Graphic Novels Prepub Alert: Bendis's "Ultimate" Spider-Man, Queer Comics & Jack JacksonBy Martha Cornog Oct 20, 2011
Moon prism power, make up! Kodansha's Sailor Moon and Sailor V manga reissues beat out Naruto for top graphic novel sales on September's bookstore scoresheet from Nielsen BookScan. Will the Sailor Scouts—called Sailor Senshi in the new translation—bring the Twilight groupies back into manga? As for the New York Times top performers, a collection of Hark! A Vagrant, Kate Beaton's irreverent history-lit webcomic, tops the October 8th Hardcover Graphic Books list. For paperbacks, it's The Adventures of Ook and Gluk, and for manga, that ole moon prism power holds #1 here, too.
As for sales in comics shops, Diamond's September figures show Frank Miller's Holy Terror as #1, with Sailor Moon a respectable #8. A likely future best seller: the coming graphic novel adaptation of Stieg Larsson's 60-million-selling Millennium Trilogy novels, just announced by DC/Vertigo.
Bendis, Brian Michael (text) & Sara Pichelli (illus.). Ultimate Comics Spider-Man. Vol. 1. Marvel. Feb. 2012. 144p. ISBN 9780785157120. $24.99. F
In this version of the Spider-Man universe, Peter Parker is killed suddenly and Miles Morales, an African American/Latino middle-schooler, takes over the web-slinging. Pichelli's art is terrific, and Miles's black costume with red webbing a classy variation from the original. The Ultimate Marvel Universe is a parallel universe off of Marvel's mainstream continuity, and Parker keeps his webs in other Spider-Man titles.
Brubaker, Ed (text) & Steve McNiven (illus.). Captain America. Vol. 1. Marvel. Feb. 2012. 120p. ISBN 9780785157083. $19.99. F
Steve Rogers/Captain America had "died" in 2007, although he was actually displaced in time and space while former sidekick Bucky wielded Cap's shield. Now with Bucky dead, Rogers is back in the star-spangled outfit for a story blending combat and history to relaunch the character. Marvel touts it as a "perfect jumping-on point for fans of the [July 2011] Cap movie." We'll see more of live-action Cap in the 2012 film, The Avengers.
Colón, Ernie (illus. & adapt.). Inner Sanctum: Tales of Horror, Mystery and Suspense. NBM. Feb. 2012. 112p. ISBN 9781561636143. $16.99. F
The old-time radio predecessor to the Tales from the Crypt comics gets the comics treatment itself. A horror/mystery show framed with tongue-in-cheek introductions, Inner Sanctum Mysteries drew 1940s listeners with its trademark creaking door, morbid humor, and creepy plots. Colón re-creates four tales from the show that play with classic themes: hauntings, talking dolls, an undead spouse, and premature burial. The artist has honed his graceful, realistic style through nearly 50 years of work, including The 9/11 Report, Vlad the Impaler, and many more.
DC Universe: Secret Origins. DC. Feb. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9781401234034. $39.99. F
A compendium by various writers and artists, this is just the thing for veteran DC fans up for some nostalgia in the wake of the "New 52" series, in which everything starts afresh. This volume collects earlier origin stories of Wonder Woman, the Justice League of America, the Superman/Batman team, Aquaman, and many others as they appeared in the 1950s and 1960s, the silver age of comics.
Del Col, Anthony & Conor McCreery (text) & Andy Belanger (illus.). Kill Shakespeare: The Complete Edition. IDW. Feb. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9781613771303. $39.99. F
LJ's Steve Raiteri described this double team-up of Shakespeare heroes versus villains as "an engrossing action-adventure tale of satisfying complexity, full of mystery, deceit, and gory violence" (see the full review here). The "Kill Shakespeare" series was originally released as two volumes, so libraries that didn't buy the set should consider this version for older teens and adults.
Gauld, Tom. Goliath. Drawn & Quarterly. Feb. 2012. 96p. ISBN 9781770460652. $19.95. F
In a bleakly funny retelling through Goliath's eyes, the giant was just on this stupid job for the king when David flipped him one upside the head with a slingshot. Alas, his size got him into the gig, even though he'd rather do backroom work than the muscle stuff. Blocky, minimalist black-and-white art with subtle hatching; sample here.
Guinan, Paul & Anina Bennett. Frank Reade: Adventures in the Age of Invention. Abrams. Feb. 2012. 176p. ISBN 9780810996618. $24.95. GRAPHIC ARTS
Fabulous inventor Frank Reade and his talented family lived only in Victorian boys' fiction, but their dazzlingly baroque robots, submarines, and airships hold special charm for modern steampunkers. Guinan and Bennett have created a sf/alt-history biography for the Reade clan, pictorialized with the original engravings as well as with new art of their own. The author duo pulled off the Boilerplate spoof in 2000, digitally superimposing a faux-historical robot that took in quite a few viewers.
Jackson, Jack. Jack Jackson's American History: Los Tejanos & Lost Cause. Fantagraphics. Feb. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9781606995044. $35. F
With the pen name of "Jaxon," Jackson (1941-2006) drew Texas history into comics that included Mexican as well as Anglo legacies. Los Tejanos ("the Texans" of Mexican ancestry) fixes on Juan Seguín, a tragic figure in the 1835-75 Texas-Mexican conflict. Lost Cause chronicles the state's turmoil during Reconstruction, in the wake of the Civil War. Jackson's detailed, realistically drawn accounts will be useful for anyone interested in those coordinates of U.S. history or in Latino-Anglo heritage. Both titles were originally published earlier, before 2000. Instrumental in founding underground comix publisher Rip Off Press, Jackson was added to the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame just this year.
Kellerman, Jonathan (text) & Michael Gaydos (illus.). Silent Partner: The Graphic Novel. Villard. Feb. 2012. 192p. adapt. by Ande Parks. ISBN 9780440423638. $23. F
The Los Angeles Times Book Review described the original 1989 novel as "a complex and haunting story of tangled personalities, deeply buried family secrets, and of violence lying thinly under the surface." The story features Kellerman's psychologist-detective Dr. Alex Delaware. Kellerman is a psychologist in real time, and Dr. Delaware has starred in 23 of his novels through 2011. Might interest psycho-noir fans across formats.
Langridge, Roger (text) & Filipe Andrade (illus.). John Carter: A Princess of Mars. Marvel. Feb. 2012. 120p. ISBN 9780785160427. pap. $14.99. F
David, Peter (text) & Luke Ross (illus.). John Carter: The World of Mars. Marvel. Feb. 2012. 120p. ISBN 978-0785160410. pap. $14.99. F
With Disney's John Carter film coming next March, the Barsoom comics are Barsooming out from Marvel, of course: a Disney company. Langridge and Andrade adapt the original Edgar Rice Burroughs novel, as does I.N.J. Culbard in a version due next April from the UK's SelfMadeHero. The David and Ross title is an all-new prequel about Martian upheavals before Carter shows up. Coming sooner this fall, two Dynamite collected series: Warlord of Mars (October) and Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris (November). The Marvel titles look youth-friendly, while the two from Dynamite appear more adult in showing Carter's crush Dejah Thoris much closer to how Burroughs wrote her: wearing only "highly wrought ornaments."
Lovecraft, H.P. (text) & Ian N.J. Culbard (illus. & adapt.). At the Mountains of Madness. Sterling. Feb. 2012. 128p. ISBN 9781402780424. $14.95. F
While much of Lovecraft's short fiction has appeared as comics, this may be the first adaptation of his classic horror novel. During an expedition to mountains in Antarctica "higher than the Himalayas," scholars unwittingly awaken the infinitely dangerous Elder Things and their even nastier enemies, like the Star-spawn of Cthulhu. (Cthulhu is that gigantic squid-mouth beastie.) Culbard is the artist for SelfMadeHero's fine adaptations of the Sherlock Holmes novels, also published in the United States by Sterling. And more Lovecraft is on the way.
Marazano, Richard (text) & Jean-Michel Ponzio (illus.). GENETIKS. Vol. 1. Archaia. Feb. 2012. 104p. ISBN 9781936393428. $19.95. F
This bio-sci thriller homes in on a hapless employee of Big Pharm who, like his coworkers, has agreed to give a drop of blood to the company, Genetiks. So now Genetiks owns Thomas Hale-or at least his genome, right? Let's see where Marazano goes with this.
Millar, Mark (text) & Leinil Francis Yu (illus.). Superior. Marvel. Feb. 2012. 176p. ISBN 9780785136187. $24.99. F
Since Simon Pooni developed multiple sclerosis, he misses playing in the school's basketball games and all the little things he took for granted. No surprise: he soon idolizes superheroes, especially golden age character Superior, newly revived in a retro film. Now offered a magical wish by a cosmic space-monkey, he chooses to become Superior. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has teamed up with Millar to use Superior in the society's outreach, and Millar plans to make a film also. Note: Reported expletives and occasional T&A visuals will make this for teens or older.
Moorcock, Michael & Chris Robertson (text) & Francesco Biagini (illus.). Elric: The Balance Lost. Vol. 1. BOOM! Studios. Feb. 2012. 128p. ISBN 9781608860487. pap. $14.99. F
Pale albino prince Elric, one embodiment of Moorcock's Eternal Champion hero from a series of novels, has made appearances in comics since the 1970s. This series brings Elric together with champions from other components of Moorcock's Multiverse to face down the force that threatens to overpower all of them, while in the "real world" a Pale Prince torments the dreams of videogame designer Eric Beck.
No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics. Fantagraphics. Feb. 2012. 304p. ed. by Justin Hall. ISBN 9781606995068. $35. F
Uncloseted graphic novels have moved into libraries via Eisner winners Fun Home (Alison Bechdel) and Stuck Rubber Baby (Howard Cruse). Herewith a color and black-and-white sampler from a little-recognized underground of gay comics from the past four decades, including Bechdel and Cruse, Europe's Ralf Koenig, and 2011 ALA keynoter Dan Savage. Huh? Dan Savage wrote comics?! Indeedy, indeedy. Fantagraphics promises "smart, funny, and profound"—and uncensored.
Petrucha, Stefan (text) & Rick Parker (illus.). Papercutz Slices #4: The Hunger Pains. Feb. 2012. 64p. ISBN 9781597073134. $10.99. HUMOR
In September, the New York Times ranked Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games the #1 best-selling children's series. So, of course, it's the next victim for the Petrucha/Parker sausage machine, following the shredded remains of Harry Potty, Breaking Down, and Percy Jerkson. Meet the Hockingjay, and prepare for lots of birdspit. P'tooie!
Rozum, John (text) & Fraser Irving (illus.). Xombi. Vertigo. Feb. 2012. 160p. ISBN 9781401233464. pap. $14.99. F
In a techi twist on the undead concept, medical researcher David Kim is kept from the full effects of his mortal injuries through nanomachines injected into his body. The tiny machines keep him humming right along: self-healing, staying young, and he doesn't need to use the toilet, either. So he can never die. But since a supernatural creature inflicted the injuries, Rozum is now a magnet for paranormal goings-on. Sounds potentially hilarious, but it's apparently straight-up urban horror.
Snyder, Scott & Kyle Higgins (text) & Trevor McCarthy (illus.). Batman: Gates of Gotham. DC. Feb. 2012. 144p. ISBN 9781401233419. pap. $14.99. F
Batman with "Bat family" Robin, Red Robin, and the Black Bat must solve a mystery reverberating through the history of Gotham City, so we get a panoramic view through time of Gotham's dark secrets, hidden architecture, and, of course, villains. The clear-line art with dusky colors has a certain charm you don't often see in superhero comics. Looks like a stand-alone title.
Talbot, Mary M. (text) & Bryan Talbot (illus.). Dotter of Her Father's Eyes. Dark Horse. Feb. 2012. 96p. ISBN 9781595828507. $14.99. BIOG
For a double helping of James Joyce's offspring, the Talbots contrast two girls' coming-of-age stories. Lucia Joyce was Joyce's biological daughter, whereas Mary Talbot, herself a scholar and author about language and gender, is a literary sister from another mister: the daughter of Joycean scholar James S. Atherton. This should do well as a literary graphic novel with special appeal to fans of Ulysses "Seen" and perhaps draw in YA readers.
Tomori, Miyoshi. A Devil and Her Love Song. Vol. 1. VIZ. Feb. 2012. 200p. ISBN 9781421541648. pap. $9.99. F
Maria Kawai sings like an angel, but her brutal honesty and cold manners lead her classmates to shun her like the devil. Yet two of the boys don't seem to mind, and perhaps they can help her soften up her social style. It'll be taking them a while, seeing as the series ended at 13 volumes in Japan. Oh, and she's gorgeous, too.
Waid, Mark (text) & Marcos Martin & Paolo Manuel Rivera (illlus.). Daredevil. Vol. 1. Marvel. Feb. 2012. 144p. ISBN 9780785152378. $19.99. F
Here we have another relaunch. After the events of the crossover Shadowland, Matt Murdock abdicated as Daredevil and turned over his Hell's Kitchen territory to the Black Panther. Now after a "vacation" in Mexico where he put a drug-smuggling operation out of commission, Murdock returns to New York to pick up his law practice and his Daredevil persona. Although blind, Murdock has a "radar sense" conveyed by the same radioactive substance that blinded him originally. While the character has been through some horrific sh*t in recent plot arcs, Waid told the Westfield Comics Blog that he is "tweaking the adventure-to-depression ratio," and this Daredevil is "charming, sly, witty, sexy, [and] hungry for adventure."
Wolverton, Basil. Creeping Death from Neptune: Horror and Science Fiction Comics. Fantagraphics. Feb. 2012. 192p. ed. by Greg Sadowski. ISBN 9781606995051. pap. $24.99. F/SF
Brain bats of Venus! They sit on your head, take control of you, and glower at your friends. The line between horror and humor dissolves easily, and Wolverton's extravagantly grotesque drawings drew chortles and chills from readers of MAD magazine and numerous comics from the 1940s to the 1950s. Robert Crumb, Peter Bagge, and many other underground/alternative cartoonists have drawn inspiration from Wolverton's "spaghetti-and-meatball" style of uglification. Now a few years after a successful New York exhibit plus several published collections of illustrations and shorter pieces, this volume reprints important sf/horror sequential work, carefully restored, plus material from his personal ledgers and diaries.