This feature is back for just two weeks, and already we're confronted with the not-so-surprising conclusion of Battle for the Cowl, a pair of Draculas -- or is it Draculi? -- another turn in the Captain America saga, and yet another Final Crisis follow-up. Possibly with dancing.
If that weren't enough, there's also a peek inside the slightly musty X-Men time capsule.
To find out what titles Chris Mautner, JK Parkin and I think are worth checking out this week, just keep reading.
And be sure to let us know your picks in the comments below.
Chris' pick of the week: The Photographer
A French photographer travels to Afghanistan during the 1980s, when the country is at war with Russia. He almost dies during the journey. Years later, his artist friend puts together a graphic novel that chronicles his travels and incorporates his photography. The net result is nothing sort of astounding.
It is one of the best things First Second has ever published and I'm hard pressed to imagine any other title topping it as my favorite comic of '09. You must read this book. You must read this book. You must read this book.
JK's pick of the week: The Boys: Herogasm #1 (of 6)
Nobody does superheroes quite like Garth Ennis, which is what makes The Boys such a dark, twisted and must-read title every time it comes out. Now Ennis is teaming up with his old Hitman partner, John McCrea, for a spinoff of major proportions, as The Boys tackle big-event crossover comics in their own unique style.
Kevin's pick of the week: Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka, Vol. 3
Naoki Urasawa really is amazing, isn't he? I mean, I knew he was good, as he demonstrated with the gripping thriller Monster. But with Pluto and 20th Century Boys, he's really firing on all cylinders. Based on Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy story "The Greatest Robot on Earth," Urasawa molds Pluto into a murder mystery in which a robot detective tries to solve a series of robot and human deaths. The first two volumes knocked me off my feet, and I expect no less from the third installment.
Clover Omnibus, Vol. 1
Kevin: Dark Horse collects all four volumes of the out-of-print cyberpunk series by the celebrated CLAMP collective.
The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, Vol. 9
Kevin: The quirky horror manga by Eiji Otsuka and Housui Yamazaki is easily one of my favorite series in recent years. It somehow manages to jump from creepy to funny to disarming all in the course of a few pages. In this latest volume, the Kurosagi crew deals with a headless horseman, of sorts, and a hideous crime linked to a secret program from World War II.
Batman: Battle for the Cowl #3 (of 3)
Batman: Mad Love and Other Stories hardcover
Chris: I have heard from many that this is a good Batman, or rather, Harley Quinn story and certainly I always had a fondness for the Dini/Timm cartoon show (not to mention Mike Parobeck's art). Now it is available in hardcover for a relatively reasonable price, which would normally encourage me to purchase said item, were my finances not so severely curtailed for the nonce.
Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #1 (of 6)
Chris: The fact that Joe Casey is handling the writing chores on this FC spin-off intrigues me, but to garner my hard-earned $3, they better have actual dancing in this comic, and lots of it. Preferably of the ballroom variety.
Tiny Titans #16Tiny Titans, Vol. 2: Adventures in Awesomeness
Kevin: Anyone who hasn't checked out Art Baltazar and Franco's take on DC's young heroes is really missing out. I mean, come on, the gym teacher at Sidekick Elementary is Coach Lobo!
JK: Writer Adam Beechen and artist Trevor Hairsine head to Wildstorm for a six-issue miniseries about a rock 'n' roll band called The Clap who are also hired assassins. More details can be found here.
JK: Nathan Edmondson and Christian Ward tackle one of my favorite subjects, mythology, in a new series for Image.
Agents of Atlas #5
JK: One of Marvel's best titles, this issue pits the agents -- who are pretending to be bad guys, but are really good guys -- against the New Avengers -- who are labeled as bad guys, but are really good guys. This ought to be fun.
X-Men Forever Alpha
JK: This reprints the first three issues of the "adjectiveless" X-Men title from 15 years ago. It's all in preparation for the debut of X-Men Forever, which will have Chris Claremont pick up where he left off. It also includes a new eight-page story. I'm still scratching my head over the concept behind this one, but I'm curious enough by it to wonder how these new/old stories will be received.
Captain America #50
Kevin: Who doesn't like a milestone issue? This one undoubtedly will be particularly good, as it features Ed Brubaker and Luke Ross taking Bucky Barnes down memory lane as he recalls his favorite and least-favorite birthdays -- all while someone tries to kill him.
Thor by J. Michael Straczynski Premiere Hardcover, Vol. 2Thor Visionaries: Walter Simonson, Vol. 2 (New Printing)
Kevin: It's a double dose of Thor: a second premiere hardcover of J. Michael Straczynski's well-regarded run on the title, and a new printing of the second volume in the Visionaries series spotlighting the man to whom all Thor creative teams invariably are compared -- Walter Simonson.
Big Book of Barry Ween Boy Genius
JK: This collects Judd Winick's excellent Barry Ween stories, which star a foul-mouthed 10-year-old with a superhuman IQ. I've missed Barry, Jeremey and Sara, and I hope they return in some new adventures someday.
Ben Templesmith's DraculaThe Complete Dracula #1 (of 5)
Kevin: It's interesting that both somewhat high-profile Dracula projects hit stores on the same day. The first is IDW Publishing's presentation of the Bram Stoker novel with 27 all-new chapter illustrations by Ben Templesmith, while the second is Dynamite Entertainment's miniseries adaptation by John Reppion, Leah Moore and Colton Worley.
Kevin: It's the little anthology that could! This is the Gestalt Publishing book, featuring the work of Shaun Tan, Terry Dowling, Ray Fawkes and others, that was briefly dropped by Diamond until the distributor reconsidered.
Johnny Hiro, Vol. 1
Chris: Fred Chao's slapstick stories of a not quite hero constantly besieged by monsters and samurai and whatnot is released in book form. The trade collects the first three issues as well as two all-new, heretofore unpublished tales. Previews may be found here.
Oshinbo, Vol. 3: Ramen & Gyoza
Chris: Noodles and dumplings are on the menu in the third volume of this Viz Signature food manga. I've heard generally positive things about this series, though I haven't had a chance to check it out yet. I'm a sucker for comics about food though, so it's only a matter of time before I start playing catch-up.
Real, Vol. 4
Chris: More guys in wheelchairs, more basketball, more revelations into various characters' back stories. Tension will, no doubt, abound.
The full list of items arriving in stores this week can be found here.