Savage Critic and "Reading Comics" author Douglas Wolk runs down the hottest comics and graphic novels coming out this week.

% '30s nostalgia, with and without references to Tijuana bibles
* People on fire
¥ Mopping up after the big event comic
Ω Involves veterans of the 2001 "Angel and the Ape" revival
& With all the talk of the forthcoming pulp project that DC's doing, it's probably worth mentioning that Mike Kaluta, Howard Chaykin and Kyle Baker all did excellent work on various "The Shadow" comics in the '70s and '80s


There was never actually an "Adventure Comics" #1 before -- the title for the early issues of the original book was the hard-to-Google "New Comics." This long-promised iteration of the series by Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul (preview here) seems to be their revival of Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes without those series' thrice-cursed titles. (Superboy and the Legion both, of course, had nice long runs in the original "Adventure.") But I like the idea that the fact that no character is named in the title means it can simply be Johns' outlet to do whatever the hell he wants in the DCU, even if that means bringing Prime back only a few months after his exit in "Legion of Three Worlds." Dept. of Confusion: the alternate cover for this issue calls it "Adventure Comics" #504, picking up the numbering from the 25-years-gone original series.

Howard Chaykin created this '30s adventure-strip-hero type back in 1975, and hereturns to writing and drawing him for this MAX miniseries. And Chaykin with a mature-readers advisory? You know what that means? Blowjobs. More seriously: I'm enjoying Chaykin's latter-day artwork enormously, extensive use of Photoshop and all. I just wish he had more stuff he was obviously psyched about to draw; is this the first time he's both written and drawn a full issue of a project he created since "City of Tomorrow"? Chaykin's also got a new "American Flagg!" story in "Hero Comics," a Hero Initiative benefit one-shot that comes out this week.


The selling point of this reprint of the very first Marvel title (available a day early at some stores) appears to be that it's recolored in a modern style -- Marvel's started crediting their colorists on their covers, and the colorists have been stepping up their game. The '30s linework/'00s colors thing seems sort of formally inappropriate (and historically inaccurate), but historical inaccuracy is what they're selling here. And the company's recent coloring experiments have been working out pretty nicely -- see also the "modernized" look of "Thor: Tales of Asgard by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby," whose fourth issue (reprinting stories from "Journey Into Mystery"/"Thor" #121-128) also comes out this week.

% * THE MARVELS PROJECT #1 (Brubaker/Epting)

What, "Ultimate Origins" was so compelling that now the 616 has to have its own? Brubaker and Epting are worth trusting on the strength of their "Captain America," so this is probably worth a look.


Garth Ennis was rather oh-yeah-I-forgot-I-had-that-script-lying-around about this Steve Dillon-drawn miniseries (sub-subtitled "The Resurrection of Ma Gnucci") when it appeared, and there's a hint of direct-to-video sequel about it. But the Ennis/Dillon team is pretty reliable; those who liked their "Punisher" or the crueler bits of "Preacher" will most likely enjoy this too.


I know nothing about this new Wildstorm series other than its creative team: writer David Tischman (whose recent Vertigo mini "Greatest Hits" was a pretty clever idea, if inconsistently executed) with artists Philip Bond ("Vimanarama"/"The Invisibles") and David Hahn ("Bite Club"). And while "Wildstorm project plunked into the world with no particular fanfare" is a recipe for "your local comic store might order one copy, maybe," the creators' track record is promising enough that I'm curious to see what the heck this thing is. Preview here.


Elaine Bond and Michael Wm. Kaluta keep circling back around to the sci-fi series they created in the early '80s -- see Jog's appreciation of it here. They've expanded it again for this edition, this time by literally making the panels bigger; it takes the surprising-these-days form of a monthly periodical, with new "Galactic Girl Guides" backups inked by Charles Vess. (I think the first one is one of several that first saw publication as a backup in "Rocketeer Adventure Magazine," but supposedly others will be new to print.)


I bet some of the people who complained about Mark Millar's Ultimates are glad to have him back now; this time he's working with artist Carlos Pacheco. Millar is generally best at dealing with corporate properties when he's playing with toys he can break, which is more or less the point of the Ultimate line. (My favorite corporate-property comic he's ever done, though, is his run on "Superman Adventures," a toy he wasn't allowed to dent even a little.) Preview.


The most consistent of the Ultimate titles relaunches with new numbering, its first and only writer (Brian Michael Bendis), its third artist (the excellent David Lafuente), and a four-dollar cover price. I find that Bendis's Ultimate Spider-Man reads best in trades, but I'll be picking up this one to see what the new incarnation is like. Preview.


Since everyone else seems to be playing fantasy baseball with it, I'd like to note that if there's another "Wednesday Comics" series, I'd love to see a much broader variety of approaches to format and content -- some done-in-one humor strips would be great to see, and even if DC is sticking to their existing properties, there are some concepts they haven't touched in a while that co
uld look amazing on a big newsprint page. Shade the Changing Man, anyone? Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld? The Fox and the Crow (yes I know this may not exactly be a DC property)? Do I hear a "3 Girls - Their Lives - Their Loves"?