Clap of thunder, clap of hands!

*I summon thee -


Solo #9 (the Scott Hamption issue, and we come down a little ways)

Earth Minds Are Weak #5 (a nice package of minicomics by Justin J. Fox)

Crickets #1 (Sammy Harkham's new series, featuring some fine cartooning indeed)

Hatter M: The Looking Glass Wars #2 (of 4) (coming next week - passable fantasy action lifted up a bit by Ben Templesmith)

And I won't break the circle this time.

*Apparently, Speakeasy has closed down.

*Ah, that Chris Mautner piece on the New York Comic-Con that I mentioned yesterday is now up at The Comics Reporter, which also has one billion (I counted) links to valuable sources of coverage.

*End of the Shopping Trip Dept: Heard this at the Comics Journal board - it has been announced that Hitoshi Ashinano’s much-admired (at least among English-speaking scanlation enthusiasts), long-running manga series Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou (Record of a Yokohama Shopping Trip) has ended with Chapter 140, the final one yet to be translated. The series will thus be complete in a total of 14 tankoubon collections, the last one due out in Japan this May. According to readers of the manga anthology Afternoon (YKK’s home base), Ashinano will be beginning a new series at that time. YKK was (and is) an absorbing series, in possession of a delicate, wholly unique atmosphere, mixing quiet contemplation with brushes of sci-fi against the backdrop of an ominous yet soothing post-disaster environmental milieu. Dirk Deppey once aptly put it this way: “…imagine Hayao Miyazaki cartooning John Porcellino stories and, strange as it sounds, you wouldn't be all that far from the truth.” I recommend it once again.

*Well, the best part of my day was spent staring at the same document for three solid hours without getting up, hoping that it would magically become right somehow. Supper was an extra-large coffee, an apple spice donut, and some hard sourdough pretzels. Might as well look ahead to


Coffee and Donuts: A Junkyard Cats Comic: A new graphic novel from Top Shelf by Max Estes, creator of Hello, Again, concerning the lighter-than-air adventures of a pair of dumpster felines who try and knock off an armored car in impoverished desperation, and wind up in all sorts of trouble. I’ll have a full pre-release review up tomorrow; it might appeal to the very young, or those who really love cute-for-cute’s-sake comics, but I’m having trouble coming up with anyone else who might find this worthwhile. More later.

Vampirella: The Morrison & Millar Collection: Jeez - just when I start cracking jokes about the imminent release of Skrull Kill Krew from script team Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, this thing actually decides to come out after having been promised for quite a while. Exhumed from the depths of the mid-to-late ’90s, this project never fails to raise a hearty “…they worked on that?!” from interested listeners, and now you can treasure the whole thing in one delightsome volume. Collecting Vampirella Monthly #1-6 from the Dynamic Duo, plus a Morrison-only story from the Vampirella 25th Anniversary Special (EDIT 2/28 10:43 PM: extremely useful trivia - other stories in that book were written by Warren Ellis and James Robinson) and a Millar-only story from Vampirella Strikes #6, this tome also sports art from the likes of Michael Bair & Kevin Nowlan, Amanda Connor & Jimmy Palmiotti, and Louis Small Jr. I distinctly recall enjoying M&M’s run on The Flash (that’s #130-138) too, another still-uncollected stretch.

Local #4 (of 12): This issue takes place in lovely Missoula, Montana. It involves a pair of estranged brothers, and probably some neat storytelling techniques, if the series continues in the way it’s been going thus far.

Hellboy: Makoma, or, A Tale Told by a Mummy in the New York City Explorers’ Club on August 16, 1993 #2 (of 2): Just love typing out the whole title. This Mike Mignola/Richard Corben collaboration concludes here, with Hellboy still wandering around Africa and participating in some kind of folktale. In a shocking twist, the visuals are really nice.

Untold Tales of the New Universe: Starbrand: The attentive reader will note that February’s I (heart) Marvel affair is actually not quite finished (I (heart) Marvel: Masked Intentions is out this week), but there’s no time for rest in the hard-hitting world of Big Two superhero comics! Already the latest special ‘themed’ line of books is rolling out, a bunch of new stories set in the New Universe, all of it meant to hype up this summer’s Warren Ellis revival of the whole concept. Plus, there’s eventually going to be trade collections of the old New Universe stuff, so we are even teased with that this week via Marvel Milestones: Star Brand and Quasar, a $3.99 pamphlet-format reprint of the debut issue of the original Jim Shooter/John Romita Jr. Star Brand title (do note the differentiation in spelling between this and the new story), plus issue #1 of the Mark Gruenwald-scripted Quasar series, for whatever reason.

Nextwave #2: Getting back to Ellis, though, here’s the next issue of his comedic Marvel book - it actually is pretty funny, though it’s kind of notable (and perhaps to be expected) that Ellis is more prone to laughing at assorted superhero elements and tropes (haw haw haw, Fin Fang Foom looks really stupid and old and he’s wearing dumb pants! STUPID) than any of the recent ‘indy’ superhero humor-type books I can think of (which isn’t all that much, actually) - but then again, one of the bigger targets in this thing is Ellis himself, his familiar characterizations amped up way beyond the point of no return. Tom Spurgeon brought up Howard the Duck in regards to last issue, and god do I need to go over that Essential volume again.

The Punisher MAX #31: Teeth.

Gødland #8: Like clockwork, I tells ya! This issue concerns the secret origins of everything, and thus will prove to be of special interest to the constant reader. Kosmic Trooths (as they said back in the day)!

War Stories Vol. 2: Collecting the remainder of these Garth Ennis-written one-shots, a quartet of tales from 20th century combat situations. It is a bit dismaying that two out of these four stories concern the struggle between a pair of Good Soldiers, one keeping the light of idealism alive and one given over to that killing instinct; actually, all but one of them feature copious sequences of characters standing around and gabbing out their conflicting ideologies for the reader to weigh and digest, and all but one (not the same one though) have pretty much exactly the same narrative structure, screaming violence leading to character drama and climaxing in a cleansing blast of war’s baptismal flame. Still, there’s some points of interest to each of these tales, and the art is great all around, with contributions from Cam Kennedy, Carlos Ezquerra, Gary Erskine (doing much better than was seen in Jack Cross) and David Lloyd (who is especially effective, his misty ink and faded color perfectly illustrating late-night aerial bombings). Not quite as fantastic as they’re sometimes made out to be, but Ennis fans will find value in these stories.