The calendar tells me it's been nearly six months since Chris Mautner and I last waded through the Diamond shipping list at our former blogging home. Six months!
We figured that's been far too long, so we're bringing "Can't Wait for Wednesday" to Robot 6, and adding colleague JK Parkin to the mix.
The feature's premise is pretty straightforward: Every Tuesday afternoon, we'll select the titles we think may be worth checking out -- or, occasionally, avoiding -- when you make the weekly pilgrimage to the local comic store. Then we hope you'll tell us your picks in the comments section.
With all of that out of the way, let's get to our selections , which range from some blasts from the far-flung past -- okay, the 1980s -- to a couple of comic-strip archives to the cutest team of super-powered animals since Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew:
JK's pick of the week: The Unwritten #1
Mike Carey and Peter Gross return to Vertigo with the story of what would happen if that kid who plays Harry Potter in the films discovered he was really Harry Potter. Well, not exactly. It's about the son of a famous author who based his most famous creation after his son, but events start to unfold that suggest he may actually be that fictional character come to life.
I'm excited for this series, as I was a big fan of Carey's work on Lucifer and My Faith in Frankie, and the premise combines conspiracy theories, clandestine groups and fine literature ... three things I can get behind. I'm sure I'll get more than my dollar's worth out of this specially priced first issue.
Chris' pick of the week: The Complete Dick Tracy hardcover, Vol. 7
This latest volume in the ongoing Chester Gould archival project is notable for two reasons: 1) This is the volume where the series is incorporated into editor Dean Mullaney's Library of American Comics banner, with a larger format and (I believe) full-color Sundays; and 2) this is also where the series really starts cooking, as the first in a long line of grotesque villains, the Mole, appears, not to mention BB Eyes and several other pug-uglies. If you've been holding off on checking out this strip, this is a great jumping on point. It's all gravy from here on in.
Kevin's pick of the week: Howling Commandos #1
I'm holding out for a Nick Fury spy series set in the swinging '60s of the Marvel Universe, with a fledgling SHIELD fighting Cold War enemies and the rapid rise of superhumans. As that's not likely to happen anytime soon, I'll have to make do with Howling Commandos #1. Although it's only a one-shot, setting the stage for Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's Captain America: White, "Shotgun Opera" gives us a dose of Fury and his Howling Commandos in their prime as they battle Baron Strucker's war machine Panzer Max (which, I presume, means it uses profanity and becomes involved in adult situations). But the best part is that John Paul Leon provides all the art, from pencils to colors.
B.P.R.D.: The Black Goddess #5 (of 5)
Kevin: This issue wraps up what I think is the 11th B.P.R.D. series, which is kind of amazing. What, in its early stages, seemed like filler between Hellboy stories has developed into an engaging comic in its own right.
The Umbrella Academy: Dallas #6 (of 6)
Kevin: In some ways Dallas has been much stronger than the initial miniseries by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba. While Apocalypse Suite was perhaps too fast paced and too crammed with characters and ideas, Dallas feels more grounded -- if time-traveling assassins and talking chimps can be "grounded" -- and more fully developed. Still, part of me misses the frenzy.
JK: The "meta"/fourth-wall-be-damned crossover between the three (yes, three) Fables books continues, as Jack of Fables decides to return to the main Fables book ... which, if I'm remembering correctly, means he's giving his own book to Bigby and Snow White.
History of the DC Universe
Kevin: When I was a kid, I'd study Marv Wolfman and George Perez's two-issue History of the DC Universe by the hour, trying to absorb comic-book trivia and figure out what had changed in the wake of Crisis on Infinite Earths. At some point, though, I lost the second issue. So I may have to pick up this one-volume new edition, just for nostalgia's sake.
Secret Six #9
JK: Gail Simone and Nicola Scott take the Six to Gotham in a tie-in with DC's big-event miniseries Battle for the Cowl. Two members of the team decide to throw their hats into the ring in the quest to become Batman, while the always entertaining Ragdoll decides he wants to be the Boy Wonder. After the odd dream sequence we saw featuring Ragdoll last issue, I'm guessing that seeing him put on the little green shorts will no doubt be highly disturbing and priceless at the same time.
Swan, Vol. 14
Chris: It's nice to see this series is still going strong, even though it seems to get no props at all from either the mainstream comics or manga communities. Still, I adore Kyoko Ariyoshi's ballet series, and someday I hope to get caught up on the blessed thing.
JK: If you would have told me a story about real gorillas becoming soldiers in the Vietnam War could be played for anything besides a few inappropriate laughs, I would have mocked you severely. But now it's my turn to be mocked, as this series is everything you'd hope for and not what you -- or at least I -- would have expected. So don't let the premise fool you -- it's a very well done comic.
I Kill Giants trade paperback
JK: I didn't buy the miniseries when it first came out, but the reviews I've seen of Joe Kelly and Jm Ken Niimura's I Kill Giants have been very strong, so I'm looking forward to checking out the trade. It's the story of Barbara Thorson, a fifth-grader who copes with schoolyard bullies and killer giants.
Captain Britain and MI13 #13
Kevin: I keep meaning to buy the first trade paperback of this series which, by most accounts, is pretty good. This issue continues the "Vampire State" storyline as a traitor is discovered in British Intelligence.
Cloak & Dagger: Child of Darkness, Child of Light Premiere HardcoverSecret Wars II Omnibus Hardcover
Kevin: Ah, two more titles from my youth -- one well-remembered, the other ... not so much.
Dark Reign Young Avengers #1
JK: Announced at New York Comic Con this year, this miniseries by Paul Cornell and Mark Brooks pits the Young Avengers against their natural adversaries ... the Young Avengers. Or at least a team that calls itself the Young Avengers, but look a heck of a lot like the Young Masters of Evil. Cornell's done some fun stuff with Captain Britain, so I'm looking forward to what he can do with this Dark Reign tie-in.
Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #1
JK: It's nice to see Lockjaw finally get the prominence he deserves after all these years, and I expect great things from this new team. No doubt they will take the Marvel Universe by storm. Remember everything I said about Guerillas, above? Well, forget it ... this comic appears to be everything you'd expect from something called Pet Avengers. And I couldn't be happier to check it out.
The Punisher: Frank Castle MAX #70
Kevin: Crime novelist Duane Swierczynski ties up his inaugural arc on the series (with artist Michael Lancombe) as he puts Frank Castle through the wringer in the City of Brotherly Love.
Thor: Tales of Asgard By Stan Lee & Jack Kirby #1 (of 6)
Chris: Now here's a great and affordable reprint project: Marvel is re-releasing all the back-up Asgard stories that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby did back in the days when Thor was in Journey Into Mystery as a six-issue miniseries, with interlocking covers by Olivier Coipel. The Kirby nut in me would prefer that his work graced the covers, but that's still a great opportunity to slake my silver age Marvel fix.
Kevin: A reminder before you head out to the comic shop: This is the first of a two-part story by Jason Aaron, Daniel Way, Adam Kubert and Tommy Lee Edwards, not the penultimate issue of Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s "Old Man Logan" arc. That will follow next week.
Astro Boy Movie Prequel: Underground #1
Chris: Writer Scott Tipton and artist Diego Jourdan provide a prologue of sorts to the upcoming Astro Boy movie -- though I thought I had heard that the film ran out of funding and wasn't going to be released. Did that somehow get turned around. Anyway, I think it's safe to say this won't have an ounce of the charm, wonder and humanism that Osamu Tezuka's original stories did. In fact, I know it doesn't 'cause I read a early copy of the book.
Castle Waiting Vol. II #15
Chris: Jain and Pin continue their move into the castle as Linda Medley's warm, winsome fantasy series continues at its relaxed pace.
Complete Little Orphan Annie hardcover, Vol. 3
Chris: Collecting the years 1930 and '31, and featuring the first appearance of the boisterous Maw Green, IDW continues to pay loving attention to Harold Gray's red-headed girl.
From the Ashes #1
Chris: Bob Fingerman's much-previewed (you read Tim O'Shea's interview with the author, right) Love, Apocalypse Style comic arrives, as Fingerman imagines how he and his wife, Michele, would handle the end of the civilization if they were among the only folks left alive. Expect Fingerman's usual smart and smart-ass blend of humor, melodrama and horror.
Potter's Field hardcover
JK: BOOM! sent out a review copy of this hardcover that I started reading last night (and will probably talk about in "What Are You Reading?" this week). It's the tale of an unnamed man trying to find out who is buried in all the unmarked graves in a Potter's Field outside New York. I'm not very far into it yet, but one thing I can comment on is the package -- although the $25 may be out of many people's price range, this book does look pretty slick. I'm looking forward to reading more.
Sonic the Hedgehog #200
Kevin: A milestone for Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog, which apparently is the second-longest running licensed comic after Marvel's Conan the Barbarian.
The Unknown #1
JK: The second of Mark Waid's Big Bad BOOM! books this week, and also the second title in the 2009 Wild Waid Wave that BOOM! announced at San Diego last year. (I made those names up myself, BTW, so please don't blame BOOM!). With artist Minck Oosterveer,who looks like a name to watch, Waid tells the story of Detective Catherine Allingham and her assistant, B. Matt Doyle, as they try to solve the mystery of death. Like with Potter's Field, Waid moves out of his traditional superhero roots, so it should be interesting and fun to see what he does with something else that's outside his comfort zone.
Unthinkable #1 (of 4)
Kevin: How do you celebrate the debut of your thriller about a government think tank devoted to imagining unthinkable 9/11-type scenarios? If you're Unthinkable writer Mark Sable, you get detained and questioned by agents of the Transportation Safety Administration!
The full list of items arriving in stores this week can be found here.