Thanks in advance for that.

*Last night I had a dream that aliens were invading, and I was holed up in my aunt's old house with Spider-Man and a bunch of other people.

It wasn't Peter Parker or anything, it was Spider-Man, in full costume, sitting listlessly at the kitchen table, not saying a word. Some guy told me we had to train for the aliens' attack, so he wound up chasing me around the house armed with some air gun with a scope on it. I managed to hide for a bit and when he came by I ran to disarm him, but then the world changed into a Zack Snyder slow slow slow slow action scene, except I could feel the slowing so that it seemed the distance between me and my target was being halved and halved again forever, and I got slower and slower, and it was agony.

Spider-Man didn't lift a finger to help me. He didn't go fight the aliens either. Fuck you Spider-Man, you're a piece of shit. I can't even look at you, and now I posted it all so everyone knows the truth. Fuck you, me and you are finished. I wish the machines crushed you in that one issue. We are done. I hate you.



Astro Boy (Astro Boy's a real superhero, Spider-Man, he was fighting in 'Nam while you were salting up Aunt May's wheatcakes with baby tears in your bassinet every morning, asshole; covers the recent movie and pertinent manga context)


"Stupid Babies."

- Angelica from Rugrats, on Spider-Man



Ganges #3: Oh, but I know what'll make it all better - the latest $7.95 installment of Kevin Huizenga's Ignatz-format (oversized, nice paper, dust cover) pamphlet series from Fantagraphics & Coconino Press, a journey through what's still adding up to be considerably less than a day in the life of observant Glenn Ganges, the narrative eye diving in and out of memories and perceptions and impressions and all the stuff that makes up human experience, serving to summarize all of Huizenga's experiments in comics storytelling so far. It's not what happens here but how it happens, the 'how' alone revealing the complexities of the person, a biography of craft-as-occasion, the hundred revelations to a man remaining still. Jokes too, and real police action. I got into it more here, and Fantagraphics has a slideshow here. This is the one to flip through on Wednesday, yes.

The Winter Men: God, twice as nice - a 176-page, $19.99 softcover Wildstorm collection of the well-regarded 2005-09 Brett Lewis/John Paul Leon Russian ex-rocket squad series, a dense piece of just-into-fantasy worldbuilding with terrific dialogue and some excellent visuals. I went into some detail here, with a few spoilers; well worth a look.

Shade the Changing Man Vol. 2: Edge of Vision: It's... it's like the world's dial is set to delight. Finally collecting issues #7-13 of Peter Milligan's 1990-96 proto-Vertigo classic, with most of these chapters drawn by Chris Bachalo. Only 57 issues to go! It's $19.99.

Saga of the Swamp Thing Vol. 2: Now this is just too much! The second deluxe hardcover repackaging of the famous Alan Moore, Stephen R. Bissette & John Totleben run on the muck monster character, collecting issues #28-34 and Annual #2, including the "Pog" issue (in homage to Walt Kelly, drawn by Shawn McManus) and the sex issue. You know if your $24.99 is going this way. Man, I feel great!

A Distant Neighborhood Vol. 2 (of 2): What? Above? No, I'm not Perez Hilton, I'm just upset. Was upset. C'mon, would Perez Hilton recommend the new Jiro Taniguchi manga from Fanfare/Ponent Mon? NO... granted, I wasn't really over the moon with vol. 1 myself, but I'm sure the artist will at least serve up some potent visual evocation of the 1963 this series' salaryman protagonist is stuck in (and in his 14-year old body of the time at that), and the story may well deepen as he draws closer to the events that caused his father to abandon the household back around that time. Apropos of nothing, I've seen copies of vol. 1 in various Borders locations recently, so the publisher's spotty U.S. distribution seems to be getting a little better. Good on them. It's $23.00 for 208 pages; preview here.

Years of the Elephant: Also from Fanfare/Ponent Mon this week is a change of pace - an English translation of a Dutch-language comic initially serialized in eight chapters by the excellent Belgian publisher Bries in 2007 and 2008. It's autobiographical fiction of the most intimate sort, a sketched-out account of artist Willy Linthout's attempts to cope with his son's suicide, efforts that involve no shortage of funnybook gags and fantasies, rendered in a line not unlike Johnny Ryan's. Yet another one to flip through this week if you encounter it. It's $18.95 for 168 pages; samples here.

Proper Go Well High: A Trains Are... Mint Book: I believe the second book by Oliver East, a 166-page work from the UK-based Blank Slate Books just now hitting North America via Diamond. Basically it's the story of a walk, from Manchester to Liverpool, sticking close to the railroad tracks. Richard Bruton has much more information (and several images) in his review; it looks nice. Priced at $19.99.

Sparky O'Hare: Master Electrician: Also from Blank Slate, a 94-page, $8.99 collection of humor strips by German cartoonist Mawil, who some might remember from the 2003 Top Shelf book Beach Safari, or maybe the 2008 Blank Slate release We Can Still be Friends. Again, Richard Bruton has more.

Moyasimon: Tales of Agriculture Vol. 1: Your eye-catching manga debut for the week, a 240-page Del Rey release of Masayuki Ishikawa's ongoing seinen series (started in 2004, currently at vol. 8, adapted to 11 episodes of television anime in 2007; great opening titles) regarding an agricultural student with the ability to communicate with micro-organisms and all the funny/dramatic/educational microbe-related situations that arise. I like the sound of this! Only $10.99.

Berserk Vol. 32: More more more from Kentaro Miura. More. Dark Horse's release is two volumes behind the Japanese ongoing.

Star Comics: All-Star Collection Vol. 1: But maybe you want something a little sweeter? Here's a selection of works from Marvel's old Star Comics line (est. 1984), probably best remembered by '80s kids for licensed books like Fraggle Rock or Alf; an effort was also made to pick up some Harvey Comics characters, but when that didn't go through Marvel picked up Harvey veterans Warren Kremer (paired with writer Lennie Herman) and Bob Bolling (creator of Little Archie) to produce new(ish) comics. Some of the results are collected in this $19.99 softcover, including Bolling's Wally the Wizard (#1-2) and Kremer's & Herman's Planet Terry (#1-2), Top Dog (#1-3) and Royal Roy (#1-2). As seen in the current X-Babies miniseries, which presentes the X-Men as babies, which they aren't normally, unlike some Marvel superheroes.

Detective Comics #859: Surely the superhero item of the week, part 2 of 3 in Greg Rucka's & J.H. Williams III's origin of Batwoman saga, now with added 52 wrap-up power. Preview.

The Boys Vol. 5: Herogasm: In which this miniseries struck from the Garth Ennis/Darick Robertson supermen-that-smash-superheroes project assumes its expected place as a specific spread of issues in the larger storyline. This was kind of a weird thing, starting off as a parody of superhero Event crossovers -- in which all of the series' superhumans actually sneak away to secret island to have a massive orgy -- but gradually becoming immersed in the larger series' various subplots, to the point where certain miniseries-specific points (like good superheroine Starlight finding herself turned on in spite of herself by the sheer decadence of the scene) simply vanish while apparent long-term things (such as Hughie's distressing encounter with Black Noir) are set up for resolution way later, I'm guessing.

That probably makes this thing a bit easier to read as a $19.99 softcover in a series, although there were a few funny things going on with withheld information that interacted with contemporaneously released issues of the main series (set a little ways down the series timeline) that suggest the whole thing was planned at least in part as Boys Biweekly in execution, which doesn't quite explain the misty plotting of the Herogasm side of things. It also doesn't help that guest artists John McCrea & Keith Burns don't quite manage the visceral style necessary to sell the sexy and/or revolting bits of the script, or that Ennis ends on a routine study of a good, hard man forced to choose between the honor of his duty and the corruption said duty tends to support - another twist that seems to emerge from the mist about halfway through. Preview. Note that publisher Dynamite also a $29.99 hardcover this week for the series' second collection, Get Some, collecting issues #7-14 of the regular run (currently up to #36); many samples here.

Incognito: Also in anti-superhero activity this week, here's an $18.99 Icon softcover collection of Ed Brubaker's & Sean Phillips' pulp hero-styled study of a supervillain-in-hiding who discovers the pleasure of playing at violent superhero activities as an escape from his shitty office job. Secrets from the past eventually bubble up, leading to basically an extended origin story setup for a subsequent series to come. Certainly above average for this sort of trade-paced superhuman series kickoff -- it really does fit in well with the approach taken by some mainline Marvel U books -- but probably more orthodox than anyone anticipated, with not much in the way of depth just yet.

Criminal: The Sinners #2 (of 5): On the other hand, Brubaker & Phillips have done a nice job of dipping us back into the family-tied crime world of their other ongoing creator-owned concern. Can hapless-by-conscience gangland enforcer Tracy Lawless unravel the mystery of seemingly unrelated underworld murders? Especially when it might really be just happenstance that joins them? Here's some pages from the new $3.50 issue. In other Icon updates, Brian Michael Bendis' & Michael Avon Oeming's Powers relaunches with a new #1, previewed here, along with vol. 3 of the Definitive hardcover collection, gathering up issues #25-37 of the original Images series (thus leaving 30 issues of the first Icon series between it and the new #1) for $29.99.

The Dead: Kingdom of Flies: In case you happened to enjoy his recent Hellblazer run, here's a 96-page, $15.00 softcover collection of a zombies vs. soldiers and the fire brigade miniseries Simon Bisley recently pencilled for writer Alan Grant. From Berserker Comics; many pages here.

I Am Legion #6 (of 6): Closing out Fabien Nury's & John Cassaday's French market occult thriller, and the first DDP/Humanoids project; my Humanoids-in-English master list has been duly updated!

Beasts of Burden #3 (of 4): Cats 'n dogs 'n occult mystery from Evan Dorkin & Jill Thompson. Preview.

Creepy Comics #2: Continuing Dark Horse's 48-page, $4.99 pamphlet-format revival of the old Warren horror magazine, this time featuring a story by Nathan Fox of Dark Reign: Zodiac. More here.

Image United #1 (of 6): You know, I'm a child of the Image Revolution and all, I loved The Savage Dragon and Shadowhawk and The Maxx - I felt the 13-year old boy appeal of, say, Pitt. This thing... there's something about it, this Robert Kirkman-written mega-crossover, and it's got to do with the fact that it's the highest-profile old-school jam comic in at least a decade. All six Image founders not named Jim Lee putting pencils to the same pages for big, violent swirls of pure high '90s ultra-muscle superhero excess, everyone working their own characters (and Whilce Portacio simply inventing a new one since Wildstorm has Wetworks) - it's $3.99's worth of superhero decadence, frankly, but of a purer, page-to-eye, art-first sort. That appeals to the lizard/boy side of me, and/or the part that senses some whiff of sedition in re: the writer/editor-driven universal plot points of big ticket superhero comics. Sparse production diary here; color preview here, opening joke on the fallen status of these clenched-fisted character included. No babies, I bet.