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


* Strip

^ Puss 'n Boots

% Young Parisians

¢ Friend or Foe

@ Rough Stuff

^ ¢ BATMAN INC. #4

As Richard Willard Armour said of what happens when you shake the catsup bottle: first none'll come and then a lot'll. Despite the solicitation announcement, this one's reportedly drawn by Chris Burnham (now DC exclusive!) and Nathan Fairbairn; if it does indeed guest-star Batwoman (to tie in with the new series that's now, cough, not going to start for a while), Grant Morrison's going to have to get Bruce Wayne back from Argentina in a hurry. I have faith.% ¢ CAPTAIN AMERICA AND BATROC #1

Ze leapair, people: arguably the silliest villain in Captain America's rogues' gallery, which is saying something, given that that group also includes M.O.D.O.K. Kieron Gillen writes, Renato Arlem draws.


Ben Katchor doesn't publish books very often these days--this one, which comes with fold-out cardboard handles (of course), is apparently his first in ten years--and there's nobody else who really covers his territory, which is scratchy, tilted vignettes about aspects of city life only slightly odder than the ones that actually exist in New York. There was a period in the mid-'90s, after his comic strip "Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer" had been dropped by the Village Voice, where it found a home worthy of one of his own strips: a new episode was displayed weekly in a glass box outside a Papaya King restaurant on 86th St.


Expanded from its initial appearance as a tiny little thing packaged with an issue of Comic Art a few years back, this is Ivan Brunetti's fifteen-week course in drawing comics. (For a sample of what he's up to, see this excellent two-minute video.) Brunetti's self-deprecation can get wearying -- he lays it on even thicker than Chris Ware used to -- but he's very smart on the subject of creating comics, and I bet a combination of this and his two-volume Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons and True Stories would make an excellent present for a curious young artist.


Brian Walker's two copiously illustrated histories of American comic strips, "The Comics Before 1945" and "The Comics Since 1945," in a single $40 volume. That's a good deal.

* @ THE COMPLETE PEANUTS VOL. 15: 1979-1980

How dark could "Peanuts" get during the Peanut President's administration? "Very, very dark," Al Roker writes the introduction to this volume. Have I mentioned how much I love the indexes to the Fantagraphics editions? It's useful to know that a Zamboni appears twice in this volume.

¢ FF #1

Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting launch the new incarnation of the series that... I predict will last exactly eleven issues under this title, what do you say? Anyway, this is the second comic book in two weeks that involves Spider-Man getting a new costume. Also out this week: Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #12, by Paul Tobin and Matteo Lolli, in which Spider-Man does not, to my knowledge, get a new costume.


I wrote the introduction to this $25, 616-page collection of Carla Speed McNeil's first four Finder books--Sin-Eater parts 1 and 2, King of the Cats and Talisman--so I won't go on at length about it here. I'll just say that CA's Laura Hudson calls Finder "one of the best comics ever," and I'm with her on that. Go discover it.


I'm not entirely clear on what's reprinted in this 2000 AD U.S. paperback--Mean Machine Angel, the robot hillbilly from hell, has only appeared in a handful of stories of his own (John Wagner and Richard Dolan's "Travels With Muh Shrink" in 1991, some Gordon Rennie-written stories in 2000, Wagner and Millgate's "Angel Heart" in 2004, and a few one-offs here and there). Maybe he appears as a character in the forthcoming Judge Dredd movie, so this is Simon & Schuster moving the catalogue into position? No idea.

@ META 4 #5

Ted McKeever's first major project in a good long while concludes; having read the first four issues, I still have no idea what's supposed to be going on in it, or if there's actually a metaphor of any kind at hand, but it sure is nice to look at.


Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows' miniseries about extreme Lovecraftian tentacle-nastiness concludes, and the number of new Moore comics we can look forward to drops by one. (Is there anything still in the pipeline beyond a few more League of Extraordinary Gentlemen volumes and The Moon and Serpent Bumper Book of Magic, which Moore now says is "between a third and a half way through."

¢ @ OSBORN #4

I've been enjoying this cruel, harsh Kelly Sue DeConnick/Emma Rios underwater-prison-riot miniseries enormously -- I wrote about #3 over at Techland.


DC launched a handful of horror comics around 1969; they had an overlapping pool of creators, but seem to have had different editors. Dick Giordano edited the first 13 issues of this series, and pulled in some excellent contributors--Alex Toth (lots of Toth, actually), Neal Adams, Pat Boyette, Bernie Wrightson, Gray Morrow. There's also a real oddity in a later issue in this volume (which reprints the first 21 issues): a five-page story written by Phil Seuling, a.k.a. the godfather of the direct market in comics.


Okay, trade-waiters: the first four-issue arc of this terrific Greg Rucka/Matt Southworth series about a tough-as-banged-up-nails P.I. in Portland has finally staggered across the finish line and made it to its first hardcover collection. I'm told that there will be another Stumptown arc, but Rucka and Southworth are waiting to make sure it'll come out monthly. Given that the series was first announced back in 2007, I'm guessing that might be a while.


Somebody recently told me that there was a period in X-Men history where the team consisted of these two characters. If that's true, please let me know when it was. In the meantime, there's this clever, attractive Kathryn Immonen/Phil Noto miniseries.