Kim Deitch made his name as an “underground” cartoonist — a contemporary of Spiegelman, Crumb, et. al. — but over the last three decades has simply been one of the most vital graphic novelists the medium has to offer, including acknowledged classics such as The Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Alias the Cat, and The Search for Smilin’ Ed. His new graphic novel, Reincarnation Stories, feels like the apotheosis of his career, an ambitiously sprawling tour de force exploring the concept of reincarnation. When Deitch was four years old, he began having memories of a time when he wore glasses. The problem was, he had never actually worn glasses. Then, one day, young Deitch is sitting outside his apartment building when an elderly man approaches him, excited. “Is it possible? Sid! SID PINCUS! Good God, man! You’ve changed. You’re smaller! And where are your glasses?” From here, Deitch weaves a dizzying path of reincarnation stories that spans the past, present, and future of human history, with appearances by Frank Sinatra, monkey gods, a forgotten cowboy star of the silver screen, a tribe of Native Americans that successfully resettled on the moon, and a parallel reality where Deitch himself is the megasuccessful creator of a series of kids books about a superhero called Young Avatar, who helps marginalized souls lead better lives and in his secret identity works as a carpenter. Did we mention Deitch’s spiritual nemesis (an incarnation of Judas Iscariot), Waldo the Cat? Deitch’s storytelling mastery has never been more fully on display that this rich tapestry of a graphic novel, certain to be a staple on 2019 “Best of ” year-end lists.