Howard the Duck #8 (Marvel: Zdarsky, Quinones, Rivera, Gibson) – If you aren’t a comic book aficionado, the name “Howard the Duck” may conjure up memories of a terrible 1980’s movie. Well, you are way off. Howard the Duck started as a weird, existential parody of comic books and continues to bring comedy, strangeness, and touching relationships to the pages of a wonderfully illustrated book. This month we are treated to the return of Howard’s original love interest, Beverly. It’s a genuinely loving comic with a couple of laughs and a shockingly hilarious surprise cliffhanger.
Astro City #36 (Vertigo: Busiek, Randall, Ross, Pantazis, Comicraft) – This is the end of a two-part story arch dealing with my favorite weird character from Astro City, Jack-in-the-Box. Let me back up: Astro City is an ongoing series about a world full of superheroes but told through the eyes of mostly regular people. Imagine if DC or Marvel told their stories from the point-of-view of the guys who drive trucks or second tier villains. It’s that kind of story and generally it works masterfully. I think this second part kind of falters a bit at the end, but the series is usually fantastic. I recommend any Astro City for fans of superheroes who want some optimism and intelligence from their comics.
Bebop and Rocksteady Destroy Everything #1 (IDW: Bates, Weaver, Campbell, Milonogiannis, Crabtree) - How can you not love a comic book about Bebop and Rocksteady screwing up so badly that time is altered entirely? So far this series has been fun but I should note that this is a little more adult. A few pages in, people die and there is blood. There are also bad Michelangelo jokes. If you grew up loving the Turtles and want to relive some memories or if you want to try something outside of the DC/Marvel world, this is for you. Plus, Bebop and Rocksteady meet… Bebop and Rocksteady!
Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man: The Battle of the Century (DC and Marvel: Conway, Andru, Giordano) – Back in 1976 the two greatest superheroes in comics came together to battle the combined forces of Doctor Octopus and Lex Luthor… Superman and Spider-Man! It’s basically simple, cheesy goodness without even a tiny pretension of high art. Now this was the first time DC and Marvel every crossed over their characters but, surprisingly, not the first time they published a comic book together. Nope, that honor goes to the Wizard of Oz over-sized comic. The biggest problem I have with this comic is that they suddenly both exist in the same reality. I would’ve preferred some crazy trans-dimensional thing but, hey, it’s still a milestone. If you can find an original for a good price or come across the reprint, pick it up. Great art. Great history. Plus, Doctor Octopus proves himself smarter than 99.9% of villains in the universe by realizing Lex Luthor’s plan is moronic and would destroy everything.