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As often cynical and menacing as it is gleefully meanspirited, Daniel Clowes’ Eightball is this year’s best regularly published comic book. Each issue contains a miscellany of loopy satires, cranky diatribes (”I Hate You Deeply”), and knowing lampoons of the mainstream comic industry. But the centerpiece, every time, is the weird and moody picaresque serial, ”Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron.”

Creepy with images of voyeurism and implied violence, ”Velvet Glove” shows an amalgam of pop influences ranging from Ernie Kovacs to Bob Dylan and David Lynch. But Clowes doesn’t swipe, he builds. In Eightball nothing is sacred or certain, just startling. A

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