www.cbr.com

Pipeline, Issue #476

RANGER RIDES AGAIN

I'm not necessarily a Lone Ranger fan. I don't know much about the character or his mythology. I know he has a fancy gun and an Indian sidekick and rides a horse. Everything else is a mystery.

That's why I'm able to judge THE LONE RANGER #1 from Dynamite Entertainment on its own merits. It's a tabula rasa for me, and I liked it. The story is immediately gripping. Lots of stuff happens in the issue. And the art is stunning.

This is the origin story, but it's not a straightforward revenge tale just yet. Writer Brett Matthews jumps around in time a bit to show us a bit of the Ranger's childhood and subsequent maturation. Lots of bits are implied and not strictly spelled out, which I liked. The reader is given everything he needs to know, but isn't bashed over the head with it. Nor does the writing ever get too angsty, even given the serious nature of the events of the issue.

There is some decompression that makes the book a relatively quick read, but I'm willing to overlook that for now. There's still a lot of meat in the issue and it does it's job well -- I want to read issue #2 now.

The art is "directed" by John Cassaday, and drawn by Sergio Cariello with colors from Dean White. I have to mention all three names at once because the overall look of the book can't be limited to just one name. Cariello's black and white art, I'm sure, would be great. His overall style and sense of anatomy works for me. He uses some nice dramatic angles during the peaks of the story, not being afraid to use the medium for what it can be, and not just mimic filmmakers' techniques. There's some nice old school storytelling in here.

The colors from White have a beautiful painted look. It's all very earth-toned, as fits a western book like this one. There are a few "money shots" in the book, and the Photoshop work is mostly restrained on those. He lets loose a little bit more for the final page, but it doesn't bother me -- it's a beautiful page that I won't spoil for you.

THE LONE RANGER is a character I never thought I'd care much about. I'm sure if someone did a slick big budget movie revival of the character today, I might be interested. (It worked well on MASK OF ZORRO, after all.) But it's not something I'd seek out. This comic might just make a believer out of me yet. Matthews, Cassaday, Cariello, and White do a great job

The first issue is due out in September, so bug your retailer now about pre-ordering it. For more on this series, check out CBR's interview with writer Brett Matthews.

SUNDAY IN SAN DIEGO 2006

It went so quickly. The floor closes at 5:00 on the final day, so there's always the mad cross-convention center race in the final hours to tire you out.

The convention floor was scarily busy in places on Sunday. If you were close to Artists Alley, you were not moving at all. Seriously, I was worried they were going to close down Hall G because of all the people packed into it. The picture you see here is a view in that direction from about twenty aisles away, looking out from the Image Comics booth. I'm not sure that it tells the story as well as it should. The convention will have a lot of questions to answer and serious thinking to do in preparation for next year. It can't grow anymore past what it did this year. It just isn't physically possible to do it safely.

The centerpiece of the day was the Comics Podcasting panel. I sat at the end of the dais and soaked in that surreal feeling of sitting at a table with a bunch of people whose voices I recognize, but whom I've never met before. At one point I asked the crowd if any of us looked how they imagined us, and I saw a lot of heads shaking. Wild stuff.

I'd say about 70 people showed up for the panel, which far exceeded what many of us expected. There was the Gail Simone Spotlight panel against us, as well as a general Marvel panel. I'm happy with the audience we had -- they were all enthusiastic supporters. It was great to meet so many people so quickly, but the whole thing became rather a blur.

There is an MP3 of the panel that will be posted at some point this week thanks to the guys at iFanboy.com, and I'll be sure to link you all to that when it happens. I also saw a couple of video cameras running throughout the panel, so I'll link you to YouTube as soon as I see myself there. I joke, but only half so. I'll have more thoughts on YouTube, Podcasting, and the convention next week.

A lot of networking went on amongst the podcasters in the hallway after the panel, so don't be surprised at all if you hear a lot of cross-pollination in the weeks and months ahead. Everyone there was excited for what the future holds, and we're all having fun.

I've included the group picture of the panel with this column, but please don't ask me who is who. My mind is still a blur, and so are all the pictures. It's tough to get that many people to sit still long enough for one pic when there are multiple cameras aimed at them.

Some people to mention: I'm the tallest guy in the middle back. That's Chris Marshall from the Collected Comics Library on the far right in the green shirt. Moderator B. Clay Moore is standing in front of me. Scott and Oliver from Fanboy Radio are just to the left of me. The iFanboy guys are just in front of me. John Siuntres from WordBalloon is taking a knee in the white shirt on the far left. Lene Taylor from I Read Comics stands just to the right of me, as are a couple of the Comic Geek Speak crew.

By next week, I hope to point you to a website where someone gets a better picture with a canonical list of all the names present.

Funny enough, I ended up having dinner at the airport that night -- a delightful McDonalds repast -- with WordBalloon's John Siuntres, and Conor and Ron from iFanboy. I wonder if they fared any better getting sleep on the plane than I did. On a five-hour red eye flight home, I think I slept for two hours, at best. I'm going to be in rough shape for the rest of this week.

THE TRAVELOGUE HOME

Amazing, the flight home went smoothly. Knock on wood, but this has been my luckiest year ever in that department.

I even got to watch a lightning storm somewhere over middle America at about 4:00 a.m. It was on the horizon, so I wasn't worried about my flight at all. It's just cool to see those flashes of light and even a few lightning bolts in an otherwise pitch black sky so far away.

There were two interesting hiccups on the flight, though:

First, my bag weighed too much. I checked in one bag instead of two this year. That meant that all the comics I picked up at the show had to be stored in either the checked-in luggage, my backpack, or my laptop bag. The single piece of luggage I needed to check in weighed 54 pounds. I had to remove some books and carry them on with me to fit their regulations. Either that, or I would have had to pay more. No thanks.

Second, the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) searched through my luggage again. I can't remember the last time they didn't search my bags after a comic book convention. Bringing home a few extra pounds of comics makes you a target of suspicion at the airport.

Nobody has ever questioned me on the needles I take through security with me when I'm flying. I'm diabetic. I need them. I have the proper paperwork if they asked. Nobody has. Instead, they want to look at my heavy comics, and scan my sneakers.

Here's an idea for a bit of immediate security -- why aren't there people at baggage claim anymore to check your baggage tags to make sure you're not walking away with someone else's bags? Right now, there's nothing to stop you from doing it. I remember having to show my baggage claim tickets to a security person in San Diego once, probably eight years ago. I haven't had to do it since.

AND AT THE END OF THE DAY. . .

Even Gumby had to leave the con floor.

Where's Gumby?

I only wish I was quick enough to snap a picture of the woman walking through the lobby holding up the sign, "END OF THE LINE." Now THAT'S Con Comedy!

WHAT'S COME BEFORE

It's been a busy week for Pipeline, with new columns on six of the last eight days.

Time for a nap. But do please come back next Tuesday for lots more San Diego pictures, and perhaps even the beginning of Pipeline Previews for the month.

The Pipeline Podcast has its own homepage now. It might be delayed until a little later this week due to some other scheduling issues I have this week. I'm a bad podcaster. . .

My blog, Various and Sundry offered up a lot of web games while I was on vacation. The usual DVD release list discussion will commence today, as well. It's an Animaniacs release day!

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 700 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically.

Yes, Captain America Has Children -- Only Not With Peggy Carter

More in CBR Exclusives