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The Most Interesting Comics of the Week

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Dan Panosian/Dynamite Entertainment

Every week I write about the most interesting new comics hitting comic shops, bookstores, digital, and the web. Feel free to comment below if there's a comic you've read recently that you want to talk about or an upcoming comic that you'd like me to consider highlighting.

James Bond #1

By Warren Ellis and Jason Masters
Dynamite Entertainment 


Warren Ellis writes smart, gritty, techno-thrillers (Transmetropolitan and Injection, among others) and is a good fit for Bond, especially considering that he plans to write 007 to be more like novelist Ian Fleming’s original incarnation—a “vicious bastard,” as Ellis refers to him. He has been working closely with the Fleming estate to get the character right, and until Daniel Craig brought some of Fleming’s original grittiness to the big screen, most of us didn’t realize that Bond actually is the perfect Ellis character: acerbic, brilliant and damaged.

This new ongoing series coincides with the opening of the latest Bond film Spectre, and it shares enough similarities with the recent films to appeal to those fans. Ellis starts the comic with a film-style cold open, a nearly wordless action sequence in which 007 tracks down the killer of a fellow agent.

Here’s a preview.

iTunes Terms and Conditions: The Graphic Novel

By R. Sikoryak
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Cartoonist Robert Sikoryak can skillfully mimic other cartoonists' styles, a trick he used well in Masterpiece Comics, a parody of literature drawn like classic newspaper strips. He is now using this talent for a weird but utterly brilliant new project, iTunes Terms and Conditions: The Graphic Novel. 

Every day, Sikoryak adds a new comic to his Tumblr, taking a portion of the famously verbose legal language one has to agree to in order to use Apple’s iTunes software, and illustrates it in a different style. He takes from a vast array of cartoonists like Hank Ketcham (Dennis the Menace), Chester Gould (Dick Tracy), Daniel Clowes (Eightball), Hergé (Tintin), Kate Beaton (Hark! a Vagrant), and Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead). A cartoon Steve Jobs narrates text that is pulled—unedited—straight from the agreement.

As of this writing, there are 48 pages posted. Follow along here.

Extraordinary X-Men #1

By Jeff Lemire, Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba and Edgar Delgado
Marvel Comics 


For fans of 1980s X-Men, this new series may have the closest team lineup you’re going to get to that classic era, though not without a few weird, modern twists.

Marvel is in the midst of its “All New, All Different” line of comics, and every week we get new #1 issues with new creative teams. With Extraordinary X-Men, Jeff Lemire—who has been everywhere from DC to Valiant to Image in the past few months—gets his first shot at writing the X-men. Joined by Marvel veteran artist Humberto Ramos, they’ve created a team led by Storm that includes Iceman, Nightcrawler, a now-bearded Colossus, Illyana Rasputin (Magik), Jean Grey, and Wolverine. As the new series begins, the team must confront the Inhumans and their Inhuman-creating Terrigen Mists which are causing mutants to go extinct.

Since both Jean Grey and Wolverine are dead, these are alternate versions displaced from their own timelines. Jean is the teenage Marvel Girl from the original "Silver Age" X-Men, and Wolverine is “Old Man Logan," who was introduced in a series of Wolverine comics back in 2008. 

Here’s a brief preview.

The Sandman: Overture

By Neil Gaiman and JH Williams III
DC Vertigo


There was quite a bit of excitement in the comic publishing world in 2013 when Neil Gaiman returned to The Sandman, the book that made him famous two decades earlier, for a six-issue series called The Sandman: Overture. Some of that excitement fizzled when it became plagued by delays. But for those who prefer to read graphic novels in one sitting, publishing delays of individual installments hardly matter once the final collection is in bookstores. That’s where we are now.

For those unfamiliar with The Sandman, it was the cornerstone of DC’s Vertigo line in the 1990s. It is one of the most universally acclaimed comic series to ever come from one of the “big two” publishers, and it helped turn Neil Gaiman into a world-renowned author and media superstar. The original 75-issue series was a gothic fantasy exploring the nature of storytelling, and it featured a family of immortal beings known as “The Endless,” one of whom is the title character, The Sandman, a.k.a. Morpheaus, a.k.a. Dream.

The Sandman: Overture is essentially a prequel. When we first met Morpheus in The Sandman #1, he had escaped from 70 years of captivity, but we never found out what had led to his capture in the first place. That is, until now.

Here’s a preview.

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25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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fun
How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
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If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]

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