Pipeline: Pipeline, Issue #102

Tue, May 18th, 1999 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

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WHY ALAN MOORE IS A GOD

OK, maybe that's going a bit too far, but TOM STRONG is a great example of why this man is one of comic's most clever and influential writers. It's not just that the story is interesting or that the art is captivating (from perennial favorite Chris Sprouse), but that the two blend together so well. Moore creates a villain in this issue whose form of battle is intensely visual and dangerous. It satisfies both that group of people who like comics because they look cool and those who like to see new and interesting ideas. The Modular Man is a great villain.

Too often we get caught up in the debate over which is more important:

art or writing. At the very least, we tend to stress one over the other or

prefer one to another. But the fact is that comics are that rarest of

bastard mediums which needs both to be done well. TOM STRONG,

early on, is one of those comics that combine both aspects pretty well.

HOW NOT TO START A SERIES

STARS and S.T.R.I.P.E looks to be a relatively cute comic featuring a

spunky female super-hero with her father as a sidekick. It's a nice little

twist on the idea of keeping heroic tendencies in the family. Here the

father tags along on all his daughters' adventures as a way to keep an

eye on her.

But the DC publicity machine seems to have over-ruled any common sense the book's creative team may be capable of. (At least, I hope it

was the "suits'" decision and not the editor's.) First of all, why do we need

to start a new series out with a #0 issues? That's the first absurdity. They

can't say it's to keep in line with the way STARMAN started out, because

that happened during Zero Month. They might say it is to keep in line with

MARTIAN MANHUNTER, but that was an even stranger marketing decision, to issue something like 2 or 3 books ahead of the first issue of

the new series.

Even worse than starting out with a #0 issue, this #0 issue starts with a

line of text pointing out that the issue begins some 7 or 8 issues into the

future of the book. Confused yet? They could have done the whole

story without that one line of text and nobody would have known. It's a

nice story, told well. I enjoyed it. But why start a series with a story set

7 issues in the future. It can't be for dramatic effect. It wasn't a little time

travel tale to show the readers what might be happening to the main

characters to keep the readers guessing as to how it might happen. It's

set in the future because -- ?!? No good reason is ever given. Maybe

the first issue will explain why. I hope so. On the other hand, how

ludicrous would it be for the first issue to set up the book's origin better

than the #0 issue?

Wow, I feel a headache coming on.

IMPULSIVE RESERVATIONS

IMPULSE #50 debuts the new creative team for the title. Todd DeZago writes and the much-maligned "Cyberforg" creator Ethan Van

Sciver pencils. The story itself is great. Van Sciver's art is wonderful, too, with plenty of panels and even some backgrounds. I think I'll stick

around for a couple of issues.

I have, however, three reservations:

The ironic thing is that IMPULSE is so damned static. Not much has changed. Every now and then an issue like this will come along and lead

us to believe that Bart may start thinking for himself more often, but it never sticks. With the next issue, he's back to his impulsive self, a point

DeZago hammered home in his script too much. Granted, without this nature, the book is nothing. It's the main trait of the protagonist. But it's

like a bad sit-com. There are issues which are funny or touching or interesting, but the next issue is just as

much a toss-up. The up side to this is that any reader can make any issue of IMPULSE their first and not be too confused.

The other funny thing I see about this is that nobody really knows how to draw Impulse in his or her own style. Everyone busies himself or

herself drawing the Ramos version of Impulse, despite the fact that Mike Wieringo first drew young Bart Allen. Those huge feet, the big

face, and the long hair. It's all Ramos' style and nobody seems to know how to adapt it to his or her own. So while Impulse may end up looking

consistent from month to month, he also tends to look really weird.

The third difficult thing to get by is Janice Chiang's lettering. I don't like

it. It might be technically strong, but it distracts me from the art. It's

trying to be too calligraphic. It looks like she's not lifting the pen up

from the board fast enough and leaving a heavy blot at the end of each

line.

ART IMITATES ART

I saw THE PREDATOR on DVD the other night for the first time. (Yes, that's right. I've never seen this one before.) Something struck

me. A lot of the camera choices from the director looked like they came straight from comics. A lot of the set-ups in the frame with the use

of extreme foreground and background look like they came straight from a comic book. There are talking heads inhabiting only one side of

the frame, almost as if to leave the other half open for the lettering. Maybe this all accounts for why the movie made such an easy transition

to comics.

UPDATES

J. Torres was nice enough to e-mail in with the good news that

MONSTER FIGHTERS INC. will be out the first week in June. "It's at

the printers," as they say.

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