*Well, I'm back from my (somewhat) yearly vacation to the beach. Which means this site, it slept.


Omega: The Unknown #10 (of 10)

That's from The Savage Critics. I'll also note that the Mory Buckman comment I link to -- a reading of the series as a metaphor for Asperger's Syndrome -- has been expanded into its own full-length piece at Tucker Stone's site, so you'll want to check that out too.

*You never know where the gems will be found. Unless there's only seven or so places to look.


Meathaus S.O.S.: You know, I make a lot of jokes about the Merchandise section of Diamond's weekly list, and how neat bits of reading have a way of getting lost among the statues and toys and Cthulhu slippers - I mean, I don't mind the existence of Cthulhu slippers (dude did leak the Kodansha publishing story a while back), but I am mostly interested in comics, and I do wish that the comics ordering process didn't involve things like that huge Zot! collection from last week getting filed away with the HeroClix, if only because it makes my weekly funnybook orientation easier. But never quite has my unofficial pick of the week been relegated to the land of the Halo 3 Shotgun Ammo Belt Buckle, until now - yes, believe me, the new, ninth Meathaus anthology should be showing up in stores on Wednesday. And it's going to be a big one, a 272-page, 6.5" x 10.25" full-color brick of comics and illustration, priced at an even $30.00, featuring works by Brandon Graham (also co-editor with Chris McDonnell and Matt Gagnon), James Jean, Farel Dalrymple, Tomer & Asaf Hanuka, Dash Shaw, (the awesome) Rebecca Dart, Matt Furie, Jim Rugg & Brian Maruca (of Street Angel), Corey Lewis, Ross Campbell, Dave Kiersh, Ralph Bakshi(!!) and many more. You can read three full stories online, then check out a huge preview from publisher Nerdcore. I saw a copy of this thing at MoCCA the other month - while I can't say if it rectifies the lack of focus that troubled prior volumes, there sure are an extra three or four layers of visual gloss rubbed right on.

Modern Masters Vol. 18: John Romita Jr.: Meanwhile, also holed up in the valley of the Jason Vorhees Animaquette, is the latest in TwoMorrows' line of extensive, art-laden interview-profiles of noted comics folk, this time one of the all-around best superhero artists active today. Text 'n such by George Khoury & Eric Nolen-Weathington, 128 pages for $14.95. The publisher also has The Flash Companion this week, a 224-page tome of pertinent articles and interviews by Keith Dallas.

Who Can Save Us Now?: You mean from Diamond's Merchandise section? Nobody. But look at the company you have! Anyhow, this a new Free Press anthology of prose superhero stories, edited by Owen King & John McNally - contributor list here. It's $16.00 for 432 pages.

How to Love: And back in the land of proper miscellaneous comics from anyone and everywhere, here's a $29.95, 144-page landscape-format hardcover collection of six themed (love) stories from the Israeli comics collective Actus Tragicus, distributed by Top Shelf and including new work by Rutu Modan of Exit Wounds. Samples can be viewed with this review by Bart Beaty.

Flight Vol. 5: And then, you know, there's always this 368-page fifth entry in editor Kazu Kibuishi's wildly popular line of visually resplendent full-color comics for all ages. It's $25.00, from Villard. Big preview here.

Comic Book Tattoo: Image used to publish Flight. But this week they're publishing another of the many extensive anthologies of July 23, 2008, a 480-page, 12" x 12" block of funnies inspired by the songs of Tori Amos. Only $29.99 (for the softcover; the hardback's $49.99), with works by Hope Larson, Carla Speed McNeil, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Laurenn McCubbin, Andy MacDonald, Ryan Kelly, Mike Dringenberg(!) and many more. Intro by Neil Gaiman.

Liberty Comics: A CBLDF Benefit Book: This should be neat - a 32-page, $3.99 Image one-off (masterminded by veteran editor Scott Dunbier) presenting all-new material in support of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. And it's not just any material: there's a new Criminal story by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips, a short from The Boys by Garth Ennis & Darick Robertson, some Brat Pack(!!) stuff by Rick Veitch, and added things by Mark Millar (also of this week's War Heroes with Tony Harris) & John Paul Leon, Mark Evanier & Sergio Aragonés, Darwyn Cooke, J. Bone and Art Adams, with variant covers by Mike Mignola and J. Scott Campbell. God, there's a lot of anthologies out this week... but this is a damn impressive lineup.

Scud: The Whole Shebang!: And here's Image's $29.99, 786-page collection of Rob Schrab's 1994-2008 series, 1996 Drywall: Unzipped one-off included.

The Apocalipstix Vol. 1: A new ongoing series of original digest paperbacks from Oni, with writer Ray Fawkes and artist Cameron Stewart crafting the adventures of a trio of girls who just won't stop rockin', even after nuclear annihilation leaves the Earth a burned-out wasteland. It's $11.95; 50-page preview here.

Yam: Didn't this used to be titled Yam: Bite-Size Chunks? Maybe it still is, and Diamond's list is whispering its beautiful lies again? Huh. I reviewed this $10.00 Top Shelf collection of wordless, kid-targeted comics by Corey Barba a while back, and found it to be nicely drawn and sometimes pretty funny. Also in $10.00, all-ages, no-words comics from the publisher this week, we've got Korgi Vol. 2: The Cosmic Collector, which finds Christian Slade's flame-belching lil' pup facing off with CGC slabbing from Alpha Centauri, maybe.

World War Robot: Illustrated History: It's like every time I crane my neck Ashley Wood has some new comic out I'd not known was coming; thank heavens I wear a cowl that strictly prohibits movement or I'd die from items. This one's an $11.99, 48-page IDW one-off, poised to tie in with a line of deluxe robot toys Wood is working on. If that's not enough, Wood is also in this week's Device Vol. 1, a 120-page IDW production celebrating odd contraptions created by assorted artists. And then you can drop $50.00 on The Complete Popbot, collecting all seven extant issues of Wood's irregular series (with writing help from Sam Kieth early on, then T.P. Louise). And then you can drop $35.00 on The Complete Metal Gear Solid: Sons of Liberty -- hardcover available for another twenty! -- which I believe is Wood drawing a video game (with art help from Rufus Dayglo later on).

Snake Pit Vol. 3: 2007: Artist Ben Snakepit has been drawing three-panel diary comics for a while now, putting together minicomic compilations since 2000. Here's his newest, and sign of the times - it's now a 96-page, $6.00 paperback book from Microcosm Publishing, covering the year in the title. So it goes.

BFF: Brainfag Forever: Also from Microcosm, but worth its own entry here, is a 224-page collection of Nate Beaty's comics from 1999-2007, only $9.00. Lots of stuff here.

Our Gang Vol. 3: Those Pogo reprints may not have shown up yet, but at least Fantagraphics has this latest, $14.99 collection of vintage licensed comics by Walt Kelly. Jeff Smith provides cover art for this 96-page softcover.

Madman Atomic Comics Vol. 1: A $19.99 collection of issues #1-7 of Mike & Laura Allred's moody, troubling, deeply idiosyncratic revival of their beloved superhero series, taking the ol' business to parts nearer to Mr. Allred's early surreal/grotesque serials and shorts, with some moments of humor, adventure and striking beauty. There's a stretch in here where nearly every panel blows through every conceivable visual influence Mike Allred can think of, forming something close to a cleansing ritual in preparation for the journey to come, one I doubt the majority of Madman readers wanted to take. Still, there's something to be said for upending expectations...

glamourpuss #2: More thrills and laughs from Dave Sim's World of Tracing.

The Boy Who Made Silence #5 (of 12): More silence from Joshua Hagler.

Elephantmen #13: More animals from Richard Starkings and Moritat.

Dan Dare #7 (of 7): Wrapping up this handsome Garth Ennis/Gary Erskine revival of the consummate British space hero -- presented as a stately, old-fashioned war epic -- with a double-sized $5.99 finale. From Virgin.

Black Summer #7 (of 7): Wrapping up this handsome Warren Ellis/Juan Jose Ryp revival of characters they created for this series -- presented as a comic book in which people explode -- with a regular-sized $2.99 finale. From Avatar.

Uncanny X-Men #500: Well, this is the start of a new run by the much-admired writing team of Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction, they of The Immortal Iron Fist (which sees its own new team start this week - writer Duane Swierczynski and artist Travel Foreman); a new status quo is promised, encouraging new readers to explore the quintessential Marvel mutant superhero series. They will also encounter the visual stylings of primary penciller Greg Land (with Jay Leisten on inks), of which I cannot say I'm anticipating. Terry & Rachel Dodson will also be around, and are set to rotate storylines with the other art team. Have a look.

American Flagg!: The Definitive Collection Vol. 1: Oh holy shit, it wasn't all a joke. One of 21st century comics' most famous bits of vaporware will really and truly be condensing onto shelves this very week, after nearly half a decade's worth of a nightmare restoration scenario that ultimately required the pages be shot from back issues, the colors reconstructed via Photoshop and portions of the lettering reworked. I expect this 440-page, $49.99 hardcover (designed by Chip Kidd, intro by Michael Chabon) will not look like those old First Comics graphic novel compilations, but it will bring the whole 12-issue initial megastory for Howard Chaykin's early '80s classic together for the first time, with an all-new short by Chaykin and letterer Ken Bruzenak. The fill-in issues #13-14 are tossed in as well, which strongly suggests that a Vol. 2, rounding out Chaykin's run as writer/artist (and probably Alan Moore's supplementary/follow-up run as writer!), is being planned. For some time.