This is the 7th Previews column I’ve written which means I’ve been doing it for 6 months. Jose and Elliot’s latest last rants column inspired me to reiterate why Previews (and the whole advance solicits through CBR, Newsarama et al) is so important to me. If you don’t know by now I live in Ireland, the nearest comic shop to me is about 100 miles away and I’m not going to do a several hour trip to get comics even if the price was reasonable (which it isn‘t).
Just to give you an illustration of the costs involved if I were to buy in the 2 or 3 shops in this country, a comic that retails at $2.99 in the United States is sold for €3.75 here, which equates to $4.37 in American money. The conversions are proportional so $3.99 equates to $5.82 and so on so you can see how a comics habit can get very expensive very quickly here.
I know from contact with other foreign comic fans that in parts of mainland Europe and Australia that it’s even more expensive. I get my comics from a well known American mail order company and including shipping, $2.99 books actually cost me about $2.79. So if you were to have the choice between paying $2.79 and $4.37 which would you pick?
It’s for those reasons that I’ve never got the “Wednesday comics” phenomenon because for me comics come when they come, it depends on the mail order service, the USPS, the Irish Postal service, Icelandic volcanoes, American public holidays and the list goes on and on but you can bet your arse that there is a certain point in a month where I can be heard muttering “where is that fucking postman with my comics”, the classic signs of addiction come to the fore but perhaps worse because I can’t just go down the road to another shop, you’d think I’d have developed a more sang froid attitude by now!
The ironic thing is, sort of like the guys hinted in their video, I usually open Previews first and devour it, all the while making notes and earmarking pages of stuff that I want to add and what I want to talk about in this column. Its become almost a ritual now to pore through it because even though online solicits are good for Marvel and DC they are usually shit for other companies and for some reason its more “real” once I see it in print. Previews just collates and gives it to you all in one phone book sized tome for only a few dollars.
So, with that said, on with this months Previews starting with Marvel comics.
Avengers vs. Pet Avengers #1 (of 4)
Page 30 of Marvel Previews
This will probably be the best Avengers series of the year. Fact. In my opinion Chris Eliopoulos and Ig Guara can do no wrong, the two Pet Avengers mini’s and the one shots they’ve done have been excellent. These comics have a joy and a heart to them that I just don’t feel from comics by the likes of Bendis and Loeb. This is how comics used to be, all ages but still with drama and tension but without the raping and baby-killing that passes for storytelling in certain comics lately. These comics are enjoyable and accessible on many levels and to readers both young and old, buy this, you won’t regret it.
Klaws of the Panther #1 and #2 (of 4)
Page 51 of Marvel Previews
Talking about comics with heart…and intelligence and compact plotting we have the latest from Jonathan Maberry. If he wasn’t writing it then I might not buy a series about Shuri, the new Black Panther as the character wouldn’t normally interest me that much but with Doomwar and Punisher Vs Marvel U being excellent then I’ll give it a go. I wasn’t too familiar with the penciller Gianluca Gugliotta but he’s got a site of his own and his pencils look pretty decent although I wish pencillers would use 6 or 9 panel grids sometimes instead of thin horizontal or vertical panels…just a pet peeve of mine.
Page 59 of Previews
Finally! Fraction on Thor, about bloody time! I’m sure the delay was for Pasqual Ferry to get ahead on the artwork so it better be good! Also lets hope we see the genius Iron Man Matt Fraction here and not the so-so Uncanny X-Men Matt Fraction. At least he is on familiar territory here as he has to pick up the pieces from another crappy Bendis “event”.
Atlantis Attacks Omnibus HC (Bob Layton cover)
Page 86 of Previews
Two omnibus in 2 months, my wallet is saying Ouch! This is a pure nostalgia trip for me, these were the first Marvel annuals I ever bought and apart from the appallingly awful Uncanny X-Men annual they were bloody good. it’s a series of linked annuals where various Atlantean factions attack the surface world in order to put together the Serpent Crown. This was pretty much the last hurrah of good Marvel comics before the 90’s kicked in and made the next 7 or 8 years forgettable.
As usual, you have to ignore what Marvel is pimping and look a bit further for the good mini-series that you’ll actually appreciate for years and years. Ignore Bendis and Loeb and support good writers like Maberry, Hickman, Parker and Fraction, the comics world will be better for it.
Action Comics #894
Page 85 of Previews
Paul Cornell has been doing a good job so far with Lex Luthor in Action Comics and this issue becomes even more notable because it has the first appearance of Death (aka Sandman’s sister) in a mainstream DCU comic. This has been done with the approval of Neil Gaiman so the story must be pretty decent and what could be more fascinating than the devious mastermind Luthor meeting the entity that is normally the last one that a person sees after they die.
Bruce Wayne – The Road Home: Batman and Robin #1
Page 75 of Previews
Ok, first the good news, half dozen or so regular bat titles go on hiatus for the month but the bad news is that they are replaced by 9 Bruce Wayne – The Road Home one shots. Most of these are done by seemingly random writing and art teams and none of the covers are revealed in Previews, they all have a black “Top Secret” cover displayed, thanks DC. I can guarantee that at least 7 of these will be completely needless and superfluous to the main storyline, its simply DC trying to grab as much money from Bat-fans as possible.
Why these stories couldn’t have been done in the main bat-titles by the main bat-teams is beyond me. Both Marvel and DC have been doing this crap with their crossovers in the last few years, even the character-centric ones have mushroomed beyond anything that is reasonable. Just buy the (56 page $4.99) Grant Morrison title as that’s pretty much all you’ll need.
Sgt Rock: The Lost Battalion TP
Page 104 of Previews
This is written and drawn by Billy Tucci and is a great little miniseries. Unfortunately the original issues seemed to slip between the cracks during the Blackest Night hype and sales weren’t too good. This is a chance for people to catch up on this well written and drawn Sgt Rock mini. Other DC war characters like Johnny Cloud and the Haunted Tank appear during Rocks journey from D-Day to the forests of Germany and Tucci uses a variety of art styles that match the characters and action displayed.
Vertigo Resurrected #1
Page 98 of Previews
It seems that since Paul Levitz resigned things have been happening with DC that wouldn’t have under his watch, most of them not good. The excuse for this compilation is a never published Hellblazer story by Warren Ellis which depicts a school shooting spree sort of like Columbine, which given the hysteria over that tragedy, was never published 10 years or so ago. This book is filled out by a bunch of reprints which may or may not fit in with the main story.
Some good stuff from DC this month but as has happened before some of their moves to catch up with Marvel seem to be quite ham-fisted. The Bruce Wayne one shots are an example of that, the DC Presents $7.99 titles are another example of that. It looks like the DC editors have been told by their superiors to use up any stories that they have been sitting on or have been in the filing cabinet for years and clear out any old art, I just can’t see these titles selling that well.
One title that I might have bought was Knight and Squire #1 written by Paul Cornell but if ever a cover put me off a title it was this one, really that’s just not good. One thing I may buy though is Green Lantern Omnibus #1 by Gardner Fox et al but I will wait for reviews of it as I’ve had bad experience with DC omnibuses before regarding paper quality and smell.
Beasts of Burden/Hellboy One-shot
Publisher: Dark Horse
Page 38 of Previews
The Beasts of Burden mini-series from 2009 was one of my favourite series from the last few years. The deft writing and exceptional art, the dark plots and emotional characterisation were light years ahead of most books on the shelf. This one shot co-starts the Beasts with Hellboy and is co-written by Mike Mignola and Evan Dorkin with art by Jill Thompson. The Beasts need help to deal with the huge increase of magical activity in their area and who better to assist than the worlds greatest paranormal detective?
Metalocalypse/Dethklok #1 (of 3)
Publisher: Dark Horse
Page 41 of Previews
In case you didn’t know, Dethklok are the worlds biggest black metal band and the worlds 7th largest economy. At least in the world created by Brendan Small that is anyway. Metalocalypse is a hilarious cartoon from Adult Swim which shows the depredations of the sleaziest, stupidest band in the world who for some reason are insanely popular. They’ve already had a one-shot crossover with the Goon and this is their first mini-series for Dark Horse comics. Its written by creator Brendan Small and series designer Jon Schnepp and drawn by some guys I’ve never heard of….actually now that I check him out Lucas Marangon drew Hellcyon which looked pretty damned good I have to say.
Xenozoic: The Complete Collection TP
Publisher: Flesk Publications
Page 284 of Previews
This trade paperback contains the complete Xenozoic tales by multi Eisner award winner Mark Schultz. Originally published in the late 80’s and early 90’s by Kitchen Sink Press they have been restored and compiled for this collection. Mark Schultz is a brilliant artist in the style of Frank Frazetta, Wally Wood and Hal Foster. In the future the world is struck by environmental disasters so bad that underground cities are built where humanity exists for half a millennia only to emerge into a world where dinosaurs have come back to rule the earth.
Stan Lee’s Soldier Zero #1
Publisher: Boom Studios
Page 247 of Previews
Stan Lee has teamed up with Boom Studios to put his name to 3 titles which (allegedly) have been conceived by him and been handed over to 3 hot writers to bring to fruition. This one is actually the most interesting in my opinion. Writer Paul Cornell has yet to put a foot wrong in the comics world and Javier Pina is a reliable artist and a step up from the usual Boom stable of artists.
The plot is that an alien parasite falls to earth and infects a wheelchair bound student transforming him into a superhero tasked with defending the earth, it should be a lot of fun.
The great thing about Independents is that there is always a wide range of stories and formats to choose from. My usual go-to publishers like Radical, Archaia and Image didn’t really have anything new this month but Dark Horse stepped up with 2 titles I’m really looking forward to. Another book that almost made it was Tron: The Betrayal TP from Disney (page 270).