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Don’t Ask! Just Buy It! – September 14, 2011: The Nerve!

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

KEY:
* Giambattista Vico’s idea of the divine age
^ Giambattista Vico’s idea of the heroic age
% Giambattista Vico’s idea of the human age
¢ A commodius vicus of recirculation

* ^ ¢ AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #669
Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos continue the “Spider-Island” silliness, whose arrival has also heralded the switch from “Big Time” to smaller time: we’re back to 20-22 pages for four bucks. Another “Spider-Island” tie-in this week: Herc #7, from Fred Van Lente, Greg Pak and June Brigman–I don’t know of many other comic books Brigman’s drawn since she took over the “Brenda Starr” newspaper strip 15 years ago. In other “returning Marvel vets” news, Whilce Portacio turns up (in collaboration with Kieron Gillen and Richard Elson) for this week’s Journey Into Mystery #627.

* ¢ THE ARMED GARDEN AND OTHER STORIES
The French artist David B. is one of my favorite living cartoonists–he bridges the visual realms of the real and the unreal like nobody else–and the two of these fabulistic stories that appeared in MOME were both extraordinary. Can’t wait to see the whole thing. Also in this week’s department of Fantagraphics-published, MOME-alumni, ordinarily Francophone artists releasing English-language books: Belgian artist Olivier Schrauwen’s The Man Who Grew His Beard, about which I know nothing except that his stuff is beautiful and often plays with variations on the look and pacing of very early 20th-century comic strips. (Both are on the Midtown list, not the Diamond list.)

^ BATWOMAN #1
The Batwoman series has been in development for a very long time–even longer if you count the seven episodes by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III that appeared in Detective Comics. Williams and Haden Blackman’s take on the series got bumped back again earlier this year, after a preview of the first issue had already been published (and after the #0 issue appeared in stores in late November of last year). But nearly everything Williams draws is exquisite, and everything I’ve seen of this so far is very promising.

% CRIMINAL: LAST OF THE INNOCENTS #4
The final issue of Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips’ Archie riff.

^ ¢ DAREDEVIL #3
Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin’s series has been the best superhero relaunch of the year so far (in a year that’s not short of them)–it’s been great to see Waid writing for Rivera and Martin’s design strengths, and all three of them responding to the idea that this is a series about sensory impressions and what people can choose to do with them. Daredevil also shows up this week in Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato’s New Avengers #16, apparently.

* ¢ DEMON KNIGHTS #1
Paul Cornell and Diogenes Neves launch their series about the Arthurian-ish age of the new DC universe; last week’s Stormwatch hinted that they’re setting this up to be something along the lines of Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver’s S.H.I.E.L.D., except with less science and more sorcery. Of the new DCU titles, this one seems to be the closest to a non-recycled concept, for what that’s worth.

* ^ FEAR ITSELF: MONKEY KING #1
Juan Doe hasn’t drawn a lot of comics so far, but I’ve liked looking at pretty much all of them. And the Monkey King (featured in some incarnation or other in this Joshua Hale Fialkov-written story) is one of the great characters in all of literature. Does anybody remember Trickster King Monkey, the short-lived late-’80s U.S. project (translated from an apparently long-running Korean series) that involved the Monkey King? I liked that comic book.

% OPTIC NERVE #12
Whoa, they still publish independent serial pamphlet-format comics focused on the miscellaneous work of an individual creator (Adrian Tomine) rather than a particular storyline or character? To be fair, it has been almost 4 1/2 years since #11. But the only other examples of this form I can think of that are still ticking are Jordan Crane’s Uptight and, actually, Sergio Aragonés Funnies–whose third issue is out this week too. Maybe also the ever-changing Ditko series. What am I forgetting?

% ¢ SUGAR AND SPIKE ARCHIVES VOL. 1
This collects the first ten issues, circa 1956-7, of one of the most delightful kids’ comics ever created: Sheldon Mayer’s sweet, stylish, frequently hilarious adventures of two allegedly preverbal toddlers (who can communicate just fine with each other), making their way through the baffling world of their elders. Sixty bucks, i.e. only the elders get to read it. (A couple of these stories appeared in the Toon Treasury of Classic Children’s Comics a few years back, though.)


^ ¢ ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #1
Just over two years after the previous relaunch, here we go again, this time starring Miles Morales; Brian Michael Bendis is still writing, and now the excellent Sara Pichelli is drawing.

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