Hot as heat.

*Oh look, apparently Grant Morrison is taking over “Detective Comics” now (the news is tucked away in the ‘In Other News’ section). It’d be nice if that was true, on the general principal that more Morrison is inherently good, although the prospect of art by one or both of the freshly DC-exclusive Kubert brothers isn’t all that super (not that I’m a connoisseur of either’s work; Adam was decent enough on Ellis’ recent “Ultimate Fantastic Four”, Andy was entirely unimpressive on Gaiman’s “1602”, and neither exactly gets the blood pumping). This’ll position Morrison on some version of each of DC’s big two, while still plugging away at “Seven Soldiers”. If it’s true, of course; this sounds an awful lot like something Johnston would have done in the earlier version of his column. There’s no stoplight graphic here, but that’s the only difference.

*And in Alan Moore-related news, the “Watchmen” film has apparently been taken behind the shed and sent to glory, according to “Variety”. Darn it! Stripped of another fine production to ignore! At least I have that above Johnston link to provide me with a little succor: J. Michael Straczynski’s positively glowing comments on the Wachowskis’ script for “V For Vendetta”. “I think it's one of the smartest, sharpest, insightful and well-crafted scripts I've ever read. It's emotional, evocative, heart-rending, biting, sharp, relentless and just plain garden variety powerful. It's not just a good film, it's an *important* film…” It’s nice that he’s so excited, but I’m already getting flashbacks to that Kevin Smith review of Episode 3 where he compared it to “Othello”, although Smith had the added benefit of seeing a complete film rather than a script. Aw, I shouldn’t snark anyway; it’s not like I’ve seen it.

*Anthologies. You can’t escape them. Strike one down, and two rise in its place. They’re everywhere. We must all learn to live with them. Indeed, to love them. And there’s two of them coming out, one for every disposition…


Bete Noire #1: Basically a revivified “Blood Orange”, this quarterly Fantagraphics production now shifts its focus to distant shores, with alt manga and euro ‘brut’ providing the highlights. Plus: continuing serials, and covers by David Heatley. It’s 88 b&w pages for $9.95, so I hope you’ve got some pennies saved. I’m looking forward to learning about all of the contributors, most of whom I’ve never heard of. Call it an educational experience.

Negative Burn Winter 2005: But if that’s not to your liking, you just might enjoy this, a revival of the seminal Caliber anthology, now released through Desperado Publishing, under the Image banner. Sure it’s currently 91 degrees here on the east coast of the US, giving you an idea of how late this book is, but the line-up looks pretty nice: Kurt Busiek, Brian Bolland, Bob Burden, Jim Mahfood, Evan Dorkin with “Milk and Cheese”, Image prez Erik Larsen, B. Clay Moore, and plenty others. Full line-up here. It’s also b&w, also (despite what that link says) $9.95, and 96 pages. Choose your anthology wisely.

And in non-anthology releases:

Modern Arf #1: Now this sounds neat. It’s a new ongoing journal from Fantagraphics, edited by Craig Yoe, dedicated to exploring the relationship between comics and Modern Art (with capital letters). Featuring an essay on Salvador Dali’s comics and animation work, and his influence on comics artists. Plus: art by Winsor McCay, Jack Kirby, Rube Goldberg, and more, all in oversized format. It’s 120 pages, half of which are in color, for $19.95. Sounds cool.

Ice Haven: Pantheon’s reworked “Eightball” #22, by Dan Clowes. If you haven’t already gotten a copy at Borders or something, tomorrow you can get one at your local comics shop. The story is wonderful stuff, careening through a whole community of folks, the disappearance of a young child providing the MacGuffin, the lives of the people providing the point. With 16 pages of new material, though keep in mind that the transition to landscape format is what’s really bumped the 32-page original up to 90 pages. I’m kind of planning to just keep my copy of “Eightball” #22 around, and flip through the new stuff at the store. It’s top-notch work, though, if you haven’t read it yet.

Flak Riot #1: From Image. The art, by Michael O’Hare (also co-writer with Robert Place Napton) caught my eye. Really lush, animation-influenced stuff. Story might be good, might not be. But it caught my eye.

The Punisher MAX #22: Continuing the march toward possible oblivion. “Bete Noire” alone is really gonna wipe me out as far as comics funding goes for the week, but I do hate to miss an issue of Garth Ennis’ gentle whimsy. It’s part 4 of the current arc, and I bet there’ll be shootings.

Tom Strong #33: Joe Casey takes hold of the scripting baton this time, for a one-off issue with art by Ben Oliver. I’ve said it before: “Tom Strong” never quite dips below the level of entertainment, but it hasn’t exactly been reaching for the sky since Moore left (the recent Ed Brubaker/Duncan Fegredo two-parter excluded). On the other hand, it’s a pleasant superhero book, composed largely of one or two-issue stories, that doesn’t insult the intelligence. Eventually Moore will be around to wrap things up, but next time out (August) we get “Tom Strong’s Terrific Tales” vet Steve Moore, with Paul Gulacy and Jimmy Palmiotti. So when is Morrison’s issue?