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

KEY:

* Time travel

^ Space travel

* 2000 AD #1763 AND PROG 2012

American doses of thrill-power continue in fits and starts. #1763 wraps up the current "Indigo Prime" psychedelia-fest and the stylistic throwback "Angel Zero," and Prog 2012 is the annual triple-length issue, featuring an insanely clever Christmas-themed Judge Dredd story by Al Ewing and John Higgins: it's a choose-your-own-adventure piece that also works as a linear narrative. That issue also relaunches John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra's long-dormant "Strontium Dog: The Project," debuts two new series, brings back a couple more, and apparently finishes off the rather long-in-the-tooth "Sinister Dexter." Also this week: Judge Dredd Megazine #318, in which Ewing writes another Dredd Christmas story (apparently set the same night).

* ^ ACTION COMICS #5

So... both the cliffhangers from #4 are to be resolved in #7? That's an interesting way of dealing with deadlines. Grant Morrison is joined this time by Andy Kubert and Jesse Delperdang for yet another new version of Superman's origin. Also out this week: paperback editions of the Morrison-written Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne and Seven Soldiers of Victory vol. 1.

* THE ANNOTATED SANDMAN VOL. 1

Another repurposed edition of the Neil Gaiman-written cornerstone of Vertigo. This one is a $50 hardcover, reprinting #1-20 in black and white, with annotations by Leslie S. Klinger.

* DEFENDERS #2

The first issue of this series was super-cute, especially the Marvel 1972-style bottom-of-page commentary: points to Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson for every way in which they can give the latest revival of a long-running franchise its own look and feel. Also this week in "new twists on old Marvel teams" territory: Brian Michael Bendis and Gabrielle Dell'Otto's Avengers Annual #1 (the first adjectiveless Avengers Annual since 1994) brings in the Revengers. I really hope this turns into some kind of Elizabethan-style Italian court drama.

* ^ ESSENTIAL FANTASTIC FOUR VOL. 4

A new printing of the big pulpy black-and-white volume that compiles #64-83 and Annual #5-6. This is pretty much peak Stan Lee/Jack Kirby.

* FATALE #1

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips seem to be alternating Criminal story arcs with other projects; this new Image miniseries is their noir/horror hybrid, as opposed to their noir/superhero hybrid and their noir/more noir hybrid.

* ^ INSURRECTION

Collecting a pair of black-and-white-and-grayscale serials by Dan Abnett and Colin MacNeil that originally ran in Judge Dredd Megazine (and are set in the Dredd universe)--a sci-fi war story that touches on hierarchies of citizenship, imperialism, divided loyalties, and so on. It's hugely entertaining, and ends on a cliffhanger that also kind of seems like the perfect place to end it for keeps (although, as I understand, there'll be another Insurrection story later this year). Very nice work from MacNeil, too--the gray/painted look is underused in comics, and the way he pulls it off reminds me a bit of Jim Starlin's The Price.

^ TANK GIRL: CARIOCA #3

The conclusion of the miniseries in which artist Mike McMahon cavorts in a landscape of Jamie Hewlett's design. McMahon's one of contemporary comics' great underacknowledged stylists, but sometime I'd like to see him cavort in a landscape of his own design again.