I just this past week got my copy of RISING STARS ½, the comic available "only" through Wizard. It's not a bad little 12 pages story, but the whole thing hinges on a moment that is horribly pulled off. I can't go into it without spoiling the whole story, but it's critical that this final moment of the story work naturally in order to make the whole thing work. Instead, it clunks completely. The final twist comes out of left field, barrels through, and feels as cheap an emotional ploy as just about anything from ARMAGEDDON.
In a way, it reminds me of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2. Tom Cruise's character must fall in love with Thandie Newton's character. The rest of the movie is based on that. It's his entire motivation the rest of the movie. But the process of the two of them falling in love is so horribly handled and so cheap and obvious, it detracts from the plot point, thus undercutting the rest of the movie. (Granted, the action sequences were still cool, but the level of cynicism under all of them stems from that one less-than-shining moment.)
Back to the comic: Christian Zanier and Ken Lashley might be to blame for this. Maybe an extra panel or two of setup leading into the event would have helped, but I think the blame for this probably does lie on writer J. Michael Straczynski's shoulders. It's just not well conceived. There are a ton of other ways the same point could come out which would have worked better, and would also have provided thematic context to the story.
Zanier's cover also includes two female nurses ripped straight from the pages of some porn magazine or music video. I'm not sure which, but it's the typical stuff of male fantasy. ::sigh::
The rest of the book is made up of some Zanier sketches of various RISING STARS characters and another reprinting of Top Cow's interview with JMS. This one's for completists only. The main story doesn't contain anything integral to the overall story arc.
If you're a JMS fan, however, there's something of immensely greater value on the web for you to read: Two unproduced scripts from the first season of CRUSADE, including what would have been the season finale, are now available from bookface.com. It's a free site, with an interesting text layout to make things easy to read. You can also get a hold of a couple of JMS' non-B5-related prose pieces at the site.
The future of on-line publication this may not be, but it's still another interesting step...
THE DEAD POOL
This week's DEADPOOL issue, number 44 in a series, is the much-anticipated silent issue, complete with reference to the now-legendary silent G.I. JOE comic -- a feat that I doubt the dialogue-obsessed Larry Hama could duplicate today.
The issue is written by Glenn Herdling and drawn by Jim Calafiore and Mark McKenna. It's a look back at an earlier untold tale of DEADPOOL, albeit one not set too far in the past. Deadpool is on the hunt for the villainous Humbug, who's terrorizing students at Peter Parker's alma mater, Empire State University. Deadpool is deafened, and thus begins the silent portion of the comic. Unfortunately, the story is terribly thin, and the humor just isn't all that funny. There's also a reliance on signs, written notes, and blackboard writings in the story that completely undercuts the idea of a silent issue. You're still reading words!
What random commentary can I glean from this issue?
Over the course of the past month, I've tried to stir up activity on the Pipeline message board with a "Message of the Day." It's something that seems to have caught on lately, as many other CBR boards have adopted similar things. The messages often contain short reviews of books which I didn't have time to put in this column. I'm including a few of those messages here this week so you can see what they're like, and so I can put these comments "on the record" officially. (And, besides, I've always wanted to do one of those columns like Mark Evanier does at THE COMIC BUYER'S GUIDE, where he just his responses to questions posted on various boards. Granted, his stuff is more interesting, but I don't have the decades in this business that he does.)
In the meantime, drop on by the message board for a look at more such things.
CROSSGEN CHRONICLES introduces us to the world of CrossGen. It chronicles stuff. There's the gist of it. =)
It was actually more entertaining than I thought it might be. It serves to give us a taste of the different series that Crossgen will begin publishing next week.
While I'm not a fantasy fan, per se, I thought this stuff was interesting enough to warrant a further look. Claudio Castellini pencils the whole book, which gives us something of a more consistent look than the books will have when they actually come out through June. I'll be looking for that bit of individuality when the books come out. The last time anything like this line of comics was attempted was probably when Jim Shooter was running Valiant and enforced a house style. But CrossGen doesn't appear to be that strict on that point so let's see what happens...
GATECRASHER: Since this book's name has reared its head in the previous message of the day, I though this would be a good time to mention it here. I read the four-issue mini-series the other night.
Surprisingly enough, it's entertaining and I liked it.
Don't look for high art here. It's the functional equivalent to a summer blockbuster movie, complete with far-out premises and excuses to put pretty female characters in skimpy costumes -- or just in their underwear.
But the production values are high. Mark Waid does a good job with the writing. Amanda Conner's art is very easy to look at. Liquid! and, now, Bongotone do an excellent job in coloring it up right, and Chris Eliopoulos' computer lettering is pretty damned good. It's a great blend of the Comicraft style seen in the first issue and his own hand lettering.
Black Bull has made some huge errors in the marketing of this book, but that's a subject for another message at another time. The book itself, though, is entertaining enough if you're looking for something to make up a bowl of popcorn with. =)
Didja get the new WIZARD? Didja see the comic they packaged with it? No, not the UNIVERSE X book.
I'm talking about ADVENTURES @ E-BAY, a small 10-page comic written by Greg Rucka and Jan Van Meter, with art by Judd Winick. In it, a talking apple named "the famous eBay Apple Man" explains how to use eBay in a simple two page spread of numbered panels, and then introduces a sequence wherein a female collector auctions off her copy of "The Fabulous Adventures of Monkey Lad" after a bunch of auctions to try to become a superheroine.
I only wish I were kidding. It's bizarre enough to warrant buying WIZARD by itself.
NEVER SAY GOODBYE
Stop by this coming Friday, as Pipeline2 takes a look at the front half of the most recent PREVIEWS magalog. What books are the bigger publishers putting out of interest? And I'll include a couple of your selections, as well. Be sure to stop back here Friday for that!
And bragging rights go to the first person to e-mail me with the theme of the source of this week's headers. What do they have in common?!?