In this week’s Thunderbolts #144, artist Kev Walker joins writer Jeff Parker to launch of a another new direction for the title, which has had a lot of new directions over the years. The premise this time? A team of super-criminals have their jail time converted into a particular form of public service—following Luke Cage’s orders as he attempts to turn them into superheroes. In addition to bad guys Juggernaut, Crossbones, Ghost and Moonstone, the new line-up also includes…Man-Thing? All right! He’s my favorite muck-encrusted mockery of a man!
Amazing Spider-Man Annual #37: Writer Kurt Busiek is back with another untold tale of Spider-Man, specifically his first meeting with Captain America (And by “his” I mean Spidey’s, not Busiek’s). Karl Kesel co-writes, while Patrick Olliffe, Paolo Siquera, Sandra Chang and Amilton Santos provide art. If that’s not enough ASM for you this week, Zeb Wells and Chris Bachalo have the latest chapter of The Lizard-focused story arc in Amazing Spider-Man #632.
Archie #609: Will Archie and Valerie’s blossoming romance end happily, in this second part of a two-part Archies/Josie and the Pussycats crossover arc?
Well, um, if Val’s crying tears of happiness, and that broken heart on the cover symbolizes a heart bursting because it is so full of love it can’t contain it, then yes, yes I bet they live happily ever after. Otherwise, it’s not looking so good.
Action Comics #858: Here’s the first of this week’s $1 reprints, alphabetically. Geoff Johns, Gary Frank and Jonathan Sibal’s first chapter of a story arc that would eventually be collected as Superman and The Legion of Super-Heroes, and lead in to Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds and all of the various Legion appearances since. Two other reprint books cost but one single dollar this week: Authority #1, the beginning of the astoundingly influential Warren Ellis, Bryan Hitch and Paul Neary super-team series, and Marvel Zombies #1, the first issue of the first Marvel Zombies miniseries, by Robert Kirkman and Sean Phillips.
Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne #2: Artist Frazer Irving joins Grant Morrison for the second issue of B.W.’s fight through time, this one set during what looks like most awesome Thanksgiving pageant ever. It’s 40-pages for $4, and you can see a five-page preview of it here. (Good news, Rachelle! Judging by that preview, Bruce Wayne has yet to put a shirt on!)
Best American Comics Criticism: This $20, 360-page trade paperback from Fantagraphics is nothing but transcriptions of Twitter feeds, message boards and comics blogs, mostly dealing with Stephanie Brown and how messed up Identity Crisis was. Oh wait a minute, I’m thinking of The Worst American Comics Criticism, the volume of comics writing I’m editing, in my mind. This is actually edited by Ben Schwartz, and includes pieces by Jeet Heer, Donald Phelps, John Hodgman, Douglas Wolk and Robert C. Harvey, plus plenty of pieces by cartoonists talking about and to other cartoonists.
Big Questions #14: Anders Nilsen’s latest. Preview here.
The Brave and the Bold #34: J. Michael Straczynski and Jesus Saiz present a Doom Patrol/Legion of Super-Heroes team-up, which sounds infinitely more exciting when one learns that it’s the first part of a two-part story, and the next issue features the Legion of Substitute Heroes and…The Inferior Five?
Captain Long Ears: Diana Thung’s story of self-proclaimed space ninjas Michael and Jam (the latter of whom is an imaginary purple gorilla) and their quest to find Michael’s dead father in a theme park, but end up trying to rescue an abused elephant instead. It’s $13, 170-pages, and looks like this.
Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze: Well, here’s a welcome result from DC starting to make use of Doc Savage again in their various First Wave books—an $18, 175-page trade paperback collecting 1972’s Doc Savage #1-8, featuring art by Ross Andru and Tom Palmer, and adaptations of old pulp stories by Roy Thomas, Steven Englehart and others.
Dungeon Quest Book One: This $13, 135-page, black-and-white softcover is the latest from Joe Daly, whose name you may recall from last year’s Red Monkey Double Happiness Book (and if you missed that, you should really get off the Internet and go check it out man, because that is some fine, fine funny comic book-ing). This is hardly anything at all like The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book, however, other than the fact that it’s really weird and really funny. Millennium Boy, a kid with a huge head shaped like a light bulb, gets bored one day and decides to set off on a quest, picking up a campaign party along the way. It’s essentially a kinda sorta Role Playing Game-style adventure, only set in a modern suburb, and with Dungeon Master Daly writing his own idiosyncratic sourcebook. I’m not doing a very good job of describing it, I know, but that’s only because it’s so damn weird. Hopefully I’ll do a better job when I sit down to write a formal review. In the mean time, give it a flip-through tomorrow! It has a character named Lash Penis in it! You can download the first 12 pages here.
Fortune & Glory: A True Hollywood Comic Book: Brian Michael Bendis’ old Oni Press book about his adventures trying to get one of his self-published crime graphic novels adapted into a Hollywood feature film is back, now in the form of a $20, 145-page, hardcover featuring Bendis’ art colored by Matt Wilson (of Phonogram fame), new prose material from Bendis and an introduction by Paul Dini. It’s been a looooonnnng time since I’ve seen Bendis writing and drawing a story, particularly in the loose, cartoony style he employs here, so I’m pretty excited to see how this looks and reads after the once young and hungry cartoonist has achieved comic book fortune and gory (if not Hollywood fortune and glory yet) over the course of the last decade at Marvel. Incidentally, this book was my first introduction to Marc Andreyko, whose name appears as part of a NSFW title of a comic book in the background of one panel, and the phrase that makes up that comic’s title still leaps to mind every time I hear Marc Andreyko’s name.
G.I. Joe: Hearts and Minds #1: IDW’s latest G.I. Joe comic is a five-issue limited series written by Max Brooks (World War Z) and drawn by Howard Chaykin and Antonio Fuso. That creative team should add up to some G.I. Joe comics that even folks who don’t normally read G.I. Joe comics might want to check out. It’s a $4 comic.
Marvel Zombies 5 #3: But–but Disney owns Marvel now! They’re the same company!
Why does Howard still have to wear pants?!
Neko Ramen Vol. 1: Hey! Order Up!: This is an $11, $160-page manga volume from Tokyopop collecting Kenji Soishi’s comic about a cat that runs a ramen noodle shop. High concept!
Secret Avengers #1: Another new Avengers series, but this one is different from all the others launched so far—it’s not written by Brian Michael Bendis! Instead Ed Brubaker is writing, and since this team is lead by Steve Rogers, it’s probably safe to assume Brubaker’s a good choice for the project. Mike Deodato pencils, and this is a $4 book.
Sense & Sensibility #1: Marvel’s next Jane Austen adaptation seems like a step-up from the previous one, as this time they’ve got Sonny Liew to provide the interior art as well as the covers. Nancy Butler writes this five-issue, $4-a-pop comic.
Wednesday Comics: Personally I have a hard time imagining anyone who isn’t at least a little interested in superhero comics having not read this as it was originally serialized, give the fact that the unusual format, publishing schedule and even paper stock were such important parts of the reading experience. But if you were able to resist, this huge $50, 200-page hardcover features every installment of every one of the weekly’s 15 features, almost all of which have something to recommend them (Personally, there was only one strip I didn’t care for at all). The who’s who of creators include Joe Kubert, Neil Gaiman, Paul Pople, Kyle Baker, Davie Gibbons, Walter Simonson, Mike Allred, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and more. For more info on Wednesday Comics, check out DC’s Source blog, which announced yesterday that it would be running Wednesday Comics-related posts all week.