This week we bid farewell to one king and welcome another as Arvid Nelson's Rex Mundi ("King of the World") ends its six-year reign just as Brandon Graham's King City returns, if in a different form.
If I wanted to drive the theme a little further into the ground, I might try to link Kevin Smith to the court jester. Instead, I'll just point out that the filmmaker is back with the six-issue Batman: The Widening Gyre.
Wednesday also sees the end of Frank Quitely's first stint on Batman and Robin -- he'll continue to provide covers -- the debut of Junko Mizuno's Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu and a zero issue for The Incredibles.
To find out 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.
Kevin Melrose's pick of the week: King City #1 (of 12)
When Tokyopop pulled the plug last year on most of its original graphic novels, it appeared as if Brandon Graham's offbeat science fiction-fantasy would be among the titles stuck in publishing limbo. Thankfully, the cartoonist announced in May that King City would return in serialized form through a deal between Tokyopop and Image Comics. That means we get treated to a monthly dose of Joe the cat master, his amazing feline (Earthling J.J. Catingsworth III), his friend Pete the ski mask-wearing courier and the other quirky citizens of King City.
Apparently, the initial six issues will reprint the first volume, originally published in spring 2007 but not very well distributed. Even if you were lucky enough to find the Tokyopop edition, these single issues should be worth seeking out just so you can see Graham's wonderful art at a larger size.
JK Parkin's picks of the week: Batman and Robin #3 and Detective Comics #856
Although I’ve enjoyed just about all of the relaunched Batman titles for one reason or another, these two are really the cream of the crop.
Frank Quitely’s run on Batman and Robin wraps up with this issue – for now, anyway – as the book welcomes Phillip Tan next issue. Quitely and partner Grant Morrison already strutted their stuff on Superman, and now they’ve reimagined Batman and Robin in similar fashion. Luckily Morrison will still be here while Quitely takes a break.
Meanwhile, Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III continue to do great things within the pages of Detective Comics, as their Batwoman story has quickly become one of my favorite comics to read each month – well, not just read, but to look at over and over again. Williams is simply amazing.
Chris Mautner's pick of the week: Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu, Vol. 1
The incredibly cute and the decidedly disturbing meet once again in Junko Mizuno's latest offering, about a little ball of fuzz from an alien planet that comes to Earth in search of a bride. It's probably not for the faint of heart, but those who like a little sour mixed in with their sweet will enjoy this off-kilter fable.
Citizen Rex #2 (of 6)
Chris: Apropos of my recent foray into the history of Love and Rockets, here's the second issue of Gilbert and Mario Hernandez's ongoing sci-fi series.
Gantz, Vol. 6
Chris: Yet another manga series I've shamefully fallen behind in, but if you like blood, guts and the occasional tee-hee titter at sex, this thing has your name written all over it.
Rex Mundi (Dark Horse Edition) #19
Kevin: And with this, Arvid Nelson and Juan Ferreyra's complex alternate-history fantasy comes to an end. The final issue features a cover by Mike Mignola. You can check out a preview here.
Batman: The Widening Gyre #1 (of 6)
Kevin: Filmmaker Kevin Smith and artist Walt Flanagan follows up 2008's Batman: Cacophony with this six-issue miniseries that's supposed to introduce a new hero who will be spun off into a bimonthly series, also written by Smith.
Blackest Night: Titans #1 (of 3)Teen Titans #74
Kevin: I'm undoubtedly showing my age, but I have fond memories of Marv Wolfman and George Perez's New Teen Titans, with its action, melodrama, verbosity and occasional blood and gore (Brother Blood and Plasmus always creeped me out). That said, I realize the Titans franchise will never be as good as it was when I was a kid -- a testament to the power of nostalgia, and not necessarily a dig at the quality of writing and art -- but, boy, do the covers of these two issues sum up the current state of things: Gar Logan making out with the corpse(?) of Tara Markov, and a coffin. Yeah.
Crayon Shinchan, Vol. 9
Chris: I'm quite glad to see CMX is still continuing this series about one of the snottiest kids to ever grace comics.
The Flash: Rebirth #4 (of 6)
JK: After a slight delay, Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver’s Flash(es) miniseries returns this week. The solicitation offers up some questions; hopefully the issue itself will start to provide some answers.
Justice Society of America #30
JK: Dr. Fate returns in the second issue by the new creative team. The first issue of Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges’ run felt a little like they were trying to cram too much into the first issue. Hopefully they’ll find a better pace with this issue as they continue to get their feet wet with the characters.
Killer of Demons trade paperback
JK: Chris Yost and Scott Wegener’s “Am I really killing demons or am I just insane?” miniseries is collected into trade. Come to find out if the main character is crazy stay for the delicious Wegener artwork.
Fantastic Four #570
Kevin: New creative team Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham pick up where Mark Millar, Bryan Hitch & Co. left off.
Incredible Hulk #601
JK: Marvel gets into the $3.99-with-a-back-up-feature game with this issue, as Greg Pak once again writes the Hulk, and Fred Van Lente pens a back-up feature starring the Savage She-Hulk.
Before all this Red Hulk/Green Hulk nonsense, Pak wrote some of the best Hulk stories in a while when he took him off-world in Planet Hulk. So it’ll be nice to see him back on the book.
Runaways 3 #13
Kevin: I have the sneaking suspicion that this is the penultimate issue of the series, given that nothing has been solicited past the 48-page Issue 14.
Amelia Rules! Vol. 2: What Makes You Happy (Simon & Schuster Edition)
Chris: I imagine what makes Jimmy Gownley happy is those big, fat checks from Simon & Schuster. Seriously, that's gotta feel like a major vindication, not to mention a great way to get your books into the hands of plenty of young, non-comic readers.
Best Erotic Comics 2009
Chris: I have no way of knowing if these are actually the best or not, but the line-up -- Alison Bechdel, Gary Baseman, Peter Kuper, Junko Mizuno, Gilbert Hernandez, Ellen Forney, Toshio Saeki -- certainly suggests that at worst it falls in the very good category.
JK: Sadly, this is the last issue of Richard Moore’s fun horror/comedy comic. But maybe we’ll finally get to see Abbey and Paris hook up.
The Color of Earth, Vol. 3: The Color of Heaven
Chris: Speaking of sex, here's the third and final volume in Korean artist Kim Dong Hwa's story about a young girl's sexual and romantic awakening. If I tell you that it was based, at least in part, on his mother's life as a girl does that frighten or thrill you? What if I tell you it's a surprisingly good and thoughtful story regardless of the source material?
The Incredibles #0The Unknown #4 (of 4)
JK: BOOM! kicks off The Incredibles ongoing series with a zero issue, while another Mark Waid comic, The Unknown, wraps up its first miniseries. Check out a preview of The Unknown #4 here.
Jennifer's Body hardcover
Chris: Apparently BOOM! has decided that comics don't have enough Megan Fox in them, because they've opted to adapt this upcoming horror film starring the Transformers actress. Personally, I feel that comics don't have enough Richard E. Grant, but that's just me.
The Muppet Show trade paperback
Chris: Ten dolalrs is a pretty good deal for any trade collection of Roger Langridge's comics, licensing property or no licensing property.
Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson: Homecoming hardcover
Chris: This is about the lady who turns into the wolf, right? I always get it confused with the Kate DiCamillo series about the pig. Anyway, this is the latest collection from the Dabel Bros. line. You should know yourself well enough by now to determine whether that scrap of information is enough to send you scrambling to the store.
The full list of items arriving in stores this week can be found here.