Man, it's the 300th issue of Previews! Where were you when you bought that first issue of Previews, 25 years ago, and breathlessly realized you could order comics from the monopoly itself? Oh, those crazy days of 1988! But let's live in the here and now and see what's going on this month!
Ghost returns with a new #1 on page 38. I wasn't too impressed with the previous series, and I wasn't sure what happened to it - I guess Dark Horse is doing the old "series-of-mini-series" models for it. Anyway, I bring it up here because Ryan Sook is doing interior art, which is a pretty big thing. I wish Sook did more interiors, but I guess we have to take what we get! (6 November)
I know you're already buying The Black Beetle (page 44), because you're not crazy, but Francesco Francavilla adds a bonus back-up in this issue - the Adventures of Little Black Beetle! Man, I'm sure that will be groovy! (27 November)
On page 50, Amala's Blade is offered in trade. I read the Dark Horse Presents story and enjoyed it, so I decided to wait for the trade of the mini-series. It's a pretty neat story with very cool art. (22 January)
John Ostrander and Jan Duursema are back with Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi on page 63, which is nice to see. I get this series in trade, but I'm glad to see the series is continuing! (20 November)
The latest volume of The Manara Library (page 73) features "The Borgias" by Manara and Alejandro Jodorowsky. I haven't loved everything I've read by Jodorowsky, but man, he's a wacky writer, and him cutting loose on the Borgias with Manara painting the art is something I need to see! (22 January)
I don't get DC and this whole "Zero Year" thing in Batman (page 82). It's a flashback, but it's also a crossover? Some of DC's comics must really be in the toilet, sales-wise, if they're forcing a crossover that takes place in the past on some of them. And, because I must always mention this when he appears, I still want the Riddler to be a consulting detective like he was ever-so-briefly in the Old DCU. He's so much more interesting as a detective than a villain. (13 November)
I know others have mentioned this, but the art drop-off from Jae Lee to Brett Booth in Batman/Superman (page 114) is ... pretty steep. Sheesh. (6 November)
DC is launching a new Harley Quinn series on page 115 (as you can tell by the cover of this month's Previews). The zero issue features art by a bunch of good artists, but who's going to be drawing the ongoing? Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti are writing it, but unless Conner is drawing it, I imagine it won't be that good. Conner is a rare artist who can draw cheesecake without it feeling too skeevy, and that's probably what this book needs. (20 November)
On page 134, DC offers a trade of every Batman/Judge Dredd crossover for 20 bucks. That's not bad value. I'm pretty sure the only one I've read is Judgment on Gotham, the first one, so I don't know if the others are any good, but it's still not a bad price if you're interested. (1 January)
Planetary gets collected in a giant Omnibus that includes the three specials (page 135). It's $75, but damn, that's a good collection. I'm very tempted, even though I know the bigger the package, the more dicey the binding.* (22 January)
* Yes, TWSS. I know, I know.
Also on page 135, there's a trade of the Creature Commando stories from Weird War Tales. I don't know if I can resist this! (15 January)
Dang, I'm going to have to buy Scooby-Doo Team-Up (page 139), aren't I? Sholly Fisch writing a Scooby-Doo/Batman and Robin team-up book? Yeah, that'll work. (20 November)
Hey, you know how last month DC solicited the new Sandman? Well, this month they solicit a "Special Edition" (page 141) with everything the regular issue contains, plus a ton of extras, all for $5.99. What a weird marketing strategy. Presumably, if you want to buy this, you're buying it for more than just the story, because Williams's art is so cool. So why wouldn't you pony up a bit more to get a bunch of stuff about the artwork? Man, what a bizarre way to do things. (27 November)
I have never gotten around to getting the rest of the DMZ trades I don't own, and now DC is offering longer trades (the first 12 issues in this one) in hardcover. I don't know if I should just start getting these or try to find the other trades. Decisions, decisions ... (15 January)
Phil Jimenez is drawing some of Transformers: Dark Cybertron #1 (page 158). Wait, what?
IDW is reprinting The Maxx (page 162) with new scans of the original art and new coloring. Man, that's weird. I own one trade of the series, and I never really felt the need to get any others. Perhaps I'll give it another chance.
Speaking of Sholly Fisch, he's also writing Mr. Peabody and Sherman #1 (page 167), which unfortunately "ties into" the new animated movie, but still - that's pretty cool.
As usual, Image has a bunch of new stuff, so on page 188 we find Black Science by Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera. It's about a scientist and his team trapped in a weird, unreal dimension trying to get home. Remender usually starts his comics well, so this should be good for a while, but I'd feel a lot better about this if Dean White wasn't coloring it. White is a very good colorist, but he does tend to smash the individuality out of pencil work, and Scalera's harsh lines look extremely smoothed out in the preview. (27 November)
Antony Johnston and Christopher Mitten reunite for Umbral on page 192, in which a thief witnesses a massacre and bad things happen from then on. It's a "dark fantasy," in case you're wondering. I like both these creators, so I'll check this sucker out. Oh, hey, I just noticed I'm quoted in the preview section. That's pretty keen. (13 November)
I'm not sure if I'm willing to dive into yet another historical comic that features weird monsters, but Manifest Destiny on page 198 does sound intriguing. Lewis and Clark explore the West and find monsters! I'll have to think about it. (13 November)
Holy cow, on page 205 Bad Dog #5 gets solicited. I haven't been buying this series, but the fact that it's getting offered again gives me hope for Four Eyes and The Great Unknown. It would be nice to see those series again! (27 November)
The final issue of Gødland is offered on page 206. Man, I can't wait. (27 November)
There's a trade of Miniature Jesus on page 210. The final issue isn't out yet, but it's been pretty neat so far. Plus, it's Ted McKeever, so you know it's weird! (20 November)
The first trade of Sex shows up on page 211. It remains an enigmatic book, but it's still intriguing. Plus, it looks really good - Kowalski and Simpson are really doing well on the art. (27 November)
You know, I don't always take the obvious shots at Greg Land, but let's just look at the two different covers for Mighty Avengers #3 (pages 6-7) and wonder why a) two covers exist; and b) why the better one is the variant. (6 November)
Page 13, Uncanny Avengers #14: "Daken has his revenge." Wait, what? Isn't he dead? This is why superhero comics shouldn't kill characters off. Because then it won't be absolutely stupid when they inevitably return. (27 November)
So Avengers Arena is "ending" with issue #18 (page 14). Of course, it's Marvel, so we're told that "it's also the launch pad for what comes next!" Sigh. Can't something just die and we all move on? (27 November)
Boy, I'm annoyed with the solicit text of Superior Spider-Man Annual #1 (page 23): "This ain't no regular Annual, buck-o! This one counts!" Yes, I know the solicitations are somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but to state that all that matters is that it "counts" is depressing. No word on whether it's, you know, any good, just that it "counts." Jeebus. The sad fact is, this shit works. (13 November)
Nova celebrates its "100th issue" on page 37 with Nova #10. I'd laugh, but it would become crying too, too easily. (20 November)
So there's Joey Q and the other Marvel PTB sitting around the giant table made of freelancers' bones in the conference room wall-papered with Jack Kirby's skin, and they're shooting the shit. "Say, you know what we need?" one of them says. "A new fucking X-Men book. I mean, there are plenty of adjectives we haven't used yet. 'Constipated,' 'Timid,' 'Nauseated' ..." He trails off because he's terrified of the unholy light in Joey Q's eyes, and he thinks he might have gone too far. Joey Q stands up, his backward baseball cap shining with eldritch energy, and he walks over to the young editor's chair and gazes deep into his eyes. "You, sir," he says, his voice cracked with emotion, "are a MOTHERFUCKING GENIUS!!!!!! Holy shit, another X-Men book! Why the fuck didn't I think of that? I mean, we were publishing 782 of them and we just canceled, like, two, and we just can't handle the pressure that comes with having so few X-books in the rotation! I mean, Paul O'Brien might actually get to spend some time with his new son! The answer was SO SIMPLE! I was too busy crushing Gary Friedrich's soul into a tasty, satisfying tincture that I drink to keep myself young to see it! Any other great ideas, son?" And the executive, feeling suddenly bold, says, "Maybe it could star Wolverine?" Joey Q's baseball cap explodes off his head, revealing his horns, and he shrieks, "SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT!!!!! Another bold move! I'm pretty sure that if we can figure out a way to get Wolverine into those Oz books Shanower and Young do, he can actually star in over 1000 comics, and putting him in our new X-Men book will be just another brick in the wall! You're a young man with a lot of promise, I can tell. You'll go far at the House of Ideas!!!!"
Oh, by the way, Amazing X-Men shows up on page 50. Wolverine is in this comic. (6 November)
For $125, you can get a nice harcover Omnibus of Captain America #1-12 by Simon and Kirby, which clocks in at 848 pages (page 74). I know these are available in other formats, but if you've never read the series, this is probably a nice package. (19 February)
There's a Phalanx Covenant trade on page 79. These are ... okay, I guess. Well, the ones I read, at least. I hate the Phalanx with every fiber of my being, though, so I'm a bit prejudiced. Still, for nostalgia's sake, these are comics some people fondly remember. (5 February)
The Brubaker/Fraction Immortal Iron Fist gets a giant collection of their entire series, which I might have to pick up. It's $40, and these are really good comics. (11 December)
All right, gird up your loins, because it's time to head into the back of the book!
On page 250, Ape Entertainment has a few nifty-looking books. First, there's The Black Coat: The Blackest Dye, a new Black Coat story! Yay! I've been a big fan of the Revolutionary War spy comic for years now, and I'm glad that Ben Lichius was able to get together another story. The art is by Dean Kotz, who's quite good. Down on the bottom of the page, Run Like Hell is offered, in which a dude tries to get out of Hell. I don't know the writer, Jeff Dixon, but the artist, Karl Slominski, is really good, so I might have to check this out.
I don't know if Occupy Comics is any good, but if you've been wondering about them, Black Mask Comics has a trade on page 278. I'm sure it will be very earnest.
Steve Niles is writing Ash and the Army of Darkness for Dynamite (page 298). I'm not terribly interested in this, but if you are, there it is! (6 November)
Dynamite also has Legends of Red Sonja on page 302. This is an anthology with a framing story by Gail Simone and tales that tie into it by people like Nancy Collins, Kelly Sue DeConnick, and Devin Grayson. It's not really a "bold new experiment in graphic storytelling," as the solicitation text claims, but it's a cool idea. Remember: it's not exploitative if women write stories about a metal bikini-clad woman, it's empowering. So join them in their empowerment! (6 November)
Drawn & Quarterly offers Beautiful Dreamer by Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoet on page 320. It's a "dark fairy tale" from two talented creators, so I'll probably pick this up.
Tune Book 2: Still Life shows up on page 327 from First Second. Derek Kirk Kim is still writing, and Les McClaine is drawing it. I really hope Kim can continue this, because I know it was in some financial straits.
Oni has a hardcover, tenth-anniversary printing of Bryan Lee O'Malley's Lost at Sea. I'm not sure if this is worth $25, but it's quite a nice comic. I like it much more than the first volume of Scott Pilgrim, for instance. (24 December)
Tom Fowler isn't drawing the new issue of Quantum and Woody, which is sad (Lee Garbett has gotten better over the years, but he's no Tom Fowler), but Valiant does have the trade of the first four issues on page 369. At $10, it's easy to choose to read this! (6 November)
There's the usual weird stuff further back in the book, but I won't go into that. Enjoy paging through Previews so you can find all the good stuff within. Don't just settle for Amazing X-Men!