PLEASE NOTE: What follows is not a series of capsule reviews but an annotated selection of items listed by Diamond Comic Distributors for release to comic book retailers in North America on the particular Wednesday identified in the column title above. Be aware that some of these comics may be published by Fantagraphics Books, the entity which also administers the posting of this column. Not every listed item will necessarily arrive at every comic book retailer, in that some items may be delayed and ordered quantities will vary. I have in all likelihood not read any of the comics listed below, in that they are not yet released as of the writing of this column, nor will I necessarily read or purchase every item identified; THIS WEEK IN COMICS! reflects only what I find to be potentially interesting.
You Don't Say: Nate Powell has done really well at Top Shelf, having gone from solo works like the terrific Swallow Me Whole to the expansive (and still-ongoing) biographical series March, produced with Congressman John Lewis (also the subject) and Andrew Aydin. Now comes a 176-page collection of short pieces released between 2004 and 2013, some pages of which I recognize from Please Release, an '07 comic book released by the same publisher, which now operates under the auspices of IDW. Preview; $19.99.
Pope Hats #4: Wow, Optic Nerve last week, and now one of the newer one-artist anthology comic books - the work of Toronto's Ethan Rilly and AdHouse Books. I really liked issue #3 of this, which dramatized the inner workings of a massive law firm as a saga of paranoia and (er) court intrigue. This special all-color issue will feature 32 pages of short stories, ranging from slice-of-life work to science fiction, with no consultation of prior numbers required. Preview; $7.95.
Infinite Bowman: A 176-page Hic and Hoc collection of comics by Pat Aulisio, whose gnarled fantasy/SF cultural iconography punk stuff I've seen from sources like Retrofit Comics and his own Yeah Dude. (In the interests of full disclosure, he also once co-edited an anthology to which I contributed a little letter about Shadowhawk.) "Join our hero, lost astronaut David Bowman, as he wanders through the Wastedlands, performs acts of unnecessary cruelty to space freaks, and reflects meaninglessly on the purpose of it all." With many new pages; $15.00.
Louise Brooks: Detective: And here's the newest from busy Rick Geary. It's not one of his true crime books, though the titular star of Pandora's Box was a distant relation; the story imagines Brooks' involvement in a murder mystery during a brief return to her native Kansas in the '40s. An 80-page hardcover from NBM, which I feel like I should mention advertises frequently on this site. I mean, I'm sure you can look to the right and see for yourself, but I should probably say it at least once, you know? Preview; $15.99.
Vacancy (&) The Hunter: Two 24-page items from Nobrow, the UK's reliable purveyor of well-produced sequential things. Vacancy is a comic from artist Jen Lee, "explor[ing] the ways that animals think; how they may internalize their changing environment and express their thoughts, fears or excitement." The Hunter comes from Joe Sparrow, pitting an aristocrat against an amalgamation of all his trophy heads; $5.95 (each).
Sithrah Book 1: I like keeping track of Xeric grant recipients, so be aware of this 96-page, 7" x 10" color hardcover from Jason Brubaker, a former animation development artist who's been self-publishing comics since 2011. It's the print edition of an all-ages webcomic about a little girl who becomes separated from her father in a plane crash, dropping onto a mysterious field - more of a prelude than anything, if the book reflects the pages viewable online. Funded via Kickstarter; $19.95.
Providence #1 (of 12): Being the newest longform comic book series to be written by Alan Moore, a fantasy biography of H.P. Lovecraft that presents the man as existing in the same fictive space as his creations in the "pivotal" year of 1919, per the Magus. The series will also serve as follow-up to a notorious-in-several ways 2010-11 project, Neonomicon -- written to extricate Moore from a tax debt and much-discussed upon release for its depictions of sexual violence -- with which it shares artist Jacen Burrows and publisher Avatar; all parties were also involved in 2003 project, The Courtyard, the text of which was adapted by Antony Johnston from a 1994 prose story by Moore. Expect 32 pages of story, with no ads in the back. Samples; $3.99.
Sandman Overture #5 (of 6) (&) The Multiversity: Pax Americana Director's Cut: But worry not, traditionalists - your prog genre favorites in the corporate-owned sphere remain with their applicable rights holders. I've enjoyed Sandman Overture more than any other Neil Gaiman-written comic released this century, maybe because he hasn't otherwise been so prone to laying down really heavy cosmic fantasy drama, nor has his tone been more ably matched than by J.H. Williams III & Dave Stewart, whose art reached dimethyltryptaminian heights of glowy pomp last issue. Pax Americana, meanwhile -- originally released late last year -- was a Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely-fronted 'tribute' to the legacy of Big '80s superhero blood 'n thunder a la Watchmen and its progeny, mounted via a trickily methodical, achronological scheme. This "Director's Cut" is more of a workprint and a series of home video supplements, pairing Quitely's uncolored pencils with preliminary character designs and a bonus poster; $3.99 (Sandman), $9.99 (Pax).
Material #1 (&) Where Monsters Dwell #1: Two comic book debuts for you here. Material is a new Image series scripted by Ales Kot and drawn by Will Tempest, both of the soon-concluding Zero. It employs a nine-panel and follows various characters through circumstances: "a man comes home from Guantanamo Bay, irrevocably changed. An actress receives an offer that can revive her career. A boy survives a riot and becomes embedded within a revolutionary movement. A philosopher is contacted by a being that dismantles his beliefs." The publisher calls it "psychological suspense." Where Monsters Dwell is a Marvel comic written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Russ Braun in which the Phantom Eagle encounters dinosaurs. Material interview/samples, Monsters preview; $3.50 (Material), $3.99 (Monsters).
The Light and Darkness War: A real blast from the past, this, as Titan Comics collects a 1988-89 Epic miniseries from Tom Veitch & Cam Kennedy into a 208-page hardcover. The creators are, respectively, a late underground-period comics writer and a crucial early 2000 AD artist, who would later collaborate on the eccentric-in-retrospect Dark Empire series of early Star Wars tie-in comics. This story, though, is about a Vietnam veteran warped into an allegorical dimension of fantasy combat; $24.99.
Tony Takezaki's Neon Genesis Evangelion: My god, Tony Takezaki. He's probably best remembered for a pair of anime tie-in gigs VIZ translated in the '90s: Genocyber and AD Police, the former of which never even finished in Japanese and has not been collected in book form. A *very* post-Katsuhiro Ōtomo stylist at the time, Takezaki's works probably made sense to release from an "anime is NOT kids' stuff" perspective; if you bought the gigantic gift set edition of Ōtomo's 2004 movie Steamboy (I didn't), there's purportedly a Takezaki comic squirreled away in there. But the artist is also known for anime parody - he did three volumes' worth of Mobile Suit Gundam gag comics a few years ago, and now Dark Horse brings a 176-page translation of his Neon Genesis Evangelion spoofs 'n goofs. Feel free to add this to your list of Things Released in North America Before the Third "Rebuild of Evangelion" Movie on Home Video. Preview; $12.99.
Strip for Murder (&) I Am Princess X: And finally, here is a pair of books-that-incorporate comics, either thematically or literally. Strip for Murder is a Dover Mystery Classics edition of a 2008 novel from Max Allan Collins, a veteran comic book and strip writer here presenting a detective story in the world of 1950s newspaper syndication, with the production of the Li'l Abner musical as (fictionalized) backdrop. Illustrations by Terry Beatty, a longtime Collins collaborator on Ms. Tree and other works. Also mysterious (if more contemporary in setting) is I Am Princess X, a high-profile Scholastic YA release from writer Cherie Priest and artist Kali Ciesemier, telling of a teen girl who discovers a webcomic seemingly based on a character she created with a childhood friend, who died years ago. Prose and comics blend as she sets out to collect due royalt-- er, discover the truth; $9.95 (Murder), $18.99 (Princess).