PIPELINE COMIC BOOK PODCAST #53
It ran almost 11 minutes long this week, because there was just so much stuff coming out. After a few dry weeks for me, the entire industry woke up and started releasing great stuff all at once. Even books that have been delayed for weeks or months showed up this week. It is The Perfect Storm Wednesday.
Now, let's get to this week's Top Ten Comics. The data for each week's new comics comes from the fine folks at ComicList.com, which I've used for years.
10. Thing #3 $2.99
Dan Slott has the golden touch. Between this book and SHE-HULK, he's almost single-handedly saving a grim and gritty Marvel Universe from going over the edge. This is old-fashioned fun with a plethora of guest stars. Andrea DiVito's art is solid, but unspectacular.
9. Uncle Scrooge #350 $6.95
Walt Disneys Comics & Stories #665 $6.95
This week's list is dominated by the superheroes, but these two titles always perk me up each month. Anthology titles don't sell, nor do Disney comics in America. Thankfully, Gemstone keeps marching on with these. Plus, you get a Don Rosa story in each book this month, though only the Three Caballeros story in WDC&S is new.
8. Godland #7 $2.95
Godland Vol 1 Hello Cosmic TPB $14.99
This is just not my kind of book. I read the first couple of issues, put them down, and forgot about them five minutes later. I can see some of what Joe Casey is shooting for here, but it's not aimed at me.
The reason why it makes the list, though, is its release schedule. It repeats what Image just did with GIRLS, and what TV show producers are doing with current series. With TV shows, they like to release last season on DVD just before the new season begins. With comics, that release gap is similarly shrinking. For the second time in recent memory, Image is releasing the trade collecting the first six issues of a series on the same day as the seventh issue. Will this pay off in the end? I hope so, but it might be too early to tell just yet.
7. Next Wave #1 $2.99
Warren Ellis Black Gas #1 $3.99
Marvel Spotlight Warren Ellis & Jim Cheung $2.99
This is the Warren Ellis block of titles this week. BLACKGAS is his new zombie book, but I'm more interested in NEXTWAVE, the new Marvel book that comes complete with its own theme song and art by Stuart Immonen, who's decided he wants to be a 1950s cartoon stylist mixed in with a hint of manga. His style has radically shifted in the past couple of years. If he returns for the sequel to SUPERMAN: SECRET IDENTITY, I'll be interested in seeing what he comes up with for it.
Speaking of Avatar, as I was a paragraph ago: Did Steven Grant's ROBOCOP 2 adaptation ever finish? I lost track of it after four issues or so, and the continuous stream of variant covers made it impossible to track which issue was which from month to month. It probably finished a year ago without me noticing. I should dig those issues up and read the thing through now.
6. New Avengers Vol 2 Sentry Premiere HC $19.99
I waited for the hardcovers on this title and it's paying off. I really enjoyed the first book, so we'll see what this one brings. More of the same? Standard Avengers tropes in modern clothing? Or a chatty superhero team that fights bad guys? We'll see.
NEW AVENGERS #15 also came out this week, but that's a few months off from being on-time with the collection, which only carries up to issue #10. This isn't a GIRLS/GODLAND kind of thing.
5. Daredevil #81 $2.99
It's a busy week for Bendis, but this is the highlight of it all. It's the final payoff for his years on the title, as "The Murdock Papers" comes to a close, Matt Murdock is revealed to be Daredevil, and all the spit hits the fan. Who will live, who will die, who will be forever changed by this experience? I couldn't wait for the hardcovers on this series if I tried. This will be the book on top of my reading stack this week.
If you're a Bendis-phile, don't go away just yet. He also has new issues of PULSE and ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN coming out. And, at long last, the much-delayed POWERS HC drops in stores this week.
4. Defenders #5 (Of 5) $2.99
Remember what I said about Dan Slott above? Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis also bring the funny to the Marvel Universe, using the Defenders to do their bidding. It's a thick read -- the kind of comic you're glad to read one month at a time. Anything more than that and you'd get bogged down in all the jokes. Enjoy the Kevin Maguire art, too.
3. Comics Journal Library Vol 6 The Writers TPB $19.95
I love reading interviews. While the internet has made them a little too easy to find and often very simplistic and boring, there's nothing better than one of the probing interviews of THE COMICS JOURNAL against a mainstream superhero comic book writers. This volume reprints a series of interviews of such writers from the late 70s and early 80s, including one with Harlan Ellison that got him sued. It'll be interesting to see how much things have changed, but also how little. It's a completely different generation of comic book writers in this book. It's a BIG book, though, so I'll be reading it in little bit-sized pieces. I'll report back on anything of interest I learn along the way.
In the meantime, go ahead and pull out those "ancient" issues of WIZARD or AMAZING HEROES (depending on your generation) and check out the interviews with comics writers in there. See how tastes have changed, how attitudes have changed, and how the industry has evolved/crashed.
2. Previews Vol XVI #2 AR
Even with the internet sucking so much of the fun out of these listings, it's much easier to put together an order with this book than it is with the bits displayed on the screen. I'll be looking through PREVIEWS in next week's column.
1. Savage Dragon #122 (resolicited) $2.99
Is there any doubt that this would be the most anticipated book of the week for me? I'm an "old skewl" Dragon fanboy. All these months without an issue is enough to drive me mad. While I don't remember much of anything about where we left off, I'm still excited for this one. I want to dive right back into those waters and revisit old friends.
Also coming out this week:
Sketch Magazine #28 $5.95
Like I said, I love interviews. This mag is hit and miss, though, depending on who the featured interview is with. This time around, we get CBR's own Robert Kirkman.
Revelations #6 (Of 6) $2.99
Humberto Ramos was WIZARD Top Ten "hot" not too long ago, but seems to have fallen off the radar. While it's sad to see so much of the comics popular ignoring him, it's nice to see him working on smaller projects with greater potential than just the superhero fight of the week. REVELATIONS has been a stylistic shift for him, artistically. With it done now, I can go back and read through the whole thing. That's all I've been waiting for. Hopefully, Dark Horse will announce a trade shortly.
Sexy Chix TPB $12.95
The title and the cover have been the subject of much consternation and controversy over the months, but now we'll see if the contents were worth it all. I hope to see a review of this book in the next couple of weeks in which the reviewer doesn't feel the need to qualify what he or she writes by first doing the perfunctory feminist rant. Let's judge the work and not the packaging -- that's already been hashed out to death.
Serenity TPB $9.95
BUFFY moved from the WB to UPN. This fall, the two will combine. Can we blame Joss Whedon for this? No, but FIREFLY fans will want to read this trade, which treads the ground between the TV series and the movie. Beautiful art, lots of fun covers. I hope those covers are reproduced in this book, too.
Spider-Man Black Cat Evil That Men Do #6 (Of 6) $2.99
This series finished before DAREDEVIL: FATHER. I don't know what to make of that. I'll save it as an exercise for the reader.
Cartoon Guide To Sex TPB $15.95
Insert your own punchline here. It's too easy, isn't it?
SHE'S A HULK, ALL RIGHT
I recently read the second collection of Dan Slott's SHE-HULK, "Superhuman Law," and it reminded me of all the reasons the series popped to the top of everyone's radar screen when it began last year. Slott brings a lot of the fun and excitement of the comics we all enjoyed as kids back to comics today. Besides being a solid superhero comic book, SHE-HULK also lays in meta-textual commentary on comic book fans, their reading materials, and Marvel tradition. It manages to pull of all of this without being snarky and snide, but rather with love and affection.
Jennifer Walters works as a lawyer at a firm specializing in super-powered cases. Their case law is stored in a library of long-boxes. Marvel Comics, you see, are pretty much the "paper of record" for superhero action/adventure yarns. Who needs obscure and arcane statutes when you can look up issue numbers?
At the start of the second trade paperback, Jennifer has just learned that she's been hired, in part, to be a Big Sister to her boss' wayward super-powered daughter. It isn't long before they get zapped into space and fight an unbeatable foe before the end of the second issue in this volume. Along the way, they run into The Watchers, Adam Warlock, Beta-Ray Bill, the Silver Surfer, the Infinity Gems, and more. Slott wastes no page space in packing each issue with things of pure Marvel bliss.
Things get worse when Jennifer gets back to earth with extra loads of muscle. She's just learning to control herself when Titania attacks her again, this time with extra help from -- well, that would be significant spoiler territory. The lesson Jennifer learns along the way would also be a spoiler. Suffice it to say that all this fighting and the superheroics come with a valuable lesson, though you won't learn most of it until the beginning of the current series.
The art for the first two issues of this book is from Juan Bobillo. You might remember his name popping up here in my review of the extraordinary CHOCOLATE AND FRENCH FRIES graphic novel. With SHE-HULK, he's back to pen and ink, but it's a look unlike anything else in the Marvel catalog. It reminds me a bit of Oliver Copiel's art, perhaps, but that's as close as I can come.
The problem I originally had with the book is that I identified Bobillo's art too strongly with the title. When Paul Pelletier came on to finish the series with the last four issues reprinted in this volume, it took a bit of the wind out of my sails. I liked the different look for the series -- the way Bobillo drew emotion and expression, his rounder and larger She-Hulk design. I've been a fan of Pelletier's for a long time, but it seemed wrong for the book and I let it drift off my radar.
That was, needless to say, a silly mistake to make. Pelletier's style is actually a perfect fit for a book like this. His artwork is not grim and gritty. It's lighter and bouncier, although you might not know it if your best memory of his art is his CrossGen days of drawing interstellar war comics. He has a roundness to his characters and a softness in his line that's perfect for SHE-HULK. By the time his run was complete, it was almost a letdown that Bobillo would be returning as the solo artist on the new series. (Even that hasn't lasted, as a different artist will now be drawing issues #6 and #7 of the new series.)
Slott does an smart job in wrapping up plot lines and creating a spectacular finish for his first run on the series, as presented in this book. While the lighter moments and bits of inside Marvel business make for a great Easter Egg hunt during the reading, Slott doesn't forget important things like character development and dramatic conflict. Getting all of that into one book is a rare thing these days. It provides for the most value for your funny book dollar. You won't believe, for example, the work Slott puts into establishing Titania as a credible threat as well as an interesting and conflicted character. It reminded me of the work Geoff Johns did not too long ago in rehabilitating Flash's Rogues Gallery.
SHE-HULK: SUPERHUMAN LAW is available now for $14.99 from Marvel. The fourth issue of the follow-up series just came out a couple of weeks ago, with Bobillo back on art duties and Slott following up on the events of this series -- and She-Hulk's whole career -- quite nicely. This book is near the top of Marvel's roster in terms of quality for the overall package. Give it a chance if you haven't yet, and have some fun with it.
TWO LAST THOUGHTS
E3 is not allowing booth babes at its convention this year. Will comic book conventions follow suit? Without the tall internet dollar pervading the convention scene like it once did -- Hollywood is where it's at now -- the booth babe total isn't a big factor anymore. It might not even be necessary.
It sounds like part of the reason for the banning in E3's case is the careful scrutiny of the videogame industry by those who think games are just for kids. The comic book industry doesn't have that, oddly enough. We don't have a Jack Thompson just yet. We did, but that was 50 years ago, and he still spooks us into self-censorship to this day.
It would, however, be nice to see comic book conventions not selling booth space to Playboy models who want to autograph pictures of themselves that have Post-It notes strategically placed for public display.
Dare to dream. . .
Apologies for the delay in the column this week. In the 350 columns that I've written for ComicBookResources.com, I believe this is the first that was intentionally delayed. I was out of the country this past weekend at a family reunion. I had a great time, but the timing of it all made it impossible to compose a column in time.
Yes, this is the 450th column for Pipeline, but I'm waiting for #500 before I celebrate. Or take a week off.
There's another great airplane horror story to be shared about my vacation, but I'll save that for an upcoming column. Those of you who have followed the plane dramas of my comic book convention trips will soon learn that I'm jinxed in general, not just on comic trips.
Next week: The new PREVIEWS catalog just came out, so I'll be taking a spin through it.
The podcast will be updated on Tuesday night, as usual.
The Pipeline message board is where all the discussion is at. Jump over and join in the friendly non-fracas.
Don't forget about the VandS DVD podcast, while you're at it.
Various and Sundry continues its link dumps, DVD talk, and more.
More than 600 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically.