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Don’t Ask! Just Buy It! – October 20: Zombies, School Shooters and a Great Big X

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

* Green tea
^Black coffee
¢ Red Bull
¶ Quik
§ Postum
% Blood

And not a moment too soon. Grant Morrison and Frazer Irving’s three-issue arc is running rather late–actually, the whole “Return of Bruce Wayne” thing seems to be running very late–but it’s also the best superhero comic of 2010 so far, so I’m happy to wait. Get it.
Len Wein’s survey of the DCU’s history continues by telescoping the late-’80s/early-’90s era (including, it appears, “Invasion!”), as drawn by Jerry Ordway and George Pérez. The backup’s the Legion of Super-Heroes drawn by Keith Giffen for the first time in way too long. In further Pérez/Geoff Johns news, this week his and Geoff Johns’ “there’s no such thing as ‘too many characters'” miniseries “Final Crisis: Legion of Three World” is out in paperback, and while it blew its opportunity to link up with “Final Crisis” proper, it’s still a good time. Get it.

Alan Moore, you just go right on doing whatever it is you do.

1800 strips, 696 pages, 100 bucks’ worth of Garry Trudeau’s magnificent strip–which is to say roughly one in eight of the strips to date, apparently arranged by character arcs. (I do like seeing characters we haven’t seen in a while–the reappearance of Kim Rosenthal after a few decades was a masterstroke.) But would a complete, chronological “Doonesbury” be too much to ask? I mean, I know there was that CD-ROM a few years back, but it’d be great to have it in print in English.

An anthology of mostly off-brand pre-Comics Code horror stories, some complete, many more excerpted, interspersed with a handful of short essays. The bonus DVD is a half-hour 1955 (i.e. post-Code) documentary about how pernicious comic books are corrupting our youth.

Volume 1 of this sampler of the 2000-odd Dredd stories produced over the last three decades focused on artists; this one is a spotlight on the writers who’ve tackled Dredd over the years. The weird thing about “Judge Dredd” is that the series’ tone is so closely associated with John Wagner’s work (and, to some extent, his collaborations with Alan Grant) that even writers with very strong voices of their own–Garth Ennis (who wrote it for a few years), Grant Morrison and Mark Millar are the best-known ones represented here–often end up doing a pale imitation of Wagner. So I can’t, honestly, recommend this as an introduction to Dredd, but if you’re already familiar with him and are curious about how, say, Ian Edginton and Dan Abnett and Simon Spurrier and latter-day Pat Mills handle the peculiar tropes of writing about him and Mega-City One, it’s worth a look. (On the Midtown list, not the Diamond list.)

Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo’s fine “Lex Luthor: Man of Steel” miniseries from 2005–one of the first projects to do something interesting with the idea that Luthor is the hero of his own story–now repackaged to look like their 2008 collaboration “Joker.” Apparently expanded a bit, too. Preview. Get it.

This has to be the oldest comic yet reprinted as part of Image’s one-dollar line: the first issue of Matt Wagner’s career-defining superhero series, from 1984. Is this a signal that we might finally get “Mage: The Hero Denied”? There was an eleven-year gap between the first and second “Mage” series, and it’s now been eleven years since the second… Get it.

Roger Langridge’s four-part run-up to Halloween concludes; Dick Briefer’s interpretation of Frankenstein puts in a one-panel cameo. Get it.

§ ¶ NIPPER 1963-1964
The first of what will apparently be a series of paperback collections of Doug Wright’s weekly little-kid comic strip, a.k.a. “Doug Wright’s Family,” which ran in Canadian papers for many years and is deeply beloved by Canadians. I’m looking forward to seeing what all the fuss is about. (On the Midtown list, but not the Diamond list.) Get it.

Lynda Barry’s follow-up to “What It Is”–this time mostly concerned with principles of making pictures rather than writing down words–has been in development for a few years (I believe it was originally announced as “The Near-Sighted Monkey”). Anyway, it’s Lynda Barry, who turns paper into gold by touching it, as far as I’m concerned. Get it.

The first in a new sub-line: not written by Stan Lee (although it’s written by Paul Cornell, which is nothing to sneeze at); not drawn by him, obviously (that’s Javier Pina, with character design by Dave Johnson); not edited by him, either. Possibly created by him, although the copyright is jointly in the names of publisher Boom! Studios and Lee’s company Pow! Entertainment, brought together by their mutual love of old headlines about comic book collectors. Apparently overseen by Lee in some unspecified capacity. Four bucks’ worth of chin-scratching.

Warren Ellis and Phil Jimenez’s “Hellblazer” issue “Shoot,” whose school-shootings theme meant it never officially got published at the time (and led to Ellis’s departure from the title) sees print at last. Various other big names have stories reprinted in this 100-page one-shot, including Jim Lee and Grant Morrison, though from where is unclear. Eight bucks. In further Vertigo-resurrection news, “Y: The Last Man Deluxe Edition” book 4 reprints #37-48 of the original series. Get it.

* ¢ ^ X’ED OUT
Charles Burns’ first major post-“Black Hole” book, whose relationship to European graphic albums doesn’t stop with its format: it’s apparently the first of a series, and an inside-out tribute to “Tintin” by way of William S. Burroughs. Awesome.

A terrific zombie/sci-fi project by Al Ewing and Henry Flint–one of those stories that pushes ultraviolence so far that it turns into comedy (surrounding it with more comedy helps). I also really like the way the second half turns the first half’s “let’s kill off the whole cast one by one” premise inside out. (I wrote about it over at Techland; it’s on the Midtown list but not the Diamond list.)

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