Variant Covers: When Bruce Wayne Meets Psychotropics!

Alright my friends, here’s the deal. It’s a goddamn insane week in the world of funny books. The sort of pull-list enormity that threatens to bum rush my wallet and leave it groaning in a corner somewhere. Pleased, but exhausted. And slightly stretched. So instead of my usual jibjab where I blather on and on and on about one or two titles, I’m giving you the rundown on everything I’m going to check out. Each little description will be condensed, but oh my the quantity! And the cute little pictures to go with them! Buckle up, and gaze into the abyss that is my theoretical pull list.


Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #5
The second to last issue of Grant Morrison’s mind-raping exploration of Bruce Wayne throughout the time stream ships tomorrow. It feels like forever since we last saw Brucey tripping the light fantastic through the various eras of Gotham’s history. Morrison has sewn the Batman inextricably into the fabric of the last five-hundred years or whatever of Gotham, as his time-traveling self set up the exact events that will make him don the cowl all those years later.

This issue gives us Batman the noir detective, which makes almost too much sense. Here’s hoping we’re shown more of Wayne as the Bioorganic Archivist at the imminent heat death of the universe that we saw a couple of issues ago. Yup, I don’t know what that means, but I sure fucking like it!

Northlanders #33
Brian Wood’s epic storyline, Metal, continues to lumber on, soaked in blood and social commentary. As our mentally-deficient but admirably violent protagonist Erik continues to purge his land of Christians, it seems that there’s nothing but a bad ending coming for the dudebro. I mean, I’m not a historian, but I’m pretty sure the Christians win. Still though, the clash of cultures quite literally has been righteous to watch. One of my favorite comic books every month, because it mixes two of my favorite things: violence and social philosophy in such a clean manner.


Casanova #4
Time-space manipulation seems firmly stapled into the collective unconscious of this generation’s creators. And I’m cool with it. The fourth part of the reissuing of Matt Fraction’s first crack at comic books apparates from a different realm onto stands this week. Again, another comic book that I look forward to each and every week. This shit is dense, but rewarding. The sort of work that I have to read only after I’ve beaten down by caffeine-fueled attention deficiency, lest I miss some of the more complicated and/or confusing plot mechanisms.

Incestuously-overtoned James Bond skipping across dimensions? Sold.

As well, Fraction’s musing at the back of every issue are worth the price of admission for me. Last issue showed us an open Fraction spouting off on his past addictions, and the anxiety of learning to write whilst refraining for indulging in some mind-alteration. Since Fraction is a writer that I not only enjoy, but look up to, I appreciate getting a mainline into something resembling his more intimate thoughts.

Harlan Ellison’s Phoenix Without Ashes #3
Make no mistake about it, Harlan Ellison is the man. The gentleman who has literally sculpted science fiction through his life is dying, and the world is about to become a lesser place in some respects. Phoenix Without Ashes is coming out as his life swoons, as he mentioned back in September that he was suffering, and it wasn’t long until he would shed the mortal coil. Dude still rolled up to MadCon, declaring that he was going to go out like a motherfucker.

Spine-tingling respect for a creator who I have never indulged much in directly, but whose works have shaped many creators I have a raging passion for.

I need to get into more Ellison, and Phoenix Without Ashes is my introductory experience. The main character flees the constrictive society he was born into, only to discover the town is secretly housed within some sort of orbiting space station. Last issue’s ending was the sort of pants-shitting that I got at the end of Dark City, where a fleeing character stares into the deep abyss of space.


Strange Tales Vol. 2 #1
The second volume of Strange Tales comes out this week, and if you don’t feel a tingle in your genitals of choice, I don’t know what to tell you. You probably suck. Naw, just kiddin’, for the most part. But be excited, yo. A collection of eccentric and creative folks take tabs at the Marvel characters we’ve come to know and love. Of particular note is a story by Rafael Grampa, which has both my brother and me particularly jazzed. The sneak preview contained a panel of a ripped-out and propelled heart, and super heroes wrestling ostensibly to something looking a lot like death.

It’s a healthy amount of quirk injected into characters that have been around so long they can definitely use the unique perspectives.

Superior #1
It pains me to admit that I’m interested in Mark Millar’s Superior #1 this week. The dude has rapidly fallen from someone I anticipated, to a guy who has fallen into self-parody. His last issue of Nemesis left me confused as to how someone who become such an obvious exploiter of knee-jerk narrative points, and shock value. And yet, here I am. The unrepentant fanboy. The boy who never learns. Coming fresh from ripping off Batman in Nemesis, Millar takes his chance to rip off Captain Marvel in this series. Kid in a wheelchair and miraculously gains the ability to be big, jacked, and cape-clad?

Stop me if this sounds familiar. At all.


Shadowland #4
I’m pretty sure that Matt Murdock wants to resurrect Bullseye and use him as a Hand of the Hand! Puns, ahoy! Duck, I’m flinging shit around. Murdock’s descent continues in Shadowland #4, and at this point the question hasn’t become (to me) “Is Murdock going to die?” but “How’s he going to die in an act or redemption?”

Invincible Iron Man #31 / Thor the Mighty Avenger #5 / Thor #616
I realize that I’m out of room at this point. But these are the final three issues I’m checking out tomorrow. And now doing some rough calculations, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be broke by the end of the day, with a stack of comic books that I don’t have the time to read. Fraking fuck. What are you guys checking out this week? Hit me.