In case you haven't visited us here at Comic Book Resources since last Thursday or so, you probably missed the fact that there was a second Pipeline column on Friday. It was a review of the most recent issues of SUPERMAN ADVENTURES and BATMAN GOTHAM ADVENTURES.
And that's just the start. I plan on doing more such PIPELINE II columns. They will appear nearly every week on Fridays. I hope to get them done each and every week, but I'm not promising anything just yet. So stop on by Fridays, check the previous day's COMIC WIRE, look for a new PIPELINE, and peruse the message boards. Just make sure you come back Tuesdays, as usual, for the regular guaranteed-weekly Pipeline Commentary and Review!
WELCOMING SNAP JUDGMENTS
Secondly, I just wanted to wish a hale and hearty "welcome aboard" to the newest CBR denizen, Randy Lander, whose SNAP JUDGMENTS page officially joined CBR this week. I'm most happy about this because it means I'm not the rookie anymore. =)
Randy is a pretty terrific reviewer and one whose stuff I've followed on and off for a long time now. Yes, we disagree an awful lot, but at least his reviews are well reasoned and logical.
There's only one way to go, though, to make this an extra-special welcome and that's a review.
Randy Lander's first published story was in Slave Labor Graphics' LOVE IN TIGHTS, VALENTINE'S DAY SPECIAL #1. It's a short 6 page story of a super-hero wedding arranged by one Harold Perfect. Perfect, I should note, bears a striking resemblance to the picture Randy has up on his web site of himself. And given Randy's recent wedding, I imagine that that isn't merely coincidental. Writers write about what they know. This just seems to be the natural extension of that.
It's a pretty entertaining story. Picture a super-hero wedding. Everything goes wrong. What else is new? Well, what if there was the perfect wedding planner there to handle all of the fisticuffs and feuds that might go on? That's the hook for this story and it works rather well. It has a lot of funny bits going on throughout and is generally a good read. Steve Remen's art is obviously manga-influenced, but that's a style that works well with this kind of absurdist story. (Not to say that men and women in tights fighting crime with superpowers isn't absurd to begin with . . .)
A small number of things prevent it from being absolutely great. The first is that it felt a little rushed. There's a lot of stuff going on in 6 pages with an awful lot of new characters. I think a couple of extra panels in some panels might have helped. Second, the artist uses gray tones in the story, but does so in an inconsistent manner. Personally, I like the panels without the tones, but that's just me. I think the artwork would have been strong enough without using the tones for extra clarity.
Third, there are a lot of words in this story. Maybe it's just a style choice for me. I tend to write scripts with fewer words. But this goes back to what I said earlier about needing a few extra panels. There's a lot of explanatory dialogue and captions here, and it tends to almost suffocate the art, particularly on the first page. I also think I might have preferred some caption boxes around the lettering, instead of the free-floating captions that hang out on top of the art.
That all said, there are a lot of wonderful ideas here and it's an entertaining read. So if you can find it at your local store, don't hesitate to buy it. The other stories in this anthology title are really good, too. I particularly like the cartooniness of Stephen Geigen-Miller and Mike White's "Facing Fears." "Made for Each Other" is a chapter of Steve Conley's "Astounding Space Thrills" series. He's got some great graphic design to his work, uses the gray washes very well, and puts together a nice short story.
(Oh, did I mention that J. Torres edits this thing, too? Yup, that guy again! Speaking of which:)
MONSTER FIGHTERS INC.
After all I've talked about it here at CBR over the past few weeks, I had better review the thing once it's been published, right?
The first issue is 24 pages long in color. J. Torres writes and Logan Lubera pencils with Craig Yeung on inks. Forget Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This is more like what the Scooby Gang would look like. It's a collection of 5 young people going around and kicking paranormal butt. That's what their business card says, and that's what this debut issue is about. The team is called to a comic book show in search of a threat and mayhem ensues. They're apparently still new with their powers and with the team. Hijinks ensue.
Overall, it's a nice group, including a definite leader, a hot-head, a goof-off, a transporter, and mostly silent alien. And they all get the chance to show this off in the issue. We learn by watching what they do. Although there is there conceit of a cat narrating the tale coming in at various points to explain things, the book flows smoothly. I'm not sure how I feel about the cat. It's a cute plot point to set up a story-telling style. I assume all stories will take place in the past as the cat describes them.
There's lot of humor in this book, some of a self-referential bent to the comics community. Most importantly, a lot of the humor extends from the characters in the book. They're strong personalities. With a couple of issues behind us, I'm sure that will become all the more evident.
Logan Lubera's art is well done. Sure, there are a lot of backgrounds absent, but his character work is pretty spiffy. Since much of the book is "talking heads," he does a great job varying character expressions and body language to suit the story. His style is heavily manga-influenced, and almost reminds me of Todd Nauck's stuff. (Throw in a little bit of Mike Wieringo, too, for facial compositions -- all those large cheeks.)
The sore point with the book, though, is the lettering and coloring. The lettering varies in sizes throughout the book and the colors being used are much too dark. (It's bad to the point where it can sometimes be difficult to see what's going on in certain panels, particularly those with the werewolf character.) I asked writer J. Torres about that, sensing that it might have been a production problem. He e-mailed me with an explanation:
"We discovered that what probably went wrong with the lettering was that I merged the lettering files with the image files without checking the dpi. No one caught the gaff before the pages went to the printers, or even after we received the blueline (which I didn't get the chance to check out myself). I guess what happened there is that we were in such a rush to get the book out (especially since it was already so late) that we just missed it. Apologies to our readers for the squint print."
The second issue should be something to look forward to.
STARS and S.T.R.I.P.E. #1 is a much better origin story than the #0 issue from last month is. Does that make any sense to you?
Setting aside editorial decisions regarding the marketing and planning of this title, I do want to recommend it based on this issue. It's got a distinctly Buffy-esque quality to it. Much of the humor is the same. (The principal hates her. She's hiding her "night job" from her mother. High school is hell.) Another irony here is that this book is a better Buffy comic than is Dark Horse's actual licensed title!
And has anyone else noticed the rising number of books published by DC with a decidedly lighter tone? The PLASTIC MAN SPECIAL, YOUNG JUSTICE, IMPULSE (an avowed super-hero sitcom), STARS AND S.T.R.I.P.E. are all included in that category. (Recently cancelled titles in the same vein include LOBO and VEXT.) Really, the BATMAN titles are probably the only ones left still doing "grim and gritty".
UPDATES AND CORRECTIONS
PCR #105: I had a lot of people asking me where to find the WRITERS ON COMICS SCRIPTWRITING book I reviewed last week. Quite honestly, at this point I believe it's only available at comic book specialty stores through the aegis of mega-monopoly Diamond Distributors. In American dollars, it works out to be about $25 or so. It is written by Mark Salisbury, published by Titan Books, and has an ISBN number of 1-84023-069-X.
Jay Faerber wrote to correct me on The Story That Wouldn't Go Away. That character that's not Justice in that promo shot is Bolt, as mentioned here last week. Well, it turns out he's also not an entirely new character, either. He was last seen in the pages of MAVERICK and X-MEN UNLIMITED. That probably explains why so many people have never heard of him before. So, to paraphrase NBC's summer '98 ad campaign: "If you haven't seen him before, he's new to you!"
I can only hope that this will be the last mention of THE NEW WARRIORS here until the book actually premieres later in the year.
Special thanks to Tamara who wrote in to mention that letters in support of CRUSADE would be better off going to the Sci-Fi Channel, who are more likely to pick the series up should it continue.
And please don't confuse that first episode with standard CRUSADE fare. That one was dictated by the morons from TNT. Give the next episode a shot and see if you like it then.