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

* Color fun
ß Explosion/implosion
‡ The stealthy shadow of Sturdy Steve
% Villain-as-protagonist
≈ Li'l folks

The most riveting, chilling graphic novel I've read so far this year. Gilbert Hernandez's stories about self-destructive psychiatrist/B-movie actress Fritz Martinez were initially serialized in a bunch of different series, alongside the material that ended up in last year's Luba (in which she also appears), so I got into the habit of thinking of her as a supporting character and nothing else. This volume collects all the Fritz material (it actually overlaps very slightly with Luba), and when you read it in one place it coheres into a great, shockingly dark piece of work.
The first of a Roger Stern/Lee Weeks three-parter involving the Juggernaut. But the reason I'm pointing it out is that Marvel has done something obvious and smart that I wish the Big Two would do more: since this is a sequel to a Stern-written two-parter that came out 28 years ago (in "Amazing Spider-Man" #229 and 230), they've posted the original story as a freebie on their Web site.

Who will wield the white ring? What will happen to all the undead characters? How will Geoff Johns satisfactorily wrap up this megacrossover while launching the one that starts in a couple of weeks? In other zombie news: "The Walking Dead" #1 is reprinted this week in a $1 edition.

The Creeper was one of Ditko's weirder creations, which is saying something: a fantastically eye-gouging piece of design (yellow skin, green hair and briefs, and a red thing that's somewhere between a cape and a boa) who usually appeared surrounded by peals of insane laughter (his own). As I understand, this collection of Ditko's work on the character from the '60s and '70s was scheduled for a while as a black-and-white "Showcase Presents" paperback, then rescheduled as this mostly-in-color hardcover. It'll also include a 25-page, Ditko-drawn story--guest-starring the Odd Man, the ne plus ultra of weird-ass Ditko costume design--which was originally intended to appear in "Showcase" #106. (It has previously officially seen the light of day only in the second issue of Cancelled Comic Cavalcade, produced in an edition of 35 copies in 1978 to assert DC's copyright.)

The third and final part of Greg Rucka and Jock's "Cutter," Batwoman's final appearance here for a few months--I'd understood that the Rucka/J.H. Williams III serial would be moving over to a Batwoman title, but the new DC solicitations suggest that there'll be some kind of Batwoman story or other in "Detective again" as of #867.

I'm really getting to like this Mark Waid/Jean Diaz series--it's formally very similar to Millar & McNiven's "Nemesis," come to think of it, but it's smart and sharp rather than huge and blunt.

Pieces of Jacques Tardi's ferocious graphic novel about the horrors of war in general and World War I in particular have appeared in various anthologies, but this hardcover edition is the first time the whole thing has been published in English.

A book from the University Press of Mississippi: a collection of essays, letters and articles by Charles M. Schulz about his work, the closest thing to a memoir we're going to get.

The first seven volumes of the little "Love & Rockets Library" paperback series collectively accounted for all the stories in the first fifty issues of Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez's magnificent series. This one moves into Jaime's comics-format projects that followed the initial run of "Love & Rockets: the material previously collected as Whoa Nellie!," "Locas in Love" and "Dicks and Deedees." It's all great--I'm not sure Jaime could draw a bad comic if he tried--although "Whoa Nellie!," a little story about the women's wrestling circuit, is more the kind of thing he likes to draw than the kind of thing his audience tends to expect of him.

I can't imagine that there are many people who feel like reading a Deadpool comic as often as there's a new one available--he's rivaling Wolverine for over-exposure these days--but there are certainly some interesting people working on them. This one (the final issue of a weekly lead-up to what seems like a fourth monthly Deadpool title...) is drawn by Kyle Baker, whose work is always worth a look. There's a preview up, which makes it look like Baker's constructing most of this issue with 3D modeling software.

ß % RASL #7
Jeff Smith's interdimensional-art-thief thriller took a welcome sharp left turn into Nikola Tesla/parallel-universe conspiracy theory territory last issue. Note that the second oversize volume of the collected RASL, "The Fire of St. George," comes out in three weeks.