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Don’t Ask! Just Buy It! – Mar. 10: Breaking In, Sentencing Up and Grossing Out

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

KEY
* We are now leaving the 20th century!
£ Join the Revolution!
∆ Demand the impossible!
§ Overthrow the spectacle!
¶ Beneath the sidewalk, the beach!
† Disobey all imperatives!

£ † AVENGERS/X-MEN: UTOPIA

The paperback version of last year’s Matt Fraction-driven crossover event: $35 gets you reprints of the six-part main event, Mike Carey’s “X-Men Legacy” two-part tie-in, the initial three-issue “Dark X-Men” miniseries, and a couple of related specials. I’m looking forward to reading it. $35.
∆ BATMAN AND ROBIN #10

The arc Andy Clarke is drawing begins, and holy heck does it look amazing. (That Cameron Stewart-drawn three-parter that just ended was fantastic, too–I wrote about it over at Techland.) Can this series just stay biweekly, please? Thanks.

§ ∆ BREAKING INTO COMICS THE MARVEL WAY #1

Here’s a shorter version for you: it’s not quite true that breaking into comics is like breaking out of prison, they seal up the passageways as soon as somebody makes it out, etc. Breaking into comics consists of drawing one and photocopying it. It’s that easy. But it’s also the case that nobody is going to pay you to make comics “the Marvel way” until you have already proven that you can make first-rate comics–which means not just drawing pretty pictures but establishing a track record for creating compelling narrative work, reliably and on schedule. Also, it takes a very long time making comics before you can get good at them. So put in your 10,000 hours at the drawing table, make a reputation for being easy to work with, and be very good at what you do, and presto, you’ll have broken in. Here endeth the lesson. Anyway, this two-issue project seems to be the new-generation equivalent of The Official Marvel Try-Out Book; is there some mute inglorious Mark Bagley out there? We’ll know eventually.

¶ ∆ THE COMPLETE MILT GROSS COMIC BOOK STORIES

Milt Gross didn’t draw a whole lot of comic books, although he was a prolific comic strip artist, and a big enough name that there were two issues of “Milt Gross Funnies” in 1947. His work had a single tone, “zany,” and he was a master of it. I’ve only seen a little of his work in various anthologies, and I’m dying to see this hardcover collection; it will be BANANA OIL.

† CRIMINAL THE SINNERS #5

The conclusion to Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ latest noir storyline, before “Criminal” takes a break so Phillips can draw the forthcoming “Dark Tower: The Gunslinger” miniseries. There will be shots fired, it’s safe to guess.

* ¶ DAYTRIPPER #4

Moon and Bá’s miniseries–somehow it doesn’t quite seem like a “serial”–about the many endings to one man’s story continues.

£ † DMZ #51

Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli, picking up from the big mushroom cloud at the end of #49 (last issue was a celebratory in-happier-times retrospective). I have absolutely no idea where the story can go from there, but I’m looking forward to finding out.

† KING OF THE FLIES VOL. 1: HALLORAVE

I don’t know whether this handsome translated-from-the-French hardcover, the first of a three-volume series, owes parts of its aesthetic directly to Charles Burns’ “Black Hole” or whether creators Mezzo & Pirus are just coming from a similar dark place, but what I’ve seen so far looks pretty great–a totally creepy, coolly rendered set of linked stories about adolescents, drugs, sex and half-unreal violence. There’s a preview here.

¶ ∆ MARVEL ADVENTURES SUPER HEROES #21

The final issue of Paul Tobin’s all-ages quasi-reboot of the Avengers (before it relaunches next month). Tobin’s been bringing in underused characters from all corners of the Marvel Universe, and I think this time he’s actually found one nobody at all has used in decades: Gary Gaunt, a Jekyll-and-Hyde type who appeared in a few issues of Mystic Comics in 1942. There’s a preview up–Esdras Cristobal’s artwork looks considerably goofier than this series has generally been.

* ¶ THE MUPPET SHOW #3

Movin’ right along: more Roger Langridge Muppetry. Also in the comics-for-kids-etc. category this week: a $1 “Marvel’s Greatest Comics” reprint of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” #1.

* § ∆ THE MYSTIC HANDS OF DR. STRANGE #1

Another one of those peculiar ’70s-inspired black-and-white one-shots Marvel’s been publishing lately. This one includes new work by Frank Brunner (who drew some gorgeous issues of “Dr. Strange” in the ’70s) and Ted McKeever (who hasn’t done a lot of new comics in a long time either), so it’s for sure worth a look. The preview appears to have been drawn by somebody else; anyone want to guess?

* £ ¶ § † OUR SENTENCE IS UP: SEEING GRANT MORRISON’S INVISIBLES

This non-comics book by Patrick Meaney was on Diamond’s list last week, but Midtown Comics is listing it this week, so I’m getting in on the action a little late. I haven’t read Meaney’s part of it yet–it looks like a very close issue-by-issue reading of the entire Invisibles series. The final 50 pages or so, though, are a long, interesting interview with Grant Morrison that’s less about The Invisibles than about the personal experiences that inspired it and his ideas about sigil magic and comics. There’s not a lot of new information for people who’ve read a ton of Morrison interviews before, but it’s a lot of good anecdotes in one place.

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