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Whacked Out Comics
This week, Derek and Andy W. — fresh from their trip to HeroesCon — return with a discussion of three new, fascinating, and…well, whacked out comics. But they’re all whacked out in their own, unique ways. They begin with the release of Gilbert Hernandez’s Grip: The Strange World of Men (Dark Horse Books). This is not really a new work from Hernandez, as Grip was originally published in color as a five-issue limited series from Vertigo in 2002. (The new book contains only black and white art.) But the recent Dark Horse release marks the first time that the entire story has been collected. What’s more, Hernandez provides four new pages that function as the setup of this strange narrative. And what a weird and twisted story it is, but it’s one that distinctively bares the mark of Gilbert Hernandez. The guys attempt to follow the various narrative threads, however, making sense of this story is beside the point. What matters is Hernandez’s imagination and the fun to be had slipping into his narrative world. Derek even argues that the story comes at a curious time in Hernandez’s career, several years after the end of the first Love and Rockets series, the beginning of the second series, and at a time when Gilbert is reaching beyond the more realistic confines of his Palomar stories. Next, the Two Guys turn to Eric Shanower and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland (IDW Publishing). Andy admits that, at first, he was a little hesitant about this book, thinking that it might be nothing more than a mere retread of Windsor McCay’s newsprint classic. But Shanower and Rodriguez — known largely for their Wizard of Oz and Locke and Key comics, respectively — are up to much more than that. Their Little Nemo uses McCay’s as a springboard into an entirely new narrative, pulling in some elements of the earlier comic, yet at the same time bringing in new ideas to present a long-form story. Readers may recognize similarities to McCay’s pacing, his humor, and his innovation, but this project easily stands on its own. Finally, the guys look at the first issue of a new twelve-part series from Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows. Providence (Avatar Press) is another Lovecraftian tale similar to the team’s earlier Neonomicon and The Courtyard, yet this one has been described by the publisher as “the Watchmen of horror.” That’s a lot to live up to, as both Andy and Derek discuss in their coverage of this first issue. But the guys point out that if the inaugural installment is any indication, this may not be mere hype. While nothing much seems to happen in this issue, there are actually multiple stories being told, with Moore setting the stage for a larger, disturbing narrative. Much like the allusive Cthulhu, there is an unsettling presence lying just beneath the surface of what unfolds in this first issue.