A Week to Avenge.

*I bet Mike will enjoy this one: two mentions of “Swamp Thing” in the new “Entertainment Weekly” (#795)! The first appears in an illustration to a news story about the lack of female late-night talk show hosts, which is surely the most natural place to expect to find Swamp Thing: the illustration depicts Jay Leno, David Letterman, and Conan O’Brien hanging out in a tree-house with a big read “NO GIRLS ALLOWED” sign. Conan is reading issue #12 of the first “Swamp Thing”, series, the cover depicting Swampy’s battle with some dinosaur, truly the stuff of which the dreams of adolescent future late night variety program hosts are made of. The book gets a more prominent mention in the “Buried Treasures” feature article, tracking unreleased or suppressed works in pop culture. Among the mentions of Stanley Kubrick’s “Fear and Desire” and Jerry Lewis’ “The Day the Clown Cried”, we get Rick Veitch’s infamous ‘Jesus’ issue of the series’ second run. It’s neat to note that the blurb’s headline screams 'Rick Veitch', not 'Swamp Thing', which was a great touch. Also included in the same article is a mention of that beloved Roger Corman “Fantastic Four” feature, a more immediately obvious choice (given the new film coming out) but not quite as satisfying.

*As a bit of an addendum to yesterday’s Crumb post, I also picked up the latest issue of “The New Yorker” with a lovely Crumb cover. It’s ‘The Cartoon Issue’, prior editions of which didn’t impress me much at all (I think Chris Ware had a good strip in last year’s though) but this issue already has an excellent 6-page fold-out ad for Johnny Walker Black by Seth (!) which has little to do with Scotch but everything to do with that mood of contemplation that I like to pretend I’m in while drinking Johnny Walker and trying not to listen to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra cover band that’s playing on the level below me and avoiding folks I sort of knew in high school while pacing in back of the people at the bar. The issue also features a lengthy “Peanuts” appreciation by Jonathan Franzen (which I haven’t read) and the usual expanded comics section.


Fatty Arbuckle & his Funny Friends: Yes! I was hoping we’d see the second volume of this reprint project in the US! Released by Fantagraphics and sporting a spiffy cover by Kim Deitch, this oversized pamphlet will reprint a whole bunch of early 1920’s strips from “The Kinema Comic”, a British publication devoted to comics based on stars of silent comedy. Most of the strips are full-page six-panel affairs with both word balloons within the frame and lengthy text descriptions below each scene. Really, it’s the text that seals the deal for me: “So off went the merry pair, and when the old man did see them - wow! His hat flew off, and he jazzed in his aggravation, so wild was he. 'Toodle-oo, old bean!'” The jolly-ho atmosphere prevents this from being enjoyed in anything more than very small portions, but holy smokes does it make for a nice time-capsule. The focus of these strips will be the infamous Fatty, mentor to Buster Keaton, occasional co-star with Chaplin in their early Keystone days, and one of my personal favorite silent clowns. I’m certain that this release will outsell both “New Avengers” and “The Ultimates 2” combined, so you’d better accost the delivery man as he approaches your store tomorrow and seize your copy right out of the box before the riots begin, The Great Arbuckle Riots of 2004 as they’ll be called on Newsarama before their servers collapse under the weight of the scores of comments that this book will doubtlessly prompt. Celebrate the comics apocalypse with Fatty! Buy this book!

Street Angel #4: Another new issue full of surprises. I was not nearly as dumbfounded by last issue as some readers were; I thought that the tone of gory dark humor was established right in issue one; it just became somewhat more prevalent in issue three. This issue is also expected to provide some jarring twists, but the grain of salt is now firmly positioned on my tongue; not that it matters much, since the level of quality in this book has always been high, and I expect good things on Wednesday, the intensity of the subject matter notwithstanding.

Bipolar #1: Now reprinted by Alternative Comics! Tomar and Assaf Hanuka are the talents behind this well-regarded series, along with writer Etgar Keret, and some of the brighter shops I’ve come across have already stocked up on the other three issues to accompany this new edition of the initial outing. You may recall Tomar’s work from the covers of several DC books like “Hard Time”. I’ve heard only nice things about this material, and now’s a good time to get acquainted.

Lore Vol. 1: Collecting issues #1-3 of writer/artist Ashley Wood and writer T.P. Louise’s multi-generational saga of bitter magicians and mythology gone wild upon the human world. It’s actually a mix of comics and prose (and by issue #4, not collected here, the balance has tipped quite heavily toward the prose) but it’s an entertaining story, and Wood’s art is at its prettiest. I already have all of these issues, but you might want to flip through this one on the stands, and see what you think.

The Intimates #2: The visual presentation was the very essence of ‘trying too hard’, but I still enjoyed the first issue of this superhero preparatory school story from Joe Casey and Guiseppe Camuncoli, with small touches by Jim Lee. Let’s see where the story is going.

New Avengers #1: The story that directly preceded this one didn’t really go anywhere, of course. But it doesn’t matter. This book is pretty much a guaranteed hit, and not just because of that variant cover (which I’m sure will help); rather, it‘s the veto power of the re-launch that‘ll render criticism of the prior arc powerless before the force of new title. All that crap in the last arc? Doesn’t matter whatsoever. It will not affect the resounding sales success of this book. Nothing will! We can bitch until the sun devours the Earth and it’ll do not a shit toward preventing the smash success of this book. You think the last arc was bad? Bendis could have done so much worse! Bendis could have personally farted inside each copy of each Avengers Disassembled tie-in and this book would still be a hit. Bendis could have traveled to each reader’s home and kicked them in the throat and painted their cat blue and left the freezer door open and the toilet seat up and this book would still be a hit. Bendis could have had Captain America light Hawkeye’s gasoline-dipped arrows aflame with a burning US flag while the Scarlet Witch carved up Gwen Stacy and stuffed her into a nearby icebox and Dr. Strange explained it all away by shouting “Whoops!“ at the top of his lungs over and over for twenty fucking pages and this book would still be a hit. Hell, if I was Bendis I’d have filled up every issue of that arc with handwritten shopping lists and reprints of personal notes I passed in high school and vulgar caricatures of my neighbors and then on that last page of “Avengers No Longer in Assembly: The Final Cut” or whatever the fuck it was called I’d have Jarvis flipping the bird to reader whilst wearing a placard screaming “WE’RE ALL FIRED GAME OVER THANK YOU FOR PLAYING”. The multitude of complaints about the run thus far will amount to absolutely nothing, I predict. Make way for Spidey and Wolverine!

But I might be proven wrong. Eh?

The Ultimates 2: That other big Avengers launch of the week. You can identify the ‘hot’ releases this week from the presence of variant covers. I’m sure this will do well too. I suspect that “New Avengers” has a bit more heat behind it and will probably best it in sales, but it’ll be close.