Crime, horror/supernatural and science fiction (or at least science fiction-like) books, rather surprisingly, rule comic shops this week. Go figure.
Crime is well-represented by the launch of Vertigo’s crime imprint — led by Dark Entries and Filthy Rich — Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark’s final issue of Daredevil, the latest volume of Black Lagoon, and more Punisher titles than you can shake an AK-47 at.
Horror/supernatural fans certainly could do worse than the Warren Ellis graphic novella Frankenstein’s Womb, or the deluxe hardcover collection of J. Michael Straczynski and Gary Frank’s Midnight Nation.
And science fiction checks in with the fourth volume of Naoki Urasawa’s excellent 20th Century Boys, Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s alternate-history Ooku: The Inner Chambers, the final episode of The Middleman, and Days Missing, a collaboration between Archaia and Roddenberry Productions.
To see what other releases have Chris Mautner, JK Parkin and me talking, just keep reading. And, as always, let us know your picks in the comments below.
JK Parkin’s pick of the week: Daredevil #500
I was going to make a joke about how Ed Brubaker was going to use this big anniversary issue to bring back Captain America, but I figured that would be too obvious. As would a joke about something horrible happening to those closest to Matt Murdock (that’s probably a given).
Nope, this issue wraps up Brubaker and artist Michael Lark’s long and illustrious run on the title, as they tie up everything just in time for Andy Diggle to take over. Although the book’s been a bit under the radar compared to Brubaker’s other Marvel series – how many comics end up on CNN, though? – it’s been a good, solid run that’s had plenty of twists and turns.
That would be enough to make this my pick of the week, but the icing on the cake is the return of Ann Nocenti to the character, as she has a story in this book as well. Sweet.
Chris Mautner’s pick of the week: Ooku: The Inner Chambers, Vol. 1
Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s A Drifting Life shared the coveted Osamu Tezuka Cultural Award with this book, an alternate history of sorts that imagines a feudal Japan where a strange disease has killed off nearly all the men, leaving the women in charge and the men working mostly as highly valued (and protected) servants.
Author Fumi Yoshinaga has long been considered one of the premier yaoi manga-ka (in America, at least). And works like Antique Bakery and Gerald and Jacques prove she can do more than titillate the teen-girl market. All I’ve hear seems to suggest this is her watershed book, and I’m dying to see here it goes.
Kevin Melrose’s pick of the week: Unknown Soldier, Vol. 1: Haunted House
After reading the big New York Times article about Vertigo’s Unknown Soldier I feel as if I may be missing out on something. Writer Joshua Dysart, perhaps best known for his work on B.P.R.D., and artist Alberto Ponticelli have reimagined the three-decades-old concept, transforming the protagonist from a soldier in World War II into a physician in 21st-century Uganda.
“Haunted House” collects the first six issues of the Eisner Award-nominated series (ideal for playing catch-up). You can read a preview here.
JK: DC has teased the identity of the new Batgirl all summer, and this blog post promises “more clues” on Wednesday, which I presume means we aren’t going to find out this week who is under that mask. I’d just be okay with a good Batgirl comic myself. Creatively, DC’s been on a pretty good roll with the Bat-books since they relaunched, so let’s hope the momentum keeps going.
Dark Entries hardcover
Filthy Rich hardcover
JK: Vertigo’s crime line launches with new graphic novels by Brian Azzarello and Victor Santos, and novelist Ian Rankin and Werther Dell’edera. Chris reviewed both a couple of weeks ago, and you can check out previews on Playboy.com, which is, of course, not safe for work.
Bomb Queen Omnibust, Vol. 1 hardcover
Kevin: I’ve never read Jimmie Robinson’s series about a scantily clad supervillain who becomes the benevolent dictator of her city, but the title of this oversized hardcover makes me chuckle just a little (the cover design is nice, too). It collects Bomb Queen #1-4, Bomb Queen II #1-3 and Bomb Queen III #1-4, and throws in some extras for good measure.
Midnight Nation Deluxe Hardcover
Kevin: This $100 oversized hardcover collects the 12-issue miniseries and special by J. Michael Straczynski and Gary Frank about a police officer who is plunged into a shadow world as he goes in search of his lost soul. This book also includes a cover gallery and extras.
Dragon Prince #1-4 Reader Set
Kevin: If high-priced hardcovers aren’t your thing, how about a “convenient reader pack” of Top Cow’s first all-ages miniseries about a teenager who discovers his father is a dragon? Four issues for $7.99 isn’t bad.
Black Widow: The Sting of the Widow Premiere Hardcover
Kevin: Between this archival collection and the upcoming Deadly Origin miniseries, Marvel is obviously is priming the pump for Black Widow’s role in next year’s Iron Man movie sequel. The Sting of the Widow features ’60s and ’70s stories by the likes of Gerry Conway, Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Gene Colan, Don Heck and John Romita Sr.
A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge
Chris: This one’s sure to get a big push from the mainstream media. Josh Neufeld, probably best known for his work with Harvey Pekar and for his collection of travelogue tales, A Few Perfect Hours, chronicles the trials and tribulations of five New Orleans residents caught up in Hurricane Katrina. I’ll have a review up next week.
JK: In which Archie makes his indecent proposal to Veronica. Would it be appropriate to insert a Captain America joke here? No?
Astro Boy Movie Adaptation #1
Kevin: As the title indicates, this is IDW Publishing’s adaptation of the big Summit Entertainment/Imagi Studios animated movie that debuts in October.
Black Lagoon, Vol. 7
Kevin: Killer maids? Government intrigue? Criminal gangs? It must be another volume of Rei Hiroe high-octane (and hyper-violent) action-comedy.
Days Missing #1 (of 5)
Kevin: This, I believe, is the first fruit of Archaia’s deal with Roddenberry Productions, announced back in February. Written by Phil Hester and illustrated by Frazer Irving, Days Missing centers on a being, called The Steward, who has shaped the course of humanity by removing critical days from the historical record. You see see a preview of the first issue here.
Gargoyles, Vol. 1: Bad Guys
Gargoyles, Vol. 2: Clan Building
JK: SLG Publishing wraps up its Gargoyles stories with these two volumes, both of which feature issues that never saw the light of day in the monthly format.
JK: This collects the miniseries that ran on MySpace oh-so-many moons ago, before the comics section went belly-up. The book features a new Paul Pope cover and the absolutely incredible artwork of Emma Rios, who is working with Mark Waid on Marvel’s upcoming Strange miniseries.
The Middleman: The Doomsday Armageddon Apocalypse
JK: The Middleman returns to its comic-book roots with a story based on an unused script from the short-lived and much-loved-at-my-house ABC Family series. Sigh. It sucks when stuff I like gets canceled.
Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys, Vol. 4
Kevin: I rave about Urasawa’s Pluto and 20th Century Boys every time a new volume is released, so I’ve just about run out of things to say about the titles. Just about. If you know one of those “I hate manga” types, 20th Century Boys might just be an ideal book to help them change their tune.
Warren Ellis’ Frankenstein’s Womb hardcover
Kevin: Warren Ellis and Marek Oleksicki weave their own tale of Frankenstein, set in 1816 — the fabled “Year Without a Summer” — as Mary Wollestonecraft Godwin, Percy Shelley and Clair Clairmont visit Castle Frankenstein, and Godwin (the future Mary Shelley) is transformed by what she encounters.
Wet Moon, Vol. 5
Chris: I haven’t been following Ross Campbell’s Southern Gothic saga, but I did like his zombie graphic novel The Abandoned, and I know a lot of folks enjoyed his Minx book Water Baby. Plus, he’s really got a knack for drawing those zaftig ladies. That’s always a plus.
The Comics Journal #299
Chris: There’s no big career-spanning interview in this issue apart from Sean Collins’ Q&A with Josh Cutter, but don’t let that dissuade you from picking this up. The big story here is Bob Levin’s spectacular essay on Michel Choquette and his never-completed comics anthology. Back in the ’70s, Choquette attempted to put together an awe-inspiring book featuring just about every single noteworthy cartoonist of that period and then some, including Jack Kirby, Harvey Kurtzman, Art Spiegelman, Barry Windsor-Smith, Don Martin, Ralph Steadman, Will Eisner, Arnold Roth, and even folks like Frank Zappa, Tom Wolfe and William Burroughs. Sadly, the project never got off the ground, and Levin details in his typical stellar fashion why and how. It’s a fascinating tale, one well worth your $12.
Kindling: James Jean Poster Book
Chris: Your James Jean purchase of the week. Thirty dollars nets you 12 lovely prints, courtesy of Chronicle Books.
The full list of items arriving in stores this week can be found here.