Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Comic Book Wednesday – Previews September 2015: Attrition During Secret Wartime

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.

As soon as I started leafing through this month’s catalog my arms started itching. What’s that all about?

Also, sorry this is a week late, but Dragon Con happened.

Dark Knight III: The Master Race (Front Cover, 71)

Oh, boy.

Here we go.

If nothing else, this title almost guarantees a roller coaster ride of comic media wackiness. From Frank Miller’s currently (undeserved? Discuss) tarnished public image to the title “The Master Race” to the highly questionable idea that the books will be on time to DC’s INSANE-O decision to offer a thirteen dollar Collector’s Edition of each issue as all eight (EIGHT? WHAT?) come out to the fact that The Dark Knight Strikes Again stinks on ice and is a book I would never buy a follow-up to…

Where the heck was I?

This is just crazy. I hope with all of my heart that this is a fantastic entry into the Batman mythology. I want wonderful Batman stories. But man, I doubt it. I had to read the solicitation three times to even understand all of the silly nonsense about sizes and the minicomic and whatever. I’m not even ordering this. I hate to be a hater, but I just cannot find it within myself to believe that this can be any good at all.

I hope I’m wrong (but I won’t be).

Welcome back, Frank.

Play Arts Kai Batman: Timeless Action Figure – Square Enix (3)

Some cosplayer – likely one from Dragon Con – should totally sue over this. This is unquestionably a thing that has already happened. All of these figures look cool and I’d take one as a prize or if someone just handed it to me, but some of them are so damned busy I can’t even tell what’s going on with it. I’m pretty sure I see goggles and gears, though, so it is certifiably Steampunk.

I like how they felt the need to throw “steampunk” in after the title, like that was necessary. This thing is more steampunk than Jules Verne with a zeppelin for a head.

Halloween ComicFest – (25-28)

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.

James Bond #1 – Dynamite (Inside cover, 24,29,308-311)

OKAY, FINE!

Cheese and rice, Dynamite! I get it! You’ve got a new James Bond book coming out.
I wasn’t going to mention it until I got back to Dynamite Entertainment’s place in the Green Section (there’s a column that lasted), but three full-page ads before I even got to Dark Horse is enough to convince me to mention it now. Well, that and the fact that it’s being written by the incomparable Warren Ellis, who is basing the book off of Ian Fleming’s novels and not the movies. I’m sold.

Hellboy and the BPRD: 1953 – The Witch Tree & Rawhead and Bloody Bones One-Shot – Dark Horse (43)

I thoroughly enjoyed the last installment of this look at Hellboy’s early adventures. I’m along for this ride, especially since it involves Rawhead Rex, the subject of one of the best worst movies I’ve ever seen.

Superman: American Alien #1 – DC (72)

While the story of a young Clark Kent in Kansas doesn’t necessarily interest me, the fact that Max Landis is writing it does. I thought that Chronicle was nothing short of brilliant and I’m curious to see his take on a known, iconic hero.

Batman: Europa #1 – DC (73)

Apparently this thing has been delayed for years. I don’t know much about it other than what is in the solicitation, but obviously the idea of Batman having to team up with the Joker is interesting. I’m also a big fan of stories where Batman has to venture beyond Gotham. It’s one of the reasons that Son of the Demon is one of my favorite stories.

That being said, I’d prefer if they had just scrapped Jim Lee’s work and started fresh with a single, regular artist that could get the job done. When you’re only publishing four issues, having a different artist for a quarter of the story is unnecessarily jarring.

Starfire #6 – DC (92)

First, that Looney Tunes variant cover is hilarious. Second, I am on the third issue right now and while I am enjoying the humor, the setting, and the characters of the comic, it sure is wordy. I know that sounds like such a dum-dum thing to say, but there are so many damn words in each issue of this title. Like, twelve panels on some pages with two balloons per panel. I feel like comics need a balance between visuals and dialogue and Starfire is tipping a bit far one way.

Batgirl #46 – DC (104)

Fletcher, Stewart, and Tarr continue to create a fun comic every month. I got to meet Babs Tarr briefly at Dragon Con, but it was Sunday and I was tired so I wasn’t exactly full of life. I bought a cool print that looks like a sheet of tattoo flash.

I am very excited that Stephanie Brown is showing up. I liked how she was handled in Eternal and I look forward to seeing her character develop further. And they should bring Bryan Q. Miller back to write a Spoiler ongoing.

Scooby-Doo Team-Up #13 – DC (118)

I never imagined I’d see the Scooby gang teaming up with Deadman, Specter, or the Phantom Stranger. The cover alone is worth the price.

iZombie Omnibus – DC/Vertigo (136)

Back when iZombie was originally published I picked up the first few issues and enjoyed it. I think it was the victim of one of my purges, but for one reason or another I didn’t continue buying it. Now that there’s a handy collected edition I’ll read the whole thing. I know there are many elements from the comic that will never make it onto the TV show (which is excellent, by the way) and I’d like to check them out.

Batman: Animated Series Action Figures – DC Collectibles (140)

All four of these are must-haves for me. Unless, of course, the figures that come out between now and next March continue to have significant QC problems. I can deal with the fugly hip joints DC Collectibles decided to put on these, but if the darn things keep falling apart I can’t very well keep buying them.

Batman: Arkham Knight Red Hood Action Figure – DC Collectibles (143)

Since the figure itself is a spoiler, I’ll go ahead and say that if this is just the existing Red Hood head on the existing Arkham Knight body, I’ll probably skip it. The Knight figure is finally hitting stores today, so I’ve got time to look it over and decide.

Limbo #1 – Image (198-199)

I’m not familiar with the artist or the writer, but the cover caught my eye and that last paragraph of the description won me over:

A NEW surreal neon-noir series crossing 50s pulp with an 80s VHS visual aesthetic, drawing from the likes of Carpenter, Cronenberg, and Lynch.”

Anytime you drop those three names, you’re going to have my attention. And my three bucks for at least one issue. I’m not wild about the art, but I’ll give it a shot.

Ringside #1 – Image (216)

While I got my fill of real-life wrestling drama while I was working for Monstrosity Championship Wrestling, I feel like you guys probably would have called me out if I hadn’t mentioned this one. I recognize all of the names involved, though I can’t name any of their works off the top of my head. I’m certainly curious about this one, but there just isn’t room in my stack right now.

Spider-Woman #1 – Marvel (M12-13)

This is just a renumbered continuation of the current Spider-Woman, but in case I haven’t mentioned it, I’m really enjoying the book. This will, presumably, be a jumping-on point and I recommend you do so. I normally avoid comparisons as much as I can, but this is sort of like Batgirl’s older sister. It’s fun.

Howard the Duck #1 – Marvel (M52-53)

Silver Surfer and Howard the Duck are two of my favorite comic books right now. Like Spider-Woman, this is just a meaningless renumbering. I highly recommend it. It’s weird fun that is much more comic booky than I was expecting. In an odd way, this and Surfer are much more the Marvel Universe that I want to read about than anything else Marvel is publishing right now.

Star Wars: Vader Down – Marvel (M82-83)

I’m stoked for this, despite the kind of dumb title.

Marvel has been doing an outstanding job with their books, and the ongoing story between the main Star Wars title and the Vader solo book has been skillfully woven. I love that it’s culminating with what looks to be a powerful display of Vader’s abilities standing alone against the Alliance. This feels like an event.

Retro Cloth Deadpool Action Figure Set – Diamond Select Toys (237,481)

If I was going to buy one of these expensive Mego-style figures, this is the one I would get. It’s an admittedly great set, what with three different costumes and heads and a ton of different weapons. I might get it for twenty bucks less and for fifty bucks it would be a must-have. At eighty dollars it’s a pass.

I do want to be clear that this is just my stinginess. This is probably worth the money and DST has certainly put a ton of effort into making it a fun and cool set. If the body was going to be more like Mezco’s One:12 Collective figures I’d totally get it.

Klaus #1 – BOOM! Studios (286-287)

I love Grant Morrison and I love Santa Claus, but I don’t think those are two tastes that are going to taste great together. Dark and gritty Santa isn’t really my thing. I’m sure this will be compelling and possibly even great, but it’s not the Santa I want.

Empire of Blood #2 – Graphic India PTE. LTD (355-356)

Let’s take a look at this cover, shall we?

The attack monkey in the turban is the first thing that catches my eye. That’s scary and also terrifying. This isn’t just some random monkey. He’s wearing a turban. That means he’s either specifically trained to wear turbans or he’s sentient enough to choose to wear a turban.

Is there something racist about a monkey in a turban? I dunno.

Then there’s the lady he’s attacking. That helmet on her head isn’t big enough to actually fit over her head, which makes it a hat. So she has a hat that’s shaped like a tiny helmet. What’s that about? Her dress, trident, and shield work with the hat design, except there’s a Union Jack on the shield, which makes my head hurt.

Finally there’s the dripping, hand-lettered title. It’s charming, but is somehow lacking.
All of this combines to make me very curious about this book. Not, like, I’m going to buy it curious. But curious enough that if I was drinking at a con and someone was like, “Hey – have you read Empire of Blood?” I’d be like, “No, but tell me about that monkey”.

Alien Next Door – Titan Comics – (404,448)

This is listed amongst Titan’s comic books, as well as in the actual “BOOKS” section, which I think was smart.

The cover got me, but the fact that “clean” is in the title made me think it would be a perfect gift for the missus, as she is a cleaning fanatic. I do really love the simplified xenomorph. I’m excited to read this one.

Cosplay Culture Magazine (457)

He’d look so good if it weren’t for that stupid Mohawk.

United Federation of Planets T-Shirt (467)

At first glance this is a classy t-shirt that works for Star Trek and isn’t some kind of wonky “extreme” or “Not your average t-shirt!” design that nobody over the age of ten would wear. But then I noticed that the design looks distressed (worn out and old – a feature that dum-dums pay for). This should absolutely be labeled as “Distressed” if that is the case, because I would be super-pissed if I had ordered this nice, clean design and it had arrived looking like a thrift store shirt.

Nobody in Starfleet would wear a distressed t-shirt. Not even to practice mok'bara.

Batman: Long Halloween T-Shirt – Graphitti Designs (468)

Guess what, bozos?:

These ship in November. While I understand that I can buy one and save it for next Halloween, wouldn’t it have been smarter to get this design out in, say, NOW? I would have absolutely ordered one, as this is my favorite jack o’lantern design ever. I’ve carved it several times, even.

Do better, Graphitti. Also stop putting your ugly logo on the sleeve. I hate that.

Beholder T-Shirt – Mighty Fine Inc. (471)

While this is awesome, it mainly excites me because it is one step closer to a kickass owlbear t-shirt. I need to e-mail Mighty Fine.

Star Trek Electronic Starship Legends – Diamond Select Toys (491)

I have a few of these and they are fantastic. If you’re any kind of Star Trek fan you owe it to yourself to own one.

Four Horsies of the ‘Pocalypse: Little Maddie Figure – Bigshot Toyworks (494)

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

This is eighty different kinds of awesome. It’s a bit steep for a six inch inaction figure, but the novelty and quality of the sculpt make up for a lot. The only thing it’s missing is a little design on its butt, but I think just the concept of a horse toy with a butt design might be trademarked by Hasbro. The missus is definitely getting one of the for Christmas. Good thing she doesn’t read this site.

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor 5” Action Figure – Underground Toys (496)

I may have hated the last season of Doctor Who, but I do love Capaldi as the Doctor and I’m glad to see his likeness in the scale that I collect. I’m just thrilled that he’s not wearing that stupid Express Ltd. shirt with the designs on it and the thumb holes like a fourteen year old goth girl. I hate that thing.

It’s actually something of a relief that figures in this scale are sporadic special releases now. It means I’m spending a lot less on Doctor Who figures. And yes – this is INSANELY overpriced. But it’s an import and probably the only Doctor Who figure I’ll buy this year.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Freddy 8” Retro Figure – NECA (504)

NECA offered a different Freddy a few months ago and I missed out on it. Now I’m glad I did, because this one has the mighty CHEST OF SOULS! I shouldn’t be collecting this style of figure because I already have shelves and shelves of other horror figures, but they really are pretty amazing. And they have the Mrs. Troublemaker Seal of Money Spending Approval.

Motörhead: Warpig Icon Statue – LocoApe (505)

This is one of the most kickass, gorgeous things I have ever seen. It’s made of PVC and is 11” tall, so forty bucks isn’t too shabby. Sometimes this rock n’ roll stuff gets delayed or fails to come out entirely, so I’ll be curious to see if it ever shows up.

Marvel NOW Magik ARTFX+ Statue – Kotobukiya (510)

Crap. This month is getting expensive. But Illyana Rasputin is one of my all-time favorite mutants and this is a great statue. Normally I can skip past all of the Kotobukiya stuff because it’s all usually rendered in an anime style. But this one is designed by Adi Granov and based off of his art. It looks awesome. And it’ll be cheaper than getting the Marvel Legends version from the SDCC box set.

Star Wars Madness – Various Vendors (546-549)

Apparently this is going to be a regular thing now (which is not a bad move). Starting two months ago, Previews grouped all of the various Star Wars vendors’ merchandise into one big section. Here are my favorite pieces:

Carbonite Han Solo Back Buddy – This was pictured earlier in Previews and without context at first glance I thought it was a stuffed version of Ursula from the end of the Doctor Who story “Love & Monsters” (which Earth Station Who reviewed here). And you know what that would have been used for. I’m just saying.

X-Wing Knife Block – I believe this is something that ThinkGeek was offering at one point, but I could be wrong. Either way, it’s awesome.

Darth Vader Self-Stirring Mug – Wait… what? How does this work? What’s happening? My mind is blown. Is there video of this? Is it magnets?

Full Moon Stuff – Full Moon Features (550)

I’m getting the Puppet Master Music Collection, but it sure as shit won’t be from Diamond. They can barely ship comic books intact, let alone a collectible LP. I can’t even imagine what those ding-dongs would do to a record.

I’d buy most of the posters, but not without knowing how big they are. $18 is a steal for 27x40, okay for a collectible 24x36, and lousy for 11x17.

Cthulu Molded Mug (551)

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

What a beautiful sculpt! I love that this thing looks so old world and not all clean and new like so much Cthulu stuff. It really looks like a relic. I might get one for myself. Or the missus. Probably the missus.

Unaffiliated Thoughts

Am I sort of done with Marvel? I feel like I am for a while. I’m still getting a couple of books, but the number of titles from the House of Ideas is going to diminish significantly once Secret Wars stops being a thing.

That’s one of the big problems with the publishers doing those huge events and then resetting – it makes me feel like I have a stopping point. Some titles I was enjoying ended, but others that I was kind of habit buying feel like they had closure prior to or during Secret Wars and now I can just not buy them anymore. I’m okay with that. My order form this month was the smallest it’s been since I started writing this column and I think that’s great, especially with the holidays coming up. I need to save my money for all of the LEGO Dimensions and Disney Infinity crap my son is going to want for his birthday and Christmas. Plus whatever random, unpredictable thing he decides he has to have on December 23rd.

*****

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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