MARVEL'S SILENT STUNT/GIMMICK/CELEBRATION/WHATEVER
Call it a stunt. Call it a gimmick. I don't care. I like the idea. I want to read more stories that are told entirely through pictures and without any dialogue or captions or whatnot.
I just don't want to read the forced stuff like appeared in DEADPOOL a few months back. I want the good stuff.
I also want everyone to realize there have been more silent issues of comics than just that single blasted G.I. JOE comic.
(Of course, this would also be the perfect opportunity for Marvel to fork over the money to Hasbro so that they could reprint it. It might just be the best-selling issue of December if they could swing it.)
There have been other silent issues. Eight or ten years ago, Dark Horse reprinted a book John Byrne did a decade earlier called CRITICAL ERROR. It was a nice little science fiction/fantasy tale that was told without a single word. At the time, John Byrne commented that the hardest thing about the story was in telling it without being able to tell the time. He had to show it. To do so, he had to use multiple panels to indicate the suns setting and rising to give the effect of time changing.
Dark Horse also recently reprinted another silent comic. Matt Wagner's GRENDEL: DEVIL'S LEGACY #9 was a silent issue. I'm pretty sure there was a Batman one around the time of the movie or the 600th issue of DETECTIVE. And anthology books, should they last long enough, usually contain short silent stories. I think the occasional PUNISHER anthology in the early 1990s had one or two.
In any case, Marvel is giving this a try in December where all of their books will be dialogue free, and it ought to be a real challenge to the artists and the writers involved. There's just a few things I'm hoping don't happen in this.
First, I hope there isn't some cheesy storytelling gimmick used to explain away the silence. As good as that episode of BUFFY was, I was annoyed that it was silent because their voices had been stolen. Heck, as deplorable a show as SPACE: ABOVE AND BEYOND could be, at least their silent episode didn't make such horrific excuses for it. The same goes for that DEADPOOL issue.
Speaking of that issue, I don't want to see any such cheating in December. I don't want the characters reading off of a shopping list or reading the signs on doors to explain to us who is who.
I'm also hesitant about the IMPULSE-like thought balloons being used too much in these issues. I don't want characters' thoughts being depicted in picture form.
I hope the writers and editors can communicate amongst themselves so that nobody uses the same "trick" in multiple books. I would like to see these stories stand on their own and not seem like repeats of issues that came out in the previous week.
I'm sure all of these things will happen in certain stories come December. Some of it may even work. But I'm really worried that we'll see various combinations of them showing up too often.
I will give more Marvel books a shot in December than I normally would. In fact, I daresay I'll read them all. I like the high concept of a silent story. If Marvel published all its books sideways for an issue, I'd probably do the same.
But nobody is under any dictate to do the same. This isn't like the major mega crossover event in which you need to read all the issues in order to understand the story completely. These books will all stand on their own and, in many cases, be standalone issues.
In the end, though, we're still 10 months away from these stories coming to market. In all likelihood, none of these issues will be written for another few months. So let's be calm for a little while and we'll come back to this issue again in the last week of September when PREVIEWS solicits these issues.
(How's that for a segue, eh?!?)
There's not much stuff in here to talk about this month. It seems like we're in a bit of a lull. There's always a mad rush to publish things in time for Christmas, and PREVIEWS swells with the neat items. The summer season seems to be a big buying time for comics fans, too, particularly with the two major conventions happening and companies putting their best faces forward then, as well.
This isn't to say there's nothing exciting coming out in April. It's just that there's not the same kind of frenzy. So here's a limited look. You can fill in your own gaps, or head over to the Pipeline message board and tell me what you're looking forward to the most.
DARK HORSE: BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: WILLOW AND TARA SPECIAL is drawn by Terry "Strangers in Paradise" Moore. I don't follow the television show anymore since it devolved into a soap opera, and the comic never did anything for me. But Terry Moore drawing one? Sounds cool. And the cover drawing they have in the catalog from him looks fabulous. Best likeness I've seen from the show.
DC: THE J. SCOTT CAMPBELL DANGER GIRL SKETCHBOOK looks pretty cool. Finally, here's all the art and sketches that Campbell was doing while the book was lying dormant on the side of his drawing board. It's a little pricey at $7 for 56 pages, but still looks pretty cool.
IMAGE: The first trade paperback of Eric Shanower's AGE OF BRONZE is coming out in April for $20, with 208 pages collecting the first nine issues of the series. If you're looking for something different, this might be your book. It tells the story of The Trojan War. I've only ever read one issue of this, but that issue was pretty good. I'm looking forward to getting a whole big chunk of the story in this format.
CROSSGEN: Mark Waid's CRUX debuts, with art from the vastly underrated Steve Epting and Rick Magyar. If that's not enough, trade paperback collections of MYSTIC and SIGIL also ship, with the first 7 issues of each series for $20 per.
FANBOY COMICS: SIDEKICKS #3 is resolicited. I love the series a whole lot, but I really wish it would come out a little bit more often. UGH
ONI: On the other hand, J. Torres' other creation begins a three issue mini-series with ALISON DARE: LITTLE MISS ADVENTURES. J. Bone returns as artist. (The original one-shot was previewed here in September, where you probably also read about this follow-up mini-series first.)
TWOMORROWS: Finally, DRAW! is a new magazine by comics professionals for comics professionals (and not-so professionals). The premiere issue will run you $6, but includes 88 black and white pages about penciling (from Jerry Ordway), drawing sexy women (Brett Blevins), lettering (John Costanza), and more…
Before I get into this week's reviews, a brief reminder: Shorter versions of many of these reviews can be seen on the Pipeline message board. That's usually the place to get my first impressions on books. By the time I sit down to write this column later in the weekend, there are times when my mind changes or finds new ways to look at things. Many of the reviews you're about to see here started off at the message board to one degree or another. A couple of others started off in last week's columns and got pushed back. And I promise that this is the last I'll pimp for that message board this week. (Well, at least not until the wrap-up at the end of this column.)
DEADPOOL #50: I admit it. I haven't been reading this book in a few months. I have some catching up to do. But this is my first Jimmy Palmiotti/Buddy Scalera-scribed issue. And it's, well, different. Not bad, just different. It's attempting to be more of a superhero crime comic, and less humorous. The good thing about that is that the fewer punchlines that are included seem about ten times funnier, since you're not being saturated with them.
Darick Robertson guest-pencils this issue (and next) and does a wonderful job. It's just weird now how every average person he draws looks like they belong in TRANSMETROPOLITAN. ;-)
GEN13 #61: The giant reset button gets hit here, but it doesn't annoy me all that much. The setting isn't what's important. It's what Adam Warren does with these characters. I'm hoping now that he's brought them back to California and a beach house that he can do something with them other than the usual shtick. But this issue is just the setup. The drama should be starting next month.
Ed Benes is a pretty good artist, though, and I have to think that this issue is his best. Great stuff, packed full of details, but it does raise on question: How do those characters change clothes so often between scenes like that? Thankfully, they don't get changed between panels. It's not that bad just yet, but I do wonder about that sometimes...
SUPERMAN: MAN OF STEEL #110: Usually, this is the title that does the absolute least for me. I mean, Superman isn't even the starring character in it most months...
But this issue I really liked. It's Luthor's inauguration and all hell's about to bust loose. Some sleight of hand and force of will is employed and things get interesting. Oh, and DC destroys a national monument.
Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. also guest-star to pretty good effect. I miss their title. I don't read JSA, so I don't get to see them there every month.
This one is worth reading.
PRESIDENT LUTHOR SECRET FILES & ORIGINS contains a bunch of short short stories to fill in some of the chronological holes in the Luthor campaign. It's really entertaining and highly recommended if you're a faithful Superman reader. A couple of the bits might lose you if you haven't been following the main continuity in recent months. But if you have been paying attention, the book is very rewarding. And the roster of talent is filled with strong creators: Greg Rucka, Peter David, Jeph Loeb, Butch Guice, Mike Wieringo, Stuart Immonen, Paul Pelletier, and more. (Lee Bermejo does the cover and the Lex Luthor pin-up.) Lex's divorce gets finalized. But first he hires a replacement to head LexCorp, and reveals his reason for running for president. Pretty good stuff, if you don't mind shelling out the $5 for it.
CAPTAIN AMERICA #39 continues a strong run on the title from writer/penciller Dan Jurgens. This time, he gets Steve Rogers to Arlington National Cemetery, where Rogers thinks back to Bucky and all the soldiers buried there. AIM and SHIELD collide. Rogers' personal life gets interrupted again. And battle ensues.
Art Thibert isn't inking the book anymore. I imagine it's because the ULTIMATE books keep him so busy. But Bob Layton has stepped in to pick up the reins and is doing an excellent job. He might even be better than Thibert. He gives Jurgens' artwork extra weight and depth. His line weight is more varied and adds more shadows to the pages. It's good-looking stuff. It's just shy of the TITANS work when George Perez inked over Jurgens. (Heck, some panels look eerily similar in style to the stuff that Perez inked.)
HARLEY QUINN #4 introduces Harley's henchmen, the Quinntets. (Yes, there are five of them.) It's a funny story of Harley gathering her faithful and hirable assistants. You couldn't ask for a more loyal pack of losers. The favorite, of course, is the one the story centers on. He's a loser who thinks his resemblance to the Joker is uncanny. It isn't. He's the only one who thinks it.
Karl Kesel is having lots of fun with the trappings of the super-hero comic in this title, and it's fun to read. Terry and Rachel Dodson draw nice round figures, although Harley's chest sticks out once or twice a little too much, perhaps. The story and art even homage THE SPIRIT in the opening page and with a bit of the LEGION tryouts in the middle.
Tuesday's column included reviews of GATECRASHER #6, JEZEBELLE #1, SUPERMAN ADVENTURES #53, SUPERBOY #84, and a brief history of GREEN ARROW.
There were three columns last week. Thursday's column had all the reviews and Tuesday's column had all the commentary. Friday's column was the conclusion of my mammoth look at the CrossGen titles. Click on the links to read those, in case you missed them.
For those who occasionally ask: I will definitely be in attendance at the Chicago Comicon (i.e. WizardWorld 2001) and the San Diego Comicon (i.e. the Comic Con International: San Diego 2001). I will also be attending a couple more of the New York City shows that occasionally show up, and am looking into the possibility of attending the Pittsburgh Comicon at the end of April.
And, finally, I write DVD movie reviews for the gang over at DVD Channel News. If you're into DVD, check out my stuff there. I'm hoping to have a new review or two up there in the next week, after taking a couple of weeks off. I'll let you know right here when to look for those.
Pipeline Commentary and Review returns on Tuesday with a bunch of review and maybe – just maybe – some more commentary. See you then!