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

KEY

* "Everyone's entitled to two, aren't they?"

^ "I fought the war for your sort."

% "Turned left at Greenland."

* ^ AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #648

The "Big Time" initiative (in which this series moves to a consistent four-dollar cover price and a twice-a-month frequency, with at least 30 pages of content each issue) begins. Dan Slott writes, Humberto Ramos draws, and Paul Tobin and Clayton Henry are responsible for the Spider-Girl backup. Preview.

^ ASSASSIN'S CREED: THE FALL #1

A three-issue videogame spinoff written and drawn (collectively, in a Dupuy-and-Berberian sort of way, supposedly) by Karl Kerschl and Cameron Stewart. I can't quite bring myself to care about the subject matter -- the last good videogame-inspired comic book may have been Atari Force back in the Stone Age -- but Kerschl's "Flash" serial in Wednesday Comics was absolutely stellar, and Stewart's been doing impressive work left and right, so this is worth a look for sure.

* ^ BATMAN: THE RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE #6

Grant Morrison, Lee Garbett and Pere Perez. I could have sworn he was back already, but perhaps this time we'll figure out how he got into the fireplace in Batman & Robin last week and why his return doesn't actually herald the cataclysmic conclusion of the whole rang-dang-doo multeyeverse (thank you, Dave Sim). Preview.

* % THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF ADELE BLANC-SEC, VOL. 1

The first American volume = the first two French volumes of Jacques Tardi's semi-parodic "adventuress in the weird Paris of 1911" series, soon to be a Luc Besson motion picture.

^ % GLAMOURPUSS #16

I already said, "thank you, Dave Sim."

* ^ % GRANDVILLE MON AMOUR

Speaking of thanking Dave Sim, this is the second volume of Bryan Talbot's Grandville series of Victorian/Edwardian-era steampunk anthropomorphic Holmesian ultraviolent in-jokey police procedurals, or whatever the hell you want to call this. I thought the first one suffered from severe conceptual dogpiling, but Talbot's stuff is always at least ambitious.

^ JLA DELUXE EDITION VOL. 4

Wrapping up the reprints of the Grant Morrison-era JLA, including the final story of the main run (with its amazing way-over-the-top conclusion in which everyone on Earth becomes a superhero), the first three issues of JLA Classified (which are effectively a prequel to Seven Soldiers and also feature the Squire prominently), and the excellent Frank Quitely-drawn JLA: Earth 2 graphic novel. Probably the best of the four volumes. Also out this week in Morrison reprint action: Vampirella Masters Series Vol. 1, a $25 paperback collecting the Morrison/Mark Millar run. And Grant Morrison's 18 Days is a $25 hardcover with material he wrote for the allegedly-in-pre-production animated series based on the Mahabarata, extensively illustrated; I'm not entirely sure what's in it, and am not convinced from what I've heard that it includes much more of his work than was in that Virgin Comics ashcan a couple of years back.

* % KNIGHT & SQUIRE #2

The first issue of this Paul Cornell/Jimmy Broxton miniseries about the British Batman & Robin wasn't quite as loltastic as I'd hoped, but I'm still curious to see how it goes. That cover looks rather Hellboyish, too. Preview.

^ NEW AVENGERS #6

Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen conclude the Dr. Strange/Doctor Voodoo arc (teensy preview), and Bendis continues his oral history of the Avengers, which I kind of hope will ultimately cover the entire span of the series. Also this week: Bendis and Alan Davis's Avengers Prime #4 (preview) and Paul Tobin and Scott Koblish's Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #8 (preview).


* SUPERMAN VS. MUHAMMAD ALI

Oh God, the '70s. $20 for the hardcover that is smaller but supposedly has some extra material, $40 for the fancy giant-sized facsimile. I remember this as being better than anyone would have guessed it would be, although that's not the highest bar; it helps that it's by Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams, who really knew how to draw a heavyweight champ.

% THOR #617

Matt Fraction/Pasqual Ferry. It looks from the preview like Iron Man plays a significant role in this one. Also out this week: 47 other comics with Thor in them.

^ T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS #1

I have zero interest in this property beyond a couple of Wally Wood and Steve Ditko-drawn stories from the '60s, but I like Nick Spencer's Jimmy Olsen backup in Action Comics enough that I want to see what he does with this. Art by Cafu and Bit. Maybe if it does well enough they'll be able to afford first names. Preview.

* % TONOHARU PART 2

Lars Martinson's Xeric-winning tale of an American twentysomething teaching in rural Japan (and suffering from severe culture shock) continues in a nicely designed little hardcover.

% TOYS IN THE BASEMENT

Stéphane Blanquet draws this uncharacteristically kid-friendly, Toy Story-gone-sour tale of a secret sanctuary for abused toys invaded by a pair of kids who haven't always treated their stuffed animals as kindly as they ought to have. It's the first in Fantagraphics' new all-ages hardcover line of translated Euro-comix; David B.'s is up next.