NEWS, NOTES, AND RANDOM THOUGHTS
- This week's Pipeline Podcast will be posted tonight (Tuesday). It features a nearly half hour long talk with Peter David. We talk bowling, diets, blogging, TV, novels, comics, trade paperbacks, and more. But mostly bowling. You won't hear an interview like this on any other podcast. Keep an eye out on ThePipelinePodcast.com for more information, or update your podcatching client late tonight, or first thing in the morning.
Don't worry, I'll still be doing the rundown on this week's top ten comics, also.
We're also recording the Pipeline Previews Podcast this coming weekend. Look for that later next week.
- Thor is the new Blue Beetle. Nobody ever really cares about the character. He's best known for speaking funny, or for having a dozen different secret identities. Or for being a frog. Sales on his recent mini-series may have been respectable, but nothing spectacular.
But the second he disappears from the monthly racks, his return becomes one of the most important things in the comics universe.
And when he comes back as a clone, the term "Clor" is coined and it's a term of derision. Everyone wants the "real Thor" back.
If more people who wanted it actually bought it, I'm sure THOR would be a very popular series right now.
The whole thing reminds me of Doctor Strange in a way. Every writer has a pitch for him, and Marvel tries a different take and a different mini-series every year, but nothing ever sticks.
It's just weird to me.
- It's sad to see Jim Lee sliding so badly on deadlines. The ALL STAR BATMAN AND ROBIN delay was bad enough, but it could be easily reasoned as a combination of forces, including Frank Miller's movie schedule. With WILDCATS #2 now delayed until March and Lee out front accepting the blame for it -- well, it starts to look really bad. I think this could be an even worse delay than CIVIL WAR. It threatens to sink the entire relaunch of the WildStorm imprint, which has been muddy from the start.
Does anyone understand the WildStorm relaunch? Is it a reboot? Is it a "fresh start" from the old continuity? Do any two titles in the relaunch even agree on the answer to that?
And is THE AUTHORITY the weakest of the lot?
If WILDCATS was cast as the cornerstone of the new WildStorm, the whole thing is in trouble. I hope that all the titles are completely independent and don't have any timely crossovers planned. It's scary in La Jolla right now.
- I'm not entirely sure why I'm still reading THE BOYS. I thought the fourth issue had to be a turning point. We had to see the start of an actual storyline in the issue, or else it was all sizzle and no bacon. While the first half of the issue was its usual self-indulgent sex-and-violence In Your Face, the remainder of the book showed hope for characterization and plot line potential.
Since all comics today are structured for six issue storylines, perhaps it's best to hold off for issue #6 before dumping the book all together.
- CRIMINAL #1 is a great read, but I worry about the book's future at Pipeline World Headquarters for purely stupid personal reasons. All those names and new characters and situations will be tough to keep straight in my head from month to month. Hopefully, I can reread issue #1 just before #2 comes out and start imprinting the series into my memory. Otherwise, I'll have to settle for the collections down the road.
Please note: This is not to say that the series won't fare well because most comic book readers have the attention span of a gnat. This is just me saying that I might have a problem with the book for my own silly memory issues. I loved the first issue. I just have to hope I can remember enough of the details for an entire month to enjoy the second issue.
- NEXTWAVE's cancellation/ending is a darn shame. I never realized the book was in trouble, sales-wise. I always read comments about it across the blogosphere from month to month, even from people who thought the book was never as funny as its second issue. Lesson learned: the blogosphere is not the general comics reading population.
On the bright side, the 12 issues will give us two solid hardcover books to put up on our bookshelves and glance back at with a giggle 'til the end of time.
- Stuart Immonen's announced arrival on ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN next year is good news. While I was hoping for Tom Grummett in recent days, I think Immonen is a fine selection. It'll be interesting to see what he does with his style next in preparation for this new gig.
- In sadder cancellation news, it's being reported that Gemstone has chopped all of its monthly titles, save stalwarts UNCLE SCROOGE and WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES. Those two are seeing see price hikes to $7.50.
Honestly, I don't read many of the Duck stories anymore. I'm happy to see the last remaining titles on my pull list are safe, but it's never a good sign when this happens. Gemstone has plans to try out more formats and different books, though, so I'm hoping that might help get more Duck books into readers' hands. We live in hope, don't we?
- It just keeps getting worse. As Mark Evanier points out, the forthcoming Marvel stamps use the Comic Sans font. I'd say something negative about that, but I wouldn't want my mail lady to come after me with guns blazing in response.
The graphic accompanying this paragraph is excerpted from a postcard advertising a local comic book show. I'm not going, though I swear it doesn't have anything to do with the horrible misspelling. If they had just used Comic Sans font, I might have been blinded too much to notice the misspelling.
- The latest edition of PREVIEWS came out last week. Once again, it's time to look ahead. This month, it's all about January 2007's comics. As always, I heartily recommend picking up a copy of the magazine to flip through it for yourself. You're bound to find something exciting that I won't be covering here.
MARVEL IN JANUARY
I normally stick to just the collected editions, but there's one special comic book that I can't overlook:
ULTIMATE CIVIL WAR SPIDER-HAM CRISIS (FEATURING SPIDER-HAM) #1. Besides an unwieldy title, the comic sports the return of the long-thought-lost Spider-Ham, last seen on an alternate cover by Mike Wieringo. It's one of the goofier characters last seen in the late eighties that fans have clamored for. Forbush Man ranks up there, too, but it looks like NEXTWAVE finally took care of that for us this month.
With J. Michael Straczynski handling the script, I'm sure we'll get a rip-snorting good time. (Hey, I like his sense of humor. Your mileage may differ.) Art in the book comes from an all-star cast of talent, including Mike Wieringo, Mike Allred, John Severin, Jim Mahfood, and more.
OK, so I lied before. I need to spotlight two new comics. The second is GHOST RIDER FINALE. That's right -- Marvel is finally putting out GHOST RIDER #94, the issue after the last series was cancelled, and the one which will wrap up the storyline leftover from the actual finale issue, #93. Both #93 and #94 are under this one cover for $3.99. Finally, we'll see what happened after Danny Ketch's death, with art from the original GHOST RIDER team of that series, Javier Saltares and Mark Texeira.
Dagnabit, but Iron Fist has the longest torso ever seen on a man in comics on the cover of IRON MAN #3.
Dude, NEW AVENGERS: ILLUMINATI #2 is covering the INFINITY CRUSADE! COOL!
Sorry, had a brief Fanboy Moment there.
Now I really really mean it. Let's look at the trades and hardcovers:
The pleasant surprise of the month is that Marvel is publishing -- through the Dabel Brothers - the XIII trade paperback that many of us have been waiting a year or longer for. This comes to us from France, and was previously solicited through Alias Comics. The solicitation indicates "Explicit Content," so there's hope that this will be the unedited edition of the book. It's 144 pages for $15.
Lots of interesting hardcovers this month:
STORM Premiere Edition collects the six-issue mini-series from Eric Jerome Dickey, David Yardin, and Lan Medina. It's the story that leads up to the wedding, for $20. There's also a variant edition which will show up in the book stores to emphasize the author's name VERY LARGE on the cover.
SPIDER-MAN: DEATH OF THE STACYS Premiere Edition gives us the death of father and daughter Stacy from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #88-92 and #121-122, in case you weren't clamoring for the story enough after the first Spider-Man movie. Yeah, that's what I did. I bought the DEATH OF GWEN STACY trade paperback after the movie. I read the death of her father in the old Spider-Man reprint series 15 years ago or more, back when Todd McFarlane was drawing the covers.
X-FACTOR: LIFE AND DEATH MATTERS is the second premiere hardcover of Peter David's new series. I just read and loved the first volume this past week, so the timing couldn't be any better here. David isn't a fan of the quick turnaround on these books, which is a topic he discusses a bit in the podcast this week. (How's that for a stealth plug?)
WOLVERINE & BLACK CAT: CLAWS is the three-issue mini-series written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, with art from Joseph Michael Linsner. The hardcover here will run you $18, but the 104 pages should include plenty of extras in there. For that price, it had better.
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE Volume 4 is in the nice oversized hardcover format, and wraps up the last bits of Kurt Busiek's reign on the AVENGERS, including a chunk of art from Alan Davis. It's an odd assortment of stuff in the hardcover, actually, including AVENGERS #35-40, the 2000 and 2001 annuals, THE ULTRON IMPERATIVE, DANGEROUS PLANET, and MAXIMUM SECURITY #1-3. Ah, those were crazy times. It's $35 here for 416 pages.
Update: I'm getting ahead of Marvel here. Busiek's tenure on THE AVENGERS did not end until issue #56. Alan Davis even stuck around for a few more issues. So, please do expect a Volume 5 in this series later in 2007. Sorry for the confusion.
One quick paperback of note this month: Peter David's run on MARVEL ADVENTURES SPIDER-MAN is the subject of the fifth digest size collection of that series, though it only collects four of his scripts as drawn by Mike Norton, #17-20. That's $7. Did I mention that Peter David is going to be on the podcast this week yet? Thought so.
DARK HORSE IN JANUARY
I don't think I've featured Dark Horse strongly enough in recent months, but I can't skip over their January solicitations. There's too much good stuff in there.
It all starts with the cover topic of the month: USAGI YOJIMBO #100. The special centennial issue runs with an extra eight story pages, gets a cardstock cover, and is just $3.50. The story is a roast of Stan Sakai and his rabbit creation from the likes of Andi Watson, Rick Geary, Sergio Aragones, Guy Davis, Jeff Smith, Mark Evanier, and more. Yes, even one-time editor Jamie S. Rich gets in on the gag. I'm not sure just yet if this off-format issue will be the best place for a new reader to start, but the series is generally new reader friendly on any given month, as Sakai has been doing a lot of one and two-part stories recently. I'm not a continuity nut for the series, and have not read the majority of it. But I still check it out most months and enjoy the brilliance of Sakai's cartooning skills.
I can't talk too much about THE PERHAPANAUTS: SECOND CHANCES #4, other than to say, "Read the solicitation text." It's right there on page 23 of the Dark Horse listings. Pipeline readers should appreciate it.
SAMURAI: HEAVEN AND EARTH Volume 2 is up to its third issue in January, which means the first should be out any day now. If you didn't read the first mini-series, go pick up the trade now and catch up. It's a beautifully drawn story with a lot of humor and adventure in it. I'm looking forward to the sequel. Ron Marz writes and Luke Ross handles the art, with coloring by Rob Schwager.
FAFHRD AND THE GRAY MOUSER is both the most surprising and least surprising reprint from Dark Horse this month. It's not surprising because it's something Mike Mignola did back in the 1980s. Since he's best known for his work through Dark Horse, you'd expect his older work to see print through them. It's most surprising because most people have completely forgotten about this book, and it's not like there's been a call for its reprinting lately. This is a four part mini-series that I think Marvel published back in the day, likely through the Epic line. Dark Horse is giving Fritz Lieber's property a new push in Hollywood, and this is just the start. It's early Mignola, but die-hard fans should look forward to it.
Now if only we could convince Joe Quesada to get a ROCKET RACCOON collection published next! Whose side is he on?
IT RHYMES WITH LUST is a graphic novel that THE COMICS JOURNAL recently reprinted in an issue of its magazine. Now, Dark Horse has gone all the way to offer it up as a standalone graphic novel. In case you haven't heard the story on this one, it's an original story done up in the 1950s as an original graphic novel. It may even be the first of its kind, if you want to start debating semantics. (Honestly, I don't.) It's written by Arnold Drake and Leslie Waller, with amazing art from Matt Baker. Really, you have to see this book to believe it. Baker uses some nifty tricks with tone work (DuoTone kind of stuff) to approximate depth of field that more modern artists should look at for tips.
The book is black and white, 136 pages, and will cost $15.
DIARY OF INDIGNITIES is the latest from M Press, Dark Horse's lineup of prose books. It's a collection of Patrick Hughes' blog entries, detailing his childhood. I've never read the blog before, but I'm always interested in seeing what blogs make it to dead wood publications. It's a $15 paperback book.
AKIRA CLUB is an art book from Katsuhiro Otomo, focusing on the title page illustrations for the original serialization of the manga that never saw reprint here in America, plus a bunch of sketch book and design stuff. It's a hardcover book due out in March. 256 pages, full color, $30.
Curiously, THE TWO FACES OF TOMORROW is solicited in the latest PREVIEWS catalog despite already having been shipped. Seriously, I have my copy right here already. It says, "Shipping Now" in the solicitation, but I wonder what sequence of events has to happen for a publisher to have to do this. It's a beautiful looking book of reprinted manga, done up at full 6 5/8 by 10 3/16 inch format. It's an adaptation of a science fiction novel by James P. Hogan. I'm looking forward to reading it. It's a thick book, too, at 576 pages for just twenty dollars. There's a preview for it on Dark Horse's web site.
Next week: More PREVIEWS, featuring DC and Image. I imagine I'll also try to sneak in a review or two.The Pipeline Podcast will update this evening with my interview with Peter David, mostly about bowling. And keep an eye out late next week for the second edition of The Pipeline PREVIEWS Podcast.
My blog, Various and Sundry is still updating daily, with plenty of link dumps and Wii talk. In fact, there's way too much Nintendo Wii talk, which is just the way I like it.
More than 700 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically.