PREVIEWS FOR OCTOBER 2002
As always, the following is not an exhaustive look at the releases for October. It is merely exhausting, at over 2500 words.
I encourage you strongly to take a flip through the catalog yourself and see what interests you. Be sure, then, to pre-order it so your retailer knows what you want. Comic shop owners are not mind readers, after all. Heck, they're not often good guessers, either, but that's a whole other issue.
By far, the one book that has me the most excited for October is a release by NBM. It's on page 316. It's a new volume from the series, CITIES OF THE FANTASTIC, from Francois Schuiten and Benoit Peeters. It will be the fifth book in the series published in America, after FEVER IN URBICAND, BRUSEL, THE TOWER, and THE GREAT WALLS OF SAMARIS. I've only read the first two on the list, but I've been captured by their great imagination, technical craftsmanship on the art chores, and insight into the human experience.
Yes, this is one of those series that I can put my "artiste" hat on for. It's not a Hollywood action flick. It's an indie film on a large scale, where the special effects merely set the stage for an exploration into the human condition. They're spectacular to look at and enjoyable to read.
This latest book, THE INVISIBLE FRONTIER, runs 64 pages in full color on the oversized 9 x 12 inch paper under a hardcover. Final cost is $15.
The two PREVIEWS covers are an interesting comparison. On the one side, you have Batman, a grown and muscular man parading around in a black and dark gray spandex/leather/Kevlar outfit. On the other side, you have Tomb Raider, wearing a one-piece black leather (pleather?) outfit straight out of some sort of S&M magazine. The scary thing is that, with the coloring, it looks photorealistic. Then you see her head on top of the body and the effect is ruined.
The catalog opens with an ad for a VAMPI storyline called "Fallout." One is left to wonder if her large breasts positioned just above the title are the titular characters. "Will they fall out, or not?" ::sigh::
It's been said that Dark Horse is releasing FRANK MILLER: THE ART OF SIN CITY hardcover because they can't get any new work out of Miller while he plays in DC's playground. I don't know if that's the truth or not, but it's certainly an attractive package. The book is 9 x 12 (same size as CITIES OF THE FANTASTIC), 128 pages, with both black and white and full color sections. For $40, it's probably worth it if you can get a discount on it somehow. I can, so I'm jumping at it.
Another new GROO trade hits the stands with DEATH AND TAXES. The four-issue mini-series gets compiled for $13. I'd sure love to see a GROO hardcover along the line somewhere. I know Graphitti is offering a combined DEATH OF/LIFE OF GROO book for some huge price in limited supplies. I'd like to see something slightly more down to earth, though. If it could be printed on oversized paper, all the better. Sergio Aragones' finely detailed art could only look better for it
It looks like the final volume of LONE WOLF AND CUB will be released during Christmas week at the end of the year. I couldn't ask for a nicer holiday present. I'll probably lose a few days at that point in rereading the whole series.
Two graphic novels from Dark Horse's Venture line deserve attention. The first is CAIN, a 96-page story written by Ricardo Barreiro and drawn by 100 BULLETS' Eduardo Risso. I can't begin to explain the story based on the solicitation here, other than to say it's the story of a man who was shunned by his family, but who is now fighting to get back in. Even that seems pedestrian. $10 gets you this softcover. It looks to be the same size as that VIDEO NOIRE book Risso had drawn that Dark Horse published earlier this year.
The second book goes back to the oversized hardcover format, and is titled THE FOUR KILLERS, Volume 1. It's a western, written by Claudio Nizzi. The thing that's exciting about the book is that Joe Kubert draws it. The cover is fantastic. It's tempting, but the $15 price tag might be a bit much for a 48-page story.
Both of the preceding books are listed as "Mature Readers" books, by the way.
Finally, Dark Horse offers up a COWBOY BEBOP lighter. I just watched the entire series a couple of weeks ago through the magic of DVD. I'm hooked. It's an amazing series, and I'm left now waiting for the movie to be released, while I track down the soundtracks and the comics. I just think a $30 Zippo lighter tests even my fandom, though. Your mileage may vary, of course.
DC ups the hardcover ante with its new publication of BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS in hardcover format for $25. That's only coming out, though, in support of the hardcover edition of its sequel, THE DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN. That one is $30. I have to admit to chuckling a bit at the solicitation copy's reference to "magnificent colors by Lynn Varley." If there's one thing on the book generally more controversial (he says most politically) than Miller's art, it's Varley's colors.
Shamefully, DC re-releases its original BIRDS OF PREY trade paperback in October, to attempt to cash in on the television series. I don't blame them for it. It's more than they did for SMALLVILLE. What upsets me about this is that I don't see or hear any plans for further editions. Chuck Dixon was on that series for nearly four years and nothing past this trade has ever been reprinted. Along with the Dixon stories, there's a ton of magnificent art from the likes of Greg Land and Butch Guice waiting to be reprinted, and DC hasn't done it yet. Heck, DC's even stopped printing NIGHTWING trades. Makes one wonder what DC has against Chuck Dixon these days…
(I see further on in the solicitations that Terry Moore's new BIRDS OF PREY storyline involves Barbara Gordon being "granted the gift of full mobility." I'm sure it's just for the storyline and serves a plot point, but it's something I don't ever see Chuck Dixon attempting for a second. And that's not a good thing.)
I am looking forward to the new edition of THE WORLD'S FINEST trade. It's one I've never read, but have always heard good things about. Dave Gibbons wrote it, while Steve Rude and Karl Kesel handled the art chores. It's $15 for the 160-page trade paperback.
PROMETHEA #23 adds an extra 8 pages of story. It's enough to make me temporarily regret moving to the hardcover collections only with this book. I got over it quickly, though.
Image leads off with G.I. JOE: FRONTLINE #1. It's the new JOE series set in different time periods. The first storyline starts after the governmental closedown of the G.I. Joe program. It's written by classic JOE writer Larry Hama and drawn by Dan Jurgens and Bob Layton. I'm excited about this one. Jurgens is one of those artists I wish was drawing more these days. You have to take his art where you can get it, I suppose. Hopefully, it'll be back on a regular series soon.
LEAVE IT TO CHANCE BOOK TWO: TRICK OR TREAT AND OTHER STORIES is the next oversized hardcover edition of the modern day classic series from James Robinson and Paul Smith. For only $15 for 112 pages, it's well worth your money and time. LITC is a charming series that's artfully done. I'm very happy that Image has given it a home to return in.
SAVAGE DRAGON #104's solicitation has very little detail, except to say that it contains the biggest change of the Dragon's life ever. Even the cover has been blanked out this month. I hope they do the same for the next couple of months' solicitations, or the whole gambit will be ruined. Speculation on this is running rampant, and I'm not going to guess at what it is. Erik Larsen is a sneaky son of a gun who will pull off something I'm not expecting anyway. I'll just trust in that.
In the meantime, SAVAGE DRAGON/HELLBOY: THE COLLECTED EDITION collects issues #34 and #35 of the series, guest-starring Mike Mignola's red-headed character. See Larsen warp his style to fit in with Mignola's as he draws Dragon. And see what many have called the most disgusting ending of any Dragon issue. I think it's tame in comparison to some things, such as Rapture's bouncing babies, but it's still plenty outrageous enough.
One last Dragon pick: SAVAGE DRAGONBERT: FULL FRONTAL NERDITY is a complete collection of all the backup strips done by Karl Hornell. The strip ran two pages in the back of the series for a good long time, putting Dragon in a Dilbert-style universe and running rampant over the comic book omniverse. It's strange. It's profane. It's satirical. Above all, it's very very funny. (And there's even an appearance in there by me, believe it or not.)
TELLOS: SONS & MOONS is resolicited, with new stories set in the world of Tellos by creator Todd Dezago. Nick Cardy draws a gorgeous cover, while Carlo Barberi (Dezago's IMPULSE partner in crime), Eric Wolfe Hanson, and Thor Badendyck contribute art. Paul Mounts colors the whole shebang, and the square bound book will run you $6.
Marvel concludes the SPIDER-MAN: BLUE mini-series in October, which is good news. It means the hardcover edition of it should be solicited next month in time for Christmas. I've purposefully skipped this latest Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale collaboration just for that. I'll consider myself very smart for saving $21 on the mini-series if the hardcover does come out shortly after that. If not, I'll just chalk it up to one more missed opportunity in the world of comics and move on.
(I know, I know. After this column, the last thing you'll ever want to read about again next month is more of my hardcover fetish.)
Speaking of which: The big hardcover announcement for me this month is the first ten issues of Bruce Jones' INCREDIBLE HULK stint. This is as good as the Hulk series has been since Peter David and Gary Frank combined on the character many years ago. With John Romita Jr. and Lee Weeks on art, it's also pretty to look at. (Come to think of it, HULK has always managed to have some fairly good artists on it. Think back to the highlights of the last ten years: Romita Jr., Gary Frank, Dale Keown, Adam Kubert, Todd McFarlane. Yes, there was that unfortunate Liam Sharpe run, and Mike Deodatos' run only looked as good as it did by comparison.)
The hardcover also includes the four issue BANNER series by Brian Azzarello and Richard Corben, which I find extremely puzzling. Marvel should either include another 3 Jones'-penned issues from the on-going series to round out the package, or cut it short at 9 issues and offer it at a lower price.
In any case, the book will retail for $30.
ELEKTRA: ASSASSIN and DAREDEVIL: LOVE AND WAR are collected together as DAREDEVIL/ELEKTRA: LOVE & WAR.
Finally, in case you were waiting for it, the computer generated SPIDER-MAN: QUALITY OF LIFE mini-series is collected for $13 in October. Greg Rucka writes and Scott Sava "directs" the art. I passed on the single issues, but I'll give the collection a shot.
AiT/PlanetLar offers up ELECTRIC GIRL #10. Yes, it's a single 32-page issue. It's being done to preserve the Mighty Gremlin run on the series before it converts to its new roughly quarterly hybrid format. Any dose of Mike Brennan's series is worth getting, though.
At the same time, DOLL AND CREATURE is the month's graphic novel offering, from the twisted minds of Rick Remender, John Heebink, and Mike Manley, complete with a cover from Dan Brereton. The description for this series is far too long to attempt to cover here, so just look it up at the PlanetLar home page.
New publisher Arcade Comics is the new home for Rob Liefeld's YOUNGBLOOD. BLOODSPORT is the new mini-series, and Mark Millar writes it. Check out Millar's Newsarama interview from a couple weeks ago for what he thinks about the series. It echoes neatly a lot of what I've said about the Yougblood concept for years here. He gets it. I'm looking forward to the series.
As a special bonus, you can even choose which edition of the first issue you'd like: regular, foil edition, foil edition signed, museum edition, or museum edition signed. Unlike other companies (oh, say Top Cow), Arcade seems ready to put out all the variants at once, instead of spreading it out over time and subcontracting the signed ones to Dynamic Forces. ;-)
Mind you, I'll be buying the regular edition. I couldn't care less about the rest.
On page 238, Axiom Comics is soliciting GUN FU #1, a new 32-page color comic from writer Howard M. Shum and artist Joey Mason. It's a cool looking book that incorporates the best of John Woo with a little of Quentin Tarantino, and a smidge of every comic cliché you could imagine. The art in the ad on the facing page has a very stylistic animated look: part animated CLERKS and part BATMAN.
Most interesting is the solicitation copy: "In 1936, Cheng Bo Sen is a gun-shooting kung-fu-using Hong Kong cop. He also speaks hip-hop, which no one seems to notice. He gets recruited by England to help fight the Nazis. NOTE: Not available in Germany."
I guess they still don't like stories with Nazis in Germany, eh?
Bud Plant is offering up THE SLINGS AND ARROWS COMIC GUIDE. I've heard a lot about this book and it sounds interesting. A team of fans and professionals in the U.K. got together and wrote a book with reviews and analyses of over 3000 different comics. The book runs 688 pages and costs only $15. (I presume the $25 price has been lowered since some of the material might be dated by now.) It's an interesting project, and one I'd love to see updated.
Crossgen has three new trades in October, including a second for SOJOURN, and the first for NEGATION and THE PATH. I haven't done more than skim through THE PATH yet, but I can vouch for the other two as being interesting and imaginative books that are fun breezy reads.
In CRUX #19, Chuck Dixon finds an excuse to write a western comic, with art from Steve Epting, Rick Magyar, and Frank D'Armata, as always.
Some CrossGen titles have two issues solicited in October. No, they aren't trying to compete with Marvel. October has five shipping weeks. It looks like CrossGen doesn't believe in taking those occasional fifth weeks off. Instead you can look forward to a second issue in October for THE PATH, RUSE, and MERIDIAN.
Fantagraphics' THE COMICS JOURNAL features a Steve Rude interview in its 248th issue. It also includes an Andi Watson interview.
If you ever saw the anime DVD, BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE, you'll be happy to know that her story continues. BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE 2002 is a new graphic novel by Benyko Tamaki. The 200-page story picks up in the present, where the immortal Saya is back and kicking butt again. Much of the attraction in the anime was its cutting edge use of computers and meticulous color and animation. Will that translate into a black and white comic? I don't know. The book will set you back $20 to find out, if you're so interested.
Finally -- at long last, the end to this column is in sight! -- COMICS SPOTLIGHT reaches its second issue in October with an all crime issue. It features interviews with Greg Rucka, Steve Lieber, Gene Gonzales, Don McGregor, and more. (In case you're wondering, they interviewed Bendis last month, which is probably why you don't see him here..) For $5, COMICS SPOTLIGHT is the best chance in comics right now for a new style of magazine to succeed. Hate WIZARD? Support the competition.
Oh, and I lied. There's one more magazine to cover. Don't forget to give WRITE NOW! a shot. It's the writer's version of DRAW! and features material from Erik Larsen, Dennis O'Neil, Todd Alcott (screenwriter of ANTZ), and more.
OK, I'm done now. Don't forget to pre-order!
Come back on Friday for more San Diego convention stuff.
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.