Oh no! A terrible but tiny gremlin is in my laptop! Or in the Internet! Or in the massive crays of Newsarama.Com HQ’s central computer banks! Or somewhere! And this terrible gremlin won’t allow me to upload imagery, thus denying/sparing you a colored pencil-on-index card “gag” cartoon at the top of this column this week.
Well, the gremlin may be able to stop my pictures, but he can’t stop my words! So join me for a brief discussion of some of the books that look good, bad or somehow notable that will be in your local comic shop this week.
And then I have to go get the blender…if I remember anything from 1984′s Gremlins, it’s that the best way to kill a gremlin is with a blender. And that Phoebe Cates is pretty.
Android Karenina: Okay, I can see Pride and Prejudice and Jane Austen books in general being popular enough to support weird genre mash-up parodies, but Tolstoy? Are there really enough Anna Karenina fans out there who snicker at that title (and, okay, I admit that I did) to make writing and publishing a steam-punk version of it worthwhile? I guess so. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters author Ben H. Winters penned this $13 prose book, which will be showing up in comics shops this week.
Archie: Pureheart the Powerful Vol. 1: This $20, 145-page trade from IDW collects the initial Archie superhero parodies from the 1960s, featuring work from Frank Doyle and Bill Vigoda.
Artifacts #1: This is a big-deal, game-changing crossover/event type of story set in the Top Cow Universe, with writer Ron Marz and artist Michael Broussard helming. It’s a thirteen issue miniseries—one for each of the mystical artifacts the title alludes to—and is a $4 book.
Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne #4: Cowboy Batman vs. Jonah Hex? By Grant Morrison and Georges Jeanty? Sure, I’ll pay $4 for 30 pages of that. Any time Batman gets on a horse it usually turns out to be a pretty good comic book, right? You can see a preview here.
The Complete Jon Sable, Freelance Omnibus: Vol. 1: IDW presents Mike Grell’s early-eighties series about an athlete-turned-big game warden-turned-mercenary in a new $30, 450-page trade format.
Driver For the Dead #1: This three-issue miniseries by John Heffernan and Leonardo Manco is about bad-ass hearse driver Alabaster Graves, who drives for a New Orleans funeral home. Heffernan’s clever high-concept here is that funeral homes do more than just host funerals—they’re involved with all manner of ways of keeping the living from learning the truth about death. That means Graves puts down vampires and fights demons. I liked the first issue okay, although casting an uncredited Morgan Freeman as a character named Moses Freeman was a little unsettling. I reviewed the first issue here, if you’re interested (you’ll need to scroll down a bit). It’s $5 for an ad-free, spine-bearing 45-page book.
Flight Vol. 7: Kazu Kibuishi and many of the usual suspects from the worlds of comics and animation return for a seventh installment of the always worthwhile anthology. It’s a $27, 290-page trade paperback.
Four Eyes Vol. 1: Forged in Flames: Writer Joe Kelly and artist Max Fiurma (Amazing Spider-Man, Black Gas) tell the tale of a young boy in an alternate 1930s New York City where dragons are real. It’s a $10, 95-page trade paperback. You can read a whole issue’s worth of material that will be appearing in the trade by clicking here.
Green Lantern Corps #50: The Green Lantern B-title reaches its fiftieth issue, and to celebrate writer Tony Bedard and artists Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes have invited The Cyborg-Superman. That is not a very good choice of anniversary party guest, guys. Cyborg-Superman fans may want to check out this week’s Batman: The Brave and the Bold #19 as well, since it also features Cyborg-Superman vs. The Green Lantern Corps, only with 100% more Batman involvement.
School Rumble Omnibus Edition 14/15/16: Thirteen volumes in, Del Rey switches collection strategies for Jin Kobayashi’s slightly zany high school comedy. Rather than the $11, 180-ish page digests, this collection is a $20, 500-page brick.
Thun’da, King of the Congo Archives: Ha ha, I get it! Thun’da…like thunder, right? Clever! This early 1950s jungle hero is notable for much more than his funny name, though—the artist who drew his adventures was the great, late Frank Frazetta. This $50, 225-page hardcover collects all six issues of the Thun’da title, as well as back-ups from other titles, featuring not only cover-to-cover comics work from Frazetta, but also contributions from collaborators Gardner Fox and Bob Powell. Preview here.
Ultimate Comics Mystery #1: This is the start of the latest series in the latest series of miniseries set in the Ultimate Universe (I can still call it the Ultimate Universe, right? I don’t have to call is the Ultimate Comics Universe, do I?), by Ultimate OG Brian Michael Bendis and artist Rafa Sandoval, featuring a cover by J. Scott Campbell, because nothing says “Ultimate” like J. Scott Campbell covers. It’s a $4 comic.
Usagi Yojimbo #130: However you enjoy Stan Sakai’s long-running epic about a samurai rabbit in a feudal, not-so-funny funny animal version of Japan, Dark Horse has got you covered this week. If you read it in single issue format, here’s a new issue of the comic book series, and if you read it in trade, there’s Usagi Yojimbo Vol. 24: Return of the Black Soul, a $17, 190-page trade paperback. Previews here and here, respectively.
Vampire Tales: Just in time to tie-in to the current mutants vs. vampires storyline in the X-books (and/or to capitalize in the young adult romance novel-fueled vampire craze) comes this $20, 200-page collection of sundry stories of Marvel Universe blooksuckers like Morbius the Living Vampire and Satana The Devil’s Daughter (and the Son of Satan’s Sister, although that doesn’t have the quite the same sinister ring to it). According to Marvel.com, this will collect the first three issues of 1973 horror anthology Vampire Tales, which means it should include work from the likes of Steve Gerber, Roy Thomas, Bill Everett, John Romita, Jim Steranko, Don Macgregor and others. And this awesome cover.
Wolverine Origins #50: Writer Daniel Way brings his years-in-the-telling Wolverine story to its conclusion, with this, the last issue in the series. How will it end? I’m not sure, but I bet someone gets stabbed. Will Conrad handles the art, and it’s a $4 comic.
Wonder Woman #601: Okay, has everyone had their say about Wondy’s new costume? Because a month has passed since the unofficial start of Wonder Woman’s new direction, and J. Michael Straczynski, Don Kramer and Michael Babinski begin their story in earnest with this issue.