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

KEY

You won't even miss the yellowing newsprint
Paul Pope alert!
π Put a dime in the We Owe Jack Kirby a Lot fund, please
% Talking animals never get old
¥ Neither do robots
ƒ And neither do straw-men. Huh, I guess L. Frank Baum was onto something

¶ π STRANGE TALES #1

Marvel's years-in-the-works "alternative cartoonists do Marvel characters" anthology finally sees the light of day (including Peter Bagge's "Incorrigible Hulk" story, which was originally supposed to appear five years ago). The piece I'm most excited about is probably Dash Shaw's Dr. Strange, but I'm psyched to see Molly Crabapple, Nick Bertozzi and Paul Pope's stories too, among others. Five bucks.


† ¥ π DC COMICS CLASSICS LIBRARY: THE JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA BY GEORGE PEREZ, VOL. 1

This collection reprints some awfully entertaining cast-of-thousands comics (JLA #184-186 and 192-194), but it comes with a couple of caveats: Pérez took over the series in a hurry when longtime artist Dick Dillin died, and #184 is actually the second installment of a JLA/JSA/New Gods team-up. He was working on "JLA" at the same time as "New Teen Titans" was launching, which meant he mostly just contributed layouts. And you could probably find the original comics for significantly less than forty bucks.

ƒ DMZ VOL. 7: WAR POWERS

Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli's "DMZ" series is ostensibly about a reporter in a near-future Manhattan that's become a no-man's-land during an American civil war, but really an incredibly clever vehicle for telling dark, pointed stories about current politics and particularly the Iraq war. I love it, but I find it generally reads better in collections than in single issues.


ƒ INCOGNITO #6

The oversized conclusion to Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' crime story in supervillain drag.


¥ INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #17

I can't, offhand, think of a better Iron Man story than Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca's "World's Most Wanted," and very few that are as good--they've been averaging at least a couple of fist-in-the-air moments per issue. I wouldn't have expected it to play up the romance angle as much as it has been, but that's been a welcome surprise.


† ¥ JUDGE DREDD: THE COMPLETE CASE FILES VOL. 13

American readers may not realize how ridiculously good the "Judge Dredd" stories from the British weekly comic 2000 AD are, but the John Wagner-written material, in particular, is as good as any superhero stuff from the past 20 years. This volume collects the stories from 2000 AD #619-661; I assume it's not going to include the serial "The Dead Man" that ran during that time (and was revealed after the fact to have been a Dredd story that led into the "Tale of the Dead Man" and "Necropolis" storylines we'll see in the next volume), but it does include the pivotal Wagner-written shorts "The Shooting Match" "A Letter to Judge Dredd."

† % THE TOON TREASURY OF CLASSIC CHILDREN'S COMICS

This is a really special book--an anthology of vintage comics for kids (mostly from the '40s and early '50s, but with a few dips into the '60s), edited by the RAW team of Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly. It's beautifully presented, and they somehow got all the major copyright holders to play along--among other wonders, it's got a couple of Donald Duck stories by Carl Barks, some Sugar & Spike pieces by Sheldon Mayer, John Stanley's "Little Lulu," and a lot of things I'd never heard of. My 4-year-old and I have both been staring adoringly at it, for only slightly different reasons.

¶ % ¥ π WEDNESDAY COMICS #9

Apparently the Metamorpho story will at some point feature the entire periodic table of the elements, as of 1966.

% ¥ ƒ THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ HC

Skottie Young's art has a really nice contemporary-animation look to it, but Marvel's smartest move in putting together this project was getting Eric Shanower to write it. Nobody in comics knows more about L. Frank Baum's work than Shanower, and his expertise and passion for the material are obvious here.

% YOUNG LIARS #18

Final issue of this incredibly odd Vertigo series in which basically all the characters spend all their time being dishonest or misleading in one way or another, including the narrators. I've found a lot of David Lapham's projects hit-or-miss in general, but this one worked up a pretty interesting head of steam over its year and a half of existence; I'm very curious to see what he does next.