Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Comic Book Wednesday – Previews July 2016: “A Plurality of Ps”


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.

Young Animal - DC (Front Cover, 88-89)

DC just keeps being interesting.

Here’s what DC Young Animal “Guiding Light” Gerard Way says:



It sounds like “Young Animal” is similar to what Marvel has done with Gwenpool, Silver Surfer, Howard the Duck, Spider-Woman, and some other fringe titles that skirt continuity (until they get sucked into some shitty crossover, anyway). Which is to say that it will feature characters we know that aren’t so critical to the universe at large that they have to deal with fan expectations and mass-market synergy. Or something.

The difference is that DC was smart enough to put a name on it and put a respected creator like Gerard Way in front of it.

Side Note: That’s in no way meant to diminish the talent working on the aforementioned Marvel books. Those are Marvel’s best books in my opinion. There’s just not a singular person to hang the “Creative Director” sign on.

Mrs. Troublemaker doesn’t get too excited about comics anymore, but when she saw members of the Doom Patrol on this cover, her interest was piqued. Personally, I’m thrilled to see Flex Mentallo.

Whatever the case, this is exciting and I’ll be checking out anything under the “Young Animal” banner.

It’s worth noting that Previews changed their masthead for this. I don’t know that this is unprecedented, but I can’t remember seeing anything more than a color change in the past. I mean, other than actual redesigns that have stuck. I don’t recall them changing it for a specific comic book.

Marvel Now! - Marvel (Back Cover)

This is obviously the fallout from Civil War II, but there’s nothing specific about it in the solicitations. These three characters are quite popular and Marvel could do worse than reorganizing the Universe around them. Or just giving them a team book and making it a flagship title.

Yes – I am aware that they’re in a team book and that’s the point of them burning their Avengers IDs, but I mean an all-new team. Not something that’s just given a recognizable title so that it will sell.

UPDATE: I wrote this over the weekend. Marvel announced Champions on Tuesday.

Art of Atari – Dynamite (Inside Front Cover, 336-339)

A gorgeous, old-school ad for a book that I am very excited about. If you read my Atari post from earlier this year you know that the 2600 was my gateway to video gaming. 
Something I neglected to mention was the spectacular art that graced the boxes, cartridges, and advertisements for Atari’s releases. This art was a critical element of the brand’s success, as it sparked the imagination of the masses and sold the stories behind the simple graphics of the games being produced. Art of Atari covers everything.

There’s a regular edition for forty bucks and a deluxe slipcase for a hundred. The slipcase has several fancy extras, including a Steam Key that allows you to download 100 Atari games. I loved Atari back in the day, but I gotta be honest – I have zero desire to play most of those games ever again. I can barely think of five that would be worth the time, let alone a hundred.

Comic Con HQ (6-7)

For five bucks a month you can stream whatever the Comic Con powers that be deem geeky enough to retain your interest (and money). I took a survey from Wizard a few years ago asking me about this exact sort of thing, but it looks like the Comic Con folks beat them to it.

I don’t know how much programming they’re going to be able to wrangle, but I am keenly interested to see how this shakes out. It will probably determine the format and viability of any number of niche streaming services.

It will also, undoubtedly, create intense feelings of jealousy from me over the number of people that get jobs providing content while I sit here slowly dying at my day job.

Halloween Comic Fest 2016 (37-47)

How awesome is it that this is a thing? Plenty of publishers are taking part in what is sort of a spookier version of Free Comic Book Day. On October 29th, we can all put on costumes and head out to the Local Comic Shop to grab some nifty free books! Contact your LCS now and urge them to plan an event!

Aliens: Life and Death #1 – Dark Horse (52-53)

The Predator and Prometheus entries into this saga have been excellent, so I recommend you check them out. This, the Aliens-centric entry, features art by the incomparable Moritat, one of my favorite visual storytellers. I’m excited to read the next chapter in the Life and Death story, but even more excited to see Moritat draw some aliens and predators.

Hellboy and the BPRD: 1954 – Black Sun #1 – Dark Horse (59)

No, this story isn’t about the time Hellboy met Prince Xizor.

At least, not as far as I know.

These stories of Hellboy’s early adventures have been great fun and don’t rely on any previous knowledge of Mike Mignola’s most famous creation. Any of them would be a great starting point.

Cyborg: Rebirth/Cyborg #1 – DC (92-93)

All-new adventures of Victor Stone written by Needless Things Podcast guest John Semper Jr.! If you don’t know, John was the showrunner for Spider-Man: The Animated Series. He’s a great guy and has a brilliant mind for storytelling. Go listen to the episode and add Cyborg to your pull list!

Trinity #1 – DC (96)

Team-up books don’t usually keep my interest for very long, but Francis Manapul’s pitch for the Superman in this title intrigued me, as I mentioned in my Rebirth rundown and in the DC Rebirth episode of the Needless Things Podcast.

Batman #6 – DC (103)

I love this cover. It reminds me of covers from the mid-80s for some reason. Maybe I’m a little off on that, but it just has a very cool sense of action and mystery that I feel like I don’t see very often. All that’s missing is a blurb that says, “GOTHAM GIRL – IN THE CLUTCHES OF THE BATMAN?!?”

Also, that is one tiny skirt that Gotham Girl is wearing.

Batman/TMNT #1 Director’s Cut – DC/IDW (132)

This was an excellent miniseries that did a fantastic job of mixing iconic characters. I’m not going to fall for the double-dip, but if you didn’t pick it up the first time around I recommend you check it out. Or wait for the trade. But definitely read it.

Goodnight Batcave – MAD (137)

This is just silly. I’ll have to get it.

The Flash By Geoff Johns Vol. 3 TP – DC (142)

I just finished the first volume of Johns’ work on the Scarlet Speedster and am about to start volume 2. It’s been great so far and has clued me in to why so many comics fans love Wally West as much as they do. I like him, but it was only because of the Justice League cartoons and Michael Rosenbaum. Now I’m getting a look at the print version.

Batman Animated: Batman Beyond 3-Pack – DC Collectibles (162)

These figures look fantastic and as much as I’d like to have an Ace, Batman Beyond was just never my thing. I don’t dislike it at all, but as picky as I’m trying to be about toys lately I can’t branch out into stuff that’s only a mild interest.

Revolution #1 & #2 - IDW (164-169)

A note to IDW – “Celebrating more than a decade of stories by IDW and HASBRO” is a descriptor that immediately turns me off. Personally, it’s because I don’t care for most of what IDW has done with the GI Joe franchise. And from a general reader standpoint it suggests that I need to be aware of that decade-plus of stories to appreciate this.

I’m all for this HASBRO shared universe. I want great stories about these franchises that I grew up with and I think that bringing them together to strengthen each brand and draw in disparate fandoms that might not be big enough to support individual titles in some cases is a great idea. It excites me that Cullen Bunn is involved because I like everything that I’ve read from him.

I don’t care for the cover art shown here one bit, but a quick Google search for the interior artist – Fico Ossio – shows me that it probably isn’t his work. I like most of what I saw there, even his Skylanders stuff.

Then there’s this checklist of $3.99 books that I am apparently going to need to read to follow the story:


Ugh. I’m exhausted just from thinking about all of this. As much as I’d like to get into it, there’s just too much here that I’m not invested in (and don’t want to inve$t in), which is the big flaw in the whole “bringing them together to strengthen each brand and draw in disparate fandoms that might not be big enough to support individual titles” thing.


Side Note: Who thought it was a good idea to put the pacifist, Lifeline, in front of the folks running into battle? If there’s not an editor at IDW who realizes that that’s wrong, then they aren’t the guys to be doing these books. That is some awesome John Byrne artwork, though.

In all seriousness – I wish these books the best of luck and I hope that people love them. Even if it’s not to my liking, more attention on these franchises is only good for their longevity.

Bloom County Episode XI: A New Hope - IDW (180-181)

I ordered my copy from Berke Breathed’s website because they had some kind of special edition (not to be confused with the Special Editions – as far as I know Breathed isn’t redoing effects and panels). If you didn’t do that and want to have print versions of the new Bloom County strips that were released last year, order this.

Side Note: Bloom County is the greatest comic anything, ever.

Glitterbomb #1 - Image (208-209)

Jim Zub is a name I’ve seen quite a bit, but I don’t think I’ve ever read any of his work. There’s something here that grabbed my attention. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I feel like I have to read this book. It’s about a middle-aged actress and the shallowness of Hollywood. Also, in the preview page, a Hollywood executive gets killed by a gigantic demon tongue.

That might be the thing.

Civil War II - Marvel (Cover, M1-37)

Still.

I’m not reading any of it, but things I’m seeing online suggest that this story isn’t being received all that well. That’s not to say that it isn’t good, because I don’t know, but a lot of people seem to dislike it.

I will say this – I flipped through the portion of Marvel Previews that is devoted to Civil War II and its tie-ins and there is some magnificent artwork in there. Even if you’re skipping the crossover, check out the section.

Also, Marvel seems to be numbering all of their pages now. So thanks for that!

Howard the Duck #11 - Marvel (M55)

MOTHERPOOPINGCRAPBURGER. One of my favorite Marvel comics is ending. Every single issue of Zdarsky and Quinone’s run has been an absolute delight, no matter how many times the ediots in charge have renumbered it. I hope that someday it gets an omnibus edition that can ignore all of the moronic numbering.

Gwenpool #6 - Marvel (M62)

Much to my surprise, Gwenpool is very good. It’s fun and it’s completely different from anything else Marvel is doing. Except for Silver Surfer and Howard the Duck. It’s actually a lot like those. If you like fun comics and won’t get hung up on what appears to be a girl dressed up like Deadpool that is kind of a rip-off of Spider-Gwen (it’s not any of that), I highly recommend you check this book out.

Skybourne #1 (of 5) – BOOM! (304-306)

Frank Cho produces some incredible art. I can’t say I’m familiar with his writing, but “Indiana Jones crossed with James Bond with fantasy elements” sounds awesome. Also there’s Merlin and Excalibur. Sign me up for this one.

The Official Art of Big Trouble in Little China – BOOM! (308-309)

BOOM! has found my weakness. I’ll buy just about anything about this movie. Next month I’m expecting The Official Weather Reports From the Set of Big Trouble in Little China. And I’ll buy it.

Double Take Trade Paperbacks – Double Take (367-368)

What the heck is all of this? The publisher lived up to their name because I did a literal double take on these pages. The cover art on each collection is beautiful and I love the uniformity of the mastheads. It’s always nice when you can recognize a publisher’s stuff easily.

There are ten total books here, each ranging from 128 to 144 pages of full color stories. They collect five issues of comics I have never heard of but am now extremely curious about. The crazy thing is, each of the descriptions sounds good. Plenty of publishers have put pretty covers on garbage, but these collections sound like something from the Masters of Horror television series.

I just find it odd that there’s so much material represented here and that I’ve never heard of any of this before. Not that I’m genius comic guru or anything, but this is a large collection of storytelling to have slipped past my radar.

Carthago - Humanoids (390-391)

That is one big effing shark.

The preview pages feature some classy-looking art and the story sounds good. I wonder if a comic book can capture the same kind of intensity as a movie. I’ve read some horror comics in my time, and while they can be compelling, I can’t say I’ve ever been as frightened by one as I have a film. Still, if the story and characters are good enough, this could be a great read.

Bad Little Children’s Books (505)

Oh, man – this looks hilarious. It’s a collection of parodies of those super-old Golden Books covers. The ones that just had kids on them behaving themselves, from before Golden was licensing everything under the sun.

The Stanley Kubrick Archives: Bibliotecha Edition HC (507)

A must for any fan of film. Kubrick is one of the more enigmatic directors, so any kind of look behind the scenes of his work is special. I’m super excited for this one.

Star Wars Joke Book (510)

I would have loved this when I was a kid. This will make an excellent stocking stuffer.
Yes – I do start shopping for Christmas in July.

Buckaroo Banzai Tour Shirt (521)

This is unbelievably cool. In addition to being a crime fighter and a super scientist, Buckaroo Banzai also played guitar and fronted the Hong Kong Cavaliers’ band. I love in-universe merchandise. Sure, it’s cool to have a shirt with the movie poster on it, but to have something that looks like it came from the world of the movie is so much better.

The design on this is perfect. They didn’t just lift one of the movie logos – this really looks like a tour shirt that a band would have had in 1984. I don’t need any more t-shirts, but I can’t pass up something from one of my favorite movies that was crafted so well.

Muppets Select Action Figures Series 3 – Diamond Select Toys (543)

I would love to have these figures, but I just can’t collect everything. If Muppets are your thing, you should absolutely be buying these. DST makes some of the best toys around and I’d bet these are no exception. And I am blown away by the assortments. They’re releasing incredibly satisfying sets of characters with every wave. Rowlf is my favorite, but I know if I buy him I’ll just end up getting them all.

Godzilla Stuff! – Diamond Select Toys (547)

If you guys have been reading these Previews posts from the beginning you know that I love Diamond Select Toys, but am particularly impressed with their vinyl bust and figural banks. These are an alternative to spending a ton of money on Japanese imports or statues. They look fantastic on the shelf. Highly recommended.

RAD RANGER’S
PICK OF THE MONTH
(that he doesn’t know about)

Power Rangers Legacy: Red Ranger Helmet (553)

Out of respect for my friend and Dirty Dirty Con Con Game Game Show Show co-worker, I feel obligated to mention this 1:1 scale replica helmet.

And no – he won’t be wearing it during the game show at Dragon Con this year. The last thing I need is our A/V guy collapsing from asphyxiation.

Dick Sprang Batman Maquette (554)

This is absolutely beautiful. It’s too rich for my blood, but I’d love to have this smiling Gotham guardian on one of my shelves.

One:12 Collective Green Arrow Action Figure - Mezco (554)

Green Arrow was, for many folks, the highlight of the figures that Mezco revealed at Toy Fair earlier this year. This is truly an incredible-looking action figure. Aside from the Arrow TV show I don’t have a lot of attachment to the character, so I’m going to do my best to resist the urge to order this one.

DC Superfriends 8-Inch Action Figures Series 2 – Figures Toy Company (556)

These days I love and appreciate Kenner’s Super Powers line, but if I’m being honest, what I really wanted back in the 80s was these guys. Figures is doing a great job of creating toys that “should have been” with their Superfriends line. The head sculpts are excellent and the fabric clothing is bright and fun.

Game of Thrones Action Figures – Dark Horse (558)

It takes a big man to admit when he was wrong and I am nothing if not a big man.

In choosing Funko’s more articulated action figures over these statues, I was wrong. Funko’s 6” Legacy line appears to be essentially dead and barely covered the characters I wanted to own. Meanwhile, Dark Horse’s line continues on and is offering exciting new figures almost monthly. I backed the wrong Dothraki and now I’m stuck with a dead collection of figures that are too delicate to ship, so I can’t even unload them on eBay.

Mogwai Puppets (570)

These were designed by FX artist Russ Lukich using the original props as reference. The materials and dimensions are as close as you’re going to get to the real thing, and at seventy bucks, I’d say that’s a deal. I’d love to have both of these, but I think I’m going to have to stick to my NECA figures.

Lament Configuration Puzzle Cube - Mezco (572)

What’s the only way to make Cenobites even scarier? Have them come out of a diabolical invention like a Rubik’s Cube! I was around for the heyday of the original Rubik’s and I always hated the things. Even without demons launching chains out of it into my tender flesh, this thing is a pass.

Neat idea, though.

Living Dead Dolls Pinhead - Mezco (572)

Much like the above item, this is the only way Pinhead could be creepier. Ugh. It’s a child with nails in its head. Super. Let’s ship this one off to grandma.

In all seriousness, this will end up in my home. My wife collects these.

Vincent Price Sixth Scale Action Figure – Executive Replicas (572)

Someday I will absolutely have a nice Vincent Price in my collection (I mean besides my Egghead figure from Figures Toy Company), but this isn’t quite the right one.

One:12 Collective Punisher Action Figure – Mezco (574)

Green Arrow is impressive and Shazam was probably the most overwhelmingly superheroic of the offerings thus far, but this Punisher is the one that blew my mind. Every One:12 figure has looked great, but Frank here is the cream of the crop so far in my opinion. With three head sculpts, incredible wear detail, and a ton of hands and weapons, this is the figure to be reckoned with. I have to have it on my shelf.

M.O.T.U.S.C.L.E. Figures – Super 7 – (575)

Recommended. They’re just Masters of the Universe characters in MUSCLE minifigures form. Genius. I’d kind of like to have another set to open, but Super 7 has put up some great variants as exclusives lately. I’m hoping to get some of those.

He-Man Power Sword Replica – Icon Heroes (623)

I am baffled by this thing. It looks great. It’s 36” long, which seems about right. But it’s only $29.00, which to me excludes the idea of it being a “replica” and firmly places it in the category of “costume accessory”. To me, replicas are items that to the average Joe would be indistinguishable from the thing they are replicating. They’d have the same weight and feel and at least look like the same material.

Yes, I understand that there isn’t an actual Power Sword.

But thirty bucks says “plastic” to me, and that isn’t a replica. I want to order this just to find out what the heck it is, but I don’t have anywhere to put a Power Sword, replica or otherwise.

DC Comics Wall Lights (633)

Batman is awesome. I love Batman. But the last thing I need in my life is Batman’s head on my wall, watching and judging me as I do the things that I do, some of which aren’t pretty. And this is a particularly judgy Batman head. Look at those angled eyebrows and that frown. BATMAN DOES NOT APPROVE OF YOUR REDTUBE HABITS.
I do like the Batarang light, though.

Killer Klowns From Outer Space Cotton Candy Prop (638)

This makes me deliriously happy. Not that I would ever want this terrifying thing, but the idea that some crazy person decided that enough people would want this that it would be worthwhile to mass produce them is just wonderful.

CONTEST!!!!! WIN SOMETHING!!!

There was an item in the “Import Toys*Statues*Models” section that I found so inappropriate I wasn’t comfortable posting a picture of it, even though I very strongly felt it warranted comment. If you pick up this month’s issue of Previews and can guess which item I found so objectionable, I will send you a signed piece of Phantom art and a Random-Ass Toy from the Phantom Zone!

I honestly feel that whoever designed this thing should be investigated by the authorities.
Submit answers to PhantomTroublemaker@yahoo.com

Unaffiliated Thoughts

Preacher is rad. I was wrong to doubt Seth Rogen and his writing friend whose name I can’t remember right now. Goldberg. Evan Goldberg? They’re doing an amazing job. Like I said above – I can admit it when I’m wrong.

Out of the DC Rebirth books that I have read I enjoyed Detective Comics the most. Flash is solid, but I’m a little iffy on the artwork. Batman was very good. Wonder Woman is kind of annoying me with all of the jumping around. This makes me sad because I love Greg Rucka. Hopefully once the split narrative kicks in it will even out.

*****

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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