Wednesday's New Things: It's Just Criminal

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips's finest series returns. Click the cover for a preview, where I could find one.
Criminal: Special Edition One Shot/Criminal: Savage Edition Magazine Variant, written by Ed Brubaker, drawn by Sean Phillips, colors by Elizabeth Breitweiser
If this new issue of Criminal were the only comic book released this week, I would come home from my LCS a happy man. Criminal is my absolute favorite of the very long running and more or less uninterrupted-from-the-first series of collaborations between Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips; of all their work Criminal plays it the straightest. Even so, the most recent series, "The Last of the Innocent," was a riff on Archie comics, and it presaged their more recent work with genre experimentation in Fatale and the attempt at meta-Hollywood-melodrama in The Fade Out. I liked those recent series, but I've often wished they'd come back to Criminal and now, happily, they've done so, in a double length one-shot that comes smack dab in the middle of Image's lovely rereleases of the trade paperbacks. Perhaps most fun of all, Brubaker and Phillips return here to Teeg Lawless, a character that popped up in the series in its earliest iterations. The kernel of the idea here is that Lawless is in county lock up and reading a Savage Sword of Conan-style comic, something that Brubaker says he thought up after learning what kinds of comics were popular with prison populations in the 70s and 80s. Presumably, the two stories proceed together, which squares with the kind of experimentation that they've been doing over the last couple of years (and has fun resonances both with the earlier "Last of the Innocent" serial and Watchmen) but makes me pessimistic that we'll ever see Criminal comics that are quite like the early ones. There's also a neat publishing thing going on here, since the regular edition is being released alongside a slightly more expensive magazine sized edition, which presumably also has some extras. This is a gimmick they tried a few months ago with an issue of The Fade Out and, although I liked the idea, I passed because the magazine variant followed the regular edition by a couple of weeks, and I didn't want to pay for the same content twice. If the two editions are released together, however, (EDIT: both Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips tweeted at me to say that they came out on the same day; my mistake) I'll absolutely pony up the extra buck for the slightly bigger one. I hope that this strategy works; I'd like to see it more often. For what it's worth, I'd love to see more Criminal, too.! 
Love: The Tiger, written by Frédéric Brrémaud, drawn by Federico Bertolucci
 This one's an award winner from France, totally wordless and the first in a series dealing with the life of an animal in a particular kind of environment. Written for an audience at the intersection of children and adults, it has the kind of charm that books meant for wide audiences often rely on. The art is very highly rendered, somehow both stiff and lithe, but it gives a real and detailed sense of the world of the tiger, which is what Bertolucci is probably going for. From the preview, the utter silence of the pages seems extraordinary, emphasizing what's going on in individual panels in away that more cartoony silent comics, like Jason's, don't manage (although, for Jason, that's not the point). I have hunch that, for that reason, this book, and the ones that follow in the Love series, are unusual reading experiences, certainly worth a look. 
Prince Valiant #1, written by Nate Cosby, art by Ron Salas
I'm on the record as liking the idea of these King Features/Dynamite comics, and this Prince Valiant comic looks like the best of the bunch. As a corollary to WHO IS THIS COMIC FOR?! though, one wonders if it wouldn't have been a better idea, in terms of sales, to go full on Hal Foster, in order to bring in those who like the original Prince Valiant strip for its storybook feel, as well as for its content. 
The Wicked and the Divine #8, written by Kieron Gillen, drawn by Jamie McKelvie, colors by Matt Wilson, letters by Clayton Cowles

Coming Soon To A Spinner Rack Near You: Astro Boy

In September, Dark Horse is putting out a 700 page Astro Boy omnibus. 700 pages. Somehow, Amazon has the retail price listed at $20, which seems impossible, but, hey, I'm in. Tezuka is such an important creator, and Astro Boy is such a well known property, that I'm positive that this isn't the first time we've seen this work in English. I can't, however, ever recall actually seeing it in a comic book store, so I'm looking forward to cracking it open.