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Don’t Ask! Just Buy It: Parker, Beanworld, Marvel Adventures Spider-Man

$ Few things are as compelling as a genuinely bad man
Strong quasi-maternal figures
¥ If Homer were a gunslinger, there’d be a whole lot of dead storytellers
§ Owes significant debts to Marcel Duchamp and Native American mythology
& We are all of us living in the shadow of the 1960s

$ & RICHARD STARK’S PARKER: THE HUNTER

Book of the week, people–Darwyn Cooke’s gorgeous hardcover adaptation of the first novel in Richard (Donald Westlake) Stark’s “Parker” series about a wily, amoral, murderous heist man, and the rare prose-to-comics adaptation that actually gains something in translation, because Cooke figured out a side of it that his drawing could make deeper and more vivid. I reviewed it here, but the short version is that it’s really good.• & AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #600

Five bucks, 104 pages, no reprints: just on a value-for-money level, this is a totally solid deal. Throw in John Romita Jr. drawing the lead story, his dad drawing a variant cover, Stan Lee writing a story (yes, contemporary Stan Lee stories are strictly nostalgia city, but there’s something that still warms my heart about seeing him writing his co-creations), backups by the rest of the Spidey “braintrust”… this is likely to be at least five bucks’ worth of entertainment.

& FINAL CRISIS: LEGION OF THREE WORLDS #5

Good Geoff Johns, pt. 1: Let’s just overlook the fact that this final issue was initially supposed to have come out in December of last year, and that its first announced release date was March 25, and that the whole miniseries really seems to bear a tangential-at-best relationship to “Final Crisis” proper other than as a device to keep Superman offstage for a few issues. George Pérez has been drawing the living hell out of this project, and it’s crammed with plot and world-building. Johns noted that he took pains to explain who every single character is, up to and including Superman, and the first issue in particular takes a very clever approach to making enormous amounts of exposition entertaining. I bet it reads great in the trade, too.

$ FINAL CRISIS: ROGUES’ REVENGE HC

Good Geoff Johns, pt. 2: the first 2/3 of this miniseries are among the most tightly crafted things I’ve seen him write, a bleak, taut crime story about a gang (of supervillains, but you can just think of them as a gang) out for revenge against the people who did them wrong. The last part dips a bit as Johns gets lost in some of his familiar obsessions, but Scott Kolins’ chunky, crumbly art is excellent throughout.

¥ INCREDIBLE HERCULES #131

Amadeus Cho is the best new character in superhero comics in the last five years. That’s all I have to say.

§ • LARRY MARDER’S BEANWORLD, BOOK 2: A GIFT COMES!
“Beanworld” was maybe the most wildly original comic of the black-and-white indie comics era of the ’80s and early ’90s, and one of my favorites. This book reprints issues 9-21 of the original series about sentient beans in a two-dimensional ecosystem discovering the power of aesthetics. I can honestly say you will not see any other comic book this week anything like it.

& MARVEL ADVENTURES SPIDER-MAN #53

Paul Tobin and Matteo Lolli take over this series, and it looks like they’re turning it into the newest iteration of the “Peter Parker in high school” projects Marvel occasionally tries (see also the wonderful “Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane”). There’s a very nice-looking eight-page preview here.

& ¥ WEDNESDAY COMICS #3

One of the things I love most about this series is what a few people I know dislike most about it: it is very up-front about being ephemeral. There is no such thing as a CGC 9.8 copy of “Wednesday Comics” — it falls apart as you read it, like the newspaper comics sections it’s modeled after–and that’s how it’s supposed to be. You have to be present in the moment that you look at it; not everything is meant to last forever. Also: I bet the colorists figure out how to make images pop on newsprint as opposed to glossy stock pretty soon, I was amused that Batman showed up in costume in Superman’s strip rather than his own last week, and I love having Joe Kubert’s strip immediately followed by Ben Caldwell’s.

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