Everyone likes slow weeks!

*Slow as far as comics go, that is.


All Star Superman #3, Iron Man #6 (and how they play the same song different ways)

Or Else #4 (Kevin Huizenga's wildest release yet, form becoming function and laughing all the way)

1941: The Illustrated Story (an unsuccessful film becomes a fine comic, thanks to young Stephen Bissette and Rick Veitch)

The rest of it's as frenzied as ever.

*Ah, but the proof is in the pudding,


Challengers of the Unknown: Stolen Moments, Borrowed Time: Oh gosh, this is finally getting a trade. Crazy! Longtime readers of this site may remember the presence of this material in six-issue miniseries form on my Best of 2004 list, which gives you an indication of how long it’s been languishing in back-issue bins. Probably bargain bins, really, since I don’t believe this was much of a popular hit at all. Not too surprising, since writer/artist Howard Chaykin provided only the most delicate gossamer thread of thematic connection to the much-loved DC property of the title, instead opting to provide... a pure Howard Chaykin book. And possibly the best pure Howard Chaykin book since Time2 at that - the plot involves a quintet of brainwashed folks from various walks of life waking up to battle the likes of Fox News and Ann Coulter (or at least obvious doppelgangers), ultimately uncovering a vast conspiracy of fear orchestrated by world financial elites. Loaded with 9/11 evocations, over-the-top (sometimes downright shrill) politics, weird sci-fi touches, explanations upon explanations, and a go-for-broke mess of an ending, it’s all still somehow kept in line by Chaykin’s wildly inspired visuals, beautifully utilizing repeated page layouts and narration to emphasize the unity of the five heroes (and by extension, all of the world’s Good People) against the sneering domination of monied old power. Flawed, but genuinely adventurous, and proof positive that intelligent formal play and crackling genre thrills are most certainly not mutually exclusive.

The Winter Men #4 (of 8): Nice! Finally this great Wildstorm series returns, if only to disappear again for the foreseeable future (which is to say it’s not on any of the release lists through June) - no matter, it’s still cause for celebration. Sporting a witty, layered script by Brett Lewis and lovely art by John Paul Leon, the book follows the adventures of Kris, a weathered old soldier living in an alternate world’s Russia, one that’d be just like our own if not for the rocket armor corps and mysterious super-soldier projects in the nation’s Soviet past. Dense with plot, thick with characters (and character!), and demanding of full reader attention, I’m not sure if this new chapter will make for much of a jumping-on point for curious souls, even though quite a few preliminary threads got tied up last issue. Still, give it a flip, and definitely look for the prior installments if it seems to be to your liking. You’ll soon find yourself pounding your head waiting for issue #5 with the rest of us.

Planetary #25 (of 27): Elsewhere on the ‘tardy Wildstorm titles’ front, we have this grand old warhorse of delay - not about to be upstaged by any young sprats, it also has no releases scheduled through the beginning of summer. As you’ll recall, last issue featured our valiant heroes standing around and explaining stuff from prior issues, followed by several pages of a building exploding. This issue sees them taking the fight straight to the remaining two members of the Four, which is fortunate seeing as how there’s only two chapters left afterward. I’m pretty sure everybody halfway interested who’s not waiting for the trade isn’t going to skip this, myself included, so hey - it’s out Wednesday.

Octopus Girl Vol. 1 (of 4): New manga horror from Dark Horse, this time a title from the mid-‘90s, mixing gore and absurd humor in a series of short stories. From writer/artist Toru Yamazaki, who’s apparently since gone into television acting. The obligatory four-page preview is pretty damned funny - something about that detailed human head on those teeny tiny octopus tentacles, and the posture of the eerily confident human boy. Keep your eye on this one, though obviously the shrink-wrap will dissuade flipping at the stand.

Friday the 13th: Bloodbath #3 (of 3): But for those hungry for horror of a multimedia franchise sort, Avatar has twelve bucks worth of full-blooded treats for you this week, starting with the concluding issue of this ok Brian Pulido-written miniseries, with art by Mike Wolfer of the various and sundry Strange Killings books. Hey, when it rains…

Friday the 13th: Jason Vs. Jason X #1 (of 2): …it pours. Moving right along, Wolfer returns for the next Friday the 13th miniseries, this time serving as writer as well. Sebastian Fiumara provided the pencils for the prior Jason X Special, and he’ll be missed - right now he’s inking his brother Max’s material on the Avatar’s Warren Ellis horror book, Blackgas, which has also fallen behind schedule. I think that’s kind of a theme for this week’s pamphlets.

A Nightmare on Elm Street: Paranoid #2 (of 3): Which Pulido writes (again), with art from Juan Jose Ryp. And seriously now, when are we going to see the last issue of Frank Miller’s Roboc… oh fuck, that thing came out the other month, didn’t it? Well now what the hell do I write in here, huh?! Er, the first issue of this miniseries was underwhelming, at least as far as Pulido's use of the expected dream sequences go - rigid, formulaic stuff, which is too bad considering that Ryp's art has a lot of potential to get really wild. Maybe in this one. Unbelievably, this is the second time in a row that an issue of this, Friday the 13th: Bloodbath, and a Jason X book all arrived in the same week - the first was 12/21/05. Maybe Avatar is planning it this way? I wonder what will accompany the debut issue of that long-ago promised The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Grind miniseries, which has cleverly managed to circumvent this week's lateness theme by never actually beginning...

Punisher MAX #32: Sharks.

Superior Showcase #1: AdHouse's pamphlet-format continuation of their Project: Superior anthology project, which started with a Free Comic Book Day issue #0, and is now a proper $2.95 series. Basically, it's non-franchise superhero stories by various artists, this time featuring Nick Bertozzi, Mike Dawson, and Dean Trippe. I'm particularly interested in what Bertozzi does (he's also part of the Act-I-Vate online comics group), though everybody looks pretty interesting.