Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Comic Book Wednesday – Previews August 2017: “Things With Pages”

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 two months away. Most of this month’s offerings are scheduled to ship in October.


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

Batman: White Knight – DC (Front Cover, 101)

I find it odd that DC isn’t filing this under “Elseworlds”.

Sean Murphy is a fantastic artist and storyteller, so I’m looking forward to discovering how this story plays out. I do have concerns about political overtones, as I read an interview with Murphy where he dropped the ol’ “reflective of the current state of affairs” kind of nugget. Here’s the interview, make of it what you will.

Here’s the thing, though – politics and comics have been inseparable for decades. I think Murphy has the skills to deliver whatever message he wants while still telling an entertaining, compelling story. That’s a skill that many, many comic book storytellers do not have now; or they simply do not care to utilize it. I trust Murphy and will be adding this to the pull list.


Maestros – Image Comics (Back Cover, 187)

I’m going to go ahead and get on board with this one based on two things – Skroce’s remarkable work on We Stand on Guard and Brian K. Vaughn’s recommendation. The story - a shitty Millennial from Orlando ends up as monarch of a magical kingdom - sounds very Piers Anthony-ish, which appeals to teenage me in a big way.

Halloween ComicFest – October 28, 2017 (31-37)

Various publishers will offer FREE comic books (sometimes loosely) celebrating the season! Visit HalloweenComicFest.com to find out more!


Sherlock Frankenstein & The Legion of Evil #1 (of 4) – Dark Horse (42-43)

All I needed to see was “from the world of Black Hammer”. I love that book and am eager for more stories from the strange but familiar universe that Jeff Lemire has crafted. If you’re not reading Black Hammer, it gets top marks from me. Check it out.


Black Hammer Vol 2: The Event TP – Dark Horse (45)

Speaking of which…

Black Hammer is an ongoing story and you really do need to start from #1. I know I’ve railed against story arcs taking too long in modern comics, but sometimes when things are designed to be ongoing narratives it’s okay.


Metal Tie-Ins – DC (68-71)

If you have any doubts about how I perceive the post-Rebirth world of DC Comics, the fact that I am excited for this event should say it all. I won’t lie – I am a bit wary of the multitude of tie-ins, but they don’t appear to be necessary to the central story; they’re just “here’s what’s happening to this character during this thing” stories.

Then there are the multiple evil Batmans that are getting their own one-shots. I am all about this wacky idea. I know it’s fashionable to poo-poo 90s comic book trends, but this reminds me of the over-the-top invasion-type stories that would run through annuals back then, a trend that I loved and still miss.


DC House of Horror #1 – DC (104)

Just in time for Halloween – EC Comics-style takes on the DC Universe! I’m in!


Deadman #1 – DC (105)

Also just in time for Halloween – Neal Adams returns to the world of Boston Brand! I can’t wait to see how bizarre and outlandish this one gets. Also, I'd be totally lame if I failed to mention the glow-in-the-dark cover!


Ragman #1 – DC (110)

Ragman is one of my favorite less-famous DC characters, so I’ll pick this up. But I’m not crazy about Ragman not looking like Ragman. This is a reimagining of the character, though, so I’m going to reserve judgment until I’ve read the story. Shocking, I know.


Batwoman Vol. 1: The Many Arms of Death TP – DC (121)

The story was solid – outlining Batwoman’s activities beyond (or maybe just outside of) the pages of Detective Comics, but I’m kind of missing her usual monster-centric activities. Since the legendary run in Detective a few years ago Kate has faced threats that were more supernatural than mundane, so seeing her go up against the traditional mysterious crime syndicate is somewhat less than thrilling for me. Especially considering that the point was supposed to be her tracking down distributors of the Monster Venom from recent story arcs.


Batman Year Two 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition HC – DC (127)

While it doesn’t feel quite as much like an event as Year One, this tale from Mike W. Barr and a bunch of different artists is important for a few reasons, the biggest of which is how it was adapted for use in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (which happens to have just been released on Blu-ray).

I like the story and might consider upgrading my ancient trade paperback for this anniversary collection.


Challengers of the Unknown by Jack Kirby TP – DC (128)

You guys know that I’m not shy about admitting a lack of knowledge or experience. I am far from an authority on comic book history – I just know what I’ve read and what I like. But I’ve been wanting to sample Kirby’s work for some time now and fortunately DC is putting the effort into collecting his greatest hits in various volumes this year.

Challengers has been referred to as DC’s Fantastic Four, so that gives me good reason to check this one out – to see if that’s a valid statement.


Robin: Year One Deluxe Edition HC – DC (130)

It’s surprising that I’ve never heard of this given my love of Dark Victory and my general enjoyment of the works of Chuck Dixon. I have no idea when it was originally released and I don’t recall seeing it referenced anywhere.


Two-Face: A Celebration of 75 Years HC – DC (131)

Basically “The Greatest Two-Face Stories Ever Told”. Man, I wish they’d just bring back that designation.

This is one of my favorite covers ever, by the way.


Hack/Slash: Resurrection #1 – Image (192)

Tini Howard has a lot to live up to. As the writer for the newly relaunching story of Cassie Hack, she’s following years of Tim Seeley’s consistently great work. I hope for the best because I’ve been a fan of this franchise from day one and am excited to see where it goes and what kind of fresh ideas a new writer with a different voice can bring to the table. I’m not familiar with Howard’s work, but I’m wishing her success (because I want more Hack/Slash).


I Hate Fairyland: I Hate Image Special Edition - Image (193)

This was originally released as a Free Comic Book Day issue, and the best one in years, if not ever. If you missed it, I highly recommend you grab this new edition.

Labyrinth: Jareth the Goblin King 7-Inch Figure – McFarlane Toys (236)

It’s been a long time since I was interested in or collected McFarlane Toys – lots of reasons, but that’s another post – but this Goblin King does look fantastic. It’s a must for any big fans of Labyrinth.


Death of The Mighty Thor - Marvel (Cover, M27-29)

I’ve heard nothing but good things about Aaron’s run on this book, but I’ve just never gotten around to reading it. Someday.

Side Note: Award for Most Awkward Catchphrase of the Year goes to “Marvel Legacy: Where diamonds from Marvel’s rich history carve the path to its future.” Blargh.

Additionally, I feel a little bad that my Marvel section is so light this month, but I’m waiting for word of mouth on anything that I might be interested in. Not much that Marvel has presented in this month’s catalog excites me or gives me the impression that they’re making significant enough changes for me to once again Make Mine Marvel and I’m on a budget, people.


Falcon #1 - Marvel (M4-5)

That new suit is the drizzling shits. I only read a little of Sam as Cap, but I liked him and the different approach to the Sentinel of Liberty. Steve’s return was inevitable, but I feel like Sam was a Cap for a new era, which is a crazy thing for a guy that hates change as much as I do to say.

Silver Surfer Vol. 5: The Man Who Lived Twice TPB - Marvel (M91)

While I’m down on Marvel for the most part, Slott and Allred’s Silver Surfer is one of my favorite comics that I’m reading right now. It’s unapologetic fun and is basically what I think Doctor Who should have been for the past few seasons. Highly recommended.


Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme Vol 2: Time After Time TPB - Marvel (M130)

It only just now registered that Robbie Thompson (Spidey) is writing this book. I’m going to have to check it out.


Adventure Time 2017 Spoooktacular #1 – BOOM! (314)

I didn’t even need this to be Halloween-oriented because it’s a collection of stories about that mysterious weirdo, Peppermint Butler. I’ve never bought an Adventure Time comic because there are only so many days in the week, but I’m gonna grab this one.


Hack/Slash vs. Vampirella #1 - Dynamite (330)

Looks like they’re doubling down on the return of Cassie Hack, and that’s fine by me. I’ve been enjoying Paul Cornell’s Vampirella, and while this doesn’t appear to be that, I’m still interested in seeing what creators will do with these two.


The Crow: Special Edition HC – Gallery 13 (366)

If you haven’t read this, you really need to. It’s a remarkable work of art and a milestone in comics history. You might have seen the story, but you haven’t experienced the truly visceral nature of James O’Barr’s cathartic tale until you’ve read his comics.

This will be a must for Rad Ranger – CA-CAW, CA-CAW!


1985: Black Hole Repo #1 – Heavy Metal Magazine (371)

The cover art and the “1985” drew my attention, but this is what got it on my pull list:
Welcome to an alternate 1985 where the space race never slowed down, where the push away from Earth relies on duct tape, analog computers, and unstable solid rocket fuel. It's the worst. Max, Roach, Doc, and Bear are the dregs of the cosmos. Punks. Losers. Dropouts. They make cash repossessing the starships of deadbeats who don't make their payments. When they unknowingly jack a mysterious ship, they find themselves thrust into a conflict between the US and USSR. Targeted by American cyborg assassins, mad Soviet agents, Japanese video hackers, and every degenerate space punk bounty hunter between the Earth and Moon, their apolitical nihilistic morals are put to the test, making these losers into unlikely heroes.


Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast #1 – Heavy Metal Magazine (371)

Huh. I guess they’re taking the whole “Heavy Metal” thing pretty literally. This story of Eddie as an actual character crusading across time and reality sounds awesome. Also, this is based on a mobile phone game. WTF?


Taarna #1 – Heavy Metal Magazine (371)

Rounding up Heavy Metal’s trifecta of #1s is a comic book about their most famous almost-naked (and sometimes actually naked) lady, Taarna – the white-haired chick from the movie. I don’t really know Alex De Campi too well, but Stephanie Roux has earned mention here before for her beautiful covers. I think I’m gonna have to pick this up.

Side Note: I never expected that in 2017 I’d be ordering every comic book title Heavy Metal offered, but here we are. Honestly, as many Heavy Metal magazines as I’ve bought over the years, the anthology format always bothered me. Getting just a few pages of a story that spread out over months and months annoyed me, so as cool as the art and narratives were, I could never get fully invested. Especially when so many of the stories weren’t good.

This is my preferred format and if the publisher can maintain the good stuff, I’ll be a customer for a good, long while.

Rick and Morty Crap – Oni Press/Dark Horse/Others (420-421)

Credit where credit is due – Mrs. Troublemaker got on this bandwagon long before I did. But now I’m fully immersed into and in love with this world and want crap to go with that obsession.

Our pal Kyle Starks has written – and continues to write – comics, Funko made a replica Portal Gun and a laser gun from the show (not pictured), and Bio-World made a wallet and a hat with Rick’s stupid catchphrase on it. There’s even a card game because of course there is.

Funko also made figures that are “pretty good” at best, but they’re not pictured here. I bought the first wave and I’ll buy more.


A Die Hard Christmas: The Illustrated Holiday Classic (499)

Obviously this is pure genius, but I do wonder if it retains all of the adult themes or if it has been toned down in true storybook style. I’d honestly prefer the latter, but I suppose I’ll find out.


Frightfest Guide to Monster Movies (502)

I used to scour Waldenbooks and B. Dalton for books like this and I’d buy any that I found. I have no idea what happened to my collection of catalog-style books, but I only have a few left. And to be honest, I haven’t taken those off of the shelf in years. Sentimentally, I’d love to order this. Intellectually I know it would be a waste of money. That makes me kind of sad.


It Came From the Video Aisle! (503)

This is another one I would have bought in a second twenty years ago. I loved Full Moon back in the day and even though I don’t find their productions as palatable as I used to, this would still be a nice volume to own.


Totally Awesome: The Greatest Cartoons of the 80s (503)

STOP TICKLING MY NOSTALGIA FANCY, PREVIEWS.

The cover might be an eyesore, but it’s also full of delight. I thoroughly enjoyed Lou Scheimer’s history of Filmation, so I’d love to read about the history behind other studios and their cartoons.


Search for Spock: A Star Trek Book of Exploration (505)

We’ve got most of the Where’s Waldo books and several of the, er, homage books that have been published. Now we’ll have a Star Trek version.

Bug! T-Shirt (523)

Mike Allred’s series has been big fun and I’d love to have Bug on a shirt, but I try to avoid white when I can, as all it takes is one summer for them to develop stains that look like I’ve been filtering coffee through the armpits.


Power Rangers T-Shirt (531)

Not for me, but I’m sure our pal Rad Ranger would like to own the only Power Rangers shirt I’ve ever seen that was suitable for an adult to wear.

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

Cthulhu Vinimates Vinyl Figure – Diamond Select Toys (542)

DST’s Vinimates aren’t my bag, but I have to admit that this Cthulu monster looks great, especially for ten bucks! Gary will love him.

Bucky O’Hare Action Figures – Boss Fight Studio (553)

I’m surprised to see these solicited so early, as I’ve been following their development on social media and thought they had a ways to go. If you don’t know, Bucky O’Hare is much more along the lines of what its creator, Larry Hama (along with Michael Golden) wanted to do when he got into comics. I was in love with the 90s toy line and had every single figure. They were more refined than most Ninja Turtles figures, as they weren’t covered in bugs and garbage (that was my biggest problem with those figures).

Boss Fight’s revival line looks incredible, but I just don’t know that I can justify starting a new line. They come with tons of articulation, multiple faces, and plenty of accessories.




DC Big Figs Tribute Series Action Figures – JAKKS Pacific (554)

There are five figures offered – a “Pop Art” Batman, metallic red Flash, black and white Harley, Killing Joke “Tribute” Joker, and a Silver Age Superman. I included a picture of the Superman because he’s the best looking one and the best value for $59.99 given his soft goods costume.

I love that JAKKS is getting so creative with releases like these and that incredible SDCC Darth Vader. None of these are exactly something I have to have, but they’re on the right track. A glow-in-the-dark translucent Deadman has to be next, right?


One:12 Collective Wonder Woman Action Figure - Mezco (557)

This figure has improved by leaps and bounds since we first saw it back at Toy Fair, and I think it looked pretty darn good then. As a matter of fact, I don’t think that the image in Previews is even the newest update.

I hadn’t planned to buy movie figures from this line, but I got the Dawn of Justice Batman relatively cheap and it’s excellent. Since Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is my favorite design for the character’s costume, I might as well grab this one, too. It doesn’t hurt that thanks to the style of the One:12 line the comic and movie characters can stand next to each other and look like they belong.

Side Note: I did hit my first disappointment with this line. I ordered Zoom because I liked Flash so much. The first one that came in had a warped belt. So did the second and third ones. Apparently this is a widespread issue, as The Fwoosh reported the same thing.
The first time I contacted Mezco they told me to return it to the retailer. The second time, after two equally bunk figures, they did not respond.

This isn’t going to stop my collection, as every toy line experiences issues and most manufacturers don’t give a rat’s ass about the product once it’s sold to the end customer. But it certainly is Strike One.

Living Dead Dolls The Exorcist: Regan – Mezco (565)

I’d pay at least fifty bucks more if it spewed vomit. Maybe seventy-five.


Predator Ultimate Ahab Action Figure - NECA (566)

From Dark Horse’s recent long-running crossover series of comics, Ahab is one of the baddest Predators around and one of the longest-lived (from a narrative point of view). He’s also one of the more distinctive. I think it’s awesome that NECA is reissuing him, but this time as one of their excellent Ultimate editions.


Predator Series 18 Action Figures - NECA (566)

Horn Head and Broken Tusk look great, but for me the real thrill is in seeing Machiko Naguchi, who was in the first Alien vs Predator comics I read decades ago. Her figure looks excellent and I’m glad that NECA has done her justice. It looks like these come in case lots, though (meaning you can’t order the three individually), so I won’t be getting these from my Local Comic Shop.


Stranger Things Action Figures - Funko (578)

This is my preferred flavor of Stranger Things toys. I hope they sell like crazy so we can get David Harbour and Winona Ryder. Don’t need a Barb. Don’t understand the Barb love. What a drag.


Batman V Superman Dynamic 8ction Figures – Beast Kingdom (589)

Huh.

These don’t look great. They look fine. They look better than Mattel’s Multiverse figures. But they don’t look like fifty dollar action figures. I don’t know what the “8” signifies. If they’re eight inches tall maybe that justifies the price some?

I don’t want to dismiss these, but I would definitely need to see one in person to come up with more than a “meh”.


Unaffiliated Thoughts

I can’t believe how much I’m enjoying Batman and Detective Comics right now. They go to the top of my stack every week. Or every other week. Whatever. Tom King and James Tynion IV are telling stories that are engaging me in a way that Bat books haven’t in years.

There’s Nothing There has been a surprise hit – the rare comic that was completely unfamiliar but that I took a chance on and feel lucky to have done so. It’s a weird horror story that’s not like lots of other things. Once the collected edition comes out I highly recommend you check it out. Or track down the single issues. You’ll thank me.

TV is coming back SOON. I need Gotham NOW.

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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