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

KEY

* 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.


^ ¥ SIEGE PRELUDE TPB

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."

% ¥ ALEC: THE YEARS HAVE PANTS

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.



% BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL #40

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.


^ % £ DAREDEVIL: BORN AGAIN TPB

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


¥ INVINCIBLE IRON MAN: WORLD'S MOST WANTED BOOK 2

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.



* JONAH HEX #51

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."


* ¥ £ LITTLE ADVENTURES IN OZ BOOK 1

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."


£ STUMPTOWN #2

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."

^ ¢ SUICIDE SQUAD #67

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.


¢ THE TROUBLEMAKERS

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.