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Tue, March 15th, 2011 at 2:28pm PDT

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

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THERE'S NOTHING TO ARGUE ABOUT THIS WEEK

The internet lets me down sometimes.

This week, it's the startling lack of a lightning rod discussions. Where is that singular news announcement or creative misstep to unite us into a snowball of chaos, despair and outrage? Why can't a character shoot up and swing a dead cat at his foes? Why can't a piece of clumsily ret-conned history unite us, as internet fans, in a crowd-sourced swarm of hatred?

Why is it I can't find anything to get worked up over this week? This is the 720-something-eth column in the Pipeline series, and I can't ever remember being less inspired. DC's best announcement is the creative teams of one shots or spin-offs associated with its next big crossover, mostly featuring characters or creators (or ex-editors) I have no impetus to follow.

Marvel is all over the map. Should I write 500 words about Marvel deciding to do a Matt Fraction press conference on Friday to talk about "Fear Itself" long after DC laid a claim to Friday as the launchpad for its next big crossover's announcements? Nah. Friday's just another day of the week, and many would argue it's the worst day of the week to make a major announcement, since nobody will be talking about it within 24 hours when they're doing stuff over the weekend. If Marvel and DC want to have a fight over the worst day of the week to get their message out, then more power to them. Only in the comic book industry could the act of shooting one's self in the foot become a competition.

Then again, the two companies already compete for the biggest news out of Comic-Con International in San Diego, the world's biggest press release factory. Because, really, who doesn't want to be the largest grain of rice in that five pound sack?

This may be why I'm not in marketing.

What riled up the blogosphere this week? Did some creator say something insensitive about the Japanese tsunami? If so, I missed it. Usually, a good "Creator X is a Racist for Some Random Thing They Said" is good for 500 more words, right? It's great for hits. (I initially came up with a jokey list of things they might have said to get themselves in trouble, but those would likely only get me in trouble, even in jest.)

You people need to work harder. You're not making my job easier. Let's see what happens at C2E2 this weekend. There's a lot of possibilities at that convention, from Brian Bendis' new book announcement to the possibility of more Marvel CrossGen titles to, well, the unexpected. I hope Chicago can surprise me. I need it right now.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

Speaking of DC's "Flashpoint Fridays," why did they credit cover artists ahead of writers and interior artists in their listings last Friday? Is it just because the cover leads off the announcement for each issue? Or are they hoping to sell comics based on the cover artists, and not the creative teams?

The Comics Journal's new website is a treasure trove. The Dave Stevens interview, in particular, is a treat. I didn't realize there was a "Rocketeer" trademark dispute back in the day, and I certainly hope Stevens came out on top.

"Xombi" #1, due out this week, features the work of critic-pleasing artist Fraser Irving. I don't get it. This is likely a stylistic choice, but a style composed of phototracing with more color work than ink work does little for me. Irving has some nice textures in his artwork and pays great attention to the details he adds with his colors, but I'm just old fashioned enough to enjoy black and white ink work over cartooning, not rotoscoping.

Dynamite picked up the rights to "Voltron." Finally! The world will get the John Cassaday "Voltron" cover art it's always wanted!

I look forward to the eventual publication of "Batwoman" #1. And "Captain America: White" #1. And "Big Numbers" #3. And "15 Love" #1 by Andi Watson. And that Erik Larsen project with a haunted house that he teased three years ago.

I asked Larsen on Twitter last night about that book. Larsen responded, "Other pressing obligations too priority… I still haven't completely figured that book out--despite have an issue pencilled."

It gives us something to look forward to, at least. Somehow, I bet we'll see "Batwoman" #1 first, though I won't guarantee a release date -- or even a release year -- on that one.

Kelly Kulick once appeared in a Spider-Man comic by Peter David and Todd Nauck. Since winning a major PBA tournament last year, though, her star hasn't risen as much as many of us had hoped.

I should talk about the iPad 2 and how it impacts comics, but none of the new features really make the comic reading experience any different. (Do you want to mirror your iPad screen up on your TV set? Maybe that'll be a thing? Doubt it.) Maybe the pages will flip faster and it'll be easier to read comics in the long run with the lesser weight. That's about it. Also, if you didn't buy one already, you're going to be waiting a while for one to shake loose from the Apple trees.

The second issue of Wizard's new digital magazine promises that next week will see the return of the much-vaunted price guide on Wizard's website. As a nice throwback, fan art returned to the letters column this month, and we learn that the guy pictured on the toilet seat in the first issue was not one of Wizard's three remaining staff. It was a stock photo that Wizard probably got for a buck.

I can't believe that the "Powers" TV show has been greenlit for two weeks now and still nobody has started the internet campaign to draft Nathan Fillion to star. Fillion is the new Bruce Campbell -- the guy everyone wants to play every male leading role in any niche genre program.

DC SOLICITATIONS: JUNE 2011

At this point, I open up any new page of Marvel or DC solicitations on the web and do a search for "TPB" or "HC." That's what I'm most interested in. As DC's June 2011 solicitations just went up yesterday, let's take a look at what that yields us.

The first volume of the "The New Teen Titans Omnibus" hardcover series is promising. It has the first 16 issues of the classic Marv Wolfman and George Perez run in there. That's 464 pages for $75. Isn't that an awful lot of pages for that number of issues, though?

The "Superman: Grounded" hardcover has the first seven issues of that storyline collected therein. This will have all of the J. Michael Straczynski issues. That's $22.99 (interesting in-between price there) for 168 pages.

"Astro City: Life in the Big City" brings back to life the earliest issues of Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson and Alex Ross' creation. There is some flat out brilliant work in there. If you've not read it before, take this chance. It's $30 for the hardcover and $18 for the trade paperback.

DC goes to town with "Road to Perdition," with a new trade paperback of the first volume (with stunning art by Richard Piers Rayner) as well as "Road to Perdition 2: On The Road," with Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Steve Lieber, and Josef Rubinstein handling art duties. This is all in support of the new hardcover third volume in the series, "Return to Perdition," now drawn by Terry Beatty. That's a great run of artists on the series. The third book maintains the smaller page size and takes place a couple generations down the line from the original book.

The "Outsiders: The Great Divide" trade paperback collects issues #32 - 37 of that series. I think if you added up all the CBR Reviews of issues in that collection, you might eke out 6 stars total. Across six issues. There is a slight margin of error there, as I believe one of those reviews was only half a star. When retailers complain that there are too many collected editions released each month, this is the book they can point to.

Not a collected edition, but it should be noted that "Batman Incorporated" #8 is solicited for June 22. Issue #3 just came out last week. There's only two months between March and June. Looks like they're soliciting, at best, three issues ahead of schedule. Is this title DC's "Spawn?"

That'll wrap it up for this week. Next week, I plan on reading some comics before reporting back here for more observations on the passing comics scene. Thanks for reading!

At AugieShoots.com this week, you'll see ducks, Evita Peron Barbie, and more.

Over at VariousAndSundry.com, I'm still blathering on about "American Idol," mostly, with a side step to the song, "All By Myself."

TAGS:  pipeline, flashpoint, fear itself, powers

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