Every Wednesday we run down the 5 most interesting comics or graphic novels coming out for the week.
5. DETECTIVE COMICS #853
Written by Neil Gaiman; Art by Andy Kubert and Scott Williams; Cover by Andy Kubert; Variant sketch cover by Andy Kubert
$3.99 | 48 pgs
After a bit of a delay we finally get the second and final part of Neil Gaiman's "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader" story that began in the last issue of Batman. If you're coming in late, Batman is dead and they're having a funeral for him. Except this doesn't seem to be the Batman (or the Bat-continuity) that we've been following recently. It's more of an amalgam of the kooky elements of Bat-history (very much like what we've seen Grant Morrison do in his recent run on the title).
It's a weird little story very much inspired by Alan Moore's classic end-of-Superman tale "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" from the mid-80s. Neil Gaiman needs no introduction of course and probably neither does the artist on this book, Andy Kubert so it's a given that a lot of people will be checking out where this story goes in this issue.
4. DC COMICS CLASSICS LIBRARY: BATMAN — THE ANNUALS
Written by Bill Finger, Edmond Hamilton and others; Art by Lew Sayre Schwartz, Dick Sprang and others; Composite cover by Curt Swan and others
$39.99 | 256 pgs
Speaking of wacky Batman stuff, DC also has this collection of stories from a number of Batman Annuals that came out in the early 60s. This is full of the kind of stuff that used to make Dark Knight fans shudder with embarrassment but thanks to Grant Morrison and Neil Gaiman and the Cartoon Network and a growing ennui with gritty, depressing Batman stories this kind of thing has come back in vogue. Legendary writers and artists like Bill Finger and Dick Sprang bring you crazy tales with shirtless Batman and Robin in the jungle, fighting an octopus and wearing kilts for some reason. And that's just what you can glean from looking at the cover. If you're a fan of the new Brave and the Bold series on Cartoon Network than this is where the inspiration from that show came from (this and hallucinatory drugs I'm sure).
3. SCALPED VOL. 4: THE GRAVEL IN YOUR GUTS
Written by Jason Aaron; Art by Davide Furno and R.M. Guera; Cover by Jock
$14.99 | 144pgs
Since it's a generally slow week for new stuff I'll take this opportunity to quickly point out that Scalped is one of the best ongoing comics out there right now. It's a dark crime drama set on a decrepit and drug-addled Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Dash Bad Horse is the prodigal son come home after years away from "the Rez" to take a job as a local law enforcer. Which actually means working for shady Casino owner and manipulator of all things on the Reservation, Chief Red Crow. But Dash has more than one agenda in this complicated tale of murder, drugs and dysfunctional family issues.
The latest trade paperback comes out this week and it focuses on Red Crow and the one man he has to answer to: Mr. Brass.
2. I AM LEGION #3 (of 6)
Written by Fabien Nury; art by John Cassady
$3.50 | 32 pgs
Attention anyone who bought the DC Humanoids graphic novel I Am Legion back in 2004 and always wondered what happened next: This is what happens next.
DC had reprinted the European comic (originally published by Humanoids) illustrated by Planetary and Astonishing X-men artist John Cassady in a graphic novel format but it only contained the equivalent of the first two issues of the story. Then DC abandoned the poorly selling line and left the handful of American readers of this book hanging.
Now, here in 2009, Devil's Due has picked up the Humanoids mantle and is releasing this series in comic format. Issue #3 continues where DC's graphic novel left off so now's the time for readers of that book to get back into this supernatural thriller about Nazis and a young Romanian girl with the power to tilt the war in their direction.
The artwork, as you might expect from Cassady, is breathtaking.
1. VIKING #1
Written by Ivan Brandon; art by Nic Klein
$2.99 | 24 pgs
The newest crime comic to hit the stands takes place in one of the most brutal periods of crime history: the 9th Century. Ivan Brandon (Cross Bronx) and Nic Klein (who's done a lot of painted cover work for Marvel) collaborate on this ultra-violent viking tale about two brothers fighting their way to top of the Norse mob.
Though the concept is novel the real attraction here is the unique art by Klein. As you can see from this preview, his work here is a unique mixture of styles that seems part EC Comics, part Neal Adams and part - oh, I don't know - Genndy Tartakovsky maybe? It's striking and should make a big splash, appealing to fans of Brian Wood's Norhtlanders, Ed Brubaker's Criminal and Jason Aaron's Scalped.