Guide for the Perplexed is one hell of a collection, bringing together this existential, red-suited, coffee-mug-noggined millenial hero with his longtime cohorts in non-sequitur White Chocolate With Almonds Woman, Too Much Espresso Guy, and my favorite, Klix the Happy Computer. As if that weren't enough, the infamously original "Bullet Hole Story" (in which a bullet zips through the stories' panels one page at a time -- the original run had a hole in the mag's cover, no less) is reprinted, as well as another personal, text-heavy fave quoting Balzac's spot-on essay "The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee."
In the end, though, it's enough to know that Wheeler and TMCM are still going strong after all these years, serving up piping hot dollops of angst-flavored, bittersweet brew and keeping my pantry (and bookcases) stocked with TMCM merchandise and new adventures to peruse while sloshing demitasse on myself and righteously avoiding the perils of Starbucks. Here's mud in yer eye.
Think mid-Eighties X-Men dosed with a little yellow pill from the New Mutants stable and you'll have a vague idea of French's writing style. The art here is of the detailed, scratchy kind that grates on my nerves but seems to be coming back into form thanks to that black-and-white revolution of a few years back. Storywise, French keeps things ricocheting around between his mutant humans Odyssey, Silverstorm, She-Wolf, Blackstar, Switchblade, etcetera, and their ongoing battle against a mysterious cabal of wimpy baddies. It's nothing you haven't seen before unless you've been hiding in a Prague basement for the last 30 years, but French has a way with dialogue and action panels that echoes after the book is set down. To be fair, this isn't exactly my cup of tea, but then good things all too often blossom out of rough beginnings in this medium, so, hey, I'm eagerly awaiting ish number two to see what the hell happens next, both with French and his chesty legion of supergoons. -- Marc Savlov