Looks like a clearer week.

*Yeah, so I didn't get a lot of posts out recently, but at least one of them was 5000 words long.


Batman #680

and a trip report from SPX 2008.

*So what's going on -


Black Jack Vol. 1 (of 17): Ok, no fancy hardcover frolics here - just the start of Vertical's reprint effort for the adored Osamu Tezuka medical/fantasy/sci-if/whatever-popped-into-his-head series. Not in chronological order, nor even intended as a comprehensive series reprint, but based on one of Tezuka's late presentational plans. It's $16.95 for 288 pages; full review here.

Gus & His Gang: New from First Second, a 176-page, $16.95 English-language edition of both extant volumes of Christophe Blain's semi-comedic cowboy series, which began in 2006. I'll confess, I know this series mostly from Matthias Wivel (whose name I totally dropped at the criticism panel last weekend; hope I didn't dent it!) using it as a springboard for a notable essay on "the naturally talented, hard-working, by all accounts perfect artist never rising above beautifully crafted banality." Bart Beaty later had a somewhat more enthusiastic review; those I know who've seen First Second's edition seem to like it a lot. Sample here. Also from the publisher this week is The Lost Colony, Book 3: Last Rites, continuing Grady Klein's odd, 19th century island saga.

Pohadky: Oh Drawn and Quarterly, when will you stop going for obvious commercial hits like a 128-page collection of "interwoven fables and morose, allegorical iconography," inspired by the Czech and Ukrainian lore and folk arts studied by animators/illustrators Pat Shewchuk & Marek Colek? It's $12.95.

The Man Who Loved Breasts: Also in animation-to-comics, here's a 32-page Top Shelf pamphlet from Robert Goodin, in which a beaten-down man decides to devote his life to what really matters. Plus: bonus shorts. Have a look.

You Ain't No Dancer Vol. 3: The latest comics anthology from New Reliable Press, now larger and square (8" x 8"), and 176 pages. Kazimir Strzepek and Ken Dahl are among the contributors, all of which can be found listed here.

Sulk Vol. 1: Bighead & Friends: Yep, it's a bookshelf variation on the old one-artist anthology, as Jeffrey Brown's new series of 6 1/2" x 4 3/4" comics for Top Shelf begins with this 64-page shot of superhero parody, following up on his 2004 Bighead collection. It's $7.00; preview here. Future installments will contain whatever comes to mind. The publisher also has Owly Vol. 5: Tiny Tales this week, tiny so as to keep your potential Owly exposure to a minimum.

We Lost the War but Not the Battle: This is filmmaker Michel Gondry's comic from PictureBox, a 32-page color pamphlet priced at $5.99. I can't say it's much good; actually, I didn't, as you'll see if you scroll down. Still, if the prospect of an ambling dark whimsy war comic spiked with the artist's issues with women appeals to you, hey: go for it.

Marshal Law: Origins: Hey, it's Titan's fourth collection of Marshal Law stuff, this time bunching up a pair of prose novellas by co-creator Pat Mills (The Day of the Dead and Cloak of Evil), originally published online in 2001 and 2002. Co-creator Kevin O'Neill is present for some illustrations too. I wouldn't expect this material to show up in that huge Top Shelf omnibus, whenever it's out. Take a gander.

Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography: Also in prose - David Michaelis' much-read, much-discussed biography, now in a $19.95 softcover. I suspect it's been around in bookstores for a while.

After 9/11: America's War on Terror (2001- ): Sid Jacobson's & Ernie Colón's 2006 The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation was a pretty big financial success, if I remember correctly, so here's a 160-page sequel of sorts, tracking the origins, progression and lack of conclusion to the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. From Hill and Wang; it's $16.95 or $30.00, soft or hard.

Star Wars Omnibus: Early Victories: Another fat (336-page) color book of Star Wars stuff from Dark Horse, this time picking up some interesting odds 'n ends, including the 1995-96 comics adaptation of Alan Dean Foster's Splinter of the Mind's Eye, featuring pencils by Chris Sprouse, and the 1999 Vader's Quest miniseries by Darko Macan & Dave Gibbons. It's $24.95.

Knights of the Zodiac Vol. 24 (of 28): What's that? You're saying you were at some comics convention last weekend, and Bryan Lee O'Malley was talking about a 1985-91 Masami Kurumada manga called Saint Seiya, and then you heard that VIZ was releasing it under some Western title?! Yes! Here it is, it's still happening!! Take Shaenon Garrity's hand and learn so much more!!

B.P.R.D.: The Warning #4 (of 5): Davis. All you Mike Mignola fans might also want to keep an eye out for the Hellboy Library Edition Vol. 2: The Chained Coffin, The Right Hand of Doom and Others, one of them 9" x 12" fuzzy black $49.95 hardcovers. It's 278 pages, collecting 15 short stories and a load of sketches.

Crossed #1 (of 9): The new Avatar horror series from Garth Ennis & Jacen Burrows, set in a world where everyone's inner desires came out for ugly play. Since it's Avatar, note that the first chapter was actually in issue #0, which came out a little while back.

100 Bullets #96 (of 100): I liked Chris Mautner's interview with Tucker & Nina Stone; it's worth reading if you missed it this weekend. Great rapport between those two, and some pretty detailed insights into their approaches to comics criticism. Anyway, this is one of Tucker's favorite current series, the long-running Brian Azzarello/Eduardo Risso crime project from Vertigo, currently nearing completion; I haven't gotten into it yet, basically because it's really big and I'd have to devote myself to going through lots and lots of free-floating material. I'll buckle down someday, though.

Presidential Material: Barack Obama: Hmmm, I dunno how well this type of comic will do in the Direct Market; it hasn't had a lot of... experience! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!! Hey, I heard there was going to be Joe Biden comic too, but it turned out to be an old issue of Crisis with names changed, lol!

Presidential Material: John McCain: Alright, I just finished talking with the police; I'd totally forgotten my town had passed a terrible political jokes ordinance, so it looks like I can't anticipate the comic looking old or reading like a George W. Bush comic or anything. It's written by Andy Helfer of The Shadow, though! Um, this and the Obama comic (not written by Helfer) are both from IDW, priced at $3.99 each, or $7.99 for a two-in-one flipbook that implicitly affirms the dominance of the two-party system in presidential politics. Want to see Presidential Material: Bob Barr? Looks like you'll have to exercise your individual liberty and draw it yourself. Here is the blue and the red.

Ender's Game: Battle School #1 (of 5): In which Marvel continues its efforts toward bringing various works of popular prose literature to comics in some form; this one's based on Orson Scott Card's famed sci-fi series, scripted by Christopher Yost with especially lacquered art by Pasqual Ferry. Preview. In other gloss, Marvel also has Dark Tower: Treachery #2 (of 6).

The Immortal Iron Fist Vol. 3: The Book of the Iron Fist: Being the concluding $24.99 hardcover collection of the Ed Brubaker/Matt Fraction run on this Marvel series, although a bunch of this stuff is actually writted by Fraction solo. It's issues #7 and #15-16 of the main series, along with the Orson Randall and the Green Mist of Death and The Origin of Danny Rand one-shots, so get ready for lots of (sometimes connected) short tales. Art by divers hands, occasionally in one chapter.

The Punisher MAX Vol. 10: Valley Forge, Valley Forge: The final $16.99 softcover collection for Garth Ennis' run on the series, a capstone story that takes us both outside the title character's head to observe him as a force of nature, and outside the comics form to read about how man affected nature by his deeds. Plot threads get tied up too; not recommended for new readers. Easily the most political of Ennis' Punisher stories, and maybe a bit too intent on wringing metaphor from what's been some awfully pulpy action/crime scenarios, but still a vivid concluding variation on the writer's continued themes. Review here, though you'll probably want to read the book first.