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Don’t Ask! Just Buy It! – August 10, 2011: Island Life

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

KEY:
* Flashbacks
^ Dissolves
% Fades
¢ Cuts

^ % ¢ AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #667
Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos start “Spider-Island” in earnest, after months of leadup. I’m kind of fond of the fact that ASM has opted out of directly tying into Fear Itself: “we’ve got our own event comic to do over here!” There are also a couple of “Spider-Island” tie-ins: the Deadly Foes anthology and the first of Nick Spencer and Emma Rios’ Cloak & Dagger miniseries. (Fear Itself #5 is out this week too.)

* THE COMPLETE PEANUTS VOL. 16: 1981-1982
The early ’80s were an uncertain time for Peanuts–looking at this volume, you can sometimes see Charles Schulz coasting on his innate gifts and barely bothering with joke-writing. At other times, he’s trying different kinds of humor than he’d worked with before: more absurdity, more formalist gags. This isn’t “classic” Peanuts by a long shot, and it still pretty obviously deserves its place at the top of the all-time poll. (On the Midtown list, not the Diamond list.)

* ¢ CRIMINAL: LAST OF THE INNOCENT #3
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ current iteration of their series-of-linked-crime-miniseries is one of their most enjoyable collaborations lately–a riff on just-thinly-enough-disguised versions of the Archie characters that doesn’t claim that the familiar versions are lies, just that there’s a different way of telling the stories. Interestingly, this week also sees both a hardcover collection of the early issues of Archie’s Mad House (Archie’s ’50s-era take on Mad) and Life With Archie #12 (the official “Archie characters all grown up” title).

* DC RETROACTIVE: GREEN LANTERN: THE ’80S
Len Wein and Joe Staton, reunited! The backup feature is supposedly a reprint of an earlier Green Lantern story by the two of them, which I’m guessing will be an issue of the Tales of the Green Lantern Corps miniseries they did back in 1981. In any case, it’s always nice to see Staton drawing superheroes–I think the most recent thing I’ve seen by him was an adaptation of Ayn Rand’s Anthem earlier this year.

^ ¢ DETECTIVE COMICS #881
The final issue of the series for which DC is named, by Scott Snyder and Jock. Well, final issue before the Great Renumbering, anyway. They’ve had a good run, as one says about anything that’s getting its gold watch before being packed off.

* % ¢ ESPERANZA
Yes, I hear people say, Jaime Hernandez, I keep hearing about how great he is and everything, but there are like a million books, how do I know which are the good ones? Here’s a tip: try this paperback. It includes, I believe, the contents of Ghost of Hoppers and The Education of Hopey Glass, both of which are stone cold incredible; not sure if it includes “La Maggie La Loca” or not, but for 19 bucks you are not going to go too wrong. (It’s true that you’ll be showing up for the Maggie-and-Hopey sequence of stories rather late. You’ll pick it up in no time, though.) (On the Midtown list, not the Diamond list.)

% ¢ NEW AVENGERS #15
Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato continue their Fear Itself crossover with what promises to be extensive on-panel time for Squirrel Girl, and a nation scratches its collective chin. Also in the Avengers department this week: Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #17, by Paul Tobin and Ronan Cliquet.

* ^ ¢ SHOWCASE PRESENTS THE TRIAL OF THE FLASH
I believe this is the first time the Showcase format has been used in a non-”let’s begin at the beginning and just go straight through” way: a $20, 592-page, black-and-white paperback reprinting most of the last couple of years of the Cary Bates-written Flash series from the early ’80s, which provides some background for Flashpoint. Back in those days, spending two years without a final panel of an issue in which somebody cracks a corny joke and everyone laughs and it says “the end” occasionally seemed interminable. Nowadays, we’d just call it standard decompression. Nice late-model Carmine Infantino artwork, too.

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