Chris vs. Previews: October 2008, Round One

I probably should’ve knocked this out a couple of weeks ago, but it’s finally time to take a break from Spooktoberfest Scareabrations and shift things once again to the looming spectre of capitalism!



Yes, it’s the Previews Catalog with another five hundred pages of tricks and treats from the good folks at Diamond! Tonight, I’ll be your guide through the major publishers, so let’s get to it!



Dark Horse Comics

P.47 – Star Wars Legacy v.5: The Hidden Temple: I know I have a rule about this sort of thing, but really, every time I see this…



…the officially licensed story of Cade, the badass, tattooed, bounty-hunting descendant of Luke Skywalker who holds his lightsaber upside-down and wears Darth Vader’s pants, I just laugh and laugh.


DC Comics


P. 73 – Detective Comics #851 / Batman #684: One of the more interesting pieces of news to come out of San Diego this year was that the end of “Batman R.I.P.” was going to lead into some pretty high-profile guest writers, including Neil Gaiman and longtime Batman editor Denny O’Neil, and I’ll cop to being more than a little apprehensive about it. I’ve mentioned before that I’m always leery of seeing a writer return to a book that he defined (or that defined him), because for every time that John Ostrander comes back to Suicide Squad or Grant Morrison coming back to the JLA, there’s Mark Waid’s return to the Flash or the ‘Mont coming back to the X-Men, and the odds tend to favor the latter.

I mean, sure, it’s easy to think of Denny O’Neil as the guy who created Ra’s al-Ghul and wrote The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge and who literally wrote the book on how to write comics, but, well… He’s also the guy whose last published comics work is Azrael: Agent of the Bat, the book so bad that it finally taught me that buying every part of a crossover probably wasn’t the best use of my time. And this was after I’d gotten every issue of Our Worlds at War, so that should tell you something.


P. 81 – Action Comics #872: Man. I know I’ve been down on Geoff Johns in the past and that I’ve been planning on following his Superman run in hardcover rather than month-to-month, but hot damn!



That is Superman fighting robots alongside GI Robot and the Goddamn CREATURE COMMANDOS, who were last seen in 1983 when Paul Levitz ordered them to be blasted into space with Robert Kanigher! Seriously.


P. 85 – The Flash #247: What DC wants you to think: “Wow, what an eerie cover! Death is stalking the Flash from within his very shadow!”



What I actually think: “Man, Wally’s feet must smell terrible.”


P. 87 – Justice League of America #28: Despite the fact that I gave up on Dwayne McDuffie’s Justice League run a while back, I’m actually looking forward to this, if only for the chance that we’ll finally get some Milestone trades out of it. I’ve always wanted to read more of them than I have, but runs are notoriously hard to put together around here, and ever since I found out there was a story in Xombi where he teams up with a fighting Holy Sister called Nun of the Above, I’ve been getting downright desperate.


P. 92 – The DC Comics Classics Library: The Legion of Super-Heroes – The Life and Death of Ferro Lad SC: At this point, I own some of these stories in at least two formats, but I’m jumping onto this one for three reasons:

1. As much as I’ve been making an effort to stop re-buying things that I already have, the DC Comics Classics Library looks like it might end up being a snazzy set of reprint books, and since I’m already down for formats (which I don’t have), and if they look as nice on the shelf as the Kirby books do, it might be worth it.

2. For a comic that stretches back to the fifties, the Legion of Super-Heroes (of which I am a noted fan) is woefully underrepresented in reprints, and in order to do my part to encourage DC to print more, I buy pretty much every Legion book that comes on the market, even if it’s something I already have and not, say, a new printing of The Great Darkness Saga, which would be awesome.

3. As evidenced by my plans to collect every issue of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse: Book One, I’m a fan of books with ridiculously long titles.


P. 122 – Saga of the Swamp Thing Book One HC: And speaking of things I’m going to be re-buying…



But to be honest, I’d be getting this one even if an ex-girlfriend hadn’t totally fucking stolen kept my trades in the breakup, since it’s the first time Alan Moore’s actual first issue, #20, has been reprinted.


Image Comics


P. 142 – Phonogram 2: The Singles Club:



If you’ve been reading the ISB for a while, you might recall that last year’s Phonogram: Rue Britannia was one of my favorite mini-series in recent memory despite the fact that outside of Pulp and the Wu-Tang Clan, I didn’t know a whole heck of a lot about the music that the series was based around. Still, it was nice to get a fresh playlist with my comics every month, so everything worked out pretty well.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I found out that the sequel, a series of standalone issues presented in lurid color, is leading off with a story based around The Pipettes, the retro wall-of-sound girl group whose debut album was one of my favorite things in recent memory. Seriously, go listen to Pull Shapes.

I’ll wait.

So yeah, Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and the Pipettes. There hasn’t been a combination this great since chocolate and peanut butter. Or at least since sharks and nunchuks.


P. 148 – Armageddon Now, by Phil Hotsenpiller and Rob Liefeld:



Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahahahaah! Good one, Image.

Hm? Oh, you were serious?



Marvel Comics


And now, the entire reason why I didn’t just blow off the Previews post this month:

P. 47 – Punisher War Zone:



Garth Ennis. Steve Dillon. The Punisher. Weekly. Fuck yes.

I will admit, though, I do think it’s pretty funny that this was solicited right around the time that the trade for Valley Forge, Valley Forge–which is touted pretty heavily on the back cover as being Ennis’s final arc on the Punisher–hit the shelves, but I’m willing to deal with that one being not as final as previously advertised if it means that the team behind Welcome Back, Frank reunites for one last time. I’ve mentioned before that I felt like the Ennis run would’ve benefitted from having Dillon (who to me is the Punisher artist) come back, and with a story that ties in thematically with their first arc, there’s a good chance that it’ll give me the kind of closure I think an eight year run deserves.

Or at the very least, there’s a good chance somebody’s gonna punch a bear.


P. 71 – Wolverine: Manifest Destiny #3: I’ve heard a lot of good things about Jason Aaron over the past few months–mostly from Rachelle, who said that his run on Ghost Rider was the work of a guy who “completely understands what is awesome about the character, and it should be pretty obvious: he’s a flaming skeleton on a motorcycle“–and while I’m looking forward to picking up GR in trade, I get the feeling that this is the one that’s going to make me grab something monthly. I mean, a cover that’s an Enter the Dragon homage featuring doubles for Jim Kelly and Gordon Liu and a solicit that includes a line about how Wolverine “must make up for his mistake and somehow manage to unite all of the Kung Fu schools in the city?” I’m not made of stone here, folks.



And that does it for the majors. As always, if anything caught your eye this month, or if you just want to join my mead-swilling celebrations over Marvel finally going back to press on the Walt Simonson Thor trades, then verily, feel free to leave a comment.


Chris vs. Previews: September 2008, Round Two

You know what I like most about the merchandise section in Previews? There’s something in there for everyone.

Sure, it might look to the untrained eye like a vast wasteland that caters to the maladjusted collector of Japanese tchotchkes, but that’s just on the surface. In reality, the good people at Diamond devote the back half of their monthly catalog to servicing every niche market they can think of. Seriously, check this out:

Hey Previews! Show me what you’ve got for The Girliest Girl Who Ever Girled.



Huh. A figurine of Tinkerbell the Fairy sitting on a glittery hot pink high-heeled shoe that is decorated with rhinestones and flowers. Yep, that’ll do it.

But that’s not the only market they’re going for, and tonight, the ISB goes toe-to-toe with the small press and the merch to bring you the highlights!





P. 228 – Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #53: Yep. Those are definitely nipples in a full-page Previews ad.



Either that, or poor Crypt Chick–who is ironically the only recurring female character in the series to never appear fully nude, probably because her miniskirt and top are made of ectoplasm or something–desperately needs a new bra. But here’s the weird thing: Until Dorian pointed it out, I didn’t even notice, probably because fifty-plus issues of Tarot have almost completely desensitized me to Jim Balent’s take on the female form unless it involves spiders or octopi or something. (Yes, that’s in the issues. No, I will not scan them.)

Incidentally, when I asked Dorian if he’d mind if I covered the same thing he posted, he said he was cool with it becasue “Tarot’s sort of your thing.” And I’m not sure how i feel about that.


P. 254 – Black Terror #2: I’ve been pretty vocal about my distaste for Alex Ross’s work in the past–which is mostly based around the fact that he likes his super-heroes to look like photographs of his doughy old neighbors in ill-fitting suits, and I prefer them to look like, you know, art–but I gotta say…



…that’s the best thing he’s done since the Flash Gordon DVD.


P. 264 – Junior Escort v.1: Hey, wait a second…



“Scandalous Nights?” Wasn’t that a song by Loudness?


P. 301 – Mr. T Graphic Novel: That’s right, folks! In a move that I can only assume was designed to appeal specifically to me, Mr. T returns to comics for a third time with an all-new graphic novel, and this time oh my god he’s wearing a leather jumpsuit with a giant golden T on it and fighting supervillains.

This is going to be totally awesome.

However, I do feel that as a scholar of Mr. T comics–owning, as I do, a full run of Neal Adams’ Mr. T and the T-Force–I should point out that this is actually more an extension of T’s second foray into comics, as writer Christopher Bunting was also behind the one-issue Mr. T series that AP Comics put out back in 2005. And I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that for the brief time that it existed, that book was totally the Dark Knight Returns of the Mr. T universe.

As to whether Bunting can recapture that success in the graphic novel, I’m not sure. I just hope it’s got this in it:



P. 308 – Blue Monday: Thieves Like Us #1: No joke for this one, just a reminder for anyone who may have missed it that there’s going to be a new round of Chynna Clugstons’ Blue Monday, which I quite like despite the distinct lack of shark-punching. There is, however, hooliganism, unrequited love from at least four parties, and other various shennanigans that make it read like the best teen movie never filmed, so it all balances out in the end.




P. 403 – GI Joe Mighty Muggs: Okay, I’ve mentioned before that aside from the 25th Anniversary GI Joes and Legos, I’ve been trying to cut down on buying toys that I really don’t need, but seriously?



It doesn’t even matter whether I want to buy these or not. It’s just going to happen. I can try to resist, but eventually, I’m going to come out of a fugue state and see the most adorable Cobra Commander ever menacing Yotsuba on my bookshelf. If only there was someone who could end his super-deformed reign of terror! Someone of similar scale that offered change I could believe in!


P. 436 – Barack Obama Action Figure:



Ah, there we go. Crisis averted.


P. 449 – To Heart 2 – Another Days – Nanako-Chan Sukumizu Ani*Statues White Regular Edition & Black Limited Edition:




And that’s Previews. As always, if anything caught your eye this month, feel free to mention it in the comments section below.

In the meantime, I’ll be trying to figure out if even the combined might of Beta Ray Bill, Jimmy Olsen and Mighty Mugg Snake Eyes could stop the juggernaut of terror that is… Cardbo.

Chris vs. Previews: September 2008, Round One

It’s that time again!



Yes, it’s September–and has been for like two weeks, but come on: we can’t all be Mike Sterling–and that means that Fall is roaring right in with another five hundred pages of crap you don’t need with the Previews Catalog! And while the deadline for getting your order in technically passed last Saturday, I’ve finally roused myself from the Odinsleep to help inform your purchases once again.

As usual, we’ll be hitting the back half of the catalog tomorrow, but tonight belongs to the major publishers! Onward!



Dark Horse Comics

P. 26 – The Umbrella Academy: Dallas: Now that the shock from getting one of last year’s best miniseries out of a full-time rockstar who sketched his own character designs while touring has worn off and we’re basking to bask in the glow of its two shiny new Eisner Awards (including one for artist Gabriel Ba, who we all already knew was awesome), I feel that I can safely say that I am crazy excited about the second Umbrella Academy series.

Under other circumstances, I’d probably be a little more skeptical, but here, the nagging doubt over whether or not the second arc can live up to the fun and surprise of the first doesn’t even come into play. Everything that we’ve seen outside of Apocalypse Suite–the FCBD and the MySpace DHP stories–has been top-notch enjoyable comics that point to the fact that Way and Ba are far from done with these characters, and with the promise that “this is the story that will change absolutely nothing,” it’s all ready looking pretty sharp.

And it has an Abe Lincoln cover. So you know I’m in.


P. 37 – Buffy the Vampire Slayer #20: Ooh boy.

On the one hand, aside from the loathsome centaurs, I actually have been enjoying the Buffy comics quite a bit, and I’ve always been curious about the never-produced Buffy animated series, so this would seem like a natural fit.

But on the other, I’d rather do my own dental work with a corkscrew and a packet of salt than read another comic written by Jeph Loeb.

Decisions, decisions.


DC Comics


P. 62 – Sgt. Rock: The Lost Batallion #1: When I first heard at HeroesCon that there was going to be a Sgt. Rock series done by Billy Tucci–probably best known as the creator of Shi–I was pretty skeptical, and I’ll admit that I might’ve been a little unfair. I mean, I’ve never actually read a comic by Tucci, and I base most of my opinion of him on his covers and an interview I read when I was a teenager where he said that Shi wasn’t like the other “Bad Girls” of the early ’90s because her costume wasn’t built around sexiness.

For the record, Shi looks like this:



So there’s that.

Really, though, I’m actually pretty excited about this one. I can’t speak for his writing as I’ve never read it, but Tucci’s not a bad artist, and apparently he’s very passionate about the project, having done a ton of research to the point where he was at the Diamond Retailer Summit with actual veterans of the Big One, and I like Sgt. Rock more than enough to give it a shot. I’ve gotta say, though, as nice as this is…



…it doesn’t really look like Frank Rock to me. It might just be that I’m hung up on Joe Kubert’s definitive version, but while the guy above sure fits the bill of the lantern-jawed soldier, he’s a little too handsome to be the grizzled topkick of Easy Company. In my head, Rock should look like… well, like a Rock: Craggy, weatherbeaten and hard as chiseled granite. That’s a guy you can picture beating Nazis to death with an ammo belt.

EDIT: Check out the comments section below for a few words from writer/artist Billy Tucci, who stopped by to let me know that the image above isn’t actually the final cover for #1. You can find more information and images at the book’s Facebook page–yes: Sgt. Rock has a Facebook page–but if you’re a non-booker like me, here they aret:




Thanks again, Billy! (And thanks Ken for grabbing the pics from Facebook)


P. 70 – Batman: Cacophony: You know, for as much as I consider myself a former fan of Kevin Smith’s who was burned once too often–because seriously, Spider-Man/Black Cat is one of the worst written comics I’ve read in my life–I’ll cop to having a soft spot for Onomatopoeia, the completely bat-shit insane villain from the tail end of his run on Green Arrow. It’s not just that a he’s a villain who walks around murdering people while saying the sound effect caused by the murders out loud–although the fact that we’re supposed to take this guy as a credible threat to Green Arrow, let alone Batman, makes him ripe with comedic potential right off the bat–but that he’s presented so dead serious in the story that he reads like one of the later-era “dark reimaginings” of a goofy Silver Age villain (see: Geoff Johns’s coke-snortin’ Mirror Master) without ever having actually been one.

So yeah, I’ll admit to being a little curious about how this one’s going to work out, and like everyone else, I’ve noticed that DC went out of their way to subtly assure us that it was going to actually come out by putting photographs of both scripts in the DC Nation column, so–

Hm? Yeah, I said both scripts. Why?

Oh, this thing’s three parts? Well hell. See you in three years then, Onomatopoeia.


P. 71 – All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #11: Oh, hey, that reminds me! I never got around to reading and reviewing the issue that came out last week. All right, let’s see here…


Oh dear.

Oh dear.


P. 76 – Guardian of Metropolis Special #1: You know, as much as I love Jack Kirby, I was really hoping when I read the title that this was going to be the long-awaited return of this guy:



Sure, Jim Harper’s a great character and getting his origin is all well and good, but Jake Jordan fought the Subway Pirates of the S.S. President Clinton. Come on, DC. Get your head in the game.


P. 77 – Superman and Batman vs. Vampires and Werewolves #3-4: You know, I was going to make fun of this one when the first two issues were solicited last month, but when I finally got around to them, I just couldn’t, and it wasn’t ’til I was talking to Rachelle about them that I figured out why. She said she liked it because it was “just so pure,” and that’s exactly it. You can’t make fun of this thing because it’s already a comic book where Superman and Batman fight vampires and werewolves that is called Superman and Batman vs. Vampires and Werewolves. There’s no criticism that you can possibly level at this thing that isn’t already addressed right there in the title. They’ve made this fucker bulletproof.

It’s like they hired the guy who writes taglines for DMP or something.


P. 89 – Legion of Super-Heroes: The More Things Change TP: Hot damn! I guess the sales on An Eye For An Eye–which seriously has like three of the most badass moments in comics history–were strong enough to get another shot! Admittedly, odds are that we’re never going to get the entire 1984 run in trade–although it’d be great if we did–but at this point, I’m just glad to get more of it.


Sandman: The Dream Hunters #1: So: the illustrated prose story that was based on a comic is now being adapted into a comic itself. Yeah, sorry Vertigo, but if you wanted to take advantage of the post-Sandman Gaimania that caused me to buy Neverwhere in three different formats, that ship sailed about three years ago.

Still getting those Absolutes, though.


Image Comics

P. 144 – Hector Plasm: Totentanz One-Shot: Here’s something you might not know about Friend of the ISB Benito Cereno. He is very tall.

Seriously, when I finally met him at HeroesCon after a while of being friends online (interpals), I was a little shocked to find out that he’s a tower of a man who delighted small children by performing feats of strength and ate flapjacks the size of truck tires for breakfast. Admittedly, I usually take the pretty myopic route of assuming that the world’s built to the scale of guys who are 5’11” and spend a lot of time on the Internet, but seriously: Guy’s tall.

I tell you this because I assume that you already know the rest of the story about Benito: That he’s the incredibly talented young writer who brought you the unsung classic Tales From the Bully Pulpit with Grame Macdonald, a bonus story in the second Dr. McNinja trade, and the even more unsung but equally classic Hector Plasm: De Mortuis with Nate Bellegarde, featuring some of the sharpest ghost stories in comics. And knowing that, you would’ve already ordered this…



…the new Hector Plasm one-shot that’ll be hitting shelves just after Halloween. And of course you’ve done that, because you’re cool.

You… you are cool, right?


P. 145 – The Amazing Joy Buzzards v.2: Monster Love: When the new Amazing Joy Buzzards trade came out a while back, I initially passed on it–as an OG AJB fan, I’ve got the original trades–but when I actually saw the darn thing, the packaging on it was so nice that I’ve been considering upgrading to the new one ever since, even though I really ought to stop re-buying things that I already own.

With this, however, no debate is necessary as it’s listed as an OGN, which means that there’s all-new fun from the greatest rock band in comics and their mythical luchadore companion coming soon. And that is awesome.


Marvel Comics


P. 17 – Amazing Spider-Man #578: Oh snap.



This issue’s going to have Spider-Manlifting heavy wreckage… by Mark Waid and Marcos Martin. Could there be another comic so well-suited to my particular tastes?!


P. 25 – Captain America #44: Huh. I guess there could!



I’d just like to point out that this is a cover set up with a “mirror image” motif, which means that when Eisner-Nominated artist Steve Epting had to pick something that was exactly as powerful and threatening as a nuclear warhead, he chose Batroc Ze Leapair. Rock on, Steve. Rock on.


Ms. Marvel Special: Storyteller: She’s not someone that I spend a lot of my free time loathing–like, say, Wonder Man–but I’ve never been a big fan of Ms. Marvel, and while I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of Machine Man and Sleepwalker in Brian Reed’s run on her book, I’ve found that my interest pretty much evaporates whenever it starts to focus on its title character.

That said, even with the fact that Carol Danvers is on the cover of this thing wearing what appears to be a corset made entirely of belts, I’m almost tempted to pick it up based entirely on the presence of Pirate Punisher. Does he punish pirates? Is he the Punisheer? Frank Castle on the Forecastle? So many possibilities!


P. 107 – Thor: Man of War: Yeah. That’s about right.



And that takes care of the majors. If anything caught your eye this month–or more importantly, if you want to talk about whether Matt Fraction’s just going to give in and do a Thor one-shot based on the music of AxeWülf–feel free to let me know about it in the comments section below. Now if you’ll excuse me, the new episode of SBCG4AP dropped this week, and I still haven’t played it.

Chris vs. Previews: August 2008, Round Two

Just in case any of you have ever doubted my commitment to the ISB, I’d like to point out that while the first Herbie Archive came out today, I am not currently reading it. Instead, I am spending my evening guiding you through the part of the Previews catalog that includes things like this:



Never doubt that I love you all.

Of course, Ken Lowery claims that my love comes from a passive-aggressive sense of guilt and entitlement, but what the hell does he know? All that matters right now is that we’ve got this month’s Indy Press and Merchandise sections to get through!





P. 201 – Archie Americana Series v.9: Best of the ’90s: “So this’ll be, what, twelve pages long?”

This joke sent in by young Dorian Wright of Ventura, CA! Thanks, Dorian!


P. 203 – Pals-n-Gals Double Digest #126: Okay, look: The “Realistic Style”–which, when you get right down to it, is no more realistic than the DeCarlo/Scarpelli style, it just has more lines–for the Archie books has got to stop. When it was just the Betty & Veronica story, it was fine; if nothing else, it at least broke up the monotony a little bit, but the charm started to wear off once we got into the saga of Jughead and the unfortunately named Sandy Sanchez.

Now, though, there’s an even bigger problem as they shift it over to a story about Moose and Midge, because when you try to translate the goofy, dumb expressions that come across so easily in the classic style, you end up with something like this:



And really, I’m trying to be delicate here, but I’m pretty sure the image we’ve got is not the one they intended.


P. 233 – The Corps #0: This might just be really funny to me and Chad, but does anybody else think it’s hilarious that when Devil’s Due lost the license to GI Joe, they picked up the rights to the other 3.75″ military figure knockoffs that you can find warming pegs at your local Wal-Mart?

Seriously, that takes enough pure moxie that I want to read this thing just to see if the Corps is going to be duking it out with Serpent Sergeant and his weapons suppliers, Wreckto and the Duchess!


P. 264 – Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files: Storm Front #1: Unlike the second Anita Blake series, which I’m facing down with the resolve of a man who knows he’s got a dirty job that somebody’s gotta do, I’m actually–and bear with me because this is a new and unfamiliar feeling–looking forward to this one, having throughly enjoyed both the first Dresden comic and the novel on which the new one’s based quite a bit.

One thing I’m curious about, though: Butcher’s listed as the sole writer of “Welcome to the Jungle”–which was another reason I was surprised at how well that series was paced–but with this issue, he’s got a cowriter in Mark Powers, who may or may not be the same guy who wrote “World War III” in GI Joe: America’s Elite. I think it’s safe to assume that Powers is probably handling the adaptation, but I wonder how involved Butcher’s going to be on this one. If only there was someone at Dabel Brothers who could answer my questions!


P. 275 – DMP’s Monthly Yaoiganza: And while we’re on the subject of things that are funny only to me, I caught this one when I was flipping through the Yaoi solicitations the other day…



…and then could not stop reading the title to the tune of Snoop Dogg’s Sexual Eruption, which made it even more hilarious than it already is.


P. 315 – Labor Days v.1: This is descibed in the solicitation as being for people who like The Big Lebowski, with art by a storyboard artist on The Venture Brothers.

Oh, Oni Press. You do know how to sell me comics.


P. 342 – Street Fighter II Turbo #1: Considering that they’re based almost entirely around people kicking each other in the face and shooting fireballs made of pure willpower out of their hands, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anybody that I actually do enjoy Ken Siu-Chong’s Street Fighter comics, and I’ll confess that I’m pretty excited about the fact that Udon has decided to take a cue from the game and title their third SF series Street Fighter II Turbo. I can only hope this means that we’ll eventually get stuff like Street Fighter v.7: Street Fighter II EX Plus Alpha, followed by Street Fighter v.8: Street Fighter 3.




P. 388 – Bat-Manga!: Holy shit, you guys!



If October rolls around and they find me with my head blown off, dead of sheer lunatic awesome, this would be why.




P. 486 – Rachelle Fine Art Bust: Okay, it’s nice and all, but…



…it doesn’t really look a whole lot like Rachelle, does it?

SPECIAL BONUS HILARITY FROM THE SOLICITATION: “While many of the Yamashita creations are tagged with the “CUTE & EROTIC” phrase, but RACHELLE is best described as “SIMPLE & INNOCENT.”



And on that bit of Comics Blogger Internet in-jokery, I think it’s time to call it a night. As always, feel free to discuss anything that caught your eye in the comments section below.

If you can stop discussing the debut of Señor Frowny Pumpkin, that is. Dude’s gonna break this Internet in half.

Chris vs. Previews: August 2008, Round One

We’re getting close to the end of Summer, and as my birthday fades over the horizon, you can all finally stop worrying about what you’re going to buy for me, and go back to thinking about what you’re going to get for yourselves.

Well, until Christmas, anyway.



And really, what better place is there to spend all that hard-earned scratch on stuff you don’t need than within the Previews catalog? Once again, I’ll be your guide through its five-hundred plus pages, and tonight, we start with the major publishers!



Dark Horse Comics


P. 26 – Hellboy: In the Chapel of Moloch: This is probably the biggest news to come from Dark Horse this month–and it’d definitely be the best if not for the solicit on p. 37–but after three years, I’m crazy excited to see Mike Mignola back to writing and drawing a full-length Hellboy story.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m one of the apparent few that doesn’t mind Mignola’s shift from writer/artist to just plain writer all that much, if for no other reason than it means we get new, totally awesome stories of his BPRD universe at least once a month. A lot of that probably has to do with the fact that there are a lot of really talented folks like Guy Davis and Richard Corben handling the art, but it doesn’t hurt that Mignola–and cowriters like John Arcudi and Joshua Dysart–knows how to put together a darn good story.

That said, Hellboy is and always will be Mike Mignola’s book, and since seeing him do short stories was enough to get me to buy the Dark Horse Books four years in a row, I’m looking forward to it.


P. 37 – Harvey Comics Classics v.5: The Harvey Girls: Or as Dr. K and I like to call it, Richie Rich’s Bitches.


P. 37 – Proof That We Are Living In The Best Of All Possible Worlds:



As you read this, the first Herbie Archive should be hitting shelves at finer comic book stores everywhere, and I am not exaggerating one bit when I say that it is without question one of the greatest, funniest and most under-appreciated comic books of all time. I’d hesitate to call it a surrealist masterpiece because that’s awfully pretentious for what’s essentially a silly comic about a fat kid and his magical lollipops, but when even the Wikipedia article reads like something out of a fever dream, you know you’re onto something.

Something like Herbie’s Bee Pants:



It is truly amazing, and it warms my heart to see that we’re getting another collection.


DC Comics


P. 71 – Batman Confidential #22: Okay, folks: I like Batman as much as the next guy–or let’s be honest here, way, way more than the next guy–but I think it’s pretty safe to say that I’d be perfectly fine if I never got another “Year One”-era story.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Year One and I fully understand the appeal of doing stories with a younger Batman that hasn’t yet become the super-competent vigilante we all know, and I’ll admit that Matt Wagner’s recent Y1-style books were phenomenally entertaining, but come on. At this point, we’ve had Year One itself, the Wagner books, Long Halloween, Dark Victory, “Year One” mini-series for the Scarecrow, Ra’s al-Ghul and Two Face, and a 179 issues of Legends of the Dark Knight. I think it’s pretty well-covered.

Now if we could just move–hang on, this one’s a Year One Joker story written by Andrew Kriesberg? Andrew Kriesberg who wrote HELEN KILLER?! SERIOUSLY?!

Dude, I am there.


P. 74 – Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen Special: To be perfectly honest here, I cannot imagine a scenario in which I would care less about the whole “New Krypton” thing–as much as I love the Silver Age, I’m one of those people who thinks that the Last Son of Krypton actually does work better when he’s the LAST Son of Krypton–but a Jimmy Olsen special by James Robinson, who, having now revived both Atlas and Codename: Assassin, seems dead set on bringing back every single character who ever appeared in First Issue Special? That sounds awesome, if only because it’s one step closer to the inevitable Jimmy Olsen/Green Team crossover featuring the Dingbats of Danger Street.

It’s the comic I was born to write, folks.


P. 79 – Manhunter #35: Hang on for a second while I grab the Nerd Hat… Ah, there we go. Okay, so the solicitation for this issue says that “Kate uses the Fed’s own weapons against them.” Now, do they mean that she uses the Feds’ own weapons against them, or is Manhunter going to start fighting crime by adjusting interest rates? Will she finally be ending the Motley Fool’s reign of terror?


P. 87 – The Spirit Archives v.26: No joke for this one, I just wanted an excuse to post this cover:



I get the feeling this Will Eisner kid’s gonna go far in this business.


Top Ten Season Two #1: Top Ten is without question one of my favorite comics ever, but when I first heard that DC was bringing it back without Alan Moore, my reaction was… Well, pretty much the same as the last time they brought back Top Ten without Alan Moore: Complete disinterest. I mean, sure, even the most die-hard purist would have to admit that there are in fact good comics that Moore didn’t write, but when it’s something that he created, the old magic just isn’t there.

Of course, that was before I actually sat down, read the solicit, and found out that while Moore wasn’t involved, the original art team of Gene Ha and Zander Cannon was back, with Cannon moved over to scripting duties. And really, that’s a heck of a lot more exciting.

I mean, hell… It worked for Swamp Thing.


Image Comics


P. 147 – Jack Staff #21: Oh for… Who got Ian Churchill all over my Paul Grist?!



Okay, okay, to be fair, as weird as it is to see Staff & Co. drawn by someone who isn’t Paul Grist–especially someone about as far from his distinctive style as you can get–Churchill actually does a pretty good job here. Jack himself is a little off, with the lanky form that Grist gives him replaced by a standard Super-Hero physique, but his Alfred Chinard is dead on, and he even resisted the urge to tart up everyone’s favorite Vampire Reporter.

And for the guy who drew Supergirl with an 8:1 midriff to miniskirt area ratio, that’s saying something.


Marvel Comics


P. 3 – Ender’s Game: First Series #1: Hey, here’s an idea: Fuck you too, Orson Scott Card.


P. 8 – Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse Book One #1: And moving on to an author that–believe it or not–I have slightly less antipathy for,



For those of you just joining us, I have something of a history with the Anita Blake comics, to the point where there’s a good chance that Anita’s “pointing a gun at the reader” cover is aimed squarely at me. But rest assured, the ISB Research Department takes its charges very seriously and will not be deterred from its appointed task, no matter how ridiculously long the title of this series gets.

You hear that, Framingham? Don’t sing it. Bring it.


P. 17 – Amazing Spider-Man #573: For me, one of the most enjoyable things about the “Brand New Day” Spider-Man stories is an emphasis on bringing in new villains, and it’s nice to see that Dan Slott and John Romita Jr. are keeping that up with this issue, where they debut the latest and greatest threat that the web-slinger’s ever faced:




What is the secret of his terrible power?!


P. 44 – Marvel Adventures Super-Heroes #4: As though it wasn’t enough that he was bringing back Devil Dinosaur in the pages of Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four this month–yes: MARVEL ADVENTURES DEVIL DINOSAUR is finally happening–Paul Tobin is also scripting an issue whose solicitation includes this:

When Klaw, the Master of Sound, forms a country and western band,

That’s it. I don’t even have to finish the sentence to know I want to read that comic.


P. 46 – Marvel Zombies 3 #1: When I first heard that there was another sequel to Marvel Zombies coming out that wasn’t going to be written by Robert Kirkman, my reaction was pretty much the same as it was when I heard about the new Top Ten: I was willing to write it all off as Marvel wringing the last drop of blood from a decidedly dry stone, and while Kirkman’s own Dead Days and MZ2 strayed from what made the original book so fun for me (which, oddly enough, was preserved in John Layman’s shockingly enjoyable Army of Darkness vs. Marvel Zombies), the change to a new writer seemed like another nail in the proverbial coffin.

Then–and stop me if you’ve heard this one–I saw the solicitation with a cover that’s actually meant to be an homage from noted swipehack Greg Land and found out that the series is being written by Fred “Action Philosophers” Van Lente and would appear to be about a chainsaw-armed Nextwave-era Machine Man fighting zombies in the Nexus of All Realities.

And I’m not gonna lie: that sounds awesome.



And that wraps it up for the majors. As always, I’ll be back tomorrow to go through the small press and merchandise, which this month features an item inspired by the comics blogger internet! In the meantime, if anything caught your eye in this month’s solicitations, feel free to mention it below.

Chris vs. Previews: July 2008, Round Two

You guys have probably figured this out by now, but I’m hardly theonly guy who blogs his way through Previews every month, and while the fact that I’m lazy means that I get to it a little later than everyone else (except, you know, Kevin Church, who stumbles in half drunk somewhere around the 20th every month), there are occasionally jokes that I don’t get to before someone else does them.

This month, though, I took steps to fix that, by trading my rights to the t-shirt section for page 501, which includes this gem:



Allow me to put on my Nerd Hat here for a minute just to say that that is an extremely inaccurate Batgirl costume. And yes, I realize that this is not really the point, but when you’re dealing with the kind of people who are going to be impressed by a sexy Batgirl costume that you buy through fucking Previews, this is the thought that’s going to go through their head. I mean really, at this point you should just be dressing up as A Sexy Girl. I assure you, we won’t mind.

And there are three more where that came from.

But they’re gonna have to wait their turn, as tonight, the ISB gets through the back half of this month’s Previews, starting with the indies and slugging its way all the way through to the merch!





P. 186 – Al Jaffee’s Tall Tales: I’m the sort of guy whose love of MAD Magazine is at the point where I’ll happily drop a hundred and fifty bucks on a slipcased hardcover of Don Martin strips, so I might not be the most objective guy to take your cues from on this one. So needless to say, I’m crazy excited about this one.

Like a lot of people, my love of creators like Al Jaffee comes exclusively from MAD, where he’s been an incredible innovator, and getting the chance to see stuff that he’s done that I’ve never seen before–especially when it’s a concept as nifty as a book of vertically oriented newspaper strips with an introduction by Stephen Colbert–is pretty thrilling.


P. 188 – Manga Shakespeare: Macbeth: Back before I dropped out of college to spend more time thinking about Cobra Commander, I was studying for a degree in English Literature, and Macbeth was always my favorite Shakespeare play. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anybody, since it’s not only the shortest of the great tragedies, but since it opens with witches, closes with a duel atop a castle’s battlements and features liberal helpings of murder, hallucinations and revenge in between, it’s pretty much the action movie of the 17th Century. That said…



…I totally missed the part where he’s a bare-chested samurai with a katana in each hand in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo. Dr. K has a lot to answer for.


P. 190 – Jesus Hates Zombies: Okay, let’s get one thing straight here: Zombies are played. They’re over. They’re done. We do not need to see them anymore, my annual Halloween viewing of the video for “Thriller” notwithstanding. And even more played out than the undead is the comic book where Jesus fights the undead, especially after Loaded Bible, which was really just Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter without the songs or the charm.

That said, this looks… Well, it looks pretty awesome. Yeah, it’s Jesus fighting zombies, but Jesus fighting zombies with Lazarus as his zombie sidekick alongside a time traveling Abraham Lincoln who fights werewolves? That’s the story I wanted to read so badly that I made it the plot of the third Solomon Stone novel! So yeah, I’m getting it. At best, it’ll be as good as a story like that has the potential to be, and at worst, it’s another one for the Lincoln Covers Collection.


P. 217 – Vincent Price Presents #1: I’m not sure if Vincent Price is really the draw that he was at the time of, say, The Thirteen Ghosts of Scooby Doo, but I will say this: If this comic came with one of those sound-chip things that they have in greeting cards now so that every time you opened it, you heard the guy who played him on that episode of Yacht Rock say “It is I, Vincent Price, the ac-tor!”, they would sell at least one more copy.


P. 268 – The Monthly Parade of DMP Yaoi:



Yeah, I’m pretty sure that love attacks of any kind are profoundly illegal.


P. 314 – Crogan’s Vengeance: I’ve mentioned it before, but I got a chance to meet Chris Schweizer and see a little bit of Crogan’s Vengeance at HeroesCon, and I’ve got to say, it’s been a long time since I’ve been this excited about a brand new comic book. And with good reason: Not only does Oni have a pretty good track record when it comes to historical adventure books–what with Scott Chantler’s extremely entertaining Northwest Passage–and not only does Schweizer’s work just look very good, but the amount of research and preparation he’s committed to for the project is incredibly impressive.

For those of you who don’t know the deal, Crogan’s Vengeance is the first in a series of sixteen graphic novels that will each focus on one member of the Crogan Family throughout history. First up is “Catfoot” Crogan, a reluctant pirate, but Schweizer has the Family Tree he’s working from up on his blog, and considering that it includes a gunfighter, a private eye and ninja, he’s already got the seeds of some great adventure stories. Add to that the fact that Oni’s going for a presentation that’s along the lines of a classic adventure novel, and it looks like something that’s just awesome in every way.

There’s more information at Schweizer’s website, as well as a link to a 26-page preview that confirms my best hopes for the series. Give it a read.


P. 359 – The Drifting Classroom v.1: Take note: This is not actually a prequel manga that functions as a sort of Muppet Babies version of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.

And I got my hopes up so high.


P. 430 – Shaw Brothers Series 1 7-Inch Action Figures: I do not need these.



I mean, sure, I wasn’t even this tempted to break my embargo on Non-Joe toys with last month’s Lemmy Kilmister figure, but I do not need these. Not even if they have Hai Tao from The Kid With The Golden Arm who gains unstoppable kung-fu power when he’s drunk and oh man there’s a 36th Chamber of Shaolin figure with a three-section staff! I gotta get–no!

No. I do not need these.

Even if they would look awesome next to Yotsuba.


P. 501 – Secret Wishes Costumes: And thus, we are brought back full circle, and while the costumes on this page pretty much speak for themselves–and they’re the same ones you can find just about anywhere that sells Halloween costumes–I think there’s an important lesson we can take away from this: If you’re going to dress up as a Sexy Super-heroine for Halloween, then remember that the sexiest detail is accuracy.

Well, accuracy and fishnet stockings. There’s a reason two members of the Justice League wear ’em, folks.

Still, there is one other costume here that I think is worth mentioning, and that is V:



Not for the costume itself, but for the way the model’s holding his knives, which makes it look like he’s saying “Yeeeeeeah, Boyeeee! V’s in the house!”



And that’s it. As always, if anything caught your eye this month, feel free to mention it in the comments section. As for me, I’m heading to sleep, because really: once you’ve gotten to The Man From Room V quoting Flavor Flav, where else can you go?

Chris vs. Previews: July 2008, Round One

We’re well into the depths of summer at this point, and where I live, that means that it’s possible to have a heat wave and a monsoon at the same time. No matter where you are, though, the dawning of a new month means another five hundred pages of stuff that you don’t really need!



That’s right, folks: It’s time once again for another two-fisted tour of what’s what in July’s Previews. Tonight, it’s the Major Publishers!



Dark Horse Comics


P. 26 – Solomon Kane #1: Despite the fact that I picked up a copy of The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane when Del Ray was doing all the nice paperback Robert E. Howard books, I’ve never actually read a story with the character. I have, however, heard him consistently described as “Puritan Conan,” and since the Amazon keywords for the above include phrases like “dark pallor,” “cleft skull,” “long rapier,” and “Tower of Death,” I think there’s probably some potential there.

Either way, I’m looking forward to it. I’m a pretty big fan of Howard’s more famous creation, especially what Dark Horse has done with him under Solomon Kane writer Scott Allie, Conan‘s former editor, and with a pretty entertaining Kane story up on MySpace Dark Horse Presents, it looks like it’ll be well worth reading.


P. 36 – Buffy the Vampire Slayer #18: So hey, remember that time there was an issue of Buffy where the cover was Faith wearing nothing but a scanty campfire, and we all thought that there was no way they could do a cover that was more exploitative or directed at a narrower fetish market?

Well congratulations, Dark Horse…



…you have hit a new low.


DC Comics


P. 58 – DC Universe: Decisions #1: Okay, look: I want to make it clear that I’m saying this as someone who has bought and enjoyed pretty much every book DC’s put out with Bill Willingham’s name on it. Fables? Proposition Player? Thessaly? Love ’em. Wouldn’t trade ’em for the world.

But this, a series exploring the political spectrum of the DCU co-written with Judd Winick, who gives the leftist perspective? This sounds like the worst idea I have ever heard.

Seriously, think of the worst idea in comics that you can. Electric Blue Superman. The Clone Saga. Nightcat. Letting Dave Campbell actually write a comic book. This sounds worse.


P. 62 – Ambush Bug Year None #3: So last week when I was going through Previews the first time and I saw this cover…



…I made an offhand comment in an email to bitterandrew, which led to us and a few other people spending the next few hours discussing the intricate relationship map that connects The Inferior Five and Angel & the Ape to the rest of the DC Universe (see, I’d thought Angel O’Day and Dumb Bunny were cousins, but they’re actually half-sisters).

And that, my friends… is what home feels like.


P. 83 – Jack Kirby’s The Demon Omnibus: FUCK YEAH!



When you get right down to it, that’s all that really needs to be said about another Kirby collection, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that we can all thank Dr. K for this one. For those of you who missed the story the first eighteen times we told it, I’ll explain:

Last year at HeroesCon, Dr. K and I went to the DC Nation panel and, despite the fact that we were told “no plans at this time” to everything we asked for, they all ended up coming out. My requests were the last two unpublished Bob Haney stories (which were later released in Teen Titans: The Lost Annual and Saga of the Super-Sons) while he asked for more Kirby collections along the same lines as the Fourth World books. Now, I’m not saying that DC has decided to take their publishing cues directly from us or anything, but if next year rolls around and we’ve got a Sugar & Spike collection and a Steve Ditko omnibus, you know who to thank.


Image Comics


P. 140 – Youngblood: Bloodsport #1 and 2: Believe it or not, I’m not going to make any value judgments about this comic book tonight, because in this rare instance, I feel like it’s my duty to provide facts instead of opinions to make you a more well-informed consumer. With that in mind, I’d just like to point out that the first issue of Bloodsport (which originally came out like three years ago from one of Rob Liefeld’s nine or ten failed companies) features a scene where the guy on the cover, “Shaft,” fights the zombie corpses of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.

Yes, really.

Yes. Really.


Marvel Comics


P. 8 – Marvel Illustrated: The Odyssey #1: According to Previews, the Odyssey is an epic poem written by Alexandre Dumas. This is not technically true, but considering that last month, they said that Chris Ware is “probably best known as the drummer for the Replacements” (p. 329), and that Tarot is “female-empowering,” it’s at least a step in the right direction.


P. 12 – Ultimate Spider-Man #126: Now, I stopped reading Ultimate Spider-Man at about the time that the dialogue went from “repetitive” to “atrocious” and the instances of Peter crying in his basement instead of going out with his hot girlfriend spiked, but if there was one phrase that could get me back into it, I think “Silver Sable and her Wildpack on his gooey trail” is its exact opposite.


P. 44 – Deadpool #1: Here’s something that’s not going to shock anyone: I’m actually a pretty big fan of Deadpool. Or at least, I like Deadpool when he’s being written by Joe Kelly or Gail Simone or making wisecracks in Ultimate Alliance. Outside of that pretty narrow area, however, he tends to go from “highly amusing” to “unbearable” pretty quick.

Still, I think there’s a place in this crazy world of ours for an action-comedy about a disfigured mercenary who makes pop culture jokes while murdering people like a highly lethal installment of Best Week Ever, so this one’s got me torn. On the one hand, Daniel Way writes what is unquestionably Marvel’s funniest title, Wolverine Origins, and his stuff on Ghost Rider was always good for a laugh, too. On the other, I’m pretty sure that Wolverine Origins isn’t actually supposed to be funny, despite the fact that it’s a comic about Wolverine wandering around with a Katana fighting his long-lost bone-clawing fauxhawked son, Dokken, or Daken or whatever. Decisions, decisions.


P. 91 – Punisher Omnibus v.1: Okay, seriously Marvel, what the hell?

Don’t get me wrong here: I love the Punisher, and the first Garth Ennis mini-series is a personal favorite, which should be obvious to anyone who has ever seen this website, but soliciting a hardcover that collects the first mini-series and Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe (and another big chunk of the eight-year Ennis run) ONE MONTH AFTER new versions of Welcome Back Frank and PKTMU? For real?!


P. 99 – X-Men: Magik – Storm & Illyana Premiere HC: And while we’re on the subject of things I have trouble understanding, there’s this:



I realize that I’m in a difficult position to comment on this one, seeing as I’d buy a Wild Dog Omnibus in a heartbeat, but… it’s just… Really?

I mean, I thought it was weird when they gave the Premiere Hardcover treatment to Kitty Pryde and Wolverine, and that one’s at least got Wolverine in it, but this… is there anyone who has been demanding a high-end reprint of Magik?! Hell, is anyone even demanding a reprint of it? Because I’m pretty sure that any place with a quarter bin can hook you up with the entire series for about one twenty-fifth of what the hardcover’s gonna set you back. I mean, Secret Wars and Infinity Gauntlet are out of print right now, but there’s gonna be a premiere hardcover of Magik.

And even weirder: The hardcover for Marvel Boy–which actually does need to come back in print, especially with another Grant Morrison/JG Jones book that people are interested in–has to share a page with Kevin Smith’s Daredevil. Magik, however, gets a page all to itself.



And on that overly disbelieving note, I’m calling it a night. But be here tomorrow as the ISB takes on the back half of the magazine for a look at the indies and the merch, featuring another look at Mad Engine’s rapid descent into outright madness.

Be there!