Don’t Ask! Just Buy It! – Apr. 7: S.H.I.E.L.D. Strikes, Spider-Man Gets Psychedelic and Alan Moore… Draws?
* British invaders
^ Unmistakable hairstyles
¥ Revisionist history
µ Brekekekex co-ax co-ax
* SPIDER-MAN: FEVER #1
Brendan McCarthy doesn't draw a lot of comics these days, but the ones he does are spectacular. (His issue of Solo, #12 was possibly the single weirdest comic DC has ever published.) This one's a team-up of two Steve Ditko co-creations, meaning that it's basically an excuse to pull off some rippling Ditkovian psychedelic excess. Behold the preview, and check out some pages from #2 here.
¥ ART IN TIME: UNKNOWN COMIC ADVENTURES, 1940-1980
A follow-up to editor Dan Nadel's Art Out of Time anthology, collecting work by various unfashionable comic-book artists of the past in which Nadel sees something extraordinary: underground cartoonists side-by-side with more commercial artists who thrived one way or another in the formal constraints of genre comics. There are no rediscoveries as breathtaking as the previous volume's standout Fletcher Hanks here, and it's a pretty mixed bag in general, but I was glad to make the acquaintance of Pete Morisi's clenched, hyper-stylized "Johnny Dynamite," among others.
* BATMAN & ROBIN #11
The Andy Clarke-drawn arc continues. Last month I was idly wishing that Morrison's Batman & Robin would just stay biweekly; I will happily accept the monthly B&R, twice-monthly Return of Bruce Wayne, and extra Morrison issue of Batman we'll shortly be getting as a substitute. Those of you who have not yet boarded this particular party train can also, this week, pick up a new printing of #1 for a buck, or pay 25 times that for the deluxe hardcover edition of Batman & Robin vol. 1, featuring some notes from Morrison and cover sketches by Frank Quitely appended.
* ^ µ DODGEM LOGIC #2
The second issue of the Alan Moore-edited "underground magazine" includes a mini that's apparently the first comic book he's ever written and drawn entirely by himself. It's called "Astounding Weird Penises." Consider yourself advised.
¥ FLASH SECRET FILES & ORIGINS 2010 #1
At this weekend's WonderCon, Geoff Johns noted that this issue is a done-in-one story. I'm assuming it's also a bridge from the Flash: Rebirth and Blackest Night: Flash miniseries to the new series that launches soon. Here's a preview.
^ HATE ANNUAL #8
I wouldn't have guessed that Peter Bagge would actually continue to write and draw a new comic book about Buddy Bradley and Lisa every year (and age their family a year every issue), but by God, that's what he's been doing. It's like the 35 Up of comics by now--we've seen Buddy age from a sullen teenager in Neat Stuff to a sullen dad. This year's installment also includes pieces Bagge's drawn for Oxford American and Discover magazines.
µ INVINCIBLE RETURNS #1
Supposedly a jumping-on point for Robert Kirkman's long-running homage to the Marvel comics of the late '70s. Hmm. $4.
* ¥ JUDGE DREDD: THE RESTRICTED FILES VOL. 1
This is a companion piece to the "Complete Crime Files" series that's been reprinting all the short Judge Dredd stories from 2000 A.D.; this one includes all the Dredd stories that appeared in various annuals and specials from 1977 to 1985. A lot of them are in color, some of them are drawn by notable names (Kevin O'Neill, Brendan McCarthy, Brian Bolland), and there's even a 1983 episode drawn by John Byrne. This is on the Midtown Comics release list but not the Diamond release list for this week, so it may or may not appear where you are.
^ LI'L ABNER COMPLETE DEFINITIVE EDITION VOL. 1 HC
The first volume of IDW's comprehensive reprint of Al Capp's satirical country-boy-in-the-big-world newspaper strip, covering 1934-1936. Denis Kitchen, who published an earlier stab at reprinting the series in the '80s, provides an introduction. Editor Dean Mullaney also designed the book (and throws in a handful of the pre-Abner strips Capp drew for Ham Fisher's Joe Palooka, as well as an autobiographical piece Capp did in the '40s). Fifty bucks; it's got a really satisfying heft and bulk, and you will be giggling at it for days.
¥ MARKET DAY
A remarkable, tightly focused little hardcover graphic novel by James Sturm: on its surface about a turn-of-the-20th-century Jewish European weaver having a very bad day selling his wares, more broadly about the way that technology and economics can change everything for artists very, very quickly. So, how about those iPads? (Diamond yes, Midtown no.)
^ µ THE MUPPET SHOW COMIC BOOK #4
Note that Roger Langridge wrote but didn't draw this issue (it's drawn by Amy Mebberson). It does include a good "Bohemian Rhapsody" joke, though.
* ^ ROGUE TROOPER: TALES OF NU-EARTH VOL. 1
Another collection of work from 2000 A.D., with a bizarre but effective premise. It's a war comic about a genetically engineered infantryman (with blue skin), whose buddies were killed but had their memories preserved on microchips that allow them to speak through his rifle, backpack and helmet. (The fact that said buddies' names are respectively Gunnar, Bagman and Helm should tell you something about the audience this was aimed at.) The selling points for a contemporary audience, I'm guessing, are two contributors: Dave Gibbons, who drew a bunch of the early stories, and Alan Moore, who wrote two short stories appended to the end of the book, most of which is written by Gerry Finley-Day. (Midtown yes, Diamond no.)
¥ S.H.I.E.L.D. #1
Jonathan Hickman and the Sensational Mainstream-Comics Art Find of 2010, Dustin Weaver, are responsible for this new series about the unexpectedly long history of Marvel's secret-agent organization--it turns out that Leonardo da Vinci was a member, for instance. Sounds fab. There's a preview up; note that there's also a black-and-white variant, the better to show off Weaver's handsome architectural drawings.
^ ¥ SUPERMAN: SECRET ORIGIN #5
There's something really sturdy and likeable about the Geoff Johns/Gary Frank/Superman combination. This miniseries about Clark Kent's early career has been reliably entertaining so far, not particularly ambitious but absolutely solid and smoothly constructed.
µ THOR AND THE WARRIORS FOUR #1
A new miniseries in Marvel's kids' line--the "Warriors Four" are a.k.a. Power Pack. Colleen Coover completists (like me) will want to note that she writes and draws the backup story, a Power Pack/Hercules team-up called "The Twelve Labors of the Babysitter."
^ WALT & SKEEZIX VOL. 4: 1927-1928
Clearly this is jackpot week for beautiful hardcover comic-strip reprints--it's been a while since the previous volume collecting the golden era of Frank King's "Gasoline Alley" strips about childhood, parenthood and cars, and this one looks as gorgeous as all the others so far. (If you love cover designer Chris Ware so much you want to read an academic book about his work, The Comics of Chris Ware: Drawing Is a Way of Thinking is out from the University Press of Mississippi this week too.)
µ WONDER WOMAN: AMAZON, HERO, ICON
A $35 hardcover coffee-table book; it apparently includes some art from the years-in-the-works Adam Hughes All-Star Wonder Woman series. Will we ever see any more, especially now that ASBARTBW is being rebranded to eradicate its All-Starness? Sigh.