Pipeline: Pipeline, Issue #56

Sun, June 28th, 1998 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

REVIEWS AND MORE

I finally read BABYLON 5: IN VALEN'S NAME this afternoon. For those who can't remember back the three or four months to when it was released, it is the story of the final fate of the Babylon 4 station. The first issue is written by B5 creator/genius J. Michael Straczynski, while the final two issues are written by Peter David, off of a JMS "story arc."

Truth to tell, it's a little disappointing. If you're a B5 junkie, go ahead and get it. Just read "To Dream In The City Of Sorrows" by Kathryn Drennan first. It's a better read. The comic contradicts the book, and I think I prefer to go by the book. If you haven't read the book, the final panel of the final issue of the comic gives you a rise and makes you wonder just what was meant by that caption. It's clearer if you've read the novel, which is a

SUPERB read in and of itself. (After reading it, you'll see another

couple of layers in the episode "War Without End II" that you wouldn't see otherwise.)

Chris Eliopoulos' DESPERATE TIMES #1 is now out from Image Comics. This is a funny and worthwhile read. It's a black and white comic strip about two single guys in their 20s looking for love. More or less. This issue has a funny cover co-illustrated by Erik Larsen, as well as a two-page story by Larsen, who even does his own lettering. Terry Austin inks a pin-up and Chris E. describes the genesis of the book in a text piece. There is a second issue coming in August. Its cover looks to be even more over-the-top and even funnier. This one is a must-read -- if you can find it.

THE SAVAGE DRAGON #50 by Erik Larsen, however, I have mixed emotions on. For a die-hard Dragon fan, it's interesting. For someone who's never read the Dragon before, it's almost essential. Larsen takes great pains to catch a new reader up to speed with numerous captions and Freak Force's origin story, presented in a new story by Larsen and FF artist extraordinaire, Vic Bridges. However, that story is nothing more than a clever redrawing and filling in of panels we've already seen in early issue of TSD and FF. The last page, though, is a real winner and saves the entire story.

The main problem with the story is that it interrupts the flow the title had going. The previous 3 issues were amongst the title's best. This one maintained none of the same character or flow. When it all gets collected into a TPB, it will stick out. It might also have been a good idea to point out to the potential newbies that the story of Dragon 1/2 fits into continuity something like 20 issues ago. I could imagine some initial confusion with it.

Frank Miller's 300 #2 is out from Dark Horse. I can't think of any superlatives to describe it that probably haven't already been used. Either run out and buy this now, or wait for the inevitable TPB. Either way, this is a fascinating story, and Lynn Varley's colors are magnificent.

Hey, does anyone else out there remember the nifty little comic book that was KURT BUSIEK'S ASTRO CITY? I've almost forgotten about it, it's been so long since I saw a new issue... Personally, I think Busiek should wrap up T-Bolts and concentrate on ASTRO CITY. T-BOLTS has been less-than-stellar in its past couple of issues, with only some brief swordplay saving it from being a complete wreck. (I can't help it -- I LOVE swordfights.)

[UPDATE: In the interests of fairness: The reason why Kurt Busiek is so late with ASTRO CITY is due to his recurrent sinus problems. They've hit him again. We wish him a speedy recovery, of course, and regret jumping ugly with him.]

BLAST FROM THE PAST: I read THE BATMAN ADVENTURES #25, co-starring

Superman. In retrospect, it's almost painful. The two characters are portrayed as being too friendly. I felt like I was watching a

SuperFriends episode or something. I much prefer Paul Dini and Bruce

Timm's take on the relationship. It's darker and more edgy, but works better for me. The late Mike Parobeck really shines, though. It's amazing how good an artist he was. His line weights are superb.

Sorry this one's a bit short. But I have to go get properly prepared for tonight's titanic clash: The Yankees vs. the Mets. The Yanks have won the first two. The Mets are just asking to be swept... Whoo-hoo!

Also, by the time next week's issue comes out, I should have a DVD player installed in this computer. Maybe I'll do a mini-review. In the meantime, any words of wisdom would be appreciated on that front, too. (I'm picking up a PC-DVD Encore from Creative Labs.)

Next week is a special All-American issue of Pipeline Commentary and Review in honor of the 4th of July. (Actually, no, the timing just worked out this way. I wasn't planning on this or anything.) Next week I explore the world of ARCHIE Comics. Are they any good? And are there any lessons the 'mainstream' world of comics could and should learn from them?

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