I had a lot more free time before I went on holiday 'vacation'...


*Look at all of this stuff. I can’t buy it all. Hard cuts will have to be made and there'll be tears.

Bipolar #5: One of my local retailers, a bright fellow, decided that in addition to his stock of the new Alternative Comics version of issue #1 of this continuing series by Tomar and Asaf Hanuka (with writing contributions from Etgar Keret), he’d pick up a copy of each of the other three issues, in case the curious buyer would like to quickly obtain more. Or in case a buyer (let’s call him... me) has heard an awful lot about this series of short stories and just wants the whole thing really quickly. So now I’m the proud owner of issues #1-4 of this, and look! It’s the all-new issue #5! I’ll read them all together I think.

Black Hole #12 (of 12): Of course, if you’ve been following this series for the past decade I’m sure this final issue will be the comic of the week for you. Pantheon will be putting out a collected edition at some point in 2005 as part of their ‘Year of Things Fantagraphics Published in Part or in Serialization Before Us’. Be sure to check out “Acme Novelty Library” (collects Ware’s two ‘Big Book of Jokes’ issues), “Ice Haven” (an expanded version of "Eightball" #22), and the collected “Epileptic” (Fanta only got half of it out in the US)! Ah, the magic of lots of money. Still, if you’ve waited this long for this issue, why wait longer?

Solo #2: Richard Corben! Western, sci-fi, fantasy, action, and The Spectre (with Jim Arcudi on the script for that one)! It’ll be just like one of those old underground horror anthologies, only from a massive corporation and probably with content restrictions. But leaving Corben mostly to his own devices still sounds like a great idea to me.

JLA: Classified #2: Grant Morrison continues his stridently non-gritty Batman adventure, although I hope this issue’s pacing won’t be quite as frantic. Crazy to be claiming such things these days, but there you go.

Joe R. Lansdale’s By Bizarre Hands # 6 (of 6): Two tales of terror this issue! Totally reprehensible entertainment! I’m not ashamed to admit I generally liked this series, no sir! Say, where’s those other three Warren Ellis books? No sign of them yet!

Ojo #4 (of 5): Seems like just the other week that issue #3 came out. The art has been looking increasingly rushed and sketchy, especially in one particular portion of last issue which looked almost like a quickly inked pencil rough. The characters are still fairly involving; it’s really Sam Kieth’s best writing work in a long time, and his work usually suffers from their scripts rather from the visuals, so it’s quite a departure...

The Goon #10: Holy shit! An honest-to-god Christmas issue of an ongoing series that really does arrive the week of Christmas! That’s more than enough to impress me already, and I’m sure the Christmas Carol riff this issue will be funny. But still, no delays or anything!

Stoker’s Dracula #2 (of 4): Halloween never has to end either though, with this continuation of Roy Thomas and Dick Giordano’s comics adaptation of the Stoker novel. This issue we start getting into all-new material, since the original 1974 attempt at completing the project petered out under halfway through. A deluxe 48-page b&w no-ads package, and I though issue #1 was a lot of fun.

Astonishing X-Men #7: As is this book, returning for its second arc after a wee little break. I do like the book, although I’m not really as high on it as some other readers are. It’s basically an attractive reheating of most of the classic X-Tropes, which I think has also been a criticism of Grant Morrison and Joe Casey’s runs, although I’d Morrison did the best job of actually delving into the classic X-Stuff in an effort to explore them and comment thereon. This, however, feels like a really smooth homage, an adoring, utterly devoted homage, and executed with skill, but bearing almost nothing to make you think about these old tales in a new way. You get a pleasant buzz, and then it’s gone, and that is all. Anyway, this issue we get a meeting with the Fantastic Four, just in time to step on the toes of that miniseries that just started.

Black Widow #4 (of 6): I wonder if Natasha will spend any time this issue pondering the subtle exploitations of women in the masculine world while sauntering around in her underwear or a tiny dress or something? Well, at least Parlov and Sienkiewicz draw her in a nice, semi-realistic fashion.

Art of Usagi Yojimbo: Speaking of beloved comics that I’ve never gotten into. Stan Sakai has an awful lot of devout fans, and this 20th Anniversary volume will probably delight them; I certainly liked the “Sin City” and “Hellboy” books that Dark Horse has released along the same lines, so fans can safely expect quality.