Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Comic Book Wednesday – DC Comics Previews April 2016: “Rebirth of Cool?”

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 month DC decided it would be fun to do their own little book like Marvel does. This is primarily because of the “Rebirth” event and is not currently scheduled to be a regular thing. As far as we know. Naturally, DC’s little book shipped late and didn’t arrive in our Local Comic Book Shops until last Wednesday. That means today you get the second – thought smaller and more focused – Previews rundown of the month.

This is as much a magazine putting over how exciting “Rebirth” is as it is a catalog. Having read it, I now totally understand why DC published it as a separate entity from Previews. It does a great job of drawing attention to the changes and making the event feel like a big deal and a possibility for solid new beginnings.

We’ll see.

I’ll be posting a new episode of the Needless Things Podcast this Friday where we get a little more in-depth about DC’s recent publishing history and what we expect (and would like for) “Rebirth” to accomplish. For this post, I’m sticking to my usual brief commentary about each entry.

Oh yeah - DC printed these in extremely limited quantities because they thought it best if news of their massive, line-wide promotion reached as few people as possible. As such, I was only able to obtain one copy from my Local Comic Book Shop. This means that some of the pictures you see are going to have my podcast prompts on them. Sorry about that. Consider it a tease for what we'll be talking about on Friday.

Fortunately for DC, I'm here to spread their word.


Rebirth (Cover, all throughout)

We know a lot more than we used to about Rebirth, and yet still don’t really know anything. That won’t stop me from recording a podcast episode about it for this Friday, though!
DC seems to once again be trying to have their cake and eat it, too by doing a reboot that isn’t a reboot. I still say that if they had just made a clean cut with the New 52 and used things like Batman: Earth One to establish all-new continuities they’d be in a better place now than they are. All of this wishy-washy stuff isn’t doing them any favors.

Also, this Ivan Reis cover isn’t doing much for me. I’m normally a fan of Reis’s work, but this one image doesn’t excite me. Some of those faces are pretty mushy.

Inside Cover Business

The first thing that jumped out at me was the Harley Head Challenge. This is a fun little gimmick and the sort of thing at which Marvel used to excel. There’s no prize for finding the Harley heads, but the presence of this silly little game makes this volume – and, by extension “rebirth” itself – seem more fun and engaging.

Then I look up and see that awful Damian Wayne. That costume is hilariously overwrought. Unless he’s going to be in space or on Apokolips or something, this is the worst Robin costume I’ve ever seen. Especially when standing right next to a ratty-looking Superboy with a Walmart children’s hoody and artificially torn jeans that aren’t even long enough. Ugh.

Look – I want to be as positive as I can for “Rebirth”. I want to be excited about DC comics again. But when you throw laughable character designs like this in first thing, I can’t just overlook that.

UPDATE; Okay, I can admit when I’m wrong. I got deeper into the book and saw this:

Apparently this might be part of Damian’s version of Batman’s Dark Knight Returns armor. As-is it’s actually a bit sparse for that, but the idea of Damian feeling the need to fight Superboy (Clark Kent’s son) is very entertaining.

Finally – and I can’t believe I’ve spent this many words on a single page – there’s the list of DC characters and where they are in this book so you can easily jump to your favorites and see what the heck DC has done to them kind of exciting plans DC has in store!

Rebirth One-Shots (4-5)

In addition to the “Rebirth” comic that’s being released at midnight on May 24th DC is also publishing twenty different one-shots to establish the roles of specific characters in this totally-not-new DCU. I’ll run down which titles interest me below.

Magazine Stuff (1-31)

These are all interviews with the creative talents involved with each of the new “Rebirth” comics. There are also tidbits about the new paradigm and character situations.

At the forefront of many of these articles is the fact that a number of these titles are going to be bi-weekly. I think that this is a terrible idea. DC has had enough trouble keeping their creative teams consistent on monthly titles. And nothing turns me off of a comic book faster than artistic inconsistency. There’s absolutely no way they’re going to be able to keep that schedule without using a ton of fill-ins. And that right there turns me off of any of their proposed twice-monthly books. Especially when they’re saying right up front that some will have alternating artists each issue. Jim Lee and Phillip Tan may not having jarringly dissimilar styles, but it is noticeable and will take away from the narrative consistency.

I didn’t want to get too deep into the overall mechanics of “Rebirth” here because we’ll discuss it on Friday’s podcast, but I feel like you need my reasoning for whether or not I’m buying certain titles.

Also, I don’t like this picture at all:

Harley’s face is as generic as a comic book character’s could be. It has no personality whatsoever. That could be Psylocke or Jubilee or Banshee or Catwoman or any female character. And while this isn’t the worst Killer Croc I’ve ever seen, it sure isn’t good. He looks like angry broccoli.

DC Universe: Rebirth #1 (33)

How could I not by this? I love DC’s characters. No matter how badly they bungled the New 52, I have to give DC a chance. I’m not exactly pumped for the event, but I’m hoping for the best. I’m going to buy this and you should, too.

Also consider the fact that it’s 80 pages for (holding the line at!) $2.99. I doubt it will be much more than a glorified marketing brochure, but I’m still looking forward to reading it, for better or for worse.

Batman (38-39)

I’m interested in the concept of a fresh-faced hero showing up in Gotham City thinking he can handle it. I think there are a lot of story possibilities here. While Scott Snyder is helping out with the “Rebirth” issue, King is flying solo on the book. I’m not excited about it being twice monthly, but I’ll give it a shot because it’s Batman and new.

I also like the new Bat Symbol. I/m not so sure about that utility belt and codpiece, though.

Detective Comics (40-41)

This is one of the books that I’m actually excited for. James Tynion IV has a proven track record and I am a big fan of Eddy Barrows’ work. The story concept is kind of like Batman and the Outsiders in that he and Batwoman are working with a team that needs guidance. I love the idea of Clayface trying to reform and I dig every character being used in this book. I have high hopes for Detective Comics.

The Flash (44-45)

I just wanted to point out that it says not to read The Flash: Rebirth #1 until after you red DC Universe: Rebirth, so I think there’s a good chance Flash is central to whatever is going on with this change. I’d love to read a good Flash comic, but I’m not familiar with anyone on this creative team and with so many books shipping twice a month I have to be really choosy.

Wonder Woman (50-51)

Greg Rucka.

That’s all I need to see. None of his comics have let me down yet. Everything that he’s written that I have read has been great stuff. I’m not familiar with Liam Sharp, but judging from the cover shown he has a style that fits with the themes of mythology and wonder. I just hope they don’t get quite as deep into all of that as New 52 Wonder Woman did. I loved it at first, but eventually it got to be tiresome. And I love mythology.

Future Quest #2 (54)

I gushed over this last month, but I feel it’s worth mentioning again. Buy this comic. It will be excellent. It will be worth whatever weird crap DC does with the other Hanna-Barbera books just to get this one.

DC Super Hero Girls Vol. 1: Final Crisis (55)

Mattel did a very good job with the toys and the cartoon is a cute and clever use of DC’s universe and characters. I bet this’ll be good.

Harley Quinn Book and Mask Set (70)

That mask is awesome. They translated Amanda Conner’s art perfectly. And if you haven’t read the current Harley book, the included trade reprints issues 0-8, which are great fun. I recommend this set.

Batman Noir: The Killing Joke HC (71)

The Killing Joke is an outstanding landmark work in the history of comics, no matter how much people have decided to start shitting on it now.

That being said, this is the third color variation that DC has released. If you want to read it in black and white; this is your chance.

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TPB (71)

YES.

This was excellent. Remember above when I said James Tynion IV had my trust? This is part of the reason why. He displayed such an incredible understanding of these characters and their worlds. I never would have imagined that anyone could give me a Batman/TMNT story that would truly make me happy and Tynion did. Buy this.

DC Elseworlds: Justice League Vol. 1 TPB (75)

Elseworlds is good stuff. For those of you wondering how I was able to enjoy Dawn of Justice as much as I did, this is why. It’s all Elseworlds to me. Nothing will ever top the DC Animated Universe, so everything else is just Elseworlds.

Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka Vol. 1 TP (77)

I’ve never read these, so now I’m going to.

The description says it’s a trade paperback, but the picture is of a hardcover and the price suggests hardcover. I dunno.

Girl Power: Amanda Conner Gallery Edition (80)

Amanda Conner is one of the greatest illustrators of the modern age. This is a book that reproduces her original drawings from some of her best-known works. It’s a full 12”x17”, so it’s a big ol’ tome with a big ol’ price tag, but I’d love to have it.

Batman: The Animated Series Batwing (90)

Oh. One hundred and seventy-five bucks. That’s a little more than I thought this was going to be. Back when DC Collectibles first showed this mammoth plane at Toy Fair, they said it would be $150. Still pricey, but not as close to two hundred bucks.



I want it. I want it badly. But it’s over three feet of plastic and I just don’t know what the heck I’d do with it. It’s too damn big to hang from the ceiling, which is what I normally do with flying vehicles. For that price I do wish it had sounds. I still feel like the Batmobile should have.

DC Icons Accessory Pack 2 (91)

I love that DCC is producing these, even if I’ve decided against collecting their Icons line. This is a great set, but I wonder if the Starros have a mechanic in place to allow them to attach to figures’ faces.

DC Comics Designer Series: Amanda Conner Harley Quinn Action Figures (92)

You can probably guess that I’m ordering all four of these. It might seem like a lot of Harleys, and it is, but I like my growing Harley shelf. Besides, these look great.

DC Super Pets! (94)

These are great! I don’t collect much plush, but Joker Fish and Osito are must-haves. These things are adorable!

Harley Quinn: Red, White, and Black Statue (95)

This statue looks great and I love the color scheme, but I’m going to have to stick to action figures unless they make like, I dunno, a Halloween Batgirl or something.

DC Comics Bombshells: Halloween Batgirl Statue (96)

Oh, come on.

I actually saw a preview of this one several weeks ago and texted the picture to Mrs. Troublemaker. We both agreed it’s a must-have. This is the best Bombshells release so far. I don’t get why she’s Batgirl and not Batwoman because everything about the design and even her face looks more like Kate Kane, but whatever. This is an amazing piece.

Unaffiliated Thoughts

There’s a whole lot more to DC’s “Rebirth” than what was in this special Previews add-on, so stay tuned to Needless Things and the Needless Things Podcast to keep up with what’s happening!


*****

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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