Savage Critic and "Reading Comics" author Douglas Wolk joins ComicsAlliance for a rundown of the hottest comics and graphic novels coming out the week, which includes this helpful key:

Ø I would probably be getting a lot more excited about this if I hadn't read it the previous time around
Danger! Deep continuity!
∏ Those were simpler times
Almost certainly involves a flashback to WWII
Makes me miss "Gotham Central" even more than I did already
Contains a scene set in the Hulk's gastrointestinal tract

∏Ø BATMAN: THE BLACK CASEBOOK -- Not to be confused with "Batman: The Black Glove," although it's technically related: This is a collection of the bizarre '50s and '60s-era Batman stories to which Grant Morrison has alluded in his "Batman" run, most of which it might have seemed like he was just making up. Thrill to multiple adventures of the Batmen of All Nations! See the first appearance of the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh! Shudder at the original "Robin Dies at Dawn"! A bunch of these stories have actually been reprinted before, but it's nice to have them all in one place.
◊‡ CAPTAIN AMERICA #600 -- It's the big-deal anniversary issue that technically came out Monday: five bucks gets you the usual solid Ed Brubaker-written serial as well as new material by Mark Waid, Howard Chaykin, David Aja and others, plus a bit of vintage reprinted stuff. Too bad superhero comics' natural entropic force meant that Steve Rogers had to come back, but give Brubaker and Steve Epting credit for making this series as interesting as it's ever been while the title character was cooling his heels in the morgue for a couple of years and change.

-- Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen had a nice little collaboration going in "Detective Comics" for the last year or two, and now that "Detective" has been taken over by Rucka and Williams' Batwoman, they've simply relocated their operations to this new series. The backup feature is Marc Andreyko continuing his "Manhunter" series with Georges Jeanty.

Ø HITMAN VOL. 1: A RAGE IN ARKHAM -- The first volume of Garth Ennis and John McCrea's action-comedy about a super-powered hitman and the bar he hangs out in has been out of print for a bit; now that Ennis is a marquee name, this could mean the whole thing will finally get collected. Cross your fingers.

◊ INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #14 -- Matt Fraction and Salvador Larrocca's run on this series has a genuine 21st-century sensibility--it's smart, imaginative and incredibly fast-moving. They're suggesting this issue is a jumping-on point, which is quite a claim considering it's halfway through the "World's Most Wanted" Dark Reign tie-in, but it's worth a try.

Ø€ THE IRREDEEMABLE ANT-MAN -- This seems to be a collection of the entire Robert Kirkman/Phil Hester series about the world's most despicable superhero -- an opportunistic creep who's just barely, technically, on the side of the angels. It was a clever, amusing exercise in tightly compressed storytelling (a lot of Hester's art was variations on a sixteen-panels-per-page grid) that totally failed to catch on. Still, Kirkman's fans should take a look at it -- the "World War Hulk" tie-in issue, in particular, is a fine exercise in hilariously obnoxious product placement.

‡ MARVEL ADVENTURES AVENGERS #37 and MARVEL ADVENTURES AVENGERS VOL. 9: TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN' -- If you aren't reading Paul Tobin's "Marvel Adventures" comics, you are missing out on something really fun. His stories for Marvel's kids' line are done-in-one bonbons that treat Marvel's 70 years of comics as a gigantic warehouse of entertaining ideas, rather than as a backstory.

Ø◊ƒ THE QUESTION: THE FIVE BOOKS OF BLOOD -- This Greg Rucka-written miniseries served as a bridge between Renee Montoya's role in "52" and "Final Crisis: Revelations" -- it's a tense, creepy thriller about the newly minted Question getting involved with a global murder cult and confronting her own dark side. It was also originally released under the atrocious title "52 Aftermath: Crime Bible: Five Lessons of Blood," which may be why barely anyone noticed it at the time. In any case, it's in paperback now.

-- Another timely cash-in. Admirers of the Ed Brubaker/Sean Phillips team's "Incognito" and "Criminal" may enjoy this earlier collaboration, a spy-who-stayed-out-in-the-cold story about a superhero who goes undercover with a team of villains and ends up getting so deeply morally compromised that he doesn't know what side he's on any more.

∏ WILL EISNER'S SPIRIT ARCHIVES, VOL. 26 -- The final volume of DC's reprints of Eisner's "Spirit" stories looks like a real treat for Eisnerphiles--it's a collection of the Spirit material he drew after the original weekly series ended in 1952. There's rather a lot of that, it turns out: about 250 pages' worth. The odd thing about that is that only about 50 pages' worth of post-'52 Spirit stories by Eisner have seen the light of day before. What else could be in here? The unpublished and legendarily not-very-good 50-pager "The Last Hero" that Denis Kitchen has mentioned in interviews? The 1981 "Spirit Jam" with dozens of cartoonists? The Spirit/Cerebus team-up by Eisner and Dave Sim? Maybe just a bunch of covers that Eisner drew for earlier reprints?

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