Pipeline, Issue #336


Pipeline is an appointment column. You pick a day a week, you visit this URL, and you get a new column. For most people, that's Tuesday.

The Comics Blogosphere is the outlaw nation, setting its own schedules, timetables, and formats. It's fun to watch. I've always wanted to do Pipeline five days a week, and the format would probably be very blog-like if I did it: Much shorter columns. Continuing discussions. Links to other sites. The whole nine yars.

That's not happening, but this week you can pretend like it is. I wrote this week's column on a daily basis, keeping track at the end of each day of what I did that might come in handy for this column. It was a great help in getting my writing done ahead of schedule, if nothing else.

This week, I share with you that experiment. It might just return again someday soon.

Monday 10 November 2003

The week's comps from Image arrive, as always, a day too late for me to include any of them in the current week's column, which is put to bed before I get home from work and see the mail. This week is another Robert Kirkman week, it seems. There are new issues of INVINCIBLE and THE WALKING DEAD. While both look great, I just don't have the time to read them tonight. I need to sleep, and bowling took up the bulk of my evening. My average is down to a 169 and I continue to slump this season.

The Epic news of the weekend sure does stink, doesn't it? I suppose it's not surprising, but it is disappointing. Now I really don't regret not working anything up to submit. What a SNAFUBAR this thing has turned out to be. It didn't have to be this way, I don't think. With a couple of small fixes, I think the Epic idea is a great one. I just think that the learning curve and the moving goal posts kept it from prospering. Nobody understood what it was or how it worked, because so many dimensions of it kept changing.

And the bottom line is this: If Bill Jemas had pulled the plug on this project, we'd hear cat calls and requests for his head on a pike. With the new guy, everyone just nods their heads to "business as usual" and forgets it. I'll never understand fandom.

Tuesday 11 November 2003

Today's Veteran's Day, so there's no mail delivery. I also don't read any comics today. I'm about three weeks behind on my comics reading right now. With all the things that have happened at work lately, I've lost my appetite to read a ton of comics. I can feel it coming back again, along with the drive to attack the writing chores of writing this column every week. But just bear with me another week or two until this all gets sorted out.

Wednesday 12 November 2003

When it rains, it pours.

[Wizard X-Men]It's new comic book day, so this would, of course, be the day I get comics in the mail, as well. The big arrival is a FedEx package. The cardboard envelope itself is ripped wide open, exposing the book on the inside. It's the WIZARD X-MEN MASTERPIECE EDITION. Originally offered for sale only through the magazine and a mail in offer, it appeared in the PREVIEWS catalog last month, thus screwing all of us who would have had a shot at a discounted price through our local stores or mail order retailers. The $5 shipping didn't help, either.

Putting aside those gripes, though, it's a pretty good book. The reproduction values are top notch. The paper is a relatively heavy glossy stock, and Byrne's artwork shines for it. The book is a "regular" comic sized, and not the oversized dimension that Marvel uses for its hardcover these days. It includes the alternate ending to "The Dark Phoenix Saga," which I had never seen before today. While I can understand the reasoning for Jean Grey dying, I do have to admit that I like the alternate ending perhaps more, if it had been made permanent. And we all know how much stuff in the mutant universe is permanent, don't we?

The stories are introduced with one page Wizard articles, filler, silliness, and notes of historical interest. It's a great book, overall, and a must own for classic X-Men fans.

Thursday 13 November 2003

I finally got to read some of the comics I bought yesterday. And, of course, more comics showed up today in the mail. This time, it's a package from AiT/PlanetLar with DEMO #1 in it. I reviewed the story in this column before, but the final package is magnificent. 32 pages, no ads, a multi-page preview of next issue, the artist's roughs for the entire story, and two text pages. All of it printed on a really heavy glossy paper stock. I can't ever remember seeing a black and white comic printed on paper this heavy. It helps to lessen some of the bleed through of Cloonan's inky art. In the preview for issue #2, she's using a completely different art style. Interesting.

Got some other reading done tonight:

[The Walking Dead]THE WALKING DEAD #2 is a pleasant surprise. I liked the first issue, and like Robert Kirkman's writing in general. But this second issue veered left when I was certain it would veer right, leading to an ending that came as a complete surprise to me, even if it was a bit abrupt. That can all be smoothed out with the third issue, though. I'm not worried. Kirkman is a writing machine, but he's not simply repeating himself and rehashing the same old tired plots. THE WALKING DEAD is on the very short list of the year's best new comics series.

When I said that Kirkman doesn't repeat himself, I mean it. Take a look at CAPES #2, for example. This is Kirkman's attempt to throw every superhero cliché into one book, add a different twist to it, and see how it all comes out. The plot is almost secondary. It's like the movie AIRPLANE!. I'm not reading this book because I'm in love with the characters, but because I like the high concepts and Kirkman's funny take on corporate superheroes. Mark Englert's art -- obviously inspired by Erik Larsen's -- serves the story beautifully. His colors keep the pages popping out at the reader and don't obscure a thing. No, he's not going to get any Eisner nominations for this book, but his love for the work shows and his style fits it to a 'T'. That's enough.

ULTIMATE X-MEN #39 wraps up Brian Bendis' "Blockbuster" story arc in grand fashion, including the patented double page "Team Attacks!" splash and the inevitable backlit dramatic characters standing in doorways. The issue reads really quickly and perhaps doesn't take the time it should to impart the gravity of the events on the reader, but it still works. I think reading the first five parts of this storyline first might help establish the pacing and rhythm of the storyline. Reading this final part on its own a month after the last chapter really affected my enjoyment of it, I think.

1602 PART FOUR: Pretty pretty art. The coloring is really clicking with the art, and I'm anxious to see how Gaiman is going to pull all these threads together, though I can begin to see the characters moving into place now.

The press release came out from DC today announcing the collection of George Perez's WONDER WOMAN run. There's one series I can see everyone checking off their "Modern Comics Classics That Remain Uncollected." There are plenty more to go where that came from, though, starting with John Byrne's FANTASTIC FOUR.

Friday 14 November 2003

A package from Dark Horse arrives, heralding their new greater distribution rights to the STAR WARS line of titles. STAR WARS trades will now be available everywhere except Australia, the UK, and New Zealand. That's good news for Dark Horse and those titles' creators. The package includes a copy of STAR WARS: DARK EMPIRE I by Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy. I've heard of this book before, and it bears further investigation. A quick flip through the book shows me that Kennedy's art is gorgeous, though. It has a water colored look, with a stark line, reminiscent of ALIEN LEGION in a way.

Along with that comes a publishing catalog listing all of Dark Horse's offerings across 132 pages (only about 3 inches square) divided by category. The last four pages are just the copyright and trademark notices. Dark Horse licenses most of their publishing catalog, and it shows in those final pages. The catalog is a nicely done presentation of their line, in full color and easy to read.

Krause Publications also sends its weekly reminder today to renew my subscription to COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE. I did so about two weeks ago, but they keep bombarding me with offers to buy more stuff with my subscription. If it weren't for the fact that I'm a recycling fiend, it wouldn't bother me. However, these envelopes come packed with different cards and offers on three different types of paper, which have to be separated out before recycling. UGH

My spam filter program today blocked an e-mail with "Scrooge McDuck" in the subject line. I was a bit disappointed until I opened up the e-mail. Under the subject of "Scrooge McDuck Will Have Nothing on You!" is an offer to make me $3500 a day in some sort of ponzi or pyramid scheme. Amazingly, the e-mail didn't originate in Scandinavia where Scrooge is actually popular. Who else would use Scrooge's good name and expect people to fall for it? Joke's on them. In America, Scrooge McDuck is that guy in Mickey's Christmas Carol, and that's it. So sad.

And now I'm getting e-mail from that Torres character, trying to get me to write his column for him. He's dragged a couple of other people into this, at least, including one Xeric winner and one editor. It's scheduled for Sunday night, when I'm usually busy hacking away at this column. Good thing I'm writing it day by day this week. I like it when things come together like that.

Saturday 15 November 2003

[Wallace Wood]The mailman had to come to the door with today's stack of mail. Blame it on TwoMorrows, who were nice enough to pass along a copy of their new book about Wally Wood. It's a really nice package, weighing in at over 300 pages. Profusely illustrated, each chapter is written by a different person to cover a different portion of Wood's life. That list of luminaries includes the likes of Larry Hama, Trina Robbins, Al Williamson, editor Bhob Stewart, and John Workman. Three chapters at the end are told in Wally Wood's own voice, transcribed from interviews and excerpted from Wood's own texts. This one is going to take some time to read, but the bits of it I've read and the beautiful illustrations I've seen make it of interest to any early MAD or Marvel fans.

For the obsessive/compulsive fans, there's also TwoMorrow's THE WALLACE WOOD CHECKLIST, a listing which takes 64 pages to sort through. For $6, the black and white comic book has a nice cardboard cover self-portrait, plenty of spot illustrations, and commentary on the works.

Image's comp package came early this week. The post office is a funny thing. They fall easily into patterns and routines. I used to get the Image package every Saturday like clockwork before it fell back to Monday deliveries. Hopefully, this is the start of a run of Saturday deliveries again. This week's batch includes the third issue of Todd Nauck's WILDGUARD and the third issue of STREET FIGHTER, with backup story from Kevin Lau. SPAWN's coloring looks very bright this month, but that's about all I have to say about Todd McFarlane's venerable series anymore.

The new Bud Plant catalog also arrived, which is just asking for trouble from the bank. There is plenty of beautiful stuff in there to be had, but no time or energy to read through it all.

Those people at the Big Apple Comic Cons also sent me two more postcard advertisements for their big "National" convention at the end of the month. They have my address in their database twice with slightly different spellings, so I get two of everything from them. I have no intention of taking a train into NYC on the holiday weekend, but there's one potential lure there. While Marc Singer gets top billing for his roles on "V" and "Beastmaster," there's the tease that his sister will be joining him. Lori Singer starred on VR.5 in 1995, and that series got me started on Internet fandom, to the point where I guarded the FAQ and had communications with all sorts of media outlets about the show. Ah, the glory days. I'd love to meet her and find out what's going on these days, but the city is an evil place on that weekend.

Finally, Larry Young double-mailed me this week, with a copy of the CODEFLESH trade paperback. I don't know that I ever read the last couple of chapters of Joe Casey's saga, so I'm looking forward to pushing through this one soon. Check out last week's "Comic Pimp" for the story on the party thrown around this book.

Sunday 16 November 2003

Read INVINCIBLE #6 tonight while doing cover scans for this column. The issue has a really great opening sequence with Invincible and his father playing a game of catch. The hard way. It's subtle, hilarious, and classic all at the same time. Egads, I'm sick of talking about Kirkman right now. Cory Walker is still doing great work.

I look back on this column to do final proofreading and realize I have no idea what tense I'm ever writing in. The first couple of days started out in the present tense, but things slowly shifted back to the more comfortable past tense by the time I got to yesterday's entry. Oh, well.

I'm starting to form some more thoughts on the Epic situation, also, but I should really save those for Torres, whose column we're all writing tonight in a chat room.

So I'll wrap this up for now. Tomorrow starts the same old thing again.

P.S. Don't take this column to mean you should send me more comics. I haven't had the time to read those yet. What makes you think yours has a chance? If you're feeling lucky, send me a link to your Web site. If you're feeling extremely lucky, send your comic to me in care of the main CBR address, but I'll still make no promises.


Did an on-line chat this evening with J Torres, Neil Kleid, and James Lucas Jones tonight. You'll see the highlights from that in J's column later this week. A bit of low blood sugar on my part early in the session led to some tough typing and reading on my part. I hope some of my Epic answers make sense.

It's a weird way to chat, this instant messenger chat room thing. Still, I think we all had a fun time. Stuff like this should be done in person in front of large crowds at conventions. But who'd show up to listen to the four of us speak? Sheesh

Pipeline Commentary and Review returns next Tuesday, November 25th with more such ramblings. I've quit trying to promise anything. It seems I'm horrible at keeping those kinds of promises.

Various and Sundry has been updated all week with reviews of the MATRIX RELOADED DVD, Disney's BROTHER BEAR, 24 Season 3, the week's new DVD releases and more.

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.

Nearly 500 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.

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