PIPELINE REVIEWS PREVIEWS
Welcome to a very special edition of Pipeline2.
Well, OK, it ain't all that special, but I've always wanted to lead with that line.
This month I'll be picking out some cannon fodder from the latest issue of PREVIEWS for books destined to hit your comics shops in April. In no way is this intended to be a complete and thorough evaluation of the solicitations. I have neither the time nor the patience to go through all that. In the grand Pipeline tradition, this is just highlights of stuff I want to talk about. If there's stuff you'd like to talk about, please post on the Pipeline message board. We'd love to discuss more over there. In fact, there's already a thread started.
Larry Young's dream is becoming reality. Either that or Avatar Press is milking the Warren Ellis cash cow for all she's worth! Take your pick.
Larry Young, you may remember, published a collection of scripts used in the making of his first ASTRONAUTS IN TROUBLE series. In the initial press release, he expressed his desire that other publishers might follow. Wouldn't it be great to see script collections of TRANSMETROPOLITAN or WATCHMEN or THE INVISIBLES? (Who knows, maybe the latter might help make some sense of the series!) Marvel attempted it for a short time, publishing single issues of penciled issues along with their scripts, but didn't do it for long.
Now Avatar Press is soliciting for the WARREN ELLIS' STRANGE KISS SCRIPT BOOK. This 48-page book contains not just the script to the book, but also background commentary. This being Avatar, you get your choice of a 48 page softcover edition for $5 or hardcover for $25. I love Warren's work and all, but I'm not paying $25 for this. I'll just get in line for the $5 version.
Now if only they'd be so kind as to publish the second issue of the mini-series. [Update: STRANGE KISS #2 did make it to the stores this week. Just not either of mine. ::sigh::]
Avatar also published a litany of other modern day literary classics, such as AVENGELYNE/PANDORA ROYAL BLUE EDITION #1, complete with a cover depicting Avengelyne holding her sword in a perfect phallic position. Of course, it is one of the few books they publish that includes clothes, so maybe I shouldn't pick on them for that one.
Oh, and if you missed the AiT script collection or TPB, they're solicited together as a "two-pack" over on page 207 for $20.
One of this column's recent favorite artists is Lee Bermejo, who drew those two GEN13 issues that Adam Warren scripted before Scott Lobdell and Ed Benes took over. Bermejo gets his "big break" in April, with the cover story on PREVIEWS this month: SUPERMAN/GEN13. The preview art on this looks terrific. Bermejo has a great style with nice use of what I'll refer to as "chunky black" linework, for lack of a better term. It can be somewhat reminiscent of Stuart Immonen's line, but a little less smooth.
The book's the first of a three-issue mini-series written by Adam Hughes and inked by John Nyberg.
Even better yet, it will be printed in a standard format and only cost $2.50 an issue! No $5 cardboard cover or, square-bound binding formats here! Whoo-hoo!
KURT BUSIEK'S ASTRO CITY: THE TARNISHED ANGEL gets a hardcover treatment. This book collects the 7 issues' worth of the Steeljack storyline. Believe it or not, I still haven't sat down to read the final issue yet. One of these days… The ASTRO CITY hardcovers are really nicely packaged, and this one will run you only $30 for 244 pages' worth of story. This is in comparison to those original hardcover stories DC was putting out in December for $25 with 96 pages. I understand the costs are lower since you're just paying royalties instead of original printing costs, but the different is still astounding.
OBLIGATORY CAMPBELL BASHING
Both Oni Press' BLUE MONDAY: THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT [sic] #3 and Dark Horse's BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #20 sport covers from J. Scott Campbell. DANGER GIRL's second anniversary is coming up next month. Issue #7 is still missing in action. Would anyone care to compile a listing of all the "guest covers" Campbell has done in that time? I'm almost tempted to guess that it would be more total pages than he's drawn of the DANGER GIRL series. Please, count those needless DANGER GIRL alternate covers in there, too.
The big draw from Image is POWERS #1, the new on-going full-color series from Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Avon Oeming, whose art is underappreciated. He and Neil Vokes did some of the best and most stylized SUPERMAN ADVENTURES artwork and never got much praise for it.
(Along with this, Image is re-offering the FIRE, JINX ESSENTIAL, and GOLDFISH trade paperbacks. So if you were looking for them in the wake of my Bendis round-up a couple of weeks ago, here's your chance!)
It's basically a cross between ASTRO CITY and TOP TEN and RISING STARS, if you want to treat it so cavalierly. If nothing else, it's better than calling it a cross between [insert random comic here] and X-FILES. I think that one's been officially done to death now.
Lea Hernandez's RUMBLE GIRLS #1 premieres in April. It's a manga look at superheroes and their celebrity, mixed with pure capitalism. I'm sure by the time it's done we'll see an indictment of capitalism and "big business," but I'm willing to go along for the ride and hope for the best. You can find a preview of the series over on Lea's web site, www.divalea.com. If nothing else, its Real World/game show roots will make it a very timely read.
ASTOUNDING SPACE THRILLS' comic re-debuts at Image with a #1 issue. I just recently starting following along with the daily comic strip, so I'm looking forward to reading the comic. It's 32 pages and in full color for your $3 spot.
Tony Daniel's F5 premieres in April, as well, with a double-sized first issue. For more info and commentary on that one, come back here on Tuesday, when I'll be reviewing the F5 PREVIEW comic that came out last week.
THE TAXMAN COMETH
A ton of independent comics get lost in the back of PREVIEWS every month, sad to say. So this month I'm putting the Pipeline Spotlight (whatever that is) on one book I was lucky enough to get a chance to read already: TAXMAN #1. Comics Conspiracy is soliciting it on page 239. Order your copy in advance, because I doubt that very many retailers will throw this on the shelf, otherwise. It's a full-color $3 comic with 24 pages' worth or story. And it's already completed. Trust me - I've seen it.
It's post-apocalyptic America and the Taxman is out to grab every penny he can in a world in which just about everything is taxable and justice is swift. Ah, hell, I can't do it justice. Here's the solicitation copy:
"In the dark times following the crash of the global communications network, a dangerous new breed of bureaucrat arises. Meet the Taxman, a gun-slinging revenuer in a medieval future. He lives in a world where technology is reserved for the government and telecommunications are forbidden, where the rich are extinct and darkened slums are all that remain of once great cities. Anything left worth living for... is taxable."
The writing varies from darkly humorous to satiric to highly dramatic. It starts off as a light romp and picks up speed quickly. It's just a one-shot, but it reads well as a science fiction short story in the grandest of traditions. The art is better than you're used to seeing from self-published ventures. There are still a couple of minor nit-picks I have with the art in a few places, but they're just that: minor. The computer coloring is also top-notch, adding depth and dimension to the artwork. (Yup, in today's day and age, artists don't have to worry about things like texture or depth anymore. The computers all take care of it. But that's another rant for another time.)
The book is written by Doug Miers, pencilled by Don Walker, inked and lettered by Jason Maranto, and colored by Kevin Senft. It's definitely worth a shot if you want something different for that extra $3 burning a hole in your pocket…
I love magazines about comics. I don't know why, but they're always so fun to read. When I first started reading comics, you had a large number of interesting ones to choose from. At various times you could find AMAZING HEROES, COMICS SCENE, COMIC BOOK MARKETPLACE, HERO ILLUSTRATED, ARENA, and more. Nowadays, you have WIZARD, THE COMICS JOURNAL, and a bunch of small niche market items. That seems to be changing. COMICS SCENE, for one, seems to be wanting to make another comeback.
COMICOLOGY #1, the last best hope for comics magazines, debuts in April, with a ton of great-looking stuff, including a new Bruce Timm cover along with interview and a sampling of never-before-seen art. Lea Hernandez, Jeph Loeb and Stan Sakai also get interviewed here. About the only catch to it is that the cost is $6 for 96 black and white pages. However, that's only a dollar more than Wizard, which is mostly ads, contests, and other assorted wastes of space. I'm not complaining, but I'm sure someone will want to. You can't get a 48 page comic for less than that these days - check out JLA: CREATED EQUAL.
Another interesting magazine on the same page (292) of previews is SKETCH MAGAZINE. I must have missed the announcement of the first, but this is a magazine dedicated to the production of comics. They say it will focus on all aspects, but it seems to be more tilted towards the art. This issue might be interesting: it features an interview with Todd McFarlane on the secrets of SPAWN's success. (I'm biting my tongue right now. It's too easy.) This one's 64 full color pages.
Finally, THE COMICS JOURNAL #223 boasts "The Definitive Interview" of Alex Ross. Knowing how TCJ interviews creators and how freely Ross likes to speak, this one should be very interesting.
ONE FOR THE BOOKSHELF
One nifty item sticks out in the "Books" section -- on page 305: THE GENE COLAN ANNUAL: PAINTING WITH PENCIL. Colan's art is always fun to look at, and I love to see the original pencil work done by artists. Put the two together and you get what looks like a pretty nifty book. 120 pages in black and white softcover. $20 gets you a Colan bio as well as scores of Colan illustrations in black and white from various phases of his career. Isn't it time we appreciate comics legends while they're still alive and kicking? I'm sick of losing people like Gil Kane without the vast comics audience having any appreciation for his work before his death.
VARIOUS AND SUNDRY
There's plenty more where all this came from: Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen inaugurate the Gorilla lineup with SHOCKROCKETS. Greg Rucka is writing a BATMAN/HUNTRESS 6-part mini-series. Walter Simonson is back with ORION #1. Carlos Pacheco and Jose Ladronn begin a new INHUMANS mini-series. THUNDERBOLTS #39 clocks in at 100 pages.
But this should get you all started. Head over to the message board and talk about whatever else suits your fancy. And I'll humbly invite the professionals to go there, too, and hawk their wares.
Stop back on Tuesday for a stack of comics reviews in Pipeline Commentary and Review!