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  • Northlanders: Metal and Other Stories. Art by Massimo Carnevale.

52—Last week, DC Comics rolled out their line-wide, 52-book relaunch—"The New 52"—with the disappointingly weak 'n' watery Justice League #1. I can't be the only person who wanted to like this issue but mostly just found it confusing, right? Like, who decided charging $3.99 for both print and digital editions of a 24-page story would entice new and lapsed readers? Why is this Justice League issue not about the Justice League at all, but actually about petulant versions of Batman and Green Lantern being all catty with each other? Why doesn't Green Lantern know what a "note to self" is? ANYWAY: Yesterday some more of the those relaunch books rolled out—I'm particularly looking forward to Grant Morrison's Action Comics #1, which I'm picking up this evening—and I'm curious to hear what you guys think of the whole thing so far. If you're reading/thinking about any of this 52 business, lemme know what your reactions have been.

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TOP SHELF SALE—Portland- and Atlanta-based publisher Top Shelf's having a big online sale from now until September 23. "With the economy as it’s been, it’s getting harder and harder to keep publishing such quality material," says publisher Chris Staros. "But if enough people participate, we’ll be able to finish paying for this year’s amazing releases, and 'kick start' a full rollout for next year." There's some pretty great stuff included in sale—if you're thinking about heading over there, I'd keep a special eye out for Lost Girls, Gingerbread Girl, Essex County, and Carnet de Voyage. (The excellent Carnet, in particular, might be good to pick up, as it documents a trip Craig Thompson took to prepare for his upcoming, long-awaited graphic novel Habibi, which comes out on the 21st). I also hear good things about both Infinite Kung Fu and Any Empire, though I haven't been able to find the time to read 'em yet.

NORTHLANDERS—Amongst all this summer's black Spider-Men and stupidly boycotted Supermen and etc., it's easy to forget there are plenty of great, under-appreciated books still chugging along. One of those is Brian Wood's Northlanders, which is one of my favorite titles month in and month out—it's a viking book that changes stories, artists, and themes every few issues, meaning it's easy to jump into at just about any point. News broke a while ago that the book will end with its 50th issue ("It has a very loyal fanbase but the trade sales just aren’t cutting the mustard," Wood wrote), so... y'know... appreciate it while it's around. A pretty good spot to start might be with its most recent trade, Metal and Other Stories, which finds Wood teaming up with artists Riccardo Burchielli, Fiona Staples, and Becky Cloonan to tell three stories: "Metal," a trippy, five-issue tale about an angry Norse blacksmith trying to violently purge his country of Christians (while also tripping balls!); "The Sea Road," a one-shot about a desperate trader taking his ship (and its grumpy crew) into unexplored waters; and "The Girl in the Ice," a two-part story in which an old Icelandic man finds the body of a young girl frozen in the lake he fishes in. All of those stories—and just about all of Northlanders' stories, actually—are worth reading, and while I'm disappointed to see Northlanders rapidly approaching its final issue (its 44th comes out on the 21st), at least going out strong rather than fading away.

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