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Eschewing the more quotidian pursuits of such contemporary comics anthologies as Kramer's Ergotand Mome, Hotwireis as subtle as a poke in the eye, of which there are several. With an aesthetic reminiscent of Blab!and the lowbrow art movement, it's a brutal journey into a world of low-class grifters, fatal car crashes and neighbors who suggest inappropriate sex acts. Disturbing sexual imagery is pervasive, as in editor Head's "Oozing Dread!" a perfervid story with Wilhelm Reich and his "orgone machines" at the center. While the ongoing mood is frantic, doomed squalor, the talent assembled is impressive and the cartooning vigor gives the subject matter some humanity. R. Sikoryak supplies a retelling of Dorian Gray in a spot-on pastiche of Winsor McCay; Carol Swain imagines a plague of books; and Mary Fleener vividly recalls a bad trip on angel dust with cubist-inspired imagery. Tim Lane presents a number of short tales that manage to infuse the gloom with a bit of narrative heft in a few pages. Although Sin Cityis profanely parodied in Hotwire, readers who enjoyed that tale's melodramatic violence will find much more of the same here. (Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.