Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Comic Book Wednesday – SPECIAL UPDATE - Previews April 2015: Tardy Marvel

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.

Note: When I wrote last week’s Previews report Marvel’s portion of Previews was unavailable due to a printing error. This reinforces my belief that Marvel’s decision to separate their section from the rest of Previews is just silly.

Their separate little magazine made it out to stores with last week’s shipment, so I was able to peruse it over the weekend and found enough to put together a smaller but still worthwhile post.

Maybe this is Marvel’s next move – offering their book a week later. Or a month earlier.
Also – with the vast resources now behind Marvel Comics, do you think it’s possible that they might one day decide to start their own distribution system rather than working with the inefficient and outdated Diamond? Or do they feel like a focus on digital distribution is the way to go?

I should start a new column called Speculation From A Nincompoop.

Secret Wars – (Cover)

On one side we have a cast of true Marvel Legends – Reed Richards, Black Panther, both Spider-Mans, Thor (I had to resist the urge to call her “Lady Thor” or “Thor – the girl one” because she is actually just Thor), Star Lord, Cyclops, and… two chicks with New 52 collars. The top one kind of looks like Carol Danvers, but the hair is wrong. The other one reminds me of Moira McTaggart, but I don’t see her headlining a Marvel Event.

On the other side we have Thanos, Willem Dafoe, The Black Noodle, Boulderface, Lippy Finhead, Bobgoblin, Downward Glancing Girl, and Steve.

I don’t know who most of those people are.

It just now occurs to me that I shouldn’t have turned my order form in the other day, because I know there are a few Secret Wars books I’m going to want. Like DC’s Convergence, I don’t really care what’s going on. I just like some of the creators and scenarios they’re using.
This is a big, fold-out cover that features some of the Secret Wars books. At first glance the only one of these I’m interested in is Future Imperfect, and that’s just because Peter David is writing it.

Side Note: I read Convergence #0 the other day and I think I actually understood everything that was going on, which would make it a first for a DC crossover.

Since today’s update is just Marvel, I might as well hit on all of the Marvel books I’m currently reading, as well as any solicitations that catch my eye.

Silver Surfer (6)

This is one of my favorite current comics and it is at or near the top of the stack every week that it comes out. Dawn and Surfer’s adventures throughout space have been over-the-top fantastic so far. Silver Surfer is creative and fun in a way that few comics are. It reminds me somewhat of Sandman when it was at its lightest, as well as the old Marvel Star Wars comics. It’s high adventure that has consequence, but isn’t heavy, if you know what I mean. The relationship between Dawn and Surfer has been handled wonderfully, and I don’t ever talk about relationships in comic books.

The Punisher (9)

This is cool art and an awesome cover. I’ve gone back and forth on Frank Castle over the years. I like the character, but I have found the creative teams to be very hit-or-miss. I checked out after Rucka left and I can’t say that I’ve heard anything about Nathan Edmonson’s run (not that I’m in the comics loop or anything). I don’t envy the guys that have to follow superstar runs on books. I loved Rucka’s work on Punisher, but I have no idea how it was received overall. Even if it didn’t do well, his jump from DC to Marvel was such a huge deal that the book had some extra stank on it.

Magneto (10)

Cullen Bunn’s Magneto has been very good, but I feel like it’s been hampered – if not outright crippled – by its forced inclusion in crossovers. Which is something that has happened to a lot of my favorite books over the years. Even though I was reading Axis, I resented its intrusion into Magneto. This book started out with Magneto on a very personal mission and I feel like the course has changed dramatically. I’m still enjoying the book, but I wonder where the story would be if not for Axis. And now we have another major event throwing the story off course.

And Sugar Man. I’m never happy to see Sugar Man.

Ultimate End (21)

I think that Ultimate Spider-Man is one of the greatest comic books ever created. I was big into Ultimate X-Men and The Ultimates for a while. I even checked out Ultimate Fantastic Four and some of the miniseries from the Ultimate universe. But right around Ultimatum they lost their way. The third Ultimates was terrible. USM was good right up to Parker’s death, and may have continued to be good but that’s where I stopped buying it. I felt like the story was complete and I didn’t have any interest in the rest of the Ultimate universe at that point.

What I’m saying is that there was a time when I cared very much about Marvel’s alternate universe and wouldn’t have given a second thought to buying this final chapter. But now I just don’t care. It seems inconsequential. There were so many massive mis-steps that I don’t feel like I have the investment necessary to need a conclusion. To me that universe dies years ago.

Ghost Racers (24)

Ghost Rider has never been one of my guys, outside of when he was hanging around Wolverine and Spider-Man in the 90s. But you don’t print a picture of a ghost centaur cowboy with Gatling guns strapped to his sides without me commenting on it. And my comment is this – good job, Marvel. That eye-catching image prompted me to pay attention to a book that I might otherwise have ignored. Now that I’ve read the description for Ghost Racers I’m intrigued. It’s like Wacky Races, but with a bunch of dead people that have been damned to Hell. I might have to check this out.

1602 Witch Hunter Angela (34)

I like what Marvel has been doing with Angela and Kieron Gillen is involved with this, but I never read Neil Gaiman’s Marvel 1602, so I’m not sure I want to get into this. Not because I think it won’t be good, but because I just don’t need to buy another book.

Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows (36)

I thought I had something to say about this, but I really don’t. So much crazy stuff has been done with Peter Parker in the last decade that I don’t know what to make of any of it. I love Spider-Man, but he’s another guy that I really need the right creative voice on to enjoy the books. This might sound stupid, but I don’t feel like anybody has managed to capture the fun of the Spidey books from the late 80s and early 90s. Or maybe I’m just older and I don’t relate to Peter Parker in the same way that I did then. I don’t know.

Giant-Size Little Marvel: AvX (40)

Marvel cutting Skottie Young loose on their universe sounds like one of the best ideas ever. I can’t wait to read this. It’s the sort of thing that makes me glad I don’t pay too much attention to the comic book websites, because it’s absolutely delightful when something like this takes you by surprise.

I hope this is getting a poster.

Squadron Sinister (45)

How are you going to do a supervillain team-up book and call it Squadron Sinister and not include MISTER FUCKING SINISTER? 
1872 (47)

I like the idea of the “Avengers meets Deadwood”. I’m a big fan of Evan Shaner’s artwork and I think it’s a perfect fit for an Old West comic. I don’t really want to add more books to the pull, but I don’t think I can pass this one up.

Future Imperfect (52)
Yes, thanks. I love this picture of Thing clobbering the Maestro.

Years of Future Past (54)

This is one of those books that hearkens back to my personal Golden Age of comics, so I can’t pass it up. Plus, seeing Mike Norton’s art in a Marvel book is just cool.

X-Tinction Agenda (58)

Speaking of hearkening back to my Golden Age of comics, this one really hits me right in the nostalgia. Cameron Hodge is one of my favorite X-villains and I always loved the original X-Tinction Agenda, even though parts of it were plagued with some absolutely rotten artwork. I also have a bit of a soft spot for Havok, so a story centering around him is fine by me.

E is for Extinction (61)

As far as X-Men eras go, Grant Morrison’s New X-Men is second only to the Claremont era in my opinion. This is supposed to be a follow-up to Morrison’s work and I wouldn’t even hesitate except for the fact that I dislike everything I see here. I know Chris Burnham is pals with Morrison and that gives me comfort despite the fact that I am not a fan of his art (plus he’s writing this, not providing the art). But I hate the art on this page. Like, really hate it. To be clear, I am not saying that it is bad. But I hate, hate, hate it.

And yes – I understand that this is just the cover art. But knowing Burnham’s style and seeing this, I can’t help but think that the art in the book will also be something that I do not like. And if I can’t tolerate the art, it doesn’t matter how good a story is. I will be opening this before I buy it.

Incidentally, I do like the layout and design of this cover. The style just makes me nauseous.
Inferno (69)

I covered how much I love the Inferno crossover in last month’s post and in a look back at Inferno. I’m super excited about this one. 
Star Wars (77)

Marvel also produces other, entirely different “Wars” books. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying this one. As I’ve said time and again, I was a big fan of much of Dark Horse’s Expanded Universe, but there’s something about this new Marvel run that feels somehow more right. Maybe it’s the fact that this is all officially canon and that with the Dark Horse stuff you always knew that it could be jettisoned at any time. I’ve always said that good stories are good stories and their place in continuity doesn’t matter, but I have to admit that there’s something about knowing that things are official that adds a bit of weight.

Plus the books have just been spot-on so far. The characterizations and stories fit right into what we know of that galaxy far, far away.

Darth Vader (78)

This has ended up being my favorite of the new star Wars books. Vader always makes for an interesting story with his own strong will and agendas being suborned by his loyalty to Palpatine. It’s a neat trick that even though I know where this all ends up there are still many events and stories to be discovered on the path to Vader’s redemption and demise.

Princess Leia (81)

I am enjoying this one, as well. I’m not crazy about Terry Dodson’s art, but I feel like Mark Waid is doing a much better job of redefining Leia Organa than that last Dark Horse book was doing. Rather than just magically making her an ace pilot Waid is deepening her character and her backstory in ways that don’t feel contradictory to the character.

Groot (82)

I’m not familiar with Jeff Loveness, but Brian Kesinger is a phenomenal artist that seems to have been heavily influenced by Berkeley Breathed, who I think of as the greatest cartoonist of my time. I’ll be buying this.

Howard the Duck (85)

Even though Howard’s adventures are grounded on Earth and significantly lower-key than those being depicted in Silver Surfer, this book feels like a spiritual brother to that one. It has a sort of independent spirit to it. The writing is tight and hilarious and Joe Quinones art is fun and massively expressive – very similar to Mike Allred’s. 
Star Wars: The Marvel Covers Vol. 1 (106)

Okay, my first thought here is, “Well, this is stupid. Why would I buy a book of covers.” But there was some incredible artwork on all eight hundred and thirty-six of the variant covers that Marvel offered for the gajillion-selling Star Wars #1. I think I’d actually like to have printed version of them. Especially since some of the ones I wanted are selling for ridiculous amounts of money.

So yeah – maybe this isn’t so stupid.

Howard the Duck: The Complete Collection Vol. 1 (129)

No, I am not immune to bandwagoning. I saw Howard in Guardians of the Galaxy, I picked up the excellent new comic, and now I want to read the old stuff. I honestly think my only exposure to Howard prior to Guardians was the old movie. I’m sure he popped up in comics I read from time to time, but I am a Howard novice.

Giant-Size Little Marvel: AvX #1 by Young Poster (148)

There is a poster!

That’s it for Marvel 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!


  1. As head researcher (although I already knew this) I feel I should point out that's namor, terrax, cervus, proxima midnight, black swan, and Maximus the mad on that cover. They are the evil cabal that namor assembled to stop the incursions when the illumanati wouldn't do it anymore.

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