Leave Your Spandex At The Door 4.26.04

Welcome to the 31st installment of Leave Your Spandex At The Door!

This week we take a really delayed look at the Previews catalog for products shipping in June 2004. Although the pre-ordering deadlines for all companies (except Marvel) has passed a week ago, you can still order the titles you want from your retailer, as most companies support re-ordering. Don’t forget that pre-ordering helps retailers see what titles are more popular, take notice of lesser-known ones, and so ultimately help the creators increase their sales. “Pre-ordering is your friend!”

Kevin Rapp is back this week to help with the massive weight of the Previews book. His comments are as always marked in bold.

[Before we move on, I’d like to remind everyone to check last week’s interview with Dave Crosland and Wayne Chinsiang! You can read the interview here and check out the 11-page preview of the HEAVEN, LLC GN here.

DARK HORSE

THE GOON #7: A Goon/Hellboy team-up? I giggle like a schoolgirl at the potential of madness and fun in this book.

SAMURAI EXECUTIONER VOL. 1: The team behind Lone Wolf and Cub delivers volume one of a new ten volume series, in the same format as the former series. Three hundred pages for ten bucks is always a nice little deal, so I’ll probably give this a look.

CREATURES OF THE NIGHTMichael Zulli’s art is magic, a poem to behold, and I consider him one of my favorite Sandman illustrators. Here, he illustrates two stories from Neil Gaiman’s prose anthology Smoke and Mirrors. The book comes in an oversized 48pg Hardcover edition, at $13, but I don’t think the price point is too high to deter any Gaiman fan from adding this to their collection.

DC COMICS

SCRATCH #1: Ah! Just as we were on the subject of beloved Sandman artists! Sam Kieth returns to DC with a 5-issue Batman mini-series. Batman puts on his Sherlock cap once more to investigate a seires of children disappearances in a small town, which may or not be the handiwork of a kid werewolf, Scratch. Sam Kieth is an artist I follow with a passion, ever since first coming in contact with his work, in Zero Girl and the Sandman trades. I’ve long wondered how his surreal and darkly brooding art style would work on Batman, and the preview pages show that I’m not in for disappointment!

Sam Kieth=pretty and more than a little slightly deranged. Sounds like a perfect mix for a Batman story. This surely won’t be for everyone, but for any others like me who are loving these Maxx trade releases, this is a lovely thing to see.SUPERMAN #206: I’ve seen this preview art in a lot of sites, but noone seems to notice that Superman is fighting with the Trillion Dollar Bastard, from Millar’s Authority run. This is one slugfest that could pique my interest!

THE WITCHING #1: Vertigo has been on the up and up the last years, with every new ongoing series turning into a cult hit. The Witching looks like another sparkling gem on Vertigo’s crown. The book will follow the adventures of three young witches in America: the disappointed Elsa who dreams of retiring to her cozy house on the moon, the timid Korean youth, Sook, who hides a wild side, and the goth Pink-esque pop-star Kara with her mis-matched eyes and homicidal teddybear. I enjoyed the girls’ character designs (especially Kara), the covers are by Tara McPherson, whose art really pulls me in a title, and of course the writing is by Jonathan Vankin who created the beloved Vertigo Pop: Tokyo mini some years back.

EX MACHINA #1: Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris! A 40-page first issue for the regular cover price of $2.99! And if all this isn’t reason enough to buy this, what if I told you it is set in a world where the world’s first super-hero decided to call it quits and became the Mayor of New York City? I honestly don’t believe Brian Vaughan can write something that is beneath excellent, and I have his track record of books like Y the last man, the runaways, the Hood, Mystique and Chamber to back up my opinion.

Vaughan and Harris would sell me on this alone, but the premise and interviews on this title have me extremely excited for this book. This has the promise to be the best new book of 2004. I’m anxiously awaiting this one.

SLEEPER BOOK 2: ALL FALSE MOVES and SLEEPER SEASON TWO: There’s no comics-related choice from last year I’ve regretted more than the fact I dropped Sleeper off my pull-list! Hopefully this lush trade containing issues 7-12 of the cult-hit series. And it all leads into the new season 2 series also starting this month! Many kudos to DC for timing this release just right!

I find myself constantly baffled by the fact that this book isn’t in the Top Ten. If quality equaled sales, this would be in the elite ten month after month. Good on DC for making an easy release schedule for folks who need to get on the Sleeper bandwagon. Seriously, folks, if you haven’t read this title, it’s looooong past time. BUY THIS.

FALLEN ANGEL TPBand FALLEN ANGEL #12: Even more kudos for DC! They’re releasing a trade collection of the first 6 issues of Peter David’s new series, just as the 12 issue ships, with a stand-alone issue shedding light into the Angel’s origins (described by PAD as an ideal jumping-on point for new readers). The Fallen Angel has set herself as the vigilante of the town of Bete Noir, offering her services to those in need, but never guaranteeing he’s always be on the same side of the fence when all the cards are turned on the table. I consider it PAD’s most poignant work to date.

CATWOMAN #32: Catwoman and Batman kissing on the cover of Catwoman. Now there‘s something you don’t see every day! Oh, no , wait!
This issue shows the repercussions from the so-far long(-and-badly)-drawn Gulacy arc, and as the solicits spoil, a member of the cast doesn’t make it through. This issue features guest-art by Sleeper-collaborator Sean Phillips so it will be an enjoyable break from the regular art. I want to see Sean’s take on Selina’s new costume. Maybe this will lead to a return to the old style on the book? 😉

If we were only so lucky. Well, DC’s just spoiling us with all this Brubaker/Phillips goodness this month. I can now look forward to an issue of Catwoman where the art won’t repulse me.

BATMAN ADVENTURES, VOL. 1 TPB: I like these volumes, reprinting six issues of their all-ages material for seven bucks. Not only that, but after re-reading all my old Batman Adventures singles from AAAAAAAAGES ago, I’ve found that the series was often wittier and more entertaining than its “mature” counterparts. These books will probably get written off as “kids’ stuff”, which is unfortunate, as they are terrific and cheap. What more could you ask for?

JLA/AVENGERS OVERSIZED HARDCOVER: Wow, can we say “rip-off”? Four-issue mini for seventy-five bucks? Jeez. If you’ve got that much cash to burn, have at it, but this just makes me queasy. Oy.

IMAGE COMICS

COMMON GROUNDS #6: Troy Hickman’s fresh take on superheroes, as they frequent the Common Grounds coffee shop, concludes in this 6th issue. Sam Kieth (see the Scratch entry in the DC section) provides art for the second story here, featuring the American Pi, whose impressive costume design can be seen on the issue’s cover. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with this anthology title, and I’m hoping to see more from Troy in the future, although not necessarily from Top Cow.

CITY OF SILENCE TPB: It’s a Warren Ellis story that’s supposedly similar to Transmetropolitan. Could be worth a look.

MARVEL COMICS

AMAZING FANTASY #1: A new ongoing by Fiona Avery (The frequent writer of Amazing Spiderman, who only occasionally credited accurately as such) and Mark Brooks, Marvel’s new “Igor-Kordey” a.k.a. their go-to guy when they don’t have a penciller on a new title. The title features a new female Spider-man equivalent, who is rather blatantly NOT given a name in the solicits. I’m hoping this won’t have a rumoured effect on Spidergirl’s longevity

A.K.A. Spider-Girl, v.2.0. I have no interest in ANOTHER Spider-Girl series, and have even less interest in Avery’s writing. Pass.

ULTIMATE SPIDERMAN #60-61: Venom. Carnage. The Lizard. The Punisher. BEN REILLY? I’ve never met a bigger fan of the 90s than Bendis. And it’s as if someone has dared him to write books about oddball 90s stars like Mattie Franklin, Speedball and Carnage. I just hope he doesn’t decide to do an Ultimate Spider-Clone Saga. You can’t get away with murder, Bendis, don’t push your luck! 😉

Wow. Throw in special guest artist Todd McFarlane and this’ll be the best story EVER.

VENOM VS. CARNAGE: Peter Milligan’s latest title choices in Marvel make no sense absolutely. First the two Punisher titles, and now this. Carnage is about to give birth to a new symbiote (wasn’t that done to the death during the whole 90s videogame-tie-in symbiote craze?). The highlight here is the lush shiny computer-manipulated art by Clayton Crain which is eye-catching and perfectly suited for this project. I hold some reservation for the way he will depict human faces and spider-man, but there’s no question he is the best choice to illustrate the symbiote protagonists.

Is Milligan strapped for cash or something?

POWERLESS #1: YAWN! What if daredevil, spiderman and wolvie never got their powers… Well, Wolverine would be about 160 by now, and where he deserves to be: six feet under. This project simply doesn’t spark the slightest hint of interest in me, although illustrated by Michael Gaydos, formerly of Alias fame.

I second that yawn.

SPIDERMAN 2: THE MOVIE: This is quite amusing. There’s no writer OR artist attached to this project, yet Marvel solicits both the book AND its TPB collection here.

Why do you have to get all caught up in the details, Manolis?

ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #7-8: Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen take over the reigns of this title from Bendis, Millar and Kubert. Ellis is one of my favourite suphero writers, although he doesn’t seem to think much of that era of his career. This arc will focus on Dr Doom, a character Ellis had previously handled remarkably in the much-missed Doom 2099 series. The preview pages suggest Ellis will revisit the team’s origins, as we witness the split moment of their transformation, and get a glimpse of Doom’s updated visuals, and of… Man-Thing?

FF has some great techno sci-fi elements that Ellis could do something really fun with. His superhero work is always top notch, despite his feelings for the genre. Should be a great read.

MARY-JANE #1: Sean McKeever and Marvel’s new manga wonder-child Takeshi Miyazawa. This will be an all-new MJ, not the ultimate, or the regular universe or movieverse version, following Marvel’s long-honoured stratey of confusing the heck out of new readers. I still have to give them applause though for continuing to reach to the female audience, and Mary-Jane seems the best-suited character for this task, especially with the spider-movie only months away. I do wonder how McKeever will manage to write this series without having spider-man steal the spotlight.

McKeever (a fellow Columbus, Ohio resident!) is a great teen/romance genre writer, as seen on the Waiting Place. This book looks to be right up his alley, and it’s always nice to see Marvel attempting to branch out of the superhero genre. Now, can we try it WITHOUT any superheroes in the book, please?

SPIDER-GIRL #75: The little title that could, tredges on. Spider-Girl gets a daring costume change, switching to the classic black-and-white symbiote costume from the post-Secret Wars spiderman stories. The solicits tease about a name change, which will only be confirmed in next month’s solicits, I guess. I hope this change gives this title the much-needed boost it needs, as it is consistently Marvel’s most entertaining title.

ASTONISHING X-MEN #2: Last month, I was completely un-hyped about this book, but the sight of this staggeringly beautiful cover, has turned me around 180 degrees. I’m hoping Marvel produces another posterbook this year, I’d buy it just for t
his one page of art.

That sure is pretty. I’m thinking of waiting for the hardcover collection on this one, but I’m not sure if I’ll have the willpower when these hit the stands. We’ll see.

MERRY MARVEL MUTANT MUSICAL X-CHAIRS: In reference to ASTONISHING X-MEN, and the covers to UNCANNY X-MEN #445 and X-MEN #158, revealing the new rosters. The casts of the three old x-titles have seemingly rotated clockwise, and everything old is polished off and passed as new:
The X-TREME X-Men have become UNCANNY.
The UNCANNY X-Men have become adjectiveless.
The NEW X-Men have become ASTONISHING.
Maybe one or two characters have moved around, but the core teams remain essentially unchanged, and there is only the illusion of new. Marvel was on to something when they called this REload. Repetetition seems to be the key word.

NEW X-MEN #2: NOT “New-X-men: Academy-X”, as it was solicited last month, but simply NEW X-MEN now. And this, after reading an interview from DeFilippis and Weir this month in another news-site where they said the editors agreed to change the name to include the “Academy-X” tag, so as not to confuse the fans into thinking this was a continuation of Grant’s run. An excellent title, mired by questionable marketing strategies.

WITCHES #1-2: This title with art by Mike Deodato Jr. was first announced almost 2 years ago (even earlier on), but it kept getting delayed and eventually cancelled. Now it is suddenly back on the publishing schedule, just in time to coincide with the release Vertigo’s THE WITCHING. This title features Dr. Strange as the witches’ recruiter (just as the Witching will feature Constantine according to the rumours), and stars Jennifer Kale, Topaz and Satana (the Devil’s daughter!). As I recall, this is drawn by Deodato before he switched to his darker style for Tigra and the Hulk, so the first issues will most likely feature his old trademark “babe” art. I’ll have to wait for the title to come out before I make final judgement though, of course. I’ll hope for the best, and pre-order only the Witching.

INDIES

THE UNCANNY DAVE COCKRUM TRIBUTE SOFTCOVER [AARDWOLF PUBLISHING, p. 204, $29.95]
I think most everyone is familiar with Dave Cockrum’s recent health problems and his current hospitalisation. This tribute book aims to gather funds to help pay Dave’s hospital bills and see him safely back to health. It contains art and stories from a true Who Is Who of comics profesionals, the list of names running 15 lines in the book’s solicit, and with so many great creators that I couldn’t possibly pick the top names from amongst them. Every X-Fan should pick this book up, as a show of respect to the man who created so many wonderful characters in his prime and has helped build the foundation of what is the most commercial comics property today.

DEMO #7 [AiT/PLANETLAR, p. 214, $2.95]
The seventh issue of this milestone series features the story of a young man with the gift of always hitting his target. He enlists in the army to provide for his family, but he doesn’t wish to ever kill someone. When he finds himself thrust in a warzone, his talent will prove his curse. Brian Wood trully amazes me with each story in this series, and I feel I don’t hype this title nowhere near as much as I should.

Wood is hit and miss with me. DEMO interests me, but I prefer the usual graphic novel format AiT is known for. I’m waiting for a trade of this book. Larry Young has said there probably won’t be one, but I’m not entirely sure that’s not just a marketing tactic. So, Larry, get me a trade or lose the sale on this one. And, while I’d like to read this, I’ll get over it if I don’t.

I’m pretty sure I’ve read that there WILL be a trade, but it WON’T contain any of the cool extras that are to be found in the individual issues.

HENCH GN:
While we’re on AiT, here’s a very promising graphic novel about a supervillain henchman. I’m surprised about the amount of super-type books coming out of AiT these days, but the premise sounds unique enough for me to give it a shot.

NEIL GAIMAN VIDEO AND T-SHIRT PACK [COMIC BOOK LEGAL DEFENSE FUND, p. 247, $25]
Only read this if you are a size M, cause that’s the only size the tee is still available in! The video features Neil reading out from past and current works and a Q and A session. I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing Neil in person, and I may never be able to, so this is a very special offering.

THE TOMB GRAPHIC NOVEL [ONIPRESS, p. 318, $14.95]
Nunzio DeFillipis and Christina Weir return to the comics genre that kicked off their carreer with this horror story starring a female Indiana Jones archetype, leaing her expedition in the haunted house of a dissapeared archaelogist (who allegedly was in possession of a number of pilfered egyptian artifacts). The premise is intriguing and the writing duet has a flawless track record when it comes to entertaining reads. This project is highly anticipated.

DeFillipis and Weir are a great writing team, and will certainly be able to keep this from going down a tired Tomb Raider route. This should be plenty entertaining.

SPAGHETTI WESTERN GN: Scott Morse doing a western. SOLD. Not only that, but have you seen the art on this puppy? Can you say “drool”? SOLD, SOLD, SOLD.!

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As always, I’m waiting for your comments through email or in the official LYS@D discussion thread.

Manolis Vamvounis
a.k.a. Doc Dooplove