Pipeline, Issue #239


[March 2002 Previews]A brief reminder: The following column is filled with things that leapt out at me. I'm just highlighting a few (dozen) things. You may find other things worthy, and I would encourage you to post those things up on the Pipeline Message Board so that we can all take a look at them.

One obvious recommendation before I go any further, though: The two volumes of the SEPTEMBER 11 benefit are solicited this go-around. If your retailer got his or her orders in for the rush solicitation, then the books will be at your store in January. Orders placed through the regular solicitations process of this catalog will show up in February. There's an amazing amount of talent in these books, including a baseball-themed story from the 100 BULLETS creative team of Azzarello and Risso. (You'll see why I'm highlighting that in Pipeline2 in a couple of weeks.)

The first volume is black and white, 192 pages, and will be $10. The second volume is full color and 224 pages for the same price. Of course, all proceeds from both books will be going to charity.

When last Tuesday's column ended, I had just gotten up to the interesting stuff Marvel was offering for March 2002. As good as March promises to be, April is another exciting month for Marvel trades. For starters, the long-awaited first G.I. JOE trade will collect the first 20 issues of the series in full color for $25. That's not a bad deal at all. It works out to a buck-and-a-quarter an issue. Try getting that price from eBay or a back issue bin. As a bonus, Michael Golden provides a new cover. (There's a rumor floating out there now that the book only contains the first ten issues. If so, it's not such a great deal, but it's still not a bad one. The issues are still in high demand and command a decent back issue price. The TPB is still cheaper.)

John Cassaday's UNION JACK shows up on April 10th for $12. Buyer beware: the story is only 96 pages long. Might be a bit pricey for your tastes. I'm a big enough Cassaday fan to take the plunge, though. If you're shying away from this, might I suggest Cassaday's breakout work in the original DESPERADOES trade for something different?

Jim Lee's first seven issues of the adjectiveless X-MEN are combined for X-MEN: MUTANT GENESIS. This one has 176 pages for $18. It includes the final three issues of Chris Claremont's original X-run. I've always thought that they were pretty good. The final pages of the third issue are some of the most memorable and somber pages of subtext in a Marvel comic, as Claremont bid a fond farewell to the characters he had guided for so long. The trade cuts off at about the time that Art Thibert was doing more of the art than Jim Lee and Scott Williams. Good timing, that.

The most curious Marvel trade paperback for the month of April is SPIDER-MAN: PARALLEL LIVES. This was originally printed slightly oversized, as I recall. I once had it in my collection before trading it away. It's done by Gerry Conway and Alex Saviuk and is nothing more than a little retrospective on Peter Parker's life and career through the marriage to Mary Jane. You can file this under "Get As Much Spidey Material Out There Before the Movie Comes Out." I don't see much other reason to reprint it. It's not terribly entertaining. It's boring looking. And I'm not sure how much it fits into a Spider-Man mythos today that doesn't include Mary Jane. It's $6 for 48 pages.

Wizard is publishing an ULTIMATE MARVEL SPECIAL. I wouldn't mention this except for the fact that it promises to contain an 8-page sequence by Andy Kubert that was cut from ULTIMATE X-MEN #1 in favor of moving the story along in a different direction. Those eight pages might just make the whole thing worth reading.

This finally brings us to the back section of PREVIEWS. This is "all the rest" of the comics due out in March. More specifically, it's all the comics from all the companies that don't have exclusive contracts with Diamond.

It starts off strong, though, with About Comics publishing a book called PANEL ONE: COMIC BOOK SCRIPTS BY TOP WRITERS VOLUME 1. Let's hope there is a volume 2 in the future. It contains scripts from the likes of Kevin Smith, Jeff Smith, Kurt Busiek, Marv Wolfman, Neil Gaiman, Greg Rucka, Dwayne McDuffie, and Trina Robbins. Finally, Nat Gertler writes a short script that gets illustrated by Steve Lieber. This is a very exciting book, with a cover price of $20. It runs 200 pages in black and white at an 8 x 10 inch size.

CEREBUS #276 is a real eye-catcher. The cover image features Cerebus dressed as Spawn. The story in the issue is "And Men Shall Call Him Spore." Considering the past relationship of fellow Canadians Dave Sim and Todd McFarlane (and Sim's unforgettable early issue of SPAWN), it might be interesting to see what subtext lies in this story.

AiT/PlanetLar publishes one new graphic novel this month. It's WHITE DEATH, by writer Rob Morrison and artist Charlie Adlard. This is one I've been waiting for for a long time. A couple of years ago at the San Diego con, I met Adlard while he was sitting alone at the Image booth. After talking with him for a bit about ASTRONAUTS IN TROUBLE, amongst other things, I asked him if he'd be willing to do a sketch for my sketchbook. He kindly agreed and asked if I had any requests. Steve Lieber had started the book off with a beautiful Carrie Stetko outside in Antarctica, so I told him I had something of a snow theme going. His eyes lit up and he said he had something perfect in mind. He had done a graphic novel in Europe called WHITE DEATH that was all about World War II and snow. The sketch he did was a beautiful marker image of a soldier in the snow, and I've kept an eye out for the graphic novel since then. Now I can get all 144 pages of it for a mere $13. Very cool.

Slave Labor Graphics publishes the fifth issue of PRIVATE BEACH by David Hahn. The series doesn't come out as often as I'd like, so I have to remind myself to look for it when it does.

Amp Comics runs with the sixth issue of SHADES OF BLUE. The fifth just came out last week and is as strong as ever. I really like Cal Slayton's art for what it is. It's got an independent feel to it, just slightly stiff and not ready for primetime. But he's definitely one to keep an eye on. He reminds me a bit of Jim Mahfood. He's not going to be drawing X-MEN anytime soon, but I bet he't do a good job on a BIZARRO COMICS-type anthology or an X-MEN UNLIMITED short story or an ULTIMATE MARVEL TEAM-UP.

Bongo Comics is coming out with another issue of RADIOACTIVE MAN, #575. It's got a cute cover on it from Howard Chaykin. Dan DeCarlo is amongst the creators listed for the interior. Let's hope he finished his work on this issue before his passing. Every last page of work from him is something worth looking at.

Chaos! Comics continues to surprise and amaze. Amongst their list of creators in this month's solicitations are Brian Augustyn, Fabian Nicieza, and John Ostrander. It's almost enough to get me to sample some of the work there.

If you didn't want to spring for the hardcover collection of Jeff Smith and Charles Vess' ROSE mini-series last month, you can buy the paperback version for a mere $20 this time around.

CrossGen is up to ten series a month now, with at least two more promised in 2002. Not one of them has been late yet. This is really impressive. Let's hope they keep it up, because the books are all readable. The April highlight is the Karl Moline fill-in issue of SCION. I usually dread when someone fills in for Jim Cheung on the title. With Moline fresh off his breakthrough work on FRAY, I'm really excited for this.

Speaking of fill-ins, Jeff Johnson fills in for Butch Guice in RUSE #6. RUSE is a contender for next year's TOP 10 list. It didn't make this year's because it only had three issues released, but I continue to be more impressed with it each and every month.

Andy Smith is the artist for MERIDIAN #22. MYSTIC and SCION each get a second volume of their trades in April. THE PATH officially debuts with its first issue.

Joshua Blaylock's series, MISPLACED, hits its third issue in April. I just picked up the second issue and look forward to reading it. Devil's Due Publishing is the official publisher of the series. You can find the cover image on page 272 of PREVIEWS.

Exhibit A Press runs with the 33rd issue of SUPERNATURAL LAW, featuring an homage of some sort to Cerebus. Get a load of the description: "Attorneys Alanna Wolff and Jeff Byrd run into some competition while courting a potential new client: Huberis the Dybbuk, a demon who's been born again, and who's having trouble being accepted by the Church, but is picky about his legal representation." Sounds like fun to me!

Harris Comics has the most pleasantly surprising listing of the month. VAMPIRELLA #7 is drawn this month by Dawn Brown, of LITTLE RED HOT fame. It's great to see her getting a chance like this to draw something different. Maybe it'll lead to even more high profile things for her.

Also from Harris this month is the trade paperback compilation of Warren Ellis' story, VAMPIRELLA LIVES. It'll run ya $13 for the 88-page collection drawn by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti.

Mighty Gremlins rolls out the ninth issue of the delightful ELECTRIC GIRL series, this time featuring stories of Blammo, the cutest little yellow dog in comics today. As an extra bonus, there's even a four-page color adventure featuring Blammo for no addition cost. 32 pages. $2.95.

NBM Books is always worth a look. This month, it's for THIRD DEGREE #1, a new black and white series set in a future where the computers have taken everything over and the man who fights against it. The first issue is $2.95.

It is Oni Press, however, that releases the book to beat for the year 2002. It's so exciting that I'm going to both capitalize it and boldface it: THE COPYBOOK TALES TPB. Aside from BREAKFAST AFTER NOON, I can't think of another book so universally loved by on-line reviewers today. This is J. Torres and Tim Levin's early work from the early- to mid-1990s. It's a story of two friends coming into their twenties and trying to break into the comics industry biz. That's just the starting point for stories set gleefully in the 1980s as a younger version of J. has youthful misadventures and learns life lessons.

This book collects all the original ashcan comics, the short-lived Slave Labor Graphics series, the short stories that were made after that, plus an all-new story by the original creative team. For $20, you get 240 pages of some of the most fun comics you can ask for.

Did I mention yet that this is a really good book and one I wish I could put in the hands of every comic reader I know?

Well, it is and I do.

The full solicitation text is on page 303, with the cover art and a short article on the series on the following pages.

KILLER PRINCESSES and KISSING CHAOS also finish their runs in March, while QUEEN AND COUNTRY marches on to its seventh issue.

Finally, DRAW! Magazine reaches its fourth issue with a bunch of cool features. The two highlights for me are Kevin Nowlan doing an inking tutorial and Erik Larsen talking about dynamic layout and penciling.

And that, at long last, is the month of March 2002 for comics. It's going to be one expensive trip…

Back to reviews and the like next week.

You can e-mail me your comments on this column, or post them for all the world to see and respond to over on the Pipeline Message Board.

More than 350 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 or so are still available at the Original Pipeline page, a horrifically coded piece of HTML.

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