Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Comic Book Wednesday – Previews March 2017: “Mutants and Space People, Everywhere!”

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 three months away. Most of this month’s offerings are scheduled to ship in June.

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

The Lazarus Contract – DC Comics (Front Cover, 110-111)


A book I’m reading is crossing over with two books that I am not reading! Dammit!

Except… everything that DC is putting out right now seems to be pretty good. I’ve heard great things about Titans and Teen Titans.

Also… the whole thing is only four issues and will be wrapped up in a single month.
That’s pretty awesome and the kind of crossover that I can get behind. Especially considering the historical connection between Sale and the Titans. Typically crossovers encourage me to drop books, but this one actually has me interested. Well done, DC. Also, welcome back to the front cover.

Secret Empire - Marvel (Back Cover, M2-13)

*Makes fart noise*

I hope that after this one final blast of mega-event diarrhea the days of massive, line-wise crossovers are done. At this point, with Marvel’s history, who the heck is signing up for a nine issue mega-event? I’ll check back in when Marvel outlines details for their upcoming “Make Mine Marvel” initiative.

Bonus Advice for Marvel: Reign in your creators on social media. I’m not suggesting you limit free speech, but you are paying these people and they are representatives of your product. Their online immaturity is absolutely impacting your sales. You are losing money so that entitled babies can be twats online. Is that okay with you?

Bonus Advice for Creators: If you absolutely, positively must share your insipid political views on social media, open a separate account that is not related to the way that you generate revenue.

Bonus Advice for Both: Don’t attack your customers, stupid.

Free Comic Book Day (33-41)

This year Free Comic Book Day falls on Saturday, May 6th. Visit FREECOMICBOOKDAY.COM for more details!

All-Star Batman #10 – DC Comics (83)

I mention this because the new arc is called “The First Ally” and I am tired of the constant THREATS FROM THE PAST trope. This may not be exactly what it sounds like and I have faith in Scott Snyder to continue delivering excellent stories with this title, but “But who is the First Ally?” sounds an awful lot like a THREAT FROM THE PAST that we’ve somehow never heard about before. Can we just stop with the stories that rely on uncovering some heretofore unmentioned history? Can’t villains just be villains with no connection to the heroes?

Like I said – this may not be that. But I am wary.

Supergirl #9 – DC Comics (106)

Here’s another cool thing – sometimes characters can show up in other characters’ books without it even being a crossover! It just happens in the one title! What!?!

Trinity #9/Annual #1 – DC (112)

The first arc of this book was a fantastic story and a great introduction to how these characters will interact with one another within the ongoing title. I’m looking forward to the next arc, as well as this story about intrigue in the Watchtower! Plus - annuals are always fun. And wasn't it cool back in the 90s when the crossovers would happen in these? There'd be a common enemy or theme, but you could choose to buy them all or just the books you read. I'd love to see that happen again.

Bane: Conquest #1 – DC (115)

This is a delight and a surprise. I’m a fan of both of these guys’ work and Bane is one of my favorite Bat villains. I can’t wait to see what his creators can do with him over two decades after his debut.

Bug!: The Adventures of Forager #1 – DC (128)

I will admit to not being particularly well-versed in Jack Kirby’s New Gods aside from the ones that were part of Super Powers, but I’ll by any book by the Allreds. They’re pretty much guaranteed fun!

Trinity Vol. 1: Better Together HC – DC (135)

I mentioned this story arc above and recommend this collection if you’re a fan of any of these three characters. The story doesn’t belabor meetings or anything like that. As a matter of fact, I found it to be very reminiscent of the tone of the Justice League Unlimited cartoon. I could see it playing out as a multi-part episode.

Justice League vs. Suicide Squad HC – DC (136)

Surprisingly I’ve heard nothing but good things about this crossover. Looks like I’m going to take this opportunity to check it out.

Batwoman  by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III TP – DC (138)

The listing claims that this is the first time Detective Comics #854-863 have been collected, but that’s not true because I have a hardcover edition of exactly that.

Whatever the case, this gets my highest recommendation. It’s the story that made Kate Kane what she is today and is one of the best arcs I have read in my life. If I sat down to list them, I’m sure it would be top ten, maybe top five. The story is excellent and the art is like nothing I had ever seen before, though I’ve seen plenty try to duplicate it since (without much success). You must have this on your shelf.

Batman vs. Predator TP – DC/Dark Horse (139)

I love the first two and can’t quite remember the third. But this is still recommended, especially with NECA’s DC vs. Aliens/Predator figures coming out later this year! Which I’m sure is just coincidence!

DC Horror: House of Secrets Vol. 1 HC – DC (139)

This is a tempting volume, as it features the first appearance of Swamp Thing and stories from legends like Len Wein, Bernie Wrightson, Jim Aparo, Wally Wood, and more!

The New Teen Titans Vol. 1 Omnibus HC – DC (141)

I’ve read a few single issues here and there, but I have never experienced the full run of Wolfman and Perez’s Titans. I feel almost obligated to pick up this collection. The cover alone is gorgeous.

Tales of the Batman: Gerry Conway HC – DC (144)

Man, DC is killing it with collections this month. And by “it”, I mean my wallet. These are some of earliest the issues of Batman comic books I ever read. I have a few, but I’d love to have this collection. These stories are the Batman that I learned about after the Adam West TV show. They were tight, entertaining tales with art by some of the best to ever draw the Dark Knight – Aparo, Garcia-Lopez, Ditko and more.

Dark Night: A True Batman Story TP – DC (149)

I’ve mentioned this several times here and on the podcast, but if you haven’t heard, Dark Night is Paul Dini’s extremely personal story of the aftermath of a mugging and severe beating he was victim to over two decades ago. This is an amazing book and Dini puts everything out there. Eduardo Risso’s art manages to convey the autobiographical nature of the story with an amalgamation of artistic styles.

DC Icons: Supergirl Action Figure – DC Collectibles (154)

I mentioned this figure during Needless Things’ Toy Fair 2017 coverage. I think it might be the best Supergirl I’ve ever seen.  

DC Icons: Super Sons Action Figure 2-pack – DC Collectibles (155)

I love that DCC is releasing this set, but why is it sixty bucks? The single figures are twenty-eight apiece and these are smaller and don’t come with substantially more accessories. I don’t get it. The figures do look excellent, though.

Designer Series Wonder Woman Frank Cho Statue  – DC Collectibles (156)

Frank Cho’s portrayals of Wonder Woman are awesome. He draws her thick, muscular, and powerful, but still beautiful. She looks like a warrior. I’m not saying Wonder Woman always has to look like this and I do appreciate different takes, but Cho’s is a badass Amazon.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Mirror Broken #1 (of 6) - IDW (165)

Scott and David Tipton have done wonderful things with Doctor Who and Star Trek, so I’m very excited to see their take on the Mirror Universe versions of my beloved 1701-D crew. 
That cover alone is awesome, though Picard sort of looks more like Michael Hogan as Colonel Tigh. Not that that’s entirely inappropriate given the subject matter. Hogan would be an awesome Evil Picard. Of course, so would Patrick Stewart.

All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #1 - Marvel (Cover, M16-17)

When people say things like, “And then they’ll launch a new number one with everything back to the status quo in time for the movie” I always think they’re being too cynical. But then this always happens.

I don’t know how I feel about this art. I need to see more of it on panels. I like Star Lord and Rocket. I like how Groot looks like Sackboy from Little Big Planet.  Gamora and Drax look okay, I think?

HOLY SHIT. This is $3.99 an issue, twice a month? That’s gettin’ pricy, Marvel.

Rocket #1 - Marvel (M18-19)

I love this Mike Mayhew cover. I doubt I’ll pick up the book, but it does sound pretty good – basically Rocket as Danny Ocean.

Jean Grey #1 - Marvel (M22-23)

I never thought about the fact that several of my favorite mutants also happen to have been hosts for the Phoenix Force. Putting Quentin Quire, Rachel Grey, and Hope Summers together with Jean Grey for a team book is an awesome idea but will probably also end up as some sort of universal Armageddon. I mean, how could it not?

The writer, Dennis Hopeless, is responsible for one of my current favorite books, Spider-Woman, so I’m compelled to take a chance on this one.

Cable #1 - Marvel (M26-27)

When Marvel resuscitates a franchise they really don’t mess around, do they? With last month’s debuts we’re up to seven new mutant books, aren’t we (including titles I might not have highlighted)? James Robinson is the guy that wrote Starman, so I’ll always give him a shot and I already know that I like Carlos Pacheco’s artwork. This is a can’t-miss #1 for me.

Star Wars: The Screaming Citadel #1 - Marvel (M94-96)

Gillen and Checchetto on Skywalker and Aphra. I’m in. Sell me twenty of ‘em.
Also, I notice that this tory runs through the main Star Wars title and Doctor Aphra. I would be annoyed, but I’m currently buying all of Marvel’s Star Wars books because they’re great. So whatever.

Star Wars: Darth Vader Omnibus HC - Marvel (M103)

Easily my favorite Star Wars comic series. Killen and Larocca told a story that filled in the gaps of Anakin Skywalker’s post-lava bath adventures and told us so much about what was left of the man under the black helmet. In these stories, Vader was never out of character but was always so much more than we have ever seen anywhere else. Plus, this is the book that introduced Doctor Aphra, who is awesome and who I would love to see in her own TV show alongside 0-0-0, BT-1, and Black Krrnsantan. 

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Vol. 1 TPB - Marvel (M104-105)

Oh, look – speaking of Doctor Aphra! This is basically a direct sequel to Gillen’s Darth Vader and it’s great. A bit more fun, too.

Punisher by Garth Ennis Omnibus HC - Marvel (M108)

You know all of those Punisher stories by Garth Ennis that people talk about all the time? This is them. They’re great. You should buy this book. That first twelve issue series by Ennis and Dillon is what made me a fan of Frank Castle. I had picked up comics here and there and even had a good run of Punisher: War Zone because the first issue had had a die-cut cover (that was my favorite gimmick – I was a sucker for die-cut covers). But the “Welcome Back, Frank” storyline was so brutal and darkly hilarious that I was truly a fan of the character for the first time. And just to be clear – Frank is not hilarious. He was always the straight man. But Ennis and Dillon created a world of pure insanity around him.

Star-Lord Vol. 1: Grounded - Marvel (M123)

Chip Zdarsky won me over with Howard the Duck (yet another excellent tile that got re-number-oned several times and then cancelled) and I’m curious to see what he does with Peter Quill. It seems like a good match between character and creator. I really don’t like the Manga Romance Book cover art, but maybe it looks better on panels.

Your Black Friend GN - Adhouse Books (264)

As a white guy, I don’t understand the particulars of being black in America and I never will. But I’m always curious to understand more and every once in a while I feel like I have an epiphany about some aspect of ingrained racism or learned prejudices. I want to read more stuff like this, but at the same time isn’t it more comfortable not knowing the truth?

Pestilence #1 - Aftershock (266)

The deal here is that the Black Plague was secretly a zombie outbreak and these knights have to find the source.

This is a brilliant idea, one of those that’s so good you almost wonder if someone is using comics to pitch a movie. I realize that suggests that I think that comic books are inherently full of bad ideas, but I don’t think that’s the case. It’s just that sometimes things sound so perfect that I think, “Oh, that should be a movie”. I feel like you’ve probably had the same feelings from time to time and know what I mean.

The Tick T-Shirts – New England Comics (386)

You used to be able to walk into any old Local Comic Shop and buy a Tick t-shirt, but I don’t think that’s the case anymore. I can’t even remember the last time I saw Tick shirts solicited in Previews – certainly not since I’ve been writing this column. If you need a Tick shirt – and you do – order one now! Like Halley’s Comet, they won’t return again for seventy-five years!
Maybe not that long.

Colossus T-Shirt (492)

I love this! Not necessarily because it’s Colossus – I like him and all, but I don’t need a shirt with the guy on it. No, I dig it because it reminds me of one of my favorite t-shirts that I have ever owned, long ago lost to sweat stains and wear and tear. It was simply a group shot of the pre-blue and gold Uncanny X-Men, all dynamically posed like this. Just the characters - no goofy graphics or corny phrases. Possibly by Marc Silvestri. I Googled “X-Men shirts”, but you can imagine how that went.

Thor: Ragnarok T-Shirts – Mad Engine (497)

These are some of the most inelegantly designed, craptastic movie tie-in shirts I have ever seen. They don’t look good enough to be in the kids section at Walmart. After the reveal of that retro movie title I expected some rad 80s-style designs. These are just lame.

Guardians of the Galaxy Apparel (500)

Licensors tend to not get this sort of thing for some reason. Many of us would much rather have Star-Lord’s jacket or shirt that he actually wears in the movie than a shirt with a picture of Star-Lord on it. The fact that someone is producing a replica of Star-Lord’s movie shirt is impressive. The fact that they’re getting it out in time for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 (maybe) is amazing.

Star Trek T-Shirts (503)

Now you can wear your favorite Star Trek memes! Both of these are amazing, but Riker sitting down is my favorite.

The Muppets Select Action Figures – Diamond Select Toys (517)

These almost got me the other day. Toys R Us had the mass market versions of Bunsen and Beaker for $12.99 and Amazon had several of the direct market versions (that come with extra accessories – the ones offered through Previews) for less than twenty  bucks. I had Bunsen and Beaker in my hand and three sets in my Amazon cart. But then I realized that I just didn’t have enough space for a new line and really didn’t need to spend the money.

Anyway, the Swedish Chef is my favorite here. Look at all of the stuff he comes with, including the adorable little talking vegetables!

I love Sam, too, though. He’s my dad’s favorite, so I’ll always have a soft spot for him.

DC Comics Bombshells Figures – Cryptozoic Entertainment (524)

These are so ridiculously adorable! I’m impressed with the price points, as well. Thirty bucks for the 7.5” figures and ten bucks for the minis seems perfectly reasonable. Although it looks like the minis are blind boxes, which is lame. You guys know I don’t like those.

Game of Thrones Figures – Dark Horse (525)

A couple of years ago I chose to collect Funko’s Game of Thrones Legacy figures over Dark Horse’s offerings because they were cheaper, had better articulation, and in my opinion looked better.

Boy, did I back the wrong horse. So to speak.

Funko abandoned their line (admittedly to poor sales)  a while ago and Dark Horse’s is still running strong and have improved in quality. I often complain about statues being so expensive and large and how I wish some of the companies that make them would also release smaller PVC versions at a lower price. I wish I’d realized that that’s basically what these are.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Extravaganza! – Various (526-528)

Three pages of all-new product for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which releases on May 5th and is likely to be the highest-grossing movie ever forever and ever until Vol. 3 comes out. I already have the Marvel Legends I wanted – Yondu and Angela (review coming soon to Needless Things), as well as the magical Groot 3-pack (not pictured; review also coming soon).

As a matter of fact, most of this stuff can be found in stores right now, so I wouldn’t recommend you actually order it from Diamond. But it is neat to look at.

I like the animated style 6” figures quite a bit and would probably be collecting those if I weren’t so budget conscious these days. They’re doing them for all of the Marvel cartoons – Spidey, Avengers, and Guardians – and even though I don’t like the shows, the toys are great and a very good price point.

The rest of the stuff is all pretty cutesy but awesome.

Aliens: M56 Smart Gun Life-Size Replica – Hollywood Collectibles (531)

I admit that this is awesome. But do you know how many actual, working guns you could buy with $1200? A few. Add that to the fact that you’re going to spend at least that much on a screen-accurate Colonial Marine costume to go with this piece and I think we’re all better off just going back to bed.

One:12 Collective Suicide Squad Harley Quinn Action Figure - Mezco (532)

You guys probably know that I’m reviewing (almost) every version of this Harley that gets released because we’re in an unprecedented toy situation where quite a few companies are releasing comparable 6” versions of the character. And also just because I like this design and think Margot Robbie is super.

So far I only have the Figuarts Harley from Bandai, but this one and the Medicom MAFEX versions should be out in the next few months.

Batman: Red Rain Statue (532)

This awesome statue is based on art by the incomparable Francesco Francavilla and inspired by the best-known DC Elseworlds story. If I was more of a statue guy, I’d get it for sure. Or if they released a smaller, cheaper PVC version.

(Yes – I am aware that Mattel and DC Direct released vampire Batman figures. I have both. But they aren’t Francavilla art.)

One:12 Collective Action Figures - Mezco (533)

I can vouch for the excellence of that Cursed Earth Judge Dredd. If you missed ordering any of the rest of these, here’s your chance. Personally, I’m going for Black Adam and possibly Reverse Flash. I have a Punisher on order, but not this pricey deluxe version. The arsenal is nice, but I don’t need a coat for Frank.

Speaking of Frank, I’m tempted every time I see that Frankenstein, but I have enough figures of that guy. Seriously.

Avengers: Age of Ultron Hulkbuster Die-Cast Figure – Jada Toys (548)

I saw this at Target the other day and almost bought it because it looks so cool.

I haven’t mentioned these die-cast figures from Jada Toys before, but I like them quite a bit. I don’t own any, but I’ve bought a few for Mrs. Troublemaker because they’re neat and the price is right. I like the designs quite a bit.

What I’d really like to see is a Hulkbuster model kit like the Batmobile that Jada Toys released. I’d buy that in a second.

Trick or Treat: Sam Rotocast Figure - Mezco (549)

I cannot believe how much Mezco has stepped up their game in the past few years. They’ve gone from being a company that I mostly disregarded to one that I follow closely every week to see what kinds of must-have toys and collectibles they’ll be releasing next. From their One:12 Collective to simpler things like this vinyl Sam, Mezco is killing it..

Ash vs. Evil Dead: Ash vs. Demon Spawn Action Figure 3-pack - NECA (549)

It’s a shame, but I consider most of this line to be a misfire. Doubly a shame because the regular Ash is the best action figure I bought last year. But with three different Ash figures, these two nearly identical figures that don’t look great and are based on boring designs in the first place, and one demon that most folks I know thought was the worst part of the first season of the show, this has been more of a disappointment than and six Engineer figures.

I realize likenesses are tricky business, but having figures of Pablo, Kelly, and Ruby (and now Chet) is a higher priority to me than any Deadite. This feels like one of those lines where I’m never going to get the core team, so I might as well stop at the one Ash.

Aliens: APC 1:18 Scale Vehicle and Xenomorphs – Hiya Toys (569)

This stuff looks fantastic, but is way out of my budget. I want that APC something terrible, even if only to fil with GI Joes, but there’s no way I’m spending $250 on it, even though it looks like it’s worth it.

With lights, sounds, and a fully operational interior, this is probably the most incredible toy vehicle since Hasbro’s Big Millennium Falcon. Possibly better if the quality is truly as solid as it looks.

As for the figures, they look great. The prices are a little more reasonable considering the size, but not without any corresponding toys to go with them. If you haven’t seen them, check out Hiya’s Colonial Marines. They’re phenomenal.

Suicide Squad: Deadshot SH Figuarts Action Figure - Bandai (573)

This, of course, is the problem with buying outside of your normal lines like I did with the Figuarts Harley. That figure was phenomenal and now I want all of the Figuarts figures. For now I’m managing to control myself and just purchase the Suicide Squad releases. I know I complain about pricing all the time and it doesn’t make any sense at all that I’m buying these ridiculously expensive twelfth scale figures, but they are truly satisfying and for the first time in years I feel like I’m really getting my money’s worth. Plus I’m usually finding them for at least a little less than the MSRP.

Abnormal Super Hero: Hentai Kamen Figma – MAX Factory (580)

I don’t…
Right. Let's move on.

Mondo X Marvel Comics Enamel Pins - Mondo (604-605)

I have recently taken to wearing enamel pins on my Phantom gear. Just one on the lapel or pocket, nothing crazy. I’m not up to a twenty-three pound denim vest or anything.

I like these Marvel heads from Mondo, but I wish they looked more like the old John Byrne heads from the covers. Still, I’m probably going to have to pick a couple up to add to my collection. Wolverine is a definite, Spidey and Storm are strong maybes. I like Baby Groot an awful lot, too.

Unaffiliated Thoughts

Logan abused me. It was brutal and powerful. I highly recommend it. Read my review here.

It looks like one of my favorite comic books, Spider-Woman, has been cancelled. That sucks.

Speaking of sucking, I have fallen out of love with Supergirl. The show seems to have been negatively influenced by its move to CW. I know that sounds ridiculous given that the same creative team is in place, but I cannot believe the change in emphasis on relationships and drama lately. The last few episodes have been disappointing.

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!

Be sure to follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for all of the latest toy news and live reports from the stores that carry them!

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