Kaan Evren Basaran writes;
Welcome to out third installment of the Dissecting Previews column where we go through the thousands of items that are solicited in the Diamond Distributors’ Previews catalog to highlight a huge bunch of very interesting products that might have escaped your attention when the solicitation information from the big companies were doing the rounds on the internet. This month’s issue of the Previews catalog showcases the plethora of great items that will be arriving at the comic book shops in March, so take a look at this guideline to what you could be missing before it is too late and rush to further investigate the tome at your shop to reserve any of these goods to make sure you will be able to get them when they go on sale.
As this is the first issue of the catalog that is published this year, the editor Marty Grosser takes note that this is the 25th year of the publication of the Previews Catalog, along with adding that in less than 10 months they will be publishing the 300th issue. Will there be a bigger size, celebration issue? It is a grand tradition in comics publishing, but we will have to wait and see if it will be the case for this specific product, as the Previews Catalog really is already not very forest-friendly as it currently is. The front cover this month is taken by Image as they use it to publicize the newest Hickman project titled East of West. It seems to be aiming for controversial grounds as the titular heroes are said to be setting out to murder the US president in a post-apocalyptic divided landscape. The interior or concept are showcase in Image’s own solicitations section between pages 193 to 195 are however very interesting and gorgeous looking. The back cover is taken by DC as they showcase the most recent storyline to run over all the lantern universe titles with the cover image of Green Lantern #18. The interior of the back cover is taken by Dark Horse as they advertise another addition to the line of books to launch from Mignola’s Hellboy, the Sledgehammer-Hammer 44. The story is set to take place in the World War II era to add on to the 70+ years of Nazi smashing lore. In the fold-out interior covers, Dynamite gets to put images for the new Green Hornet series and March issues of Masks and Evil Ernie (I did not realize the Evil Ernie was still going on). Also to take note is the extremely gorgeous illustration of Superman in the front fold-out internal cover, where Cryptozoic is soliciting the new Superman the Legend Trading Cards set. True to his appearance in the earlier issues of the new Supergirl series, Mahmud Asrar creates one of the greatest renditions of the new Superman costume around.
After passing through the initial pages of guides to using the Previews Catalog and adds by Square Enix products (including the extremely detailed Detoroyah monster from the Godzilla fame), Boom and couple of new Archaia launches; we have a section on this year’s Free Comic Book Day. This year, many of the offerings seem even more relevant and top-notch than before, and it is noted that there are more books than ever before. From Walking Dead to Adventure Time, from a Star Wars/Avatar flip book to Smurfs, Mass Effect, Disney’s Fairies, Sonic, Mega Man, Ninja Turtles, Spongebob, Dragonball to Judge Dredd, and even our very own Bleeding Cool magazine, I can’t remember a year that had the depth and coverage of the pop culture icons with this much free material. In a perfect world, this year’s FCBD material would be distributed in double digit millions and the schools would organize field trips to the local comic book shops in their area, just to get the next generation of human beings amazed by the variety of the fun and amazement that the comic world has to offer (and now that I think of it, I kind of wish there were FCBD officials who were working full time on contacting schools and pitching this idea. Is that dreaming too much?).
In any case, let me point out to two solicitations that might get lost under all the greatness that is presented this year on Free Comic Book Day. The first one will be the book offered by Arcana Studios titled Steampunk Originals Presents: The Steam Engines of Oz. As we are once again poised to witness another big-screen adaptation of the Wizard of Oz, it seems quite clear that there are a lot of people who can not get enough of this story. Add to that the fact that one can never get enough of Steampunk and this preview for the Graphic Novel with the same title and the whole line of books that will come out with particularly Steampunk reinterpretations, and this FCBD offering becomes a gem not to be missed. The second pick is from the breakout new (but not entirely so) publisher of 2012,
Valiant Entertainment. They present a primer for the first crossover of the new era, as well as a sample book for the re-mastered version of their classic stories. Harbinger Wars may be the storyline that you have been waiting for to jump on board the Valiant renaissance.
Now lets continue with our selections from the Premier Publishers as we first come to the Dark Horse solicitations. The Dark Horse section opens with their offerings within the Horror genre, and features solicitation information on the B.P.R.D.: Vampire #1 along with an interior art page. This is another addition to the line of Hellboy-verse books along with the previously mentioned Sledgehammer 44, which comes on the heels of the B.P.R.D.: 1948. Besides the Mingola inspired books, Dark Horse carries a proud line of horror books, including new issues for the Colder mini-series and Criminal Macabre with gorgeous covers each. Buffyverse books are also covered under the Horror line and the fifth issue of the Willow: Wonderland series carries perhaps the most beautiful cover you will find in this month’s catalog (or is my love for the character or David Mack obstructing my judgment?).
Despite my urge to share the cover for the Willow series, I will instead go with the Mind MGMT #9 cover, which is beautiful and touching, demonstrating destruction (which is not realistic when we are talking about Egypt; but hey Syria, Egypt, you know it should all be the same when we are talking about Middle East, right?), a touch of innocence, inspiration and importance of music in carrying the spirit away, the presence of an immediate threat with bullet holes and the rifle and the harmony of it all. A truly striking image from a series with quite the critical acclaim. The other book that I will comment on is the new Star Wars Legacy mini-series, Prisoner of the Floating World. This series is introducing us a brand new addition to the Solo family line, Ania! Dark Horse Star Wars line has been firing on all cylinders these past couple of months and this breath-taking cover image is well worthy of joining several others up on my wall too. I am repeating what I said last month, but it is such a shame the whole line will be going to Disney owned Marvel a little bit further down the line.
Dear old DC is (you see, we are in such a period now that any publishing initiative past its, say, 15th month is considered old) launching the New 52 version of Constantine this month. After announcing that new series on the cover of its solicitation section, we see another killer cover for the Green Arrow series and David Finch covers for both Katana and Justice League of America’s Vibe which seems a little bit more sketchier than his usual work. Justice League seems to be starting its build up to the next big story with the “Grid” and Earth 2 introduces Doctor Fate. Batman has Adam Kubert on board and Batwoman starts a new storyline, facing Mr. Freeze as Batman guest stars. Even though one of the other new launches, the Threshold has a great dynamic cover with the New 52 debut of Captain K’rot, the cover I chose to highlight is the one for I, Vampire. This series is accumulating praises and kudos to DC for keeping it around after a couple rounds of cancellations hit books that were around where it sells. The 18th issue promises a major change in the status quo and a major character death. As the issues with the demise of characters I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t use it as an excuse to jump on board for the tragedy and than decide to hunt the back issues if it touches you enough. And despite all the attention the one-shot Time Warp is getting as a promising new project from Vertigo, I will go with highlighting The Unwritten this month, as it enters a new story arc, the one in which the character goes to underworld in the footsteps of the Orpheus to save his loved one and the story promises a take on that classic story that sheds some light on the antagonist in the king of the underworld.
This month, IDW launches the sister book for the new G.I.Joe series, Special Missions. Than it has the Artist’s Edition for John Bryne’s Fantastic Four, Judge Dredd: Year One mini-series debuting, continuing of the My Little Pony Micro-Series with Rainbow Dash and the All New X-Men homage cover for the New Ghostbusters #2 and the inter-species ‘bromance’ story between a Martian who wants to fore go his warring ways and a mafia snitch human in Mars Attacks #8. However, my pick for not to miss is going to be Angel Medina drawn Kiss Solo mini-series, which is of course going to be debuting with a story of non-other than The Demon. And for a second pick, I was tempted to go with the return of the Memorial series, but instead I decided to showcase the kid friendly tale of the evil wizard who simply does not want to be evil and his posse in The Wizard’s Tale TPB by Kurt Busiek and David T. Wenzel. Busiek is a master story teller and if the cover image is any indication, the art will be very enchanting too..
Perhaps Image’s big launch in March going to be Joe Casey’s SEX, by the amount of coverage it is already getting from the comic sites, besides Hickman’s aforementioned East of West, but I am going to go with the Lost Vegas here because of the great fun potential of the premise and all the colorful alien population in the cover image. We also have another relaunch of the Skullkickers in their Savage incarnation. I am now wondering which other adjectives the Skullkickers are going to get.. Image is offering a couple of collected editions this month, prominantly displayed before the solicits of the new single issues. Among the new collections are Maximum Minimum Wage HC, the first volume of Cyberforce: Rebirth and It Girl & the Atomics; second volumes of Guarding the Globe, The Manhattan Projects; Thief of Thieves; Peter Panzerfaust and ’68; third volumes of Chew Omnivore Edition and The Mice Templar; the fourth volume of Morning Glories and the 8th volume of Spawn: Origins, as well as Severed by Scott Snyder. Image also dedicates two more pages to new printings of previously published trade paper backs and a spotlighting a selection of some of the collections they have in their back list catalog. Before closing the section on Image comics, let me highlight one of their recent launches in the fifth issue of Great Pacific. In addition to the intriguing premise of the book, Joe Harris is adding on layers of twists to the story now by the existence of nuclear warheads in the floating junkyard that the titular character is claiming for himself and the threat to the world posed by the pirates out for appropriating them. With the new printings of the earlier issues still available, it is not too late to jump on board this brewing hit.
Marvel, despite being in its 7th month of ongoing NOW! Relaunches, is also starting a major crossover storyline in the month of March, with the long talked about Age of Ultron. They are going to launch the main series with a 3 issue per month schedule as well as trying an alternative numbering scheme running parallel to the parent titles of the characters getting involved in the crossover rather than launching mini-series with the same titles. If nothing else, the preview art in the Marvel Previews booklet and many of the covers shown therein are lovely to look at. This also applies to the jaw-dropping Manara Variant cover for the launch of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel’s soon a movie-to-be franchise. We also get a great Deodato variant for the second issue of the Secret Avengers and a Tradd Moore variant addition to the winning-streak of Young Avengers variants for the issue #3. Also worthy of highlighting in my view is the gorgeous cover that announces the addition of Daniella Moonstar to the Fearless Defenders cast. It is Daniella Moonstar people! No excuse is good enough not to buy this book!
With some of the books almost reaching double digit numbers already and the number of NOW!ified books constantly rising, there is a risk that by March, some of these relaunches will start drifting down from the levels of high attention, so let me repeat the very high praise Simon Spurrier’s take on Legion in the recent X-Men Legacy is getting. And just look at this most beautiful cover to sway you to get into the world of one of the most powerful, but at the same time vulnerable and fragmented characters in the Marvel universe right now. After almost 50 pages of Marvel NOW! Books, we reach to the bunch of couple of unlucky books which were launched just before the NOW! Initiative started like Captain Marvel, Hawkeye and Daredevil which are the only books left that are called “Marvel Heroes” and than we go to licensed TV properties like Dexter and Castle, but what is that? Just after these, we have another page of “Marvel Heroes”, the page you see here with the solicitations for Dark Avengers #188 and Winter Soldier #16. This page’s placing is quite sad, it is thrown in there almost as an after thought, just before Road to Oz adaptation and the kids comics. One has to wonder, if these books are just held on to to meet a goal post of certain number of books that should be published, as they don’t seem to be getting any marketing recognition or importance.
When starting the non-premier Comics and Graphic Novels section, the first page each month is taken by a full page advertisement by Abstract Studios as they have an alphabetic advantage in placement. This month’s advertisement is showcasing the fifteenth issue of the ongoing series that they are publishing, Rachel Rising. Rachel Rising has gotten a series of mentions in the best of 2012 lists and it is a creepy story, written and illustrated by Terry Moore. What else can you ask for in an indie comic? Antarctic Press this month is also launching a Steampunk initiative, and besides the brilliantly designed Star Wars analogue of Steam Wars, we will also be getting a Victorian Secret Collection and a high adventure, spy operation story in Victorian Secret Angels: Owls of the Ironwork Isle five issue mini-series. Could steampunk be the next zombie-fad? Which transcendental beings should I make my wishes to, for them to interfere with the worldly affairs and change them in the direction that I would like?
Next up is the return of Poison Elves as Ape Entertainment claims to present a continuation of the story of the departed indie legend Drew Hayes, from the accounts and notes he has left. As the announcement was made about this series, it seemed like many held the original creations in high regards, so lets see if the new series will hold up any resonance with the current comic book reading audiences. Following that, we are going to highlight the cuteness overload of Sonic and Mega Man 12 part crossover: Worlds Collide by Archie Comics. When you see this idea, you suddenly realize that these two characters were made to crossover and share an adventure, a game, even their world; but to perhaps everyone’s surprise, this crossover is declared to be their first meeting ever. And Archie comics did not miss the opportunity presented by this ‘historic event’ in using the AvX gimmick of half colored variant covers to present Team Sonic and Team Mega Man covers too.. So, pick your side and catch them all! (oopss.. that was another thing, right?)
Continuing on to Aspen’s section, we find the second of the “10 for 10” series’ debut that they are presenting for the tenth anniversary of the company. The relaunch of the Shrugged have us returning to the characters from the original series along with new additions entering their final year in high school as forces of good and evil are going to be battling over them again. There is also an added incentive for ordering these $1 first issues in advance as you will be able to get an exclusive Jam poster featuring art from the reserved edition covers for all the titles. Ask your retailers if you still have a chance to subscribe to all ten debut issues, the first of which will be arriving stores in February. Following Aspen immediately is the Avatar Press, and I tend not to pick any title from this section as they get a lot of exposure in the site anyway, but this month they are offering the ending of the first arc for Night of the Living Dead Aftermath series with issue #6 and as a good zombie lover, it is hard to not take notice of the great looking covers with hordes of zombies lasting as far as eyes can see. Even on top of that they claim that the book is for “fans who like actual zombies in their zombie comics”. If that is not an attempt at starting a flame-war to get some attention, I don’t know what is.
This month, we also see the 200th issue landmark of the Simpsons Comics from Bongo Comics. Even with a decades long multi-billion dollar cartoon series the fans of which never seem to get tired of behind it, this kind of continuous publication needs a certain level of dedication behind it. So, congratulations to all involved and a heads up to all who enjoy Simpson so that they can own a part of this 20 year celebration comic book issue! And for a decidedly different taste, I am now going to highlight another translation from Cinebook of a French comic book hard cover. The City of Shifting Waters is a science fiction story which partly takes place in New York of 1986, which is about to get swallowed by the sea. The agents from further in the future are hunting a time-traveling criminal in the floating streets of this alternate New York which could be thought of as a cross between Looper and the Massive, which predates both.
Lets end this month’s investigation on the non-premier publishers side of the comics and graphic novels offered with two different works looking at not properly living forms of spiritual beings. The first is Kitaro by famous manga creator Shigeru Mizuki, offered by Drawn & Quarterly. Kitaro is a very cute looking one-eyed spirit monster boy, who apparently affected the cultural landscape in Japan on a large scale. Following his creation in 1959, Kitaro was many times adapted to TV shows as well as video games and films. Drawn & Quarterly is now offering a chance to meet this 350 years old spirit monster boy in the voluminous book of 423 pages for $24.95. The second book dealing with the nether realms creatures is simply called R.I.P. and is offered by Kettledrummer Books. In a quirky setting which can almost offer a follow-up on recently demised series I, Zombie various unholy inhabitants of the St. Tool Cemetery struggle with their own problems in a collection of comic strips. Even the solicitation text for this collection is inviting enough to want to give the world of R.I.P. comic strips a shot.
The books and magazines section this month has the figurine collection magazine as usual and the Marvel figures for this month is the Spider-Man 2099 and Wiccan. Both look awesome, as well as the Azrael figurine offered as a part of the DC chess collection and with increased talk about Miguel O’Hara’s immanent return in the pages of Superior Spider-Man, the Spider-Man 2099 figurine might be in high demand. March will also see the launch of Comic Book Creator magazine with perhaps the most important and prominent creator rights related story in US comics, a spotlight dossier on Jack the King Kirby. This debut of this publication is perhaps just another symptom of rising awareness on the issue of creator rights and the importance of the people who labor to bring out the best in the comic book industry.
In the trading cards section, besides the Superman: The Legend Trading Card series that I had mentioned as having an advertisement at the inner front cover fold-out, we will also be getting Marvel: Greatest Battles Trading Cards set. The promo pictures for this set has Spider-Man battling Doctor Octopus, which is now given a new weight after the recent events of Spider-Man series as well as Emma Frost in her Phoenix Five outfit going against Storm. So we can assume this series will feature many classical confrontations as well as more recent and relevant ones. At the apparel section I will once again pick a Spider-Man t-shirt to showcase and I know I come across as a little biased with my constant praise for the apparel that carries his pictures, but I can hardly imagine anyone who wouldn’t want to wear this piece of Madureira art on it. The apparel section also has an increasing attention diverted towards Green Arrow as his show takes off more and more and there are Dr. Who socks (can you believe it? Dr. Who socks!!!) in page 389 with the pictures of the most recent doctor, bow ties, tardis designs and the 4th doctor scarf long sock, that is just to die for!
The toys and models section opens with a gorgeous Atom Eve statue and a Ghostbusters Firehouse replica. However, the winner for me this month is the Darth Vader Talking Money Bank. This is just what I have always wanted, without even knowing about it! I will constantly run to the market to buy more change to have my Darth Vader breath deeply and issue commands through his mechanical interface! The biggest disappointment in this month’s toys section is that there are Django Unchained 8-Inch Action Dolls solicited, but there are no pictures of the figures shown! A Django action figure, albeit it would apparently cost $30, would be among the most bad @$$ things, wouldn’t you agree? And from the import toys section, I will showcase the DC Comics Wonder Woman New 52 ARTFX+ Statue. I know it is a little bit controversial but for the life of me, the Wonder Woman costume design with the pants looks so much more decent and beautiful. I think that Didio made the wrong call retreating from the pants after promo images for the New 52 were released. I will go on record saying the bikini suit just looks ridiculous.
In the games section this month we have new expansions released for the World of Warcraft (The Taverns of Time), Game of Thrones (A Turn of the Tide), Lord of the Rings (The Druadan Forest) and Star wars (The Desolation of Hoth Force) card games. We will also have the Teen Titans and Iron Man 3 expansions for the Heroclix. But the most interesting game offering this month seems to be the Lord of the Rings Monopoly from Usaopoly. The old favorite Monopoly never seems to get old and frankly, each new iteration picks my interest once more. This game is truly for the ages. And finally, in the DVD section, we have the second part of the Dark Knight Returns animated movie, the first collection of Ben 10 Omniverse series and the complete series of Trigun anime. But I will leave you with my DVD choice from this month’s offerings: Misfits! If you are missing this particular ingenious British TV series, now is the time to tell your comic shop to order it for you. It’s got super powers and it is British TV. You truly have got to get into this.. Don’t be the last one out.