Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Comic Book Wednesday – Previews March 2016: “Return of the Doom That Came to Riverdale!”

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.


This is an extremely light month. DC isn’t launching anything new and is giving only the slightest effort to most of their legacy books because of the upcoming Rebirth event. IDW, Image, and Dark Horse continue to produce the same percentage of quality titles, but there just wasn’t much I got excited about. These posts are always my personal opinions about what’s in Previews (along with some cleverly placed plugs), so you might find an entirely different level of excitement for this or any other issue.

Civil War II (Front Cover, M10-11)

I don’t know how long it will be before I can care about any companies’ big crossover events again, but I certainly can’t care now. And while Brian Michael Bendis is responsible for writing some of the best solo books I’ve ever read, I don’t have a taste for his team books.
If the concept of Civil War II is, as has been reported, that whoever the governing law enforcement faction of the MCU is has been mindwiping criminals and isolating them in some kind of weird, homogenized community away from the rest of the world then I think that’s a great concept and one that’s worthy of following up the original Civil War, which I read some, but not much of because I felt it got too unwieldy.

If the publishers could control themselves and put limits on how these narratives were produced and how long they ran then I might be able to get on board. But the degree of bloating that happens is simply ridiculous.

Side Note: Yes, I bought Secret Wars II and some of the tie-ins, but you could read all of the various parts independent of one another. There was almost no “MUST READ” crossover. I do think the main book could have been wrapped up in six issues, though.

Scooby Apocalypse (Back Cover, 80)

NOPE.

Look – I hate to be that dismissive douche that doesn’t even give something a chance based on the first glance, but I fucking hate this picture. It upsets me to my core. I had a very strong, visceral reaction to it the first time that I saw it. I usually try to make a point of giving things a chance when that happens because I truly don’t like being dismissive without knowledge or context. But Phantomaniacs, this just is not the Scooby Gang I ever want. The book might be incredible and go on to have a hundred-plus issues by some of the best artists and storytellers we’ve ever seen. But for now, I just hate everything about that image. There’s no point in breaking it down, because it all offends me.

If this looks interesting to you, please give it a shot and let me know. Don’t let my sour attitude put you off. This – and everything I write – is just my opinion and I’ve been wrong before. On occasion.

Side Note: It will not go on to have a hundred-plus issues by some of the best artists and storytellers we’ve ever seen.

Additional Side Note: “Covers By” is not a credit that I give even the tiniest of shits about. How does that have any bearing on how good a comic book is going to be?

Final Side Note (for this listing): In the interest of fairness, I have to tell you that my son thinks this looks "awesome" and that "It's definitely a book he wants". So there's that.

Play Arts Kai Batman v Superman Action Figures – Square Enix (2)

I didn’t even understand what I was looking at when I saw these. Square Enix usually produces bonkers, over-the-top versions of characters like “Samurai Cowboy Cthulu Batman”. These, while still quite stylized, are pretty much just movie figures. For a company known for doing weird things, this somehow seems the weirdest of all. 

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY! (35-43)

It will be here before we know it! Familiarize yourself with what’s being offered and what your Local Comic Book Shops are going to be doing. If they don’t have big plans, maybe work with them to come up with something yourself!

Future Quest #1 – DC (81)

I had the exact opposite reaction to this that I had to Scooby Apocalypse. Partly because a massive Hanna-Barbera team-up is a childhood dream come true, but mostly because Jeff Parker and Doc Shaner are two of the most delightful talents working in comics today. If you had asked me who should work on a title like this, I would have named them. I need to make a “Phantom’s Sure Shots!” logo just so I can put it on this comic.

If you want to see how good Parker and Shaner are, check out their work on Flash Gordon:


DC: The New Frontier TP - DC (131)

If you haven’t read Darwyn Cooke’s epic Elseworlds masterpiece, you should. The art is gorgeous and the story is rewarding and inspirational. You might balk at the price tag, but this is an epic tale that comes in at 520 beautiful pages.

Batman: Shadow of the  Bat Vol. 1 TP – DC (131)

I dug the heck out of this spinoff Bat-book when it was being published. If I didn’t still have most of the run, I’d pick this up.

DC Comics Icons Action Figures/Accessory Pack – DC Collectibles (147)

I commented on most of these in the various formats of Needless Things’ coverage of Toy Fair 2016, but here’s where I’ve settled out – DC Collectibles has priced me out of this line. I’m trying to apply a “would you rather” approach to toy collecting because over the past few years prices have risen astronomically. When I look at this line and think, “Would you rather spend $56 on two of these or $65 on one One:12 Collective figure?”, I’d rather have the latter. These are beautiful, finely crafted figures (except for that oddly ugly Swamp Thing) and this is, in all honesty, the DC line I’ve always wanted. But they’re not thirty dollar action figures. Mezco’s cost a ton more, but I feel that those are worth every penny.

Huge props to DCC for the accessory packs, though. It’s an idea that fans and customers were crying out for back in Mattel’s DCUC days, so I’m thrilled to see it happening.

The New Batman Adventures Action Figures – DC Collectibles (148)

We also discussed these pretty thoroughly in the Toy Fair coverage, but I’ve got a few more thoughts on them, particularly given the line-wide increase to $28 apiece for the standard figures.

Aside from the fugly hip joints, I love this line. The DC Animated Universe is my favorite version of DC. I want every damn thing that DC Collectibles releases from those cartoons. But at $28 a pop, it isn’t viable. When DCC first showed Anti-Fire Suit Batman back at San Diego Comic Con, I was excited. Now I’m going to have to pass on him. I might even pass on Firefly. Not because I don’t like the character, but because I don’t like him enough. And I’d love to have the New Adventures Harley, but if that’s the same body as the Harley Quinn that I just reviewed, it doesn’t cut the mustard. Plus, you’re paying that price for what’s essentially just a new head that could have been included with the original figure in the first place.

Having said all of that, Scarface and the Ventriloquist, Clayface, Bullock, and Talia are must-haves. I like New Adventures Joker a lot, but I do think the hyenas should have come with that Harley.

The New Batman Adventures: Girls’ Night Out 5-Pack – DC Collectibles (149)

And then there’s this. I think it’s an absolute load of horseshit to pack three figures that have already been released in with two figures that have not. I’m not buying this one because I’m hoping that DCC will double-dip on Live Wire and Supergirl and release them separately in the future. If not, I just won’t have ‘em. I will give DCC credit for the $80 price tag, though. Since the figures only come with stands and not the usual huge assortment of accessories, the price isn’t overwhelming. But I’m still not biting.

DC Films Premium Action Figures – DC Collectibles (150-151)

Kicking off a whole new, high-priced line with two characters from a movie that your target market seems to hate is a bold move. I’m sure plenty of merchandise featuring Zod and Faora from Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel has been sold, but now doesn’t seem to me like the time to revisit that film.

The other issue here is that these are 6ish” scale action figures that DCC is selling for $45 - $50. For just a bit more than that I can get One:12 Collective figures. And if I’m willing to pick one of those over two non-premium figures, how do you think I’m feeling about this line?

Apparently these are meant to compete with all of the different high-end Asian import figures that have been popping up over the last few years. I get DCC wanting to make some money off of that trend, and these look like competitors for that market. I wish ‘em the best of luck.

Marvel Covers: The Modern Era Artist’s Edition: Sam Kieth Cover – IDW (188)

When I started typing that I thought this was a collection of Marvel covers by Sam Kieth, who produced some of the most interesting and remarkable covers Marvel Comics have ever published. I was going to say that I’d rather have a color gallery of his covers, but a collection of Kieth’s work in any form is great.

Then I realized that this is a collection of many artists’ work with a cover by Sam Kieth. While it’s still neat, this isn’t a buy for me.

Renato Jones: The One% – Image (194)

I am a HUGE fan of Kaare Andrews’ art. His run on Iron Fist is one of my favorite things that has happened in comics recently.

I am not a fan of class warfare. While many, many of the comic books that I have read over the past thirty years have had at least an undercurrent of that in their narrative, there’s a big difference between the struggles of the mutants and a comic with the byline, “The Super Rich Are Super Fucked…”

If enough humor is used and this thing isn’t too angry in tone I could get on board. I can’t quite tell from the preview pages, so I’m going to have to pick up the first issue and find out for myself.

Update: Okay, so after finding some stuff online about this, I don't like it. Andrews is quoted as being angry, and it doesn't come across as having a laugh angry. Additionally, when I first saw that cover I didn't put a lot of thought into it. I suppose my shallow supposition was that he was romancing some swooning lady. But now that it has been pointed out I see that that's pretty clearly a rich, mostly naked chick that Mr. Jones has just murdered. And that's a problem. This comic seems really ugly to me. 

Oh, and while I am usually entertained by the tabloid-style nonsense of Bleeding Cool, I wouldn't normally use them as a source for any information. But the post that changed my perspective on this book was actually one of their promotional pieces with preview art, so it's actual information from Image as opposed to any sort of rumors or a string of out-of-context Tweets. You can read it here.

Steve Rogers: Captain America #1 – Marvel (Cover, M2-3)

I like the new costume. Obviously it’s inspired by Cap’s MCU costume and I think that’s fine. I didn’t like the shield at first, but since Sam Wilson is still going to be Captain America and Rogers passed the shield to him, I think it’s cool that Steve is using a variation on his original shield design. I don’t know about that extended seemingly light-up “V” at the bottom, though.

I like the idea that Sam Wilson has different, but still very American beliefs from Steve Rogers and that the idea of Captain America is big enough for the both of them. This is what I was hoping would happen when Bruce Wayne came back from the dead years ago – that he and Dick would both be Batman.

The Punisher #1 – Marvel (M4-5)

A woman writing The Punisher!?! OUTRAGE!

I’m kidding, hopefully obviously. Becky Cloonan is an immensely talented artist and writer. I’m excited to see what she does with Frank and I’m also thrilled to see Steve Dillon back on a Punisher book.

Scarlet #8 & 9 – Marvel (M92)

Remember earlier when I said that Bendis had written some of the best comics I have read? Scarlet is one of them. I can’t remember if I kept up with it to issue #7 when it was released three years ago after a two year gap between issues #5 and #6. But I liked however much of it I did read. Also, Alex Maleev is one of the greatest artists to ever work in comics.

I don’t think I’ll pick these issues up, but I’ll grab a collected edition whenever it happens.

New X-Men Omnibus HC – Marvel (M104)

Grant Morrison’s incredible run with Marvel’s Mightiest Mutants. I rate it second only to Chris Claremont’s epic and defining work. Unless you just hate Morrison, this is a must-read.

Marvel: The Hip-Hop Covers Vol. 1 HC – Marvel (M109)

Hip-hop music has always been a big part of my life. My first live concert was Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys at the Houston Astrodome in 1987 and I’ve always kept artists like De La Soul, Talib Kwali, Blackalicious, Michael Franti, Wu-Tang, Kool Keith, and however many other names I need to drop in constant rotation alongside the other genres I enjoy. I was slightly conflicted about Marvel’s hip-hop covers, but as more and more were released I just couldn’t help but love the obvious devotion that went into them. So many small details were nailed that there could be no denying these were done in the right spirit. I’m glad to be able to pick up a collection.

Spider-Woman: Shifting Gears TPB – Marvel (M113)

I’m not buying a lot of books from Marvel or DC anymore, but this is one I look forward to reading every single month. The art is fantastic and the story has been a lot of fun, not to mention that it’s completely separate from any other Marvel Universe narrative. Which I see as a plus.

Afterlife With Archie #9/Sabrina #5 – Archie Comic Publications (282-283)

The return of one of the best horror comics ever! I didn’t know if this book was coming back or if it was yet another fantastic title that was just too much for its creators to maintain. I’m delighted to see that the tale of the doom in Riverdale will continue!

Sabrina’s Lovecraftian adventures will also resume! Something clicked a little more with me on this book, but for some reason I thought it was destined for cancellation from the start. I’m glad to see I was wrong (so far)!

Cinema Purgatorio #1 – Avatar Press (292)

Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill are the driving forces behind this new anthology series. That alone wouldn’t necessarily have me excited, but contributing writers include Max Brooks, Kieron Gillen, and Christos Gage. Those names have me wanting to check this out.

Moebius May  - Humanoids (370)

I feel a bit disingenuous mentioning these because I haven’t read much of Jean Giraud’s work. But I do know very well how influential he is and how gorgeous his work is. Many works of science fiction cite Moebius, and the number of times he is mentioned or his work is shown in the special features of DVDs and Blu-rays is amazing. Few other artists who specialized in the comic medium have achieved such renown.

Humanoids is featuring three of Moebius’ collaborations with Alejandro Jodorowsky and I recommend you do what I’m doing – pick one out and experience some legendary work; perhaps for the first time. Out of these, The Incal looks the most interesting to me. What do you guys think? Or have you read them already? Join the Needless Things Podcast Facebook Group and let me (and everyone else) know!

Madballs #2 – Lion Forge (379)

Don’t forget about Madballs by Brad McGinty, creator of Glorp Gum and one-time guest on the Needless Things Podcast! I am super-excited for this book and can’t help but mention it two months in a row!

Domino Lady: Threesome - Moonstone (380)

Pal Of Ol’ Phantom Bobby Nash teams up with renowned author Nancy Holder to tell another action-packed tale of Domino Lady! Fellow lady adventurers the Golden Amazon and The Veil join pulp’s most famous heroine this time around!

Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation SC – Twomorrows Publishing (426)

If you’re part of Generation X or just a fan of the pop culture of the 70s and 80s, this book is a must. I’ve read it a time and a half now and I absolutely love Lou Scheimer’s story as told to Andy Mangels. This details the entire history of Filmation – one of the most prolific animation houses in American history. It’s informative, hilarious, and at times heartbreaking. Scheimer was a good man that believed in what he was doing and that worked hard for his employees. I’ve never worked for anyone like that, so there were moments in this book that brought a tear to my eye.

Valiant Entertainment (431-441)

I know I read some Valiant comics back during the 90s comics boom, when everyone was doing big, splashy #1 issues and everything seemed new and exciting. Apparently they didn’t stick for me, but I know that some folks are die-hard, devoted Valiant fans. Every month when I look through Previews it looks like the publisher is offering nothing but high-quality, almost next-level comic books. I’m curious, but I know that there’s a big history there and I feel intimidated by it. Maybe someday I’ll find an entry point and see what’s up.

Doctor Who Novelizations (464-465)

These are reprints of the original novelizations of various Doctor Who stories. I read a few of these when I was a kid, but they were very difficult to find back then. I ordered a bunch from Amazon a couple of years ago and have just recently finished them. These couldn’t have been timed better! As with any adaptation of a screenplay, these provide details and insights that couldn’t be captured in the televised versions. I recommend you pick a Doctor you like and give one of these a try.

“Luthor Is Our Savior” T-Shirt – PX Apparel (478)

There’s a better shirt in the ad than what is on the actual shirt. I would have bought one that said, “Luthor for President – Tough on Immigration”. Jesse Eisenberg might end up blowing me away in Batman v Superman (I’ll find out in 23 days – I just bought our tickets), but as of now I’m not wearing a shirt supporting his Luthor. Psychotic weenie Luthor is not my jam.

Harley Quinn T-Shirts – Graphitti (481)

Those might be some cool Harley shirts. I’m going to have to guess, because the images were printed so small that I can’t tell. The main one appears to be Harley from the Suicide Squad movie as drawn by Amanda Conner. I’m sure it’s great.

Deadpool “Chump” T-Shirt – Mighty Fine Inc. (483)

This would be better if it said “Check out the chump in the Deadpool shirt”. Nobody says “tee” when casually referring to t-shirts. Who designed this, a marketing guy?

I hate to complain about all of these shirts (tees), but dammit, people. Also, page 485 features a spoiler for Captain America: Civil War. It’s not a huge deal and I think we all guessed it, but I have to give this another, “Way to go, dum-dums”.

Muppets Select Action Figures Series 2 – Diamond Select Toys (496)

I didn’t order the first wave of these because I simply can’t collect everything, but man do I want every character in this assortment. I can’t believe Statler and Waldorf come with their balcony box! Animal’s drum kit looks great, too. These figures are truly fantastic. I wish I had the budget for another line.

Star Trek Starship Legends Romulan Bird of Prey – Diamond Select Toys (500)

I’ve mentioned it time and again, but DST’s Starship Legends toys are incredible. I’m excited every time I see a new one, and even more so when it’s not an Enterprise. This Bird of Prey is gorgeous and I can’t wait to hang it from my ceiling.

GARY’S PICK OF THE MONTH!
(that he doesn’t know about)
Legends of Cthulu Action Figures – Warpo Toys (510-511)

This is an awesome assortment of crazy-ass Lovecraftian toys. Four 3.75” figures, a twelve inch Elder God, and a special Collector set – all lovingly designed by Warpo Toys, who were guests on Episode 82 of the Needless Things Podcast!

2000 AD Judge Fear 1/12 Scale Action Figure – 3A trading Company (557)

This is clearly meant as a companion to Mezco’s One:12 Collective Judge Dredd. It looks great and like it has the same quality and style. I’m very tempted to order one, but given my only casual Dredd fandom I think it would be going a bit too far. It does look awesome, though.

Unaffiliated Thoughts

Melissa Benoist as Supergirl continues to be my favorite superhero on television.
Flash is my favorite of the shows.

Agent Carter has been fantastic this season and I’ll be sad if this is all we get. I hope that the Mockingbird/British Dude show isn’t replacing it, but I have a feeling that’s the case.
Venture Bros. is still the best overall thing on television. Not comic related, but worth mentioning.

We’ll be doing a  Needless Things Podcast on DC’s Rebirth event soon, so be sure to keep an eye on the show. And since toys are such a big part of this column, check out Friday’s show to learn about this year’s Joelanta and the Great Atlanta Toy Convention as I talk to one of the con’s creators, Marten Jallad!

*****

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!

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the shoutout, Phantom. Oh, and high recommendation for the Lou Schiemer book. It's a good read.

    Bobby

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  2. I'm going to give the Scooby Apocalypse book a shot for nostalgic reasons if nothing else, the DC Animated figures and Doctor Who books are also on my pull list. My comic shop has already given me a deal on the Domino Lady books, so I'm already looking forward to another month with very little spare change.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Sorry I doubled up the same post.

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