This Wednesday, the spies and rockers come in from the cold

This week is a good one for fans of espionage and spies, as Marvel releases a new Black Widow miniseries; Vertigo gives us the further adventures of Fabletown's resident spy, Cinderella; and Titan collects the old James Bond newspaper strip into a giant omnibus. If danger is your business, business is good.

Rock stars, meanwhile, are kind of like super spies, only with guitars and groupies instead of guns and Bond girls. And this week sees several rockers releasing books, as Anthrax's Scott Ian tackles a new Lobo miniseries, Zak Sally of the band Low does Like a Dog and the second issue of Kill Audio by Claudio Sanchez of the band Coheed and Cambria hits shelves.

Several new series kick off this week; in addition to what I listed above, there's also a new Age of Reptiles series, a Great Ten miniseries, Charlie Huston's Deathlok, another Oz series from Marvel, Psylocke and Iceman minis, and the long-awaited Stumptown. And wrapping up this week are Marvel's Strange Tales anthology, Dark Horse's End League and Witchfinder, Tyrese Gibson's Mayhem, Iron Man Armor Wars and Boys Herogasm.

These only scratch the surface of what you'll find in stores this week. To see what Kevin, Chris and I are keeping an eye out for, read on ...

JK Parkin's pick of the week: Stumptown #1

Greg Rucka returns to the world of creator-owned comics this week with the release of Stumptown #1 by Oni Press. Joined by artist Matthew Southworth, Rucka introduces us to Dex, a private investigator with a gambling problem attempting to work off her extremely high debt to her friendly neighborhood casino.

I checked out a PDF of the first issue yesterday, and it's got everything you could ask for in a Rucka story -- a likable female protagonist, gritty realism and enough of a hook that simply makes you want more at the end of the issue. Check out a preview here. (Oni)

Kevin Melrose's pick of the week: Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love #1 (of 6)

Despite my repeated attempts, I've never been able to get into Fables, the quaint concept-turned Vertigo flagship-turned successful franchise (it's already spawned a pair of graphic novels, the spinoff Jack of Fables, a crossover, a prose novel and, possibly, a network-television drama). It's just never clicked with me, for some reason. However, I am fond of certain characters -- among them, Boy Blue, Goldilocks and Cinderella, the last of whom is the ideal candidate for the spotlight. In Bill Willingham's world of Fables, Cindy runs a shoe store while secretly operating as a spy for Fabletown's sheriff. She's a femme fatale, an envoy, an interrogator, a killer and, now, the star of her own miniseries, by Chris Roberson and artist Shawn McManus (with beautiful covers by Chrissie Zullo).

In the six-issue tale, Cinderella travels the globe, James Bond-style, to discover who's been smuggling magical artifacts out of the Homelands and into the mundane world. If that weren't enough, the mystery apparently has a connection to her long-lost Fairy Godmother. Plus, there's a subplot involving at attempt by Cinderella's assistant to take control her boutique. I'm intrigued enough to give the world of Fables another try. (DC Comics/Vertigo)

Chris Mautner's pick of the week: Like a Dog hardcover

If you follow the indie music scene at all you might have heard of Zak Sally, as he spent a number of years playing bass for the band Low. He's also a cartoonist, and a thumpin' good one at that, as this collection of just about everything he's ever done short of his Ignatz series Sammy the Mouse proves. Sally's one of those artists who can convey a sense of dread or horror out of seeming thing air, and he's really been on the periphery for far too long now. Hopefully this book will thrust him into the limelight. (Fantagraphics)

Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels #5 (of 5)

Kevin: Mike Mignola and Ben Stenbeck wrap up the miniseries about an Victorian occult investigator, and strengthen its ties to the Hellboy Universe by having Sir Edward Grey meet up with a young Memnan Saa, later enemy of Lobster Johnson and the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. (Dark Horse)

Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai hardcover

JK: Stan Sakai does a stand-alone, watercolored graphic novel featuring his signature rabbit ronin. Usagi is one of the most consistently entertaining comics out there, and I imagine this will be something special. (Dark Horse)

Lobo: Highway to Hell #1 (of 2)

JK: Scott Ian of the metal band Anthrax pits the Main Man against the forces of hell and the devil himself. Hence the title. Check out CBR's interview with Ian from earlier today for more info. (DC Comics)

Assault on New Olympus prologue

JK: Marvel kicks off a mini-event of sorts that'll run for the next few months in the pages of Incredible Hercules. In it, the title character leads an all-star cast of allies against his step-mom, Hera. More details can be found here.(Marvel)

Black Widow: Deadly Origin #1 (of 4)

Kevin: I like the idea of Black Widow, the Cold War super-spy-turned-superhero, even if her portrayals more often than not fall well short of the concept. She's typically relegated to the role of femme fatale/love interest and guest star. But with this miniseries, and a second launching next month, Marvel aims to raise the character's profile -- and have a couple of new-reader friendly collections in bookstores -- in time for her big-screen debut in the Iron Man movie sequel (in which she'll be portrayed by Scarlett Johansson). Black Widow: Deadly Origin, by Paul Cornell and Tom Raney, looks to be pretty much what the title suggests: a flashback-dotted look at Natalia Romanova's life and loves as a present-day mission endangers old flames. In interviews, Cornell (Captain Britain and MI13) has called the miniseries a "high-powered techno-thriller," and referenced James Bond, so there's a good chance the Black Widow will get her due. (Marvel)

Criminal Deluxe Edition

Chris: Perhaps you've heard about the highly acclaimed crime series Criminal and thought, "Hmmm. I like Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. And I tend to like crime stories. And that series has won a bunch of awards. I should probably check it out some day." Well, your some day is officially here. This spiffy $50 omnibus collects the first three story arcs of the series (Coward, Lawless and The Dead and the Dying) and also includes a number of extras like a never-before-printed, five-page "trailer" to announce the series online. This will make a very nice Christmas present for somebody. (Marvel/Icon)

Deathlok #1 (of 7)

JK: Crime novelist/Moon Knight writer reboots cult favorite Deathlok in a new Marvel Knights mini-series, with art by Lan Medina. (Marvel)

Immortal Weapons #4 (of 5)

Kevin: When I saw this title on the shipping list I thought, "Didn't that end a while back?" I guess the absence of an issue in October just made it seem that way. Anyway, here's another spotlight on one of the five Immortal Weapons -- this time it's Tiger's Beautiful Daughter -- introduced last year in The Immortal Iron Fist #13. The issue's by Duane Swierczynski and Khari Evans, the creative team for Iron Fist before that series was put on "hiatus" ... and replaced by this miniseries. Has there been an announcement yet about the return of the monthly title? (Marvel)

The Marvelous Land of Oz #1 (of 8 )

Kevin: Eric Shanower and Skottie Young follow their well-received adaptation of The Wonderful World of Oz with this take on L. Frank Baum's sequel, which stars a boy named Tip (who's actually ... someone else) and Jack Pumpkinhead, features a few old friends, and introduces new enemies. (Marvel)

X-Men Origins: Iceman

Kevin: I haven't been following the X-titles for a while, so maybe I've missed out on the rise to prominence of Iceman and the demand for a retelling of his origin. I don't know, it just seems really random. On the plus side, this one-shot is by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Phil Noto, so odds are that it'll be pretty decent. (Marvel)

Strange Tales #3 (of 3)

Chris: The last issue of Marvel's indie mash-up/humor series arrives. Twas fun while it lasted. (Marvel)

Best of Wizard of ID

Chris: Back in the latter half of the 20th century, when newspapers were still important means of conveying information about the outside world and not bloated dinosaurs, the Wizard of Id was actually seen as one of the fresher, hipper comic strips around. That seems an odd thing to say given the cliched, worn, fossilized thing it's become, but perhaps this new collection, from Titan Books, will bring about a re-appreciation of sorts. Or not. (Titan Books)

The Boys #36Boys Vol. 1 hardcover: Name of the Game

Chris: If you've been wanting to check out Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson's superhero decadence comedy/satire/withering critique of the abuses of power but fell behind, Dynamite is offering a hardcover version of the first story arc (though it's not like that was difficult to find in stores). If you are all caught up, here's the latest issue as well, continuing the secret origin of "Mother's Milk," which will no doubt be sure to be emotionally devastating and disgusting all at once. (Dynamite)

Boys: Herogasm #6 (of 6)

JK: And if that's not enough Boys for you, the last issue of the spin-off "event" miniseries, Herogasm, also hits stores this week. I like the fact that they did this as a separate series versus a storyline in the regular Boys book, considering it's The Boys universe's twisted take on "event" comics and everyone knows big event comics demand spin-offs. Plus, it's been a really good story. (Dynamite)

BP Comics Revival Previews Exclusive 3-Pak #1

Chris: I thought Buenaventura Press' plan -- to release three titles packaged together at a low price -- was a great way to try to combat Diamond's recent minimum order changes. And the comics themselves aren't too shabby either. $12 nets you the latest issue of Ted May's hilarious Injury, up and comer Lisa Hanawalt's newest comic, I Want You, and a new series from Eric Haven, The Aviatrix. It's really a great way to get work that might otherwise have a tough time getting in stores make it's way onto shelves. Here's hoping my LCS took a chance with this one. (Buenaventura Press)

Camilla d'Errico's Burn

Kevin: Camilla d'Errico's (Nightmares & Fairy Tales, Make 5 Wishes) first creator-owned series, originally published in 2008 by Arcana Comics, gets a collected edition courtesy of Simon & Schuster's YA imprint Simon Pulse. It's the story of a 13-year-old boy (Burn of the title) who lives in a world where humans and mecha co-exist -- at least until the machines declare war on their creators. When one mechanical monster, Shoftiel, rips through Burn's home, the two emerge from the rubble and carnage to find they've merged, becoming something that's neither completely human nor machine. (Simon Pulse)

James Bond Omnibus, Vol. 1

Kevin: Before Ian Fleming's legendary spy made the leap from prose page to silver screen he appeared in a long-running newspaper strip that adapted the novels and short stories at the excrutiatingly slow pace of two to four panels a day. Action! Adventure! Cobwebs! They were beautifully illustrated, though, first by John McLusky and then by Yaroslav Horak. It's the first four years or so of the McLusky era, from 1958 to 1962, that are represented in this bumper volume, with adaptations of Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, Moonraker, Diamonds are Forever, From Russia With Love, Dr. No, Goldfinger, Risico, From a View to a Kill, For Your Eyes Only and Thunderball. (Titan Books)

SKRWL: Triptych Journal Collection

Chris: Show your love for all things James Jean-related with this handsome collection of mini-journals designed by the former Fables cover artist. (Chronicle Books)

Take a look at Diamond's complete list of comics arriving in shops this week, and let us know what you're getting in the comments below.

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