YOU WANT MORE BATMAN? HERE YOU GO
Sometimes, more is just more. I have to think that after reading the EIGHTY PAGE GIANT: BATMAN #3.
Chuck Dixon writes to all his strengths here, but somehow it just feels empty in the end. Basically, what you're getting is a 70-page story that turns the Calendar Man into a big threat of a character. He's the kind of villain you're always laughed at, and always thought would fit in well with the 60s television series. (I don't think he was in there, but I'm ready to stand corrected.) Here, Dixon attempts to make him meaner and nastier, and pulls out all the stops to do so.
What you get, basically, is Dixon writing THE AUTHORITY, Batman-style. Plans exploded. Cities are leveled. The death toll is massive. Granted, some of this is just dream sequence stuff, but doesn't that make it all the more hollow?
Chuck Dixon's style is a great one. And I do plan on devoting a whole column to it one day, so forgive my hesitancy in blowing all that material now. =) Basically, it's a slam-bang, quick-read high-octane action book. That's his specialty. Granted, he's also written some beautiful character pieces in his day, but this book definitely is geared the other way. The problem here is that I just don't care. The Calendar Man blows up a plane, and it just doesn't affect me the way it should. When action and adventure happen on too large a scale, the impact is lessened. One person betraying the other is easier to portray in an emotional way. You risk melodrama depicting the agony over a blown up plane. Dixon goes the other way, though, and practically ignores it. We're just back to Batman being a dark and vengeful and supremely pissed off creature. Sure, we root for him, but don't we always?
In the end, we've read 70 pages straight through and not had to think a whole lot. Personally, I don't mind that for 22 pages. A fun breezy read is a fine thing. But if I'm devoting this much time and this many pages of comic, I want something that's going to make me think or feel much more than this story does. At the very list, the pyrotechnics should be better.
The art is by a bunch of different artists - Joe Staton, Mike Deodato, Graham Nolan, Bill Sienkiewicz, and others. The real interesting thing, for me, is seeing Sienkiewicz draw something alone. I'm used to his overbearing inks on other people's work. He really ruined an Andy Kubert issue of X-MEN once that way. Come to think of it, his heavy inks nearly obliterated a Rick Leonardi issue of UNCANNY X-MEN once, too. When standing alone on his own, though, his style is bewilderingly exciting. I don't know what it is. It looks like there are ink lines thrown all over the place. Backgrounds drop right off the picture. Surrealism rules. It's wacky to me, but I like it.
AVENGERS AND BUFFY AND A RANT INBETWEEN
It wasn't all that long ago that I was complaining that all new comic series felt the need to be a cross between so-and-so and X-FILES. Or so-and-so and ASTRO CITY. Nowadays, I'm beginning to wonder about "so-and-so and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER." Even scarier, I'm beginning to wonder why anyone would want to attach their new series to BUFFY post-season two. (I stopped watching the show when it ceased to be a fun genre show and became a weekly soap opera. I go to DAWSON'S CREEK for that, thanks. I don't need it in BtVS, too.)
This, of course, will prompt people to write in and tell me I'm just saying this stuff to piss off the audience and get them talking. After all, I'm an internet columnist. I'm just a rabble rouser.
Sorry for getting on my soapbox here, but it's a bit two-faced. You get in trouble for agreeing with the internet common wisdom, and then you get slammed for disagreeing with it. I've never understood that. If I agree with everyone, it's expected and I'm a lousy columnist who can't think for himself. If I disagree with anyone, I'm just looking for attention and trying to rile up the crowd. I can't really believe this stuff, can I?
In any case, AVENGERS 2000 is a quaint read, with story by Kurt Busiek and art by Norm Breyfogle. It chronicles Patsy Walker's history and reunites her with her old gang. It also serves as the lead-in to her upcoming mini-series and potential series. To me, though, it ends up smelling an awful lot like the first couple of episodes of BUFFY: THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, complete with vampire-detecting sixth sense, slaying ability, and a bad guy who's disguised himself as - well, I won't give everything away. There are eerie parallels, though. Oddly enough, I look forward to the forthcoming mini-series and will give it a shot. I just hope it shies away from some of the ground BUFFY tread on a couple of years ago already.
LET ME BE FRANK…
RISING STARS #0 came out with a short story with Gary Frank art. It didn't do much for me. If you're a RS completist, then go for this, but if you're expecting an unusual and terrific story, skip it. It's cute, yes. But the whole point of the story is telegraphed early, and then there's no suspense afterwards. The art is nice, though. The book also reprints the story and text pages found in the original Wizard RS mail-in book. That one acted as a nice little teaser of sorts, but not much else.
Speaking of Gary Frank, the third issue of his regular Top Cow series, KIN, also came out last week. If you liked the first two issues, you should like this one. If you didn't read the first couple, then go find them. This is an entertaining little series, although nothing terribly earth shattering. The art and coloring is nice, although the coloring often has to make up for the lack of backgrounds. There are, however, some nice establishing shots to set up each scene. The computer lettering is a little experimental, but you'll get used to it.
This issue includes clothing the female protagonist in a costume that includes large white circles around the nipples. Aside from that, it's not a bad issue.
Still no letters column, though.
CBG - NOT DEAD YET
OK, the case in favor of the COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE can sometimes be difficult to make. One thing about internet types - we are a self-centered lot. The first thing to keep in mind is that not the entire comics community finds themselves on the web, and not the entirety of those on the web or possessed of e-mail surf it regularly like, most likely, everyone reading this.
The timeliest of the news in CBG is more-or-less all reprinted from online sources that are a week old before the issue sees print. But if you're not perusing all the comics sites on-line, this isn't an issue. And if you are - I know I am - then there's still plenty of interesting stuff in the form of columns by Tony Isabella, Peter David, and Mark Evanier. (I put those in ascending personal interest.) The letters column still contains some interesting stuff, and the occasional feature is fun to read. And the subscription rate is ludicrously cheap - something like fifty cents a week. And how cool is it to get mail that's not asking for a donation in exchange for return address labels that never get your name right?
I just got a new issue in today as I write this, Monday 15 May. It was actually mailed out on 03 May and the post office did their usual superb job of handling it. ::sigh::
I've been subscribing to this thing for 8 years or so now and still enjoy it most weeks. I just wanted to sit up and defend it for once.
BTW, the calendar lists today (the fifteenth, as I write this) as ace Duck production man Gary Leach's birthday. Happy birthday, Gary!
Oddly enough, it also lists Wednesday as his birthday. Happy birthday again, Gary! My, you're growing old fast…
READER REQUEST FRIDAY
This Friday's column will be Pipeline2's 50th installment. And I haven't a clue as to what to write about. (I mean, I have some ideas, but not the time this week to write them up.)
So I thought I'd throw open the floodgates to you, the readers, once more. We haven't done this since last fall. What do you want to read about? What would you like to ask me? Anything goes. Pipeline questions. Industry questions. Comics reviews requests. Personal questions. Take your pick. (Well, nothing too terribly personal, please.) E-mail me with them or post to the Pipeline message board. The ones I have answers to will show up on Friday, and you'll get to see your name "in print," too.
See you there!