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Don’t Ask! Just Buy It! – Nov. 11: Batman, Judge Dredd, Muppets, Kanye and Much More Even than Usual

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


KEY

Prosthetic limbs
* “But everyone knows that what we call Zombies are actually GHOULS, right? A Zombie is the Haitian voodoo-drugged guy.” –@jeffparker
History is what’s happening
% Oh my God are there ever a lot of attractive-looking comics-related gift books out this week
ø “I have, like, nuclear power, like a superhero, like Cyclops when he puts his glasses on.”
“I–I can’t turn invisible fast enough!”
^ Problems drawing big numbers

ø DARK X-MEN #1

The period when Marvel can stick a “Dark” in front of any title they publish and make a new series out of it is drawing to a close, but there’s apparently still room for this five-issue miniseries to sneak in.

The selling point is that it’s by the “Captain Britain and MI-13″ team of Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk, and the preview pages look promising. Also out this week: the Avengers/X-Men “Utopia” hardcover.


‡ AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #611

Yes, Deadpool’s overexposure is getting pretty obnoxious, but at least this done-in-one team-up is written by Joe Kelly, who’s historically done some very funny things with him. The phrase that roped me in was “Lady Stilt-Man.”


† ^ THE AUTHORITY: THE LOST YEAR READER

Three bucks gets you this reprint of the two extant issues of Grant Morrison and Gene Ha’s promising but ill-fated 2006 “Authority” relaunch (which its writer has called “just a disaster”). Next week, Keith Giffen and Darick Robertson are picking up where Morrison and Ha left off.


^ BATMAN AND ROBIN #6

Philip Tan’s last issue drawing this series before the distinctly more Morrison-compatible artist Cameron Stewart (“Seaguy,” “Manhattan Guardian”) takes over in January (following a month off so that “Blackest Night” can do whatever it’s doing that makes it necessary to pre-empt DC’s best-selling ongoing title). The preview begins with an excellent gag involving a telephone poll, undermined by alarmingly sloppy execution in the art or production department.

* † ^ CEREBUS ARCHIVE #4

Dave Sim’s new project Cerebus TV launched a few weeks ago; meanwhile, there have been some hints that “Cerebus Archive” might not be long for this world if it doesn’t start being more profitable in a hurry (and, in fact, it’s apparently no longer being carried by Diamond; it seems to be only available as a print-on-demand thing from ComiXpress). I’ve been enjoying this project, but honestly it’s not hard to see why even a lot of “Cerebus” fans haven’t been picking it up: not only does it not actually have, whaddayacall, Cerebus in it, but most of it is devoted to Sim picking apart his early, awkward juvenilia. Not available in any form, I’m guessing: the zombie variant.


‡ CITIZEN REX #5

Gilbert and Mario Hernandez, doing lightweight SF. Preview.

† ø ¶ COMIC BOOK COMICS #4

The long-overdue new issue of Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey’s very amusing, very enlightening series about the history of comics features the first parody of the cover of “Fantastic Four” #1 that anyone has ever done. Inside, apparently: stories about the rise of Marvel, Robert Crumb, and Hergé.

† % DR. SEUSS & CO. GO TO WAR

A curious sort of sequel to 1999′s “Dr. Seuss Goes to War,” which reprinted a few hundred editorial cartoons Seuss drew during World War II for the left-wing/interventionist New York newspaper “PM.” Apparently, the first book’s editor, Richard Minear, declined to assemble a sequel, but gave New Press’s founding director André Schiffrin access to the “PM” archives. About half of this volume is actually by other editorial cartoonists who worked for “PM,” but they include some very big names, especially Saul Steinberg and Al Hirschfeld.

% THE FIR-TREE

Lilli Carré’s got an appealingly odd illustrative style — she’s done some very interesting books in the last couple of years, most recently “9 Ways of Disappearing.” Here, she adapts a Christmas story by Hans Christian Andersen for something I suspect is packaged to be a gift book. Preview. Also this week, as part of the same series: Alex Robinson draws L. Frank Baum’s “A Kidnapped Santa Claus.”

† % ‡ THE FIXER AND OTHER STORIES

Joe Sacco staked out his position as comics’ leading journalist well over a decade ago, and he’s still doing a kind of work that basically nobody else is doing: comics reportage from war zones, more about the way people get by during a war than about specific military goings-on. He’s got a new book, “Footnotes in Gaza,” coming out shortly; in the meantime, this paperback collects two of his shorter books about the Bosnian war, 2003′s “The Fixer” and 2005′s “War’s End.”

† % HOT POTATOE

A big, fat, comely art book collecting Marc Bell’s “fine aht” and comics from the past decade or so. Bell’s an odd one–late-’60s Robert Crumb is obviously a huge influence on his work (not just his warped, wobbly sabotages of cute cartoon forms, but his daffy stoner wordplay). He’s also an obsessive world-builder, a little like Larry Marder if he never stopped adding onto the structures of Beanworld. And he really is mighty funny, if you’re in the right mood. Have a look at some of his stuff here.

* † ‡ JUDGE DREDD: THE COMPLETE CASE FILES VOL. 14

A little backstory for this volume, which collects the Dredd stories from “2000 A.D.” #662-699 (originally published in 1990), all written by John Wagner: for 13 weeks before this sequence began, another feature in “2000 A.D.” was “The Dead Man,” a survival-horror story set in the
same world as Dredd. At the end of “The Dead Man,” its hideously disfigured, amnesiac protagonist was revealed to be Dredd himself, following his resignation from the Judges. That story led directly into “Tale of the Dead Man,” the first story here, which is a flashback to what happened before “The Dead Man” and also sets up the other long story in this volume. That massive 26-part thing, “Necropolis,” is drawn by Dredd’s co-creator Carlos Ezquerra, and is therefore awesome. Also out this week: the Wagner-written Dredd book “Mechanismo,” a kind of sequel to “Necropolis” that came out in 1992-1993.

† % LUNA PARK

Kevin Baker is the novelist who wrote “Dreamland,” a Coney Island fantasia set around the beginning of the 20th century. He’s returned to the Coney Island setting for this original graphic novel drawn by the Croatian artist Danijel Zezelj (“Loveless,” “The Corinthian”), about a tormented Russian gangster. The particular devices Baker uses to cram the weight of centuries of Russian tragedy into this story seriously undermine it, but Zezelj’s art is gorgeous and moody — the best work he’s done in American comics.

¶ MARVEL ADVENTURES SUPER HEROES #17

This seems to be another soft relaunch within the Marvel Adventures line — this time, the catchall title is being retooled as a sort of all-ages Avengers title, written by Paul Tobin and “Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers”‘ Ig Guara. And, since the Marvel Adventures line no longer has a Fantastic Four title, one member of this team is the Invisible Woman. Nice touch. Preview.


‡ THE MUPPET SHOW: THE TREASURE OF PEG LEG WILSON #4

The conclusion of Roger Langridge’s second Muppet miniseries, which sets up… an ongoing Langridge-written-and-drawn Muppet series that starts in a month or two. Glad to see he’s getting to work on his own stuff, too.

* † % ^ PIM & FRANCIE: THE GOLDEN BEAR DAYS

One hell of a messed-up book. It’s the first full-length volume by Al Columbia that’s actually made it out into the world; he probably has the highest reputation-to-work-published ratio of any cartoonist I can think of. In the course of a nearly two-decade career, he has so far published one issue of “Doghead,” two issues of “The Biologic Show,” a bunch of short pieces in “Zero Zero” and “Mome,” and that’s about it, not counting the work he may or may not have done as Bill Sienkiewicz’s assistant on “Big Numbers.” (One of his publishers recently posted a page called–jokingly, I think–“Al Columbia Proves Difficult.”) Pim & Francie are Columbia’s pet subjects–a pair of cute kids who are always stumbling into horrific nightmare scenarios. This isn’t quite a collection of stories about them: it’s a collection of Columbia’s rough and finished materials concerning them that keeps veering toward storyhood, then jerking the steering wheel and plunging over the nearest cliff. Preview linked here.


* † % STRANGE SUSPENSE

This nicely produced color hardcover reprints a bunch of Steve Ditko-drawn horror stories from 1953 and 1954, with the currently modish “just shoot it from the original printed page” technique; it’s edited by Blake Bell, who wrote the fascinating Ditko bio/appreciation “Strange and Stranger.” If you’re a Ditkophile, you already know if you want this. But it’s a little bit perplexing to see no suggestion that anybody besides Ditko worked on this material — there are no writer credits at all, for instance. Preview linked here.

% ø THROUGH THE WIRE: THE WORDS AND LYRICS OF KANYE WEST

A cartoon adaptation of a dozen of ‘Ye’s tracks is maybe not the most promising idea, but this one turns out to be drawn by Bill Plympton, the animator who also did the “Heard ‘Em Say” video. Bizarre!

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