Another week, another seasonal debut.

*Oh my aching fingers.


Fury: Peacemaker #4 (of 6)

Death Note Vol. 5 (of 12) (at least, I think the collected editions are primed to end at 12)

And there's also my 150,652,003 word summary of Free Comic Book Day 2006, which features reviews of 10 selected books, plus bonus examinations of an old Marvel videogame magazine and '70s Heavy Metal and stuff. And Slovenian soft drinks, can't forget those.

*Very thick on the trades and collections...


The Fate of the Artist: Oh yes, this is one of the good ones. New from Eddie Campbell, the fifth of the increasingly inaccurately dubbed ‘Alec’ books - though all of you who read Tom Spurgeon’s recent interview with Campbell know that Alec MacGarry very nearly had his own role to play in this one too. Here’s my review; it’s a fine, fascinating book, a grand dark jest of a work that dares raise the notion that maybe living for one’s art isn’t all that great an idea after all, shot through with endless puzzles and digressions as to the notion of authorial identity and intent, and glorious color art. An absolutely mandatory read for even halfway-interested Campbell fans, and totally worth checking out for those who’ve never heard of the man. It’s very good.

The Rest of First Second’s Spring Line: No, wait - that’s not a title. I refer to the other five books promising publisher First Second have planned for their initial wave of releases, all of which are also out today - I’ve seen quite a few of these floating around in chain bookstores already. A.L.I.E.E.N. by Lewis Trondheim has already been commended to me by several trusted folks - apparently it’s quite a wild work of violent slapstick and general madness. There’s also two works from Joann Sfar, the solo Vampire Loves and an Emmanuel Guibert collaboration, Sardine in Outer Space. And then we’ve got the first installment of Grady Klein’s The Lost Colony, and J.P. Stassen’s Deogratias, concerning genocide in Rwanda. All of these tomes are well-designed, compact little softcovers, urging you to take them home through sheer force of presentational quality. Give them a look.

Kings in Disguise: Now this is one I've been waiting for - a brand-new printing of this old Kitchen Sink mainstay from writer James Vance and artist Dan Burr, adapted from Vance's one act play into a six-issue miniseries that ran from 1988-89, with a collected edition following in 1990. Norton presents this new softcover edition, with a (new?) introduction by Alan Moore. The story takes place in the Great Depression, following a young boy and a tramp through various gritty events. It's quite highly regarded by those who've read it, and I really like what I've seen on Burr's art, a meaty underground-derived directness. Norton will also be publishing an original graphic novel sequel from the same team, On the Ropes, in 2007.

Scary Book Vol. 2: Insects: More artifacts from the Kazuo Umezu archives, which have perhaps unfortunately become the only exposure a lot of US readers have had to this hugely influential manga talent. At least we have something? This installment of Dark Horse’s series features a single, 232-page story, Butterfly Grave, apparently using a young girl’s fear of butterflies as a metaphor for familial concern (her dad’s getting remarried, you see). Preview here.

The Authority: The Magnificent Kevin: Thoroughly underwhelming third installment (and second trade) in Garth Ennis’ contribution to the mighty canon of The Authority - artist Carlos Ezquerra does make for an able replacement for (sub)series co-progenitor Glenn Fabry, but it’s plain that the concept is running out of gas, as Ennis steers things into overlong flashbacks, tired tough-guy sentimentality, grudging respect between old foes, and the sort of ‘ha ha man superheroes are really stupid (unless I am writing them of course)’ bleacher-playing you’d thought went out to the cornfield years ago. I’m still kind of interested in seeing Ennis (and Chris Sprouse!) tackle that Midnighter solo series (the character being essentially a co-star in these stories anyway), but future Kev exploits will survive without me, I’m sure.

Popbot #7: Hey, the Ashley Wood solo series/art book from IDW is back! This one falls squarely into the 'guilty pleasure' slot for me, but I just can't ge enough of this rambling, pin-up prone story of a rock star who's a cat, and lots of robots, and Sherlock Holmes' head coming off, and lots of women, and probably other things I'm forgetting.

Warren Ellis’ Wolfskin #1 (of 3): New Warren Ellis series from Avatar, so you know there'll be blood blood blood. This is the one with the vikings and the big swords, though it's also kind of a fantasy barbarian story, with some samurai trappings. Art by Juan Jose Ryp, who does not fail to provide much grue. Anyone remember the Tim Vigil comic Cuda, which Avatar also published for a little while (along with Caliber and Vigil's own Rebel Studios)? I'm kind of getting that sort of vibe...

Fantastic Four: First Family #3 (of 6): These are the miniseries I follow.

Albion #5 (of 6): I follow them to the ends of time itself.

52 #1 (of 52): Ah, aren’t your toes just curling at the sight of the ‘of 52’ there, dear reader? A nice $2.50 a pop? This is the big post-Infinite Crisis weekly series from a whole crapload of people - I notice that DC's solicitations are simply crediting all four participating writers (Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid, and Grant Morrison) with every issue, maybe as a means of simplifying their schedule - I don't believe all four will be in every issue. EDIT (1:04 AM, 5/9/06): No, wait, I'm wrong. As reader Gardner points out in the comments below, actually the whole thing is being divvied up issue-by-issue, page-by-page between the four writers. Details from series editor Stephen Wacker here. With breakdowns by Keith Giffen, an initial 10-chapter backup story by Dan Jurgens and Art Thibert, and art by a whole lot of people. It's a comics community in one series! Preview!

Skrull Kill Krew: And how is the temperature at the bottom of the barrel anyway? Yes, it's the, er, long-awaited(?) trade paperback collection of this 1995-96 miniseries from writers Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, and artist Steve Yeowell. Morrison and Yeowell have done good work together in the past, but not here, oh no. Released as an original product of the short-lived Marvel Edge line of whatever wasn't fitting into the other cabinets in the compartmentalized House of Ideas universe of the mid-'90s, the story concerns a rough group of bastards with a secret tie to a particularly silly bit of Marvel U lore, one that wrecked their lives. Now, they're ready to kill the shit out of as many Skrulls as possible! Too bad Marvel wasn't ready for anything too, well, edgy in the Edge line, as you can all but hear the book's tone and intent grinding against the constrains of its all-ages format. And what's meant to be a take-no-prisoners 'who gives a fuck?!' romp through Marvel Myth just comes off as half-realized and faintly embarrassing. Historic value for being the first work for Marvel US for Morrison (and maybe Millar too) though. Morrison would return to the same (very) basic tonal concept with Marvel Boy, when the company was finally ready for it. You should read that instead.