Kiss & Tell: A Romantic Résumé, Ages 0–22
MariNaomi, Harper Perennial, $14.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-200923-4

The series of sketches that make up this memoir are arranged by the author/narrator's age, beginning with before her birth, when we see her parents meet in Japan. In bold, graphic black and white drawings, sometimes reminiscent of Marjane Satrapi, the author describes a frankly startling range of shenanigans in her early teenage years. These include long stints as a runaway and many sexual and romantic entanglements along the way. Never flinching from the down and dirty details of what went on with all these guys (and, eventually, girls), the author gives a refreshing and poignant look at early sexual experience and romance, including the actually dirty, the tragic, and the semisweet. Unfortunately, this "résumé" doesn't present in-depth exploration of the character holding them all together. It comes as a surprise, for instance, when she runs away from home and stays away for three months, with the emotional ramifications of that only nominally acknowledged by the quick summary of her later maturing process in an epilogue. MariNaomi does a wonderful job of painting a series of portraits of moments of adolescence, capturing its awkwardness and strangeness and excitement, but a greater whole never emerges. (Apr.)

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne
Grant Morrison, Chris Sprouse, Frazer Irving, and various, DC, $29.99 (232p) ISBN 978-1-4012-2968-9

An odyssey for one of the most iconic figures in comics stretches from prehistory to the end of time, revisiting and reimagining Batman's mythology through a complex narrative. Writer Morrison and a team of artists pick up from the end of Morrison's Final Crisis and Batman: RIP. Bruce Wayne is lost in time after killing Darkseid, a godlike being of pure evil. Piecing together the memories of his past that he's lost and slowly realizing he's been turned into a human booby trap meant to destroy the universe by Darkseid, Bruce is pulled through eras of Gotham City's history that include confrontations with cavemen, witch hunters, pirates, cowboys, and 20th-century cultists. These adventures culminate in a return to the present where he must rely on his fellow superheroes to save him from Darkseid's curse. Morrison's story is designed to add to Batman's aura as a timeless, mythical hero, but the time jumps and Bruce's amnesia sometimes create an uneven narrative. The story also asks readers to possess a wealth of familiarity with the character's decades-long history, making the book not as accessible to newer fans. Different artists--all strong, colorful storytellers--give each time period its own mood. (Feb.)

Lorenzo Mattotti and Claudio Piersanti, Fantagraphics, $19.99 (192p) ISBN 978-1-60699-409-2

When a man living a hardscrabble life suddenly exhibits signs of stigmata, his tumultuous journey to find--and accept--redemption is beautifully evoked by Italian screenwriter and novelist Piersanti (Luisa and the Silence) and graphic novelist Mattotti (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde). Surviving by stray bartending jobs, which only fuel his alcoholism, the nameless man is a loner, but when his palms begin bleeding inexplicably, he's suddenly thrust into the spotlight. The pressure too much to bear, he explodes violently and leaves town to find his uncle--whom he hasn't seen since childhood--last seen traveling with a small carnival. Though his uncle is in jail, the man finds unlikely companionship with the other carnies, particularly a woman named Lorena. Instead of hiding the stigmata, the man agrees to go on display, and they construct a makeshift temple called the House of Blessings, where customers pay for the man to anoint them with his blood. But soon someone from the man's past comes back for vengeance, leading to the man's spiral toward spiritual and physical death. With Mattotti's furious black and white illustrations perfectly reflecting the man's growing inner turmoil, Piersanti's morality tale is haunting yet hopeful. (Jan.)