Previews Picks April 2001
Selective highlights and researched insights into the most interesting new comics offered in each month's Previews catalog (without spoilers).
About these pages, and other months' books

Key:[super]Super/Action, [humour]Humour/Fun, [sci-fi]SF, [fantasy]Fantasy, [all ages]All Ages, [les/bi/gay]Les/Bi/Gay, [smut]Smut [beyond genre]Beyond Genre.
The theme this month is "Classics Illustrated". There aren't any official "CI" releases, but I noticed a handful of adaptations of literary classics in comics format, which I've indicated with the old imprint's logo.

Listings are in reverse order by publisher. Prices and page count are mentioned if it's outside the arbitrary industry "norm" (i.e. 24-32 pages, $2-4). Items I think are especially worth checking out are offset in boxes.

 Top Shelf
- COLLECTION: You can pick up a huge slab of the excellent Box Office Poison by Alex Robinson. Originally published by Antarctic, this series is both intelligent and entertaining, and at 600 pages for $30, perhaps the best value for your money this month. [beyond genre], Terra Major
- GRAPHIC NOVELS: These are both previously-offered items, but sitting right there next to each other on the page, they make for a great set. One is Beowulf, an adaptation of the Old English saga into modern English and pictures by Gareth Hinds. The other is Roland: Days of Wrath, an adaptation of the classic French epic Song of Roland, by writer Shane Amaya and artists Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba. Both are classic stories, and the adaptations are entertaining as well as enriching. 120 pages for $16, and 144 pages for $18, respectively, [beyond genre] [super]

- LIMITED SERIES: Kreeky Playground should appeal to fans of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac or other gothic horror/humour stuff. It includes three features which will each appear in each issue, by Aaron Bordner, who claims that his crazy brother will beat him up for drawing these stories. [humour]

- NEW SERIES: Jetcat Clubhouse is a new bi-monthly series featuring Jay Stephens' kid superhero, in adventures that both kids and adults should enjoy. Alternating issues (starting with the first) will include color reprints of the stories from Nickelodeon Magazine, hence the above-normal price of $3.25. [all ages] [super]

- GRAPHIC NOVEL: Did you read Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past in high school? Neither did I, but it's considered a classic of French literature (but much more modern than The Song of Roland). This is an adaptation by Stephane Heuet (in English), 72 large-format color pages in hardcover for $20. [beyond genre]
- COLLECTION: If you've never even heard of Proust or Remembrance, then The "Cracked" Guide to the Movies might be more on your level. {smile} It's a collection of movie parodies, evidently including the recent X-Men flick. 96 letter-size pages for $9. [humour]

A little commentary first: Marvel has a new "tpb" icon they're using to flag collections in their catalog, reflecting the new effort to build a real "back catalog" of books. They're even printing enough copies to have plenty left over to fill later orders. This is A Good Thing. But they're moving in the opposite direction with monthly issues, notifying retailers that they'll be printing only enough of those to cover advance orders. If your retailer runs out... tough. Someone ought to explain to Marvel that making comics harder to get isn't the best way to "grow the market".
Another have-and-eat-your-cake strategy they're doing is to include two issue numbers on each series that's been renumbered in recent years. The "vol.2" or "vol.3" numbers will still be more prominent, but they'll also include the what-number-this-would-have-been-if-we-hadn't-renumbered number in smaller print.
- COLLECTION: Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's recent Punisher: Welcome Back, Frank series is being reprinted. 272 pages for $25... which refutes the rumour that Marvel has a policy against selling collections for less than the original issues (which in this case added up to $35.88). [super]
- NEW SERIES: Garth Ennis is also the first writer on a new Spider-Man story series, with pencils by his Hitman collaborator John McCrea. The series is called Tangled Web, and it will feature stories about people in the world in which Spider-Man lives. Ennis and McCrea are doing the first three-part story, entitled The Thousand, about someone who tries to duplicate the accident that gave Spidey his powers. [super]
- NEW WRITER: Joe Michael Straczynski is taking over the writing of Amazing Spider-Man, and with John Romita Jr doing the pencils, and Peter Jenkins and Mark Buckingham already in place on its sister series Peter Parker: Spider-Man, this no-weak-links line up of creators may make the two series worth trying. [super]
- LIMITED SERIES: Fabian Nicieza is writing a spin-off (of sorts) from Thunderbolts, a three-issue series featuring Citizen V and the V-Battalion, penciled by Michael Ryan. Even for someone who doesn't follow the T-bolts, the moral dilemma Nicieza describes as the crux of the story sounds interesting. [super]

- LIMITED SERIES: Obergeist has landed at Image, specifically Top Cow, where it's the first feature from the new Minotaur Press imprint, featuring material that's a notch above the usual Top Cow material on the sophistication meter. Tony Harris and Dan Jolley are the creators, and the subject matter is a Nazi scientist experimenting on human telepathy subjects who tries to atone for his actions... after his death. [fantasy]
- COLLECTION: Age of Bronze is a top-notch retelling of the story of The Iliad, not so much an adaptation, but taking the story of the Trojan War and reweaving it. It's written and illustrated by the ever-talented Eric Shanower. This collected edition includes the first 9 issues (but not the "Special", which is available separately). 208 pages for $20. [beyond genre] [fantasy]
- LIMITED SERIES: The British can be so cute sometimes, with their rich fantasy life. Ministry of Space is one such exercise, imagining that the United Kingdom had gotten its hands on the German rocket scientists rather than the United States and Soviet Union, and had parlayed that into an hegemony in space. It's by Warren Ellis and Chris Weston, and is serialised in three issues, to ship sesquimonthly. [sci-fi]

- LIMITED SERIES: The Incal is a story by Alexandro Jodorowsky, set in the universe of the Metabarons saga, about a young man on the run. Illustrated by Zoran Janjetov (the first half) and his teacher Moebius (the second half). It will run 24 issues, in color. [sci-fi]

Food Chain
- ANTHOLOGY SERIES: The description of "an anthology comic with intermittent fiction" sounds like a weather forcast warning people to bring their umbreallas, in case there might be actual stories included. But as long as you're not scared off by some pages of prose, consider Walkie Talkie, which features 64 pages of stories about people dealing with emotions in modern life, for just $2.50. Nate Powell is the featured creator, with contributions from a handful of fellow Southerners. Previously available only to shops ordering through Cold Cut, now Diamond has consented to distribute it. [beyond genre]

- GRAPHIC NOVEL: I understand why they're spotlighting some of their better-known creators instead of an "unknown", but the latter are the ones who need attention, so we know what we're buying (or not). Such as Fifth Name by Xeric-grantee Santiago Cohen, a graphic novel based on a novel written in Austria between the World Wars by humanist Stefan Zweig. The story is set in pre-Buddhist India, about a man and his struggle to be righteous, which sounds fascinating... but it'd be nice to see a sample of the art or read a little more about the creator. 128 pages for $15. [beyond genre]
- COLLECTION: Soundtrack: Short Stories 1990-1996 could instead be called Jessica Abel's Greatest Hits, volume 1. It's a reprint of selected stories from her original home-published Artbabe series, though like many "Greatest Hits" collections it also includes some "singles" that didn't appear in the "albums". 120 pages for $13. (A collection of more recent Artbabe stories is also relisted.) [beyond genre]
- COLLECTION: Don't Call Me Stupid is a reprint of selected stories featuring Steven Weissman's "Tykes" (kind of a paranormal Peanuts). 96 two-color pages for $13. (An earlier Tikes collection is also relisted.) [humour]

- RETURNING SERIES: The delayed third issue of J. Torres and Takeshi Miyazawa's Sidekicks series is being resolicited. [super]

DC Universe
- LIMITED SERIES: The new ongoing Legion of Super-Heroes series to follow Legion Lost is being delayed a little bit. Instead Legion Worlds is explaining what's been going on "back home" among the non-Lost Legionaires, (re)introducing them and their planets. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning are writing all six issues, with a variety of artists. The issues are 48 pages each (30 pages of story plus 8-page backup stories/features), for $4. [super]
- LIMITED SERIES: Green Lantern: Dragon Lord is the story of the first Green Lantern of Earth, set in feudal China. At first I thought this was a new version of the despotic GL Yulan Gar, which was a retcon explaining the (feudal Chinese) origin of Alan Scott's wood-vulnerable power ring. But this is a different character, named Jong Li, torn between his religious oath of humility and the possession of power greater than that of his gods. It's written by Doug Moench and penciled by Paul Gulacy. [super]
- THIS MONTH IN... the Superman titles is a four-part weekly story by Marv Wolfman and Paco Medina, filling in for the regular creative teams for the month. [super]
- THIS MONTH IN... JSA is the first part of a story arc returning Hawkman to the DCU. Hopefully they won't try too hard to explain his back-story, and let him just say "Hi, I'm Katar Hol of Thanagar, and I'm here to help save the day"... and then he does. Setting the story on Thanagar might make that approach difficult, though. [super]
- COLLECTION: To Reach the Stars is the latest Starman paperback, featuring an assortment of stories, including a match-up with Captain Marvel and a couple of "Times Past" stories featuring the original Starman. The issues it includes are #39-45, plus the Power of Shazam! issue which crossed over with the series for the Cap story. 192 pages for $18. [super]

DC: Vertigo
- NEW SERIES: A "bad girl" book with homoerotic overtones may not sound like anything new, but in this case the overtones are male. Codename: Knockout stars a babe with skimpy spray-on "clothes" (courtesy of Louis Small Jr... and her gay partner Go-Go Fiasco. It's written by Robert Rodi, who was responsible for the novel What They Did to Princess Paragon, which I thought was a hoot. [super] [humour]
- COLLECTION: The final Preacher paperback, entitled Alamo has come at last, reprinting #59-66 and concluding the story. 240 pages for $18. [fantasy]

DC: WildStorm
- COLLECTION: A mixed bag of Star Trek stories are being reprinted together as Other Realities. The Classic Trek story All of Me by Bob Ingersoll and Tony Isabella, the post-Sisko DS9 story N-Vector by K.W. Jeter, and the New Frontier story Double Time by (of course) Peter David. 192 pages for $15. [sci-fi]
- COLLECTION: Top Ten: Book One is a paperback reprint of the hardcover collection of the first 7 issues of the series, my favourite of Alan Moore's ABC books, featuring the excellent art of Gene Ha and Zander Cannon. 208 pages for $15. [super]

 Dark Horse
 - IRREGULAR SERIES: Harvey Pekar's next installment of American Splendor is entitled Portrait of the Artist in His Declining Years, which ironically features a photo of Pekar - who is actually "just" the writer, not artist - on the cover. The artists include several talented illustrators Pekar's worked with before: David Collier, Bary Dumm, Josh Neufeld, Dean Haspiel, Joe Sacco and Frank Stack. If you've read Pekar's work before, you know to expect some of the best autobiographical comics being published. 24 pages for $4... because he's got bills to pay, and not enough people buying his books. [beyond genre]

- NEW SERIES: As an employee under contract, the only place to find stories by Mark Waid now is at CrossGen. He's writing Crux, a new series penciled by Steve Epting, adding another planet to the CrossGen universe, on which the residents are awakened from hibernation to find themselves in the middle of a war. [sci-fi]
- COLLECTIONS: The first two book-format releases from CrossGen are collections of the first seven issues each of Mystic and Sigil. The former is written by Ron Marz, about a party girl on a world filled with magic, whose life is changed when she finds herself with a mark granting her great mystical power. The latter is by Barbara Kesel, about a working man who similarly finds himself with the powerful sigil, making him a sought-after weapon. Each book is $20. (Given the fact that these are the titles that come out the first and second weeks of each month, I'd expect collections of the publisher's third and fourth titles to follow, probably in May.) [sci-fi]

Amaze Ink / Slave Labor
- GRAPHIC NOVEL: Pifitos was the lesser-known third epic by Homer... well, OK, not really, but that's the tongue-in-cheek concept behind it. It's a graphic novel in English by Ukranian creator Igor Baranko, humourously chronicling the odyssey of a man who finds himself prophesied to become the hero of all Greece. 136 pages for a modest $10. [humour]
- COLLECTION: The third volume of Evan Dorkin's Hectic Planet library is coming. The Young and the Reckless reprints the last two issues of the series, the Vroom Socko one-shot, plus some new "linking material" for the stories and a bunch of pin-ups, album cover art, and such. 96 pages for $11. [beyond genre]
- COLLECTION: If it were up to me, I would've just included this in The Young and the Reckless (and maybe skipped the pin-ups), but it's not, so they didn't. Hectic Planet: The Bummer Trilogy reprints the three 8-page short stories that appeared in Dark Horse Presents a few years ago. [beyond genre]

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