For thousands of people, tomorrow is Comic-Con Day 0, or Preview Night. But for the rest of us, it’s still just New Comics Day.
Okay, not “just” — that makes it sound as if it’s somehow second best; it’s certainly not. This is a really good week for comics, the crime genre in particular.
The list is led by Darwyn Cooke’s much-anticipated, and already highly praised, adaptation of Donald Westlake’s Parker: The Hunter. That’s followed by the fourth volume of Naoki Urasawa’s Pluto, Jamie S. Rich and Joelle Jones’ You Have Killed Me, and the $1 100 Bullets #1 Vertigo Crime Sampler.
If crime or mystery isn’t your thing, there’s plenty more to recommend, from the Golden-Age weirdness of Fletcher Hanks in You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation to the Golden-Age reimagining of Project Superpowers: Chapter Two to the modern-day superheroics in the milestone Amazing Spider-Man #600.
Somewhere in between you’ll find the return of Roman Dirge’s Lenore, the long-awaited finale of Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds and an adaptation of Fahrenheit 451.
To see what other titles Chris Mautner, JK Parkin and I think are worth a second look, just keep reading. And, as always, let us know your picks in the comments below.
JK Parkin’s pick of the week: Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter hardcover
It seems like we’ve been waiting a year for this one. And we have, actually: It was announced last year during preview night of Comic-Con International. Of course, those of us on the West Coast haven’t had to wait as long as the rest of you, as retailers out here got it last week.
In any event, when exactly you bought it isn’t near as important as the fact that you get your hands on it, which is something I highly recommend you do. It may be too early to name the book of the year, but it’ll take something really special to outdo Darwyn Cooke’s artistic tribute to the work of Richard Stark — aka the late Donald E. Westlake.
(I should probably note that I haven’t read the other well-reviewed book that came out recently, Asterios Polyp, but I plan to start soon).
The Hunter is a beautiful book, both inside and out; it’s a gorgeously designed hardcover that will look handsome on your coffee table or shelf of choice. They put a lot of care into making this a nice package, and it shows.
More importantly, though, is what’s inside. Cooke is at the top of his game with this one, and his love for the source material can be found on every page.
Chris Mautner will have a more thorough review of it later this week.
Chris Mautner’s pick of the week: You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation
Collecting the remainder of material (at least that we know of) by early Golden Age artist Fletcher Hanks, Evil Creation is pretty much a must-buy for anyone who picked up and enjoyed the first volume, I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets. In my review, I described the book as “strange, powerful, funny, terrifying and yes, at times beautiful,” and all that holds true on a second read. It’s perhaps not as revelatory as the initial collection, but editor Paul Karasik has proven without a doubt that Hanks, though an unlikable person, was a cartoonist of unique and powerful talent. They don’t make ’em like that anymore, but then, they didn’t really make ’em like that then, either.
Kevin Melrose’s pick of the week: Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka, Vol. 4
There are plenty of books I love and eagerly recommend to others, but I can’t think of any series that I’ve looked forward to as much as Naoki Urasawa’s Pluto. Each volume leaves me torn: I can’t wait to devour it, yet I realize as soon as I finish I’ll be cursed to wait for the next installment.
As you probably know, Pluto is Urasawa’s retelling of Osamu Tezuka’s classic Astro Boy story “The Greatest Robot on Earth,” with the tale now cast as a sci-fi murder mystery. It’s been described as “Astro Boy for adults,” which is just about right. It’s masterfully written and illustrated, and filled with suspense, sadness, big questions and complex, engaging characters.
This fourth volume delves into the origin of Atom (Astro Boy), reveals the last of the Seven Great Robots and, of course, delivers some major plot twists.
Beanworld, Vol. 2: A Gift Comes hardcover
JK: The second volume of Larry Marder’s Beanworld comics, originally released by Eclipse back in the day. These odd-yet-fun comics hold up really well decades after they were first published.
Creepy Archives, Vol. 4 hardcover
Chris: More classic horror comics, courtesy of editor Archie Goodwin and his pals. Pricey, but totally worth it. Some day these will be mine.
Dethklok vs. The Goon (one-shot)
JK: Cartoon Network’s heavy-metal band of choice meets Dark Horse’s resident tough guy. I expect hilarity to ensue.
MySpace Dark Horse Presents, Vol. 3
Kevin: This third print collection of the online anthology includes contributions by Mike Mignola, Stan Sakai, Chris Onstad, Becky Cloonan, Jane Espenson, Josh Dysart and others.
100 Bullets #1-Vertigo Crime Sampler
Kevin: One dollar gets you a 48-page flipbook containing a reprint of the first issue of the stellar series by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso, plus previews of Vertigo Crime titles Dark Entries and Filthy Rich.
Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #5 (of 5)
Kevin: Is it bad that I thought this Geoff Johns-George Perez miniseries already had ended? Hey, the previous issue came out back in April, so my mistake is understandable. Anyway, this finale leads into next month’s relaunch of Adventure Comics.
Amazing Spider-Man #600
JK: This milestone issue features an all-star line-up of creators, Stan Lee, Dan Slott, Mark Waid and John Romita Jr. Slott writes the lead story, which features the return of Doctor Octopus and a “wedding you never predicted.”
Captain Britain and MI13 #15
JK: Sigh. Captain Britain & Co. wrap up a fun run of comics. Hopefully everything magical in the UK will be fine without them.
Immortal Weapons #1 (of 5)
Kevin: Here’s the miniseries that replaces The Immortal Iron Fist miniseries while the latter is officially “on hiatus.” As the title suggests, it’s a series of one-shots focusing on the five warriors introduced in Iron Fist #13: Bride of Nine Spiders, Dog Brother #1, Fat Cobra, Prince of Orphans and Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter. This double-sized first issue centers on Fat Cobra, while writer Duane Swierczynski kicks off an Iron Fist back-up story that will run through the entire series.
Confessions of Sister Jaqueline
Chris: How to tell if it’s porn #8,968: If the main character’s name is Jaqueline, and she’s a nun, it’s porn.
Chris: Two new releases in Fantagraphics’ Ignatz line. I was wondering if something had happened to the line, as it’s been a while since we’ve seen a new issue in any of the series. Both books are really good: Sala’s Delphine is the one that will probably get the most attention since he’s the better known cartoonist, but you really should take the time to track down Sergio Ponchione’s Grotesque. It’s a surreal charmer.
A Drifting Life (new printing)
Chris: A new printing of what is apparently Tasumi’s very successful memoir. Good for him. I reviewed the book here, in case you’re curious.
Fahrenheit 451 hardcover
Chris: This could be intriguing. It’s an adaptation of the Ray Bradbury classic, done by Tim Hamilton (The Trouble with Girls) and published by Hill and Wang, which usually sticks to nonfiction. It even comes with Master Bradbury’s approval, which doesn’t necessarily mean a home run, but is nice to know nevertheless. Previews on the Amazon page.
Flight, Vol. 6
Kevin: It’s kind of amazing that Kazu Kibuishi & Co. are already on their sixth volume of the imaginative and visually stunning anthology series. Contributors include Kibuishi, Graham Annable, Michel Gagne, Steve Hamaker, Andrea Offermann and Kean Soo.
From Wonderland With Love: Danish Comics in the Third Millennium
Chris: I’m always curious as to what other countries get up to, comics-wise, so I’m a bit eager to check out this collection of Danish comics. A quick thumb-through suggests a wide swath of styles. Look for a full review to be coming down the pike soon.
George McManus’ Bringing Up Father hardcover
Chris: NBM collects the first two years of dailies from McManus’ ever-popular “poor folks get rich” strip, circa 1912-1914. McManus’ style hadn’t become as sharp and ornate at this point, but I imagine the strip was still plenty amusing in its nascent years.
Lenore Vol. II #1
Kevin: Roman Dirge returns to his popular creation Lenore, “the Cute Little Dead Girl,” with a new color series from a new publisher, Titan.
Mouse Guard, Vol. 2: Winter 1152 hardcover
Kevin: The second volume of David Petersen’s well-regarded anthropomorphic fantasy gets a hardcover collection. The story is engaging, and the artwork stunning. If the packaging as anything like the first volume, it’s certainly worth picking up — even if you bought the single issues.
Oishinbo, Vol. 4: Fish, Sushi & Sashimi
Chris: The manga ode to Japanese cuisine continues with a look at dishes involving raw fish. Pass the wasabi.
Project Superpowers: Chapter Two #1
JK: Dynamite kicks off the second limited series featuring the entire host of redesigned Golden Age characters under the direction of Alex Ross.
Leonard Starr’s Mary Perkins On Stage, Vol. 6
Stan Drake’s The Heart of Juliet Jones, Vol. 2
Chris: Break out the Kleenex! Fans of the sudsy soap-opera era of the 1950s can rejoice in the release of two new volumes from two seminal strips in the genre. Heartbreakers and cads abound, no doubt.
Will Eisner’s A Family Matter (WW Norton edition)
Will Eisner’s Minor Miracles (WW Norton edition)
Chris: Two of the maestro’s later graphic novels hit the re-release circuit. Haven’t read ’em. Any good?
Willie & Joe: The WWII Years slipcase
Chris: When this originally came out in 2008 I think I called it one of the most important collections of the year, or words to that effect. I stand by that statement. And now that this seminal book of Bill Mauldin’s WWII work is a lot cheaper, you have even less of an excuse to prove me wrong.
You Have Killed Me hardcover
Kevin: Jamie S. Rich and Joelle Jones reunite for this noirish murder mystery about a private detective searching for the sister of his ex-fiancee. I enjoy the work of both creators, and I love a good mystery. Add a title borrowed from a Morrissey song, and this book is a must-buy for me. Publisher Oni Press has a 31-page preview if you want to find out for yourself.
The full list of items arriving in stores this week can be found here.