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


* Major character has been stuffed

^ Major character is roughly as wide as tall

% Creator has worked on a "Prestige Format" Batman comic

¥ Involves Oz and/or Osborn

£ Color theory

¢ Black-and-white theory

Jan. 6--

^ ¥ SIEGE #1

Marvel's billing this Bendis/Coipel collaboration as the culmination of seven years' worth of stories, which is probably pushing it -- "Disassembled," which is the earliest obvious point in this arc, started in August 2004. Still, they're claiming they can wrap it all up in four issues (plus, naturally, a few dozen tie-ins). We shall see.


Twenty-five bucks gets you a collection of seven comics relevant in some way or another to "Siege" itself, including "New Avengers Annual" #3, which came out less than a month ago. The ringer is "Marvel Spotlight" #30 -- a lighthearted Len Wein/John Buscema one-off about the Warriors Three, which seems to be the closest Volstagg's come to a real moment in the spotlight before this, if you don't count "Chimes at Midnight."


Essential alt-comics volume of the week: The long-delayed omnibus of Eddie Campbell's autobiographical and quasi-autobiographical books, including a few dozen new pages and covering 30 years or so of work in all. Campbell is a great raconteur, and these are observational comics like no others, offhanded in tone but refined and distilled on closer examination: a rough, wobbly-looking wall of personal meditations, anecdotes about "Alec McGarry"'s family and companions, and notes about the creative life that add up to something monumentally solid and imposing.


Sam Kieth's comics just keep getting more visually eccentric over time -- it's interesting to watch somebody who's as bold a stylist as he is throwing that energy into Batman comics. This is the first of a four-part storyline.


Dude! David Mazzucchelli did a comic before "Asterios Polyp"?!


The second half of the recent Matt Fraction/Salvador Larroca storyline, which I just discussed with Tom Spurgeon for 4000 words or so over at The Comics Reporter.


This series sure seems to attract some interesting artists -- this one's drawn by former Neal Adams associate/DC executive editor Dick Giordano, which I think makes it the first American comic he's drawn in many years (although apparently he's been drawing "The Phantom" for European publication!). Jeez. Also on the revival-of-'70s-Western-series front this week: the Blackest Night one-off resurrection of "Weird Western Tales."


A single-volume collection of Eric Shanower's "The Enchanted Apples of Oz" and "The Ice King of Oz," originally published about 20 years ago but back in print now that the Shanower-written Oz adaptations are doing nicely for Marvel. This is lovely stuff, both a faithful pastiche and a showcase for Shanower's particular gifts. Also this week in the "meticulous auteurs playing with kid-centered franchises" department: a collection of Roger Langridge's second "Muppet Show" miniseries, "The Treasure of Peg Leg Wilson."


The first issue of Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth's Portland-based P.I. story was fantastic -- Dex Parios is a mighty promising character, and Southworth's art has a terrific, gritty/grubby vibe. I would shove this into the hand of anyone who likes "Whiteout" or "Criminal."


Another one of DC's series-risen-from-the-dead one-shots, co-written (with Gail Simone) by John Ostrander, the mastermind behind the original "Suicide Squad" series. (Mercifully, this is a zombified sequel to the 1987-1992 series, not its 2001-2002 revival.) It seems to be a tie-in with "Secret Six," which has a very similar kind of vibe--Ostrander played extensively in his original series with the porous border between characters who were deeply flawed but potentially redeemable and characters who were just nasty pieces of work.


Gilbert Hernandez's standalone graphic novel about grifters, rockers and shifting alliances was originally supposed to be out a year and a half ago. It's crazy, vivid, grindhouse-y stuff -- part of his ongoing series of "adaptations" of B-movies with his "Love & Rockets" character Fritz in them. It's also his most deliberately "cinematic" book to date (the panels are in a uniform landscape format, and the compositions have a lot of cinematography about them), but the actual drawing is as Beto-ish as anything he's ever published.

A collection of Dash Shaw's short comics pieces, animation storyboards and formal experiments, most of them science-fiction-themed one way or another--a slim but intriguing bridge between 2008's "Bottomless Belly Button" and his forthcoming revised edition of his web-comic "BodyWorld." You can watch the animated project based on the title story here.