With slightly more than two weeks to go, publishers are ramping up their Halloween-themed releases, from superheroes battling the supernatural to a boy dreaming of becoming a vampire.
Shadowline kicks off its Silverline all-ages imprint with Dear Dracula just as The Hulk slugs it out with Frankenstein’s monster, and Superman and Batman team up to tackle vampires and werewolves. Plus, there’s a Hack/Slash special, and another installment of Ben Templesmith’s Welcome to Hoxford.
If pre-Halloween chills aren’t for you, there’s always the second issue of Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds, Art Spiegelman’s Breakdowns, or the third issue of Jeff Smith’s Rasl.
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: Breakdowns
Hey, look what was hiding down in the merchandise section! Why, it’s Art Spiegelman’s latest book, a Kramer’s Ergot-sized republishing of the Maus author’s experimental strips from the 1970s, this time with a new, lengthy comic-strip introduction and a prose afterword, both by Spiegelman.
While several of the strips in here — most notably Prisoner on the Hell Planet — have been seen in other formats and books, the bulk of this material has been hard to find. The introduction, a revealing and, at times, unnerving look at Spiegelman’s childhood and influences, is the icing on the cake, making this an essential purchase for any fan of his work, or just good comics in general.
Kevin’s pick of the week: Dear Dracula hardcover
The first book from Shadowline’s all-ages imprint, Dear Dracula looks as if it avoids one of the pitfalls that plague so many kids’ comics: over-the-top preciousness. Oh, the book, by Joshua Williamson and Vincent Navarrete, looks cute, to be sure. But it’s not saccharine. Don’t quote me on that, though, as I’ve not read more than a preview.
Perfectly timed for Halloween, Dear Dracula centers on Sam, a boy who loves scary movies — particularly those starring Dracula. So come Halloween, Sam pens a letter to the most famous of vampires, just as other kids write to Santa at Chrstmas. In it, Sam asks Dracula to turn him into a real vampire. Dracula accepts the boy’s invitation, and shows Sam what it’s like to be a creature of the night.
I presume he leaves out all of that messy exsanguination, but don’t quote me on that either.
Crossing Midnight, Vol. 3: The Sword in the Soul
Kevin: Mike Carey and Jim Fern’s entertaining, but underappreciated, contemporary horror-fantasy receives its final trade paperback. Maybe the Vertigo series will find a new, and larger, audience in the book market.
Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #2 (of 5)
Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge #3 (of 3)
Kevin: It’s two Geoff Johns-penned Final Crisis tie-ins in one week. The first, with George Perez, continues the miniseries that will, in all likelihood, map out the future of DC’s Legion of Super-Heroes franchise. The second, with Scott Kolins, wraps up the three-issue showdown between The Flash’s Rogues and the Secret Society of Super-Villains.
Jonah Hex, Vol.: Luck Runs Out
Kevin: Collecting issues 24-30, this trade paperback features art by Russ Heath, Guuseppe Camuncoli, Jordi Bernet and others. I’m enjoying the rotating cast of illustrators.
Scalped, Vol. 3: Dead Mothers
Kevin: Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera’s stellar crime comic seems like the perfect successor to 100 Bullets in the Vertigo lineup. Fans of Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s byzantine series could do far worse than turn to Scalped once 100 Bullets ends in February.
Sentences: The Life of MF Grimm trade paperback
Chris: Rapper Percy Carey and artist Ronald Wimberly see their graphic novel about Carey’s rough upbringing hit the trade paperback format.
Superman and Batman vs. Vampires and Werewolves #1 (of 6)
Kevin: I’ll be the first to admit that I loved when Batman battled a Barnabas Collins-esque creature of the night in Detective Comics #455, and when the Man of Steel and Dark Knight teamed up to fight backwoods vampires in Action Comics Annual #1. But a six-issue mini pitting them against vampires and werewolves seems, I don’t know, even weirder than usual? Unless … it’s the first in a series of Abbott and Costello-type team-ups in which DC heroes meet classic monsters: Green Lantern and Aquaman vs. The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Black Canary and Green Arrow vs. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Wonder Woman and The Flash vs. The Mummy and The Invisible Man. That would be awesome. But not six issues worth of awesome.
Will Eisner’s The Spirit Archives, Vol. 25 hardcover
Chris: Lest you thought DC was done collecting all of Eisner’s classic tales involving his masked crimefighter, here comes this new volume, which collects all of the little-seen daily strip that ran in papers from 1941-44.
Amazing Spider-Man #573
Kevin: The final installment of the “New Ways to Die” storyline apparently warrants four covers — including zombie and Stephen Colbert variants.
Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men, Vol. 7
Kevin: Classic mutant tales from the 1970s from the likes of Stan Lee, Archie Goodwin, Gerry Conway, Steve Englehart, Gil Kane, Herbe Trimpe, Marie Severin and Jim Starlin.
Monster-Size Hulk #1
Kevin: Marvel gets into the Halloween spirit with an all-ages special that features the Hulk duking it out with Frankenstein’s Monster, plus some other stuff, I guess. Contributors include Jeff Parker, Paul Tobin, Peter David and Steve Niles.
Spider-Man: Brand New Day, Vol. 1
Kevin: If you stopped buying Amazing Spider-Man out of protest over “One More Day,” here’s your chance to get caught up on the post-”It’s magic!” world of Peter Parker. This trade paperback collects Amazing Spider-Man #546-551, Spider-Man: Swing Shift and material from Venom Super Special #1.
The Baby-Sitters Club, Vol. 4: Claudia and Mean Janine
Chris: This is the fourth and final book in Raina Telgemeier’s Baby-Sitters Club stories, this time focusing on the rivalry between two sisters. My understanding is these books have done relatively well for both Scholastic and Telgemeier. Certainly they’ve managed to up the latter’s profile considerably.
Benny and Penny: Just Pretend
Chris: More trade paperback releases. Geoffrey Hayes’ Toon Books contribution, this is the cute story of a little mouse who’s trying to play pirates but keeps being annoyed by his younger sister who wants to join in the fun.
EC Crime Suspenstories Comic Pack
Chris: All 27 issues of EC’s seminal crime series are packaged together in this collection of reprint editions from Gemstone. I’m pretty sure this is not to be confused with the publisher’s recent line of hardcover EC books.
How to Draw (And Fight) Zombies Supersize Trade Paperback
Chris: Would I be fighting and drawing supersize or would the zombies be supersize? That sorta thing is important to know.
Jamilti and Other Stories hardcover
Chris: Ah, now here’s a real delight from the author of last year’s acclaimed Exit Wounds — a collection of short stories, most of them previously published as part of Modan’s work with the Actus Tragicus collective. There’s some really great stuff here, but “King of the Lillies” and “Your Number One Fan” are worth the price of admission alone.
Chris: Dirk Schwieger lived in Tokyo and made lots of comics about his expat experiences. Good for him. Previews may be found here. An interview with the Schwieger is here. Chris Butcher really liked this book.
Chris: In which our dimension-hopping anti-hero tries to find the killer from last issue and gets even deeper in trouble (I’m assuming). Jeff Smith has a preview of the first five pages of the issue over at his site.
Ursa Minors, Vol. 1: The Collected, Wait-for-the-Trade Edition
Kevin: You have to love that title. Hopefully, Vol. 2 will be “The You’re-Killing-Comics Edition.”
Chris: The cover declares this to be “the politics issue,” so it’s a good thing this came out now and wasn’t delayed by, oh, three weeks or so. Anyway, interviews with Mark Millar and Tony Harris, stories on censorship laws and a preview of Whiteout 3 dot the contents.
The Comics Journal #293
Chris: How much S. Clay Wilson can you possibly stand? You’ll have the opportunity to answer that question with Bob Levin provides one of those massive, career-spanning interviews with the underground cartoonist that the magazine is so well known for. Also in this issue: an interview with Alex Robinson and Joe Matt, a look at the CCS class of 2008, a preview of Yuichi Yokoyama’s forthcoming book Travel and lots of reviews. Some of them by me, in case you can’t get enough of my torrid prose.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book
Chris: I have to say, I love how the comics culture has adopted Jeff Kinney’s middle-school saga as one of their own, even though it’s really a prose novel with comics-ish illustrations. I’m being persnickety, I know. Anyway, this is more of an activity book than legitimate sequel, but I doubt fans of the series will mind too much.
There’s a Wolf at the Door hardcover
Chris: This is an odd sorta-First Second, sorta-not kids’ book by Zoe and R.W. Alley. I’m honestly not sure if First Second is really publishing this or it’s a separate division of MacMillan. But it’s in their catalog, so I’ll mention it here. It’s one of those “classic fairy tales given a witty twist- type of books, in this case focusing on the allegedly “big bad” wolf.
The full list of titles shipping this week can be found here.