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

KEY:

* Eyepatches

^ Capes

% Spats

% AGONIZING LOVE: THE GOLDEN AGE OF ROMANCE COMICS

Look, you're not going to find a bigger fan of vintage romance comics than me--I have a standing rule that I'll buy any romance comic book that's $2 or less and doesn't actually smell like cat pee. I'm dying to see this $30 paperback anthology of various vintage material, assembled by Michael Barson. But I wish it could dispense with the jokey title, and that there were more reprints of romance comics that didn't feel obligated to rewrite the original dialogue or frame them as kitsch and nothing more. (On the Midtown Comics list, not the Diamond Comic Distributors list.)
^ BATGIRL #21

Bryan Q. Miller, Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs. Just look at that cover. Look at that cover.

^ % BATMAN INC. #6

Chris Burnham returns to this Grant Morrison-written series for an issue that seems to clarify the scope of the Batman Inc. organization, although the Man-of-Bats story that appears in the solicitations for this issue has now apparently been bumped to #7. The last couple of issues were so densely written that I'm still puzzling over them to figure out exactly what happened, but as far as I'm concerned that's far preferable to a $3 comic that takes four minutes to absorb in its entirety. Also, nice job to Morrison on what I imagine was an after-the-fact rewrite of #4 and 5, which look a lot like they were originally planned to be run in the other order. This week also sees the third hardcover volume of Batman and Robin, a.k.a. Batman and Robin Must Die, reprinting #13-16 and The Return, all written by Morrison and drawn by Frazer Irving (his stuff, in particular, is incredible), Cameron Stewart, Burnham and David Finch.

^ DEADMAN VOL. 1

A $20 paperback reprint of the early Strange Adventures stories, most of 'em drawn by Neal Adams. I hope there's a second volume, and I hope it goes up to the Len Wein/José Luis Gárcia-López stuff.

% FLASHPOINT #1

The same week as Flash #12 (and a DC Comics Presents: The Flash reprint of late-'50s issues), DC's big summer what-if-history-all-went-differently crossover event, by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert, begins. Kubert's a famously slow artist, and ordinarily it might not be wise to expect five consecutive monthly issues of an oversized title from him, but he did apparently start drawing Flashpoint over a year ago. Anyone want to place bets on what the first delayed issue associated with Flashpoint will be, or when the final issue will come out?

* ^ JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #623

Kieron Gillen and Doug Braithwaite's Loki serial continues. I thought last issue was quite good.

* % LITTLE LULU VOL. 27: THE TREASURE MAP AND OTHER STORIES

The quest to reprint every page John Stanley ever published continues, and I couldn't be happier about it. This one collects a couple of the Little Lulu Giants he worked on.

^ % LOVE AND CAPES EVER AFTER #4

More of Thom Zahler's relaxed, witty superhero sitcom.

* ^ NEW AVENGERS #12

Brian Michael Bendis's dual-timeline story with art by Mike Deodato and Howard Chaykin continues, meaning that Chaykin's recent every-week shutout of the new comics racks continues too. When will it end?! (Never, I hope.)

^ % SPIDER-MAN: THE EXTREMIST

A collection of a nifty Fred Van Lente/Javier Rodriguez serial that didn't get much exposure, since it ran in Web of Spider-Man last year. It involves a new antagonist called The Extremist, a "pro-superhuman" type who's basically a variation on Mr. A. Which is to say: there's meta-commentary here.