Chris vs. Previews: September 2007, Round Two

Last night, the ISB fought it out with the major publishers, which means that tonight belongs to the second half of the catalog in my monthy assault on all things Previews. This means, of course, that I’ll not only be going through the small press, but the harrowing merchandise section as well, and while both Sterling and Lartigue have already covered it, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this little gem:



Even putting aside the fact that this thing features a “removable dress” and that the “dynamic kicking pose” pretty much translates to advertising by vagina, this thing just… well, jumps right out at you. It may not be obvious from the scans, but that’s a full-page ad on a right-hand page, which means that when you’re, say, leafing through the catalog looking for things to make fun of, you’re pretty much ambushed by plastic ladyparts in a surprise attack that’s equal parts hilarious and depressing.

And incidentally, it’s listed as having “MATURE THEMES.” So there’s that.

But maybe we should just move on! After all, with that thing to lead things off, what other horrors lurk within this month’s catalog? Read on… if you dare!





P. 213 – Azumanga Daioh Omnibus Edition: I picked up the first volume of Azumanga Daioh last week, based almost entirely on the strength of Kiyohiko Azuma’s Yotsuba&!, which is easily one of the funniest and most charming comics that I’ve ever read. This one, however, fell pretty flat for me. I’m not sure whether it’s the difference in format–with Azumanga Daioh done in four-panel strips–or if the majority of the jokes just don’t translate well, but there are vast sections that just come off as nonsensical and abrupt rather than building towards anything that would warrant a rimshot.

That said, there are a couple of good laughs further in–especially as Azuma builds recurring jokes and plays off his strength at crafting engaging, oddball characters–but that just adds to my confusion about the series. Thus, I put it to you, loyal reader: Does it get better, or is it pretty much like this all the way through? Or, and this is purely hypothetical here, is it just me?


P. 216 – Everybody Cosplay!: I’m good, thanks.


P. 217 – Red Eye, Black Eye: No joke here, just a bit of general advice in case you missed it the first time I reviewed K. Thor Jensen’s Red Eye, Black Eye: It’s a phenomenal and absolutely hilarious comic, and if you haven’t already grabbed a copy, it’s still available to order from your favorite comic book store or online retailer. And believe me, it is well worth it.


P. 225 – The Engineer #1: Ever since Mouse Guard hit big last year as the darling of the comics blogger internet, I’ve been paying closer attention to the Archaia Studios section, and now, I think it may have paid off, because I seriously got halfway through this solicitation–to the part where it talks about how the main character travels through dimensions using a cosmic pipe organ, if you want to get specific about it–and this thing pretty much ordered itself.


P. 231 – Tales From Riverdale Digest #25: Readers of the ISB often wonder why I find myself so enamored with Archie Comics, considering that they often lack bear-fighting, kicks to the face, and recognizeable punchlines. To those people, I can only offer this:



That, my friends, is a story where mild-mannered science nerd Dilton Doiley gets one of Reggie Mantle’s old jackets, and promptly turns evil. Or at least, the Riverdale equivalent of evil, which is more like mild annoyance, but still. And it’s called… “Denim.” And that is genius.


P. 254 – Salem #0: When I first read through Previews last week, I breezed right through this one, but today, this little bit caught my eye:



That’s right: This story of Colonial-era witchcraft in the grand pulp adventure style of Robert E. Howard is being brought to you by Chris Morgan, the writer of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, which I’m pretty sure we can all agree is the pinnacle of modern cinema. And what’s more, in the interview that accompanies the ad, Morgan has this to say:

You may be surprised to learn that the climax of SALEM involves a 14′ tall witch made of brambles and thorns outdrifting Vin Diesel in a cherry ’05 Skyline.

I’m going to be totally serious for a second here, folks: If that was true, this would be the greatest comic book ever made.

P. 280 – Hack/Slash #6: I’ve never been a fan of horror movies, which is probably the reason why I’ve never never gotten into Tim Seeley’s Hack/Slash, despite the fact that I actually do think he’s a pretty talented artist working with a pretty interesting premise here. The problem–for me anyway–is that the series, much like the movies that provide its backdrop, tends to take itself a little too seriously, but with this issue, it looks like that’s not really a concern.

It is, after all, an Archie parody set in a town called Haverhill–the real-life city in Massachusetts that Riverdale was based on–and to be honest, Seeley’s parody/homage to the infamous internet classic that is Betty and Me #16 might make it worth the purchase alone.


P. 328 – A Treasury of Victorian Murder v.4: The Fatal Bullet: If there is anything in this catalog that seems to have been printed specifically to meet my interests, it is this: A story recounting the murder of President James Garfield by Charles Guiteau–the only Presidential assassination to inspire works by both Sarah Vowell AND Johnny Cash–written and drawn by the artist of Bob Burden’s Gumby comics.

Your mileage may vary, but around here, we call that awesome.


P. 367 – Dan Dare #1: I realize that this is coming hot on the heels of last month’s assertion that I have no idea what the hell is going on at Virgin Comics, but this is actually something I think I can get behind:



I know virtually nothing about Dan Dare, but from the solicitation copy, it seems like this one might fall into the same vein as last year’s awesome-but-overlooked Battler Briton in that it’s Ennis taking on a classic British comics character that he actually seems to have some affection for. Don’t get me wrong: I like Ennis a lot, but Battler Briton was the first time since I read through Hitman that it seemed like his love of comics was shining through, rather than just a love of violence and swearing.

Of course, there is the distinct possibility that I’m wrong, and this issue’ll open up with Dan Dare dropping f-bombs while punching out a nun or something. But really, if it is, then it’s probably my fault for not seeing that one coming.




P. 424 – Metal Men Metallix T-Shirts:



When it comes to comic book t-shirts, I’ve always been a fan of the slightly more obscure plain logo over shots of the characters themselves, and with the Metal Men, it looks like Graffiti Designs has finally put their beloved Metallix technology to use on the one group of characters that it actually works with, and I’ve got to say, I think they’re pretty neat.

In fact, between this and the Value Stamp-Inspired shirt on the next page, I’m starting to think that the ol’ Previews Apparel section might be making a turn for the better! Maybe this is where it all comes together, and we start getting interesting designs that make sense instead of–

P. 425 – Punisher Neon Green Symbol Black T-Shirt:



…Oh. Well, nevermind then.



And with that, we close the catalog for another month. As always, if you spotted anything interesting in the catalog, or you just want to speculate on how long it’ll be before Dynamite’s Xena: Warrior Princess trade paperback fully supercedes all modern religious texts, feel free to let me know about it in the comments section below.

30 thoughts on “Chris vs. Previews: September 2007, Round Two

  1. Now to be fair, “Battle Vixens” (the adaptation of Ikkitosen), Volumes 1-7 were done by Keith Giffen. So, take the Three Kingdoms Era, and change the kingdoms to opposing high schools. Now add pantyshots, so it’s not cancelled immediately. High Concept!

    And is the Punisher a Skrull now?

  2. Is that supposed to be The Punisher by way of Mr. Yuk?

    “Mis-ter Castle is mean…
    Mis-ter Castle is…GREEEN!”

  3. So… this has nothing to do with any of the above, but the ISB (and Journalista) is pretty much my only window into superhero comics now that I stopped buying monthlies. See, I have a question: remember how the whole thing with the Skrulls and Jessica Jones’ kid was the most shocking thing ever? Yeah, what happened with all that? Is it still going?

    I don’t necessarily need a response from Chris, anyone will do. I’m vaguely curious.

  4. Definitely stick with Azumanga, man. I’m a big fan of the manga and the anime (one of the VERY few that I like), and even I’m not that into Volume One. Beginner’s kinks and so on. It truly does get much better as time goes on.

  5. The Fatal Bullet is far from the best of Geary’s Victorian Murder books. Which means it’s still worth a read, but it’s less weird/disturbing than many of the others.

  6. Nich:

    I turns out everyone EXCEPT Tony Stark was a Skrull all along.
    Earth 616 is now called Skrullworld and pretty much all the Marvel titles deals with
    Iron Mans underground resistance fighting evil against overwhelming odds.

  7. Chris;

    Believe it or not, during my misguided college days, I actually wrote a forty-page paper about the problems of translating Azumanga Daioh from Japanese to English. (Most of those forty pages were taken up by example strips and quotations from other people’s translations, but still…) AD is one of those series that, unfortunately, just doesn’t translate. I sometimes think that the only reason that the manga is popular among English speakers is a) familiarity with the anime, which is lot more slapsticky and universally funny, or b) its popularity is floated by the handful of manga readers who can actually read it in Japanese, and by the much larger percentage of manga readers who like to pretend that they can read in Japanese.

  8. Regarding Azumanga Daioh, i think the first one was the weakest one, and then it picks up from there.
    Haven’t read the series in a while, but i remember laughing out loud a few fair times.

    And i ended up picking Yotsuba BECAUSE of Azumanga.
    (and no, can’t read Japanese or didn’t saw the anime until after i read the thing, and i still think it’s darn funny)

  9. I’m more than curious as to what the new Dan Dare would be like under Mr. Ennis. The original series (if you can find the 1950’s originals) is well worth picking up as
    Whats not to enjoy in a green giant headed baddie flying around on floating disc screaming “foolish Earthman.”

  10. I second Steph about Dan Dare (PILOT OF THE FUTURE!) — the original is what it is; I happen to think a lot of the classic British sci-fi/action comics are a little bland. But I do think that Garth Ennis has a pretty good grip on what makes these guys entertaining. I’m cautiously optimistic.

    But yeah, the Mekon and his Treens (DD’s main villains) are pretty cool.

  11. P. 328 – A Treasury of Victorian Murder v.4: The Fatal Bullet

    This was one of the first Victorian Murder series that I read.

    It explains the creation of the first ever air conditioner, which, as you say, is totally awesome.

  12. “But yeah, the Mekon and his Treens (DD’s main villains) are pretty cool.”

    Hm. It’d be cool if Ennis got Jon Langford of the Mekons involved, somehow.

  13. I think I spent about 15 minutes just staring at that page with the vagina-exposing high-kick doll in disbelief. Removable dress? It made me pretty sad.

    And those Metal Man t-shirts are awesome. I think that was the highlight of this month’s Previews for me. Those are nerdy on a whole other level of nerdiness.

  14. Man, I hope The Engineer is a Team Fortress tie-in, what with TF2 coming out soon. Sentry guns FTW!

    Personally, though, I’m holding out for The Pyro.

  15. Garth Ennis and Dan Dare is a match that keeps sending back an error message from my imagination. I just can’t begin to think what such a comic would be like. The 50s series was packed with post-war bravado and optimism which would seem laughable nowadays. I don’t know. The first issue is as good as bought, anyway.

  16. Azumanga Daioh is pretty rough at the beginning, though it feels to me more like Azuma didn’t really figure out what he wanted to do with the strip when he started, and the English translation doesn’t really help the situation. By the third and fourth volumes, I found he’d figured out what kind of story he wanted to tell and who the characters were. So, yes, it’s worth sticking with it.

    For what it’s worth, I think the animated version is much better both as far as the original storytelling and the translation, but mileages vary and all that.

  17. Yes — the tone of the original Dan Dare is that brisk, chipper Boy’s Own Paper adventure style that is so easy to lampoon.

    The Dan Dare Wikipedia article mentions “Biggles In Space” — played straight — and I think that nails it pretty squarely. (“Squarely” is a very appropriate term for Dan.)

    It’s particularly hard to imagine Ennis on this because I can remember Grant Morrison’s take on the character, Dare, from 10 (?) years ago. Taking the character and sticking him into a Scarlet Traces/V for Vendetta/Maggie Thatcher England, Morrison knocked the chipper right out of Dan.

    Battler Britain may indeed be the model; keep Dan’s upper lip stiff, but make the space battles considerably more realistic, grim, etc.

    Oh, and have Digby make buggering jokes.

  18. Another vote for Azumanga. Though depending on if they have it or not, I might netflix the anime instead. As a comic, Yotsuba is a lot more fun.

    Azumanga’s good once it gets going, sort of like Cromartie for girls, but the animated version had a bit of extra charm to it.

    But yeah, Osaka jokes always translate poorly. ADV did it different in the comic and the cartoon. It was sort of silly. I think she had a Bronx accient in the comic and then a Southern accent in the dub. Just…odd.

  19. If you hadn’t read Dan Dare you probably missed a whole level of “Ministry of Space”…also, given that Ennis is writing this and the Mekon is from Mekonta is there an obvious pun or play on words that we may shortly see?

  20. First time poster…big time punisher fan.

    When i was looking through this with my friend i almost ripped the book in half when i saw the green punisher shirt. What the hell is marvel thinking? its not even a good color green, its puke green, if it were say Green Lantern Green it wouldn’t be that bad, but no, its puke green.

    Also this goes back to yesterdays posting, with the marvel previews, i saw that they are doing a “’nuff said” for the final chapter of one more day. Now i’ve never read a “’nuff said” issue in my life, but its got me thinking, why would they do this on something that has been building up for years, why would they make (which will most likely be) the climatic issue of one more day into an issue with no words. Just doesn’t make sense to me. Just my opinion though

  21. Stick with Azumanga Daioh. It keeps getting better and better until it reaches the (somewhat touching) conclusion.

    I actually prefer Azumanga over Yotsuba&. Not much better, it’s like asking if I prefer bottled or tap water when I’m thirsty as hell.

  22. Man, those Metal Menn shirts (which are totally \m/METAL\m/) are not new (aside from the Metallix blingyness)–I remember slavering over them after seeing them in a Previews catalog…Yikes! Like ten years ago. Classic design–bright, elegant, stealthily fanboy. Man, the Metal Men need to show up more often.

  23. Phoenix Wright defends ROM, Spaceknight against murder charges!

    Another thrilling masterpeice from the house of ideas, Co-starring the Marvel Megamorphs, Thor, and the Punisher!

  24. Azumanga Daioh the manga started roughly for me too. I found the anime much, much more enjoyable. But since I wasn’t driven to get past the first volume, I now feel the urge to see if all these people are right and it picks up in volumes four on.