A New Week to Shine

*So it looks like Dark Horse is releasing a sleek-looking new “Concrete” trade this July titled “Depths”. Cheap too, at only thirteen bucks for over 200 pages. Dark Horse is being a bit coy regarding what’s exactly in the book, although the cover art depicts scenes from the 1999 “Dark Horse Presents” annual and issue #150 of the anthology proper, both of them never-collected stories. The solicitation also promises ‘early’ stories; the print status of the other trades and the size of the volume in question (coupled with some old-fashioned gut instinct) tells me that this book is essentially going to be a reprint of the long-unavailable “Short Stories 1990-1995” only updated to the present day and spiced with a few non-“Concrete” tidbits, like Chadwick’s short from the TwoMorrows anthology “Streetwise”. This would also explain why Dark Horse isn’t even listing the “Short Stories 1990-1995” book among their “Concrete” library in the back of issues of “The Human Dilemma” anymore: it‘s on the fast track to obsolescence.

*But, to tackle some more immediate concerns:


Zoot Suite: Oh boy! Is this a reprint of the Fantagraphics volume of the same name, collecting stories by Roger Langridge of “Fred the Clown” fame, with his brother Andrew on board as well? If so, you need to look into this, as it’s funny stuff, beautiful looking, and yet - strangely moving, as two men embark on a futile quest to find someone’s parked car. Great stuff (and go check out “Fred the Clown” too)!

Meat Cake #14: Double oh boy! New Dame Darcy! Her fragile, delicate lines might be an acquired taste, but it’s one I’m glad I acquired; and I know the humorous neo-Victorian folktale snigger of her stories will leave me a satisfied child. If there’s any one comic you check out on a whim this week, make it this one (and if there's any one collection you check out, make it "Zoot Suite").

Popbot Reader #1: I’ll confess to enjoying Ashley Wood’s “Popbot”, its six oversized issues thus far overloaded with creepy spoiled cheesecake art and bizarre plotting (aided at different times by Sam Kieth of “The Maxx” and T.P. Louise of Wood’s “Lore”). There’s a new short story in this volume, scripted by Adam Warren of the current “Livewires”, plus guest-star pin-ups and a feature on the making of the upcoming Popbot statue. Not so sure if it’s worth six bucks, but worth flipping though on the stands, if only to admire the design.

Concrete: The Human Dilemma #4 (of 6): Woah! Big plot twist at the end of this one! Please, please don’t tell the stunning truth!

The Goon #11: Hey, look what’s back. And starting a multi-part story too, a new innovation for this title (not that there isn’t a certain continuity anyway). The Goon and his pals travel to a parallel universe in which they participate in an extended Wally Wood homage, which sounds pretty nice. Good to have this one around again.

BPRD: The Dead #5 (of 5): And kind of good to see this one go. I think this may be it for me and “BPRD”; as lovely and perfect a Mignola replacement as Guy Davis is, John Arcudi just isn’t doing the trick with the scripts (even as only a co-writer), and barring some serious last-minute movement the whole 'Abe’s origin' tease smells like an awfully tricky means of stringing a hopeful audience through another mini without really providing the goods on that front. No thanks, guys.

Astonishing X-Men #9: While it’s never, ever, not even once lived up to the titanic volleys of praise that heralded its arrival on the scene, this book was at least decent when it began and has been slowly getting better; last issue, for instance, was a wholly pleasant no-frills superhero book, with bits of fun action and amusingly cheesy plotting and a merciful lack of bounding to the rest of the X-Universe. Will the House of M change all this, considering that the cast of this book will clearly be necessary for plot participation? Oh, probably; the real question should be ‘how bitter will the medicine taste going down?’ Or (if we were all sane) ‘when should we stop reading this book?’

Ocean #5 (of 6): One of Ellis’ better current books. Not much of a magnet for discussion (no Iron Man or Galactus, you understand) but a good little miniseries, some interesting ideas. This’ll be one of the first ones I read tomorrow.

Ultimate Secret #1 (of 4): The middle chapter in the “Ultimate Galactus” saga, the first of which was not one of Ellis’ better current books. But from some of the reactions I’ve seen, just perking up and blubbering “Gah Lak Tus” is more than enough to excuse issue after issue after issue of absurd padding, murky art, and the ultimate (hah get it?) feeling that you’ve just spent your $12 on a ruthlessly overextended issue #0, bearing little more content than something that would have been tossed into the polybag with an issue of “Hero Illustrated” for free back in the day, all to essentially advertise something else entirely (good thing I only paid $1 for most of it - thanks, Clearance Sales!). But shit, Gah Lak Tus! It’s like saying your two to three Hail Marys once you’re out of the confessional! Ellis has gone through with the Act of Contrition now, it's ok! Time to lap it up again! LAP IT UP FOLKS! LAP IT UP!!!

DC Countdown to Infinite Crisis #1: You know what? That was way too negative. I ought to fill my body with love. Pure affection for all of creation! I should take a stand right now! How will I start? How to start... I know! I’m gonna buy THIS. I’m going to make myself into part of the problem by slapping down my hard-earned $1 for 80 pages of scowling and grimacing and non-stop assurances that I’m most certainly reading mature and serious literature about everyone being mean to the Blue Beetle. I cannot wait to become one of the 200,000+ who will dive into this fine project and win DC a crowing month of bliss atop the Diamond charts. I’m quivering, gentle readers! Beads of perspiration streaming down my brow! Droplets of sweat tinged with love for comics! Love for comics! Love! LOOOOOOOOOVE!!!