Fanboy Entertainment put out the press release late Thursday night last week. SIDEKICKS #1, the latest series from scribe J. Torres, co-created with artist Takeshi Miyazawa, has been bumped up from 32 pages to 40 to accommodate extra story. The $2.75 price point will remain the same.
The only thing that makes me a little nervous is that the lettering is being changed from the original preview edition. Miyazawa did the hand lettering himself for the preview. Many people, it seems, whined that it was tough to read. My review mentioned it tangentially a few weeks back, but also said that as long as you were concentrating on what it was you were reading, you shouldn't have a problem. Well, there was enough of a hew and cry that they've gone back and re-lettered the book. The bad news is that in light of this change, they've opted to go with some sort of computer lettering, instead of hand lettering. The good news is that it's not a standard basic computer font that they're using, and may, indeed, look good. I won't cry about it until I see it. But you've been warned.
The Comic Wire yesterday reported that things are looking troubled for IMPULSE. It's facing possible cancellation due to low sales. Does this surprise anyone? I have to think that part of this can be blamed in the inconsistent creative team. I don't know whose fault it is - maybe Todd De Zago or Ethan Van Sciver couldn't keep up the pace, or maybe DC wanted to burn off inventory material. Maybe it's something else completely.
But since De Zago/Van Sciver re-energized the title with its fiftieth issue, their appearances on the title have been woefully inconsistent. Issue #55 was guest-written by Shon Bury. #58 was penciled by three different people, none of whom were Ethan Van Sciver. (He did do a short backup story, but I don't think that counts.) Issue #59 was guest-drawn by Anthony Castrillo. #60 was written by Dwayne McDuffie and drawn by Eric Battle. Issue #61 was written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Mshindo. I don't know what his/her first name is, since there are no credits in the issue! Quite honestly, the art looked ugly to me. Even better, the issue was a follow-up to the DAY OF JUDGMENT crossover, which happened 7 months ago! Eric Battle is scheduled to return in issue #64.
It's just this month that the "on-going creative team" has done an issue together again. It's also the first part of a multi-part storyline. IMPULSE works best as a fairly episode comic: a super-hero sitcom. Yes, this storyline may just work out well, but I don't think it's going to improve the chances of the title finding its audience.
I hope this works. Maybe it's the more serious approach to storytelling that will save the book. I don't know, but I'll hope for the best. For now, I'm not holding my breath.
(For what it's worth, I do enjoy both De Zago's work, as well as Van Sciver's. In fact, look for an upcoming review of the TELLOS series so far in Pipeline.)
LETTERS COLUMN MADNESS
BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHTS #5 came out last week. And here's a big surprise - once again, there was no letters column. You've got the extra backup black and white story in there in addition to the full-sized story. There's a page of DC hoopla in the back, but no letters column.
Last I checked, this isn't a Vertigo book. It's not like the story went a page long. The space is there. It's just laziness.
It doesn't take much work to put together a letters column. Mark Evanier posted on this over at Comicon not too long ago. In this day and age, it is especially true. Most letters column material comes from e-mail. It's not much more difficult than a quick cut-and-paste job and - voila! - instant letters column! Even worse, most DC letters columns these days only have room for two letters. I could slap them together in a half-hour without any special editorial knowledge of the Bat books. Granted, it would be better if the editor or his assistant took an interest in the letters columns and made them interesting, but even a hastily slapped together one is better than nothing. Besides which, most Marvel and DC columns seem like last minute cut-and-paste jobs, anyway. It's not like a bad column is worse than no column.
And I don't want to hear that internet message boards are replacing them. The only way that happens is if your comics are no longer available on paper but only on the web. Until you destroy paper comics, there's no reason to destroy paper letter columns. Remember: not every comics geek is a web geek. And even if he is, it doesn't mean he wants to visit two dozen different sites to keep up on what everyone is thinking of his latest batch of reads. Of course he shouldn't. He only needs one: Comic Book Resources. (OK, Jonah, you got yer cheesy plug! Fork over the dough!)
In any case, I had letters printed in SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL and GEN13 last week. I was especially surprised by my appearance in the former. My letter was a complete hammering of the boring issue I had just read. Give credit to the editors of the Superman titles. They're not afraid to run negative letters.
DON'T FORGET -- SOME REVIEWS!
SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL has been the least engrossing of the Superman family for me since I came back to the book. This week's issue, #102, fares much better. For one, it didn't put me to sleep like #100 did. For another, it's the third part in a four part storyline that's been, so far, rather interesting. A lot of stuff comes together in this issue, such as the traitor inside Superman's body being "revealed" and the true origin of the virus attacking Superman's body. There's a lot of twist and turns in the back end of this book. While some of the dialogue could use work, sounding peculiarly cheesy in some spots, this is still a bright spot for this title.
Erik Larsen pencils THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #19, which is the only reason I would buy a Spidey title these days. The titles are in such disarray at this point that I just can't be bothered with them. The story, by Howard Mackie, is a waste of paper. You might enjoy it if you can buy the current state of the Spidey titles. That is, if you can buy Mary Jane's death as anything but a weak gimmick, or Aunt May's resurrection as anything but the comics equivalent of Bobby Ewing waking up in the season opener of DALLAS.
But like I said, I didn't buy the book for the story, I bought it for the art. Erik Larsen's art is very much reminiscent of his work when he was the regular artist on this title some ten years ago. Larsen doesn't ink himself here. It's John Beatty doing those duties. Beatty's linework reminds me of some of the stuff Randy Emberlin was doing way back when over Larsen's pencils. Anyway, it's solid stuff, although with not much chance to shine given the weight of the story it's under. (I mean, Spidey only shows up in his red and blue costume on one page!) The story is yet another Spider-Man/Venom confrontation.
TRANSMETROPOLITAN #34 acts, for me, as a prelude of the next movement in this title. In all honesty, recent issues have been entertaining, but not terribly important. They've been nice breathers and good character-builders, but easily forgotten in the grand scheme of things. Here, now, Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson are setting things up for Spider's tear of vengeance and attempt to set right many of the things that happened in this title's first couple of years. Robertson goes all out, with the help of Rodney Ramos on inks and some excellent coloring by Nathan Eyring. This is some of the most dramatic and most theatric storytelling I've ever seen from Robertson. You even get a throwback on the penultimate page to the memorable image of Spider lighting his cigarette from the series earliest issues. (I'm not sure if it was the first issue or second.) It's dark, shadowy, and moody. Nathan Eyring doesn't get the credit he deserves for this title, usually overlooked in favor of the excellent job Laura DePuy has done in the past on Ellis' other titles, PLANETARY and THE AUTHORITY. In this issue, he keeps things in line with the artwork, but without making it so dark as to be muddy. He even does a couple of neat tricks to show light pouring through some open windows.
Not only that, but TRANSMET is a great book to pick up in trade paperback form. DC has been really good about collecting the issues as the series goes along, including whatever side stories may happen to fit in. If you're not reading this series, it's not too late to go to your local comics shop and pick up the collections and catch up. Yes, you really should read them in order.
THE PUNISHER #4 was entertaining, but ultimately forgettable. While Garth Ennis was nice enough to explain the mysterious suicide of the police officer from last issue, the rest of the issue is just a romp through Central Park's zoo. I stand by my comments from the first issue - Steve Dillon's art is just boring. The characters walk through in a zombie trance, looking bored even as they kick out windows in an attempt to save their lives. Punisher looks bored punching a polar bear with one of the sissiest-looking punches I've ever seen. Other people, upon seeing their deaths approaching, stand perfectly still and strain some of their facial muscles to scream.