Pipeline: Amanda Conner, Skybound & Absolute Justice League

Tue, June 12th, 2012 at 2:58pm PDT

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist
4

DC COLLECTIONS FOR NOVEMBER

The September solicitations from DC are out now. While everyone is distracted by which New 52 titles are coming and going, I'm jumping to the back of the listings to see which collected editions we're getting. Those are always more fun and likely to provide more surprises.

For fans of Amanda Conner who can't get enough collections of her work (see IDW's recent "Art of" book), it's DC's turn this month to solicit one. "DC Comics: The Sequential Art of Amanda Conner" is a very specific title, promising to collect such runs as "JLA Classified" #1-4, "Birds of Prey" #47-49, "and more." It's 304 pages, so they have some room. All the titles specifically named in the write-up get you very close to that number, I have to think. So the unnamed stuff might just be "bonus material" or another eight page story someone hasn't dug up yet. I was hoping the four issue "Terra" mini would be in there, but it doesn't look like it'll fit. Maybe Volume 2?

If Archie can stop fighting amongst themselves for a little bit, maybe they can go to Konami and re-license the Nintendo classic and get the "Bayou Billy" back in print again.

Failing that, wait a couple of months and Image will reprint "The Pro" for the eight thousandth time. It amazes me how many editions and reprintings that book has seen in its lifetime. Congrats to Conner, Garth Ennis, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Paul Mounts on that book's success.

In any case, DC's Conner collection will run $30, but won't be out until November.

A week later, DC publishes "52 Omnibus." The state of printing in the world today is such that putting 52 full color comics under one cover isn't so tough anymore, so long as you can find someone willing to pay $100 or more for it. In this case, it's $150 for the maxi-series from Keith Giffen, Greg Rucka, Grant Morrison, Mark Waid, and friends. It runs a mind-numbing 1,216 pages.

You can spend a looong week reading it, or prop open a dungeon door with it, too. That's value for your money!

But wait, does November seem too early a publication date for a book solicited for September in June? Then may I present "Wonder Woman: The Amazon Princess Archives Volume 1." It collects "Wonder Woman" #98-110 from the 1950s for $75. It's available on February 27th, 2013. You have nearly nine months to save up for that one. Save your pennies, but pre-order today!

Remember that book that Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso were doing together, "Spaceman"? It came and it left pretty darn quick, but DC is nice enough to put all of the issues together as a hardcover for $25. It's also a November release.

And if you ask some people, they'll tell you the series died because people were buying "Before Watchmen" instead. It's just that nuts out there.

THIS WEEK IN SKYBOUND

Two new books are due out through Image this week that I enjoyed:

"Thief of Thieves" #5: Still waiting for the character named Augustus to take over the book completely, just because we Augies have to stick together.

This is a pretty cool issue, though, particularly for the "Putting Together The Team" sequence, which assembles a team over the course of six pages that introduces each character and their abilities in four panels apiece. Sure, it trades on some heist/noir stereotypes, but that's OK. They're still cool and you're never lost as a reader.

I don't know whether it was Robert Kirkman's or Nick Spencer's idea, but the captions to set up scenes, time transitions, and more are great. I've been a big fan of them since Christopher Priest showed the world how best to use them in "Quantum and Woody," but few have dared try it since. "Thief of Thieves" doesn't take it as far as Priest did, but it appears to have learned some of the lessons well.

Shawn Martinbrough's art is almost an anomaly in comics today. His thick broad strokes of ink give each page weight. He's not depending on the artist to model everything for him. He doesn't leave work for someone else. He doesn't fill blank areas with niggling details. But if you pay attention, you'll see how he does a noir book right, by blocking out the shadows and defining areas with shadow, then letting the light fall where it may.

The colors from Felix Serrano are dominant and unmistakable, giving the book a unique feel in the same way the color schemes done on "Ex Machina" by J.D. Mettler worked. The oranges and the blues are striking. While Redmond's Homer Simpon-esque five o'clock shadow sometimes looks a bit off, I have nothing else to complain about.

If you're late to the book, don't worry. The first three issues get fourth printings this week, while the fourth gets is third. That's crazy.

"Invincible" #92: Cory Walker's return to the book is well handled, as he handles a subplot set in the past a few pages at a time. It's particularly well handled for the way the panels and word balloons drop their black outlines to help indicate the time shift. It's a good look, but it's also one that gives the reader an obvious cue.

It's also nice to see the "new Invincible" having a home life that's as awkward and stressful as something you'd see Spider-Man go through. He's not just another hero in a costume. He's got problems at home, mostly from his 'quiet' side job. Those are great sequences.

After all these years, "Invincible" maintains its quality level with one of the most consistent monthly efforts in comics today. Ryan Ottley deserves credit on that front, too, but I gushed over his art already recently.

Bonus: "The Walking Dead" #99 is out already next week. I'm staying far away from spoilers with you on this one. I'll just say it was a slow read for me, because I felt like something crazy was going to surprise me every time I turned the page. After the opening event of issue #97, I'm skittish. And issue #100 promises to be a full-scale madhouse. I love it.

Just how big is this series now? There's a car ad on the back cover.

LINKS TO A LOTTA STUFF

  • I didn't realize there was any controversy about this, but it seems I missed it. DC talks about why they publish hardcovers first at ICV2. (Thanks to Robot6 for picking up on this one.)

    We have thought about it and that's why we do it the way we do. While certain titles do get a deluxe or an Absolute Edition at some point, we think our retailer would be leaving a lot of money on the table if we didn't give consumers the chance to buy hardcovers first on select titles. The sales we are having in both channels on Batman and Justice League in the month of May indicate that we don't have that many people waiting the trade, looking for that cheaper edition. A lot of people seem to want a nice durable hardcover and we plan to follow this model for the foreseeable future.

    This "problem" that may or may not exist has a better solution. If publishers only let us know what their plans were ahead of time, we could budget better and never feel stupid for buying the same thing twice. In my utopian fantasy world here, that means a readership that has more money to buy different things, and a customer base that never feels put out by tricky publishing patterns. If only publishers had a public pipeline. . .

    Some books get a trade, but no hardcover. Some get a hardcover and then a trade and then a special hardcover, like an Absolute edition. Some (rarely) get a hardcover and then no trade paperback. I would like to be able to make my purchasing decision from an informed perspective, not just an educated guess. I have the Batman hardcover they're talking about in the quote above, but would I prefer to wait for an Absolute edition instead? Probably. Ditto for "Justice League," though Jim Lee's artistic absence harms the chances of -- and my desire for -- an Absolute edition.

    I'd like it if the publishing companies were more vocal about that. For now, we just have to rely on the extra six months warning we might get from their publishing plans that get sent to the book publishing world earlier than the Direct Market. Keep an eye out for Amazon listings. It's as close to advance notice as you're going to get.

  • This week, I received a press release from a company selling a book about Spider-Man. It's a licensed deal, so it's not coming from Marvel directly. The problem is, they left out the hyphen in Spider-Man's name on the subject line and in the title of the book. Everywhere else on the email, they spelled it correctly. The only possible excuse I can think of for it is that the release's author copied-and-pasted the book title every time he mentioned it from someone else's misspelled document. That would then presume that nobody spell-checked the thing before it got sent out to the press. I checked the book out on Amazon, and found that it is spelled with the correct hyphenation there. It's just the press release's mistake. Weird.

  • The new Twitter logo looks like Batman, if you tilt your head to the side, squint real hard, and use your imagination. I like it.

  • A German Duck publisher was hacked! This time, they've gone too far! If this was caused by Anonymous, should we expect an Occupy Duckburg event next? Is Scrooge McDuck Comic-dom's #1 One Percenter?

  • Speaking of Ducks, Cracked points out how prescient those books have become. (Via Mark Evanier)

  • This week's "Experience Creativity" ad features Todd McFarlane drawing Spawn on his large Cintiq screen. But all of us comic geeks were working out the details on the bookshelf behind the computer. There's the DC Encyclopedia up there, an NHL tome, and lots of stuff you can't make out. Still, I'd love to see a breakdown of McFarlane's "Shelf Porn" at his office, wouldn't you?

  • The problem with Twitter's 140 character limit is that I often mistake references to "BW" as being for some black and white comics instead of "Before Watchmen." And congratulations, comics world, for not grinding to a halt with the release of that project last week. Life moves on. (Love those first few pages of "Minutemen" by Darwyn Cooke. I'm a sucker for tricks like that, though.)

  • Jamie S. Rich is taking on commissions. He's a writer-for-hire making himself available to fans for a small fee. Give the guy a chance, if you're so inspired.

  • Derek Fridolfs ‚Äì who long time Pipeline readers will remember from interviews I did with him at the beginning of his inking career (Part 1 and Part 2)‚Äì now has a blog for his writing.

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TAGS:  pipeline, amada conner, dc comics, justice league, robert kirkman, image comics, skybound, thief of thieves, invincible, the walking dead

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