It’s a light week — for a change! — with a handful of notable releases.
Two stellar creations by the late Steve Gerber receive the spotlight this Wednesday as Jonathan Lethem and Farel Dalrymple’s Omega: The Unknown miniseries concludes and Howard The Duck gets the omnibus treatment.
Countdown to Final Crisis rises from the grave with a trade paperback, Scott McCloud’s Zot! returns with a black-and-white collection, and Viz Media rolls out Takehiko Inoue’s basketball manga Real.
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: Real, Vol. 1
Takehiko Inoue’s third basketball manga — Slam Dunk and Buzzer Beater were his first two — Real just calls out to be my “pick of the week.”
Despite using the same backdrop, Real is a departure from those previous works in that Inoue focuses on tough guys in wheelchair basketball. Tomomi Nomiya is a basketball fanatic who gets into a motorcycle accident that leaves a girl paralyzed and seemingly catatonic. Devastated, Tomomi quits the basketball team and drops out of high school. But one day he discovers Kiyoharu Togawa, an amputee, playing basketball in a wheelchair, and his passion for the sport is reignited.
Although Real isn’t as well known in North America as Slam Dunk or his samurai epic Vagabond, it’s sold more than 8.9 million copies worldwide since 2001. (It’s interesting that Viz Media chose to release Real before Slam Dunk, which debuts in September.)
You can read a preview of Real here.
Chris’ pick of the week: Omega: The Unknown #10 (of 10)
It all ends here! Worlds will live! Worlds will die! OK, probably not, but still, you can keep your not-so Secret Invasion. For me, the superhero event of the year has been this sharply-written, smartly illustrated series that utilizes both Lethem and Dalrymple’s talents for melding the fantastic and the mundane together to create something wholly magical and unique. This was one of my favorite books of the year.
Astro City: The Dark Age, Book 1
Kevin: This 256-page hardcover collects the first eight issues of Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson’s Dark Age miniseries, which delves into the history of Astro City.
Countdown to Final Crisis, Vol. 1
Kevin: Maybe the yearlong weekly series will read better in trade format. Maybe?
Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge #1 (of 3)
Kevin: One of the roughly 127 Final Crisis tie-ins, Rogues’ Revenge reunites the Flash team of Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins for a tale of — you guessed it! — Flash’s Rogues Gallery.
Chris: I’m sorry to hear that this series is going to be wrapping up soon, though I’m thankful the creators have the opportunity to draw the story to a close rather than end it abruptly. Too often it’s the latter result rather than the former.
Captain America #40
Kevin: It’s Captain America versus Captain America as Bucky Barnes learns who’s behind the mask. The other mask, I mean. Man, I love this series.
Howard The Duck Omnibus hardcover
Chris: The release of this omnibus has a decidedly bittersweet taste to it, coming as it does in the wake of creator Steve Gerber’s untimely death. Still, that doesn’t take away from how nice it is to have all these seminal ’70s stories together, in full color, in one volume. It’s a project that should have come earlier, but I’m glad it’s here now.
Universal War One #1(of 3)
Kevin: Marvel’s deal with French publisher Soleil continues with the English translation of Denis Bajram’s popular sci-fi epic about a war-torn solar system suddenly divided by a massive black wall that absorbs light and matter.
Kevin: This is a lovely-looking take on the bloody Bluebeard fairy tale, by Elizabeth Genco and Sami Makkonen. You can read more about it here.
EC Archives: Weird Science, Vol. 3, hardcover
Chris: More far-out sci-fi stories with gruesome O Henry-type twists, illustrated by some of the finest artists ever to grace the medium.
Jeff Smith: Bone and Beyond hardcover
Chris: Published in conjunction with the ongoing exhibit of Smith’s work, this book is more or less the “official catalog” of the show, and features many of Smith’s initial Bone drawings.
Rolling, Vol. 1
Kevin: I admit that I only skimmed this manhwa because of the title — it apparently isn’t a drug reference — and because I liked the cover logo. But from what I’ve read, it’s pretty funny, and definitely well-drawn, even if it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. Five lithe and, as far as I can tell, sexually ambiguous — or not-so-ambiguous — pretty boys share a dorm room with only four beds. (Yeah, I thought it was going to be a bed-hopping sexcapade, too; however, one of the boys sleeps on the floor.) The story focuses on the humorous situations that arise in such close quarters, and the relationships that develop.
Tokko, Vol. 1
Kevin: Another title I’ve only flipped through so far — hey, it’s been a hectic week or so — Tokko may meet my occasional yearning for (fictional) blood and violence. Created by Tohru Fujisawa (GTO, Rose Hip Rose), Tokko involves weird dreams, earthquakes, demons, and lots and lots of violence. So, I should be set for a while.
Vassalord, Vol. 1
Kevin: The first sentence on the back cover tells you all you need to know: “Charley, a cyborg vampire who does the Vatican’s dirty work, is the thrall of the local vampire playboy Johnny Rayflo.” Cyborg vampire! Vampire playboy! Johnny Rayflo! Those demand exclamation points. And italics.
Zot! The Complete Black-and-White Stories, Vol. 1: 1987-1991
Chris: Scott McCloud seems to be everywhere on the Internet these days (or at least it seems like it to me), getting the word out about this new collection of his earliest series, though completists should note that the book only collects the black and white issues and not the initial color ones (apparently McCloud doesn’t like those too much). I’ve never had the opportunity to sit down with these stories, so this is a book I’ll definitely be adding to my Amazon wish list.
The Comics Journal #291
Chris: Tim Sale graces the cover and provides the big, meaty interview for this latest issue. In addition, Josh Simmons talks House and Jessica Farm, and there’s a gallery of early comics work by Flintstones creator Dan Gordon. Reviews, too. One of which may be by me.
Who Can Save Us Now?
Chris: An anthology of prose short stories all pertaining to superheroes in some fashion or another. I don’t think I recognized a single name on the list of contributors here, which probably just shows how out of touch I am with the book market these days.
How To Draw Stupid
Chris: Kyle Baker guides you through the art of cartooning in this how-to instruction book, courtesy of Watson-Guptill. On a related subject, isn’t it about time for another issue of Special Forces?
The full list of titles shipping this week can be found here.