I don't think there's anything left to say. After Charles Schulz's retirement announcement a couple of months back, I think it all got said. And with the publication of the last strip on Sunday, it was being said again. When Schulz died on Saturday night in his sleep, there was one last final hurrah. And I can think of no better or more deserving a man.
PEANUTS has been around for twice as long as I've been alive. I can't conceive of a world without it. Thanks to the daily reprints, I won't have to.
There's a killer game of hockey going on in heaven right now…
FAST FORWARD TO F5
Tony Daniel's F5 looks to be a cool book. Take off your snobby critic glasses for a moment. Forget the laughably long legs of the character on the cover, or the potentially gravity-defying chests of the women on the inside. (It's actually not nearly that bad.) Ignore the tendency for all the characters to go around in the least amount of clothes possible - both men and women.
This just looks like a cool book. Could it be the next DANGER GIRL? Sure, why not? Daniel has shown an ability to produce work at a much more rapid pace than Campbell on his own. His characters have diverse personalities and talents. He seems to have action scenes and suspense bits down pretty well. The book itself is set to be a globetrotting action piece.
The production values are excellent. The coloring is top-notch computer stuff.
OK, so my entire review is based on the concept that it looks cool. Why can't we all once in a while enjoy a book on sheer adrenaline or purely for the most simplistic of all reasons: It looks entertaining. Now we just have to hold our breaths and hope it delivers.
I like the idea of having a large group of people that can be pared down to form a team to answer the given situation. I remember the G.I. JOE computer game back in the mid-1980s was based on that concept. And I've always liked comics and stories that could feature that. It's a nice storytelling gimmick, although it doesn't get used all that often. (THE AVENGERS comes close, but they always go at full strength, depending on who's fit and able at the time.)
Anyway, the truth will out in April when the series debuts with a huge honking 48 page first issue for $3. Let's hope that doesn't translate to 22 pages of story and 16 pages of promo graphics and previews.
I'm not sure if you really would want to buy the preview book, by the way. It's got a penciled 6-page story segment, and a lot of full-page character descriptions with very little info. There's a lot of repetition in the graphics used in the publicity pages. It's really lightweight, but as a vehicle to excite the potential readership of the book, I think it works.
And, yes, there is a web site for the book already.
THE PUNISHER RETURNS
I think this might be the most highly anticipated first issue of a Marvel Knight title I've seen reaction to so far. Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon - the team that gives us PREACHER every month - are together for a 12 issue run on THE PUNISHER.
I don't read PREACHER. I've read some of Ennis' work, such as THE DARKNESS and some of THE HITMAN, but that's it. So I was looking forward to this first issue, but wasn't as psyched about it as some others.
I may be in the minority here, but this first issue is as great as the early reviews make it out to be. It's a fine, straightforward tale, but it lacks much of the black humor and inventive action and drama that Ennis describes in his text piece at the end. I think he has the right idea of what to do with the character, but I just don't think it showed up all that well in this first issue.
Dillon's art, as inked by Jimmy Palmiotti, just seems a bit amateurish to me, too. The lines are too thick. The characters all look bored. The body language isn't all that exciting, save a couple of examples. How many cheats does Dillon use to get around drawing hands and feet? (How many arms disappear off-panel? How many hands are blocked by a gun firing?)
I'm going to let this issue off the hook, since it's the first issue and it's too busy introducing new readers to the situation to go all out with the main storyline.
Does anyone ever believe that Frank Castle is in danger at any point in this issue? Does anyone care? Granted, he's a protagonist in the classic term and not a hero in the modern one. That doesn't mean, however, that we should be apathetic towards him.
The Punisher can be a really fun character to read, in a dark way. He doesn't deserve the bad rap he often gets as the worst example of comics excess of times past. The only problem with the Punisher was in Marvel over-extending him with way too many series and specials about ten years ago.
Speaking of plotless issues…
That's a little harsh. Chuck Dixon's NIGHTWING #42 suffers from too many characters. There's no real thrust through the issue to play through a single storyline. We seem to have a half-dozen different ones being set up and knocked down. Where's the story we're supposed to be following? Tough to tell.
It starts with Dick Grayson's graduation party. Then we skip to Nite-wing in action. Dick Grayson is looking for a job. Dick Grayson meets possibly shady policemen. (In the few issues of the series that I've read so far, that plot point has been used in just about every one.) Then there's the dirty police chief. Nite-wing again. Then Nightwing and Oracle talk about two different things in seven panels. The villain plot gets a couple of pages. Nightwing cruises the city, and a new character - actually an older character that hasn't been properly re-introduced to readers since No Man's Land ended - shows up. Show over. Will someone please draw the straight line through all that for me?
I need a scorecard to read this series. I'm working on picking up the missing back issues, but it's a little frustrating right now.
WHO DISTRIBUTES WHAT AND WHEN?
I commented in Friday's column that it was too bad that Avatar hadn't published the second issue of Warren Ellis' STRANGE KISS mini-series yet.
It didn't take too long before I got e-mail from people who did pick it up last week. Enough people on the Internet seem to have read it that I'll just apologize here and now to both Avatar and Warren for the faux pas.
However, my local comic shop didn't get it last week. My secondary shop didn't get it. I've gotten plenty of e-mail from people whose shops stocked the first issue but not the second last week.
Here's the really interesting thing: Diamond's weekly ship schedule which is produced every Monday for books on sale Wednesday didn't list it last week, but lists it only now - for February 16th.
Did these other stores use a different distributor? Is Diamond shipping this thing regionally? Does anyone know what's going on?
One final recommendation for this week: LIBERTY MEADOWS #7 contains some squirrel sequences. I've grown up in suburbia all my life, in an area heavily populated with squirrels. You can literally feed them pieces of bread out the back door. They will come by the porch and sit on their back feet and look at you, waiting for it. It's the cutest thing. I've always loved the furry rodents. This issue of LM features action from a bothersome squirrel and his acorns. I love it.
When you're done with that, you can also go watch the classic Chuck Jones Warner Bros. Short, "Much Ado About Nutting." Joe Kelly had Deadpool referencing it in his final issue. It's a great short.
SHIPPING THIS FRIDAY TO PIPELINE2
Comics. The internet. The stock market. Where do they all tie in together? Join me on Friday for a look at Stan Lee's latest publishing effort and the logic (or lack thereof) that goes into it and its investors.