I have to attend a fancy supper tomorrow.

*So I am honing my 'sipping from wine glass and nodding sagely' technique. Such skills have carried me far, and they will again be put to the test in under 24 short hours. Hopefully I'll drop as little food on my lap as possible.


Shaolin Cowboy #5 (the Cowboy knows it's the journey that counts)

Desolation Jones #6 (still the best Warren Ellis book on the market today)

Escape of the Living Dead #5 (of 5), Warren Ellis’ Blackgas #2 (of 3) (and how they perch on different branches of the zombie family tree)

I also must remember not to rip the meat into bits with my teeth.

*To the Batcave Dept: It seems J.H. Williams III will now be providing the art for at least the first few issues of the upcoming Paul Dini-scripted run on Detective Comics, according to this interview at Newsarama. Williams seems uncertain as to how long his run as artist will last, as Dini’s stories will be focused on self-contained single issues - the team will begin work with #821 in July. Williams is replacing initially-announced artist Rags Morales, who indicates that he will now serve as the second artist for Dini’s run as writer.

This raises a number of natural questions regarding Williams’ other current projects; from the looks of things Seven Soldiers is running into some significant production hurdles, like that fact that writer Grant Morrison is apparently still working on the script for the final chapter:

I still have to finish up Seven Soldiers. This has turned into a juggernaut of a task. The script is still being worked on and has been expanded in page count from what I’ve been told. After it has been scripted it will definitely take some serious time to finish that due to what is going to be required from the art side of things. I know it is already late and it is going to be even later. But I think when all is said and done it will have been worth the wait.”

This interview was just posted today; I presume it was conducted not long ago, so the page count increase Williams mentions might be on top of the increase Seven Soldiers #1 has already seen (from 32 pages to 48). This pretty much dumps the current May 17th release date out the window, needless to say. Oh well, at least the project didn’t go skidding entirely off the scheduling rails until there were only two books left, and I presume Frankenstein #4 will still be out sometime this month, unless DC’s planning to hold it over as a gap-filler. And hey - at this rate maybe the last issue will be a 112-page original graphic novel! And a perfect Christmas stocking-stuffer! I hope DC forgoes the pricey hardcover route…

As for Desolation Jones, it doesn’t seem that Williams’ current workload would entirely erase the chance of his continuing on the book (issue #7, starting the second storyline, has no release date as of yet). But Williams himself seems to already view the title as part of his past:

The more personal work such as Promethean [sic] and Desolation Jones certainly has it's own rewards but i have been doing that sort of material for seven years now and just feel like I need to stretch out a bit.”

Williams also hints at "a very big project" to follow his work on Seven Soldiers and Detective Comics. Keep in mind, though - there’s no official word yet on the visual status of Jones. As you can probably infer from my prior comments, the absence of Williams’ pencils would be quite a loss for the book.

*Unfortunately, All Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder #4 appears to have knocked back another pair of weeks, to May 3rd. I’ve been waiting to see this new issue, particularly to see if that dandy fold-out will be eating up a whole bunch of story pages in one gulp. Well, it’s up to the future. Thank god that Frank Miller is still on hand via DC’s July solicitations, assuring us that the book will remain as classy as ever.


Cry Yourself to Sleep: The debut graphic novel from writer/artist Jeremy Tinder, following a man, a robot, and a bunny rabbit on their journey through the disappointments of adulthood. Art samples and free comics at his homepage. Full pre-release review tomorrow.

Golgo 13 Vol. 2 (of 13): Hydra: Two more stories, this time of the same length. The first gets a little more serious than usual, and the second is pure delightsome super-assassin glee. Full review here.

Naoki Urasawa’s Monster Vol. 2 (of 18): More suspense! More characters! Less sap than last time! And Urasawa’s so good with the mechanics of thrills, you’ll look right past his occasionally heavy hand and wish you could see into the future for the next volume. Full review here.

The Awake Field: Ah, a new book from Ron Regé, Jr. - always a pleasure! Drawn and Quarterly is soon putting the writer/artist’s much-loved Highwater graphic novel Skibber Bee~Bye back into print, but right now we get a 48-page collection of short stories and drawings, inspired by a stay in a Rhode Island coastal community. Regé’s art is unlike anything else being created today, mixing geometrically precise designs with cute (but never cloying) character art and deceptively detailed background work - at least, when he doesn’t opt to indulge in the beauty of wavy, symmetrical lines, and rows of hand-lettering curving like highways around the page. At only $7.95, this might make a good introduction to the man’s work. After that there’s Skibber, plus the newest installment of Regé’s ongoing Yeast Hoist, #12, available soon from Buenaventura Press (which also has a few copies left of the Highwater-published #11, for those interested).

American Splendor: Ego & Hubris: The Michael Malice Story: That’s a lot of colons, which I guess Diamond’s listing didn’t want to indulge in since it doesn’t bother to clue you in that this is actually the latest American Splendor book, an original hardcover graphic novel in which writer Harvey Pekar provides a biography of the titular Malice, founder of the popular website Overheard in New York (warning: addictive). Art by frequent Pekar collaborator Gary Dumm. It’s from Ballantine, and (like the manga listed above) it’s been out on chain bookstore shelves for a while now. I couldn’t recall hearing anything about it until I physically picked a copy up a few weeks ago, which is probably not the effect seeing this thing on shelves was meant to elicit.

A Nut at the Opera: Maurice Vellekoop is one of those highly-acclaimed artists I’ve just never quite gotten around to exploring in great detail. Certainly his art is appealing and humorous (if NOT SAFE FOR WORK), and this new book has been getting a lot of advance praise - it’s a scrapbook dedicated to chronicling a fantasy world of opera, satirizing and celebrating assorted real-world operatic figures. Chris Butcher compared it to Planetary and (excuse the pun) sang its praises here, and later provided a link to this excellent Canadian Broadcasting Company preview of the work/interview with the artist. Looks gorgeous.

X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl #4 (of 5): Penultimate issue of this fine miniseries, better than many of the later storylines of the ongoing book it sprang from. I’m hoping for a nice climactic shot at the end of all X-Force/Statix members from the Milligan/Allred run, even the ones who didn’t survive one issue, lined up and ready for action. Read it!

Fury: Peacemaker #3 (of 6): More Garth Ennis in wartime, and the corporate character doesn’t really get in the way.

Nextwave #4: I got a laugh out of the announcement that Marvel will be releasing an alternate edition of issue #5 of this book, with all color stripped from artist Stuart Immonen’s inked lines and the whole thing packaged as a ‘Crayon Butchery Variant.’ Readers are duly urged to color the book for themselves. Might be fun for process junkies, though I don’t know the availability ratios that might jack up the price at whatever shop you’re at. Anyway, here’s issue #4, and I have the sneaking suspicion that some of it will be funny, some of it will fall utterly flat, the action scenes will look nice, and the reading experience will be over in three or so minutes.