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Still a little behind, but I wanted to highlight some books from last week.

My Top Three Picks (as always, in reverse order, Bizarro –style!)

3. The Lone Ranger: Snake of Iron #2Dynamite really does a nice job with a lot of the old pulp heroes.  Their Flash Gordon: Zeitgeist, and its spin-off Merciless: The Rise of Ming have been good popcorn fun. Here, veteran writer Chuck Dixon combines historical detail with character-driven plot to craft a tale that satisfies modern sensibilities without sacrificing any of the elements that make the characters great to begin with. Similarly, Esteve Polls’ art displays a nice period feel without seeming old-fashioned. Any nostalgia arises honestly, from seeing classic characters well handled. Should appeal to both old fans an new.  

2. Popeye #4 – Similar accolades can be given to Roger Langridge’s superlative work on everyone’s favorite one-eyed sailor (published by IDW). Langridge and artists Vince Musacchia and Tom Neely, have done a remarkable job capturing the rollicking spirit of E.C. Segar’s original comic strip. Edited by designer and all-around Popeye expert Craig Yoe (and co-edited by Ted Adams and Clizia Gussoni), this book stays true to the source material (and the work of subsequent Popeye great Bud Sagendorf) with kinetic art, bright colors straight out of the Sunday funnies, and even the bold, seemingly hand-lettered words and sound effects. Langridge has a great feel for Popeye’s particular vernacular (“I yam prepared not ta kill ya on account of I yam magnanimisk!”), as well as the personalities of his supporting cast, who happily, do not get short shrift (this tale turns out to be as much Wimpy’s as Popeye’s).  He throws in Easter Eggs for hardcore geeks (like me), such as making a joke out of the ever-changing name of an imaginary foreign land (which in Segar’s original was unfortunately called Nazilia – this was in 1930, before such a moniker would have been in poor taste, to say the least). The story does perhaps get a tad wordy in spots. But with all of that, this heartfelt homage never manages to be less than FUN. (Even the backup – also a Segar creation – is funny). This is book that can be enjoyed by both die-hards and little kids alike. Bravo.

…and speaking of little kids –

1. Superman Family Adventures #4Art Baltazar and Franco are simply producing the best Superman book out there.

A last observation: The previous two titles are examples of a current trend of excellent comics geared for children. They are joined by a list that includes Snarked and The Muppet Show (both by Langridge – man’s on some kind of roll), Adventure Time, Axe Cop and a host of others, not to mention a slew of kids’ graphic novels (read Raina Telgemeier’s Drama now!) This is a heartening development. Cultivating the sense of wonder that comics gave each of us when we were kids (as we clutched them in our sticky little fingers) is a worthy goal that should be pursued by publishers and creators everywhere. It represents the future of comics.