NEW YEAR, NEW COMICS
Welcome to 2006. I'm pondering all sorts of stuff for the year ahead - what to do, what to focus on, what to prioritize. Right now, though, I'm at the end of the holiday season madness and all that comes with it - packing the artificial tree back away, finding the one Christmas decoration that was missed in all the cleanup, and just plain playing with new toys. (I'm madly addicted to SSX ON TOUR for the GameCube right now. Every now and then, I'm contractually obligated to show tendencies of being a young comics professional. I think next week I'll go pick a flame war on a message board. . .)
In other words, this one's going to be a shorter column again. Sorry about that. Hopefully, I'll be back to my normal long-winded self next week and the week after. A family reunion is currently threatening the column after that, but that gives me enough time to make contingency plans of some sort.
In the meantime, it's time for another Pipeline Previews, and you're all here to see what books I think look interesting for the month of March 2006. As always, I highly recommend picking up a copy of PREVIEWS at your local direct market comic shop and pre-ordering your brains out. It's the best way to guarantee yourself a chance to read the comics you think you'll want to see in March. Yes, it's a horrible system to deal with, but it's what we've got. We can discuss alternatives another time. Right now, pre-ordering is the way to go.
As always, we'll move from the front of the catalog to the back. Marvel is conspicuously absent this month because I lost their separate catalog. Maybe they should consider moving back inside PREVIEWS, where they'd be easier to find. If I track that book down and find anything exciting in it, I'll be sure to mention it next week.
Whee! There's a new TAG AND BINK comic coming from Dark Horse on March 22nd. And I see Adam Hughes is drawing the cover to a special BOBA FETT one shot, finally proving that he's capable of drawing more than just big breasts on a cover. It's a nice composition, too, filled with a great lighting scheme.
EMILY THE STRANGE has playing cards, which will complement nicely the calendar I just saw in my local Borders store this weekend. I picked up the Spider-Man calendar for my bedroom and the Mickey Mouse calendar for the cube at work. The Mickey Mouse one is particularly nice, as it blows up panels from classic Mickey Mouse comic book stories each month. It's not another series of publicity pieces from Disney. . .
Dark Horse also diversified its portfolio nicely in 2006. They have tons of "products" featuring both KING KONG and NARNIA. KONG is being considered a bomb by many, but it's still beating out NARNIA week after week, which is being considered a success. Welcome to Hollywood, folks.
DC Comics has Sam Kieth doing a Batman five issue mini-series, which makes me add one more trade to my mental Must Buy list for 2006.
Everything else is the One Year Later books, with plenty of exciting changes to characters that, in the end, won't make much of a change. We'll see.
GOTHAM CENTRAL gets a new trade paperback, at last, collecting issues #12-15 and #19-22. This is the one that features the Joker and a phone book, as I recall. Great stuff for just $15.
Finally! SUPERMAN/BATMAN #25 pops up in March 22nd. Maybe. This is a resolicitation for the final hurrah featuring Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness. DC Universe aficionados might be concerned about the continuity involved here. I'd just like to see it collected in hardcover soon, please.
WILDSIDERZ #3 is also resolicited for March 29th, for those of you keeping track at home. Remember all those early interviews with J. Scott Campbell about this series, and how it might get off schedule? The worst nightmares are coming true.
But, hey, it even took Top Cow a full year to get six issues of HUNTER/KILLER out, but that's only if you count the #0 issue. I suppose you could count the filler "dossier" special if you like, but that's really stretching it. Don't forget, Top Cow originally scheduled a HUNTER/KILLER collection for December 2005, featuring issues #1-6, #0, the WIZARD #1/2 issue, and sketchbook material. It's January 2006 and issue #6 hasn't seen the light of day yet. I don't know that it's even been solicited yet.
Back to DC. . .
I already forgot that Howard Chaykin both wrote and drew a CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN mini-series last year. DC is collecting all six issues under the title STOLEN MOMENTS, BORROWED TIME for $17 at the end of March.
From Image Comics we get TRUTH, JUSTIN, AND THE AMERICAN WAY. It's co-written by Scott Kurtz and Aaron Williams, which means it will contain a few laughs. The real reason why I spotlight it here is for the art. This five issue mini-series is drawn by Italian artist Guiseppe Ferrario, whose cartoonish style looks right up my Euro-album loving alley. It's expressive, it's packed in every panel, and the storytelling looks solid from the preview pages. Count me in for five months on this one. For more on this series, click here.
Lots of comics are leaving one publisher for another these days, aren't they? I'm not suggesting a secret cabal or bad business practices or anything else, but it does seem they're all leaving for Image. Speakeasy, AiT/PlanetLar, and Oni have all announced projects which never show up until Image re-solicits them. So it goes this month for HYSTERIA ONE MAN GANG #1. It's a 32 page comic from Mike Hawthorne following up on his original graphic novel of two years ago. It's filled with crazy high concepts, and just plain looks cool.
Speaking of which, COLOSSUS was originally self-publishedm but not really distributed. Its creator, Mark Andrews, is a Pixar artist who created this 224 black and white graphic novel to sell at the San Diego Con last year. Now, Image has its mitts on the book and promises the rest of us a copy on March 8th. I just wish he'd redo the lettering on the book. The art looks beautiful, but the lettering is Times New Roman, or something else similarly uninspired for comics.
A second INVINSIBLE: ULTIMATE COLLECTION is coming up, for $35. This one has issues #0, #14-24 and the Free Comic Book Day stories packed inside, as well as all the usual bonus bits at the back.
There is no new issue of HUNTER/KILLER solicited this month, for those keeping track at home.
Through Diamond Select Toys, Marvel has a statue of Matt Murdock mourning Elektra's loss at her grave site. You've seen the image by Frank Miller before. It's filled with emotion - grieving, pain, loss. The statue makes Murdock look constipated and slightly amused by it. Some things are better left as drawings, I suppose.
MEANWHILE, IN THE BACK OF THE CATALOG
Scott Morse's NOBLE BOY ONE-SHOT is a new 32 page tribute to the late great Maurice Noble. He's the guy who did all those amazing backgrounds in the Looney Tunes shorts you remember so well. "What's Opera, Doc?" is his work. So are the Road Runner shorts, and dozens or hundreds more. It's $13 for the book, which is 10 x 6 inches in size.
AiT/PlanetLar delivers the long-awaited SKY APE: KING OF GIRLS ONE-SHOT. It's a mere 48 pages this time around, but it's still bound to be worth the money. I mean, it's got a talking ape with a jet-pack. Isn't that enough for your five bucks?
Slave Labor Graphics is reprinting the first PATTY-CAKE issues in full color. PATTY-CAKE AND FRIENDS Volume 1 will be 96 pages for $13. It's both a cute and a fun book, with a devilish sense of humor. I hope this new printing will bring a new recognition to his creation.
Boom! Studios brings back HERO SQUARED in its new on-going series format. Giffen, DeMatteis, and Abraham return for more yucks and craziness. "The Bwahaha isn't just back, now it won't go away!" is what they promise. Good enough for me! If you're late to the game, there's also a HERO SQUARED trade paperback with all the stories thus far in it, I think. The solicitation text is a bit iffy. It does promise Giffen's plot, so you can see where DeMatteis "strays" with his dialogue. That'll set you back $15 for 128 color pages, which is well worth it.
If that's not enough for you, there's a second edition of WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? in March, also, with the subtitle SOME PEOPLE NEVER LEARN. Giffen and friends rewrite more classic comics in crazy ways. This time around, Andrew Cosby and John Rogers pitch in.
Cinebook is still in business, reprinting European albums CLIFTON and YAKARI. Each gets a second volume.
I provide the story, you provide the punchline: Crusade is going the ESSENTIAL route (and cover design) to reprint all of SHI so far. The first DEFINITIVE SHI: THE ESSENTIAL WARRIOR is 576 black and white pages for $25, with two more volumes promised to come. Loads of extras and guest pin-ups are promised.
IDW is offering up a new format for script books. ANGEL SCRIPTBOOK prints Joss Whedon's script for the very first episode of the ANGEL TV series, along with spot illustrations from Jeff Johnson. It's $4 for 48 pages. I prefer the format used by J. Michael Straczynski in his current BABYLON 5 script book series, but different strokes for different folks and all that. . .
Oni Press is reprinting the delightful BANANA SUNDAY in its 6 x 9 inch trade size for just $12. From Root Nibot and Colleen Coover, this is a fun family-friendly story of a girl and her three intelligent monkeys who go crazy at her new school. Lots of fun, cleanly illustrated, and an overlooked gem of 2005.
QUEEN AND COUNTRY is also returning, with its 29th issue beginning a new storyline from Greg Rucka and Chris Samnee, artist of CAPOTE IN KANSAS. I need to go read that second novel now.
Second 2 Some Studios is finally releasing the second trade compiling FADE FROM BLUE. This will complete the series, written by Myatt Murphy and drawn by Scott Dalrymple. I still haven't read the second half of the series, as the scattered publication dates and my own shifting priorities kept me out of the loop for a long time. I read and enjoyed the first trade, though, so I'm hoping this one lives up to its promise. $16 gets you 176 black and white pages.
Hunh. J Bone is drawing BEOWULF at Speakeasy Comics. So that's where he disappeared to. . .
Next week: More comics. More fun. More words. Lots more. Happy new year!
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