Don’t Ask! Just Buy It: ‘Batman & Robin,’ Muppets, ‘Voice of the Fire’
Savage Critic and "Reading Comics" author Douglas Wolk runs down the hottest comics and graphic novels coming out this week.
¶ Somebody call the Continuiteens!
¡ Not actually comics
∂ Pigs in space and/or Gotham City
Non-human primates in plague-ravaged New York City and/or discothéque
% Protagonist has a tendency to hang upside-down
∫ Sidekick has temporarily taken over
âˆ† Will be firmly dated to 2009 in the future by its use of the phrase "I see what you did there"
∂ % ∫ BATMAN AND ROBIN #2 -- The first issue of this Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely collaboration was total joycore, and rewarded re-reading with a host of little details. Morrison's basic idea -- building on the dynamic of the '60s Batman TV show, but flipping Batman and Robin's relationship inside-out -- is so simple and effective it's hard to believe nobody's ever thought of it before. Also worth checking out: Chris Eckert's theory that Morrison's "Batman" is all about food; Andrew Hickey's observation that Dick Grayson is so steadfastly straight that he identifies Toad's dialogue in the first issue as "European circus slang" rather than Polari; Cass Sherman's Morrison-Batman annotations; and David Uzumeri's.
¶ AGENTS OF ATLAS #7 -- There is a disco gorilla on the cover of this comic book.
¶ ∫ CAPTAIN AMERICA REBORN #1 -- Like you didn't know this was going to happen. Ed Brubaker, Bryan Hitch, four bucks, allegedly set up in two-year-old issues of "Captain America."
¶ ∫ INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #15 -- Wasn't #14 just a couple of weeks ago? Yes, it was, and it was awesome: Pepper running around in the armor as the not-quite-named Iron Maiden (okay, fine, she's called Rescue), Tony's technological pigeons coming home to roost as he's attempting to erase his brain, Madame Masque reappearing, and Iron Man and Crimson Dynamo sharing a hug. I'm even warming to Salvador Larocca's photo-modeled artwork.
¶ MARVEL: YOUR UNIVERSE #6 -- The discerning cheapskate's Marvel title of choice. Six bucks gets you reprints of five roughly-two-year-old comics; Ms. Marvel has left the lineup, so as of this issue "Nova," "The Immortal Iron Fist," "Ghost Rider" and "X-Men: Legacy" are joined by the first issue of "Avengers: The Initiative." I'd buy at least three of those for two dollars an issue on their own. The lower-priced-rerun-omnibus-serial program is actually sort of in the tradition of the early issues of "Marvel Tales" and "Marvel Collector's Item Classics," come to think of it.
âˆ† ∂ THE MUPPET SHOW COMIC BOOK #4 -- The fourth and final issue of the best pairing of a licensed not-native-to-comics property and a creator in recent memory -- I can't think of any cartoonist whose particular gifts and sensibilities are better suited to a Muppet Show comic than Roger Langridge. As it turns out, it's not actually the final issue: next month we get a new miniseries by Langridge called "The Muppet Show Comic Book: The Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson."
¶ SAVAGE DRAGON #150 -- And speaking of value for money: the 150th issue of Erik Larsen's riff on '70s Marvel is $5.99 for 100 pages. Only 30 pages of that are an actual Larsen Dragon story, but he's filling the rest with new material as well as reprints -- he's apparently taking advantage of the fact that there are public-domain characters called Thor and Daredevil. The cover design actually alludes to DC's old 100 Page Super Spectaculars.
¡ VOICE OF THE FIRE -- A paperback edition of Alan Moore's first prose novel. It's very good, unsurprisingly, but you might want to be wary about two elements of it. The first chapter, "Hob's Hog," is the mother of all Difficult Opening Sequences: a 43-page monologue in the voice of a primitive man with a vocabulary of only a few hundred words, who can't understand the terrible thing that's happening to him because he simply doesn't have the language to describe it. And most of the book uses Moore's favorite trick for conveying seriousness: a galumphing iambic rhythm that accents every second syllable like clockwork ("I reached my favourite hunting-place at close of afternoon, the twilight raising up like dust before a herd of coming stars").
∂ Y THE LAST MAN #1 SPECIAL EDITION -- DC's "we do publish other stuff besides Watchmen, you know" dollar-teaser program continues with the killer first issue of Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra's ten-volume satire of patriarchal culture. You can actually read this one in its entirety for free at Vertigo's site.