Food or Comics? | This week's comics on a budget

Welcome to the first of hopefully many editions of "Food or Comics?", the spiritual successor to our "Can't Wait for Wednesday" feature. As we did in CWFW, we plan to share what new and notable comic books we're excited to see in shops every Wednesday, but with one twist -- a price limit.

Every week we'll tell you what comics we'd buy if we had $15 to spend, if we had $30 and if we had some "mad money" (like a gift card) to blow on what we're calling a "Splurge" item. Admittedly, this was a tough exercise, much tougher than I thought it would be, and a reminder as to why I buy my books from a place that offers a discount.

To see what Kevin Melrose and I would spend our hard-earned money on, keep reading ...

Kevin Melrose

If I had $15, I'd buy ...

Abe Sapien: The Abyssal Plain #1 ($3.50)

I admit that I'm picking this up as much for Dave Johnson's cover as I am for the story, which recounts one of Abe Sapien's first B.P.R.D. assignments: searching for an ancient relic in a sunken Soviet U-boat. It's by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi and Peter Snejbjerg, so it's well worth the $3.50. (Dark Horse)

Northlanders #29 ($2.99)

This stand-alone issue of Brian Wood's Viking saga has at least two things going for it: The first is guest artist Fiona Staples, who produces consistently top-notch work, from Secret History of the Authority: Hawksmoor to North 40 to The Mystery Society. The second is the memory of another self-contained Northlanders story, Issue 17's "The Viking Art of Single Combat," in which Wood and guest artist Vasilis Lolos crafted an enthralling and informative 22-page fight between the champions of two feuding clans. It ranked easily among my favorite issues -- of any series -- of 2009. For "The Sea Road," Wood comes up with an equally engaging, but perhaps less violent, premise: The entire story is set on a cramped Viking ship heading into the uncharted waters of the Atlantic. (Vertigo)

Wonder Woman #600 ($4.99)

I don't think I've read Wonder Woman in probably three years, and I have no idea what's going on, story-wise. However, it's tough to pass up a milestone issue likes this, particularly when it features contributions by the likes of Amanda Conner, Geoff Johns, Gail Simone, Walter Simonson, Adam Hughes, Phil Jimenez, Jock, Jim Lee, Francis Manapul and George Perez. Plus, as with Superman #700, Wonder Woman #600 offers a preview of J. Michael Straczynski's new direction for the title. (DC Comics)

Captain America #607 ($3.99)

If I had a pull list, Ed Brubaker & Co.'s Captain America would be one of the few monthly series on it. This issue is the second part of the "No Escape" storyline. (Marvel)

That comes to $15.47, which exceeds the budget by a whopping 47 cents. However, I'm not above cheating -- or rummaging through the sofa cushions for change.

If I had $30 to spend, I'd also pick up ...

Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper ($3.99)

Writers Joe R. Lansdale and John L. Lansdale and artist Kevin Colden (Fishtown, I Rule the Night) -- that's an impressive creative team -- adapt Psycho author Robert Bloch's horror short story that originally appeared in Weird Tales magazine in the 1940s. Yours Truly is the first release from IDW's Robert Bloch Collection. You can see a preview here. (IDW Publishing)

The Last Airbender Movie Adaptation ($8.99)

Frankly, I'm a little torn on this one: As eager as I am to see a Last Airbender comic by co-writers Dave Roman and Alison Wilgus and artist Joon Choi, I'm put off by how white the characters are on the cover. I realize that reflects the (controversial) casting for the live-action movie, but it's particularly jarring to see the the change to the characters in their cartoon forms. (Random House)

The Royal Historian of Oz ($1)

Wonderland writer Tommy Kovac joins artist Andy Hirsch, a recent graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, for a five-issue miniseries that centers on a failed writer who discovers Oz really exists. However, he makes a serious misstep that brands him a criminal in two worlds, leaving his son to save him and the family name. If the premise weren't intriguing enough, the cover price certainly is. (SLG Publishing)

That brings me to $29.45. I'm getting better at this.


Tribes: Dog Years ($24.99)

Okay, $25 may not exactly be a "splurge," but this graphic novel by Michael Geszel and Inaki Miranda caught my eye a few months back. Featuring beautiful horizontal art by Miranda and Eva de la Cruz, Tribes takes place two centuries after a viral apocalypse shortened human lifespans to 21 years. The remnants of humanity splinter into tribes that survive among the ruins until, one day, everything changes for Sundog of the Sky Shadows. Paul Pope describes Tribes as "like Mad Max by way of Disney," which is enough to convince me to shell out the cash. You can see a 10-page preview here. (IDW Publishing)

JK Parkin

If I had $15, I'd buy ...

Usagi Yojimbo #129 ($3.50)

I've been a fan of Stan Sakai's samurai for many years, and it is consistently one of the best comics around. This issue features the return of Kato, who has been hunting Usagi because he believes the rabbit ronin stole money from him. (Dark Horse)

Northlanders #29 ($2.99)

I don't know what I can add that Kevin didn't already say about this book above, but writer Brian Wood talks more about it here. (Vertigo)

Secret Avengers #2 ($3.99)

You can never have too much Ed Brubaker, unless, of course, you're trying to limit your spending and two Brubaker books hit the stands during same week. It was a toss-up over whether to go with this or Captain America, but since I enjoyed the first issue so much, and it's loaded with characters I really like, I opted for Secret Avengers. (Marvel)

Invincible Iron Man Annual #1 ($4.99)

Matt Fraction and Carmine Di Giandomenico bring the Mandarin back into the fold in a book that will be released both digitally and in print on the same day. Because it's the cheaper of the two options, I'm going with the print version. (Marvel)

That brings my total to $15.47 ... which, like Kevin, is a little more than the set limit.

And if I had $30, I'd also buy ...

Unknown Soldier #21 ($2.99)

I'm disheartened that Joshua Dysart's resurrected Unknown Soldier series is ending, but I plan to be there until the finish. This issue is drawn by Rick Veitch and follows the "life" of a Kalashnikov AK-47 machine gun that was built in the 1970s and made its way through Africa, showing the lives it touched and took. Veitch talks more about the issue here. (Vertigo)

Captain America #607 (3.99)

The other Ed Brubaker title, featuring the work of Mitch Breitweiser and the legendary Butch Guice. (Marvel)

Muppet Show #7 ($2.99)

Roger Langridge's Muppet Show is always a delight, and even though he isn't drawing this one, Amy Mebberson is a more-than-capable replacement. This issue focuses on Fozzie, who apparently has mother issues. (BOOM! Kids)

Action Comics #890 (3.99)

I'm a fan of Paul Cornell's previous work at Marvel, so I'm interested in seeing what he has planned for Superman's pal Lex Luthor ... especially since it picks up on Luthor's role in the Blackest Night mini-series. (DC Comics)

That brings my total to $29.43, which means I'll have to pass on Flash #3 and Wonder Woman #600 -- both of which almost made the cut. And maybe I can talk Kevin out of his extra 55 cents, so I can combine it with my 57 cents to buy my own copy of The Royal Historian of Oz.


Usagi Yojimbo 12 inch plush ($24.99)

I'll probably take some heat for picking a plush toy rather than something you can actually read, but c'mon, look at this guy:

All plush toys should aspire to his level of badassery.

You can find the complete list of what's hitting stores this week at Diamond's site. Let us know in the comments field what you're planning on getting this week. Also let us know what you think of our new format.

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