Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Comic Book Wednesday – Previews July 2015: Now 1000% Star Warsier

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.

This weekend at work was brutal. I wasn’t sure I was even going to be able to get this finished in time. But here it is, because I love you guys.

The Sandman Overture – DC/Vertigo (Front Cover, 142, 143)

I haven’t commented publicly on Neil Gaiman’s return to the worlds of Morpheus and his kin, and that’s an egregious oversight on my part. I feel like it has been a fantastic work that is on par with the existing Sandman stories. It’s a little more wacky and out there, but J.H. Williams’ artwork is (obviously) phenomenal and compliments Gaiman’s storytelling perfectly. I’ve been excited for every issue and have been perfectly fine with the extended gaps between them. It’s one of those books that is worth the wait for the quality.

I’ve often said that I’m willing to wait for books that can maintain a high level of narrative and artistic quality, and it remains true. If a comic is good, I say you give the artists the time they need to get it done right. I’m just as much against replacement artists as I am recasting.
Or half-page ads.


This month’s Previews offers the sixth and final issue of Overture, as well as the hardcover collection. If you didn’t pick up the individual issues, I highly recommend the collection. Especially if you’re a Sandman fan that was waiting to see if this was any good. It is.

Invincible Iron Man #1 – Marvel (Back Cover)

I tend to like Bendis’ work on solo books. The first 160 issues of Ultimate Spider-Man comprised my favorite comic book ever until Saga came along, and still stands as the longest run of consistently excellent issues I’ve ever read. Because of that I’m tempted to give this new Iron Man book a shot.

On the other hand, I’m currently buying way too many titles (as is always the case) and think I might be suffering from reboot fatigue. While I like the idea of doing ongoing miniseries that allow for different arcs and artists rather than trying to sustain an ongoing series that will inevitably decline over time, this whole business of resetting everything every year is tiring. The cycle of wondering if I’m still going to give a shit about my favorite characters in twelve or sixteen months (or if they’ll even still be around or recognizable) is making me want to just go back and check out the massive quantities of older stories that I’ve never read.

Halloween ComicFest – (25-33)

Our pal, Mike Gordon, gives out comics instead of candy on Halloween and I think that’s a fine idea. This year on Halloween, comic shops are being invited to participate in a sort of mini-Free Comic Book Day where kids can come in and get free comics. There are a ton of fun titles in here, though you might want to keep Vampblade Featuring Zombie Tramp on the higher shelves.

I have to give DC props for putting out a kids book and a teen book. I feel like all-ages titles (though not necessarily “kids” books) are very important to keeping the industry alive. If we don’t have books appropriate for our kids, how are we supposed to ensure there’s a next generation to buy comics?

Frankenstein Underground TPB – Dark Horse (42)

Do I even need to sell this to you? It’s Mignola writing Frankenstein’s monster as he was first depicted in Hellboy: House of the Living Dead (where Hellboy teams up with luchadors). This is the continuation of the monster’s story and it is awesome.

Archie Vs. Predator HC – Dark Horse (69)

I couldn’t get into this miniseries, but contributor R.T.Ewell dug it. He’s probably right because, as I mentioned above, I am in super-selective “I’m buying way too many comics” mode right now.

Batman #44 – DC (110)

I didn’t enjoy “Zero Year”, so I stopped buying Batman when “Endgame” started. Then Mike Gordon told me that “Endgame” was really good, so I read it and he was right. Now I’m buying the book again, and as much as I don’t care for the look of the mech suit, issue #40 was really good and I am very much into the story of Jim Gordon as Batman. I don’t like it as much as I liked Dick Grayson as Batman, but it’s a welcome change.

Batman ’66 #27 – DC (114)

Oh, hell, it’s Bane ’66! And he’s an actual luchador in Mexico!

DC Comics Cover Girls Black Canary Statue – DC Collectibles (151)

This is a great statue. The sculpt is beautiful, the pose is awesome, Canary’s face has a classic look, and the blown-up megaphone is a nice touch. I’d prefer it if her costume was, you know, black rather than blue. I might have even ordered one.

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm Action Figure 2-Pack – DC Collectibles (153)

Ever since the shoddy Man-Bat figure I’m starting to run a little cold on these. I hate to say that, but when quality issues keep coming I just can’t get excited. I will, however, continue to give the line a chance for the time being. I certainly don’t want to stop before this set comes out. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is the best theatrical Batman movie that has been released and the old Kenner Phantasm is still one of my favorite action figures. Unfortunately, this update does not appear to have the removable mask that reveals ***SPOILER ALERT*** Andrea Beaumont as Phantasm.

Side Note: Andrea Beaumont was voiced by Dana Delaney, who went on to voice Wonder Woman on the Justice League animated series. Stacy Keach provided the voice of her father, Carl, as well as voicing the Phantasm.

I love this classic Batman. As much as I preferred the New Adventures Batman back in the day, this classic look is now my favorite.

The Wicked + The Divine Pantheon Circle T-Shirt – Image (216)

The Wicked + The Divine is a smart, rewarding comic book that is near the top of my stack every month. I’m digging this in the same way I dug Sandman back when I first discovered that title. So this t-shirt is a must-have.

Captain America: White – Marvel (M2-3)

Wasn’t this supposed to come out around a decade ago? I’m not sure. The Long Halloween and Dark Victory are some of my favorite Batman stories, but for some odd reason I’ve never checked out Loeb and Sale’s Marvel stuff. I think part of it is that I’ve read a good bit of Loeb’s work that just hasn’t gotten me in the way that those Bat-books did. The thought of this duo creating a Cap story is exciting, though, and I think I’m going to have to check it out.

There’s a hacky joke to be made about the book featuring Steve Rogers and being called White, but I’m sure other sites have already made it.

Heck, they probably dedicated a whole post to it.

Secret Wars – Marvel

I’m not reading all of the books, but I have enjoyed all of the ones I’ve read. The only one I’m on the cusp about is 2099 because it isn’t as relevant to me as I thought it would be. Or as tied in to Peter David’s All-New X-Factor. And it’s pretty grim. I mean, obviously there’s going to be a certain amount of heaviness to all of the books – this is a universe where Doctor Doom is god, for… Doom’s sake. But 2099 just seems a little darker.

Star Wars: Shattered Empire – Marvel (M40-41)

Take a deep breath, Phantomaniacs – this is it. Not only is this the first step on the road to The Force Awakens, it is also the first book that will overtly and directly contradict the Expanded Universe that we all know and love. I’m certainly excited to see new stories about old times, but I’m also nervous that they can’t possibly live up to Timothy Zahn’s incredible work. Other stories from the EU aren’t as beloved, but Timothy Zahn crafted something that was true to the spirit of the Original Trilogy and breathed new life into what could have been a dying franchise. In September, Disney completely jettisons all of that in favor of whatever Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto have in store.

This is a big deal.

Figment 2 #1 – Marvel (M52)

I still haven’t read the first Figment series. It’s in a massive stack of books waiting for my attention. I read the first issue and thought it was a bit wordy, so I decided to wait until they were all out and take them in all at once when I was in the mood for wordy.

I picked the series up because Journey Into Imagination was my favorite thing in Walt Disney World when I was a kid. That being the case, I want this action figure set to happen something terrible. Funko produced Tomorrowland figures (not that that probably worked out so well for them), so I’m thinking these could be a possibility someday.

All of John Tyler Christopher’s action figure covers are driving me crazy.

Broken Moon – American Gothic Press (260)

I’ve been waiting for Famous Monsters of Filmland’s comic book imprint to produce something I couldn’t resist, and this is it. I love Steve Niles (as everyone should) and the concept of a ruined Earth where old-school monsters have taken over appeals to me. I do hope it’s more than just vampires and werewolves, though, because that concept is a little tired right now. Either way I’m sure Niles will have a worthwhile take on it.

Spongebob Comics #48 – Bongo (286)

Being that I am not a seven-year-old or a stoner, I do not have a lot of tolerance for the moronic Spongebob or his intolerable friends. But I have to admit two things:

1 – My son got the first issue of Spongebob Comics and it was actually very well done and interesting. Lots of variety with the art and stories, all of it quality.

2 – Those themed Garys are pretty darn cute.

Peanuts: A Tribute to Charles M. Schultz – BOOM! (296)

I grew up with Sunday funnies. While I’m sure my parents would want me to say that my favorite part of every Sunday morning was going to church, the truth is that rifling through the newspaper to get to the comics section was the best. It was something I looked forward to all week. And the strip that hooked me was Peanuts.

Like anyone my age, I didn’t first discover Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and all the rest on the comics page – it was A Charlie Brown Christmas, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and the various animated features that were released. My personal favorite is still Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown.


I could write a whole post about how Peanuts influenced me, and maybe I will, but for now I’m just delighted to see this collection of incredible artists paying tribute to Charles M. Schultz. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book.

Big Trouble in Little China #16 – BOOM! (302)

Big Trouble in Little China is my favorite movie of all time. But I could not bring myself to stick with the comic. I gave it a few issues to settle in, but it was too silly and I could not tolerate the art. I feel like they went pretty far afield of what works for Jack Burton’s world.
I would buy a poster of that Jay Shaw cover in a second, though. That is fantastic.

Public Relations #1 – Devil’s Due/1First (334)

Devil’s Due will always be a sentimental favorite of mine for giving the world my preferred GI Joe continuity and Hack/Slash. I hope this partnership or whatever it is works out for them.
Public Relations’ preview pages caught my eye because the art is nice and they look like fun. That’s all I got. I’m not familiar with the creators (though Matthew Sturges rings a bell), but you show me dragons with airplanes strapped to their backs on the same page as an extremely dirty joke and I’m going to at least give you one issue to hook me.

Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir – Touchstone (414)

There’s no way I’m not buying Stan Lee’s autobiography.

Cthulu: The Ancient One Tribute Box – From Beyond the Mountains of Madness (455)

Gary’s Pick of the Month (that he doesn’t know about)!

A tiny Elder God statue for you to worship, along with a book discussing the Ancient One’s role in pop culture! Whee!

Star Wars: Journey to The Force Awakens Trading Cards – Topps (475)

It’s been a very long time since I’ve bought any trading cards.

Actually that’s not true. I bought a full set of Masters of the Universe trading cards at a flea market a year or so ago. And I buy Garbage Pail Kids from time to time when I see them at Target and am feeling sufficiently nostalgic.

Let’s just say that I’m not into trading cards in the way that I was in the late 80s/early 90s. But I am sorely tempted to just buy a box of these. I know for a fact that I am going to get sucked into the Star Wars hype big time when Disney pulls the trigger on marketing in September. And these look like great cards – a mix of old-school stuff and newer styles.

WWE Trading Cards - Topps (475)

These look nice, but they don’t make me want these wrestling trading cards. They make me want to track down some old WWF cards. My local comic shop gave me a box of WCW trading cards from 1992, but WCW mostly sucked in 1992, so those were fun to open but overall not very satisfying. The biggest satisfaction I got from them was knowing for a fact that I own more Z-Man trading cards than anyone else on the planet.

Previews Exclusive Spider-Gwen Hoodie (478)

Smart move, Marvel. Well done. And it looks nice.

Batman: TAS Femme Fatales Harley Quinn PVC Statue – DST (493)

The thing that I love most about Diamond Select Toys is how much effort they put into producing high quality items and figuring out how to keep the prices reasonable. Their bust banks are the best example of this, as any of those will look absolutely fantastic on your shelf and most people wouldn’t even realize from looking at them that they’re just PVC. This Harley statue is another beautiful piece at a great price - $45 for a 9” statue that looks this good is tremendous.

Back to the Future Glass Tumblers – DST (495)

These glasses are almost perfect. The concept and the designs make them look like the Back to the Future Burger King glasses that we never had. But it looks like DST decided to make them a little nicer than those classic fast food premiums, so each glass comes in at $9.99. I’d buy three lower quality glasses for that (or probably even five bucks more), but I don’t need these to be fancy-pants glasses like you’d find at retail. The cheap, thin glass of the originals would be fine. Better, even, because once you get the heaviness of these in your hand it’s going to spoil the nostalgia.

Muppets Minimates – DST (496-497)

I love the Muppets and I have a great deal of respect for Minimates and the breadth and versatility of that line, but these just do not work for me. Out of all of the licenses that have been adapted to the Minimates form, the Muppets do not look right. Their heads are weird and it’s just too much for me to see all of them the same height. That Miss Piggy is particularly atrocious.

Star Wars Madness – Various Vendors (506-516)

And here it is – the marketing/merchandising blitz that I spoke of earlier. Ten pages of Star Wars items from Hasbro, Underground Toys, and more. Here are the items I liked the most:

Funko Fabrikations – If you haven’t seen these in person, then you just don’t know. They are the cutest products ever created by mankind. Look at Yoda’s shifty eyes! What’s that all about? I don’t know, but I love it.

Imperial Officer Caps – I long for the day that this style of cap becomes the norm – folks just walking around, wearing bizarrely cut hats with impractical visors. Have you seen them on Rebels? How do those guys even see?

Chewbacca Messenger Bag – This has been around for a while, but it’s worth mentioning. I love the concept, but I’m not calling it a “replica” like they do. Chewie’s bag didn’t have an adjustable strap and screen printed cartridges (or whatever those things on the strap are). It looks cool, but $90 is way steep.

Darth Vader Silicone Oven Gloves – These are fantastic. I’m not paying thirty-five bucks for a glorified pair of oven mitts, but I applaud anyone who does.

Slave Leia Predator Plus Guitar – I can’t play guitar, but if I could I would buy this. This is one of the coolest-looking guitars I have ever seen. I don’t know how much guitars cost, but the other models are $329.99 and $340.00. This one is “PI”, which usually, but not always, means “you don’t even want to know”.

Serenity Mini-Plush – ? (517)

Somehow being converted into bulgy, plush form makes Captain Reynolds Firefly-class ship look even more phallic.

Garbage Pail Kids Mystery Minis – Funko (518)

It’s funny how there have been recurring themes in this month’s edition. I mention GPKs above, and here are some figures of them. I would love to have all of these, but I doubt I’ll be able to talk the comic shop into ordering a case.

Harley Quinn Glow-in-the-Dark Head Bank – ? (593)

I don’t like that Previews doesn’t always list the manufacturer for their products. In this case I’m simply curious as to whether or not DST made this (I don’t think they did), but oftentimes I’m left wondering if certain items might be from a vendor that I don’t care for or have purchased shoddy products from in the past. I’d like to know beforehand who is making what so the comic shop doesn’t get stuck having to handle a return.

As far as this bank goes, I like Harley and I love glow-in-the-dark stuff, but this thing is just damned creepy. If I woke up in the middle of the night with that sinister face glowing at me, I’d probably dive out the window.

The Fappening DVD (621)

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

I have only recently discovered this word “fap” and what it means because I am old and “jacking off” and the hundreds of other euphemisms for masturbation always seemed sufficient to me.

I’m guessing “fap” has some internet-related meaning that the kids are aware of. I don’t know and I don’t care because just like text speak I will never use the term.

Unaffiliated Thoughts

*I am very excited about Ant-Man. I don’t get people who are eager for it to fail. I applaud Marvel for continuing with smaller scale movies. Everything can’t be age of Ultron, and if it was the MCU would get very boring very quickly. These single character flicks are where we get to really explore characters and motivations on a whole other level. If the first several Marvel movies hadn’t been so successful at this, we wouldn’t be expecting Scott Lang’s adventures on the big screen in two weeks.

*I am also very excited for Terminator: Genisys, but in a completely different way. I love Terminator and The Sarah Conner Chronicles. I loved Terminator 2 back in the day, but I feel like it does not hold up. There are parts of it that are simply painful to watch and Edward Furlong’s performance is terrible. I feel bad saying that because he was “just a kid” at the time, but go watch Iron Man 3 or any of Hayley Joel Osment’s early films and get back to me on what “just a kid” should allow a performer to get away with. Even little Jake Lloyd was better.

Side Note: I have a big problem with the internet habit of abbreviating things without precedent. I saw Sarah Conner Chronicles referred to as SCC without prior mention of it the other day and it took me forever to figure out what the fuck they were talking about because there was no context presented, either.

I also liked Terminator 3 the first time I saw it. I watched it again the other day and I must have been high as giraffe pussy to have liked it because that movie is almost unwatchable, despite the presence of two of the most gorgeous women humanity has ever produced.
As a movie unto itself I liked Terminator: Salvation a lot. It didn’t really work as part of the already insanely convoluted Skynetverse (or whatever), but I dug it.

This new one looks like a hot mess. Like everyone else I love Emilia Clarke, unrecognizable though she is without her blonde hair. Matt Smith is in it, so that’s good, too. The guy that played Storm Shadow – one of the indisputable best parts of the GI Joe movies – is in it and he should be in everything. And there are definitely some cool things in the trailers. But the posters have been hilariously awful. And there’s an air of “let’s just try everything” about it that makes me nervous.

Having said all of that, I want to see it as soon as possible so I can develop my own, untainted opinion about it.

*My sister just referred to Shia LaBeouf as a “twatwaffle” on Facebook, which I think is hilarious. She's met him, so I guess she would know.

*****

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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