What's the world's finest fun? THE QUARTER BIN!!!

*But you won't have to pay a quarter for LAST WEEK'S REVIEWS:

First, our special minority viewpoint sneak peek analysis of the upcoming film:

Team America: World Police (short version: hilarious at times, but easily sidetracked by Parker and Stone's all-consuming hatred for Hollywood, and pretty irritating in its half-hearted yet oddly persistant attempts to 'balance' the satire... for all their guts in blasting the hell out of Noted Rich Liberals, Trey and Matt seem mighty nervous about, you know, actually taking stances on issues)

And there's plenty of comics too!

Youngblood Bloodsport #1 (of 3), and Hulk & Thing: Hard Knocks #2 (of 4)

Palooka Ville #17, Garth Ennis’ 303 #1 (of 6), 2000 A.D. Showcase #32 (that last title features some vintage Grant Morrison!)

Blood Orange #3

That's enough wholesome fun for every American family!

*And now, selections from local discount boxes:

Gutsman Comics #2

According to my Internet sources, this book costs about $8 brand-new, which makes me all the more pleased that I got it for $0.50. I honestly have no idea how I'd react to paying full price, but I certainly thought it was an endearing book given my own circumstances.

Written and drawn by Erik Kriek and printed in the Netherlands by Oog & Blik (who've also been involved in some recent US releases, like Chris Ware's "Acme Novelty Datebook" with Drawn and Quarterly). All of the text is in English, but the stories are mostly wordless, with the exception of a board-game included in the center of the book. Five other issues seem to exist, the last one having been released in 2001.

Gutsman is pretty generic-looking masked crimefighter, except he doesn't fight any crime; he participates in little parables and morality plays, often with his True Love, a busty lady in a catsuit named Tigra. Together, they face the temptation of drink and illicit sex and other awful things, but love and goodness always conquers all. Oh, and a cartoonist (Mr. Kriek himself?) also appears. He's very much in love with Tigra too, and he also wields god-like power (he is the cartoonist, after all, and everyone else is just a cartoon). Alas, he knows that Tigra only loves Gutsman, as cartoonists can never be loved by their creations.

It's a simple book, but Kriek is totally committed to his stories; his whole heart is on the page. He's got a beautiful style, especially his women, all crafted in early twentieth-century cheesecake style. There's never any lack of clarity in these silent stories, as Kriek's command of body language and his creative use of comic symbols is excellent. If it weren't for the sex and nudity and death-figures snorting lines of coke, this would make a great book for kids. But Kriek seems to want to appeal to adults that are willing to go along with his ultra-basic plots and allow themselves to get swept up in sweetly direct emotions and attractive visuals.

I'd hesitate to pay eight bucks for such deluxe cotton-candy, but that's why we have bargain-bins at the shop, to make little nuggets like this accessible to all that are willing to dig.

Accident Man #1 (of 3)

I remember this one from my youth. I saw it sitting in the spinner rack at the old (now long-gone) comics tent at the mall. "Accident Man". Was it a superhero that caused accidents? Blissfully unaware of the carnage he caused? Was it funny?

Well, one out of three isn't too bad for a little kid, only 12 years of age when this book hit the stands from Dark Horse in 1993. This accident man, Mike Fallon, is not a superhero but a top hired killer, who always makes it look like an accident. He knows exactly what he's doing. But Howard Chaykin, who provides the cover (which also stuck in my mind), probably had a good laugh at the antics within.

Written by Pat Mills and Tony Skinner, with art by Duke Mighten, the book follows our smooth anti-hero from hit to hit. He's very good, but only concerned with money and sex. Certainly not with the innocent people he occasionally sacrifices for the greater good (his pocketbook). But one day he meets a very lovely lady named Mirror who unsurprisingly appears to be his feminine equal. Fucking ensues. But can Mike survive his latest hit, with Mirror mixed up in the middle? Yes. Oh, spoiler.

I think Plato called this sort of thing "rocking comics garbage", and who am I to argue? There's surely no rebuttal to setting one scene in an all-blindfolds sex club then whisking us off to a Naked Modern Ballet. Or providing us with a totally foul, self-serving 'hero', who's prone to admiring the designer name on a foe's gun during a deadly battle. Mighten's art is sleek and raunchy, full of speed and sqinting eyes. It's fun. Just like the ads in the back for "Tank Girl" and "Barb Wire", both blissfully pre-adaptation to the silver screen.