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Don’t Ask! Just Buy It! – July 20, 2011: Comic-Con Blowout Edition

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

* Bald men who save the universe
^ Helmets
% Go ahead: smile!
¢ At least one creator appearing at Comic-Con

* ^ AVENGERS #15
Brian Michael Bendis and Chris Bachalo continue the Fear Itself tie-in. There’s some real chutzpah involved in making the Thing/Red Hulk fight the centerpiece of Avengers‘ FI story, given that neither of them are really characters you’d think of as Avengers types, recent developments notwithstanding.

Mark Waid/Paolo Rivera/Marcos Martin. Double-sized, four bucks. Jesus this looks good: bypassing both the Frank Miller/Klaus Janson era’s variety of grit and the Bendis-and-after period’s “just how painful can we make Matt Murdock’s life” one-upmanship in favor of what appears to be a riff on the long-forgotten Stan Lee conception of the character, i.e. a Daredevil who’s a daredevil, and grins occasionally. Plus both Martin and Rivera are fantastic, underrated artists who’ve been doing ace work with Waid elsewhere.

The Keith Giffen/Kevin Maguire backup serial, reprinted from the recent Doom Patrol series, plus a Silver Age: The Brave and the Bold reprint, written by Bob Haney and drawn by Maguire, from the previous time DC tried the explicit “remember the wacky stuff we used to do in the ’60s?” stratagem.

One of a batch of pre-New-DC one-shots in which creators associated with characters in past decades return to them for new stories paired with a period reprint. This one’s by Dennis O’Neil and J. Bone. Also this week: two other Retroactive/’70s one-shots–Cary Bates and Benito Gallego doing The Flash and Len Wein and Tom Mandrake doing Batman.

The second paperback collection of Don Rosa’s Donald Duck stories, this one covering 1990-1995–“The Money Pit,” “The Master Landscapist,” “The Duck Who Never Was” (Rosa’s riff on It’s a Wonderful Life), and a bunch of others. Some of these appear to have been digitally lettered, which is a little odd, since I’m pretty sure they were hand-lettered on their first appearance, but anything that brings Rosa’s stuff back into print is A-OK by me.

Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca’s Fear Itself tie-in continues: Tony Stark among the Norse blacksmiths.

The American reprint program for Judge Dredd-related stuff marches on (and, by the way, let me plug the volume-by-volume Judge Dredd reviews I’ve been doing over at Dredd Reckoning). This one collects a bunch of the Judge Death material that didn’t already appear in Death Lives! What exactly that is isn’t clear–Simon & Schuster’s 2000 AD-related solicitations are vague on their contents–but my guess would be some combination of the tongue-in-cheek early-’90s John Wagner/Peter Doherty serial “Young Death: Portrait of a Superfiend,” and Wagner and Frazer Irving’s 2002-2004 serials “My Name Is Death” and “The Wilderness Days.” Who knows what else, though. I believe this week also sees an initial collection of Nikolai Dante, a long-running 2000 AD feature that I’ve never quite cottoned onto, about a swashbuckling Russian nobleman a thousand years in the future. And if you happen to have access to 2000 AD proper, this week’s issue, #1743, begins the long-awaited, Wagner-written Dredd “mega-epic” “Day of Chaos,” about which I know very little except that it concerns the 30th anniversary of Dredd’s genocidal actions in “The Apocalypse War.”

Oni has been beating the drums for Ray Fawkes’ mammoth graphic novel for months now. I haven’t read it yet, but I’ve looked at it enough to catch that it’s built on a big formal trick: 18 simultaneous narratives, running in parallel on a page-by-page grid, concerning 18 lives, beginning to end.

Now in his own action-packed series! It’s been too long since Aragonés has had an ongoing title, and honestly I’d much rather see him doing this sort of autobiography-and-one-offs project than more Groo. It’s also worth noting that he’s rejoined Jeff Lemire in the very small “monthly series written and drawn by one person” club–although Lemire seems to be even busier than that these days.

Ty Templeton doesn’t write a lot of comics these days (and draws even fewer), but he’s one of my favorite funny cartoonists when he’s on. If you ever see an issue of his ’80s-era Stig’s Inferno in a dollar bin, grab it. His 2002 graphic novel Bigg Time sank without even rippling the water, but I liked that too. Anyway, he writes this issue; Andrew Pepoy draws.

Grant Morrison’s long-awaited prose book is kind of two books in one: the front section (roughly; they’re somewhat interleaved) is his eccentric take on the history and meaning of superheroes, but the part I really enjoyed is the back half, his memoir of his writing career. I’m not entirely sure they belong together, although it’s fair to argue that he’s kind of turned himself into a superhero-comics character in several ways.

The second volume of Bill Mauldin’s cartoons collected by Fantagraphics, this one devoted to the post-WWII era. (On the Midtown list, not the Diamond list.)

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