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


^ Bagman

* Wingman

% Swagman


I believe Grant Morrison described his initial plan for the second year of this international-minded Batman-and-his-team book as being "a roller coaster ride through hell." The relaunch is arriving a little late to the starting line, and who knows how much Morrison's had to retool it given that the rest of the Bat-books have been rebooted outright, but it still sounds pretty promising--especially since Chris Burnham is drawing it, at least initially.


Ryan Dunlavey and Fred Van Lente's Comic Book Comics had a good Dept. of Redundancy Dept. title, but the name of its collection explains a bit more clearly what they're up to here--a flippant but basically accurate survey of the history of the medium, in the vein of their earlier Action Philosophers!


The part of me that enjoyed 1988 enormously is happy to see an anthology with Mike Baron and Steve Rude returning to Nexus, Dean Motter returning to Mister X, Evan Dorkin returning to Milk & Cheese, Sam Kieth drawing Aliens, etc. The part of me that really wants to revel in the present scratches his head at all of those appearing in the same place, would prefer to see those creators pushing forward more, and wishes that the Harlan Ellison story with a Richard Corben illustration had been written more recently than 1994, but is also psyched about the Carla Speed McNeil and Francesco Francavilla material in here.


Drawn by Diego Barretto, this is the final issue of Mark Waid's "what if Superman were a horrible person?" series; it's been up and down, but at its best it had an sense of indignant cruelty about it that gave it a distinct flavor. Speaking of Superman and cruelty, this week's Superman #9, by Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens, introduces "new supervillainess MASOCHIST." She better not pull that on Rorschach around any elevator shafts, is all I'm saying.


Kieron Gillen, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Carmine Di Giandomenico continue "Exiled," their quick, irreverent crossover between this title and New Mutants.

^ % MIND MGMT #1

Many years ago, there was a short-lived New York band called Attitude & Couture, all of whose songs were, one way another, about espionage. ("This song is called 'Old Lady Spy'!") Matt Kindt is basically the same way. This is the first issue of his new ongoing series about "a network of psychic spies." Its publisher Dark Horse is including in their publicity material my saying that I'll read anything Kindt does, and that's true--I've really enjoyed the three thrashed-out preview stories Dark Horse's app has featured so far.


Note: this issue, unlike the previous one, is not actually drawn by Farel Dalrymple, despite the solicitation--the artist is Giannis Milanogiannis. It's pleasantly Heavy Metalloid, though, and I love that writer Brandon Graham has turned a Rob Liefeld series, of all things, into an introspective, minor-key science fiction project.


Both Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' names appear on the cover of this fat volume of early-'80s 2000 AD material, but this is hardly proto-Watchmen; Moore's contributions are limited to two six-page stories, neither of them drawn by Gibbons. The latter's art in the early episodes is terrific (and there's some fine work by Brett Ewins and Cam Kennedy later on too), but--very unusually for him--he didn't letter most of them himself, for reasons that are detailed in David Bishop's book Thrill-Power Overload but boil down to the idea that Gibbons found Gerry Finley-Day's scripts unbearable. That said, Finley-Day was by all accounts one of the great idea men of British comics, and the premise of Rogue Trooper is an ingenious hybrid of gritty trench-warfare serials like Charley's War and space opera, with a little bit of "roving samurai without a master" thrown in. It was also pretty radical at the time to create an SF/war comics serial suggesting that neither side was particularly in the right and that war itself turned all combatants into monsters, an idea that would be developed a few years later in Bad Company and the third volume of Moore and Ian Gibson's Halo Jones.


It's a TV tie-in with a photo-based cover, but those who enjoy the show might want to note the credits here: this issue is written by Ann Nocenti with the series' actor Michael McMillian, and drawn by Michael Gaydos (who seems to be doing a lot of licensed-from-other-media gigs lately).

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