Pipeline2, Issue #145


[Previews]In the first part of this look at PREVIEWS, I missed one major release from Image Comics. I made mention of the 100th issue of SAVAGE DRAGON, but completely forgot to include the THIS SAVAGE WORLD hardcover. I'm a sucker for hardcovers. Priced at $25.00 for six issues of material (#75-81), this is a pretty good deal, particularly in comparison to the special collectors' items that the original DRAGON hardcovers were priced at. The days of $80 hardcovers for Erik Larsen seem to be at an end. You can still pay $50 for a signed and numbered edition that's limited, but there will still be a version of the collection with a hard cover at a reasonable price.

As always, this look through PREVIEWS is not meant to be exhaustive nor comprehensive. Any titles I miss mentioning in this column aren't necessarily inferior in any way. Please add your picks to the Pipeline message board and let the rest of the world know what you think. Also, be sure to pre-order the items that you're interested in -- particularly the independent titles -- to ensure that a copy will be there for you on the Wednesday it arrives at your shop.

Now we can move onto Marvel's listings for June 2002.

Marvel has lots of Spider-Man stuff. There must be a movie. We'll skip that this month, save one:

Kevin Smith's BLACK CAT mini-series debuts, with art from Terry and Rachel Dodson. This is the kind of book that cries out for a deluxe edition. With Kevin Smith involved, it'll sell like hotcakes, and a hardcover edition to show off the cheesecake art of the Dodsons is a natural. Because of all of that, I may hold off on the book until it's completed and put into one big package.

There is a bunch of X-titles out, as always, yet I find myself growing less and less interested in them. I still have some enthusiasm worked up for ULTIMATE X-MEN, DEADPOOL, X-FORCE, and X-TREME X-MEN. Everything else I could live without, in all honesty. I'm still buying UNCANNY out of bad habit, and NEW X-MEN in the hopes that it'll build up some sort of momentum and start thrilling me again like the first couple of issues did.

THE THING: FREAKSHOW #1 is a new four part mini-series by FLASH team Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins. I don't have the same inherent love of Thing that so many others have, but I can't pass up on anything offered by this creative team. I didn't even read the story premise. It doesn't matter to me.

Also exciting: THE INCREDIBLE HULK: THE END. It's a one shot spectacular from the reunited team of Peter David and Dale Keown. This is the "last Hulk story" premise that's been talked about for the past year, told by the team that worked together at the Hulk's previous high point. (Those years when Keown and Gary Frank were handling art duties are the defining issues of the character for me. In this way, I'm hardly a Marvel traditionalist.) It's getting the prestige format for a 48-page $6 book. I'm looking forward to it at the end of June.

This leads us into the Marvel collections categories. The Garth Ennis/Steve Dillon PUNISHER hardcover was advance solicited last month. This month we have two new additions for July.

The first collects the initial 9 issues of Brian Bendis and Michael Gaydos' ALIAS. I'm a bit hesitant on this one. I like the series so far and the stories are entertaining. I just don't know how much I'll ever go back to them to reread. And Gaydos' art is not the kind that I need to see oversized and done up in a pretty hardcover format. It works for the story, but it's not necessarily better served by being enlarged.

The second hardcover is the much talked about MARVEL: FANBOYS & BADGIRLS: BILL & JOE'S MARVELOUS ADVENTURES. I actually like the sound of this, in a strange way. I'm looking forward to seeing some of the behind the scenes stuff from the past couple years. For more on the series, check out the CBR Real Audio interview with Quesada and Jemas from earlier this week.

For those more interested in books with soft covers, the highlight of the month has got to be INCREDIBLE HULK: RETURN OF THE MONSTER. It collects the first 6 issues of the new Bruce Jones/John Romita Jr. run on the title. I'm only hesitant about picking this up because it seems like such a natural book to be put in the oversized hardcover format. I might just hold off on buying this for a couple of months after its release, hoping for a hardcover announcement.

There's other stuff to be excited about, in the meantime. THE ESSENTIAL TOMB OF DRACULA is one such book. It collects 592 pages (in glorious black and white) of the classic series by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan. I've only read a couple of issues of the series, but I can tell you that Colan's art is spectacular in them. I think being reprinted without the colors will only help it.

MARVEL VISIONARIES returns with volumes dedicated to Gil Kane and Jim Lee (with a string of UNCANNY X-MEN issues). Both are slated to run $21.99 for 256 and 288 pages, respectively.

We move now to the "back" of the catalog, with all the offerings from companies that didn't sign an exclusive agreement with Diamond back in those crazy early post-Heroes World days...

AIT/PLANET LAR starts off by presenting BADLANDS: THE UNPRODUCED SCREENPLAY. This is Steven Grant's screenplay for a potential movie based on his comic of the same name. The same story in its original comic format will be reprinted by the company shortly after. It's an interesting way to present the material. Most publishers would present the comic first, and then follow up with the screenplay book if the comic sold well. It'll be interesting to see what happens when the order is reversed and the two volumes are guaranteed to see print.

I've never read an entire movie script before. I've read bits and pieces and always wondered how those development people in Hollywood could read a half dozen movies in this format in a night. It might just be my lack of practice, but the format itself proves a little tedious, as all the visual wonder that the director adds to the script is absent from the screenplay. I want to give it a shot, though, so I'll be picking this one up.

Avatar is printing WARREN ELLIS' BAD WORLD trade, collecting the three issues of Ellis' series of oddball short newsy stories of genuine craziness around the globe. I liked the first issue, but not enough to keep up with it over the course of three months. Now that it's all together in one package, I might give it a shot. I'll stick with the $11 trade paperback, though, and not the $30 hardcover.

CrossGen debuts its newest title, ROUTE 666. It's a horror comic from the writing pen of Tony Bedard and the drawing pencil of Karl Moline. (John Dell inks, with Nick Bell on colors.) The draw of the title, for me, is Moline's artwork. He's done an amazing job on FRAY so far. What little I've read of Bedard's writing at CrossGen so far has been solid work, but nothing I've gotten terribly excited about.

CrossGen's listings sure have gotten crowded, haven't they? It started out with four little titles, and now it's grown to a baker's dozen, along with trade paperbacks, and the two Compendium titles. It's exciting to watch.

As a relatively recent fan of Scott Kurtz's PVP comic, I'm happy to see PVP: THE ONLINE COMIC STRIP COLLECTION VOLUME 1: STRIPTEASE trade. It's collecting 300 strips from the internet comic strip across 160 pages, with an introduction written by Frank Cho. The whole package runs $16.

El Capitan Books is tempting me. They're collecting all three oversized hardcover editions of STRAY BULLETS in one giant slipcase for $100. After reading MURDER ME DEAD, I'm almost ready to take in the entirety of David Lapham's magnum opus like this. Thankfully, sanity will prevail and I'll take baby steps into this. One hardcover at a time.

Oni Press has gotten hold of another J. Torres book for collection purposes. This time it's the SIDEKICKS TPB, collecting all three issues of the series' original run under one cover for $9. Takeshi Miyazawa drew some beautiful images for this series, which tells the tale of a school for superhero sidekicks.

Renaissance Press has put together a collection of the first five issues of AMELIA RULES. It's one of the great all-ages titles of the past couple of years. Jimmy Gownley is doing a great job in writing a story that not only kids will enjoy reading, but that adults will enjoy reading with them. It's full color, 160 pages, and $15. It's a really good value, in addition to everything else. Of all the great books coming out this month, I think this would be my must-get pick of the month. It's a small press title that deserves a larger audience for its creativity and approachability.

Vanguard Productions has ECHOES: THE DRAWINGS OF MICHAEL WM. KALUTA in a hardcover presentation, for $27.95. Weighing in at 112 pages (partially in color), the book promises annotations by Dean Motter of various characters and illustrations that Kaluta has done over the course of his career.

Two things pop out in the Magazines section, and they both come from TwoMorrows.

The first is DRAW #5, featuring an article on the art of penciling by Mike Wieringo, a step-by-step production of POWERS feature by Bendis and Oeming, and an inking demo by Mark McKenna.

Perhaps even more interesting for those of us who are more inclined to the writing side of things, is PANEL DISCUSSIONS: DESIGN IN SEQUENTIAL ART STORYTELLING. It's a softcover trade featuring tutorials from the likes of Will Eisner, Mike Wieringo (him again?), Walter Simonson, Mike Mignola, Brian Stelfreeze, and more. The focus of the book is in how to tell a story, utilizing everything from word balloon layouts to the proper use of gutter space to overlapping panels and sound effects. I point this out for writers because it's the writer's job to think visually. Comics aren't like the movies. Movie scripts are just dialogue guides for the director. If a comics writer wants his story told right, he has to be able to visualize it himself, and then communicate that vision effectively to the artist. Knowing some of the artist's tools and tricks is a valuable thing. (Along the same lines, of course, I could recommend Will Eisner's COMICS AND SEQUENTIAL ART.) The book runs $20 for 208 black and white pages.

There's one last item this month, and it comes from the books department. Neil Gaiman's DON'T PANIC is back in print. It's the guide to Douglas Adams' amazing hilarious HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY series. It's $11 for 256 pages. I didn't pick it up when I first saw the original edition in the bookstore years back, and it's something I've always regretted. It's time to fix that mistake.

Next week: Some more reviews, some corrections, and thoughtful analysis. I hope.

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 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.

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