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Don’t Ask! Just Buy It! – April 20, 2011: Dark Horses, Pale Writers

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

* The New Yorker
^ National Geographic
@ American Rifleman
% Family Circle
¢ AARP Bulletin

* ¢ AVENGERS #12
Brian Michael Bendis may have written himself into a corner with this Infinity Gauntlet plot–last issue’s all-splash-page format seemed like a punt, and not a particularly successful one–but now he and John Romita Jr. have to wrap it up somehow in time for the Fear Itself tie-ins. More oral history follows as the backup.

The new print incarnation of Dark Horse’s long-running anthology title launches with a pretty fantastic lineup of creators. I’m probably most jazzed about a new Carla Speed McNeil Finder story, but other contributors include Frank Miller, Neal Adams, David Chelsea, Michael T. Gilbert, and Howard Chaykin, who at his current rate of expansion will have a short piece in every comic book published in 2014.

A quasi-romantic quasi-comedy by Jason Shiga, who is probably better known for formalist entertainments like Meanwhile. This one’s not a form-pusher at all–it’s straight-up narrative, and first appeared as a very limited, self-published book a few years ago, although I think it’s been touched up for this edition. (On Midtown Comics’ list of new arrivals for this week, not the Diamond Comic Distributors list.)

It really has been almost exactly a year since #8! Fancy that. Previous Hate Annuals have been a catchall for whatever Peter Bagge’s been drawing lately, plus a short check-in with Buddy Bradley as he ages in real time; this time, the Buddy-and-Lisa story is longer than usual. There’s something I really admire about Bagge’s sticktoitiveness. (On Midtown list, not Diamond list.)

Reprinting issues #15-22 of Garth Ennis and John McCrea’s ultraviolent action-comedy series about hard-drinking assassins and occasional superheroes and demons. This volume includes my favorite joke of the entire series (yes, better than the zombie baby seals or Bueno Excellente): what Tommy Monaghan does when he finds himself needing to get in touch with Catwoman in a hurry.

Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca’s Dr. Octopus serial continues and apparently segues into a Fear Itself tie-in. Fraction recently indicated that he’s no longer going to flag how many issues each storyline in Iron Man runs, just for the sake of making them a little more suspenseful; I’m not complaining.

This is the American edition: all the Dredd stories from 2000 A.D. #116-154, originally published 1979-1980. It’s a transitional phase for the series–John Wagner’s writing here is mostly one-off comedy pieces, aside from stories devoted to expanding the supporting cast. There’s some nice art in this one, though, especially a half-dozen episodes drawn by Brian Bolland, the first “Judge Death” story among them. If your interest in Dredd stuff is primarily visual, this week also sees the release of the artist-focused Judge Dredd: Mega-City Masters Vol. 3 collection, with art by Frazer Irving, Kevin O’Neill, Jock, Bryan Talbot, Jamie Hewlett, Simon Bisley, Andy Clarke, Steve Dillon, Guy Davis and Glenn Fabry. (Both are on the Midtown list, not the Diamond list.)

Another volume of Dark Horse’s vintage John Stanley reprints, this one covering #13-18.

Dan Clowes’ not-entirely-cynical-but-close romance serial from the New York Times Magazine is reformatted and expanded into a book. For a change, this one’s on the Diamond list but not the Midtown list.

The first collection of Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver’s series, which posits that the history of science in the Marvel universe is one gigantic secret-society conspiracy. I still don’t entirely comprehend what’s supposed to be going on in the story, but it’s got those incredible cityscapes by Weaver in every chapter, so who cares?

A collection of odds and ends from the past year or so’s worth of Spider-Man comics; this one’s notable for including the Stan Lee/Marcos Martin serial that ran two pages at a time in Amazing Spider-Man for a few months, and gave Martin license to pull off some of his most pyrotechnical Will Eisner-inspired layouts.

The final issue of the Kathryn Immonen/Phil Noto mini that spins out of the adjectiveless-but-heavy-on-the-vampires X-Men. I’ve enjoyed this a lot, and I say that as someone who’s not in the habit of picking up X-Men spinoff miniseries.

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