Kaan Evren Basaran writes for Bleeding Cool
Through Issue #291 of Previews for Products Coming Out on February 2013
As we enter the last month of the year (the month which some assert is the last in the Mayan Calendar) we are lucky enough to have the new issue of Previews Catalog for the new comic books, toys and pop culture memorabilia that will be reaching the comic book stores starting from February 2013. And in this second edition of the column I will be trying to go through it and point out to several projects and items that might have escaped your attention in the cycle of solicitation releases; the cool stuff that are among the thousands of products that are showcased in this giant tome of colorful advertisements. As, I have learned in last month’s column in the forum responses, there is at least one person who does not take going through the Previews Catalog by heart, but I am sure there are a lot to be discovered when we look beyond specifically concentrating on our favorite publisher’s solicitation lists. So, come join me in this tour of going through the December issue of Previews as I try to turn the spotlight on those gems that might have escaped your attention when looking through what you might be interested in coming months.
This month’s front cover of the Previews catalog is reserved for the Diamond Select Toys for a showcase of their Star Trek Starship electronic replicas. The back of the catalog, on the other hand is covered by the striking image of the cover for 17th issue of Green Arrow, beautifully rendered by the newly appointed regular artist on the title, Andrea Sorrentino. The interior covers are taken by the black teaser for the new Garth Ennis project titled Red Team in the front, and the new mini-series of Star Wars: Dark Times in the back, which also gets a mention at the very front cover of the catalog. This new mini features Jedi Master K’Kruhk, one of the most visually interesting creations of his order, trying to hide and protect a group of young Padawans, in an Empire order which has recently outlawed the Jedi. This series seem to have all the elements of becoming an instant classic!
The three out of four fold out inside covers spots are taken by Dynamite Entertainment again, for the debut of The Shadow: Year One and Dejah Toris and the Green Men of Mars as well as the fourth issue of Masks, but this month, one of the fold out inner covers is snagged by Aspen Comics, as they debut their huge 10 year anniversary celebration project! Aspen Comics will be giving us ten new series throughout 2013 and the debut issue of each will be priced only a dollar! The 10 for 10 project will be starting in February with the first issue of Legend of the Shadow Clan, which seems like a very interesting series by David Wohl and Cory Smith. This project gets even more exciting with the information provided in Aspen’s section at the comics and graphic novels part after the bigger publishers’ segments, where they provide the shadows of characters from other projects in a forthcoming jam poster.
The first page of the catalog is taken up by an advertisement of Fairy Quest, from Boom Studios; a Kickstarter funded collaboration between Paul Jenkins and the funky art of Humberto Ramos. The rest of the front segments of the catalog are covered with more advertisements of Ennis’ Red Team (a two page spread with a little bit of art and promise of more info in the Dynamite Entertainment’s own section and the teaser image covering the short-order form), an introduction of this month’s theme for the catalog, “The Unsung Heroes” which highlights the indie super hero books and two pages taken by Archaia, the first officially introducing the publisher’s own segment in the non-premier comic book publishers’ part of the catalog and other for the new graphic novel titled Pantalones, TX by celebrated cartoon creator Yehudi Mercado. There is also a three page reminder of the approaching Free Comic Book Day of 2013, one with the announcement of the date and the other two offering the generic merchandise for the day as well as resoliciting the commemorative art t-shirts from last year.
This month’s Dark Horse solicitations are comprised of its usual suspects of Star Wars line of books, the three series set in Buffyverse, B.P.R.D. books along with the new Hellboy series, as well as a host of other horror books, the new issue of Conan and some compilations of the classic stories of the character, a source book for the upcoming new Dragon Age game, conclusion of the recent mini-series for the R.I.P.D. along with other cool projects like Mind MGMT, The Answer, The Black Beetle and The Massive.
What I want to highlight for Dark Horse is the recent trend in spinning out material from the creative engine of Dark Horse Presents (which features a short story by Neil Gaiman in February’s issue #21). Besides the new series Number 13, this month sees the unexpected fun of swashbuckling Amala’s Blade story collected as a #0 one-shot, leading to a new series in April, as well as the Hard Cover collection of the new Aliens: Inhuman Condition story by John Layman and Sam Keith. Dark Horse seems to be successfully using this critically acclaimed anthology to launch new series unlike similar attempts that we have seen from other publishers.
DC Comics are reaching to a lot of conclusion in their stories this month as they are wrapping up their Before Watchmen series, concluding the Rise of Atlantis, Death of Family, H’El on Earth and Rotworld crossovers, while launching the most recent of their waves of new books, this time exclusively concentrating around the newly forming team of Justice League of America. Also, the Green Lantern group of books are advancing to the “Wrath of the First Lantern” storyline on the heels of the Rise of the Third Army. In addition to all these, DC is also publishing a Valentine’s Day Special showing their stable of superheroes in love. What I want to highlight among this month’s DC publications is the 17th Issue of All-Star Western. A perennial steady performer of the pre-relaunch DC has found a larger audience by being a part of the New52, and if you still haven’t tried it, this story which features a deadly outbreak of the Gotham City of the past, including an appearance by the Stormwatch of 19th Century might be a great point to catch up with the Western set in DC Universe back story. As a trade, it is delightful to find a new printing of the intricate and surreal adventure of Joe the Barbarian, but with the cancellation of Hellblazer, and the hiatus of American Vampire along with the withering away of other series, it is also a little bit heartbreaking to see the Vertigo imprint to be reduced to a couple of pages at the back of the DC section.
IDW this month has the relaunch of the G.I.Joe series with a new perspective that comes as a result of in-story public attention to the outfit as well as the return of Rocketeer and Kill Shakespeare. What I would like to highlight here is The New Ghostbusters series. Hearkening back to the “all-new, all-different” take on a comic property, we find that in the newly launching series, the Ghostbusters that we know and love have been captured by outlandish fiends and a new team has to come together in order to save them and fight the menaces that threaten the baseline humans. This turnaround in the cast of the book is promoted by 4 interlocking covers that feature each of the new members of the team. With a roster of three quite distinct looking ladies and a dude, this new series seems very promising in deed.
And speaking of cute, as a response to the massive, chart-topping success of the recently launched My Little Pony series; IDW is replicating its approach to the new Ninja Turtle series by putting together a six issue “micro-series” for the ponies, in which each issue will feature a story on one of the fan favorite ponies. The debut issue, perhaps a surprise to no one, is starring one of the most favorite of the characters, the Twilight Sparkle.
Image Comics seems to have solicited for February, a little bit less that the handful of new series that have debuted for the past couple of months. None the less, there are interesting startups, including the highly promoted Snapshot and the remastered collection of Michel Gagne’s Zed: A Cosmic Tale. The Skullkickers also get a relauch with the added title of “Uncanny” this month, but I would like to point out to the remaining two series that are newly introduced. Five Weapons is a five issue mini-series, set in a school for the progeny of Assassins, where they learn to master one of the five weapons. The series turns the premise around its head as our protagonist is presented not as a student with superior control over any of them, but instead relying on his quick-thinking mind to best his colleagues. In a month that is missing a new issue of Morning Glories, a series that uses high school drama with unpredictable action might be a right premise to follow up on the interest that is attached to that series. Also, the art work samples by Jimmie Robinson, who is also the writer seems to have lots of energy that almost borders on anime style but retains its own unique look.
The second debut I want to highlight is from Top Cow Studios, featuring the remarkable crafts work of Stejepan Sejic, who has been producing constant and consistently beautiful artwork for the studio for the past couple of years. In this oversized story, Sejic is taking the writing chores too, in order to present a world of magic, dragons and fantasy. The book, titled Ravine is worth seeking after on the merit of the lovely art alone, but the promise of world building and expansion adds on extra incentive for it.
Marvel’s booklet this month has the debut of the new Nova series in the front and the cover of Uncanny X-Men in the back. The relaunch of Secret Avengers, #0.1 issue of the Guardians of the Galaxy and the new, female lead Defenders are the other debuts that get a lot of attention in this month’s Marvel solicitations. There is some internal art for Nova and Defenders as well as some concept art for Uncanny X-Men and the debut of Marcus Martin variant for Nova, which is quite gorgeous. The Hickman Avengers covers feature the debut of new female incarnations of some of the most powerful characters in Marvel Universe and the A+X has Doop teaming up with Iron Fist with a great cover. The debut of the mini-series for the newly introduced character of the Spidey-verse Alpha is a little bit buried down towards the middle, with Avenging Spider-Man placing the Superior Spider-Man together with the Future Foundation kids setting up more mishaps for the character. My pick for the obscured series this month will be the X-Factor however, as it starts its new storyline featuring the “Hell on Earth War” between the various Hell Lords of Marvelverse. This story, covered elegantly by David Yardin is interesting in that it provides the opportunity for Peter David to tell the story that he was perhaps intending to back in the 1990s, as he was laying down references to the struggle in his Hulk run. As the trade find for this month, I will suggest the trade paperback edition of Marvel Masterworks collection of Captain Marvel’s original series. You can find in this trade how the legendary Kree hero set up his life on Earth after converting his allegiance to the protection of his new found planet. Also featured in this story is the debut of than potential love interest for our hero, Carol Danvers, the current Captain Marvel.
This finally brings us to the non-premier publishers section, which opens up with a two page spread highlighting the “Unsung Heroes”, who are claimed to be as worthy of attention and praise as their better know counterparts from bigger publishers. The first item of interest that we face, right after the opening page is the offered again graphic novel titled Remake from Adhouse Books. This funky looking graphic novel claims to be a cross between Astro Boy and Scott Pilgrim, but if a story features a “Max Blaster that turns things into stuff”, than I say that is really worth looking into!
A couple of pages later, we reach the Archaia solicitation pages, and almost as a response to my confusion about the significance of them being assigned a section within the comics and graphic novels part of the catalog, mentioned in last month’s column; Archaia builds itself a unique segment complete with interviews with the creators and a letter from the editor. Alongside the Pantalones, TX, which I mentioned at the top of the column, I would also like to present here the second volume of the Spera graphic novel series. This series features two rebel princesses who escape their lands to embark on wild adventures in several short stories, illustrated by different artist. Can you think of a better gift for an early teenage girl? Archaia saves you from upsetting them with childish toys that they no longer have interest in.
And after you pass the page 250 mark, Bongo comics surprises us with perhaps the most interesting project in this month’s catalog. Mylo Xyloto is brought to you by none other than the music band Coldplay. This comic is directly inspired by the band’s latest album and the story presented therein. Almost reminding the whole Interstella 5555 of Daft Punk, Coldplay was intending to produce a full length animated movie for the album but now we are getting it as a comic book series. There is a lengthy interview about the very promising dystopian story about the draconian control of people through social network manipulation in page 260 of this issue of the Previews catalog which makes me extremely interested both in this story and checking out the album too.
Drawn and Quarterly brings out two interesting graphic novels back to back this month. The first one is called Daybreak and it is geared towards taking the reader back to less violent and more psychologically nerve-wrecking pretext of the Zombie genre. It is particularly build up as a point of view piece and the Zombies are played as an ever approaching threat at the edges, rather than being in your face (and sometimes endlessly running towards you). In any case, this will be a good piece for the hordes of us who can not get enough of the Zombiemania. Letting It Go is a personal memoir of a Holocaust survivor, who is aiming to come to grips with the change that the city of her birth, Berlin is experiencing. Miriam Katin, the writer and the artist professes that she has stayed away from Berlin with lots of her negative feelings attached to the location, but she was forced to face it again when her son decided to move there. This graphic novel is poised to be a valuable addition to the growing collection of biographical introspections that also serve as socio-historical information sources and commentaries.
Perhaps one of the most sought after places in the back of the catalog is the Top Shelf productions, as they are providing us with the new work from one and only Alan Moore. And Februrary will see him revisit one of the story elements from the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the Nautilus, as Captain Nemo’s daughter Janni Dakkar struggles to face the legacy of assuming the leadership of the vessel. Nemo: Heart of Ice has the new Captain Nemo aiming to explore Antartica with more intrigue and action as a trio of genius inventors are set on her trail.
February also sees the release of the first collection of Hypernaturals from Boom Studios; the brand new cosmic adventure built up with significant creative freedom by the acclaimed writers, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; the English release of Muse Deluxe drawn by Terry Dodson by the publisher Humanoids Inc and the 14th Volume of Smurfs series by Papercutz, which features the first appearance of the Baby Smurf. However, one of the last two pieces I want to highlight from the comics and graphic novels section is the Ninjak collection by Valiant, which features art by Joe Quesada. This series has been one of the most sought after series in the 90s and now with the recent appearance of the character in X-O Manowar, a new volume of adventures for this character seems to be on the cards.
Finally, I would like to present the graphic novel titled Tezuka’s Ayako from Vertical Inc. Osamu Tezuka, being the creative force behind the Astro Boy, has also created more mature oriented work and this book is considered one of his greatest works. The story is set in Post-War Japan and in a collapsing aristocratic family; it reflects the social tensions and the level of moral destruction the society had to endure during the time through the unraveling of anger and frustrations of the men of the family. Sarah Martinez, one of the staff in the Previews Catalog provides a great review of the graphic novel in page 324.
For the books and magazines section, I know that I have featured the Batman Chess Collection last month too, but I would love to bring this beautifully crafted Black Bat figurine to your attention. Look at how great that costume design and character is. Where else can you find Cassandra Cain these days?
And for a proper book, I present you the Of Comics and Men, a scholarly work which studies multiple social dimensions in interaction with the aesthetical elaborations and attention to personal level of issues of agency. All in all, it seems to be a great synthesis of a social research on American Comic Book Industry.
In this month’s apparel section, I will present you the 4 Guardians t-shirt, as the harbinger of a swarm of Guardians of the Galaxy products which will inevitably be coming our way in the lead up to the movie adaptation. Although Moondragon’s outfit in the t-shirt is not her best, the overall art is quite cool and you can have the hipster factor of being the first to proudly flaunt the GoG with this t-shirt, before it becomes more commonplace.
I also want to point out that the new Joker series of t-shirts on page 375 of this month’s catalog are awesome and the Joker: Death t-shirt is especially a killer! And once again, Dark Horse presents a full page showcase of various products just before the section on toys and models. It is so nice to look at these beautifully crafted variety of statues, from Dexter to Vampire Hunter D, from Umbrella Academy White Violin to Game of Thrones Daenerys. This page is so enjoyable that it makes me feel almost like a looking at a display in a comic-con.
For the Toys, Statues and Models section, I would like to share the image of Bleach’s Ichigo with Bankai Mask deluxe figure. The picture alone is enough to persuade one of the awesome this character is, and how bad one needs to have it. Among other notable products in this section are the new Archangel and Hyperion figures from Marvel Select line; Angry Birds Star Wars 5 inch plush toys; Hanna-Barbera’s Flintstones and Jetsons kid characters’ 7 inch plush toys and the adorable Star Wars Max Rebo mini-bust. There is also “Agent Coulson’s Captain America Trading Cards”, which is a great idea for a movie replica.
I would just like to share the picture of Plants vs Zombies 7 inch plushes. Aren’t these plants beyond charming? I also think the zombies from that game are unbelievably cute, so I would love to see some toys made for them too.
For the collectibles and Novelties section, I will give you the Chara-Covers for Iphones, which is the best idea ever! If I had an Iphone, or any other smart phone for that matter, I would be all over a flash telephone cover like this, despite the hefty price tag.
And for the games section, I will present the Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island board game. If there was ever a story that was translatable to a board game, I think this could be it. In the DVD section, we have the three season collections of Archer, a series about international espionage, covert operations, back stabbing and sexual tensions in a sitcom produced for FX network. There is also the fourth volume of Animaniacs, which is perhaps, one of the most entertaining cartoons ever produced 8and it is presented by Steven Spielberg, no less). Among the imported movies, The Possession in Japan seems to be dangerously scary, by marrying the possession tropes with the imagery of far eastern horror movies.
This brings us to the end of our long tour of this month’s Previews catalog. There are still thousands of great products that beg our attention in this great tome, so bring on your suggestions about what you would like to see mentioned next time when we look at the products which are going to be arriving to comic book stores in March 2013.