3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man. Matt Kindt. Dark Horse, $19.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-59582-356-4

3 Story is a modern fable, exploring the life of the “giant man,” Craig Pressgang, through the experiences of three women—his mother, wife and daughter. The promotional material claims that Pressgang's “life is well documented in his official CIA biography, Giant Man: Pillar of America,” and the opening pages present his early life in such a straightforward manner that it is easy to believe it is a real story. As Pressgang reaches extraordinary heights, however, the story takes off into the realms of fantasy. Born during WWII, Pressgang's life serves as metaphor for the American mood over the past 60 years, from the flush optimism of the 1950s to the confusion about the country's place in the world as the 21st century dawns. Throughout, the tale retains an emotional honesty, as Kindt meditates on the nature of love and belonging, the changes one makes in a relationship and the exploitation of anyone identified as different. Kindt's washed-out, watercolor palate helps establish the lugubrious tone; his lovely, deceptively simple style reveals the characters' pain—and occasional moments of joy. The “special enhanced die-cut cover” is an appropriately elegant detail for this moving graphic novel. (Oct.)

Air, Vol. 2: Flying Machines G. Willow Wilson and M.K. Perker. DC/Vertigo, $12.99 (120p) ISBN 978-1-4012-2483-7

An ancient device is discovered that enables people to fly using mental control. The main character, Blythe, a flight attendant afraid of heights, has an exceptional predisposition to use this device. With the help of Amelia Earhart, alive because of an accident with the device in the 1930s, Blythe attempts to find a similar device lost by her potentially terrorist lover, Zayn, and of course the fate of the world is at stake. During this search, Blythe enters Zayn's memories and relives them from his childhood until the device goes missing. This divergence wobbles between being a random detour through angsty teenage years and an examination of trust and understanding between people. As Blythe navigates through Zayn's memories and flies a plane with her mind, these fantastical elements would benefit from some understatement; instead, everything is philosophized to the max. Fresh ideas lay an intriguing foundation for the book, but that scenario sometimes gets overwhelmed by the metaphysics. (Oct.)

What a Wonderful World! Vol. 1 Inio Asano. Viz, $12.99 paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-4215-3221-9

Asano's beautifully drawn anthology follows up his Harvey and Eisner—nominated Solanin with more short stories about sullen teenagers and 20-somethings. If anything, the short story format makes Asano's mopey protagonists far more sympathetic. Some of the characters are more likable than others; in two related shorts, appealing punk rocker Horita gives up his dreams of becoming a rock star to put on a suit and tie, only to recant later in the book. In “A Town of Many Hills,” a bullied teen believes a talking crow is a death god encouraging her to commit suicide. Like many of the book's protagonists, the girl overcomes her death wish, but hers is the most triumphant victory in the volume. Asano's artwork is very attractive, frequently interspersing all-black panels with the characters' inner thoughts in white text. His teens' navel-gazing thoughts are prone to platitudes, but much less so here than in Solanin. What a Wonderful World! is titled ironically, but its message to aimless and depressed young people is a positive one, told without preaching, and the artwork and strong storytelling make this another standout. (Oct.)