Hey, Pals 'n' Gals, time once again to share the method to my madness, as I peruse Diamond's PREVIEWS catalog and put together my pre-order for February 2017. I'm a little late getting to it this month as Diamond has been royally screwing up shipments to my LCS, getting its product mixed up with some other store and just spooging the goose in general. Previews catalogs usually come in on the last week of the month, but the shop just got theirs last week.
For the benefit of those who've never read one of my Pull List columns, I get comics from Zimmie's, in Lewiston, Maine, as I have for about 20 years now (excepting only a couple of years when they were closed down). My monthly budget has changed little in all that time. It used to be $100 per month, but my wife allowed me a small spending bump in 2013 when Maine began charging sales tax on periodicals. So, I'm not allowed $120 per month, which is after both the sales tax and the 20 percent discount I get at Zimmie's for per-ordering, and because of the volume of my order — basically, $30 per week.
That may seem like a lot, but I have no other vices to speak of. No, seriously, it's true. Don't drink. Don't smoke. Don't even download porn! It's true, I'm a pauper and a prude!
For most of my 45-plus year collecting career, I have been a DC aficionado. In fact, I bought no new Marvels from from just before Jim Shooter got das boot in 1987 until Heroes Return in 1997. Even after, my Marvel reading was sparaodic. And yet, just before DC's Rebirth event, I had reached parity in my purchases between the Big Two for the first time since the late 1970s. But all of that has changed in the last few months, thanks in part to Rebirth, but also due to DC's return to a $2.99 cover price. So, as you'll see below, my orders are once again tipping heavily to DC's side of the scale.
As always, when poring though PREVIEWS, I start with the DC section:
Unfortunately, DC's new offerings are mostly a miss for me this month. THE WILD STORM means nothing to me, as it seems based on an imprint I've very rarely read. JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA might be more interesting to me if DC called it what it really is — a reboot of Batman and the Outsiders. But DC has of late taken the Marvel approach of throwing a bunch of random characters together and trowing a brand name on it, assuming that alone will sell the book. But almost anything with Lobo in it is a hard sell for me, I don't care if its the recent metrosexual version, or the Great Bastich himself. I'm also trepidatious toward BATWOMAN: REBIRTH. It's written by Marguerite Bennett and James Tynion IV. Both are, as I understand it, proteges of DC creative wunderkind Geoff Johns. But U have not been absolutely in love with anything that's appeared under their names, so I put in on the first draft of my order, but lean toward pass.
The only real exciting thing for me in the DC solicitations is the SUPER SONS book. Granted, I hate Damian Wayne with the burning intensity of a white hot star, but this book looks like fun, and I did enjoy the recent "preview" in SUPERMAN #10-11. Of course, if I'm being honest, a big part of my picking this up is nostalgia for the old Super-Sons stories in WORLD'S FINEST COMICS way, way, way back in the day.
Among DC's other titles I don't see much to merit wholesale changes in my usual order. Some titles, like ALL-STAR BATMAN (I've bought them all to date but not actually read any of them yet!), BLUE BEETLE (ibid), and SUPERWOMAN (hey, I actually wanted to read about Lois, not Lana!) move closer to the cut line, while others, like BATGIRL, BATGIRL AND THE BIRDS OF PREY, HARLEY QUINN, JUSTICE LEAGUE, and SUPERERMAN inch closer to the add (or in some cases re-add) line. But that will depend on what else we find in this month's catalog.
With Marvel, I automatically skip anything in the X-Men oeuvre, and anything with an "Avengers" tag tacked to it. I lost touch with the X-book during the decade I was away from Marvel and have never been able to get back into the books. It's all too confusing. Avengers is just a word in Marvelese that means "random crap," so far as I can tell.
Marvel's new offerings this month are KINGPIN, ELEKTRA, and BULLSEYE (the latter a limited series), but books about villains are tough sell for me, as is any book priced at $3.99. I put them on the "maybe" section of the draft order.
As with last month, I sort of like the look of the "Monsters Unleashed" books. They seem like they'd be fun. But as per usual with Marvel, it's gone coo-coo-go-nuts for crossovers, and I'm doubtful I'd get much out of the event unless I bought into them all, and I know already there's not enough I'm willing to cut from my pull list to make that happen. So, it's a pass on them all.
That being the case, it looks like Marvel will be just the titles I've been with for a while, apart from SILVER SURFER, which is several months behind and appears to be taking a catch-up month. I put all the Doctor Strange books on my maybe list, but it's doubtful any not written by Jason Aaron will make the final cut. I also inch SPIDER-WOMAN and DAREDEVIL to the maybe list. At $3.99 they probably will get axed before I'm done, but both are books I sometimes buy off the stands with there's a slow week on pull-list arrivals. I also put CHAMPIONS on the "maybe" list. I have really been enjoying the book and it's total back-turn on grim 'n' gritty anti-heroes, but I am for totes bugged by Humberto Ramos saying he now refused to attend comic cons in states that voted for Donald Trump. Now, I did not vote for Trump, but my congressional district did, and in Maine that means one electoral collage vote for The Donald. I somehow doubt Ramos would come to northern Maine anyway, but I resent him saying he won't promote his work here, that he neither needs nor wants my money, because he's decided to lump me in with all the folks he presumes hate him, so he's just gonna go ahead and hate them first. I mean, has he totally NOT been reading the Champions scripts Mark Waid has been sending him?
After the Big Two, I return to the catalog, tackling first the so-called "Premier publishers." As I recall, those are the ones that are both distributed exclusively by Diamond and (at one time at least) commanded at least 5 percent of market share.
DARK HORSE COMICS
Not much going on here for me this month. There's a new Hellboy universe book called THE VISITOR, but, again, $3.99 is a problem for me in most cases. But for that money, I will continue to take my FIREFLY fix.
Two new books, COSMIC SCOUNDRELS and DARKNESS VISIBLE, don't do anything for me. I half wonder if the totally '80s logo on the Scoundrels book is supposed to remind me if a million titles from the black & white glut. ANIMAL NOIR looks like it might be faboo, but the preview pages are too small, making them impossible to read.
Apart from that, there's not much in the IDW offerings that makes me feel as though I absolutely have to cut a regular purchase to make room for it in the budget. I've already sampled and dropped both ROM and MICRONAUTS. Meanwhile, UNCLE SCROOGE is my only regular purchase from IDW soliciting a new issue this month.
For a while now, Image has been following the Carmine Infantino publishing model of trying to flood the stands with new #1s. There are four this month, with two, THE OLD GUARD and PLANETOID PRAXIS making my maybe list. But at $3.99 both are improbable adds, Praxis being the more likely of the two, given that it's a limited series. The preview pages of SUN BAKERY and THE BELFREY actually turn me off on both books. However, I fall hard for the 25¢ cover price on THE WALKING DEAD, INVINCIBLE and OUTCAST, so I add all three. I had dropped Invincible way back at #3, and totally missed the boat on the other two, never finding cause to jump on, despite loving TWD tv show.
Out of the balance of the Image catalog, three of my regular buys appear this month. However, I move PAPER GIRLS to the maybe list. I'm just getting tired of it and my drop it for the same reason I axed BLACK SCIENCE — it just goes on and on with no resolution and only the tiniest but of plot movement each month. If Girls was not a $2.99 book, I would have dropped it several months ago.
That moves is into the "everybody else" back half of the PREVIEWS catalog. I generally start here by going first to the larger companies where I have been know to drop some of the hard-earned in the past.
My bog complaint about ARCHIE has been the art, but Joe Eisma is enough to draw me back in. Of course, I had dropped the title at #15, so I'll have to be sure to score #16 off the stands to keep the run going. Out of the rest, I've sampled and dropped all of the Nu-Archie books. BETTY & VERONICA by Adam Hughes is the only one I'm interested in sticking with, and neither that nor any of the Archie Horror titles are solicited this month.
Most of Dynamite's licensed properties don't really do it for me in comics format. JOHN CARTER: THE END looks different enough though that I put it on the maybe list. The Wonder Woman/Bionic Woman book also moves to maybe. I did not love #1 and would probably drop it if it wasn't a limited series. I also bite at VAMPIRELLA #0 at 25¢. Although, whether it was a screw-up by Diamond or my LCS, I never did get the 25¢ Red Sonja book.
The PLANET OF THE APES/GREEN LANTERN title interests me enough to Google artist Barnaby Bagenda. The only sequential art I find is from something called WEIRDING WILLOWS, but it's good enough to land the title on my maybe list, even though I don't see how Apes/Lanterns would be much of a fight. Nothing else from Boom really pushes my buttons, not even the JIM HENSON'S THE POWER OF THE DARK CRYSTAL mini series.
I always want to throw some love at Titan, but it's books are tough adds at $3.99 (you sense this trend with me by now, right?). The two #1s offered this month WORLD WAR TANK GIRL and FOREVER WAR are not properties that are instant wallet reaches for me.
CAPTAIN KID was the only Aftershock title I was buying, but I dropped it after my order for #5. The company does offer ROUGH RIDERS BOOK TWO #1 this month, but I never bought Book One, so I expect to be lost. Nothing else jumps out at me.
Going through the best of the rest:
• No new MOTOR GIRL from Abstract Studios this month;
• SPOOK HOUSE #5 is a must have from Albatross Funnybooks;
• I consider the PINK PANTHER SUPER PINK SPECIAL from American Mythology, but I ordered and never got the recent Three Stooges Christmas Special;
• No Pirates from Joe Books this month. I might consider sampling something else, but I see they've upped their base price from $2.99 to $3.99;
• Oni Press offers a bunch of $1 reprints of first issues. I actually consider INVADER ZIM, given it's apparent popularity, judging by the sales charts;
• THE RIFT from Red 5 Comics looks interesting, but it's a #2 and I'm certain #1 would be all but impossible to get. Still, the book is "presented" (whatever that means) by actor Jeremy "Hawkeye" Renner, and his involvement gives me some confidence in the script. After Googling artist Leno Carvalho, I decide to throw some love at a small publisher;
• At Valiant Entertainment I consider adding FAITH, based on its popularity, as well as SHADOWMAN AND THE BATTLE OF NEW STALINGRAD, although this one looks to be convoluted in continuity despite being a #1.
Apart from that, nothing really jumps out at me. Of course, there are several larger books from a number of companies, including most of those listed above, that I would like, but after all these years I'm pretty married to the floppies and I'd need to cut at least 5-6 titles in order to add one new graphic novel or trade collection. It's also worth mentioning, I guess, that the layout of the solicitation pages from some companies, like Action Lab, Aspen and Avatar give me a headache, and I usually pass right over them. They'd almost do better, I think, to go the Archie route and just accept Diamond's standard solicitation entry.
After cutting most of the maybes above to get under budget, I also kack ASTRO CITY — but not because I'm dropping the series. It's just that, with the Previews catalog arriving so late this time out, I've already seen March solicitations online, and know the books in running late, with #43 re-solicited next time out.
So, then, [[drum roll, please]] my final pre-order for February 2017 is . . .
DC COMICS (22 books)
• AQUAMAN #16-17
• BATMAN #16-17
• BATMAN '66 MEETS WONDER WOMAN '77 #2
• BLUE BEETLE #6
• CAVE CARSON HAS A CYBERNETIC EYE #5
• DEATH OF HAWKMAN #5
• THE FALL AND RISE OF CAPTAIN ATOM #2
• THE FLASH #16-17
• FUTURE QUEST #10
• GREEN LANTERNS #16-17
• THE KAMANDI CHALLENGE #2
• SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP #23
• SUPERGIRL: BEING SUPER #2
• SUPER SONS #1
• SUPERWOMAN #7
• WONDER WOMAN #16-17
MARVEL COMICS (7 books)
• CHAMPIONS #5
• DOCTOR STRANGE #17
• JESSICA JONES #5
• THE MIGHTY THOR #16
• Ms MARVEL #15
• PATSY WALKER, a.k.a. HELLCAT #16
• THE UNWORTHY THOR #4
IMAGE COMICS (6 books)
• INVINCIBLE #133
• KILL OR BE KILLED #6
• MANIFEST DESTINY #26
• OUTCAST #25
• PAPER GIRLS #11
• THE WALKING DEAD #163
DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT (3 books)
• THE SPIRIT: THE CORPSE-MAKERS #2
• WONDER WOMAN '77 MEETS THE BIONIC WOMAN #3
• VAMPIRELLA #0
IDW PUBLISHING (2 books)
• ANIMAL NOIR #1
• UNCLE SCROOGE #23
• SPOOK HOUSE #5
• ARCHIE #17
DARK HORSE COMICS
• SERENITY: NO POWER IN THE 'VERSE #5
RED 5 COMICS
• THE RIFT #2
That's 43 comic books, which rings up to a retail total of $141.57. After my 20 percent discount and the add of 5.5 percent in sales tax, I squeak in just under budget at $119.49.
Fifty cents to spare! Maybe my RED SONJA #0 will finally come in!