Straczynski is forging his own continuity for the venerable superhero well apart from the current mythos of the monthly comics and every earlier iteration. As with the previous volume, this is a modern re-imagining that’s far better than his ill-regarded run (which was really more of a walk) on the comic series, issued just prior to DC’s 2011 reboot of their entire line. Davis’ art is modern and serviceable though hardly memorable. I wish I liked it more. Not surprisingly the story, which picks up shortly after the previous volume, soundly sets up Straczynski’s next chapter, too, signaled by arrival of a pair of lurking Lex Luthors in its closing pages.
• Taxes, The Tea Party and Those Revolting Rebels: A History in Comics of the American Revolution. Stan Mack. NBM Publishing. 176 pages. $14.99.
Mack’s old Village Voice cartoons of overheard real-life conversations held no clue that he would come up with this terrific all-ages book about the revolutionary roots of American history. The Tea Party in the title is made up of colonists who rebelled against the tyranny of corporate rulers and repressive anti-competitive taxation. Mack provides a ground-level view of American history, stripped of platitudes and political correctness. It’s an entertaining and revealing way to learn of our true revolutionary heritage.
• Drawn Together: The Collected Works of R. and A. Crumb. Aline and Robert Crumb. Liveright. 272 pages. $29.95.
This collection of collaborations between husband and wife is a hoot. There’s plenty of sex and randiness that’s laugh-out-loud hilarious, but there are also such gems as Our Beloved Tape Dispenser, a heartfelt and lovely story devoted to their actual packing-tape dispenser. Most of the art herein is by Robert, who’s as great a craftsman as ever. But Aline’s humor is fearless, and her drawing is quite solid and warmly expressive. What a pair!
• Sailor Twain: Or The Mermaid in the Hudson. Mark Siegel. First Second. 400 pages. $24.99.
Sieigel’s idyllic tale of Mark Twain, Hudson River sea spirits and a wounded mermaid is charming and sublime. The narrative unfolds leisurely but builds progressively into a gripping page-turner. It’s a lyrical and fascinating fable, full of love, magic and grief.
• Philosophy: A Discovery in Comics. Margreet de Heer. NBM Publishing. 120 pages. $16.99.
Comics may be fine medium to educate, but a heady subject like philosophy wouldn’t seem to lend itself to this visual medium. Wrong! De Heer does a wonderful job of explaining philosophy and philosophers in a clear and highly entertaining manner with words and pictures — an impressive achievement.
Richard Pachter is a writer in Boca Raton.