Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Comic Book Wednesday – Previews August 2015: Man-Bat’s Ugly Thighs

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. 

Grab your copy of Previews and let's look at a few of the weird and/or wonderful items offered in this month’s edition.

The order form was super easy to pull out this month. It took no more effort than pulling a tissue out of a box. The stupid glossy paper still doesn’t want to accept ink from a pen, though.

I Hate Fairyland – Image (Front Cover,188-189)

Everyone should be excited about Skottie Young doing a creator-owned comic book. I think this thing is going to be a lot of fun and you can tell from this cover that it’s going to be a visual treat.

Notice, if you will, the “Kids Comic Month” tab at the top corner there:

I haven’t read I Hate Fairyland yet, but it has an “M” (mature readers) rating and a variant cover that is referred to as “Fuck Fairyland”. I get that the art is colorful and cute, but maybe the folks at Diamond should look into things a tad before their book goes to press. Because some folks – not me – might see the “Kids Comics Month” on this cover and look no further than that and buy this mature comic and give it to their kids. I used to work in retail and way dumber things have happened.

And yeah – the gore-covered ax and pools of blood should be a tip-off, but believe me when I tell you that your average Joe and Nancy America do not examine things for their kids that closely.

Batman & Robin Eternal – DC (Back Cover,76-77)

I’m in. Despite my expectations, Batman Eternal was pretty awesome. It kept me in good Bat-comics while “Zero Year” was slogging along. I do think that Dick’s Robin suit looks stupid, though. Let’s just put him back in the Batsuit.

Seriously – can we give Bruce Wayne a rest for a while? We barely scratched the surface of Dick as Batman and Damian as Robin before the New 52 came tromping in like an unwelcome, mentally deficient pachyderm and ruined everything. Let’s revisit that formula. I loved it.

Dead Vengeance – Dark Horse (Inside Cover,38-39)

This is a heck of an eye-catching splash page. Creepy googly eyes with clutching hands, dude in a tube, and spider with a lady head? Yes – I feel compelled to check this out.

Play Arts Kai Venom Action Figure – Square Enix (2)

These insane figures are very cool. I have a couple of Play Arts Kai figures from before they jumped up over a hundred bucks and I can verify that they’re quite nice. I’ve noticed that they’re in the front of every Previews lately and I wonder if that has helped them to blow up like they seem to have done.

Anyway, I love this Venom. The artist appears to have worked elements reminiscent of the xenomorphs from Alien into the design, and it works really well for the symbiote. I usually prefer Venom to be less detail-heavy, but this look definitely works for a variant, What If?/Elseworlds kind of thing. I’d be ordering this one for eighty bucks or less. Keep in mind – these average around nine inches tall. This one’s ten. But these are not twelfth scale figures.

Halloween ComicFest – (25-29)

Our pal, Mike Gordon, gives out comics instead of candy on Halloween and I think that’s a fine idea. This year on Halloween, comic shops are being invited to participate in a sort of mini-Free Comic Book Day where kids can come in and get free comics. There are a ton of fun titles in here, though you might want to keep Vampblade Featuring Zombie Tramp on the higher shelves.

I have to give DC props for putting out a kids book and a teen book. I feel like all-ages titles (though not necessarily “kids” books) are very important to keeping the industry alive. If we don’t have books appropriate for our kids, how are we supposed to ensure there’s a next generation to buy comics?

Titans Hunt #1 – DC (80)

This is a beautiful cover – one of those that looks like it could be a classic remembered for years. It’s not the final cover, but it is by the same guy that’s doing the interior art – Paulo Siqueria. It looks good. Dan Abnett is writing, so that’s solid. I even dig the plot outline – a young precog is driven to seek out what we know to be the original, pre-New 52 Titans. Everything sounds good.

But I have utterly lost my faith in DC to consistently provide entertaining and interesting comics and to produce them for any extended amount of time. I want to check this out and I want it to be great, but there are too many variables involving DC’s reactionary publishing decisions and utter lack of direction. It seems like the best you can hope for out of any non-top tier title is six or twelve solid issues before the creative team leaves or it just gets cancelled. Why invest in that sort of story?

Justice League #45 – DC (81)

That is a fantastic cover and Wonder Woman isn’t in her stupid new costume. Or this isn’t that Wonder Woman. Whatever. I don’t know that I’ll ever recover from the wretched first arc of this book enough to give it another chance.

Justice League: Gods and Men – DC (82-83)

I like the sound of pretty much all of these and they’re all limited, so I don’t have to worry about premature cancellation or anything. But there are six of them - Batman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Superman, Lex Luthor, and Shazam!. I’m not adding six comics to my pull list. I’ll wait and see how they’re received and pick up the trades if I need to.

Black Canary #5 – DC (87)

I dropped this. The art is nice and the story was solid, but it didn’t excite me. I think it’s a good concept and I hope people dig it and it does well, but this Black Canary just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Harley Quinn & Harley Quinn and Power Girl – DC (114-115)

Nothing new to report – I just wanted to mention how consistently awesome and fun these books are. Starfire is great, too.

Green Lantern: Lost Army #5 – DC (119)

This was a first issue that did excite me. From the opening pages I was engaged in the characters and compelled to discover what was happening to them. It immediately felt like the Green Lantern Corps comics from a few years ago that I enjoyed so much.

The Flash by Geoff Johns Book One TP – DC (125)

I’ve been wanting to read this for a while. I’ve never really read many Flash comics, but when Mrs. Troublemaker talks about great runs on comic books, she always brings this up. I’m glad DC is collecting it.

Side Note: Man, I just had an intense flashback (pun intended, I guess) to reading a Flash comic book when I was a kid. He was fighting Grodd; possibly a whole army of apes. I remember being really caught up in the conflict and concerned that Flash wasn’t going to win, even though I really didn’t care much about Flash. I doubt there’s any way I’ll ever figure out which issue it was with details that vague, but maybe I’ll see the cover someday.

Robin Vol. 1: Reborn – DC (128)

I read everything in this collection back when the issues were coming out, but I lost them to flooding or the need for money. I’m not sure which. Most of the time I feel like Tim is my favorite Robin, and I definitely loved Chuck Dixon’s work with the character. I’m excited to revisit these stories. I remember when the first Robin miniseries came out I was hesitant to buy a book that was just about Robin, but for whatever reason I picked it up and was hooked. I want to say I bought the first two or three issues all at once.

Survivor’s Club #1 – DC (134)

A book about the people that lived through analogs for the classic horror movies of the 80s? YES. This sounds great. I’m not familiar with the writer, but a quick Google search reveals that I dig the artist’s style. I’ll check this out and let you guys know.

Gotham City Garage Harley Quinn Deluxe Statue – DC Collectibles (143)

I’m not a cars/motorcycles/mechanical things guy, but this is a very cool statue. Here’s the thing – DCC offered another version a couple of months ago that didn’t have the hyenas in the sidecar. If I had ordered that, I would be pissed that they turned around and offered a better version later on. Not everybody would want the hyenas, but I definitely would have.

Batman: Animated Series Action Figures – DC Collectibles (146)

NOTE: These are being resolicited and all previous orders have been cancelled. So if you ordered them before, you’re going to have to do it again.

I don’t know what’s going on with this line – unless they’re desperately trying to get Quality Control… well, under control. I’m excited about Mad Hatter and Nightwing and will be passing on Bane and Scarecrow because I don’t like these versions of either of them.

Green Arrow and Black Canary Statue – DC Collectibles (147)

Limited to 5200. I see what you did, there.

If I was a more devoted fan of these characters I would totally get this. It’s awesome. I love Cliff Chiang’s art and this piece has captured it perfectly. We have a statue of Darth Tyranus and Asajj Ventress that’s almost the same pose. But with lightsabers.

Batman: Animated Series Action Figures – DC Collectibles (148)

NOTE: This replaces the original set offered in April.

I didn’t bother ordering this set the first time it was offered even though I thought it was a good idea. Originally it featured Joker in a black suit and a mere repaint of Harley. Now I find it appealing because I love the shiny, purple suit and because I still find racy hornball Harley so surprising for an afternoon children’s cartoon.

DC Comics Icons Action Figures – DC Collectibles (149)

If I could just wave my hands and magically replace my massive DC Universe Classics collection with this line, I totally would. These figures are beautiful. Atomica including the other Atoms is great, Superman looks so Supermanly, and this is the best classic Harley I’ve seen. AND LOOK AT AQUAMAN’S OCEAN BRAIN TELEPATHY POWER!:

That is so awesome. I wouldn’t be so high on these figures if not for the absolutely incredible releases I’ve been getting from DCC lately. They have me really excited for action figures – not the Animated line, sadly, but the recent comic-based stuff. They’re really doing great stuff with those. Next time you’re in your Local Comic Shop you should find a character you like and pick it up just to see what DCC is doing now.

Batman Arkham Knight Action Figures – DC Collectibles (150)

I’ve already got an Azrael, but this one looks cooler and has far better articulation. Man-Bat has some fugly joints, but he’s the scariest and most hideous Man-Bat ever. Plus, I bet the final figure will look better. Professor Pyg is awesome and a must-have. Thank you for Professor Pyg, DC Collectibles.

Back to the Future #1 (of 4) – IDW (152-153)

Bob Gale is involved with this title and I’m interested in the concepts – Marty and Doc meeting for the first time, Doc working on the Manhattan Project – but I need to see a few pages interior art. After what happened with the silly-looking Big Trouble in Little China and Escape From New York books, I don’t want to be disappointed again. The covers on display are by the artists, but I don’t trust cover art.

Paper Girls #1 – Image (192-195)

Obviously this is going to be great and probably important. Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang have yet to disappoint me in the world of comic books and the story of four girls uncovering some sort of Earth-shattering mystery sounds intriguing.

We Stand on Guard # 4 – Image (205)

I wrote this about We Stand on Guard on Instagram:

I have read and subsequently dropped quite a few #1 issues lately. They just didn't grab me. As a matter of fact, just about every new book I've tried over the last few months has been underwhelming. I was starting to worry that maybe I'm not enjoying comics as much or that the medium was making some sort of shift that I wasn't into. 
Then I read this and loved it. And read it again. Brian K. Vaug
han is building another rich, fascinating world, and this one isn't even in outer space. It's ours, but different. And Steve Skroce, Matt Hollingsworth, and Fonografik's artistic collaboration demands close inspection. Every page is beautiful - from backgrounds to character design to expressiveness to the distinctly wintery color pallette.
I'm delighted that this one got me, and got me good. Go and buy it now.

The Wicked + The Divine #15 – Image (212)

I have been absolutely in love with this book. Reading it fills me with the same wonder and inspirational delight that I got from reading Sandman back in the late 90s. It’s not the same kind of comic, at all, but it’s smart and reality-bending and unique.

I was devastated when I opened the twelfth issue and saw extremely Manga-influenced artwork. I felt like I had been slapped. That style is my least favorite style of sequential storytelling ever. I understand that millions of people love it and that’s fine, but just like I don’t like Crocs or Pepsi, I don’t like Manga. I flipped through the issue several times because I couldn’t believe it. I had a tough time reading that one.

It turns out they’re doing an arc with all guest artists for the next several issues. While I am bummed that any WicDev will feature art from people that are not Jamie McKelvie, I am glad that at least this isn’t a permanent situation. I’d have to drop the book. So far the announced lineup is Kate Brown on 12 (the one I didn’t like) and Tula Lotay on 13 (who I had to Google, but I think I dig her work).

I want to be clear – Kate Brown is extremely talented and good at what she does. It just isn’t my thing. I’m not trying to speak poorly about her or about the creative team’s decision to use her. Art is subjective and everybody likes their own thing.

Secret Wars – Marvel

I can’t even keep track of how late which titles are, but I’m still enjoying Secret Wars and the tie-ins that I’m buying. They’re offering a hardcover collection of the main book this month (page 80 in the Marvel book) and I recommend it.

All-New, All-Different Marvel Point One #1 & Avengers #0 – Marvel (M26-27)

This is Marvel charging you six bucks a pop to buy advertisements for their new comic books. It’s smart and I’ll probably end up buying at least the Marvel one, but let’s not kid ourselves. I’d love to pretend I’m above it, but I usually can’t resist a “Let’s sum up how everything is now” book.

I am a little suspicious of the “#1” designation for the Point One book. Really? You’re going to need multiple issues to explain this new status quo?

Amazing Spider-Man – Marvel (M28-29)

Well this certainly has stirred up an all-new, not-so-different internet poopstorm. First you have the people that feel like because Peter Parker is doing a different thing, he’s not Peter Parker anymore. These are different from the people that feel like Miles Morales (who I almost just referred to as “Milo Manara”, who is a whole other controversy) is not Spider-Man. Or the ones that think he should be the only Spider-Man. Or the ones that want the marriage back. Or the ones that think that Peter Parker should only ever be a teenager in high school.

Wait – those are the first ones I mentioned.

Anyway, this book features Peter Parker in a position similar to Tony Stark’s and I couldn’t be more excited because it just sounds like a lot of fun. Peter is still going to be guilty and miserable and have problems. But now they’re going to be fresh, new problems that we actually haven’t seen him have before. Wow! I’m in.

The other poopstorm is about Marvel doing variant covers inspired by classic hip-hop albums. I think this is awesome and the cover to Amazing #1 is A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders, which is one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time. Artist Mike del Mundo was doubly ingenious, because the expressions on the comic characters faces are similar to the artists’ on the album art. It’s awesome.

The problem is that Marvel reportedly doesn’t employ a whole lot of non-white people and some folks are questioning the integrity of their using hip-hop as inspiration for their variant covers (making lots more money than just publishing a comic with one cover).

I don’t know how many brown folks Marvel employs. I can’t speak to that. But if that number is low, then I think I might actually have to agree with the folks that think Marvel producing hip-hop covers might not be the most legit thing ever.

Maybe they’re at least hiring not-Caucasians to do the covers?

Doctor Strange – Marvel (M36-37)

I’ve read some Doctor Strange books and I’ve read some books with Doctor Strange in them. I tend to find the former impenetrable and the latter fun. I like the character and the concept and would love to read more. I want to see what Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo do with the Sorcerer Supreme (if he still is that, which I’m not sure about).

The The Chronic cover is hilarious. It’s by Juan Doe, who is always great and whose name leads me to believe may not be white. Also, I’m not sure if the outrage is a “black people” thing or a more all-inclusive “not-white-people” thing.

What If? Infinity – Marvel (M42-45)

Much like DC’s Gods and Men series, there’s just too much here. I used to love What If? (although to be honest I loved What The!?! more), even when the stories were about characters I didn’t care about. This is because the writers usually managed to work a large portion of the Marvel Universe into the narrative. If these were one-shots, I would pick up a few and might even get them all just for the fun of it. But the five of these are all listed as number ones, which is silly. Another part of the charm of what If? was that they were usually one-and-done. You could pick up any old issue and get a story. Very rarely were they multi-parters.

New Avengers #1 & 2 – Marvel (M50-51)

Looks like Marvel accidentally published an ad for an old 90s Image comic. Oops.

Star Wars: Chewbacca #1 & 2 – Marvel (M72-73)

Of course I’m buying this. All of Marvel’s Star Wars books so far have been excellent, except for Princess Leia, which didn’t really do it for me and didn’t blend as smoothly into the mythology as the rest have. I don’t know that I’ve read anything by Gerry Duggan, but I know he’s one of Marvel’s top guys. I love Phil Noto’s artwork, though, so I’m definitely excited.

The Superior Foes of Spider-Man Omnibus HC – Marvel (M100)

Needless Things’ Head of Research Ryan Schweck has been on me to read this for months. I guess I will since it’s all in one book now.

Jet Jaguar Vinyl Figural Bank – Diamond Select Toys (261,512)

Month after month I put over how beautiful these banks (cheaper than busts and statues busts and statues, really) are. I seriously recommend you find a character you like – whether it be a Godzilla or one of Universal’s Monsters or a superhero – and buy one. They’re so good. And such a great value.

The Misadventures of Grumpy Cat #1 – Dynamite (324-325)

Yeah, you read that right. And even more surprising than the fact that this comic even exists is the fact that I think I’m going to endorse it. While I would normally never support an internet meme evolving into anything more than maybe a t-shirt, I can see the potential of a Grumpy Cat comic book.

Just imagine – a moody cat that hates everything and condescends to everyone around it. Hey – they could even come up with a food for it to love! Maybe, I dunno, ravioli?

Swords of Sorrow #6 – Dynamite (332)

I haven’t been reading this book, but I have of course noticed the related art. The final cover features Purgatori putting Vampirella in a modified Dragon Sleeper and that is one of the coolest things I have ever seen.

Marvel X Santa Cruz T-Shirts – (500)

I’m not a huge fan of mash-ups, but these are rad. If you grew up in the 80s you know what’s going on here and you’re probably going to have to have one of these. I really like Venom, but I think Spidey is my favorite. Thor is too weird.

iZombie Liv Moore Action Figure – Diamond Select Toys (517)

This figure looks incredible. It’s not going to be in scale with anything else I have, but Liv is kind of a standalone character.

Star Wars Madness – Various Vendors (518-528)

Apparently this is going to be a regular thing now (which is not a bad move). Starting last month, Previews grouped all of the various Star Wars vendors’ merchandise into one big section. Here are my favorite pieces:

Darth Vader Lightsaber Pizza Cutter – With sound effects! I might actually get one of these. While nothing will ever be better than the aesthetically pleasing USS Enterprise pizza cutter, this one makes noises!

Boba Fett Pizza Cutter – As much as I love Boba Fett and tend to buy anything related to Mandalorians, this is kind of dumb. It’s not his blaster or even a cool sculpt of a mythosaur skull. It’s just a crappy graphic of Fett’s chest.

Death Star Kitchen Timer – This looks super neat, but you have to be some kind of lunatic to spend twenty-seven dollars on a kitchen timer (which is how I feel about a lot of the nerd-themed houseware items).

Hooded Jedi Robe – Yes, the description says “Jedi Hooded Robe”, but that sounds awkward and weird. I’d like to have one of these, but that embroidered symbol on it bugs me because Jedi do not have those on their robes. But maybe they do on their bathrobes? I dunno. I don’t think we’ve seen Jedi bathrobes.

Star Wars Bi-Fold Wallets – Available in Rebel Alliance or Galactic Empire. It would be nice if they showed both, but I only wanted the Alliance one, anyway.

Legends of Cthulu: Insanely Overpriced Stuff – Warpo (533-534)

Gary’s Pick of the Month (that he doesn’t know about)!

3.75” action figures for twenty bucks apiece? CHECK

A twelve inch action figure for eighty bucks? CHECK

A collector kit that looks slightly less worthwhile than your average Loot Crate that might cost forty or fifty bucks depending on which listing you believe, Diamond’s or Warpo’s? CHECK

It’s enough to drive one MAD!

Gary, I’m sorry your stuff costs so much this month. If any of these items were half as much I would buy them all, but these prices are ri-gosh-darn-diculous. I can’t even imagine rational human beings coming up with twenty dollars for a four inch retro style action figure.

Figures Toy Company Retro Awesomeness – (532,536)

As discussed with Figures’ marketing rep, Chris DePetrillo on Friday’s episode 66 of the Needless Things Podcast, there’s a lot of awesome stuff coming up. I can’t help but get excited about these toys. Series 4 of their Batman 66 figures includes Alfred, Bookworm, the Otto Preminger Mr. Freeze, and one of my favorites – King Tut! They’re also releasing reproductions of Mego’s Batcave playset and the elusive and awesome Aquaman vs. Great White Shark set!

Finally, Figures is introducing a line of Mego-inspired figures based on the Superfriends! They look incredible. And keep in mind – Figures does larger scale stuff, too, so a gigantic Apache Chief is a distinct possibility.

If you don’t get some kind of thrill just from looking at this stuff, then I don’t think we can be friends.

Be sure to tune in to this Friday’s Needless Thigs Podcast for more news from Figures Toy Company, including their new wrestling lines.

Big Trouble in Little China Ghost Lo Pan ReAction Figure - Funko (538)

Of course I’m ordering a glow-in-the-dark action figure from my favorite movie of all time. I’m just not sure it will ever arrive. The Pop! version never did. And believe me – I am quite irritated about that.

Ghostface Killah 9-Inch Vinyl Doll - ? (550)

I don’t know what kind of person could resist owning a talking Ghostface.

SHIELD Venom Containment Unit Lava Lamp – ? (602)

Sheer genius. I want this so bad. But the listing doesn’t say anything about dimensions and thirty bucks does not seem like a possible price for a licensed, full-size lava lamp.

Okay, I did some research – which I hate – because I had to know. Apparently this thing is 13” tall, which is a pretty reasonable lava lamp size. Now the problem is that I don’t trust Diamond to get it to my Local Comic Shop without breaking it. I gotta think about this one.

Side Note: My Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Jack used to have a lava lamp prominently displayed in their home – a big ol’ for-real 1970s model. I used to be absolutely fascinated by that thing. But it also got so hot that it would literally blister you if you touched it. I would like for my son to enjoy the magic of the lamp of lava, but I’d also like to avoid blisters.

Ghoulies Resin Statue – Full Moon (603)

This is a hideous little nightmare. I’m not sure what my brain finds more surprising – a Ghoulies statue or a Ghostface Killah doll.

A Very Special Message From Phantom Troublemaker

It has come to my attention recently that people illegally downloading comic books is a thing that happens more than I thought. If you illegally download comics, you are a shitbag. You are stealing from hardworking, creative people. Yes – if it’s the Big Two then it’s corporations, but if you think that doesn’t trickle down to the creators then you’re an ignorant slut.

If you don’t like that, unfollow me or stop reading or whatever.

Unaffiliated Thoughts

There were a lot of great-sounding comics offered this month that I simply can’t check out. I am doing a very good job of limiting what I get right now (compared to how I have been in the past, anyway) and want to stay that way.


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!


  1. The DC Animated toys are delayed because they went in to try and redesign the bases and their feet so that their might be a way to make them stand. I have a Creeper and a ManBat that are too top heavy to even be supported by the stand that comes with the toys.

    1. Interesting. So far I haven't had problems getting any of them to stay upright, with or without stands. Keeping Man-Bat's arms on is a different story, though.