REVIEWS FROM AROUND THE INDUSTRY
GATECRASHER #6 is the final issue. For now. Black Bull has chosen to go with the series of mini-series format for its flagship series, instead of an on-going series. I can understand the reasons behind this, but it really does stink when an issue ends on a cliffhanger of sorts like this one without any idea as to when the next part would be out. These six issues can be seen now as the set up to the next mini-series, whenever it may come out.
You have to put comics industry politics aside for a moment. Yes, it looks a bit sleazy when WIZARD: THE GUIDE TO COMICS publishes its own line of comics and advertising seems interchangeable between the two. But judge the work on its own merits. Mark Waid, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Amanda Conner have crafted some fun stories here with a high degree of technical prowess. These stories mix in parts of Mark Waid's Super-Hero Sit-Com formula last seen on IMPULSE, along with some of the more classic invaders-from-another-world themes, and teenaged fish out of water bits. Alec Wagner even has some of the same hang-ups as superheroes.
Paul Mounts gets the extra heaps of praise he deserves in the letters column this month, too. Yes, there is a letters column in this book, and it runs four pages long.
That's followed up with two pinups each month. This month, the guest artists are David Beck (who's an amazing artist, judging by the pin-up) and Darren Auck with Pond Scum. (Yes, that's the inker's name. He works in the Marvel bullpen. I met him last month. Seems to be a nice enough guy. Really hard worker, from what everyone told me. Thought it was a joke when he was introduced as "Pond Scum." It wasn't. Ah, artistes…)
SUPERMAN ADVENTURES #53 is very well plotted. Mark Evanier writes this story, guest-starring Mister Miracle. It's absolutely solid. While it might not be the hippest comic in the world, or the most popular, this one issue might be the kind of example aspiring writers could learn from. No panel is wasted. Everything gets set up early before the resolution. It starts off with an action piece to grab our attention, introducing the means and motives of our villains right from the top. From there, we get straight to our hero, Superman, and the guest-star Mister Miracle. Once properly introduced, everything comes together, and it's action and suspense until the end, with the conflict escalating from showboating superheroes to the life or death situations of ex-Intergang members and Superman, himself.
Neil Vokes draws this issue and does so in a way that's reminiscent of what a storyboard might look like for the animated series. This isn't to say that it's a regimented grid layout. I just mean that the composition used in each panel is very strongly designed. The layouts inside each panel are perfect for the moments and vary enough to keep things interesting. You can almost see this issue playing out across your television screen.
Oh, and remember NINJAK, the Valiant/Acclaim series that Kurt Busiek wrote with Neil Vokes on art? That was a fun little series, wasn't it? I had forgotten all about it until I wrote this review. It's amazing how books that were amongst your favorites a few years ago can just seep away from your memory. It ran from 1996 to 1997.
With SUPERBOY #84, Joe Kelly proves that he is equally as adept at theme and character maturation as Mark Evanier is at plot. He proved that without a doubt in DEADPOOL a couple of years ago, and he looks to be showing it again in SUPERBOY. We're only two issues into his run now, so it's too soon to tell, but his technique seems to be the same. He's telling wild and outrageous tales that all point to a different character trait in each issue. More importantly, the character realizes this as much as the reader does. So there are some signs of growth here.
In this issue, Lobo shows up, and Amanda Waller appears at Project Cadmus! It's time to pull out those SUICIDE SQUAD issues again…
The art is from Pascual Ferry. His stuff is very easy on the eyes. It is in part influenced by the manga look, but not obnoxiously so. Heck, Kelly gives him an inner city setting to draw, and you'd think he was trying out for 100 BULLETS the way he drew it.
I really enjoyed the Karl Kesel/Tom Grummett issues of this series. They stand on their own as a great run on this title, and now I think Kelly/Ferry are set to do their own successful and unique run here. It's a different feel. Gone are the Kirby homages and old-fashioned fun. It's hipper and more modern, with more introspective storytelling.
And Lobo, too.
I just hope we get to see the next issue of SECTION ZERO soon. Ah, hell, I'd take any Gorilla title right now. (Well, maybe not CRIMSON PLAGUE.)
JEZEBELLE #1 spins out of Wildstorm's annuals from a couple of months ago. I haven't read those books yet, so I can tell you that you can muddle through this issue without all the continuity knowledge and still enjoy the story. It feels a little bit like you're coming into the middle of things, but I think a lot of that is intentional.
This isn't the most blindingly original concept in the world. Ben Raab has constructed a story of a high school female who finds out that she's due to inherit some mystic powers, dons a mystic costume, and sets out to fight some bad demons. I think comics have done that kind of thing enough, but there's a creative enough flow to this book that I can live with it.
For one, Raab yanks a page out of reality television (and TITUS, too, I suppose) and delivers a couple of pages in the issue with the heroine explaining herself to the reader. The pages are black and white, with Harper Harrison sitting in a chair in the middle of nothing but blackness, while explaining herself out loud. Used sparingly, the technique works and helps the book to stick out a little more in an increasingly crowded field of teenaged superheroes.
Steve Ellis is the artist and does a pretty good job. The first half of the book is much better than the second half, but I don't think that's due to Ellis rushing around to finish the book on time. Two inkers are credited on this book – Mark Irwin and Luke Rizzo. I suspect the division is in there. Whoever did the second half of the book was far too cartoony and didn't add enough of a solid line. The first half of the book is closer to the J. Scott Campbell-influenced Todd Nauck look, which was all originally inspired by Art Adams, who probably got it from Michael Golden, who is the only name mentioned in this paragraph who isn't drawing interior comics stories right now.
Lettering is from Tom Orzechowski, one of my favorite letterers. Some of the forms here are a bit more uneven than the "classic" Orz look (from, say, the glory days of UNCANNY X-MEN), but it's still very good stuff and fun to read.
And if all that doesn't sell you on the book, John Cassaday does one of the covers.
The series is set to run six issues and forms a nice companion piece to JET. JET works slightly more in the WildStorm mainstream, and goes towards the college crowd, instead of the high school crowd that JEZEBELLE works for. Both books are exploring similar themes an, on the surface, appear much alike. They're not. That's only on the surface.
A BRIEF GREEN ARROW HISTORY LESSON
My ignorance of Green Arrow mythology showed through in my preview of GREEN ARROW #1 last Thursday. Thanks to all who wrote in to point out the misinterpretations I made from the preview.
Here this week to straighten out the mess that is Green Arrow continuity is Green Arrow web site guru, Scott McCullar:
- Oliver Queen "died" over Metropolis shortly after Zero Hour. (GREEN ARROW #100 & 101)
- Connor Hawke became the only Green Arrow. (GREEN ARROW #101)
- Connor Hawke had been in the saddle as the new Green Arrow for a while by the time Final Night hit. Connor Hawke (as Green Arrow) and Eddie Fyers were adventuring over in China at the time of Final Night. (GREEN ARROW #113)
- Readers learned in Chuck Dixon's GREEN ARROW #137 in a flash back sequence that Hal Jordan (as Parallax) began monkeying around at Oliver's grave moments before sacrificing his life to re-ignite the sun. There, it **appears** on the last page of that book that Hal somehow brought back Oliver somehow but we are now left wondering what **REALLY HAPPENED** as we go into Kevin's series...
The short of it is, Ollie "was killed" over Metropolis in the airplane explosion between Zero Hour and Final Night. But we'll have to see what happens as we read the series for clarification as to why Ollie is sprawled out on his own gravesite in Kevin Smith's GREEN ARROW #1.
When Ollie "died" in the airplane explosion, he was wearing the Connor Hawke designed Green Arrow costume. Confused? LOL.
Scott's also been working as a technical advisor of sorts to Kevin Smith on the upcoming series, so I feel pretty safe in printing this outline here. Thanks, Scott!
(Scott, by the way, is also the webmaster of the Dixonverse, a must-visit for all Chuck Dixon fans. Visit there now and click on the "What's New" link for a rundown from Dixon as to what he's up to this year. There's some interesting news hidden in there that hasn't been widely reported or followed up on yet.)
Bart Sears' inker on THE FIRST is Andy Smith, not Andy Sears. Thank to super-Grendel fan Josh Crawley for being the first to catch that one.
There were three columns last week. Thursday's column had all the reviews, and Tuesday's column had all the commentary. Friday's column was the conclusion of my mammoth look at the CrossGen titles. Click on the links to read those, in case you missed them.
Close to 200 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically. The first 100 columns are still available at the Original Pipeline page, a horrifically coded piece of HTML. Those columns are even migrating over here in drips and drabs. Eventually, they'll all be on CBR. I can't believe Pipeline is entering its fifth year in a few short months…
And, finally, I write DVD movie reviews for the gang over at DVD Channel News. If you're into DVD, check out my stuff there. I'm hoping to have a new review or two up there in the next week. I'll let you know right here when to look for those.
Come back here on Friday for more reviews, a look at PREVIEWS, and some thoughts on Marvel's Silent Story stunt in December.