PREVIEWS FOR DECEMBER 2002
Welcome to another monthly installment of "What's coming next?" It's just not enough to review what came out last week or what's coming out last this week. Once a month, Pipeline plunges into the abyss that is PREVIEWS to highlight a selection of some of the more interesting solicitations.
As always, this isn't a complete list of everything worth buying, and there's always more stuff that will appeal to you, the educated comics consumer. Seek out your own copy and pre-order away.
I cracked open PREVIEWS this month to find an Editor's Note namechecking Howard Stern. It's a Stupid Virus that doesn't let go, isn't it?
Dark Horse opens up with Yet Another 80s Revival: REID FLEMING/FLAMING CARROT CROSSOVER #1. Bob Burden writes it with art by David Boswell and Burden. The 32 page special is in black and white and will run you $4. (Yowch) (And before I get any e-mail: Yes, that opening line was just a joke.)
P. Craig Russell (who shares initials with the Tuesday installment of this column) has a short story collection with ISOLATION AND ILLUSION. The 120 page full color softcover collection brings together stories throughout the career of fine artist. For $15, you can get your copy the day after New Year's.
MAC RAYBOY'S FLASH GORDON Volume1 is the first collected trade paperback of the artist's work on the comic strip. The solicitation copy refers to Rayboy as "beginning his comics career in 1940, after taking government-funded drawing classes." So don't think of this as $20 for a comic book. Think of this as your tax dollars at work. That $20 is governmentally subsided, dagnabit! ;-)
The new Joe Casey-penned KISS series hits its fifth issue on 18 December. I have no love for KISS, but the first issue was inked by Pipeline reader and message board regular, Derek Fridolfs. Thus, I mention it here. Also, that first issue includes a letter in the letters column (remember those, DC?) from my motherland, Belgium. Pipeline greetings to Maarten Bijnens.
STAR WARS TALES #14 (due out 04 December) includes a story from Stan Sakai. As if I needed to say more past that, I'll mention that the feature story is a court room battle over who fired first: Greedo or Han Solo? If the court chooses Greedo, geekdom will explode.
The third volume collecting the all-star series is on sale in the first week of January, featuring the Ron Marz/Rick Leonardi tale of Darth Vader vs. Darth Maul. It was an excellent tie-in story with beautiful art. $20 also buys you stories by the likes of Garth Ennis, Jay Stephens, Jason Hall, Leinil Francis Yu, Amanda Conner, and more.
DC yawns to life with Yet Another Revival of Aquaman, and a Robotech reboot.
GOTHAM CENTRAL, though, is the pick of the month, with stories from Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker centered on the Gotham Police Department and its relationship to the costumed criminals around it. Art is by the overlooked Michael Lark, who did the excellent BATMAN: NINE LIVES widescreen hardcover earlier this year, reviewed recently here in Pipeline2. The new monthly series debuts on December 4th with the second issue quickly following up Christmas week.
The other exciting debut from the Bat office is BATGIRL: YEAR ONE. This is the 9 part maxi-series from Chuck Dixon, Scott Beatty, Marcos Martin, and Alvaro Lopez. Solicitation copy doesn't say who's coloring it, but I'm hoping for Lee Loughridge, who did such a great job with ROBIN: YEAR ONE by the same writing team.
The Superman titles feature beautiful cover art from John Van Fleet.
THE SPECTRE has a nice P. Craig Russell cover, too.
Chuck Jones directed more than just Pepe Le Pew, Road Runner, Bugs Bunny, Hubie and Bertie, Li'l Sneezer, Private Snafu, Tom and Jerry, and Charlie Dog animated shorts. He also did a few cartoons featuring The Three Bears. LOONEY TUNES #97 is a holiday themed issue starring the Three Bears. I can't wait.
Image looks to have a pretty good December coming up. The BASTARD SAMURAI trade is solicited, with a $13 price tag and plenty of extras and pin-ups included. HAWAIIAN DICK #1 begins a three part series with some nice art from Steven Griffin and story by B. Clay Moore. The SCARAB Kabuki collection appears in paperback form, for those of you who didn't want to spring for the hardcover earlier this year. Beautiful Rick Mays art on that. NOBLE CAUSES #3 looks hilarious, as Rusty goes on a rampage to find out who impregnated Zephyr. Along the way, he interrogates a variety of Image Universe all-stars: Savage Dragon, Super-Patriot, Super-Star, Shadowhawk, and more. Bendis collects his pop culture strips and short stories in TOTAL SELL OUT, a $15 trade with 184 black and white pages.
For SAVAGE DRAGON fans like me, it's a bonanza month. Besides a Christmas-themed issue #106, SAVAGE DRAGON: TERMINATED is the latest collection of the series. Labeled volume 8, it collects issues 34 through 40 and is available initially only as a hardcover, with an agreeable price of $29. (For those of us used to paying $80 for Dragon HCs, this is a big deal. There's still a $55 limited edition HC that's signed and numbered, if you really want one.)
Marvel starts with THE PUNISHER, beginning a new three part story arc by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. CAPTAIN AMERICA begins a new storyline with new artist Trevor Hairsine. Ultimate Venom appears in ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #33. (#32 is also solicited for December.) Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone return to SPIDER-MAN'S TANGLED WEB for an issue. Gary Frank draws THE AVENGERS for two issues. Bill Morrison Simpson-izes The Avengers in MARVEL DOUBLE-SHOT #2.
The big draw for me in the Marvel section, though, is the DAREDEVIL HC. It's labeled as volume 2 for some reason that I'm sure Marvel will make clear someday soon. It collects issues #26-37 of Bendis' magnificent run on the title with Alex Maleev. This is one of the best storylines of the past couple of years and has earned its spot on my bookshelf.
Greg Rucka's first ELEKTRA storyline is also collected in trade paperback format.
Gee, do you think there's a Daredevil movie coming up soon?
X-TREME X-MEN doesn't look like it's going to get any hardcovers any time soon, which I think is actually a shame. In the meantime, be happy that there's a second trade paperback collecting the second set of nine issues from the series by Chris Claremont and Salvador Larroca. The price on this second volume is a full four pennies more than the first. $19.99.
Comicraft does a great job in designing any number of web sites and comic books. Sadly, when it comes time to design an ad for their own book, you get a murky mess filled with nearly illegible text. Oh, the irony. Pick up a copy of PREVIEWS and look at pages 216 and 217. HIP FLASK is coming out as a CD-ROM. The ad features quotes from a bunch of web site reviews, a rundown of the features on the disc, minimum system requirements, and sample screens. But it's one of the busiest and most garish messes I've seen. I got a headache trying to read it.
After Hours Press has the second edition of Buddy Scalera's VISUAL REFERENCE FOR COMIC ARTISTS. This is a $10 CD filled with photo reference for you artists out there, including airplanes, guns, rubble, and all that annoying-to-draw stuff like people kissing and drinking.
Meanwhile, AiT/PlanetLar collects Matt Fraction's Rex Mantooth short stories into one volume, titled THE ANNOTATED MANTOOTH. It's a 80 page trade paperback for $13 to collect three short stories. It's packed with all sorts of behind the scenes material in order to fill out a full book with a square binding. I thought the stories were nutty fun with attitude. I know they turned some people off, but to each his own. It's a comic book with a talking ape. What more do you want?
Slave Labor offers up a HALO AND SPROCKET t-shirt for December. It's a great design for a great book. The third issue came out this week, by the way, and is worth a read.
Antarctic Press has an interesting looking book with KILLBOX. A promo image for it adorned their booth in San Diego this year and captured my attention. Now I see what it's for. It's the story of a Marine Corps tank trapped with four soldiers behind enemy lines. The promo art by Brian Denham is very pretty. This could be a sleeper hit this winter, as it's only the first issue of an on-going series. The only catch is that this first 32 page black and white installment will run you $5. That better be some nice paper.
Arcade Comics premieres the ALIAS comic book, written by series creator J.J. Abrams. Andy Park and Rob Liefeld split art duties. The basic comic costs $3, but there are plenty of more expensive variations on it if you're looking for a chromium cover or something. A pin-up gallery is also promised. It's a full color book.
CrossGen's new solicitations format begins this month. Next month, you can expect to see them up at the front of the book where they belong. Chuck Dixon writes and regular RUSE inker Mike Perkins draws the first issue of the new ARCHARD'S AGENTS, telling the stories of various agents in the world of RUSE.
This week's issue of RUSE, by the way, ties up the first year of that series very well. It's a beautiful and at times ominous issue.
Digital Webbing prints the first part of a new three part mini-series for GUTWALLOW, an often overlooked but fairly entertaining series by Dan Berger. I reviewed the first trade paperback of it here last year.
Eddie Campbell's EGOMANIA hits its second issue by featuring a long interview with Alan Moore. That's on page 305, and will run ya $5.
RAIJIN COMICS starts publishing in December. This is the much-anticipated weekly manga magazine featuring "Slam Dunk" and a few other serials. It's aimed at a slightly older crowd than SHONEN JUMP. I picked up preview copies of both magazines in San Diego this summer and immediately subscribed to RAIJIN. I don't need more Dragonball Z or Yu Gi Yoh, thanks. I'm betting on RAIJIN. Each week's installment runs 214 black and white pages for $5.
Ironcat offers up MEGATOKYO on page 319. It's an internet strip getting the published treatment. I have to be honest and say that the stories (featuring plenty of anime/manga/dating sim references) aren't my thing. However, the book has a large following, and features some very pretty pencil art by Fred Gallagher. I'm tempted to buy the book just to stare at the art.
Shooting Star Comics presents SHOOTING STAR COMIC ANTHOLOGY #1. This 80 page black and white anthology title features a variety of stories from a variety of creators, both new and veteran. Steve Lieber draws the cover and Chuck Dixon writes a brand new western story for the book. Denny O'Neill handles the introduction. It's only $6 for 80 pages. That's not bad these days.
Sky Dog Press releases BUZZBOY: TROUBLE IN PARADISE in December. It's a trade paperback collecting all of the Buzzboy stories I reviewed here not all that long ago. Creator John Gallagher went back in and relettered and toned up a lot of the art, and talked Michael Avon Oeming into doing a brand new cover for him. (The back cover features some positive quotes about the book, including one from some Pipeline hack…) The book is $12 and is an enjoyable and loving superhero comedy.
I reviewed THE INVINCIBLE ED here just last week. Issue #1 is now offered again, along with a brand new solicitation for #2. The price shoots up a bit to $3.95, but it is in color. Ryan Woodward has a deft animator's touch and the story is easily accessible to one and all.
Finally, Vanguard Productions releases STERANKO: ARTE NOIR, a 200 page art book featuring the work of Jim Steranko. It's highly limited (3000 copies) and, oddly enough, not available in Spain. It'll run you $50, but it is autographed by Steranko, if that helps.
UPDATES AND CORRECTIONS
In case you missed the afternoon update to last Tuesday's column, there was a correction: UDON did not color EDEN'S TRAIL. That's all Steve Uy's beautiful work. My apologies for the mistake.
Also, I picked a winner in the Stylish Vittles contest from two weeks ago. The lucky winner of his very own copy of that excellent graphic novel is Paul Walcher from Oklahoma. Congratulations, Paul, and I hope you enjoy it.Lots of updates to VariousAndSundry.com this week. You'll find new thoughts on stupid drivers, the new television season, a warning on on-line payments, and a link to why widescreen is better than pan and scan.
Next week: A ton of reviews, including a few calendars. How does one review a calendar? With any luck, I'll figure that out this weekend. =)
More than 400 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 or so are still available at the Original Pipeline page, a horrifically coded piece of HTML.