If I'm going to be posting late in the afternoon, I might as well look at new things.

*Review Nuggets Dept: Nothing is more beautiful than the books of this very day. Or the other day, or whenever it was these fucking things hit whatever bookstore. It varies.

- Upon putting down Warren Ellis’ Wolfskin #2 (of 3), some sad, muttering corner of my brain really wanted the whole of me to believe that the ludicrously contradictory philosophy of warfare on display in this Avatar barbarian miniseries is actually a cunning bit of political commentary on writer Ellis’ part, giving his muscle-bound swordsman antihero a chest-thumping badass speech about how there’s no rules in the art of war and crime is a fantasy on the battlefield and the ends justify the means and the strongest survive, only to have him grimace in self-righteous indignation when his enemies use treachery and stealth against him. But then the smelling salts came out and I realized that I’m probably putting more thought into this toss-off miniseries than Ellis did, choked as it is with factoid-laden exposition, stilted he-man dialogue, and just about the oldest wandering warrior plot one can imagine. The sole saving grace is Avatar stalwart Juan Jose Ryp’s art, flavorfully creased and gruesome, though his storytelling clarity is still occasionally lacking – nothing quite flies the white flag like plopping arrows atop the page to guide the reader from panel to panel. Also: plenty of beefcake and all-male nudity for those interested in that; real swordsmen don't have a single hair below the chin, it seems...

- More successful is Ellis and Stuart Immonen’s Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #11 (of 12), though be aware that 12 out of 22 pages are devoted to following in the glorious footsteps of Shaolin Cowboy and All Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder – yes folks, it’s decadent splash time! It’s not a single panorama, nor a literal foldout, but a spread of six double-pagers depicting the team wordlessly battling miscellaneous villains in the heart of Beyond Corp. HQ, as the friendly Nextwave logo pops up to offer helpful information, like the fact that you ought to buy six copies of this very issue, a notion Ellis has been repeating in various places. Maybe it's just joke hype, but part of me hopes Marvel is pulling the ol’ variant interiors trick - that’d be just what this issue needs to push it right over the top of conspicuous comics consumption. My favorite splashes were the one with the guys in wheelchairs and the one with the Wolverine monkeys teaming up with snakes on planes. Er, that’s kind of all there is to say about this one.

- Crowded House Dept (wait, can I have departments within departments?): Not only does The Immortal Iron Fist #2 sport Travel Foreman & Derek Fridolfs on prologue art, but none other than John Severin drops by for a three-page WWI flashback. Maybe it’s all a clever way to take a bit of weight off of primary artist David Aja, but it works very nicely for writers Ed Brubaker’s and Matt Fraction’s plot, swirly as the background designs that occasionally appear when Aja’s characters get disoriented. It’s Iron Fists throughout history, including rival Immortal Fists in one timeline, and plenty of somewhat arch banter between Danny Rand and Luke Cage. A well-worn plot twist shows itself, and Civil War is nodded toward. There are pain boxes, circular species. I don’t know where this is planning to go, but the moments and the aesthetic of this book carry it very nicely.

- And finally, we have The Drifting Classroom Vol. 3, which did not come out today but should be obtained as early as it’s convenient (unless you don’t have the first two volumes). Writer/artist Kazuo Umezu devotes a solid 1/5 of this installment to what’s going on back home away from the Evil Future (where a classroom full of kids have been warped to, in case you’re not familiar), and it turns out things are no less hyperactive back at home, as one devoted mother strives to follow the voices from beyond time to rescue her lost son in a particularly choice bit of cross-temporal absurdity. Sure, it’s not particularly logical even in survival horror fantasy terms, but there’s something pleasingly pure about a mother’s instinct driving her into a taxi in her nightgown and up toward the hotel room of a bunch of foreigners, all to save her son from his psychotic teacher in a post-cataclysm future. Later on a scary monster shows up, a vicious barefoot JD girl asserts the superiority of girls over boys by crunching a fellow student in the distinguishing spot, and the first graders totally lose their shit in a staggering final five pages that demonstrate how lyrical revulsion can very easily exist right on the edge of camp. What a comic!