Twin Spica Vol. 1

By Kou Yaginuma
192 pages, black and white
Published by Vertical, Inc.

I almost didn’t buy Twin Spica because of the cover. There was something about it, with its creepy little girl holding two glowing objects, while strange lights fell from the sky, that was an instant turn-off. Was it because it felt like a science-fiction version of Children of the Corn? Or a strange reversed-gender riff on Akira? Fortunately, I have friends who are less afraid of strange cover design, and their repeated ravings over Twin Spica made me finally reverse my stance and pick up the first volume. I’m here to tell you that they were right, and I was wrong. If anything, I’m kicking myself for staying away as long as I did.

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By Daniel Clowes
80 pages, color
Published by Drawn & Quarterly

It was in 2004 that Daniel Clowes released the last (and at this point, presumably final) issue of Eightball, and with his work in the past decade on movies like Ghost World and Art-School Confidential it was a reasonable assumption that Clowes might have been giving up on the comics art form entirely. With Wilson, though, Clowes makes a full-fledged return to the comics format, in his first original graphic novel. And perhaps because he’s been gone a while, Wilson seems designed to try and see how far it can get under the reader’s skin.

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Based on the novel by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
Script adapted by Tony Lee
Art by Cliff Richards
176 pages, black and white
Published by Del Rey

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a really funny idea, when you think about it; add a zombie invasion into the pages of Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice, but otherwise let the book generally play out as it did in its original form. There’s just one big problem with Seth Grahame-Smith’s transformation of Pride and Prejudice, though. This is a joke that cannot sustain itself for an entire novel. As the book moves forward, it starts to drag and the jokes grow increasingly tiresome and old. But with all that in mind, I was actually looking forward to the graphic novel adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, because it would almost certainly be shorter, and that meant that it might not wear out its welcome the way that the novel does.

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Kingyo Used Books Vol. 1

By Seimu Yoshizaki
208 pages, black and white
Published by Viz

As you probably by now, in Japan, there are comics about everything. Cooking, tennis, life in the office, true stories of being homeless, you name it, there’s a manga for you. That’s part of the point of Kingyo Used Books, but I couldn’t help but be a little amused that with this manga, there’s a comic about the joy of comics. It’s simultaneously funny and really fantastic, isn’t it? I will warn you right now, though. Reading Kingyo Used Books might cause you to buy more comics, Japanese or otherwise.

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Prince of Power #1

Written by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente
Penciled by Reilly Brown
Inked by Terry Pallot and Jason Paz
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel

It might now be over, but I’m still slightly amazed at how good The Incredible Hercules turned out to be. Taking two non-star characters (Greek demi-god Hercules and boy genius Amadeus Cho) and handing them the old Incredible Hulk title as their own? It seemed like a sucker bet, but instead readers found a rare mixture of humor, drama, and poignancy that manages to amuse and enthrall. Having (theoretically) killed off Hercules at the end of the series, a lesser character would go home and call it a day. But if you’re Amadeus Cho (7th smartest person in the Marvel Universe), you go out and get your own mini-series, Prince of Power. Why wait for revival when you can take it over on your own?

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Stuff of Legend Vol. 1: The Dark

Written by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith
Art by Charles Paul Wilson III
128 pages, color
Published by Villard Books

So far as I can tell, during last year’s Free Comic Book Day, I missed out on a doozy of a good title. That’s when Th3rd World Studios published The Stuff of Legend #0, the first chapter in their new series about a group of toys traveling into the land of the Boogeyman to rescue their young owner. Now that I’ve read this first collection of the series, I’m a little sad that it’s taken me this long to hear about it. While the basic idea behind the series might not cause you to bat an eye, it’s the way that the creators tell their story that makes it so entrancing.

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Real Vol. 8

By Takehiko Inoue
216 pages, black and white
Published by Viz

I don’t just dislike basketball. I actually semi-loathe the sport. At my office we have lunchtime discussions that veer off onto topics like, "Which reality show would be your worst nightmare?" and "What sport would you least want to be forced to watch hours of?" And for the latter, I must admit, basketball was a high contender. I mention this because I feel it’s important that you understand how much the sport is unappealing to me, so that you understand the power of the next statement I’m about to make. Real isn’t just a good comic about basketball. Real is one of the best comics being published, period.

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Marvel Masterworks: The Avengers Vol. 1

Written by Stan Lee
Penciled by Jack Kirby and Don Heck
Inked by Dick Ayres, Paul Reinman, George Roussos, and Chic Stone
248 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

This may shock some of you, but until earlier this year I had never read an issue of The Avengers prior to the 1980s. It’s been on the list of things to try for ages, but it wasn’t until a recent purchase of the softcover Marvel Masterworks: The Avengers Vol. 1 that I finally decided to fix that problem. Now that I’ve finally experienced it? It’s not at all what I was expecting, a book that was simultaneously more intriguing and disappointing than I’d expected.

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Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks

Written by Max Brooks
Art by Ibraim Roberson
144 pages, black and white
Published by Three Rivers Press

Max Brooks’s World War Z was one of my favorite books of 2006, a fictional series of journalistic articles detailing the start of a zombie outbreak across the globe and how it transformed the world. (If you haven’t read it, I wholeheartedly recommend it; Brooks takes the idea of a global pandemic to a new scale, and even if you "don’t like zombie stories" you will almost certainly find this entrancing.) The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks sounded like a perfect companion to the book, a graphic novel of short stories showing earlier zombie uprising over the ages. At the end of the day, though, it didn’t quite pan out as I’d hoped.

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iZombie #1

Written by Chris Roberson
Art by Michael Allred
32 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

Over the past decade, Chris Roberson’s come seemingly out of nowhere to carve himself a career in comics, books, and publishing. Originally part of the Clockwork Storybook collective of writers (which included Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges), he’s gone on to have novels and short stories published, as well as start his own MonkeyBrain Books. He’s also started to crack comics, his first major project the Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love mini-series, and now his first ongoing series iZombie. And while iZombie #1 reminds me a bit of some other creations out there, on the whole I’m pleased to see that Roberson’s rising up through the ranks in no small part because he’s a strong writer.

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