PREVIEWS FOR DECEMBER 2002 - PART 1
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. There's always more stuff that will appeal to you, the educated comics consumer. Seek out your own copy and pre-order away.
Dark Horse: LONE WOLF AND CUB will be finished before January, yet it's still LONE WOLF month at Dark Horse. The USAGI YOJIMBO cover for the month of January bears a strong LW&C influence. LONE WOLF 2100 gets its first trade paperback collection. The first four issues will run you $13. In addition, there's a one shot called LONE WOLF 2100: THE RED FILE that will give background details and act as a tech guide book, as it were. Oh, and the seventh issue of the series is also due out. It seems that Dark Horse is serious about this series. It's not a desperate attempt to cash in quickly on the LONE WOLF bandwagon.
Of course, now that I've said that, we can all expect a cancellation notice next week.
DC: SUPERMAN & BATMAN: GENERATIONS III begins in January. I won't be there, though. While this one comes in a slightly more affordable 12 month $3 per package, I just can't get into John Byrne's art anymore. It's a cipher to me. I can't muddle through it, either, to get to the story. If the reviews for it are really good, perhaps I'll try the trade paperback later.
DC finally gets with the program and prints a second BIRDS OF PREY trade. At the same time, a web site has gone up with a petition to save the TV series of the same name from being cancelled. Oh, the irony. Nevertheless, this is a volume with great stories by Chuck Dixon featuring beautiful art by Greg Land. It reprints the WOLVES and BATGIRL one-shots, and then the first six issues of the series. You'll have to wait for a third volume to get to the Dick and Babs trapeze issue. Let's hope the television series sticks around long enough to give DC the excuse to print the third volume.
Superman gets a 10 CENT ADVENTURE book at the end of the first week in January. This one is written by Steve Seagle and drawn by Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens. I don't read the Superman titles anymore, but I'm more than willing to give this one a try.
A new series premieres from WildStorm in SLEEPER, a book by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. It's an on-going mature readers series. Here's the description:
"Holden Carter is the Conductor -- an elite member of an organization of superhuman criminals and one of the scariest people on earth. There's just one problem: He's a deep-cover agent, and the only man who knows his true identity is in a coma!"
Nice hook. I'm in.
Image is back in the universe-building game, with a new lineup of five superhero series set in the Image Universe. There doesn't look to be a clunker in the bunch, either. I am looking forward to all of them. This was mostly decided on the strength of the creative teams. DOMINION has Keith Giffen. VENTURE has Jay Faerber and the much underrated Jamal Igle. THE CLOCKMAKER has Jim Krueger and Matt Smith using an unusual format for storytelling that I couldn't describe if I tried. (You know me; I'm a sucker for that kind of new-format stuff.) FIREBREATHER has Phil Hester and Andy Kuhn. Finally, INVINCIBLE has the SUPERPATRIOT creative team of Robet Kirkman and Cory Walker doing a classic teen superhero series.
SAVAGE DRAGON #107 features visits from a couple of those characters, too. The issue is 48 pages for the standard $2.95 cover price and includes a flip book MAJOR DAMAGE story by Chris Bailey.
There's a new line of hockey action figures from McFarlane Toys. Please note that Tony Twist isn't one of them...
POWERS gets an affordable hardcover treatment and it's about darn time - no more of those expensive Graphitti Designs limited edition jobs. This is a 176 page hardcover book, POWERS: SUPERGROUP, collecting issues #15 - 20 of the series for $29.95. While it's not exactly priced well in comparison to what Marvel is putting out these days, it's a relatively safe figure for a book that doesn't sell in the X-MEN range. I only wish they had used this format from the start. I'd love a nice POWERS hardcover series of spines on my bookshelf.
Marvel: It's a busy busy month for Marvel, with lots of different creative teams. Let's see how many of them I can run down here. Theses are not all of them, by any means.
Frank Quitely returns (again) to THE NEW X-MEN, with issue #136.
ULTIMATE X-MEN #27 and #28 are drawn by ex-CrossGen artists and brothers, Ray and Ben Lai. Kia Asimaya handles UNCANNY X-MEN #417 and #418.
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN publishes two more issues in January, and I couldn't be happier. Mark Bagley does art duties on both books, so the creative team stays intact. This is my favorite superhero comic, bar none, these days. Bendis' cliffhangers can be excruciating. The shortened wait between issues is a good thing.
Ah, heck, even SPIDER-GIRL gets two issues.
Mark Buckingham fills in on FANTASTIC FOUR #65, still written by Mark Waid. He's a good choice for a fill-in artist. I'd love to see Paul Ryan do a fill-in issue there, too, someday.
The three part Alan Davis-drawn AVENGERS crossover happens in January. I don't care what the story is -- it's more Davis art.
And then Marvel prints up a ton of Daredevil trades to capitalize on the movie. They hope. What's missing to me is any republication of Bob Gale's superb 6 part storyline, that I think would have been a classic had Phil Winslade been able to (or been allowed to) draw all of the parts.
ULTIMATE DAREDEVIL AND ELEKTRA will reprint the same mini-series that concludes that very month, for a mere $11.99, 'only' $3 more than the cost of the original issues. Of course, the solicitation copy indicates that the book will include "another Daredevil/Elektra story." That might explain the extra cost, and the 128 page count.
Sam Kieth's WOLVERINE/HULK mini-series from last year is finally reprinted in one trade paperback for $9.99.
Chuck Austen's first run of UNCANNY X-MEN issues is collected under the title "Volume 1: Hope." It's $13 for six issues, and if I were Joe Casey, I'd feel a little left out of the fun. The blurb here says, "Collecting the relaunch of UNCANNY X-MEN!" Didn't Casey and Ian Churchill do that first? Wouldn't this just be a re-relaunch? Personally, I'm hoping for a hardcover of Austen's first year on the title.
If you're looking for hardcovers, though, CAPTAIN AMERICA, VOL. 1: THE NEW DEAL collects the first six issues by John Ney Rieber and John Cassaday, while X-FORCE: FAMOUS, MUTANT AND MORTAL collects Peter Milligan, Mike Allred, Darwyn Cooke, and Duncan Fegredo's run on issues #116 - #129. It's a pretty substantial run for a pretty substantial book. 352 pages can be yours for only $30. That's a nice price point.
That, of course, brings us to the back half of the catalog and all the independent treasures that await your inspection. My work schedule didn't allow me to look at those this week, so stop by next Friday for Part Two of this column. I'll take a look at everything from Brian Wood Month at PlanetLar to all the QUEEN AND COUNTRY you could shake a stick at.
Next week: Reviews and stuff. Is that vague enough for you?
Lots of updates to VariousAndSundry.com this week, as usual. The BABYLON 5 DVD boxed set came out, and I have a review of it. Plus, spam mail that makes no sense, what's new on DVD, and how many times do you have to listen to a CD before liking it?
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.