Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Weekly Treats! Nausicaa, Grandville, Hellboy, Avengers & more...

Elbowing its way to the front of the queue of releases is a book that's actually a re-print but is something of a masterpiece which has now found itself in a wonderful two-book hardcover format that not only comes in a box but includes a cute little poster for your younger sister. The title of this epic fantasy series is Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (Viz Media) and if I mention that it's written and illustrated by Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki - responsible for animated films such as My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle - then it may give you an idea of the imaginative scope of the work. What you may not be prepared for is the detail, craftsmanship and breath-taking storytelling skills on display that pull the reader deep into a post-apocalyptic fantasy about a princess named Nausicaa caught up in a war between two empires featuring giant, mutated insects, steampunk-ish machines and a poisonous forest that covers the land. One of the releases of the year.

Mentioning steampunk, Bryan Talbot's (deep breath) Victorian, steampunk-ish, anthropomorphic detective series sees the release of a third volume. Original graphic novel of the week is Grandville: Bete Noire (Jonathan Cape) featuring more Holmes-esq drama and action as Detective Inspector LeBrock is embroiled in the hunt for a masked assassin in the Parisian art scene. While Talbot is currently earning huge critical acclaim for Dotter of Her Father's Eyes it's a nice to have a timely reminder of his versatility as an illustrator. There's a nice little interview with Talbot on StrangeAlliance (see here).

A quick run through of some choice release books this week: Still quietly great after all this time and having gone through its own re-launch there's BPRD: Hell On Earth vol. 4 Devil Engine & The Long Death (Dark Horse). Also the iconic (and also mammothly titled) Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 vol. 2 On Your Own (Dark Horse). Anomaly comes with recommendations from no less than Todd McFarlane, Bill Sienkiewicz, Ridley Scott and, oddly enough, Harrison Ford. It's not only an epic, sci-fi, saga in the Heavy Metal/Warhammer vein but also a multimedia experience filled with augmented reality extras so flick over to the website ExperienceAnomaly (see here) for a closer look. Looking rather quaint and old fashioned by comparison is Grant Morrison and Ian Gibson's pitch-perfect Steed & Mrs Peel: Golden Game (Boom) although the reproduction leaves a little to desired, and Muppets: Four Season by the excellent Roger Langridge (Disney). And finally the last volume of iZombie (Vertigo) - iZombie vol. 4 Repossession.

Comics? Well, how excited am I this week? It's been a few years now since Mike Mignola illustrated one of his Hellboy stories but now he returns to kick off the new status quo for one of my favourite comic characters. After the surprise ending of the previous story it's a whole new world for Hellboy In Hell #1 (Dark Horse). Expect the return of old faces, secrets revealed and Mignola draws Hell!!

I'm well into the whole Marvel NOW! thing and this week sees a biggie: Avengers #1 (Marvel)). Jonathan Hickman excels at carefully plotted long-term storytelling and while Jerome Opena is not known for keeping a long-term monthly schedule his work is so exquisite that when it does pop up its a treat to savoured. Hickman is thinking big for his take on the Avengers with an open rosta and interplanetary/dimensional threats. Then there's Thunderbolts #1 (Marvel). Anti-heroes unite! The idea that Punisher would join any team always aroses suspicion but then this is probably the only team he would join. Daniel Way & Steve Dillon are both used to pushing at the violence boundaries. Finally Amazing Spider-Man #699 (Marvel) gets a special mention. Gearing up to the final issue, the previous  #689 had such a great ice-cube down the back surprise moment that this title has become pretty much essential - not bad when you consider how long Spider-Man has been kicking around. Take a bow Dan Slott (wherever you may be hiding...).

Full list of releases under the tab at the top of the page.

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