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It’s a good week for you wait-for-the-trade or missed-it-the-first-time types, as publishers wheel out collections ranging from Gotham Central and The Life and Times of Martha Washington to the Astro Boy Movie Adaptation and Guardians of the Galaxy.
In other spine-related offerings, Thursday also will see the release of volumes 1-6 of the cult-hit Yotsuba&! under the Yen Press banner, The Art of Tony Millionaire hardcover and a second volume of Love and Rockets: New Stories.
Looking for something smaller, but still entertaining? How about a Dead Space: Extraction one-shot, the debut of Nomad: A Girl Without A World or maybe — just maybe — the first issue of Models, Inc.?
To find out what other releases have Chris Mautner, JK Parkin and me talking, just keep reading. And, as always, let us know your picks in the comments below.
JK Parkin’s pick of the week: Super Human Resources, Season 1
It would be easy to write off this miniseries by Ken Marcus and Justin Bleep as The Office or Office Space or Dilbert with superheroes, but that wouldn’t be doing justice to this smart, funny and delightful comic. It starts off with the main character being poisoned by a ninja who thinks they’re competing for the same job, moves on to a superhero who traveled into the future to fight a villain and checked his 401K while there, and then introduces a copy machine that is gaining sentience. Although the cast is huge, the character are well-developed and very engaging, much like the book itself.
But don’t take my word for it: You can read the first issue online for free and decide for yourself.
Chris Mautner’s pick of the week: Yotsuba&!, Vols. 1-6
It was originally made for grown-up, twentysomething males, but Kiyohiko Azuma’s winning manga about a pluckish, green-haired little girl is no less family friendly because of its initial audience. ADV Manga had the license initially for this and printed five volumes before going belly-up. Now Yen Press has come to the fore and is re-releasing all five, plus a new Vol. 6 to slake the thirst of all those poor souls (like me) who have had to go Yotsuba-less all these many months. This is really the perfect opportunity to jump on the bandwagon and discover how funny and downright cute this comic is, which is why I’m making it my pick of the week.
Kevin Melrose’s pick of the week: Models, Inc. #1 (of 4)
Once again we find ourselves in a situation in which Diamond Comic Distributors say title isn’t coming out this week, but the publisher and several retailers contend that it is. (Midtown Comics even has a signing today with Tim Gunn and Phil Jimenez at the chain’s Times Square location.) Given Diamond’s track record on such things, I’ll side with the latter camp.
Now, I have no opinion one way or the other about Marvel’s fashion-model characters — Mary Jane Watson, Patsy Walker, Millicent Collins, et al — but I appreciate that with this miniseries and Marvel Divas the publisher is at least trying to look beyond its typical audience. (Sure, there was that unfortunate J. Scott Campbell cover for Marvel Divas, but let’s move past that for now.)
Besides, Models, Inc. has at least three things going for it: Writer Paul Tobin, whose Marvel work — Marvel Adventures Spider-Man, Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four, etc. — has yet to disappoint; it’s a fashion-industry murder mystery; and Project Runway‘s Gunn, who stars in a back-up story in this first issue penned by Marc Sumerak (whose work for the publisher is also solid).
The Art of Tony Millionaire hardcover
Chris: Tony Millionaire has always struck me as someone who’s more known for his sense of humor or storytelling abilities than sheer craftsmanship, which is odd, because he’s an incredibly talented artist. Hopefully this new book will tilt the public attitude more in the other direction a bit.
The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century hardcover
Chris: I was never a big fan of Frank Miller and Dave Gibbon’s Martha series — I think Miller a very poor and ham-fisted satirist — but this series certainly has its fans. And now they can enjoy the whole shebang in one expensive hardcover, complete with commentary by the creators.
Adventure Comics #2
JK: We learned yesterday, Johns and Manapul will be leaving the book after six issues to work on the ongoing Flash series. Then we learned today that Paul Levitz will be the new writer on the title. Johns and Manapul should offer a solid six-issue start to the title, and no doubt the Levitz news will make many old-school Legion fans happy.
Gotham Central, Vol. 2: Jokers and Madmen hardcover
Kevin: This 288-page hardcover includes what are probably my favorite stories from one of my favorite series of recent years: Ed Brubaker and Brian Hurtt’s wonderful spotlight on administrative assistant Stacy (Issue 11, “Daydreams and Believers”), and Brubaker, Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s chilling Joker arc (Issues 12-15, “Soft Target”). In addition, you get “Life is Full of Disappointments” (Issues 16-18), and the Harvey Bullock-focused “Unresolved” (Issues 19-22).
Dead Space: Extraction one-shot
Kevin: Antony Johnston and Ben Templesmith return to the horrifying world of Dead Space with this special-edition comic tied to the upcoming prequel of the popular video game. I don’t know anything about the original game or the follow-up, but I enjoyed what I read of last year’s six-issue miniseries by the same creators.
Captain Britain and MI13, Vol. 3: Vampire State
Kevin: This collects issues the final arc, plus the sole annual, of the much-praised but low-selling series by Paul Cornell, Leonard Kirk & Co. This is the arc in which Dracula, whom Cornell called “the greatest general of his generation,” and his undead minions set out from the moon to conquer Great Britain.
Dark Reign: The List — Avengers One-Shot
JK: Marvel kicks off what very well could be the beginning of the end of Norman Osborn and his entire regime, or maybe just more of his endlessly evil antics. In any event, this features the New Avengers, the Dark Avengers and X-Island, which was introduced in the Utopia crossover, and paves the way for similarly themed one-shots over the next couple of months.
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2: War of Kings Book 1
JK: As the title suggests, this collects the “War of Kings” issues of Guardians of the Galaxy, one of Marvel’s fun and well-liked space opera comics. I’ve been reading both Guardians and Nova in trade format, so I’m not yet familiar with what went down in this particular crossover, but I plan to be as soon as they’re all released.
Marvel 1602 Premiere Hardcover
Kevin: I have to confess I gave up on this high-concept 2003-2004 miniseries by Neil Gaiman, Andy Kurbert and Richard Isanove about halfway through, but I’m willing to give it another try.
Marvel Super Hero Team-Up trade paperback
JK: This is the collection formerly known as Marvel Bromance, which got a name change a few weeks back. In case you missed it, Joe Quesada addressed the switch in a recent “Cup O Joe” Q&A: “While the term ‘Bromance’ is a fun one, I couldn’t help but feel that it’s one of those things that a few years from now we’ll be looking at as silly and dated slang. I could just imagine five or six years down the road seeing the book on shelves and wondering, ‘What were we thinking?’”
In my opinion, good call.
Nomad: Girl Without A World #1
JK: Another Bucky gets an upgrade, as Sean McKeever returns to the Marvel Universe to turn the girl left over from Rob Liefeld’s Captain America run into the new Nomad.
Runaways: The Good Die Young Premiere Hardcover
Kevin: This collects the final six issues of the first volume of the series, by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona, which, if memory serves, were previously released in digest size.
JK: We’re getting close to the end of Andy Diggle’s run, which I expect to mean we’ll see a lot of WTF? moments, and answers revealed. Heck, in this issue, we’re already promised a guest appearance by Nick Fury as we find out more about his secret plans to infiltrate the group. No one does this super-cool spy stuff like Andy Diggle.
All and Sundry: Uncollected Work, 2004-2009 hardcover
Chris: Short stories, sketches, illustrations and other ephemera from Paul Hornschemeier. It’s not another Mother Come Home, but if you like the guy’s work, it should fill the pallet.
Love and Rockets: New Stories, Vol. 2
Chris: More inspired lunacy from Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez. The latter’s “Ti-Girls” story comes to a close here, which is reason enough to buy this.
Giraffes in My Hair: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Life hardcover
Chris: Carol Swain and her paramour Bruce Paley tell tales of Paley’s turbulent time as a hippie kid during the ’60s and ’70s. Swain’s a really underrated artist, meaning this book is probably worth one’s time.
Grown-Ups Are Dumb! (No Offense) softcover
Chris: Oh, the things you find while hunting through the “merchandise” section! Like this latest book from Alexa Kitchen, daughter of Denis Kitchen and cartooning prodigy. Her craftsmanship is still a bit rudimentary, but she has an understanding of comics’ structure that’s kind of staggering for someone her age. Hand it to you kid and ask why they can’t be as talented.
Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft Special Edition #1
Kevin: IDW Publishing reprints the first issue of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s horror series, packaged with the 11-page “Freddie Wertham Goes to Hell,” by Hill and the late Seth Fisher.
Process Recess, Vol. 3: Hallowed Seam hardcover
Chris: James Jean junkies will no doubt want to take note of this latest oversized collection of artwork, from the ever-reliable AdHouse.
The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book hardcover
Chris: Imagine a Tintin story told by a Judd Apatow character and you’re kinda-sorta close to this collection of stories by South African artist Joe Daly, but only kinda-sorta. The Red Monkey of the title is a pot-smoking freelance artist who happens to have monkey feet and gets into some of the oddest adventures this side of Michael Kupperman. Look for a review of the book later this week.
Squirrel Machine hardcover
Chris: Is there an Al Columbia school of artists in the same way one can be said to be of the Kirby or Toth school. Because if so I’m thinkin’ Hans Rickheit’s the star pupil. This is his debut graphic novel, with lots of Cronenbergian images of flesh, technology and other disturbing things fused together in comics form. Fantagraphics seems to be betting this will be the book that breaks the artist out wide. Perhaps so.
The Storm in the Barn
Chris: A children’s graphic novel about a boy living in dust-bowl Kansas and desperate for rain. I’ve haven’t done more than thumb through the review copy I recently got, but it certainly looks interesting.
This Side of Jordan
Chris: Peanuts fans will want to take note of this new novel by Charles Schulz’s son Monte. Advance word of mouth has been very positive, so if you’re tired of your sequential reading, this might make a nice change.
West Coast Blues hardcover
Chris: Fantagraphics attempts to get readers to try the French comics of Jacques Tardi one more time. This one’s about a middle-class man who finds himself on the run from a pair of hitmen for reasons that are best left unspoiled. Between this, Cooke’s Parker adaptation, the Vertigo crime series and 100 Bullets ending I hereby dub 2009 to be the Year of the Noir.
The full list of items arriving in stores this week can be found here.