Pipeline Previews for December 2004


This month, I look at the books arriving at your comics shop in the month of December 2004. As always, I encourage you to pick up a copy of the dead wood version of PREVIEWS to see everything the various comics publishers have to offer. Looking at the solicitations on the major news sites will only give you a portion of the offerings for December. The "Big Five" publishers may be able to get their word out that way, but there's so much more after that.

Second, pre-order your books. Ordering comics in a non-returnable market is the hardest thing a retailer has to do every month. They're guessing at what you're going to want two months from now. I don't know what you people want out of this column from week to week, so I can only imagine the insanity of budgeting for books that can't be second-guessed two months in advance.

With that all said, let's take a look at December's books, starting at the front of the catalog:

Dark Horse shows us in its listings that not everyone at CrossGen ended up taking jobs at Marvel. Just most of them. Ron Marz, Luke Ross, and colorist Jason Keith are doing a new five-part samurai mini-series called SAMURAI: HEAVEN AND EARTH. The preview pages in the solicitations are gorgeous. Keith has outdone himself on the coloring. It looks like they're shooting direct from the pencils, which gives the book a more painted feel, a la CONAN. The book also contains a preview of Marz's forthcoming THE DRAGON PRINCE, drawn by Jeff Johnson.

DC Comics gives us 75 pages of previews, and it all gets so tiring after awhile. Thankfully, it's well organized, so I can easily skip over the Batman and Superman sections. Nothing new there. My subscription to GOTHAM CENTRAL stays current at my shop, and everything else is ignored or teeters on the brink. It's not that I don't like BIRDS OF PREY, but I just don't get excited for it these days. I fall behind easily and end up reading it in fits and starts. I also can't believe that DC hasn't published more trades of the first two years of the series, featuring art by Greg Land and Butch Guice. Complain about Marvel's trade paperback scheduling all you like (and I will in just a bit), but this is a big gap in DC's catalog.

DC: THE NEW FRONTIER gets its first trade paperback, collecting issues #1-3 of Darwyn Cooke's series. It's a shame that its slow schedule combined with IDENTITY CRISIS' high profile have overshadowed the book so much. Hopefully, it'll be an evergreen in DC's library. I'm also hoping for a big fat hardcover somewhere down the line. For now, I don't need the trades. The original issues are pretty enough. I know the individual issues aren't cheap, but this is a series that commands and demands your attention. Flip through it someday and then pre-order this one.

On page 68, DC provides us with a sample page from DEADSHOT #1. In the second panel, we learn that the DC character with powers over all things cold (sorry, I don't remember her name), is really really cold herself. It's a ridiculous panel, but at least they're not trying to hide the obvious anymore. . .

JLA: THE NAIL 2 gets a $13 trade paperback. I had a hard time getting through this one, to be honest. The first issue was filled with so much stuff that it was hard to keep track of it all, particularly if you're not a DCU fanboy. On the other hand, it has Alan Davis' art, which is all a book needs to make me buy it.

Good news! JUSTICE LEAGUE ELITE #6 contains a cover with no skulls split open.

SOLO #2 features Richard Corben. At the risk of ticking off several people, his art never really did anything for me. I'll give the book a shot, but I'm not as excited by this issue as I am by some of the other talent that is lined up for it.

THE MONOLITH hits its eleventh issue, with a new 2 part story drawn by the great Phil Winslade. Let's hope that enough people are giving the book a shot to hold up the cancellation pendulum for a little while longer.

DC is reprinting Humanoids' BOUNCER: RAISING CAIN in December, combining the two graphic novels into one smaller trade paperback. I reviewed the book last year, and highly recommended it. I'm afraid this is yet another book that can't possibly look as good nor read as well at a shrunken-down size. It's a shame that Francois Boucq's dramatic and harsh landscapes will be lost in this book.

To be fair to Humanoids, DC's recent republication of the FREDDY LAMBARD books isn't all bad. Some of the art looks very slightly blurry in comparison to the original album-sized printings, but it's nothing that's can't be easily overcome.

THE COMPLEAT MOONSHADOW is picked as a "Star of the Month" on page 110. I just have to giggle, though, thinking back to Cat Stevens' "Moonshadow" song, in light of recent world events.

Image Comics starts off with a bang: BATTLE HYMN #1 is the first of a five part monthly mini-series written by HAWAIIAN DICK's B. Clay Moore, and drawn by Jeremy Haun and Ande Parks. Super-powered beings pop up in the last days of World War II. What affect will they have on the world? That's the question Moore hopes to answer.

E.J. Su is drawing SAM AND TWITCH now.

Chris Giarrusso's G-MAN gets his own comic one-shot special, fresh from the backup pages of SAVAGE DRAGON. It's roughly half reprints of those strips, and half brand-new story. It's 64 pages for $5.95.

From the same corner of the Image Universe comes MIGHTY MAN #1, reprinting the backup serial from Erik Larsen, Gary Carlson, and Mark Englert as inked by Larsen. That's 80 pages of Dragon Universe fun drawn in a very heavily Larsen-influenced style for just $7.95.

Meanwhile, in SAVAGE DRAGON #121, the new President takes command and chaos reigns. But who won the election? I'm guessing that's what SAVAGE DRAGON #120 was for.

TALES OF TELLOS #2 includes more art from Mauricet, and a TELLOS debut from Howard Porter, in a story that links directly into the upcoming TELLOS: SECOND COMING. I can't help but educatedly guess that there will be a trade of this mini-series before that next series starts.

On page 155, VICTORY, VOLUME 2 shows us that a woman can, indeed, twist her body so far around to show both the "T" and the "A" in equal measure.

Todd Nauck returns with WILDGUARD: FIRE POWER, a new 32 page one shot following up on last year's hit mini-series.

Wow, that sounds like I just wrote copy for PREVIEWS, doesn't it? I've read too much of this catalog already and it's starting to show. This is not good.

Count two more bulging nipples in the catalog for the upcoming Mark Waid/Marc Silvestri opus, HUNTER/KILLER. You can buy a #0 issue of the series -- 16 pages for a quarter -- in December. The graphic is on page 163. If you look carefully through the solicitations text, you can see Silvestri working hard to hide every character's feet. Will someone currently attending an art school -- preferably Joe Kubert's -- please write me to tell me how truly difficult it is to draw feet? Surely, hands and heads are harder, right? It's not like we're ever talking bare feet, where all those toes become an issue. Are booted feet that difficult to place on the page that artist after artist draws dirt and smoke and rubble to hide them? I want to print your responses in a future column, so please let me know.

BATTLE OF THE PLANETS: PRINCESS #3, meanwhile, has an upskirt shot on its cover. Top Cow certainly knows its audience.

On the bright side, Top Cow is going to a second printing of MIDNIGHT NATION, with a new lower piece. It's now only $25 for J. Michael Straczynski's strongest comics work to date, as drawn by Gary Frank.

Marvel celebrates the big Christmas season by rushing out a bunch of hardcover volumes to cash in on clueless relatives looking to score a nice book for their loved one.

Actually, they aren't. There's not a single hardcover solicited in this month's edition of the MARVEL PREVIEWS catalog after MARVEL MASTERWORKS: THE INCREDIBLE HULK Volume 2. That's an overpriced $50 volume aimed at an older nostalgia market.

Hopefully, November's books will prove fruitful enough to keep clueless relatives happy with gifts for the giving season.

Marvel attempts to make up for the hardcover deficit with a large volume of trade paperbacks, including everything that even thought of crossing over into AVENGERS DISASSEMBLED. That means separate trades for IRON MAN, THOR, CAPTAIN AMERICA, and FANTASTIC FOUR.

In better news, there will be a third volume collecting John Byrne's FANTASTIC FOUR work.

Please note that the perfect Christmas gift for BUFFY fans, ASTONISHING X-MEN Volume 1, is due out on store shelves the Wednesday after Christmas. Don't fret over it, though, since you can easily substitute the earlier-shipping books like the new printing of SPIDER-MAN: MAXIMUM CARNAGE. Ugh.

ULTIMATE SECRET #1 follows hot on the heels of ULTIMATE NIGHTMARE #5, both of which are solicited in the same month. They're wasting no time. I think this might be the first time Marvel didn't print a trade before printing a sequel in quite awhile. Trevor Hairsine hands over artistic chores to Steve McNiven.

ULTIMATE X-MEN #54 is the start of a new story arc, introducing the Ultimate version of Longshot. Wouldn't this be a wonderful time for Marvel to finally do a new printing of the original Ann Nocenti/Art Adams mini-series for the character? I, for one, would love to read it, but it's been out of print forever. The original issues may have come down in price a bit from Art Adams' time of highest popularity, but it's still too much.

Diamond Select is offering a Kitty Pryde/Lockheed bust, in the classic blue costume. It's based on Paul Smith's artwork, and I think that shows easily in the sculpt. It's pretty at $45.

AiT/PlanetLar returns Larry Young to the writer's chair for PROOF OF CONCEPT, a new collection of his short stories as illustrated by the winners of a contest he held earlier this year at Comic World News. It's got everything in a comic you could ever ask for, except talking monkeys and Hitler. $12.95 buys you 128 black and white pages.

Avatar Press forces me to ask the question, "Does anyone have a clue which issue ROBOCOP is really up to?" Every time I turn around, there's a new variant edition of another issue. This month, ROBOCOP #8 has an "Obliterate Edition," so called for its new wraparound cover from the insanely talented Juan Jose Ryp. There's also ROBOCOP: KILLING MACHINE SPECIAL #1 - NO ESCAPE EDITION, which appears to be a 16 page one shot story. Once I get all nine issues in front of me -- and hopefully I only bought each issue once -- I'll have to sit down and make sense of all this.

Axiom is giving us the much-anticipated GUN FU: THE LOST CITY #4 in December. That's some good stuff. It's what HARRY JOHNSON only wishes it could be: Fun, smart talking, adventurous, funny.

Cartoon Books is taking their first six collections of BONE off the market at the end of the year, to allow Scholastic their exclusive reprint rights. Looks like I need to fill in the gaps in my collection sooner rather than later.

Cyberosia Publishing gets this month's award for Most Ringing Endorsement. In the solicitation text for their new graphic novel, DOT DOT DOT, they quote Steven Grant's review of the book. I now reprint what Cyberosia chose to reprint in its entirety:


I know that sold me on the book.

Fantagraphics ships a new issue of THE COMICS JOURNAL in December, while I still anxiously await Diamond shipping the most recent issue to my local comic shop, which paid for its copies and still hasn't received them. I'm starting to get a bit annoyed by that situation, to tell you the truth.

On the other hand, this upcoming issue features an interview with a cartoonist for MOTHER JONES, which means it's really not meant for me.

iBooks puts together a MEGATON MAN collection.


ComicsOne brings us another volume of IRON WOK JAN.

Monkey Suit Press releases REX STEELE: NAZI SMASHER on DVD and as a graphic novel, fresh off its debut at the San Diego Con.

Moonstone is collecting Graham Nolan's Sunday "The Phantom" comic strips. (122 color pages for $14.)

Oni gives us a second volume of QUEEN AND COUNTRY DECLASSIFIED. Rick Burchett draws art duties this time around. There's no indication in the solicitation of how many issues this one is scheduled to run for, but I'll be patiently waiting for the hardcover a few months later.

That concludes my rundown of this month's releases from all the book publishers. That just leaves me with the rundown of what the publishers are not releasing:


After last month's cancellation notices regarding all products CrossGen, this month's cancellations have a minor surprise: They're all sell-outs. Nothing is finished due to CrossGen's bankruptcy. Instead, the LADY DEATH Traveler (Volume 1), MYSTIC Traveler (Volume 1), RUSE Traveler (2), SOJOURN Traveler (2), and WAY OF THE RAT Traveler (1) are all listed as sell outs. The kids love that smaller format, don't they?

ELRIC: MAKING OF A SORCEROR #2 will be resolicited from DC. Ditto SUPERMAN/BATMAN #14, which was originally solicited a full month earlier.

Image, likewise, is promising to resolicit SPAWN #145-149. Meanwhile, the too-dark-to-read SPAWN SIMONY one shot is sold out, as is Jim Valentino's excellent TOUCH OF SILVER Book One, the hardcover edition of LIBERTY MEADOWS Volume 1, and (of course) the first printing of the MIDNIGHT NATION trade.

Marvel wants to resolicit X-MEN: DAY OF THE ATOM somewhere down the road, but otherwise reports a bunch of sell-outs. SPIDER-MAN/GEN13 #1 is finally sold out. That took long enough, didn't it??

Pipeline Commentary and Review returns on Tuesday. Nothing more to see here. Please move along, and tip your waitress. Thanks.

Pipeline Previews will, of course, return in a month to start hacking through the books of 2005.

Over at Various and Sundry this week: I review the latest addition to the CSI franchise, CSI: NY. Final shipping dates on the new Meat Loaf CD and DVD. A TiVo-like device for radio finally ships. The same company, however, provides some of the worst production instructions I've ever read. Serious fans of GO have a live Linux distribution to call their own. HOMICIDE Season 6 is announced for DVD release as Season 5 hits stands. 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 500 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically. The first 100 columns or so are also still available at the Original Pipeline page.

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