I love starting the week this way.

*I Am Stupid Dept: Could the person who sent me a recent (as in the last 30 or so hours) email regarding Tom Strong and Mister Miracle please resend it? I’m afraid I poked Hotmail with a stick one time too many and it ate the message in retaliation before I could read it, or even identify the sender. All my fault.

*My fault.


Floatation Device #11 (new issue of Keith Helt's zine, an all-comics thing loaded with excellent artists)

Tomorrow Stories Special #2 (of 2), Tom Strong #36 (everything ends)

Seven Soldiers - Frankenstein #3 (of 4), Seven Soldiers - Mister Miracle #4 (of 4)

Vampirella: The Morrison/Millar Collection (in which some tropes find it quite hard to die)

Those were my fault too.

*Yes yes, both of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight (Returns and Strikes Again) books are getting a done-in-one Absolute treatment, as is Kingdom Come. But there’s a much more stimulating collection coming out from DC this summer: Doom Patrol Vol. 4: Musclebound!

Featuring one Mr. Flex Mentallo, Man of Muscle Infamy, leaping to the fore! Note the beefy nine-issue length (#42-50); this strongly suggests that the full collection will run six volumes in total, with thirteen issues and the beloved Doom Force special remaining at the moment. Oh, and the Flex Mentallo miniseries, of course. All in due time!

Plus: Sloth, a b&w original hardcover graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez. And hey - Sergio Aragonés Solo (#11), this June.

*A mercifully light one


Phoenix Vol. 6: (UPDATED 3/15/06 10:11 PM) Having apparently dropped the subtitles (the story in this one should have been Robe of Feathers, had things been proceeding in order, but reader James Moar notes in the comments section below that it's actually the story after that one, Nostalgia), VIZ continues on with its effort to put manga godhead Osamu Tezuka’s unfinished magnum opus into print in the English language. Created from 1967 to 1988 (the year before his death), Phoenix is Tezuka’s incredibly ambitious collection of philosophically linked stories, the first of them beginning at the dawn of humanity, the second jumping ahead to its extinction in the year 3404 AD, and the rest of them alternating from past (odd numbers) to future (even numbers), the whole thing presumably meant to eventually collide in the present. Through it all flies the titular mystic bird, whose blood is rumored to give immortality to any who drink of it; character designs constantly recur (as they tend to do in many Tezuka works), the presence of familiar faces reinforcing the cyclical nature of life and history. Tezuka has a hugely individual style, often mixing jarring moments of slapstick humor into moments of high melodrama or soothing lyricism - it takes some getting used to, but the man’s command of the comics form in undeniably outstanding, particularly by 1971, when this particular tale was begun in the pages of Tezuka’s own alternative comics anthology COM - it would not be completed until 1978, having moved to the pages of Manga Shounen. Almost certainly worth checking out.

Gray Horses: The new comic from Salamander Dreams writer/artist Hope Larson, a 112-page book from Oni, printed in black, white, and tan. Here’s a 15-page preview; I love those curling word balloon tails, and Larson’s storytelling looks as delicate and dreamy as ever. The story follows a young woman studying far away from home, juggling languages and envisioning herself as a noble stallion in her sleep. Sure to be interesting.

Anne Freaks Vol. 1 (of 4): This 2000-2002 manga series by Yua Kotegawa, now released in English by ADV, has attracted some decent buzz over the last few months; teenage matricide, killing sprees, psychological dependence, shadow conspiracies, and violent crime syndicates all mix together into a distressing broth of a thriller, if I’ve got my plot points straight. Sounds good to me. Have I mentioned I recently got into the terribly popular VIZ manga Death Note, another gleefully degenerate romp, all but begging the reader to identify with its nakedly sociopathic lead character (an overachieving high school student who gains an occult notebook that can cause the death of anyone whose name appears in it). It’s lots of fun, and impossibly easy to buy at the $7.99 price point of VIZ’s Shonen Jump Advanced line; picking up everything that’s out so far, all four volumes, will net you over 750 pages of comics for $32. And it’s pretty addictive, though not nearly as explicitly nasty as Anne Freaks promises to be.

Pizzeria Kamikaze: Collecting a five-part serial from the pages of the Alternative Comics series Bipolar. It’s an adaptation of a short prose story titled Kneller’s Happy Campers by popular Israeli writer Etgar Keret; the comics version is written by Keret himself, with art by Asaf Hanuka. I can just barely recall reading the first chapter of this in the debut issue of Bipolar, but I believe I enjoyed it. It’s a darkly comedic tale of young folks in a weird afterlife reserved for suicides, where they still hold jobs and search for meaning in their affairs and romances. I know the visuals will be nice. A film adaptation (under a third title, Wristcutters, A Love Story) is also forthcoming, from writer/director Goran Dukic.

Essential Godzilla: And what could be more essential than this complete, 432-page b&w collection of Marvel’s 1977-79 Godzilla: King of the Monsters series, licensing the Big G for twenty-four issues to clash with various Marvel Universe regulars and indulge in purportedly bizarre adventures, some of them featuring all the giant robots and nasty beasts popular in the rubber-suited films of the day. Written by Doug Moench with pencils by Herb Trimpe, it’s a concentrated (and at $19.99, very cheap) dose of pure ‘70s Marvel, bound to please those hungry for such mania.

Fury: Peacemaker #2 (of 6): Yeah, the first issue of this Garth Ennis-written series was really pretty good, even stripped of the content freedom that the MAX line would have afforded it; actually, in terms of violence, there wasn’t all that much obvious difference at all. At least, until I started flipping through my copy of The Punisher: Born, a similarly-mounted ‘Marvel properties go to war’ epic. Actually I guess Ennis can get a lot nastier with the two-fisted combat.

Flaming Carrot Photo Comic Special: Ah, the long-awaited fummetti issue of Bob Burden’s friendly old series, written by Burden and assembled by Sam Gaffin. Apparently, the cast features everyone from comics legend Jim Steranko to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman to horror magazine icon Forrest J. Ackerman to Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma Films. Actually, the garish, proudly low-budget spirit of Troma is strong in this project, from the looks of the six-page preview. I mean that in a positive sense.

Seven Soldiers - Bulleteer #4 (of 4): And another one wraps itself up. For those keeping track at home, DC has now set the last issue of Frankenstein for April 12th, with Seven Soldiers #1 moved to April 26th, so don’t worry about the latter arriving prior to the former, as the schedule initially held.

Batman: Year One Hundred #2 (of 4): More doubtlessly great-looking stuff from Paul Pope, with the story hopefully kicking into high(er) gear. But man, I’m not kidding when I say I can stick with Pope’s visual world-building for the whole thing; just the clothing designs in this one are wonderful.

The Territory: Yeah, V for Vendetta. That movie. But you know, just this week Dark Horse happens to have a book from artist David Lloyd, teamed with writer Jamie Delano. Plenty of pirates, water, and strange exploits in this oversized hardcover, collecting a four-issue miniseries from 1999; certainly Lloyd's art is still as attractive as ever, capturing a great adventure strip feel within its eerie, faded heart. Nice media piggyback; now if only Dark Horse could get those copies of 300 ready in time...