Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Comic Book Wednesday – Previews March 2014

I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, but it isn’t always convenient for me to spend a whole lot of time looking at Previews and taking pictures of the comics, toys, and weird Japanese dolls within. This month it was, so this is the initial installment of what I would like to be an ongoing series but that probably won’t be.
If you don’t know, Previews is the catalog that Diamond Comic Distributors use to offer the products they distribute to comic book stores around the country. This is where you can view and order (through your favorite Local Comic Book Shop) comic books, trade paperback collections, t-shirts, books, media, and toys and other collectibles from hundreds of different vendors that deal in geek-oriented merchandise. The genius part is that you actually have to pay for your copy of Previews for the privilege of ordering other things to pay for. It’s like the Ren Fest except without the horse poo smell.

So every month a new edition of Previews is sent out to comic book stores. Contained in the pages within are products that might be currently available or could be released anytime in the next year; but typically about two months away. Or sometimes never. I’ve ordered lots of things that have just never come in. Without getting into the specific politics of Diamond, let me just say that they aren’t quite a monopoly and also aren’t quite the worst distributor anybody has ever dealt with in the history of the universe.

But I’m not here to discuss that. I’m here to discuss a few of the weird and/or wonderful items offered in this month’s edition.
Play Arts Kai’s Star Trek Figures
These aren’t actually offered until the back of the book, but they are features right up front and I want to go ahead and address them because they are the ugliest fucking action figures I have ever seen in my life.

I am a big admirer of Play Art’s figures. I like how stylized they are and the articulation is phenomenal. If I could afford to pay $60 for an action figure I would probably own some (I bought the Metal Gear Solid Meryl Silverburgh but sold her on eBay). But Kirk and Spock here are absolutely nightmarish. Their weird superhero physiques and their severe, overly sensual faces make them look like outer space rape monsters. I do not want them.
FREE COMIC BOOK DAY!
I’m not going to run down all of the titles being offered this year, just be sure to show up at your Local Comic Book Shop on Saturday, May 3rd to partake in the fun. Many stores have parties, signings, and other events to draw attention not only to the best visual medium in the world but also the importance of the independently-owned stores that work so hard to bring all of the comic-related goodness to your neighborhood.

I will be hosting the Fan-Tiki-Tastic Tiki Zombie Party featuring Monstrosity Championship Wrestling (probably) at Odin’s Comics in Lilburn, Georgia. We’ll be recording a LIVE ESO Podcast and the squared circle will be set up outside the store to contain the madness of whatever monsters might show up. More details to come, but don’t be surprised if a certain Tiki fella and maybe even the Allfather himself show up to GET IT ON!

Check comicshoplocator.com to find your shop, then give ‘em a call and see what they have planned!
RoboCop Vs. The Terminator – Dark Horse
This came out back before everybody hated Frank Miller. I had the individual issues, but they are long gone now. I’m excited about reading it again because I don’t remember a thing about it. I am stoked about seeing Walt Simonson’s art. I love anything that guy does and just seeing the cover for this one fills me with nostalgia for the days of… well, not simpler comic book art. I’m not sure exactly what it is that I don’t love about comic book art now, but I’m sure it’s all those Image guys’ fault.
The Sakai Project
I mention this not because I am a fan of Usagi Yojimbo – I’m not, particularly – but because this one is for a good cause. The proceeds from this book will go to Stan and Sharon Sakai. Sharon is suffering from a debilitating illness and requires 24 hour care, the cost of which far exceeds what any independent comic book artist can comfortably cover.
 
I’m buying one because I loved Usagi’s appearance in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the resulting action figures of the samurai rabbit in both his armored and outer space (!) looks. I’ve always been curious about the comics, but just haven’t ever picked them up.
You can also help out the Sakais through here.
Game of Thrones Figures – Dark Horse
These look very nice, but are not action figures. They’re plastic statues. That’s fine and I’m sure there are plenty of folks (like sometime contributor Chad J. Shonk) who will love these, but they’re not for me. I am a bit surprised that we have two lines of figures featuring likenesses from the TV show, but that nobody has jumped on the books. I obviously have no idea how George RR Martin has his licensing set up, but I would bet another company could do toys based on the books without using the TV show as reference. Actually, it would be ingenious to do a line of smaller, static figures – army men style – complete with castles and stuff.
The New 52: Future’s End – DC Comics
Fucking shit. Doesn’t DC have enough time frame and continuity problems as it is? I’m still not comfortable with the New 52 paradigm and they’re jumping five years ahead? Heck, Scott Snyder can’t even maintain a Batman timeline because of all of the crossovers and time-jumping bullshit that keeps happening. I just want some consistent narratives.

I suppose I don’t have any right to complain. I’m only buying six DCU titles anymore and one of those is on the chopping block (the phenomenal All Star Western). The only end I want to see is the end of the New 52 and DC’s current editorial staff. I know that horse is long dead, but every visit to the comic shop is frustrated by the fact that I do not like what DC – my lifelong company of choice – is doing with the characters that I love.
Batman: Arkham Origins Action Figure 3-Pack – DC Collectibles
This makes me angry because it’s some straight-up bullshit and I expect better from DC Collectibles.

I’ve been excited about the possibility of an Arkham-based Copperhead figure since I first saw the character in the game. She’s a great design and is handled in a genuinely creepy way. The boss battle is pretty frustrating, but in an awesome and interesting way.

Unfortunately, you can only get this figure if you buy this three pack, which also includes minor retoolings of existing figures that I am not interested in. The first is Red Hood Joker, which uses the inferior and under-articulated body from Origins Joker. The second is an unmasked Deathstroke, which is actually pretty cool but uses the mind-bogglingly fragile body of the Origins Deathstroke figure. I have that review waiting to go, but for now let’s just say that I have bought two of these and they have both broken in different places. I do not want another.

Alas, I am a sucker and will buy this set. Red Hood will probably go up on eBay. I might keep the Deathstroke if its sturdier than the two I’ve already had.
Batman: Arkham Asylum Action Figure 4-Pack – DC Collectibles
This, on the other hand, is a good deal. For sixty bucks you get cool repaints of figures from the first game. It’s a great way to get these primary characters. I don’t need it, but if you’re looking to start collecting DCC’s Arkham figures this is a great start.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 30th Anniversary Special - IDW
I was excited about this because the blurb mentions Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird working together for the first time in years. But then I saw that it was just the cover. I was hoping for 48 pages of old-school Turtle goodness. Granted, that’s still what this is, as they have tapped various creators who have worked on the TMNT comics over the years, but it’s just not what I was hoping for. I’m still getting it, though.
Chew/Revival One-Shot – Image Comics
Uh oh. I’ve been hearing about how good Chew is for years and just haven’t ever picked it up. Now it’s crossing over with one of my favorite books from two of my favorite artists. What do you wan to bet I’m going to be buying some trades soon?
Savage Dragon #197 – Image Comics
I stopped reading Savage Dragon years ago. Not for any good reason. It was just one of the casualties of one of those times that I stopped buying comics. But I wanted to say how much I admire Erik Larsen for keeping this thing going for so long and staying true to his vision. And for making this pretty awesome cover.
Original Sin – Marvel Comics
This actually sounds like a pretty good idea for a crossover. Or at least, what I’ve gleaned from it sounds good. The idea seems to be that somebody killed Uatu the Watcher – the big-headed dude that observes all of the goings-on in the Marvel Universe. I’m intrigued by this, but I don’t read any of the comics that are directly involved and I honestly can’t afford a crossover.

I do love the fact that Brian Posehn is a featured writer on one of the big Marvel event crossovers. That alone makes it all worthwhile.

And I LOVE that art by Totino Tedesco.
Iron Fist: Living Weapon – Marvel Comics
I totally missed this when #1 was offered last month. The story and art are by Kaare Andrews, whose work I love. I’m in, despite having no strong feelings about Iron Fist.
Attack on Titan
Doesn’t that look like a skinless Brock Samson?
Batman ’66 Busts – Diamond Select Toys
These look absolutely fantastic. Even the bases are wonderful with their raised graphics and Bat Signals. I’m not a big statue/bust guy, but if I were I would buy these.
Andre the Giant: The Life and Legend - :01 First Second
I don’t know anything about Box Brown – the creator of this graphic novel – but the idea of an illustrated biography of Andre Roussimoff delights me to no end.
Evil Dead 2: Ash Retro Action Figure – NECA
I stopped collecting the Mego-inspired figures when I realized just how overwhelming it was going to be, but this is Ash, baby.
Power Rangers Madness – Bandai
This is one of those things about Previews that confounds me. Featured here are five pages – five pages – worth of Power Rangers toys that will be easily obtainable at Target, Toys R Us, and Walmart for considerably less than what Diamond will charge for them. This sort of thing happens a lot and I don’t get it.
Ninja Turtles – Playmates
I hate that I am dreading this movie. I really hope it surprises me by at least not being too profane for me to bring my son. I shouldn’t have to pre-view this, but I will. Lord knows I don’t need Lil’ Troublemaker asking me about turtle dicks thanks to Michael Bay’s moronic sense of “humor”.
Tin Toys
I won’t buy any, but these are awesome.
3D TARDIS Life-Size Standup
I bet this thing is going to be an absolute bitch to put together. I just can’t see spending $250 for a cardboard box. I’m sure it’s worth it for the craftsmanship and whatever, but that’s a lot of scratch for something that one drunken misstep is going to obliterate.
The Munsters House Finished Model Kit
This thing is gorgeous and is sized for HO scale model trains. Which is what I will start collecting when I turn 107.
DC Comics Real Action Heroes Figures – Medicom
Not that I could afford them, but these would look pretty incredible except for one thing – the design of the superhero overpants. Rather than being separate pieces they are sewn into the bodysuits and as a result look… odd. Otherwise the sculpts and costumes – from fabric to design – look awesome.
DC Heroes Sofubis – Medicom
I might pay five bucks for these hunks of crap if I found them at a flea market or at a stand in Mexico City. You guys – these things range from eighty to a hundred and twenty bucks. Each. I do not understand this at all.
3A X Iron Man Figures – threeA
These just look awesome. I’d love to own one. They’re 13.5 inches tall, feature hidden articulation, and have light-up eyes, chest, and hands. But at $230 each I’m going to have to pass.
GI Joe Retro Lunchbox
This is such an odd choice. If you’re going to do this, why not go with stuff from the early days rather than images from when the line was dying down? I would have bought this if it were graphics featuring Duke, Flint, Snake-Eyes, or any pre-1986 iteration of the Joe team, but to feature Lt. Falcon, Dress Blues Gung-Ho, and Croc Master is just bizarre.
Also of Note
While thumbing through Previews, I couldn’t help but notice the huge disparity between Marvel and DC’s sections. I’m talking about the quality of art. Marvel was packed full of gorgeous graphics, great design, and lots of daring variation. DC’s section featured an awful lot of art that made me wonder how it could be cover art for a modern comic book. In short – Marvel and DC were wowing me, but in totally opposite ways.

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