If you're heading to the comic book store this week, I hope that you like Spider-Man. Otherwise, you may find yourself with a surprisingly light shopping bag on the way out. The post-San Diego slump hits now, with next-to-no new launches or trades allowing Marvel's webbed-wonder to try and steal all the money from your wallet.DC's big releases of the week are probably Countdown: Arena, which is much more fun than any comic with no plot and ugly art has any right to be (I'm not joking about the lack of plot; here's literally everything that happens in it: Three different versions of many DC superheroes have to fight each other or be killed. The end.), and The Flash: The Wild Wests, in which writer Mark Waid tried his hardest to recast the Fastest Man Alive as the father in a superhero sitcom family with varying results (The first issues are by far the best, not only because of the way in which the story peters out by the end, but also because Daniel Acuna's art is a beautiful thing to behold); much more worthwhile, though, is Dark Horse's The Mask Omnibus, Vol. 1, which will remind all who have forgotten that there was always more to the tale of the magical green mask than either Jim Carrey or Jamie Kennedy could ever hope to relate to moviegoing audiences.
The independent publishers seem to have sensed weakness from the majors, with IDW releasing the beautiful and nonsensical-in-the-best-way Complete Zombies Vs. Robots collection for just $24.99 (the cheapest way to read about the undead fighting the mechanically-living while also taking on Amazons and also a giant squid or two that you can find, I believe) and Devil's Due releasing the 99-cent preview issue of Heroes' Milo Ventimiglia's new comic, Rest. But both of these valiant efforts for variation are likely to be crushed by the sales behemoth that is Marvel Comics' Spider-Man, which tries to take over your local retailer with three different titles this week. In preparation for the apparently-upcoming movie, Venom: Dark Origin launches its six-issue-run, telling the apparently ill-lit beginnings of Spider-Man's alien, while much happier times can be found in the King-Size Spider-Man Summer Special, which hopefully includes ol' webhead getting ginchy on the beach with Annette and Frankie with a title like that. And if both of those aren't enough spider-action for you, then there's always the first issue of Amazing Spider-Man Family, where - I swear to you this is true - there's a strip called Mr. And Mrs. Spider-Man about Peter and Mary-Jane being married and preparing to have a kid. Who could resist?
(Just in case you can resist, Marvel is actually putting out something that has nothing to do with their favorite franchise this week: NYX: No Way Home revives the "gutterpunk" version of the X-Men from a few years back, with novelist Marjorie Liu getting rid of the teenage prostitute and focusing on a more YA-friendly direction.) As is the case each and every week of each and every year, the full list of this week's releases can be found here, with the whereabouts of your local comic book store being found here. Just make sure to support your local Spider-Man while you're there; that guy really doesn't get enough attention.