With only a couple of weeks to go until Halloween, publishers are releasing several horror and holiday-related comics to read by the campfire on a foggy night, under the covers with a flashlight or next to a creaky door as the wind howls behind you. Or you could just read them during the day, I suppose, but where's the fun in that?
This week Vertigo offers up a Halloween special featuring several of their character, including the first look you'll get at the Mike Allred-drawn I, Zombie series. They've also finally collecting the vampire mini Blood and Water. Image has The Perhapanauts Halloween Spooktacular and a one-shot featuring supernatural hero Hector Plasm. IDW has a new Clive Barker book, Seduth 3-D, as well as the collection of the "little grey men" series Groom Lake. And Marvel collects the Mephisto Vs. miniseries, which features the Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four and X-Factor going toe-to-toe with Marvel's version of the devil.
And there's a lot of non-horror stuff this week, too -- everything from the return of Magneto to the first issue of The Anchor to the American debut of Kodansha.
To see what Chris, Kevin and I are looking forward to conjuring up on Wednesday, read on ...
Kevin Melrose's pick of the week: Blood & Water trade paperback
When it comes to Judd Winick comics, people fall primarily into one of two camps: Those who who love The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius and those who loathe his superhero output. I can't speak to the quality of either, really -- I haven't read Barry Ween, and I've only picked up a couple of his capes-and-tights titles -- but I thoroughly enjoyed this five-issue Vertigo miniseries.
Released in 2003, Blood & Water takes a somewhat-fresh approach to vampirism as a young man (Adam Heller) dying from Hepatitis A is granted immortality by his friends, one of whom later is fatally attacked by a mysterious assailant. Adam meets with other members of the vampire community, learns he's not exactly what he thought and -- well, that's where things get a little old hat. The strength of Blood & Water is in Winick's characterizations, the little tweaks of lore -- for example, vampires have to be cremated after death or else they return as emotionless zombies -- and Tomm Coker's art. (Vertigo)
JK Parkin's pick of the week: Anchor #1
Phil Hester and Brian Churilla team up to tell the story of an immortal warrior monk who stands at the gates of Hell to protect the Earth from the onslaught of monsters and demons. After being duped into falling asleep for centuries, the Anchor wakes up to take on all the monsters that have slipped through while he was out.
I've been anticipating the story of "God's own leg breaker" since it was announced in San Diego. This should be a lot of fun. (BOOM! Studios)
Chris Mautner's pick of the week: The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga
One of my basic rules of thumb regarding Can't Wait for Wednesday is if it involves Tezuka, it's probably going to be my pick of the week. And here we have a generous coffee-table book all about the seminal manga-ka, written by Helen McCarthy, who's penned a number of books about anime and manga, most notably perhaps The Anime Encyclopedia. Abrams usually does a decent job with layout and design, so I'll be keeping those aspects in mind when I check this out at my local store. (Ilex)
The Absolute Death hardcover
Kevin: This $100 oversized slipcased edition collects stories starring the second most-popular -- okay, most popular -- character from Neil Gaiman's long-running Sandman series. The 360-page hardcover features the Death: The High Cost of Living and Death: The Time of Your Life miniseries, plus the Death Talks About Life AIDS pamphlet, numerous shorts, The Sandman #8 and #20 and more. There's also an introduction by Amanda Palmer. (Vertigo)
House of Mystery Halloween Annual #1
JK: Vertigo offers up an interesting mix of previews of several of its titles like Madame Xanadu, Hellblazer and the upcoming I, Zombie along with a new Merv Pumpkinhead tale and a framing sequence involving the characters from House of Mystery. It should be a good introduction for anyone not reading those titles who might be interested in checking them out. (Vertigo)
Secret Six #14
JK: I've mentioned before that this is my favorite monthly comic from DC proper. This issue wraps up the big "Depths" storyline featuring Wonder Woman and her Amazonian sisters. (DC Comics)
Chris: It's been awhile since we've seen an issue of this, hasn't it? Never mind, since the wacky space opera series will be coming to a close in a few issues, I'm willing to wait longer in order to savor the coming conclusion. (Image Comics)
Hector Plasm: Totentatz (one-shot)
Kevin: That's supposed to be Totentanz -- German for the Dance of Death -- despite what Diamond and Image may say. This is the latest story starring Benito Cereno and Nate Bellegarde's supernatural hero who protects the living from the dead. (Image Comics)
Perhapanauts: Halloween Spooktacular (one-shot)
Kevin: Todd Dezago and Craig Rousseau's quirky team of supernatural investigators return in three Halloween-themed stories. (Image Comics)
JK: The big anniversary issue! Kinda sorta. OK, not really. This one features a whole bunch of stories by folks like Rob Liefeld, Joe Kelly, Fred Van Lente, Kyle Baker, Jason Aaron and Duane Swierczynski, among others. It's over 100 pages for $5. I'm not even a huge Deadpool fan, and this sounds like crazy fun to me. (Marvel)
The Punisher: Frank Castle MAX #75
Kevin: The awkwardly titled series ends with this double-sized issue, making room for the relaunched Punisher MAX, by Jason Aaron and Steve Dillon. This swan song features stories by Charlie Huston and Ken Lashley, Peter Milligan and Tomm Coker, Gregg Hurwitz and Das Pastoras, and Thomas Piccirilli and Laurence Campbell. (Marvel)
Uncanny X-Men #516
JK: Spoiler's warning: Magneto is back.
Akira, Vol. 1 (Kodansha Edition)Ghost in the Shell, Vol. 1 (Kodansha Edition)
Kevin: Japan's largest publisher launches its U.S. division with two of the best-known titles from its substantial catalog. Akira is Katsuhiro Otomo's influential, and complicated, cyberpunk epic set in post-apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo and filled with action, violence and mammoth machinery. Ghost in the Shell, meanwhile, is Masamune Shirow's science fiction-thriller about the hunt for a cyber-criminal who takes control of people's minds. Both were previously licensed in North America by Dark Horse. (Kodansha)
A Very Ninja Christmas (Amelia Rules)
Chris: I'm very curious as to what creator Jimmy Gownley's new deal with Simon and Schuster will do for his book sales. I have to imagine it can only be positive. Anyway, here's what I believe is the third volume of Amelia adventures in a new package. (Atheneum)
14 Years of Loyal Service in a Fabric-Covered Box: A Dilbert Book
Chris: Oh Catbert, you never fail to amuse. (Andrews McMeel Publishing)
How Obelix Fell Into the Magic Potion When He Was a Little Boy
Chris: It was the men on the grassy knoll. They pushed him in. (Orion)
The Fixer and Other Stories
Chris: A paperback collection of Joe Sacco's short stories involving the Bosnian War. Really excellent stuff. If you haven't picked this up yet, now's your chance. (Drawn and Quarterly)
Joe & Azat
Chris: Jesse Lonergan tells a fictional story of life in the Peace Corps. I had a friend who got fired from the Peace Corps once. My understanding is that's really tough to do. (ComicsLit)
Mome GN Vol. 16 Summer '09
Chris: I'm pretty sure this is the fall, not summer, edition of Mome, but never mind. Lots of good stuff here, including bits by new contributors Ted Stearn and Renee French. Also: Dash Shaw, Lilli Carre, Ben Jones and Frank Santoro, and Laura Park. (Fantagraphics)
JK: So this isn't actually on the Diamond list for this week, and I don't think it was on there last week, either. But I know it's out at least in my part of the country so I thought I'd mention it. This is a collection of the webcomic of the same name by Jamaica Dyer, which you can check out to see if it's something you're interested in. The art is gorgeous. (SLG Publishing)
You Are There
Chris: And here's the number two in the one-two Jacque Tardi punch that Fantagraphics is releasing this fall in the hopes of the author getting a wider notice in the U.S. It's a quite different book from the first release, West Coast Blues. It's more surreal and offbeat, with a goofy sense of humor. Still very French though. (Fantagraphics)
Head over to the Diamond site for a complete list of comics hitting shops this week.