Flippin' through <i>Previews</i> - October 2008

I got really grumpy looking through this month's Previews. I really want to be positive about comics, and I try to be, but this month makes me grumpy. But I think I can find enough good stuff to overcome that. We'll see.

It's the 20th anniversary issue of Previews! What better way to celebrate than with an Ed Benes Justice League drawing?

Dark Horse:

Pages 26 and 27 bring us a Beanworld collection (4 Feb.) and a new Christmas Special (17 Dec.). I know MarkAndrew is wetting his pants over this, so I might have to see what all the fuss is about.Speaking of olde-tyme stuff, Dean Motter brings us a new Mister X mini-series on page 28 (24 Dec.). I really wanted to get the omnibus offered in last month's Previews, but I decided it was a bit too spendy. But I'm all over this book! Motter is pretty darned awesome.

It's kind of hard to keep up with all the mini-series in the Hellboy universe, but Mignola isn't stopping to catch his breath: On 3 Dec., we get Hellboy: The Wild Hunt. Duncan Fregredo is drawing it, so I know it will look great.Gerard Way is drawing the cover of Rex Mundi #15 (page 44; 17 Dec.). That's odd.


Denny O'Neil writes a two-part Batman story, by the way (page 73; 3 and 24 Dec.). O'Neil wrote some good Dark Knight stories, didn't he?Page 79 gives us Robin #181 (17 Dec.). Here's what it says: "Red Robin is revealed, and Anarky is unleashed in Gotham City." The cover shows Anarky holding a tattered Robin tunic. Anarky wasn't always this angry, so I wonder what's going on with this. Maybe it's more of the darkening of the DCU. That would be fucking awesome.

Okay, here's the thing: Page 91 has the second hardcover volume of All Star Superman (11 Feb.). That's fine, but if you didn't buy it in single issues, why wouldn't you wait for the inevitable 12-issue hardcover? You know it's coming!!!!I'm rather astonished the Morrison/Millar run on The Flash has never been collected before, but on page 93, there it is ... well, some of it. These are decent but unspectacular comics. It started better than it ended.I can't imagine the James Robinson-written issues of WildC.A.T.s are great, but a trade collecting them is tempting (page 103; 28 Jan.). It's James Robinson, for crying out loud! With at least some Travis Charest art!Somewhere, Johnny Bacardi is swooning. What's this on page 104? A final issue of Wintermen? Coming to us on the final day of the year? I'd usually use the acronym, but this deserves a WHAT THE FUCK? Where in the hell has it been? Holy crap. I was going to rename my annual award for books that never come out the "Wintermen Award," but now I have to rethink that. Maybe the "Fell Award"? Yeah, that'll work. Sweet Fancy Moses, Wintermen. Un-frickin'-believable.A new Haunted Tank series shows up (page 113; 3 Dec.). Color me unimpressed. You know why? Those preview pages, despite featuring nice Henry Flint art, shows a few of the weaknesses in so many DC and Marvel comics these days: Overwriting and unfunny humor. Apparently, in this first issue we get a long-winded reason why J. E. B. Stuart is haunting the tank. Yawn. Who cares? Isn't it enough that a Confederate ghost is haunting a tank? Then, his descendant is black. Okay, not bad if a bit obvious. But the preview page ends with a lame joke that doesn't fill me with confidence. DC and Marvel can't resist the urge to suck all the unironic goofiness out of their old titles, it seems. Jesus. (Not that the original Haunted Tank stories were goofy, per se. But nobody felt the need to delve too much into why Stuart was haunting the tank, other than some brief panels every so often.)On page 121, there's a trade of Tokyo Days, Bangkok Nights (21 Jan.). I have no idea if it's good or not, but I know it has Seth Fisher art. SETH FISHER ART!!!!!! Sold!

Wow, DC has finally gotten around to putting out a trade with Alan Moore's first issue of Swamp Thing included (page 122; 11 Feb.). How nice of them. Shockingly, it's a good issue. If you already have the trade that begins with issue #21, I wouldn't pony up $25 just to get the issue, but if, inexplicably, you've never gotten a trade of this, it's a must-buy.


Page 142; 10 Dec.: Phonogram Phonogram Phonogram Phonogram!!!!!! Did I mention that I already love the Silent Girl, and she has only appeared on the advertisement for this series. PHONOGRAM!!!!!!

Is Armageddon Now: World War III a new Rob Liefeld comic (page 148; 3 Dec.)? I mean, I'm not going to buy it, but if it is new, I'm stunned that Our Rob managed to pencil 120 pages. Of course, the art is by "Rob Liefeld & Mike Capprotti," so maybe Our Rob only drew the preview page featured in Previews. Or maybe he did draw it all and has been working on it for 15 years. 120 pages in 15 years ... that sounds about his speed!I have no interest in Comic Book Tattoo (page 151; 3 Dec.), but I just want to point out that the book is frickin' huge. If you have a chance to look at it, do so. It's impressive how big the thing is.The solicit text on page 152 cracks me up. Image is bringing out a softcover version of American Flagg! on 17 Dec. So far, so good. The text reads, "collecting the series' first seven issues!" Directly below that, the text reads, "Collects AMERICAN FLAGG! #1-14." Well done, Image. Which is it?While I like Image a lot, this section of Previews shows why I get grumpy with them (and no, this isn't the reason I'm grumpy about reading Previews this month). I count 20 single issues offered. 7 are re-solicits. It's frustrating waiting for them, is all I'm saying. Maybe they shouldn't solicit something unless they're fairly confident the books will be out.On page 169, the second Ted McKeever hardcover is offered. This one is Eddy Current, which is 35 bucks but is 358 pages. That's not bad value!For 100 thin dollars, you can purchase the entire Rising Stars epic in a handsome hardcover (page 179). That seems like a lot, but it includes over 30 issues. Of course, whether it's worth it or not is up to you. I thought it petered out quite a bit (not helped by the interminable delays between issues), but I also haven't read the entire thing in one sitting, either. Maybe it's better than I remember.


Marvel's solicitations made me grumpy. I'll try to skim what's angrying up my blood, but I might fail. You've been warned!

First, there's the whole "classified" solicits. The idea of the Skrulls staying and becoming a minority in the Marvel U. sounds okay, but I have a feeling that Joey Q and his minions will cock it up somehow. I also have a feeling it's being done because Marvel doesn't want Iron Man to be a "bad guy" anymore. Again, I'll let the events play out before I judge it, but I do wonder - are they doing these things just to prove that their events "matter"?And then there's Marvel Noir (pages 4-6). Um, why is Daredevil included here? Isn't it already "noir"? Whatever.I will say that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (page 15) looks pretty cool. Eric Shanower writes and Skottie Young draws? Very neat. Of course, I'll probably wait for the trade, but it's still a good pairing.

One problem I often have with Marvel's solicitations is that they're so desperate to be clever and hip. Case in point: Page 20 has Amazing Spider-Man #581, the text of which reads, "It would sure help HARRY OSBORN if he could remember the completely logical, non-magical, and totally plausible way he came back from the dead." See, stuff like that makes me grumpy. Marvel is trying to be clever, but all they do is remind us how stupid most superhero comics are (with all the resurrections and such) and how stupid, in particular, "One More Day" was. Let it go and move on, Marvel. Don't keep reminding us how idiotic that story was.Page 30 offers the Fantastic Four Cosmic Special. There's no information about it. Fuck the heck? Do they even know anything about it? Do they only have a cover? Can't this be offered when Marvel knows, I don't know, who's writing and drawing it? My brain hurts.Iron Fist goes to the future (page 35). I just can't see how that will work.Kurt Busiek has a sequel to Marvels on page 41. That's nice for him.If you think that Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon are immune to the lure of easy money, think again: On page 47, we get the "resurrection" of Ma Gnucci. Sigh. Yes, Ma Gnucci, whom Frank kicked into a burning house, is back. How charming. And is this a weekly comic? Issues #1-4 are coming out? How weird.There are more of those "specials" coming out, with She-Hulk: Cosmic Collision on page 51 catching my eye. It's drawn by Mahmud Asrar, the artist on Dynamo 5. Those people who refuse to buy anything that isn't published by DC or Marvel should check this out, because Asrar is damned good. Unfortunately, these kind of books always lead to more work for the Big Two, and the good title - Dynamo 5 - gets left behind. Confound it! Don't do it, Mahmud! Resist the lure!Okay, I get that Terry Dodson draws attractive women. That's cool. I like the cover of Uncanny X-Men #505, but I'm not sure what's going on. The solicitation text does mention Ororo and Emma, but not Rogue or Betsy. And is that Karma, or the Asian Psylocke? And if it's the Asian Psylocke, why is British Psylocke next to her? Why is Psylocke British again? Is this part of the Marvel Noir thing or not? My brain continues to hurt.

X-Infernus #1, page 63. Really?You know, I have no interest in the Punisher MAX X-Mas Special on page 76, even though it's by Jason Aaron and Roland Boschi, but is anyone else a bit skeevy about using the Christmas story and grafting it onto the Punisher? I don't even believe the Christmas story, but it just feels wrong, somehow, to me. Is there no respect in this world for anything?A super-villain in the Witness Protection Program (pages 78-79). Damn, I'm going to love Brubaker and Phillips' Incognito, aren't I?Marvel continues to mystify me. On page 115 they have a new printing of the first volume of Thor Visionaries: Walter Simonson. They still haven't gotten the rest of the run back in print or even into print (with regard to the latter stages of it). What are they waiting for?You may wonder why I'm so grumpy about Marvel, beyond what I've written here. Well, beyond the fact that Marvel is publishing more and more material these days, seemingly to drive everyone else off the shelves, so much seems to be about things that happened in the past. It's either stories set in the past or stories in the present in which we learn something shocking about the past. I may not like the idea of Secret Invasion, but at least Bendis and his section of the Marvel U. are moving things forward a bit. This obsession with crap that happened decades ago is really hampering the development of these titles. I realize the recycling of characters has always been a problem in comics, but it's more than that lately. This isn't even recycling of characters - it's revising the past, and it's annoying. On page 72, for instance, Christos Gage writes an X-Men/Spider-Man mini-series. It takes place right after Kraven's Last Hunt and the Mutant Massacre. Marvel is promoting it partly by promising Storm with a Mohawk. Remember when giving Storm a Mohawk was part of Claremont changing the characters and forcing them to grow up a little? These days, that kind of thing is verboten. Now, we have to simply revisit times when that sort of thing happened. God forbid it goes on today. On the facing page, we're reminded that Storm is, you know, married to Black Panther. Storm getting a Mohawk had implications (remember, she stabbed Callisto through the heart around that time, too). The marriage to T'Challa has been largely ignored by X-writers, so it doesn't have the impact that a freakin' haircut did. So stupid.

Okay, I'm done ranting for now. Let's check out the back of the book, shall we?

I know you can always find this on-line somewhere, but Scurvy Dogs is listed on page 202 from AiT/Planet Lar. Scurvy Dogs might just be the funniest comic book of this decade. If it's not, it's on a short list. Everyone who reads this book falls instantly in love with it. Why don't you?

Tucked away on the bottom of page 204 is Zombies Calling from Amaze Ink/Slave Labor. I'm not terribly interested in it, but I thought I'd point it out because of Faith Hicks' fascinating post about the demise of Minx. Check it out!

As you may know, I've kind of cooled on Warren Ellis, but I still think he can do good things, especially on the odd standalone graphic novel from Avatar. So I'm keen to read Frankenstein's Womb (page 224), which is about Mary Godwin (the unmarried Mary Shelley) visiting Castle Frankenstein in the summer of 1816. This is the kind of thing Ellis is good at, and I'm looking forward to it. I do find it interesting that the text reads that Aetheric Mechanics, his latest graphic novel, is a "huge" success. As far as I know, it hasn't come out yet (and if it has, I'd like to know where my copy is). So calling it a huge success might be jumping the gun a bit.

For 50 bucks, you can get a Flaming Carrot volume 1 hardcover. Lots of out-of-print stuff here, apparently. Is it worth the coin, though? Beats me. It's on page 233 from Bob Burden Studios.

At the top of page 238, Boom! Studios has a collection of Never As Bad As You Think by Stuart and Kathryn Immonen. Apparently it's been on the new-fangled Internet for some time, but you know I don't truck with that crap!Also from Boom!, the long-awaited (by me, anyway) conclusion to the Captain Valor saga! Hero Squared: Love & Death is on page 238. I really hope it's on time!On page 239, Station is offered in trade. I can't definitely say you should buy it, because it's not done yet, but it's pretty darned good so far!

Desperado Publishing offers a charming comic collecting all of Brian Bolland's strip The Actress and the Bishop. If you can't get enough of Bolland's interior work (and really, who can?), you should check this out.

I don't often write about manga here (because I know very little about it), but I know I like Jiro Taniguchi, so I'll probably get The Quest for the Missing Girl, which is on page 292 from Fanfare/Ponent Mon. A mountain man goes to the city to search for his dead friend's missing daughter! Mountain men experiencing the city is a grand theme - remember how awesome Shoot To Kill was?

B.P.M. on page 296 from Fiery Studios sounds kind of neat. It's the story of a DJ who is trying to succeed in the clubs of New York. I honestly don't care that you can get a "soundtrack" to the book from iTunes, but the actual comic sounds keen.

Page 305 has some bittersweet news. IDW announces that Fallen Angel is ending with issue #33. But then there's a new series in April 2009! That's strange. I'm going to assume that David is getting a new artist, but maybe he just wants to start fresh.The second volume of Violent Messiahs is out on page 307. More disturbing creepiness from the minds of Joshua Dysart and Tone Rodriguez!

War stories abound on page 312! First is No Enemy, But Peace from Machine Gun Bob Comics. It's written by an Iraq War vet who tells the story of a sergeant he served with in the Middle East. Then, from Metropolitan Books comes Waltz With Bashir, which tells a story of a massacre in Lebanon in 1982 and the Israeli soldier who tries to remember what happened. To be honest, the latter book sounds better. Of course, the first is 3 dollars as opposed to the second one, which is 18 dollars, but still. Price is no impediment!

I don't think I have to write much more about a certain book on page 313 from Moonstone except the title: M. I. L. F. Magnet. Yeah, I didn't think so. Oh, all right, I'll show the two covers:

There's a third trade of Wasteland on page 318 from Oni Press. If you're buying the trades of this book, here's another one!Oni also offers a new edition of Bryan Lee O'Malley's Lost At Sea. I reviewed this recently, and here's a summary: It's brilliant. Buy it.

On page 323, Tiny Life is offered from Sliver Ltd. I point this out because I just received a copy in the mail, so I'll review it soon (before it comes out, in other words). I feel bad that I didn't get a chance to review it before it showed up in Previews, but that's the way it is. It looks kind of cool, even if it was addressed to Brian. But I got it! Ha! Suck on it, Dread Lord and Master!

Too Cool To Be Forgotten is offered on page 337 from Top Shelf. Hadn't this already been offered? Well, anyway, it's quite good. Trust me.

Yes, it's more manga! On page 349, Viz Media has Oishinbo: Japanese Cuisine. I knew manga like this existed, but the fact that there's a comic book devoted to food makes me happy.

As we delve into the book section of Previews, we find Holy Sh*t: The World's Weirdest Comic Books on page 370. It contains "some of the most offensive and positively strange comics that have ever been published" - with excerpts. You know Hansi: The Girl Who Loved the Swastika is in there!!!!

And so we come to the end of another edition of Previews. It's always fun to dig through it, isn't it? Who will give the love to the weird non-Big Two stuff if you don't?

Award-Winning Comic Book Journalist, Tom Spurgeon, Passes Away

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