Short Parade

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review nuggets (starring Robin #157-158, Punisher War Journal #3, and 52 #38)

Mushishi Vol. 1

Eternals #6 (of 7)

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Beasts!: A chunky new hardcover art book from Fantagraphics, featuring 90 artists contributing all-new double-page illustrations of fantasy beasts once believed to truly exist. The lineup includes the likes of Craig Thompson, Souther Salazar, Dave Cooper, Anders Nilsen, Brian Chippendale, Brian Ralph, Mat Brinkman, Colleen Coover, Johnny Ryan, Jordan Crane, Marc Bell, Richard Sala, R. Kikuo Johnson, Stan Sakai, Richard Sala, Sammy Harkham, Steve Weissman, and oh so many more, from comics to fine art to children’s book illustration. Definitely going to be attractive. It’s $28.95.

The End #1: Tom Spurgeon’s review of this was really interesting. It’s another new Ignatz book from Fantagraphics, the first from Anders Nilsen. It’s a blend of many styles on themes of loss and transformation, maybe something of a companion work to Nilsen’s earlier Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow, only more of a comprehensive cataloguing of his disparate approaches to comics. That’s the impression I get from reading about it. Almost certainly worth looking into. Also from Ignatz this week are Spanish creator Marti’s Calvario Hills #1 and Marco Corona’s Reflections #2.

Red Eye, Black Eye: A 304-page graphic novel from Alternative Comics and writer/artist K. Thor Jensen, a memoir of the author’s bus travels around America in a time of personal crisis, to stay with people he otherwise only knew through the internet. A 16-page preview is up on Jensen’s site. It’s $19.95.

Mushishi Vol. 1: A manga you should buy this week. Review here.

Welcome to the N.H.K. Vol. 2: I’ve already bought this, but I haven’t read it yet. Probably more humor from horrible people doing horrible things, which is nice.

Frank Miller’s Robocop: Oh wow, this is really coming out, eh? Way back in August of 2003, Avatar debuted the first installment of perhaps their most ambitious project - a nine-issue full-color comics adaptation of Frank Miller’s original script to the film Robocop 2, as it existed prior to any studio interference, with art by Juan Jose Ryp and comics translation by Steven Grant. And now, three and a half years later, the whole thing is finally collected into a 216-page, $29.99 trade. It took forever, but I do believe the only noticeable production bump was a colorist switch right near the end; otherwise, it should look very consistent. And consistency is awfully important when dealing with a crazed, babbling guilty pleasure project like this one, absolutely overloaded with extreme violence and sledgehammer social satire in the Mighty Miller Manner. Robocop faces off with a vile, privatized team of security experts on the streets, and finds himself at the mercy of creeping political correctness in the halls of OCP. Can’t a cyborg just shoot some villains anymore? It really does bear remarkably little resemblance to the film version, and a remarkably strong resemblance to Miller’s comics work (I note that the main villain was transplanted wholesale into Spawn/Batman), and Ryp’s art adds just the right touch of garish overindulgence for those whose expectations are properly set.

Garth Ennis’ Chronicles of Wormwood #1 (of 6): Also from Avatar this week is the new project from the team that brought you the underrated Garth Ennis’ 303, frankly one of the more interesting scripts Ennis did in years, despite rumbling over some rather familiar ground. This series also sees the writer on familiar ground: nasty religious comedy. Wormwood is the son of Satan, but all he wants to do is hang around with his good friend Jesus and have sex with Joan of Arc and things. Unfortunately, the Apocalypse is apparently supposed to occur. It might turn out interesting, and artist Jacen Burrows is a good match for Ennis’ style, so we’ll see.

XIII Vol. 1: Day of the Black Sun: You know, considering the path XIII has taken in the English-language world in recent years, I’d have never expected it to currently wind up with Marvel, much less in an uncensored, re-translated $14.99 softcover edition. It’ll probably be in typical trade paperback size, but that’s also part of the price you pay. Collecting the first three albums of Jean Van Hamme’s and Willaim Vance’s bande dessinée megahit, covering the years 1984-86. If you don’t know, XIII follows the story of a man who wakes up with no memory, only to discover that plenty of people would really rather him dead. Superspy stuff ensues. If you gave up on the Alias release for whatever reason, now might be the time to come back.

Usagi Yojimbo #100: Ah, god. This is one of those long-running, much-adored series that I’ve never managed to get into, mainly because it’s just so big that I feel it’d be a major commitment just tracking all the stuff down. But I do admire writer/artist Stan Sakai’s art, and here’s the gala Dark Horse issue #100, which is apparently going to be some sort of ‘roast,’ with 32 pages of story stuffed with special guests paying tribute. Featuring Jeff Smith, Frank Miller, Sergio Aragonés, Mark Evanier, Guy Davis, Matt Wagner, Rick Geary, Andi Watson, Jamie S. Rich, Scott Shaw!, and more. Dark Horse also says this will be a nice jumping-on point for new readers, so maybe I’ll stick around too.

Vault of Michael Allred #4 (of 4): I’ve stuck around for all of this. Completing the series, hopefully with some rare stuff.

Elephantmen #6: This is also a comic.

Southland Tales Book 3 (of 3): The Mechanicals: Just in case anyone is buying these things. Are they any good?

Ultimate Civil War Spider-Ham Frisis #1: I think that’s the actual title. Not that I’m immediately (or even belatedly) sold on buying a parody of Event superhero comics from Marvel and writer J. Michael Straczynski, but I should point out that there’s plenty of neat artists attached, like John Severin, Mike Allred, Nick Dragotta, Jim Mahfood, and more.

52 #39 (of 52): I think this issue’s back-up has the origin of Mr. Terrific, but don’t hold me to that.

Doom Patrol Vol. 5: Magic Bus: These are coming out at a pretty good clip, all things considered. Another thick installment, collecting issues #51-#57, including that Ken Steacy-drawn Jack Kirby tribute issue that everyone seems to love. Only one book of Grant Morrison material to go (I trust the final volume will be titled Doom Force and Other Stuff, as it should be), though I think this one ends kind of in the middle of a storyline again. Or at least at a natural stopping point with a larger storyline obviously still proceeding.

Seven Soldiers of Victory Vol. 4 (of 4): Some other Morrison thing.