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Don’t Ask! Just Buy It! – October 7: Bloom County, Masterpiece Comics, Gotham City, the Modern World and the End of Planetary

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

KEY

One Ellis-door closes, another opens
£ Penguins
% Swords, S.W.O.R.D., guillotines–they’re really just stand-ins for papercuts
¥ Remember: everything that ever happened to Batman is canon, and that includes “Crime and Punishment”
* If comics will teach you anything, they will teach you patience
Firearms on the cover: your seal of quality entertainment

¥ * MASTERPIECE COMICS

R. Sikoryak’s insanely clever, hilarious mashups of classic literature and classic comics have been appearing in various anthologies over the last couple of decades; this collects most of them. My favorite is probably “Good Ol’ Gregor Brown,” which imagines Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” as a series of “Peanuts” dailies. Have a look at a preview here.
% * ASTONISHING X-MEN #31

Phil Jimenez joins Warren Ellis for the continuation of the kinda-sorta-in-continuity, comes-out-when-they-feel-like-it series. Jimenez’s previous stint with the X-Men (during the Grant Morrison rotating-artists period) was pretty impressive; if your store has a copy of the preview freebie Marvel published a couple of weeks ago, pick that up, too–there’s a very interesting interview with him. Preview here.

£ ¥ € BATMAN AND ROBIN #5

Speaking of Morrison, he’s still playing his favorite Batman game with this series–postulating a whole bunch of alternate versions of Batman–except now he’s running through alternate versions of Batman and Robin, in this case the Red Hood and Scarlet. Philip Tan draws.

£ BLOOM COUNTY: THE COMPLETE LIBRARY 1980-1982

As popular as “Bloom County” was in the ’80s, a lot of Berke Breathed’s early strips have never been reprinted. He spends a lot of this first volume (given the usual solid IDW treatment) struggling with his Garry Trudeau fixation and developing his own, considerably more absurd voice.

% * THE CARTOON HISTORY OF THE MODERN WORLD, VOL. 2: FROM THE BASTILLE TO BAGHDAD

Larry Gonick is a relatively little-known treasure — well, little-known within the comics world, anyway. He’s been doing his “Cartoon History of the Universe” series — a very, very well-researched history of everything for which there’s documented history — for something close to 30 years. This wraps up that particular series; I think I’ve seen them in student bookstores much more often than in comic book stores, but they’re worth curling up with. Preview here.


€ CRIMINAL: THE SINNERS #1

Tracy Lawless is back! Back! Back! More cruel noir from the impeccable Ed Brubaker/Sean Phillips team.

* € EC ARCHIVES: FRONTLINE COMBAT

This volume seems to have been initially scheduled for release more than a year ago, and doesn’t seem to have come out until now–please correct me if I’m wrong. It’s a reprint of the first six issues (1951-1952) of one of Harvey Kurtzman’s blisteringly antiwar war comics. The artists include Jack Davis, Wally Wood, Bill Elder and John Severin, but Kurtzman saved the best story for himself: “Big ‘If,’” from #5, a seven-pager that probably bred an entire generation of conscientious objectors. (Psst: the whole story appears about halfway down this page.)

€ GRANDVILLE

Bryan Talbot’s projects are always fascinating even when they misfire, and he hits the target dead-on more often than not (“The Tale of One Bad Rat,” “Alice in Sunderland,” etc.) This one is the first in a series of graphic novels; it seems to be anthropomorphic alternate-history steampunk, starring a badger policeman. There’s a trailer for it here. It looks totally nuts.

¶ * PLANETARY #27

Warren Ellis and John Cassaday finally get around to wrapping up their survey of twentieth-century pop-cultural mythology. It is a blogger-law requirement at this point to note that that the previous issue came out almost three years ago — in late October, 2006. The first issue’s cover date was April, 1999. Had the series stuck to the monthly schedule with which it began (and to which it stuck until #4), this issue would have appeared just as reports of increased shark attacks were starting to circulate.

* STRANGE TALES #2

Marvel’s indie-creators-do-Stan’s-characters-for-giggles miniseries continues, with the continuation of Peter Bagge’s “Incorrigible Hulk” story, as well as a nice-looking Black Widow story by Matt Kindt (who’s made something of a specialty of espionage stories), more Michael Kupperman, a rare R. Kikuo Johnson sighting, Jonathan Hickman (hey, he used to be an indie guy!), and more. Preview of Tony Millionaire’s Iron Man story here.

% * THE WARLORD #7

I may be overlooking something here, but I believe the last time Mike Grell actually drew an issue of “The Warlord” was #52 of the original series, back in 1981. So this is some kind of event, although it’s not clear what kind. Possibly a metal event.

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