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.



Best Bullet Butt Boy About

*New movie column, this time about the new not-really-a-hit Astro Boy movie (at least not in the U.S.), as related to a delightful little Osamu Tezuka tale from the late '60s in which the Mighty Atom beats the living shit out of United States forces in Vietnam. Urasawa should remake that one next. Enjoy!



Good things come to those who check the internet obsessively hundreds of times per day.

*That's how I came to win the Nobel Prize in Victory.


pamphlets from last week (being Batman and Robin #6, PunisherMAX #1, Starstruck #3 and Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #8)

*Well, issue #300 of The Comics Journal was available online for a few hours (and maybe still is for subscribers?) - long enough for me to assess and affirm the quality of most of its 11 inter-generational conversations between cartoonists. I'd rank the Ho Che Anderson/Howard Chaykin piece as tops in sheer enjoyment, although all of them have their virtues; I mean, J.C. Menu in English. Come on.

But it's also worth mentioning that most of the Journal's regular columnists appear in this final magazine(ish)-format as well (plus a few reviews); of particular note is (will be) Matthias Wivel's piece on Moebius' The Airtight Garage and how its various incarnations (including 2008's new Le chasseur déprime) follow his development. Right now Moebius is in one of those odd positions European cartoonists often find themselves stuck in vis-à-vis North America where his renown is obvious but his work is somewhat inaccessible, to say nothing of recent work, which means a lot of English-language discussion of the work takes on a retrospective quality, and these retrospectives tend to imply the guy's hands were stolen by goblins sometime in the early 1990s, because hey: no recent work in English, save for that one Halo comic.

This piece covers a wider range, and I think offers a fuller view of one aspect of Moebius' body of work, which is valuable. And it also demonstrates the vitality remaining in the Journal's recurring, non-interview features.

*So then -


Driven by Lemons: The new book from Joshua W. Cotter of Skyscrapers of the Midwest, which Sean T. Collins, in an interview with Cotter from the Comics Journal #299, referred to as making Skyscrapers look like Harry Potter in terms of accessibility, to which Cotter replied "I just have to do what my brain tells me to, you know?" The result here is a facsimile Moleskine sketchbook filled with seemingly random or abstract (and sometimes self-referential) drawings in a number of styles, which eventually fuse together loosely into an improvisatory philosophical wander. I went more in depth here, but let me state plainly that this is top-tier work for late in 2009. From AdHouse; $19.95 for 104 b&w and color pages. Preview.

Pictures That Tick: An unexpected Dark Horse reprint of a 2001 Allen Spiegel Fine Arts collection of Dave McKean's short comics from about a decade's stretch prior. I recall liking this stuff when it was new-ish, although I haven't gone back to it in four or five years. Literary and poetic shorts, touching on McKean's collage style and the inkwork of much of Cages; certainly those who enjoyed that longform work will want this, as McKean is not prolific in the comics form. It's a $19.95 softcover, 184 b&w and color pages.

The Fir-Tree: A 72-page hardcover Lilli Carré adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen tale; I expect it'll look pretty. From HarperCollins' It Books imprint, priced at $14.99.

The Gift of the Magi: Also from It Books, a similarly conceived (96-page, $14.99) O. Henry adaptation by Joel Priddy, with the expected holiday theme. These things are 5" x 7" so I bet they'll fit in a stocking.

Casper the Friendly Ghost 60th Anniversary Hardcover: I like a birthday celebration comic for beloved kids' entertainment franchise that has its title character weeping tears of shame right on the front cover almost as much as I like ghost school report cards where all the grades spell out OOOO, so you can just imagine how the low low $9.95 cover price on this 7" x 10", 80-page color item is the frosty white icing on a cake of the hilarious youthful dead. Collecting 1949's Casper the Friendly Ghost #1 from publisher Archer St. John and what I presume is Harvey Comics Hits #61 from 1952, which was also effectively Casper #6, picking up from the St. John run, i.e. the first Harvey issue of Casper, although the official Harvey series didn't pick up until #7. Also, the "60th Anniversary" here deals with comics only; the Casper character actually dates back to the 1930s. When I come back from the dead as a ghost I'll scare everyone with comic book info, screaming issue numbers as they all run because I hate friends and these are tears of pride. Anyway: two Golden Age comics here. Preview.

Tarzan: The Jesse Marsh Years Vol. 4: But if you're more of a jungle pulp type, Dark Horse also has another 232 pages of Golden Age stuff just your speed. The usual $49.95; see?

Alex Raymond's Rip Kirby: The First Modern Detective Vol. 1 (of 5) 1946-1947: Shit, why the hell not? You've read about it in Dave Sim's glamourpuss, now experience Raymond's photo-realism style for yourself in his final major newspaper strip, a sleek and modern detective thing written by King Features editor Ward Greene, at least for this book, another huge Library of American Comics hardcover from IDW, where they never sleep. Your $49.99 gets you 320 pages, including educational materials from Raymond biographer Tom Roberts and expert Brian Walker.

Pluto Vol. 6 (of 8): Meanwhile, in manga - Tezuka by way of Urasawa, again. The usual $12.99.

Black Jack Vol. 8 (of 17): Or maybe Tezuka by way of Tezuka, for another 328 pages. It really is something that 2000+ pages of Black Jack is out in English now, huh? And Vertical isn't quite halfway done. And even that won't cover the stuff Tezuka didn't want to reprint! Crazy.

Oishinbo Vol. 6: The Joy of Rice: There's also a million or so pages of this quintessential cooking manga, although it looks like VIZ's translation may be halting soon - only one more volume after this one (on casual venue 'izakaya' foods) is set, due in January 2010.

Vagabond Vol. 30: On the other hand, the publisher is primed to see Takehiko Inoue's swordsman drama through (it's currently up to vol. 31 in Japan), as it enters its final year or two.

Borgia Vol. 3: Flames from Hell: And then there's popular Eurocomics. You've probably heard that Milo Manara is finally wrapping up work on X-Men: Ragazze in fuga (roughly, X-Men: Girls in Flight), a Chris Claremont-written 'women of the X-Men' original Italian comic album first announced in March of 2006 - some b&w preview pages are now out and about. But Manara hasn't just been drawing superheroes the whole time; indeed, Heavy Metal readers have been treated over the last few years to this historical fiction exploitation-movie-on-paper series scripted by no less than Alejandro Jodorowsky, a man who knows his family issues and can no doubt appreciate the reign of the dirtiest Pope of all. This is HM's oversized $14.95 unedited hardcover album version of the newest stuff, which was supposed to conclude the story at one point, though it looks like a fourth chapter is forthcoming, maybe around the time that X-Men comic drops in English.

Viking #4: Ivan Brandon & Nic Klein, oversized Image at $2.99 for 24 pages of no nonsense. Preview.

Fall Out Toy Works #2 (of 5): Hard to believe The Winter Men is finally due in collected form next week. Here's the current project by its writer, Brett Lewis, a normal-sized Image at $3.99, all anime-slick and 32 pages.

Hellblazer #261: Your Peter Milligan of the week, seeing regular series artists Giuseppe Camuncoli & Stefano Landini return for a three-parter.

Dominic Fortune #4 (of 4): Concluding Howard Chaykin's trip back in time (in several ways).

The 'Nam Vol. 1: And then there's another odd bit of Marvel time-travel, a gritty bit of 1986 in the form of a period war comic, cooked up by two veterans of the day, editor Larry Hama and writer Doug Murray. Following soldier Edward Marks as he arrives on the scene in 1966, the idea was that each issue would jump forward a month with each issue's realtime release (albeit realtime decades removed). However, it's probably influential penciller Michael Golden that left the most lasting impression on readers, and this new $29.99 softcover collection notably stops at issue #10, just a few issues before Golden's departure from the series; Murray remained as regular writer until 1990, and the series continued to 1993, by which point the Punisher had been introduced as a sales-boosting member of the cast. Still, these 248 pages can perhaps be read as particular to their time, when the very plates of the superhero publishing earth seemed to shift.



I feel better.

*Been sick all weekend, including one night of trying not to move under the blankets so the winter wraiths couldn't get into my pores. That is a medical condition and those are terms of art.


Pim & Francie: The Golden Bear Days: Being the first-ever bookshelf ready comics-related item by Al Columbia, a blinking presence on the comics scene for years now. Chris Mautner has some background on the guy's work, although this new 240-page hardcover project is (appropriately) different from anything else he's done. It's an arrangement of drawings -- sometimes preparations for drawings -- generally honed in on the journey of two old-timey animation-looking kids. Sometimes there's dialogue, sometimes there's 'scenes,' but most of the work's interest comes from wrenching you though time and space as the narrative stretches just thin enough to part in spots, only to gum together again for a little while, until it's pulled again. Not an easy work in the slightest; some will dismiss it as just a hodgepodge of frustrated impulses. And some have already declared that part of the appeal. Have a look. From Fantagraphics; $28.99.

Hot Potatoe: Elsewhere in collected images, Drawn and Quarterly brings 276 pages of work from Marc Bell, the elusive talent behind the excellent 2003 Highwater Books production Shrimpy and Paul and Friends and Fantagraphics' 2004 pamphlet Worn Tuff Elbow #1. Since then, Bell's ultra-tactile '60s underground stylings -- already so layered and intense to seem more like the memory of an sunny-soaked acid funnybook -- have mostly leaked out into illustration and sculpture and found stuff made his. The best of it (and it before it), 2001-08, including anthology comics never before collected, is featured here as a $39.95 color hardcover.

Luna Park: Meanwhile, Vertigo continues its line of original hardcovers with a 160-page color tale of Coney Island, a Russian gangster and relevant events of 100 years ago, from journalist and historical fiction novelist Kevin Baker. Art by Danijel Zezelj & Dave Stewart, which locks this in as probably the most interesting project I've seen from the line in a while. Tiny lil' preview here. It's $24.99.

Beast: A 152-page solo work from Marian Churchland, whose lithe, manga-informed art got some attention in a few recent issues of Elephantmen. This one's about a sculptor who's tasked with carving the likeness of an uncanny client. Preview. From Image, $15.99.

The Year of Loving Dangerously: A 128-page collaborative work from writer Ted Rall and artist Pablo G. Callejo, chock-full of all-real 1980s suicidal turmoil and economic desperation as in fucking-to-keep-a-roof-over-your-head, as lived by the writer. Just look. From NBM, $18.95.

Insomnia Café: I'm aware that Turkish-born cartoonist M.K. Perker has a body of solo comics work behind his Vertigo collaborations with writer G. Willow Wilson (Cairo, Air), but I don't think any of it's available in English. So, I'm not sure what to expect from this all-new project from Dark Horse, an 80-page b&w hardcover telling the allegorical story of a troubled rare books expert granted access to an Archive full of volumes still being written. Perker's art seems a good deal more lively and caricature-prone here than in his Vertigo stuff, and it could be worth checking out how his storytelling operates. It's $14.95.

Sky Doll: Doll Factory #1 (of 2): This, on the other hand, is a translation of a foreign work, specifically a pamphlet-format miniseries version of a 96-page art book from 2003 concerning the ongoing Sky Doll religious-satire/Disney-anime fusion series from Alessandro Barbucci & Barbara Canepa, the three extant volumes of which Heavy Metal published as an all-in-one magazine in 2006 and Marvel re-published (with a new translation) as its own pamphlet miniseries in 2008. Why a process-heavy 'making of' album is getting transformed into a pair of $5.99 comic books is beyond me, although there's a short bonus story included, and this does mark the first entirely new material to see English release since the Heavy Metal publication, so...

The Authority: The Lost Year Reader: Oh, here's a $2.99 reprint of Grant Morrison's & Gene Ha's abortive revival of The Authority from 2006. Or, one issue came out in 2006 and then another one arrived in 2007, and that was pretty much that, although it did get one more issue out there than Morrison's contemporaneous WildC.A.T.s project with Jim Lee (supposedly to see completion as an original graphic novel one of these days) - this all went down while Morrison was on the writing staff of 52, you'll recall. Now it's years later, a totally different Authority series has over a dozen issues out, and Wildstorm has retained fellow 52 veteran Keith Giffen to script out 10 new issues from Morrison's plotting so as to fill in the gaps between series; the effort begins next week (with issue #3), with artists Darick Robertson & Trevor Scott, although Jonathan Wayshak is listed as artist for issue #4.

There's some irony in seeing two different art teams pegged for the first two issues, actually - out of all of Morrison's superhero projects from 2006 or so, The Authority was maybe the farthest he ventured outside of his comfort zone, and part of that was from how artist Gene Ha (cover artist on the 10 new issues) seemed so in synch with Morrison's concept for the revival, a none-too-original planting of the Authority cast in the 'real' non-superhero world. It was all in the execution, how Morrison struggled to give his human characters unaffected, dispassionate dialogue, while Ha spent nearly all of issue #1 keeping everyone's face somehow obscured from view, bodies slumped and lumpy, and then humbled more by the literal vastness of the Authority and their technology, a witty variant on the bigger! bolder! Widescreen stylings that made the stuff popular under Ellis & Hitch. For a writer often accused of paying little mind to visual qualities, it seemed like an interesting use of a franchise revival for aesthetic adventuring.

But it was also a thing of potential, of word-picture linkages that needed space to play out. Just from the solicitations it looks like the mission is different now, with the writer acting as plotter to another writer and artists coming in to draw the storylines. So: it's more like 52. Ah, just more like a superhero comic, a continuity comic, although it'd be great if Giffen's mean streak would show; maybe that's the best to hope for now.

Batman and Robin #6: And here's your new Morrison, ending the Red Hood storyline and the much-remarked-upon tenure of penciller Philip Tan. Sneak peek. Note that series is taking a break until the end of January so that its upcoming Blackest Night tie-in story (drawn by Cameron Stewart) won't get ahead of the Event itself.

PunisherMax #1: You might complain about these $3.99 price tags, but times are so tight at Marvel they can't even afford title spacing. God, what the fuck kind of joke is that? I don't have the fucking money for that. Is Diablo Cody sitting on my couch? Do I have a band? What the hell have you done to me, Frank Castle? That's million-dollar talk show humor. Jason Aaron & Steve Dillon re-launch the Punisher. I blame them.

Tank Girl: Skidmarks #1 (of 4): No, this isn't an IDW series, although writer/co-creator Alan Martin and artist Rufus Dayglo are involved; it's a pamphlet miniseries from Titan Publishing, reprinting a serial from the Judge Dredd Megazine, newly colorized. Samples here.

Phonogram 2: The Singles Club #5 (of 7): Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie return to that one club, and those songs, and the people. Backup drawn by Dan Boultwood. Gillen also has a Marvel debut this week, S.W.O.R.D. #1 with penciller Steven Sanders.

SuperGod #1 (of 5): Another superhero take from writer Warren Ellis and publisher Avatar, drawn by one Garrie Gastonny. The topic is superhumans as divine, as far as it relates to humans. Preview here. Ellis & Avatar also have Gravel #15 this week.

Chronicles of Wormwood: The Last Battle #2 (of 6): Also Avatar, also divine; Garth Ennis & Oscar Jiminez.

Citizen Rex #5 (of 6): Hernandez, Gilbert & Mario. Here.

B.P.R.D.: 1947 #5 (of 5): Ending the current Mike Mignola/Joshua Dysart/Fábio Moon/Gabriel Bá miniseries. Like so. Co-writer John Arcudi and artist Guy Davis return in January for the next present day storyline, King of Fear.

Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #8 (of 8): Ending the current Mike Mignola/Duncan Fegredo miniseries, although you probably don't want to count on much of an ending-ending; the Mignolaverse letters page is the glue that binds all the many Hellboy series, frequently addressing totally different stories and artists than whoever's in a given comic at a time, and recently (in the Abe Sapien: The Haunted Boy one-off) it's been referring to The Wild Hunt as guilty of "the sin of setup," perhaps better taken as the first 1/3 or so of an especially long story than as a self-contained unit (even by Hellboy standards, I guess), which will continue at some point in 2010, certainly after the next Mignola project with Richard Corben, the one-issue Hellboy: The Bride of Hell, due in a month and a half. Still, I'm sure some added origin-related info will appear to mark the border between storylines. Preview.

Frank Frazetta's Dark Kingdom #2: I am required by law to disclose all Tim Vigil comics, including this $3.99 item from Image, although the art actually serves as illustration to a prose story by Mark Kidwell. I am a man of liberal construction.

Batman/Doc Savage Special: Sure, sure, it may be a $4.99, 56-page introduction to yet another DC universe-among-universes, complete with a big miniseries yet to come, but writer/mastermind Brian Azzarello seems to have a pretty great concept brewing: a matured, shared universe of pulp magazine fixtures, upset by the arrival of the gun-toting early Batman cast as the young hotshot in town, thus neatly linking the early notion of the superhero to the costumed magazine characters that certainly provided some of the concept's lineage. So yeah: Doc Savage and Batman-with-a-gun, drawn by Phil Noto. I think the Spirit's gonna show up too? Later?



An anticipation post that goes near and far.

*Ladies and gentlemen, Brendan McCarthy on Spider-Man and Dr. Strange. April, May, June: 2010.


Detective Comics #858 (focusing on J.H. Williams III - where he's been, what he's doing, and where he's going with what he's done; thanks for the kind words on this one, everyone!)

*Closer -


: A new Secret Acres collection of Ken Dahl's frank, vivid, and energetically cartooned account of herpes - its composition, its spread and its effects on a man, and other people. I've read some of this in minicomics form, and I was impressed by its visual ingenuity and strong sense of humor. Very much worth checking out; it's $18.00 for 208 pages, 7" x 7". Chris Mautner reviews it here.

Buenaventura Press Comics Revival 3-Pak: In which the well-known art comics publisher looks to the past for a means of keeping pamphlet-format alternative comics viable in the Direct Market - the old fashioned 3-in-1 plastic bag bundle, like you used to see in the supermarket. Except every one of these $11.95 packs features the same three comics: (1) Lisa Hanawalt's I Want You #1; (2) Ted May's Injury Comics #3; and (3) Eric Haven's The Aviatrix #1. All three are essentially humor comics in some way, whether it's (1) alternative weekly-type cute-absurd grotesqueries, (2) high school autobio and fantasy hero pastiche or (3) po-faced adventure stuff crashing into wild-eyed faux-autobio vignettes. I reviewed them in here.

Like a Dog: A new hardcover collection of rare and scattered work by cartoonist and musician Zak Sally -- best known in comics for his Ignatz series Sammy the Mouse, two issues extant -- culled from 15 years of work. Featuring the first two (of three) issues of Sally's one-man anthology series Recidivist, plus various and sundry short pieces, with annotations, bonuses and an introduction by John Porcellino. From Fantagraphics; $22.99 for 134 b&w and color pages. Preview here.

Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai: Think of it as a really special, really deluxe one-off issue if you want, but I wonder if this isn't Dark Horse's bid to break Stan Sakai's long-lived funny animal swordsman series into some bookstore hearts. A 6" x 9", $14.95 hardcover, 64 pages, all-new in painted color, wherein Usagi struggles to rescue a kidnapped man from a thoroughly haunted castle. Have a look.

Lobo: Highway to Hell #1 (of 2): Sometimes I feel like Sam Kieth is single-handedly keeping the old DC Prestige Format afloat; then I wonder if the creator of The Maxx and Zero Girl (and errant co-creator of The Sandman) is the only artist I'll follow onto these things. Anyhow, here's our latest chance to catch up, in a new Lobo vs. Satan story written by Scott Ian, the bedrock of music outfit Anthrax. Your $6.99 gets you 64 color pages, which I'm actually only presuming are in the Prestige Format, given the price point. Let's hope? Preview.

The James Bond Omnibus Vol. 001: Vintage reprints, as expected. Some year not far away there might be weeks without huge stacks of material pulled from all over the history of world comics, but, for now, Titan Books brings a 304-page compilation of the earliest, most famous comic strip adaptations of Ian Fleming's novels, 11 serials that ran from 1958 to 1962 in the Daily Express, drawn by John McLusky with script adaptation by Henry Gammidge, Anthony Hearne and, in the case of Dr. No, Peter O'Donnell, later co-creator of Modesty Blaise. In glorious b&w; it'll run you only $14.95 in the U.S.

Criminal Deluxe Edition Vol. 1: But if it's more recent guns 'n money (in omnibus form) you lust for, now you can plunk down $49.99 for a 432-page collection of the first three storylines (Vol. 1 #1-10, Vol. 2 #1-3) of Ed Brubaker's & Sean Phillips' intergenerational crime saga, which reads a hell of a lot better in big chunks anyway. Includes an introduction by Dave Gibbons, a bonus story (from Liberty Comics #1, I think), the series' initial comics-format online 'trailer,' bonus production art and more.

NANA Vol. 19: And then there's always the latest from this prime shōjo series, whose readers will appreciate its drawing closer to where it's up to in Japan (vol. 21), currently still frozen, I think, since artist Ai Yazawa took ill in June.

Age of Reptiles: The Journey #1 (of 4): Man, I didn't expect to see this series again. Not a value judgment, just... you never really know when veteran storyboardist and production artist Ricardo Delgado will pop up with more wordless Dark Horse comics about dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasts romping around. This new entry follows the 1993-94 Age of Reptiles (later subtitled Tribal Warfare) and 1996's Age of Reptiles: The Hunt, and sees lots of creatures herding together to migrate south, only to encounter a feisty Tyrannosaurus rex. They don't make 'em like this anymore. In color, $3.50; preview.

Starstruck #3 (of 13): And on that note, more from IDW, presenting the Elaine Lee/Michael Wm. Kaluta classic in new color.

From the Ashes #6 (of 6): Also, IDW wraps up Bob Fingerman's post-apocalypse slice-of-life this week.

The Zombies That Ate the World #6 (of 8): Devil's Due and Humanoids with more Guy Davis, in case you're in withdrawal. Related -

Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels #5 (of 5): Your Mike Mignola of the week, with artist Ben Stenbeck, now linking up to current stories in B.P.R.D., despite taking place in Victorian times. Like so.

Greek Street #5: Your Peter Milligan of the week, bringing the first softcover's worth of this ancient-myths-as-crime-drama series to a close. See some here. Note that Vertigo also has the actual first softcover for Milligan's Hellblazer run out this week, Scab, collecting his first storyline with regular artists Giuseppe Camuncoli & Stefano Landini (#251-253), a subsequent story with guest artists Goran Sudzuka & Rodney Ramos (#254-255) and a bonus short from issue #250 drawn by Eddie Campbell, all for $14.99.

Herogasm #6 (of 6): Closing out a fairly typical stretch of issues for The Boys, which just seemed ready to go a little early. Have a peek, but don't settle in...

The Boys #36: That's right, a double-shot of Garth Ennis climax power, as the subsiding orgy of Herogasm gives way to this final set of revelations regarding team member Mother's Milk. Yep. The French guy and the dangerous lady have their secret origins up next.

Starr the Slayer #3 (of 4): This is kind of a lot of pamphlets this week, huh? These things add up too. But the stylings of Richard Corben, they are hard to resist. Daniel Way scripts.

Black Widow: Deadly Origin #1 (of 4): On the other hand, I'm not sure about $3.99 for a movie-primed Natalia Romanova background tour, although the usually-good Paul Cornell is writing and the always-good John Paul Leon is on board for flashback sequences. Primary drawing by Tom Raney, as you can see.

Strange Tales #3 (of 3): And then, the Marvel 'indie' experiment reaches its end. Peter Bagge closes up his Hulk story, and nods are made by Max Cannon, Nicholas Gurewitch, Chris Chua, Becky Cloonan, Paul Hornschemeier, Jay Stephens, Corey Lewis, Stan Sakai (as mentioned above), Jonathan Jay Lee and Warren Simons. Cloonan preview here; Lewis preview here.

Age of Bronze #29: And then there's the long haul. The 'part 10 in a continuing story.' The Special Music Issue in which "Achilles headlines with a song about cosmic sex as Cressida has her heart ripped out. The gods don’t seem to pay much attention to King Priam of Troy, but he drones on and on anyway. And when the songs are over, the battles and intrigue keep going." I suspect battles and intrigue sums up the process of maintaining a creator-owned comic book for 11 years. So here's to you, Eric Shanower -- also starting a second Skottie Young-illustrated Marvel Oz series this week, The Marvelous Land of Oz -- and your massive comics account of the Trojan War. See it here, 24 pages, $3.50. Luck to you as always.