If you’re into Secret Invasion – I mean really into it — this is a good week for you. Or if not “good,” at least pricey: The fifth issue of the miniseries event hits this Wednesday, along with four direct tie-ins and a peripheral title.
DC, meanwhile, debuts another Final Crisis tie-in, Revelations, and dusts off the 20-year-old Millennium. Yes, the crossover that gave the world the New Guardians.
If superhero event comics aren’t your bag, Fanfare/Ponent Mon releases Hideo Azuma’s Disappearance Diary and Jiro Taniguchi’s The Ice Wanderer, IDW Publishing debuts Ben Templesmith’s Welcome to Hoxford, and Viz Media brings out Hiroe Rei’s Black Lagoon.
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: Disappearance Diary
This is perhaps the happiest story about homelessness ever. In 1989 and 1992, mangaka Hideo Azuma (inventor of the lolicon concept) suffered from nervous breakdowns and ran away from his family and responsibilities, living on the streets, and at one point becoming a gas pipe layer. Then in 1998 his was forced to enter rehab to treat his severe alcoholism.
Azuma chronicles all these events in Disappearance Diary but in the most happy-go-lucky, cartoonish way possible. He refuses to either wallow in shame or plead for your sympathy. Darkness is dispelled as often as possible in favor of comedy or slice-of-life factoids, like where to do the best dumpster diving (a conversation with his wife is alluded to but neglected for not being funny). Azuma presents himself as a cartoon character — as though he were a slightly more desperate, troubled version of Beetle Bailey or Happy Hooligan. It’s a fascinating book, and one of my favorites of the year so far, but don’t just take my word for it. You can see some sample pages here.
Kevin’s pick of the week: Black Lagoon, Vol. 1
I’ve been eagerly awaiting this day for a while now — the day when Viz Media would release Hiroe Rei’s hyper-violent action-comedy Black Lagoon.
Black Lagoon embraces graphic violence, dark humor and its own absurdity as it follows a group of mercenaries who smuggle goods aboard the PT boat Black Lagoon as they get into, and out of, one scrape after another.
If you’ve not glimpsed scanlations of the series, or watched the anime adaptation, you’re missing out on over-the-top fight scenes, car and boat chases, bounty hunters, mercenaries, gun-toting maids and nuns, Russian mafiosi, Colombian drug runners, Chinese gang members, Neo Nazis, twin deranged killers and — well, you get the picture. I hope.
The Absolute League of Extraordinary Gentlement: Black Dossier hardcover
Last I had heard, the 45-RPM vinyl of Alan Moore singing the song Immortal Love was not going to be included in this fancy, extra-deluxe edition of Moore and O’Neill’s latest LOEG outing. DC, however, says on its website that it is included. Well, someone’s wrong, so caveat emptor and all that. The 45 was the only real inducement to my purchasing this behemoth, since I was more than a bit disappointed with its contents, but no doubt other, less persnickety souls will be able to make due just fine.
Final Crisis: Revelations #1 (of 5)
Kevin: DC trots out another Final Crisis tie-in that begins with “R” (Requiem, Resist, Rogues’ Revenge, Rage of the Red Lanterns). This one, by Greg Rucka, Philip Tan, Jeff De Los Santos and Jonathan Glapion, centers on The Spectre (formerly Det. Crispus Allen) and The Question (his former partner Det. Renee Montoya).
Kevin: Great. Now I have that Robbie Williams song stuck in my head. Anyway, I don’t remember this 1988 miniseries/crossover being particularly good or noteworthy. Wait, I take that back: It’s notable for introducing the ill-conceived New Guardians, which overshadows anything that might’ve been remotely good about Millennium. I’m not sure why DC is releasing this collection now, but if it’s because Extrano and Ram play a pivotal role in Final Crisis, I won’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Robin: Year One (new printing)
Kevin: This 2002 miniseries, by Scott Beatty, Chuck Dixon, Javier Pulido and R. Campanella, is entertaining superhero fare. If you’re into that sort of thing, I recommend you pick up this new printing — plus the companion piece, of sorts, Batgirl: Year One, by Beatty, Dixon, Marcos Martin and Alvaro Lopez.
Secret Invasion #5 ( of 8 )
Secret Invasion: Inhumans #1 (of 4)
Secret Invasion: Runaways/Young Avengers #2 (of 3)
Secret Invasion: Thor #1 (of 3)
Secret Invasion: X-Men #1 (of 4)
Kevin: That’s quite a scheduling pile-up, isn’t it? If you’re following all things Secret Invasion, you’ll be plunking down $16 or so tomorrow. More if you count Captain Britain and MI: 13 #4, which is listed as a tie-in.
Spider-Man: Kraven’s Last Hunt (new printing)
Spider-Man: One More Day
Kevin: Speaking of scheduling oddities, whose idea was it to time the release of one of the most acclaimed Spider-Man story arcs — 1987′s Kraven’s Last Hunt, by J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Zeck — on the same day as one of the … um … least acclaimed? Someone has a sense of humor.
A Treasury of 20th Century Murder, Vol. 1: The Lindbergh Child
Chris: Rick Geary moves into the 20th century with this one of the most mysterious and gruesomely captivating tales of the last century — the kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh’s baby boy. Geary has proven himself more than adept at handling these macabre stories and there’s every reason to expect this newest entry to be his best work yet. Previews can be found here.
Bone Boxed Set #1, Books 1-3
Chris: $27 nets you the first three softcover volumes of Jeff Smith’s seminal fantasy tale. Not a bad deal as these things go.
Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman hardcover
Chris: Not a full-fledged biography, but a children’s book about Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster by Marc Tyler Nobleman and Ross MacDonald. I had a little trouble with this book, namely because it avoids talking about the creators’ horrible treatment by DC in favor of a “Your dreams can come true” ending, with only a lengthy afterword divulging the sad truth. Considering how poorly these guys were ultimately treated, that’s strikes me as a little dishonest.
From Shadow of Northern Lights
Chris: A collection of Swedish comics from Top Shelf, mostly taken from the Swedish satirical magazine Galago. I’m always curious to see what other folks around the globe are doing with the medium, so I’ll probably pick this up at some point.
The Ice Wanderer
Chris: Also from Fanfare/Ponent Mon is this collection of short stories by Jiro Taniguchi, most of them dealing with the man’s encounters with the wilderness in some fashion. It’s a bit of a mixed bag — the first few stories are stronger than the final ones — but more Taniguchi is always cause for celebration. You can see what I’m talking about by clicking here.
The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam
Chris: The Doug Wright Award-winning tome (best book, no less!) about the author’s quest to learn about her famed magician great-grandfather gets another go-round through Diamond. Perhaps more stores will pick up a copy now?
The Middleman Collected Series Indispensability Compendium
Kevin: You’ve seen the TV series, now read the comic! Viper releases this omnibus collection of all three Middleman miniseries.
Chris: It’s the latest issue of the zine devoted to the work of underground cartoonists like R. Crumb and Robert Armstrong. This on’e features prose and cartoons by folks like Jay Lynch, Kim and Simon Deitch, Frank Stack and Mary Fleener. You can learn more here.
Samurai Champloo: The Complete Two-Volume Series
Kevin: Without the soundtrack and quick edits, this adaptation of the anime series lacks a little something. It’s still a fun read, though.
Welcome to Hoxford #1
Kevin: IDW Publishing debuts Ben Templesmith’s new horror series, set in the Hoxford Correctional Facility and Mental Institution.
500 Essential Graphic Novels
Chris: I would write this book off as the latest in an attempt to catch the whole “comics are hotsy-totsy stuff” going on right now, except that it’s by scholar and gentleman Gene Kannenberg Jr., who knows his stuff, to be sure.
The full list of titles shipping this week can be found here.