The sunny week beckons.

*Now I want it to be 70 degrees again.


review nuggets (starring 52 #45, Punisher War Journal #5, and Blade #7)

Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms (the only full-length review I did all week, and it's for a fine book indeed)

*Latest Grant Morrison News Dept: Having been duly chastened by Dick Hyacinth, I will point out today that J.H. Williams III will indeed be re-teaming with Morrison for an issue of Batman (#667) this June. This is preferable to me than the original plan, which was to see Williams return to Detective Comics to work with Paul Dini, where you’ll recall the he was initially set as ‘regular’ artist (total issues completed: 1), albeit a sort of fill-in regular artist for initial regular artist Rags Morales (total issues completed: 0). Of course, I really want to see the rumored creator-owned project Morrison and Williams are supposed to be working on, unless I dreamed that up along with the combination radio/vehicle battery jumper box, perfect for rocking out while stranded (that was last night’s dream).

But there is other news, reprint news afoot! This July, Knockabout Books will be publishing (no permalinks, scroll down) a new 256-page omnibus collection of the works of artist and designer Rian Hughes (who I believe has some material in the third issue of Ashley Wood’s art thingy Swallow, due this week), titled Yesterday’s Tomorrows. It looks to be chock-full of fine treats, including both of Hughes’ collaborations with Morrison: (1) Dare, a satirical, political envisioning of classic British heroic character Dan Dare, originally serialized in 1990-91 in UK comics magazines Revolver and Crisis and later brought to the US in 1991-92 as a four-issue miniseries under Fantagraphics’ Monster Comics line; and (2) Really & Truly, a drug-themed adventure strip that ran in 2000 AD for eight issues in 1993. I don’t believe either of these works have been collected before in book form (EDIT 3/20/07 6:20 PM: no, wait, Dare was published by Fleetway in collected form in late 1991, although I don't think Really & Truly has been seen since its initial publication). The tome will also contain The Science Service, Hughes’ 1987 graphic novel with co-writer John Freeman, and Goldfish, a Raymond Chandler story Hughes drew from Tom DeHaven’s sequential adaptation, previously seen as part of ibooks’ Raymond Chandler's Marlowe: A Trilogy of Crime anthology from 2003.

It will also apparently be limited to a print run of 3000 copies, will probably be difficult to find in stores outside the UK, and will rock those in the US a solid $60 or so, after currency conversion and shipping from Amazon.uk. Fire up that internet if you’ve got the cash! (spotted at Steve Flanagan’s Gad, Sir! Comics)

*Diamond’s list was weird this week, in that the back-of-Previews information seemed weird and incomplete. I know, imagine! So I’m going to augment my scope with a few things taken from other stores’ shipping lists - a grain of salt may be needed as to availability:


Buddy Does Jersey: Aces! Fantagraphics' second and final omnibus collection of Peter Bagge's Hate, collecting issues #16-30 of the series, now in b&w to better emphasize Jim Blanchard's inks. Only $14.95 for 352 pages of increasingly downbeat yet oddly funny tales of crime and loathing and getting by in the old town of your youth.

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser: Oooh - a new Dark Horse collection of the 1991 Epic Comics series of adaptations of the works of Fritz Leiber's short stories, from writer Howard Chaykin and penciller Mike Mignola, the latter well on his way to developing his mature style. He's inked by Al Williamson. I have a pair of the Epic issues, and it's good-looking, entertaining stuff.

Phoenix Vol. 10 (of 12): Sun part 1 (of 2): The final storyline is gearing up for Osamu Tezuka's unfinished life's work - surely you can't miss it! If it shows up in your local shop.

Satsuma Gishiden Vol. 3 (of 5): More chest-beating, burning soul of the samurai blood ‘n guts from Hiroshi Hirata, just the thing to get you amped up for overthrowing the decadence of contemporary culture. Am I a sucker for this stuff? Yes!!

Army @ Love #1: A new Vertigo ongoing from writer/penciller Rick Veitch, inked by Gary Erskine (who’s got a powerful enough line that Veitch’s art winds up looking a good deal different than before). A satirical tale of violence and frolic in a near-future army made fearless through total submersion of the realities of death and killing. Or at least that’s what I got from the preview that got printed a few weeks back. A shorter version of that preview is online here. Even when he trips up, which is always a possibility, Veitch is perpetually worth a look.

Ramayan 3392 AD #7: Man, I had kind of a hard time hunting down a shelf copy of the prior issue of this Virgin-published update of the saga of Rama, which is probably not a good sign. Still, this is maybe my favorite of Virgin’s ongoing series, and certainly seems to be the place where they employ their more visually interesting artists - please take all of that in relative terms, but I do think it’s a good comic.

John Romita Jr. 30th Anniversary Special: This might turn out interesting - a 64-page, no-ads, $3.99 one-shot dedicated to paying homage to JRJR, including an all-new story written by Neil Gaiman, a reprint of his very first Marvel work (from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #11), and lots of interviews, art samples, back-pattings, etc. I like the guy’s work, so I’ll probably go for it.

Escape of the Living Dean Annual #1: I believe this is the one written and drawn by Mike Wolfer, fyi.

Wisdom #4 (of 6): Yes, coming out very quickly now. This is a nice series.

The Punisher MAX Presents: Barracuda #2 (of 5): More Goran Parlov.

The Brave and the Bold #2: Issue #1 of this was cute, so I’ll probably take a look at this too - Supergirl looks to be the primary guest star this issue, so there will maybe be internet discussion about portrayals of women in superhero comics!

Gødland #17: Another issue of this. I’ll draw attention to this essay by Greg Burgas, and note that I agree that Casey has largely stepped away from what Greg dubs postmodernism in superhero comics; Casey’s current stance in the corporate superhero scene seems to be one of refurbishment, plucking aspects from the past to shine up for the future in intuitive, personal ways. Even though Gødland is a creator-owned book, it acts as a sort of ultimate expression of that notion, albeit one that doesn’t so much as literally collect elements of the past (as Casey did in, say, Fantastic Four: First Family) as utilize Kirbyesque gestures in a newly familiar context. It certainly isn’t interested in drawing attention to itself as a particularly ‘aware’ work (to apply that particular definition) - I kind of have a difficult time accepting it as pastiche, since it doesn’t even quite resemble a Jack Kirby comic much at all in execution - it refurbishes semi-recognizable parts as a means of constructing something arguably new. Newish. Though I suppose that’s pastiche anyway, and it’s my definition that’s limited.

Anyway, I think refurbishment is the impulse behind a lot of Casey’s recent superhero works. I don’t think I’d mourn this impulse as a passing of the desire to ‘expand’ the medium as Greg seems to, if only because so many such ‘expansions’ strike me as not particularly unique from one another, which always forces me to evaluate each such expansion on the level of what they say about the writer him or herself - Casey’s own travel from Automatic Kafka to The Intimates always struck me as a journey from specific interrogation of chosen elements of the superhero comic to a gentler reconditioning of those elements as a metaphor of teenage growth, and ultimately rebellion against the fetid structures of adult authority (which, in the series’ most amusing concluding stroke, turns out to be simple existence in a Direct Market superhero comic book). So it makes sense that something like Gødland would be the next step.

Elephantmen #8: Oh, this is out too.

52 #46 (of 52): In which the climactic ‘Black Adam fights the rest of the comic’ storyline chugs forward, this time seeing (at least in part) the response of Mad Scientist Island. The problem is, as I’ve mentioned before, a book with as loose a grip on its visuals as 52 is unlikely to succeed at any effort requiring significant visual impact, and widespread sequences of destruction sort of have to lead it in that area. It’s sort of a miracle that Keith Giffen has kept the damn thing easily readable as it is. Still, it marches forward.

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