*THIS WEEK IN COMICS is a light one. I guess I’ll start with the most obvious highlight:

NYX #5 (of 7): Wow! It’s like Hailey’s Comet! If by random chance you happen to find any children in the comics shop (I don’t know why… maybe there’s a gumball machine or they got lost) be sure to point out this rare “NYX” sighting; they’ll be your age by next time!

Aw crumbs. This is no fun. “NYX” jokes are so overdone. It’s like “If they call themselves MTV then why isn’t there any music on it? Wocka wocka wocka!

It’s like just by being so late the book has immunized itself from snark; we’ve sampled this laughingstock so much it’s lost its flavor. Such is the gentle and at least partially accidental genius of Joe Q. I’m not buying this; the only reason I bought issue #1 was Josh Middleton who’s now long gone, and the script didn’t exactly encourage me to stick around. But soldier on dear “NYX”! You are the constant in our industry’s ever-shifting emphasis of smirk!

Blood Orange #3: I don’t even recall who’s in this issue. It’s Fantagraphics’ anthology series. The last two issues have been decent, if not astounding. There’s usually a solid line-up, and I expect the same here.

Garth Ennis’ 303 #1 (of 6): The previews of this look pretty cool: the story follows a gun around on its journey to change the world. Avatar mainstay Jacen Burrows’ art looks real nice in full color. The shooting and action does not look terribly far removed from Garth’s current work at Marvel either…

Mabel Normand and Her Funny Friends: This is being offered again; I already have it, but it’s worth a few words. It’s a collection of 1920’s British strips from “The Kinema Comic”, a motion-picture comedy themed publication featuring original comics about all of the latest silent stars. This volume collects the Mabel Normand material; Normand was an early star at Keystone and one of the first female film directors in the US, directing Chaplin before he had the clout to handle himself. Her career would fade quickly, though, and her life was a short one, dead at 38 in 1930. Her and Fatty Arbuckle (another ill-fated one) were quite a team back in their day, however, back in the Mack Sennett comedy crucible, where stars grew up but rarely stayed.

The comics are interesting as a time capsule (I adored the absurdly over-the-top jolly ho pip pip cheery tone of the captions that accompany each panel; others found it immensely annoying), if a little sluggish as humor. Featuring a lovely cover by Kim Deitch, and a vintage back-cover puppet drawing by Larry Semon, quite a star in his day, and director of a major silent “Wizard of Oz” adaptation in 1925.

Marvel 1602: Now out in a deluxe hardcover. Neil Gaiman’s big Marvel project. It really wasn’t very good at all. Whenever it seemed to be going smoothly, some extraordinary act of idiocy on the part of the characters would manifest to move the plot along. Like leaving the fucking Queen of England completely unguarded while envoys of a nation who’s leader is under suspicion of plotting against the Crown deliver a mystery box. Or Daredevil telling his traveling companion that he can’t let her know what his plan is because it's really super extra secret, and then telling her a few panels later, only to be immediately betrayed.

At least it’s sort of fun in a fanboy way to go “Oh look! Cyclops is named Sir Scotus of Summersisle and he’s fifth manure scraper from the right in the royal stables and Professor X must be the horse!” for the first thirty pages or so, but the effect wears out quickly. And from then on it’s a thoroughly dull superhero team-up thing in Dark Ages Masquerade. Gaiman does a nice job characterizing Dr. Strange and Reed Richards in particular, but it’s really just the same characters as ever trudging through a generic ‘gather-the-heroes, solve the mystery’ story - BUT IN THE PAST! And then we get what the Psychotronic Guide to Film would no doubt dub an ‘irritating non-ending’ and, well, I‘m not gonna recommend it. The only other thing I remember is that the art was kind of blurry and it made me drowsy.

Hulk and Thing: Hard Knocks #2 (of 4): And the knocks just keep getting harder. Maybe the plot will come knocking too! But it’s pretty. Jae Lee’s doing some cool stuff, movie costume inoculation or not.