Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Comic Book Wednesday – Previews November 2016: “The Previews Challenge”

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 January.

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

The Kamandi Challenge – DC (Front Cover, 76-77)

I am one hundred percent down with this idea.

While I don’t have any particular attachment to the character of Kamandi (sorry, old-schoolers – I just haven’t ever gone back that far), I think the idea is great. Each issue, a different creative team will tell their story and end with a cliffhanger that the next team has to deal with. It sounds like a lot of fun and removes a lot of the variables that lead to things I don’t like about comics. We know in advance there will be new artists on every issue, so the expectation of consistent art is gone. It also eliminates pacing issues and filler. Each team should be revved up and ready to go for their issue. I would imagine there will be very little wasted space.

Of course, the thing that caught my eye and got me to look into this at all was the awesome cover by Bruce Timm. I wish he was doing an issue, but I realize that’s not his thing.

Ghostbusters Select Action Figures Series 5 - Image (Back Cover, 479)

Just to be clear – I am not poo-pooing this toy line. But I sold mine.

I don’t know exactly what I want from Ghostbusters toys, but nobody (aside from Kenner in the 80s) has delivered it. Mattel’s line was an overpriced, under-featured shit show. These DST releases look great and are a solid value, but there are issues with them that I just can’t get past. The accessories are fragile and in some cases poorly thought out, the likenesses are… odd, and if you want to build that incredible rooftop diorama you’re going to have a to buy a couple of duplicate characters.

I think Slimer’s weird, giant man-arms were the final straw. If I can’t have a Slimer figure I’m happy with, the line has failed.

Slayer: Repentless #1 (of 3) – Dark Horse (40-41)


I don’t know that Slayer is a band that lend themselves to fictional accounts of their adventures. It seems a little silly. I’m not saying this won’t be an awesome miniseries, because it may well be, but this seems somehow un-Slayer-ish to me.

Hellboy Winter Special – Dark Horse (46)

I’ve never read a Hellboy comic book that wasn’t worthwhile. I’m sure this will be no different. Just go ahead and add it to your pull list.

Black Hammer Volume 1: Secret Origins – Dark Horse (51)

I’m really digging this take on classic superheroes. You’ll recognize the types being used immediately, and Lemire is telling a unique story using them. If you didn’t pick up the single issues, I recommend you check out this trade.

Game of Thrones Hand of the Queen Pin – Dark Horse (73)

Dark Horse has done a great job with these prop replicas. This will be out at the end of November, in time for the holidays, so if you know anyone that’s taken care of business for you, this might be a great gift.

The Flash #14-15 – DC (95)

I picked up the first couple of issues of The Flash after Rebirth, but it didn’t electrify me. It wasn’t bad, but I’m trying to tighten the budget. I’ve heard good things about it as the series has gone on, but nothing could make me happier than seeing a more traditional Captain Cold on this cover. I can’t even tell you how much I hated that stupid New 52 Captain Cold design. That and the awful Mr. Freeze were some of the worst of a whole run of bad designs.

I am so glad the New 52 is dead and seems to have taken many poor choices along with it.

He-Man/Thundercats #4 – DC (119)

The first issue was not what I was expecting. Some of the dialogue was a little off, but it was a lot of fun, it felt true to the original cartoons, and the ending RULED. Give it a shot if you’re into these franchises.

Batman: Night of the Monster Men HC – DC (128)

If DC were smart they could have had this ready to go last week. It’s a great, six-issue story that I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s also the rare exception to my rule against crossovers in that it works, feels like one continuous story, and was worth reading and picking up books I don’t buy monthly. Highly recommended.

Batman: Knightfall Omnibus Vol.1 – DC (130)

It would take some sitting down and thinking for me to pick out my favorite Batman story, but Knightfall would be in the top five or less. If you’ve never read it, it’s an epic tale of what it takes to break the Dark Knight and also the story that made me LOVE Bane.

Justice League: Gods and Monsters TP – DC (131)

Both these comics and the home video release get my highest recommendations. I was dubious of a “dark and gritty” story because lord knows we don’t need more of that, but the narrative that unfolds has to take that route to get where it’s going.

Trust in Bruce Timm.

DCTV: Arrow Action Figures – DC Collectibles (148)

I’m not collecting DC Collectibles’ TV line, but this Constantine is a must-have. I only have two other John Constantine figures and neither of them is quite right. Granted, this one isn’t either, but Matt Ryan was fantastic. I’ll be happy to have a plastic version of him as John.
I liked Vixen just fine on Arrow, but even if I was collecting these figures I can’t imagine I’d spend close to thirty bucks for a one-off character.

DCTV: Supergirl Action Figures – DC Collectibles (149)

This head looks so much better than the one DCC showed us at SDCC. Also, there are two of them and one is clearly designed for flight, which means this action figure of a character that flies will actually be able to look like it is flying. This is a shamefully rare feature in the toy world.

This Martian Manhunter looks incredible, but as I said – I’m not collecting this line.

Side Note: The “Girl’s Night Out” five-pack of animated figures has been resolicited. If you ordered back when it was first offered, you’re going to have to do it again. I’m still mad that they’re packing two figures I want – Supergirl and Livewire – in with three figures I already have. I’m not biting.

Monsters Unleashed - Marvel (Cover, M2-7)

This would appeal to me a whole lot more if I knew for sure that it was going to be a fun, one-off book. But there’s a central book and there are tie-ins and most of what Marvel is publishing right now doesn’t sound like fun.

Cullen Bunn has written a number of things I like a lot and Steve McNiven has always been on point, but I just don’t trust Marvel right now. They’re putting out A LOT of bad stuff. Of course, they’re also producing gems like Silver Surfer, Mockingbird, Gwenpool and Howard the Duck (which was recently cancelled and makes me more dubious of the House of M’s intentions).

Champions #4 - Marvel (M53)

Mark Waid is a fantastic writer. That being said, I dropped Champions after the first issue. I was hoping for a number of things from this book  - a brighter, angst-free outlook, lots of fun, and a more all-ages feel given the characters involved. I would love to be able to share another book like Spidey with my son.

This is not that book. It isn’t kid-friendly and it isn’t particularly light and hopeful. It is extremely heavy-handed with social commentary, which instantly turns me off. I’m also confused as to why there was so much online hatred for J. Scott Campbell’s fairly innocent depiction of Riri Williams but not a peep about the way Humberto Ramos drew all of these girls:

That are specifically identified as underage.

As a friend of mine who prefers to remain unnamed said, “The people who were so vocal about Campbell’s cover probably don’t actually look inside the comics”.

I’m not trying to shit on Champions because the story was solid and the characters were well-written, but it isn’t for me.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #3 - Marvel (M99)

Last month Marvel solicited a top secret mystery book and it turned out this is it. I’m a big fan of the character from Kieron Gillen’s excellent Darth Vader book and I’m thrilled that Gillen is writing more Star Wars. Aphra and her motley crew are absolutely deserving of their own book.

Previews Exclusive POP Flocked Swamp Thing – Funko (265)

Adorable! He’s like Moss Man’s little brother! We have a glow-in-the-dark Swamp Thing POP, but we might need to add a fuzzy version to our shelves.

I say “we” not because I am royalty but because the POPs are a shared collection for the whole family.

The Complete Calvin & Hobbes – Andrews McMeel (270)

Available in softcover and hardcover, this is an essential collection. Calvin & Hobbes is perfection. A hundred bucks for every single panel of it is a steal.

The Complete Far Side – Andrews McMeel (270)

My wife got this for me for Christmas a couple of years ago. It’s wonderful. If you find humor funny, this should be on your bookshelf. It’s a master class in the absurd and in comedic visual presentation. Gary Larson is an unparalleled talent.

WWE #1 – BOOM! Studios (292-293)

Once again somebody is trying to find the magical formula to successfully reboot comic books about the biggest wrestling company in the world.

You guys know how much I love wrestling, but I don’t see how this can do anything worthwhile. Dennis Hopeless is good and I’m sure he has some ideas, but I’m not spending four bucks on yet another WWE comic.

If I can be an extra-critical dick for a minute, what the fuck is supposed to be going on here?:

That doesn’t even make any sense. It’s like a child placed some Colorforms on a page. Although, if they packed stickers of the wrestlers in with a blank cover I think that would be awesome. I might even buy one if that were the case.

Red Sonja #1 – Dynamite (326-327)

Dynamite offered a $.25 #0 issue in last months’ Previews with the promise of a mysterious new story arc for this more traditional Red Sonja. This month we see that she’s in our modern world. I don’t think it’s a bad idea for a story, necessarily, but I wonder if the fact that Red Sonja’s world isn’t technically our world will be addressed. I’m curious to see where this goes.

The Tick: The Complete Edlund – New England Comics (377)

Buy this. It is the basis of all modern humor.

Okay, maybe not really, but it’s one of the best humor comics ever published and the man responsible – Ben Edlund – has been a creative force on many of the genre TV shows we currently enjoy, including Supernatural, Firefly, the Venture Bros., and Gotham. He’s written some of the best and most fun episodes of those shows and more.

The Tick by Edlund is one of the few perfect runs of comics I have ever read. It gets the A-plus Phantom Super Recommendation.

I scanned this damned thing three times before realizing it was printed crooked and the problem wasn't me.

[RE]ASSIGNMENT - Titan (396-397)

This is exactly what I thought it was going to be, but doubted it would be. From the mind of Walter Hill (the movie guy Walter Hill), a surgeon takes revenge on a hitman by, ahem, giving him an involuntary reassignment. If you catch my drift. As in, he’s no longer a hitman.
The art looks fantastic and the concept is fresh and original. Plus there’s a movie coming out starring Sigourney Weaver. I think I’m gonna check this out.

Doctor Who: The Third Doctor: The Heralds of Destruction - Titan (399)

Paul Cornell working on a Third Doctor comic book was a pipe dream of mine. The first two issues have been fantastic and Christopher Jones’ art skills are more than up to the task of capturing Jon Pertwee’s wonderful facial expressions. Both the dialogue and the art make this one of those books where you can hear the characters’ voices as you read. Absolutely wonderful. A must-have for any fan of the Third Doctor.

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark Photo Biography (456)

Who doesn’t love Elvira? I feel like a pictorial is the only way to properly cover Elvira’s boobs story.

The Official WWE Book of Rules (456)

If done right this could be a fun little read. WWE has known how to use humor in past publications, so I hope that this keeps that rend up. The right mix of kayfabe and winking-at-smarks could produce a volume worth passing around amongst your wrestling fan friends.

DC Universe Knit Hats (464)

These are all pretty cool, but I like the S.T.A.R. Labs one the most. Also, I hate the term “beanie”. I’m wondering what the little logo on the left of each of these is. It could be the kind of thing that ruins such merchandise for me. I like clothes to look as “in-universe” as possible and a GCPD hat isn’t going to have an obnoxious manufacturer’s logo on the side.

Frank Cho Wonder Woman T-shirts (467)

I wonder if Greg Rucka will get one of these.

Star Wars Rogue One T-shirts – Mad Engine (468)

Propaganda designs always catch my eye (which I suppose is the point). I seriously don’t need any more t-shirts, but if I was in the market for one I’d pick up the Rebel shirt shown here.

Alien vs. Predator: Pyramid Pillar (493)

You guys know I love NECA, but $44 for a diorama piece seems bonkers to me, especially considering you need, like, eight of them to have the proper effect. I’m sure it’s well done and all, but that price is too high. Most of NECA’s diorama pieces have seemed way overpriced to me.

Saga: Lying Cat Talking Plush Doll (494)

Saga is the greatest comic book ever. Once upon a time I thought I’d be willing to buy any piece of related merchandise that came out, but now we have t-shirts I don’t care for, odd-scaled McFarlane action figures, and a stuffed cat. I’m not a cat guy.

I still love Saga, though. And I'm curious to know what Lying Cat's voice sounds like.

One:12 Collective Joker Action Figure – Mezco (496)

My circle of toy collecting friends has been going nuts for this Joker ever since Mezco debuted it at SDCC. It is, without a doubt, the best looking Joker action figure I have ever seen.

Harley Quinn Q-Pop Figure (496)

Adorable! This looks like a Warner Bros. cartoon character! I wish Previews had listed the dimensions so I would know how big it is, but at $14.95 I’ve got to say it seems like a reasonable deal unless it’s a tenth of an inch tall or something.

Looking around online, it seems that it’s three or four inches tall.

Suicide Squad Action Figures - Funko (505)

These are not part of Funko’s ReAction line. They’re completely different aesthetically. I think they look great, and for ten bucks (or so) each, they’re very reasonably priced. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on some to review. I think it’s interesting that this is the first Enchantress we’re getting.

Super Shogun Boba Fett Action Figure - Funko (506)


But no way am I spending two hundred bucks on it. I’m not saying it isn’t worth it, but I have plenty of other things I want or need to spend that kind of money on. Long gone are the days when I would drop this much on a single figure, even if it is twenty-four inches tall.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 Chop-Top Retro Action Figure - NECA (509)

Didn’t they offer this a few months ago? I thought I remembered ordering one and they’re already available in stores. But Diamond hasn’t shipped any and this isn’t a resolicit or an O/A (offered again). Weird. You bet your bottom dollar I’m ordering a Bill Moseley to go up on the wall. Maybe someday I’ll actually open and review one of these awesome figures.

Marvel Legends Deadpool Action Figure - Hasbro (514)

Due to the popularity of Deadpool and his latest action figure from the Marvel Legends X-Men series, Hasbro has decided to ship entire cases of just the Merc With A Mouth. This is an almost unprecedented move. I think it’s great because it means there’s a good chance I’ll be able to pick one up for fifteen bucks or less, which is the right price for these.

Evil Dead 2: Ultimate Ash Action Figure - NECA (515)

You’d think a die-hard Evil Dead fan and avowed Bruce Campbell worshipper like myself would be all over this figure. But I already bought three different Ash figures from NECA and this one doesn’t offer enough new to be worth my while. I do appreciate that fans that might have missed the older ones can grab this one, though.

A Nightmare on Elm Street: Wes Craven’s New Nightmare Freddy Krueger Action Figure - NECA (515)

Freddy’s New Nightmare look is a favorite of mine. Especially with the demon head. It’s different enough that I don’t feel like I’m buying another same-old, same-old Freddy. Plus, I have a ton of love for the wild idea of the movie itself. I gotta have this one.

Preacher Series 1 Action Figures - NECA (515)

Preacher is one of my favorite comic books and I liked the show a lot. The excellent casting was a big part of that, particularly Joseph Gilgun as Cassidy. He couldn’t have been better. That being said, I just don’t know that I need figures from the TV show. They look great and probably will be, but they’re still essentially just dudes.

Child’s Play Chucky Bishoujo Statue - Kotobukiya (532)

I feel very strongly that Sexy Chucky is the final sign that society is in a downward spiral to its eventual doom.

Scars of Dracula: Christopher Lee Count Dracula 1/6 Action Figure – Star Ace Toys (555)

Christopher Lee is my Dracula and this figure looks phenomenal, but fortunately I already own a very good sixth scale Christopher Lee Dracula. And I didn’t pay two hundred and thirty bucks for it.

Unaffiliated Thoughts

DC has stepped up their cover game this month. I didn’t see a single cover that I felt the company should be embarrassed for featuring. This has not always been the case. As a matter of fact, much of the art caught my eye and impressed me. This definitely has not always been the case. Look out, Marvel.

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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