Pipeline Previews for May 2005


Once again, I'll be taking a flip through the latest PREVIEWS catalog to pull out the names of some of the trade paperbacks, collections, and original graphic novels of interest. This is far from complete. It would be far too tedious to come up with everything and find anything at all to say about them. Consider this a list of highlights worth talking about. If you think I missed one, check out the Pipeline Message Board and leave a message there to let everyone know.

There are twenty books I want to highlight this month, so let's get right to it:

MAXIMUM FANTASTIC FOUR (Marvel, $49.99) is an overly hip name for a book that should prove to be the ultimate archival project. This is the kind of thing you usually see companies like TwoMorrows or Vanguard attempt. I'm happy to see Marvel working on such a project, and I think they deserve a nod of appreciation and recognition for putting this together. Obviously, we'll need to wait for the final product to ensure it doesn't get whitewashed or otherwise toyed with, but there's great potential to this format.

If you haven't heard about it yet, I'll tell you what it's all about. This is a 224 page hardcover book with all sorts of special effects applied to the cover. Inside, it's a panel by panel dissection of FANTASTIC FOUR #1. The art has been "digitally remastered" and presented in a nice large format. It has art commentary by Mark Evanier on it, plus a "substantial introduction and afterword" from "bestselling author and comic-book enthusiast Walter Mosley." (I'm not sure that hyphen belongs, and I think "bestselling" should be two words.)

Solicitation text notwithstanding, this looks to be a comic book student's version of a film school student's cinema class with every scene thoroughly analyzed as you go along. Picture McKee going over CASABLANCA or Ebert tackling DARK CITY. I may be setting the bar high here, but for a $50 book, I think I should be allowed that.

POWERS Volume 1 Hardcover (Marvel's Icon, $29.99) is just what the doctor ordered for die-hard POWERS fans. It contains the first eleven issues of the series, along with sketch pages, scripts, interviews, and the most amazing inclusion ever in such a package: "The Best of the Letter Column" feature. (Marvel again errs in calling it a "Letter Column." That would be one very long letter. Their solicitation text needs a copywriter proofreader badly.)

The solicitation also indicates that the books have been "remastered, redesigned, and reformatted." Does that mean any of the art will change? Wait and see.

I already own the original issues, the scriptbook, and the first two trades, but I'll still be picking this up. I know this violates one of the tenants of The Purge which state that I don't need to buy anything twice, but I get the feeling that this will be the reference book for the series. I'd also stop buying the trades today if more hardcovers like this were on their way.

MARVEL KNIGHTS: SPIDER-MAN Volume 3: THE LAST STAND (Marvel, $9.99) is the final collection of Mark Millar and Terry Dodson's run on the series. I reviewed the first two books just last week. I'm very curious to see how the story ends now, but I'll be patient until May. It's a good price for the four issues reprinted, so I'm game.

NIGHTCRAWLER: THE DEVIL INSIDE (Marvel, $14.99) is a book I waited for the trade on. I'm only interested in the issues with Darick Robertson's art, and this volume will collect them all. It is curious that this book isn't labeled with a "Volume 1." The series carries on, but I wonder if Marvel thinks there are a lot of readers like me that are only in for the art on this. Might there be no more collections planned? Or is this just another copywriting error?

BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL: LAST BLOOD (Dark Horse, $17.95) is the 14th volume of Dark Horse's long-running manga series. It's one of the last few manga titles to show up monthly in 32 page increments. Everything is either direct-to-trade or part of anthology series. BOTI is a holdover from a previous time, even moreso for reading left-to-right.

GOTHAM CENTRAL: HALF A LIFE (DC, $14.99) brings us to the controversial storyline featuring Renee Montoya's personal life. It quickly grafts a new angle onto Montoya's life, despite any prior evidence that might contradict it. With Greg Rucka handling the story and art primarily by Michael Lark, it's the best Batman book on the market. I just wish the trades were coming along a little more quickly. I suppose we should be happy with any trades, given how low sales are on the series.

This volume also includes stories from BATMAN CHRONICLES #16 and DETECTIVE COMICS #747 to help flesh out Montoya's character.

SUPERMAN: INFINITE CITY (DC, $24.99) is a new 96-page story from Mike Kennedy, drawn by Carlos Meglia. Meglia is a bit of a lightning rod amongst comic fans. You either love his work or you hate it. Sadly, I think too many people saw too many cheap knockoffs of his style before seeing his, and hold that against him. I enjoy it. He appears to be experimenting with this book, using CGI backgrounds behind his pen and ink characters, giving the whole thing a bit of an animated feel. Looks interesting.

THE WORLD'S GREATEST SUPER-HEROES OVERSIZED SLIPCASE HC (DC, $49.99) is quote the mouthful. This is the collection of all those Paul Dini/Alex Ross Treasury Edition-sized graphic novels that came out every Christmas for a few years running. It also packages together promotional art, sketches, a new cover, and a new eight page fold out featuring every member of the JLA. It's basically your ABSOLUTE ALEX ROSS volume. Unlike previous ABSOLUTE volumes, though, we've already seen these stories presented at this size. Even with all the nifty doodad extras involved, I don't know if I want to fork over another $50 for the material.

THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY (DC, $14.95) slips in at the end of the listings, in an unassuming corner of an unassuming cluttered page. This is the adaptation of the first of Douglas Adams' novels, originally done in the late 80s, I believe. It's written by John Carnell, with art by Steve Leialoha and friends. I've picked up a couple random pieces of these series over the years as I saw them at conventions, but never had the whole thing. This looks to be my chance.

It's also the most covert movie tie-in DC has ever done for a Disney movie. Pretty sneaky, that.

OLYMPUS (DC/Humanoids, $14.99) is DC's presentation of the graphic novel originally done for the French market. It features a story co-written by Geoff Johns, with art by Butch Guice. The story has something to do with Greek gods and the monsters of their time. I've been looking forward to this one for a long time, but the page dimensions goblin strikes again. They're still shrinking the book down. In fact, it's at a very specific final size of 7.375" x 10.1875". Get out your very precise rulers and work that one out. I'll give you a shortcut: It's smaller than a page of notebook paper by more than an inch in either dimension. Sad. I hope Guice's art holds up.

TOP TEN: THE FORTY-NINERS (DC/ABC, $24.99) is the long-awaited highlight of the trades solicited this month by DC. Written by Alan Moore and drawn by Gene Ha, this one promises to fill in some of the back story of the city of Neopolis, last seen in the superlative TOP TEN mini-series and its sorta-sequel, SMAX. Sample pages are available on-line, but I don't need to see them to know that this is an easy sell.

EARTHBOY JACOBUS (Image, $17.95) is a beefy 272 page original graphic novel from CREATURE TECH's Doug TenNapel. It sounds just as wonderful and bizarre as that book did, too. Here's the text:

"Chief Edwards retires from the Modesto Police Department a lonely man. On his way home he hits a flying whale with his car, opening the beast's mouth to find a boy from a parallel universe named Jacobus. Chief discovers that a society of insect monsters want to kill this boy due to a mysterious virus that grows on his hand. The Chief becomes a father figure to the boy and trains him how to survive insect monsters by becoming a great American ass-kicker."

I tend to follow creators around more than characters. TenNapel earned my blind faith in his work with CREATURE TECH, and I'll keep supporting these graphic novels of his until they bomb horribly. So far, so good.

TRUE STORY, SWEAR TO GOD Volume 2: THIS ONE GOES TO 11 (AiT/PlanetLar, $12.95) collects issues #5-11 of Tom Beland's autobiographical romantic comedy comic book. This is a great comic to hook your girlfriend, wife, female friend, mother, or soft-hearted guy friend into comics with. It's honest, refreshing, and breezy. Highly recommended on all levels.

KEITH GIFFEN'S TRENCHER (Boom Studios, $17.99) collects four issues of Giffen's early Image series. This is Giffen's art at its most trippy, with an amount of linework that boggles the eye, if not the mind. Unfortunately, that's all I can remember about the series at the moment. I'll be picking up the trade in May to see what other memories it might conjur up.

Boom Studios is also the new home for the excellent Giffen/DeMatties HERO SQUARED series, which kicks off a new three issues mini in May, also.

STYLISH VITTLES Volume 3: FARE THEE WELL (Dementian, $13) is the long awaited return by Tyler Page to his young college couple in love. The first two volumes were wonderful, and I'll be diving into the third volume soon. I'll have a review for you before this book hits the stands. It's also an interesting pairing with Tom Beland's TRUE STORY series. This one doesn't have the deft cartoonist's touch that Beland has, but it's got just as much heart, honesty, and energy to it. If you run across Page at a comic con, or have the chance to pick up either of the first two books, give them a shot.

THE UNAUTHORIZED PUFFED MOVIE ADAPTATION (IDW, $16.99) is a collection of the original mini-series, follow-up one shot, and a new story all from the warped minds of John Layman and Dave Crossland. It's the perky tale of a boy caught in a stupid dragon costume, and the "darkly hilarious" antics that result from that.

BONEYARD VOLUME 1 TB - COLOR EDITION (NBM, $10.95) is out to show that BONE isn't the only book that can survive with a splash of color. This one reprints the first four issues of Richard Moore's funny monster comic book in its third different format, this time adding color to it. No word on who colored it, and no preview pages to see how it looks. However, I think it might just sell a few extra copies this way, and I'm happy for the BONEYARD crew on that. This is a fun series that deserves a wider audience.

A TREASURY OF VICTORIAN MURDER Volume 7: THE MURDER OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN (NBM, $15.95) is the latest book in Rick Geary's series of real life murder tales from the 19th century. Previous volumes have given us looks at Jack the Ripper, the murder of President Garfield, and the first serial killer. Geary's cartoony style and strict adherence to the facts provide an entertaining and informative read that you won't realize is good for you until it's too late. It's 80 black and white pages in hardcover. I suspect we'll see the softcover edition in a few months. I think I'm going to hold back from buying this until I see Mr. Geary in San Diego to buy it directly from him. He's a staple of Artist's Alley there.

RAVENOUS GN (Speakeasy, $14.99) is the welcomed return of Dawn Brown to comics. You may remember her two LITTLE RED HOT mini-series from a few years back, the latter of which was am ambitious blend of computer graphics and line work. RAVENOUS is a 152 page graphic novel adapting some works of Edgar Allen Poe. Thankfully, the book is full color. Brown's work in black and white -- see a sample in this week's KOMIKWERKS: ROCKETS & ROBOTS -- doesn't work nearly as well. The book here features a 100 page original story, followed by a selection of Poe works with illustrations from Brown.

HIKARU NO GO (Viz, $7.95) reaches its fourth volume in May, which is still far too long a wait. I just read the first three volumes in the span of the past week, and I'm itching for more. Waiting until May will be painful.

That's it for PREVIEWS this month. Seriously, there's a lot more in the catalog that I didn't get to cover here, but that's what makes the catalog such a fun treasure hunt. Right?

Tuesday: Pipeline Commentary and Review #404: Read all directions before beginning.

And don't forget to check out Pipeline Podcast #9 from earlier this week.

Over at Various and Sundry this week: Complete AMERICAN IDOL commentary. Thorough AI discussion. Exhaustive, even. It's tedious. I loved it. Plus, an Oscars rundown. Next year, I may have to liveblog that one. The Grammarian. The 'Enterprise' protests. More general Podcasting news. How to kill Linux with Windows? And more.

The Various and Sundry DVD Podcast continues to look at the week's DVD releases, every Sunday afternoon. Those of you with a podcasting program can subscribe to it right here.

All political discussions have been pushed off to one neat side at VandS Politics.

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. I haven't had that account in years, but they've yet to delete the page space. Go fig.

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