My weekly comics round-up returns, though the list of promising new releases is short this time. A fitting disappointment, perhaps, in a week marred by the sad news of the sudden passing of superb comics writer Dwayne McDuffie, whose Milestone books were among my favorite comics reads of the 90s.
Here are some picks for the week...
Fantastic Four #588 : The last issue of the Fantastic Four comic, in which they mourn the death of the Human Torch and await the inevitable re-boot.
Iron Man 2.0 #1 My favorite new comics writer, Nick Spencer, a man who made me care about a group of characters called the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents starts a new Iron Man comic all about the War Machine, that gray, heavily-armed other Iron Man who was prominently featured in the most recent Iron Man movie. Spencer hasn't burned me yet.
Lewis & Clark This is a graphic novel telling of the adventures of famed 19th-century American explorers Meriwether Lewis and WIlliam Clark. It's notable because it is the newest release from writer-artist Nick Bertozzi, a skilled and subtle cartoonist whose previous magnificent works include a non-fiction comic called Houdini the Handcuff King (written by Jason Lutes) and a loopy adventure called The Salon about Gretrude Stein, George Braque and other early-20th-century artists diving into paintings.
Seven Soldiers of Victory Vol 2 This is a hardcover collection of one of the best series (of series) written by the popular Grant Morrison. There's no reason to get this if you don't have the first collection, but perhaps I can intrigue newcomers by laying out the premise: the expansive tale of a team of seven heroes who never meet each other, told in the form of seven four-issue mini-series, each radically different in style, with two more comics book-ending the series. Half the fun of reading these terrific series was seeing how background incidents in one series were revealed to be foreground incidents in another. Masterfully intricate, like Lost, but with just about all of the questions answered by the end.
Halo Fall of Reach Boot Camp #4. Like many video game comics, this final issue of Marvel's newest Halo mini-series is very late. The previous issue came out in November. Official summary: "As the Spartans' Training is put to the ultimate test, John must overcome his greatest challenge yet to neutralize the threat of the insurrectionists to the UNSC. But even if they can survive this current onslaught, a greater, fiercer and deadlier foe is lurking… one which will redefine John's entire universe! Don't miss the thrilling climax of BOOTCAMP!"
Even the digital releases are oddly lacking this week. On Comixology's Comics app, some solid relatively-old series continue their gradual digital serialization. There are new issues of Geoff Johns and James Robinson's Hawkman, for example, Neil Gaiman's Sandman (they're up to issue #35) and Matt Fraction's Iron Man (I haven't warmed to it, but I know many like it a lot and I do love the covers.) I'm tempted by the full offering for Brian Michael Bendis' Secret Invasion as well as the first six issues of Josh Dysart's Unknown Soldier, but I'll defer to you readers to say whether either is worth $2/issue. (Note: the first issue of Unknown Soldier is free.)