For pre-ordering purposes, I'm writing this column today. If you have any intentions on pre-ordering stuff from the latest issue of PREVIEWS, let your retailer know when you stop by the comics shop to pick up books this week.
STANDARD DISCLAIMER: This is not an exhaustive list by any means. This is just some of the things that caught my eye and some of the things that I thought deserved special mention. There's plenty of other interesting stuff in the book. Go ahead and pick one up, or take a look at the on-line version at Diamond's web site.
Let's start with the videos, since I don't think I've ever done that. The third round of TRANSFORMERS videos are coming out in June. These three tapes collect episodes of the original 1980s television animated classic. They're ten bucks a pop. I just want to know why we can't get DVDs of these! Those I'd go for, even though I was a bigger G.I. Joe guy back then…
(And whatever happened to those G.I. JOE and TRANSFORMERS comics that were promised last summer?!?)
Back to comics:
The single biggest draw for the month has to be Scott McCloud's REINVENTING COMICS. It's a softcover $20 book, filled with 256 pages of black and white artwork. This is his long-awaited "sequel" to UNDERSTANDING COMICS and it takes a look at the way computers can affect comic book storytelling. (See my review of THE GEAR STATION #1 this Friday for more on this topic.) I finally had the chance to read UC this past year and it's a wonderful, if technical, study of our medium. Plus, using sequential art to explain sequential art keeps it from getting dry and tedious.
ROBIN: FLYING SOLO reprints the first 6 issues of the ROBIN series, plus two SHOWCASE stories that tie into it. This is from the early days of Tim Drake's career as Robin, and includes some stories that I can still fondly recall to this day. Chuck Dixon does the writing here, as he has for more than 75 issues (!) of the series. Tom Grummett is the predominant artist. (For my money, Grummett is one of the most overlooked artists in the field. Give him the right inker - Scott Hanna or Karl Kesel - and I'd put his stuff up against just about anyone else's.) For $13, you get 176 pages of superhero goodness.
Frank Miller draws a six page backup story in ORION #3. This series is quickly looking really good on paper. We'll have to wait for the first issue later this month to see if the book is any good, but it does have an impressive list of creators lined up on it. Besides Walter Simonson writing and drawing the thing, backup story artists include now Frank Miller, Dave Gibbons, and Erik Larsen.
I admitted to buying the SINS OF YOUTH: SECRET ORIGINS issue last week just for the pinup art. Now Marvel is returning the favor: X-MEN: MILLENIAL VISIONS is set to coincide with the release of the movie. They've got a bunch of different artists drawing their futuristic interpretations of the merry mutants. It's 48 pages for $5, and includes a cover from Art Adams. Interior pages are by Art Thibert, Gary Frank, John Paul Leon, Mat Broome, Kevin Maguire, Sean Chen, J.H. Williams, and more. I have no doubt that one or more of these images will end up being springboarded into a mini-series somewhere down the line, not unlike Alex Ross' EARTH X comic in WIZARD a couple of years ago.
Another beautiful-looking book is the upcoming BONE #38 from Cartoon Books. That's right - Jeff Smith is back doing the regular series. I guess the second mini-series with Charles Vess never panned out. ::shrug:: At least we had the exceptional STUPID RAT TAIL 3-parter, now available in trade paperback form, by the way.
The exceptional thing here, though, is that there are three separate covers. I'll only be buying one, but there are three to choose from. One is a Smith piece colored by Charles Vess. Another is Frank Miller drawing Thorn in his 300 style. The final cover is the most excited thing I've seen Alex Ross draw in years. His Bone just looks so realistic it's cool.
MORE POP FROM THE ASTRONAUTS
I didn't know how Larry Young was going to do it. The first ASTRONAUTS IN TROUBLE mini-series was terrific action-adventure/space opera/human melodrama/whatever. However you want to classify it, it was great stuff. The three-issue follow-up, AIT: SPACE: 1959, was completed this past week and it's just as good. It's a bit more grounded. It happens more quickly, and simplifies the plot just a bit. But you shouldn't read that as a slight towards the book. The high action and drama is there. The whole book is streamlined with that in mind. The end of the second issue through the beginning of the third shows us that. It's that great moment when the mission becomes more important than the man, no matter what you happen to think of him. There's even a moment in the middle of the third issue that serves as an echo of sorts to Young's earlier mini-comics AiT books. (If you missed them, go take a look at the THE MAKING OF ASTRONAUTS IN TROUBLE trade paperback. They're reprinted there. =)
It fits right in with Warren Ellis' concept of "Pop Comics," which has unfortunately since fallen by the wayside. Larry Young did, in fact, model this mini-series in that image.
There's also a neat storytelling "gimmick" in the third issue, as the story splits into two concurrent threads, with each occupying one half-page panel, while the narrator talks in-between. The only improvement I could have seen there would have been if the narrator had been made obvious a couple of pages sooner than he was. It's not a big surprise, but it's also not terribly clear until page six. I think it would have been smoother if made plain on page one.
Charles Adlard returns to draw this puppy, and does so in convincing style once more. There are some definite Walter Simonson influences showing at the beginning of the third issue, I thought. There aren't too many problems at all keeping the different characters apart, something that can often happen in black and white comics. Even taken just by the faces, you can tell who's talking.
Just to tie this all back with the PIPELINE PREVIEWS theme, you can buy the entire mini-series for $8.95 in June. Reserve the three-pack now. (It's over on page 196 of the catalog.)
CATCHING UP ON OLD TIMES
Last week, I commented on the fluctuating bathing suits of the characters on the opening pages of AQUABOY AND LAGOON MAN. I heard shortly thereafter from the artist, Sunny Lee. He explained to me - and offered up proof - that the fault was not entirely his. DC balked at his original bathing suit choices - very skimpy - and had the inkers redraw them. I can't be entirely sure on this next point, but there are two inkers listed and I get the feeling they redrew the suits in different manners.
Furthermore, this was Sunny's first big break, so he hasn't worked for Extreme before. DC could only provide him with so much reference material to the villain of the piece, Letifos. The only shot he had of her was a single front view of the character. DC later added in all the shells and fins on her backside, presumably using the inkers. (If you look now at the art, you can see that they look a little awkward in comparison with the rest of the art.)
My apologies to Sunny Lee for jumping to conclusions. Hopefully, we'll see more of his work in the future. You can see a pin-up he did for Erik Larsen, though, in SAVAGE DRAGON #62. He has a couple of other things possibly coming up in the future, but it's too early to say anything about those now.
TAXMAN #1 is now out on your shelves from the good folks over at the Comics Conspiracy. I reviewed the book very favorably just a couple of months ago. I'm happy to say the printed version of the book looks just as good as the on-line version I read. There's even an extra nice painting on the back cover, which serves as a huge honking spoiler for the major plot points in the story itself. So if you see this on your shelves, go ahead and pick it up. Just don't look at the back cover until you finish reading it. For $2.95, it's a great full color book.
MARVEL AT THEIR PRICES!
Yup, it's two and a quarter for Marvel titles now. In the words of George Bush at the Republican National Convention in 1992, "Watch your wallets!" DC is not far behind on this.
It seems we all have our side projects here at CBR. (Intrepid newsman Beau Yarbrough, for example, is writing for the dead wood publication, THE COMIC READER.) Mine debuted this week. Check out the new Reactor-mag.com and take a look in the ARTS & MEDIA section for DVD commentary. There's a little column there called "On A Silver Platter." I'll be writing that weekly for Reactor, focusing less on reviews of discs, and more on commentary on the DVD industry, trends, business decisions, studio stupidities, and the like. Yeah, there'll be reviews mixed in as well. It's the same sort of mixed breed Pipeline can be at times.
There's even a godawful picture of me there without my glasses. Please don't think less of me. I had to get them something quick, so my digital camera and I had to move fast. =(
I wanted to welcome Scott Shaw! to the pages of Comic Book Resources this week. If you've never seen or heard about Oddball Comics before, this is your big chance. Go read these things every day. My first exposure to them was at the San Diego con last summer and I laughed 'til I cried. (Funny - I had the same reaction to my income tax returns...) So if you're chances of making the San Diego con in July are low, make visiting Oddball Comics here at CBR a priority. You can thank me later, but you don't want to miss these.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH...
Don't forget: Pipeline comes atcha twice a week! (And I've seen the hits - some of you are apparently forgetting this!) This Friday will include a long look at THE GEAR STATION's use of computer imagery, a review of GRENDEL, and some other short reviews.