*This week’s juiced-up column: a somewhat more conversational piece on how I have no outlet for my mania, and how such things shape us all. It’s true that I can summon lightning, by the way. Kind of a useless power, actually...

*Lack of Surprise Dept: Apparently, there’s a bunch of new stuff in that Acme Novelty Library hardcover, including an honest to god glow-in-the-dark sequence. Also: comics hidden behind paper bands, comics etched along the edges of the cover, and comics-within-comics that mirror the comics themselves. Did I mention that (judging from the material in here I already own) that this is often hilariously funny stuff? I don’t know; a lot of people have said they don’t detect any laughs in the Rusty Brown bits, which I think are tiny gems of pitch-black humor. Then again, a lot of people seem to think Ware is boring, which I don’t (I think it was Tom Spurgeon who mentioned on Fanboy Rampage that if a person’s critique of Jimmy Corrigan consists entirely of “It’s boring” then a perfectly adequate response is “You’re retarded”). But hell, I also loved Andrei Rublev, so what the shit do I know about boring? Here’s a detailed review from Salon (enjoy the commercial), filled with praise for the technical chops and criticism of the perceived “single note” hammering of the theme of despair, a pretty gross simplification of the emotional breadth of the work in my opinion, found on the Comics Journal Message Board. It was probably silly to hope that I could get away without plunking down cash for this.

Top Ten: Beyond the Farthest Precinct #2 (of 5)

This seems like a really nice book. I’d have given it a really nice review, except my copy appears to be broken. So I’ll have to paddle against the tide here.

Writer Paul Di Filippo - he’s definitely trying. He’s not only working hard to make this a fun continuation of this much-loved series, but he’s even striving to please the fussier ABC superfans. Not only does he toss in some info this issue to square the book’s continuity away with Promethea’s, he even picks up Alan Moore’s allegorical drive, of the split between rival Prometheas echoing (and in many ways causing) the strife that courses through the current international climate. But just as Di Filippo’s humor is far broader than Moore’s, his sense of political comment is more blunt, if admittedly pretty humorous.

So we get to see poor Captain Traynor fired by the nasty Mayor of Neopolis (complete with awesome fringed jacket), who took office on a platform of tight security, and he won’t stand for underlings who won’t play the public placation game. Accordingly, he brings in Major Sean Cindercott, an apparently coal-powered war hero with a belching smokestack protruding from his right shoulder, a searing inferno where his heart should be, and medals dotting his faded metal chest. His first words are “This city is now on Strontium Alert!” and there’s plenty of references to voter mandates and international Freedom campaigns, in case anyone in the peanut gallery doesn’t get it. But you know, ‘Strontium Alert’ is pretty funny, and artist Jerry Ordway really sells the character’s ridiculous design, a literal tin soldier with a career authoritarian’s scrunched jowls. It’s good.

As is the rest of the issue, at least as much of it as I can puzzle out. Unfortunately, I only got 20 story pages, four of which were duplicates of earlier pages. In addition, four pages of ads in the back were duplicated, so I’m estimating that I actually lost a good six story pages out of an anticipated 22. Is the issue supposed to end abruptly on the page where Cindercott cancels everyone’s breaks? Whatever the answer is, I’m missing at least 1/5 of this issue somewhere, probably more, which is too bad because Di Filippo and Ordway are handily juggling the divergent plot threads and team-ups the title demands, taking us to a jellybean attack on a peaceful protest courtesy of the Derridadaists, a mysterious encounter with a gargantuan sea creature, a brief lecture on how robot narcotics have become laced with the virtual particles that bind the universe itself together, and another visit from Not Ranx. It’s feverishly imaginative stuff, not quite of the same tenor as that of the Moore/Ha/Cannon glory days, but a uniquely pleasing concoction all its own. Funny animals too - this team has a definite affinity for funny animals.

I hope not too many of these books are screwed up, because I’d like to tell you all to give this one a try. Two issues in and it’s already one of the better non-Moore ABC books. Maybe you should flip around before you purchase it? I know I’ll be thumbing through a copy on the stands to get the rest of this story.

*Tomorrow’s update: maybe a bit late. As in, after midnight, which would technically make it the day after tomorrow’s first update, to be followed by a second one, but why split hairs?