Pipeline Previews - November 2003


[Previews]Welcome back to Pipeline Previews, the monthly column that attempts to look at the monthly magalog Diamond produces (PREVIEWS) to deduce some highlights, draw some funny conclusions, point out bitter ironies, and fill 2000 words or more worth of space.

As always, I suggest grabbing a copy of PREVIEWS for yourself and pre-ordering everything you see that you want. That's the best way to make sure your retailer has the items in stock for you when they come out. It also helps the publishers know that there's interest enough in the book to print it.

Now, onto the comics:

Dark Horse leads off with their CONAN relaunch. I've never read CONAN comics, but I'm looking forward to this revival. Putting Kurt Busiek on writing duties gave the book a chance, but the art of Cary Nord has sold me. CONAN has always struck me as an art book. Barry Windsor-Smith's original art from the series is much sought-after, and is the comic that is best associated with his name. Now, it's Cary Nord's time. Nord has drawn short runs on other books over the past few years, but it looks like an evolutionary step in his art is happening with CONAN. The preview images Dark Horse has shown about look very encouraging. The good news is that Dark Horse is joining the trend of cheap comics to help publicize this book. This CONAN THE LEGEND one shot is only 25 cents for a 16 page story.

The first volume collecting the all-star HELLBOY: WEIRD TALES is coming on November 26th, with a 128-page trade for $18. This volume includes work by John Cassaday, Jason Pearson, and more. This has been a fun series with a number of great pieces.

DC starts off with JLA: LIBERTY AND JUSTICE, the latest and last oversized special by Paul Dini and Alex Ross. This one is different from the rest in that it uses dialogue balloons, which is the first thing that popped out to me when I saw the preview pages here and in WIZARD magazine. Hey, so long as it's Todd Klein doing the lettering, who's to complain?

J. Torres and Todd Nauck kick off TEEN TITANS GO!, based on the new Cartoon Network series. PREVIEWS has a big three page preview of the series, which looks great. I still haven't seen the dang show, but I'll be picking this book up. Love the little chibis at the bottom of the first page, too. This industry needs more artists like Todd Nauck. In the meantime, you can support Torres by clicking over to Comic Book Idol and joining in on the fun. It's a madhouse over there. How many comic-related forums can boast upwards of 100 people reading threads at the same time?

Steve Lieber's turn for ON THE ROAD TO PERDITION debuts in November. It's 96 brand new black and white pages of his artwork. As with TEEN TITANS GO!, there is a three page preview of the book in PREVIEWS, where it's printed much larger than it will be in the final digest-sized book.

After that, it's a ton of collections and specials: Phil Noto returns to DANGER GIRL with a new special set in Las Vegas. (I just picked up Texas Hold 'Em poker, so I'm ready to head west now.) The second volume of LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMAN is collected in the standard ABC hardcover packaging. TRANSMETROPOLITAN: THE CURE collects the penultimate six-issue story arc. POINT BLANK, Ed Brubaker's precursor to SLEEPER, is packaged as a paperback for only $15. BATGIRL: YEAR ONE will put together all of Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty's excellent nine issue story arc for $18. The CATWOMAN: LITTLE TOWN trade gives us issues #5-10 of that series, along with other shorter stories. Kia Asamiya's BATMAN: CHILD OF DREAMS is re-released as a softcover, for only $20. Brad Meltzer's run on GREEN ARROW is given the same hardcover treatment as the rest of that series so far, in a book titled THE ARCHER'S QUEST. (His next novel is now due out in January.)

Image Comics is soliciting for Robert Kirkman's latest creation, CLOUDFALL. It's a 48 page black and white one shot drawn by his TECH JACKET partner, E.J. Su. This is the story of a female cop on one of those really tough cases that make for better reading than the ones in which the suspect confesses after three pages. Judging by the earlier preview on Newsarama and some of the hints in the solicitation material (such as the big red and yellow boxed warning at the top of the page), it's a Mature Readers Only title this time around. It's set to debut on November 5th.

Paul Jenkins is writing G.I. JOE: FRONTLINE #17. I would probably be more excited about this if I hadn't read his fill-in issue on WITCHBLADE recently. Ick. Tim Seeley of KORE fame is illustrating it, so I'll definitely give it a try.

Art Adams provides the cover for the third issue of Todd Nauck's WILDGUARD: CASTING CALL.

WITCHBLADE #71 might be worth suffering through for one month only, as Leonard Kirk is the guest artist for the issue.

Marvel comes up next in the book, but is now featured in its own separate 64 page magazine that accompanies PREVIEWS. No, I can't explain the logic behind this. Well, I can explain it from Marvel's point of the view. The separate magazine allows them to reprint a comic book while publicizing all their upcoming books. It gives them a separate identity and lots of space. But the cost of PREVIEWS also jumped by a dollar this month, and it doesn't take a genius to see what the cause of that is. They can claim all they want that the Marvel magazine is "free" with the purchase of PREVIEWS, but we can all see through the bull. We're not complete idiots.

So, Marvel has some great trades out this month, but I'm not going to bother with them. Support those Tsunami trades (RUNAWAYS, SENTINEL). Let's move along.


We take a break in this month's column to take special notice of a series due out in November that I already have review copies for.

AiT/PlanetLar is publishing DEMO, a new 12 issue maxi-series by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan starting in November. The series tells the stories of teenagers coming to grips with their nascent powers. I don't want to refer to them as "superpowers" because that seems too cliché. And this book energetically does an end-run around cliché. This isn't the X-Men where puberty strikes, there's an embarrassing public incident, and a world hates and fears the character. This is something wonderfully different. It's the way the X-Men would be if they were created today: No costumes. No villains. Just scared kids trying it figure out the meaning of it all.

I have copies of issues 1 and 3 here, and I'm very impressed by what Wood and Cloonan have done so far and the way in which they chose to do it. Each issue of the series promises to tell a complete story. I don't know if the characters I see in these two issues will eventually meet or if Wood has 12 completely disconnected storylines planned, but these two stand alone. That's the reason for the format of a monthly comic. It fits the story. As a trade paperback -- which this might very well become someday, who knows? -- it would feel choppier.

DEMO is the best remake of THE TWILIGHT ZONE yet. The two issues I've read have a very similar structure. We're introduced to a pair of new characters in each, both at a turning point in their lives. The bulk of the issue reads almost like a stage play. It's one act, with limited sets and characters. Yet, it remains visually interesting and the drama and tension are high. The two characters interact and, through them, we learn just as much about their characters as we do the world they live in and the special abilities they're coming to possess. These powers aren't commonplace as in POWERS, or mighty and awesome and colorful as in X-MEN. They're an intrusion on the lives of average people with other problems already haunting them. This is a much more grounded effort at mutant realization than much of what Marvel has published in the past twenty years.

And, like TWILIGHT ZONE, there are twists at the end. Sort of. These aren't the forced kind of twist endings that movies have all been subjected to since THE USUAL SUSPECTS. These flow organically and make sense, but they aren't necessary to make the story entertaining. The story still makes sense leading up to it, and even after.

Cloonan's art is perfect for the book. It's not super slick and clean. It's a little dirty like the characters it portrays. Wood presents a challenge to Cloonan here. This book doesn't lend itself easily to dynamic and visually arresting images. More than half of the third issue, for example, is a dialogue between two characters in a car. Cloonan traps the characters in there, as they feel trapped by their positions in life. With nowhere to run and hide, the dialogue becomes that much more intense. Issue #1 follows much the same pattern, although there are a couple of breaks along the way.

Cloonan captures lost youth here in a way that feels real. These characters aren't cardboard cut-out Beautiful People. They look like New York City kids, quite honestly. Cloonan sticks to a grid structure for her panels that varies often, but never runs out of control. It's a clean and easy read.

If you're looking for an alternate take on the whole mutant story template, or if you're just looking for a story of average people in extraordinary circumstances, this is a book which should interest you.

Wood's website has some sample artwork up on it. CBR recently had a sneak preview of the second issue's cover. A seven page preview can be found on the AiT/PlanetLar Web site.


Geoff Johns, the most prolific writer outside of a DC exclusivity contract, kicks off TALES OF THE RED STAR, now being self-published by that wacky RED STAR Crew.

CrossGen spotlights the CHIMERA trade paperback, collecting the four issues of Brandon Peterson's computer-assisted storyline, along with 30 pages of extra material. If you had the chance to see the animated trailer for this book at any of the conventions this summer, I'm sure you'll want to pre-order this. It's only $16 for the book, assuming it makes it to the printer.

Jim Cheung guest-pencils ROUTE 666 #18, making it a must-read for me.

Boon and Po Po step out from the pages of WAY OF THE RAT and into THE PATH #31. The appearance was inevitable, I think. Both series are set on the same world, and they've made no secret of that.

Leonard Kirk fills in on SOLUS #3. He's the busiest fill-in penciller in the business this month. I'm not complaining.

Checker Book Publishing is offering up Alan Moore's explanation of Rob Liefeld's Extreme Universe in SUPREME: JUDGEMENT DAY. The trade collects the original mini-series for $17. Gil Kane did a batch of pages in this series, as did a series of other guest artists, as I recall. This is Moore doing a great job in making sense of the Image Universe of the early 1990s, with the gift of a bit of hindsight.

Dreamwave steps out from behind the curtain of comics publishing to put out a new 300 pages hardcover book collecting the works of movie poster painter Drew Struzan. Trust me - you've seen his work. HARRY POTTER, STAR WARS, INDIANA JONES, etc. As John Williams is to movie scores, this guy is to their posters. Titled DREW STRUZAN: OEUVRE, the $60 book seeks to print all the best of Struzan's work.

DreamWave is also going back to press to put out TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES Volume 1, a trade collecting the first four issues of Peter David and LeSean's new series based on the new animated show. If you missed the scarce first issues at the stores, here's your chance to catch up.

Future Comics prints four more of 'em. Do you really care?

Gutsoon Entertainment, the people behind RAIJIN COMICS, are packaging together BOMBER GIRL, Volume 1 for a November release. REVENGE OF THE MOUFLON, sadly, still sits uncollected. Strewn through the pages of a couple dozen issues of the manga now-monthly, the story of an unlikely hero and an amazing plane crash still eludes a wider audience. Too bad. BOMBER GIRL features a woman with big breasts, though.

IDW is publishing a comic book based on the novel I AM LEGEND, by Richard Matheson. Why? Because it features vampires, silly. If Grissom could grow fangs, I'm sure Steven Niles would be writing CSI: TRANSYLVANIA by now.

SAF Comics has three more interesting albums coming out, reprinting material previously seen in Europe. The full listings are on page 316, if you care to look. The one that caught my eye the most is WHY DID THE KNIGHTS DIE OUT? Written by Carlos Trillo (writer on a number of graphic novels SAF/Dark Horse have reprinted already), this one promises to be "amusing." What more could you ask for?

Titan Books is printing ALIEN LEGION: ON THE EDGE, on the off chance you couldn't get your fill of Chuck Dixon and Larry Stroman from the Checker reprints. This one pieces together the three issues of the like-named mini-series, plus a story from EPIC: AN ANTHOLOGY. Final price: $17. It's 144 pages.

That's a wrap for this month. I'll be back next week to review the goodies due out for your late holiday shopping. In the meantime, check out Tuesday's column for your chance to win some comic books, and then come back here next Tuesday for more reviews.

One upcoming Pipeline column will be reviews of nothing but DVDs and CDs. I've gathered some interesting materials from the convention circuit this weekend, and it's time to devote a column to things such as comics coloring, photo reference, and comics on DVD...

Various and Sundry continues with a full review of a recent Meat Loaf concert, the DVD for EQUILIBRIUM, more BIG BROTHER 4 voting strategy, a gender-guessing web site, SESAME STREET on CD, 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.

Somewhere around 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 still available at the Original Pipeline page.

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