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The cartoon anthology that puts the kicks back in comics strikes again. Climb on board the Hotwire express for another electrifying joyride — from the sublime to the ridiculous, and all parts in between.

Hotwire Vol. 2 includes some of the strongest narrative comics around. Tim Lane's epic autobiographical strip, "Spirit," portrays the grittiness, desperation, and terror that accompanied him as he went on the bum, riding the rails. "Niacin" by Mary Fleener is the sordid but hilarious story of a hallucinatory date with a drug dealer. Mack White brilliantly deconstructs the western myth of the OK Corral gunfight in "Showdown at Hustler's Ridge." Series editor Glenn Head's "Oozing Dread!" tells the Twilight Zone-ish tale of Wilhelm Reich, madcap genius-inventor of the orgone box. "Communicable Disease" by Carol Swain shows the descent of a young Scottish lass into impoverished hell. Dutch artist Tobias Tak delivers a fantastical retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk with his comic "The Ten Inch Giant."

If you want comic art that knocks your socks off, you'll find plenty, from the likes of David Sandlin, Jonathon Rosen, Stephane Blanquet, Craig Yoe, Christian Northeast, and Mike Wartella. There are also hot new strips by David Lasky, Lauren Weinstein, Matti Hagelberg, Danny Hellman, R. Sikoryak, Michael Kupperman, Chadwick Whitehead and others.

Hotwire delivers in the humor department as well. There are laugh-a-minute gag pages by Ivan Brunetti, Johnny Ryan, Doug Allen, Gary Lieb and Sam Henderson. Plus talented Hotwire newcomers Lorna Miller and Karl Wills delight in showing just how cute and cuddly childhood really is.

All this and an absolute killer cover by Tim Lane... hardboiled doesn't get much tougher than this!

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