Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Comic Book Wednesday – Previews February 2015: How DC Convinced Me to Buy More Comics

If you don’t know, Previews is the catalogue 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.

Convergence – DC (Front Cover)

Oh, boy – this thing.

I might write more here as I delve into the details within the DC section of Previews, but my initial thought is that this could be a whole lot of fun and possibly result in a DC Universe that I like more than the New 52. I would be very surprised if it led to one that I like less.
Also, is that Flashpoint Thomas Wayne Batman?

(time passes)

After flipping through DC’s section I’ve decided to give the main book a try and pick a few of the titles that involve characters I like. If this thing is treated as a fun battle royal that doesn’t take itself too seriously, I’ll stick with it. That’s not to say that there can’t be drama and high stakes, but I hope DC knows that many of us are not terribly invested in their current universe and that the best thing they could do is put out some comics that are nothing but fun reads. We don’t care about the “stakes”, we just want good funnybooks.

And as much as I love certain artists and writers working today, I’m super excited by the fact that many of my old favorites are returning to work on Convergence. Just to keep things tidy, here are the related books I find most interesting:

*Batgirl – It’s a Batgirl book. I have to at least give it a chance, especially with Stephanie and Cassandra on the cover. And Rick Leonardi doing the art!

*Batman and Robin – Same goes for this one – it’s Damian Wayne. This one is by Ron Marz, Denys Cowan, and Klaus Janson. It’s interesting to see some of these names back in the DC fold. For the time being, at least.

*Harley Quinn – Okay, so maybe I’ll just get all of the books I normally get. Who doesn’t want to see Harley Quinn versus Captain Carrot?

*Nightwing/Oracle – I can’t pass up books about favorite characters. Especially with the combined talents of Gail Simone and Jan Duursema. Look – I may not have been happy with a couple of Simone’s titles lately, but I still love her style and will always give her work a chance. She’s a fantastic writer who will always have my respect and interest. If I don’t like something she’s on, it’s the story she’s telling, not the way she’s writing it; if that makes any sense.

*The Question – HOLY CRAP! I’ve been waiting three years for this. Renee back as The Question with Greg Rucka and Cully Hamner at the reigns! I didn’t even know this was happening until right now. I AM SUPER EXCITED. I loved these backup stories from a few years ago. This was one of the losses that hurt me most when the New 52 hit.

*Batman: Shadow of the Bat – WOO-HOO, nostalgia is something else, huh? Not only is this a callback to what I think of as the glory days of Batman comics, Larry Hama is writing it! The creator of my favorite continuity ever. I have to say that I am extremely disappointed that DC didn’t recruit Brian Stelfreeze for the cover. What were you thinking, DC!?!

*Swamp Thing – Swamp Thing by Len Wein and Kelley Jones? YES PLEASE NOW.

*Wonder Woman – Larry Hama pens this one, as well. I might not have been quite as interested, but that art looks nice and it also mentions the vampires of Red Rain, so that’s wacky.

*Detective Comics – Another stellar creative team – Len Wein, Denys Cowan, and Bill Sienkiewicz(!) – tell a story that sounds great. Dick Grayson and Helena Wayne deciding who will be the next Batman. This sounds nothing but promising.

*Shazam! – Jeff Parker and Evan Shaner on Captain Marvel. Sold.

Side Note: Between this and the excellent Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures, it seems like DC wasn’t too terribly serious about rebranding Captain Marvel as Shazam.

That’s it for now. I’m sure the list will change as I read titles and get word of mouth about the ones I don’t try at first.

Free Comic Book Day 2015! (25 - 35)

Free Comic Book Day falls on May 2nd this year. I’m working with no way out. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t be doing something special for the event. I’ve already lined up a special guest for the podcast. More to come soon!

Archie vs. Predator – Dark Horse (44 - 45)

I have to give this a chance. A few years ago I wouldn’t have tried this even for novelty reasons, but the quality of Afterlife With Archie and Sabrina have me convinced that this could – no, will – be a great comic.

I’d also like to note that Alex de Campi’s dual credit of Grindhouse and My Little Pony is hilarious.

Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone TPB – Dark Horse (70)

I don’t know exactly what my mindset was when the various Fire and Stone series were offered, but I only got the Prometheus and Alien books. Those were very good, so I definitely want to pick up the trades of this and the Predator title. No idea why I didn’t in the first place.

Batman Animated Series: Roxy Rocket Deluxe Action Figure –
DC Collectibles (151)

Roxy is not only a great addition to the growing Batman Animated line, she is also a sign that DCC are committed to hitting as many characters as possible. The fact that they are releasing a relatively low-profile, high(ish)-cost figure this early in the line shows me that these folks have the best of intentions and that my commitment to said line is well-deserved.
Also, the rocket lights up! Please, please, please do a Batmobile, DCC.

I also appreciate that this is the only Animated release scheduled for this month. Of course, there are other DCC offerings that are too awesome to resist…

DC Comics Designer Action Figures by Jae Lee –
DC Collectibles (152)

I never in a million years would have imagined that I would be able to buy action figures of Batman, Superman, Catwoman, and Wonder Woman that were directly based on the work of one of my favorite artists, Jae Lee. These things look fantastic. And I can’t help but notice it says “Series 1”.

Batman: Black and White Batgirl by Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr Statue –
DC Collectibles (154)

As much as I love the new Batgirl design, I’m going to hold out for the inevitable action figure. I own a few Black and White statues, but they’re all Batman and I’d like to keep it that way. I don’t know what else would fill out an assortment with this Batgirl, though. Maybe a two-pack with Dagger Type in his crazy, sparkly Batgirl costume.

Of course, the outrage-hungry asshats that blindly attacked that character have probably made that impossible. A word on that “controversy” – nowhere, nowhere, in that comic was it stated that Dagger Type was transsexual or a transvestite. He was dressing up as Batgirl to cash in on the iconic fame that had been generated. It had nothing to do with gender identity or life choices or proclivities. It had everything to do with Dagger Type trying to cash in on somebody else’s celebrity.

The knee-jerk outrage and finger-pointing that occurred after Batgirl #37 came out is why progressives can’t make the progress they want to. When you attack everything, it becomes very difficult to care when you are attacking things that deserve it. Because of this “outrage” (which I interpret as “trying to get pageviews”), I find myself dismissing those that participated. They are at best desperate internet “journalists” trying to drum up attention and at worst the exact same kind of people that caused McCarthyism; just on the opposite side of the table. Pick your battles, people. And be informed. How many of you actually read the comic before you jumped on that unsavory bandwagon?

Keep these lunatics away from Bugs Bunny, please.

Gotham City Police Badge – DC Collectibles (155)

DCC has been doing a lot of smart things with prop replicas lately. I really dig this item and kind of want one. But I don’t need another thing just laying around the house. Also, even if I wanted to use it for cosplay, masked folks in Gotham don’t tend to work for the GCPD. 
Disney Comics at IDW – IDW (158 - 159)

This confused the shit out of me. The last thing that I expected was to see anybody other than Marvel producing Disney comics. But Mrs. Troublemaker explained to me that somebody else actually owns the license to the Disney comic book universe (or whatever).
Jem and the Holograms #2 – IDW (163)

I’m pointing this out not because I’m reading it, but because I absolutely love the art style they’re using on the covers and the look of the revamped Holograms. I suppose that should lead to me at least checking it out, but that’s just one more four dollar comic book.

Empire: Uprising #1 – IDW (166)

Well, damn. Speaking of additional four dollar comics, this thing is by Mark Waid and Barry Kitson. I want to read it. Of course, that means I also need to read the prior volume, which is conveniently offered as a trade paperback on the very same page! 
I loved Mark Waid’s run on Hulk and on Daredevil, so I’m keen to see how he handles his own property. And I just dig Kitson’s art.

Star Trek/Planet of the Apes #5 – IDW/BOOM! (171)

Buy this. Or buy the trade, I suppose, since this is the last issue. I’ve had the opportunity to read the first two issues now and they’re fantastic. The characterizations are spot-on and the art is a lot of fun. The likenesses are what they need to be and Charlie Kirchoff’s colors are vibrant and eye-catching, just like the era from whence these franchises originated. 
There’s a brilliant essay about the two by Dana Gould in the back of the second issue. Since extras like that might not be included in the trade I recommend you track the issues down.

Berkeley Breathed’s Academia Waltz & Other Profound Transgressions –
IDW (190)

I believe that Berke Breathed is the greatest cartoonist ever to grace the Sunday Comics. He would be utterly appalled to know that I said that, but I think it’s true. Bloom County shaped my humor and personality in ways that will be with me until the day that I die.

(he might be upset by that part, too)

Having said all of that, I’m not sure I’m going to pick this one up. Breathed himself has stated time and again that these early strips are unworthy of reprint and apparently took a massive amount of convincing from the IDW folks to allow this work to be published.
Who am I kidding? Of course I’m going to order it.

The Avengers: Ultron Forever – Marvel (M15 - 17)

I don’t really give a crap about this story of time-displaced Avengers fighting Ultron after he took over the world. Here’s a little secret – outside of Whedon’s movie, I don’t particularly care about Ultron. Remember, I’m not an Avengers guy. I’m an X-Men guy. It’s not that I don’t think Ultron is a great character, I just don’t have any particular attachment to him. I didn’t even read Age of Ultron
But I love Alan Davis’s artwork.

But this book is five bucks.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Best Story Ever #1 – Marvel (M38)

I’m a big fan of Tim Seeley and I like the idea of Quill telling the tale of the Guardians’ “Best Story Ever”. It has a Tenacious D kind of vibe. I’ll check this out.

Guardians Team-Up #4 - Marvel (M39)

That’s an awesome image. I haven’t been reading this book and I’m not sure if it’s because I missed it or decided not to spend the money on it. I like these team-up/one-shot books. AvX and A+X are still some of my favorite books from the past few years.

Silver Surfer #11 – Marvel (M40)

Also a cool image. And this is a fantastic book. I recommend it to any fan of comic books. Dan Slott is telling better Doctor Who stories in this book than Doctor Who is telling on television.

True Believers – Marvel (M45 - 47)

It looks like Marvel is catching up to other publishers’ idea of the dollar reprint. Timed to come out just before the massive Secret Wars event, this line includes the first issues of The Infinity Gauntlet, Marvel Zombies, Age of Apocalypse, Civil War, Planet Hulk, House of M, Old Man Logan, Armor Wars, Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man, Age of Ultron, and Powers. I’m a little surprised by that last one, as I don’t think it’s part of the Marvel Universe. But I’m not sure.

Anyway, these are all titles that will have significant roles in Secret Wars.

Spider-Verse HC – Marvel (M92)

I’ve heard nothing but good about this. What do you guys think? Should I get the collection?

Push Comics Forward – BOOM! Studios (301)

This short essay is worth reading. Ross Richie – the founder and CEO of BOOM! – has some great ideas about what could be going on with comics. As somebody that doesn’t really give independent stuff a chance very often, I have to say that I like where Richie is coming from. I feel especially strongly about the current lack of all-ages books, though I want them to feature the likes of Spider-Man and Batman and I don’t know that we’ll ever see that independent of some media tie-in.

Anyway, you should read this. It’s interesting.

A special note to BOOM!, though – I’m not a fan of the art decisions on Big Trouble in Little China and Escape From New York. I don’t feel that either property works in the cartoony style of the artists on those titles. I just can’t read ‘em. The art isn’t bad by any means – I just don’t like it in these worlds. Put those guys on some all-ages books.

Star Trek United Federation of Planets Polo – We Love Fine (463)

I love this, but I don’t wear Polo shirts anywhere but work and I’m not paying this much for a work shirt. Also, I just realized that the shirt above this one has an AT-AT mimicking the Polo horse pose, which is INCREDIBLE.

Masters of the Universe “Standing Evil Group” T-Shirt – ? (466)

This is a beautiful shirt that doesn’t feature Orko. I don’t have nearly enough Masters shirts, so I’m thrilled to see this one offered. I’m a little miffed that Trap-Jaw isn’t on here, but I suppose the design does accurately reflect the hierarchy of Skeletor’s goons. Trap-Jaw would be jumping ahead to replace Mer-Man or Beast-Man, and that would only lead to trouble.

Godzilla Vinyl Wars: Minilla Sofubi – M1go (518)

You guys know how I feel about this Sofubi business (I hate them), but this grotesque abortion might have the dishonor of being the ugliest, most appalling toy I have ever seen in my life. It looks like Godzilla and a Gray double teamed a turd and somehow made the turd pregnant and then the turd gave birth to an alien lizard shit baby. This looks like the type of thing the guy from Human Centipede would want in his home. Forget toys, this might just be the ugliest fucking thing I have ever seen, and I can’t imagine what kind of deranged misanthrope would pay sixty dollars to own it.

Page of AWESOME – (548)

That hat is so good. It’s Brett’s hat from Alien. Even though it would be less accurate, I’d like it more without the gold leaves. I should probably just look into getting a Nostromo patch and sewing it onto a Flex Fit hat since that’s all that will fit my giant head.

The lunch boxes are all neat, but I feel like they really nailed it with the Alien one. It looks exactly like the lunchboxes I had when I was a kid – the kind that I got sent to the principal’s office for using to defend myself from a bully. I realize that’s a Marilyn Manson song, but that for real happened to me.

The Aliens one is really good design-wise, but it needs trim like the Alien one has to truly work. The Predator is the weakest. It just looks like a mouse pad. There isn’t even any artistry to it. It’s just his face slapped on a metal box and a Thermos.

This month’s column was a little lengthier thanks to DC’s Convergence titles. I have to say, I’m excited for them. I don’t know if they will make any difference or if DC will actually shake things up this Summer, but it’s nice to have a little hope that things could get better.
Which is immediately dashed by that nightmarish Minilla thing.


  1. Love that Roxy Rocket!

    Oh, and I'm in this issue of Previews as well.

    Big Bang Universe #1. This new 1st issue features a story by me and Jeff Austin​.
    Check it out at


    1. Awesome! Sorry I missed that - I love doing these, but they turn my brain to mush. Previews is fucking huge.