Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Comic Book Wednesday – Previews February 2018: “Light on Toys”

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 April.

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

NOTE: Due to timing issues with the Days of the Dead horror convention and various other demands on my schedule, this month’s rundown was written using the PreviewsWorld website rather than the physical book. As a result, I don’t have page numbers this time.

For whatever reason, the website doesn’t feature as much information as the paper catalog. It’s also a different experience browsing thumbnails as opposed to pages. Chances are this will result in a shallower rundown than usual, but I’ll do the best I can. Next month things should be back to normal.

Additionally, as I’m going through the site I’m realizing that I’m missing out on the splash pages and things that the publishers – and Diamond – might use to highlight certain products, so I have no idea which things I’m supposed to think are a big deal. It’s leveled the playing field a bit for sure, but I don’t like not knowing what’s “hot”.

Deathstroke #30 – DC (Front Cover)

Just a few years ago this would have seemed like a highly unlikely dream project. And I never would have imagined that I’d be able to write “From the writer of Justice League, Christopher Priest”, but here it is:

From the writer of Justice League, Christopher Priest, we’re getting the ultimate showdown between two fan favorite characters that nobody wants to see on the losing side. In the hands of any other writer I’d be concerned, but Priest has shown that he has the subtlety and cleverness to guide such a huge storyline.

The stakes are no less than the status quo of one of my favorite blood relationships in comics – Bruce Wayne and his son, Damian. Apparently the story starts when Bruce receives proof that Damian is actually Slade Wilson’s son. Just reading that hit me hard. Damian is one of the few comic book characters whose story I have been with from the start. Most of my favorite characters appeared before I was born or just at a time when I wasn’t reading the title they were in or comics at all. But it just worked out that Son of the Demon was a graphic novel that I picked up when it came out (though Damian barely appears and was not named) and was reading when Morrison brought it into official canon by introducing Damian.

Since then I’ve followed the character and have been invested in the father/son relationship, somewhat thanks to my own son’s birth the year following Damian’s reintroduction. The idea that Damian and Bruce may not be related by blood and the potential storylines resulting from that concept is both upsetting and compelling. In the end, it doesn’t matter, but there are so many fascinating possibilities that could arise from this development.

I am delighted that Priest is getting to guide these characters’ paths for the foreseeable future and can’t wait to see not only where this story goes, but how many other icons one of the best writers working today can influence in the coming years.

Sonic the Hedgehog #1 - IDW (Back Cover)

Lots of people love Sonic the Hedgehog and I know that the character’s run at whoever the last publisher was (Archie?) is very popular. Licensed work seems to be IDW’s bread and butter, but more often than not I’ve been disappointed. I hope for the sake of the Sonic fans they do the character justice.

Free Comic Book Day

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

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #1 – Dark Horse

I love that Dark Horse breaks the storylines within their comics up the way that they do.
Black Hammer has been a little slow paced at times, but I still find it to be one of the most compelling superhero comics I’m reading right now. I’m more invested in the world than the actual characters, but it’s been a wild read. For the time being, I’m on board for any titles that are part of Lemire’s take on classic comic book tropes.

Aliens: Dust to Dust #1 (of 4) – Dark Horse

I know there’s something that this title’s one-man creative team Gabriel Hardman worked on or created that I loved, but he’s done so much that I’m having trouble finding out what it was. Whatever the case, Dark Horse has an excellent track record with its Aliens books and I’m always up for a new, different miniseries.

Dave McKean Short Films HC – Dark Horse

Ever since Arkham Asylum (discussion of which now seems to require the subtitle A Serious House on Serious Earth thanks to numerous other projects bearing the name) I’ve been a fan of Dave McKean’s work. That book was one of the first I’d read that pushed the boundaries of what I expected out of comic books. While I don’t always love it when things get too “artsy” in my superhero books, McKean is one of the artists that seems to know how to hit my sweet spot for art, storytelling, and weirdness.

Until my recent interview with Valerie Meiss I hadn’t even been aware that McKean created short films. It seems like kismet that Dark Horse would be releasing this book and Blu-ray set so soon after that discovery and believe me – I’m putting this on the order form.

Go Team Venture: Art and Making of Venture Bros. HC – Dark Horse

This book was originally offered some time last year and apparently – much like the show that it’s about – has suffered some production delay. However, also like the show, I expect it to be worth the wait. Hammer and Publick are very protective of their creation and demand a certain amount of quality from anything relating to it. While I don’t know if their high standards are the reason for this book’s lateness, I’m always on board with waiting for the best possible product.

Hellboy and the BPRD 1955 TP – Dark Horse

These one-shots and miniseries detailing Hellboy’s earliest exploits have all been great. If you skipped the single issues, I highly recommend you grab the trade. It’s continuity-free and gives bite-sized chunks of story that you can enjoy at your leisure.

Hellboy: Complete Short Stories Vol. 1 TP – Dark Horse

Speaking of bite-sized chunks of story, here are some more!

Even though I’m behind – way behind – on the main Hellboy book and have never even cracked an issue of BPRD, I’ve read almost all of the one-shots. And they’re great. The Mexico saga is particularly wonderful in my opinion and I’m not even a fan of Richard Corben’s work.

The Black Sinister HC – Dark Horse

I’m always curious to see what Kaare Andrews is up to. This super dark take on the idea of Batman sounds interesting and I like that it’s one self-contained book.

Pictures That Tick Vol. 1 & 2 – Dark Horse

Apparently Dark Horse is on a Dave McKean kick, as they’re releasing these short story collections alongside the Short Films hardcover. These two books collect a bunch of previously hard-to-find work and I’ll be ordering both volumes.

Action Comics #1000 – DC

Superman comics aren’t in my pull on anything resembling a regular basis, but this is a milestone that I can’t imagine any fan of superhero comics passing up. The talent on board for this issue is what you’d expect from such a momentous event. DC is also offering ten different covers, each one representing a decade from the Man of Steel’s publishing history. I’ll definitely grab the Mike Allred cover, and there’s a good chance Michael Cho’s will be hard to pass up. The rest I want to see.

One cover I won’t buy is the main one pictured above. I don’t care for Jim Lee’s artwork here at all. Superman is too squinty – he looks more like Shazam to me – and his legs look odd. The blue seems off-spec, too.

NOTE: Another annoying thing about using the website is it doesn’t list page counts, so I don’t know how long this $7.99 comic is, though I have no doubt it will be worth it. I’d just like to know.

Batman ’66 Omnibus HC – DC

DC put exactly the right people on this book. Every issue was a delight, with the art reflecting the era and the tone and the stories feeling like a lost season of the show. One of the great things about seeing this version in comic form was the scale and epicness that would have been impossible on the TV show.

If you grew up with this Batman, you owe it to yourself to read these stories.

Seven Soldiers by Grant Morrison Omnibus HC – DC

This collects all of the miniseries from Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers of Victory storyline. It’s excellent and you should read it. I have no idea why “of Victory” has been omitted from the listed title and the above cover art.

Batman and the Signal TP – DC

The first issue of this miniseries was good enough that I’m sort of disappointed it’s only a miniseries. I like Duke and I like the idea of Batman needing a guy to handle a new rash of daytime problems in Gotham. Also, the first issue explained the name “The Signal” and it’s really cool. I didn’t have a problem with it before anyway, but the reasoning is sound and nice to see. And fits right in with many of the current themes of the Batman mythos.

Batman by Grant Morrison Omnibus Vol. 1 HC – DC

If you’ve been following Needless Things for any amount of time you might have gotten the ideas that I love Batman, I love Grant Morrison’s work, and I love Grant Morrison’s work on Batman. Given all of that it should come as no surprise that I recommend you pick up this omnibus and become immersed in one of my all-time favorite runs of comic books.

Batman: Zero Hour TP – DC

Back in 1994 I was crazy for Zero Hour. I collected everything related to it and for me it was a sort of reintroduction to the DCU. Perhaps not the best reintroduction, but at the time I was eating it up, even though there were many aspects of it I didn’t understand thanks to the heaviness of the continuity.

The individual comics are no longer in my collection thanks to one of several comic book purges I’ve done over the years, but I wouldn’t mind reading the story again with an extra twenty-four years of comic book experience.

Nightwing: The New Order TP – DC

I haven’t finished reading this yet, but I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit. It feels like an old school Elseworlds story even though it’s more of an alternate future kind of thing. Members of the Bat Family going bad seems to be a theme right now, and thus far the stories have been pretty solid.

Zero Hour: Crisis in Time HC – DC

DC has been pretty good lately about releasing related titles in proximity to each other. So you can, for instance, grab this collection of the main Zero Hour series and also pick up the above Batman Zero Hour stories.

DC Animated Harley Quinn Expressions Pack – DC Collectibles

As underwhelmed as I was by DCC’s first animated Harley, I can’t pass up this excellent set. Now that I know how limited the articulation is, I think I can appreciate the sheer volume of extra goodness that comes in this box. The heads all look great and I love the choice of accessories, even though we already have Bud and Lou from the New Adventures Joker.

DC Cover Girls: Batgirl by Joelle Jones Statue – DC Collectibles

This is one of the most fun-looking collectibles I’ve seen in a long time. I love how well sculptor Jack Matthews captured Jones’ style and the pose and dynamism is just fantastic. I try to have some restraint when it comes to statues, but I might have to order this one.

Danger Girl 20th Anniversary - IDW

J. Scott Campbell is one of my favorite comic book artists and Danger Girl is my favorite of his works. It’s James Bond crossed with Indiana Jones by way of a Disney Princess movie and there’s nothing else quite like it. I loved this comic from the first issue, to the point where I’ve got Abbey tattooed on my arm.

However, I’m not sure I’m going to get this. If Previews’ solicitation is correct, it’s just black and white reprints of stories I already own. If there was a sketch section or commentary or something I might be on board, but this seems pretty bare-bones to me.

Hack/Slash Resurrection TP Vol. 1 - IDW

The art could be better, but at least it’s consistent. And it isn’t bad by any means, just not the style I would have chosen. But the story is classic Hack/Slash fun. I was expecting to be disappointed with this revival, but so far it has delivered and I’m hoping that if this creative team sticks together and gets more comfortable they can deliver some really interesting stuff as the series continues.

Hunt for Wolverine #1 - Marvel (Cover)

Charles Soule is returning to Wolverine and I’m very happy about it. I liked the guy’s last run quite a bit, and I even dug Death of Wolverine. I’m surprised his absence has lasted as long as it has, though I suspect that’s due to the surrogates Marvel ushered in. I like Laura, but I could do without Old Man Logan and whatever the Ultimate Universe thing is.

The Old Man Logan comic started off so promising – with a bitter old former hero taking the opportunity to preemptively destroy those that had wronged him – but quickly became just another superhero book. I think it would have been far more interesting to have the titular old man remain an antihero murder machine using his knowledge of the future and decades of skills to evade the heroes of the modern timeline.

Anyway, Soule is back and I’m on board. Or giving it a chance, I should say.

Domino #1 - Marvel

Hopefully we’re getting Secret Six Gail Simone and not New 52 Batgirl Gail Simone. I’ll find out because I’ll give any superhero book she’s writing a shot.

Death of Wolverine Complete Collection TP – Marvel

As I mentioned above, I liked this. Some people did not. Normally I’d just straight-up recommend a book, but maybe you should track down the first issue and see what you think. To me it was a classic, “I’m dying and need to get my shit in order” kind of story that felt very right for Logan.

NOTE: I read very little of the post-death stuff that’s included here. I don’t remember what I picked up, but I didn’t like it and it got dropped. So I can’t speak to the quality of those.

Marvel Superhero Adventures #1 (of 5) – Marvel

Our family loved the Superhero Squad cartoon. I’m delighted to see it back in any form. I’m not familiar with any of the creators listed, but I’d imagine that’s because they come from the world of all-ages comics (which we could use more of).

True Believers Infinity Stuff  – Marvel (M34-35)

This line of $1.00 reprints is one of my favorite things that Marvel does. I suppose it would make more sense to just join their Unlimited service, but I still don’t like reading comics on a screen.


Brothers Dracula #1 - Aftershock

Cullen Bunn is becoming one of my favorite horror writers. He has a skill for presenting dark, macabre period stories in a very accessible way. His writing isn’t flowery and full of itself like some writers who tackle the genre – though I can dig that sometimes, too – and his worldbuilding is excellent. Given just a few pages, Bunn has a skill to draw you into a narrative that is on par with the greats.

If the idea of teenage Vlad Tepes had come from almost anyone else I would have laughed and disregarded it. But coming from Bunn, I have no doubt that it will be a wild and compelling story.

Her Infernal Descent #1 - Aftershock

This sounds really interesting:

…a middle-aged mom descends the nine circles of hell to retrieve her forsaken family…
I’m not familiar with any of the creative team, but this is one of those concepts that has just hooked me for some reason. I’ll let you know how it is.

Dark Ark TP Vol. 1 - Aftershock

And Dark Ark is one of the many reasons why I said what I just did about Cullen Bunn. It’s about a second ark that was created for the Great Flood, only this one carries vampires, manticores, and all manner of mythical creatures. What surprised me about this one was the focus on the power structure of the ark and the tension between the creatures and the sorcerer – a dark parallel to Noah – and his family.

Jeepers Creepers #1 – Dynamite Entertainment

This is a tough one. Or not really, I guess.

I loved the first two Jeepers Creepers movies. I thought the monster was great and I liked the straightforward nature of the narrative – this terrible thing is happening, we don’t get to know why or how, it just is.

And then I found out about the real terrible thing, which is that the director/writer/creator of the whole franchise – Victor Salva – is a convicted pedophile. I can’t get past that one. I can’t enjoy the movies anymore and I don’t want anything to do with his work. I’m not putting any money in that guy’s pockets. I don’t care if he served his time or not, that one goes on the unforgivable list.

I’m actually somewhat bothered by the idea that Dynamite Entertainment is in any way supporting this monster, but I do notice that unlike other horror franchise comics he isn’t listed as a co-writer or “producer” or anything. Maybe he doesn’t own the franchise or receive any money for its use? I don’t know but it doesn’t matter. I won’t support this brand.

The Prisoner #1 – Titan Comics

As a result of watching Doctor Who late Saturday nights on my local PBS affiliate, I became similarly obsessed with The Prisoner. I can’t remember if it aired before or after Doctor who, but I tuned in (or stayed tuned in) every week to see it and attempt to understand just what the heck was going on.

I loved the look of the Village and the weird stuff that was going on there, but I think it was Patrick McGoohan’s intense, sometimes unhinged performance that kept me invested despite the fact that I could barely grasp the plot.

Having said all of that, I don’t know how interested I am in whatever this is. The solicit isn’t clear on if it’s an adaptation or continuation or what, but I love the show as-is and don’t think I need any more. I certainly didn’t need the execrable 2009 miniseries.

RoboCop: Citizens Arrest #1 – BOOM! Studios

It's been decades since the RoboCop program first began. Corporations have taken over the schools and the government and law enforcement is the biggest private contract of all. Traditional police forces no longer exist as all citizens are encouraged and rewarded to spy on their neighbors. There is only one authority on the streets: ROBOCOP.

Now THIS sounds like a worthy follow-up to RoboCop that might understand the political satire that the original movie executed so well. I haven’t been a big fan of most comic book tie-ins to one of my all-time favorite movies (Top 5 for sure), but despite myself I think I’m excited for this one.

Space Riders Vol. 2: Galaxy of Brutality TP – Black Mask

If you only take one recommendation from me this month; heck, possibly this whole year, BUY THIS BOOK. Just do it.

Survival Fetish – Black Mask

One of my favorite comic books from 2017 was There’s Nothing There. It was so good that I’m going to pick up this book by its writer, Patrick Kindlon, even though it doesn’t necessarily sound like my kind of thing.

Brian Kesinger’s Inked Tails HC – Baby Tattoo Books

Brian Kesinger is a fantastic artist that currently works for Disney (or does a lot of work for Disney – I’m not entirely clear on that). He has a brilliant, creative mind and a style that reminds me of Berkeley Breathed, so of course I love his work. This collection of mermaids is a must-have, but for Mrs. Troublemaker’s shelf, not mine.

Brian Kesinger’s Penned Dragons HC – Baby Tattoo Books

See above, except with dragons. And you should absolutely be following Kesinger on Instagram, where he does all kinds of great mash-ups, including delightful Star Wars/Calvin & Hobbes cartoons.

Cable T-shirt – Mad Engine

Embrace the fashion mistakes of the 90s with this hideous tie-dyed shirt!

RoboCop MAFEX Action Figure - Medicom

McFarlane’s RoboCop was okay, NECA’s have been very good, but I still don’t own a great RoboCop figure. I’m tempted by this one, but it looks a little too stylized, so I don’t think this is that great figure either. That doesn’t mean I’m not getting it; I’m just managing my expectations. What I’d like to see is a Figuarts version from Bandai.

Or, of course, a One:12 release.

One:12 Collective Justice League Tactical Suit Batman Action Figure - Mezco

This looks great and I liked this version of the Batsuit more than I thought I would, but I’m pretty darn happy with the standard Dawn of Justice version. For the money, I can’t see getting this upgrade.

Predator Throne Diorama Element - NECA

I’m generally a cheap-ass when it comes to props and background stuff for my toy collection, but I have to have this thing. It looks absolutely amazing and even though I know I’m going to have rearrange an entire effing wall of the Phantom Zone to find a place for it, I’m getting one.

TMNT Baby Turtles ¼ Scale Action Figure Set

From the 1990 movie, it’s the four baby Turtles! Or “baby tuttles” as Master Splinter so charmingly says. Also included is the spinning nunchaku hand that was supposed to be included with Michelangelo and then… wasn’t.

Unaffiliated Thoughts

*I am so, so tired you guys. I’ll be back with extra thoughts next month.

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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