Involves dilemmas which can be resolved with a mace
# Sleep, little franchise, sleep
ß Ain't no stopping the dimension hopping
¥ Pretty much all the DC franchises Geoff Johns devotes himself to prominently involve some kind of ring. Think about it
Ω Metafiction is your friend, or represents itself as such
Who needs color, anyway?
* Bad boys go everywhere
§ Robots in and out of disguise
Concept has something in common with this image

¥ Ω ¶ BLACKEST NIGHT #1 -- There are two different Geoff Johnses, it sometimes seems. One of them is the watertight plotter and pinpoint character writer who comes up with huge, fantastic ideas and builds toward enormous fist-in-the-air moments for months or years; the other one obsessively lingers over gross-outs, dismemberments and violent slaughter and works in what Wikipedia calls "a primarily in-universe style."

I like the first one much better, but I suspect both of them have worked on this miniseries. Also out this week: the first issue of the three-week tie-in miniseries "Tales of the Corps," with Johns and Peter J. Tomasi writing short stories about members of all the colors of Lantern Corps.
§ ALL SELECT COMICS #1 70TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL -- Yet another one of Marvel's hey-we've-been-around-for-a-while one-shots, and honestly I don't know if the world was crying out for a new Blonde Phantom story. But the reason I'm going to be racing to buy this one is the backup: Michael Kupperman ("Tales Designed to Thrizzle"), the funniest man in comics, doing a story about Marvex the Super-Robot. Who actually appeared in "Daring Mystery Comics," but let's not split hairs.

¶ # CAPTAIN AMERICA #601 -- The last issue until "Reborn" concludes: a one-off story by Ed Brubaker and classic "Captain America" (and "Tomb of Dracula" and "Batman" and "Doctor Strange" and everything else) artist Gene Colan, who is 82 years old and inspirationally fantastic. There's also a black-and-white variant reproduced from Colan's pencils, the better to see his superb light-and-shadow technique. Have a look here.

-- All the Moore stuff is collected in a paperback that should still be in print, but it's worth reading anyway. It's his most fully realized, most visually consistent pre-"Watchmen" superhero serial (thanks to Alan Davis, who also worked with him on D.R. and Quinch and the early episodes of "Marvelman"/"Miracleman"): a parallel-universe-war story whose climactic battle is a magnificent variation on the Merlin/Mad Madam Mim throwdown. The other half of the book is Davis with Jamie Delano, for the most part.

-- Another one-buck special, another go-round for the first issue of Fables; last time it was 25 cents and included a preview of "1001 Nights of Snowfall," this time it's four times that much and includes a preview of Bill Willingham's forthcoming prose novel about Peter Piper and his brother. New issue's out this week, too.

* INCOGNITO #5 -- Wait. So if I read the sales charts correctly, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' tense lowlife noir "Criminal" sells 40 percent more copies when they change the name and put superhero masks on the protagonists but otherwise keep the vibe, look, format, price and creative team identical? I'm happy to see their collaboration supported by the market, but there's something incredibly screwed up about that.

-- Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie's seventeen-years-in-the-making, high-formalist, high-modernist, high-on-a-shelf-so-the-kiddies-don't-find-it graphic novel about the triple-X-rated doings of three very familiar women gets a one-volume hardcover for $45, thirty bucks cheaper than the previous go-round. I reviewed it here.

-- Effectively "Nexus" #101 and 102, concluding the four-part story for which Mike Baron and Steve Rude hauled their most famous creation out of storage almost two years ago (#100, in fact, came out Feb. 27 of last year). The first couple of parts were far short of comprehensible, but hey, it's Steve Rude--just look at the pretty pictures.

¶ ß * RASL #5 -- Bless Jeff Smith for continuing to self-publish a periodical comic at a moment when that's thoroughly unfashionable and any publisher would kill to have him on the roster. "RASL" seems to be less through-plotted than constructed around a handful of haunting images, but he's Jeff Smith, so that works fine.

¥ SUPERMAN AND THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES TP -- See "Darkest Night," above. The first Geoff Johns wrote this one, a terrific and engaging re-introduction of the Legion that manages to make the long-running super-teenager team's bafflingly gnarled continuity seem totally straightforward. Also: confident, graceful art by Gary Frank. Now in paperback.

¶ WALKING DEAD #63 -- Heads up, fans of comics about people being eaten: the back-up feature here is a black-and-white reprint of the sold-out "Chew" #1 in its entirety.

∂ § WEDNESDAY COMICS #2 -- As everyone has noted, that first issue was spectacularly nice-looking; as everyone has also noted, many of its writers had some odd ideas about how to set up a serial in a single page. (I wouldn't have minded seeing some self-contained pages, either--a couple of one-page humor strips would've made for some welcome variety.) But when I started thinking about "memorably written first Sunday pages of newspaper continuity strips that might have served as a model for this," I mostly drew a blank. There's the first Sunday "Steve Canyon" -- any others? Anyway, this is wonderful.

Ω ≈ * YOUNG LIARS #17 -- I pretty much wrote off David Lapham's Vertigo series based on its awkward first issue, and didn't come back to it until a couple of months ago. By then, it had already been canceled, so I discovered too late that it's actually pretty terrific, a science fiction/crime hybrid complicated by the fact that "unreliable" barely begins to cover its narrator. The interesting thing about this issue is that its plot synopsis was bumped from last month's issue, which would make #16 the only "fill-in" issue in history by the same writer/artist responsible for the entire rest of the series.

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