CHRISTMAS IS COMING
The holiday season is still nearly two months away, but in the world of comics it's happening right now. The latest PREVIEWS catalog gives us a look at new comics shipping (mostly) in December of this year, and it's an interesting mix. I could go broke on the hardcovers this month if I were a less disciplined man.
As always, I recommend picking up a copy of PREVIEWS for yourself and taking a look at what might interest you. I can't mention it all here, a fact that I'm reminded of every month after this column is published and the e-mails stream back to me from fans and professionals who can't believe I missed their favorite titles. It's a thankless job, but I enjoy it.
As a matter of fact, I enjoy it so much that I've begun podcasting it. Look for a special edition of The Pipeline Podcast later this week.
Let's start with the collected editions from Marvel Comics.
POWERS: THE DEFINITIVE COLLECTION Volume 2 is the new hardcover reprinting the second year of Bendis and Oeming's police series with superpowered peeps. It'll collect issues #12-24 along with a bevy of bonus items. If you've not read POWERS before, these hardcover collections would be the best way to do it. It's 488 oversized pages for just $30.
AVENGERS DISASSEMBLED is an oversized hardcover collecting AVENGERS #500-503 alongside AVENGERS FINALE. Yes, this is the Bendis/David Finch ending to the original series before the NEW AVENGERS series began. It is, however, not the best bang for your buck this month. Compared to other Marvel titles, in fact, it's not much of a deal at all: it's $25 for just 184 pages.
Compare that to RUNAWAYS Volume 2, which gives us issues #1-12 of the second volume of the series (along with the Free Comic Book Day issue) in the same oversized hardcover format for the same $25 price point. It's 312 pages long. That AVENGERS book just looks paltry now, doesn't it?
As someone who discovered RUNAWAYS through the first beautiful hardcover collection, I've been waiting for an announcement of this second volume for months. It's my preferred way to read it. With Joss Whedon coming onto the series in 2007, I get the feeling we'll see a third volume of the hardcover in relatively short order to catch everyone up. If that happens, I might just jump onto the monthly read at that point.
I mentioned this last month, but it deserves another mention with its actual solicitation: SUPREME POWER Volume 2 is an oversized hardcover collecting the rest of the first volume of JMS' series (drawn by Gary Frank) along with the five-issue HYPERION mini-series (drawn by Dan Jurgens). This fits between the Volume 1, Volume 1 book and the Volume 2, Volume 1 book solicited last month. Confused yet? You should be. It's 264 pages for $30. The price point is a little higher due to the limited audience for the mature readers subject matter, I'd bet.
Let's wrap up the Marvel releases with two Premiere Edition hardcovers:
WOLVERINE BY CLAREMONT & MILLER gives you the original four-issue mini-series and UNCANNY X-MEN #172, as drawn by Paul Smith. The solicitation says the book has issues #172-172 of the series, so don't ask me which issues it really is. It tops off at 144 pages, so it's likely two or three issues.
MOON KNIGHT Volume 1: THE BOTTOM compiles the first six issues of the new series from Charlie Huston and David Finch. The art on the first issue was gorgeous, but I held back for this collection. I haven't heard much more about the series since its debut. We'll see if that's a good thing or not come December.
Both books are twenty bucks, give or take a penny plus taxes.
Time for Dark Horse, who leads off strongly with THE BAKERS MEET JINGLE BELLE, maybe not the most unlikely comics team-up since Archie met The Punisher, but still pretty "out of left field"-ish. Paul Dini writes and Kyle Baker draws this one shot, which is only $2.99.
If you have the spare coin, NEXUS ARCHIVES Volume 5 is out in February, so start saving now. This book includes some back-up stories by guest artists such as Mike Mignola, Jackson Guice, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, and more. The only problem is that the book is $50 for 216 pages, making that AVENGERS DISASSEMBLED book look like an absolute bargain.
USAGI YOJIMBO hits issue #99 on December 27th. I hope the next PREVIEWS catalog features an Usagi cover, and that Dark Horse throws a big party for Stan Sakai in honor of the 100th issue in January. If any book deserved the extra attention, it's this one.
Moving onto DC Comics now:
Sam Kieth's BATMAN: SECRETS gets a trade paperback release in December. It's a five issue mini featuring Batman versus the Joker as only Kieth could do it, for $12.99. Aside from the first SANDMAN story, has anything Kieth done ever wound up in a hardcover form? I didn't think it would happen with this series, but I was hoping for it.
We are, however, getting a hardcover of SUPERMAN: CAMELOT, the five-part mini-series from Kurt Busiek and Carlos Pacheco. This is the second story in the One Year Later era. Superman has returned to Metropolis and, of course, all heck breaks loose. It's $20 for 128 pages.
Kurt Busiek is looking to break DC's all time single month royalties record for multiple titles this month, as SUPERMAN: BACK IN ACTION collects ACTION COMICS #841-843 as well as three stories from DC COMICS PRESENTS. If that's not enough for you, Diamond puts their spotlight on SUPERMAN: UP, UP, AND AWAY, the trade collecting Busiek and Geoff John's One Year Later Superman arc. (It just came out in stores last week, so go get it now.)
SUPERMAN #659 gets special mention here not just because it's written by Busiek and focuses on Krypto, but because it's drawn by Rick Leonardi, one of the finest artists in our field who can't seem to catch a break these days. He's the Mike Wieringo of DC. He shows up for an issue here and there, but no extended runs. Aside from a spin in the Batman universe a couple of years ago and his run on SPIDER-MAN 2099 at its start, I can't think of too many extended runs he's done anywhere in the last 15 years. Darn shame, that.
JUSTICE Volume 2 hardcover is out at the end of February but, hey, it's never too early to solicit, now is it? The first volume was released last week. Again, it's $20 for 160 pages.
If that's not far enough into the future for you to plot out, try picking up one of the action figures or statues at the end of the DC solicitations. Those are advance-solicited for the end of May, 2007. We'll discuss more of this and the reasons for it in the podcast later this week.
I'm convinced now that MANHUNTER is DC's answer to Marvel's SPIDER-GIRL. It'll never be cancelled, just re-upped for a few issues at a time. If DC ever does cancel it, look for Volume 2 to show up within six months.
Gail Simone's TRANQUILITY series premieres on December 6. This is the murder mystery story set in a town populated by retired superpowered people. It's a great high concept that should give Simone's sense of humor a chance to shine.
Fanboy that I am, I can't help but pick up the WILDSTORM FINE ARTS SPOTLIGHT ON JIM LEE book. It's a 40 page art book/comic featuring loads of Lee's covers, pin-ups, and more. It's likely nothing new, but it's also not a bad deal for $3.50. I'll go out on a limb here and say it: I want to see more art books in this format. It's not pretending to be a story, so you can't complain that it's nothing but splash pages. It's nothing new, but isn't it convenient to have that much good-looking stuff in one central place? Wouldn't you like a similar book for Art Adams' work of the past few years? He's done covers all over the place, but unless you read a dozen different series, you wouldn't possibly have them all. What about Adam Hughes? It's an interesting format idea.
Oh, look, that crazy Kurt Busiek has another ASTRO CITY issue out this month. And AQUAMAN, too. . .
Meanwhile, at Image Comics. . .
The big news is SPAWN/BATMAN: INNER DEMONS, originally announced at San Diego this summer, and the star of the back cover of this month's PREVIEWS. It's a rather nice Todd McFarlane-drawn piece of the two characters atop a typical McFarlane city rooftop. The bricks are a little scratchier-looking than usual, but --
-- well, here's the thing: Does anyone believe McFarlane actually sat down to draw this book? It's a nice thought. I would like it to be true. Honestly. I was a big fan, back in his day. Ever since then, though, it's been disappointment after disappointment. The last thing he drew was the Spawn story for the IMAGE 10th ANNIVERSARY hardcover book, and we all remember how that came out. It was a prose piece with a few scant narrow drawings.
The solicitation lists the art as being by "Todd McFarlane & Greg Capullo." So how much of this book do you think McFarlane will actually be drawing? There won't ever be a way to find out for sure, but I'm not expecting much.
What a shame.
SUPERPATRIOT: WAR ON TERROR #4 finishes off the mini-series in December. Kirkman fans the world over are scurrying right now into the furthest reachers of their long-boxed collections for issues #1-3. They know they're in there somewhere. Fans of Kevin Smith wait anxiously for the next issue of that Bullseye mini-series. . .
DRINK AND DRAW Volume 1 is an interesting hardcover due out in the first week of December. It's an art book drawn by comic book creators while sitting at bars. It features Dave Johnson, Dan Panosian, and Jeff Johnson, but spreads out from there. It's 112 pages for $24.99, so your wallet's size will severely test your thirst for art on this one. The group originally organized their efforts on MySpace, and that MySpace page is still up there with art samples for all to see.
The highlight of the month, though, is THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ graphic novel. I know I've complained in the past about too many comics being based on books like the Oz series and Alice in Wonderland and all the rest, but this one is different. It's French! This is a book I discovered last spring from Stuart Ng's website of fine French imports. To be able to read it now in translated form makes me very happy, because the art is so amazing. I saw the book in San Diego this summer, and thankfully didn't buy it then. I hope reducing the page size down to standard comics format doesn't hurt the art at all, the way it did for Humanoids in its dying days at DC.
It's $10 for the full color 96-page volume. I hope this paves the way for more translated European works.
With those SHOWCASE and ESSENTIALS volume being all the rage at the big two, it was only a matter of time before some of the old school Image books jumped on the bandwagon. Now we get SAVAGE DRAGON ARCHIVES Volume 1. It's a 616 page trade paperback collecting the original three issue mini-series along with the first 21 issues of the on-going series. For $20, it's a great deal, particularly if you've never read the series before. This is Dragon in its glory days, honestly, and much of the work that I remember the most fondly, looking back over the entire series.
The new Hanna Barbera toys are announced on pages 160 and 161. Scott Shaw! did the original designs for these puppies, and they came out beautifully. I'm half tempted to order one of those Captain Caveman figures today. The Flintstones at the Drive-In scene is just incredible, too.I'll be back next week with more from PREVIEWS and more, in general. Keep an ear out for the Pipeline Previews Podcast, coming up later this week. And I'm still looking for friends:
My blog, Various and Sundry is still updating daily, and may even see a new design soon. I emphasize "may" there for a reason.
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