Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Comic Book Wednesday – Previews May 2016: “Image=”


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.

Now it’s Image Comics’ turn to have their own separate little book. DC, meanwhile, is back to being in the main book. Thanks goodness.

Outcast by Kirkman & Azaceta (Front Cover, 213)

I haven’t read this one, but it’s on the front cover so I feel like I have to say something about it. I dig that art and the logo is cool. Robert Kirkman writes one of the most consistently great comic books I’ve ever read and as such I should probably give this a shot.

Honestly, Outcast is just a victim of my finances. It’s hard for me to take a chance on a new book when I’m already spending more than I really care to on comics.

I do find this interesting – the mention that it’s going to be a series on Cinemax. I get the idea of media synergy and often try to jump on certain bandwagons myself just to ride a wave of internet interest. I mean, it’s always stuff that I would write or talk about anyway, but I am certainly aware of the timing of things like doing a Star Wars podcast near May the Fourth. But I have to wonder how many people that buy Previews every month are really susceptible to the, “Look – it’s a TV show!” concept. I think most of us are looking for good comic books that stand on their own and don’t give on bit of a crap about whether or not something has been speculated on by Hollywood. There have been so many lousy movies and TV shows made based on comics that that’s hardly a ringing endorsement of quality. Plus, it’s Cinemax. HBO might have a pedigree, but Cinemax is where we go to see almost-porn.

Actually, HBO has almost-porn, too. Theirs just has dragons.

DC Rebirth (Back Cover, 82-103)

Between the upcoming podcast episode and my DC Previews rundown from two weeks ago I’ve said all I want to about “Rebirth” for right now. My biggest concern is the twice-monthly format. I think that’s a terrible idea and it’s keeping me from checking out more titles.

Play Arts Kai Arkham Knight Batgirl (2)

I’m a sucker for a Batgirl figure and I’m a sucker for Arkham Knight characters. I am not typically a sucker for action figures that cost a hundred and thirty bucks, so I think I’ll be able to resist this one. I will see what it works out to with my discount because I have one other Batgirl from this series and it’s awesome, but once again I am back to “Would I rather spend that money on this or One:12 Collective figures?”

Side Note: You, too can probably get a discount of varying amounts from your Local Comic Book Shop. Most solid stores will give you a bit of a deal on stuff if you have an ongoing pull service with them. Inquire today and support small business!

Tim Seeley Interview (15)

I don’t normally pay much attention to this front portion of Previews because I want to go ahead and get to the part where I can order toys, but Seeley is one of my favorite writers working today. This interview reveals that he is working on a comic book sequel to the Peter David-penned Full Moon movie Oblivion. That is very exciting to me. I have a feeling this little tidbit of information might come up again later…

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY! (33-41)

Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday! Familiarize yourself with what’s being offered and what your Local Comic Book Shops are going to be doing. If you’re local to Georgia I recommend you visit Galactic Quest in scenic Lawrenceville. They’re cross-promoting with several of the businesses in their area and it sounds like it’s going to be tons of fun. There’s even going to be live music by Pals Of Ol’ Phantom, Radio Cult!

Black Hammer #1 – Dark Horse (46)

This book excites me. The art looks fantastic and the concept of a group of old school heroes that were banished from their world by a “multiversal crisis” is rife with potential for adventure, excitement, and smart commentary on the state of the comics industry. I haven’t read a ton of Jeff Lemire’s work because he’s often brought in on titles that I’m not already buying or that I don’t have a connection to the characters. I loved his run on Animal Man, though, and look forward to seeing what he does for Dark Horse, who I consider to be the top provider of quality in the comics world.

Plus, this art looks fantastic.

Conan the Slayer #1 – Dark Horse (50)

Of course I’m going to buy a Conan book written by Cullen Bunn.

Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens #1 – Dark Horse (52)

DAMMIT. What are you doing to me, Dark Horse? I only have so much comic book money! At least it’s just four issues, so I can justify a total of sixteen bucks for whatever kind of madness this book will present.

Can someone just go ahead and sign Karl Urban up for a movie adaptation? And let’s get Lexi Alexander to direct.

Wonder Woman: The True Amazon – DC (114-115)

Wonder Woman as envisioned by Jill Thompson. This is a must-have. As much as I might criticize DC, I love that they still do cool stuff like this with their characters.

Robin Vo. 3: Solo TP – DC (132)

I loved these old Tim Drake comics by Chuck Dixon. Alan Grant and John Wagner also contribute stories to this collection, so you know it’s good. I can’t recall how mature the content was, but I hope these are okay for Phantom, Jr. Robin is his favorite and I’d love to share these with him.

Wonder Woman by George Perez Vol. 1 TP – DC (137)

I have to admit that I’ve never read any of Perez’ acclaimed run on Wonder Woman. I have certainly seen his Wonder Woman art over the years and it’s some of the best. I’m excited to see a collection that I can just pick up and read.

Wonder Woman 75 Box Set – DC (137)

And then there’s this massive collection of comics. There’s no page count, but fifty bucks for a nice slipcase containing four seminal arcs seems solid to me. I will say I’d like to see a more concentrated effort to acknowledge the 75th anniversary of the most important woman in comics.

Wonder Woman: A Celebration of 75 Years HC – DC (138)

For ten bucks less than the last entry you can get a hardcover with 400 pages of unspecified content. I’m not as sure about this one. New 52 Wonder Woman on the cover does not fill me with hope, as good as Chiang’s illustration may be. I think I would’ve preferred The Greatest Wonder Woman Stories Ever Told. I’d love it if DC would bring back that format.

Justice League of America Action Figure 7-Pack – DC Collectibles (149)

If you want the excellent DC Icons action figures but don’t care about the accessories, this is a fantastic deal. It works out to less than eighteen bucks per figure. Even though I’m choosing not to collect the Icons line, I will personally vouch for the figures as some of the best on the market today. If you love the Justice League and want to nail all of the major members in one shot, this box set is awesome. Believe me – I’m tempted to order it myself.

Harley Quinn: Red, Black, and White Holiday Statue – DC (151)

Harley Quinn is great. Christmas is great. I want this statue. But I’m (mostly) not a statue guy. I love that the bomb and the hammer are gift wrapped.

Batgirl of Burnside Deluxe Action Figure – DC (153)

Yes – I know I just said I’m not collecting Icons, but unless Mezco announces they’re doing this Batgirl in the next ten minutes, I have to have this. As with all Icons releases, the accessories are above and beyond what almost any other line offers. The motorcycle looks great and according to DCC comes off of that base and has free-rolling wheels.

Wait a minute – has DC dropped the “Icons” designation? I just realized that neither this not the Justice League set have it in the title. That’s weird because I thought it was such a good name for the line.

DC Films Action Figures – DC (154-155)

That Wonder Woman looks great. Honestly, Jor-El and Nam-Ek look fantastic, though I just can’t imagine anyone being excited about forty-five dollar action figures from a movie that seems to be so poorly thought of. I hope this line does gangbusters for DCC, but it just isn’t my bag. I’m sure I’ll buy at least one for review at some point.

ROM #1 - IDW (158)

I don’t have any particular attachment to ROM, but I know my buddy Scott will be all over this. I’m surprised there isn’t any interior art featured here, but Christos Gage is a great writer and one that will tell some great stories of ROM’s battle against the Dire Wraiths. While I’m curious to see how this does and where it goes, I can’t commit to picking it up for myself.

They’re also offering a box set that collects all of the variant covers. I think if you’re going to be gross enough to do variants, it is at least thoughtful to make collecting them all easy. IDW is also producing ROM variant covers for several of their titles this month.

The New Mutants: Bill Sienkiewicz Marvel Artist Select Series - IDW (190)

This is a legendary run of comic books. This special book collects Sienkiewicz’ entire run (along with Chris Claremont) on The New Mutants, which is some of the coolest comic book stuff you’ll ever read. If this was a standard trade I’d buy it in a second. But this carries the dreaded “Please Inquire” price listing, which means it’s strictly rich people stuff. If you’re looking for something fancy for me for Christmas, here you go.

Image+ - Image (Separate Publication)

This doesn’t get its own post like DC’s “Rebirth” magazine because I just don’t have as much to write about. There’s no singular event to promote here, just a magazine to focus on Image’s comics.

It opens with a comic strip that shits on creators who do work-for-hire. I realize that is not the intent, but that is exactly what is going on here. I think they could have put over the freedom that Image allows its creators without even mentioning the competition. Instead, they created a narrative that makes the sometimes all-to-necessary employment decision of working on someone else’s characters seem somehow undignified and less than noble.
Across from that is an earnest letter from Eric Stephenson about the value of comic shops. It explains that the purpose of the magazine is to give the shops something special to promote Image’s upcoming projects.

The sentiment about comic shops is nice, but something about the “we’re publishing this for comic shops” rings slightly disingenuous to me.

I hate to start this off with such criticism because I genuinely love Image and have the highest opinion of their place in the comic book industry. But this whole introductory section just stank of politics rather than a sincere love of the art form, which is a shame because when I think about passion for comic books, I usually think of Image.

The overriding message of the first half of the magazine is “Girl Power”, which is a smart message to present. Halfway through is a two-page spread for Babs Tarr, Cameron Stewart, and Brendan Fletcher’s (Batgirl of Burnside, which I love and will miss) new project, Motor Crush.

The rest of the magazine features interviews promoting various Image things. This is not, as I mistakenly thought, Image’s solicitations in a separate book. It’s more a presentation of their agenda, which is totally okay. I can even forgive the snide cartoon at the beginning because I was mistaken about the tone and purpose here. It didn’t do much for me, but I think people that are fans specifically of Image and support the publisher in whatever they do will dig this.

The end of the magazine features an exclusive comic called “Here’s Negan” that gives an origin story for one of comicdom’s most nefarious villains. The back page is an order form, which is kind of weird since there aren’t any actual solicitations in here.

Descender #13 - Image (220)

This cover art caught my eye. I never checked out Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen’s book, but I might have to. I know I’ve seen the title before, but I either didn’t notice the creative team or whatever art they used to promote it wasn’t as striking. Lemire on his own won’t compel me to buy a book, but Nguyen is fantastic. The combination piques my curiosity.

Civil War II - Marvel (Cover, M1-30)

This is still going on?

I kid. Of course it’s still going on. And good for Marvel if it gets them some attention and makes them some money.

For my part, it means I get to skip thirty pages of Marvel’s book and get to the toys faster.
And… this is all I’ve got for Marvel this month. Nothing’s launching, no big deals are happening other than the Civil War sequel. There are a ton of collected editions and trades in the back that look solid.

Scarlet Book Two HC – Marvel (M??)

Just buy it. Book one was offered last month, though I think that was a trade paperback. This is a fantastic comic with Bendis at his best and Alex Maleev… well, Maleev doesn’t have any setting other than “Best”.

Silver Surfer Vol. 4: Citizen of Earth (M98)

This is one of the best comics I’m reading right now. If you want to see what I think Doctor Who should be, read this comic. It gets my highest recommendation.

Spidey Vol. 1: First Day - Marvel (M102)

If you want fun, continuity-free, all-ages Spider-Man comics, these are them. I love this book and my son does, too.

Black Panther by Christopher Priest: The Complete Collection Vol. 4 - Marvel (M114)

Check out Christopher Priest’s website and his insightful, fascinating stories about working in the comics industry. I’ve become addicted to it lately in the same way I was to Jim Shooter’s site a few years ago (he stopped updating for a while, but it looks like he’s back!).

I need to read Priest’s run on Panther. Nice of Marvel to provide such a timely tie-in.

Rock and Roll Biographies: NOFX – Acme Ink (257)

In the spirit of the classic Rock N’ Roll Comics, this series pieces together the stories behind the success of various bands. This time they’re covering one of my favorite punk bands, NOFX. I basically know the story, but I’ll be more than happy to see it illustrated and told in the Acme style.

Oblivion #1 – Action Lab (263)

I told you this would come up again later.

I’m a huge fan of Full Moon Studios and Oblivion was one of the most interesting movies that they released. It was full of promise, but didn’t totally deliver due to budgetary limitations. Now Tim Seeley is continuing the story with the ability to create whatever narrative he wants in a world that’s already established.

Captain Kid #1 – Aftershock Comics (266)

Reverse Shazam written by Mark Waid. SOLD. When we were kids, Billy Batson was wish fulfillment. Now, decades later as our bodies are starting to fail and life’s responsibilities have sucked away much of the wonder and hope we used to feel, Chris Vargas is our guy. He can transform into teenage superhero Captain Kid.

I’m in. And somewhat depressed.

Lifespanners #1 – Aftershock Comics (267)

All of a sudden this Aftershock company has gotten even more interesting. Once again Tim Seeley comes up, this time with a book about a world where people can obtain superpowers in exchange for portions of their lifespan. This sounds intriguing and TV-ready.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Volume 1 TPB – Archie Comics Publications (288)

Roberto Sacasa and Robert Hack are creating an amazing horror comic. I’ve never read anything quite like this. Both this trade and the ongoing series (returning in July) get my recommendation.

The Signature Art of Brian Stelfreeze HC – BOOM! Studios (312)

If you were reading Batman comics in the 90s, then you know Stelfreeze’s work from his incredible and eye-catching covers for Batman: Shadow of the Bat. But he’s done so much more than that, including a run on the current Black Panther from Marvel. This is a big ol’ book of gorgeous art from one of the masters.

Torchwood #1 - Titan (426ish)

Number your pages, Titan.

I think Torchwood is one of the most disappointing television shows I’ve ever seen. I love Captain Jack Harkness and the mythology of the Doctor Who universe. I was very excited for a spinoff featuring Captain Jack fighting his own battles. But I personally thought that every bit of the show was awful. Hopefully this comic book takes the opportunity to explore the possibilities of the premise in a better way.

I have no idea if John Barrowman and his sister, Carole, will write good comics or not, but I hope they do. And regardless of my opinion, I hope that the fans of Torchwood will be pleased with the book.

Disney Parks Presents: The Haunted Mansion HC w/ CD – Disney/Pixar (488)

I’m sure pretty much everyone already has several versions of “Grim, Grinning Ghosts”, but the picture book is the real draw here (pun intended). Any Haunted Mansion art is a must-have in my house.

Tales from the Haunted Mansion Volume 1: The Fearsome Foursome HC – Disney/Pixar (488)

More Haunted Mansion goodness, plus it’s designed to look like a volume from the library of the Haunted Mansion!

Gris Grimley’s Tales from the Brothers Grimm HC (490)

Gris Grimley is one of the most fantastic, unique artists working in illustration today. Not that this matters a bit, but I met him at Dragon Con several years ago and he was a swell fella, too. If you’re not following his Instagram account, you should be.

STAR Labs Flex Fit Cap – PX Apparel (506)

I need a new cap. I don’t wear them often, but my old Ring Of Honor one is about done. Flex Fits are the only kinds I can stand to wear on my giant head, but they come in M/L and L/XL and Previews NEVER offers sizing information or options. I’d wear this, but I doubt I’ll be able to get my size.

Deadman T-Shirt – PX Apparel (506)

Dammit, I don’t need any more t-shirts! My closet is stuffed. I love Deadman and I want this shirt. Unlike last month’s Starman shirt, I can’t resist a Neal Adams Deadman.
I’m pretty sure I ordered that Starman shirt, too.

Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Cobra Commander T-Shirt – Mighty Fine Inc. (513)

It’s an election year and there’s nothing I love more than topical t-shirts. And Cobra Commander.

GARY’S
PICK OF THE MONTH
(that he doesn’t know about)
Vote Cthulu 2016 T-Shirt (516)

I don’t feel like this would endanger my well-being and immortal soul any more than any of the other candidates.

Ghostbusters Select Series 3 Action Figures – Diamond Select Toys (521)

I have the first series of these and they are fantastic – reviews coming soon – and blow Mattel’s out of the water. Or toy aisle. Whatever. I’m not particularly happy that I have to buy another Ray to get a diorama piece, but the diorama is HUGE and beautiful. Just the three pieces I have are enormous.

Diamond did screw up the first series and didn’t include attachments needed for the proton packs and streams, but you can contact the Customer Service department and they will send them to you.

Is Slimer grabbing Ray’s butt?

Nightmare Before Christmas Santa Jack & Sally Dolls – Diamond Select Toys (525)

I love that DST are producing all of these Jun Planning style dolls. These look great and hopefully will release in time for Christmas. If you’re a NBX fan, check these new dolls from Diamond out. They’re the closes thing you’re going to get to one of the figures from the movie.

Gotham Select Series 3 Action Figures – Diamond Select Toys (526)

These have all looked great so far and I love the huge set pieces they come with. I’m not collecting them, but between the fact that Barbara Keane has become the best character on the show and her figure comes with the classic Arkham Asylum gate, I might have to get that one. Heck, I could probably use a dumpster and a bookcase, too. Diamond could make money just selling accessory packs of this stuff.

Batman: The Animated Series Batman Jumbo Action Figure – Gentle Giant (540)

This would look excellent on my Batman shelf, but my new Would I Rather Have A One:12 Figure rule rules it out. All of these oversized reproduction shave looked great. I’d love to meet someone that had a full collection of them just to see how weird it looked to see giant versions of classic toys all together. You’d feel like a kid again.

One:12 Collective Captain America and Daredevil Action Figures - Mezco (555)

SOLD. I’ve been drooling over the thought of these ever since Mezco first debuted them at Toy Fair. I can’t remember the last time I was as excited for an action figure line as I am for these One:12 Collectives. If I had to stop collecting everything but one line (and just typing that made me ill), this would be the line I would continue. I gave Judge Dredd and Dark Knight Returns Batman perfect scores, but you guys really just don’t even know how amazing these are until you’ve seen one in person. They’re not just pricey Megos. They’re the action figures I’ve been waiting for my entire life.

Sadistik 1/6-Scale Figure - Phicen (557)

This company is doing some great stuff at a comparatively affordable price. I want their Star Crash Caroline Munro something terrible, but I’ve managed to resist so far. I don’t want this Sadistik, rad though it is, but if they did a Fantomas or Diabolik like this I’d have to buy them.
Unaffiliated Thoughts

The Supergirl TV finale was great. The show has found its way and I'm hooked. I still haven't read anything official about a second season, but I sure do hope we get one.
Legends of Tomorrow is pretty bad. The characters continue to be unlikable and dumb and Ray Palmer has been turned into a big, whiny pussy. When the show has good moments, they are great, but it's not going to be long before they aren't worth sitting through the bad to get to. As of right now I don't care if it gets a second season or not.

Felicity Smoak has been transformed from one of the most wonderful and endearing characters on TV into a complete asshole. I don't know if this is some kind of statement about how people can change once you're in a committed relationship or what, but I sure do miss her smile.

Flash has gotten pretty uneven in terms of writing, but is still the best superhero show overall.

But Gotham is the one I look forward to every week. It's crazy. I'm not saying it's good, but it entertains the heck out of me.

Tune in to the Needless Things Podcast this Friday. Ryan and I are going to run down the MCU to date in preparation for Civil War.

*****


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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