THE FRONT HALF OF PREVIEWS
Last Friday, I worked my way through the back half of the latest PREVIEWS catalog. This week, I'm going to look at the front half, consisting of publishers who are exclusive to Diamond. Those are Dark Horse, DC, Image, Marvel, and Wizard.
As always, I'm not going to list everything that might be good here. You're better off grabbing hold of a copy of PREVIEWS and checking it out when you have the chance. Make sure to pre-order what you like – particularly on things like mini-series and trades – to make sure you get what you're looking for in April.
First, page 7 has a listing of the Top 100 comics for January. Those numbers are always interesting to look at. I found the standings for the Marvel Mangaverse books to be interesting. Usually on an event like this, all the books will get grouped pretty closely together. You can see it in January with the POWER COMPANY one shots. They're holding steady between positions 74 and 79. The Marvel Mangaverse titles, however, are #62-#65, #73, and #84. The worst part about this is that those outliers were the best issues of the week. #73 is THE PUNISHER and #84 is GHOST RIDERS. (The lead-in book to the week, NEW DAWN #1 ranked #58.)
SPAWN #118 is down at #27. I'm doing some research right now for my Image columns at the end of the month. (Pipeline Daily returns to celebrate the tenth anniversary the week of February 25th, in case you hadn't heard.) It's amazing to see how far the mighty have dropped. Finishing 27th is still nothing to sneeze at, but SPAWN used to be the mighty redwood that wouldn't topple from its #1 spot for nearly anything.
Onto the comics: Dark Horse is pushing Star Wars so hard that their wrists are going to break. In addition to the movie adaptation, the second collection of the quarterly anthology. STAR WARS TALES, is shipping on May 1. The first volume just arrived this week. I can heartily recommend this second trade, as it has some really fun stories in it from the likes of Andi Watson and Carlos Meglia.
The most curious presentation from Dark Horse is the second volume of the ZACHARY HOLMES series from the Venture imprint. The first volume is due out this month. This second volume is described in the solicitation as FC, 4 pages, 14-3/4" x 21-1/2" folded to 14-3/4" x 10-3/4" and the price is only "Please Inquire." It's also a hardcover. I'd love to see what this thing looks like, but don't think I'll risk the cash outlay to find out, thanks.
There's a GROO PVC set coming, based on designs provided by Sergio Aragones. For $40, you get seven figures, including Groo and Rufferto, The Sage, Dakarba, and more. The drawings look really cool. I don't normally buy action figures or statues, but I feel my resolve weakening already.
I hate highlighting the things in the catalogue that are already highlighted in each company's presentation. However, DC has four books in a row that they're putting their spotlight on that I'm excited about.
The first is HIGH ROADS, a new Cliffhanger! mini-series from Scott Lobdell and Francis Leinil Yu. It's a World War II action/adventure story set to last six issues, and most likely be followed by a trade in April 2003. The sample art in the catalog is beautiful.
The second book is John Byrne's LAB RATS. No, I'm not highlighting it to make fun of it. I still want to give Byrne a shot. My memories from his work that he was doing when I first started reading comics (SHE-HULK, NAMOR, NEXT MEN) are still so strong that I hope each new project might stir those feelings anew. Maybe this can happen when he's creating his own characters. Besides, it's always nice to support DC's concept of creator-owned characters existing in the DC Universe. It's a nice idea and one I wish they – and Marvel, for that matter – would do more often.
The third book interests me in an artistic way. It's the hardcover, GREEN LANTERN: LEGACY – THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF HAL JORDAN. It's got three quick things going for it. First, it's a hardcover. I love them. Second, it's written by Joe Kelly. Third, it's drawn by Brent Anderson and Bill Sienkiewicz. I'm normally iffy on Sienkiewicz's work, but the promo art here is easy on the eyes and probably will fit the tone of the book. My only sticking point is that I'm not a real Green Lantern fan. I'm buying this strictly for the creators. The $25 price point covers the hard covers and the 112 page story.
Fourth and most exciting to me, for obvious reasons to long-time Pipeline readers, is SUPERMAN & SAVAGE DRAGON: CHICAGO. This is the book Erik Larsen has drawn (with Al Gordon on inks), set at a time when Dragon was still a cop on the Chicago Police Department. The book has been in the works for a couple of years now, and the pencils I saw of it at the last San Diego Cons were real fun. If nothing else, it'll be fun to see Larsen drawing a bunch of different DC characters again. Haven't seen that since his early days doing DOOM PATROL and fill-ins on THE OUTSIDERS, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, and others.
One last DC thing before I move ahead to Image: the ROBIN: YEAR ONE trade is priced at $15 for all 200 pages of the original 4 issue prestige format mini-series. This is a great book, written by Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty, with art by Javier Pulido, Marcos Martin, and Robert Campanella. The coloring from Lee Loughridge adds a lot to the story, as well. I just hope the paper stock in the trade brings that out. The original printing of the mini-series used nice glossy stock. With such a low price point, I'm afraid the trade will get thinner white stock that won't push out the colors the way they should.
What to look for from Image in April? The push is on for Michael Avon Oeming's BASTARD SAMURAI mini-series. It looks nice enough, with Oeming co-writing and inking it. (Miles Gunter is the other writer, and Kelsey Shannon is drawing the book very much in a similar open style to Oeming's own.) There's a preview of the series in the new issue of POWERS, so check it out there. (And be sure to read POWERS. It's one of the series' best issues so far.)
G.I. JOE #5 is a stand-alone issue featuring art from Eric Wolfe Hanson, who draws some very pretty stuff. We'll see how he does with a whole issue of panel-to-panel storytelling, but I can tell you now that his pin-ups are special. The sketch he did of Serra in my sketchbook last summer at the TELLOS table is possibly the most gorgeous thing in there, too.
I might go out on a limb with KABUKI Vol. VI: SCARAB. It's got two major things going for it. First, it's a hardcover. (See a pattern this week?) Second, it's got Rick Mays' art. Mays' art is very easy on the eyes and I've been looking for an excuse to read it somehow somewhere. This might just be my chance. David Mack writes the story, which fits somehow into the overall Kabuki mythos, but is supposed to stand on its own fairly well. $30 gets you the 250+ pages of story in glorious black and white.
Marvel finishes out our round-up this month. The SPIDER-MAN hardcover from last month has been officially retitled to BEST OF SPIDER-MAN 2001. I have to disagree with its selection of PETER PARKER: SPIDER-MAN #36 over the baseball issue, #33, though. It seems that's a battle I'm doomed to lose. I was really hoping that #33 would get a solid push and perhaps an entry to the Eisner Awards. It looks like Marvel isn't thinking that way.
Coming out in May are two new hardcovers for $30 each: DAREDEVIL: YELLOW has all six issues of the Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale mini-series. WOLVERINE & ELEKTRA: THE REDEEMER presents the Greg Rucka/Yoshitaka Amano book in the way that it should have been done in the first place.
The big push of the month is for CAPTAIN AMERICA #1, and with good reason. John Cassaday is doing the art. The story by John Ney Reiber is World Trade Center-centric. It ought to get lots of attention.
Sam Kieth's WOLVERINE/HULK mini-series reaches its third of four issues. I'm trying really hard to just wait for the inevitable collection that will follow it, but it gets tougher every time I see a page of art from the book.
I don't like movie adaptations, as a matter of rule. I don't see much fun in them. I'll see the movie, buy the DVD, and then be done with it. The Spider-Man movie might be a little more tricky, though. The art is being done by Alan Davis, who is apparently inking himself on this one. Davis is my favorite comics artist. This one's going to be tough to pass up.
Bill Rosemann's new mini-series DEADLINE debuts on April 3. Drawn by Guy Davis, it's the story of a New York newspaper reporter assigned to the superhero beat. Davis' design sketches look great and the high concept is interesting. I'm in for the four issues. I just wish cover artist Greg Horn would find someone new to pose for his covers. Putting Elektra on the cover with a hair cut and a bad silver jacket does not for a new character make. It just looks awkward.
The MAX mini-series, FURY, just finished up this week. The trade is due for a May 1 release. Written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Darick Robertson (and Jimmy Palmiotti), it's the story of a Cold War warhorse relegated to obsolescence by the change in times. Nick Fury may not come off as sympathetic here, but it's still a lot of fun to read. Ennis' black humor is liberally sprinkled through a storyline of clashing personalities and clashing eras. The ending strikes an interesting tone in the midst of a glorious blood-splattering finale from the tip of Robertson's pen.
Finally, on May 29th Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's original Marvel mini-series, WOLVERINE/GAMBIT: VICTIMS hits the stands in trade paperback form. This 96 page trade will set you back $13.
Correction: I singled out Bongo Comics' ROSWELL trade paperback from PREVIEWS in last week's column. Just to be clear: It isn't a new trade. It's a trade that was originally solicited long ago, but was highlighted from Diamond's Star System. I missed that designation when I wrote the column last week. I still think I'll give it an order, though.
As always, please post the things that jumped out at you over at the Pipeline Message Board.
More than 350 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, a horrifically coded piece of HTML.