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Don’t Ask! Just Buy It! – May 19: “The Heroic Age” Gets Going and the Atomic Knights Resurface

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

* Volume 1
@ Volume 2
^ Volume 4
¢ Volume 5
% Volume 6

An anthology featuring Kurt Busiek, Paul Cornell, Rick Remender, and the return of the Dan Slott/Ty Templeton team that did the nifty “Spider-Man/Human Torch” miniseries a few years ago. This is being billed as Busiek’s return to Marvel, although to be honest he wasn’t away that long, given that the final issue of “Marvels 2: Eye of the Camera” came out in February. Preview. Not to be confused with “Enter the Heroic Age” (another anthology, with five brief previews of forthcoming series; preview) or “Heroic Age Magazine” (a ten-dollar collection of interviews, sketchbooks and reprints).
The Lizard story continues, but really, all you need to say is “Chris Bachalo,” and I’m there. Also in the Spider-department this week: the first issue of Brian Reed and Philip Briones’ “Amazing Spider-Man Presents: American Son” (preview), catching up with Harry Osborn post-“Siege.”

The long-awaited, repeatedly delayed, at-least-once-reformatted (for a while it was going to be part of a Showcase volume) collection of John Broome and Murphy Anderson’s stories from 50-year-old issues of Strange Adventures about the aftermath of World War III: a bunch of good-hearted souls in radiation-proof medieval armor riding gigantic mutated Dalmatians and rebuilding civilization. I like this material a lot, and I’m very happy to see it coming back into print.

Brian Michael Bendis, John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson re-re-relaunch Marvel’s flagship team book. (Preview.) They appear to be diving into the Kang/Immortus/Rama-Tut time-travel pool that’s yielded a bunch of entertaining Avengers stories in the past, too.

Roy Crane’s welterweight adventure strip gets its 1933-1935 Sunday color installments collected. Truly, this is the Modern Age of Vintage Funny Papers! Preview!

Len Wein’s revised history of the DC universe launches with an impressive array of artists: Joe and Andy Kubert and J.G. Jones.

Oh, they still publish this? I kid, but it is rather late. A very solid lineup, though–Colleen Coover, Faith Erin Hicks and Jill Thompson all contribute to this issue. Preview.

Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca continue the “Resilient” storyline; preview. Also this week: a “Rescue” one-shot spinoff by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Andrea Mutti. I’d love to see Pepper back in the suit too, although the preview makes it look like the whole story might be a hallucination/dream/hoax/imaginary story. Given that Fraction and DeConnick just had their second kid a few weeks ago, we can count on the story being well coordinated with “Iron Man” proper.

Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy pass the halfway point of their “it was all a low-blood-sugar hallucination OR WAS IT” sword-and-sorcery bildungsroman.

Paul Levitz and Yildiray Cenar launch the sixth series about the thousand-years-from-now team of young heroes. Someday they’ll get it right! (That’s unfair, really; Levitz’s ’80s-era run on “Legion” was really good, second only to the Tom & Mary Bierbaum/Keith Giffen “Five Year Gap” period among my favorite eras of the series.) Also out this week: a $1 reprint of “Action Comics” #858, the Geoff Johns/Gary Frank issue that set up the current incarnation of the Legion.

Not a reprint of the excellent 1974 collection, but lots of brief recaps (previewed here) of Marvel characters’ origins–the sort of thing DC did with their 52 backups. They seem to mostly be written by Fred Van Lente, in a less silly version of his Action Philosophers mode.

Once again, the black-and-white backup feature is the main attraction: it’s written by Harlan Ellison (who has not been particularly prolific over the past decade or so, to put it mildly) and drawn by Kyle Baker.

Originally serialized in “Mome,” Tim Hensley’s absurdist/allusive highbrow parody of the formulae behind “Richie Rich” and “Archie” gets the oversized European album treatment here. Preview.

On the #favcomics Twitter hashtag Comics Alliance started a couple of weeks ago, I named Jim Woodring’s “Frank in the River” as my favorite comic book of all time–a little parable about work, beauty, corruption and innocence that’s got as likeable a surface as any piece of kids’ entertainment ever, and goes unfathomably deep beneath that. If you already know Woodring’s stuff, all you need to hear to start lining up for this one is that it’s a book-length Manhog story. If you don’t know his stuff, your psyche’s weird dark bits are crying out for nourishment–can’t you hear them? Preview.

Paul Dini seems to have a particular affinity for Zatanna; he’s described this ongoing series (with Stephane Roux and Karl Story) as “sort of like ‘Dick Tracy’ with magicians.” That could be promising.

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