COMIC BOOK MILLIONAIRE
Watch the Regis Philbin version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." Answer every question using knowledge gained from a comic book. Thursday night's edition was particularly good fodder for this game. One of the questions asked which country "Albion" referred to. I beat my head against the wall for a couple of minutes before I remembered "Sliding Albion" in THE AUTHORITY was another world's version of Britain. Sure enough, the correct answer was Britain.
I think it was the very next question that asked how many pair of antennae a lobster has. I quickly pulled out my copy of THE SAVAGE DRAGON #10 to look at Jimbo Da Mighty Lobster. Then I cursed Erik Larsen's name for putting a cap on the creature, obscuring any potential antennae. (The answer was 2, for what it's worth.)
Your run of THE MIGHTY THOR will come in handy for all the Norse mythology questions. SANDMAN should cover the rest. Shakespeare characters run rampant throughout comic literature - or, at least, their name and situations often do. That DEADPOOL run might come in handy for pop culture references. And so on.
No sooner did I recommend reading THE SENTRY #1 last Tuesday than the second issue showed up on shelves the very next day. Hope you all had a chance to get that first issue. The second issue is even better. Jae Lee spends a lot of pages drawing the Fantastic Four here. His Invisible Woman has a very different look to her than we're used to seeing elsewhere, and I like it. The whole family looks great, even though we don't see much of them in action. When Grant Morrison's F4 series hits next year, we should be in for a treat with Jae Lee on art duties.
Speaking of titles I reviewed last week: CAPTAIN AMERICA #34 is a little bit of a disappointment from the previous issue. It probably comes from watching too much science fiction on television and on the movie screens, combined with too much science fiction reading, but there's not much in this issue that I haven't see done before. It's fairly cliché-ridden. The good news is that the artistic side is just as strong as the last issue. Let's see what Jurgens comes up with next month. It's worth a shot.
Jurgens displays an excellent sense of frame in his work. Have you ever watched a Tim Burton movie carefully? Burton's movies are like comic books on the big screen. Everything is positioned and moved inside the frame with full awareness of its effect. Nothing is accidental. Such is the case with Jurgens' artwork here. Look at the cover. The action on it follows an inverted 'T' shape, which fits perfectly into the full-page size cover. Panels on the inside are not just filled with the art in whatever way is necessary for the artist to tell the story. Each panel - or frame - is filled with a specific storytelling purpose in mind. It's more than just using long panels to denote vertical movement and horizontal panels for left-to-right acion. Each panel becomes a piece of art by itself. It's not haphazardly done. Many artists can progress a story from panel to panel, but not many can also show that level of awareness for how each panel is shaped.
I haven't read JENNY SPARKS #3 just yet, but I can say this - the cover by John McCrea is one of the worst in recent comics memory. If you want to complain about Liefeld's sharp knees, you should complain about Jack Hawksmoor's left leg here, front and center on the cover. Jenny Sparks' front leg is a grotesque toothpick-looking thing. Maybe it's an exercise in simplicity, but it doesn't fly with me.
GEN13 #56 concludes "The Fairchild Trilogy," as penned by Jeff Mariotte. In yet another disappointment, the ending copies a major plot point from recent SUPERMAN issues. Aside from that, the reset button gets hit and we'll go back to GEN13 as usual next month. The art by Ed Benes isn't bad, though, and the coloring from Chris Chuckry is well-keyed to the color green. Just try to ignore the outfit Fairchild wears at the end there. Has anyone ever seen anyone on the street wearing something like that? And, er, how does she support herself in that get-up?
I give Whilce Portacio points for drawing a Marvel funeral in X-FORCE #106 which doesn't start off from the point of view of the casket looking up at the people all dressed in black surrounding the freshly-dug hole, with the priest front and center. In fact, the whole opening funeral scene is a well-done piece of characterization from Ian Edginton, based on notes from Warren Ellis.
THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #583 is very funny. Superman and Batman unite against the Joker. The Joker continues to show his powers over his new kingdom. Yucks and pathos carry the day. J.M. DeMatteis does an excellent job keeping pace with Loeb and Kelly's humor-packed start to this storyline. Mike Miller is getting better with each issue, even if Superman's nose is still a little more crooked than I would normally like it to be.
And, yes, I have a letter printed in the back of the issue and made a dreadful mistake in it. Emperor Joker, in answering the letter, promptly makes fun of me. But I deserved it for confusing the names of artists Mike McKone and Mark McKenna. Having met them both in San Diego, I now have a much easier time keeping their names straight, though.
Let this be a lesson to you - don't be afraid to unintentionally embarrass yourself if you desperately want to get a letter printed. ;-)
COLUMN MISSION STATEMENT
In essence, it's a semi-weekly journal of my comic book experiences filtered through my idiosyncratic nature. It's not meant to be a completely objective, unbiased review factory. It's not meant to be a news feature. I admit to my personal biases. Heck, I relish in them. Everything you read in this column should probably be read with the realization that my personality is behind it. Once you read this column long enough, my points of view will become pretty clear. If you fundamentally disagree with my "core beliefs," then you'll probably just enjoy this column for the sake of laughing at me. If you grew up reading comics at about the same time as I did, you're more likely to "get" this column and enjoy it from week to week.
I conform to no specific format. I couldn't do what Randy Lander and Don MacPherson do. That kind of structured, regimented format would drive me up a wall. More power to them. I also don't review the same titles month in and month out. If I have something else more interesting to talk about, I won't bother writing a review for some other book that might just happen to come out that week. I also don't subscribe to the notion that the review must come out the same week the book is published. I'll review a book after I read it - whenever that is - if I feel I have anything interesting to say about it.
In the end, the column ends up reading a lot like a talk radio show. I, as the host, pick the topics that interest me and give you my opinions of them. If I have nothing to say about something or if I just don't care enough, I won't discuss it. I have no obligation to write about anything specifically. I'm completely unobjective. But I admit to those opinions and points of view.
In other words, read Pipeline at your own risk. If you continue to do so, thanks for being an audience and let me know what you think as we go along. I'm not trying to convert anyone to anything in particular, but I do think there are some things I can recommend from time to time.
So sit back and enjoy.
PIPELINE IN THE FUTURE
The following Friday is currently scheduled to be an advanced look at some books that won't be published for another month or two. With any luck, the following Friday will focus on a couple of interesting books I picked up in San Diego from the indy scene. People keep asking what book will be the breakout book from San Diego this year, a la HEROBEAR AND THE KID in 1999. I'll give you my answer then.
Finally, CBR head honcho Jonah Weiland and I will be in attendance at the SPXPO in Bethesda, Maryland next month. Be sure to come by and say howdy if you spot us there. Just don't take Jonah's picture. He values his soul too highly to have you steal it like that.