Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Comic Book Wednesday – Previews January 2016: “Assault on 2016!”

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.

Still catching up! Last month’s Previews rundown was a week late due to scheduling, and so is this one. I should be back on track in February. Maybe.

This issue – both the main book and Marvel’s strangely separate catalog – seems huge.
Also worth noting is the fact that the order form is now a pleasant blue rather than the annoying yellow they used to be. It seems to accept ink better, as well.

Back to the Future – IDW (Front Cover, 172)

I haven’t been signing up for too many licensed comic books lately. After the disappointment of Big Trouble in Little China and Escape from New York I’m too wary of the artwork to bother investing the time and money in checking them out. If I were better about cancelling titles I might give more a shot, but it usually takes me six or so issues to realize that I don’t like something that might not be outright terrible.

So despite loving the BTTF trilogy, I didn’t bother with the comics. Because if people felt that it was okay to use cartoony art for the tow I mentioned above, then I’m sure that’s what we got with this one.

That being said, if you’re buying this and liking it, that’s awesome because with issue #6 it is becoming an ongoing title.

Predator: Life and Death – Dark Horse (Back Cover, 56-58)

Fire and Stone scratched my Predator/Alien/Prometheus itch quite nicely, so I’m in for this one. If you don’t know, Fire and Stone was a massive crossover of titles that told a cohesive story across several different ages. I thought it was great. This looks to be a spiritual successor, though I don’t know yet if it will encompass four miniseries or not.

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY! (33-50)

I won’t get too deep into FCBD until we get closer, but I wanted to go ahead and mention these awesome shirts by Phantom Phavorites Art Baltazar and Francesco Francavilla, available in several colors, including Phantom Phurple!

THEY’RE BACK! – DC (91)

I am going to write a little something about this before I even turn the page to find out what it means.

To me, this suggests that our beloved, pre-Flashpoint Batman and Superman are returning. The words suggest that, anyway. The picture of Superman does not. And even as I type I remember that Bruce Wayne hasn’t been Batman for a while. I stopped reading Batman and have no idea what’s going on in the various Super-titles right now.

So I suppose this means that the New 52 versions of the characters are back and I can continue not caring.

Legends of Tomorrow #1 – DC (94)

Everything here sounds like fun. It appears to be four standalone tales featuring Firestorm, the Metal Men, Metamorpho, and Sugar and Spike (who?). Firestorm seems to be the only clear tie-in to the forthcoming Legends of Tomorrow TV show, but at the very least this might be an interesting way for DC to test the waters for new titles or characters. I approve.

Deathstroke #16 – DC (112)

I haven’t read any New 52 Deathstroke because I thought his costume looked so ludicrous, but I have to admit that this cover image got me in the same way that a Kevin Owens versus Brock Lesnar matchup would. This is a fight that I would very much like to see.

Superman: The Men of Tomorrow TP – DC (142)

This collects Superman 32-39, which I actually read because John Romita, Jr. did the art. I enjoyed the story of how Superman reacts to another being like himself and how the ensuing story unfolded. I recommend it. It felt almost like it fell outside of New 52 continuity and was its own thing. This story could have been told during any era of the Man of Steel.

Elseworlds: Batman Vol. 1 – DC (144)

I love Elseworlds. If I didn’t already own most of the titles listed here, I would definitely pick this up. They aren’t all fantastic, but they’re all interesting. The included Dark Allegiances is one of my favorites.

DC Comics Super-Pets Plush Figures – DC Collectibles (166)

I was not aware that there was a Wonder Woman-themed kangaroo named Jumpa. She’s adorable and I like the little wink she’s giving. I am, of course, aware of Ace the Bat-Hound and will be ordering one for my son. He’s almost too old for plush, but not quite.

Deviations One-Shots – IDW (168-169)

AKA = IDW’s version of What If?, a concept that I am totally okay with.

What if Optimus Prime hadn’t died? What if Fox Mulder had been abducted when he was a child? What if Shredder controlled the Ninja Turtles? What if the Ghostbusters hadn’t crossed the streams? What if one of Cobra Commander’s insane plans had actually worked?(!)

These are the questions posed by IDW in March’s event, which runs through many of their licensed titles. Granted, they shied away from actually saying “what if?” and went with “In a world where”, but we get the idea. I’m excited about all of these except for X-Files and GI Joe. I dig X-Files, but am not super-jazzed about this idea. GI Joe is one of my favorite things ever, but that cover art is not to my liking. And it appears that it was done by the interior artist.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #56 – IDW (187)

This is a gorgeous cover. Leatherhead in the foreground with the Technodrome planted in the middle of a city is a great image, and the colors are fantastic. This is the sort of thing that I would just pick up if I saw it on the shelf.

The Walking Dead Negan T-Shirt – Image (255)

Oh… now that’s just fucked up. I don’t want to talk to the kind of person that would wear this.

Standoff – Marvel (M Cover, 20-27)

I was all ready to not care about this crossover (ugh) until I saw this WANTED poster:
I’m an X-Men/mutants guy and Sunspot is one of my guys. I really dig the idea that he’s gone bad and is heading up AIM. I’m sure this is something that happened in some book that I don’t read (there are plenty of those), but I would absolutely read an AIM book starring Roberto. Sadly, nothing in the blurb for this New Avengers refers to him at all.

International Iron Man #1 – Marvel (M3-5)

I like Iron Man comics when they’re good. Alex Maleev is one of my favorite artists working today. I like the idea of this very different (all-new, all different, if you will) Victor Von Doom as Tony’s sort-of-ally. The big question mark here is Bendis. He is responsible for what I frequently refer to as the greatest run of a comic book ever with Ultimate Spider-Man. He is also responsible for some of the worst comics I have ever read, with Avengers from a few years ago as the prime example. It was intolerable.

There’s another factor at play here and with other titles I am interested in – I just want to read some good superhero comics that stand alone. I don’t want angst, I don’t want world-shattering conflicts, and I don’t want crossovers. Just give me twelve issues of rip-roaring, self-contained fun and I’ll be happy. It looks like Marvel’s new Spidey title might be on the right track for that. We’ll see.

Black Widow #1 – Marvel (M12-13)

The creative team behind the most recent Daredevil book is now doing a Black Widow comic. I’m on board since that’s one of the best runs of comics I’ve read in years. Every issue was a delight and I looked forward to it every month. I’m ready for more of the same.

Haunted Mansion #1 (of 5) – Marvel (M14-15)

Slave Labor Graphics produced a fantastic run of comics based on the inhabitants of Disney’s Haunted Mansion about ten years ago. I don’t doubt that Marvel is capable of doing just as good a job if not better, but I dug those comics. To me they fleshed out (so to speak) the story of the Mansion. I’m curious to see how this turns out. I know friend of the site Ryan Cadaver from The Casket Creatures will probably check it out.

Mockingbird #1 – Marvel (M18-19)

Wise move, Marvel. Putting a female creative team on a book starring a strong and now somewhat popular female character (thanks to the Agents of SHIELD TV show) is good PR.
Sorry if I sound cynical, but I promise you that every single decision that Marvel or DC makes regarding gender, race, or sexual orientation is driven by the desire to make money. That says nothing about the potential quality of any comic, but praising them for “progressive thinking” is just silly. If it doesn’t sell, Mockingbird will get cancelled and replaced just as quickly as any other comic book.

Next agenda: women on all-male books!

Howard the Duck #5 – Marvel (M39)

This is an excellent book that you should be reading.

Silver Surfer #3 – Marvel (M45)

This is also an excellent book that you should be reading; possibly the best thing that Marvel is publishing right now.

Spidey #4 – Marvel (M62)

I don’t usually talk this much about books that I am currently reading, but the first issue of Spidey was great. I’m a sucker for Nick Bradshaw’s artwork and the story is simple and fun. I’m not sure how successfully the ground of Peter’s high scool years can be retread with Ultimate Spider-Man as fresh in my memory as it is, but as long as these guys keep the book fun to read and look at, I’ll keep buying it.

Hulk Retro-Style Aurora Model Kit – Diamond Select (M98)

This is awesome, but I can separate myself from my nostalgia gland long enough to recognize that it looks like Hulk is tripping over a stack of hamburger patties. Look at his face. That is the face of someone in mid-calamity.

Wolverine Resin Statue – Diamond Select (M99)

I love this statue. Not as much as my Wolverine as Brood statue, but close. That footprint in front of Wolvie is so powerful – that person isn’t in the picture, but eventually they’re screwed. Because Logan is on the trail. I love it! I’m almost positive that this is from a specific comic or at least image, but I can’t seem to track it down.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #1 – BOOM! (306-307)

Because Rad Ranger would be very upset with me if I didn’t mention this.

I don’t give a rat’s patoot about Power Rangers, but I get their place in pop culture and respect their longevity and selling power. Here’s the thing – Kyle Higgins is writing this comic (at first, anyway). He is a very good writer. Like, so good I’m halfway considering picking this up despite the aforementioned lack of patoot giving. Plus the art looks great.

Vampirella #1 – Dynamite (328-331)
It seems that Dynamite has saved their biggest reboot for last, as Vampirella is one of the biggest pop culture cheesecake icons to have come out of comic books. It would be safe to say that her immediately recognizable and almost non-existent costume has been her biggest selling point since her inception. I’m not saying there haven’t been great Vampy stories and tons of wonderful art, but let’s be real.
I hope that this initiative works for Dynamite and that they establish some powerful female role models with these comics. I might have been pretty cynical up above about the Big Two, but this effort seems more like it’s coming from an earnest place. And yes – they earnestly want to make money. But I think Dynamite truly wants to do something significant here.
As far as the redesign, I’m not a fan of the bike shorts under the short coveralls (or whatever). I think just covering the legs would have been better.
The Birth of Kitaro SC – Drawn & Quarterly (355)

I’m not familiar with Kitaro or his creator, but I love that mummy.

Modern Masters Volume 29: Cliff Chiang & Volume 30: Paolo Rivera – Twomorrows Publishing (426)

I’ve mostly stopped buying art books because I look at them once and then stick them on the shelf, but I love both of these guys’ artwork. I’m often tempted by these Modern Masters releases and thought that these were worth pointing out.

Ghostbusters Select Action Figures Series 2 – Diamond Select Toys (427,499)

I’m so excited about DST’s Ghostbusters figures, but man – that Dana looks terrible. It’s almost like they didn’t even have the rights to Sigourney Weaver’s likeness. The other releases thus far have had that look where you can tell they’ll be better in person, but every picture I’ve seen of her has been bad.

And yet still far better than the Mattycollector version.

I Am April O’Neil” 1-Piece Romper Suit (487)

Ladies, get yourselves some white boots and a camera that turns into a gun and you will be the hottest thing at… wherever one wears romper suits.

Evel Knievel Messenger Bag (488)

This is incredible, but you’re probably going to have to fend off some nitwits who will think it’s a play on the Confederate battle flag. Or heck, even jerks who don’t like the American flag. And yeah – I know that first one sounds like a stretch, but you’re reading words from a guy that routinely gets labeled as Bane, Nacho Libre, Rey Mysterio, and many other masked individuals that look nothing like me. The public has no ability to recognize color and design.

The Hateful Eight 8-Inch Action Figures – NECA (519)

I want these SO BAD. I saw the movie this past Saturday and it is even more incredible than I had been expecting. Every single actor is amazing. Jennifer Jason Leigh delivers an Oscar-winning performance. Tim Roth delivers the most Monty Python-esque line that has been uttered since 1975. I loved each and every one of these characters.

Little Grey Sofubi – MEDICOM (559)

NONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONO NONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONO NONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONO NONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONO
NOPE.

Gary’s Pick of the Month! - Cthulu Stress Toy (569)

Now that our pal, Gary Mitchel, is here in Atlanta I’m sure he could use a squeezable Old One to deal with the stress of Atlanta traffic!

Unaffiliated Thoughts

Once again I am struck by the amazing and beautiful art that fills Marvel’s book. It is a direct contrast to much of the “how can this be a cover?” art in DC’s section. I hate to be a dick about the hard working artists that are producing that stuff, but when you’re working for the Big Two I think you had better be top-notch. And an awful lot of the DC stuff is just not fun to look at. Meanwhile Marvel’s little catalog almost feels like some kind of art book.

I am very dissatisfied with DC’s recent games of musical artists. One of the key things that I need from a comic book is artistic consistency; at least within story arcs. Lately DC has not even been maintaining that within single issues. It’s jarring and annoying and I’m over it. I understand their perceived need for hitting deadlines, but I’d rather wait an extra couple of weeks for a comic than have the art visibly deteriorate over the course of the issue.

Unless, of course, the story is time sensitive in relation to other titles. There is literally no point in reading Secret Wars any more other than it’s actually a lot of fun and I am enjoying it. But the suspense and wonder of reading a universe-altering story has been removed by the fact that it is so late and the rest of the Marvel Universe has had to move on. Oops.

*****

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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