What do we call it?! No, wait...

*THIS JUST IN (6:04 PM):

Oh dear.

All of you who thought that a few things were missing from DC's latest solicitations?

You were quite right.

It was interesting to read Brian Hibbs' comments in the article, pointing to the failure of the Humanoids and 2000 AD/Rebellion books to penetrate the bookstore market as a key factor behind this action. The numbers aren't pretty, for sure: it seems that even DC's CMX line of manga is doing quite poorly in bookstores, to say nothing of the European titles. Or, I should say that they're doing quite poorly as based on 2004 sales in which all three of the lines were at most half a year old; I don't know where the Bookscan numbers quoted in the piece date from, but I do know that the "Land of the Blindfolded" book mentioned was among the very first releases CMX had (released in November 2004 after the line's October 2004 launch). Perhaps bookstores were reluctant to embrace a brand-new unproven manga line fighting for shelf space? Or are those numbers sorry even for as early a release as it was? And I suppose that trading page size for volume in the packaging of the Humanoids stuff didn't help the material gain any added ground with US Direct Market comics readers, and certainly bookstore comics readers weren't all that interested (although I've gotta say I've never so much as seen a Humanoids or 2000 AD/Rebellion book in a Borders or Barnes & Noble). At least, not in the three quarters in which the books were potentially available. But hey, I know nothing about the finer art of bookstore distribution.

Well, I'll have to wait and see what becomes of "Metal Hurlant". The final releases will ship in June, which means that a few books I've had my eye on will pop up, including the collection of both volumes of Juan Gimenez's "The Fourth Power", the second half of which hasn't appeared in English before, I don't believe (I have the first book in lovely hardcover oversized pre-DC format). I've also been meaning to check out "The Hollow Grounds", by Francois Schuiten (of the wonderful "The Tower" which I reviewed just yesterday) and his brother Luc, plus all of those Enki Bilal books I've heard such nice things about. Luckily, DC will be keeping all of the stuff they've already released active on their backlist...

*OK. Now what do we call it?!


Nil: A Land Beyond Belief: I saw a preview for this original graphic novel by illustrator James Turner in a free Slave Labor insert dropped into my bag at the comics store at some point. It’s a strange piece, about workers in some sort of depressively industrialist quasi-militaristic society that strives to eliminate all the world’s belief systems. The foreman of a ‘deconstruction ship’ is framed for murder, and he must find a way to clear his name without disturbing his cherished detachment from the immaturities of hope, a difficult feat. It’s 232 pages for thirteen bucks. The writing appeals to me, stuffed with looping philosophical doublespeak and barely-contained depressive anger and perfectly arid humor (“There are lots of different types of omelets, Ooze. A really good omelet can be as divine as any act of sexual congress, I assure you.”), though it seriously threatens to wear out its welcome after hundreds of pages. But it’s the art that’ll really catch your eye: check out the official site. Not only does it feature the same preview I saw, but also wallpaper and character bios and a blog maintained by the book’s lead character, plus a general sense of the book’s visual design, packed with towering structures and throbbing gears and clip-art type identical (or near-identical) characters and a ton of mathematical precision, which might admittedly become grating or dull after two hundred pages. We’ll have to see, but I get the strong feeling that this’ll be the book of the week.

Iron Man #3: Well, look who’s turned up! The only title out of Warren Ellis’ current crop of superhero books to take place in the Marvel U proper, and also the book Ellis seems to be trying hardest with to turn toward his particular viewpoint. Thus, we’ve gotten two issues thus far of Tony Stark sitting down and chatting with assorted folks about the place of technology and the place of idealism given its militarist application in the modern world. Meanwhile, in an attempt to balance things out, some guy driven crazy-strong and ugly with a super-drug kills a load of people in some very icky ways, the consequences of scientific advancement utilized irresponsibly. It looks like Iron Man will have to demonstrate the forward-looking power of justice armors and preventative missiles. All very laden with potential, and all very prone to delay. The art by Adi Granov will probably provide more prompting to purchase the piece than the above themes, though I continue to see it as antiseptic and plastic and altogether off-putting, though the amount of labor put into it can’t be denied.

Flight Vol. 2: I’m sure this sophomore edition of Image’s glossy anthology series is anticipated highly by quite a few of you out there; I never got around to purchasing Vol. 1 myself, having heard some decidedly mixed reviews regarding the quality of the writing (not a peep was heard against the lushness of the visuals, though). The impression I got was that the work lived up to its name in more ways than one: it reads as light as a feather, as if it might take off at any time. And while there’s surely a place on the shelves for beautiful diversions, and while Image is to be commended for devoting a continuing series of lavish color books to untested-in-comics creators (though, much like with "Kramer's Ergot" after it became more renowned, there's a few more 'visible' talents contributing this time around like Jeff Smith, Becky Cloonan, and Doug TenNapel), I just never felt the burn to put down twenty-five bucks on this sort of thing. Maybe I will when my finances are a bit more flush. Check out these previews of pretty much everything in the book, to at least confirm the promise of visual appeal.

Flaming Carrot Comics #2: Oh, but there’s always room for this. I don’t even know what’s happening this issue, not that it would prepare me.

Tom Strong #32: Concluding the Michael Moorcock/Jerry Ordway arc as they team up with one of Moorcock’s own recurring characters to fight gorillas on an inter-dimensional pirate ship. Unfortunately, that set-up sounds a lot more fun than the first issue of this arc turned out to be in practice. Next issue’s team includes Joe Casey and Ben Oliver, and who knows what lies ahead for the future?

Adam Strange #7 (of 8): In which a bunch more dusty DC cosmic heroes parade across the pages, in a somewhat similar style to “Seven Soldiers” but with less panache and zip. At least last issue’s cliffhanger promises a focus on Adam himself, and maybe a return to the neato beginnings of this mini before it got mired in countless guest-stars of questionable characterization. I do know it’ll look good; sort of a recurring theme for this week's comics, eh?