Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Comic Book Wednesday – Previews October 2015: Cashing In On the Holidays

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.


It’s only been two weeks since the last installment thanks to Dragon Con and the shortness of September. I feel like I barely got any September, but that’s okay because tomorrow is October and that means we start 31 Days of Halloween!

Harley’s Little Black Book (Front Cover, 70)

I’m in, obviously.

Thanks to her treatment at the hands (and minds) of Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, Harley Quinn has become my favorite character in the current DC Universe. Clearly I am not alone if they’re sticking her on the cover of Previews and giving her another title.

While the Harley/Power Girl team-up book feels a little bloated, I love the idea of a bi-monthly series that teams DC’s version of Deadpool up with random other DC characters. And with DC’s new “loose continuity”, that means we could potentially see the most interesting versions of said characters rather than whatever bland post-New 52 personifications are currently moping their way around the DCU.

Two more things: This is a hilarious and fantastic illustration; and I don’t know what the polybag deal is, exactly, but I am a huge fan of gimmicks as long as they come from clever people. And with Palmiotti and Conner’s names on this I feel like we’re in good hands.

Play Arts Kai Marvel Universe: Captain America & Black Widow Action Figures – Square Enix (2,3)

I guess I’m going to be commenting on this line for as long as Squenix keeps sticking them on the front.

I don’t; care for this Cap. His armor is a bit too much and he has girlface. Steve Rogers should never have girlface.

Black Widow looks so awesome that I’d probably buy one if it wasn’t a hundred and forty effing dollars. Girlface on her is fine. And while her armor is alos a little busy, it isn’t quite as ridiculous as that Cap’s.

These figures cost way too much.

Halloween ComicFest – (23-27)

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.

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 – DC/IDW (69)

HOLY.

SHIT.

I never could have imagined that such a thing would actually happen. One of the first custom action figures I ever made was a Batman scaled to go with my Ninja Turtles figures way back in the day. The Batman figures that were available at the time were all eighteenth scale or so, which was too small to go with Playmates’ Turtles. The twelfth scale C.O.P.S. N’ Crooks figures were perfect, though. So I put another figure’s head on Barricade’s body and did a little sanding, painting, and whatnot and had an okay Batman. I also made a Joker out of Buttons McBoomBoom.

This crossover is a dream come true. And I trust James Tynion IV as much as I would trust anyone to pull it off.

Robin War – DC (72-75)

I don’t care. If this had happened before Flashpoint I would be totally into it. But I still just can’t muster up any interest for events in the DCU because, quite frankly, I feel like nothing matters. I know I need to get over it, but my brain just doesn’t believe these are the same characters I cared so much about five or so years ago. Harley works because I honestly didn’t care much about her until after the New 52. But everything that happens with the Bat-verse now seems sort of hollow, no matter how good the story is.

It’s not you, DC, it’s me.

I mean, it’s because of the dumbass thing that you did, but it’s me that can’t ever get over it apparently.

Batgirl #47 – DC (103)

But then there’s Batgirl. I love this comic. And I think I can love it because it’s so different. It’s not a pale imitation of what existed before, it’s a dynamic change from any Batgirl we’ve had. Bryan Q. Miller’s run with Stephanie is probably the closest in tone, but this is a whole new Barbara Gordon that still feels like Barbara Gordon.

I probably need to record a podcast about this.

Green Lantern: The Lost Army – DC (?)

DAMMIT.

Just when I was getting back into a GL book, DC went and cancelled it. I get it – people weren’t buying it, I guess. But I thought it was really good. I spread the word as much as I could.

DC Comics Super-Villains The Joker Bust – DC Collectibles (141)

I’m not usually a fan of Joker variations. I like the guy in some form of suit. But this is a very striking design. The purple and green is there and the face looks fantastic, which is apparently a tough thing to do on a 3D Joker. I’ve seen tons of lousy Joker heads in my day.
For whatever reason I like the armaments on this Joker and the pose is great. I’m even tempted to add it to my small statue/bust collection.

Transformers Holiday Special – IDW (145)

Uh oh. Looks like IDW might have homed in on one of my soft spots. I find it hard to pass up Holiday/Christmas Specials (unless they’re labeled “X-Mas”, which I hate). The idea of Cybertronians celebrating… whatever they celebrate is very appealing to me. And it looks like IDW has more Holiday fun in store.

I am disappointed there’s no GI Joe Christmas Special, though.

Jem and The Holograms Holiday Special – IDW (149)

I haven’t read the new Jem book even though I dig the art because Jem just isn’t my thing. But I’ll read a Jem Holiday Special. Like I said, I’ll read just about any Holiday Special.

My Little Pony Holiday Special – IDW (151)

Just about. I can’t bring myself to buy a My Little Pony comic. That is just a step too far outside of my interests and age range.

The X-Files X-Mas Special – IDW (157)

Okay, I’ll give this one a pass. As much as I dislike “X-Mas”, even I would’ve used it here.

Mickey and Donald Christmas Parade – IDW (159)

This one’s a no-brainer. Anything I can read with Lil’ Troublemaker goes into the pull box.

Game of Thrones Construction Sets – McFarlane Toys (228)

While I love Funko’s Game of Thrones Legacy figures, I’m still kind of on the fence as to whether or not I should really be collecting them. At twenty bucks apiece it’s going to be very expensive to collect all of my favorite Westerosians(?), and that’s if Funko is able to continue the line for any significant amount of time and even get to characters who will have been dead on the show for years before they actually get made.

These building sets from McFarlane represented what might have been a feasible alternative. But seeing that they are selling the single figures in blind bags, the only rational response is, “NOPE”.

The Totally Awesome Hulk #1 – Marvel (Cover)

I get what they’re doing here. I think the idea of Amadeus Cho as a Hulk is fantastic and this could well be the best Hulk book since Peter David’s incredible run. But this is my least favorite drawing of a green Hulk ever. That fauxhawk is sticking a thumb in the eye of everything I believe in.

But I get it, I really do.

Uncanny X-Men #1 & 2 – Marvel (M14-15)

This is clearly building upon the foundation that Cullen Bunn laid with his excellent Magneto series. It’s possible that the angry, vengeful mutant thing could be played out by this point, but Bunn has earned my trust. I’ll check this out for sure.

Spidey #1 – Marvel (M18-19)

It looks like I might have spoken too soon last month when I said I was done with Marvel. Putting Nick Bradshaw on a Spider-Man title that promises “a rip-roaring romp” is the kind of thing I can get behind. It’s been a long time since I was reading a Spidey book (though that new one should be hitting any day now) and this looks like exactly the webslinger I want.

Gwenpool Special #1 – Marvel (M29)

Yes, obviously this is ridiculous. But Marvel’s sense of humor has been pretty keen lately and I’ve got to believe this is going to be one of those instances where they poke some fun at themselves. Plus, it’s a Christmas Special!

Fred Hembeck Variant Covers – Marvel (M68)

I love that they’re doing these and I love that they are displaying them all together on one page for easy reference.

Star Wars Special: C-3P0 #1 – Marvel (M75)

James Robinson and Tony Harris, back together again! And on a Star Wars book, no less!
By the way, if you’re not following Tony Harris on Instagram, you should be. His is the best account in my feed.

THE GREEN SECTION

Alright, Phantomaniacs – this is a one-time special offer to see if I can get a recurring column going again. If you would like to see me review some random-ass, potentially shitty comic book from The Green Section, let me know in the Needless Things Podcast Facebook Group and I will order and review it. Nothing is off limits. Find something you’re genuinely curious about or just try to pick out the worst-looking or weirdest thing you can. I will give it an honest review.

Aftershock Comics (245-249)

This is a new publisher launching in December. They’ve got a heck of a talent pool and I’m interested in three of the four titles they’re offering. Replica (Paul Jenkins and Andy Clarke) and Super Zero (Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Rafael De Latorre) sound genuinely good and I’m adding them to my pull list. I don’t know how interesting InSEXts (Marguerite Bennett and Ariela Kristantina) really sounds to me, but with a title that lurid and outrageous I’m certainly curious. Dreaming Eagles (Garth Ennis and Simon Coleby) is probably going to be solid, but I just can’t get too interested in war stuff.

I wish these guys the best of luck. More strong publishers means more good comic books, and that’s something we all want, right?

And I just realized that "Insexts" is a play on "insects" and not "incest".

Bill & Ted’s Most Excellent Comic Book Archive HC – BOOM! Studios (283)

I had no idea that Evan Dorkin had done a Bill & Ted comic book. I am absolutely buying this.

Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu – ? (353)

I don’t dabble in manga, so I don’t know much about Junji Ito other than he created Uzumaki, which was the basis for the movie of the same name (which wasn;t all that great). 
What I do know is that this:

Is one of the most horrific things I have ever seen. Those empty eyes on that smiling face is an image that is going to show up in my nightmares. Not to mention the giant, menacing cats. Yes – I know that the cats aren’t drawn in a particularly menacing manner, but they’re cats. They’re naturally menacing.

I can’t find this anywhere else in the book and I have no idea who the publisher is. I am beginning to suspect that an evil ghost put this ad in my copy of Previews and that my descent into insanity is drawing nigh.

Best of Star Wars Insider Vol. 1 – Titan Comics – (379)

There are no page numbers in the Titan section, which is really annoying and makes it hard to order things.

While that might be a bad idea, this collection of features and interviews from Star Wars Insider is a great idea. I hope that Titan continues the series and isn’t just planning to do one every time a movie comes out.

Then again, apparently we’re getting a new Star Wars flick every year from now until eternity, so I guess that wouldn’t be such a bad plan.

Titan is also doing this for the X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer magazines. Good stuff.

Batman: The Animated Series Harley Quinn Vinyl Bust Bank – Diamond Select Toys (474)

DST’s vinyl banks are like cheaper versions of statues that look just as good on the shelf. This is a great Harley that I’ll be adding to my Animated Series collection.

Gotham TV Select Action Figures Series 2 – Diamond Select Toys (476)

I’m enjoying Gotham as a sort of bonkers, Elseworlds-esque take on the mythology of Batman. I think the second season is off to a good start, as the creators appear to have abandoned any premise of this being attached to any origin story we already knew. That being said, I don’t particularly want action figures of the characters. What I do want is a figure of Sean Pertwee and a desk. I’m a big fan of Pertwee’s and this is one of those figures I’ll buy just because I like the actor. I don’t want Nygma, but that desk look sgreat and I’d like to have a desk for my twelfth scale figures (though these are a bit bigger than twelfth scale).

I’m also a big fan of Donal Logue, but I don’t feel like they quite captured him with this figure. It’s a little too trim and clean.

Batman Classic TV Series Statues – Diamond Select Toys (478)

Egghead is easily the best villain ever portrayed on Batman. Not because he has an egg gimmick – that’s dumb. It’s because he was played by Vincent Price and any character played by Vincent Price gets an automatic +50 to awesomeness over a character not played by Vincent Price. This bust sculpted by Jean St. Jean is gorgeous.

As for the Julie Newmar as Catwoman statue, I want to see it in person. It looks good here, but I feel like the printed picture probably isn’t capturing the excellence of Clayburn Moore’s sculpt. A black catsuit isn’t the best, photography-wise.

Star Trek TOS Retro Bridge Playset – Diamond Select Toys (481)

I can vouch for this as a kickass playset. Check out my review here. It’s totally worth your sixty bucks if you need a place for your Mego-style figures to hang out.

Star Wars Madness – Various Vendors (484-493)

Most of the stuff being offered in this edition of Previews will ship to stores in December, which is when The Force Awakens comes out. That must be why the new Star Wars section is earlier in this month’s guide and bigger than it has been since it first showed up a few months ago. Here are some notable items from this month’s offerings:

Pint Glasses/Tumblers – These all have nice designs, but I think they’re missing out on a major nostalgia cash-in by not doing them in the exact same style as the old Burger King glasses. I would buy those. Heck, someone should be doing sturdier reproductions of those. I know I’ve lost a few in dumb ways, like dropping my Empire Lando glass approximately two inches onto the counter and seeing it explode.

Darth Vader Lightsaber Handle Cutlery Set – I am buying this. Even though it’s twenty bucks for three pieces of silverware, I am buying it and I will use these for every meal that I eat. I will wash them three times a day. No problem.

Huh. Despite the fact that the section was bigger, there just wasn’t much that excited me. Lots of weird items this month, like those stupid paper wallets.

Phunny: Alien Plsuhies – Kidrobot (494)

These are adorable, but I’ve learned my lesson about ordering stuff from Diamond without seeing an actual product picture. For one, if there’s no picture that means that the product does not, technically exist yet and that the chances of it ever shipping are even less than those of other merchandise (which often just never shows up). Additionally, while these drawings are cute guidelines, there’s no guarantee the finished product will reflect what is seen here.

1966 Batman TV Series Figures – Mattel (495)

I wouldn’t recommend buying these sub-par, overpriced figures from Mattel. Instead, go buy the excellent retro-style figures from Figures Toy Co.

Side Note: Those bookends are not part of the offending merchandise. They were just too hard to crop out of the picture. I'm sure they're quite nice.

DC Super Powers Micro Figures – Gentle Giant (496)

These look excellent and I was very excited when I first saw them. They’re only two inches tall, but they’re also only $3.49 each. I think if you’re into the nostalgic reproduction thing, this is the way to go. I would bet money that these are static and have zero points of articulation, but they’re still neat-o.

Pop! Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Dancing Groot Figure – Funko (501)

While I applaud the idea of a Holiday Groot, I think the execution could be better. Here he’s just stuck in a flower pot with a bow on it. I want a full-on Christmas Groot with ornaments and garland. Funko is usually spot-on with their pop culture, but this one misses the mark for me.

Super Shogun Boba Fett – Funko (503)

I want this thing so bad, but I cannot justify the two hundred dollar price tag. With this one, Funko nailed it. The size and style are perfect.

One:12 Collective: Judge Dredd w/ Lawmaster - Mezco (506)

Speaking of things that I can’t afford, here’s the final version of that Lawmaster that Mezco showed at Toy Fair. It’s gorgeous and I want it. But it’s also two hundred and sixty bucks. So that’s not happening.

Here’s the thing about these pricey toys – I could sell stuff to get them or plan in my budget, but I just can’t spend this much on a toy. I’d feel dumb. I can buy my son’s drum kit for less than this and I would feel like a total shithead if I had Judge Dredd and his motorcycle on a shelf and no drum kit for my son.

Voltron Altimate DX Transforming Super Deformed Figure - Toynami (512)

Different people are into different things and I always try to recognize and respect that, but if you’re spending $135 on a midget Voltron, I do not understand you. I do have to admit that it’s pretty neat that it does transform. And includes mini pilot figures.

Dammit. Now I kind of want it.

Kill La Kill: Ryuko Matoi “Senketsu Kisaragi” Figure (532)

I don’t know what any of those words mean, but I’m assuming it’s something along the lines of “Mostly Naked Teenage Girl With Lightning Shooting Out of Her Vagina and Her Bottom”.
Sorry – my Japanese is a little rusty.

Dennis Rodman Real Masterpiece Action Figure - Enterbay (550)

How the heck do you put out a Dennis Rodman action figure with removable clothing and not include a wedding dress? Or interchangeable hair? This is a fail.

Movie Realization Star Wars: Meisho Boba Fett Figure (550)

Obviously I want this. I’m pretty sure these are twelfth scale figures, though, so that ninety dollar price tag makes it a no-go. Plus, once I had one I would end up wanting the others. The Imperial Guards, in particular, look fantastic.

Weird “Expensive Figures From Shitty Movies” Page (552)

I always wonders what sort of person is spending hundreds of dollars on something like figures of the absolute worst portrayal of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that have ever existed. I cannot imagine any person old enough to have disposable income looking at these and thinking, “Man, I liked that movie so much that I want to spend almost a THOUSAND DOLLARS buying the Turtles in this design”. Granted, the character designs were not the problem with that movie – literally everything else about it was the problem.
Also featured here is the mech from the third Matrix movie that even I can’t totally defend and Optimus Prime from Bayformers. While the success of Michael Bay’s version of the Transformers can’t be argued, I still have to wonder who would choose to spend $430 on this Optimus Prime when there are so many high-end figures available of much, much better Optimus designs.

Silent Hill 2 Figma Figures - Good Smile Company (555)

These are badass and I would love to have them. Actually, what I would love more would be if NECA picked up the license and made figures I could justify buying. I should just stop even looking at the Import section.

Toon Tumblers DC Bombshells Mini-Glasses (562)

Finally – a DC Bombshells product that I can buy! I love these designs, but they just didn’t feel right as shirts or anything.

Unaffiliated Thoughts

DC still has a lot of covers that aren’t exactly wonderful.

Marvel publishes a lot of books. Their catalogue is huge and offers more titles that feel like top-tier books than don’t. I know I was bagging on them last month, but it’s mostly because a ton of those books don’t interest me. That doesn’t mean they aren’t good or, at least, significant. Marvel has taken their roster of characters that, it could be argued, will never be as big as Batman, Superman, or Wonder Woman and created a vibe of importance, relevance, and excitement that DC seems unable to duplicate. When I am more in love with the current Howard the Duck comic than any of the current Batman comics, DC is fucking things up horribly.

To be fair, though, Zdarsky and Quinones are killing it on that one.

But still.

*****


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'd be in for a batgirl/canary podcast.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually dropped Black Canary. It was good, but I'm trying to cut back. Again.

      Delete