Pipeline2, Issue #64


The news certainly ripped through comic-dom like a buzzsaw this week, didn't it? Bob Harras is out. Joe Quesada is in.

But Bob is allowed back in if he wants. He doesn't have to press his nose against the window and wish he was invited to the party.

Right. Pardon my cynicism.

I come not to bury Harras, but to hope for Quesada. Everything Quesada says so far is right on. He wants to look at the Spidey titles first. He wants to straighten up the mutant books. He wants to pursue creator-owned books. He wants new talent, new editors, and new excitement at Marvel.

Finally, someone gets it!

The tricky part now is in enacting it. He'll still have to battle the suits and some editorial resistance, I'm sure. You can't make the kind of broad, sweeping changes that Marvel needs without breaking a few eggshells, and that'll be his first test. No doubt some unpopular decisions will be made. The trick is in how he'll handle those, and we'll just have to wait and find out.

The other test will be in handling the business ends of the deal. It's great to have these brilliant ideas on how to save Marvel. It's quite another thing to convince the suits and the financial people that your long-term thinking is going to work in lieu of short-term gains. (Notice I never used the words 'profit' and 'Marvel' in the same sentence? ;-)

In any case, it's much too soon to begin doubting Editor In Chief Quesada. Nothing's really happened yet, aside from a USENET posting and a teleconference. So let's just wish him a lot of luck and cross our collective fingers that he can get the stuff done that needs doing.


(How's that for an exciting segment heading?)

[Ladytrom #1]WILDCATS: LADYTRON #1 is a prestige format one-shot. Since the pages aren't numbers, my unscientific survey of the book makes it out to be about a 50-page tome. It's got glossy pages, a square binding, and heavy cardboard stock covers. The first thing one has to ask one's self upon seeing such a book is, "Why couldn't this have been a two-issue mini-series, or printed on lesser paper, with a couple of staples and regular glossy cover?" They're asking a lot of you to put forth six bucks for a single story like this.

As much as it must drive some people nuts, the main focus of such a high-end format as this has to be to enhance the art. This kind of format demands some sort of European art style, doesn't it? You expect Moebius for the price, or Adam Hughes, or something special.

The good news is that Eric Canete and Jason Johnson (and six different inkers!) can provide that. This is a highly detailed, slick package that's meant to highlight the art. Even the story allows every possible opportunity for Canete to draw interesting stuff, from robot sex to little animated toys to montages of wanton violence.

The story itself is just a megadose of sex and violence. It makes no apologies for being what it is - a study of a sick serial killer and her one glorious kill spree. That goes for cops, lovers, and even her parents. Nobody is safe, but it's still well reasoned, as far as these things can be. The violence may often be over-the-top, but Casey is sure to put everything into perspective. This is a character study, first and foremost.

Continuity-wise, it leads directly into Alan Moore's run on WILDC.A.T.S and Ladytron's debut there.

[Wildstorm Thunderbook #1]Also from the high price end of WildStorm Productions comes WILDSTORM THUNDERBOOK #1, a prestige format anthology. The highlight of this one is undoubtedly meant to be the first story, a twelve-page story written and drawn by Adam Hughes, with inks from Kevin Nowlan. It's a talking heads story with Freefall doing her best to explain Caitlin to a new friend, all the while keeping their secrets and striking a blow for feminism. The story itself just seems to go nowhere, though, and ends in a striking rush of exposition to try to make it seem worthwhile.

You're definitely going to remember the art over the story on this one. Hughes and Nowlan combine for some striking visuals, as is to be expected.

The one big production faux pas that comes close to ruining the visual on this story is the lettering. No, it's not L. Lois Buhalis' lettering. Her stuff looks fine. The problem is that it looks like it was scanned in wrong. There's noticeable "stepping" on all the letters - that jagged line where you should see curves. (I took a course in computer graphics. I could write you a paper on how difficult it is to draw a diagonal line with a computer.) This isn't the first time it's happened from WildStorm, either. A couple of issues of America's Best Comics' TOMORROW STORIES had some badly scanned lettering, most memorably from Kevin Nowlan's contributions.

Hmmm, I wonder if that's coincidence?

No, wait, Tom Orzechowksi's lettering in the DV8 story at the end has the same troubles, and Nowlan had nothing to do with that story. The same lettering troubles didn't plague the other stories in this volume, if only because they were lettered directly on the computer.

It's gotten to the point now where computer lettering is not just preferred by comics companies, but that the hand lettering can't even be handled properly by the production people! Argh!

The Jet story by Abnett and Lanning is a cute little story about the next generation of super-hero trying to learn from her father and his mistakes. There's just something about penciller Dustin Nguyen's art that seems off to me. The storytelling is fine enough, but there's something about his style that doesn't work well for me.

[Gotham Knights]Roger Robinson appears to be the new artist on BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHTS. I'm disappointed. I love Paul Ryan's stuff and would much rather see him be the artist. It can't be an issue of him being fast enough. He's already proven he can do a monthly title during his long tenure on FANTASTIC FOUR.

Robinson's work sticks out in my mind from a couple of issues of THE FLASH he drew just after the 100th issue, with Linda Park working undercover and wearing a solid black uniform that just looked unnatural on her. Maybe it was a rush job due to a last minute fill-in deadline, but those issues have always stood out to me as a particularly bad time for Waid's Flash run. (Pun intended. I'm funny that way.) His work seems to have gotten better here. He's drawing more shadows and details into characters in otherwise straight-black costumes. I'll give it another issue before I really flip out.


More reviews, I'd imagine. A flip through PREVIEWS. A look at some books that haven't been published yet. My solutions to Marvel's mess.

What do you want to see? Let me know at the Pipeline message board. I'll try to accommodate you as best as I can. =)

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