Pipeline: Pipeline, Issue #5

Sun, July 6th, 1997 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

PIPELINE COMMENTARY AND REVIEW #5

THE SAVAGE DRAGON #39 came out this week and it's the best issue since Dragon's little talk with God. I can't recommend it highly enough. Sure, a good part of it is immature, but it's a helluvalotta fun and you can tell Erik Larsen's having fun with it. This issue, Dung attacks. (For those of you new to the ensemble cast of THE SAVAGE DRAGON, Dung has the power to shoot, er, #2. Crap. The brown stuff.) Along the way, the subplots heat up, a talking chicken flies the coop, and Dragon leaves the Chicago police department.

I hear CYBERFORCE is being cancelled. SHADOWHAWK is gone. YOUNGBLOOD is gone, but will most likely return for the fifth go-around later this year. WILDCATs is on its half-dozenth creative team, not involving the original artist on it. SPAWN still sorta has the same team, although Todd McFarlane has foregone pencilling the book in the name of negotiating merchandising deals. That leaves us with Erik Larsen, still writing, pencilling, and inking his original Image title, 5 years later.

Top Cow will be publishing Warren Ellis' next creator-owned series, PANIC. I'm really looking forward to this one. The high-concept on it is really warped. This has been your obligatory Warren Ellis reference. (TRANSMETROPOLITAN comes out next week, so I should be set for a reference in the next issue of this column, eh?)

SAVANT GARDE #5 came out this week, further making me hate WildStorm. Maybe it's not their fault. I can see why sales would be low on this book. It's not bloody and violent and grim and dirty. It's fun, through and through, and a book I could easily recommend to anyone. Alas, it doesn't fit in with the company's New Vision of itself. So out it goes. Yes, I am getting bitter.

In the meantime, you can fill up your fun quota with a couple of Marvel comics: HEROES FOR HIRE and DEADPOOL. DEADPOOL #7 came out this week and it's looking just as good as it always has. Nice, simple art with rich coloring and a funny lead character. I can't believe I'm enjoying a mutant title this much.

I'm even more bitter upon learning that Extreme Studios/Maximum Press/Awesome Entertainment has no plans to finish printing the last NEWMEN series. Beautiful Chris Sprouse art, wonderful Eric Stephenson writing, but it doesn't fit in with the company's New Vision of itself. So out it goes. Alan Moore will bring it back, and his vision of it seems completely out-of-whack with what it always has been up to this point. ::sigh:: Add another fruit of bitterness to that tree.

STARMAN #34 is a bittersweet tale. There's so much that's right about this comic and this issue in particular. I know many have given up on it, but I think it's getting better with age. Maybe that's because there are extra layers added on to the story with all the background we have now. I don't know. I just know I like it. But I want Tony Harris to be able to draw faster. (This issue would have been wonderful if Todd McFarlane could have drawn it like he used to draw Infinity, Inc. A couple of Mark Buckingham's layouts reminded me of those stories.) The guest-pencillers do excellent work, but the Starman I always picture is HIS Starman.

Likewise, the Spider-Man I always picture is Todd McFarlane's and the Batman I always picture is Norm Breyfogle's and the Superman I always picture is probably Dan Jurgen's. (Sometimes Tom Grummett's comes to mind though.) None of this is wrong - I got chewed out one time for saying this. I'm just a product of my time. These were the creators whose work I've read on those particular characters and whose art I shall always associate with those characters.

THUNDERBOLTS #5 and ASTRO CITY #8 were released, making this a pretty good week for Kurt Busiek fans everywhere. I know I'm happy. Both stories were excellent, although Astro City - just due to the nature of the story - had a litte more impact. But Thunderbolts is still looking good. Cracks are beginning to show in the Masters of Evil's plan just as the characters are getting truly sympathetic and objects to almost be pitied. (Poor Atlas!) At what price redemption, eh?

I've raved about Joe Rosas coloring before, and let me do it again and show you a big difference. KA-ZAR #5 is out this week, too. His coloring there has not nearly as much impact as it does in THUNDERBOLTS. Why? The computer separators at Digital Chameleon ruin his work there. They add textures to Rhino's costume and patterns to the museum floors. (One could say they were making up for Andy Kubert's pencils, but even I'm not that negative.) Joe Rosas works best in bright light. Not in darkened tones and glitzy computer work.

And, hey - that Jolt. What a babe, eh? Makes me reconsider the yen I've felt lately for Alex Wilde over in THE SAVAGE DRAGON. ;-) [And if anyone cries sexism to this paragraph, I'll just swear I saw it on Seinfeld last night!]

NEXT WEEK: I have no idea, but I'm thinking Uncle $crooge and Donald Duck will be talked about.

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