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Pipeline, Issue #260

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
Pipeline, Issue #260

PIPELINE CELEBRATES FIVE YEARS ALL NEXT WEEK

This coming weekend will mark the fifth anniversary of Pipeline Commentary and Review #1. To celebrate this, we’ve lined up a very special week of Pipeline Daily next week. Not only will the regular Tuesday and Friday editions of Pipeline see the light of day, but you’ll also get new columns on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

5 days. 5 columns. Celebrating 5 years.

These won’t be your run of the mill columns, either. Each will be accompanied by a new piece of art from some talented artists in our field. Each will feature a comics giveaway contest. And each will squeeze in some reviews or other Pipeline material. I have some nifty columns lined up, and now it’s just a matter of getting them all written on time without passing out.

This Friday’s column will be the monthly look through the new PREVIEWS catalog. Then come back here next Monday for the first of five new Pipeline columns.

COMICS DUE OUT 05 JUNE 2002

[Filth #1]

THE FILTH #1 will most likely appeal to fans of Grant Morrison’s THE INVISIBLES. It, however, is lost on me. The first issue is a mostly plotless descent into the bizarrely sexual and uselessly weird and convoluted. Morrison’s story shows no direction yet, and its grab for attention near the end comes too little, too late. What’s supposed to be an attention-getting cliffhanger instead functions as a tacked on ending meant to induce a poor confused reader into picking up the second issue with the promise that something might actually happen that will make any sense.

No thanks. Not going to work on me.

Chris Weston’s art is nice enough, but I’d rather see his MINISTRY OF SPACE #3 or more ENEMY ACE art.

[The Thing #1]

THE THING: FREAKSHOW #1 is the latest Marvel mini-series, this time with the talents of DC’s THE FLASH behind it. Geoff Johns turns in a script with Benjamin Grimm feeling sorry for himself as The Thing. Johns takes us through a Day In The Life of The Thing in such a way that you feel miserable for the character in just the way you’re supposed to. Johns does a great job in carefully plotting his story so as to show Grimm’s descent into utter despair. Grimm starts out feeling badly for himself and it only gets worse.

Scott Kolins, Johns’ FLASH partner, is along for the ride with the pencil art, this time joined by Andy Lanning on inks. Lanning’s inks don’t change the look of Kolins insanely detailed cityscapes and open figure work. A lot of Kolins’ artwork is in the final brush strokes. If a well-meaning inker were to try to put a new artistic spin on Kolins’ pencils, it could end disastrously. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen here, and it’s obviously the same artist we’re used to on THE FLASH from month to month to month.

The big difference is in the coloring. Dave Self is the colorist, who you’d think would be a natural fit. He’s best known for his coloring work on Rob Haynes’ open lines in DAREDEVIL: NINJA, amongst other places. He’s worked with artists who have open line styles without spotted black and much fluctuation in line weight. His colors fit that bill here, but it is a completely different look from THE FLASH. This book is much more colorful and uses a broader color palette. That’s the big difference here. It’ll take me an issue or two to get used to it, but I’m sure I’ll adjust.

In the meantime, I’ll definitely be back for the rest of the series.

[Ultimate Spider-Man #23]

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #23 puts poor Peter Parker in quite the pickle. When last we left our dashing young hero, Norman Osborne had called him into his office to let him know that he knew Peter was Spider-Man. In this issue, a deal is made and the complications that arise from it are plentiful. Brian Bendis has masterfully backed Peter Parker into a corner in this issue, and then pushed everyone else towards him, including Mary Jane, Aunt May, Gwen Stacy, Harry Osborne, and even the school counselor. Peter doesn’t know which way to turn, and his gut-wrenching fear and suspicion of everything around him is beautifully portrayed with the help of Mark Bagley and Art Thibert.

This is the classic case of a writer proving how much he loves a character by how much he tortures him. If you thought being hunted as an animal on national television and then being grounded because of it was bad, you haven’t seen anything yet. This is the kind of struggle that cannot be won through force alone and cannot be easily solved. The choices Peter makes here might help him in one aspect, but doom him in three others. As horrible a time as this is for Peter, it’s just that much more fascinating for the reader to take in. Bendis quietly has created a character whose conflicts run terribly deep, both externally and internally.

This issue is the culmination of many plot threads that have been part of the book since it began two years ago. It’s exciting to watch.

THE CALL OF DUTY: THE BROTHERHOOD #1 is the first part of Marvel’s new series of interlocking mini-series following around the policemen, fireman, and EMTs of New York City. This first issue is an interesting piece for the setting, but doesn’t deliver a heck of a lot in the character department. Chuck Austen and Bruce Jones combine to give us a feel for the brotherhood that is the fire department, along with some technical and procedural know-how that I found interesting. The book fails, however, to give us the kind of sympathetic and lovable characters that we want to keep following. There is an overall plot to the piece. It’s in the form of a little blonde girl who has a bad habit of showing up in bad places. The first few pages of this issue are directly lifted from the back-up stories sewn throughout the back pages of the other Marvel titles from recent weeks. The little girl promises an element of the supernatural that doesn’t necessarily seem like the right fit for the series. We’ll have to see how much it’s relied upon to keep the book moving, and how much of it is shown at the expense of a more interesting procedural storyline.

David Finch pencils and Art Thibert (him again?) inks the book. Finch’s artwork shows signs of its development from the Top Cow system. Thibert’s heavy scratchy inks match it well. The art doesn’t suffer from the kind of inflated anatomy that one might expect someone from that school of art to show. While some faces look a little posed and stiff, it’s still a very good-looking book that pays close attention to storytelling.

The book has been getting lots of attention in the local New York papers. It’s easily accessible for one and all, and is thus far isolated from the superhero side of the Marvel Universe. It’s not all together absent, mind you, but there aren’t any cameo appearances here from men in tights. The story stays focused on the day to day lives of the fire department.

ONE QUICK FOLLOW UP

I said last week that the SUPERMAN ADVENTURES animated series only lasted one season. I’ve gotten a few e-mails pointing out to me that it actually ran three seasons.

My defense is that the three seasons are a fabrication. SUPERMAN ADVENTURES was meant to run as a stripped (five days a week) series. It was always meant to be that way. The network (the WB) made a first season out of the first 13 episodes that were done, and then showed the rest as they finished up and it became convenient. There was never a renewal order put in.

This is as opposed to BATMAN ANIMATED, which started off with a full complement of episodes (65) and had multiple shorter (13 episode) seasons afterwards, including one with a complete redesign of the characters.

I’d call BATMAN a success, since it was renewed, and SUPERMAN a failure, since it never made it past its initial run. Creatively, it was an entertaining show. From the perspective of a lengthy network run, however, it washed up.

This might all be cynical semantics, but that’s my reasoning.

Special thanks to Dewey’s Comic City in Madison, NJ for the assistance.

Remember: Friday is a flip through PREVIEWS. All next week is Pipeline’s 5th Anniversary, with the return of Pipeline Daily.

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 400 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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