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Pipeline, Issue #130

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
Pipeline, Issue #130

IRON GIANT

…is now out on DVD (and VHS, too). It was the talk of the San Diego convention back in August shortly after it was released. Warner Bros. admits now to completely dropping the ball and not promoting this movie. It won a ton of awards. It’s the best piece of animation in the movie theater for the 1990s. There are no song-and-dance numbers. There are no cute lovable sidekicks without purpose other than merchandising rights. There are, however, references to MAD MAGAZINE, THE SPIRIT, and SUPERMAN.

It’s just a cute, funny, heart-warming story without one superfluous or wasted scene. It deserved better than it got. So go out there and buy this thing now and enjoy the heck out of it. I know I did.

SOME REVIEWS

Is THE SAVAGE DRAGON the best mutant title out there these days? Issue #68 of Erik Larsen’s magnum open came out last week. Once again, we have the green fin-head fighting the yellow chicken. (I mean that literally. Powerhouse is a chicken, I tell ya. A giant chicken!) While there is a lot of stuff going on in this issue around Dragon’s personal life, the focus of the issue is the latest confrontation between Dragon and Powerhouse. It’s Xavier versus Magneto done right. Powerhouse is all for Freak Rights. Dragon wants the two species to peacefully co-exist. Powerhouse has the persecution complex going and Dragon ends up looking like the Uncle Tom of the Freak population. It’s a stirring confrontation. The amazing thing is that there are moments in the fight when Powerhouse comes across completely rationally and sympathetically.

“[STEAMPUNK: CATECHISM] is very moody, looks nice, sounds good, but is ultimately hollow.”

I’m increasingly convinced that Joe Kelly doesn’t know how to introduce new characters/universes/settings/concepts. First, there was the mess that was M. REX prologue and first issue. Now we have STEAMPUNK: CATECHISM, which came out last week. It’s very moody, looks nice, sounds good, but is ultimately hollow. I have no further idea of what this series is about after reading it than I did ahead of time. This doesn’t bode well for whatever Joe Kelly’s GORILLA project ends up being next year. Too many creators don’t know how to introduce a series with a first issue or with a #0 or prologue issue. Basically, you need to give us the dramatis personae. You need to set up the situation and atmosphere. Give us a short conflict to whet our appetite. It has to be more than a bunch of pretty pictures colored nicely through Photoshop.

I’m a charitable man, though. I’ll give the first issue or two a shot when it starts in February.

THE AUTHORITY #9 is the first part of Warren Ellis/Bryan Hitch/Paul Neary/Laura DePuy’s swan song storyline for the series. (Well, DePuy might still be around with issue #13, but the rest of them are gone for sure.) If you’ve read the first 8 issues of this excellent series, you already know pretty much what to expect. This is more of the same. It’s full-bore madness, as only Ellis can write it and Hitch/Neary can make it look. It’s another alien invasion, this time without the help of any portals in space. This is what ARMAGEDDON would look like if Bruce Willis were starring in a comic book.

I hope when Ellis and Hitch’s run is done on this book that WildStorm collects all twelve issues into one nice hardcover. Speaking of which —

HARD LOOK AT HARDCOVERS

On Friday in this very space, I lamented DC’s hardcover book program. It was the issuance of SON OF SUPERMAN, by Howard Chaykin, David Tischman, J.H. Williams III, and Mick Gray that made me lament the high cost of original material in hardcover form.

Well, I went this weekend and bought the book anyway. I only did so because I got a good deal on it that made the price point more tolerable. But looking over the book now sparks more thoughts on the matter of hard cover books in general and this one in particular.

In the world of fiction and non-fiction books, it’s standard practice to issue a company’s big titles in hardcover first and then come out with a paperback edition a year or two later. The inflated price of the hardcover and increased profit margin allows the publisher to pay the inflated advance they gave the writer.

In the comic book world, the hardcover format is usually used as a prestige collectible. Graphitti Designs, when not making t-shirts, is the king of this. In this month’s PREVIEWS, they solicit for the DAREDEVIL hard cover. This collects the 8 issues that Kevin Smith did with Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti. I really liked this run and think it deserves the hardcover treatment. In the comics collectibles world, though, it’s just not enough to make a simple hardcover. Nope, this one is signed and numbered, limited to 2500 copies. It comes with a CD (!) including DAREDEVIL #0, the original scripts, penciled pages, photos and audio commentary.

“As a big DVD fan and reviewer, a “director’s commentary” of a comic book sounds like a neat idea.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m looking forward to this disc. I love reading original scripts, and as a big DVD fan and reviewer, a “director’s commentary” of a comic book sounds like a neat idea. (Yes, it’s promised to be both Mac and PC compatible.)

However, this nice $30 or $40 hard cover book is now $80. Not good. This is not going to sell at your local bookseller. The myth of doing hardcovers for the sake of getting shelf space at your local Barnes and Nobles superstore is now proven.

Back to SON OF SUPERMAN: If DC were intending to push this book out onto the retail bookstore market, they still have a lot to learn. First of all, the book was shrink-wrapped. If people can’t flip through the book, they’re never going to buy it. Secondly, in that atmosphere, it wouldn’t last a day or two on the shelves. The dust jacket is so flimsy and easily dirtied that I can’t imagine too many people wanting to buy it. This isn’t a matter of keeping the book in mint or pristine condition, but people just like getting more bang for their buck, and they don’t want something cheap-looking for their $25. The dust jacket is mostly white, and easily rippable. Ironically, the inside of the cover is laminated. That’s right – the flipside of the dust jacket is protected from fingerprints. Books like this need a sturdier covering, something laminated a little better.

Heck, as a comics fan and one who might somehow think of it as a collectible, I’m ticked off with this packaging.

ONE FINAL IRONY

I lamented Art Adams’ reliance on drawing covers for a living rather than drawing sequential pages. COMIC BUYER’S GUIDE #1359 contains the results of a poll for “Favorite Cover Artists of the Century.” Art Adams doesn’t rank in it at all. Not amongst CBG readers, comics professionals, or general fandom.

“Most people have probably forgotten that he can draw interior pages.”

Sure, he may make a lot of money doing just covers, but his popularity is fast draining. “Favorite Comic-Book Penciller” results will be announced in another 5 weeks. Let’s see if he ranks there at all. Somehow I doubt it. Most people have probably forgotten that he can draw interior pages.

ERRATA

Special thanks to Peter Royston who was the only one to bring to my attention a minor linguistical faux pas from Friday’s column. There’s nothing more frustrating than blowing one of your strongest points by using the wrong word.

I wrote:

“Kids pay $4 for a pack of comics and then their parents balk at a $2 cover price for SPIDER-MAN? C’mon!” That should be “Kids pay $4 for a pack of Pokemon cards…” I still think it’s a nifty point. =)

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