August kind of creeps up on you, doesn’t it? It seems like only yesterday that we were counting down to crises, and being infiltrated by one alien or another.
And now, here we are, with the third issue of Final Crisis — plus a “Director’s Cut” of Issue 1! — and the second issue of the ancillary Secret Invasion series Front Line.
This week also sees the first Creepy Archives from Dark Horse, a trio of “Batman R.I.P” tie-ins, the (limited) return of NYX and Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, a hardcover Bleach Collector’s Edition and, after some delay, the appearances of Special Forces #3 and Okko: The Cycle of Earth.
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: Okko: The Cycle of Earth #1 (of 4)
After a several-month delay because of company restructuring, Archaia Studios Press finally releases the second “cycle” of Hub’s fantasy series Okko, originally released in France by Delcourt. Set in the Empire of Pajan, a fictional stand-in for medieval Japan, Okko takes place during a time of clan warfare — think “The Age of the Country at War” — as the titular character, a ronin, and his small band of demon hunters wander the archipelago, getting into scrapes and encountering the supernatural.
In the first miniseries, The Cycle of Water, Okko and his companions are hired by a young fisherman to rescue his sister, a geisha who was kidnapped by pirates. This second miniseries finds them in the City of Blasting Powder, where they seek a guide to help them cross a perilous chain of monasteries.
Okko is beautifully illustrated, and Hub wonderfully creates in Pajan a fully realized and mysterious world. I bought a couple of individual issues of The Cycle of Water, then waited for the (gorgeous) hardcover edition. It’s one of those stories that’s probably better enjoyed in its collected form.
Chris’ pick of the week: Creepy Archives hardcover
In the mid-’60s, if you wanted high-stake EC horror thrills without having to dive through collector back bins, you bought one of Warren Publishing’s horror mags, Creepy or Eerie (and later Vampirella). Featuring work by folks like Al Williamson, Bernie Wrightson, Alex Toth, Steve Ditko and Frank Franzetta (and usually written by editor Archie Goodwin), Creepy bridged the gap from the golden EC era to the black-and-white boom of the 1980s and mags like Epic Illustrated. This first hardcover volume from Dark Horse collects the first five issues of the magazine, with lots more to follow. I can’t really afford this right now but, man, I wish I could.
Army@Love: The Art of War #1 (of 6)
Chris: Rick Veitch restarts his post-post-modern war satire with the first issue of what Vertigo is ostensibly labeling “Season Two.” That would make it a pretty good entry point for readers interested in checking out this funny, sharply written comic.
Final Crisis #3 (of 7)
Chris: I’m more interested in seeing the return of Frankenstein and the agents of S.H.A.D.E. than I am Barry Allen. Oh, and if the new issue isn’t enough crisis for you, there’s also the “Director’s Cut” of the first issue, which I’d be more interested in if the comic had an actual, you know, director.
Showcase Presents: House of Secrets, Vol. 1
Kevin: This black-and-white tome collects the first three years’ worth of comics from DC’s 1969 revival of its Silver Age mystery-suspense anthology. This second series, which debuted just three years after the original title’s cancellation, introduced the now-famous host Abel, brother of Cain from the companion House of Mystery.
World of Warcraft, Vol. 1, hardcover
Chris: Introduction by Leeroy Jenkins.
Special Forces #3 (of 6)
Chris: Wasn’t I just wondering where the next issue of this was? Well, here it is — complete with highly gross and potentially offensive cover that you should keep about 25 feet away from anyone under 15, and Disney fans in general. As the PR says, “It’s like Civil War meets 52, except it’s darker and more realistic! ” Also: a lot funnier.
Criminal 2 #4
Chris: One of the best comics out there starts a new four-part arc, titled “Bad Night,” about a down on his luck insomniac who “finds himself in the wrong place at the right time.” Brubaker and Phillips haven’t let me down yet.
Franklin Richards: Summer Smackdown! #1
Kevin: You know it’s a good week when the shipping list features another installment of Marc Sumerak and Chris Eliopoulos’ highly entertaining all-ages series.
Invincible Iron Man #4
Chris: The rising price of gas and the need to buy school supplies/uniforms for the kids has put a serious crimp in my comics budget. Unfortunately, that means I’ll have to drop this series — I’ve enjoyed it but don’t consider it essential — from my regular purchases. Childless comic readers who walk to work, however, can continue their spendthrift ways.
King-Size Spider-Man Summer Special #1
Kevin: This contains a Colleen Coover-drawn story in which Mary Jane teams with She-Hulk, Hellcat, Marvel Girl and some other superheroines to fight The Enchantress. That’s really all you need to know.
NYX: No Way Home #1 (of 6)
Kevin: I enjoyed the original series, back in 2003 — at least until it went off the rails, schedule- and content-wise — so I’m a little interested to see what author Marjorie Liu and artist Kalman Andrasofszky have planned for Kiden Nixon & Co.
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane: Season Two #1 (of 6)
Kevin: And here’s another series whose earlier incarnation(s) I loved. This time it restarts (again!) as a miniseries with creators Terry Moore and Craig Rousseau.
Venom: Dark Origins #1 (of 5)
Kevin: This seems like it might’ve been better timed to coincide with the release of Spider-Man 3. Y’know, last year.
Wolverine: Killing Made Simple
Kevin: Despite what the title suggests, this one-shot isn’t an instruction manual. It does, however, feature ’80s X-Factor villains Nanny and Orphan-Maker. Cold comfort, I know.
Amelia Rules! Funny Stories, Vol. 1
Kevin: If I’m not mistaken, this is the “best of” compilation of Jimmy Gownley’s series being sold through Scholastic book fairs and clubs in North America.
Avatar Cinemanga, Vol. 8 ( of 8 )
Kevin: As the Nickelodeon animated series ends, so does the Tokyopop “cinemanga” title. Sigh.
Bleach: Collector’s Edition, Vol. 1, hardcover
Kevin: Viz Media celebrates the 40th anniversary of Weekly Shonen Jump, and the fifth anniversary of Shonen Jump, with a series of oversized hardcover “collector’s editions” of popular titles. First up is Tite Kubo’s Bleach. Naruto, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Death Note, Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z follow suit later this summer and fall.
The Boys #21
Chris: Ennis and Robertson conclude their history of how The Boys came to be with a story that is almost sure to have lots of uncomfortable 9/11 overtones.
Killer #7 (of 10)
Chris: Man, I loved this video game. Not so much that I’d want to read the comic book spin-off, but still — great video game.
Comics Comics #4
Chris: There’s a lot to look forward to in this latest issue of Picturbox’s critical journal, like a cover and interview with Shaky Kane, reviews by folks like Jog and Brian Chippendale, an editorial by Sammy Harkham and comics by folks like Dan Zettwoch and Jon Vermilyea. The past three issues have proved Comics Comics to be a fun, smartly written critical mag that can easily stand up with The Comics Journal and Comic Art, and I’m looking forward to seeing what discoveries lie in wait this time around.
The full list of titles shipping this week can be found here.