Pipeline: Pipeline, Issue #161

Wed, July 5th, 2000 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

SECTION ZERO

We're left now with only TELLOS' first Gorilla edition, and all the Gorilla Apes will have put a book out. So far, it's not a bad track record. Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen have done a solid job with the first three issues of SHOCKROCKETS. Mark Waid's EMPIRE #1 currently holds the title of Best First Issue of a Comic for 2000 so far. I haven't read CRIMSON PLAGUE yet. It's a mental block. I didn't like it when it first came out through Event a couple of years ago, so I'm not looking forward to reading it again with a bunch of extra pages. I will get to it, though. I promise.

Thus far: Two great books, and one undecided.

[Section Zero]That leaves us only to discuss the latest edition: Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett's SECTION ZERO. This is the story of the secret United Nations charter organization used to investigate odd phenomena. In other words, now Kesel and Grummett can set the stories in any part of the world they like. =)

I like the concept, I love Grummett's art (Kesel's inks really complement his pencils), and the characters seem interesting. But this first issue just didn't do much for me otherwise. I have enough faith in these creators to stick with it for the first few issues, but not much happens in this issue. This is basically the story used to get The 24 Hour Bug onto the team. As such, the mission the team seems to be on gets shortened with his discovery, and then follows a whole middle of the book filled with exposition on where he came from and what everything around him is.

Everything else sets up the next issue. I hope the characters get to come out and shine a little bit more in the next issue. It's not that they're completely bland here, but that their characters don't drive the story that much. There isn't a hot head to get into a fight or the coolly logical one to think their way out of something. The greatest part of The X-Files isn't that there's a Jersey Devil or an alien with green acid for blood. It's the character interaction between Mulder and Scully. That's what made the show so great: two different points of view to analyze each new threat. So far, SECTION ZERO seems to be lacking that. There's an alien who can control their ship and pull their butts out at the last minute. There's a slightly rough and tumble male lead to be adventurous and sometimes even charming. And there's the female lead who plays the male lead's foil and has some mysterious past. Add to that in this issue a young kid who stumbles onto the team, and you've got a book. (Doesn't that last part sound a lot like SHOCKROCKETS?) Right now, they're all just going through the paces.

In other words, I'm marking this down as a false start, and looking forward to this series starting in earnest with the second issue.

GATE CRASHER

[Gate Crasher]Alec Wagner starts off the first issue of his new on-going series in much the same position as he held during the initial mini-series. It's a year later and he's in college now, but he's still losing dates to his adventurous destiny, and still terribly needed in that capacity. We're starting to learn a little more about the group dynamic of the Split-Second Squad here, but otherwise, we're being introduced to the new college-age Alec and his new drunken college buddies.

Everyone from the mini-series creative team is back again: Mark Waid, Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, Chris Eliopuolos, Bongotone. (And they all have head shots on the inside front cover, so you can harass them when you see them in San Diego.) It's much the same stuff. The back has pin-ups, four pages of letters, some various biographical and Annual-esque subject matter, as well as some sillier fumetti stuff.

It's light-hearted fun. It might even be better. Alec Wagner does a better Spider-man impression than Peter Parker is doing these days. Alec and the classic Peter have a lot in common. They're forced into heroic situations they don't want any part of. Their personal lives - particularly their love lives - suffer greatly for it. While Alec Wagner comes off a little less burdened by the responsibility and more annoyed by it, the comparison is too obvious to ignore.

For $2.50, though, there's nothing to be ashamed of here. You get a lot more than some books give you these days.

CHASING AMY

[Chasing Amy]Yup, I'm behind on the times. I just this past weekend finally saw Kevin Smith's CHASING AMY for the first time. When Criterion puts out a disc, it's worth taking a look at. This disc is no exception.

(I'm really drooling now in anticipation of THE ROCK two-disc set Criterion just announced for later this year.)

In addition to the movie, there's a commentary track, a batch of deleted scenes, and some other little nifty things. Yes, it's just a rehash of what appeared on the laserdisc version, but for those of us who skipped the larger silver platters, this is a good thing.

CHASING AMY is a darn good movie, too. It's played much straighter, er, dramatic, than MALLRATS. At its heart, it's something of an oddball love triangle between a comic book artist and the lesbian he loves. And if you're just a comics geek, you can have yourself a good laugh at the conventions that bookend the movie. Take a look for Mike Allred's small speaking part at the beginning. Look for Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti at the end signing books next to Ben Affleck. Look for the messages on fans' t-shirts that I can't reprint here since this is a somewhat family-oriented column. (The anti-Marvel one is particularly hilarious.)

I do recommend it. It's an R-rated film, and I wouldn't necessarily suggest this for the younger spectrum of my readership, but I'd say if you're in college to give this one a try. Maybe it's just me. I seem to be the freak these days. My parents wouldn't let me see any R-rated movies until I was 17. I saw SOUTH PARK in a theater with more than one 12 year old. And she was with her father! (At least, she was until the opening musical number ended and they walked out.)

Completely off-topic: (Wait! I'm not there already?!?) I also watched RUSHMORE this weekend. I'm afraid that it's 93 minutes of my life I'm never getting back. What was the point of this piece of boring drek? Is it just me, or did characters change without any good reason other than for the purpose of pushing the plot ahead?!?

FRIDAY IN PIPELINE2

Coming up this Friday - a look at CrossGen. The first month of the new line is now over. Four new on-going titles have premiered, as well as a one shot to start them all off. What first impressions do they leave? Are they any good? Which one might be the breakout hit? Is it worth your money? Is it worth Marc Alessi's money?

Since I haven't written the column yet, here's my out: If there's enough space left, I'll start taking a look through the new PREVIEWS magalog for comics shipping in September 2000.

Coming up next Friday - a look at that one last Gorilla series, TELLOS. I'll take a stab at answering some of the book's mysteries, giving some educated guesses on what might be coming up, and looking at the books just one last time to see what else we might have missed along the way.

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