Monday, July 05, 2004

Flipping Through Previews...

Sorry this is "late". I try to get it out quickly, but Free Comic Book Day and the Independence Day holiday got in the way. This issue of Previews went on sale June 23rd, and orders from it are officially due July 10th (that's this Saturday).

Yes, it's that time again... time for "Things in Previews That Look Interesting But I Can't Afford To Get (with a list of things I am getting just for contrast)". I'm going to start with the bulk of the book, and then come back and cover the "big four" at the end. Please remember, I'm listing what looks interesting. My actual purchase list is going to be much smaller. The numbers after each title are usually the page number in Previews Magazine, so you can follow along at home.

Let's start with the covers. The back cover is a Darkness & Witchblade pin-up. Doesn't do anything for me. Even less impressive to me, but perhaps more striking in general, is the front cover which features Catwoman. I think the impact of the cover is pretty much destroyed by the text on the left. Instead of being a cool image of the way light hits a person, it's a jumble of white with a little red thrown in. If you turn to page 59, you can see that it looks a lot better without the text. Yeah, I'm being picky. But I've rarely seen a Previews cover that really drew my eye, and since the covers are just high profile ads for particular books, they should be attention-getters, not just more run-of-the-mill stuff.

Moving on, let's hit the Splash Page (8-9). There's a new theme for this month: Haunt Your Comic Shop. That makes sense when you consider that books solicited this month will be shipping in September, just in time to get shops ready for October... er... Anyway. Other items of note are an article about the new Dr Strange series, and a couple of new Smallville offerings.

As they have the last few months, pages 12-15 feature Free Comic Book Day books. I'll note that Silicon Times offering Delicious Seasons had vanished from the FCBD website last I checked, which is depressing, as that was one I really wanted to read. Check out my reviews of the Free Comics for more information on what shipped (to my shop at least).

Right... so I'm skipping the "Big Four" aka Premier Comics and starting on page 188 with Wizard Entertainment. After going through the rest of the book, I'll go back and mention what I'll be getting from the earlier pages.

Wizard is putting out a Wolverine special (190). Like Wolvey really needs another book...

The Featured Items on pages 196-199 include something called Waterwise from Alternative Comics that looks intriguing from the tiny bit seen here. Archie Comics is offering The Adventures of Little Archie which looks cute and is no doubt up to their usual standards. Bongo has Bart Simpson's Treehouse of Horror #10, and I'll save the comments on that for when I hit the Bongo section. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has Even More Fund Comics which I'll get somehow. Fantagraphics shows off the second volue of The Complete Peanuts. There's also a trade of Courtney Crumrin in the Twilight Kingdom from Oni. Owly from Top Shelf looks good.

About Comics (200) is offering a book called Crossfire from everybody's favorite internet writer Mark Evanier. A story featuring the character also shows up in About Comics' offering for Free Comic Book Day, so if you are interested you might see if you can score a copy of Wild About Comics from your retailer on FCBD.

Adv Manga (203) has a book called Apocalypse Meow which features cats and rabbits in place of people. There is a website with some of the art from the original Japanese book so you can take a look. This one is certainly worth a look.

Airship Entertainment (206) is putting out the second collection of Girl Genius, in either a not too expensive softcover or a bit more expensive hardcover. I recommend the book in either form.

AIT/Planet Lar (206) has two MUST-GET books this month, Demo #10 and Jax Epoch and the Quicken Forbidden Vol 2. Whether or not I actually get the second one depends entirely on the financial situation this summer, which has been looking worse and worse. However, if you have the money, I strongly recommend both books, and the first volume of Jax Epoch as well.

Alternative Comics has the aforementioned Waterwise (207) which is described as a cross between American Splendor and Alice in Wonderland. I don't know what to make of it.

Amaze Ink/Slave Labor has Street Angel #3 (210) as well as a resolicit of the first issue, so you can catch up if you missed it.

Some strange stuff from Antarctic Press this month. Yeah, the Dictators series continues with the second part of Saddam Hussein's story (214). But the book that scares me is You Can Vote: Decision Battle 2004 (215), which looks like Manga-ized versions of Bush and Kerry, and offers a trading card edition with parody gaming cards.

AP Comics has a book called Comicana #1 (216) which might appeal to some folks: two guys working in a comic shop receive a mysterious board game that opens a door to another dimension. Sounds very run-of-the-mill for comic shop owners, I guess...

Arcana Studio (220) has another issue of Ant, which I have to decide to get or not.

Beckett Comics has the third issue of The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty (234). The free comic book edition of the first issue got me curious about this series, and I would definitely hunt down issue #2 and order #3 if money weren't so tight.

Bongo Comics has the tenth issue of Bart Simpson's Treehouse of Horror (235). The writers from this issue are a real surprise. I don't know how well Alice Cooper, Gene Simmons, and Rob Zombie write comics. We'll be getting this one. We've got all the Treehouse of Horror issues. Looks like Futurama #19 (238) will also make the list.

Checker Book Publishing (240) has the second volume of classic Star Trek comics. This month is looking more and more expensive.

Clib's Boys Comics has True Story, Swear To God #11 (242). After reading 100 Stories (thanks again, Larry), I really want to add this book to the pull.

The bi-monthly schedule continues for Colonia Press with Colonia #10 (242). That one is also on the list.

Comely Comix is putting out Captain Canuck: Unholy War #1 (243). Don't know if it's any good, but it's quite a fascinating solicit and ad.

CBLDF has the next must-get book of the season: Even More Fund Comics (243). The first one was fantastic, and would've been worth it at over twice the price, so get this one. This month is going to break the bank.

Committed Comics is soliciting Neo Dawn #3 (245). I bought the first issue on a whim, mostly because Committed is local, and enjoyed it enough to want to get the rest.

Devil's Due Publishing has a neat Oeming cover to Army of Darkness: Ashes 2 Ashes #3 (250), but I'm still not buying it. Cool cover, though.

Dork Storm Press (265) is resoliciting Nodwick #25, PS238 #7, and PS238 #8. In case you don't know, PS238 is my current everybody-must-get-it book, so go order it.

You'd have to be blind and deaf to have missed Fantagraphics recent success with The Complete Peanuts (282). Now you can get the second volume, or if you haven't gotten the first volume, you can order a boxed set with both volumes.

Funnypages Press (286) brings back the long-missing Opposite Forces with issue number four. It's about time!

I Box Publishing has Thieves & Kings #46 (293). This issue marks the start of a new storyarc.

NBM Publishing is putting out a book called The Silk Tapestry & Other Chinese Folktales (306). If the sample in the FCBD offering is anything to go by, this is something that many folks will want in their collections. I know I want it and its predecessor The Yellow Jar in my collection now. Anyway, if you like magical art and traditional stories, get these.

I want to point out that The Interman is being resolicited on page 308. Those of you who haven't read it no longer have any excuse.

Oni Press is putting out the already mentioned once Courtney Crumrin in the Twilight Kingdom TP (308). I seem to recall first meeting Courtney during last year's FCBD and wishing I could get more of her stories. If I weren't flat broke and already looking at the biggest month of the year for comic book spending, I might consider getting this. As it is, I'm afraid Courtney will have to wait.

Panini is putting out another volume of Doctor Who comic reprints. This one is Doctor Who: Dragon's Claw (312). I'm not sure how we're going to pay for this one.

There's a book from Random House called Sticks and Stones (313) that looks nicely different. A rock man is born and must lead little rock people. Another one that I can't afford to get.

Scary Godmother: The Mystery Date Storybook (317) is being offered in softcover, and I would get any and all Scary Godmother if I could. Indeed, just wait until later in this post for more Scary news...

I still think Tokyopop's solicits (321-340) are close to unreadable thanks to the odd layouts, but I'm curious enough to work through them thanks to their efforts with TV ads. While there are a number of interesting titles in their catalog, I'm not drawn in by anything.

Top Shelf has a book called Owly (342) that appears to be both all-ages and no-reading required. I admit it looks fun.

A company called Ultimate Sports Entertainment (343) provides us with annoying superhero versions of NBA stars. I am still waiting for someone to put out a good comic book based on sports that doesn't involve superpowers or the supernatural.

Don't miss Daisy Kutter #2 (346), which I missed last month but managed to add to my order at the last minute.

And that's it for the main comic book section... moving on to the rest of the back of Previews...

Alter Ego #40 (363) has a trio of giants to focus on: Gil Kane, Julius Schwartz, and Russ Heath. This is generally a mag worth getting, and this issue would be one certainly worth looking at.

In the book section, Overdue Media is represented by two Unshelved collections (384). This is the librarian comic strip I enjoy so much that it makes me want to become a librarian. I can't afford the collections, but if you can I recommend going for them. Particularly if you like librarians.

Fun looking book on page 386: What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events In Television History. It sounds more like a special feature in the TV Guide than something I would buy a book for, but it's silly so I'll mention it.

There are a couple of Wonder Woman books on page 388 I found interesting. They seem to be "young" WW storybooks, and I can't tell what reading level they are for. They could be very good, or absolutely awful.

I was depressingly interested in the Star Wars Heritage Cards on page 406. The cards will have the same borders and design as old Star Wars cards that I collected as a kid, but with new images. I still wish I had a full set of the original cards. These ones are terribly tempting in a nostalgic kind of way. I know I won't get them, but I also know I really want them.

Speaking of Star Wars, is it just me, or are the Star Wars Galactic Heroes on page 445 some of the ugliest little figures ever made based on the movies?

Cool Alien vs Predator Chess set on page 452. I like imaginative chess sets, personally, though I'm absolutely lousy at the game.

Whew... there still isn't an Aquaman Headstrong Hero (ad on page 483, solicit page 485). If there was, I'd want it, but I really hope they don't make one. That would save me both money and a little tiny bit of dignity. Oh, who am I kidding? My dignity as far as Aquaman is concerned went away a long time ago...

Now for that Scary news... the Scary Godmother Halloween Spooktacular (532) is going to be released in the US! It's even on Amazon now. As many of you know, I promoted the DVD when it came out in Canada last fall, and I'm going to promote it some more this year. I don't know if the features on the DVD will be different, but I strongly recommend this one. Order it! Especially if you have young kids.

Jumping back to the beginning of the book, it's time for me to cover the "big four" Premier Publishers. As usual, I'll finish with DC Comics, since they are the publisher I tend to buy the most books from.

Starting with Dark Horse, I can again see that I'm going to leave this month disappointed. I really would like to get The Art of Usagi Yojimbo (25), but $39.95 is just too much for one book. I will be ordering Conan #8 (26) which apparently, from the cover, deals with Conan's birth. Magnus, Robot Fighter HC (28) looks great, but again, it's just too much. I'd love to read the original stories. The second volume of Samurai Executioner (37) is solicited. I'll be getting that. It'll fit in with my Lone Wolf and Cub collection.

Skipping DC for the moment and moving to Image Comics, I'm mildly interested in Invincible (140) now that I've read the FCBD story about it. Getting the first trade would be an option if I were more flush. At the moment, though, it's just going to go on my huge want list. Noble Causes #3 (144) is a no-brainer... it makes the list. This month I don't have a preference for covers like I did last month. If you missed Common Grounds, get the "Reader Set" (168) that includes all six issues for $14.99. This one is recommended, folks.

As usual, I didn't bother picking up the Marvel Preview, so for Marvel Comics I'm ordering via the shipping list (178). This month: Thor #84 and possibly Thor: Son of Asgard #8 for my friend. I'll be getting Amazing Spider-Man #71/512 and Powers #4 for myself for sure, and we haven't yet decided, but we'll probably get Strange #1 also. I used to love the 2099 universe, but I'm not in the slightest interested in the five new books Marvel is putting out under the Marvel Knights banner. Of more interest is the Marvel Comics 65th Anniversary Special and the Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Marvel Comics Vol 1. If I had the money I'd get both. Considering how tight money is going to be this month, I doubt I'll be able to justify either. I've always liked Jubilee, and I would consider getting Jubilee #1 if I hadn't read the solicit. The term "left coast" irritates me, and I'm sure that wouldn't be the only thing about the book that would annoy. It's clearly aimed at more "hip" readers than I consider myself to be. I would also consider getting Gambit #1, but I'm not that interested, and Marvel solicited two issues at once, which is usually enough to turn me off to a new series.

So I finally get back to DC Comics with their funky new listing style.

Starting with the Batman Section (59-66) we get another view of the cover to Previews. It looks a lot better without a splash of text to distract from the image. The next two pages are full of the latest crossover, so I'll just skip them. Nothing of interest to me on those pages.

I would like to read both Batman: Child of Dreams and Batman: Hong Kong (62), but not enough to buy them. I'll note that the Batman: The Dark Knight Archives Vol 1 is now on sale for $19.95. I wouldn't mind getting myself that one, but then I'd like to get all the Archives except the stupid one.

There are two issues of Birds of Prey (64) again, annoyingly enough. Birds of Prey #73 and Birds of Prey #74. Nothing else of interest to me in the Batman books this month.

The Superman Section (67-75) has a lot more of interest this month than last month. Which isn't saying much at all. First up is Smallville #10 (70), which has been consistently very good for a series based on a TV show.

Of course, the real exciting book is Superman: True Brit (71), which is written by Kim "Howard" Johnson with help from John Cleese. I've already heard some people complaining that they thought it would be completely written by Cleese, but I don't see anything wrong with Johnson being the main writer, as he's the "other Python" anyway. I want to get it, only problem is the price. I'm not sure we can fit a $25 hardcover into the order this month.

Next up is the DC Universe Section (76-95), and as usual there are a lot of book we want to get.

I've never been a huge Adam Strange fan, but the new Adam Strange #1 (76-79) looks like something different and new. I don't think I'll be getting it, but I'll be watching the reviews.

I don't think anyone will be surprised that I'm getting Aquaman #22 (80). In fact, I think people would be surprised if I didn't.

I'll also be getting Bloodhound #3 (80) as part of its trial run. And DC: The New Frontier #6 (81) claims to include Aquaman, which I'm looking forward to seeing. I'm still getting Fallen Angel #15 (82), and I wonder how the trade did, since that may be the indicator of whether or not we get more of this book.

Moving into the Green Books, Green Arrow #42 (83) is the third part of another story. I'm getting tired of longer stories, and I wish some writers would switch to done-in-one or two parters for awhile. Long arcs are all well and good, but sometimes they are too long. Green Lantern #181 (84) is the final issue of the series, for now. Soon we'll get the big Green Lantern crossover story that brings back Hal or something.

H-E-R-O #20 (84) continues the fallout from the big Robby Reed storyline, but I've been avoiding spoilers for this one so I can enjoy it more. DC continues to scam us loyal readers out of money with JLA Secret Files 2004 (85). Yeah, we'll probably get it... the solicit mentions the Crime Syndicate. Just call us suckers.

Some other DC books we'll be getting: Identity Crisis #4 (86), JLA #105, JLA #106, JSA #65 (87), JSA: Strange Adventures #2, Outsiders #16 (88), and Plastic Man #10 (89).

The newest section for DC is the Johnny DC section (96-98) which features most of the all-ages DC books. We'll be getting a couple: The Batman Strikes! #1 and Justice League Unlimited #1. I actually consider these to be some of the best books DC currently puts out.

I'm going to pretty much skip over the Beyond the Universe section (99-103). I'm more interested in seeing what the Wildstorm section (104-109) has for us... like The Life Eaters (106), which is based on a short story by David Brin. In the story as I remember it, the Germans in WWII managed to bring the Norse gods down on their side... except for Loki who might be on any side. I'd really like to get this one.

Almost done... we move on to the Vertigo section (110-122). Someday I'd like to read the entire Animal Man series, and DC is reprinting some of them in Animal Man: Deus Ex Machina (111). Maybe I'll get a chance sometime. I also note that The Little Endless Storybook (114) is being re-released. I have this somewhere, and it was a lot of fun. If money weren't so tight, I'd love to try out Dave Gibbons The Originals (115). Unfortunately, money is tight, and we'll have to wait on a paperback. Will Pfeifer gets his shot at Swampy in Swamp Thing #7 (119), which I'll get. I'll get the series until Pfeifer stops writing it.

Last up is the DC Direct section (123-130). I'm happy to say that nothing is cool enough that I want to get it. I like the oversized posters on page 127, but I don't have anywhere to hang them, so I'm not interested.

So that's it for this month's "Things in Previews That Look Interesting But I Can't Afford To Get (with a list of things I am getting just for contrast)". Comments? Questions? Did I miss any really cool books that you know about and would like to point out? Do you disagree with something I wrote, and want to correct me? There's the comments, right below. Post something. And, yes, I accept review copies. I'm willing to give almost anything a try.

And hey, don't like my point of view? Check out the preview review of Greg McElhatton at Ninth Art.