It's Wednesday. There are new comic books out in comic shops around the world. There are also both new comics and re-issued old favorites available today for you to download legally on your favorite mobile device. But which ones? I have recommendations:
Action Comics #3: The DC relaunch/reboot/re-whatever hits month three with a batch of new issues that advance some of the critical darlings of The New 52: Action (That's writer Grant Morrison's Superman book), Animal Man, OMAC and Stormwatch, and Swamp Thing.
Daredevil #5 The new issue of my favorite new series of the year. 'nuff said. (Actually, something I must say: This could turn out to be my second-favorite new series of the year. See the bottom of this column for an explanation.) [Whoops. This comic came out last week. Well, yeah, you should get it!]
Infinite Vacation #3 I'm a fan of just about any comic Nick Spencer writes. He's one of my favorite rising stars in comics writing. This series, from Image, is about a future when people can keep exploring branches of the alternate lives that are created each time they make a decision. Official summary: "Mark's on the run from the makers of the Infinite Vacation, a commercial venture that allows users to move between alternate realities. After learning more about the Vacation's secrets from a mysterious woman, his newfound enemies call upon a deadly alternate version of himself to deal with their problems once and for all!"
Joe The Barbarian: Deluxe Edition This $30 hardcover collects the eight issue series written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Sean Murphy. It's a wonderful fantasy story with gorgeous, sketchy art, a sort of Tolkien with toys. Official summary: "Joe is an imaginative eleven-year-old boy. He can't fit in at school. He's the victim of bullies. His dad died overseas in the Iraq war. He also suffers from Type 1 diabetes. One fateful day, his condition causes him to believe he has entered a vivid fantasy world in which he is the lost savior - a fantastic land based on the layout and contents of his home. His desperate attempts to make it out of his bedroom transform into an incredible, epic adventure through a bizarre landscape of submarine pirate dwarves, evil Hell Hounds, Lightning Lords and besieged castles. But is his quest really just an insulin deprived delirium - from which he can die if he doesn't take his meds—or something much bigger?"
Uncanny X-Men Vol. 2 #1 One half of the X-Men now star in the new Wolverine and the X-Men series. The other half are here, in this re-numbered series written by acclaimed video game critic and comics writer Kieron Gillen. Official summary: "After the Schism, Uncanny X-Men starts over at #1. What is to become of XXXXX and the mutants who side with XXXX after the big split? And what does it have to do with the resurrected Mister Sinister?" (They censored it; I didn't. I assume they mean Cyclops, since he leads the team, but I'm not positive.)
Crysis #6 Official summary: "The stunning conclusion! Prophet has been thrown halfway across the solar system to Jupiter's moon and launched through time in his battle against the alien Ceph. But his deadliest enemy is right here back on Earth. After returning from space and being captured by an old enemy will Prophet and the rest of Raptor Team be able to save themselves and the rest of mankind?"
Duke Nukem Glorious Bastard #4 Official summary: "Duke's traveled back through time to battle ugly aliens, big aliens, and hot aliens-but will he be able to finish off the Vril World War II flying saucer threat once and for all and get his never-ending thirst back to the present in time for happy hour? In this explosive series finale, it's time to kick butt and chew bubble-gum… and Duke's all outta gum!"
Sonic Super Special Magazine #1 Official summary: ""Sonic the Hedgehog's 20th Anniversary celebration kicks into high gear this fall with the all-new Sonic Super Special Magazine! Get your need-for-speed on with non-stop action and tons of heroes and villains from the Sonic the Hedgehog games and cartoons! This magazine-sized, quarterly collection takes new readers on a journey into Genesis, a bombastic birthday bash with Shadow the Hedgehog, and the incredible assault on Eggman's Empire! Sonic super-fans will also be treated with part one of the Sonic Timeline, featuring new art from fan-favorite artist Jamal Peppers, as well as tons of bonus features!"
Sonic the Hedgehog #230 Official summary: "'Two Steps Back ' & 'Sonic Generations.' 'Genesis' may be over, but Sonic's 20th Anniversary celebration parties on! As the Genesis Epilogue unfolds, the Death Egg II still menaces New Mobotropolis, and Dr. Eggman has one more sinister trick up his sleeve. It's a desperate race against time as Sonic and Sally try to prevent another world catastrophe, and the ending will leave you speechless. Also featuring a very special Sonic Generations video game story!"
The ComiXology Comics app and website offer a fresh batch of new and old digital comics this week on iOS, Droid and in web browsers. Highlights this week include the first four issues of writer Rick Remender's X-Men fan-service series, Uncanny X-Force, a dozen issues of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev's decade-old, wordy, shocking and acclaimed Daredevil run and a free preview book of writer Matt Fraction's upcoming Defenders & Avengers: X-Sanction
Wolverine and the X-Men #1
I read the comics of Jason Aaron for their grit, their novel plots and for the depth and believability of their characters. I don't read them for their humor, because they usually have none.
Aaron's new X-Men comic, however, has started most unexpectedly as a comedy. In the Marvel Universe, a falling out between Wolverine and Cyclops has caused the X-Men to split. Wolverine's half of the team have returned to and rebuilt the X-Men's school in Westchester, New York. The headmaster won't be Professor X this time. That job goes to… Wolverine.
In the excellent first issue, drawn with expressive energy by Chris Bachalo, Wolverine gives some government officials a tour of the school. He's trying to get it licensed as an institute of learning. This is a school full of super-powered students and teachers. What do you think happens? Everything goes wrong. (That is inevitable in a school where the bathroom can also be the Danger Room.)
As readers, we take a tour of Wolverine's school, too. We find classrooms packed with familiar and unfamiliar mutants, some as teachers, some as students. Wolverine's tour is a disaster, of course, but it's also a great introduction to what appears to be a great return to the series' roots: The X-Men aren't just a super-hero team. They're part of a school.
Get this comic. It's one of the best super-hero books of the year.
That's it for this week. Next week, I'll be back with new comics recommendations for everyone else.