I don’t envy retailers this week — well, any week, really — as DC Comics and Marvel combined unleash more than 80 titles on stores. And that’s not to mention variant covers, posters and other assorted merchandise.
What’s a comic shop, smaller publisher or reader-on-a-budget to do? Weep a little, maybe? I don’t know; I don’t have the answers.
What I, and fellow Robot 6 contributors Chris Mautner and JK Parkin, do have is a rundown of some of the noteworthy comics set to appear on those oh-so-crowded store shelves.
As always, be sure to leave your picks in the comments below.
Chris Mautner’s pick of the week: Low Moon
How much would you pay for four — count ’em — four Jason stories? Well, you’re paying $25 dollars whether you like it or not, bub, ’cause that’s the cover price.
Anyway, by this point Jason has proven himself to be one of the stellar talents in Fantagraphics’ roster (which is really saying something, by the way) and this collection of short stories (one of which was serialized in The New York Times) should likely only cement that reputation as the artist plays with such traditional genres as the Western, film noir, and alien abductions. All offered with the usual dollops of sardonic humor and heartfelt sympathy.
JK Parkin’s pick of the week: Outlaw Territory, Vol. 1
According to the book’s website, this Western anthology from Image Comics is supposed to be coming out in September. So hopefully it isn’t a mistake that it is listed as coming out this week.
In any event, as a fan of both Westerns and anthologies, it’s kind of like they made this book just for me. And like a lot of Image anthologies, it includes an impressive list of talent — Steven Grant, Fred Van Lente, Dean Motter (DEAN MOTTER!), Greg Pak, Joe Kelly, Joshua Hale Fialkov, and many more. If it is out this week, I’m excited to see it earlier than expected … otherwise, I guess I have something to look forward to in September.
Kevin Melrose’s pick of the week: Detective Comics #854
It seems longer than three years since the new Batwoman was introduced, triggering a firestorm of articles and interviews in the mainstream media about Gotham’s “lipstick lesbian” superheroine. Editorial writers praised DC Comics for attempting to diversify its fictional universe or else condemned the publisher for succumbing to some sort of PC/gay agenda. (In contrast, hardly anyone outside of comic-book circles noticed the “death” of Bruce Wayne earlier this year.) But shortly after her much-publicized debut, and amid alternating rumors of a solo series and nervous DC/Warner Bros. executives, Katherine Kane faded into the background.
So here we are in June 2009, far removed from the pages of 52 and The New York Times, and Batwoman finally — finally! — gets her solo series. It took three years and the “death” of Bruce Wayne, but she got it. Sort of.
With this week’s Detective Comics #854, by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III, Batwoman debuts as the headliner of the longest continuously published comic in the United States. If you can’t already tell, I’m looking forward to this issue, and this run. Rucka obviously is fond of, and invested in, the character. And Williams’ approach to the art — a blend of art deco and noir elements — and page designs are nothing short of stunning. (Let’s not forget The Question “co-feature,” by Rucka and Cully Hamner.)
Make no mistake: By this time next year I expect Bruce Wayne will again be Batman, and starring in this book and several others. But until then, I’ll enjoy my monthly dose of Detective by Rucka, Williams and Hamner.
Empowered, Vol. 5
Chris: I have to say, I’m impressed at how Adam Warren is able to dig so much wealth out of what would otherwise be a one-joke cheesecake premise. Five volumes already? If you asked me initially, I wouldn’t have thought there was enough here for four books.
Gantz, Vol. 5
Chris: Oh, Gantz, with your heads exploding and big-breasted, sweaty women and general catering to excessive sex and violence but at the same time pretending to be above it all. I like where your head’s at.
All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, Vol. 1
JK: If you’ve been waiting on the trade for this one and managed to make it this far, then you have the patience of Job. This collects the first nine issues by Frank Miller, Jim Lee and Scott Williams, as well as a sketchbook by Lee and the variant covers from the series.
Gotham City Sirens #1
Kevin: Every time I look at Guillem March’s cover, I can’t help but be reminded of DC’s unfortunate attempt to “sex up” the tail end of Ed Brubaker’s Catwoman run by adding artist Paul Gulacy. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised, though, and this will turn out to be more than “The Naughty Girls of Gotham.”
The Literals #3 (of 3)
JK: The Literals miniseries and “The Great Fables Crossover” both come to an end. Can the Fables and the Literals unite to keep Kevin Thorn from writing them out of existence? Will Jack of Fables finally do something beyond causing trouble? While you can probably guess the answers to both those questions, no doubt it’ll be fun to see how it’s all wrapped up.
Kevin: I really enjoyed the previous issue, and I’m intrigued by writer Brian Wood’s premise for the two-part “Shield Maidens” story that begins here: a real-world foundation for the Valkyrie lore of the Norse. Danijel Zezelj (Desolation Jones, Loveless) provides the art.
Kevin: Well, how about that: not one but two Viking comics arrive in stores this week! This one is named, appropriately enough, Viking. It’s the second issue of Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein’s series; I liked the first.
Astonishing X-Men #30
JK: The last chapter of “Ghost Box” and, as we learned this past weekend, this is Simone Bianchi’s final issue of Astonishing X-Men. Check out a preview on CBR.
Avengers/Invaders #12 (of 12)
Kevin: I concede that I’m not the target market for this kind of thing, but did this miniseries, which was announced with a blare of trumpets, kind of land with a muffled thud? The original Human Torch is getting his own miniseries, so I guess something came out of it.
Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia #1
Uncanny X-Men #512
JK: Before the Dark Avengers roll into San Francisco and raise some hell in Utopia #1, Matt Fraction takes the Beast and his new friends back in time to meet the first Sentinel and the Hellfire Club. I’ve enjoyed Fraction’s run on Uncanny so far, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens when they meet Norman Osborn’s team of fakers.
Dark Wolverine #75
Kevin: With this issue the latest volume of Wolverine becomes, um, Dark Wolverine, which, you have to admit, sounds like a joke one of your friends would make while mocking early-’90s comics trends. Right after Xtreme Wolverine. Anyway, it stars Wolverine’s son Daken, whom people like, I guess? Wolverine Sr., meanwhile, must be content with Wolverine: Weapon X, Wolverine: First Class, Wolverine Noir and whichever Avengers and X-Men titles in which he co-stars.
The Immortal Iron Fist #27
The Immortal Iron Fist, Vol. 4: The Mortal Iron Fist trade paperback
The Immortal Iron Fist by Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker and David Aja Omnibus hardcover
Kevin: Wow. It’s kind of a big week for fans of Iron Fist, isn’t it? There’s the final issue before the monthly goes on (supposed) hiatus for the duration of the Immortal Weapons miniseries, the fourth trade paperback, collecting the first arc by Duane Swierczynski, Travel Foreman & Co., and a hefty hardcover omnibus edition. It’s the last one that most interests me, as it collects the 16 issues of the series by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and David Aja, plus Orson Randall and the Green Mist of Death, The Origin of Danny Rand, and more.
Patsy Walker: Hellcat trade paperback
JK: Collecting the miniseries by Kathryn Immonen and David LaFuente, which has Hellcat joining the Fifty State Initiative and heading off for the wilds of Alaska.
Runaways 3 #11
Kevin: The new creative team of Kathryn Immonen (Patsy Walker: Hellcat) and Sarah Pichelli (NYX) debuts for an arc that promises one Runaway will die and one Runaway will live. Safe money is on Gert for the latter.
Kevin: What’s this? A Thor comic that’s not a one-shot/place-holder? That’s right, J. Michael Straczynski and Marko Djurdjevic return for another installment of the regular series!
The Ultimates by Mark Millar & Bryan Hitch Omnibus hardcover
JK: The price ($99.99) may look steep, but this collects almost 900 pages of Mark Millar, Bryan Hitch and Steve Dillon’s epic widescreen series.
The Ancient Book of Sex and Science hardcover
Chris: A follow-up to AdHouse’s Ancient Book of Myth and War, Sex and Science features full-page illustrations by Scott Morse, Lou Romano, Don Shank and Nate Wragg. Perfect for lovers of 50s-stylized, UPA-influenced cartoons.
Awesome 2: Awesomer
JK: The Jeff Smith cover for this anthology put together by the Indie Spinner Rack podcast team caught my eye, and the list of contributors hooked me: Chris Duffy, Sarah Glidden, Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey, Jeff Lemire, Alex Robinson, J. Chris Campbell, Robert Goodin, Alex Cahill, Chris Schweizer and many others. It also includes a minicomic created by students from the Center for Cartoon Studies.
Barack the Barbarian #1
JK: The comic industry’s love affair with President Obama continues with a Conan parody by Devil’s Due, written by Larry Hama. I wonder if they managed to work in the dog?
Faust, Vol. 2
Chris: Brigid Alverson hailed this in our “What Are You Reading?” column on Sunday. It’s a collection of Japanese short stories, manga and other j-pop ephemera, including some work by Akira author Katsuhiro Otomo. If you like-a the manga-a, you’ll likely enjoy this as well.
Goats: Infinite Typewriters, Vol. 1
Chris: Your webcomic book release of the week. Jonathan Rosenberg’s oddball, absurd strip is collected and set loose on an unsuspecting public thanks to Del Rey, collecting strips from 2003-2005.
Magic Trixie, Vol. 3: Magic Trixie and the Dragon
Kevin: Any week that sees an installment of Jill Thompson’s wonderful children’s series is a good week.
Chris: The latest entry in Drawn & Quarterly’s Petit Livre series of books features real, honest-to-god prayers to God, found and illustrated by Christian Northeast. Sounds promising.
Remake, Vol. 1
Chris: Lamar Abrams offers snarky, delightfully silly tales of a petulant, childish, crime-fighting robot named Max Guy and his friends. Lots of stuff gets blowed up, and at one point a dog is changed into a pair of ladies’ shoes, but it’s all in good fun.
Tezuka’s Black Jack, Vol. 5
Chris: If Low Moon hadn’t come out, this would surely have been my pick of the week. How can you go wrong with Tezuka? Answer: You can’t. Especially when it involves a two-fisted underground doctor with a penchant for black capes and performing surgery that defies all known laws of physics, let alone science.
OK, I give you that his sidekick Pinoko is a wee bit grating. This is still some great, classic manga.
Treasury of 20th Century Murder, Vol. 2: Famous Players hardcover
Chris: Who killed silent film director William Taylor? That’s the question Rick Geary poses in this latest entry in his Treasury of 20th Centuy Murder.
Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz
Chris: Yeah, I know, that’s what I thought, too. But get your mind out of the gutter of offensive stereotypes, because this is actually a 1904 comic strip story L. Frank Baum did for the newspapers in collaboration with illustrator Walt McDougall. Courtesy of Sunday Press Books, and they don’t publish crap. Pretty much an essential purchase for anyone interested in either the Oz mythos or early comic strips.
The full list of items arriving in stores this week can be found here.