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Pipeline, Issue #451

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
Pipeline, Issue #451

PREVIEWED NO MORE!

It’s been a while since I flipped through the Cancellations pages in the back of the PREVIEWS consumer order form. I don’t know if this is a one-off problem or if it’s the sign of a growing trend, but the number of titles on the list has certainly expanded. What was once two pages is now blossoming out to four pages. Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom for the comic book industry.

For starters, the worst offender of the month is Alliance Games Distributors, which lists no less than 70 items. The biggest bulk of them are listed as being late, but there are a dozen or more labeled “Cancelled by Previews.” As you might suspect, these are all items for the gaming portion of your comic shop, including miniatures, CDs, and campaign books.

Industry whipping boy Alias Comics is late on the IMAGINARIES Volume 1 trade paperback, while canceling XIII #6 and JOHN CARPENTER’S SNAKE PLISSKEN CHRONICLES Volume 1 trade paperback.

Avatar Press is late with a batch of STARGATE products. It’s not as bad as it looks, though. Those 15 listings are all for two different comics with their assorted variant covers. ALAN MOORE’S HYPOTHETICAL LIZARD #4, RICH JOHNSTON’S HOLED UP #3, and YUGGOTH CREATURES #3 are all running late.

ROBOCOP 2 — discussed in this column last week — is not listed.

Dark Horse has an entire column’s worth of items on parade. Half of them are for sold out items like DIRTY PAIR shot glasses and GOON t-shirts. The other half includes items that are merely “out of stock,” like a different GOON t-shirt, some STAR WARS trade paperbacks, and TRIGUN t-shirts.

MANGA DARKCHYLDE #3 (of 5) is cancelled by the publisher.

DC is listing mostly sold out comics and merchandise like the Lobo statue, Cain & Abel bookends, a Supergirl poster, and Kurt Busiek’s WIZARD’S TALE trade paperback. Who knew that one was still in print to begin with?

ALBION #6 (of 6) is cancelled by the publisher.

Dementian Comics cancelled its own NOTHING BETTER #3, but that’s for a good reason: Tyler Page has taken his series to the web, where you can read a new page a day for just under $2 a month. The first two issues are up on the web now. Give it a shot — it’s a great comic. If you’re a paper fan, I believe we’ll see trade paperback collections down the road, too.

IDW has cancelled the LEGEND OF GRIMJACK Volume 4 hardcover. The trade is still out, though, but I wonder if the newness of the thing has worn off on the higher-end collectors here.

Image Comics has a few sell-outs, including a bunch of “offered again” TOMB RAIDER issues, the second AGE OF BRONZE hardcover, the COMMON GROUNDS reader set, and the HAMMER OF THE GODS: MORTAL ENEMY trade paperback. SEA OF RED #9 and SUPERPATRIOT: WAR ON TERROR #4 (of 4) are both running late. In the latter’s case, it’s quite the understatement.

Marvel Comics features a “Will Resolicit” warning next to PUNISHER: THE TYGER, while everything else in there is sold out: ESSENTIAL DR. STRANGE, a GHOST RIDER #1 poster, a bunch of Marvel Masterworks, NEW AVENGERS Volume 1 hardcover, and a few Wolverine trades. The ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN Volume 2 trade is also gone from the warehouses.

Plastic Fantasies has cancelled its planned release of the Jenna Jameson 12-inch collector’s doll. I’ll leave it to Mike Sterling to comment on that one.

Public Square Books made its name for soliciting Spanish language editions of SIN CITY. Three of them are late now.

Speakeasy cancelled a lot of titles officially this month. I don’t think there’s anything new there, but the list does include ADENTURES OF BIO BOY, SMOKE AND MIRROR, SUPER CRAZY TNT BLAST, ELLIUM, STRANGEWAYS, and SILENT GHOST. GRIMOIRE will be resolicited, as will the first BEOWULF trade paperback.

Diamond went ahead and cancelled Steve Jackson Games’ Munchkin Christmas t-shirts. Who can blame them? If they aren’t out by now, why bother?

TwoMorrows is promising to resolicit BRAVE AND BOLD: ART OF JIM APARO.

And that’s about it. There’s plenty where that came from, but most of it is either non-comics related, or so obscure that you won’t miss them, anyway.

NOW FOR SOME COMICS THAT REALLY ARE COMING OUT

PREVIEWS announced the Free Comic Book Day releases from the “Gold Sponsors” on pages 12 and 13 of the latest catalog.

Image Comics has one called FUTURE SHOCK, which features new short stories set in future continuity of its on-going titles: INVINCIBLE, NOBLE CAUSES, SAVAGE DRAGON, FEAR AGENT, et. al. It’s 32 pages and promises spoilers aplenty.

Marvel’s FCBD offering is 40 pages, leading off with a new 11 page story by Brian K. Vaughan and Skottie Young, featuring X-Men and Runaways. Past that, there’s a promised recap of the ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN series thus far, a FRANKLIN RICHARDS story, and a preview of the upcoming MIGHTY AVENGERS book.

Gemstone gives us a DONALD DUCK comic book featuring reprints from Don Rosa, Pat and Shelly Block, and William Van Horn.

Other publishers offer looks at SCOTT PILGRIM (Oni), OWLY (Top Shelf), and AMELIA RULES! (Renaissance Press).

Wizard has a free comic listing the “Top 100 Trade Paperbacks of All Time.” No doubt that their list will needlessly cause a kafuffle on-line. We all know what WIZARD likes, and it shouldn’t be a big shock when the bulk of their titles come from DC and Marvel. We can chuckle over their list and poke fun at the high rankings that books like WOLVERINE: ORIGIN or AGE OF APOCALYPSE might get, but it’s all pointless.

Let’s move into the regular part of the catalog now:

Dark Horse has a new book titled ARCHENEMIES that could be fun, if it doesn’t sink into too many cliches. It is a four part mini-series with a more comedic superhero tone to it. Two roommates that hate each other don’t have a clue that they are each other’s arch enemies as super-powered people. It’s THE ODD COUPLE for the superhero set. It sounds like high concept fun to me.

The writer is a stand-up comedian and school teacher by the handle of Drew Melbourne. The art comes from Yvel Guichet, who did a little stint at Marvel and DC not too long ago. I remember him best from the overlooked gem, RELATIVE HEROES, that he drew from Devin Grayson’s scripts. Joe Rubenstein inks him.

As much as we all might complain about the high price tag, someone must be buying the NEXUS hardcover reprints. There’s a third volume collecting issues #12-18 due out in May now. It’s still $50 a pop for 216 full color pages.

A third CONAN collection of the current Kurt Busiek-penned series is also coming in May as a hardcover (June in softcover). It’s titled “The Tower of the Elephant and Other Stories.” This one has the #0 issue, as well as #16, #17, #19-22. Cary Nord draws the vast majority of the book, with a little help from the amazing Michael William Kaluta.

Marvel Comics has a small wealth of collected editions in store for you this April that will drive you to the poor house. But first, a word of warning:

Do not read the solicitation text for DAREDEVIL #84. Just don’t do it. It contains a massive spoiler. Bigger than massive, perhaps. Perhaps not: I might just be overreacting for having been spoiled. Don’t read it. There’s an event described therein that hasn’t yet happened in the most recently published issue of DAREDEVIL. UGH

I like the stretch effect used on Reed Richards’ head on Greg Land’s cover to ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #29.

Let’s get to the collected editions now:

We start with DEFENDERS: INDEFENSIBLE PREMIERE, which is the Marvel Premiere kind of hardcover collecting the just-recently-concluded five-part mini-series from the “bwah-ha-ha” team of Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire. It’s $20 if you want to jump on in April.

SPIDER-MAN: THE OTHER is the slightly larger than normal hardcover collecting the recent gigantic Spider-Man crossover penned by J. Michael Straczynski, Peter David, and Reginal Hudlin. It’s funny; for something that I had so little interest in, it suddenly becomes interesting when presented in one large 288 package like this. I think I’ll end up passing, but I’ll have to wait for it to hit shelves on April 19th to tell for certain. $30 buys you the long-winded story of Spider-Man’s rebirth and new costume.

At last, ASTONISHING X-MEN is presented in one hardcover. This is a 320 page book with story from Joss Whedon and art by John Cassaday. It’ll be worth it for Cassaday’s art on the larger paper alone. I enjoyed most of Whedon’s story, although I understand some of the criticisms of it. For the most part, I just shut my brain off walking into it and enjoyed the ride. It was enough for me.

There’s also a variant edition of this for the bookstore market that features Whedon’s name prominently, while minimizing the art on the cover. DC had a good idea there when they did it with IDENTITY CRISIS, and Marvel is — as it always promised it would — borrowing it smartly.

If that’s not enough X-Men for you under one cover, I’d have to recommend the UNCANNY X-MEN OMNIBUS Volume 1 edition. It’s $99.99, but check out what you get for the price: GIANT-SIZED X-MEN #1, UNCANNY X-MEN #94-131, and the third annual. It also contains the original letters columns for all the issues. This, of course, features Chris Claremont’s writing with art from Dave Cockrum and John Byrne.

Wait, there’s more! MARVEL MASTERWORKS: THE X-MEN Volume 6 collects issues #54-66 of the original series. That’s the entire run of Roy Thomas and Neal Adams for $50.

If you’re a fan of the NEW MUTANTS, Marvel is also getting around to reprinting those stories. NEW MUTANTS CLASSIC Volume 1 is a $25 book with 240 pages in it. You’ll get the first seven issues of the on-going series, plus MARVEL GRAPHIC NOVEL #1 and UNCANNY X-MEN #167. Claremont wrote it, while Bob McLeod drew it.

Or, perhaps you’re more interested in Tony Stark’s battle with the bottle? IRON MAN: DEMON IN A BOTTLE will detail that plot, collecting IRON MAN #120-128, featuring stories by David Michelinie and Bob Layton, with art from John Romita Jr., Layton, and Carmine Infantino. It’s $25.

Two quick ESSENTIALS volumes and I’ll wrap it up:

ESSENTIAL WOLVERINE Voluem 3 takes us through issues #70-#90 of that series, all featuring stories by Larry Hama, with art by the likes of Dwayne Turner, Adam Kubert, Ian Churchill, and the much-maligned swiper Fabio Laguna.

ESSENTIAL X-MEN Volume 7 tracks UNCANNY #214-228, plus the tenth and eleventh annual, and FANTASTIC FOUR VS. THE X-MEN #1-4. Whew. Claremont writes it all, with an art roster including Alan Davis, Barry Windsor-Smith, Jackson Guice, Marc Silvestri, Rick Leonardi, and Art Adams. Talk about your killer art lineups. . .

To sum it all up: Marvel wants to bleed my wallet dry in April. You’d almost think the Christmas season was approaching with all this material coming out. The only question we need to ask now is, “Which volume will have a misprinting so grave that someone needs to be fired for it?”

I’ll be looking at the rest of PREVIEWS with next week’s column.

VARIOUS AND SUNDRY

There’s something I don’t get. I’ve heard the phrase used before, but it really rung a bell when I chanced across it last week. I read a post on a message board here at Comic Book Resources in which someone complained that a certain comic book story was just a set-up for the following one.

Theoretically, it is true that there are blatant prologue issues or introductory stories or filler stories used to set things up for the real story that’s coming. Sure, those happen.

But I think people are confusing solid storytelling for decompressed padding. When one storyline feeds into another, it isn’t just a set up. It’s long range storytelling. It’s one story following up on the after-effects of another. It’s cause and affect. It’s smart, not tricky.

At the end of a mini-series, the status quo that’s been upended by the events of the recent past can’t be explored any further. The story the author wished to tell is over and so they move on. A new author comes in with his or her own voice to create something else that’s new. That’s a problem with the comics world today. Without singular voices sticking with titles for long periods of time, one storyline doesn’t feed into the next. It completes itself and that’s it. Time for a change.

Wouldn’t you rather see Story B follow up on events set into motion by the happenings in Story A? Isn’t Story B’s purpose to follow up on the events of Story A? And if it doesn’t, the peanut gallery usually jeers that the events of the first story are being ignored or forgotten.

You can’t have it both ways. I like the idea of a progression of stories.

Let’s hope the DC Universe won’t be going the way of Acclaim c. 1996. Let me explain.

A lot of great and big names are showing up for the One Year Later titles: Howard Chaykin, Walter Simonson, Paul Dini, Bilson/DeMeo, Kurt Busiek, Carlos Pacheco, Butch Guice, etc. All of DC’s big guns and several new guns are jumping on board. It’s like the best that DC has to offer is all being thrown at all their best books at once.

In 1996, Acclaim restarted its comics line under the editorial direction of Fabian Nicieza. The core titles started with talent like Garth Ennis, Kurt Busiek, Mark Waid, and Kevin Maguire. Not too many of them made it very long.

What if all these big name signings at DC only last 6 months, or a year? Will the fans be happy, or forgiving of it?

The one thing DC has going for it that Acclaim didn’t — besides financial stability — is the exclusive contracts. Most of the creators at the center of the One Year Later event are signed exclusively (to one degree or another) to DC. I think the odds of a mass departure of talent in the short term is very slight.

But, still, what if it did happen?

TWO QUICK LINKS

Next week: I delve deep into PREVIEWS once again, paying special attention to DC’s “One Year Later” titles. Now that we have a couple solicitations under our belt, what looks promising, what looks silly, and what’s a toss-up? If I have space, I’ll also be talking about my latest flight woes, reading habits, and business concerns.

The Pipeline message board is your source for updates on the Pipeline Comic Book Podcast. You can subscribe to the podcast through iTunes now, too!

This week’s podcast will show up over here this week. Last week’s is forever posted over here.

Don’t forget about the VandS DVD podcast, while you’re at it.

Various and Sundry continues its link dumps, DVD talk, 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.

More than 600 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They’re sorted chronologically.

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