After a few years' hiatus, Blechman's anthology of politically tinged comics has returned with a strong sampling of work from an international group of over two dozen artists, designers, illustrators and cartoonists. This book is Blechman's response to the world, viewed from New York City. Contributors including Art Chantry, Stefan Sagmeister, Ed Sorel and Michael Bierut contribute graphic takes on the topic of "Empire." The result-besides being solid, often cathartic, political criticism and satire-is a glance at what today's designers and illustrators can do outside the bounds of commercial gigs. It's a strong statement, and true to its nature, it offers a wide array of visions. Henning Wagenbreth's 23-page, full-color picture story about Napoleon is a masterpiece; George Hardie's single image illustration of the clash of civilization is a model of elegantly articulate and efficient illustration. Blechman's father, famed illustrator R.O. Blechman, contributes a ruefully witty take on the topic with a tale about a bakery; while Christoph Niemann's concise interpretation of politics on the inside covers is a jolt even before readers have begun. A few text pieces are intermixed for good measure, including a solid interview with Harper's editor Lewis Lapham and an amusing take on world villainy, both real and imagined. This volume exists somewhere between comics and illustration, which makes the sampling fresh in a way few other anthologies have achieved. It feels genuinely surprising, and its strong editorial vision delivers a much-needed dose of articulate political art. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.