All of the comics I got this week:

Sadly, I did not get my copy of Eddie Campbell's "Batman: The Order of Beasts" because a significant portion of my local shop's shipment was kidnapped by bears and never reached the shelves. It will take a few days for my shop to gather up the necessary amounts of honey and berries to meet their outrageous demands; if we fail, they'll bend the corners on all of the pages all at once so every time we flip through the book the corners will get jumbled and everyone will lose. Wish us luck.


DC Comics Presents: Mystery in Space #1
: This is actually #2 in a weekly series of 8 specials, teaming up all manner of writers and artists to create short stories based on clever old DC cover art. It's all in the name of honoring the late Julie Schwartz (and making money).

First up is a frantic romp by Elliot S! Maggin (as the credit reads), with art by J.H. Williams III (of "Promethea" fame). I can't say I'm terribly familiar with Adam Strange, nor his friendship with Elongated Man. Sue Dibny, however, is very much alive in this story, thank you very much! Our intrepid trio accidentally lose some of Adam's bitch-ass alien gear to officials from the Republic of Swazeria, who waste no time in selling the swag to terrorists in exchange for a nuclear goodie bag. Meanwhile, Adam must save the weather of Rann from the forces of evil. There are also jokes about a donkey and an un-ironic use of the term 'bejeebers', which wins the story a few extra points on my scorecard. Everybody sort of just runs around for the whole thing, but it's very attractively laid out, with the last page neatly framing the denouement with melancholy.

One Mr. Grant Morrison scripts the next tale, with fine art by Jerry Ordway (pencil) and Mark McKenna (ink). It's cutely titled "Two Worlds", since the story really does operate that way: not just on Earth and Rann, but as a story and a separate commentary contained in captions (which are helpfully colored with a self-conscious dot pattern). The captions sort of narrate the story, but constantly digress into musings on the romantic fantasy of the Cold War (A Glorious Space Race), as opposed to the reality of Vietnam (Politics and Ballistics), and the hopes that the era's comics created for the 21st century, which couldn't be supported by the reality of the times, "A holy pulp fiction future trampled in the unholy rush to get there," as Morrison expounds. The readers of these books are thusly torn between worlds, just like Adam on the cover. Meanwhile, the actual story finds Adam captured by the USMC, who are under orders to fabricate a motivation for war with Rann, creating all the justification needed to seize some resources and ensure some big profits for all the right people. Gracious! Which world issue could Mr. Morrison possibly be commenting upon?! I must admit I was a bit more taken with how similar the plot for war here is to the famous conclusion to "Watchmen", where an unknown alien foe is used to manipulate world opinion. It isn't really a 'riff' on Watchmen, so to speak, since the plot here hinges upon an identifiable, accessible foe, while the thrust of Alan Moore's conclusion was that nobody would quite know how to strike back against the faux invasion, thus shocking the Earth into cooperation without the actual threat of any violent retaliation. I just found it to be curious, that's all. And when brought together, the commentary and story portions of the work do create an oddly powerful sensation, with the dream for the future surviving even as it's tarnished by the complexity of physical living, which is fortunate since neither would work quite as well divorced from the other (the story in particular). I also loved the run-on sentence style of thought balloons; the small moments and throwaway gags are maybe the most memorable parts of all.

Cripes that was long.

The Punisher #9: YEAH! This'll flush out our system! It's part 3 of the current arc as quite a few Irish gangs fight each other. Motives are revealed, faces begin to fall off, there's torture and blood and general mayhem, although the story is already beginning to feel a little too stretched out. The scene in the diner where one villain’s casual racism unexpectedly bites his ass was almost worth it all, though... anyhow, guilty pleasure city.