Pipeline, Issue #251


This would have been the perfect week to preview some books. However, the Easter holiday interfered with my schedule and I wasn't able to get to them. While I'm most looking forward to SUPERMAN & THE SAVAGE DRAGON: CHICAGO from DC (with art and writing by Erik Larsen), there are also new issues out this week for YOUNG JUSTICE, HIGH ROADS (Scott Lobdell/Leinil Francis Yu), PETER PARKER: SPIDER-MAN, MARVEL MANGAVERSE, ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, X-MEN UNLIMITED (the return of Jubilee), and more. It's going to be a busy week, and one that won't start for an extra day because of the Easter holiday.

The trade paperback edition of ROBIN: YEAR ONE is also out this week from DC. It's a hidden gem amongst the Batman line. If you don't go for the current grim and gritty trappings of the storylines, this one should suit your style better. While some elements of it are a definite throwback, it's far from feeling like a dated book. It's still very modern, with wonderful story and art. Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty wrote the story. Javier Pulido pulls most of the art duties, with help from Marcos Martin near the end. The art transition is nearly seamless. Lee Loughridge, the most underrated colorist in the business today, is responsible for the hues in the issues.

The book was originally a prestige format four-issue mini-series on glossy paper. The colors shone on the page. I hope DC hasn't cheaped out on the trade and printed it on plain paper. That's my only caveat on the trade right now. Otherwise, I'd recommend it to anyone.

[April Previews]Today, though, I'm starting the monthly flip through PREVIEWS for items destined to arrive in your local comics shop in June, unless otherwise specified. As always, this column intends to spotlight certain selections that stick out to me. Different things will show themselves to different people, and that's all part of the fun. Maybe I'll direct you to something you might have missed. Maybe you'll point out something interesting that I didn't include here. If so, head over to the Pipeline message board and let me (and everyone else) know about it.

We start, as per the usual, with Dark Horse's offerings. RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT: INTO THIN AIR is the first part of a four-part mini-series. While this is not normally a book that would catch my eye, the art from Cary Nord does. I haven't seen his stuff in a while, but I have liked that I've seen in the past. I may pick this one up just to check up on his art.

Believe it or not, it's already time for another GROO collection. This one is THE GROO NURSERY, and will run you $11.95 for four issues of the classic series under one cover. The book is advance solicited, and won't appear on shelves until July.

On that same fateful date in July, the second volume of Dark Horse's collection of STAR WARS comics will be released. $29.95 collects 336 pages of galaxy-spanning adventures from the talents of Archie Goodwin, Carmine Infantino, Terry Austin, Chris Claremont, Walter Simonson, and more.

Tag and Bink return to the Star Wars world in the 12th issue of the popular STAR WARS TALES quarterly series. It's due out on June 5th.

DC presents us with an interesting Good News/Bad News scenario. The Good News is that the Wonder Woman book from Greg Rucka, J.G. Jones, and Wade von Grawbadger is finally seeing the light of day in June. The official title is WONDER WOMAN: THE HIKETEIA. The bad news is that while it is complete in one 96-page volume, it's also a $24.95 hardcover. The softcover will probably be released at the end of the year. The high cover price is the down side of producing original graphic novels. You have to pay the talent for original materials, so the cost factor is increased. The reason why so many books can be published in hardcover at a reasonable price point is that the talent involved in creating it has already been paid for their initial work. The company only needs to pay off royalties after that, or whatever creator participation there might be. When you present a single long form story like this, you need to pay for more than the printing and editorial work. You also need to cover the page rates of all the talent involved. You don't have a monthly mini-series to absorb that hit for you.

Everyone wants more original graphic novels. Who's willing to pay for them? This book is a good test. DC hasn't gone to this format since their last experiment more than two years ago. Remember BATMAN: THE CHALICE, SON OF SUPERMAN, and SUPERMAN: TURN OF THE CENTURY? Wonder why DC hasn't tried the format since then?

I was impressed by the picture of the new DANGER GIRL cover by Jim Lee and J. Scott Campbell on page 69, until I saw the headline above it and realized it was a CODENAME: KNOCKOUT cover. Whoops.

The exciting news from DC in June takes the form of a pair of Brian Azzarello/Eduardo Risso trade paperbacks. The first is the next volume of 100 BULLETS. This one is big, though. Literally. It's 264 pages, collecting a full 11 issues of the series, including a lot of stories that shed a lot of light on the mythos behind the series.

Even more exciting, though, is the release (at last!) of a JONNY DOUBLE collection. This is the mini-series that put Azzarello and Risso on the map together, pre-dating 100 BULLETS by a year or so. I've heard nothing but rave reviews for this book from those who've read it. I've never read it, but I'll be jumping all over this. For those who've already read the stories, new pages are promised, including a brand new extended ending. The 104-page book will run $12.95.

Chuck Dixon is not leaving BIRDS OF PREY quietly. Inside of another beautiful Phil Noto cover for issue #44 is a story that includes Connor Hawke (Green Arrow Jr., basically) and an island of dinosaurs. This is right up Dixon's alley.

Clark Kent is fired from the Daily Planet in SUPERMAN #183. I have to give the Super-team credit for not labeling this as some sort of titanic mini-series spectacular and giving it a cutesy name like "THE DEATH OF CLARK KENT'S CAREER." Just five years ago, I would have expected something like that. Also, the secret deal between Lex and Lois Lane finally pays off in this issue. Chris Claremont used to get in trouble for dropping plot threads for years at a time. Looks like he has nothing on Loeb.

SUPERGIRL #71 is drawn by Jamal Igle and Jose Marzan Jr. JSA #37 includes art by Leonard Kirk, Peter Snejberg, and Keith Champagne. I don't begrudge Kirk for moving on to a bigger selling book. I just wish DC wouldn't try to sell us a bill of goods that he'll be drawing two books a month. I hope Igle sticks around as the regular artist on SUPERGIRL in the meantime.

Image Comics features two big events this month, and I'm excited about both.

[Leave It To Chance]The first is the return of LEAVE IT TO CHANCE. It's starting with a reprint of the first storyline, packaged in an oversized hardcover format. This makes me very happy. However, I don't have the exact dimensions yet. It wasn't explicitly mentioned in the solicitations. Jim Valentino has taken to calling it the "TIN TIN format," which I think would point more towards something along the lines of the Humanoid graphic album sized than the Marvel hardcover size. When it comes to art as good as Paul Smith's in this series, it can't be printed large enough for me. (You can't forget Jeromy Cox's colors on the series, either. It's the best stuff I've ever seen from him.)

LEAVE IT TO CHANCE: SHAMAN'S RAIN reprints the original story of the series in full color. It's 112 pages for only $15, which is an amazing deal for a hardcover book these days. You're only getting 64 pages for that price with the Humanoids albums. Look for it on shelves June 19th. It ought to be pretty.

For more info on the series and the full publishing plan (which includes new issues of the series and more hardcovers every quarter), check out the original CBR news story.

The second big release from Image for June is the 100th issue of THE SAVAGE DRAGON. This is a bit of a misnomer at this point, though. Odds are much better than the big 100-page spectacular won't see print until sometime in July. Erik Larsen is churning out the pages for the series at an amazing rate, but it's just not going to be feasible to get #100 out in June. So it'll be a couple or four weeks late. No big deal. It probably will still beat out Todd McFarlane's contribution to the Image 10th anniversary hard cover book.

In any case, the 100th issue is 100 pages, and includes contributions from Frank Cho, Art Adams, Bruce Timm, Marc Silvestri, Chris Eliopoulos, and Carlos Pacheco. Final price is a scant $8.95. Larsen is drawing all of the stories in the book, with a bevy of guest inkers finishing off the pages for him, and a couple of pin-ups and maybe a page of letters thrown in for good measure.

On Friday, I'll be looking at everything else in PREVIEWS, starting at Marvel and working my way back to the magazine section, and TwoMorrows Publishing. They have a very interesting book out for those of us who are writing process junkies. See you on Friday for that!

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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