a kid I loved imaginary geographies, and Eliot R. Brown’s maps from the old Marvel Handbooks were a favorite. This trade paperback collects the recent Marvel Atlas #1-2, with Brown’s renditions of Latveria, Wakanda, the Savage Land, and more.
Kevin: At long last, Joss Whedon and Michael Ryan wrap up their tenure on the title, presumably returning the kids to the present in time for Terry Moore and Humberto Ramos’ stint on the series.
Thor: Ages of Thunder — Reign of Blood #1
Kevin: Matt Fraction and Patrick Zircher return for another Thor one-shot.
Andru and Esposito’s Get Lost! trade paperback
Chris: That’s Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, who, in 1953, attempted to release their own Mad rip-off with Get Lost! A lawsuit from Bill Gaines shut them down after three issues, but now you can read the whole run in this hardcover from Hermes Press. I remember The Comics Journal reprinting a few of these stories a year or two ago and, as I recall, they held up pretty well.
Chris: Rob Vollmar and Pablo Callejo’s story of murder, race relations and itinerant musicians in a small Southern town, circa the 1920s, is now collected in one snazzy hardcover volume. I was impressed with how deft and sharp the storytelling was in this book, with well-defined characters that help drive the plot. Think of it as a smarter, more entertaining version of Icognegro.
Ordinary Victories: What Is Precious
Chris: I think maybe two or three people talked about the first volume of this semi-autobiographical series from European author Manu Larcenet, one of them being me. It was a wonderful, insightful story of Mark, a young photographer, blundering through adulthood, while falling in love and dealing with his terminally ill dad. It was one of my favorite books of that year. Now we have the sequel, which finds Mark becoming a parent himself, while coming to terms with the loss of his own father. I expect it to be quite good.
Stephen Colbert’s Tek Jansen #1 (of 5) — new printing
Chris: Stephen Colbert’s interstellar alter ego returns for another attempt at comic serialization.
The full list of titles shipping this week can be found here.