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

KEY:

* Wood

^ Metal

% Latex

¢ Feathers

¢ APPROXIMATE CONTINUUM COMICS

An earlier stab than Little Nothings at comics-as-diary from the prolific cartoonist (and constantly hilarious comics-diarist) Lewis Trondheim, who draws himself as a slightly ruffled bird. (On the Midtown list, not the Diamond list.)

^ DC COMICS PRESENTS BATMAN: DARK KNIGHT, DARK CITY

A reprint of the Peter Milligan/Kieron Dwyer story from Batman #452-454 that fed into Grant Morrison's recent Return of Bruce Wayne stuff; I didn't read this the first time around, but have heard good things about it. In related action, Batman: Gates of Gotham #1 launches the second Batman miniseries in two weeks; Trevor McCarthy's art for it sure looks nice.

* ^ ¢ IF 'N' OOF

Can it really be that Brian Chippendale's latest apartment-block-sized magnum opus hasn't officially been released to comics stores before now? It seems so. Anyway: it's 800 pages of Brian Chippendale's brainy-brut scribble madness, so those of you who are familiar with his previous epics know what to do.

^ INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #504

Off we go into the "Fear Itself" phase of the Matt Fraction/Salvador Larroca series. Who will draw the backup feature this time?! In further Fear-Itselfish news, Avengers #13 is by Brian Michael Bendis and Chris Bachalo; maybe John Romita Jr. is off wrapping up Kick-Ass 2?

% PAYING FOR IT

Where does one begin with Chester Brown's already-much-discussed comics memoir of hiring prostitutes? Everyone else I know who's read it says "oh man there's so much I want to say about that thing," and I'm no exception. In this venue, though, I'll just note that it totally buries the lede, as they say--Brown drops a bombshell shortly before the end of the book that would have made a much more interesting book if he'd explored it more, although it's clear why he didn't. Also, I find some of his narrative strategies here a lot more loaded than he's willing to let on. And at this point I can't imagine him ever breaking his record of making comics I always want to read the instant they fall into my hands. (On the Diamond list, not the Midtown list.)

* % PINOCCHIO

The French artist Winshluss's very (very) free adaptation of Carlo Collodi's fable into a cruel, grotty, grubby, stylistically showoffish graphic novel, which was a big prize-winner at Angoulême a couple of years back. (Pinocchio's little insect friend is a cockroach, if that gives you any idea; there are also seven creepy little dudes with sleeping-beauty issues.) There seems to be some not-particularly-light-footed satire of the military-industrial complex; there is a character who I really hope is meant to be an over-the-top indictment/parody of tropes of ethnic caricature; there's a lot of spectacle, but also a lot of nastiness.

^ ¢ ROCKETEER ADVENTURES #1

The beginning of a miniseries produced in tribute to the late Dave Stevens' retro-serials-plus-Bettie-Page creation: contributors include Kurt Busiek, John Cassaday, Mike Allred and Michael Kaluta.

¢ WALT DISNEY TREASURY: DONALD DUCK VOL. 1

That generic title masks a very good deal: a heaping helping of Don Rosa's early Donald Duck stories, in a $15 paperback, following up on The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck and its companion volume. Crossing my fingers that Boom! gets around to collecting Rosa's other Uncle Scrooge material before its Disney license runs out--it'd be great to be able to walk into a store and buy a copy of "Son of the Sun" for an 8-year-old who'd appreciate it.

^ YEAH!

Here's an anomaly: a DC serial collected by Fantagraphics. Yeah! was an all-ages-ish sort of series (about an intergalactic all-girl rock band) by the dream team of writer Peter Bagge and artist Gilbert Hernandez, which ran for nine issues in 1999 and 2000. It's neither creator's best work, honestly, but come on, if you found out that Robert Altman and Woody Allen had collaborated on a kids' TV show, you'd want to watch that too. (On the Midtown list, not the Diamond list.)