Now that I’ve got the complete Alias comic book in TPB form, I’m selling the individual issues on eBay. In getting that set up, I was reminded of an interesting piece of symmetry between Alias and another Bendis series, Powers.

Both feature ex-heroes who now work as “normal” detectives. Christian Walker is a homicide cop, and Jessica Jones is a private investigator. Early on we learn that Walker’s hero identity was Diamond. When we finally get the details of Jessica’s back story, it turns out she went by the name Jewel.

The similarities pretty much end there, though. Despite the names and circumstances, the characters, stories, and overall feel of the two books are quite different. Alias is “comic book noir,” and Powers is a cop show in a city overrun with super-powers. Alias tends to be far more character-driven. Jessica gets into trouble during investigations, but it’s her and the people she’s looking for who are most affected. Powers works on a bigger scale, looking at superheroes as celebrities, and when things go wrong, they affect everyone.

(I’ve got a dozen or so issues of Powers up for auction as well — for the same reason!)

About a year ago, I posted recommendations for Girl Genius, Fables, and Halo and Sprocket. Now I’d like to recommend a few more.

[Cover of Planetary #20]Planetary, by Warren Ellis and John Cassiday. The premise of Planetary is “archaeologists of the impossible.” Elijah Snow, Jakita Wagner and The Drummer are the field team for Planetary, an organization devoted to uncovering the secret history of their world. Each issue focuses on a different genre or archetype. There’s a Godzilla issue early on, there’s a Vertigo issue, one focuses on Hong Kong action films, and the latest is reminiscent of Rendezvous with Rama. Along the way, Planetary has uncovered a series of conspiracies — some positive, such as the Pulp Heroes of the 1930s, and others malicious, such as the mysterious Four (a twisted analogue of the Fantastic Four) who may be the most powerful people on the planet — if they’re still human. After a long absence, the series is now being published every two or three months. It’s expected to run around 25 issues, although it could take longer to wrap up the story. The first 18 issues and several specials are collected in four graphic novels. (Bimonthly/quarterly from DC/Wildstorm.)

[Cover of Fallen Angel collection #1]Fallen Angel, by Peter David, David Lopez and Fernando Blanco. The fictional Louisiana town of Bete Noire is a magnet for strangeness, ruled by the enigmatic Magistrate Juris during the day and protected by the equally enigmatic Fallen Angel by night. But nothing is as it seems. Is the Fallen Angel a heroine, or just a loose cannon? The main focus of the series is moral ambiguity and duality. Can you map “order” and “chaos” to “good” and “evil?” What happens when a force for good turns out to be sinister, or when someone once evil seems benign? Or when someone uses cruel methods to achieve a noble goal? The first few issues have been collected as a graphic novel. Suggested for mature readers – there’s usually violence and sometimes sex. (Monthly from DC Comics)

[Cover of Powers volume 2 #1]Powers, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Avon Oeming. Bendis is known for his crime fiction, and that’s the focus of Powers. The book follows homicide detectives Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim as they investigate the deaths of super-heroes. Up until recently, their world was one where super-heroes were the A-list celebrities everyone followed, and the Powers world is as full of lawsuits, grudges, politics and sex scandals as Hollywood. That was volume one. Things have changed: after a particularly powerful hero went mad and rained destruction across the globe, world leaders have declared all powers illegal. Volume two picked up last month with the city trapped in a gang war between super-villains — with no heroes in sight. The first series has been collected in six graphic novels, with one more yet to be published. Another mature readers title – there is sometimes very graphic violence and sex, despite the cartoony style. And if you’re at all sensitive, don’t read the letters column! (Monthly, previously from Image Comics and now at Marvel/Icon.)

Yesterday I went to two comics stores looking for issue #2 of Powers volume 2, which hit store shelves on Wednesday. Both had already sold out.

Today I tried a third store. They had a stack of at least 20, and that was just on the shelf. Who knows whether they had more in the back?

Of course, this store tends to carry both a larger selection and a larger inventory than the others. If I’m looking for back issues or anything esoteric, that’s my first stop. The others — well, the one I normally go to (which is near where I work, so I can drop in on my lunch hour) has a small collection of mostly recent back issues, but much of the store is given over to D&D and Warhammer. The one I tried yesterday evening (since I had a better chance of getting there before closing) is very small, and I have no idea what they do with their back stock, because I’m fairly certain it’s not in the store. But they have lots of graphic novels, anime, and manga — and the best thing is that they rent out graphic novels as if they were videos. That’s how I discovered Powers, actually — one of their clerks recommended it to me and I rented the first few collections, then started buying them.

What I’m getting at is that store #1 and store #2 seem to be ordering the number of books they expect to sell and no more, while store #3 seems to plan on keeping things around so that people can come in, pick up issue #4, and look for issues #1-3, and actually buy them.

Either that, or stores #1 and #2 mainly get customers in on the day new comics arrive, and store #3 gets more of its customers on the weekend.