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Don’t Ask! Just Buy It! – Sept. 16: Batman and Robin, Beasts of Burden, Japanese Master Chefs and More!

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

KEY
% Oversized heads
Anxiety of influence, father-son division
Protagonist has been the subject of an academic or mock-academic journal
¢ Can trace at least some of its lineage to Alex Raymond
£ “I can’t tell the difference between people and machines,” as Quasi sang
¥ Contains work by an artist who’s drawn a Legion of Super-Heroes story written by Paul Levitz
§ Animals, vegetables, minerals


% 3 STORY: THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE GIANT MAN

An original graphic novel by the very interesting artist Matt Kindt, who did the fine book “Super Spy” a couple of years ago. The title suggests both historical fiction and nested narratives, both of which are among his specialties. I know nothing about this beyond what’s in the preview, but I’ll read anything Kindt does.

¶ BATMAN AND ROBIN #4

The second arc begins, with artist Philip Tan. His work up until now has been a pretty mixed bag — when he throws himself into a project, there’s a sense of deep rococo chaos to it that’s really appealing, but when he phones it in to meet a deadline, it can be appallingly sloppy (as on some of the later issues of “Final Crisis: Revelations.” It’s still Grant Morrison writing, though, and he can bring out the best in a whole lot of artists. (The schedule now appears to be Tan on #4-6, Cameron Stewart on #7-9, Frazer Irving on #10-12, and… maybe then we get Frank Quitely back?) Cross your fingers.

§ BEASTS OF BURDEN #1

I wouldn’t have guessed that Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson would make a natural team, but they’ve been working on this 4-issue series about cute animals and horrible supernatural events and stuff for a while; their work separately is always worth a look, and it’ll be interesting to see what they do together. Three preview stories linked here. There must be some kind of “We3″ meets “The Walking Dead” joke to make, but I can’t quite formulate it.


£ CITIZEN REX #3

Gilbert and Mario Hernandez; robots. I got to read Gilbert’s “Luba” in its entirety a week or so ago. Oh, that Fortunato. What a smoothie.


¢ ¥ DOMINIC FORTUNE #2

Anyone expecting aerial exploits, tuxes, hummers, thugs, Jews and Photoshop, as I was, would not have been disappointed by the first issue. They could just as well change the title of this thing to “Howard Chaykin Presents: The Chaykin Show!”


¢ £ INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #18

This is the best, most focused superhero series that Marvel is currently publishing, even as the accelerated schedule is starting to muddle the hard, tech-y edge of Salvador Larocca’s artwork. Matt Fraction has built this extended storyline around a hugely compelling premise, he’s got some very clever ideas about pacing and structure (some of the here’s-what-you-don’t-get-to-see tricks he worked out on “Casanova” are paying off here), and he’s making Tony Stark’s deliberate, horrible, gradual self-destruction into as much of a romantic tragedy as it is a “hero’s last stand” narrative. And the books-on-tape routine last issue made me crack up twice.

% £ MODOK: REIGN DELAY

Ryan Dunlavey may be best known for his collaborations with Fred Van Lente, “Action Philosophers” and “Comic Book Comics.” He wrote and drew this one-shot by himself, though–a Dark Reign parody (or something) starring Jack Kirby’s inexhaustible source of post-taking-stuff-seriously humor, MODOK.


¶ § OISHINBO A LA CARTE VOL. 5: VEGETABLES

For those not familiar with “Oishinbo,” Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki’s long, long-running manga series concerns a driven young food journalist on a quest to discover the perfect Japanese-cuisine menu, and his rivalry with his arrogant, cruel father, master chef Yuzan Kaibara. This volume of Viz’s best-of series is devoted to their showdowns around the preparation of cabbages and turnips. WHERE DO I GET IN LINE.


% £ PLUTO: URASAWA X TEZUKA VOL. 5

This month’s Naoki Urasawa release, part of his “remake” of Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy storyline “The Greatest Robot on Earth.”

¢ ¥ SHOWCASE PRESENTS WARLORD VOL. 1

DC has inexplicably tried to revive “Warlord” a couple of times in the past few years without Mike Grell drawing it (to be fair, he’s writing it this time, and will draw a few upcoming issues). News flash: the draw of the series is not the idea of a fighter pilot landing in a sword-and-sorcery land inside the Arctic and turning into Tarzan with a feathery headdress — it’s Grell’s artwork, with its scratchy, low-budget Frazetta-via-Adams look and double-page spreads at the beginning of every story. (At some point, after Grell lost interest, the series became the province of various Kubert School alumni, for some reason.) Anyway, this volume reprints “First Issue Special” #8 and the first 28 issues of “Warlord” proper.

¶ ¢ £ TOM STRONG DELUXE EDITION BOOK 1

Go-round number four for the first year’s worth of the fine Alan Moore/Chris Sprouse series reimagining the superhero as a direct descendent of clean-cut pulp heroes. And I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who thinks there’s a fairly strong suggestion that Tom’s biological father is Tomas, not Sinclair.

¢ £ ¥ § WEDNESDAY COMICS #11

More “Wednesday” Kremlinology:

Mark Chiarello, July 29: “So I had a couple of single-page stories created just in case. I have a Plastic Man ready to go and I have a Creeper page ready to go… if we don’t publish them, I don’t want fans to go, ‘Ah, man. You got so-and-so to do this and we’re never going to see it.’”

Mark Chiarello, August 19: “I’d love to see a Creeper story. It would be awful neat to try and get Steve Ditko to do something. Ditko doing a Creeper story would be incredible.”

¥ ¢ WILL EISNER’S THE SPIRIT: THE NEW ADVENTURES ARCHIVES VOL. 27

It looks just like the DC volumes, but this one’s actually published by Dark Horse–a collection of the Kitchen Sink series that was the first contemporary attempt to extend the Spirit franchise beyond Eisner’s participation. There are some big names involved here, maybe most notably an Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons collaboration, and some fun Eisner pastiches. Honestly, though, you can probably find the ind
ividual issues collected here for a lot less than fifty bucks, and (although I could be wrong) I’ve seen no indication that this volume will include the unpublished material created for the series.

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