With Free Comic Book Day going down this Saturday, it's clear that comic book retailers and publishers want to put out some of their best this week in preparation for the inevitable high traffic that will be going down across the nation today. Case in point: Three of our five picks this week are comics, and another is a movie based on one. If you plan on hitting up your local stores for the free swag, we'd highly recommend spending a bit more time digging through the rest of their releases -- you might find a few hidden gems that could change your view on comics altogether. These three might be a good place to start. 5. Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon's Army & Other Diabolical Insects, by Amy Stewart In Amy Stewart's last book, Wicked Plants, she tackled the wild world of carnivorous and poisonous plants with great success. So it makes sense that her followup would deal with a similar theme: this time, bugs. Provided you can handle an entire book devoted to creepy-crawlies, you'll find some truly dark humor embedded within these pages, including tales of flies that transmit disease, millipedes that stop traffic and plenty more. Of course, you probably won't be able to sleep after reading it... 4. The Green Hornet (DVD, Blu-Ray) The Green Hornet is not as good as its original namesake, but that doesn't mean this remake is a complete failure. It's far from perfect, but director Michel Gondry offers a generous amount of finesse, and while that's not to say that Seth Rogan doesn't ruin the magic a little bit -- because he does -- thankfully, Jay Chou's performance as Kato helps balance that out a bit. It's most definitely not as good as the comics, or the radio show or the TV show, but if you've got a comic itch that needs scratching, this is your best bet this week. 3. Bat Boy Weekly World News Strips, by Peter Bagge This is the first time Peter Bagge's Bat Boy strips will be available outside the Weekly World News, which, for fans of not wasting money on the (now-defunct) Weekly World News, is a really good thing. The strips, which took the curious versions of reality from the paper and gave them their own life in comic form, have enough cartoonish, bizarre humor to keep you entertained for weeks. If you've never read the strip, consider this scenario from a few years ago: Bat Boy becomes president, with Martha Stewart as the first lady and Li'l Kim as the Secretary of Defense; wackiness ensues. 2. Anthology Project Volume 2 The first Anthology Project was an astounding collection of some of indie comics' greatest artists and storytellers, and since the medium never dies, we'll have the pleasure of being exposed to new writers all over again with the second volume. Being that it was a, you know, anthology, it's difficult to pin down exactly what made the first so enjoyable, but its presentation of new and often experimental work ensured that even the stories you didn't like were at least interesting on their own terms. This volume comes from the same mold, and with contributions from Ed Kwong, Kim Swith, Thomas Wellmann and plenty of others, it should be as good as the first. 1. Garden, by Yuichi Yokoyama On the surface, Eisner-nominated artist Yuichi Yokoyama's Garden is a story as simple as they come: Friends decide to get into a garden, only to find magic. But this being modern times and Yokoyama being a manga artist, there's nothing normal about what they find. In the garden, the friends find a world overridden with distorted mirrors, cameras, libraries and bizarre and complex pathways -- clearly inspired by a nearly tactile version of what the Internet has become.
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