Pilot Season: Stellar #1 Review

It’s been far too long since I’ve read anything from Top Cow, but I must say, it’s good to be back. Stellar is the latest offering from the Cow’s very smart Pilot Season initiative that sees a bunch of different one-shots compete for a mini-series. This batch is from Image partners Robert Kirkman (writer of The Walking Dead, Invincible) and superstar penciller Marc Silvestri.

Written by Kirkman, with art by Bernard Chang and cover by Silvestri, this is a very good example of how not to judge  a book by its cover. At first glance this may appear to be some sort of homage to the kinds of comics that were far too frequent last decade, ie, bad girl/good girl/sexy girl in a tight outfit fighting crime with mysterious poses, gravity defying poses and a basic plot that’s merely an excuse for all of that. However, upon further investigation, Stellar proves itself as a solid read, thanks mainly to the skilled Kirkman.

As he details in a closing page explaining the genesis of this concept, the book has the potential to go anywhere – to exotic planets with wild creatures and more and we get a tantalising glimpse of those concepts here, but based on these pages, I hope Stellar wins.

The premise for the book is an intriguing place to start. We’re not told the main character’s name, but can assume her nickname is Stellar. Essentially, she’s 1 of 5 soldiers who have been genetically enhanced on Earth. The powers are good, but the fact that the radiation within them causes other humans close to them to get sick is not so good. Nor is the fact that Stellar’s fellow volunteers were driven mad (and apparently evil) by the process. Stellar is the only one who desires to be a hero, so uses her powers to wander the universe doing just that, all the while aware she’s truly alone. All of that is a great spring board for an even greater tale, and Kirkman wisely drops hints about all this throughout each page turn. No awkward exposition here!

The issue begins with Stellar fending off a Rhino-Predatorsaurus type creature to find a healing herb for an old friend’s son, while recording in her journal, Captain Kirk-style. After some interesting developments including a possible romance, her feelings of loneliness and a foreboding offer she can’t refuse, Stellar’s world gets dangerous and complicated, and interesting.

Chang’s art is a nice blend of emotional moments and sci-fi splendour. His layouts are dynamic and there’s never a page without a  sense of drama or danger. Creatures and characters look real; leaning more towards Star Trek than Wars.

My vote’s on Stellar. Kirkman, as he reveals in his afterword, has a host of ideas for this book and I hope we get to see them. Stellar is but a tasty appetiser to what could be a potential buffet.

Pilot Season: Stealth #1 Preview

Yes, this one-shot from Top Cow’s Pilot Season series was meant to come out at the start of the year, but delays do happen. Now it’s out this week. Official description, and previews pages, below.

Pilot Season: Stealth #1
(W) Robert Kirkman (A) Sheldon Mitchell      (Cov) Marc Silvestri

From the creative minds of Image partners Robert Kirkman & Marc Silvestri!
Todd Carey is recovering from a nasty divorce, his daughter is flunking out of college and he’s just learned that his father has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  Unable to really take care of himself, Todd has allowed his father to move in with him.  What Todd doesn’t know, is that his father is the masked vigilante STEALTH… and has been his entire life.  Stealth has many enemies and his erratic behavior could easily get him killed–and all this trouble falls squarely in Todd’s lap.

Full Color 22 pages $2.99  pilot issue

Top Cow’s Pilot Season 2009

Below is the press release, (and Marc Silvestri designs) about the latest Pilot Season special from Top Cow. Pilot Season is a grand idea – the Cow give readers a few different one-shots, fans vote and the most popular one gets its own mini-series.

FROM THE TOP SECRET FILES OF ROBERT KIRKMAN AND MARC SILVESTRI PILOT SEASON: DECLASSIFIED ONLY $1

Top Cow Productions, Inc. proudly announced today that the 2009 year of Pilot Season will kick off with Pilot Season: Declassified. The 32-page full color preview book is expected to be available in stores on October 14th, 2009 and will retail for one dollar.

Five brand new comic book properties born out of the collaboration between Image partners Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead, Invincible) and Marc Silvestri (Dark Avengers/X-Men: Utopia, The Darkness) will compete against each other to win the votes of the fans who will determine the winning property that will be rewarded with its own full series. This highly anticipated year of Pilot Season begins in November, but fans will get a first look at all five of the new properties this October in the $1 Pilot Season: Declassified. The secrets behind the inception of each property will be revealed in trailer pages, secret documents, and design sketches ripped from the pages of Marc Silvestri’s sketchbook.

For only $1, Pilot Season: Declassified continues Top Cow’s recently established annual tradition that gives fan the final say in what comic books they want to read. Since 2007, Top Cow has given fans the power to choose a Top Cow series based on a selection of one-shot Pilot Season “pilot” issues through online voting. The inaugural Pilot Season initiative garnered more than four million votes from fans across the globe.

“Pilot Season is something I look forward to each year and a unique event for the comic industry,” commented Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik, “With two creative masterminds like Robert and Marc at the helm, I have no doubt we’ll get some of the most unique and stunning creations we’ve seen in the competition to date.”

Pilot Season 2009 Sketch 1

Pilot Season 2009 Sketch 2

The Art of Marc Silvestri

Those Image Comics founders sure know how to draw. Without those mad pencilling skills, there’s no way they ever could’ve jumped Marvel’s ship back in 1992 and bring a whole lotta fans with them. Silvestri is one of those original rebels and his pencils on his own creations like Witchblade, Cyberforce and The Darkness (also a freakily good console game) are things of equal beauty and horror. He has returned to Marvel over the last few years to perty up the pages of X-Men, primarily during the Messiah CompleX series.

The Art of Marc Silvestri book covers the Top Cow CEO’s whole career and also features commentaries by fellow artists Dave Finch, Brandon Peterson, Billy Tan, Mike Choi and Michael Broussard.

The full colour 96 page hard cover book goes on sale August 20, for $US29.99. It’d make a great coffee table book for art lovers or fans of superheroes and villains and the tight bodies that they all possess. See what I mean by checking out a few luscious pages below.

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