PREVIEWS FOR SEPTEMBER 2001
The best way to get the most out of your comics shop is to pre-order. This way, you don't have to worry about your retailer's ability to order comics. (In that regard, we already have a lot to worry about.) The best way to pre-order is to do it early so they can get a better idea of where the buzz is in their shop.
To that end, today I present a brief glimpse inside the latest PREVIEWS. This is hardly a comprehensive list. In a book that runs more than 450 pages, a thorough listing would be most tedious. Here are some of the highlights and interesting points, however.
I'll start with Dark Horse, who has two more of its "Venture" line of books coming out. These are the overseas imports printed in oversized black and white softcover format.
The first book is THE BIG HOAX, by Carlos Trillo and Roberto Mandrafina. At $11 for 128 pages, this one looks to be the one I'll pre-order unquestioningly. The cover art that comes with the solicitation is classy enough to give the book a try. The story revolves around a "down-on-his-luck ex-cop", the damsel in distress, and an assassin known as the Iguana. Throw in a conspiracy and a corrupt government and you've got the makings of an interesting story.
The other "Venture" title is OTTO PORFIFI: DRAMA ON THE CLIFF. It's $10 for 88 black and white pages. This one stars a private eye in a world of "sex, drugs, and blackmail." The cover art doesn't necessarily light me up, so I'll give it the flip test at the store before deciding whether or not to buy it.
Both of these books are tagged for mature readers, by the way.
One license title sticks out to me, and that's the STAR WARS TALES #9, from Ron Marz and Rick Leonardi. It promises an all out fight between Darth Vader and Darth Maul. Yes, this is just fanboy pandering and the type of "Who's Stronger?" competition we'd expect from 8 year olds pondering the relative merits of The Thing versus The Hulk. But you know what? Rick Leonardi is drawing it. It should be entertaining and look really cool. The only drawback is that it's a heavy investment of $6 for 64 color pages. Since the book is an anthology title, that one story won't even take up a terribly large chunk of the issue, I bet.
DC has the much talked about SUICIDE SQUAD relaunch from Keith Giffen and Paco Medina highlighting their solicitations. I don't think I need to talk about it anymore than to say, "I can't wait."
JUST IMAGINE STAN LEE WITH JOHN BUSCEMA CREATING SUPERMAN is due out, as well. Whatever enthusiasm I may have once had for the project when it was first announced is just about gone. I'll probably pick up a couple of the specials for the artists only. The Wonder Woman book with Jim Lee is the first that comes to mind. The format is killing this project. I'm not paying $6 for these things as a matter of habit. The odd thing about this Superman book is that the cover by John Buscema looks a lot like Norm Breyfogle's art style.
The BATMAN: DARK VICTORY hardcover is advance solicited for October. The BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN hardcover is one of the premiere examples of how hardcover books should be done. So I have high hopes that this one will follow the same format and look just as good on my bookshelf next to SUPERMAN FOR ALL SEASONS.
I'm intrigued a bit by a DC Archive Edition this month. The BLACKHAWK ARCHIVES begin with a 240 page hardcover book. I've heard so much about this series through the years from people whose opinion I respect that I'm tempted to give it a shot. Maybe I should go read the Howard Chaykin four-issue mini-series first, though. I've got that sitting in my To Be Read pile, as well.
The SUPERMAN/GEN13 trade is re-solicited this month, with the price point finally settled. It is a $10 book. It's probably still a little high, but it's far better than what they had last month. This is artist Lee Bermejo's breakout book. Not only that, but it's a fun story from Adam Hughes. If you missed the mini, give the collection a chance.
Chuck Dixon guest-writes BATGIRL #20, guest-starring The Spoiler. I point this out because the man writes so much it's easy to blink one month and mix six books.
Dennis O'Neil has been writing AZRAEL: AGENT OF THE BAT for 82 issues as of September. That's pretty remarkable. I'm sure Dixon is over in a corner chuckling to himself that he's up to ROBIN #94, and so will beat O'Neil to 100 issues of a title.
Image has the buzz book of the month with G.I. JOE #1, which threatens to completely overshadow another promising first issue, NOBLE CAUSES: FIRST IMPRESSIONS. It's not the first issue of the series, but it is the one shot that introduces it. I think both books will be interesting to read. I grew up a GI JOE junkie, although I wasn't reading comics at the time. When it came time to throw out the GI JOE toys, the garbage men played with the toys for a half hour before moving onto the next house. I'll never forget that sight.
But the highlight of the Image solicitations for me – particularly in light of last Friday's column -- is the POWERS SCRIPTBOOK. For $20, Brian Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming present all the scripts for the first 11 issues of the series. 344 pages total. New artwork from Oeming accompanies each script. For all the wannabe scriptwriters out there, this could be an invaluable resource. If nothing else, it should be fun to go through the scripts and find all of Bendis' well-nigh legendary misspellings. ;-)
WITCHBLADE #51 asks the question, "What is the Witchblade?" I answer, "Who cares?" Even Paul Jenkins couldn't get me to care. Too bad.
The JMS illustrated novel, DELICATE CREATURES, features some beautiful art from Michael Zulli. It's good to see Zulli getting regular work from Top Cow. The book debuts in a hardcover format and, one would assume, will show up in a few months in softcover form. It's interesting to see such an experiment in "real world" book selling practices. Let's see how this pans out.
Marvel's mature line debuts with Brian Bendis' ALIAS, Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson's FURY, and Chuck Austen's format-busting U.S. WAR MACHINE. I'm looking forward to all three.
Both AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #35 and ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #13 have nebulous solicitations. No clues given. The cover art shown to the Ultimate book, however, has a hand holding up the mask of Spider-Man. This is part of what formed the basis for the speculation I included in this column last Tuesday. I don't have a clue what JMS has up his sleeve over in AMAZING, though.
By far the most exciting solicitation in the book for me is in the separate Marvel Trades section. SPIDER-MAN VISIONARIES: TODD McFARLANE runs 208 pages, collecting the beginning of McFarlane's run on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. This is issues #298 - #305, completely recolored, for $20. It'll be interesting to see how the art looks with the new colors. McFarlane's art was still developing at this point in his career. Lots of it may seem overly open and cartoony to many, particularly by comparison to his later work. I just hope this sells well enough to induce Marvel to create more such collections. McFarlane drew 25 issues or so worth of this title. I'd love to have them all in this format.
Now to the back of the catalog, in the section affectionately known as "Other Comics," that so often hold the most fascinating comics. (This is, in part, because their hype machines aren't spilling everything out weeks and months in advance. The last of the big surprises in PREVIEWS come from here. Nowadays, most of PREVIEWS shows up on all the major internet comic news sites a week in advance. And odds are one random site per month puts them up two weeks in advance. UGH)
Larry Young and AIT/PlaNetLar issue forth the second volume of Jim Krueger's FOOT SOLDIERS for $15. Yes, there's some new material mixed in with the 152 pages collected here.
Amaze Ink publishes the second issue of Andi Watson's latest mini-series, SLOW NEWS DAY. Don't forget – the BREAKFAST AFTER NOON trade hits shelves today from Oni Press. If you missed it the first time around, don't repeat your mistake! ;-)
It's that time of the year again for Bongo Comics! BART SIMPSON TREEHOUSE OF HORROR has its seventh annual issue in September, with special guest creators Garth Ennis, John McCrea, Troy Nixey, Stan Sakai, Mark Hamill, and Dan Brereton.
Page 234 gets the award for saddest page of PREVIEWS. There's been a recent trend in the back pages towards selling women's underwear. That's nearly laughable for as many reasons as you might imagine. This month, the topper of them all comes from Jim Balent's TAROT empire: the "Feel The Magick" tank and pantie set. Come on, ladies, you know you want a naked faerie on your crotch with the slogan "Feel The Magick" emblazoned there. The live model pictured with the solicitation is hiking her panties up as high as she can, while her chest is either the victim of amazing lighting or a little touch of Photoshop in order to show off the design on her chest better.
I can't believe I just wrote all that.
I can't believe I needed to.
On page 245 from Comic Library International is CLICK TRACK: A COMIC NOVEL. Running at 224 pages, this book features writing and art from Scott Roberts. It's the story of retired action hero about to have his big comeback. I'm not entirely sure I know what format the story is in. Is it sequential narrative? Is it illustrated prose? The solicitation doesn't say, but does mention that this book is reprinted from the serial shown in COMIC LIBRARY INTERNATIONAL volumes 1-5, complete with new chapters, character sketches, and more. For $20, though, it looks like it might be worth a chance. Roberts' art is always fun to look at.
Comicsone.com is printing a variety of interesting manga. The two that pique my interest the most are OFFERED #1 and WOUNDED MAN #3. Each run 400 pages for $15, and feature a story by Kazuo "Lone Wolf & Cub" Koike and art by Ryoichi "Sanctuary" Ikegami. I've been reading a lot of Ikegami's stuff lately, and haven't yet failed to be impressed. Don't worry – reviews of that stuff are coming.
Mighty Gremlin offers up the ELECTRIC GIRL STARTER PACK for $11 on page 284. It contains issues #1 - #5, including an autographed copy of the first from creator Michael Brennan. If you can't get a hold of the trade collecting the first four issues of the series for any reason, go with this. The book is worth reading. And, again, a full review is forthcoming. I feel confident in that because I've written it already and it's just a matter of time before I find a gap in the schedule to print the review. Brennan is up for an Eisner this year, so cross your fingers for him.
Tusk Entertainment lets loose with KAOS MOON #0 for $2.95. It's got three short full color stories in it to lead the way into the forthcoming mini-series by David Boller.
Boller has an interesting game plan. I had the chance to talk to him for a little bit in Pittsburgh this year. He's very much interested in bringing a more European look and feel to comics, as well as using today's new technologies to telling his stories. His web site is at BurningCircle.net. If you get the chance to catch him at a convention, pick up the TUSK WORLD TOUR BOOK 2001 special. He'll even do a nice sketch for you in the back of the book. The stuff in the KAOS MOON stories is gorgeously rendered and realistic. While the woman involved in the first story may be beautiful, she doesn't look unnatural or inflated. It's part of Boller's effort to create people in comic books that look like they walked off the street – not like they were designed for a form-fitting costume.
The book has two covers, the second by Mary Hildebrandt. She does a couple of stories in the book in a cute manga style. It's very expressive and imaginative and is a nice complement, believe it or not, to Boller's "real world" art style and stories. Her web site, for kids of all ages, is at MonkeyToe.net.
Now if only I could convince them to give up on the Whizbang lettering…
Friday's column centers on Comic Con International: San Diego. I'll be paging through the 52 pages of panel programming and selecting the gems of the con, plus giving a rough approximation of where I imagine I'll be. If you want to stop me to say hello, don't hold back. That's what these cons are for.
In case you missed it, yesterday's column featured previews of today's ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN and NEW X-MEN comics, plus a load of reviews of last week's books.
Looking ahead, there will be at least three Pipeline Convention Journals over the course of the San Diego weekend. Look for those next Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
More than 225 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically. The first 100 columns are still available at the Original Pipeline page, a horrifically coded piece of HTML.
This year, you can still catch me at the Chicago Comicon (i.e. WizardWorld) and the San Diego Comicon (i.e. the Comic Con International: San Diego). I'm also tentatively scheduled for a day at the Small Press Expo in Maryland this September.