Pipeline, Issue #407


Lots to cover this week. I even rant on DC's release of SUPERMAN FOR TOMORROW.

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ELK'S RUN announced here at CBR.

STAR WARS VISIONARIES is released early, delayed, released early, and a free-for-all erupts.

The New Comics Release List is over here, for those who miss it.

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Due to the Easter holiday this weekend and the family time it incurred, I've shifted the schedule for Pipeline around just a bit. This week, I'll be taking a look at the latest PREVIEWS catalog for trade paperbacks, hardcovers, and other graphic novels coming out in the month of June. We'll return to the usual batch of reviews in next week's column.

The new Pipeline Podcast will go up, as per the usual, on Wednesday morning. No interviews this week. It's back to highlighting some of the week's big releases.

The Pipeline Guide to SIN CITY hits on Friday, April 1st. Not coincidentally, that's the same day the movie opens in theaters across the land. I am a marketing genius.

As always, I heartily recommend picking up a copy of PREVIEWS for yourself and looking for anything new and interesting that you might not see on you local comics shop's shelves in a couple of months. I'm only covering a small subset of the comics solicited this time around, so I'm definitely going to miss some things. Heck, I'm also likely to miss some graphic novels. I point you to the Pipeline Message Board for a space to add your recommendations to this list.

Grendel: Red, White, & Black (Dark Horse, $20): I admit that GRENDEL does very little for me. I've given it a few tries, but it hasn't hooked me yet. The closest the series has come was the anthology GRENDEL: BLACK, WHITE, & RED. If nothing else, the different artistic styles kept things interesting, and the short stories didn't bore me. Now, Dark Horse is making a sequel to that book with a new anthology trade paperback. This includes art from Phil Noto, Darick Robertson, Michael Zulli, Andi Watson, and many more great artists. Due out at the end of July, it'll be 200 pages in the 7" x 10" format.

Superman/Batman Volume 3: Absolute Power (DC, $20) is the next Jeph Loeb storyline in the series I reviewed here just last week. This one features art from Carlos Pacheco. As you might imagine from the title, this volume explores a world where Batman and Superman rule with an iron fist. No sign of a power man, though.

Sorry, bad joke.

It's $20 for the hardcover. Expect the trade paperback to show up near the end of the year.

Most of DC's solicitations this month concern themselves with INFINITE CRISIS. It's a shame, because I would like to read about what happened to Sasha Bordeaux in OMAC, but I don't want to be pulled into any universe-spanning megalithic crossover. I'm sure this gambit is working for DC in a big way, but it does nothing for me. I enjoy saving the money from month to month and concentrating on trades and graphic novels elsewhere, thanks.

The WONDER WOMAN #218 solicitation text ends with, "A new challenge is drawing near, and Wonder Woman's response will shakes the DCU to its core!"

Is there anything not shaking the DCU to its core these days?

The Ballad of Halo Jones (DC/2001 A.D., $20) brings us the complete space opera from Alan Moore and Ian Gibson. I've had people tell me this is their favorite of Moore's work, but I've yet to read it. Even worse, I already own it. I have the oversized reprinting of it from a few years back by Titan Books/2000 A.D. When I do sit down to read this thing, it will definitely be in the largest possible format.

Sandman Mystery Theater Volume 3: The Vamp (DC/Vertigo, $13) is mentioned just because it features Guy Davis artwork. From what I've heard, Matt Wagner and Steven T. Seagle's story is pretty spiffy, too.

WE3 (DC/Vertigo, $13) collects the recent well-received Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely three issue mini-series. I'm in. I didn't read the series as it came out, but I loved every panel of Quitely's art that I saw for it. You don't get to see serious superhero artists drawing talking animals that much these days. The funny thing is that they're usually very good at it. While I realize this isn't exactly LOONEY TUNES, I'm still looking forward to it.

Avigon: Gods and Demons (Image, $20) finishes the story originally started by Che Gilson and Jimmy Robinson a few years ago. Of course, that was a self-contained and complete graphic novel on its own. (I reviewed it in September of 2000.) Now, the pair have gone back to add another 100 pages to tell a larger story, craftily including the original book along the way. The write-up indicates that the book is "a must for fans of gothic fiction," but don't let that scare you off. It's better than just that. The final product is 192 pages, still in black and white.

The Amazing Joy Buzzards (Image, $12) gets its original four issues slapped together under one cover. This is the series from Mark Smith and Dan Hipp -- two men and four syllables impresses me in a weird way this week -- about a rock and roll band that has big adventures. It sounds like a modern take on a bad 70s animated series. I've read parts of the issues that are out so far, and its much more entertaining than the SCOOBY DOO spin-off I may have made it out to seem like so far. Now, if I could just find where I buried that first issue around here somewhere. . .

Invincible: The Ultimate Collection (Image, $35) is the value bargain deal of the month. This is a new hardcover collection of the first 13 issues of Robert Kirkman's terrifically entertaining superhero series. It looks like Image is going after Marvel's format for this one, though there's no indication that the page size is larger than normal. Too bad. Aside from that niggling complaint, this would seem to be the release of the month. It's a great chance for new people to dive into a fun book, although it might require a bunch of spare change first.

Ah, heck, fans of the series should scoop this right up. It's the ultimate permanent collection of the series.

Tomb Raider: The Greatest Adventure of All (Image, $7): I'm nearly speechless. This is the long-delayed Dan Jurgens/Joe Jusko graphic novel that's been promised for years and years. They even put out a special preview comic for it a couple of years ago. It's the only TOMB RAIDER story I've ever looked forward to. And it's finally coming in June! Wow. Who'da thunk it? Aside from painting over J. Scott Campbell in a DANGER GIRLS one shot, I don't think I've ever seen a Joe Jusko painted story before. His covers and pin-ups are nice, though.

Ultimate Fantastic Four Volume 1 (Marvel, $30) is the first in a series of interesting hardcovers that Marvel is putting out in June. One could easily go broke in this section of the catalog. The first 12 issues of the Ultimate F4 series are collected here, starting with the stories from Mark Millar/Brian Bendis, and ending with the first half dozen issues from Warren Ellis. They even promise a bunch of extras.

Fantastic Four Omnibus Volume 1 (Marvel, $100) is the whopper of all hardcovers. It collects the first 30 issues of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's memorable run on the series. The book weighs in at 848 pages, is oversized, in full color, and will be a limited printing. If this is your thing, pre-order now. The solicitation for the book also includes the pet phrase of its writer, "DVD-style extras." Comparing bonus material in a collection to a DVD release's second disc was passé last year. Now, it's just lazy. The closest any comic has gotten to a "DVD-style extra" was when Graffiti Designs did a hardcover version of the Kevin Smith/Joe Quesada DAREDEVIL story and included a CD in which the creators talk about the comic as you read it. That's out of print by now, I'm sure.

X-Men: Phoenix Endsong (Marvel, $20) puts together the five issue mini-series from Greg Pak and Greg Land. This is a mini-series I decided ahead of time to wait out a collection for. The fact that it's going straight to hardcover means that I made the right call. Curiously, the solicitation indicates that this isn't oversized. I hope that's wrong.

Best of Spider-Man Volume 4 (Marvel, $30) continues to propogate Marvel's earliest hardcover collection mistake. When this publishing initiative began, the Spider-Man movie was coming and there were a lot of great Spider-Man books being produced at the same time. So they threw a bunch of great stories from different series into one book and called it "Best Of." Since then, the "Best Of" volume has become strictly a reprint organ of J. Michael Straczynski's run on THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. It's probably too late to fix this naming convention in any way that would make all people happy. It does, however, bother me in some very small way. Harping on it like this is useless, though.

Hulk: Gray (Marvel, $20) is the trade paperback edition of the hardcover book I reviewed here last week.

Street Angel (Slave Labor Graphics, $15) is a blogosphere favorite. Its first five issues are being packaged together in a trade paperback, along with the Free Comic Book Day story, and plenty of extras. Not a bad deal for the price.

How To Draw Manga the Fred Perry Way (Antarctic Press, $20) is a DVD, not a graphic novel. I'm sure there are lots of people concerned with the very idea of people learning to draw Japanese comics from an American. I'm not going to pass any judgments, because I've not read an issue of GOLD DIGGER in my life. I highlight the disc here because I think it's a great idea. This disc promises over two hours of looking over an artist's shoulder as he draws. I can't take my eyes off the paper when I'm at a con and someone is sketching in my sketchbook. To be able to take that experience home in some way and listen to the artist talking about the craft as he does it? Priceless. I hope this works out well for them. I hope the production values are decent. I hope it takes off and we see more artists trying this.

And for you Amerimanga artist wannabes, I might also suggest picking up Antarctic's Digital Screentone CD for $20. I'm a sucker for comics with those tones. This CD promises over 200 different tones to use on your art.

The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty (Beckett Comics, $22) is a full color reprinting of all eight issues of the western mini-series. I haven't read too much from Beckett yet, but their books always look nice. Since this is a western with art from Mike Hawthorne, I'm willing to give it a shot.

Defex (Devil's Due, $15) prompts a question. Weren't these "Aftermath" books from Devil's Due supposed to be monthlies only, with no guarantee of a trade? In fact, wasn't one of the selling points that you really needed to buy these month to month if you wanted to read them? Guess the business model changed mid-stream. The first four issues of the series are collected here in paperback.


The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck (Gemstone, $17) is your must-read value of the month. Forget INVINCIBLE. Go with this one. It's even cheaper. This collects the 12 chapters of Don Rosa's unforgettable saga chronicling the earliest days of Scrooge, from his first dime to his first money bin. It's a book that works well with the superhero type of fan because it involves obsessive continuity and hacking disparate pieces of known Barks Duck facts into one seamless whole. But it also stands on its own as one of the greatest action/adventure/comedy books of the past decade, if not longer. See Scrooge travel the globe, meet up with historical figures, settle his family's accounts, and make his fortune. There are moments in this book of great poignancy as well as moments that will have you laughing out loud.

A hardcover edition is planned for later this year, but I think I'll be sticking with my original hardcover printing.

If you haven't read a Duck book yet, and want to see one of the best adventure tales of modern times, this is the book you have to try.


Dead West Volume 1 (Gigantic Graphic Novels, $14) is the first part of an original graphic novel series by the boys from TEENAGERS FROM MARS, Rick Spears and Rob G. We're fast growing to an epidemic of new westerns in comics these days, and I ain't complaining. This is 144 black and white pages.

The Marquis Volume 1: Danse Macabre (Oni, $40) is mentioned here for two reasons. One, it's a hardcover and I'm always looking for those. Second, it's written and drawn by Guy Davis. I love this guy's art far too much for my own wallet's good, I'm beginning to think. $40 is probably a little too much to spend on something I'm not sure I'm going to like. It's in the same format as the QUEEN & COUNTRY hardcovers, though, so I know it'll look good. Decisions, decisions. . .

TwoMorrows Publishing has two interesting books coming out in June, dedicated to two different masters of comics.

Modern Masters, Volume 5: Jose Luis Garcia Lopez is an artist whose work I haven't read much of. It seems most of his time in the past decade has been spent in the licensing division of DC. Every artist who's ever praised his work, though, is one that I respect. So I'm open to learning more about his work now.

This "Modern Masters" series of books has yet to disappoint. I'm in the middle of both the Bruce Timm and Kevin Nowlan volumes right now. Both deserve a full review. In the meantime, pick them up if those artists are interesting to you. There's lots of great stuff in both.

Secrets in the Shadows: The Art & Life of Gene Colan promises a career retrospective of the classic DAREDEVIL and DRACULA artist. The lineup on the book is stellar, and how they plan to fit it all into 168 pages is beyond me. Colan is the best example I can give you of an artist who should never be inked. He has had some great inkers do great justice to his work, but it's his pencil renderings that really blow the mind. The softcover edition is $22, while the limited hardcover is $45, but comes with an extra 8 color pages of portfolio.

Finally, two Will Eisner books:

The Plot: The Secret Story of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" (W.W. Norton, $20) is Eisner's last completed graphic novel, centered on the hoax of Jewish world domination. It's a 100 page hardcover. The publisher also has an ad in PREVIEWS promising to reprint the entire Eisner library in three volumes. Look for that to start in the fall, I believe.

Comic Book Artist (Top Shelf, $14.50) magazine has its tribute to Eisner in June, as well. It features a broad array of creators discussing the man.

Over at Various and Sundry this week: a PayPal calculator, COWBOY BEBOP double dip, THE OFFICE on NBC, British phrases appearing in American newspapers, a scrapbooking rant, Celine Dion putting her audience to sleep, and a complete AMERICAN IDOL rundown.

The Various and Sundry DVD Podcast continues to look at the week's DVD releases, every Sunday afternoon. Those of you with a podcasting program can subscribe to it right here. This week's show clocked it at an impressively long 15 minutes.

All political discussions have been pushed off to one neat side at VandS Politics.

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 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 also still available at the Original Pipeline page. I haven't had that account in years, but they've yet to delete the page space. Go fig.

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