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


* "Behold, I give you the superman. He is this lightning; he is this madness"

% Subterranean/homesick/alien

† Motion picture soundtrack

^ "Since you came our way/It's Christmas, Christmas every day"


Not to be confused with that other Steve Ditko hardcover that came out a couple of weeks ago, although this one's also mostly a collection of his old public-domain-ish material. It's got an introduction by Stan Lee that essentially amounts to "we haven't been in touch in a long time, and he was always very private, but I'll say this: the guy could meet deadlines like nobody's business."^ % BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #12

"Final Christmas"--that's a cute title, and I don't think I've seen a Batman/Adam Strange team-up since this issue almost thirty years ago. Landry Walker and Eric Jones were the team behind the adorable "Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade" miniseries, and they now seem to have taken over this series (as opposed to the grim series with nearly the same title that is out the same week, for some reason). ^ † THE COMPLETE LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE VOL. 4

Man, did I laugh when I realized that Annie and Daddy Warbucks celebrating FDR's "New Deal" policies at the end of the "Annie" musical would have been Harold Gray's worst nightmare.


The debut issue of Alan Moore's new "underground newspaper," which does indeed have a Web site, although it's hard to imagine this particular enterprise having been launched in this form in 2009 by someone who'd spent any time at all on the Web. Moore first used the title for a 'zine in 1975, and has been going back to it at various times since then--in the late '80s it was briefly going to be the name of a regular Moore-written anthology published by Fantagraphics, which never happened. Apparently, there's a strip in this issue that Moore both wrote and drew--he hasn't been doing much published artwork since the heyday of "Maxwell the Magic Cat," so this is certainly worth a look.


Your high-end gift item of the week: a $125 collection of exactly what it says, plus a handful of short stories that Wilson published in Playboy in the '60s, a biographical appreciation by Gary Groth, an interview with the artist, and a thematic index (!). It's extraordinarily nicely designed (by Jacob Covey)--three hardcover, full-color volumes in a slipcase with a few other ingenious design fillips inspired by the macabre comedy of Wilson's cartoons.


"Irredeemable," Mark Waid and Peter Krause's upside-down-and-backwards take on the premise of Superman, has been doing remarkably well--it's Boom's best-selling ongoing title. So now it's got a spinoff, by Waid and Jean Diaz, which is more or less an upside-down-and-backwards take on the premise of Batman. The first issue is simultaneously mean-spirited and good-hearted, and it's enormously fun. Preview.


I'm happy to see that this extra-length issue of Thomas Zahler's sweet, elegantly executed, low-key romantic comedy with superheroes in it--the wedding of Abby and the Crusader--isn't going to be the last (#13 will be coming out for Free Comic Book Day), although romantic comedies do usually conclude with a wedding, don't they? A lot of the series is online now, too.


The late Dave Stevens was a cartoonist's cartoonist, blessed with a phenomenal line and cursed with an inability to let anything go unless it felt perfect. In retrospect, the main cultural significance of his creation "The Rocketeer" was returning Bettie Page to the public consciousness--the stories themselves are lightweight, pulpy things, and what's really worth lingering over is his rendering. This collection of the two "Rocketeer" serials he managed to complete comes in two editions: the regular one is $30, a deluxe version with lots of additional artwork is $75.


A paperback version of the book from earlier this year that collected four Matt Fraction-written Thor one-shots. If you're keeping an eye on Fraction, it's probably worth catching up with this, especially since Marvel's Dan Buckley let it slip last week that Fraction is going to be taking over the "Thor" series.


Jeff Parker and Steve Lieber's nifty spelunking adventure hits new depths of claustrophobia. Worth a look: Erika Moen posing for the cover of #2.