PIPELINE PREVIEWS FOR MAY 2003
Welcome to the second "Pipeline Previews," the alliterative title for a new monthly Pipeline column. In place of the Pipeline2 column, this column is designed to do the same thing Pipeline2 did every month for the past year and a half. This column, updated every month the week after the new PREVIEWS is released, is the place to look at the latest PREVIEWS catalog for items scheduled to ship in just a couple of months. Unlike those Pipeline2 columns, I'll be covering the entire catalog in one fell swoop here.
As always, this isn't meant to be a complete look at all the good things scheduled for the month in question. It is pretty exhaustive, though. It'll focus more on the newer projects and the ones that I'm afraid might get otherwise overlooked. I would suggest picking up a copy of the nearly 500 page behemoth that PREVIEWS has grown into and flipping through it yourself. You might just find something you'll love that I missed. (If you do, be sure to plug it on the Pipeline message board.)
With all of that future boilerplate language out of the way, let's take a look at what Diamond Distributors should be shipping in May 2003.
I'm not a huge HELLBOY fan. I read it and enjoy it, but I'm not collecting everything and sprinting for the comic shop door whenever a new issue comes out. I'm still missing a trade paperback, I think, but I'm reading and enjoying the new HELLBOY: WEIRD TALES anthology series right now.
This year, however, Dark Horse is putting out so many seriously cool things for the character that my interest is piqued. I reviewed that one here a couple of months ago, but the color complements the art nicely. John Cassaday's black and white work is gorgeous, but the color definitely does it justice. Usually, an artist whose work is that strong in black and white usually ends up being destroyed by color. The edge is taken off, or the point somehow dulled. Not so there.
Starting in May, now, there will be a secondary anthology series. It's a series of four one shots, the first by Miles Gunter and Michael Avon Oeming. It features the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. The first is titled B.P.R.D.: THE SOUL OF VENICE, and comes in at $2.99 for a full color one shot. Solicitation copy indicates that future creators include Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins, Joe Harris and Adam Pollina, Brian Augustyn and Guy Davis.
This news helps place the BPRD trade paperback a few places higher on my To Be Read list.
Some random notes: Indy favorite POP GUN WAY gets collected by Dark Horse as a 136 page softcover book at $14. SUPERMAN/ALIENS II: GOD WAR, which received an absolutely devastating review from Harlan Ellison in a recent issue of COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE, shows up in trade form for $12.95. When a comic ticks off Ellison enough to write a review of it, you know there has to be trouble. I like Chuck Dixon's writing enough, though, that I'll still give it a chance. (I'm a little less enthused by the art from Jon Bogdanove and Kevin Nowlan, though. It's an odd mix of styles.) LONE WOLF 2100 gets a second collected volume in June in the 6 x 9 inch format. I would never have expected the series to last that long, quite honestly. Issue #9 is out in May.
BATMAN #615 continues its Fanboy delight, as Jim Lee draws Nightwing and unveils the brand new Batmobile.
The BATMAN: CONTAGION TPB gets a new printing to collect the story of a deadly virus unleashed in Gotham City. Quite honestly, I don't see why we need such a big spotlight on this item. Does it tie into some upcoming event? Stay tuned...
DOOM PATROL #20 gets special mention because the guest artist for the month is Rick Geary, famed for his series of Victorian Murder books from NBM and his one shining moment in the spotlight as a JEOPARDY! contestant.
Speaking of guest art, AMERICAN CENTURY #24 features art by John Severin.
If that's not enough Chaykin for you, the long-awaited BARNUM! Hardcover written by him and David Tischman hits on May 28.
THE NEW TEEN TITANS: THE TERROR OF TRIGON is a new trade paperback collecting the first five issues of Marv Wolfman and George Perez's famed run on the series. This same material can be found -- along with much more -- in the ARCHIVE EDITION of THE NEW TEEN TITANS, Volume 1. However, this one only carries a $17.95 price tag. This is all in support of the forthcoming new series that's initiated by May's THE TITANS/YOUNG JUSTICE 3-part series in anticipation of the upcoming animated series. (The tail wags the dog.) On the bright side of things, there's new Mike McKone artwork to be had on the other side of this one.
THE AUTHORITY Volume 2, Issue 1 is set to test the patience of fans of the once-great WildStorm book. It's a new series debuting at the beginning of the month with writing by Robbie ("WHITE DEATH") Morrison and art by Dwayne Turner. So far, the art looks pretty, but can the story live up to it? And does the book have a chance to be favorably compared to the achievement of Warren Ellis, Brian Hitch, Paul Neary, and Laura Depuy? Tough call. We'll have to see in a couple of months.
The ABC lineup gets a shot in the arm with a new one shot, THE MANY WORLDS OF TESLA STRONG, complete with two equally distributed covers by Bruce Timm and Art Adams. Interiors include art by the likes of Art Adams, J. Scott Campbell, Frank Cho, Phil Noto, Adam Hughes, Jason Pearson, Chris Sprouse and more. It's really a dream lineup of artists for a book like this. It's $6 for the 64 pages, but it promises to look amazing.
Finally, TRANSMETROPOLITAN continues to plod along to its conclusion in trade paperback format. The latest edition, DIRGE, collects issues #43-48 of the series, with story by Warren Ellis and art by Darick Robertson. I feel sorry for the people who decided to skip the individual issues in favor of the trade paperbacks for this one. This has to be testing their patience.
The biggest and perhaps most controversial release of the month for Image is the PREVIEWS back cover story, CASEFILES: SAM AND TWITCH #1. Just to defuse the situation, Brian Bendis has already granted the project and its creators his enthusiastic support on his message board. Don't feel bad for picking this one up on his account. It's written by Marc Andreyko (BLACK SUN, TORSO) and drawn by Scott Morse. It's a new series that starts with a six part story, "Have You Seen Me?"
A pair of new series leads off the Image section, but both remind me of previous series. The first is LEGACY, a new bi-monthly series that's both fantasy and science fiction. The art and coloring, specifically, remind me a lot of TELLOS in a very good way. You have colorful characters, big action, and well-drawn money shots of blimps and cities. If you can get past the lowercase lettering and artwork that relies a bit too much on close-ups and not enough on establishing shots, you'll do OK.
VICTORY is the other series that reminds me of another. In this case, it's BATTLE CHASERS, right down to the busty red head whose cover image is amongst the most spectacularly contorted-looking things of all time. Check out page 137. Her right breast is folding out to the right to be seen at that angle. And her thong looks most painful.
Josh Blaylock's MISPLACED returns at Image in May, with writing and art by Blaylock. The initial issues of the black and white version of this series were much overlooked in the G.I. JOE hype, but were inventive and engaging stories that have been much missed. Now it's back in full color in bi-monthly installments. MISPLACED is the tale of a girl from the future stuck in a small town of today. In a college town, her pink hair and spiked bracelets aren't all that offsetting, although her robotic dog may prove a challenge. Oni fans might want to give this book a shot, in particular, since it touches on many of the punk themes of their books. There's even an alternate cover by Chynna Clugston-Major.
NOBLE CAUSES: EXTENDED FAMILY is the highlight of the month, though, for me. Jay Faerber's spectacular superhero soap opera gets anthologized for a month so that creators like Geoff Johns, Phil Hester, Todd Nauck, J. Torres, Tim Levins, and more can play in his sandbox. It's 80 pages of full color for $4.95. Assuming for the moment that that's not a misprint, it's a heck of a deal.
It's funny to see Frank Cho doing a cover for PVP. It's a real clash of styles. Scott Kurtz's art is completely iconic. It's profiles and 3/4 shots of characters from the chest up talking at the office. Cho draws jungle women, gorillas, dinosaurs, and supermodel types with a gorgeous smooth ink line that looks like it belongs in an art show and not a comic. When the two combine for a "Lord of the Schwing" cover, hilarity ensues. PVP #2 is the second issue from Image, and well worth a read for fans of computers, gaming, and comics.
VOLTRON: DEFENDER OF THE UNIVERSE is a book that both pleases me and scares me. I loved that series when I was a kid. Ate it up. A few years later in high school, I came across a couple of episodes on cable. For nostalgia's sake, I sat down to watch them. They were absolutely painful to watch. The crying people whose faces never twitched were awkward, to say the last. The dialogue that was stiff and forced into place by the animation was a killer. It quickly became a camp cult classic for me. However, parts of the foundation for the series were sound, and the Voltron robot was really cool. Maybe the comic can overcome the shortcomings of the animated series. Dan Jolley writes and Mike Norton draws. It's a five issue mini-series, with a special #0 issue done up by the gang at DreamWave.
Here's a restart that I can stand behind. WOLVERINE gets a new #1 issue with Greg Rucka and Darick Robertson in May. The latest issue of WIZARD has a large preview of it. Robertson's art is wonderful (and shows Logan reading a Rucka book), but the colors are a bit off. Highlights on characters' faces look too busy, and some of the textured background colors stick out too much for me. It'll take some time to get used to those, I suppose.
Unfortunately, "Man Loves God Kills II" won't be drawn by Salvador Larroca, but Darwyn Cooke is still drawing the highly anticipated WOLVERINE/DOOP two part mini-series. It's the series that absolutely had to happen. How could it not? It's such a natural. It's the first thing that comes to mind when you look at the Marvel library of characters. Wolverine. Doop. 3 clawed maniacal killer. Green squishy alien camera man. Beautiful. Peter Milligan is writing the madness.
ULTIMATE X-MEN #33 is drawn by Adam Kubert. It might be his farewell issue, for all I know, but it's a Very Good Thing, in any case. Kubert's art defined the series very early on, and the series has been on less solid ground without him over the past year or more.
X-MEN UNLIMITED has two issues this month, but the key one is the first, issue #47. It features a Psylocke story by Adam Warren and Rick Mays. Given what those two put together on GEN13, this story holds a lot of promise.
Pages 168-169 also feature the most square inches of thrust breasts that I've ever seen in a Marvel solicitation. Then you turn the page and see a Greg Horn cover, and you begin to wonder if it's the theme for May.
No, it's not. AGENT X features a butt. It all balances out, doesn't it?
DOMINO #1 could be a sleeper hit. The story is by Joe Pruett, but it's the artist who will bring in all the readers: Brian Stelfreeze. The man doesn't do much interior work these days, but he's a brilliant artist who I wish would do more such work. The cover image on page 170 isn't all that great, but I have high hopes for this one.
In PETER PARKER: SPIDER-MAN, Sam Kieth draws the first of a two part story as written by Zeb Wells. After a string of Mexico-based artistic styles on the book, this one will look mighty different to readers. Kieth has done some fantastic work on Marvel heroes in the past, most notably Hulk and Wolverine. My Inner Fanboy is tickled pink at the thought of this storyline.
ALIAS #22 might be the most overlooked of Bendis' current series, but it definitely gets the plug of the month for its solicitation copy. After promising the first of a two part story revealing Jessica Jones' "secret origin," the copy ends with, "Guest-starring Peter Parker and Galactus!" I can't wait to see how Bendis weaves Galactus into this book.
Evan Dorkin is a man who can't not be funny if he tried. He's just neurotic enough to disagree with that, but to see the man in action is to know the truth. Besides writing the aforementioned AGENT X issue, he's also doing a four part series called STARTLING STORIES THE THING - NIGHT FALLS ON YANCY STREET. The first issue weighs in at 40 pages, with Dean Haspiel helping out on art. I might end up waiting for a trade paperback reprint with this one, but Dorkin's sense of timing and comedy could make for an interesting noir tale as promised here.
BEST OF SPIDER-MAN Volume 2 is only $30 this year, and seems to be functioning as the main hardcover reprint arm for JMS and John Romita Jr.'s THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. That's a shame. Their work together so far has been good enough to merit its own stand-alone hardcover book. Instead, it seems to anchor this collection every year. This time around, you'll get AMAZING #37-45, with PETER PARKER #44-47, and TANGLED WEB #10-11. All are good choices, but I'd still like to see a standalone AMAZING hardcover. I think sales of this collection might cut in on that possibility, though. Too bad.
The X-Men are the focus of the trade paperback reprints in May. X-TREME X-MEN quickly gets its third collection, with issues #19-23 of that series bundled together with X-POSE #1-2. NEW X-MEN collects "Riot At Xavier's" for $12, and UNCANNY X-MEN: "Dominant Species" collects Kia Asimaya's work with #416-420 for $12.
Daredevil fans also have something to look forward to. In addition to a new collection of the Bendis/Maleev stories in issues #41-45, Marvel is also reprinting DAREDEVIL LEGENDS: TYPHOID MARY, collecting the work of Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr. from DAREDEVIL #254-257, 250-263 for $20.
On pages 203 and 204, Marvel recreates the Archie gag with statues of Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson. Each statue is just over 10 inches tall and features the two loves of Peter Parker's life in the same pose and clothes, albeit in different colors. The gag behind Archie is that Bettie and Veronica are exactly the same drawing, just with different color hair and clothes. It looks like Marvel is recreating that here.
WIZARD is jumping into the hardcover game with the WIZARD BIG COVERS BOOK. For $25, it reprints a lot of the famous and infamous cover images from the series over the years. You'll get the relive the days when they still put the wizard's cap on the characters on the cover and the publishing companies didn't complain that it diluted their franchise. ::sigh:: Some of the most classic images of the era are on display in the book, from the likes of Sam Kieth, Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Alex Ross, Bart Sears (often under a pseudonym due to a contractual obligation), and more. It's 194 pages and includes some covers that never saw print from John Byrne, Travis Charest, and more. (I believe those were once reprinted inside of WIZARD already. Maybe in the 100th issue?)
Yes, it's a horrible thing to call it "everything else." Yes, some of the most exciting projects of the month might very well be in here. I just think calling it "Diamond Non-Exclusive Publishers" is horribly clunky, and this column is written in a much more conversational tone than that. Sobeit.
Is it navel-gazing, or the proper celebration of one of comics' all-time bests? Only you can decide. Abiogenesis Press has a Featured Item on page 222 with its ALAN MOORE: PORTRAIT OF AN EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMAN, a new 272 page full color book celebrating one of our best living writers. It includes interviews, tributes, cartoons, essays, and more. It's a 6 x 8 inch package for $14.95, and includes an introduction from Monty Python's Terry Gilliam.
AiT/PlanetLar continues to absorb small press titles to spit out their collected editions, and BATTLE POPE is up next. The ad for the first collected volume is on page 225, and is a great image of the Pope in full astronaut gear, smoking a cigar underneath the helmet, and looking curiously at his broken air hose, as the space shuttle flies silently away. Great promo image. Given the number of great comics Robert Kirkman has produced at Image lately, I'm willing to give this book a shot now.
Alternative Comics headlines SAME DIFFERENCE & OTHER STORIES, a trade paperback collecting Derek Kirk Kim's short stories for only $12.00. You might have seen some of them at his web site. These are professionally produced cartoons. Just because he got a Xeric Award to do them doesn't mean he's the type whose work will only appeal to cultural snobs or mainstream snubbers. Kim's work is of professional quality, is easy to follow, and is entertaining.
Slave Labor Graphics, meantime, is producing the second volume of collected DORK comics, titled DORK VOLUME 2: CIRCLING THE DRAIN. This $14 book gets you all the non-Eltingville stories from issues #7-10 of Evan Dorkin's venerable series. Those Eltingville stories will one day find their way into a separate collection.
Also, PRIVATE BEACH VOLUME 2: SECRET MESSAGES is a new trade paperback containing the first six issues of David Hahn's excellent on-going series. It's a pretty book for only $14.
Avatar is reprinting Alan Moore's graphic novel, A SMALL KILLING. Previously available from Dark Horse, it's been sitting unread on my shelf for the past year. This would be an opportune time to read it, don't you think? Avatar is making available both a softcover and hardcover edition of the colorful book, with art by Oscar Zarate.
CrossGen offers up new trade paperback collections for SOJOURN and CRUX, both of which come recommended for their beautiful art and fun stories.
Oni has two books specifically worth mentioning here this month. The first is THE COMPLETE GEISHA, which collects all of Andi Watson's work on the series, including the original mini-series, the follow-up one shot, and some other smaller pieces. For $16, you can see some earlier Watson work that's a little further out there than his recent relationship tales, but still enjoyable.
The other book of note is SIDEKICKS SUPER SUMMER FUN SPECIAL ONE-SHOT, bringing J. Torres and Takeshi Miyazawa's school for the gifted back with new stories drawn by Mike Wieringo, Scott Morse, and Steve Rolston. Miyazawa does the framing bits and pieces to tie the three stories together. The 32 page black and white special will only run you $2.99. The previous books of the series, SIDEKICKS: TRANSFER STUDENT TPB and SIDEKICKS: THE SUBSTITUTE ONE SHOT, are listed over on page 319.
People curious about who Alex Toth is and why so many of today's artists cite him as an influence can look forward to ALEX TOTH READER VOLUME 1, a new book from from Pure Imagination. For $25 (or $40 for the hardcover), you get a 160 page black and white collection of a variety of Toth stories, including his movie adaptations for THE TIME MACHINE and LAND UNKNOWN.
SAF COMICS appears to be the new home for the books that once were part of Dark Horse's VENTURE line. That line, you may recall, offered up translated albums of European works such as GLITTER RATS, RAIN DOGS, and ZACHARY HOLMES. SAF did the work on those, and now appears to be publishing them for themselves. In May, they're soliciting three very different but exciting new novels.
AVATAR is a full color hardcover album about a futuristic detective inspecting virtual reality-related homicides. It's $12.95.
BOY VAMPIRE is 123 pages at a more average 8 x 11 size, but features the artwork of 100 BULLETS' Eduardo Risso, in a story by Carlos Trillo about an ageless boy vampire stalked by a woman who wants to kill him. $9.95 gets you that one.
Finally, SLEEP, LITTLE GIRL is done up by Sergio Bleda. It's a 48 page hardcover book for $12.95 that tells the story of an orphan girl at the center of a string of deaths inside a local hospital.
Three very different books. Different hooks. Different creators. They're all promising.
TokyoPop offers more LUPIN III, more COWBOY BEBOP, and another KIM POSSIBLE book amongst their slate of 28 trades solicited this month.
That's it for May 2003. We'll be back in roughly four weeks for June 2003's releases, as the summer comics season approaches.
Various and Sundry has been updated all week with the mandatory DVD week in review, the return of the Marx Brothers?, a longish piece on casinos and slot machines based on personal experience, American Idol commentary, more cover tunes, weird news items, and more
More than 400 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 or so are still available at the Original Pipeline page.