It's that time again to place an advance order with my local comics shop, letting it know what I plan to buy in two months time. Yeah, it's kind of a silly system, but that's how the comic book market operates these days.
For the benefit of those who've never read one of my Pull List columns, I get my comics from Zimmie's, in Lewiston, Maine, as I have for about 20 years now (excepting 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 now 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, it breaks dow to about $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. But, as the company starts eeking back into $4 territory (I once swore I would NEVER pay more than $295 for a 32-page comic book) I've begun trimming some of the dead weight.
As always, when poring though PREVIEWS, I start with the DC section:
Casualties of the new $3.99 price point are BLUE BEETLE and SUPERWOMAN. Both fall off my pull list this month. Beetle was decent, if unspectacular. Superwoman burned me with the bait-and-switch and, while I do love me some Phil Jimenez, I found the book kind of a chore to read. I also drop ALL-STAR BATMAN, although it's been a $4.99 book since the beginning, mostly because I don't feel I've been getting my money's worth per issue.
Beyond that, there are not a ton of changes this month. I do add in SUPERGIRL, even at the $4 price point, because of the Emerald Empress appearance, which promises an imminent Rebirth Universe debut of the Legion of Super-Heroes (YAY! Don't screw it up, DC!!), while the uber-dollar SUPERGIRL: BEING SUPER bi-monthly is in its on-again phase. I think this title is needlessly expensive at $5.99. However, based on the first issue, I'd be buying Supergirl every month if this was the regular creative team and new continuity.
Regarding the LSH, this past week I grabbed JUSTICE LEAGUE #15 off the stands, having been alerted by fellow Legion geeks online of a Brainiac 5 cameo. The JL issues solicited this month conclude the "Timeless" storyline, but I don't see a clear indication in the solicitation copy of a continued Legion crossover. So, I elect to leave it off the pre-order and check issues out for must-have content as they arrive.
It's worth noting that after dropping BATMAN last month (I'm not as big a fan of Tom King as most fanboys, it would seem), I re-add No. 21 this month, if only to be properly outraged by the folding of the Watchmen into the DCU.
It pretty much a matter of holding the line at Marvel, as I stick with the titles I've been following, resisting the temptation to add new titles due to the price point. The exception is MAN-THING, of course, as I can't resist seeing what R.L. Stine does with the property. Of my regular titles, I keep expecting PATSY WALKER to show up with "final issue" in the solicitation copy, but it looks like she'll get at least one more month. It would seem Hellcat is the Dr. Fate of the 616.
At $1 each, I do add in two of the True Believer one-shot reprints. I've read X-Men #1 before, having first come across it in the classic SON OF ORIGINS OF MARVEL COMICS tpb. I lost that book in a house fire in 1980 though, and don't think I've read the story since. And I may not have ever read the debut of the "new" X-Men from the Giant-Size issue, if you can believe it. Oh, sure, I seen bits of it here and there over the years, but to actually sit down and read the entire thing? Never had that opportunity. As I recall, my first X-Men issue purchased new of the stands when I was but a wee lad was No. 111. By the time I was old enough to have some familiarity with, and access to, back issue markets, the X-Men had already reached their post-Hellfire Club peak, putting the Giant-Size debut of the new team out of my reach. Omnibus and Essential collections have remained similarly beyond my monthly comics buying budget.
Of the new offerings from the House of Ideas this month, there are not a lot of new ones. The latest iteration of X-teams are an easy pass. (Who's the girl in he red cape and half-assed domino mask? I don't even know who she is!) The new Black Panther title also fails to grab me. I did try the first few issues of Ta-Nehisi Coates' Panther series, but, frankly, didn't think it was very good. Again, my tastes seem to run counter to may comics fans these days. Or should I say, "many comics collectors?" I'm not convinced a lot of comic book buyers actually read the things any more.
Marvel also has new X-23 and Ben Reilly titles, but both characters made their debut during my self-impossed exile from Marvel, and seem to continuity-confused to get into now. Marvel also continues to push the Inhumans, cleverly hiding the fact their latest attempt is an Inhumans book by calling it ROYALS. Wont' work. I'm too hip to that, and never found the team much about C-list supporting players. There's also a new series for Samuel L. Jackson . . . er, I mean Nick Fury. I might try it, but I sadly have not loved much of what James Robinson has written since about halfway through his STARMAN run.
The one new Marvel book I might have sampled is MONSTERS UNLEASHED, but it doesn't look quite Fin-Fang-Fabulous enough for me to unfold my $4.
DARK HORSE COMICS
DHC suffers the same malady as Marvel — a new solicitation really has to grab me at $4 per issue, and, for me, Shaolin Cowboy ain't it. I'd similarly pass on AMERICAN GODS had I not read the novel. (actually, I never did read the novel, but spent about a month many years ago listening to an audiobook version during my daily commute to and from work).
There's really nothing else in the Dark Horse section of PREVIEWS that interests me, at least not at a price point I can fit into my budget, given the publisher's increasing slide to more pricey book-length works and collected editions.
It'll be interesting to see what arrives from the new Berger Books line, although, given the amount of time its been since Karen Berger left DC, and the content-light nature of this week's press releases regarding this new venture, I think it's safe to say any books from this new DHC imprint are far over the horizon line.
The regular Donald Duck title returns after several months of IDW trying to goose interest with mini series in its place. I still have not seen the first issue of ANIMAL NOIR, but take a change on the third issue anyway, in part because it's now being solicited as a four-issue mini series (I seem to recall the original solicitation for #1 intimating it was an ongoing, but I may be wrong). Other than that, IDW appears to be pretty much same-same this month.
Image continues to go ipso nutso with the Number 1s, offering five new series and two new one-shots this month. To be hones, nothing in the lot looks too promising to my eye. I expect ROSE (based on being this month's PREVIEWS catalog cover feature) and PLASTIC (based on Robert Kirkman's blurb of praise) will be the top-sellers. We'll see. Me, I elect to stick with the few Image titles I have not yet dropped, which are solicited this month.
I had planned to give Archie the full hard-srop this month, as the novelty of the new style is over and I don't feel like I'm getting $4 worth of story each issue. However, I can't resist giving Adam Hughes one more chance to disappointment with his deadline skills. Honestly, though, the wait is worth it. B&V is both the best looking, and best reading, of all the new Archie titles.
Dynamite appears to be trying something new and team-uppy with both the Valiant and E.R. Burroughs properties, and jumps on the zombie train with Z NATION. However, none of it looks interesting enough for me to cut other things out of the monthly budget in order to make room for it. So, it's just the regular purchases this month.
The GODSHAPER title by Simon Spurrier and Jonas Goonface (real name??) was actually on the first and second drafts of this months' pre-order. It ended up being the last thing I cut to get as close to budget as I was able to. I'm hoping me retailer gets a copy anyway (the shop's clientele tends to be the standard Marvel/DC crowd and he rarely takes a chance on what they deem "weird"). If so, I'll check it out that and it could easily become an impulse buy if it looks as interesting as it appears.
This company has been grabbing my attention lately with its kid-friendly titles, a publishing plan that seemingly runs counter to the clientele at most comics shops. Back in December I took a chance on the Three Stooges Christmas special and was pleasantly surprised. So, I return to the well once again for UNDERDOG, in part because it's by the same creator of the Stooge book, Bill Galvan, and partly because it has Batton Lash on co-writing duties, and he's someone who is definitely Duke-tested and Duke-approved.
Going through the best of the rest:
• There's a new MOTOR GIRL from Abstract Studios, so, that's in, although, to be honest, the first few issues are still sitting in be "to-read" pile;
• No new SPOOK HOUSE from Albatross Funnybooks, sadly;
• I consider ELEANOR & THE EGRET from Aftershock Comics, but fear it's delve too heavily into Grant Morrison realms of non-sequitor storytelling. This screams "Seaguy" to me;
• THE RIFT from Red 5 Comics in on my list, even though Diamond spooged the order from my local shop for both #1 and #2. I've yet to see either, and don't hold out much hope. 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 decided to throw some love at a small publisher. We'll see if it ever arrives.
• THERE'S NOTHING THERE #1 from Black Mask Studios looks interesting, and I suspect before too much longer I'll order something from the upstart publisher.
• Jeff Lemire's ROUGHNECK from Gallery Books looks interesting, but its $30. I'd have to drop at least eight titles from my pull list in order to afford it!
• I don't know why, but the STAR DROP books from I Box Publishing interest me. Probably becasue she looks like Lady Tin Tin.
• It's not just DC hiking prices, the Disney titles from Joe Books have all gone up to $3.99. I had tried the first few issues of its Pirates title, and liked it, but it has not been solicited for a while, and I'm unlikely to re-add it at this price.
• Titan Comics has a new title adapting the PENNY DREADFUL tv series, which I've never seen, mitigating my interest. It has has 5,391 Doctor Who titles, which is just too much to keep up with.
• Valiant Entertainment gives us six pages of really nice looking art from XO MANOWAR #2. Had I noticed this from #1, I might have bought it. Too late now, though.
Apart from that, nothing really jumped out at me in this month's PREVIEWS, apart from wishing I could still afford the TwoMorrows magazines. 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.
So, then, my final pre-order for April 2017 is . . .
DC COMICS (19 books)
• AQUAMAN #20-21
• ASTRO CITY #44
• BATMAN #21
• BATMAN '66 MEETS WONDER WOMAN '77 #4
• CAVE CARSON HAS A CYBERNETIC EYE #7
• THE FALL AND RISE OF CAPTAIN ATOM #4
• THE FLASH #20-21
• FUTURE QUEST #12
• GREEN LANTERNS #20-21
• THE KAMANDI CHALLENGE #4
• SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP #25
• SUPERGIRL #8
• SUPERGIRL: BEING SUPER #3
• SUPER SONS #3
• WONDER WOMAN #20-21
MARVEL COMICS (9 books)
• CHAMPIONS #7
• DOCTOR STRANGE #19
• JESSICA JONES #7
• MAN-THING #3
• THE MIGHTY THOR #18
• Ms MARVEL #17
• PATSY WALKER, a.k.a. HELLCAT #17
• TRUE BELIEVERS: GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1
• TRUE BELIEVERS: X-MEN #1
IDW PUBLISHING (3 books)
• ANIMAL NOIR #3
• DONALD DUCK #19
• UNCLE SCROOGE #25
IMAGE COMICS (3 books)
• KILL OR BE KILLED #8
• MANIFEST DESTINY #28
• PAPER GIRLS #13
DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT (2 books)
• THE SPIRIT: THE CORPSE-MAKERS #4
• WONDER WOMAN '77 MEETS THE BIONIC WOMAN #5
• UNDERDOG #1
• MOTOR GIRL #5
• BETTY AND VERONICA #3
DARK HORSE COMICS
• AMERICAN GODS: SHADOWS #2
RED 5 COMICS
• THE RIFT #4
That's 41 comic books, which rings up to a retail total of $148.57. After my 20 percent discount and the add-on of 5.5 percent in sales tax, I come in a tickle over budget at $125.39. I justify that, however, in that there are about half a dozen books on this list which I expect to be late and not actually come out April, or else shorted by Diamond Distributers, leaving my local comics shop sans copies on the original release date.
We'll see what happens, but my prediction is that, at a minimum, ASTRO CITY, MAN-THING, ANIMAL NOIR, THE SPIRIT and BETTY AND VERONICA will be late, while Diamond will probably flub the order on UNDERDOG, MOTOR GIRL, and THE RIFT.
I any of that happens, I'll let ya know. 'Till then, happy reading!