Good Comics at the Comic Shop November 13

Today, there are a number of great releases scheduled to appear at your local comic shop. I’m highlighting some notable titles worth paying attention to.

Top of my week is Peanuts Every Sunday: 1952-1955 (Fantagraphics, $49.99). It’s a beautifully reproduced color hardcover featuring the Peanuts Sunday comics from the launch of the strip through the first four years. Although 60 years old, these strips are still funny, still well-drawn, and surprising in how much the characters changed rapidly to those icons we know today. The book is a beautiful object to relax with and return to simpler (but no less neurotic) days of childhood.

On a different note and for a different audience, Anything That Loves (Northwest Press, $29.99) is now available in comic shops. This anthology collects a variety of stories about non-traditional sexuality, as you might guess from its subtitle, “Comics Beyond Gay and Straight”. I found it eye-opening and informative, with mostly autobiographical stories expressing a wide variety of loves and desires. There’s a good selection of contributors, too.

On the manga side, Lies Are a Gentleman’s Manners (Digital Manga, $12.95) is a different take on yaoi. Instead of featuring cute Japanese men, it portrays cute American men in a set of stories revolving around a closeted WASP professor and the student he blackmails into having sex with him. Surprisingly, it’s not as sordid as that sounds.

Vinland Saga Volume 1 (Kodansha Comics, $19.99) is the long-awaited viking battle manga by Makoto Yukimura, author of the sadly out-of-print Planetes. This is an upscale presentation, a double-length hardcover with extras including bonus stories, design sketches, translation notes, and pictures of the author dressed as a viking.

Speaking of a different kind of history, the resolicited Silver Age Teen Titans Archives Volume 2 (DC Comics, $75) contains some stunning examples of the much-missed Nick Cardy‘s work. As I said in my review of the first volume, it’s a mid-60s time capsule of trying to seem hip, but the art is really good, particularly the unusual cover designs by Cardy.

If you’d like a cheaper travel back through comic’s glory days, X-Men Gold #1 (Marvel Comics, $5.99) is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the X-Men with a new story by classic creators Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod.

Protocol Orphans #1 cover

Let’s look at some more comic issues. Boom! Studios launches the Protocol Orphans miniseries ($3.99) with a first issue that reads like an action caper movie. Writer Michael Alan Nelson and artist Mariano Navarro assemble the expected elements: A ticking countdown clock until something bad happens. (Literally, because there’s a bomb.) High-pressure quick-switch infiltrations. A woman in very little clothing for dubious plot reasons. High-tech gadgets, monitors, and earpieces to allow conversations to all-seeing watchers magically through the air. Fights and chases and sudden decisions.

It’s familiar but well-done and sharply paced, and there are at least two twists that make me want to continue to the next issue: The cliffhanger ending (no spoilers here!) and the fact that the bunch of young people running around fighting are reporting in to someone called “Dad”. Either there’s a really twisted family relationship here (shades of Lazarus!) or someone’s doing a really obscure tribute to The Avengers (the TV version). The flashbacks are disturbing, suggesting a conspiracy organization that we’ll learn more about in the three remaining issues.

From Dark Horse come new issues of two miniseries I’ve really been enjoying. Resident Alien: The Suicide Blonde ($3.99) wraps up with issue #3. There’s a surprising solution to the mystery, with a tone well-suited to the unusual focus of the series, and new revelations in the story of Dr. V, space alien masquerading as small-town doctor. The final page promises a new volume coming, The Sam Hain Mystery, and I’m looking forward to it.

Bloodhound Crowbar Medicine #2 ($3.99) continues Clev’s search for a rogue scientist who’s promising to grant people superpowers. When I reviewed issue #1, I gave background on the series and its characters, but Dan Jolley does an excellent job filling in everything you need to know in this installment. Leonard Kirk’s art gives all the characters presence and attitude, a good choice given how many people don’t like Clev’s take-no-garbage approach to life. This is a meaty, substantial, modern take on what could happen in a world with super abilities. And hey! I’m quoted on the cover!

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