Indie artists stage a bit of a coup this week as Marvel finally releases its long-awaited Strange Tales anthology miniseries, by a who’s who of alt-comix creators, and Vertigo debuts Jeff Lemire’s unusual monthly title Sweet Tooth.
Wednesday also will see a solid roster of kids’ books, from The Toon Treasury of Classic Children’s Comics and a Little Lulu collection to the second volume of Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet and The Incredibles: Family Matters trade paperback.
To find out what other releases have Chris Mautner, guest blogger Sean T. Collins and me talking, just keep reading. And, as always, let us know your picks in the comments below.
Sean T. Collins’ pick of the week: Strange Tales #1 (of 3)
Okay, so I’m a little biased (and also ethically compromised), seeing as how Marvel’s paid me to interview pretty much everyone involved in this project. But with a talent line-up that includes Nick Bertozzi, Nicholas Gurewitch, Michael Kupperman, Paul Pope, Dash Shaw, Johnny Ryan, Jason, Junko Mizuno, Peter Bagge, Molly Crabapple, John Leavitt and James Kochalka, this initial issue of the long-gestating anthology of alt-comix riffs on the Marvel U. would be on my list even if I wasn’t swimming in Mouse money because of it. (“Swimming” may be a slight exaggeration.)
Chris Mautner’s pick of the week: The Toon Treasury of Classic Children’s Comics
It would be a good week for kids comics without this reelease, but this just kinda puts the candy-colored nail in the coffin. Comics couple Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly have pulled together more than 340 pages of Golden Age kids’ comics. There’s a heavy reliance on Carl Barks, John Stanley and Walt Kelly, as you might well imagine, but Bob Bolling, Jules Feiffer, Sheldon Mayer, Al WisemanHarvey Kurtzman and even Dr. Seuss are well represented here. There’s even room for the occasional left-field surprise like Milt Stein. I don’t know if this will be as seminal a collection as say, The Smithsonian comic strip book (to which a few have already drawn comparisons), but it’s a wealth of great material that is sure to ignite a passion for the comics medium in your youngster, or perhaps even yourself.
Kevin Melrose’s pick of the week: Cosmic Odyssey trade paperback (new printing)
I have vague memories of buying the first issue of this prestige-format miniseries back in 1988 at the cramped little closet that called itself my hometown comic store. But to be honest, I’d forgotten about it until a few years ago, when I stumbled across all four 48-page issues for a dollar each at a flea market; it was the find of the year — for me, at least.
Outside of select runs of The Legion of Super-Heroes, I’m not a big fan of superheroes-in-space stories. But Cosmic Odyssey has at least one major thing going for it: Mike Mignola, fresh off of The World of Krypton miniseries and just before Gotham by Gaslight (and still a few years before Hellboy). Written by Mister Cosmic himself, Jim Starlin, Cosmic Odyssey features Superman, Batman, John Stewart, Starfire, Martian Manhunter, The Demon and a handful of New Gods working at the behest of Darkseid to, well, save the universe. It’s a familiar premise, but you don’t get many opportunities to see Mignola draw a bunch of superheroes in an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink space adventure.
Achewood, Vol. 2: Worst Song, Played on Ugliest Guitar hardcover
Sean: Thanks to The Comics Journal message board (now that’s a phrase you don’t hear every day!), I was an early Achewood adopter. In fact, I believe I gave the strip its first-ever national media mention, in a piece I wrote for Abercrombie & Fitch’s magazine/catalog/soft-porn hybrid A&F Quarterly. Since then I’ve fallen off the Achewood bandwagon, but through no fault of the strip — I just have a hard time following daily webcomics is all. But I’m also a stickler for reading things in order, which is what made Dark Horse’s initial Achewood collection, The Great Outdoor Fight, so frustrating to me: It collects stuff from the middle of the series! Worst Song, Played On Ugliest Guitar does it right, starting the strip from the beginning. It could be just what the doctor ordered.
Little Lulu, Vol. 20: The Bawlplayers & Other Stories
Chris: More John Stanley Little Lulu books is always great news in our house. I would hope it’s great news in yours as well.
Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels #3 (of 5)
Sean: Written by Mike Mignola with art by Ben Stenbeck, this miniseries takes the Hellboy/B.P.R.D. universe somewhere I’m stunned to realize it’s barely ever gone before: Victorian London. The Mignolaverse meets Victoriana, complete with secret Masonic societies, occultists and Rippers? What’s not to love?
Absolute V for Vendetta hardcover
Chris: Hey, I was wondering when we’d get around to this — a super-deluxe edition of Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s meditation on fascism, anarchy and vigilantism. The Wachowski Bros. liked it so much they made a rather tepid movie out of it. Still, it holds up well despite the years, and this new version boasts improved production values and coloring, which just might be reason enough to blow $100 on it (assuming you don’t own the trade already).
DC Comics Classics Library: Justice league of America by George Perez, Vol. 1
Kevin: Although as a kid I loved George Perez’s work on The Avengers and The New Teen Titans, I’ve only ever seen a couple of issues of his early-’80s stint on Justice League of America. However, this 176-page hardcover gives me the chance to remedy that. It collects the first half of his run: Issues 184-186 and 192-194, plus a rare JLA postcard set.
Justice League: Cry For Justice #3 (of 7)
Chris: In this issue: Metamorpho tenderly talks about the time he, Hawkgirl and the female Dr. Light played quarters.
Red Tornado #1 (of 6)
Kevin: Just what everyone’s been waiting for? No? The Kingdom Come heavy turned Justice Society member gets his own ongoing title — for real! — as Magog adds his name to the ever-growing list of characters who chafe at the restrictions of one team or another and set out on their own … to cry for justice. Or something. Meanwhile, the Justice League’s oft-dismembered android rates a miniseries detailing his true origin. Not his fake one.
Sweet Tooth #1
Sean: I haven’t read this yet so I have no idea if this comparison is warranted, but DC’s PR folks have been throwing around the description “Bambi meets The Road” and, by golly, I’m intrigued. This is written and illustrated by Jeff Lemire, who in the circles I move in is known equally for his melancholy Essex County trilogy from Top Shelf and his gorgeous convention sketches (not to mention his previous Vertigo outing The Nobody). Writer-artists who aren’t Paul Pope are a rarity at 1700 Broadway, and this thing seems very much like its own animal, so to speak, so I’m intrigued.
Agents of Atlas #10
Kevin: The Little (But Entertaining!) Comic That Could chugs along as Jade Claw and her forces launch an all-out assault on Atlas. Plus, hey, there’s a lovely Dave Johnson cover.
Immortal Weapons #2 (of 5)
Kevin: Cullen Bunn and Daniel Brereton cast the spotlight on the Bride of Nine Spiders in the second issue of the miniseries that replaces The Immortal Iron Fist at least through the end of the year. The Danny Rand back-up story continues, too, courtesy of Duane Swierczynski and Travel Foreman.
Sean: This has been a bit of an odd one, hasn’t it? It’s gorgeous and tight as a drum, just like every other Ed Brubaker/Sean Phillips collaboration, but for my money it hasn’t been as suspenseful as Criminal, as rewarding an exploration of supervillainy as Sleeper, or as engagingly steeped in regret as either series. But if you’ve read said series you know it’s a mug’s game to count this team out before the final panel — and since that’s what we’ll be seeing in this issue, I’m in.
Marvel Super Hero Squad: Team Up! digest
Kevin: Marvel collects the all-ages adventures of the chibi-like versions of its super-heroes that originally appeared on Marvelkids.com. Sure, I have my reservations, too, but the strips were written by Paul Tobin, so they’re bound to be good.
The Torch #1 ( of 8 )
Kevin: This isn’t as perplexing as DC’s solo titles for Magog and Red Tornado, but still. The original Human Torch? Sure, the Golden Age android received some attention recently, thanks primarily to Avengers/Invaders and flashbacks in Captain America, but the big draw here is Alex Ross. However, he’s only contributing the concept and the covers, as he did with Avengers/Invaders. And we know how that went over.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #2
Sean: Loved the first issue of this, though of course by “first issue” I mean “hundred-somethingth issue,” since it continues Brian Michael Bendis’s near decade-long run on Ultimate Spider-Man without missing a beat. Granted there’s not much that can really be done with that whole “everyone in Manhattan was killed by Magneto” plot point from Ultimatum. But other than that the writing was zesty as ever, there was a gorgeously drawn and colored Gwen Stacy make-out scene, and I’m pretty sure one of the series’ biggest bad guys was unceremoniously and permanently killed. What the heck’s going to happen now?
Amulet, Vol. 2: The Stonekeeper’s Curse
Chris: I’ve never been a big fan of Kazu Kibuishi’s Flight anthology, but I do very much enjoy his Amulet series, a Miyazaki-tinged, all-ages tale about a brother and sister trapped in a fantastic world and charged with great responsibility. It stays comfortably in the kid fantasy genre, but still offers enough quirks and heart to the table to not feel like a retread. Look for a review of the new volume soon.
The Boys #34
Chris: I believe this is the final issue in the “Self-Preservation Society” storyline as our heroes go after a menacing super-Nazi. Good times, no doubt.
Cat Burglar Black
Chris: Any Richard Sala comic is pretty much a must-buy for me anyway these days, but if you’re the type who needs extra persuading, let me point you to our own Michael May’s review of the book.
Dead Irons hardcover
Kevin: I could look at Jason Shawn Alexander’s art all day, which is one of the reasons I picked up the first issue of this Dynamite Entertainment miniseries (the other reason is my fondness for Western horror). But, man, I couldn’t make heads or tails of the story. That said, I’ll likely get this hardcover, if only for the art.
The Honey Lickers Sorority, Vol. 2
Chris: This is about female beekeepers, right? I’ve always felt apiaries were really unrepresented in comics.
Spy vs. Spy: Danger! Intrigue! Stupidity!
Spy vs. Spy: Masters of Mayhem
Spy vs. Spy: Missions of Madness
Chris: Three — count ’em, three! — pocket paperbacks of classic Spy vs. Spy goodness, just as creator Antonio Prohias intended.
Chris: All the cool kids at the art-comix table have been gabbing madly about this memoir from David Small, who until now was mainly known for children’s books, like his Caldecott-winning So, You Want to Be President? It’s an apparently grim story of Small’s childhood in a withdrawn, dysfunctional family. Oh, and when he was 14 he got throat cancer but didn’t know it because his family never told him what was wrong. I imagine this will turn up on a lot of best-of lists this year. I’ve got a copy, but I haven’t had the chance to read it. I’ll let you know when I do.
Studs Terkel’s Working
Chris: Harvey Pekar, Paul Buhle and 16 artists adapt Studs Terkel’s classic book on working in America. I honestly haven’t been too impressed with Pekar’s work in recent years, but I am curious as to how he’ll go about translating Terkel’s work to comics.
X-Men: Misfits, Vol. 1
Chris: Oh, now this is a silly bit of froth. Dave Roman, Rania Telgemeier and Anzu reimagine the X-Men saga as a shojo manga, with glassy-eyed Kitty Pryde having to choose between hunky-but-churlish Pyro and the aloof-but-handsome Iceman. I like how much Colossus resembled Tik-Tok from the Oz books.
The full list of items arriving in stores this week can be found here.