Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Comic Book Wednesday – Previews April 2017: “Stop It, Statues”

By Phantom Troublemaker


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 are typically about three months away. Most of this month’s offerings are scheduled to ship in July.

Now it’s time to discuss a few of the weird and/or wonderful items offered in this month’s edition!

Dark Days: The Forge #1 – DC Comics (Front Cover, 80)

I do not yet know the full extent of this “greatest comics event of summer 2017”. I don’t know if it’s crossing over into every DC book or every Bat book or if it’s just a series unto itself. I don’t like not knowing, but I also have a renewed faith in DC thanks to the overall excellence of the Rebirth titles that I’ve been reading.

I have a certain amount of trust that whatever form this “Dark Days” takes, it will be in the service of storytelling more than it will be about simply making a quick buck or creating cheap buzz. That’s not to say that I have an issue with getting media attention or making money. This is, after all, an industry and those things are necessary parts of it. But as of late DC seems to have had a nice balance between art and the more vulgar aspects of the comic book industry. As opposed to certain other companies I could name.

In short – I’m giving this a chance. As fatigued as I have been by “events”, I actually do like crossovers when they’re good and feel earned.

If this is the sort of thing where there’s a main title, as well as things like “Dark Days: Superman” and “Dark Days: Green Lantern” without crossing into the regular books, I think that’s ideal. We’ll see.

I also like a good, old-fashioned annuals crossover.

DC/Looney Tunes – DC Comics (Inside Cover, 113-116)

This is weird. I mean, I’ve been seeing these characters intersect at Six Flags all my life, but seeing Jonah Hex and Foghorn Leghorn occupying the same space is at the very least a bit disorienting. Add to that the fact that Mark Texeira is illustrating and things only get weirder.
But whatever. Given the all-star creative teams and the fact that these are one-shots (I’m pretty sure), I’m all-in for these. Or maybe just for the collected edition when it comes out.

Free Comic Book Day (31-39)

This year Free Comic Book Day falls on Saturday, May 6th. Visit FREECOMICBOOKDAY.COM for more details!

Aliens Vs. Predator: Life and Death TP – Dark Horse (53)

I have thoroughly enjoyed this newest entry into Dan Abnett’s apparently ongoing Aliens/Predator universe story. This collects the final comics of the current run and I recommend the entire thing. Don’t be put off by the AvP title. It has nothing to do with those movies.

The Dark Horse Book of Horror HC – Dark Horse (58)

Pretty much any standalone collection like this that Dark Horse puts together is worth your time and money. I didn’t pick up the original four collections that make up this hardcover, but I’ll be more than happy to buy them all together now. Mignola, Thompson, Dorkin, Phillips, and the rest are strong enough selling points for me.

Go Team Venture! The Art and Making of The Venture Bros. HC – Dark Horse (66)

Great. Now I’m going to have to lug this big, stupid book down to Dragon Con to get it signed by these guys.

The Venture Bros. is, in my opinion, the greatest television show ever produced. I can’t wait to get my hands on this tome to learn all of the secret magic that goes into making it. 
Considering how quickly Venture merch goes and how much secondary market demand there tends to be, I’d go ahead and order this if you have any interest in it at all.

Deathstroke Vol. 2: The Gospel of Slade TP – DC Comics (130)

Deathstroke has been one of the best Rebirth titles and is one of my favorite overall comic books right now. It goes to the top of the stack every time a new issue comes out. The storyline is somewhat continuous throughout the series, so while I do recommend this, you should also pick up volume 1.

Batman: The Caped Crusader Vol. 1 HC – DC Comics (133)

This is a little weird because I have an older collection of these same issues, but it’s called Batman: Year Two. I wonder what made DC back off of that branding.

It’s a solid story that provided some of the ideas for the best theatrical Batman movie of all time, Mask of the Phantasm.

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. 1 TP – DC (133)

An excellent crossover that I’ve raved about many times. James Tynion IV really gets all of the characters and Freddie Williams II’s art is fantastic. You might doubt that this would be any good, but trust me – it’s what I had been waiting almost twenty years to see. If only they could produce an animated feature somehow.

He-Man/Thundercats TP – DC (135)

Just like the above entry, Williams’ art is phenomenal. But everything else about this crossover leaves something to be desired. The plot is paper-thin and feels decompressed and the dialogue is execrable. I was a little embarrassed reading it at points. The story could have happened on either show, but the character voices are badly off. If only Tynion has tackled this one, too.

Harley Quinn by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti Omnibus Vo. 1 HC – DC (136)

If you like fun comic books and are a fan of Harley (or Conner and Palmiotti), this is a must-have. It collects all of the best stuff from their ongoing run on the Harley Quinn comic. The first 16 issues are excellent, the specials are great, and even Future’s End was a cool story. I could do without the Harley Quinn and Power Girl miniseries, though. That went on way too long. It could have easily been two issues instead of six.

Justice League by Giffen and DeMatteis Omnibus Vol. 1 HC – DC (137)

This is the legendary run of Justice League that everyone always talks about. The one where Batman knocks out Guy Gardner. I haven’t read it, but I’d like to.

Trinity TP New Edition – DC (140)

I’m assuming this is the original “Trinity” team-up that inspired the last decade or whatever of ongoing Trinity comics featuring Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman. I don’t know the history of the concept, so I’m not positive. Either way it’s by Matt Wagner, so I’m ordering it. Also, it’s a Ra’s al Ghul story. EXCELLENT.

Batman Animated: Batcave – DC Collectibles (149)

As seen in Needless Things’ Toy Fair 2017 coverage. I want it, obviously. But that price is steep and it’s huge. I don’t know where I’d put this much plastic Batcave. And as our pal The Belligerent Monkey pointed out, the figures don’t exactly stand well, so what are you going to do, put those giant, ugly stands on this thing?

DC Designer Series Bombshells Action Figures by Ant Lucia – DC Collectibles (150)

These look like such a fun collection. If I didn’t already have way too much stuff going in the way of action figure lines I’d love to have a shelf full of these designs. I still don’t know if doing them in the Icons style was the right call. With designs this stylized, the articulation seems odd. I still haven’t seen the first wave in person, so I can’t say for sure yet.

Batman: Black & White Amanda Conner Statues – DC Collectibles (152)

Amanda Conner is the best and these statues look fantastic, but I have sworn off of non-articulated stand-around-things. Mostly.

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures TPB - IDW (165)

This book collects the second Batman/TMNT team-up, this one featuring the versions of the characters from the current Ninja Turtles cartoon and Batman: The Animated Series. It’s every bit as good as the other one.

Super Weird Heroes: Preposterous But True! - IDW (191)

While this collection looks like an awful lot of fun, I can’t justify it for myself, even if Mr. Whiskers looks like the greatest hero of all time. If you pick this up, let me know how awesome it is.

Kill the Minotaur #1 - Image (199)

The minotaur has always been my favorite mythological creature and I love the story of Theseus. I just don’t know that I need it in $3.99 monthly comic book form. If this was a miniseries of 4 or 6 issues I’d probably sign up, but I don’t want to get attached to another ongoing series.

Shirtless Bear-Fighter! #1 (of 5) - Image (202)

Fortunately we have the hyphen between “Bear” and “Fighter” as well as a clear cover image to let us know that this is a shirtless man that fights bears, not a man that fights shirtless bears.

Winnebago Graveyard #1 (of 4) - Image (203)

Steve Niles. All they ever have to say is “Steve Niles”. One of the best horror writers working today.

Tokyo Ghost Deluxe Edition HC - Image (208)

I have not read this, but the fact that it’s by Rick Remender and Sean Murphy caught my eye when the single issues were coming out. Having just watched Ghostin the Shell, I want to get into this sort of thing. I didn’t pick it up the first time around because I had just dropped Remender’s Black Science. It just wasn’t my thing.

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #1 - Marvel (Cover, M18-19)

Chip Zdarsky won my heart with Howard the Duck and ever since Spidey appeared in that run I’ve been wanting him to write a Spider-Man book. But I’m not digging this “companion book to Amazing Spider-Man” business that Marvel is putting over here. I don’t want a companion book to anything. I want a standalone book. What was once a must-have has turned into an “I’m not so sure” thanks to Marvel’s weird semantics.

Weapons of Mutant Destruction - Marvel (M71-73)

As soon as I saw this announced, I saw articles mocking it.

I get it. A Wolverine/Hulk hybrid is a total high school boy fantasy and also a colossally terrible idea. But if it weren’t for scientists following through on terrible ideas, comic books – and science fiction in general – wouldn’t be nearly as much fun, now would they?

Fun seems to be what Greg Pak does best, so I’m going to give this thing the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s going to be a big, ridiculous story like FrankenCastle. Remember that? I loved it.

Star Wars: Droids Unplugged #1 - Marvel (M85)

This collects some backup stories from various Marvel Star Wars comics. I’ve read them and they’re great, so if you haven’t seen them, pick this up.

Darth Vader #1 & 2 - Marvel (M86-87)

Charles Soule’s Lando Calrissian book was excellent, so I’m more than happy to give this a chance. I’m a guy that wants to explore all of the backstory and different corners of the Star Wars galaxy, so anything that Disney and Marvel decide to shine a light on is okay by me. I suppose that comes from two decades of devouring all of the Expanded Universe material I could.

Heck, this probably explains why I didn’t have a problem with Disney labeling that “Legends” and starting over. Now I get to start all over again with different stories – that are now official canon (until they’re not)!

Thor by Walter Simonson Omnibus HC - Marvel (M98)

I could fill a room with legendary, essential comic books that I haven’t read. I’ve already got two shelves full at home. I’ll get around to them someday when I’ve caught up with what’s currently being published and also have about a week where I don’t have anything else to do.

Yeah.

Jimmy’s Bastards #1 - Aftershock (264)

What if all the ladies that James Bond made the sex with had kids?

I’m guessing they all grew up to hate him and became supervillains.

That seems to be the premise of the new book from Garth Ennis starring Bond stand-in Jimmy Regent. If Ennis is in top form it should be full of laughs and depravity, so I’m in.

Nocturnals Books – Big Wow Art (288)

Dan Brereton is one of the best artists ever. Nobody does the supernatural like he does. I will but pretty much anything with his name on it. If you haven’t read his stuff, the Black Planet book collects the first Nocturnals story and is excellent. Highest recommendation.

Valerian Collections - Cinebook (319)

Luc Besson’s Valerian and The City of A Thousand Planets is coming out soon and I am super, super, super, super, super, super excited. The trailer looks AMAZING:
And I feel like this could be the spiritual successor to The Fifth Element that I’ve been waiting so long for.

But I am not reading any of these books until I see the movie. I have learned my lesson about that. Watch the movie/TV show first, then read the stuff if you haven’t already. I would’ve enjoyed the last five Harry Potter movies a whole lot more if I hadn’t decided to read the books first.

Art of Atari Poster Collection - Dynamite (330-331)

Oh, man – this is tempting. Some of the best and wildest art of the 80s came from the covers of Atari games because they really had to sell us on those shitty-looking graphics. You weren’t going to see anything even remotely resembling a gigantic, fire-breathing, flying, man-eating centipede in the game, so these artists had to make those covers POP.

GWAR: Orgasmageddon #1 – Dynamite (336-337)

How has this not happened already?

GWAR are important pop culture icons (no, seriously) and I cannot believe that this is the first time they’ve crossed over into comics. It seems like such an obvious thing.

I would order this, but I am terrified at the idea of my son finding it and reading anything that has GWAR involved.

Blood Brothers #1 – Dynamite (340)

Dynamite is having a good month.

I totally understand why this American-released comic book needed to be called Blood Brothers, but Hermanos de Sangre would have been such a cooler title.

Guns, ghosts, monsters, and a luchador is all you have to put in front of me to get my attention. Consider this added to my list. I’ll let you know how it is.

Carthago HC - Humanoids (372)

I’m mentioning this because the individual issues caught my eye when they were first solicited. I’d like to read a comic book about a megalodon. The art looks great, too.

Previews T-Shirts (501, 504-505)

Obviously I love Previews. I have more fun writing this column than any other and it’s regular, monthly material for me. As a matter of fact, I’d say I probably like Previews more than ninety percent of the rest of humanity. But I am not paying money to wear a Previews shirt. If they want to send me one, I’ll wear it all day (purple XXL, please; or XLT if you’ve got it), but I can’t imagine buying one.

Especially not a *makes fart noise* Secret Empire one.

Dungeons & Dragons T-Shirt (508)

I’m pointing this out for a few reasons:

1 – I just think it’s cool
2 – I feel very strongly that our pal, Gary Mitchel, should be wearing this shirt
3 – If they make a Monster Manual version, I will get one
4 – This is THE classic D&D image and font – well done

Captain Hydra T-Shirt (508)

YES MARVEL THIS SHOULD DO VERY WELL FOR YOU.

Actually, judging from online reaction to Nick Spencer’s Captain America-related decisions, I think Marvel might actually make a fortune off of people who buy this shirt just to burn it.

Spider-Man #12 T-Shirt (508)

This would have worked better without “Spider-Man” on it. It’s a solid design, but the presence of that name sort of makes Spider-Gwen seem like a supporting character, which she isn’t.
SPIDER-MAN
(and some broad)

Masters of the Universe T-Shirt (511)

This is a poor design choice. The image is too small to really tell what the design is, but since I know my MOTU artwork, I know that this is a picture where He-Man’s back is to the “camera” and Skeletor is tiny. There are so many far better pieces of He-Man art to put on t-shirts.

Red Ranger Baseball Shirt (511)

I’m pointing this out for one reason:

1 – Obviously our pal, Rad Ranger, needs this

Pulp Fiction Select Action Figures – Diamond Select Toys (523)

These look nice and I think this is a strong character assortment. I do wonder why they’d go with Butch in his jacket as opposed to bloody Butch with a katana. I bet Marsellus Wallace doesn’t actually have a way to hold that box like that. Flat hands would make sense, flat hands with magnets that connect to magnets in the box would make more sense. Honestly, this version of Wallace isn’t even the best unless they’re making a car to put Butch in.

Sorry, guys – after my disappointment with DST’s Ghostbusters I’m probably being a little harsh, but just like their choice of a 7” scale, a lot of their decisions confound me.
Also it doesn’t look like Jules has a gun. C’mon, you guys.

Pirates of the Caribbean Select Action Figures – Diamond Select Toys (524)

The pirates, on the other hand, look fantastic. I’d love to see DST go full-bore on this line and hit as many of the characters from the movies as they could. There’s never been a truly great, cohesive Pirates of the Caribbean line.

Alien M.U.S.C.L.E. Figure Packs – Super 7 (536)

I pointed this out somewhere, but between all of the license that Super 7 is picking up and adding to their new M.U.S.C.L.E. line, it’s starting to get almost as good and weird as the original Mattel line. We now have Street Fighters and Eternians and aliens and marines, with more weird, disparate stuff on the way.

Living Dead Dolls Harley Quinn - Mezco (544)

My wife collects Mezco’s Living Dead Dolls, but I definitely appreciate them as well. I feel like lately they’ve really stepped up the quality on their licensed releases and this Harley is a good example. If the shadowed pic provided isn’t good enough for you, here’s the full product reveal:


I dig it.

POP! Gravity Falls Figures - Funko (549)

We only pick up POP! figures here and there, but when Funko produces the only decent toys of one of the greatest animated television shows of all time, I will be buying them. Jazwares made actual action figures, but since their stuff tends to fall apart if you look at it too strongly I’ll stick with these.

Twin Peaks Action Figures - Funko (551)

What a fucked up world we live in. I honestly don’t know if I mean that in a good way or not. But you can bet your ass when Funko puts out Blue Velvet figures I’ll buy ‘em all.
Don’t you fucking look at me.

Friday the 13th Part 4 Jason Voorhees Ultimate Action Figure - NECA (556)

NECA’s Ultimate figures have all been great, but if you already own the specific version there often isn’t much reason to upgrade. This one, however, looks like a big step up over the older release. Two heads, two masks, tons of weapons, and the one thing that made up my mind to order it – a corkscrew!

Marvel Animated Groot & Rocket Statue – Gentle Giant (560)

This is irresistible. I know I said earlier I had quit statues, but this is a family collectible. It’ll go in the living room with all of the mass-appeal stuff. It’s easily one of the cutest and most hilarious things I have ever seen.

One:12 Collective Deadpool Action Figure - Mezco (562)

You know how I feel about these.

I wish this was a movie version of Deadpool, but with the excellent One:12 aesthetics I’m more than happy to go ahead and order this one and anticipate a future Deadpool 2 release.

Predator 30th Anniversary Action Figures - NECA (563)

If you missed out on these excellent Dutch figures the first time around, you should grab one now. The Jungle Hunter Predators don’t really match up to the current Ultimate versions available, but that stealth one looks incredible.

I don’t remember what year the Dutch figures first came out, but the one on the far left won Needless Things’ Action Figure of the Year. Even mud Dutch turned out to be great. I might pick up one of the tactical vest ones this time just because the two I have are so good.

White & Nerdy Weird Al Retro Action Figure - NECA (564)

This isn’t one of my favorite Weird Al costume designs, but I’ll put it over anyway just because I know “White & Nerdy” is THE Weird Al anthem for a number of younger fans. I’m just waiting for them to repurpose that one Freddy Kruger’s surgical scrubs for a “Like A Surgeon” Al. I’ll buy that. And “Fat” Al, which I feel is inevitable.

MMPR: Legacy Red Ranger Power Sword (567)

Again – mentioned only for the benefit of our pal, Rad Ranger.

Unaffiliated Thoughts

Where the heck are the Ghost in the Shell toys? The various anime has had action figures for years – I’ve even owned some – and I find it hard to believe that nobody was interested in producing figures of Scarlett Johansson in skintight combat suits. Seriously – nobody was interested in this license? Not NECA or Bandai or Medicom or even Hot Toys? Meanwhile we have life size replica combat penguins from Batman Returns. Someone explain this to me. You can read my review of Ghost in the Shell here, as well as my thoughts about the controversy.

Supergirl has driven off of the relationship-centric cliff and I’m afraid it will never return.
The Flash has gotten better, but Barry is still the dumbest fictional character ever.

Arrow is very solid this season, but for the first time I don’t care even a little bit about the flashbacks. I know people were excited about the Bratva stuff, but I have no idea why. It has bored the shit out of me.

Legends of Tomorrow has, amazingly, been very entertaining.

Legion is interesting, but I can't believe people really like it as much as they say they do. I think it's one of those shows that makes you feel smart and artsy when you say you like it. I know I do.

WHERE IS MY GOTHAM!?!?!?!?!

Let me know what you’re looking forward to in the comments, or join the discussion in the Needless Things Podcast Facebook Group!

*****
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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