Always a clump.

*Lemme set this up -


Mineshaft #20

The Astro Boy Essays: Osamu Tezuka, Mighty Atom, and the Manga/Anime Revolution


Special Forces #1 (of 6)

Batman #670

At The Savage Critics!

*Right into it -


Azumanga Daioh Omnibus Vol. 1 (of 1, I expect): Yeah, I have no clue why there's a "Vol. 1" in the title, since there's no way this doorstop's 686-page length isn't collecting the four-volume whole of Kiyohiko Azuma's much-loved high school gag strip, unless they're blowing up the art to one strip per page or overloading it with extras or something. Fans of Azuma's later Yotsuba&! might be a little put off by the much simpler visuals and... well, the gag strip format (with a few full-page comics sequences). But there's a genuinely sweet, affecting look at campus friendships that builds up across the whole, and Azuma's character shtick does get pretty sublime after 200 or so pages.

The Art of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind: Watercolor Impressions: Another one of those lavish Studio Ghibli Library tomes from VIZ, this time a 12" x 9" compilation of sketches and concept illustrations from the manga and anime incarnations of Hayao Miyazaki's brainchild. I do believe the creator/writer/artist/director himself is responsible for many (all?) of the included pieces, so it'll make for a good showcase of Miyazaki's sometimes glossed-over skills at pure image-making. It's 204 pages for $34.99.

The ACME Novelty Library Vol. 18.5: So, anyone remember back in 2002 when Chris Ware and Dark Horse put out a Rusty Brown Lunchbox? The main thing I recall about it was a very long and acrimonious thread on the Comics Journal's message board about how Ware was 'cashing in,' which nevertheless led to someone suggesting that the lunchbox was so carefully detailed that nearly counted as a sub-issue of ACME (the included minicomic probably didn't hurt). Well, it seems Ware and Drawn & Quarterly have taken those words to heart, because the $32.00 ACME Vol. "18.5," which delightfully arrives before Vol. 18, is actually a portfolio of four Thanksgiving-themed variant covers Ware did for The New Yorker last year, plus an online image, all reproduced at 15" x 20" on heavy paper. Bonus 16" x 11" comic included. I really don't have that kind of money to fling around, although I do own that lunchbox...

Big Questions #10: The Hand That Feeds: Also from D&Q, the latest chapter in Anders Nilsen's panorama of life among the humans, birds, and others. I can't say it'll be a cinch for new readers to jump into, but the series does boast Nilsen's most assured storytelling.

Groo: Hell on Earth #1 (of 4): I swear, that fucking title cracks me up every time. Anyhow, this is the new Groo series, a global warming spectacular, from the usual Groo crew. It looks like this.

Alex Robinson's Lower Regions: Ah yes, a well-chosen title says a lot. This is a new Top Shelf project from the creator of Box Office Poison, a 56-page, $6.95, near-wordless dungeon-crawl comic in b&w.

Hellboy: Darkness Calls #6 (of 6): At last. One of the fun things about the various Hellboy universe books is that while the different series mostly stay out of each other's way, the letters pages basically presume that you read every single Hellboy thing ever, so they wind up acting as a kind of all-purpose Hellboy news outlet. Which means recent pages have seen editor Scott Allie and others apologizing profusely over how late this thing is, again and again. Their pain ends tomorrow!

Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus #3 (of 5): In the midst of buying.

The Immortal Iron Fist #10: Upon the plains and plateaus of purchase.

Infinity Inc. #3: In the shadow of ongoing series in flower.

Criminal #10: Within a budding grove... of heart-pounding action climax to the current storyline!!!!

Omega: The Unknown #2 (of 10): Let's see how deep this homage goes.

The Order #4: Jesus, lots of stuff from the men of Iron Fist this week.

Robin #168: For the record, this and the next issue will be written by Peter Milligan as part of the Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul weekly Bat-crossover. Milligan recently wrote a sort of overture to the crossover with his Batman Annual #26, and it was pleasantly workmanlike in the way Milligan's efforts tend to be on what I've read of his low-ambition superhero outings. I'll probably wait until I'm at the rack itself to figure out if I'm gonna buy it.

Lucha Libre #2: It took me until I physically began flipping through issue #1 of this Image series to realize that it's an expansion of a Jerry Frissen/Benoit "Bill" Boucher story from Humanoids' short-lived 2002-04 revival of Metal Hurlant (issue #13, to be exact). Tracking the comedic exploits of a masked wrestle gang -- and featuring a variety of artists working on different stories -- each slightly oversized issue contains 48 full-color pages of stuff, much of it on the edge of manga/anime influence in the French-language comics scene. Glossy, slick.

Eden: It's An Endless World! Vol. 9: I'm behind on this series perhaps to the point of no return, but you never know what the future holds. I know some of you are still following Hiroki Endo's sci-fi ongoing, and it does still look pretty, even when focused on serious men talking, in and out of armored suits.

Cairo: Going by Dick Hyacinth's field guide, this new 160-page hardcover Vertigo project -- from writer G. Willow Wilson and artist M.K. Perker -- looks to land firmly in the Magical/Mythological genus, what with a large cast of characters encountering a spirit underworld and a gangster-magician and all. Here's how it looks.

Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born: I've been liking Sean T. Collins' post series on reading the troubled whole of Stephen King's saga, a nice mix of analysis, quick impressions, and descent-into-madness frustration. Here is a hardcover comic struck from those books.