Late comics = lots of things.

*Hey! The Directors Label is back! You remember those: ultra-deluxe dvd packages of work by prominent music video directors, loaded with extras, commentaries, and thick bonus books of stuff. Real cheap too, under $20 each. I picked up every one of the three first wave releases, which essentially confirmed that Michel Gondry is incredible (all the more so after seeing his early work - “La Tour De Pise” is one of my favorite videos of all time), Spike Jonze is resoundingly overrated (though still somewhere above the average), and Chris Cunningham is generally underwhelming (he only ever seems to come to life when Aphex Twin is doing the music, leading to the distracting wit of “Come to Daddy” and “Windowlicker”, the latter sporting some genuinely transgressive use of caricature - the rest of his output relies way too much on repetitious presentation of images with uncertain visceral heft to begin with; the Portishead and Bjork videos are the most successful of these types). This time out we get four releases, from Mark Romanek (I guess the director I’m most familiar with now in a music video sense), Jonathan Glazer (whose disc looks to be just as heavy on alternate commercial work as it is on music videos), Anton Corbijn (“Liar”!!!), and Stephane Sednaoui (providing a much-need injection of Bjork into this set). September 13th. Mark your calendar.

And what’s this?! They put out a box set of the first wave with a new disc of bonus videos?!?! FUCK.

(News found at the "NYC Mech" board)

*Boy, Alan David Doane and I have pretty similar tastes; he just did the second of his lovely Galaxy Podcasts today, so why not listen to that for an alternate take on much of what I’m going to go over here?


It’s a big one. Obviously I’m not going to buy all of this…

Cromartie High School Vol. 2: But this should prove to be the delight of the day. The first volume of Eiji Nonaka’s beautifully absurd high school epic was a hoot and one half, perfectly balancing stiff, Kupperman-type (yet fully manga-style) art and an alternating subtle/ridiculous brand of humor. Here’s my review of Vol. 1. Please oh please check this book out.

Paul Moves Out: Of course, for those looking into the less absurd, here’s the brand-new release from Michael Rabagliati, the second extended-length graphic novel in this series (“Paul Has a Summer Job” being the first, along with the pamphlet-length “Paul in the Country” and assorted shorts collected into the Free Comic Book Day release “The Adventures of Paul”). It’s semi-autobiographical stuff, this time covering the dawn of Paul’s adult life, living with a girlfriend rather than his parents. I’ve always loved the attention to period Canadian detail in the shorter installments of these stories (the stuff in the FCBD book being especially choice), so I hope this book is infused with plenty. Rabagliati’s elegant lines will keep it looking good, no doubt. Very likely worth your time.

Smoke #1 (of 3): Bound to be viewed by many as the return and possible public rehabilitation of Igor Kordey, a talented artist who became a whipping boy of online fandom due to some “New X-Men” material he banged out quickly to meet deadlines after being assigned the work along with everything else he was doing. He was then unceremoniously dropped from Marvel’s recent revamp of “Excalibur” after completing thirty or so pages of art (none of which were used), with virtually no advance warning. But now he’s back, in this new series from IDW, written by Alex de Campi (best known for her work with the "Commercial Suicide" anthology, essays at Ninth Art, and an ill-fated encounter with Marvel’s “Amazing Fantasy” revival). To be perfectly blunt, the covers aren’t that great (especially issue #3... oh please) but I’m looking forward to Kordey’s interior art, and the plot (a seriocomic action thing with politics and blood, from the looks of it) might turn out good. It’s also $7.49 for 48 pages, which is about three and a half bucks more than the new back-of-Previews industry standard cover price for color work, all for sixteen pages over IDW’s usual pamphlet size. Still pushing those boundaries, I guess. I’ve heard it’ll only be too expensive if the work sucks, though.

Super F*ckers #1: On the other hand, here’s $7.00 for a more typical 32 color pages. The same adage about price and quality applies, but I’m thinking that for the uncertain browser, a tall tag like this one will have something of a psychological effect on what they immediately see as ‘quality’, especially given the fast flip-through that books are given in such on-the-rack evaluations. Not that I don’t trust James Kochalka to deliver good fun, but folks who don’t already trust him but might be convinced to check this stuff out anyway (seeing as how it’s superhero-related) are gonna be a little tougher than average while looking through this book. I’d say it’ll be good fun, even granted all of that.

Concrete: The Human Dilemma #6 (of 6): Well obviously I’m getting this; I’m wondering how much time Paul Chadwick will spend on wrapping up the plot strands in relation to time expended on the Blessed Arrival, especially considering how much time the rest of the series has spent on the political implications of what Concrete has been fighting for (or at lest what he‘s been hired to fight for). And where will the Death Virus subplot go? I’m waiting to find out.

Seven Soldiers - Zatanna #2 (of 4): Back away from “Promethea”, Grant, you’re only hurting yourself…

A Nightmare on Elm Street Special #1: Avatar’s previous “Friday the 13th” book was loaded with gory gags and humor; plainly writer Brian Pulido is embracing the jokier tone that many of these New Line horror franchises eventually succumb to (or evolve into, depending on your feelings about the genre). I strongly doubt that this one will be any different, given that Freddy has been the biggest joker of them all for much of his series. Oh well, at least this one has Juan Jose Ryp on the art, which should make the nightmares all the more vivid.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Special #1: This one, however, retains a chance of doing something creepy. Jacen Burrows’ style seems to lend itself well to open landscapes and rural rot, and he’s shown that he can really open up on the grue when needed. I’ll keep my eye on it.

Firestorm #14: Hey! I reviewed this a while back - I wonder if I screwed up certain bits of character history, given my blatant unfamiliarity with the “Firestorm” mythos? Well, all that aside, this is a positive-thinking if resolutely traditional teen superhero romp, and folks into that sort of thing will probably like Stuart Moore’s brand-new run as writer a lot. It starts here.

House of M #1 (of 8): Hey! Here’s a great idea! Why not take all the money you’ve saved up to participate in this glorified “What If?” of a summer event and all of its myriad tie-ins, and spend it on a nice book from the past? It’s not like you won’t be able to follow the built-in meaninglessness (given that much of it looks like ‘alternate’ versions of the same old thing) of the continuing story on the internet and cherry-pick the good bits afterward, if you’re so inclined. Why, just this week there’s some interesting stuff coming back into print in handy trade format:

The Maximortal: Like this fresh reprinting of Rick Veitch’s 1996 blood-drenched superhero epic, one of two extant chapters (the other being “Brat Pack”) of Veitch’s satirical history of superhero comics, the King Hell Heroica. This is the chronological first in line, covering the Golden Age, actually a day of ruthless publishers, ripped-off creators, dangerous science, and a very Super figure striding through it all. It becomes bogged down in its middle section with too much semi-historical wheel-spinning, but the early chapters, presenting a snidely realistic view of the implications of an infant Superman (tiny baby with unlimited strength, deadly heat vision, and the power of flight = non-stop destruction), is brilliant fun, and the ending is strangely touching, even though the next chapter has yet to be made (“Brat Pack” jumps way ahead to the grim ‘n gritty years of the ‘80s). Look for it.

Birth of a Nation: Or, how about picking up the new softcover release of this graphic novel written by Aaron “Boondocks” McGruder and Reginald “Black Panther” Hudlin and drawn by Kyle “Plastic Man” Baker? Sure it’s more of a series of captioned storyboards (the project originally being devised as a screenplay) then what we commonly accept as 'comics', but the story, involving a nearly all-black city seceding from the US, is supposed to be pointed and funny. Look for it as well.

We3: And if all else fails, there’s Morrison and Quitely. You don’t need me to say anything more about this book: “We3” was intended to be released as a single-volume like this right from the start, and I just know it’ll read like a dream. It’s not quite as great as “Seaguy”, the emotional button-pushing is blatant, and the finale sort of trips over itself to provide a semblance of a quasi-happy ending, but even when the book doesn’t entirely make logical sense its story of misguided beasts and the imperfect humans who control them resounds perfectly, thanks to Morrison’s flawless minimalist characterizations. And Quitely’s go-for-broke action art has converted even some of the most vehement “New X-Men” and “The Authority” haters into the ranks of his growing cult. Many more spoiler-packed thoughts by me right here. Look for it too, why don’t ya?