Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Comic Book Wednesday – Previews June 2015: Marvel, Marvel Everywhere

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.

Side Note: Previews always has a strong paper/ink smell, but it seems particularly ripe this month. It actually made me a little nauseous at one point.
I don’t know why I share these things.

Justice League - DC (Front Cover)

I stopped reading the New 52 Justice League after the sixth issue because it was the worst comic book I have ever read in my life. Worse, even, than WWE Titans. I’ve heard that things improved, but I haven’t tried it again because… man, that first arc was terrible.
But if anything is going to get me to check out a comic book, it’s a cover featuring electric boogie Superman and Batman in Metron’s chair.

Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl – Image (Back Cover)

I’ve never read any of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Phonogram, but I know that it’s an “indie darling”. I also know that The Wicked + The Divine is an excellent comic; one of the best that I’m reading. I kind of feel obligated to read this new series, which also makes me feel obligated to catch up on the original (which I’m sure will be offered in handy trade paperback form).

Part of the reason I’ve never read Phonogram is that you can’t find any straightforward reviews of it. They all speak in these haughty intellectual terms like “search for identity” and “explore questions of validation”. I don’t know what any of that crap means. Just tell me if it’s an awesome comic book. Stop trying to be all fancy pants.

Fight Club 2 #4 – Dark Horse (35)

I read the first issue and it surprised me by not only being very good, but by feeling like a perfectly natural medium for Chuck Palahniuk. I wasn’t sure about this whole thing, but Cameron Stewart’s always outstanding visuals match Palahniuk’s words perfectly. I almost felt like he was having an easier time telling his story. It’s a shame this will be dismissed by so many people, because it truly is a natural continuation of the narrative started in the novel and an interesting evolution for a unique and talented author. This is the sort of thing that should be bringing people to comic books.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Minicomics Collection – Dark Horse (45)

YES. I have been waiting a long time for this to be made. A couple of years into the Masters of the Universe Classics line I thought this collection was inevitable, but nothing was ever confirmed. I’ve been wanting to read these minicomics so bad. They’re available on He-Man.org, but they’re a mess and difficult to navigate. I made my way through five or six before I just couldn’t stand it anymore. And now we are getting a beautiful hardcover edition.
If you don’t know, modern masters such as Bruce Timm and Mark Texeira contributed to these early narratives that are quite different from the cartoon we all knew from the 80s. I thoroughly enjoyed the ones that I read and am looking forward to being able to take in the rest.

I’m glad that’s not the final cover. It looks like a Scholastic book.

The Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot HC – Dark Horse (46)

It’s very popular to talk poorly about Frank Miller right now, but don’t let that dissuade you from picking up this incredible book. It’s about a boy robot and a man-piloted mech fighting giant monsters. It’s every bit as delightful as it sounds and Geoff Darrow is one of the most intricate and mind-bending artists I’ve ever seen. This is a delight.

Martian Manhunter #3 – DC Comics (89)

This is the first DC book that caught my eye this month, so my DC Comics narrative is going here:

DC is not doing anything to appeal to me lately.

What I read of Convergence was awful.

I don’t care for their new practice of splitting story pages in half so that they can put ads on them. I think that’s grotesque.

I never liked the New 52 and I don’t have any faith that the same people responsible for that are suddenly going to give me a satisfying new direction for the DCU.

But I hold out hope that I’m wrong about that. I want good comic books starring Batman and his pals. And there is evidence that right-mindedness exists at DC. Harley Quinn and Batgirl are fantastic comic books. And the creative team on the former are doing a new Starfire book that looks fun and appears to have not abandoned the core of the character, despite some whiny internet folks not liking that core.

I want to spend money on DC Comics. But it’s going to take time for me to trust them again.
Oh, and this cover is really cool. That’s why I mentioned the book in the first place.

DC Comics Book & DVD/Blu-Ray Sets – DC Collectibles (122-123)

I mentioned bringing people to comic books above, and this might be another way to do that. DC Animation has produced some awesome stuff, so packaging the features with the related comics might be a pretty good idea. The prices on these are definitely right, as hardcover collections of these stories would be around the twenty dollar price point, if not more than the $26.99 MSRP.

The Flash Central City Police Badge Prop Replica – DC Collectibles (140)

Another cool prop replica. I love that DC is doing this stuff.

Batman Animated Series Action Figures – DC Collectibles (141 & 144)

*Retailers: These items are resolicited. All previous orders are cancelled.*


I wasn’t thrilled when I saw that I was going to have to reorder nine of these action figures. I’m already torn on whether or not I even want to keep buying them after Man-Bat and how much I truly dislike the style of hip joints they chose to use.

I asked Mrs. Troublemaker about it and she said they were probably having production problems and either didn’t want to offer returns or were having low orders. She doubted they would be out before the end of the year. While I’m not sure I think she’s correct about all of that, she has worked in a comic shop on and off for about twenty years now and usually knows what she’s talking about.

Has DC Collectibles blown it with one of the most exciting action figure lines of all time? Did they wait too long to get a handle on quality control? Does everyone else hate those hip joints as much as I do? Find out the answers to these questions and more by tuning in to Needless Things every single day!

Or something.

Batman: Arkham Knight Series 2 Action Figures – DC Collectibles (143)

This is a good selection of characters, though three of them are updates that I’m irritated to be wanting so badly. I’m thrilled to be getting Commissioner Gordon, though a coat would be nice (I’m assuming he isn’t wearing one in the new game). While I don’t necessarily need a new Nightwing, Robin, or Catwoman, I do want the upgraded articulation that DCC has been using lately. So these are worth it just for that, though they are completely different character designs from the older figures. This Catwoman’s face looks so much better.

Giant-Sized Artist’s Proof Edition: The Walking Dead #1 – Image (202)

I mention Saga and Mark Waid’s Daredevil and a few other titles quite frequently when I talk about great comic books. For some odd reason I tend to neglect The Walking Dead, which has been excellent without fail for over a decade. That’s got to be some kind of record.
I hate to say it, but the TV show has tarnished the name “The Walking Dead” to me. I don’t like the show. I tried. I stuck around for four and a half seasons trying to like it. But the characters are difficult to like or empathize with and so much of the drama rings hollow. The damn thing put me to sleep several times, and that’s never happened once in over 130 issues of the comic. So now, when I hear ”The Walking Dead”, I can’t help but suppress an, “Ugh”, despite the fact that it’s one of the best comic books I have ever read.

This artist’s proof edition is awesome. It’s printed in the 11x17 size that comic book illustrators work in, so it will be somewhat like holding the original art. I’m also just excited to see Tony Moore’s excellent line work.

Side Note: Once again, Image has their titles listed thrice – the individual listing, a release calendar, and a checklist. Seems like overkill. This is probably the last time I’ll mention this. Unless I forget to not mention it next month.

Secret Wars – Marvel (Most of their little book)

I didn’t expect to care about Secret Wars, much less enjoy any of it. I had to check out some of the titles because they were creators or eras I love, but I honestly didn’t think I’d get beyond first issues. And I picked up the main series just because I wanted to be up on what was going on with Marvel. I had zero expectations for that because I don’t always get Hickman’s stuff and I am extremely susceptible to crossover fatigue.

I was wrong about all of that.

The main book is awesome. The way that this crazy world of all of the Marvel worlds has been created is entertaining and compelling. I want to know more. I want maps, historical records, folklore. And the first issue set the whole thing up so nicely. I’m not saying I know everything or even grasp all of what’s going on, but I was drawn right in. The second issue expanded on that and I cannot wait to get my hands on the third.

As far as the tie-ins go, all I’ve read so far are 2099 and Inferno and I thought both of them were great, particularly Inferno. The concept of Peter working with the X-Men just so he can have one chance a year to save his sister is fantastic, and the revelation of the first issue is powerful. I’m digging it.

As a result of the quality of these titles so far I am totally open to this world. I’ll be browsing the new releases shelves today to see if any other Secret Wars books catch my eye. Good job, Marvel. I’m impressed.

Inhumans: Attilan Rising #4 – Marvel (M22)

The Inhumans’ corner of the Marvel Universe Is definitely a weak spot for me. I’ve never read any stuff specifically concerning them (though I suspect that’s going to be changing soon). I don’t have any commentary on the contents of this book, but I will say that it would be criminally stupid of Marvel to not produce a real version of the hoodie that Black Bolt is wearing in this picture.

House of M #1 & #2 – Marvel (M24 & 25)

I love the idea of a kingdom ruled by Magneto and all of the intrigue and drama that will inevitably go along with that. Dennis Hopeless is a proven talent, and while I am not familiar with the artist, Marco Failla, Marvel tends to be pretty good about lining up covers with the style of interiors and these Kris Anka covers appeal to me.

Howard the Human #1 – Marvel (M26)

I’m sure this will be good. Skottie Young did a bang-up job on Rocket Raccoon (I am still furious that it was cancelled, seemingly abruptly), as he does with all things. Jim Mahfood is one of those guys with such a distinctive style that I’m always curious to see what he’s doing. But as fun as this is sure to be, it’s just one book too far. It can’t quite break the “must-read” barrier.

Hail HYDRA #3 - Marvel (M38)

I don’t plan on reading this one, but I had to admit to the particularly powerful dork reaction that this cover brought out of me – seeing the HYDRA emblem on Cap’s shield filled me with a totally unreasonable rage. Like, I’m still kind of hot over it now.

Death of Wolverine TPB – Marvel (M92)

This is a fantastic book with beautiful artwork. Regardless of how impermanent Wolverine’s death may or may not end up being, I think this will stand the test of time as a powerful and landmark story for the character. If you skipped it because it felt like so much typical comic book bullshit, I highly recommend you give it a shot. Especially if you’re a longtime fan of Wolverine. There’s a lot of rewarding stuff here.

Dan Brereton’s Nocturnals Volume 1 HC – Olympian (351)

An awesome comic book from one of my favorite artists. Dan Brereton’s work is phenomenal and if you’ve never read his original series, Nocturnals, then you’re missing out on some awesome action/horror business. This gets five stars/thumbs-up/top notch ratings from me. It’s an essential.

Doctor Who: The Four Doctors – Titan (370 - 372)

I haven’t read any of Titan’s Doctor Who books, but the Earth Station Who crew tells me they range from very good to great. I’m not crazy about the artwork on these covers, but Paul Cornell is great. And multi-Doctor stories are always worth checking out. Not always good, mind you, but exciting events, at least. I’ll probably wait to hear from ESW and pick up the trade if necessary.

It strikes me as incredibly odd that most of the art for The Four Doctors features three Doctors. This feels slightly disingenuous. Not The Five Doctors disingenuous, but still odd.

Modern Masters Volume 14: Frank Cho – Twomorrows Publishing (384)

This is an awesome cover that is possibly going to get Mr. Cho into more social media trouble. Although if this is the most offensive thing you see in Previews, there is definitely something wrong with you.

Grimm Tales of Terror Oversized HC Volume 1 – Zenescope (418)

Zenescope’s horror anthology series is great. I’ve enjoyed every single issue. They bring a modern feel to the classic style of the famous EC comics. This collects the first thirteen issues and if you are a fan of horror I strongly recommend you pick it up.

Duck Tales T-Shirt – Mad Engine (444)

Back when Duck Tales was on the air I was a little too old to admit publicly how much I loved Duck Tales; let alone wear a t-shirt with Scrooge and company on it. Now, at thirty-nine, I will gladly wear a shirt featuring the residents of Duckburg. Though I do wish it weren’t artificially faded.

Punisher T-Shirt – Mad Engine (444)

I want a new Punisher shirt. I’ve had mine for probably twenty years and it’s just a bit past its prime. Unfortunately, every Punisher t-shirt that gets made now has some kind of stupid take on the skull – it’s all messy or neon pink or has tribal bullshit on it or stitching like this one. They all look fucking stupid. I just want a regular Punisher skull. I don’t think they’ve made one like that in, oh, twenty years.

Podcast Pals Vinimates (457)

HAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh, man – I thought that one on the right was Fred Durst. 


It’s actually Jason Mewes.

One day I will have my own Podcast Pal figure. Oh, wait – I already do thanks to Ghouella DeVille:

Mine looks way better.

Batman Animated Series Femme Fatale Batgirl PVC Statue – Diamond Select Toys (459)

I love what DST is doing with this series – great-looking statues that we can afford. The PVC makes them cheaper and also gives them a look that works with the DC Animated Universe aesthetic.

Universal Monsters Stuff – Diamond Select Toys (466-467)

If you haven’t bought one of DST’s fantastic bust banks yet, then I’m just not sure about your sincerity as a monster fan. These things are gorgeous. Their action figures are just as nice, truly some of the best on the market today.

One:12 Collective Previews Exclusive Judge Dredd “The Cursed Earth” Action Figure – Mezco (468)

Speaking of great action figures, Mezco is doing amazing things with their One:12 Collective line. Their Dark Knight Returns Batman is the best action figure I have ever purchased.
I think the only difference between this Dredd and the regular edition is the poncho. Which, if you’re going to get one, might as well get the one with the poncho. I think the price point is even the same, which is shocking.

Super Powers Batman & Robin Statues – Kotobukiya (505)

I really want these. They look fantastic. Of course I would prefer it if they were articulated, but the thought of giant Super Powers figures is awesome. Even if they just stand there. But I’m not paying thirty bucks apiece for unarticulated figures the same size as DC Collectibles’ figures. If they were 9” – definitely.

Unaffiliated Thoughts

The current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon is amazing. While I’m not crazy about how overly gross they make some of the mutants, everything else about it is wonderful. The homages are awesome, too – from Star Trek: The Animated Series to Thundarr to the unbelievable number of Easter Eggs peppered throughout the show. The pop culture is on point. The voice cast is incredible, but for me the big get is JB Smoove as Bebop.

*****

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!



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