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Don’t Ask! Just Buy It! – January 18, 2012: Umbrellas Assemble

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

* Brushes
^ Fur
% Tech

Mark Waid writes the second half of the Amazing Spider-Man crossover; Kano’s the guest artist on this one.

The Loki serial that Kieron Gillen’s been writing is one of Marvel’s low-key (aargh, sorry) gems of the moment–a tour of the peculiar Norse-myth-via-various-superhero-writers cosmology that’s accrued in Thor and elsewhere over the past few decades. This volume’s a $20 collection of the first storyline, drawn by Doug Braithwaite.

I kind of don’t know what to make of the new ($33 hardcover) issue of Sammy Harkham’s art-comics anthology, which swings a big wrecking ball at “consistency.” It includes pieces by a bunch of my favorite contemporary cartoonists (Kevin Huizenga, Gabrielle Bell, Gary Panter and others), as well as some stuff that I find tedious or actively repulsive, other pieces that barely seem to have anything in common with comics-as-they’re-usually-understood, and a few apropos-of-nothing reprints of the ’70s-era Penthouse series “Oh, Wicked Wanda!” It’s generally safe to assume that Harkham’s editorial impulses are way ahead of the curve, so let’s go with that.

Has any other superhero title had as many issues by its current creative team as Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca have produced of this series? Anywhere near?

Paul Levitz and Walter Simonson get together for a Legion story every decade or two: they collaborated first on Superboy and the Legion #237 back in 1978, then on a 12-pager on Legion of Super-Heroes #100 in 1998, and now this. Maybe drawing a billion characters in one story is Simonson’s way of gearing up for his Avengers run? Speaking of which: Brian Michael Bendis and Daniel Acuña’s Avengers #21 is out this week too.

And speaking of “The Avengers,” kind of, this is about the other popular series with that name: the ’60s British espionage TV show. This Grant Morrison/Ian Gibson miniseries was first published back in the early ’90s; Boom! is apparently splitting each original two-story issue in half to spin it out over six issues. That means that there’ll be two issues written by Anne Caulfield, rather than Morrison, for what that’s worth.

The conventional wisdom, I believe, is that “Terry and the Pirates” was Milton Caniff’s best work, but I love the early years of the bold, wordy, good-humored post-war adventure strip that followed it. (And the first week is a particularly clever piece of work, keeping the hero offstage until Caniff’s good and ready.) The new hardcover IDW reprints begin with this $50 volume, covering 1947-1948; the selling point for people who read it in the Kitchen Sink magazine reprints in the ’80s is that the Sundays are in color.

I miss the consistent look-and-feel of the Brian Michael Bendis/Mark Bagley era, but the artists over the past couple of years have been pretty terrific; this issue brings in Chris Samnee, who’s been doing graceful, eye-catching work on Thor the Mighty Avenger and Captain America and Bucky. (If you’re wondering where Caniff’s influence has gone in comics, I see a bit of it in Samnee’s line.)

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