Wednesday Watch: MUST-READ New Releases For 3/14/12

<i>By <a href=>Albert Ching, Newsarama Staff Writer</a></i> <p>Though it might seem like New York Comic Con was less than five months ago (it was), the 2012 major convention series is getting in full swing this weekend, with WonderCon in Anaheim running from Friday to Sunday. Following that, Emerald City Comicon and C2E2 are just around the corner. <p>That's pretty soon, but there's an even closer event worthy of your attention: This week's New Comic Book Day, hitting at your usual Wednesday spots. It's a big week as usual, and Newsarama has sorted through Diamond's release list to highlight 10 of the most noteworthy including the Image debut from one of the industry's top writers, and a new Marvel ongoing series from Brian Michael Bendis. <p>For our pick of 10 must-reads out on March 14, 2012, click "start here" in the upper-left corner to begin the countdown. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>


Fantagraphics has been releasing these hardcover collections of <i>Peanuts</i> since 2004, and they've been pretty consistent: Gorgeously presented and accompanied by a thoughtful introduction, all while celebrating one of the most influential and timeless works of comics history. <p>The 17th volume, covering 1983 and 1984, is out this week, and fans of Snoopy's extended family, take note: There's a lot of Spike in this one. The introduction is from film critic Leonard Maltin, joining the likes of past contributors Alec Baldwin and Matt Groening.


<b>Batwoman</b> has been a well-received component of DC's New 52 since the start, but this week's issue has become more notable in the past few days due to the exit of artist Amy Reeder from the book. <p>Reeder's departure from the series has upset fans of her work, but the good news is, she's still got a couple of issues left, including this one. It's "To Drown the World," part two, complete with a groovy cover by Reeder.


The husband-and-wife team of Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman return to BOOM! Studios and the <i>Planet of the Apes</i> franchise with a new four-issue miniseries starting this week. <p>The pair collaborated on the previous <i>Betrayal of the Planet Apes</i>, but with Hardman busy illustrating Marvel's <i>Secret Avengers</i>, art duties are passed to Marc Laming, whose previous work includes <i>The Rinse</i>, also for BOOM!.


The pre-<i>Avengers</i> movie offerings continue to mound up, including this collection of the Brian Michael Bendis-written "Oral History of the Avengers" back-ups that ran through the Avengers titles for a few months staring in 2010. <p>Bendis has stated that the book will include new material text and art. And this isn't the only <i>Avengers</i> book from Bendis on this week's countdown, but more on that in a bit.


Last month's issue of <b>Buffy the Vampire Slayer</b> got some major press due to its frank discussion of abortion, a topic not often addressed in mainstream comic books (or entertainment in general). <p><b>Buffy #7</b> is slated to deal more with Buffy's decision, as well as the continued zombie/vampire threat facing San Francisco. <p>No matter your take on the issue, we can all agree on one thing: That Phil Noto cover is rad.


<b>X-Men: Season One</b> is the latest of Marvel's new reader-friendly hardcover graphic novels, written by Dennis Hopeless (<i>Legion of Monsters</i>) with art from Jamie McKelvie (<i>Phonogram</i>). <P>The book revisits the Silver Age X-Men Cyclops, Jean Grey, Angel, Beast and Iceman, mentored by Professor X from a modern perspective. <a href=>Says Hopeless</a>: "I love writing the original five as teenagers. They're all messed up in such interesting ways. They trip over their own feet and hurt each other's feelings and fall in love every ten minutes. Just like we all did. But these are X-Men, so afterward they have to go out and fight Magneto."


The Kickstarter sensation it raised $109,301 off of a $25,000 goal arrives in stores this week, a 300-page, IDW-published hardcover anthology featuring 140 female creators. <p><b>Womanthology</b> includes work from artists and writers including Gail Simone, Devin Grayson, Fiona Staples and Barbara Kesel; plus Newsarama contributors Jill Pantozzi and Jenna Busch. (And more. A lot more.)


Paul Cornell fans looking for more of a fix beyond <i>Demon Knights</i> will be pleased to hear that the writer's new Vertigo series <b>Saucer Country</b> debuts this week. <p>Here's what Cornell <a href=>told Newsarama</a> about the new ongoing: "This isn't a title about people fighting aliens. This is a title about people suddenly finding out that the mythology may be true, and connecting with the new menace, but not knowing what's real and what isn't."


Brian Michael Bendis may be leaving the Avengers franchise this year, but before that, he's adding a third series to his slate <b>Avengers Assemble</b>, one in current Marvel Universe continuity but meant to appeal to fans of the Marvel Studios films as well as existing comic book readers. <p>The lineup of the Avengers team in <b>Assemble</b> includes the main cast of the film Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Hawkeye and Black Widow and is also the reunion of the prolific <i>Ultimate Spider-Man</i> team of Bendis and artist Mark Bagley.


A new comic book written by Brian K. Vaughan. <p>Really, that would probably be enough to earn the top spot on our list this week before <b>Saga #1</b>, readers hadn't seen new comic book work from the <i>Y the Last Man</i> writer since <i>Ex Machia</i> wrapped in 2010. <p>But <b>Saga</b> Vaughan's Image Comics debut also has art from Fiona Staples, plus a sci-fi/fantasy take on <i>Romeo & Juliet</i> that both are clearly excited about, and look to be on board with for the long haul. <p>"I really wanted to do something wholly original, like Lucas did, <a href=>Vaughan said in February at Image Expo</a>. I think this is a very different kind of story from Star Wars, but that's part of its DNA.

Wednesday Watch: MUST-READ New Releases For 3/14/12

Date: 12 March 2012 Time: 08:05 PM ET