Pipeline: Pipeline, Issue #133

Tue, December 21st, 1999 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

VARIOUS AND SUNDRY REVIEWS

THE NEW WARRIORS is really a formulaic book, and that's not such a bad thing. The kids are headstrong and confidant, only to get knocked down a peg in the end and having to question their beliefs and decisions. Along the way, you get some soap opera stuff with the characters and their backgrounds and personal lives. And so the fifth issue by Jay Faerber works for me on that level. Faerber does his best to shoehorn in his other book, GENERATION X. It's not at all necessary, but maybe it'll be a nice sales bump. Who knows?

The only real problem I had with the book was the art by Karl Kerschl in the first half of the book. I can't wait for this manga phase of comics to be over. Damn Joe Madureira for popularizing it so damned much. Heck, I liked Madureira's art better when he was just an Art Adams rip-off anyway. Anyway, Kerschl's art lacks storytelling. Why does Nova order Turbo to land the hoverpod so urgently at the bottom of the second page? Is it because some other crisis is around the corner, or because her driving is so bad? Tough to tell with the close-up Kerschl uses. There are two deaths in the issue handled off-panel in ways as to leave way too much to the reader's imagination. One sequence is just a close-up on the assumed murderer's eyes, followed by two close-ups of the murdered man's hands, a black panel, and then another close-up on a hand with some blood pooled nearby. What happened here? Yeah, he died, but how? Do we get the slightest clue? No, it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, but to the reader who hasn't finished the story yet it's potentially confusing.

The second half of the book is drawn by Chris Renaud, who uses a style much closer to Todd Nauck's or Mark Bagley's. It's nice to see someone drawing something other than a Japanese cartoon. If I want that, I'll go buy something Pokemon-related, and how many amongst us wants THAT?!?

"It's nice to see someone drawing something other than a Japanese cartoon."

However, the true highlight of the book is my letter leading off the letters column. =)

DEATHBLOW BYBLOWS is a three-issue mini-series written by Alan Moore and drawn by "Fighting American" partner Jim Baikie. It's an entertaining little tale, but nothing to get excited by and probably only for Moore completists. If Moore's ABC books entertain you, this will seem tame and simplistic by comparison.

"I think the biggest failing of the book is that it's not leading into an on-going series. As a "pilot" for a new DEATHBLOW series, this might work."

This isn't to say it's bad. It's just not very distinguished. It's some nice science fiction stuff. It reads fast. The art is nice enough. I think the biggest failing of the book is that it's not leading into an on-going series. As a "pilot" for a new DEATHBLOW series, this might work. As a mini-series unto itself, it's a breezy PREDATOR/ALIENS movie that's easily forgotten.

MR. MAJESTIC has been cancelled and that's a shame. It was a different kind of superhero, so it didn't sell. And you wonder why diversity in this marketplace is so darn impossible to achieve?!? But the sixth issue - the last to feature Ed McGuinness as the artist - just came out last week and is pretty entertaining. It takes on the whole "millennium fever" which unfortunately grips the world, and gives us Desmond's viewpoint on the true meaning of "millennium." Of course, writers Brian Holguin and Joe Casey take the cheap and easy way out to show that Desmond is a nerd and that only nerds care that the millennium doesn't start until 2001. For once, I wish actual intelligence would be honored in this country. (Further to the point, there is no computer "millennium bug." There is nothing special about the year 2001 that will cause computers to act funny. There might be issues in the Year 2000, however, which is not the millennium. I have nothing against people celebrating it being the year 2000, but let's forget this millennium nonsense. Thankfully, the message seems to have finally gotten out to people that the millennium doesn't begin until 2001. Now it's just mass stupidity that causes people to ignore the facts. ::sigh::)

Pipeline reader Tom McManamon e-mailed me this past week to ask what I thought of the lettering in this book that Comicraft does. I think it has some of the same trappings that computer lettering falls into - large blocks of words inside bigger balloons often end up running together. It's not difficult to read, but if you look at the page from afar without concentrating on one specific panel, it looks like static running across the page where the lettering is. This doesn't seem to happen with the more imperfect nature of hand lettering.

The font is most likely taken from a sample of someone's hand lettering, much as TELLOS' lettering is. I'm happy to see that. It's a different type of font, with its own unique style, but it doesn't distract the eye and it's not difficult to pick up on. It has its own aesthetic.

I hope that answers your question, Tom! Thanks for writing.

Oh, and there's a letter in the back of MR. MAJESTIC from yours truly, so go ahead and buy this book!

BEST BOOKS OF 1999

Some of the obvious choices would have to include DAREDEVIL, INHUMANS, SAM & TWITCH, the entire ABC line, THE SAVAGE DRAGON, THE AUTHORITY, and ASTRONAUTS IN TROUBLE.

Some of the less obvious choices would have to include the Scott Peterson/Tim Levins BATMAN GOTHAM ADVENTURES, which brought themes and morality into the books instead of just straight action/adventure. (It's swinging back to the more straight-forward storytelling again now, sadly.)

TELLOS had the strongest start of any series I read in 1999. That first issue was everything a first issue should be. It was entertaining, it had beautiful art, introduced likable characters, and did what it wanted to do well. If only Joe Kelly would follow this role for his books, whose first issues are amongst the biggest disappointments of 1999.

IMPULSE reconfigured itself behind the strong writing of Todd DeZago and the amazing artistry of Ethan Van Sciver. I think the book is stronger when it focuses more on the kids and less on the guest superheroes, as the last two issues have done, with high-profile sure-to-boost-the-sales-figures appearances by Young Justice and Plastic Man (in the JLA Watchtower). The current Christmas issue (#57) is a pretty nice and timely one. The ending of it opens up a wealth of future comic material. It might just look like a forced schmaltzy ending for a Christmas tale, but I'm looking forward to seeing where this goes.

Impulse #57"It might just look like a forced schmaltzy ending for a Christmas tale, but I'm looking forward to seeing where this goes."

100 BULLETS shouldn't be a big surprise to make this list to anyone who's been reading Pipeline for a while. It's quite possibly the best new book of the year, written by Brian Azzarello and drawn by Eduardo Risso

Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragones' FANBOY was an amazing 6-issue mini-series, if only because it brought Frank Miller back to DC for a page or two.

Lost in the shuffle of big budget titles is Jay Hosler's CLAN APIS, a five issue mini-series detailing the life of a bee. I kid you not. It's done in a more cartoony style, as anyone familiar with his COWBOY comic strip is aware, uses computer lettering, and is printed in black and white. But this is a charming, witty, and educational series.

"Joe Kelly went out with a bang on DEADPOOL, simply the best and most exhaustive exploration into the reforming villain psyche I've ever seen."Deadpool

Joe Kelly went out with a bang on DEADPOOL, simply the best and most exhaustive exploration into the reforming villain psyche I've ever seen. When Deadpool goes into a monologue in Kelly's last issue comparing his life to the classic Chuck Jones/Michael Maltese cartoon "Much Ado About Nutting," I knew it was going to be a classic.

The revamp of the Superman family of titles has been rather well done so far, just three months into the grand experiment. The breakout book, I think, is SUPERMAN, with its combination of Jeph Loeb's writing and Mike McKone art.

I also thought Jeff Smith's BONE had a strong ending to the second portion of its three-act saga. The spin-off book, STUPID STUPID RAT TAILS has been nothing short of hilarious in its first two issues.

I have to put in a good word for a book I just discovered this year, BIRDS OF PREY. A full review should be showing up in this column sometime in the next month or so, but Chuck Dixon is doing amazing work on this series, with Greg Land's terrific pencils.

Chris Eliopoulos' DESPERATE TIMES didn't publish a new issue in 1999. (The fourth issue went on sale one year ago this week.) But the trade paperback did come out a couple of months ago and the strips continue to be seen in the back pages of THE SAVAGE DRAGON, so we plug it again. There's a new 11-page story in there, and a couple of pages of fan boy art - including one from me. Since you've read this far down the column and it's the season for giving, I'm giving away a copy of this puppy. I have an extra on hand. Send me an e-mail with "Desperate Times" as the subject header, and explain to me why you want it so badly you'd send me an e-mail. Put your name somewhere in the body of the message and I'll choose a winner from all e-mails sent before Christmas Day this Saturday. No need to send your address just yet - only if you win. I'm not doing this to compile a mailing list. Your e-mail address won't be given out, either. This is done under the rules of CBR's general privacy policy.

For more debate on these books and which books should be on this list, jump over to the Pipeline message board and join the fracas over there. 1999 had a lot of great books in it, and I can't highlight them all.

Please also note how many straight-ahead standard superhero books there are on this short list. Not quite that many.

CHRISTMAS EVE PIPELINE2

We take no holidays here at Pipeline World Headquarters in glorious suburban northern New Jersey:

For Christmas Eve, Pipeline2 will explain the Golden Rule for getting your letters published in the back of the comics. (Well, at least all non-Vertigo comics.) It's the long-awaited letterhacking column. See you there! And don't forget to get your entries in for the DESPERATE TIMES trade paperback!

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