Pipeline: PCR Extra, Issue #18

Thu, August 9th, 2001 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

PIPELINE DAILY: DAY FOUR

Despite the 100 degree heat in the New York City area and the sudden lack of air conditioning at Pipeline World Headquarters, the second Pipeline Daily experiment continues. Don't cry for me, though: The a/c people say that they'll be here in 7 to 10 days to fix it. In the meantime, I'm going to start living in my car and blasting the a/c in there.

In case you've missed any of the columns this week, you can just click on the "Archives" link above the column and pick and choose what to read. So far this week, Pipeline has covered G.I. Joe (the comic and the DVD), the UNBREAKABLE DVD, the GHOST WORLD comic, and three comics that just came out yesterday.

Today and tomorrow are split between looks at PREVIEWS and reviews of comics both recently-released and yet-to-be-released.

PREVIEWS

The latest edition of the PREVIEWS catalog covers books being published in October 2001.

The following is a look at some of the things that jumped out at me in reading the book from cover to cover. This doesn't include every interesting little thing. It doesn't pretend to tell you everything you should or must buy. Like most such looks at PREVIEWS, it's an idiosyncratic look at things that jumped out at me, and might interest all likeminded readers.

[Previews October]I love this cover. You can picture Witchblade doing her best SPACEBALLS impression: "I see your Schwartz is as big as mine."

For Dark Horse, Chuck Dixon writes the SUPERMAN/TARZAN: SONS OF THE JUNGLE three-parter. It's drawn by Carlos "Monster World" Meglia and has covers from Humberto "Everyone Named Carlo(s) Draws Like Me" Ramos. It's a story that asks the question, "If Kal El's ship had landed in the jungle and he was raised by apes, where would Superman be?" This is a story right up Dixon's alley, crying out for jungle action and adventure.

DC starts the highlight reel with DANGER GIRL: THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION. For $30, you get a hardcover reprinting of the seven issues of the series, plus the preview story, all the covers, and a sketchbook section. It's also slightly oversized at 7 x 10 inches in size. You can pick on J. Scott Campbell's issues with hitting deadlines all you want, but it's tough to deny what a fun series this was. Now if only the sketchbook would show up in stores…

GREYSHIRT: INDIGO SUNSET #1 kicks off a 6-issue mini-series written and mostly drawn by Rick Veitch. Other contributing artists include Russ Heath, David Lloyd, Al Williamson, Dave Gibbons, and Frank Cho. GREYSHIRT is the most inventive of the TOMORROW STORIES from Alan Moore's on-going series. Just one warning on the series: It's coming out ad-less, so the price is hiked to $3.50 per issue.

If you're a Sam Kieth fan, this is also a big month for you, with the publication of the ZERO GIRL trade paperback ($15) and the first issue of FOUR WOMEN, his latest five-issue mini-series. ZERO GIRL gets a big recommendation from me as a quintessentially quirky Kieth tale. It's also much easier to follow than THE MAXX.

Speaking of trades, BATGIRL gets a second trade, A KNIGHT ALONE, to collect issues #7-14 (except issue 12) of the inventive superhero series. You'll blow through it pretty quickly, but you'll engage your brain at every step of the way. I was just a tad bit worried when DC announced this series. What need was there for Yet Another Batman Family series? (And this was before the HARLEY QUINN series was announced.) Thankfully, it won me over pretty quickly with its strong storytelling style.

DC's "Last Laugh" event in October does have one very exciting side benefit: the cover artists. Jim Lee, Walter Simonson, and Tim Sale are doing the covers for all the issues involved in the event. That's a pretty stellar lineup. DC has had way too many earth-shattering events and crossovers to the point of diminishing returns. Did anyone notice the DEADMAN mini that started last week?

This one could be entertaining. For starters, it's structured properly. It's a short mini-series from a solid creative team, with stories in individual titles that have had the option to go along with the storyline or not. Compare this to "Our Worlds At War" and you'll see why this is so much more enjoyable. Secondly, Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty, who have a great track record, write it. ROBIN: YEAR ONE was a real highlight of the past year. I'm looking forward to this one, which will hopefully be the final DC Event for the year 2001. (Then we can look forward to the debut of POWER COMPANY with all its attendant one shots.)

JLA: INCARNATIONS #6 covers the Giffen era of the League, but only gets half the issue. Drat. John Ostrander has demonstrated in the past that he can write in this style, so the issue has a chance to be a good one.

WILDCATS Vol. 2 #28 is the grand finale of the series by Joe Casey and Sean Phillips. This is the series that Casey has been doing his finest work on for the past year. If you're not reading the series so far, pick up the two trades that are available so far and start there. It's worth it.

Meanwhile, over at Image, AVIGON is offered again. I reviewed the book here last year. It's written by Che Gilson and drawn by Jimmie Robinson and is an excellent steampunk gothic tale. If you're looking for something different, this one is a good place to start. Hopefully, this is the first sign that there's a sequel of some sort coming.

FELON debuts from Top Cow's new Minotaur imprint. Written by Greg Rucka and drawn by Matthew Clark and Ray Snyder, it's the story of a felon fresh out of the clink and how she re-enters society and gains vengeance on the people who are responsible for her jail time. Rucka promises it won't be pretty and that she's not a hero. There will, however, be a shower scene in the first issue. What self-respecting Top Cow series doesn't have one of those?

Looking forward to next month's PREVIEWS, Image is promising a solicitation for TELLOS: KINDRED SPIRITS, which should reprint the back half of Todd Dezago and Mike Wieringo's excellent and inventive fantasy series. With any luck the dark coloring problems that started to plague the latter issues can be fixed for this trade.

In the Marvel section, we discover that Scott Lobdell wasn't kidding when he talked in San Diego about the X Ranch, the mutant brothel.

The Marvel Code is in full effect as of these solicitations. Just about all the books have their ratings listed in their descriptions. Most are MarvelPG with some of the Marvel Knights stuff tending towards MarvelPGPlus.

The Brian Bendis/Alex Maleev era of Daredevil begins in October. For what it's worth, I'm also currently enjoying Bob Gale's story arc on Daredevil. The second part of it comes out this week. It's an interesting story of what happens when Matt Murdock is hired to sue Daredevil. The only problem with the story is that Gale drastically cuts the legs out from under it by setting it up so that Daredevil isn't truly the one responsible for what he's being sued for. Very disappointing. But it's nice to see a comic that's well thought out and evenly paced. Hopefully, Gale can overcome the shortcoming in the story and yank the rug out from under us yet.

Marvel's answer to Oni's ALISON DARE and FOX's Buffy the Vampire Slayer debuts in October. It's BLOODSTONE, who is described as the restless daughter of an archaeologist mother who's now out to fight monsters and get in trouble with a light-hearted tone. The only problem is that the character design by Alex Ross looks to be slightly tarted up when drawn by series artist Michael Lopez. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning are writing the new four-part mini-series. I think I'll be reading it with a slightly jaded eye.

In the trades section, October 17th is set now as the official date for SPIDER-MAN VISIONARIES: TODD McFARLANE. In November, you can expect to see DAREDEVIL VISIONARIES: FRANK MILLER Volume 3. Let's hope for more Visionaries volumes for Walter Simonson's Thor and McFarlane's Spidey.

Also in November is a book I'm really looking forward to: FANTASTIC FOUR VISIONARIES: JOHN BYRNE. The 224 page collection contains #232-#240. I hope this becomes a series, as well. I've read a few issues of Byrne's run on the series and they're pretty darn good. The first volume is twenty bucks.

Joe Casey's X-MEN: CHILDREN OF THE ATOM is finally collected, too, with a series of artists starting with Steve Rude, moving on too Michael Ryan, and finishing with Essad Ribic. Ought to be interesting to see the whole series under one cover. This one will set you back $17.

This brings us to the back half of the catalog, filled with comics from companies that never exclusively pledged themselves to Diamond and thus imploding the direct market's multi-distributor scheme.

But that's what tomorrow is for!

TRUE STORY SWEAR TO GOD

[True Story Swear To God]

In keeping with the theme of today's column, here's a preview review of a book that hasn't come out yet.

Tom Beland's TRUE STORY SWEAR TO GOD: MAGIC is due out in the next month or so from his own comics company, "Clib's Boy". Beland sent ahead a copy of the book. I can tell you this much: You don't have to worry about the book being late. It's done and printed. If you pre-ordered it through PREVIEWS, you shouldn't have too big a problem getting it.

For those of you unfamiliar with his work, Tom Beland is a political cartoonist living in Puerto Rico, who writes and draws a weekly autobiographical strip called "True Story Swear To God." The stories are true, and while most are hilarious there are some that are touching and poignant. You can even get your weekly dose on the web or sign up on his weekly mailing list and have them sent directly to your e-mailbox. (See instructions in a recent CBR Comic Wire story.)

The book is 40 black and white pages. It's an unabashedly old-fashioned romantic story that details the day Tom met the woman who would become his wife, Lily. (Ironically, given all the love he gushes forth with in praise of her all the time, he misspelled her name through the issue as "Lili." She seems to have forgiven him, so I'll let it slide. ;-)

It's a wonderful autobiographical tale of their chance meeting at Disneyland and their whirlwind romance in the theme park. The bulk of the issue takes place in Beland's head. It's almost novel-like, as Beland seeks to explain to a potentially jaded readership how one evening can accurately convince a man and a woman that they're perfect for one another. The themes of the story – of attraction and that feeling of comfort and partnership and togetherness – are woven into the story really well for a first-time storyteller of this format.

Beland's art is very cartoony and stylized. Some of it reminds me of Al Hirschfeld's stuff, if that helps give you a point of reference. Beland shows the discipline of a newspaper cartoonist in telling the story through multiple consecutive panels and not large headshots with room for dialogue and narration. There are no shortcuts taken here. There are some moments that feel stretched out in the issue. They're scenes in which very little happens. They're a couple of cute little bits that are done for humor's sake, but don't necessarily move the story along.

In the end, though, this is a comic book that I think any person would describe himself as a romantic at heart could enjoy. You could use it to introduce your significant other that comics can be cool. You can just sit back and admire the ease with which Beland pulls this all off. In any case, it's worth giving a chance.

Beland will be appearing at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland in September. If you're in the area, drop by and pick one up from him.

Pipeline Daily finishes tomorrow with the rest of the PREVIEWS catalog and some more reviews!

You can e-mail me your comments on this column, or post them for all the world to see and respond to over on the Pipeline Message Board.

More than 250 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically. The first 100 columns are still available at the Original Pipeline page, a horrifically coded piece of HTML.

This year, you can still catch me at WizardWorld in Chicago in a couple of weeks. Look for a couple of interesting announcements around that time.

I'm also tentatively scheduled for a day at the Small Press Expo in Maryland this September.

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