Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Comic Book Wednesday – Previews March 2015: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Alan Moore

If you don’t know, Previews is the catalogue 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.

Batvergence – DC (Back Cover)

That’s Earth One Batman (Bruce Wayne) in the back and Earth-2 Batman (Thomas Wayne, Bruce’s father) in the foreground. A meeting between the two should be very interesting and the source of all kinds of emotional upheaval. In the right hands it could be a landmark Batman story, regardless of its place in continuity.

In the wrong hands it could consist of two Batmans punching and yelling at each other. 
 
A-Force – Marvel (Front Cover)

I will always be suspicious of books from the Big Two that are “Look at all of these non-white/male/hetero characters!”. It’s not that I have anything against such books, I just tend to doubt the motives behind them. No matter how you want to spin it, it is very hip right now to support anything that isn’t non-white/male/hetero and the publishers know this. 
Women in comics is a particularly big thing, so A-Force definitely draws my suspicion.

However.

Marvel is actually using female creators on this title (which to me is the real issue – giving more females a chance to gain a following will naturally lead to more diversity in the characters and stories), so it seems like a genuine effort to give women a chance. The creators – G. Willow Wilson and Marguerite Bennett, neither of which I am familiar with – seem to have access to all of Marvel’s top female characters in this title, so now it’s up to them to tell great stories and gain that following that will lead to more power and influence in the world of comics.

Theoretically, anyway.

Free Comic Book Day 2015! (27 - 37)

Free Comic Book Day falls on May 2nd this year. I’m working with no way out. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t be doing something special for the event. I’ve already lined up a special guest for the podcast. More to come soon!

Fight Club 2 – Dark Horse (42 - 43)

Chuck Palahniuk is one of my favorite authors (except for Pygmy, which was a brilliant concept that I found unreadable) and Cameron Stewart is an artist that I will always check out – one of those names that I just have to follow. If not for their involvement I probably wouldn’t pick this up because we all know how media tie-ins often turn out.

Of course, considering that this is the original author continuing his own novel in a different form I suppose it isn’t really a media tie-in. It’s a proper sequel.

Predator: Fire and Stone TPB – Dark Horse (61)

Like I said last month, I only got the Prometheus and Alien Fire and Stone books. Those were great, and now I have the concluding comic book that ties them all together – Fire and Stone: Omega – sitting at home waiting to be read. I got through the first few pages before realizing that I really needed to read the rest of the series before I read it. The way the four narratives appear to be tied together is very cool and a great example of how tie-ins should be done. I don’t feel like I have to buy the rest of the books, but the story is so good that I want to.

Criminal Macabre: Cal McDonald Bust – Dark Horse (78)

Cal McDonald is my favorite Steve Niles creation. The comics have the right tone for me and hit all the right supernatural/weird shit sweet spots. And this is a beautiful statue. I’d love to have it. I just am not that big of a statue guy (though I do have some) and don’t want to spend this much. I’m not saying that it isn’t worth it,. It totally is. As a matter of fact, I feel like $150 is great for a 14” piece like this.

Convergence – DC Comics (81 - 123)

DC’s big event is still going on. I don’t have much more to say about it now than I did last month. Without having read any of the books all I can say is I’m looking forward to it.
It’s worth noting that each issue solicitation carries this disclaimer:

This extra-sized issue includes a sneak peek at what’s coming up in the DC Universe!”
It looks like every single issue this month has a cover price of $3.99, which means that DC is essentially charging us extra to advertise to us, because I have a pretty good feeling that every single one of these “extra-sized” issues will have the exact same few pages of tripe in the back promoting the new DC paradigm. Dick move, DC. Way to hold the line (at $2.99).

Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell TP – DC Comics (127)

I bought the hardcover of Bloodspell when it was offered and it absolutely delighted me. It’s a fun story with two characters that play very well off of one another. I’d love to see more standalone stories like this from Dini. Joe Quinones art is, as always, fantastic. I highly recommend this one. It’s a fun, classic adventure comic.

He-Man: The Eternity War #6 – DC Comics (127)

I bought the first issue of this series just to have the variant cover by Darwyn Cooke. I can’t imagine I’ll have too many opportunities to buy Cooke’s interpretations of the Masters of the Universe. I didn’t enjoy DC’s first Masters miniseries and I haven’t checked back in with their handling of the license, despite Mr. Beau Brown’s assurances that they’ve been telling good stories. 
 
Since I can’t let a comic book with He-Man on the cover go unread in my home, I cracked open that first issue. The story was cool. He-Man is He-Man and She-Ra is She-Ra and Teela is a Snake Goddess who controls all of the Snake Men.

Wait… what?

Yeah – things are very different. The Eternity War takes place in the future of Eternia (though I don’t know if it directly related to the events of the former ongoing series) and I immediately dug the scenario. There were a few little character things that I didn’t like – She-Ra at one point says something to the effect of “Sometimes all you have left is rage, and that’s enough”, which is so incredibly un-She-Ra that I can’t even believe it made it into the book. I’m also not crazy about the way Duncan and Teela’s relationship was handled. But now I’m curious and I want to check out the other books.

Astro City #23 – Vertigo (140)

I’ve never read any of Kurt Busiek’s Astro City and I probably won’t, but I love this cover.

The Wake TP – Vertigo (147)

I don’t want to spoil the major narrative shift that occurs in this book, but it delighted me. For those of you that don’t want anything spoiled and take my recommendations seriously, just buy this.

For those of you that need a little bit more than just me saying it’s awesome:

***SPOILERS***

Imagine if Leviathan or Deep Star Six or any of those great, old undersea horror flicks evolved into a well-done version of Waterworld. That’s what this is. I loved it.

***END OF SPOILERS***

Arkham Batman Action Figure 5-Pack – DC Collectibles (151)

 I’d love to have that Bruce Wayne, but I already own two of those Batmans and have the Arkham Knight version ordered. The $85 price tag actually isn’t bad, as it works out to about $17 per figure. But I just don’t need all of those extra Batmans. And no – I don’t want to deal with the hassle of putting them on eBay. Especially when that’s exactly what most other people that buy this set will be trying to do.

If DCC doesn’t release a different version of Bruce in some other form I can just live without him.

The Flash Reverse Flash Ring – DC Collectibles (153)

Another ingenious prop replica from DCC. We saw this very ring (well, the prop version) on Professor Well’s finger just a few episodes ago on The Flash. This thing looks great and I’m sure it will be popular at that attractive $34.95 price point. Be warned – it only comes in one size – 12.5. I don’t know a thing about ring sizes, so I don’t know if that’s average or what.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency #1 – IDW (161)

I am not generally in favor of other people writing Douglas Adams’ characters. I don’t even know that it has happened before, but it just sounds like a bad idea. Adams is another one of my favorite authors and it makes me profoundly uncomfortable to think about somebody else handling his creations, especially Gently, who is such a unique and specific character.

But Phantom, I follow you on Facebook and Twitter and I specifically remember you talking about how good Gareth Roberts’ adaptation of Shada was. What about that?”

Well, devoted Phantomaniac, You’re right. Gareth Roberts’ adaptation of Shada was very good. So good that I recommend you buy it right now:


But that was a Doctor Who story and Adams didn’t create those characters. Different thing entirely.

Oh, good point. I’ll go and buy a copy of that now and help out Needless Things.”

Great – thanks! 
 
Secret Wars – Marvel (M1 - 40)

I can’t even begin to understand what’s supposed to be going on here. I suppose whatever the big event is, it has been led up to in Marvel books that I don’t read. But the good thing is that – like DC’s Convergence – I don’t think you have to know about any of that to enjoy it. But it does look like Marvel is trying a little harder to create that “Well, I guess I have to read this other thing” vibe.

Like I did with Convergence in last month’s article, I’ll run down the list of Secret Wars titles I’m planning to pick up. Most of these will be based upon creators and characters I like and not any attachment I expect them to have to books that I am currently reading (I opted for ten DC books, so it’ll be interesting to see how many Marvel can push on me):

*Deadpool’s Secret Wars – Cullen Bunn is becoming one of those writers that I trust enough to just buy his stuff. And look at that gorgeous cover by Tony Harris! If you’re not following him on Instagram, you should be. He posted pictures of this cover in progress as he was working on it and he does that for tons of cool stuff.

*Inferno – The original Inferno is one of my favorite storylines of all time. I even wrote about it. (I made a note to fix that post – I hope I remember to do it)I like Dennis Hopeless, but I’m buying this because I love Inferno. As a matter of fact, to call back to my statue comments above, I even bought and reviewed a statue of Magik as Darkchilde.

*Secret Wars 2099 – I never got into the 2099 books. But this is by Peter David – possibly my favorite comic book writer of all time – and it appears that his recent All-New X-Factor was leading up to whatever is happening here. At least, I hope so. But either way it’s Peter David and I’m buying it.

Whoa. Three titles. I wasn’t expecting that. I guess I just don’t care too much about this thing. Of course, the major difference here is that Marvel is continuing all of its regular titles while Secret Wars is going on, so perhaps I’m being a little pickier about what I get since I still have my regular books to pick up.

Superior Iron Man #9 – Marvel (M73)

I’m not reading this one, but that is an excellent picture of Pepper in her Rescue armor. I’m still shocked that Marvel hasn’t ever launched a Rescue ongoing title.

Marvel Select Zombie Sabretooth – Diamond Select (M98)

I love that they’re finally expanding on the collection of Marvel Zombies action figures. The first few series of the comic book were excellent and I’ve wanted more than the original three figures since getting them. The newer ones – Magneto and this month’s Sabretooth, so far – have better articulation but still fit with the original Cap, Spidey, and Hulk.

Marvel Firsts: The 1990s Omnibus – Marvel (M101)

What a rad collection! The nostalgia will be thick in this one, as it collects the first appearances of a ton of the superheroes that made 90s comic books so… 90s. Deadpool, Nomad, X-Force, Scarlet Spider, Venom, and a bunch of others that were revived for the 90s (wait – wasn;t Nomad around long before then?). I won’t buy this, but it would definitely be a fun read. Thunderstrike! Yeesh…

Providence – Avatar Press (274 - 277)

The listing for this new ongoing series is prefaced by two pages of words from Alan Moore. I felt that if Alan Moore felt that it was worth writing two pages worth of copy for Previews then I should probably read it:

It’s a good read and talks about Moore and Jacen Burrows’ new project, Providence. To sum it up, it sounds like they are intending on streamlining all of H.P. Lovecraft’s ideas and works into a cohesive whole. I’m into that.

Of course, that means that I also need to pick up

Neonomicon TPB – Avatar Press (278)

This is a related collection that also has Moore and Burrows adapting Lovecraft. I don’t know if the narratives are directly tied together or if there are just thematic similarities, but reading those two pages from Moore has me wanting to check this stuff out. He seems genuinely enthusiastic for the material and I would love a modernized take on Lovecraft. Because I don’t think we’re going to see At the Mountains of Madness anytime soon.

Annihilator Volume 1 HC – Legendary Comics (360)

I’ve been reading this one and as much as I do like Grant Morrison’s wild, story-within-a-story head trip, Frazer Irving’s incredible artwork is the star. The narrative of a criminal from outer space needing a Terran screenwriter to tell his tale so that he can remember it is a great framework for a lot of drama and weird science fiction, but Irving’s pages are amazing. This is one of those titles where I really stop and drink in every panel. I’d love to have some original art from this one.

Side Note: I don’t care for Diamond’s habit of sprinkling ads for the bigger publishers’ and vendors’ products throughout the Green Section. Everyone is going to look at the big publishers and the toys and merchandise sections. Nobody skips those. We don’t need hem undermining the message of the independent publishers. Maybe that sounds nitpicky or ridiculous, but I really do feel like the full-page ads for Marvel and IDW and DC products take away from the Green Section’s inhabitants.

Cheap Sales Tactic – Space Goat Productions (379)

HAHAHA. No, Space Goat Productions. I am not going to buy two comic books that I have no interest in just to get the six page prequel to your upcoming Officially-Licensed Evil Dead 2 comic book. They might be super comic books. I’m not commenting on their quality. I just don’t care for the method of using one of my all-time favorite movies to push them when they are utterly unrelated.

S.H.I.E.L.D./Hydra Flex Fit Caps – Some Hat Company (450)

Flex Fit caps are the only kind I can wear. I don’t like snapback caps, as I think they look trashy. I don’t like regular fitted caps because apparently there are days where my head is bigger than other days. So Flex Fit is it for me. But it has to be a L/XL. And this does not have a size listing, so I’m guessing these are M/L, because the Man caters to all of you pinheaded fools with craniums too small to contain massive brains like mine.

Doctor Strange: Mythic Awareness T-Shirt – Some Shirt Company (450)

This is just a really cool shirt design. 
 
Doctor Who: The Seal of Rassilon Ring – British Jeweler (459)

I need this ring. Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, I have no idea how ring sizes work. 
This is only available as a 10. 
 
This makes twice in a single post that I’ve had to think about ring sizes. Weird.

One:12 Collective Judge Dredd Action Figure – Mezco (478)

I’ve been raving about these One:12 Collective figures since I first saw them, but I haven’t actually held one in my hands yet. I have the Previews Exclusive Batman ordered, but until I’ve reviewed it I can’t justify pulling the trigger on another one. This Dredd looks fantastic, but without being able the quality and durability of the figure and the fabrics I’m not comfortable committing to an unknown quantity like this. Now, if Mezco wanted to send me one to review that would be a different story…

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Formal Leatherface 8-Inch Retro Action Figure – NECA (480)

This is a must-have. It’s easily my favorite look for classic Leatherface and now I’ve gone and gotten myself addicted to these damned NECA retro figures. It’s worth noting that these are two inches taller than the One:12 Collective figures and cost less than half as much. Those things are going to have to be some damned fine collectibles to pass muster.

Big Trouble in Little China ReAction Figures – Funko (480)

These are also must-haves, as you might have gathered from the various times I’ve mentioned them and because Big Trouble in Little China is my all-time favorite movie. As I type this mine are on the way, so I won’t be ordering them from Previews and waiting until May (really? May?) for them to arrive. While I wouldn’t mind having a second set to open, I bet these are being sold by the case.

Karate Kid ReAction Figures – Funko (481)

I won’t be buying these, but Needless Things’ Head of Research, Ryan would totally sweep my leg if I didn’t mention them. They really are some of the best-looking ReAction figures so far. I might be tempted by a Mr. Miyagi if I see one at retail. Also, I keep forgetting to mention this, but I think Funko should do a Daniel-san in shower costume variant for San Diego Comic Con.

Previews Exclusive Firefly: Jayne Cobb w/ Hat Legacy Collection Action Figure – Funko (482)

Carry this around with you at Dragon Con and win Jayne Hat Punch Buggy in the cheapest way possible!

Previews Exclusive Big Trouble in Little China: Ghost Lo Pan Glow-in-the-Dark Pop! Figure – Funko (546)

See! This is why you read this column every month. Because of stuff like poor little glow-in-the-dark David Lo Pan being tucked away in the “Collectibles & Novelties” section rather than the toys. You might have overlooked him if not for me! 
 
Anyway, you know I’m all over this one. I was about to say that I find it odd that the regular Big Trouble Pop!s aren’t listed, but I think they might have offered those last month.

That’s all I’ve got for this month. Start putting your pennies in your Diamond Select figural bank and remember to drop your order form off at your Local Comic Book Shop!

2 comments:

  1. I just got my set of Big Trouble in Little China figures in the mail yesterday. I'm a big Reaction fan and huge BTILC and Kurt Russel junkie, so I'm pretty pleased with them. Actually, I've had a pretty BTILC inspired week. We watched the movie again over the weekend, I got my ReAction figures in the mail, on Monday night at my weekly D&D session I made a side mission with an old guy that sounded like David Lo Pan for my players to interact with, and while watching through TMNT my wife and I just reached the BTILC inspired episode.

    That ghost of Lo Pan POP is pretty amazing! I want that!

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    1. Nice! I love the ReAction figures. I hope we get more series. They seem to be flying off the pegs at Toys R Us, so that's good.

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