It’s April, and down here in swampy South Carolina, that means that humidity’s on the rise and that the skies are prone to opening and unleashing monsoons at the drop of a hat, and that always puts me in mind of Al Jolson’s “April Showers,” as seen in Friz Freleng’s Curtain Razor:
They bring the flowers that bloom in May;
And if it’s raining, have no regrets,
Because it isn’t raining when you know it’s raining violets…
What does this have to do with 561 pages of comics and merchandise offered up in this month’s Previews? Well, nothing, really; I just like the song. But there’ll be plenty of time for singing later–tonight belongs to yet another round of me slugging it out with the catalog to find out what’s worth buying and what’s worth leaving out in the rain!
Tonight, the major publishers.
Dark Horse Comics
P. 32 – Conan the Cimmerian #0: Under any normal circumstances, a comic book adaptation of a poem where someone returns home after an extended absence would be about as appealing as a kick in the teeth. This, however, is a poem about Conan, and twenty-six lines of free verse by Robert E. Howard are likely to have more bloodshed and carnage than the entire Michael Bay ouvre.
As for why Dark Horse is relaunching Conan with a new series, especially right after the adjectiveless Conan hits its landmark fiftieth issue, that continues to elude me. All I know is that Tim Truman’s been doing a fantastic job with the book–a pretty mean feat, considering how hard it must be to follow up a run as solid as Busiek and Nord’s–so for me, the number on the cover only serves to make sure I’m reading them in order.
P. 36 – Herbie Archive v.1: SAINTS BE PRAISED!
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the greatest piece of news in comic book history. Longtime ISB readers might recall that, like all right-minded people, I’ve been wanting a high-quality Herbie reprint for quite some time now, and here it is, with a release date right around my birthday. So, you know. You’re welcome.
And why did I want this so much? Because these stories are a) totally awesome, and b) completely insane. That’s really all there is to it: If you haven’t read Herbie before, then trust me: it will blow your mind, and fifty bucks is a smalll price to pay for the Fat fury’s earliest (and craziest) adventures. And if you have read Herbie before, well, you’ve probably ordered it already. Viva La Popnecker!
P.60 – Umbrella Academy Mug: Not that you’d know it from looking around the house here, but I’m actually trying to cut down on the amount of comics merch that I pick up, and thanks to my collection of Marvel Toon Tumblers, I’ve got more than enough containers to suit my beverage needs. And yes: Chocolate milk does taste better when you’re drinking from a glass with the Punisher on it.
…is pretty awesome. In fact, the only way I think it’d be better is if that was written on the outside of the mug, so that you could offer it to guests and bask in their gratitude every time they took a drink.
P. 67 – Trinity #1: DC’s biggest news this month, of course, is the launch of Trinity, DC’s third year-long weekly series. Whether or not it’ll be their second good weekly series, though, is still up in the air.
And to be honest, the deck’s stacked against it. For one thing, we’re coming off of Countdown, which has gotten reviews that peak at “inoffensive” and average somewhere around “disappointing,” and while there’s no doubt that Kurt Busiek’s written some darn fine comics in the past, his recent work at DC’s left a lot to be desired. Or maybe I was the only one who was eventually bored right out of his mind by “Camelot Falls.”
But there’s another problem, too: Aside from the fact that it came out on time and was reasonably competent right up ’til the last few weeks, one of the biggest appeals of 52 was the focus on third-tier characters. It’d been a pretty long while since we’d seen Booster Gold, Steel or Animal Man doing anything worth noting, and for me at least, that helped the series to come off as a pretty fresh take. Trinity, however, is about Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, and two of those characters already have three books a month, plus one that they already appear in together. I mean really: I like those guys as much as the next guy–and since you’re reading this on my three year-old daily comics blog, I think it’s safe to say that I probably like ’em way more than the next guy–but come on, man. There’s only so much we can take.
That said, I like Busiek enough to give him the same four-issue shot that I gave to Countdown, but I’ll be surprised if I end up reading it beyond that.
P. 68 – Final Crisis #2: From the solicitation:
Meet Japan’s number one pop culture heroes, the Super Young Team and their languid leader, Most Excellent Superbat! Join legendary wrestler Sonny Sumo and super escape artist Mister Miracle as they team to face the offspring of the Anti-Life Equation!
Well, that settles it: I’m pretty excited about Final Crisis.
P. 72 – Huntress: Year One #3: I meant to mention this one when the first issue was solicited last month, but this has got to be one of the most unnecessary comic books DC’s ever published. And considering what we’ve already seen tonight, that’s saying something.
It’s not that I have anything against the team on this one, but really: We already got this. Or at least, we’ve got Batman/Huntress: Cry For Blood, which is a) a pretty definitive origin story for the Huntress, b) written by one of DC’s top writers, Greg Rucka, c) less than ten years old, and d) totally has Richard Dragon in it, and that’s good enough for me.
Unless, of course, we really do live in a world where the Huntress needs a six-issue origin story every eight years, in which case… No. That thought is far too terrifying to contemplate.
P. 90 – Manhunter #31:
P. 96 – JLA v.1 Deluxe Edition HC: Are you tired of highly affordable trade paperbacks of of gateway comics that represent the best a company has to offer? Then brother, have I got a deal for you!
Now, instead of paying a paltry eighteen dollars for the first nine issues of JLA, you can have them in hardcover for a mere $29.99! IT’S THE DEAL OF THE CENTURY!
Seriously, though: Despite the fact that I’ve owned these stories at least twice at this point, I’m totally getting this, as Morrison and Porter’s JLA represents one of the all-time great super-hero comics of all time. In fact, aside from Starman, OMAC, The Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League, the Fourth World Saga, and Suicide Squad, I can’t think of anything in the DCU that deserves the hardcover treatment more.
P. 135 – Batman Black & White: Jim Aparo: I’ve been curious to see what this thing looked like ever since they first announced that they were going to finally get around to doing a statue based on Jim Aparo’s work, and I’ve gotta say… I’m a little disappointed.
Don’t get me wrong: All things considered, this is a pretty good-looking statue, and from what I can tell in the picture, it looks like it does a nice job of capturing Aparo’s style, but as far as capturing the feel of his actual work? Not even close. After all, we’ve already got a ton of statues where Batman’s just standing around, and since Aparo mostly springs to mind for his habit of drawing Batman backhanding people so hard their faces explode…
…I think you can all guess what I was hoping for here.
P. 142 – War Heroes #1: The solicitation for this one asks if you’ve ever wondered what Mark Millar had planned for Ultimates 3, and while I’m pretty certain that said plan would’ve been “cash paychecks and wait for Hitch” like it’s always been, I can honestly say that the thought had never crossed my mind. I mean really: Once you’ve seen Captain America pull off the Flash Kick, what else is there?
That said, as much as I’ve been let down by Millar’s recent output at Marvel, I’m actually looking forward to this one. This is exactly the sort of thing that Millar excels at–you know, people with super-powers punching each other and speaking only in snappy dialogue–and Tony Harris isn’t exactly a slouch in the art department, either. I’m willing to give it a shot, even if I’m not quite sold on it.
P. 151 – Kill All Parents #1: This, however, pretty much sells itself:
A series about a government conspiracy to ensure super-powered children become heroes by engineering their tragic origin stories, written by the co-creator of the Amazing Joy Buzzards? Yes please!
Scud the Disposable Assassin: The Whole Shebang TP: Friends, the way I see it, you have a choice. IF you want to read eight hundred pages of comic books in one convenient package, you can take thirty bucks and get every issue of Scud–which, by the way, are comics from the guys who created Channel 101–or you can take three times that amount and get some crappy stories about Luke Skywalker from over on page 49.
Choose wisely, friends. I know I have.
P. 23 – Immortal Iron Fist #16: For those of you who haven’t heard yet, this issue’s going to be the last for co-writers Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction. And clearly, this is a catastophe of biblical proportions, and I can only ask why?
I mean, I know why they’re leaving. Between the two of them, they’re writing Daredevil, Captain America, Uncanny X-Men, Invincible Iron Man, Punisher War Journal, Criminal, Casanova and a couple of Thor one-shots (including one solicited this month), and while that might look like the entirety of Marvel’s publishing schedule, it’s actually only about half.
So I guess what I’m saying here is, you know, if you want some new writers, Chad and I are available.
P. 24 – Eternals #1: So apparently, Neil Gaiman’s Eternals was successful enough to spawn a new ongoing series. This, as you might already know, is pretty shocking news, since it was probably one of the most boring comic books I have ever read.
Now the original, however… That’s a comic book with the word SPACE-GODS! written right there on the cover in giant red text, and while it’s no Devil Dinosaur, “boring” is certainly not the word that springs to mind.
P. 60 – Astonishing X-Men Sketchbook: With Warren Ellis relaunching Astonishing after Joss Whedon’s run, Simone Bianchi is coming on as the new artist, complete with some new costume designs, so let’s see here.
Huh. Those are, uh… Huh. Say, Kevin, you want to handle this one?
P. 65 – Wolverine #66: So. To review.
The most important Wolverine story of the 21st Century–which, if memory serves, still has 92 more years to go–is an imaginary alternate future where Wolverine has a crewcut and looks vaguely dyspeptic, and Hawkeye–get this–is blind.
Somehow, I get the feeling that that says a lot more about Wolverine than it does about the 21st Century.
And that’s the Majors! As always, if anything caught your eye on a trip through this month’s Previews, like the resolicitation of Jonathan Hickman’s Red Mass For Mars–feel free to tell me about it in the comments section below, and be sure to join us tomorrow for a look at the indies and the merch, which includes the worst thing I have ever seen
But before then, friend of the ISB and Hector Plasm writer Benito Cereno has a request:
I’ve decided that despite my love for all of Kirby’s original creations, it is a minor tragedy that we never saw Kirby’s take on Batman. Can you imagine Kirby (let’s say 70s-era Fourth World Kirby) doing whatever he wanted with Batman? My mind reels. Some artist out there whip it up for me.
No, wait, no one listens to me. Sims, if you’re reading this, have some of your readers whip this up. People do things when you ask.
Apparently, Benito’s under the impression that people actually listen to me and do what I say, but before we disabuse him of that, I would totally want to see that too. So get to it!