Monday, December 18, 2017

THE PULL LIST: Comics I've pre-ordered or February 2018

As most of you who've followed this Pull List column for a while know, my monthly comic book budget was historically $100 per month, just where it has been since the early '90s. That changed in late 2013 when Maine for the first time instituted a 5.5 percent sales tax on periodicals. At that time, I negotiated with the Sainted Wife and got a raise to $120, to account for the tax and a portion of deflation in my spending dollar over the previous two decades. Then, late last summer, I decided on my own to roll the monthly budget for new comics back to $100, in order to direct the other $20 at back issue purchases. Frankly, I'm losing interest in new comics, and, at $4 a pop, can get decent condition Bronze Age comics I know I'll like a lot more for the same money, or less.

So, that's been the status quo for the last few months. Until now. For February 2018 I've blown both my current and previous budgets right out of the water, placing an order with my local comics shop for — get this — $143.13. An that's after the 20 percent discount I get for pre-ordering!

The vast majority of the overage is from two books — the ACTION COMICS #1,000: 80 YEARS OF SUPERMAN commemorative edition, and the MISTER MIRACLE #1 DIRECTORS CUT special issue.

The Action #1,000 book is $29.95 all by itself. But it's advance solicited and does not actually come out until April. So, I've got four months to sock away a few extra dollar for it. I am bugged a bit already by it though. I mean, I really, really want this milestone to be something special. At the very least, I want it to please not suck. But my confidence is diminished by the fact that, on the solicitation copy at least, the big number is given as 1000. One thousand as a year gets no comma, but as a number, it should be 1,000. It's sort of like the argument I continually make with "Ms. Marvel." The honorific Ms is totally made up. It's not an abbreviation for anything. Thus, rather than Ms. MARVEL, the title of the book should properly be Ms MARVEL. But Marvel (the company) won't listen to me, so I don't expect DC to either. For what it's worth, there's a building in Portland, Maine that gets my hackles up in a similar way. There is a piece of carved granite high over the main door with the date "1993 A.D." on it. Of course, it should be A.D. 1993, but, once again, nobody listens to me.

Anyway, regarding the $5.99 Mister Miracle book — a "director's cut" is the kind of stunt I would normally avoid like a Kryptonian plague slug. But here's the thing — I had skipped the title when it was first solicited, having been far less impressed than fandom assembled with writer Tom King, based on his work in GRAYSON and BATMAN. But after this book blew up the internet I looked into getting it, despite the $4 price tag. Sadly, my retailer informed me #1 was all sold out and he could not get any more copies from Diamond, not even of the second print. So, I had chalked it up to a missed opportunity. But then DC solicited this "Director's Cut" thing and I figured, "Oh, what the hell." So, I ordered it and grabbed issue #s 2-5 at my LCS (getting the last #2, FWIW). Also factoring into the decision is the fact the special edition will include King's original script. I've long had a theory that there's a lot more in his head, and probably in his scripts, than is translating onto the printed page. So, I'm interested to see if that theory holds.

I also add a few new DC titles in February, increasing my total pre-order from 16 in January to 21. Of note, however, is that only one my my adds is from the New Heroes (or whatever they're calling it) line. That one is THE TERRIFICS. Why this title (which I also ordered last month and has been resolicted)? Well, I like writer Jeff Lemire okay, for one thing. More importantly, I like the characters of Mr. Terrific, Metamorpho, and Plastic Man. And, most important of all, I am a sucker for anything Legion and, as such, can not resist the temptation to see what this present-day might-be-Phantom Girl is all about. Of course, as all good Legion fans know, the present-day DCU is stank with might-be-Phantom Girls. Maybe Lemire will make this one one-third Carggitte, but I doubt it. My expectations are low, however, if only because the solicitation copy refers to the four Terrifics as being "literally bound together by a tragic accident." Literally. And yet I see no chains in the cover image by Joe Prado binding the characters to each other. Ah, well.

The rest of the new hero lines leaves me underwhelmed. For the most part, the books remind me of the early-to-mid '90s, when DC was pumping out new hero books like DAMAGE, GUNFIRE, and ANIMA to little or no immediate resonance or lasting impact. So, they're all a skip, for me. Also getting a hard skip is the Young Animal crossovers with the main DCU. I tried and eventually dropped all of these titles, and I'm not likely to be enticed back with $5 specials. Hell, at $5 a pop, who does DC think will buy in and become fans of these failing alt-titles?

The only thing I do bite on is the MERA: QUEEN OF ATALANTIS mini, mostly because I have enjoyed Dan Abnett's AQUAMAN. Still, $4 was a tough sell and I nearly balked. If it had been an ongoing, I probably would have.

I also add in SUPERMAN, given the expectation that there may be some crossover as we near the ACTION #1,000 milestone. Also, while James Robinson has run hot and cold (mostly cold) with me since about midway though his STARMAN run, I have enjoyed his recent stint on WONDER WOMAN. So, he's re-earned some good will from me.

I do consider the YOUNG MONSTERS IN LOVE one-shot, but there's just no way in hell I'm paying $10 for an 80-page book, I don't care if it is in a "prestige format."

So, other than that, my DC order remains unchanged, although I am nervous that we've now gone two months without an ASTRO CITY solicitation. I hope the book has not been canceled!

Also, unchanged is my Marvel order. At $4 a pop, I'm real reluctant to take a chance on new titles from the House of Ideas. Rather, I'm actually looking forward to freeing up some coin by dropping a couple of titles once Brian Michael Bendis completes his move to DC.

Image Comics once again throws meatballs against the wall with a host of new series, hoping, I guess, that something will stick like undead zombie brains. All the new titles are $4 books, though, so I pass. Making that easier is my switch a couple of months ago in promotional offers from my LCS. For years (decades, really) I have taken a free PREVIEWS catalog each month. But with so many solicitations now online (and most weeks before PREVIEWS comes out) I flipped and now take instead a free bag and board with each new comic. The downside of that is that these new Image series don't have preview pages online as they do in the printed catalog. That has, from time to time, enticed me to try a new series. But with no idea what is actually going  to be in these new issues, I don't dare take $4 gamble (and keep in mind, once again, I will have committed myself as far as #3 by the time I actually read #1, so it's a $12 bet) unless the solicitation copy really grabs me.

Still, had I not been so over budget already this month, I might have bitten on the new KICK-ASS, or the HITGIRL series. Alas, my supply of dollars is infinitely finite, as it were.

I check in on Boom Studios, Dark Horse Comics, and Dynamite Entertainment, but nothing from any of these companies appealed to me enough that I'm inclined to drop anything from me regular pull list to make room for something new. The lone exception is the G.I. JOE vs. THE SIX-MILLION DOLLAR MAN book. I will probably regret that decision, in part because I'm a tad too old to harbor much nostalgia for the Joe cartoons of the 1980s. Still, Steve Austin hits a sweet spot, and I am curious to see how he'd match up against the Joe crew. Plus, the mini is only four issues, so the damage won't be too awful extensive if it sucks.

I also check out a few smaller publishers via Diamond's online catalog, but nothing screams at me to drop something else for it. Cut from my January list is the new STRANGERS IN PARADISE book from Abstract Studios. I had thought it was to be an ongoing series, but it's not solicited for February and my retailer says the January book is a one-shot.

Ah, well.

To close, here's what I will be buying in February 2018. Well, mostly. The ACTION #1,000 book comes out in April, as already noted, while the new DARK KNIGHTS: METAL is advance-solicited for March.

DC COMICS (12 books)
• ACTION COMICS #997-998 ($2.99, ea.)
• AQUAMAN #33 ($3.99)
• DARK KNIGHTS: METAL #4 of 6 ($4.99)
• DOOMSDAY CLOCK #4 of 12 ($4.99)
• GREEN LANTERNS #40-41 ($2.99, ea.)
ยช MERA: QUEEN OF ATLANTIS #1 of 6 ($3.99)
• RAGMAN #5 of 6 ($2.99)
• SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP #35 ($2.99)
• SUPER SONS #13 ($3.99)
• SUPERMAN $40-41 ($2.99, ea.)
• THE TERRIFICS #1 ($2.99)
• WONDER WOMAN #40-41 ($2.99, ea.)

MARVEL COMICS (11 books)
• THE AVENGERS #679-682 ($3.99, ea.)
• CAPTAIN AMERICA #698 ($3.99)
• THE CHAMPIONS #17 ($3.99)
• THE DEFENDERS #10 ($3.99)
• JESSICA JONES #17 ($3.99)
• MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #3 ($3.99)
• THE MIGHTY THOR #704 ($3.99)
• Ms MARVEL #27 ($3.99)

IMAGE COMIC (3 books)
• KILL OR BE KILLED #16 ($3.99)
• MAGE: THE HERO DENIED #6 of 15 ($3.99)
• PAPER GIRLS #20 ($2.99)

• G.I. JOE vs. THE SIX-MILLION DOLLAR MAN #1 of 4 ($3.99)
• UNCLE SCROOGE #35 ($3.99)

RED 5 COMICS (1 book)
• CHASING HITLER #4 of 4 ($3.99)

That's a total of 38 books at a retail value of $169.58. But for me, after discount and sales tax, the total damage comes to $143.13.

Anyway, that's what I've ordered for February 2018. What comics will you be buying?

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