Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Comic Book Wednesday – Previews February 2016: “Dark Horse Rising Up!”

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.

Hey! I’m back on track!

Harley Quinn and her Gang of Harleys – DC (Back Cover, 82)

I love the ongoing Harley Quinn series, but I’m not a huge fan of the gang of Harleys. I don’t know what it is, but they just haven’t clicked with me. I definitely know that I enjoy the issues that don’t feature them as heavily more. Part of it is probably that they aren’t fleshed out much beyond being stereotypes (or should I be nicer and say “archetypes” since I’m not trying to criticize?). I think it’s mainly because I’m there to read about Harley. I like the other supporting characters and the occasional appearance by Poison Ivy, but I could do without the gang.

This miniseries will probably work on developing the individual characters in the gang, but I’m just not that interested.

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY! (33-44)

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!

Aliens: Defiance #1 – Dark Horse (46-47)

I recognize Brian Wood’s name and I’m pretty sure that I’ve read his work, but I can’t recall anything specific. Regardless of that, the one thing you can usually count on from Dark Horse is that they’ve put interesting, competent people on their books. I don’t necessarily get excited for everything they publish, but when there is something I want, I know it’s going to be good. I’m also digging the art samples for this one:

How to Talk to Girls at Parties HC – Dark Horse (54)

Where the heck was this twenty years ago when I needed it!?!

I’m kidding, except also completely serious.

This is a no-brainer – it’s the mega-talented duo of Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon working with Neil Gaiman to adapt one of his stories.

Buffy: The High School Years – Freaks & Geeks TP – Dark Horse (61)

Dark Horse’s Buffy books lost me a while ago, as I feel that they got away from the narrative I wanted to see. This is something I would be interested in, but Yishan Li’s art is not at all to my liking. I can’t hang with anything this Manga-influenced.

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser: The Cloud of Hate and Other Stories – Dark Horse (64)

I picked up Mike Mignola’s Fafhrd trade a few years ago and really dug it, though I didn’t look any further into the adventures of the thief and his barbarian companion. Fortunately, Dark Horse is providing this collection of work from three of the masters – Dennis O’Neil, Howard Chaykin, and Walt Simonson. This one is a must-have.

5.5” Snoopy Flocked Vinyl Figures – Dark Horse (77)

These are super neat figures and sixteen bucks for a flocked vinyl figure this size isn’t a bad deal. Plus, if you have a regular pull service at your Local Comic Book Shop, you probably get a bit of a discount on merchandise.

While I naturally want the standard white Snoopy, I can’t deny the appeal of a fuzzy Snoopy in my trademark purple. Also, don’t look “Fuzzy Snoopy” up on Urban Dictionary. And if you do, I don’t want to know about it.

Swamp Thing #4 – DC (103)

This is one of those instances where I’m mentioning something a few issues in because I just read the first issue and want to recommend it. There’s no New 52 bullshit here. This is just old school words by Len Wein and fantastic horror art by Kelley Jones. I loved the first issue and hope that the tone and momentum can stay the same. Of course, with a “Rebirth” coming to the DCU, who knows? More on that later.

Superman: The Coming of the Supermen #3 - DC (110)

Yep. That’s what I’m talking about. Good ol’ bonkers Neal Adams. I can only assume that the Man of Steel cut himself shaving.

Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death #4 – DC (117)

Same as Swamp Thing – I mentioning this because I read the first issue and liked it. It disregards other continuity or stories and does its own thing. It is a little jarring that Harley Quinn’s character doesn’t quite line up with how she’s depicted in her own ongoing book, but whatever. This is a story about Ivy doing her own not-really-a-villain thing and as of now I’m curious to see where it goes.

Harley’s Little Black Book #3 – DC (118)

This series is what Harley Quinn and Power Girl should have been. Six issues was way too many for that story. Here we have one-shots teaming Harley up with other DCU characters. The first one featured Wonder Woman and was perfect in both tone and length. As long as they can keep recruiting fun, talented artists for this title, I’m in.

The Joker: Endgame TP – DC (130)

While not as incredible as Death of the Family, this is a must-read follow-up if you want the whole story. Scott Snyder’s run on Batman has had its ups and downs, but his handling of the Joker has been something for the history books. I think that decades from now people will still be referring to these Joker stories.

Dark Knight: A True Batman Story HC – DC (139)

Paul Dini – one of the most influential writers to ever give voice to Batman and script his adventures – was brutally beaten nearly two decades ago. It effected his life and career, but the idea of Batman helped him through and unthinkably horrible experience and recovery. 
Now Dini presents a tale of Batman inspired by these events. There’s no way I can pass this unique story up.

Batman: Arkham Knight Action Figures – DC Collectibles (150)

These are starting to get pricier than I am comfortable with.

Harley, Joker, and Ivy are being offered as single-carded figures, while the two different Arkham Militia solders come with Batman.

I love that they’re doing Harley in her original costume, as it provides a sort of closure to the figures for this series. This one’s a must for me. Joker looks great, but it annoys me that we’re getting this variant when we still don’t have a decent figure of Joker in his standard Arkham garb. This one’s a pass. Ivy looks great except for her leaf panties, which look odd and too big compared to how she looks in the game. I feel like DCC got shy for some reason. I want to see this figure in person first.

As for the three pack, I want those Militia dudes very badly, but I am not shelling out for another Batman that I already have. DCC has been really bad about pushing repaints on us, and this one doesn’t even appear to be a repaint. It’s just the Arkham Knight Batman again. I can’t get behind that.

Batman: Rainbow Action Figure 6-Pack – DC Collectibles (154)

This, on the other hand, is a solid deal for a set of figures that is going to look pretty swanky on your shelf. Since they’re all repaints of an old mold, DCC can get away with charging seventy bucks for the whole set of six. I’m tempted. I don’t think I’m going to order it, but I like it.

DC Comics Icons Static Shock Action Figure – DC Collectibles (155)

NOTE: This item is resolicited. All previous orders are cancelled.

This is very interesting. This figure was first offered a couple of months ago at the price of $45, which I thought was outrageous. Now it has been resolicited for $28 and I can’t help but notice that all of the accessories that were pictured before are no longer shown. There’s just a note that says, “This action figure comes with his own accessories.

I don’t know what the story is. If I had to guess, I’d say that orders didn’t meet what DCC wanted for the $45 version, so they’re scrapping some accessories and dropping the price. But I have no idea. This is still a great looking figure and while I wasn’t going to pay $45 for it, it will be a shame if Static doesn’t have the admittedly great assortment of gear that was initially offered.

Batman: The Animated Series Deluxe Batmobile – DC Collectibles (156)

*Pauses to install Angry Eyes*

This. This is some straight-up horseshit.

I bought their Batmobile. I bought their Batman figure and their Robin figure that do not fit into their Batmobile without removing their capes.

And now DC Collectibles is pooping in my face by telling me that I, as an early adopter and loyal customer, am going to have to buy all of that stuff over again if I want improved versions of the Batmobile and the figures, not to mention a kickass Batsignal that hasn’t been offered elsewhere.

These figures have cloth capes that can fit into the Batmobile. This Batmobile has chrome parts instead of dull grey.

I am so damned irritated by this.

Micronauts #1 – IDW (158-159)

I’m a little surprised that this wasn’t on the cover.

As a toy guy, I can’t help but be familiar with Micronauts. They were slightly before my time, but thanks to my Granny’s constant garage sale habits I did have a number of them, though I didn’t know that back in the day. When I was a kid I thought they were fun to play with, but also slightly off-putting due to their weird silver faces and almost-human forms.

I find it odd to see this launching anywhere other than Marvel, but it’s a Hasbro license, so it makes sense that it found a home with GI Joe and Transformers. With the excellent Cullen Bunn writing and the art samples looking fantastic, I’m going to have to give this a shot. My only concern is that it will be too “gritty” and “edgy” like IDW’s GI Joe titles.

The Walking Dead Coloring Book – Image (231)

To quote one of my favorite seller of comic books, Mike from Titan Comics in Smyrna, GA:
Image has already been publishing The Walking Dead adult coloring books for over a decade now”.

Black Panther #1 – Marvel (Cover, M5-7)

Comic book media is treating the fact that Ta-Nehisi Coates is writing Black Panther as a HUGE deal. I am not familiar with the writer, but I think it’s great that a black guy is writing the book. You guys know that I am not particularly politically correct, but I do think that whenever possible the author should represent the character they are writing. White dudes writing females and non-white ethnicities is a little ridiculous. It’s one thig when it’s a team book, but when it’s solo characters a little personal perspective and experience should be present. I’m not trying to suggest that Coates’ life is anything like Black Panther’s, but he can provide an outlook that no white dude can.

For me, the big sell is that Brian Stelfreeze is doing the art. I love his work and can’t wait to see what he does on this book.

Side Note: Yes, I am sure that some of you chafe at my use of the term “black guy”, but I find “African-American” to be extremely problematic. Not every black guy is from Africa, and it’s actually pretty racist to suggest that they are. Additionally, not every black guy is American. Do you call black guys that were born in the UK African-American? Only if you’re an idiot.

Side Note to Black Guys: Let me know your preference. I really have no idea at this point. I’d love to just be able to say “dude”, “person”, or “lady”, but sometimes it is important to note these things.

Star Wars: Poe Dameron #1 – Marvel (Back Cover, M8-9)

I am very excited about this. I love the character of Poe Dameron and the fact that he is a hero of the Resistance in a way that we never got to see from Wedge Antilles and Biggs Darklighter on screen. He’s also one of the few characters that can be fleshed out through the new Expanded Universe, since his pre-The Force Awakens exploits can be detailed without affecting the story we know.

On top of all that, Marvel put the dynamo team of Charles Soule (the Lando miniseries) and Phil Noto on this one.

Gwenpool #1 – Marvel (M10-11)

I am not above trends, you guys. Especially funny trends. I liked this character when she showed up in Howard the Duck (one of Marvel’s best current books) and the Gwenpool Holiday Special was hilarious, if a bit heavy-handed on the social commentary.

The concept is that she’s from our world and has ended up in the post-Secret Wars Marvel Universe with all of these characters that have been in her own world’s comic books. It’s kind of like Superboy-Prime, but funny. I’ll give this a shot and see where it goes.

Old Man Logan #4 – Marvel (M87)

After reading a synopsis of the first issue I picked it up and enjoyed it. The idea is that Old Man Logan ended up in the current post-Secret Wars MCU (are we seeing a pattern?) and has seen the opportunity to prevent the horrible future he comes from. The fun part is that this is old-school Logan and not actual schoolteacher Logan, so his solution is to murder everyone he remembers being responsible. The first issue is a jaw-dropper, so I added it to the pull list.

Spider-Man by Todd McFarlane Omnibus HC – Marvel (M118)

Over the years I have sold my comic collection several times. Among the runs of comics I have kept are Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man issues. The artwork is incredible and the stories are fun. These are still some of my favorite Spidey comics. If you don’t have them, I recommend this collection.

Twilight Zone: The Shadow #1 (of 4) - Dynamite (335)

This is certainly interesting. As far as I know, The Twilight Zone has never crossed over with anything. At first glance it seems like a bizarre concept to mix the greatest anthology series of all time with any other IP. Until you realize how many concepts have just ripped it off. It’s a natural fit for almost any comic book property, especially one like the Shadow, that hasn’t done as much (if any) exploration into alternate realities.

Darkwing Duck #1 – Joe Books Inc. (382)

It’s good to see that DW’s adventures will continue, but they can’t possibly be as good as the one that Miss Lady Flex wrote for the Dirty Dirty Con Con Game Game Show Show. Coming soon to a con near you.

Also, it seems incredibly wrong to me that this Joe Books is producing Disney titles alongside books starring Dreamworks’ mostly lesser, fart-centric characters.

Madballs #1 – Lion Forge (388-389)

SOLD. I love Madballs, but when you’re offering me Madballs as written by Brad McGinty, creator of Glorp Gum and one-time guest on the Needless Things Podcast, then I simply cannot resist!

Magneto Was Right T-Shirt – Mighty Fine (506)

This has popped up from time to time in actual Marvel continuity, I think first worn by Quentin Quire. That makes it one of the coolest kinds of t-shirts you can get. I’m pretty sure Quire’s didn’t actually feature Magneto’s mug, but I think later versions did.

Retro Cloth Daredevil Action Figure – Diamond Select Toys (518)

Another fantastic figure, but one that I just can’t see paying eighty bucks for. Maybe if it was an actual three pack and not just head and hand swaps for a single figure.

Alien Big Chap Vinyl Bust Bank – Diamond Select Toys (520)

As much as I adore DST’s vinyl bust banks – that basically serve as affordable statues and busts – it’s been a little while since I’ve gotten personally excited over one. This is that one. It looks like the dome is painted as opposed to actually being transparent with a skull underneath, but it still looks great. You can also still get eh Warrior Alien from Aliens if that’s your preference:

Unaffiliated Thoughts

Not much to say here other than to point out that the Marvel Previews continues to stand out thanks to gorgeous artwork.

DC, on the other hand, is going to be shaking things up this Summer. While there’s no sign of it in this Previews, “Rebirth” is coming soon. Apparently it’s another reboot-ish type thing that will reset all of the books to #1 and have an as-yet-undetermined effect on characters and continuity.

I don’t really care. I can keep not buying DC comic books or I could get interested again if DC truly shakes things up. I’m betting on the former.

Oh, and I recently posted on Facebook that I thought Supergirl was the best superhero DC has on TV. Not the best show, the best superhero. For more on that, be sure to check out this Friday’s Needless Things Podcast!

*****


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!

1 comment:

  1. Not sure of the page number, but I have a book solicited in this issue under Moonstone Books.

    Moonstone Books for April 2016.
    Domino Lady, Sherlock Holmes, & The Black Bat.

    SHERLOCK HOLMES/DOMINO LADY TPB
    Written by Nancy Holder, Bobby Nash, art by Reno Maniquis, Mike Fyles, cover by Mike Fyles.

    Bobby

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