Previews and Portents, September 2012

Well, I’m as surprised as anyone that we’re back for round two, but here we are, immersed in a 6000 page catalog yet again!  Let’s dig in!

Arsenic Lullaby Publishing

  • Arsenic Lullaby Pulp Edition – AL comes out so infrequently I haven’t had the chance to read it in YEARS, but I’m glad to see it’s still around and will definitely be picking this up.  If it were any less funny it would be the most offensive comic ever produced, but it’s NOT less funny and it’s the best for messed up humor.

Art Books

  • Imagination Illustrated: The Jim Henson Journal – If you, perhaps, are a fan of the late muppet master, this adaptation of his diary sounds pretty cool (although I admit to having zero clue what they mean by adaptation).  It certainly has the potential to be extremely cool, though.

Boom! Studios

  • Superbia (Ongoing) #1 – I haven’t checked out Grace Randolph’s Superbia mini, but I probably should have.  We’re both huge fans of Randolph’s based on her Muppet-related work from Boom.

Boundless

  • Lady Death #23 – Wait, WHAT year is this?!?!? I’m all for irony, but this is ridiculous.

Dark Horse

  • Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities and The Orm of Loch Ness – More crazy madness in the Mighty Powell Manner!
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow — Wonderland – I’m not a Buffy follower, but it IS written by Jeff Parker, so it may be worth checking out on the strength of that alone.
  • Goon #44 – Giant monsters, cockfighting, and sexy ladies: I hope you CAN judge a book by its cover!

DC Comics

  • Before Watchmen – I’m glad to see that the fourth (and final) issues of these abominations in the eyes of the Moore means we can put them safely behind us and forget they ever happened.
  • Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus Vol 4 TP – The final volume of DC’s top-notch chronological reprints of the Fourth World. This is comics at it’s best, and Jack Kirby’s most focused and personal work.
  • Joe Kubert Presents #2 – It’s sad, but Joe Kubert’s participation in the Before Watchmen travesty pretty much guaranteed I wouldn’t support his future work.  Still, kudos to DC for releasing an anthology starring this comic book legend.  I hope they do this with other creators in the future.
  • Legends of the Dark Knight #2 – Ben Templesmith doesn’t tend to do superhero work, so if you’re still reading DC’s output, this is probably going to be beautiful and spooky, if nothing else.
  • Showcase Presents: Weird War Tales Vol 1 TP – I’ve never been much of a war OR a horror comic fan, but just looking at the list of creators involved here, it’s a pretty tempting bargain.

Dynamite Entertainment

  • Evil Ernie #2 – As confused as I am that there would be a Lady Death comic in 2012, multiply that by a hundred for Evil Ernie.  Did anybody really miss that cackling ghoul?  REALLY?
  • Masks #1 – Chris Roberson writes and Alex Ross paints the team-up book featuring all of the pulp characters Dynamite has been relaunching.  I just can’t believe I have to wait so long to get it in my hands. My only question is why the hell they’d cover up Zorro’s face with the logo like that?

 

EC Comics

If you’re so inclined, there’s another $300 of Golden Age crime and horror reprints to be had here.

  • Eerie Archives Volume 12 HC – If you recall, the last time I ran this feature I was pleased by the numerous options for snagging old-school horror reprints.  I’m afraid this is a rabbit-hole I can’t bring myself to go down, but it’s fascinating and welcome.

Hermes Press

  • Alex Toth’s Zorro: The Complete Dell Comics Adventures HC – $50 for 240 pages is REALLY spendy, but if you love Toth (and you really should) it promises to be a lovely collection.

IDW

  • Berkeley Breathed’s Opus and Outland – IDW’s archival reprints have been rivaling the qwuality of Fantagraphics’.  Here they wrap up their work on Breathed’s Bloom County by publishing his two follow-up strips.
  • Judge Dredd #1 – I haven’t had the opportunity to read much Dredd before, but IDW’s new series is probably a decent  starting point, at least if they ensure their stories actually GO somewhere.
  • Judge Dredd: The Complete Brian Bolland – $50 is pretty steep for 248 pages, but it’s at least guaranteed to be gorgeous and a decent primer on the character.  I’m thinking about snagging it.
  • Mad: Artist’s Edition – IDW’s Artist’s Editions are shot from the original art and printed at the original size, with all the corrections, blue lines, etc left in place so the reader can get the best possible impression of the artwork.  This one will include SOME story from every issue between #1-18 — including Bat Boy and Rubin — and promises to be the best possible glimpse you can get of real comics history.

Image Comics

  • Bloodstrike #34 – Rob Liefeld takes the reigns for the first time in the Extreme relaunch, and we’re going to see the most Liefeldy characters of the bunch in this one, including the original Shaft (displaced from Youngblood) and blatant Lobo ripoff Bloodwulf.  So yeah, I’m pretty psyched.
  • Cyber Force #2 – Coming off a successful Kickstarter campaign (which I admit I contributed to), this is going to be FREE if you visit a participating retailer.  So do that.
  • Thought Bubble Anthology 2012 – New work by Warren Ellis and Tony Harris alone would probably make me pick up this book, but there are some other top-name creators involved here.  I would HAPPILY support a full TPB with this caliber of creators attached, but this one is only 32 pages.

Marvel Comics

The Marvel NOW! soft relaunch (and where have we heard THAT little chestnut before?) is upon us, and now it’s time to ask myself if I want to continue aiding and abetting Marvel and DC’s game of soulless one-upsmanship or if I just want to check out now, like I did with the New 52.  Truth be told, there’s very little here that I find exciting, more just strategic.  Still, since I haven’t made that decision yet I’ll still keep an eye on them here.

  • All-New X-Men #1 – As long as the original 60’s stories still “happened,” I’m VERY nervous about this book.  Despite their mission the original mutant teens were still pretty happy-go-lucky, and I’d hate to see that ret-conned into no longer being true or having that explicitly destroyed.
  • Captain America #1 – In which Cap becomes John Carter, Warlord of Mars.  Who says the Silver Age is dead?  All you have to add is Cap-Mite and you’ve got 50’s Batman.
  • Indestructible Hulk #1 – MArk Waid is on fire lately, but Hulk: Agent of SHIELD?  Um…Not setting ME on fire.
  • Thor: God of Thunder #1 – Thor isn’t really one of the titles I pick up, but it IS Jason Aaron and that counts for a lot.
  • Uncanny Avengers #2 – The X-Avengers seems like a cynical ploy to me, like marrying the children of different royal families to build a stronger empire.  And yet Rick Remender, John Cassaday, and the Red Skull are a VERY tempting combination.  The Scott Summers lobotomy, though?  Eww.

Tamashii Nations

  • DX Soul of Chogokin: Mazinger Z Action Figure – Should you have $440 of disposable income or, like Friend of the Blog Ben who had the FIRST Mazinger Z web page on the Internet (it was a LOOOOONG time ago!), this looks pretty damn sharp.  And if in the future they should happen to make one featuring Optimus Prime or Voltron, well…I can;t say I wouldn’t snap it up myself.

 

Valiant Entertainment

  • Shadowman #1 – Valiant’s relaunch has been the highest-quality line-wide relaunch since…Well, since The Rob kicked Extreme off again.  Every single title I’ve read has been top-notch, even the ones I never really cared for originally.  With Shadowman they’re bringing back someone I really did like back in the day, so I’m happy to see Jack Boniface get the return he deserves.

Orders must be in to your LCS by September 18, 2012 (OOPS, sorry friends!) and are scheduled to arrive in November.

Previews and Portents, July 2012

As I’m sure we’ve mentioned before, Matt and I are both giant fans of Chris Sims’ Invincible Super-Blog.  One of my favorite recurring features was Chris vs Previews, where…well, I’ll let you follow the link, but it was a monthly highlight of the site.  Well that feature isn’t around anymore (much to Sims’ eternal pleasure I’m sure), but since I tend to look forward at comics anyway, I thought I’d pick up a Previews from my LCS and see if I could find some cool new books to check out.  And at the very least it would give me the opportunity to make some snarky Internet comments.

So let’s take a crack at the first of what will almost certainly be a series of one.

DIAMOND

  • It looks like Diamond is trying to kick off Free Comic Book Day in July, which is A-OK with me.  Since Diamond is for retailers I’m not sure if these are intended to be freebies, but given the low price tag for bundles of 20, it seems likely.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Tales from the Crypt, Axe Cop, Cow Boy, and Adventure Time all have issues out, although one publisher curiously absent is DC.

DARK HORSE

  • Ghost #0 – I never read the original series, but between Kelly Sue DeConnick and Phil Noto, this should be a really solid book.
  • Dark Horse Presents #16 – Golden Age crime reprints are obviously turning into a big business, as the Archive format and high price tag on back issues make buying collections a better and better idea.  But touting “Crime Does Not Pay” as a name independent of the content?  Well that’s not much of a draw, friends.
  • Axe Cop: President of the World #3 – I had no idea a new mini-series was coming out, but it’s a happy surprise.  Plus look at that cover!  Seriously, that is messed up.

  • Crime Does Not Pay Archives, vol 3 – Now THIS is what people want to see: reprints of the original Golden Age stories!  But fear not, we’ll see a LOT more by the end of Previews.  In fact, I’d venture you could spend $500 just in Golden Age crime archives.

DC

It’s Zero Month again, after 18 years, if you’re still a DC reader.

  • Sword of Sorcery #0 – Was there anyone out there begging for more Amethyst books???  Aside from Dan Mishkin, who’s feeling pretty burned by DC on this one.
  • Justice League #0 – Scary Captain Marvel betrays an almost complete misunderstanding of what made Captain Marvel special.  So well done there, guys.
  • Batman: The Dark Knight #0 – Hey, so Joe Chill is back!  I have to admit, I think Batman works better when he didn’t know who killed his parents.  It allows for the whole “he’s out there somewhere so I still have a chance to catch him” motivation, which I dig.  Still, I was never going to pick this up anyway.
  • Red Hood and the Outlaws #0 – “Learn how Jason Todd came back to life after being killed by the Joker.”  I know how he came back: Superboy Prime punched something.  But in another, very real sense: no.  I will not learn this horrible thing.
  • National Comics: Rose and Thorn #1 – Well sure, why not.  I feel like DC’s hydra heads aren’t talking to each other like they should be.  Which of DC’s umpteen fractured realms does this live in?  Does it even matter anymore?
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #3 – If James Robinson writing wouldn’t sell you already, the description “HE-MAN and TEELA batter in the ocean against the murderous MER-MAN!” should.
  • Punk Rock Jesus #3 – This looks cool and Sean Murphy is awesome, so buy it.

IDW

  • Transformers: Regeneration One #83 – I’m so excited for this I can hardly stand it! 
    Does anyone know if any of the other IDW TF titles are any good these days?
  • Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom #2 – Mark Waid alone would be enough to get me onboard with this, but Chris Samnee won me over on Daredevil, so I’m double-sold.  (Not in the literal sense, I’m only getting one.  Probably.)
  • The Crow #3 – New Crow titles tend to stink, but it’s been long enough since the awful Image run that I’ve forgotten the pain and am willing to give it another go.  As an aside, one of these days I’ll have to talk about meeting James O’Barr at Denver Comic Con, which was enlightening, to say the least.

Image

  • Happy #1 – Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson teaming up?  Yes please, and why has it taken so long?  This book is going to be messed up, and it’s going to be amazing.
  • Thief of Thieves vol 1 – Seven issues for $15 is the way to go, not five issues.  I’m looking at you, Fatale vol 1!
  • It Girl and the Atomics #2 – Holy cats, this looks fun! Plus the Mike Norton art looks really solid, if substantially different than Allred’s.

Marvel

Anything and everything you could want with Thanos is out this month, which I’m all for as long as it’s well-written.  I also never really looked to see, but a TON of Marvel books ship twice-monthly.  Way more than I expected.

  • Amazing Spider-Man #693 & 694 – The coming of Alpha, Spider-Man’s new sidekick.  Dan Slott loves Spidey too much to do anything insane, so I have faith he’ll pull it off well.
  • Space Punisher #3 – Space.  Punisher.  I loved Frankencastle so I shouldn’t judge this too harshly, but Frank Tieri’s attachment doesn’t fill me with hope the way Rick Remender’s did.

Ardden Publishing

  • Atlas Unified #5 – I’ve never heard of this title OR Ardden Publishing, but the description on this Tom Peyer book sounds great.  “When a godlike madman schemes to grant time sentience and enslave it, Atlas Original heroes Phoenix, Grim Ghost, Wulf, and their human allies must perform an unthinkable mission: to kill the Frankenstein time-stream.”  Even if Frankenstein time-stream doesn’t mean what I want it to, Peyer sounds like he’s back in full Hourman-mode, and there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

Avatar

  • Fashion Beast #1 – Man, will Avatar ever run out of old Alan Moore work to have people draw?  (No.  No they won’t.)

Bluewater

  • Dorian Gray #3 – Man, this would sound incredible if it weren’t put out by Bluewater, a publisher known for their Bluewater-levels of quality.
  • The Misadventures of Adam West #6 – BW just licensed the likenesses of a bunch of old-school celebrities, didn’t they?  Because this sounds like a mess.  And not a fun train wreck mess, just the regular shitty kind.

Kaboom!

  • Snarked #12 – The conclusion!

Dynamite

  • The Shadow #6 – Written by Garth Ennis!  How did I not know this was a thing?!?!  Onto the pull list it goes!

Dynamic Forces

  • Hit Girl Statue – Err…Who is this for, exactly?  And can we round them all up so we know where they are?

Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

  • A Wrinkle in Time GN – Long a personal favorite, this adaptation of the Madeleine L’Engle novel by Hope Larson shows promise!

NBM

  • Bubbles & Gondola HC – The free ComiXology preview was very sweet in a “Goodbye, Chunky Rice” kind of way.  This may be a new classic (and the two Eisner nominations don’t hurt that perception).

New England

  • Tick #101 – The Tick meets Madman!  I’m hooked, but the $7 price tag has me more than a little leery after #100.

PS Artbooks

Speaking of those Golden Age crime/horror/sci-fi classics:

  • Adventures into the Unknown vol 2
  • Planet Comics vol 1
  • Out of the Night vol 1
  • Skeleton Hand vol 2

Okay, maybe that takes just just shy of $250, but still, that’s a lot of classic archives!  and call me crazy, but it feels like a good deal.

Apparel

Okay, so maybe this is a little cheesy, but I love there being a Goon mask.  Good for Eric Powell, and good for comics!

Orders must be in to your LCS by July 18, 2012 and are scheduled to arrive in September.

Wherefore art thou, indies?

While stopping in at one of Denver’s more indie-centric comic shops the other day, I came to a startling realization: I know almost nothing about indie comics any more. It used to be that even if I wasn’t getting a particular small press book I was at least aware of it, and the reason came from the most unlikely source: Previews.

Dismiss Diamond as being unreasonably hard on small-press titles if you will, but they still carry a huge number of them. Without getting into distribution and business decisions that don’t concern me, Diamond is the sole comic book supplier for most comic shops, so if a comic isn’t in Previews it might as well not exist.

Once upon a time my Local Comic Shop would give Previews away to it’s subscription customers. Unheard of, I know… I pored through the entire catalog and didn’t just stop once I got past the Big Four publishers. I found tons of good stuff: Boneyard, Pop Gun War, My Monkey’s Name is Jennifer…An interesting summary, a tiny cover shot, and a relatively low cover price meant I could branch out and try books that my LCS wasn’t carrying and weren’t superheroes.

Since that free Previews stopped coming, though, my exposure to indies has drastically decreased. Newsarama, Comic Book Resources, almost all of your big comic news web sites traditionally cover Marvel and DC exclusively. Usually the only time an indie creator gets any space is when they’re moving “forward” with work at one of the Big Four. Most of the “major” indie books (Cerebus, Strangers in Paradise, Bone) that did get coverage have now wrapped up, and even though Moore and Smith have launched new series, you almost never hear of them.

Which leads me to my dilemma: how in the world are we supposed to find something outside the realm of traditional Big Four books? Obviously the Internet makes it easier for artists to put up their work and try to get the word out, but the signal-to-noise ratio is terrible and besides, I want paper comics I can hold in my hand. Go back to Previews? Well, I find the idea of paying a monthly fee for a catalog ridiculous. Maybe if there were more incentive, say coupons for books when pre-ordering, but I outright resent the idea that I should pay for the privilege of being advertised to.

Make no mistake: indies are where it’s at. These are the people making comics because they have to create comics, not because they think it’s going to make them rich or famous. Working with their own characters creates a sense of investment and (literally) ownership, so you get an artist’s pure vision. For the reader there’s also the thrill of discovery, returning to Matt’s talk of finding grails.  There’s something innately rewarding about stumbling across something you didn’t even know you were looking for, then trying to spread the word of Good People Doing Good Work.

However good <insert Marvel title here>: Dark Reign or <insert DC character here>: Rebirth or Spawn: Deathblood or Aliens vs Predator XIV is, it’s not the same as that DIY ethos of trying to create something new. And it should be easier to find those people.