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Don’t Ask! Just Buy It! – Feb. 17: Hercules Goes Down, Kick-Ass Breaks Bones and Norwegian Zombies Hover Glumly

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

KEY:

% At least five rings
^ My heart and the real world
¢ There came a time when the old gods died
Formal constraints foregrounded

MEANWHILE: PICK ANY PATH – 3,856 STORY POSSIBILITIES

Jason Shiga is a comics formalist like none other–he makes spectacularly weird, hugely amusing math-puzzle comics that often involve some kind of modification to the defaults of printed forms. This appears to bear approximately the same relationship to choose-your-own-adventure books that a Brooklyn Industries backpack does to a piece of animal hide. Check out (and play with) some of his other work here.
^ ALMOST SILENT

A $25 collection of four early books by the dry-witted Norwegian cartoonist Jason, involving animal-faced people, Frankenstein, true love, and Earth being overtaken by zombies: “You Can’t Get There from Here,” “Tell Me Something,” “Meow, Baby!” and “The Living and the Dead.” See for yourself.

¢ DARK AVENGERS VOL. 2: MOLECULE MAN PREMIERE HC

I like reading Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato’s bastards-on-the-loose series in trade form, but sticking four issues of an ongoing series (in this case #9-12) between hard covers with no additional material feels a little flimsy, I have to say. Also out this week: “Dark Avengers” #14, previewed here with a particularly ace bit of Bendis writing.

DC UNIVERSE: ORIGINS

The little two-page origin recaps/character summaries that Mark Waid wrote for the backup features in “52″ were wonderfully concise, and some of them had particularly impressive artwork; later, similar pieces by other writers appeared in “Countdown” and a few other places. This collects all of them, although you can also read them on DC’s site.

^ ¢ FINAL CRISIS AFTERMATH: DANCE

The weirdest of the four “Final Crisis Aftermath” miniseries, the six-issue stretch collected here was actually a Joe Casey-written showcase for the Super Young Team, DC’s most recent take on the “superhero team as ‘Real World’-like fame-obsessed hipsters” trope (see also the Peter Milligan “X-Force,” “Young Heroes In Love,” etc.).

¢ INCREDIBLE HERCULES #141

In which, I’m guessing, Herc temporarily bites the big one, judging from the solicitations for the next couple of months. Preview.

% ^ JOE THE BARBARIAN #2

The first issue of Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy’s variation on the “kid enters secret fantasy world based on his quotidian life” archetype was pretty and evocative, but mostly setup. I’m hoping this one will be meatier on the story side, now that Murphy’s established the architecture of the house Joe’s traveling through.

^ KICK-ASS PREMIERE HC

Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s bone-crunching, bad-impulse-gratifying action serial, collected.

% TINY TITANS #25

Co-written by Geoff Johns. No, really. With Superboy in it. One-page preview.

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