Dissecting Previews January 2013

Kaan Evren Basaran writes for Bleeding Cool;

Through Issue #290 of Previews for Products Coming Out on January 2013

Attending the Bleeding Cool Panel at New York Comic-Con this year; I was surprised to hear Rich Johnston announce that he was always looking for new writers for the site, and wanted the site to be a platform for comic readers’ voices (who would have thought, right?). After giving some thought to how I could contribute particularly to the online comic book community, I came up with the idea of putting together a guide to the giant tome of monthly Previews Catalog, which is amongst the greatest joys most of us have during our visits to a comic shop.

Aside from a couple blog posts, I don’t see a general overview of product solicitations from different companies together in a single post. And when you really spend some time going through the Previews Catalog you realize the breadth and depth of all the different offerings that one can reach through a comic book shop.

Armed with sympathy over what might get lost in this huge monthly volume of around 500 pages filled with all kinds of awesome stuff; I will be trying to paint a general picture of what each month’s catalog has to offer with a handful of pointers to the stuff that I think might get lost in all of the hype for the bigger projects. Your feedback, tips and suggestions towards what else should be covered will be much appreciated.

The front of this month’s Diamond Previews Catalog is covered by DC with a powerful image of Aquaman smacking around the diminished numbers of the current Justice League, promoting the Throne of Atlantis crossover. As a giant fan of the Aquaman series, I will sorely miss Ivan Reis’ pencils on the title, but alas, he is at least switching to a title with the heavy hitters of DC. Back cover of the catalog is an extremely beautiful image drawn by Alex Ross, promoting the release of the new Star Wars ongoing series by Dark Horse. This image might end up becoming iconic of the A New Hope era of the Star Wars franchise for years to come. It is quite unfortunate that this mega release is shadowed by the recent news about change in the ownership of the parent company for the series, but we might get as much out of it while it lasts..

The inside covers of the two sides are taken by Dark Horse for Hellboy and gorgeous looking series Emily and the Strangers. Dynamite Entertainment gets the four fold-out inside covers, as usual, and they put a never-before published, striking cover of Vampirella Strikes by the late Michael Turner here, a full page advertisement couple pages later, on the cover of short-order form and the cover of Dynamite’s own section (although the latter is shared by a unique variant cover for the same series by Milo Manara. After a couple of pages of advertisements for toys (including an adorable Megaman toy) we reach the editorial, Marty Grosser notes that Archaia Entertainment was invited to design their own solicitation pages from this month on; but they, along with many other publishers have already been designing unique looking advertisement pages and what this announcement means, as far as I can tell is the green liners on each side of those pages with company’s name on them, for marking them as official solicitations and not having to list the same solicitations in the following pages in the list form.

In Dark Horse’s section, I would like to highlight the new volume of Avatar: The Last Airbender comic, as it is putting forward one of the most interesting storylines that was left dangling after the cartoon series’ finale. I was always hoping that if the cartoon was continued in any form, the search for the missing Queen of the Fire Nation would be the main story. And true to form, this volume also includes the great twist of bringing out one of the scariest characters in the series, the ruthless Princess Azula to work with Team Avatar. How can one not be drawn to this gem? And also, as I already mentioned, a new series titled Emily and the Strangers debut this month, and it is a shame that the rocking adventures of this cute little Goth and her three “troublemaking cats” is scheduled for a three issue mini-series for now. Also, the rock poster variant cover for this issue might be the coolest thing you see whole month long!

DC is having many crossover stories this month, the biggest of which is no doubt the Death of Family, as well as the aforementioned Throne of Atlantis, as well as H’el on Earth in Superman family of books, Rise of the Third Army in Green Lantern books, Rotworld between Swamp Thing and Animal Man and the semi-crossover between Catwoman, Team 7 and All-Star Western; all dealing with the Black Diamond. Even though this much crossing over might seem excessive following almost a year of self contained stories; who can blame them after the tantalizing success of The Night of Owls earlier this year? In any case, I would like to highlight the surprising level of creepiness of the idea of The Centipede which is featured on Dial H #8’s cover. Also, I would like to direct your attention to the solicitation of The Shade TPB, on page 132. If this solicitation information does not get updated till the release date in late February, the trade collection of this 12 issue mini-series with a collection of awesome artists, which for the most part flew under the radar of the comic buying population; will be sold for $20. This truly seems to be a great bargain, not to be missed.

IDW opens up its own section with a funky two page spread for its Mars Attacks crossover. The way the 5 issue, weekly event is presented is eye catchy, and they also present a bunch of variant covers with Mars Attacks on many comic series that do not have an official one shot to present their stories. IDW also starts its 12 issue Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time series with 11 incarnations of the doctor this month, and if they are going to keep up with the stunning depictions of different doctors as stand-alone images for the covers of this series, than this will end up being an amazing collection, even only for these images.

Image’s offerings for January are once again full of great variety of comics. They highlight the 100th issue commemoration of Invincible, which even supports a Walking Dead #100 homage variant cover. There are a bunch of very interesting looking new series starting such as The End Times of Bram & Ben, Repossessed and Todd, the Ugliest Kid on Earth (all of which are four issue mini-series); but I think it is the series titled Dias de Las Muertas that earns Image the keep of its slogan of “experience creativity”. Riley Rossmo brings together 9 different writers with his beautiful art, to illustrate 9 different stories in three issues, around the theme of Mexican Day of the Dead. Each 40 page installation will be presented in the Golden Age format. And as there are many other eye catching solicitations from image, like the start of a new story with the arrival of super villains in Hell Yeah, the tingly cover of Saga, promising a story concentrating on The Will, the creepy cover of Revival, a Tom Juıdge one shot from Top Cow and many more; I will point out to the 12th Issue of Fatale as making the best effort to reach out to new readers, as it is offering a stand-alone, flashback story set in medieval times, and continues to brag about exclusive content that could only be found in the monthly comic, as articles and artwork.

For Marvel, for some reason, I thought they would have put the Young Avengers relaunch on the cover of their own Previews Magazine. But obviously, Superior Spider-Man is a bigger launch and the back cover is taken by the Frank Cho Wolverine relaunch. Luckily, Young Avengers’ first issue cover image is printed inside the back cover, so that we can hang a copy of it printed on glossy paper on our walls. :-D For the Marvel Now initiative, the Marvel Previews magazine presents a character sketches, examples of interior pages in black and white and in color. It has been some time from the last time I can recall the Marvel’s edition of the Previews Magazine was doing this, and I think it is a very eye-catching way to promote the new launches. Speaking of eye-catching; the Marvel Previews magazine prints the Oliver Coipel variant cover for All-New X-Men #5, with the young Jean Greay sitting in a dark room. I believe this might be the debut of the image and it absolutely stunning! But for my picks to highlight in this column, I decided to go with a scan of the solicitation for Scarlet Spider, for no other reason than the return of a certain werewolf from the days of yonder, (and for the possibility of this title getting lost under the huge announcements of new series left and right). Also, I present the cover for Silver Surfer by Stan Lee & Moebius to your amazement. If you somehow missed this precious pearl of a comic book while looking through the solicitations, do yourself a favor and reserve your copy today for the magnificent art alone, if not for an affinity for the title character or Stan Lee’s writing.

Finally reaching the back half of the Catalog, Diamond’s theme for this issue of the Previews become more pronounced as the publisher Andrews McMeel comes out in full force in resoliciting a huge selection of their selection of Calvin and Hobbes albums for the “Classic Comic Strip Reprints” month. If you have never read Calvin and Hobbes before (which I think is unlikely) or thinking about adding a couple more volumes of their misadventures to your library, this seems to be the perfect excuse to order some through your Local Comic Book Shop.

A couple pages later, Antarctic Press solicits that could go perfectly with a volume of Calvin and Hobbes. Honey Badger vs. The World, brought to you by Fred Perry of the Gold Digger fame, is the second outing of its antagonist in a solo comic book and this time the rodent seems to be taking no prisoners! It is the cuteness overload with a major attitude and not the slightest care in the world! I think even the world will not be enough for this little badass! And Kaboom, even making a mention in this column redundant, brings us the highly anticipated mini-series for two of the cosplay champions of the recent convention circuits, Fionna and Cake. Adventure Time seems to be reaching a critical mass in popularity and Kaboom is taking a very clever approach in nurturing its line of comics to cultivate such interest. Let’s hope this expansion will be the herald of many more great comics to come.

Taking a more serious turn, I would like to highlight the third volume of The Chimpanzee Complex series. Cinebook is publishing English versions of some of the French comics and the Chimpanzee Complex seems to be a beautifully rendered deep space story, hearkening back to elements from Alien and 2001; as it looks at the concepts of isolation, paranoia, desolation and human thought. Another profound story is presented by NBM on page 304, as the fifth volume of Oscar Wilde’s Fairy Tales. In The Happy Prince hard cover P. Craig Russel adapts and illustrates a sad story that takes place at the onset of winter between the soul of a benevolent prince and a small bird that set out to help people living under poverty and misery. This literary story, depicted in such grace could be a delicate addition to your library.

 

Before closing the section on comics, I would like to put the picture of these two fantastic looking Ultimate Editions of both Street Fighter Legends and Darkstalkers. These two collections are offered again by Udon Entertainment and they are sure to make continues appearances in comic book stores as well as gaming shops as they would garner the interest of the fans of these games. Also, Valiant is putting out the first collection of their new Harbinger series this January. As Valiant’s relaunch has been getting lots of critical success and they are gradually expanding their line as well as their presence in the comics community, it would be a great opportunity for anyone who has heard the raving reviews to jump on board with the comeback of a great comics universe.
In the books and magazines section, I can recommend taking a look at the very pleasant looking sketch book of Shaun Tan: The Bird King: An Artist’s Notebook from Art Books. Even the cover illustration provides proof for the claim of the solicitation text, defining Tan’s work as quirky and having a unique surreal sensibility. The next page has the new chess pieces for the Batman Chess set that has been solicited as a series of magazines this past year. Even though it is a bit pricey per item, Each unique piece also stands as a collectible statue which is quite evident in the picture presented here with the elegantly crafted Alfred Pennyworth (White Pawn) and Batwoman (White Rock) pieces.

For the Apparel section, even there is the awesome Deadpool Thermal Shirt, the extremely cool Tenth Doctor Grey T-Shirt, dynamic looking Jim Lee X-guys Intimidation Black T-Shirt and the most beautiful Spider-Man “Dual Personality” Blue Heather T-Shirt as well as the Adventure Time Bathrobe which was among the hotcakes of New York Comic Con, I am going to highlight the SpidersceneRed HeatherT-Shirt. Just look at the crispiness of what I am assuming to be an Erik Larsen image, over an aerial picture of Manhattan. Wouldn’t this be a great souvenir or a gift from your visit to New York? Wait till the tourist shops get a hang of this.

And before the section on toys and models start; Dark Horse is kind enough to provide a full page advertisement of their Marvel Classic Characters tin boxed figure series, even including pictures of those figures that are sold out! Even the limited number of production of these figures bring about the prohibitive prices for many, I think I would be right in saying owning one these figures would be a dream of any comic book fan! The toys section this month has wonderfully casted statues of Tygra from the Thundercats from Animation, Disney’s Jiminy Cricket and the Grumpy Dwarf from the Snow White, as well as a distinctively straight standing and clearly defined Spider-Man statue from Marvel Heroes; it is the Vertigo Cover Girls: Death Statue from DC Collectibles which gets the best statue of the month award from me. Unfortunately, even though this statue gets a mention in the “Featured Items” two page starter of the section, it gets solicited in DC Comics section and do not have a separate entry in the toys and models section.

In the Import Toys, Statues and Models section, I do adore the Batman: Arkham City Robin action figure (which I think supports a great redesign of the Robin costume) from Arkham City Play Arts –Kai– and the elaborately crafted S.I.C. Kamen Rider OOO: Tajadol Combo Action Figure, I will present you the offered again Doctor Who Character Building Series 1 Mini-Figures from Doctor Who. With the increasing popularity of the Doctor Who franchise, these mini-mate like cuties, $5 a pop will most likely increase their presence in comic shops all around the country. And for the Collectibles and Novelties section, I would like to present the lovely looking Tintin & Zorrino Resin Figurine. What a shame that it’s price tag is almost as much as what three people who live in my house pay for the rent in total, each month.

For the game section, which has been pushed further back after the toys, I present you the very attractive Artists of Magic Playing Card Mats from Action Sports. We also have a Walking Dead Card Game solicited, as well as a couple Hobbit card games, Settlers of Catan expansions and a Lord of the Rings Dice Building Game that promises 97 unique dices representing different characters in the mythology; but Star Wars: Edge of the Empire: Beginner Game takes the cake for its unique approach to expanding the potential reach of gaming products, being specifically designed to appeal to beginners.
Finally on the DVD and Digital Media section; I present this DVD as a heads up to any true Zombie fan. A documentary from 1978, this program presents and intimate look into the creative process of the high father of the genre with on set demonstrations, behind the scenes footage, interviews with friends and family and the like. This DVD might make you feel as though you are the most knowledgeable of the zombie lovers in your circle.

This concludes our long list of products that are solicited for the first month of the New Year that is fast approaching. As I was saying at the beginning, this column needs much of your input in evolving towards something that is more enjoyable for our online community. Let’s walk through the Previews Catalog together and point out to the hidden treasures that might get buried under hundreds of pages of solicitations. All and all, let’s all enjoy all the thousands of pop culture products offered in our monthly guide to everything that is cool all together. I can’t wait to hear back from all of you.