If I’m running a little late this week, blame it on the winter weather. Or, at the very least, the avalanche of comics based on movies, television shows and video games.
Angel, Battlestar Galactica, Dead Space, Doctor Who, Halloween, Heroes, Star Trek, Star Wars, Street Fighter II, Transformers, The X-Files, World of Warcraft — they’re all represented on shelves this week.
If those aren’t your thing, there’s also an omnibus edition of Jack Kirby’s The Demon, a Walking Dead oversized hardcover, a collection of Stan Lee’s old monthly columns, Mark Waid’s debut on the Brand New Day-era Amazing Spider-Man, and yetis. Well, at least one yeti.
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: Jack Kirby’s The Demon Omnibus hardcover
I’ve been on a big Jack Kirby kick lately, so there’s no question in my mind that, though personal finances may keep the purchase at bay for a few weeks, this will be added to my bookshelf. My impression of the demon known as Etrigan is pretty much limited to his appearances in Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing and an occasional glance at things like the now-canceled series that John Byrne pencilled not to long ago. I’m anxious to see where it all started and how the King’s initial idea compares with other people’s conceptions.
Kevin’s pick of the week: The Walking Dead, Book 4 hardcover
I haven’t followed Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard’s zombie/survivalist soap opera for quite a while — I read the first two trades, I think — but that doesn’t stop me from admiring what they’ve pulled off: a relatively successful, long-running black-and-white serial that has nothing to do with superheroes. Heck, a lot of superhero comics don’t make it to 54-plus issues.
This 304-page volume, the latest in the series of oversized hardcovers, collects issues 37-48. I really like the approach Cliff Rathburn is taking with the covers to these collections, using just two colors, and highlighting just one character.
Fables, Vol. 11: War and Pieces
Chris: The latest trade, collecting issues 70-75. Judging by some Internet comments I’ve read, I suppose this is where it all starts to go downhill …
Heroes, Vol. 2 hardcover
The X-Files #1 (of 6)
Kevin: Wildstorm’s multiple-personality disorder manifests itself this week as the DC Comics imprint displays its three disparate sides: There’s the update of the early-’90s superhero title, represented by Stormwatch PHD #16; the creator-owned series, represented by Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris’ Ex Machina #39; and the licensed properties, represented by the Heroes, Vol. 2, hardcover, World of Warcraft #13 and The X-Files #1.
The timing of The X-Files miniseries strikes me as strange, given that the movie opened in theaters in July (and didn’t stick around long). I’ve flipped through the first issue, written by producer Frank Spotnitz and drawn by Brian Denham, but I haven’t actually read it yet. The art is incredibly inconsistent, with the characters looking almost exactly like their Hollywood counterparts in one panel, and in the next appearing as if they’re made of melting wax. It’s incredibly distracting.
The Heroes hardcover collects the second season of webcomics based on the once-popular but now struggling NBC TV series. It’s a nice-looking volume by the likes of Joe Kelly, Steven T. Seagle, Duncan Rouleau, Mark Sable, Michael Gaydos, Tom Brummett, Ryan Odagawa and countless others.
Mad Kids #13
Chris: I find it highly amusing that there’s such a thing as Mad Kids. When I was a kid, one of the things I liked best about it was that it refused to cater to kids or talk down to them. It’s constant jokes about Reagan and the moral majority (or what have you) made me feel like I was being a small window into the adult world and its concerns. That was cool. Mad Kids? Not so cool.
Dead Space hardcover
Kevin: Speaking of other-media properties, this collects the six-issue miniseries by Antony Johnston and Ben Templesmith that serves as a prequel to Electronic Arts’ new sci-fi/horror video game.
Lucha Libre, Vol. 1
Kevin: I really enjoyed this comic, originally published in Europe by Humanoids before debuting last year in North America as a miniseries. Luchadores, werewolves, tiki warriors, and fantastic art. What’s not to like?
Amazing Spider-Man #578
Kevin: Mark Waid joins the Spider-Man creative collective, teaming with artist Marcos Martin for a two-parter about a mysterious earthquake in New York that traps a subway car full of passengers underground.
Iron Man: Director of SHIELD #35
Kevin: The final issue — well, sort of. It’s replaced next month by War Machine #1.
Spider-Man Kraven’s First Hunt Premiere Hardcover
Kevin: Because the debut of the female Kraven cries out for a Premiere Hardcover edition? I’m pretty sure I’ll never understand Marvel and DC’s trade policies.
X-Men: Magik: Storm & Illyana Premiere Hardcover
Kevin: Speaking of which … This collects, for the first time, the 25-year-old miniseries by Chris Claremont and John Buscema about Illyana Rasputin’s seven-year stay in Limbo. As I recall, it wasn’t very good.
Castle Waiting Vol. II #13
Chris: You know what I like about this comic? That it’s so friendly. No, I’m being serious. This is a very warm, friendly comic; the comics equivalent of having your favorite neighbor stop by for tea and iced cakes.
Fuzz & Pluck: Splitsville hardcover
Chris: I think I’ve said this a couple of times before, but Ted Stearn really doesn’t get enough attention, even from the alt-comics crowd. His surreal, farcical and fanciful stories — involving a surly plucked chicken and a shy, naive teddy bear — are really top-notch though. This latest collection, which sees the pair separate, with Fuzz being co-opted into a group of frightening toys while Pluck enters a bizarre world of gladiatorial combat, is his best yet.
Isadora Duncan: A Graphic Biography hardcover
Chris: The famed and scandalous dancer who died because she didn’t tuck in her scarf gets the graphic novel treatment courtesy of wordsmith Sabrina Jones and picturesmith Lori Bililove. Hill and Wang are the publishers.
The Lagoon hardcover
Chris: Tales of Woodman Pete showed that Lili Carre is an artist worthy of attention. Can she follow up on those early raves with this, her first graphic novel for Fantagraphics? Dunno, haven’t read the thing yet. Here’s a video preview, though!
Leonard Starr’s Mary Perkins On Stage, Vol. 5
Stan Drake’s The Heart of Juliet Jones, Vol. 1
Chris: That post-WWII soap opera period of the American comic strip doesn’t get a lot of attention from scholars, so I suppose it’s a good thing Classic Comics Press is releasing these collections of handsomely illustrated, sudsy tales of life and love among the pretty people. I admit I’m sort of curious to see how well these strips hold up over the years, but that’s all I’ll admit.
Petey & Pussy hardcover
Chris: A cat and a dog, each with the head of a middle-aged, balding human. If that description doesn’t either startle you or make you smile, then perhaps you’d best stay away from John Kerschbaum’s collection of comic tales. Those left behind will find much to enjoy in these darkly humorous tales. Video preview here.
Chris: Most people know Don Freeman as the author of the beloved children’s classic Corduroy. But he did other, more adult work, too, as this rediscovered graphic novel, about a man who is literally torn between the life of an artist and that of a financially secure office worker, proves.
Stan’s Soapbox: The Collection
Chris: Even as a young Marvel fan I could never bring myself to delve into Stan’s monthly columns. Maybe it was just my early-onset ADD, but even then, it seemed like too much hucksterism for me to be willing to delve into the prose, short though it may be. Still, proving that there’s nostalgia for just about everything, The Hero Initiative has collected all of Stan the Man’s columns into one fat book. Oh well, it’s certainly going to a good cause.
Swallow Me Whole
Chris: I gotta say, this book knocked me flat on my ass. I wasn’t expecting Nate Powell’s big graphic novel debut to be anywhere near as accomplished and emotionally involving as it is. It’s about a teen-age girl and her stepbrother. Both of them have serious mental problems (one hears voices, the other seems to have a debilitating OCD). One of them gets better, the other does not. It’s a helluva book and may well be on my best-of list at the end of the year. Check out a preview here.
Chris: This isn’t technically a comic, but rather a breezy, cursory look at the men who filled the ignoble office of vice-president, from John Adams to Dick Cheney. Text is by Bill Kelter with illustrations by Wayne Shellabarger. A bit late to cash in on election fever, but it should garner some interest from history buffs nevertheless. Top Shelf has a preview here.
Yeti vs. Vampire #1
Kevin: I wrote about this book back in August, and now it’s here! It’s like Christmas … or whatever’s the opposite of Christmas.
The full list of titles shipping this week can be found here.