Ignore your familiar superheroes this week; the Comics We Crave are all about unfamiliar faces (or unfamiliar takes on familiar faces), the stories we never saw on television and even an alternate history of the 21st Century. Who could resist?

Let's get the familiar names out of the way first, shall we? Marvel have the first issue of Ultimate Comics: Armor Wars, which places Planetary and Transmetropolitan writer Warren Ellis in charge of Iron Man again, freed of too many continuity woes and watches what happens. Also out of continuity, Spider-Man Noir reimagines Peter Parker in 1920s New York, while the in-continuity (and non-Sam Jackson-esque) Nick Fury realizes the futility of existence in Secret Warriors Volume 1: Nick Fury, Agent of Nothing. Less existential pondering and more ass-kicking can be found in Hulk: Planet Skaar and Hercules: Prince of Power, both of which explain the finer points of "smashing," I believe.


Smashing may help the political state of the Romulan empire, which is somewhat shaky in IDW's Star Trek Romulans: Schism, while Dynamite add their voice to the licensed choir with what may turn out to be the surprise of the week: The first issue of Galactica 1980, resurrecting (and promising to improve) Lorne Greene's far-from-finest hour as the original Battlestar Galactica finds Earth in the middle of disco.

DC Comics have a couple of interesting collections to consider this week: Showcase Presents Warlord Vol. 1 reprints the beginnings of DC's premiere sword and sorcery comic - with some great art by Mike Grell - while Tom Strong Deluxe Edition Vol. 1 does the same for the first year of Alan Moore's retro "science hero" series which lurches from semi-parody to sincere tribute to stories gone by, with amazing art by people like Chris Sprouse, Art Adams and Dave Gibbons.

If you're looking for more Gibbons, this is definitely your week; he pops up (again working with his Watchmen collaborator Moore) alongside many other creators in the enjoyable The Spirit Archives: The New Adventures hardcover collection of a short-lived 1990s attempt to revive Will Eisner's classic character, but the motherlode for Gibbons fans - or Frank Miller fans, for that matter - is the deluxe collection The Life and Times of Martha Washington In the 21st Century, which brings together all of Miller and Gibbons' alternate future political satire, from Give Me Liberty all the way to last year's The Death of Martha Washington. Individual, powerful and weirdly compelling, it'd be the book of the week, if it wasn't for two other Dark Horse releases.


Those would be Beasts of Burden, a new series by Space Ghost (and Milk & Cheese) writer Evan Dorkin and artist Jill Thompson about the pet protectors of a particularly supernatural neighborhood (Look here for a sample of what to expect and fall in love), and Super Spy creator Matt Kindt's new graphic novel, 3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man, which takes a serious and beautiful look at the old cliche of the man who was as tall as a building. Both are highly recommended.

Whether you're looking to buy all of Dark Horse's impressive slate this week or something else, the Diamond Shipping List can help you decide what you should be spending money on, and the Comic Shop Locator Service will make sure you know where to spend it. Just remember to pick up something new and unusual this week; it's a good week to go outside your norm.