Monday, March 05, 2018

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 3/2/18

These days, books for this weekly post fall into three categories:
  1. Publicity titles, sent by publishers
  2. Things I bought
  3. Books from the library
This week, I have 7 books from category 2 and 4 from category three, which I hope won't confuse anyone. They're all comics, too, since I'm running through a lot of comics for Book-A-Day. (By the end of this year, I might be caught up in that area, at least.)

As usual, I haven't read any of this stuff yet; it just got here.

Category 2

Pascal Girard's debut graphic novel Nicolas, a small, poignant look at his younger brother, who died while Girard was still a kid, returns in a slightly expanded hardcover edition. I was really impressed by Nicolas the first time around, but I lost that copy in my 2011 flood. New edition = good reason to buy something again.

I Am Not Okay With This collects a series of comics about a fifteen-year-old girl named Sydney that I think were originally published as minicomics. (The pages look like they could work in that format, too.) It's by Chuck Forsman, who also created the book that was the basis of the TV series The End of the Fucking World -- but I haven't read that, or seen the TV series. As usual, if something has some media hype, I tend to look for a book very loosely connected to it.

Saga, Vol. 8 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, though they're now credited the reverse way, in alphabetical order. (I like to keep comics credits in order of operations for clarity: writer, penciller, inker, colorist. Even if the publisher doesn't.) This is a thing, and if you're reading Antick Musings, you should be familiar with that thing.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1954 continues the continuity-insert series written by series creator Mike Mignola with Chris Roberson, this time out with four discrete stories drawn by different people (Stephen Green, Patric Reynolds, Brian Churilla, and Richard Corben). I bet Hellboy punches some monsters with a big red fist.

Giant Days: Not on the Test Edition Vol. 2 is the second hardcover collection of the comics series written by John (Bad Machinery) Allison and drawn by Max Sarin. This one, as usual for comics hardcovers, re-collects paperback volumes three and four and came out later than them. It also includes the second of Allison's three self-published Giant Days stories, which is one reason why I switched from the paperbacks to the hardcovers. But now I see there will be a full collection of the three self-published stories, called Early Registration, coming this December, and I'm not clear if there will be anything there that won't be in a Not on the Test Edition Vol. 3. So I want to buy this series in a consistent format, but I'm not sure if that will even be possible. Annoying.

Speaking of inconsistent formats reprinting a series, may I introduce you to Angels and Magpies? It's another collection of Love & Rockets stories, this one all from Jaime Hernandez, in the current series of uniform collections, but I have no confidence that series actually includes everything, or that there's a simple strategy to read them. (I still plan a big re-read of all of L&R, if I can figure out what "all" means and get it.)

Last up in this category is Aama, Vol. 3: The Desert of Mirrors, three-quarters of the way through Frederik Peeters's space-opera epic. See my review of Vol. 2 for more.

Category 3

The Best American Comics 2015 was guest-edited by Jonathan Lethem, and Bill Kartalaopoulos took over as series editor that year as well, so it might be moire different than usual from previous volumes. See my recent review of 2013 for an overview of the series and a possible explanation of this and the next book.

The Best American Comics 2016 followed a year later, with Roz Chast as guest editor. And it's basically the same thing as the above: one year's worth of North American comics, as seen through one particular point of view.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 3: Squirrel, You've Really Got Me Now has the single stupidest back-cover credit I have ever seen, which is emblematic of where modern corporate comics is today: "Collecting The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (2015B) #1-6 and Howard the Duck (2015B) #6." No, it's not putting the issue numbers in italics -- though that is stupid -- it's the fact that both comics had a "2015B" series with at least six issues that year. Both comics launched twice in the same year, at least once for six months. That is deeply, deeply stupid. It's not because of series creators Ryan North and Erica Henderson, obviously -- it's all on Marvel. Reading the series in library copies several years later helps to keep the stupid levels to manageable, though.

And last is Batman: The Dark Knight III: Master Race, which I have heard is not as stupid as the deeply stupid second installment or the nearly brain-dead All-Star Batman and Robin series. But it's probably at least mildly stupid. This time out, series creator Frank Miller has co-writer Brian Azzarello to tame his rampant racism (I assume) and Andy Kubert and Klaus Janson to make prettier pictures than he would have. (Though there was a time when Miller's pictures were both un-pretty and good. That was long ago, now.)

(Those are the kind of things I probably wouldn't say out loud about books sent to me for publicity purposes -- publishers get a little shirty when you describe their plans as "stupid." Libraries have no such problems.)

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