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Don’t Ask! Just Buy It! – Dec. 3: “Blackest Night” Expands, Binky Brown Confesses and Hulks Start Falling

Savage Critic and “Reading Comics” author Douglas Wolk runs down the hottest comics and graphic novels coming out this week:


% Spiegelman, right up front
^ Fractional analysis
Roundish guys in the traditional “comedy relief” role
£ It’s getting dark in here/So empty all your pockets
†† Double ichiban!
¥ For those who, like me, care deeply about brush technique


After almost 20 years, Larry Marder has come up with this entirely new volume, completing what he calls the “spring” cycle of Beanworld stories. Reading a 200-page story about Marder’s bean community attempting to fix what’s going awry with their allegorical, two-dimensional-or-so, Duchamp-inspired ecosystem is kind of like eating a Thanksgiving meal entirely made of cranberry sauce, but take a break every 20 pages or so and it’s as beautifully weird as anything he’s ever done. There’s a brief preview at Dark Horse’s site, and a very interesting interview with Marder here.% BINKY BROWN MEETS THE HOLY VIRGIN MARY

Justin Green’s landmark exploration of Catholic guilt and sexual angst — the first major autobiographical English-language comic book–has gone through a handful of incarnations, each fancier than the one before it. The first printing, in 1972, was a 50-cent underground comic; this one’s a spiffy-looking $29 hardcover from McSweeney’s, with an “illuminated” cover.


Another miniseries leading into the forthcoming Flash relaunch — this one is by the Geoff Johns/Scott Kolins team that also did “Flash” itself for years, not to mention the fabulously nasty “Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge” miniseries last year. Of which I bet this is pretty much a direct continuation.


Greg Rucka never really got to wrap up the plot about Wonder Woman killing Maxwell Lord back in his run at the end of the previous “Wonder Woman” series; this mini, drawn by Nicola Scott, looks like it’s going to be his chance to tackle it. Q. If DC has three “Blackest Night”-subtitled miniseries running concurrently with the main series, why don’t they simply publish one in each of the weeks BN itself isn’t appearing? A. That’s exactly what they’re expecting us to do.


The final issue of the current format (before TCJ becomes a twice-annual special plus an expanded online thing) is a thick, fascinating volume of cartoonists from different generations talking to each other: Jaime Hernandez and Zak Sally, Frank Quitely and Dave Gibbons, Dash Shaw and David Mazzucchelli (incidentally, a new printing of the latter’s briefly unavailable “Asterios Polyp” is out this week too), Art Spiegelman and Kevin Huizenga, and on and on. Great stuff.


Brian Michael Bendis and Chris Bachalo–who were a fine match on Bachalo’s sequences of that recent Dr. Strange storyline in “New Avengers”–re-team.


Consequential Marvel storylines apparently now have a de rigeur introductory one-shot, and since there’s an event with multiple colors and genders of Hulks about to start, we get this Jeff Parker/Paul Pelletier special. Weirdly, this page suggests that there’ll be a different printing of this one available four weeks from now, although it’s unclear if it’ll be a freebie like “Origins of Siege” or a more-expensive variant. Speaking of “Siege,” I do think it’s pretty hilarious that this comes out the same week as another event-prelude one-shot with a super-secret group of villains involving Dr. Doom (Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Lark’s “Siege: The Cabal”), although this group’s concept is funnier: the smartest villains around (The Leader, the Mad Thinker, Egghead…). I really hope “Incredible Hercules,” starring as it does the seventh smartest person in the world, is counted as a Hulk-related title for the purposes of FotH.


Another Gene Colan cover for Dave Sim’s ongoing parody of fashion magazines-slash-analysis of mid-century strip cartooning. (In keeping with the series’ “so six months ago” slogan, this is the swimsuit issue.) I wouldn’t object at all if Colan became the regular cover artist on this series. Image-only preview.


A reprint one-shot (stories from “Tales of Suspense” #39 and “Iron Man” #144), augmented with a new Matt Fraction/Kano framing sequence. How substantial? Who knows? But check before you buy — the reprints account for 30 pages, and they’re charging five bucks for this thing. In further “let’s generate a lot of product in time for ‘Iron Man 2′” territory, this week sees the first issue of Paul Tobin and Salvador Espin’s “Black Widow and the Marvel Girls” miniseries.


I can only imagine that this series is on life-support until the movie coming out in June either creates an enormous demand for Jonah Hex collections or pulls the plug. But there do seem to be some excellent artists turning up for an issue or two at a time; this one’s got Darwyn Cooke drawing it.


Yes, Dark Horse has published 21 volumes of John Stanley and Irving Tripp’s sly, nutty “Little Lulu” comics, and they haven’t gotten a lot of notice- – maybe because they’re not nearly as nicely designed as Drawn & Quarterly’s fancier reprints of lesser (but still fun) Stanley material. Having recently read Stanley and Tripp’s cruelly hilarious Lulu story “Five Little Babies” in “The Toon Treasury of Classic Children’s Comics,” though, I think I need to look into this stuff more. Brief preview.


These annual reprints of E.C. Segar’s run on “Thimble Theater” (the strip everyone knows as “Popeye,” even though it ran for a decade before the sailor man showed up and took over) continue with a volume featuring a fantastic long adventure with some phenomenal character design — Alice the Goon is one of the creepiest-loo
king creatures ever to grace the funny pages. Have a look at a preview. Also worth checking out: this year-old interview with the series’ designer, Jacob Covey.

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