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Don’t Ask! Just Buy It! – August 17, 2011: Shadows and Tall Trees

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

KEY:
* Small things, looking up
^ Large things, looking down

^ AVENGERS #16
I still don’t know if alternating issues in the same storyline drawn by John Romita Jr. (including this issue) and Chris Bachalo totally works for me, but they do work individually, you know? This one apparently involves a Hawkeye/Spider-Woman romance springing up in the middle of “Fear Itself.” Amazing what pheremones can do.

^ DAREDEVIL #2
The first issue of the new Mark Waid/Marcos Martin/Paolo Rivera series was a small delight–a really refreshing take on the character, with a well-conceived look and attitude, responding thoughtfully to the last few years of the series and moving beyond them. Rivera draws this issue, and the preview looks fantastic.

* ^ DC RETROACTIVE: BATMAN: THE ’90s
People don’t talk a lot about Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle’s Batman, but they were associated with the character for the most substantial run in the past few decades–between 1988 and 1997, Grant wrote or co-wrote 140 issues of Batman, Detective and Shadow of the Bat, and Breyfogle drew most of the Batman and Detective runs. They’ve reunited for this one-shot–apparently a follow-up to Detective Comics #613, reprinted as the backup here. In related news this week: DC Retroactive: Wonder Woman: The ’90s, by William Messner-Loebs and Paris Cullins (nice to see Messner-Loebs getting some new credits); Tales of the Batman: Gene Colan vol. 1, collecting the first half of Colan’s early-’80s work on Batman and Detective; and Batman #713, the final issue of the series that’s been running since 1940 (well, until it gets relaunched next month).

* DRAWING POWER: A COMPENDIUM OF CARTOON ADVERTISING
This is the kind of book that people are going to be saying “oh cool!” about when they discover it on your bookshelf a couple of decades from now: a collection of pre-1940 ads (compiled by Rick Marschall and Warren Bernard) that incorporated cartoons, and particularly cartoons by significant cartoonists. Did you know that Noel Sickles and Milton Caniff collaborated on a series of “Mr. Coffee-Nerves” strips advertising Postum? Or that Dr. Seuss drew ads for insecticide? (On the Midtown list, not the Diamond list.)

^ INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #507
Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca continue their side-channel-to-Fear-Itself storyline. I’ll take any excuse for more Fraction-written comics with Rescue in them. Also this week: the paperback version of the second half of the “Stark Resilient” storyline.

* ^ JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #626
Kieron Gillen and Doug Braithwaite’s Loki serial is the best (and most unexpected) dividend that Fear Itself has paid so far–I particularly like the way Gillen keeps messing with the pace and form of the story. (To quote him from a recent interview, “if this book had an Alan Moore-style clockwork plot structure, it would play against the nature of its main character.”)

^ JUDGE DREDD: TOUR OF DUTY – MEGA-CITY JUSTICE
The second half of the longest single Judge Dredd storyline to date (the first half’s in Tour of Duty – The Backlash), in which Dredd finds himself assigned to oversee a forced relocation camp for genetic inferiors, while a serial killer has murdered and replaced the mayor of Mega-City One. I’ve described it to friends as being “sort of like the second season of The Wire if it was satirical science fiction and McNulty was a 70-year-old fascist.” This part originally ran in 2000 AD #1649-1667 and #1674-1693. John Wagner writes; Colin MacNeil, Carlos Ezquerra, John Higgins and others draw. (On the Midtown list, not the Diamond list.)

* LITTLE LULU VOL. 28: THE PRIZE WINNER AND OTHER STORIES
Dark Horse’s “let’s reprint every John Stanley Little Lulu story!” program has run out of issues of Little Lulu proper, so they’ved moved on to the Lulu 100-page giants: this one apparently collects Little Lulu and Tubby at Summer Camp #5 and Lulu and Tubby Halloween Fun #23.

* LITTLE NOTHINGS VOL. 4: MY SHADOW IN THE DISTANCE
I don’t think I’ve ever seen any other diary comics I enjoy as much as Lewis Trondheim’s, and I’ve seen a lot of them.

* LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE VOL. 7: THE OMNIPOTENT MR. AM!
1936-1938. Harold Gray. A representation of divinity in concrete form. Oh boy.

* ^ SERGIO ARAGONÉS FUNNIES #2
It does what it says on the wrapper: this is Aragonés’ new monthly series of whatever he feels like drawing, including autobiographical pieces, one-off gag cartoons, adaptations of myths, and so on. (The first issue implied that Mark Evanier is assisting him with dialogue, as usual, although it didn’t quite come out and say so.) Why didn’t anybody think of this years ago? And how many other cartoonists could sustain a monthly “whatever I feel like drawing this month” series?

* WE3 DELUXE EDITION
The long-awaited expanded version of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s wonderful 2004 miniseries about animal perceptions and human violence–they’ve added ten more pages of story and a bunch of process materials, and this edition is in DC’s oversized/hardcover “deluxe” format, for $25.

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