"A QUAINT THROWBACK"
In the earliest days of Pipeline, there would be occasional weeks when my school schedule would get in the way of writing the column, and certain installments would come out a day or two late, or perhaps a thousand characters or so shorter than usual.
Consider this column, then, a quaint throwback. My work schedule isn't crowded, but it happens to hit at the worst possible times for putting together this column. Hopefully, I can get back to some more verbose reviews next week.
DUE OUT THIS WEEK
DAREDEVIL: BULLSEYE #1 is not just the first part of a four-issue mini-series, but the first act of the story. I mean that in the movie sense, or maybe even the theatrical sense. This issue sets up the good guy, the bad guy, and their motivations in a succinct 22 pages. (Issues 2 and 3 should be complicating the plot ad raising the stakes, while the fourth will be some sort of slam-bang tie-it-all-up ending with two or three pages of denouement.)
Kevin Smith's writing reads smoothly, carrying us from page to page without hesitation. While some of it might seem unnecessary to long time fans, that same material makes the book accessible to those who've never read a Daredevil comic before. A couple pages of narration from Daredevil is all it takes to establish his character and relevant portions of his history. His actions hearken back to the original Kevin Smith-written issues of the currently on-going series.
Glenn Fabry's art is, well, Fabry's art. I'm not necessarily a fan. It looks too rough and uneven to me. A couple shots of Matt Murdock grimacing with his Daredevil costume still on made me wince, but there are enough people who worship at Fabry's easel that it won't bother everyone. Most of it is quite good. The opening double page spread is beautifully gruesome in its detail, and the storytelling is solid. It's just not my favorite style, is all.
This latest Smith endeavor is off to a promising start. Keep your fingers crossed that it remains on time for the remainder of its run.
TELLOS, barring any return to the regular schedule again, should just label itself an "art house book" and go all out. Every time a new book comes out, it's one of the best looking things on the stands. It's imaginative and inspirational. TELLOS: SONS & MOONS is no exception. This issue includes stories illustrated by Carlo Barberi, Eric Wolfe-Hanson, and Thor Badendyck. Combined with the coloring of Paul Mounts and Bongotone, the book has a clean and consistent look that includes the kind of fantastic characters and settings usually reserved for art books and artists who are just showing off.
It's a bonus, indeed, that Todd Dezago is around to write interesting stories that keep the universe interesting. It's doubly impressive that not a single story is wasted here. While they have different tones to them -- from light romance to monster horror to serious evil-mongering -- they all play crucial parts in the TELLOS storyline. You can enjoy them on their own, but regular readers of the series will be rewarded with new angles on old favorite characters.
Taken as an art book, though, there are a few pin-ups to look at. Nick Cardy's gorgeous cover is reprinted on the inside without all the cover blurbs, alongside an appreciation from Mike Wieringo. Olivier Vatine has a spectacular Koj pin-up, and Francisco Velasco Ruiz (LONE WOLF AND CUB 2100) draws up a nice family portrait that's a cross between the styles of Wieringo and Barberi.
It's an unfortunate necessity of the current comics market that this book needs to be released in prestige format for $6. I'd love to see it for $4 with a staple instead of a square binding. Might draw in more people. However, these slim volumes work well with the two trades collecting the series, and will make it easier for people to re-order the books until the end of time, or the printing runs out. Maybe this is the only way to get the nice glossy paper to print the art on, also. It's worth it for that, as well.
In any case, TELLOS: SONS & MOONS is not a book that any TELLOS fan should miss.
(When a TELLOS movie deal comes through and kids are scrambling for it the way they scramble for Harry Potter today, I hope the money is there to put out an oversized hardcover art book featuring the characters from the series by a variety of top artists. I can dream, can't I?)
IT'S DVD TIME
TODD McFARLANE: THE DEVIL YOU KNOW is a Canadian-produced documentary DVD (released earlier this year) that looks into the life of Todd McFarlane, and his ascent as an entertainment industry entrepreneur. It runs about an hour and a quarter and, sadly, doesn't figure out what it wants to be until about halfway through. The first half hour of the movie is a disorganized introduction into the world of McFarlane, in desperate search of a narrative line. By the time it finally figures out what it wants to say, it feels like it's too late.
There are some worthwhile bits to this documentary for any comics fan. The self-indicting things McFarlane says throughout much of the movie will particularly gratify those who are interested in the on-going Gaiman lawsuit issues. McFarlane comes across half as a canny businessman, and half as a small child who looks horribly uncomfortable in the world of grown-ups. It's an odd dichotomy.
The documentary runs without narration, which I think might hurt it in the end. It relies too much on interstitial montages from SPAWN -- some not even drawn or written by McFarlane, that I remember -- with actors providing voiceovers in the characters' voices. This just makes the SPAWN dialogue sound even hokier.
But for McFarlane fans, there's a lot to like about the documentary. You meet McFarlane's family, get a look at his offices and home, see him in action behind the art board (a little), and see some of the behind the scenes stuff you don't often see on video. In addition, all the footage is there from his purchase of the McGwire baseballs.
There's not much interesting in the way of extras on the disc. There is a small "Todd McFarlane Art Gallery," but like most DVD art galleries, it's a pain in the butt. The images are too small and the resolution on a TV screen -- even on a DVD -- doesn't do the picture justice. You're buying this strictly for the documentary, itself.
For industry observers and McFarlane fans, it's a definite rental. For those looking to lambaste McFarlane some more, it's probably something you'll want to buy to watch again and again. Ah, what a country this is…
Coming up on Friday: Part 2 of last week's look at PREVIEWS. I'll tackle the back half of the catalog and all the wonders coming in January from publishers who aren't exclusive to Diamond.
VariousAndSundry.com has been updated all weekend, with thoughts on a smattering of recent television shows, a Young MacGyver update, some fun with Harry Potter, and more. Yeah, it's an odd assortment, but at least it's not all DVD-related for a change. ;-)
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 that's soon going away.