Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Fade Out #6 and Velvet Volume 2 Out Today, and a Noir City Cover Story.

A brief post to note two new arrivals at your local comics retailer -- and an extensive look at noir comics in a nationally published e-magazine.

The Fade Out #6 is out today, continuing Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' sprawling look at Hollywood's Golden Age and its seedy underbelly.  The issue evidently focuses on former child star "Flapjack" Jones, who has been a very minor character up to this point, and Comic Book Resources has just released a five-page preview

Also out is Velvet Volume 2: The Secret Lives of Dead Men.  Ed Brubaker's other project is his spy comic with Steve Epting, for which the second trade paperback collection reaches stores today.

Noir fans will also be interested in the spring issue of the Noir City e-magazine, published the Film Noir Foundation.  The non-profit foundation is dedicated to preserving America's nor heritage, and to that end it organizes the yearly Noir City film festival in San Francisco, publishes a quarterly e-magazine, and produces an annual that collects much of the magazine's content in print.

The spring issue of their magazine, issue number 15, focuses on comics, with features on The Spirit, Batman in the 1970's, and Batman: Year One.  The issue's cover story is an extensive interview with Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, which concludes with a list of Brubaker's five favorite noir films.



The magazine's cover uses Phillips' striking cover art from "The Last of the Innocent" #3, and the interview discusses both Criminal and The Fade Out, calling the latter the best noir currently being produced, "a spellbinding, richly evocative murder mystery set in Hollywood at the height of the film noir era."

The issue is available, along with a full year's subscription, to those who join the foundation's mailing list and contribute a donation of $20 or more.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Velvet Preview, A Brubaker Interview, A Criminal Trade, and an Eisner Nod!

Image Comics continues to release new editions of Criminal, and the fourth volume is out today:  "Bad Night" is the first of three stories (and counting?) where the medium of comics strongly intersects with the narrative, and it showed that, with each new story, Brubaker and Phillips would continue to challenge themselves, the readers, and even their deeply flawed protagonists and their tenuous grasp on the world around them.


We believe that the interruption was definitely worth it, but the Criminal Special Edition one-shot was nevertheless a significant interruption in the usual output of creator-owned comics by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and even Brubaker's other collaborator Steve Epting.  The Fade Out #4 came out in the first week of January, and Velvet #9 came out in the first week of February, and we're only now seeing the next installments -- in back-to-back weeks.

The Fade Out #5 came out last week, to very positive reviews, with Comic Book Roundup aggregating views from 11 different critics, all giving the book an 8 or better on a 10-point scale.  The review from Doom Rocket is particularly worth reading for noting the distinction between noir and detective stories, and it dovetails with an excellent, lengthy look at the first trade paperback, in a review published by Hyperallergic earlier this month.  Rhymes With Geek has another good review, but it's worth noting that this issue is more the beginning of a new act in the sprawling drama rather than a "jumping-on" point for new readers.

Hot on the heels of Brubaker's latest work with Phillips is his latest with Epting, closing a chapter instead of starting a new one.  Velvet #10 is in stores today, Graphic Policy has a three-page preview, and All-Comic.com has a quite positive advance review.


Image's July solicitations just came out yesterday, and we see the planned return to a more regular schedule.  Between June and July, we should see the last two Criminal trades released (volumes 5 and 6), The Fade Out #8, and Velvet #14.

Ed Brubaker addresses the schedule in a lengthy interview published by Comic Book Resources last week:  in an image caption for The Fade Out, we find that "Brubaker says the book is set to remain on a monthly schedule for the rest of the year."

The interview also reveals that Brubaker is currently working as supervising producer on an HBO series, set to debut later this year:  he could not reveal further details, but the writer is juggling his work for TV and his creator-owned books.
I get up at 6 in the morning and I write my comics for like three hours, and then I go into a day job. I'm asleep by 10 every night right now.
It's interesting. The structure's been really good for me. We have no phones or computers in the writers' room -- my attention span has totally come back. I really thought I had slowly developed ADD, but it turned out I was just looking at the Internet all the time and checking my email. Once you're untethered from that? Now I'm reading more books, I'm looking at the Internet in general so much less, and I feel so much mentally healthier from that. But it's a lot of work to carry.
In fact, Brubaker says that there is a unique appeal to a creator-owned comic book: "I'll tell you -- working in Hollywood has made me appreciate my comics job a lot. No one gives me notes, I don't have to involve a lot of people in the process. I love the hours of my day when I get to sit and write my comics. I think I appreciate them more now than I did when it was my full-time job."

Does he miss writing superhero comics for the big two publishers?  Not so much.


Brubaker's work in creator-owned comics continues to pay off, in more ways than one.
The Image deal is so fantastic. This year, already, has been my best year financially in comics, ever. And it's only three months in. I've made more money from Image than I made last year when the "Winter Soldier" movie was out, on "Captain America" books.
Every project [Brubaker and Phillips] do sells better than the last one now, and it's not that more of our old readers are coming back. There's just a bunch of new people who are reading comics now. It's pretty fucking amazing.
But it's not just the financial rewards and the increased readership:  critical acclaim is another reward, as The Fade Out joins Criminal, Incognito, and Fatale in being recognized in the list of Eisner nominees.

The 2015 Eisner nominations were released just two hours ago, and Brubaker and Phillips' latest collaboration makes a notable appearance, as The Fade Out is nominated for Best New Series.

As always, winners will be announced at Comic-Con International:  the gala awards ceremony will take place on Friday, July 10th, in San Diego.

We heartily congratulate Ed, Sean, and Bettie for the nomination!

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bullets: The Fade Out #5 Out Today, and More!

The Fade Out Returns, with Issue #5 In Stores Today!  The first act of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' take on Hollywood's Golden Age wrapped up with issue #4 in early January and was released in a value-priced trade paperback in late February.  The series returns to stores today, and Ed Brubaker describes the issue as "Beginning of ACT TWO, where we may actually start dropping clues, even. Maybe."



The issue is on Comicosity's "Hot Five" for the week, and Flickering Myth has a (spoiler-ish) advance review that has particular praise for Brubaker's writing, which "manages to capture regret, anger, and bitterness really effectively with the narration, and usually without directly saying what’s on the character’s mind."

Late last night, Comic Book Resources published a brief three-page preview of the issue.

• Brubaker and Phillips in the June Solicitations.  A few weeks back, Image Comics released its June solicitations.  The Criminal reprints' rollout will continue into the summer, as volume 5, "The Sinners" is scheduled for a June 3rd release.  June 24th is scheduled to see issue #8 of The Fade Out, the conclusion of the second act which begins today.



• Marvel Classics from Brubaker and Phillips.  Marvel Studios have just released Daredevil, the first of several TV shows in the "Marvel Cinematic Universe" that will culminate in the team called The Defenders.  He's not the only one to praise the show, but halfway through the season Ed Brubaker writes that finds the Netflix series "pretty fucking perfect" -- and he reminds fans that his work on the comic series of the same name has been collected in three Ultimate Collections that still appear to be in print.

In brief, Brubaker's most prominent work in the DC Universe proper was for Batman, Catwoman, and Gotham Central; his most prominent Marvel work was for Captain America, Daredevil, and the Immortal Iron Fist.  The Winter Soldier movie was heavily inspired by his work on Cap, which is acknowledged in a blink-and-miss-it cameo, and DC has been advertising Gotham Central for fans of FOX's Gotham, even though the comic book is what the TV show should be, not nearly what it actually is.  If Netflix's Daredevil creates a new audience for Brubaker's work on the comic of the same name, we certainly won't complain.

And, Marvel Comics is gearing up for an upcoming mega-crossover (and apparent soft reboot) called Secret Wars, named after a crossover from 30 years back.  The premise involves combining continuities and famous story arcs from the last few decades of the publisher's history, and the company is reprinting first issues of major stories, to be sold for $1.00 each under the banner of "True Believers."  Among the titles is Marvel Zombies, a mini-series that features the art of Sean Phillips:  published between 2005 and 2006, it was his last major project before the debut of Criminal and -- going by the ads for that series published by Marvel's Icon imprint -- it was perhaps his highest-profile project up to that point.

Looking at the Marvel Zombies work for the first time in a decade, it's clear that the artwork is classic Phillips:  having poured over his work in traditional crime comics, the pulp of Incognito, and the horror of Fatale, I like his take on undead Marvel superheroes, his familiar style tackling an outlandish premise.


True Believers: Marvel Zombies #1 was published just two weeks ago, on April 1st.

• Some Final Thoughts on the Criminal Special Edition.  If some our readers have found this blog because of Fatale and The Fade Out, we hope that they have tracked down the Criminal one-shot:  they may have a chance to pick up the issue along with The Fade Out #5 and the one-dollar Marvel Zombies reprint.  The issue speaks for itself -- Brubaker. Phillips.  Prison in the 1970's. -- but I do have some final thoughts worth documenting here.

(Update: And if anyone's looking for reviews, Comic Book Round Up has aggregated ten reviews of the issue, all very positive.)

The issue tackles the magazine variant in a way that differs slightly from the oversized variant for The Fade Out's debut.  That issue's magazine variant had additional back matter content -- behind-the-scenes material in addition to Brubaker's "Secret Ingredient" pages and the bonus essay -- but the Criminal magazine variant has different content altogether:  the "Secret Ingredient" pages are replaced with the fake letters page, and even the ad for the trade paperbacks was changed to fit the seventies pastiche.

For that reason, both versions are worth getting:  the standard version gives us Brubaker's brief description of the story's genesis, and the magazine version goes all-out in presenting a facsimile of the comic that Teeg Lawless was reading in county jail.

The magazine variant is worth the extra buck, for a few reasons.

In the main story, you actually get more artwork, specifically on the "Zangar" pages where the art extends to the edge of the page.  The artwork isn't blown up to fit the large page: we end up seeing just a little bit more of what Sean Phillips drew.  It's especially noticeable on the page shown below.



The left side of the image shows the magazine variant, where we see more of the people on "the jeweled streets of Gla-haara."

Literally every page of the bonus content is worth a close examination.

  • There's a beautiful frontispiece, attributed to "Frederico Jacobs," which Sean Phillips explains is an allusion to his two sons; Sean did the painting himself at age 18, and it works incredibly well with the rest of the issue.
  • The table of contents reveals the chapter names for the four excerpts that we read alongside Teeg.
  • We're given a map of the land where the sword-and-sorcery story takes place, along with an introductory paragraph that sets the mood. 
  • And the letters page is hilarious with a (hopefully good-natured) ribbing at enthusiastic fans such as myself, who note the tiniest typo.
(Am I the only one to notice that, in the fourth issue of "Lawless," the criminal's name permanently changes from "Gray" to "Grey"?)

Careful readers will notice that the barbarian character Zangar was created by "Alfred Ravenscroft." the pulp writer in Fatale.  His life in Texas echoes that of Conan's creator Robert E. Howard, and his writing resembles the works of both Howard and H.P. Lovecraft, who became friends and pen pals.

Are the two series set in the same universe, the seemingly naturalistic Criminal and the definitely supernatural Fatale?  Is this the beginning of a mega-crossover among all the works of Brubaker and Phillips?  My gut instinct is to say no, as I believe Brubaker has described Criminal as naturalistic.

And there's no real reason to insist on a crossover between the two titles, as A) Ravenscroft isn't actually mentioned in the content of the comic itself, and B) the magazine variant is only a near facsimile:  the variant's title is "Savage Sword of Criminal," and a close look reveals that Teeg is reading a comic simply titled "Savage."

But as you examine the cover in Teeg's hands, do notice what it still says at the bottom:  "Featuring a Shocking New Tale by Brubaker and Phillips!"

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips definitely exist within the CRIMINAL universe that they created, as authors of the tale that Teeg reads in prison.

The one final thought is that the story itself is just great:  it's a fantastic single-issue introduction to Brubaker and Phillips that I've been buying for friends, it's the best done-in-one story I've seen in ages, and it's sure to be my favorite comic book of the year.

...and it's funny, I ended up driving around to find just one more magazine variant for a friend.  Taking our youngest child with me, I bought him an Owly book as I was getting Criminal.  The irony should not be lost on anyone who's read the one-shot.

Hopefully, the adage is true only to a point, that life imitates art.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

More Teeg Lawless: The Dead and the Dying TPB in Stores Today!

We're still processing our thoughts on the Criminal Special Edition, which we could NOT recommend more highly, and which we're giving to friends as the best single-issue introduction to the world of Brubaker and Phillips -- and, last time, we failed to note the largely overlooked news from All-Comic.com's recent interview with Brubaker, that Image Comics is reprinting Incognito later this year.

In the meantime, we would be remiss not to note that today sees Image re-release the third trade paperback of Criminal, "The Dead and The Dying."  The volume collects a triptych of extra-long single-issue stories that stand alone but interconnect in an ouroboros of violence and betrayal.



The story gives us the first close-up look at Teeg Lawless, a central character in the larger world of Criminal, and its intricate structure hinted at even greater experimentation to come.

Last week's release of Image's June solicitations included the fifth volume of the series, "The Sinners," so presumably all six volumes will be out by July or August.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bullets: CRIMINAL One-Shot & FADE OUT Trade Tomorrow, & More!

I've been re-reading "Lawless" in its new trade edition from Image, and it's been a real kick.  It had been far too long since I've read the book, and -- as with all the works by Brubaker and Phillips -- I catch something new every time.

The "fearful symmetry" was striking, but not just in how both Lawless boys had come to resemble their father -- especially Tracy, as "The Dead and the Dying" shows Teeg's unecessary brutality was driven by his own protective instincts.  There was also how Tracy had become both the hunter and the hunted, as he and his pursuer violently interrogated people simultaneously.

I continue to be awed with how intricate the plotting tends to be in each of these Criminal arcs, with no wasted moments, no obvious "plot hammering," and lots of irony in the juxtaposition of scense.  The world is set up very carefully before it all comes crashing down, but it all seems very effortless.  I don't think the comparisons are outlandish, between Criminal and Watchmen, and I think the former actually compares favorably in being less obviously overwrought.  The writing and the artwork almost seems impressionistic at times, so its elaborate structure sneaks up on the reader.

Since my neighborhood is seeing its first real snow days, now has been a great time to read "Lawless" with its cold, bleak setting, as hard and dangerous as the man returning to the city at Christmastime.

This is also the first time I've re-read the story as the father of young children.  Having first-hand experience of the natural and unconstrained joy of kids seeing their dad after a long day at the office, I'm even more repulsed at the simple evil of Teeg Lawless, striking terror in his sons.

But we have more to write about than the new reprint of an eight-year-old masterpiece.

The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on!



• CRIMINAL Special Edition, and THE FADE OUT TPB in Stores Tomorrow.  It will have been almost 3 and a half years since the last issue of "Last of the Innocent" -- 1,261 days to be exact -- but a new issue of Criminal is in stores tomorrow.

The Criminal Special Edition one-shot will be released in a standard edition and in a magazine-sized variant:  we hope you've already ordered your copy of the latter, and as we reported late last month, AV Club has posted a five-page preview of the comic.

Comicosity has an interview with Ed Brubaker, where he mentions the origins of this new story, a writer firend telling him of the popularity that a lot of adult comic magazines like Heavy Metal, Eerie, and Savage Sword of Conan enjoyed among prison populations.  Brubaker was entranced by the idea of an inmate reading a barbarian comic, and with the mid-1970s being "such a great era for neo-noir pulp," Teeg Lawless became the obvious choice for the character.

All-Comic.com has a Brubaker interview combined with an advance review, awarding the book 4 out of 5 stars.   With the series being reprinted by Image, the creators wanted to produce something like an annual to celebrate its return to stands, with a magazine-sized variant that they and readers really seem to enjoy.

We've also seen a very positive reaction (and a few new pages) in an advance review from Coming Up Comics.  We can't wait to read the first new Criminal story in ages, and one song has been running through my head all day...


...but that's not the only book out tomorrow.  In that second interview, Brubaker confirms that more from The Fade Out is on the horizon, and tomorrow sees the release of the first trade paperback, priced at $9.99 and featured in this week's "Trade Waiting" spotlight at Comicosity.

THE FADE OUT Featured in Image Firsts Compendium.  This leads us to Image Comics and its "Image Firsts" promotion to provide inexpensive introductions to their best and most popular creator-owned work.

It started in 2010 with one-dollar reprints of first issues, which we have seen for all of Ed Brubaker's work for Image:  Fatale and The Fade Out with Sean Phillips, and Velvet with Steve Epting.

The approach has expanded to include "Image Introduces... Volume Ones," first-volume trade paperbacks at $9.99, of which The Fade Out Volume 1 is only the newest example.

We're not sure how much it's been promoted, as we missed its February 11th release entirely, but the approach now includes a trade paperback of first issues, Image Firsts Compendium Volume 1.



The hefty book containing NINE first issues for the incredibly low price of $5.99, not much more than the typical single issue.
  • Wytches by Scott Snyder and Jock
  • Outcast by Kirkman & Azaceta by Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta
  • Nailbiter by Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson
  • Southern Bastards by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour
  • The Fade Out by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
  • The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
  • Low by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini
  • Shutter by Joe Keatinge and Leila del Duca
  • C.O.W.L. by Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, and Rod Reis
In addition to Brubaker and Phillips' take on Hollywood's Gilded Age, the collection features their partner Bettie Breitweiser providing colors on Outcast.

I still think that The Fade Out stands out even among the best books on the shelf, but at less than 70 cents an issue, this trade paperback is impossible to pass up.

• Feature on Donald Westlake's Getaway Car.  Finally, one can draw a fairly straight line from Criminal to Hard Case Crime to my becoming a fan of the crime writers Donald Westlake and Lawrence Block.  One can't say enough about the former's Parker books, written under the pen name Richard Stark, available in prose or in Darwyn Cooke's award-winning comic adaptations, and the latter's non-fiction books on writing are must-reads even for the poor souls who don't like noir.

(Thanks to Block's email newsletter, I also discovered Jerrold Mundis' Break Writer's Block Now!  Block had been selling the book on "block" through his eBay store, I got a copy, and it's been a great help in my professional life.  It's funny how you can stumble across the most useful things.)

Westlake passed away on New Year's Eve, at the end of 2008, and this past September, the University of Chicago Press published The Getaway Car, an anthology of non-fiction work.  With a foreword by Block and cover art by Cooke, it's a great stand-alone book that also complements the trade paperback reprints of the Parker and Grofield novels that they've been releasing.

Toward the end of last year, Alan David Doane posted an extensive interview with the book's editor Levi Stahl, who lists his personal favorites, recommends a few works as entrees into Westlake's extensive bibliography, and praises Memory, Westlake's lost novel published by Hard Case Crime.

Between the Criminal one-shot and new trade for "Lawless," the new trade for The Fade Out, and a new issue of Chew (following up on the twisting ending of issue #45), there's a LOT to read this week, but the interview is worth your time.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

"Lawless" Trade, Back In Stores Today!

Along with other sites, Image Comics' official site confirms today's re-release of "Lawless," the second volume of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' Criminal.



This chapter introduces Tracy Lawless, who has been the main character in two arcs so far -- this arc and "The Sinners" -- and in the short story "emission" titled "No One Rides for Free."  This focused and violent man is so self-contained that the narration is in the third person, which is unusual for the series.

This chapter also clarifies the series' overall format:  each story focuses on a single character, but all the stories occur in a shared universe.

  • Leo has a cameo, letting us discover his fate from the end of "Coward.
  • Sebastian Hyde was referenced in that first story, and he makes his first appearance here.
  • We are introduced to the comic-strip creator Jacob, whose detective comic was introduced in Criminal #1 and who has the starring role in the fourth arc, "Bad Night."
  • And we first meet Tracy's monstrous father Teeg Lawless in flashback:  perhaps the linchpin character in the series, Teeg features in the next chapter, "The Dead and the Dying" and in the upcoming Special Edition one-shot, and his death was a crucial event in the back-story of "Coward."

This chapter also features a narrative device where there was a heist in every monthly issue.  The tension rises as Tracy Lawless becomes both the hunter and the quarry, returning to the criminal underworld to avenge the murder of his younger brother Ricky -- whose funeral was first referenced in the previous chapter, "Coward."

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Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Bullets: New Velvet Out Today & The New Coward, Examined -- And More!

Velvet #9 Preview Online, in Stores Today.  It has been almost exactly three months today, but Ed Brubaker's other period piece returns today with Velvet #9.  The espionage comic from Brubaker and Steve Epting continues with the heroine breaking out the mysterious figure introduced at the end of the previous issue, and Comic Book Resources posted a three-page preview just a few hours ago.



The New Trade for "Coward," Compared, Contrasted, and Reviewed.  We've had a chance this week to examine Image's new edition of the trade paperback for "Coward," the first volume of Brubaker and Phillips' first creator-owned series, Criminal.  There are some noteworthy similarities and differences with the original trade published by Marvel's Icon imprint.

The most important similarity is the story:  examining a few pages closely, I believe the story's contents are identical in both trades,

[UPDATE:  I originally noted that the contents are identical, "including a possible coloring error and a few typos -- all extremely minor -- that have persisted since the original monthly issues."  A concerned reader asked for clarification, and these sort of things are NOT printing errors that should have fans think twice about purchasing the book:  they're things like an unusual shading choice on a small part of a single panel and an omitted hyphen, the latter of which I ONLY noticed in my umpteenth re-read just this week.  I've seen other books with bad printing errors, such as one of the original Gotham Central trades, with the dialogue missing from almost a full page, and it's quite rare to see a book as professionally presented as "Coward."]

Both trades are also fairly bare-bones releases.  I honestly think that Brubaker and Phillips' short "trailers" would add to the experience, but the story speaks for itself, and the hardcover deluxe volumes are excellent archives for such bonus material.

Obviously the two books have very different covers, with the new edition adding greater emphasis to the Criminal title and dropping the phrase about the book being "A Criminal Edition."  Ironically enough, the new cover art appears to be from the trailer's last panel rather than the actual story.


The cover is a sturdy, matte material rather than the glossy cover for the Icon edition.  Along with a revised synopsis, the back cover describes the title as the "most-acclaimed crime comic of the 21st century," being the winner of six Eisner and Harvey Awards.  There are also new blurbs from Brian K. Vaughan, Joe Hill, and Warren Ellis.

I believe the original trade was designed by Sean Phillips, and on the new edition's copyright page, we see Phillips credited for the publication design -- a new and simple design that draws our attention to the Criminal logo and to the credit for Val Staples as the colorist.

Also on the copyright page, careful readers will notice a slight change from the earlier edition.  Both versions attribute the trademarks to Brubaker and Phillips, but the copyright now belongs to Brubaker's Basement Gang Inc.

The new edition lacks two extras from the original -- the introduction by TV writer Tom Fontana and the concluding acknowledgements by Brubaker and Phillips.  The new edition makes up for this with an appendix of the wrap-around cover art for the original monthly issues, artwork that was noticeably missing from the old edition.

The new trade paperback isn't strictly necessary if you have the original trade or especially the deluxe hardcovers, but its release is a great excuse for re-reading "Coward."

After nearly a decade, the story still amazes me with its intricate plotting, intelligent characters, gut-wrenching tragedy, and moments of surprising comedy.  As with all of Brubaker and Phillips' work, the book rewards close, careful, repeat readings.

For what it's worth, we find that the story packs more of a punch because it focuses on a single character rather than a sprawling ensemble like in The Fade Out, and its naturalistic setting precludes the need for the world-building that we saw in Incognito and Fatale.

Re-reading the book for the first time in a few years, we feel quite justified in our belief that Criminal remains the pinnacle of the pair's career, the closest rivals for "Coward" as their single best work being most of the subsequent stories in this pure crime comic.

[UPDATE:  I noticed a couple things I missed after posting.]

Fatale Month at Comicosity.  Since Criminal isn't their only collaboration worth re-reading, the Comicosity Book Club is declaring this month Fatale February, reading a chapter or two each week and tweeting about the book using the hashtag #FataleClub -- should be worth reading, even if we had our own 30 Days of Fatale in the lead-in to the series' explosive conclusion.

• The Criminal Special Edition, Complete and Forthcoming.  Finally, it's worth noting that we're nearing the end of the long wait for the return of Criminal.  Yesterday Mitch Breitweiser announced that the book has just left the studio that he shares with colorist Bettie Breitweiser, and the British "bricks and mortar comic shop" Page 45 reports that they have read the issue.

The Special Edition and its magazine-sized variant will be in stores by the end of this month, and we can hardly wait.

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