This week, we say good-bye to Morrison and Quitely’s All-Star Superman, give a passing nod to another installment of Secret Invasion, and take a second look at a handful of popular manga, conveniently repackaged for our enjoyment.
Wednesday also sees the return of Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting, the second issue of Millar and Harris’ destined-to-be-a-movie War Heroes, a hefty hardcover collection for Wood and Kelly’s Local, and an outsider’s view of Burma in the form of Guy Delisle’s new graphic novel.
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: Burma Chronicles hardcover
In Shenzhen and Pyongyang, Canadian cartoonist Guy Delisle examined life in totalitarian countries from the perspective of a Western outsider. Now Delisle turns his eye toward Burma, where, as the press release notes, “the de facto leader of the opposition has been under decade-long house arrest, insurgent-controlled regions are effectively cut off from the world, and rumor is the most reliable source of current information.” Delisle’s previous books related his travels with humor and insight, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he has to say this time around.
Kevin’s pick of the week: All-Star Superman #12
The glorious journey that began way back in November 2005 finally comes to an end as Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely wrap up what many, including myself, consider among the best and most entertaining takes on Superman in decades.
Oh, I know some grumble at the snail’s pace with which this series was released: twelve issues in 33 months. Hey, we knew going in that, in exchange for Quitely’s finely nuanced art, we’d have to wait. But, boy, was it worth it. (On the lateness front, I’ll point out that All-Star Batman & Robin started some four months earlier, but is only now on Issue 10. I’m just saying …)
Sure, not every issue was a home run, but sequences such as Clark Kent’s interview/face-off with a death-row Lex Luthor during a prison riot/breakout, or Jimmy Olsen transforming into Doomsday to stop an evil Superman more than made up for any shortcomings. But it was the sometimes-moving overarching story — Superman grappling with his own mortality — and Morrison’s handling of the secondary cast that really made this series shine for me. For the first time in, well, a long, long time, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen were portrayed as interesting, dynamic characters who could, and should, exist outside of Superman’s orbit. I know I’d read All-Star Lois Lane, or All-Star Jimmy Olsen.
Astro Boy, Vol. 1 & 2
Chris: Dark Horse is repackaging the Astro Boy series in a larger and more affordable editions, no doubt for the express purpose of making me feel foolish for buying the initial pocket-sized editions. Ah, well, this is all pretty seminal Tezuka here, folks, and a good place for the uninitiated to dig in. If you’re curious, but have avoided jumping on the Tezuka bandwagon, you really don’t have any more excuses.
Chris: The first issue of this Vertigo series didn’t exactly engender glowing reviews. Let’s hope things pick up from here on in.
Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #2
Kevin: The first issue of Mike Kunkel’s all-ages series was a lot of fun, and I expect no less from the second. It features poor lil’ Theo Adam, who’s returned from banishment unable to remember the magic word that transforms him into Black Adam. So, he tries to trick Billy into spilling the secret. See? Fun!
Greatest Hits #1 (of 6)
Kevin: Although I vaguely remember this David Tischman-Glenn Fabry miniseries being announced at one convention or another, I drew a blank when I saw it on the shipping list. It traces the career of a Fab Four-style super-team called The Mates, “from the height of their glory to the depths of excess.” Beyond that, I don’t know.
Janes in Love
Kevin: The follow-up to last year’s heavily promoted Minx debut title The Plain Janes, this graphic novel by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg hasn’t received a fraction of the push. Or maybe I’m not looking in the right places. I liked the first one well enough, though.
Chris: Things ramp up to an even more frenzied pace as the series heads toward its decided conclusion.
The Age of Sentry #1 (of 6)
Kevin: I don’t know how well Marvel’s The Sentry works beyond the original gimmick — he was introduced in 2000 as a “forgotten” Stan Lee character that predated the Fantastic Four — but I’m willing to give most anything written by Jeff Parker and Paul Tobin a try. This miniseries is set in Marvel’s Silver Age, which should suit the character well. Plus, those Dave Bullock covers don’t hurt.
Captain America: The Death of Captain America, Vol. 2 — The Burden of Dreams
Kevin: Despite my fondness for the writing of Ed Brubaker, I didn’t jump aboard his Captain America run at the beginning — largely because I was never a big fan of the Sentinel of Liberty (outside of a handful of Avengers stories, that is). So, I’ve been playing catch-up with the trade paperbacks. If you don’t know by now, this series is a fantastic espionage-thriller that deserves all the attention it has received. I just wish the numbering of the trade paperbacks weren’t so confusing. Rarely have I had to do research to make sure I’m buying the collections in the correct order.
Marvel Adventures: Avengers #28
Kevin: Odin sets Thor up on a date with the daughter of a frost giant. Thor ditches her to go out with Storm. The Avengers cover for the thunder god. Comedy ensues.
Castle Waiting, Vol. II #12
Chris: After a brief hiatus, Linda Medley’s warm, homespun fantasy series returns.
Death Note: Collector’s Edition, Vol. 1, hardcover
Dragon Ball VIZBIG Edition, Vol. 2
Kevin: Viz Media’s Collector’s Edition series continues with an oversized hardcover first volume of Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata’s Death Note. Plus, the publisher has a second VIZBIG omnibus three volumes-in-one edition of Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball.
Chris: If we are to believe the cover blurbs at all, Dave Sim examines the wide world of plastic surgery in the latest issue of his fashion satire/comic strip history lesson. That should prove to be just as fascinating as last issue’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek diatribe on antidepressants. If not more so.
Kevin: Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly’s slice-of-life miniseries gets a 384-page deluxe hardcover.
Manga Sutra — Futari H, Vol. 3
Chris: Outdated sex roles served with a large dollop of eroticism. Or cheesecake. Take your pick.
The Art of Vagabond: Sumi hardcover
The Art of Vagabond: Water hardcover
Vagabond VIZBIG Edition, Vol. 1
Chris: It’s a big week for Takehiko Inoue fans as his fictional biography of Miyamoto Musashi not only gets the oversize VIZBIG treatment, but we also are treated to the release of two Vagabond-related art books, focusing on ink and color work, respectively. I just read the first (normal-sized) volume of this series and found it to be a compelling, fairly realistic samurai series, though I missed the lively sense of humor that graced Slam Dunk.
Death Note Movie DVD #1
Chris: Kevin Melrose and other Death Note junkies take, er … note. The first live-action adaptation of the popular manga series is now out on DVD. Also, the sequel is coming to select American theaters on Oct. 15 and 16. You can learn more about that by going here.
The full list of titles shipping this week can be found here.