I'm behind enough as it is.

*New comics on Thursday around here, which is why yesterday's Diamond-based post is today.


GlömpX (all-Finland comics anthology, in English; three dimensional art to get you thinking about paper)


Perramus: Escape From the Past (part one of a new series of not-too-long posts on foreign-language comics that somehow found their way to English back in the day; we begin with Alberto Breccia's omnivorous political allegory)

At The Savage Critics!

*Totally some stuff worth waiting for, though.


Special Forces Vol. 1: Hot to Death
: Sure, I'll say it: this is the best Kyle Baker comic of the 21st century so far, a spittin' mad satire of the Iraq War in the form of a breathtakingly crass action comics tribute to the struggles of America's most underprivileged troops that just can't help but romantizice the hell out of a situation none of these people should be in, all while dropping in tasty front-of-Previews comics industry bonuses like rampant sexualization of 'strong' female characters and entirely ill-fitting superhero-flavored tropes. Baker's visuals are a fascinating hybrid of his agile comedy style, contemporary post-Image impact and war comics classicism, and his Frank Miller-styled narrative voice is so dead-on eerie I've heard people swear it's Miller done right. I hope he keeps the original final page, 'cause it's like being slapped in the face. Only $16.99 for 200 big pages. The first two chapters are free online.

My Inner Bimbo: The newest work from Sam Kieth (with co-artists Josh Hagler & Leigh Dragoon), tracking the adventures of a aging man who's feminine aspect develops its own persona, eventually maturing into her own complicated person while still in limited control of Our Man's body. Magic, allusion and crypto-autobiography abound in dense, sooty pages. You know if you want it. From Oni; $19.95 for 168 b&w pages.

Chicken With Plums: A new softcover edition of Persepolis creator (and The Photographer guest letterer) Marjane Satrapi's most recent comic, an Angoulême Best Album winner concerning depression, music and food in 1950s Iran. From Pantheon; $12.95.

This is a Souvenir: The Songs of Spearmint & Shirley Lee: This certainly does appear to be a $29.99, 208-page all-color anthology of comics inspired by the British indie pop outfit. With contributions by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie, Chynna Clugston-Flores, Jamie S. Rich, Scott Mills, Rich Johnston, Salgood Sam and more. Edited by Eric Stephenson, and presented in the same massive LP size as the Tori Amos-themed Comic Book Tattoo, which should put it in the 'lavish' category as far as these things go. Gaze.

Bayou Vol. 1: Being the first hardcopy output of DC's Zuda label for webcomics; it's the first four chapters of Jeremy Love's story of fantasy creatures and child questing in a Depression Era deep south. The whole series is online here; the landscape-format book is $14.99 for 160 pages.

The John Stanley Library: Melvin Monster Vol. 1 (of 3): The official debut of Drawn and Quarterly's extensive, Seth-designed effort to compile the famed Little Lulu cartoonist's lesser-known works into deluxe 7.75" x 11" hardcovers; first up it's issues #1-3 of the 1965-69 Dell series about a creepy child who just wants to behave. Expect impeccable gags. It's 112 pages for $19.95. Sneak peek.

Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan: The Jesse Marsh Years Vol. 2
: Another week, another Dark Horse Archives project, promising the Golden Age (and thereabouts, maybe) in hardcover for $49.95. This one sports issues #6-10 (1948-49) of the old Gold Key Tarzan series, from writer Gaylord DuBois and artist Jesse Marsh, the latter a sort of artist's artist's artist, admired by talents ranging from Alex Toth to Richard Corben to Gilbert Hernandez. For further reading, I commend to you Comic Art #9, and Ron Goulart's fine essay on the topic, but meanwhile there's 224 pages of color source material in here. Preview.

DC Comics Classics Library: Roots of the Swamp Thing: And moving forward in time, DC's all-color reprint brick effort brings us the first 13 issues (1972-74) of the original Len Wein-scripted muck monster ongoing (plus the origin stuff from House of Secrets #92), which I think should cover all of artist Bernie Wrightson's work on the series, along with a few issues of work by follow-up artist Nestor Redondo. Your $39.99 gets you 320 pages. Note that Wein's follow-up writer, Gerry Conway, has an all-new DC project starting this week, The Last Days of Animal Man #1 (of 6), a future-set story drawn by Chris Batista & Dave Meikis.

Elephantmen Vol. 2: Fatal Diseases: I'm gonna have to write more about this Richard Starkings-created Image series in the future, because it's genuinely odd work, an issue-by-issue modular perspective on vignettes from the ongoing lives of various people and anthropomorphic beasts trying to get by while massive socio-political operations click-clack around them, seemingly without anyone in power. It strikes me as reminiscent of a '90s self-publishing boom series, totally devoted to taking its author's playful ideas as seriously as possible across a longform narrative and often determinedly reaching beyond its grasp, although Elephantmen leaves open the possibility that the story will never end, barring some annihilation event. This is the second big hardcover collection of the main series, 312 color pages for $34.99, covering issues #8-14, plus the 'pilot' issue of preliminary concepts by Kurt Busiek, Jeph Loeb and others.

Berserk Vol. 29: Will Kentaro Miura's grue-smeared anti-fantasy manga ever come to an end? Um, I don't really know; didn't he say this was supposed to be his life's work or something? Hey, witches. It's 216 pages for $13.95. Also in swords this week, note that Dark Horse has the $17.95 softcover collection Conan Vol. 7: Cimmeria, which picks up all of Richard Corben's recent work on the series, albeit as flashbacks within a larger tale from writer Tim Truman and primary artist Tomás Giorello.

20th Century Boys Vol. 2 (of 24): I'm telling ya - two volumes in, and this is already my favorite Naoki Urasawa series. A rash decision? Perhaps; 4000+ pages to go leaves plenty of room to mess things up. But right now? It's Urasawa's warmest, most character-driven work by far, which I admit may try the patience of folks who want a smoking suspense juggernaut right off the top, but again: 4000+ pages.

Madame Xanadu #11: In which series writer Matt Wagner kicks off a five-issue storyline featuring art by Michael Wm. Kaluta, working on comics interiors for the first time since... I think he illustrated an Alan Moore prose thing in Tom Strong's Terrific Tales #9 in '04? Before that you might have to hit those Dark Horse The Shadow comics from the '90s. Anyhow, here he is.

Garth Ennis' Battlefields: The Tankies #2 (of 3): More treading from Ennis & artist Carlos Ezquerra. Have a look, and keep another eye peeled for Dynamite's $12.99 softcover collection of the series' prior war story, Dear Billy, drawn by the often underrated Peter Snejbjerg.

Gødland #28: Always good to have a little Joe Casey & Tom Scioli. Preview.

glamourpuss #7: Dave Sim, on schedule.

Ignition City #3 (of 5): Warren Ellis and people that don't blast off.

Crossed #5 (of 9): If this was a movie at Cannes this year, I bet it'd have won some shit.

God of Comics: Osamu Tezuka and the Creation of Post-World War II Manga: I'll presume this isn't the first academic study of Dr. Tezuka's oeuvre ever published in English, but it's the only one I can think of at the moment. Author Natsu Onoda Power promises an emphasis on Tezuka's use of intertextuality -- concerning both his own creations and various non-comics works -- and close readings of some obscure, never-published-in-English pieces. From the University Press of Mississippi, a 208-page softcover priced at $25.00.



Often predatory; somewhere in the grey area between a caring embrace and a flying leap to tackle someone.


This is a new 168-page color anthology of English-language (but mostly wordless) comics from Finland. It's limited to 1000 hardcover copies, produced by comics and music purveyor Boing Being and published by Huuda Huuda at EUR 28 or $35, although the actual U.S. price may vary; Copacetic Comics has it in stock for $39.95. I can't seem to find any other North American locations duly armed just yet, but you can import it from various sources.

The brainchild of editor Tommi Musturi -- an accomplished cartoonist whose The First Book of Hope and The Second Book of Hope are available from Belgian publisher Bries, probably at their MoCCA table in a few weeks, if you're attending -- Glömp has been ongoing at a mostly annual rate since 1997; its heart has been new work from Finnish artists, although prior issues have seen the participation of Kevin Huizenga, Anders Nilsen, Christopher Forgues, Lilli Carré, Olivier Schrauwen, Tom Gauld, Jeffrey Brown and many others. Its presence in the English-dominant world has been spotty, although earlier editions can be had through Top Shelf, Poopsheet and Quimby's (or Forbidden Planet in the UK).

This is the 10th edition of the now well-developed project, and the last to be edited by Musturi; it comes complete with a 56-minute soundtrack CD, and will be accompanied by a touring exhibition. I see a ready comparison to PictureBox's The Ganzfeld 7, which recently concluded itself with a book 'n disc all-color blowout, although other sources have drawn understandable parallels with the likewise once-modest, now-expansive Kramers Ergot. Indeed, Glömp itself deems it fit to deal with the legacy of comics anthologies in this very issue, even as it searches for somewhere new to press, maybe beyond the page.

(Janne Tervamäki)

The historical content is provided via an introductory essay by Finnish retailer Jelle Hugaerts, who briefly considers the makeup of a good comics anthology (the editor is "the soul") before launching into a history of the format, pinpointing William Gaines' affirmative pairing of stories with writers, features with features and talents with their names as the philosophical birth of the 'anthology' from the mere collection of features as was much of the Golden Age.

He then hits most of the expected American-European landmarks, although his very consideration of the European end ensures a somewhat different narrative than the North American standard; his positioning of Kramers as a sort of hybridization of the '90s-born French image fury of Le Dernier Cri with traditional narrative stands in sharp contrast to the occasional domestic characterization of American 'art' comics as freshly galloping away from accessible storytelling.

As for new advances, Hugaerts places special emphasis on minicomics and the anthology form as an arena for artists to hone and experiment, away from the growing expectation of bookshelf-ready material perilously early in an aesthetic's development (the potential of online comics goes unmentioned). "As for bigger, more book-sized anthologies, their key to success lies all the more in getting cohesive content or experimenting with the format," he notes, in what might as well be a wave to open the curtain.

Amusingly -- and speaking of cohesive content! -- the soundtrack CD seems to back this impression, with Maniacs Dream contributer Fricara Pacchu's opening track providing a long round of applause before launching into a swelling mess of sounds suggestive of an especially surreal gallery opening. The remaining three cuts (none under 10 minutes), however, exhibit more of what I'd anticipated: looping refrains and distortion studies, albeit with a certain emphasis on 'natural' base noise, exemplified by Kiiskinen's 18:17 Bill & Bull, best described as a vérité radio documentary on the subject of rubbing inflated party balloons, adapted by electromagnetic demigods for consumption in their home dimension.

(Tommi Musturi)

There's a strong natural aspect to the comics too, perhaps inevitably so, in that this special Glömp has required all narrative pieces to be 3-D. And I don't mean computer graphics or special glasses; rather, the comics must somehow exist in three-dimensional space, beyond the flat confines of the page, yet paradoxically for the purposes of inclusion in an anthology book apart from the aforementioned live exhibition.

It's dangerous work, this, particularly headed by an essay on the development of the successful comics anthology! All those 2-D comics are marked with pencil and ink and coverings and corrections or however many digital layers, of course, but their objective is typically to reproduce on the page; that's the completed form, and the reason I find it so hard to interface with original pages hanging on a gallery wall. Even exceptions to this rule like the one-of-a-kind object transformation of Maggots can at least function in simulacrum. But comics narratives rendered as 3-D objects? How do you keep a collection of that from retreating into an exhibition catalog?

That's the big question of GlömpX, at least for me, and the solutions devised by its 15 pieces provoked some good fascination. I was really taken the book's variations in story presentation, sometimes opening a segment with a wide view of the object in question then diving in for a closer look, sometimes saving the 'full' form of the work until the end, and often mixing perspectives to compelling effect.

Musturi's own story/project, for example, is very simple. We're started off with a double-page photographic presentation of four sheets of painted glass standing in a lake, the glare of the sun helpfully shining through one of them. The next four pages of the book present those sheets as comics pages (see above), altered somewhat for reproduction, but nonetheless indicative of the total exhibit's intent - light shining through translucent space, illustrated on both sides, to promote a naturalistic alternative to the look of animation cels.

But while the end result is shimmering and spooky -- and appropriately themed plot-wise as a fable of elemental, godly upheaval -- the work doesn't seem benefited by its conformity to the book. All of the image is present across the pages, but it still feels excerpted, like you're missing out on not truly seeing the light shine through those plates. You're divorced, isolated from the water and the heat; behind a pane of your own.

(Amanda Vähämäki; detail)

Yet even as the anthology absolutely begs the question of presentation, other pieces rise to certain innovations. Many of the stories as seen in the book are in fact augmented, in that 2-D drawings appear to be juxtaposed against careful framing of the 3-D works. There's a nice entry titled Sausages & Peas, composed by Amanda Vähämäki, whose story collection The Bun Field was recently released in North America by Drawn and Quarterly (and reviewed by Tom Spurgeon & Bart Beaty).

It's a 10-page look at a family dinner, with each left-hand page sporting 2-D studies of movement and antics by one member of the five-person clan, bordered at the top or bottom by fleeting, funny/sweet sepia memories, while each right-handed page provides an unbroken 3-D image of the entire kitchen -- seemingly formed from clay and illustrated paper/wood cut-outs -- slowly moving forward in time with each subsequent splash. In this way, Vähämäki casts her 2-D drawings as personal, subjective, while the facing 3-D content reflects the removed positioning of God, you - the reader, seeing the everything characters can't.

Nothing happens in the story, by the way, but it's astonishing how the artist's give-and-take between subjectivity and objectivity, involvement and dispassion, creates its own emotional power. It completely transforms the disability of Musturi's piece -- or, say, the inverted presentation of Pauliina Mäkelä's Hexen, a lineup of alternating fox and child images ultimately revealed to be taken from the top of a cloth draped around a doll, like the solution at the end of a mystery -- into a meaningful aspect of the reader's involvement with the work.

(Jyrki Heikkinen; detail)

Other contributions offer different compositions. Kramers Ergot 7 veteran Aapo Rapi teams with textile artist and weaver Sonja Salomäki for Disco Pizza, a dizzy burst of one medium after another, paintings running into models heading towards photography preceding sickly-colored comics, all this company in service of two characters' shared lonliness.

Elsewhere, Katri Sipiläinen presses deeper into contrast, pitting a full-bore Leisure Town-style sculpture fumetti against a b&w pencil story as baleful sagas of personal insecurity on two sides of a fantasy lake. Some pieces even blur the line of what's what, like Janne Tervamäki's Strange Weather, a near-abstract interplay of one-panel cartoons and searing illustrational details that effectively obscures any trace of the 3-D element, maybe as a means of begging the question of its utility.

My favorite pieces, though, find similar means of deconstructing and reconstructing the very stuff of the comics page. Witness above a little taste of Jyrki Heikkinen's Hip Hip Hooray!, a tall sculpture depicting the path of various characters toward the experience of death, floating word balloons built right in. Three double-page photographic splashes showcase portions of the whole, but they're pasted over with smaller images zooming in on different characters, thus creating 'panels' laid out to create the illusion of characters moving along the road, reasserting the primacy of the 2-D page as a means of traversing a 3-D setting.

Meanwhile, Le Dernier Cri participant Reijo Kärkkäinen slices out a garish diorama for The Operator, all blurry focus and jarring shapes at first, then moving in to place 'panels' cut from elsewhere on set in almost exactly the same jagged, clashing angles as the contours of the set itself, resulting in a rather profound disruption of reality through just-impossible-enough perspectives, mutating the 3-D environment itself by mimicking its qualities in a 2-D modification. It's like a drive through the uncanny valley, except now you're checking out the scenery rather than the inhabitants - a novel means of provoking environmental dread, which naturally rises to the forefront of the narrative, through its violation of nature.

(Hanneriina Moisseinen)

I can't say every part of this book is so complex, or nearly as involved; that's the toll of the anthology. Some will find Hanneriina Moisseinen's tale of heavy metal triumph via embroidered doilies to be overly precious, although others (like myself) might be charmed. Moreover, I readily admit that some might find the very concept limiting - these are not 'literary' comics by the North American understanding, though they are narratives, which certain readers may well deem shallow if they consider the presentational tension at work to be less than compelling.

Still, I can't help but feel impressed with this book, even while I'm unimpressed with some of its parts. Potentially a leaden piece of a multimedia puzzle, it's instead a good-natured harassment of the anthology comic, determined to strike a few worthwhile balances between the flat necessities of the page and the horizon looming behind. I don't know if it exposes a vital new dimension in the comics form, as departing editor Musturi would wish, but it supplies ample suggestion that the anthologies to follow don't have to move along the studied line of history; there are other directions, even if travelled by a leap from behind and a doubling up.


So kind of them.

*My neighbors are really yelling. They must not want this post to be late.


Seaguy: The Slaves of Mickey Eye #2 (of 3)

Désastre Hurlant: The Master List (i.e. a big list of comics released by Humanoids Publishing, 1999-2009)


a helpful guide to franchise revival, the Star Trek way! (riches not included)

At comiXology.

*Oh, I liked Manohla Dargis' piece on the apparently old-school explosive Cannes showing of the new Lars von Trier picture, Antichrist, purportedly mixing talking animals and below-the-belt ultraviolence in ways unimagined since the last time I struggled against bathtub gin unconsciousness while playing Star Fox 64, which I believe was an hour before the Cannes showing, given time zone variation. Probably the least hysterical/chop-licking reaction I've come across, given the hype-prone nature of the major film festival experience. Although I do like hysterical chop-licking hype too. What're you gonna do now, Gaspar Noé? Hope you stepped up the game.


The Photographer: Almost certainly your prestige French comics release of the season, this is First Second's all-in-one collection of a well-regarded 2003-06 biographical series from Emmanuel Guibert (script, drawings), Didier Lefèvre (subject matter, photographs) and Frédéric Lemercier (colors, design); it covers the late Lefèvre's camera-in-hand 1986 journey to Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders, a dangerous experience recorded in snapshots utilized by Guibert in a variety of ways, effectively raising Lefèvre to the level of 'co-artist.' It's a fascinating modification (and, to my mind, improvement) of the style Guibert utilized in Alan's War, in the service of a compelling story. Lavish, oversized (9" x 11.75") softcover production on this one; $29.95 for 288 pages. Extensive preview here. Expect a review later this week.

Flinch: Being a new 120-page, $11.95 b&w anthology from Gestalt Publishing, centered around interpretations of the term that's the title. Shaun Tan provides the cover, and a full list of contributers can be found at the above link. Lots more at the official site.

Dawn: The Worlds of Final Fantasy: This isn't a comic at all, but there's no excuse for not mentioning a new Yoshitaka Amano release, this one a $29.95 oversized hardcover art book presenting his designs and production art from the first four installments of the almighty J-RPG series. It literally took me years to finish Final Fantasy on the NES. Preview; from Dark Horse, 116 pages.

The Tick: Karma Tornado - The Compete Works: Yet more comprehensive Tick reprints from New England Comics, although this one may be of special interest due to the participation of Christopher "Jackson Publick" McCulloch (creator of The Venture Brothers) as co-writer of several issues with creator Ben Edlund. It's a 1993-95 spin-off, with various artists helping out; 256 pages in total, $27.95.

Heavy Metal July 2009 (Vol. XXXIII No. 4): Ah right, here it is - as mentioned last week, this issue contains vol. 3 of Alejandro Jodorowsky's & Milo Manara's historical smut epic Borgia, bearing the merry subtitle of Flames From Hell. The same team will be back for a fourth, possibly concluding volume whenever they finish it. It's only $6.95, and you get a bunch of other stuff too; I like to keep my anime porn logs current, so there's certainly extra value for my money.

Pluto Vol. 3 (of 8): In which Naoki Urasawa & co. continue to plunge stone-faced into the serious world of Osamu Tezuka and his biography of robot murders. I think there's some really neat twists in this one, but that pretty much covers every volume of every Urasawa series after the first two volumes or so.

Vagabond VIZBIG Edition Vol. 3: No volume number of termination on this one, Takehiko Inoue's popular, achingly pretty swordsman saga, but word has it the series is due to see its finale in 2010 or 2011. As usual, the $19.99 VIZBIG format collects three regular volumes into one, so this one covers vols. 7-9. Longtime readers should note that VIZ also has the $9.95 vol. 29 of the standard format series out this week, which brings the English editions right up to date with their Japanese counterparts, at least until the Japanese vol. 30 arrives in another week or so. Inoue diehards should also note that vol. 4 of basketball drama Real is additionally set to drop; there's no end in sight for that one.

Oishinbo Vol. 3: Ramen & Gyoza: Mmmmm, patriotism. There's gotta be at least one story in this 272-page VIZ production detailing how Japan's subtle refinement in noodle preparation unlocked the true soul of the dish as an ecstatic phantom visible only to the chosen gourmand in those fleeting perfect circumstances that every red-blooded idealist chases night and day like cherry blossoms pursuing the spring wind, although I think we all suspect that's every story. I'll probably never eat any of this awesome food, but it's somehow still $12.99 well spent. As always, these are themed collections culled from the jillion-volume ongoing series by Tetsu Kariya & Akira Hanasaki; VIZ must be excited, since plans have been made for at least four more collections after this.

Four Eyes #3: Max Fiumara vs. the dragons. Joe Kelly writes. Still Image, $3.50.

Hellblazer #255: Peter Milligan writes Constantine; last breather issue before the next big-ish story.

Mysterius: The Unfathomable #5 (of 6): Jeff Parker & Tom Fowler, nearing the end for now.

X-Men Forever Alpha: Man, I sure am glad Marvel is reprinting these scarce early Jim Lee issues of plain vanilla X-Men (#1-3); I just exchanged my last copies the other month for a palace of onyx and a throne of souls. Now nobody needs to miss out on these winter pearls of 1991, which will lead into the upcoming 'picking up where he left off' X-Men Alpha project, in which writer Chris Claremont is basically set to pretend the last 18 years of mutant comics didn't happen. Preview here; $4.99.

Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #1 (of 6): Probably the most anticipated of the post-Final Crisis brand miniseries (at least to readers of this site), catching up with Japan's Super Young Team as they continue onward with the superhero game. Written by Joe Casey with pencils by ChrisCross (and inks by four parties); have a look.

Herogasm #1 (of 6): And what better way to commemorate The Boys hitting its issue #30 halfway point than writer Garth Ennis teaming up with career-length cohort John McCrea (Troubled Souls, Hitman, Dicks) for half a year's worth of uncut spin-off? Even better, it's the first Boys story told primarily from the various corrupt/perverted superheroes' point of view as they gather together for a yearly direction-planning retreat (ho ho) and just maybe confront a terrible threat -- a regular Event, perhaps -- that could place everything in peril, and thus you'll certainly want to buy every issue it if you're following the main series, since Nothing Will Be the Same. The big joke: only in a 'fake' superhero universe thing like this do such threats actually carry weight. Only $2.99, so it costs less than the real deal too.


Set phasers to new column!

*Right, sorry about that. Here it is. It's definitely one of the more sarcastic things I've written lately, although I'm not exaggerating my near-total lack of experience with Star Trek beyond the original series - I've literally never seen an entire episode of Deep Space Nine or Enterprise.

Looking over this, I guess I kind of come off like I hated the new movie, which I totally didn't; there was fun stuff, decent lines, etc. But I did want to focus my column on 'franchise revival' stuff, since that's the real comics applicability there, and that's where a lot of my problems with the movie happened to come from, as it happened. See what you think, hope you enjoy it.



Désastre Hurlant (Appx.A): Master List of Titles

(updated 1/20/10)

(first printings only, all dates approximate, based on the Humanoids Publishing website wherever possible; excludes art prints and role playing game materials)



Hardcover Books

01/99 -- Aphrodite Vol. 1 by Milo Manara, illustrating text by Pierre Louÿs

03/99 -- Aphrodite Vol. 2 by Georges Bess, illustrating text by Pierre Louÿs

10/99 -- The Technopriests Vol. 1: Techno Pre-School by Alejandro Jodorowsky, Zoran Janjetov & Fred Beltran (reprinted in The Technopriests Book 1: Initiation)

01/00 -- Aphrodite Vol. 3 by Claire Wendling, illustrating text by Pierre Louÿs

02/00 -- The Nikopol Trilogy by Enki Bilal (reprinted in softcover, DC/Humanoids)

04/00 -- The White Lama Vol. 1: The First Step by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Georges Bess (reprinted in The White Lama Book 1: Reincarnation, DC/Humanoids)

05/00 -- The Black Order Brigade by Pierre Christin & Enki Bilal (reprinted in The Chaos Effect, DC/Humanoids)

05/00 -- The White Lama Vol. 2: Second Sight by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Georges Bess (reprinted in The White Lama Book 1: Reincarnation, DC/Humanoids)

06/00 -- The White Lama Vol. 3: The Three Ears by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Georges Bess (reprinted in The White Lama Book 1: Reincarnation, DC/Humanoids)

08/00 -- The Book of Jack by Denis Pierre Filippi & Olivier Boiscommun

08/00 -- The Fourth Power by Juan Giménez (reprinted in The Fourth Power, DC/Humanoids, which adds a second volume despite the identical title)

09/00 -- From Cloud 99 Vol. 1: Memories Part I by Bernard Yslaire

10/00 -- Dusk Vol. 1: Poor Tom by Richard Marazano & Christian Demetter

10/00 -- The White Lama Vol. 4: The Fourth Voice by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Georges Bess (reprinted in The White Lama Book 2: Road to Redemption, DC/Humanoids)

12/00 -- NogegoN by Luc & François Schuiten (reprinted in The Hollow Grounds, DC/Humanoids)

12/00 -- The Technopriests Vol. 2: Nohope Penitentiary School by Alejandro Jodorowsky, Zoran Janjetov & Fred Beltran (reprinted in The Technopriests Book 1: Initiation)

12/00 -- The White Lama Vol. 5: Open Hand, Closed Fist by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Georges Bess (reprinted in The White Lama Book 2: Road to Redemption, DC/Humanoids)

03/01 -- The White Lama Vol. 6: Water Triangle, Fire Triangle by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Georges Bess (reprinted in The White Lama Book 2: Road to Redemption, DC/Humanoids)

04/01 -- The Technopriests Vol. 3: Planeta Games by Alejandro Jodorowsky, Zoran Janjetov & Fred Beltran (reprinted in The Technopriests Book 1: Initiation)

05/01 -- Leo Roa Vol. 1: True Tales of Leo Roa by Juan Giménez

05/01 -- Zara by Luc & François Schuiten (reprinted in The Hollow Grounds, DC/Humanoids)

06/01 -- Leo Roa Vol. 2: An Odyssey Back in Time by Juan Giménez

07/01 -- Carapaces by Luc & François Schuiten (reprinted in The Hollow Grounds, DC/Humanoids)

12/01 -- From Cloud 99 Vol. 2: Memories Part II by Bernard Yslaire

12/01 -- Son of the Gun Vol. 1: Born in the Trash by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Georges Bess (reprinted in Son of the Gun Book 1: Sinner, DC/Humanoids)

03/02 -- The Hunting Party by Pierre Christin & Enki Bilal (reprinted in The Chaos Effect, DC/Humanoids)

04/02 -- Memories From Outer Space by Enki Bilal and various (reprinted in Memories, DC/Humanoids)

04/02 -- Son of the Gun Vol. 2: The President's Dogs by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Georges Bess (reprinted in Son of the Gun Book 1: Sinner, DC/Humanoids)

05/02 -- Son of the Gun Vol. 3: Flesh and Filth by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Georges Bess (reprinted in Son of the Gun Book 2: Saint, DC/Humanoids)

06/02 -- Exterminator 17 by Jean-Pierre Dionnet & Enki Bilal (note that this is the only Humanoids Bilal release not reprinted as part of "The Bilal Library" under DC/Humanoids)

06/02 -- Son of the Gun Vol. 4: Sinner and Saint by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Georges Bess (reprinted in Son of the Gun Book 2: Saint, DC/Humanoids)

07/02 -- Ante Genesem Vol. 1: The Prophet by Xavier Dorison & Mathieu Lauffray

07/02 -- Sanctum Vol. 1: USS Nebraska by Xavier Dorison & Christophe Bec (reprinted in Sanctum, DC/Humanoids)

09/02 -- Bouncer Vol. 1: Cain's Eye by Alejandro Jodorowsky & François Boucq (reprinted in Bouncer: Raising Cain, DC/Humanoids)

09/02 -- The Dormant Beast by Enki Bilal (also released in softcover; reprinted in The Beast Trilogy: Chapters 1 & 2 - The Dormant Beast/December 32nd, DC/Humanoids)

09/02 -- Thorinth Vol. 1: The Fool With No Name by Nicolas Fructus (some sites list the subsequent release of a Thorinth Vol. 2: The Grave Diggers, although this cannot be verified)

10/02 -- Morgana Vol. 1: Heaven's Gate by Luca Enoch & Mario Alberti

10/02 -- Pin-Up Girls from Around the World by Fred Beltran (part of the "Métal Hurlant presents" line with the softcover Like a River)

01/03 -- Deicide Vol. 1: Rage Against the Gods by Carlos Portela & Das Pastoras (reprinted in Deicide Book 1: Path of the Dead, DC/Humanoids)

03/03 -- Bouncer Vol. 2: The Executioners' Mercy by Alejandro Jodorowsky & François Boucq (reprinted in Bouncer: Raising Cain, DC/Humanoids)

03/03 -- Sanctum Vol. 2: Discovery by Xavier Dorison & Christophe Bec (reprinted in Sanctum, DC/Humanoids)

06/03 -- Chaland Anthology 1: Freddy Lombard by Yves Chaland & Yann Lepennetier (reprinted in softcover, DC/Humanoids)

10/03 -- Chaland Anthology 2: Freddy Lombard by Yves Chaland & Yann Lepennetier (reprinted in softcover, DC/Humanoids)


Pamphlet Format Comics

01/00 - 05/02 -- The Metabarons #1-17 by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Juan Giménez

05/01 - 10/02 -- The Incal #1-12 by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Zoran Janjetov (note that this run actually presents the prequel series Avant L'Incal, with Moebius credited in his capacity as original creator only)

11/01 - 02/02 -- Negative Exposure #1-4 by Thierry Smolderen, Georges Pop & Enrico Marini

08/02 - 11/04 -- Métal Hurlant #1-14 by various (note that this anthology revival does not bear the DC brand or masthead, even after the start of DC/Humanoids; contains Deicide, Fragile and Megalex material later reprinted, DC/Humanoids, Lucha Libre material later reprinted, Image/Humanoids, and The Zombies That Ate the World material later reprinted, DDP/Humanoids)


Prestige Format Comics

11/02 -- The Metabarons: Alpha/Omega by Alejandro Jodorowsky, Juan Giménez, Travis Charest & Moebius (contains various short stories and deleted sequences, none later reprinted)


Softcover Books

03/00 -- The Dormant Beast by Enki Bilal (later released in hardcover; reprinted in The Beast Trilogy: Chapters 1 & 2 - The Dormant Beast/December 32nd, DC/Humanoids)

04/01 -- The Metabarons Vol. 1: Path of the Warrior by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Juan Giménez (collects The Metabarons #1-5)

01/02 -- The Metabarons Vol. 2: Blood and Steel by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Juan Giménez (collects The Metabarons #6-10)

08/02 -- Miss: Better Living Through Crime by Philippe Thirault, Mark Vigouroux & Marc Riou (presented in b&w tones; reprinted in color, DC/Humanoids)

09/02 -- The Metabarons Vol. 3: Poet and Killer by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Juan Giménez (collects The Metabarons #11-14)

11/02 -- The Incal Vol. 1: Orphan of the City Shaft by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Zoran Janjetov (collects The Incal #1-6)

01/03 -- The Metabarons Vol. 4: Immaculate Conception by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Juan Giménez (collects The Metabarons #15-17)

02/03 -- Negative Exposure by Thierry Smolderen, Georges Pop & Enrico Marini (collects Negative Exposure #1-4)

03/03 -- The Incal Vol. 2: John Difool, Class "R" Detective by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Zoran Janjetov (collects The Incal #7-12)

08/03 -- Colère Noire by Thierry Smolderen & Philippe Marcele

08/03 -- Like a River by Pierre Wazem (part of the "Métal Hurlant presents" line with the hardcover Pin-Up Girls from Around the World)



xx/xx -- December 32nd by Enki Bilal (advertised "to be released" in Métal Hurlant #8; presumed standalone edition of material printed in The Beast Trilogy: Chapters 1 & 2 - The Dormant Beast/December 32nd, DC/Humanoids)

xx/xx -- Giuseppe Bergman by Milo Manara (advertised for release on 06/03 in Métal Hurlant #6; intended contents unknown)

xx/xx -- Lou Cale Vol. 1: Eye for the Truth by Warn's & Raives (advertised "to be released" in Métal Hurlant #8; some online stores note a 4/03 release, but this cannot be verified as copies are singularly unavailable)

xx/xx -- Premeditated Weekend by Pierre Wazem & Tom Tirabosco (advertised "to be released" in Métal Hurlant #8; intended third entry in the "Métal Hurlant presents" line)

xx/xx -- The Incal #13-?? by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius (intended pamphlet release of material later printed in The Incal Book 1: The Epic Conspiracy & The Incal Book 2: The Epic Journey, DC/Humanoids)



Prestige Format Comics

08/04 -- I Am Legion: The Dancing Faun by Fabien Nury & John Cassaday (reprinted as I Am Legion #1-2, DDP/Humanoids)


Softcover Books

07/04 -- The Horde by Igor Baranko

07/04 -- The Technopriests Book 1: Initiation by Alejandro Jodorowsky, Zoran Janjetov & Fred Beltran

07/04 -- Townscapes by Pierre Christin & Enki Bilal (part of "The Bilal Library")

08/04 -- Deicide Book 1: Path of the Dead by Carlos Portela & Das Pastoras

08/04 -- The Hollow Grounds by Luc & François Schuiten

08/04 -- The Metabarons Book 1: Othon & Honorata by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Juan Giménez (restores unedited album format from the Humanoids releases)

09/04 -- Chaland Anthology 1: Freddy Lombard by Yves Chaland & Yann Lepennetier

09/04 -- The Beast Trilogy: Chapters 1 & 2 - The Dormant Beast/December 32nd by Enki Bilal (part of "The Bilal Library")

09/04 -- The White Lama Book 1: Reincarnation by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Georges Bess

10/04 -- Son of the Gun Book 1: Sinner by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Georges Bess

10/04 -- The Metabarons Book 2: Aghnar & Oda by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Juan Giménez (restores unedited album format from the Humanoids releases)

11/04 -- By the Numbers Book 1: The Road to Cao Bang by Laurent Rullier & Stanislas

11/04 -- The Nikopol Trilogy by Enki Bilal (part of "The Bilal Library")

11/04 -- The Technopriests Book 2: Rebellion by Alejandro Jodorowsky, Zoran Janjetov & Fred Beltran

12/04 -- Bouncer: Raising Cain by Alejandro Jodorowsky & François Boucq

12/04 -- The White Lama Book 2: The Road to Redemption by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Georges Bess

12/04 -- Transgenesis 2029 Book 1: Fides by Anne Ploy & Didier Pagot

01/05 -- Chaland Anthology 2: Freddy Lombard by Yves Chaland & Yann Lepennetier

01/05 -- The Chaos Effect by Pierre Christin & Enki Bilal (part of "The Bilal Library")

01/05 -- The Incal Book 1: The Epic Conspiracy by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Moebius

02/05 -- Sanctum by Xavier Dorison & Christophe Bec

02/05 -- Son of the Gun Book 2: Saint by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Georges Bess

02/05 -- Thousand Faces Book 1: Two Mules, a Rifle and Ten Bullets by Philippe Thirault & Marc Males

03/05 -- El Niño Book 1: The Passenger by Christian Perrissin & Boro Pavlovic

03/05 -- Fragile by Stefano Raffaele

03/05 -- Miss: Better Living Through Crime by Philippe Thirault, Mark Vigouroux & Marc Riou (color restored from the Humanoids edition)

04/05 -- Memories by Enki Bilal & various (part of "The Bilal Library")

04/05 -- The Fourth Power by Juan Giménez

05/05 -- Different Ugliness, Different Madness by Marc Males

05/05 -- Megalex Book 1: The Anomaly by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Fred Beltran

05/05 -- Olympus by Geoff Johns, Kris Grimminger & Butch Guice

05/05 -- The Metabarons Book 3: Steelhead & Doña Vicenta by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Juan Giménez (restores unedited album format from the Humanoids releases)

06/05 -- The Incal Book 2: The Epic Journey by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Moebius

06/05 -- Transgenesis 2025 Book 1: The Ancestor Program by Anne Ploy & Loïc Malnati



Magazine Format Comics

09/07 - ??/?? -- Lucha Libre #1 - 6+ by Jerry Frissen & various (ongoing series)

Softcover Books

11/08 -- Lucha Libre Vol. 1: Heroing's a Full-Time Job by Jerry Frissen & various (collects Lucha Libre #1-5)



Pamphlet Format Comics

01/09 - 12/09 -- I Am Legion #1-6 by Fabien Nury & John Cassaday

02/09 - 01/10 -- The Zombies That Ate the World #1-8 by Jerry Frissen & Guy Davis


Just a Misunderstood Rebel

Seaguy: The Slaves of Mickey Eye #2 (of 3)

Well alright, first off: how funny is it that a big chunk of this issue is a loose, playful burlesque on a classical work of opera -- Georges Bizet's Carmen -- that just happens to arrive in stores on exactly the same day as another cockeyed extravaganza of inaudible evocation, Alan Moore's & Kevin O'Neill's The League of Extraordinary Gentlement: Century #1, so sturdily steeped in The Threepenny Opera? Shit, I don't even think Grant Morrison planned this one, which makes it all so much better.

(of course, it would have been even nicer if every Direct Market outlet had actually gotten their copies of Century on that official release date, but Diamond never has claimed to run a perfect Death Star)

Naturally, comparison proves useful. As is his wont, Moore throws himself into his studies, picking apart his favorite tunes line by line and substituting appropriate refurbished verses to fit the all-fiction jam-up that is the extended LoEg society; for its citation, the larger work is also highly self-referential, nodding past the likes of From Hell and Watchmen (do note how Moore conspicuously refrains from naming a Black Freighter) all the way back to the pseudononymous works of one 'Curt Vile,' though it couldn't have slipped the Magus' mind that the Threepenny itself is an amalgam of sources, and indeed a marshalling of the 18th century characters and concepts of John Gay -- already satirical even on their own -- toward modern and political ends. Tight as a watch, tall as time.

Morrison, meanwhile, has his own ideas. I like Seaguy for a lot of reasons, but right now I'm digging on how it's the writer's license to be sardonic right on the page. Often nakedly so - there's a funny opening bit this issue with the titular, errant, much manipulated superhero-concept-as-flesh-and-blood-naïf trying to escape from the all-seeing forces of Mickey Eye with a 'trio' of similarly-dressed young champions who've been inspired by his prior exploits, which is to say 'inspired to shrink down to tiny size and launch into opponents' eyes. Our Hero is duly shocked by their profane spandex antics, and eventually we find out it's actually only one guy with the power to embody several extremely similar personas at once, and anyway he's just the licensed rebellion faction of the terribly extensive Mickey Eye Empire.

Sure, on the surface it's just boilerplate 'oh that superhero decadance' commentary, but there remains a certain kick to it when you look back to those old JLA issues, and you try and track the widescreen action line into The Authority and The Ultimates. Morrison isn't Seaguy himself, but he specializes in characters searching for higher understanding, and the crux of his commentary is that the volume, the attitude only got broader while the scope remained essentially safe. Seaguy the comic isn't just about the superhero genre, remember - it's about pressing through the boundaries of safety to glimpse the cynical workings of things, and trying to maintain some idealism while the mechanisms of power try and lull you into soft security. Spoiler: you never really succeed.

Obviously you can look at Morrison's recent output and ponder if he doth protest too much, but I've gotta concede that even super-flawed DCU happenings like Batman: R.I.P. and Final Crisis managed to collapse in striking ways, at least. They had ambition's scope, if not happy endings. Maybe it only gets harder, every new struggle, struggling and searching, failing like Seaguy.

That's the real meat of this issue - Seaguy winds up temporarily removed from Mickey Eye's psychologically destructive cycle of superhero revamps, planted into the all-new, all-different life of a macho (El Macho, even!) bullfighter in Los Huevos (ha ha), which, as per the boundless literalism of Morrison's world, means he must specifically emasculate rampaging bulls by dressing them in frilly ladies' underthings, which takes the stereotypical fight right out of 'em. Carmen, as expected, loved it madly.

Morrison die-hards have heard it all before, granted; for a while, before it was certain this sequel would actually be published, the writer was prone to performing these scenes at panels and showcases before unsuspecting audiences. It's still amusing to see it played out as a piece of the larger superhero-publishing-industry-machinations-as-literal-conspiract Seaguy universe; apparently Mickey Eye's imagineers can't think of a substitute life for Our Man that isn't somehow a heroic epic of manly conquest, which is a rather sly poke on its own.

But it's the particulars that really get the joke going. It's not actually Bizet's Carmen that Seaguy finds himself living in - it's a sequel! Or, rather, the latest chapters in an ongoing series of exploits inspired by Bizet's Carmen, had it never been allowed to end, since all projects are perpetual under the ownership of Mickey Eye; Seaguy's only the latest bullfighter (er, dresser) to win Carmen's heart, with the Escamillo character displaced as a seething runner-up. Hell, it may be "Cortez" (a conqueror, at least formerly) is only the latest in a long line of champs laid low, since the concept apparently ran out of gas after that Don José dude left. Everything's just a little sturdier. A bit less of an adventure, if awfully high on conflict!

Morrison doesn't go verse-for-verse like Moore, at least not according to my fading undergraduate opera studies. There is a song, but it might as well come from somewhere totally different, or totally obvious. Still, there's the metaphors: Carmen as the wild love, the force that can never be tamed, her climactic resistance matching her with the bull Escamillo fights, and the toreador's heroism compliments Don José's murder of Carmen, the force he cannot understand. Naturally, Morrison's Carmen is still 'alive' -- couldn't be much of a Carmen: The Ongoing Series without her! -- but fake. She's the chess game with Death, the universe-shattering Events, the thrill rides going round and round.

The bull, however, is something still real, just like the Xoo from the first series, and Seaguy finds himself drawn to team up with such purely inhuman forces, stripping naked before the bucking beast and denying all this mannish nonsense, since it's really respect and compassion that wins you the fight, not splendid adherence to gender roles, and so on and so on. And the untamed force lashes out, and the larger society remains the same.

And I don't think it's out of line to note that Slaves of Mickey Eye does tend to come off as slightly more a reiteration of the first series than a development of its themes, all conflicting issue closers aside(vol. 1 #2: Seaguy crazed & lost at sea, trauma; vol. 2 #2: Seaguy diving into the sea, healing); these metaphorical vignettes have a way of sticking in clusters, although Cameron Stewart does bring an extra element in the form of his own development as an artist since the original, leaving Seaguy at least looking matured. He's also full of fun little design tricks, like how fake rebel supervillain Octo-Mariner always seems to be looking at both Seaguy and the reader, even though he never moves his head.

That's a potentially interesting character, there - mean old Seadog, who's coming to defy Mickey Eye itself out of distaste for the 'nobody really dies' ethos of the modern superhero malaise. Maybe the final part of this chapter will rely on bad behavior to get things done? Is that how Seaguy will find his adulthood? Hell, after reading some of these recent superhero comics -- some of them Grant Morrison-written, sure -- I'm ready to see some authentic pain myself. And this is nothing if not a book of pain: a regular pinch to keep you awake.


The internet may exhale.

*Finally, some very necessary conclusions around here.


--Désastre Hurlant: I Miss It Already--

Part 16 (a huge post of short reviews, covering the expectations surrounding French comics of the Humanoids sort, in the form of Transgenesis 2029, El Niño, Thousand Faces, Deicide, The Fourth Power and The Hollow Grounds)

Part 18 (a brisk concluding exchange of 10,000+ words between Tucker Stone and myself, covering both volumes of the Chaland Anthology and By the Numbers; many pictures)

Love you, goodbye.

*Updates Dept: Since I said I'd get back to it - official details on the return of Elaine Lee's & Michael Wm. Kaluta's Starstruck! The comic!

Apparently, IDW will be releasing a 13-issue(!) series of newly re-colored material starting in August; Lee Moyer is the colorist, and Charles Vess will be inking Kaluta on some Galactic Girl Guide backup materials. Given the extent of the project, it's probably safe to presume this is the Expanding Universe version of the stuff Dark Horse released in b&w back in the early '90s.

I used to have a picture of the cover art here, but it gave photobucket an erection so I had to be punished. Won't the Galactic Girl Guides come to my rescue?!


Truthfully, photomaster Johnny Bacardi was on top of this stuff months ago, thanks to his newsgroup perusing, so check out some coloring samples at his place.

*Remember - if your store didn't get The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century #1 last week (review here), it's coming on Wednesday. This issue is best taken sung aloud.

*Also, if you absolutely cannot get enough of that Alejandro Jodorowsky character -- I've gotten used to seeing him in my dreams every night -- I suspect the new issue of Heavy Metal should be showing up in Direct Market stories soon (the July 2009 edition, girl with weapons on the cover; it's already on newsstands), and it's got the third installment of Jodorowsky's and Milo Manara's Borgia, relating all the fun a good-natured clan can have up at the Vatican. This was supposed to be the final installment, but now it's not.

Hey, what the... that's the Pope and his daughter, not a son and his mother!

Ha ha, good ol' Jodorowsky - still mixin' it up.


From the Ashes #1 (of 6): Being the new faux-autobiography series from the very good Bob Fingerman, following his sepia-toned (and otherwise) exploits with his wife in a post-cataclysm NYC. Looks perfect in the longbox next to Peter Bagge's Apocalypse Nerd, I'll reckon; more alternative cartoonists need to do these. From the very active IDW; $3.99. Big preview here.

Clive Barker's Age of Desire: New from Desperado Publishing, an arms-swinging hymn from grandma's porch on a Sunday afternoon about "the last days of a genetically altered and homicidally ecstatic sexual compulsive." Story by Barker, laid out in panels by P. Craig Russell and drawn by Tim Bradstreet, partially in the early '90s, which was when Eclipse was supposed to publish the thing. Then the company went under and some of the art apparently went missing, but then it got found and Russell wound up drawing a handful of new pages recently to finish it off; samples. It's a 64-page b&w hardcover, $14.99.

Codeflesh Definitive Edition: Another Man of Action release from Image, this time compiling Joe Casey's & Charlie Adlard's tale of a superhuman bail bondsman -- originally presented in the 2001 Image anthology Double Image -- into a deluxe, $34.99 hardcover. AiT/Planet Lar released a b&w softcover collection of this stuff years ago, but this edition restores (or in some cases approximates) the original color, and adds an all-new story. Sample chapter here. I do believe Casey also has a story in Ardden Entertainment's Flash Gordon 75th Anniversary Special this week - it's a $14.95 hardcover featuring stories from a whole bunch of people. In case you wanted to see Flash Gordon from the writer of Gødland.

The Complete Chester Gould's Dick Tracy Vol. 7: 1941-42: Vol. 7 isn't bad at all. And I think we're nearing the prime period stuff too. Another 344 pages, another $39.99. Publisher IDW (them again) also has Harold Gray's Little Orphan Annie Vol. 3: And a Blind Man Shall Lead Them, packing in 288 pages of stuff from April 1930 through the end of 1931, for the same price.

Secret Wars II Omnibus: But you wanna know how I'm sure we're deep into the intestines of the Golden Age of Reprints (which is an organic entity)? Simple: 1184 pages of Secret Wars II for $99.99. You might as well buckle up for The Compleat Evolutionary War Hardcover Treasury (with Alf tie-in variant cover), since I'm sure that'll be along soon enough. Hey, there's an X-Men 2099 trade out this week too! Only $29.99 for nine big issues, but I'd hold out for Ghost Rider if I was you; Ashley Wood drew a few of those.

Thor: Tales of Asgard by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby #1 (of 6): So just in case you thought some of the stuff Tucker and I were going on about in that thing we just finished wasn't relevant to our comics world today, look what Marvel's got for $3.99 - a whole miniseries dedicated to applying modern coloring to vintage Lee/Kirby tales, and it's about what you'd expect. I've seen plenty worse, sure - The Incal, for one. This stuff looks like a mildly subtler version of the kind of colorization you'd see in the '80s, the really rich stuff that'd sort of stick to the lines and give it a painterly tone, if you squint. I see the point, but not the appeal... but yeah, this is happening.

Howling Commandos #1: Despite its branding as a 40-page one-off Sgt. Fury comic (previously titled Shotgun Opera, which might still be a subtitle), this $3.99 Marvel deal actually seems to be some sort of lead-in to the upcoming Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale Captain America: White series, although I'm sure it'll sort of stand alone, at least. The draw is artist John Paul Leon, working from a script by television writer/executive producer Jesse Alexander. Interview with the writer and uncolored art samples here.

Elephantmen #19: This is the second of three issues (all standalone stories) to be drawn by artist Marian Churchland, whose work I hadn't seen before; I like her marker coloring, and there's little touches to her forms (particularly her animals) that suggest something interestingly liquid centered in her manga-informed character art. For example. Worth keeping an eye on. Also: Elephantmen is up to issue #19. Not a common creature's feat these days...

Jack Staff #20: Paul Grist, as always.

Rawbone #2 (of 4): Sleaze on the high seas, from Jamie Delano and Max Fiumara.

B.P.R.D.: The Black Goddess #5 (of 5): Polishing off this particular miniseries, which is really only the second part of a trilogy that's supposed to wrap up a bunch of the larger series' lingering plotlines, although part three isn't coming next. First there's another War on Frogs special (with art by Karl Moline), then the second of occasional co-writer Joshua Dysart's 194x period miniseries (1947, with art by Fábio Moon & Gabriel Bá), then I think another (fourth, final) War on Frogs, and only then the rest of this thing, around Christmas or early 2010, if I'm not mistaken. Preview.

The Umbrella Academy: Dallas #6 (of 6): But why wait for the summer when you can have your Gabriel Bá on Wednesday? How is this series anyway? I've been waiting for it to finish before I jump in, and I haven't picked up a lot of discussion at all, particularly compared to the first one, which obviously could just be the novelty wearing off. Holding steady?


Désastre Hurlant - Intégrale


Being an 18-part series of posts composed by Tucker Stone and myself in April and May of 2009, concerning each and every bookshelf-targeted book released via the DC Comics/Humanoids Publishing alliance, 2004-05, as well as other relevant topics of purported interest.

We did it because we felt like it.


T1: Better Living (introductions, Miss: Better Living Through Crime)

T2: Necrophilia & Blood On The Kronstadt Ice (Fragile, The Horde)

T3: I've Seen This Movie Before & Why You Should Never Try To Make God "Hardcore" (Sanctum, Transgenesis 2025)

T4: Is Man Good? (re-coloring The Incal)

T5: Like No Messing Around, This Guy Really Wants To Sleep With His Mom (Son of the Gun)

T6: La Constellation (The Incal)

T7: Open Hand, Closed Fist (The White Lama)

T8: We All Stand In The Shadow Of The Beltran (The Technopriests)

T9: The Good, the Bad and the Temporarily Resurrected (Bouncer, Métal Hurlant, Megalex)

T10: Psychomagic (The Metabarons)

T11: And In This Corner, The Bilal Rising (Memories)

T12: We Will Find You, And We Will Take You Into The Woods, And We Will Kill You (The Chaos Effect)

T13: I'm Makin' Devils Cower To The Caucus Mountains (The Nikopol Trilogy)

T14: Earthraiser & the God of Forgotten Triumph (Townscapes, The Beast Trilogy)

T15: I Would Love A Spot Of Tea! Place It By My Possible Sexism, Won't You? (Different Ugliness, Different Madness)

T16: What Did You Expect? (Transgenesis 2029, El Niño, Thousand Faces, Deicide, The Fourth Power, The Hollow Grounds)

T17: And We Will See You Here No Longer (Olympus)

T18: À Suivre (Chaland Anthology, By the Numbers, conclusions, apologies, exeunt)

Appx.A: Master List of Titles (everything Humanoids, in the best chronological order possible)


Désastre Hurlant (T16): What did you expect?

It wasn't all major authors or acclaimed artists, though. Or sometimes it was just a little bit of the major and/or acclaimed, straight from the whims of capricious fate. More often, the blips of DC/Humanoids -- the one-volume wonders and the frustrated efforts -- seemed the reinforce that decades-built Heavy Metal characterization of what French comics 'are,' a persona struck from that early state of Humanoïdes itself, really. You reap what you sow.

Transgenesis 2029 Book 1: Fides

I mean, we can go on about Enki Bilal as much as we want, but this right here does sum up a few prevailing aesthetic assumptions, eh? When confronted with these situation, I find it useful to paraphrase the Dirk Deppey theorem of quality for Heavy Metal features: the sooner the breasts, the lesser the story. Transgenesis 2029 sports full frontal nudity on page two, which I think analogizes roughly to Bloody Mary smashing a black cat through my bathroom mirror while I pick up a stray penny heads-down and envision a white nun. Mind you, that's still better than full nudity on the first page, which would approximate to a burglar shooting me in the head.

This is actually the first of two Transgenesis books released in English; Tucker reviewed the second one, which he subsequently deemed the worst DC/Humanoids book that didn't boast a tangential connection to the Sinestro Corps War. I didn't feel half as strongly about this one; it's pretty much exactly the sort of dead-center sci-fi satire you'd expect to find in virtually any contemporary issue of Heavy Metal, with virtually nothing to help it stand out from the pack of not dissimilar sci-fi releases from other various publishers.

All right, I guess there's concept. Transgenesis is the brainchild of writer Anne Ploy, a multi-artist, multi-series megaproject intended to provide different looks at the same world in different time periods. You'll note the book Tucker covered was Transgenesis 2025, the very first segment of the project to see release, back in 1999 (it ended in 2006 at vol. 5; the English version collected vols. 1-2), with original artist Loïc Malnati. This one, the 2029 series, was the second to start up, in 2000 (it ended in 2008 with vol. 5), drawn by unassuming craftsman Didier Pagot.

However, the 2029 series was the first to be released by DC/Humanoids (again, collecting the French vols. 1-2), possibly because it's so damn familiar - strap yourself in for a nasty future of mind-control and devouring religion, where the theocratic government of Paris has outlawed antibiotics and morphene and plans to install 'guardian angels' in the populace that kill everyone who disbelieves! Naturally, it all boils down to a family conflict between young conformist Janus, his ruling mother and his counter-revolutionary father, although there's also a tough-talking rebel girl with multi-colored hair and a rag-tag group of subversives that Janus eventually joins... perhaps to destroy them, ho ho ho!!

Words really aren't adequate to express how dull (yet never horrendously bad) this thing gets; there's even just enough moments of amusement -- a city-wide morning workout or a pretty lived-in depiction of workaday office sniping -- to keep the heartrate perfectly level. It doesn't help that Ploy's grip on the modularity of her project isn't so firm; while the plot is never confusing, it's pretty much assumed you know a few of the character relationships from some earlier bit in the project -- which, of course, DC/Humanoids hadn't released when this was new -- for a lot of the emotional impact to land. It absolutely doesn't.

But, you know, this is a massive, sprawling project (the 2035 strand is still ongoing), so maybe Ploy has an eye for the longterm. Jean-Pierre Dionnet mentioned in his Métal Hurlant column that he couldn't even read the first of these albums when it was brand new, yet he came to consider the broader project "amazing" and "an immense fresco ten times more ambitious than seventy-five percent of comic books in the world today."

Or hey, for further validation you can always go to Ploy's own Afterword to this DC/Humanoids edition, with copious elaboration on her research on contemporary cults and her desire to arrive at "new answers to the great questions of humanity, human nature, and its possible evolution, as a social and emotional creature, and also as a biological and spiritual being." I can't begrudge her the effort, but the execution does have its way of casting such artist's statements as the most charitable reading a book can hope to receive.

El Niño Book 1: The Passenger

A lot of these odd books were released toward the end of the DC/Humanoids deal, at which point it was decided that yet another strange tactic was necessary: filling out the trades with extra pages from one volume past where the books would usually go. Basically, that means a few softcovers came out collecting two and one half French albums, with the story stopping (sometimes pretty abruptly) with a To Be Continued...

For this book, at least, the notion made some sense. A dry, info-heavy 'sophisticated' adventure from high seas specialist scribe Chistian Perrissin and artist Boro Pavlovic, El Niño was about a year or so away from the vol. 5 conclusion of its first storyline when DC/Humanoids released this English softcover in March 2005; I suspect the plan was to wait out the rest of the French material so as to produce a simple, two-part English release, provided that the structure had been planned out ahead of time. It was idealistic, expecting the effort to continue into 2006, but I suppose it doesn't hurt the psyche to plan for the future, nor does it hurt the marketing to pump a softcover up to a length akin to a superhero trade paperback collection of six 22-page chapters.

Sadly, marketing discussion provides the most excitement I've known for El Niño. I imagine this isn't an unpopular series in France -- a two-volume sequel was launched in 2008, currently set to finish this upcoming June, with a 296-page all-in-one edition of the prior series published just this past January -- but Perrissen's discussion-heavy tour of world issues struck me as dry, slow and often at odds with Pavlovic's statuesque presentation of Vera, the series' questing heroine, on the trail of a lost brother who seems to have become a notorious pirate, and prone to listening to people talk about the plights of various global hotspots.

It's all very proper and composed -- a detailed panorama here, a shower scene there, lots and lots of conversation everywhere -- yet also the only one of these books I presume would work a lot better as a television series or something, where actors and music could maybe keep things lively. As a comic, all these unfailingly realistic compositions and waist-up Japanese computer game-like talking heads fail to spark any interest in me, although I'm sure Perrissen's research and motives are fine, and the approach probably fits into some traditional adventure storytelling schema that hasn't much caught on in North America. Kind of a bore to this reader.

Thousand Faces Book 1: Two Mules, a Rifle and Ten Bullets

But then there's Philippe Thirault, writer of Miss: Better Living Through Crime. Given how eager Humanoids was to flaunt the critical acclaim Miss provoked upon its initial release, I was sort of puzzled as to why they didn't release more the guy's writing. Turns out they did, except not until February 2005, and without any discernible marketing support; I picked up my copy online for the price of a fancy drink at Starbucks, and that's after shipping.

And lo and behold: Thousand Faces is the writer's second very nice genre piece to see English release, and unique in approach from the layered plotting of Miss (albeit in that the plot is uniquely layered). It's another two-and-a-half album collection -- presumably because the series was intended to conclude with a vol. 5 in French, which hasn't materialized as of yet; vol. 4 is dated May 2006 -- with a structure that sees a new narrator pick up at the start of every new album. That's fitting, since it's a supernatural horror tale adept at taking on many identities, with a monster central character that can literally accomplish the same. The page-by-page storytelling manages some tricks too.

I wouldn't blame you for mistaking Thousand Faces for a grim cowboy comic at first; it's early pages are devoted to some poor Old West cowpoke struggling to survive after being cast out into the wild for unspecified crimes. Hell is evoked and a wicked force is referenced, but such old-timey religion proves more than just metaphor as the story flashes back to London in 1842, where Our Hero falls under the sway of a sinister doctor whose advanced blood transfusion theories mask a diobolical intent.

And that's maybe half of the first album, in drastically simplified form. Soon there's partnerships with natives, unkillable wild animals, the sad saga of a Scottish hunchback and his delicate mastery of evil magic, the cowpoke's gay son and his seemingly accidental accumulation of riches in Illinois, and a curious young boy who survives a train robbery massacre and gets into a Scanners-style psychic head explosion showdown with a possessed frontier wolfer.

Bits and pieces of each chapter overlap from different perspectives as the various narrators take over, album to album, with seemingly every new revelation shoving the story into another genre or subgenre, the whole sick thing presided over by a wicked presence prone to infiltrating bodies and becoming slightly different, just like the story surrounding it.

Now, don't let me oversell this. At heart it's basically an above-average Vertigo series, complete with a slightly left-of-center visual style courtesy of Marc Males, writer/artist of Different Ugliness, Different Madness. There's little of that book's flourish-of-moments here -- too much plot to get through, I'd say -- but Males retains a pleasingly assured blocky take on classic western character types, with some great, just so slightly unreal visions of bloodied, rampaging wildlife under magical control.

It's worth the (probably small) price to see, despite being transcontinentally incomplete; tricky pop comics like this tend to be the least rewarded by freight train release schedules. Maybe a few more books would have given Thirault a name you could hear above the racket. Anyway, it's wrecked now, so no harm in sifting through.

Deicide Book 1: Path of the Dead

You may, however, have heard the name Das Pastoras. He's a Spanish cartoonist (born Julio Martínez Pérez) recently seen in one of Marvel's recent Wolverine one-shots, January's Wolverine: Switchback. Speaking of locomotion. To wit:

It's not an easy approach to forget, a sort of textured amalgam of model-mad Richard Corben and Frank Quitely circa Missionary Man, the kind of thing you'd probably hope to see if running down the Heavy Metal expectations. And Deicide doesn't disappoint - if we've already gone down the sci-fi commentary (Transgenesis), the dispassionately composed adventure (El Niño) and the addled genre swap (Thousand Faces), it can't belong before we encounter muscular he-men and scantly-clad wild women taking on weird creatures in a fantasy world, complete with a cruel monarch type cackling on his throne at the conclusion of episode one.

This is a pretty great take on such an old standard, even though it actually does contain full frontal nudity on page one; it could be its sheer directness somehow reversed the Deppey theorem, or maybe the bullet realigned my priorities. Whatever the reason, it's a lot of fun.

One Carlos Portela is the writer, an apparently frequent presence on the Spanish comics scene (fanzines, festival organization, comics scripts) whose also done some screenwriting; as far as I know, this is his English-translated comics debut, save for a Métal Hurlant piece with Das Pastoras included in the DC/Humanoids edition as a bonus.

His is an disarmingly earthy vision of gods and monsters, focusing on the warrior Agon's struggle to revive his dead lover, essentially by beating the shit out of his tribe's dark god, Madorak. Allies and foes are encountered, like the lion-ish talking beast thingy Beluch (who's on the run from his people) and Hettia, the daughter of a completely different evil god, who's led around on what amounts to a magic leash. No, it's not much of a deconstruction of gender roles in fantasy literature.

It is pretty funny, however, both in terms of buddy movie back-and-forth and casting its world of mighty beings as irritable neighbors in a small community. This subtly undercuts the majesty of questing, allowing for odd routines like a fallen worm god's followers amending their religion on the fly to account for his death to pay off later as consequences of human connection beyond a (very very) obvious satiric intent. Helpfully, Das Pastoras' art throws maximum emphasis on bodies and flesh, and the stones that make a wall moreso than the structure itself.

Granted, I doubt it'll convert anyone who's opposed to this kind of saga, winking or not, or doesn't think of Das Pastoras' art as much more than a sum of influence. Corben himself rather liked it, judging from his blurb on the back cover. So, one presumes, did Alejandro Jodorowsky, in that he eventually snapped the artist up to work on his prequel to The Metabarons, the three-volume Castaka, which launched in 2007:

He might be a tiny bit like Metabarons artist Juan Giménez, actually - a cartoonist under his paints, though Das Pastoras' whimsy is more in color and fauna than his strapping humans, unless they're having a transformation, which is likely in his world(s). We'll doubtlessly be seeing more of those, since another Wolverine one-off is on the horizon, and I imagine the Metabarons stuff will find its way over once it's done, although the activity may not bode well for Deicide; this DC/Humanoids edition collects all extant material, and the story ends on a cliffhanger. It was nice while it lasted, at least.

The Fourth Power

And look at that - another friend of Jodorowsky!

No no, it's okay; I know Giménez had a long career prior to starting the Metabarons. Hell, I doubt anyone who got themselves exposed to the old Tundra/Heavy Metal/Kitchen Sink catalogs/ads could forget the omnipresent Apocalypse: The Eyes of Doom, located somewhere around Ramparts: Unseeing Eyes or Scott Hampton's The Upturned Stone. I think they even had one of Jodorowsky's George Bess collaborations in there at one point, Anibal Cinq: The Last Ten Women I've Known. I hope you're copying down this valuable information for your next Kitchen Sink trivia night, preferably on the wrapper of a Devil Girl Choco-Bar.

Anyway, The Fourth Power actually dates from 1989, as a solo one-off Spanish-language album Giménez completed just before the Jodorowsky series began. It's easy to imagine Jodorowsky flipping through it and nodding furiously, certain Giménez is the man for the job; the opening sequence alone depicts hordes of armored troopers bursting in on various locations to kidnap women in ways than ensure a maximum loss of clothing.

The narrative then jerks itself between a pacifist pirate broadcast to a lazy, sexed-up future society and the high-tech troubles of a girl pilot named Mega, who's wanted by sinister forces as a crucial component of a psychic weapon that may tip the scales in an ongoing war that nobody pays much attention to anymore. The narrative aches to contain itself, wandering away on short tangents then rushing to build itself up a cataclysmic finale - it's not entirely unlike Jodorowsky's own work, both in terms of happy excess and spiritual yearning in a fallen, sleepy society.

It's not nearly as good as Jodorowsky's best stuff, though; if anything, Giménez's tendency for over-explanation recalls Masamune Shirow, another fan of detailed tech drafting. Still, demand for the artist was surely up as the Metabarons began to wind down; 2004 saw the Spanish album translated into French, accompanied by a brand new sequel so as to kick off an ongoing series.

This DC/Humanoids release collects both 2004 French albums (the series is currently up to vol. 4 in French), allowing for some useful comparison of the artist's development over a decade and a half's time, although I can't say his writing improves much. It doesn't seem to have mattered to admirers, though; a quick scan of online retailers reveals this as one of the pricier of the line these days, with most deals starting at around $30.00. In comparison, you can get a nice Apocalypse: The Eyes of Doom for under five bucks, which leaves plenty of money left for James O'Barr's Pink Dust: Morphine Dreams or any other Kitchen Sink items you regret passing up prior to their shuttering everything but the confections outfit. What kind of candy did they sell anyway? And how long do those Devil Girl bars hold up?

The Hollow Grounds

Woah, look out - last goddamned review in the last goddamned segment of this internet series to appear on this site, and it's finally a book I actually reviewed back when it was sort of semi-new, or at least only two years old or something!

It was also one of the very first DC/Humanoids releases, and it's easy to guess why; artist François Schuiten may not command the rapt attention of the English-reading world in its entirety, but he's definitely in the realm of respected Eurocomics masters whose North American releases command tall prices after their short print runs vanish; just try finding some of NBM's old editions of his Les Cités Obscures (with writer Benoit Peeters) for under a hundred bucks. Worse yet, this particular tome appears to be totally sold out from certain popular used book websites, although adept readers can probably sniff out a copy or two.

Or, you know, there's always Humanoids' earlier hardcover releases of exactly the same material, three albums released in 2000 and 2001: Carapaces, Zara and NogegoN. These were the only books Les Humanoïdes had the rights to, a suite of projects Schuiten created with his brother Luc. They're also one of the only bodies of work critically damaged by the trade paperback proportions of the DC/Humanoids deal; most of these artists are probably better read in the oversized album format, but Schuiten's yawning architectures and subtle colors need every centimeter of that space to reach their sincere potential.

Plus, that way you can elect to only buy NogegoN, which is the only mandatory Schuiten work in here. Carapaces may be worth it for the nostalgia, since it's a collection of short pieces that got some great play in early Heavy Metal - surely you remember the one about the guy riding the bike who breaks up into cubes, or the b&w thing about the metal people who take off their armor to reveal color skin and then they're eaten by steel cockroaches? It's ok, if mainly a visual showcase (and an early one at that).

The less said about Zara, meanwhile, the better; back in '06 I deemed it "an ambling, formless mess, stocked up with neat ideas and good visual concepts, and virtually nothing to do with them save for indulging in odd world-building asides, scattershot satire, gratuitous naughtiness, and roundabout adventure." It's sufficient to note that going through the stuff again prompts absolutely no desire for critical revisitation.

But NogegoN, man; it really is a gem. That's the one where a woman is searching for her lover and happens into a world ruled by the forces of symmetry; her girlfriend fell in love with a man from that place, but then their affair grew awful, like everything good on NogegoN eventually turns bad, and everything evil must finally become good. Literally everything is symmetric, from emotions to actions to jobs, including Schuiten's artwork, which is laid out front-to-back, story-length as a visual palindrome, and Luc Schuiten's dialogue, which often has characters reverse emotions or opinions in union with corresponding panels from the other half of the story.

A gimmick? Probably by some definitions, but it's an often stunningly deep exploration of its concept. Schuiten allows the world's strange force to manifest in seemingly countless ways, from the differing perspectives in corresponding panels to the parallel symmetries in characters' backstories, to the eventual, possible revolution of the mind in the world entire, as a necessarily opposite extreme. It gets to you. Even the panel gutters - usually, you can imagine what's going on in there, right? How people move, etc. - that's the operation of comics, yeah? Schuiten destroys this by forcing us to comprehend the comic's reality as a frozen schema, one piece always matching the other; it's the only comic that truly positions the reader as a sort of god, if a constrained one, keenly aware of the poignancy of human affairs as preordained and helpless, and empathetic for that.

It's the kind of comic a deal like DC/Humanoids' ought to be bringing to a wider audience. Too bad the market-dictated contours hurt it; that's kind of the story of life with these books. Lucky there's a less affected version around; get it.