Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Comic Book Wednesday – Previews January 2018: “We’re All Broke So Who Cares”

By Dave

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 two months away. Most of this month’s offerings are scheduled to ship in March.

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

American Gods: My Ainsel – Dark Horse (Front Cover, 56-57)

The novel is at home on my unread stack. I still haven’t read it because, quite frankly, the show disappointed me. If Ian McShane, Emily Browning, and Pablo Schreiber hadn’t been so wonderful, I wouldn’t have made it through the whole season. I found the whole thing to be off-puttingly self-impressed and important.

I have to comment on this comic adaptation because it’s the freaking cover of Previews and that’s how I start. So I’ll say this – I generally like Neil Gaiman quite a bit and I’m sure at some point I will give some iteration of American Gods another chance. I do find the concept fascinating. It’s like something a broodier Piers Anthony would write.

The Curse of Brimstone #1 – DC (Back Cover, 88)

DC has built up a lot of good faith with me right now, but I don’t think I can bite for this one. I’m not saying it won’t be good – it may well be. But I don’t know the writer and Philip Tan is a fine artist, but not a draw for me. Plus the whole things sounds like something out of Image’s 90s playbook.

Free Comic Book Day (33-51)

This year Free Comic Book Day falls on Saturday, May 5th. Visit FREECOMICBOOKDAY.COM for more details!

Doctor Star & The Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows #1 (of 4) – Dark Horse (58-59)

Please and thank you.

I am totally into the world of Black Hammer that Jeff Lemire has created and will happily add anything from it to my pull list. This miniseries is about a hero from the golden age of that universe, and also promises to give further backstories for the heroes we already know.

Sherlock Frankenstein & The Legion of Evil TP – Dark Horse (60)

The individual issues are in the stack, unread, but I’m still going to recommend this. This is the story of the main villain (so far) of the Black Hammer universe (the Hammerverse?).

Hellboy Omnibus Vol. 1: Seed of Destruction TP – Dark Horse (60)

I’m embarrassingly behind on all things Hellboy and BPRD, but I’ve read everything included here and it gets my highest recommendation. If you’re any kind of comics fan, you have to have these stories on your shelf.

Milk and Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad TP – Dark Horse (68)

Evan Dorkin is a legend. Milk And Cheese represents some of the best humor ever released in comic book form. I reread some recently, fearful that they were (dairy) products of the time or that my old man humor wouldn’t still like it (as has happened with many things I discovered in the 90s), but it all holds up.

Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites TP – Dark Horse (69)

Speaking of Evan Dorkin, his animal-centric collaboration with Jill Thompson is an absolute delight. This is one of those comics that pulls real emotions out and leaves you a little raw.

The New Age of DC Heroes – DC (80-93)


I might check out The Immortal Men, and The Terrifics is on my list. The rest I’ll be waiting for word of mouth on.

Bug!: The Adventures of Forager TP – DC (124)

Weird adventure from the amazing Allreds! I didn’t know a thing about Forager or even much about Kirby’s Fourth World going in, but I still had a blast reading this series. Plus, it compelled me to dig deeper into that corner of comics history.

Dark Knight: Metal Books – DC (144-145)

If you skipped this or somehow missed my praise for it over the past few months, I am loving Metal. I think it’s a great event that has been relatively self-contained. Despite being a dire apocalyptic scenario, it hasn’t come across as bleak as many similar stories. I think what Snyder and company have done with this idea of the Dark Multiverse is awesome and could potentially have storytelling value in the DCU for decades to come. So get on board, you!

Absolute Batman: The Killing Joke HC – DC (150)

I was ready to be all cynical about DC reprinting this story again so soon (obviously it will be kept in print basically in perpetuity, as it is truly one of the most remarkable comic stories I’ve ever read and is renowned by people mature enough to not label everything in the world as “problematic”), but I have to admit that this is a worthy edition, collecting both versions of the story.

I prefer John Higgins’ original colors, but I’m definitely happy to own Brian Bolland’s version as well. Throw in the extras and this is a solid purchase, especially if you don’t already own one of the releases.

Batman: Arkham – Hugo Strange – DC (151)

It’s great that DC is printing all of these compilations of villain stories. Hugo Strange is one of my favorite Batman villains thanks to the first, super weird Batman comic I ever bought with my own money, but I’d definitely like to brush up on his history.

Batman: The Dark Knight Detective Vol. 1 TP – DC (151)

Batman: Son of the Demon was one of those things that I discovered completely on my own and fell in love with. At the time I bought it, I was surprised to see the Dark Knight trekking across the globe. I was also surprised to see his big, hairy chest.

Despite loving the way Mike W. Barr wrote the characters, I never really went after his other Batman work. I plan to correct that now.

Bubba Ho-Tep and the Cosmic Bloodsuckers #1 - IDW (149)

This is a tough call for me. Very rarely have I enjoyed comic book follow-ups to horror movies. But this has Joe R. Lansdale’s name on it. He’s the guy that created Bubba Ho-Tep in the first place.

Of course, those terrible Big Trouble in Little China comics had John Carpenter’s name on them, so who knows?

Bubba Ho-Tep  is an awesome movie and I definitely want more stories of Elvis Presley battling the forces of darkness, but I think I’m going to have to wait for word on this. The description says “Cosmic Blood Suckers”, so I wonder if this is the Bubba Nosferatu we kept hearing about?

Also, I’m confused by the name. Ho-Tep was a reference to the soul-sucking mummy from the movie, so shouldn’t this be Bubba Something Else? That tiny little oversight is enough to make me really question this one, as much as I love and trust Lansdale.

GI Joe: A Real American Hero #1 Anniversary Edition - IDW (166)

Just a reprint? No deluxe hardcover edition with creator notes, original pencils, and story pitches? Nothing? What’s even the point of this?

I mean, if it gets Larry Hama some money, great. But it seems like such a lackluster tribute to my favorite comic book of all time and a legitimate landmark of monthly sequential storytelling.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Color Classics Vol. 1 - IDW (176)

If this uses the colors from the First Graphic Novels trade paperbacks, I can say that this collection is definitely worth your money. If it doesn’t, maybe it still is, but I’m not necessarily endorsing it.

Like The Killing Joke, I think it’s worth it to read both versions of the original TMNT comics. I love the line work and grit of the original black and white comics, but First’s color editions are also nice to look at. And don’t worry – the Turtles all have red masks like they should. These came out pre-cartoon.

Cyber Force #1 - Image (149)

It’s been a long time since I read the original book, but I think that Cyberforce was my favorite of the original Image books. It was either this or Wetworks.

Anyway, I’d love to be excited for a new book and I’d love it even more if it turned out to be a great, long-running series. The problem is I feel like I’ve been burned a bunch of times by false restarts on this kind of thing. But I’ll definitely be paying attention to see how this turns out.

Infinity Countdown #1 - Marvel (Cover, M1-3)

Much like the above entry, I want to be excited for Marvel Comics.

I’ve never gotten into any of Marvel’s cosmic stuff outside of what the X-Men did with the Shi’ar and other aliens, but I’m open to it. I just don’t see much evidence from Marvel that they’re going to produce something consistently entertaining.

And now I suppose it’s time to discuss Marvel’s new Editor-In-Chief, CB Cebulski.

I knew the name when the announcement was made, but I didn’t really know much about the guy. From what I’ve read he has championed talented diversity, has a good head for storytelling, and is responsible for recruiting much of the more exciting talent that Marvel has utilized over the past decade. I also know that he wrote X-Infernus, the sequel to my favorite comic book crossover and that I liked it quite a bit.

Cebulski also wrote comic books under the pen name “Akira Yoshida”, which has a lot of people outraged.

I only know what I’ve read, so if you need more than what I offer by all means hit up Google, but it seems to me that this shouldn’t be a big deal. At least, not for the reasons people are reacting to.

Those reasons are the Cebulski is supposedly guilty of cultural appropriation for using am Asian-sounding pseudonym and writing comics with scenarios and stories heavily influenced by Asian culture. From what I understand, though – even from articles vilifying the man – he spent a large portion of his life in Japan.

At what point does race precede culture and vice versa? Does a Japanese person who was born in America have more right to Asian culture than a white person born in Japan? I don’t know. Personally, I don’t think so. There are probably factors I’m not considering or am not sensitive to. But what it comes down to for me is that everything this guy did as “Akira Yoshida” came from a place of wanting to create and to honor a culture that he clearly loves. People use pseudonyms all the time and his just happened to be one from another language. Would people be having fits if he had written mythology-heavy Thor comics under the name “Sven Guthammer”? I don’t think so.

What I do think is a problem is that Cebulski was falsely representing himself to his employer in order to get around rules he didn’t like (Marvel didn’t allow editors, which he was at the time, to write). He was defensibly young and stupid, but there’s no way around the fact that it was deceitful and shady.

However, Marvel has decided they don’t have a problem with it. They so don’t have a problem with it that they made him Editor-In-Chief, so that portion of things comes down to “none of our concern” because Marvel can darn well hire who they please.

In the end, I just hope Cebulski brings the same creative, open mind to this job that he has to previous positions and that we get a change at Marvel that compels me to spend more money on their comics.

Mighty Thor #705 - Marvel (M4-5)

Jason Aaron is a tremendous writer and I’m a fan of the idea of Jane Foster as Thor, I just haven’t gotten around to reading any of this run yet. There are so many comics, you guys.
Anyway, I mention this listing only to point out that I’d bet money that bare midriff by Jee Hyung won’t make it to print. The cover itself probably will, but they’ll color that in.

New Mutants: Dead Souls #1 – Marvel (M20-21)

I’m up for a fresh New Mutants book. The problem I see here is that rather than featuring the actual artist that’s going to be working on the comic – Adam Gorham, who I am not familiar with – Marvel has devoted page space to their crappy variant cover program.

I’m not saying the variant covers are crappy. Three of them are great. But the way Marvel produces variants is absolutely crappy and a system set up to game sales numbers and pressure already strained comic book shops into ordering more product than they need. Which is kind of a lousy thing for Marvel to do to what should be their best business partners.

DC’s variant program works like this – let’s say they have two variant covers. Heck, let’s say they have four. Your friendly Local Comic Shop orders however many of each cover they think they can sell. That’s it.

Marvel’s variant program is some kind of insanely convoluted thing where the LCS has to order a certain number of regular covers and there are levels of buy-in and they relate things to past orders and who knows what else. The bottom line is that if customers want Marvel’s variant covers, your LCS gets stuck with a certain number of regular covers that they know before they even arrive at the store they aren’t going to be able to sell. So they have to sell the variant covers at a huge markup to cover those losses.

This is why you can buy a DC variant with a cover price of $2.99 for $2.99, but a Marvel variant with a cover price of $2.99 costs $30.

My point here is that as long as Marvel is visibly focusing more on grubbing every last nickel they can than they are on spotlighting the creative efforts of their artists, I’m going to cast a very critical eye on everything that they do.

Doctor Strange: Damnation – Marvel (M24)

Of course, now I have to point out the fact that Marvel actually does feature some interior art just a few pages later. Which now makes me think that they simply don’t have much confidence in the art in New Mutants. After all, Doctor Strange is technically a much more established character right now that shouldn’t need as hard a sell as Xavier’s next class. But for some reason the art from his comic gets featured. Weird.

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man # 301-302  – Marvel (M34-35)

Just so I’m not crapping on Marvel all day, Zdarsky and Quinones’ Spidey comic is awesome and you should be reading it.

The Unbelievable Gwenpool #26 – Marvel (M?)

Those fuckers cancelled Gwenpool, my favorite Marvel comic.

#25 will be the final issue, and if I’m honest I should be happy this weird book made it that far and thrilled that it didn’t undergo three separate relaunches while doing it. In this day and age, twenty-five issues is quite frankly an astonishing number for a Marvel comic to achieve.
If you like fun comic books, but the omnibus if it ever comes out. Keep an eye on this site and I’ll let you know.

New Mutants: Demon Bear TPB – Marvel (M98)

If you’re wondering why the New Mutants movie trailer makes it look like a horror movie, it’s because that film is supposedly adapting this story, which is very much a horror story. I am 100% on board with this plan, as I believe that movies based on comic books can be many different things, even within a franchise. Plus I love Claremont and Sienkiewicz’s run on New Mutants. Those were some of the first weird comics I ever read.

Hark! A Vagrant HC – Drawn & Quarterly (354)

Kate Beaton’s sense of humor is right up my alley. I’m not as into history and stuff, but looking at it through the lens of her wit is a lot of fun. This book is a great read and a pretty darn good gift when you don’t know what to get someone.

Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection HC – Drawn & Quarterly (354)

I haven’t read this collection and didn’t even know it existed until just now, but I’m getting it.

Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen (472)

Intergalactic war? That's just not cricket... or is it? The Doctor promised Romana the end of the universe, so she's less than impressed when what she gets is a cricket match. But then the award ceremony is interrupted by eleven figures in white uniforms and peaked skull helmets, wielding bat-shaped weapons that fire lethal bolts of light into the screaming crowd. The Krikkitmen are back. Millions of years ago, the people of Krikkit learned they were not alone in the universe, and promptly launched a xenophobic crusade to wipe out all other life-forms. After a long and bloody conflict, the Time Lords imprisoned Krikkit within an envelope of Slow Time, a prison that could only be opened with the Wicket Gate key, a device that resembles - to human eyes, at least - an oversized set of cricket stumps. From Earth to Gallifrey, from Bethselamin to Devalin, from Krikkit to Mareeve II to the far edge of infinity, the Doctor and Romana are tugged into a pan-galactic conga with fate as they rush to stop the Krikkitmen gaining all five pieces of the key. If they fail, the entire cosmos faces a fiery retribution that will leave nothing but ashes.



I’ve read that story and it’s not about the Doctor and Romana, it’s about Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect and it’s called Life, the Universe, and Everything.

I did not know until just this minute that Douglas Adams had originally written it as a story for Doctor Who. Now the question is if I need to buy this edition just to compare it to the one that is now part of the Hitchhiker’s Guide saga. Probably.

One:12 Collective Justice League Aquaman Action Figure - Mezco (510)

I’ve decided I’m actually pretty happy with Mattel’s DC Multiverse Justice League figures, but this one does look Momoariffic. I won’t be ordering, but I dig it.

One:12 Collective Michael Myers Action Figure - Mezco (513)

Like all One:12 figures this looks awesome, and will likely be the very best Michael Myers figure (though the one I have from Sideshow is pretty amazing). But I have plenty of Michael Myerses. As good as this one is sure to be, I’m gonna have to pass. Same as I did with their Frankenstein.

One:12 Collective Thor Ragnarok Thor Action Figure - Mezco (515)

Mezco is taking it easy on me this month. All of these figures look fantastic, but just like with Aquaman, I’m pretty okay with the standard retail Thor that Hasbro released in their Marvel Legends line. Sure, if I had a bottomless bank account I’d buy all of these. But I don’t. I’m pretty sure I know what’s next without even turning the page…

One:12 Collective Thor Ragnarok Hulk Action Figure - Mezco (516)

See above. But holy shit I would like to have this huge, fancy Hulk.

Scars of Dracula ¼ Scale Polyresin Statue – Star Ace Toys (563)

You can look this up online and see that it’s a gorgeous work of art, perfectly capturing the evil of Christopher Lee’s Dracula. But I haven’t quite reached the level of success where I’ll spend $420 on a collectible, not even one this impressive.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre Leatherface 1/6 Scale Figure – Three A (563)

This looks completely badass. I have a few Leatherface figures, but no great ones from the original Chainsaw. In all honesty, this $168 MSRP is very reasonable for a sixth scale figure like this. In this day and age anything under $200 is pretty good unless the figure is a piece of junk, and from what I’ve read Three A does good stuff.

Unaffiliated Thoughts

*I picked up the Justice League vs. Suicide Squad hardcover because I’d heard just enough good things about it. I’m glad I did. It was a fun story that used familiar tropes and story beats in what I found to be a very satisfying way. On paper it didn’t sound as epic as Fantastic Four vs. X-Men or Justice League vs. Avengers, but it turned out to be a very satisfying combination of teams.

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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