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Pipeline, Issue #457

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Pipeline, Issue #457

PIPELINE PREVIEWS WRAPS UP

I’m going to finish off this month’s catalog if it’s the last thing I do! Last week, I looked at what’s coming up two months hence from Marvel and Dark Horse, as well as discussing the titles with listed cancellations. This week, I’m looking at everything else of interest to me. As always, I highly recommend checking out the monthly PREVIEWS catalog for yourself. Tastes do vary, and I don’t have the room or time to talk about everything in this column.

DC Comics

The listings begin with the Batman titles and DETECTIVE COMICS #819, specifically. This gives me as good a chance as any to bring up DETECTIVE #817. It just came out a couple of weeks ago, and has received overwhelming praise on-line. So much so, I decided to pick it up for myself. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by the book.

James Robinson does a good job in bringing everything back to the “classic Batman” kind of thing, including Commissioner Gordon, Robin, the Bat Signal, etc. After the opening KGBeast scene, not much happens in the issue. I’m OK with that, though. Returning the series to a more classic feel is enough for me for now. All of the obsessive timeline hints that are being dropped are a bit kludgy, though. Does anyone in Gotham just come out and say what they mean anymore? They talk to each other and to themselves in guarded ways. That’s the writer’s tool to tease the reader, but it becomes cumbersome after awhile.

The real disappointment for me came in the visuals. I’m a big Leonard Kirk fan. I even own a few pages of his art from the SUPERGIRL days. He’s only doing layouts on this book, sadly, with Andy Clarke doing the finishes. The end result is a well-told story, but with some stiff figures and scratchy line work. Some of it reminds me of early Travis Charest styling, to be honest. That was not the good stuff, though. Think DARKSTARS, not WILDCATS.

Perhaps rougher is the lettering from Travis Lanham. It’s awkward-looking. The balloons surrounding the lettering are far too tight in many cases. Balloons get smashed against panel borders at random times, and then never look right. The letters inside aren’t arranged optimally in many cases. Gordon’s caption boxes look good, though, which leads me to believe part of the problem might be a choice of fonts. The dialogue font may just be too large, too.

I think the final nail in the coffin is that I forgot this is the first part of an eight part crossover series with BATMAN. Looks like I’m already dropping my first One Year Later title.

The Superman titles are doing roughly the same thing, but have the same artist (Pete Woods) across both books. I like Woods’ art enough that I might just pick up a trade paperback of the “Up, Up, and Away!” story when it’s done.

The snarky side of me wants to know why Kevin Maguire didn’t draw the cover to BATMAN/SUPERMAN #27. Was it because DC was afraid he’d do his usual first issue layout, and fill up the entire cover with down shots on Power Girl and The Huntress’ breasts? Huntress’ costume looks even more ridiculous than ever in the Ethan Van Sciver cover.

JLA CLASSIFIED: NEW MAPS OF HELL is a trade paperback holding the six part series from Warren Ellis and Butch Guice that just wrapped up a couple of months ago. The ending gets a little high-falutin’, but there are some great moments in the story, and Guice’s art is as beautiful as ever. It’s $13 for 144 pages.

WONDER WOMAN: DESTINY CALLING is the fourth and final volume collecting all of George Perez’ run on the title in the 1980s. There’s even art in this book from Art Adams, Brian Bolland, and more. If you’re a little late to the game, the three previous volumes are still available. Oddly enough, DC doesn’t label the titles with volume numbers in their titles, though I’m sure the sequence is noted somewhere on the packaging.

There’s also a bit of a price hike for this book. While the others were $19.95, the final one chimes in at $19.99. If anyone wants to write in to tell me that they’re not buying the book due to the extra four pennies it’ll cost, I’ll be printing your letters here to make fun of you. I don’t see why any comics should end with a price of 95 cents. It makes more sense to keep them all at 99 cents, whether that’s $2.99 for a single issue or $19.99 for a trade collection. Nobody’s going to drop a book for those four pennies, and the extra pennies will add up for the company in no time.

Oddly enough, WildStorm is resoliciting MATADOR #6 to May 31st. I find that odd, since Diamond shipped it last week.

(They’re not alone. Abrams solicits MOM’S CANCER (hardcover) by Brian Fies in the back of the catalog. That just came out this week, too.)

Check out the Batman figures on page 128. They’re based on Tim Sale’s designs from DARK VICTORY. I think they’re proof that some artists’ works do best on the comic page only. Batman looks positively grotesque as an action figure, but haunting and scary as Sale draws him in the comic. This is an advanced solicitation for October. Hurry up and wait!

Image Comics

Image starts off with a real winner in THE ART OF BRIAN BOLLAND. It’s a $50 hardcover containing 176 pages of art from the highly-detailed catalog of the British fan- favorite cover artist. (Sometimes when I read back these columns, I feel like I should be writing ad copy. . .)

FIVE FISTS OF SCIENCE resurfaces at Image. It’s still a graphic novel from Matt Fraction and Steven Sanders. It’s still in full color. And it’s priced at $13. Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla try to save the world, but Thomas Alva Edison and J.P. Morgan try to stop them. Craziness, it is safe to assume, ensues.

NEGATIVE BURN is still trying to come back. This time, it’s going back to being a monthly series – 64 pages a pop at $5.99, all in black and white. That might be a tough sell, even with art from the likes of Phil Hester, Dan Jurgens, Brian Bolland (him again?), Eric Powell, and others. I think we’ll see the final iteration of NEGATIVE BURN around the same time as we see Whilce Portacio make it to issue #10 of a WETWORKS book.

The second SPAWN COLLECTION gives you soft-covered access to issues #13-33 of Todd McFarlane’s little horror series that could. You’ll see the beginning of Greg Capullo’s run on the book here, as well as the Grant Morrison and Tom Orzechowski-penned stories, as I recall. Marc Silvestri’s Image X month contribution is likewise included. If you missed any of these issues, don’t be surprised. They were from the famous era of “Todd Can’t Count.”

INTO THE BACK. . .

AP Comics is publishing THE HISTORY OF WEBCOMICS. Sure, it’s a relatively short history, but there are enough colorful characters and stories prospective comic artists can learn from that I don’t think it’s too soon. The thing that made me chuckle was the reference to the author, “world-renowned web comic historian T. Campbell.” I’m not sure if the concept is overblown, or if having a historian for something less then a decade old is weird, or what. But it made me laugh.

They’re also releasing a two DVD set of GOLD DIGGER: THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION, Volume 1. It promises to show you every page of every issue Fred Perry has worked on in the series, for just $40. The odd thing here is that it’s not available in Canada, Hong Kong, Indonesia, or the U.K. Do they have separate distribution deals there? These are DVD-Roms, so there’s no need to worry about the region coding. Even if there was, Canada is in Region 1 with the United States. Chalk it up to another mystery of modern comics.

Boom! Studios gives us HERO SQUARED #2, featuring Milo and Captain Valor seeing a group therapist. Hmmm, lock two people in a room together and let the sparks fly for 22 pages or so? Sounds good to me. . .

Keith Giffen also has TAG #1 out in May, a new horror mini-series involving a deadly game of tag.

STARDUST KID returns at Boom! with the complete original team on the book from its Image days. Along the same lines, ABADAZAD returns over at Hyperion Books on page 293 of the catalog. There are two new books coming out from that series, which I believe are in illustrated prose format.

Is it too easy to pick on Jim Balent’s Broadsword Comics listings? I mean, that full page ad featuring a woman’s breasts with spikey protrusions at Just The Right Spots should be fodder for an entire column’s worth of material, right? Someone’s buying this crap, though, so who am I to judge?

The Dabel Brothers are publishing the XIII Volume 1 trade paperback that I recently cancelled my order on after being so many months late from Alias Comics. It’s still at 7 x 10 inch format for $15. It was slightly tempting a few months ago, but I just don’t have time for it now. The good news is that this will be an unedited edition. Alias wanted to remove bits from the book.

Fantagraphics is printing the complete CASTLE WAITING in a special hardcover edition for only $30. The 448 page series from Linda Medley will include an all-new concluding chapter, to boot.

THE COMICS JOURNAL #276 leads off with an interview with Terry Moore. This is the kind of interview I pick up TCJ for. Moore is just “mainstream” enough to be an interesting diversion for TCJ, and independent enough to not be afraid to discuss things in detail, should he so wish. It’ll be interesting to see how he views the 90s distribution wars and all the rest that went on behind the scenes during his years producing STRANGERS IN PARADISE.

Gemstone Publishing leads off with a book that should have been in print 15 years ago. I think it could be the next surprise hit for them after last year’s THE LIFE AND TIMES OF SCROOGE McDUCK. Mark my words on this now: CARL BARKS’ GREATEST DUCKTALES STORIES, Volume 1, will blow out of stores once it hits shelves. It’s the only book being done in Gemstone’s smaller 5 x 7 inch format for the month, collecting six of Barks’ original stories that were turned into episodes of the mega-popular DUCK TALES animated series. Some of those episodes are already available on DVD, as a matter of fact. At $10.95 for 144 pages, it’s easily affordable for the curious, the nostalgic, and for the new generation who like the format and who might just now be introduced to the series.

IDW gives us THE TRANSFORMERS: GENERATIONS #3, reprinting the original Marvel TRANSFORMERS #14. The issue features a special “rollback cover price” of $2.49. How many ways is that wrong? Well, the original Marvel Comic they’re reprinting here was probably priced at half that. And Marvel never had a $2.49 comic book in its life that I can think of.

Is it getting old to make fun of IDW for overpricing everything? Probably.

Besides, I’ll be gladly paying $3.99 for Beau Smith and Eduardo Barreto’s new COBB: OFF THE LEASH series, the first issue of which is due in May.

Imperium Comics’ TRAILER PARK OF TERROR COLOR SPECIAL #4 commits the tragic sin of making a repulsive cover so ugly that they mistakenly think it’ll stick out on the stands in a good way. I don’t want the image of a woman’s face burning off and an eyeball sliding down her check to be what catches my eye. If it did, I’d quickly turn to the opposite end of the shelf to find something else. That said, I know it includes work from a bunch of my old SAVAGE DRAGON fandom compatriots, like Derek Fridolfs and Mark Englert, so I might just have to rip the cover off and give it a shot.

NBM puts out something worth reading this month with the latest edition of Rick Geary’s THE TREASURY OF VICTORIAN MURDERS. Volume 8 features the story of Madeleine Smith, set in the Scotland in the late 19th century. It involves cross-caste love and poison. Sounds like fun to me, and only $16 for the hardcover edition.

Oni Press brings together the first three volumes of J. Torres and Eric Kim’s LOVE AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE into one Omnibus Edition for only $12. The whole thing will be 200 pages, and still in black and white. It’s a series worth following. If you’ve heard about it but haven’t sampled it yet, here’s your chance to catch up on all of it.

QUEEN AND COUNTRY #30 returns to show us the events that happened just after the events at the end of the GENTLEMEN’S GAME novel. If you want to skip it and be spoiled on the whole thing, I hear the second novel, PRIVATE WARS, begins by explaining everything that happens in this storyline of the comic. If that’s not enough Q&C loving for you, there are two new hardcovers coming in the Q&C DECLASSIFIED series. Volume 2 includes the storyline drawn by Rick Burchett, while Volume 3 has the Antony Johnston/Christopher Mitten collaboration.

Rebellion brings us back to the beginnings of Alan Moore’s writing career with ALAN MOORE: THE COMPLETE FUTURE SHOCKS. This 160-page book will compile all of the short stories Moore did as a young writer for 2000AD. Amusingly enough, the solicitation text calls Moore “one of the very bust writers in the business.” Typo not mine. It’s $22 at 8 x 11 inch format.

Speakeasy’s solicitations on page 320 form a graveyard of upstart comic titles. Feel free to ignore it.

I start to feel old again when I see comics I read as a younger comic fan reprinted like finds from deep in the vaults. ::sigh:: Titan Publishing has STAR TREK COMICS CLASSICS Volume 3: THE TRIAL OF JAMES T. KIRK. The trade collects the DC series issues #7-12 written by Peter David with art from James W. Fry and Gordon Purcell. As I recall, it was a great wrap-up to an exciting year of stories, but so much of it called back to the first six issues that I wonder if the story would hold up so well on its own. I must have missed it, but perhaps the first six issues were collected already? I hope so; they include the story with Kirk’s most controversial transporter stunt ever. It’s $20 for 160 pages.

Finally, TwoMorrows’ BACK ISSUE #16 magazine has a cover story on G.I. Joe, with interviews of Larry Hama, Denny O’Neil, and Herb Trimpe. Art Adams talks GUMBY. Mike Zeck and Michael Golden show off their art, and more. That’ll run ya $7.

I want to comment on the big fold-out ad for the upcoming SHE-DRAGON sculpture, but wouldn’t it look hypocritical after the tongue lashing I gave Broadsword? ::sigh::

Come back next week for a look at the second hardcover collection of Brian Bendis’ NEW AVENGERS series.

The Pipeline message board is your source for updates on the Pipeline Comic Book Podcast. You can subscribe to the podcast through iTunes, 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, looking at each week’s new DVD releases.

Various and Sundry continues its exhaustive American Idol coverage, link dumps, DVD talk, geek 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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