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


* Barbarism begins at home
¢ Father-and-son issues
& Pluto, Mars and/or Jupiter
¶ Ill-gotten gains
£ Nonfictional, or at least truthy


David Lapham's crime/sci-fi series was kind of a mess when it started -- big, bold satirical strokes that didn't seem to be going anywhere. It took a while to tip its hand to its most clever idea (well, if you don't count the fact that it's mentioned in the title): everyone in the series was lying, outrageously, all the time, to the reader as well as to each other, and every revelation of the "truth" was yet another lie. By the final issues collected here, it had turned into a fantastically involuted but wildly entertaining series; I'm looking forward to re-reading all of it in one sitting.

Windsor-Smith's early-'70s run on "Conan" has been reprinted innumerable times, but it's been a while since it's gotten the nice full-color treatment it's getting here. This volume reprints the earlier half of his work on the feature, when he was still mostly a Kirby/Buscema acolyte, but by the end the peculiar Pre-Raphaelite touches that made him one of the more interesting mainstream cartoonists of his era start turning up.


Grady Klein's series "The Lost Colony" looked mighty nice--he has a wonderful, bold line, blobby and crinkled like battered copper--but it didn't quite work as storytelling. Now he's drawn this collaboration with "stand-up economist" Yoram Bauman, which will if nothing else make the dismal science look a little less dismal.


I miss the days when Dave Sim used to tell actual stories that he made up, but his ongoing history of the great photorealist cartoonists of the '50s and '60s is reliably interesting, although the fashion-mag parody parts of Glamourpuss have worn out their welcome and then some. This issue's cover art is by Russ Heath, an Eisner Hall of Fame laureate with a long history in war and Western comics.


Mark Waid is kind of like the Hulk, except that the angrier he gets the more entertaining he gets. Reading this series' riff on Batman's iconography is like watching a celebrity roast at which one of the roasters starts airing genuine grievances, or Jimmy Kimmel taking on Jay Leno.


More gods! More Spider-Man! More Agents of A.T.L.A.S.!


Back in early 2008, Vertigo announced an upcoming Grant Morrison/Sean Murphy collaboration called "Warcop." Morrison, at some point, back-burnered that project, but pulled out this eight-issue series instead: a sword-and-sorcery fantasy about one kid's personal mythology. (This interview with Morrison makes it sound really promising.) The first issue is a buck; sounds like a very safe bet.


Your WTF curiosity of the week. Irwin Hasen is the nonagenarian creator of Wildcat, who also drew a bunch of other Golden Age DC comics and spent 30 years drawing the comic strip "Dondi"; this is his comics memoir of falling in love with a much taller woman, followed by a prose reminiscence of various other anecdotes from his career, like the time letterer Ben Oda nearly walked in on him with "a beautiful, tall South American lady who I'd been seeing." This thing rolls old-school, basically.


The final volume for now of the English-language excerpts of Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki's long-running cooking manga. (There are 95 more volumes to go in the Japanese edition...) There's a very '80s tone to Hanasaki's art, but there's nothing else--at least in English--like this series: encyclopedic information about the subtle details of Japanese cuisine, wrapped up in a big, hammy serial drama.

¶ RASL #6

Another issue of Jeff Smith's interdimensional-art-thief serial at last -- it's been just over six months since the last one announced that the story content would be going from 32 pages to 22 pages an issue so that it could come out more often. (Supposedly, it'll be bimonthly now.) There's a small preview here.


It's not quite a getting-the-team-back-together exercise -- Tony Harris, who made his name on the original 1994-2001 series, is only drawing the cover of this Blackest Night "zombie" one-shot. For that matter, James Robinson's recent Justice League comics are effectively the Peter Principle at work. But I still want to see Robinson's return to his Opal City stomping grounds, and I'm kind of delighted that he's announced that Jack Knight, the retired Starman of his run, won't be in this issue.

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