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

KEY:

* Post-manga

^ The beloved entertainer

% Schools

¢ Specific urban setting is very important

* % FRIENDS WITH BOYS

Faith Erin Hicks' 200-page webcomic about a home-schooled teenager facing her first day of public school is still online--but only through today, since tomorrow it gets replaced by this print edition. File under: the generation of North American cartoonists who grew up on manga and are eventually going to take over the world.

^ ¢ 2000 A.D. #1766

All five serials are in mid-story in this one, but I'm particularly enjoying John Wagner and Henry Flint's densely packed, text-heavy Judge Dredd story "Day of Chaos: Eve of Destruction," which this issue loops in some plot threads from last year's Megazine serial "Hot Night in 95." First-page line of dialogue that cracked me up: "Address me as Mr. Womanly. I say nothing until I speak to my lawyer." (On the Diamond list, not the Midtown list.)

^ ¢ ACTION COMICS #7

Grant Morrison and Rags Morales pick up their Superman story where they left off in #4. I'm used to Morrison looking like he doesn't have anything like a master plan until it turns out he's had one all along, but sometimes I wish he'd show his hand a little more.

% THE COMPLETE CRUMB COMICS VOL. 1: THE EARLY YEARS OF BITTER STRUGGLE

This new edition of the first book in Fantagraphics' 17-volume series, covering the 1958-1962 period, is expanded to include a newly rediscovered 48-page work from 1962. Also, this volume's subtitle is one of the gags I've poached most often in my life. (On the Midtown list, not the Diamond list.)

^ % THE COMPLETE PEANUTS VOL. 17

Speaking of long-running Fantagraphics series, this volume covers 1983-1984, the period when Charles Schulz started to think Spike was much funnier than everyone else thought he was. Schulz was still brilliant, though: has anyone ever nailed the addiction/recovery/self-righteousness cycle as succinctly as this 1983 strip? Leonard Maltin writes the introduction, Franklin's on the cover. (On the Midtown list, not the Diamond list.)

¢ DEFENDERS #4

Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson's update of the tone, sweep and formal devices of Marvel 1972 to a present-day cut-and-style is, among other things, the closest thing we've got right now to a Dr. Strange series.

¢ GREEN ARROW #7

It's been a very long time since Ann Nocenti's been the regular writer of an ongoing series--I think it's been since Kid Eternity in 1994--but she takes over this issue, with artist Harvey Tolibao. I'm very curious to see what she does with it.

¢ iZOMBIE #23

Chris Roberson and Mike Allred's monsters-a-go-go series is consistently nice-looking, and this issue's got one gorgeous cover--I especially like the brainburgers in the background.

* ¢ KING CITY

Brandon Graham's charming, incredibly odd, heavy-on-the-worldbuilding series about a Catmaster (a little bit like a Green Lantern, but with cats instead of green light), has had a long, messy tumble through publication formats, but it's finally collected in a single volume.

^ ¢ THE SMURF OLYMPICS

To date myself a little, when this Peyo/Yvan Delporte volume was first serialized, the U.S. had just pulled out of the Moscow Summer Olympics, and my elementary school gym teacher, who had been tapped for the U.S. track team, was hellaciously annoyed about it. This edition is cannily timed to the London games. (On the Midtown list, not the Diamond list.)