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Don’t Ask! Just Buy It! – February 2, 2011: Emerald, Ivy, Woodcuts

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

* I become a transparent eyeball
% Braver five minutes longer
^ Like a vegetable bud
¢ Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis

The first leg of Neal Adams’ miniseries concludes; this thing has been getting more and more off-the-map as it goes along, like Bob Haney levels of whoa. Adams comes from a tradition that almost nobody else currently working in comics belongs to. I’m a little surprised that the second leg is scheduled to start next month, since these six issues didn’t quite make it to monthly (the first one came out July 7), but as it stands, this is already the greatest number of consecutive issues of a comic book that Adams has drawn in a very long time.

For those of you following Grant Morrison’s Batman serial in book form, this is the oversized, $30 hardcover version of the recent six-issue miniseries that got Bruce Wayne from the prehistoric cave at the end of Final Crisis to the present day. The McGuffiny stuff (with the mysterious sealed box) doesn’t quite come together, and the art is wildly inconsistent (Frazer Irving’s issue is the prettiest-looking, Georges Jeanty’s fails at basic storytelling). But when this project worked, it gave Morrison a chance to romp around a couple of fertile genre playing fields–although it probably needs to be accompanied by the Batman and Batman and Robin issues that appeared around the same time to clarify a bunch of its plot points. Anyway, this is all the Morrison Batman we’re going to get this month (Batman Inc. #3 has now been pushed back to March).

In some ways, this Fábio Moon/Gabriel Bá miniseries was meant to be ten individual issues of a series–the chapters feel like they’re supposed to be packaged separately. Still, it may be more effective as a single book: after the first issue, I wasn’t clear on what it was supposed to be about, and that confusion wouldn’t have been an issue if I’d been able to turn the page and go “oh now I get it.” Considered as a single story, it’s a little on the mushy/homiletic side (a couple of characters go out of their way to explain that the story is about Life And How Precious It Is), but there’s an easy fluidity to Moon-and-Bá’s work that I love.

Another biweekly situation-rather-than-character-based serial, this one written by the team of grizzled veteran Marv Wolfman and young gun Tony Bedard–actually, a series about the adventures of Wolfman and Bedard might be more fun–to tie in with the DCU Online MMPORG. Will it be available day-and-date through the PlayStation platform? A fine question.

The first in Marvel’s “point-one” issues (this one by the regular team of Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca)–pitched as appropriate jumping-on points. You could say the same of last issue, though.

* ^ IVY
Full disclosure: I wrote the introduction to this book, Sarah Oleksyk’s debut graphic novel, about a young artist who’s just starting to figure out what life’s about. I’ve got a lot more to say about it there; the short version is that Oleksyk is fantastic, and you should read her stuff. (And if you want to see a sample, CA posted a 30-page preview a few days ago.)

More Chris Roberson, more Michael Allred, more monsters-a-go-go.

I am writing this installment of “Don’t Ask! Just Buy It!” on an airplane. As people were boarding, I was sitting in the window seat reading one of the recent Tubby reprints. The guy in the opposite window seat looked over and said “Is that one of the old Little Lulu comics? I haven’t seen one of those in fifty years!” Take-home lesson: a person outside comics culture can recognize John Stanley’s work at a distance of fifteen feet and fifty years.

Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen reunite on the current incarnation of the series that they turned into a hit back in the ’80s. But which one is Paul Simon and which one is Art Garfunkel? Only the Emerald Empress knows.

I’m surprised this hasn’t shown up in comic book stores yet. It’s the new Library of America-branded, Art Spiegelman-edited and -introduced collection of Ward’s six wordless graphic novels avant la lettre, which were initially published between 1929 and 1937: Gods’ Man, Madman’s Drum, Wild Pilgrimage, Prelude to a Million Years, Song Without Words and Vertigo. Spectacular stuff.

These DC 80-page anthologies have effectively become a “new talent showcase” setup–a place for people to do their first work for DC. This one goes straight to the top of the pile because it’s got a Jimmy Olsen story written by the amazing Abhay Khosla, one of my erstwhile Savage Critic comrades, Twist Street mastermind, and one of the funniest writers on comics I know of. He even wrote about the process a while back. And there’s a story co-written by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover, too!

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