Leave Your Spandex @t the Door: Previewscope


Welcome to the 40th installment of Leave Your Spandex @t the Door!

This week sees the return of an old LYS@D staple, the Previewscope. The first week of every month, I will be looking through the thick volume of solicited goodness that is the Diamond PREVIEWS catalog and give you the product highlights that you sould be on the lookout for. The focus will be less on the big publishers and more on the independent and creator-owned comics, since that section of the catalog is the bulkiest and the most difficult to wade through. Every month I will be joined by a different Nexus crew member who will give a separate viewpoint on the upcoming books and recommendations.

Kicking off this first new Previewscope, is James Hatton!! Much like his name, right now, everything James says in the column will be in bold, while all my comments will be in the regular boring font. You can check out sexy expose pics of James and a list of his recent reviews right here!

James, would you care to kick off the Previewscope for products shipping in January, 2005, please?


Two excellent things of note at DC this month are specifically in relation to their up and coming movie projects. First off, the reprints of SIN CITY VOLUMES #1 & #2 are available to start getting you prepped for the movie of 2005. Having already seen the trailers, I’m doing my best to pick up some of the trades that I haven’t read from the series.

The second is the big display they are giving to HELLBLAZER. A Keanu movie (which nowadays just seems to be its own genre, doesn’t it?) doesn’t make me think John Constantine, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy all of the amazing storywork that’s come out of the longest running Vertigo title. The only problem I see in these releases is that you’re not going to want to order the new official movie statues before knowing if this bad boy is a lemon or not. Unless of course you have a weird fixation on owning every comic statue of Keanu.

Also remember to reserve your copy of the last issue of Grant Morrison’s WE3 from Vertigo. A twisted book, but is an excellent read.

SEAGUY (whose TPB collection is solicited this month), and now WE3 have convinced me of Grant’s sheer raw talent, having missed out on the Invisibles and his older work before his stint at Marvel. At first I had thought the concept of the book (three animals turned into cybernetic killing machines) would have been an ill fit for Quitely who excels in storytelling and character designs. Then the first issue hit and my jaw dropped at the new storytelling techniques the pair introduced here, the beauty of the uncensored over-the-top violence (you thought Kill Bill was bloody? Heh), the bold cuteness of the animal stars and the futuristic design of their cybernetic prosthetics and armaments. In the coming years we will most likely be looking back to these books that Morrison is currently writing for Vertigo as the new comics classics.

Speaking of collections, DC is wisely following Marvel’s initiative and continues to put out trade collections of their recent titles, although not at the same high frequency and bulk as the latter. This month, two collections stand out for me, apart from the aforementioned SEAGUY:


You can usually spot the moment, when a creative team really comes together on a title and hits its stride. This is the moment for the latest BoP team of Gail Simone and Ed Benes. The story takes place in Hong Kong, where the Black Canary travels to visit her Sensei’s grave and is forced into an uneasy alliance with Lady Shiva and Cheshire. Entertaining action sequences, a strong plot and strong female characters that escape the usual spandex-y stereotypes.


RELENTLESS was my favourite storyline of 2003 and the creative high-point of the entire Ed Brubaker run so far. The TPB collects CATWOMAN #12-19: the 5-issue storyline along with its 3-issue aftermath storyline and the prologue from the Secret Files issue. In ‘Relentless’ (art by SEAGUY’s Cameron Stewart) the Black Mask seeks revenge on Catwoman and hits her where it hurts: by destroying the good work she has done for the East End and capturing and torturing her family and loved ones. An abundance of emotional moments, non-stop beautifully-choreographed action sequences, the most shocking villainous act and the mother of all finales. In ‘No easy way down’ (art by HUMAN TARGET’s Javier Pulido), Selina deals with the intense trauma of the previous issues by starting an affair with Slam Bradley and Holly struggles with her old drug addition problem. Tooting the horn again, but it was the most intense bit of character development and insight I have read recently. The cast of Catwoman really came to life within these 8 issues, and this TPB should be on everyone’s shelf.

For more Catwoman in January, Selina and Slam Bradley guest-star in GOTHAM CENTRAL #27 and over at hr monthly title, CATWOMAN #29 features the debut of interim writer Scott Morse!


Image is coming out with a strong month with lots of #1s and quite a few TPBs to wet your pallete for the cold months still ahead. Here are a couple of my picks: .


16 short stories all relating to how the words Love, Hate, Fear, and Fate all define our worlds. With such a high concept, this book could be as big of a seller as ‘FLIGHT’ was and if it was as good as Flight, then it’s a must have for your trade collection.

26 creators are involved in this project, including favourites like ANDI WATSON, JAMIE S. RICH, JOE CASEY, CHYNNA CLUGSTON-MAJOR, ROBERT KIRKMAN, JIM MAHFOOD, SCOTT MORSE, J. TORRES, STEVEN GRIFFIN (who also provides the stunning stylistic cover), MIKE HUDDLESTON and PHIL HESTER. The full credits read like the creative staff list of Oni Press, it’s great to see all this great talent get a greater spotlight (Oni is currently my ultimate quality standard).

FREEDOM FORCE #1 (of 6) (pg 140)

Freedom Force was such a fun game that had a comicbook BEGGING to be born from it. Sadly, they have waited way too long for this book to have any kind of power – and with City Of Heroes having their own brand of comic and online shenanigans it makes me sad to see this treated like an afterthought.

Freedom Force is my favourite computer game from the last years, it had truly captured the magic of the superhero genre and had very interesting characters and game system. The mini-series seems to be following the plot of the game, as the first issue’s solicitation describes the opening mission of the game, with Mentor ‘drafting’ Minuteman and El Diablo to face the Russian stereotype villain Nuklear Winter. If this was released parallel with the game it would have given away the plot and its development. With the sequel of the game right around the corner, this may be good timing after all. What I would be more interested in seeing would be a continuation of the story after the game’s finale. These characters aren’t going to appear in any of the sequels (which will be set in the golden and modern age), so the writer could have free reign with them. I’ll be holding an interview with FF artist Tom Scioli which will likely appear on the site this month.

ULTRA #6 (of 8)

You know that old tired way of describing the high concept of the book by saying ‘it like –X movie property- meets –Y-‘? Here we have X = Sex and the City and Y = superheroines. It’s one of those cases of ‘I can’t believe noone did a book like this before’. For the three best friends being a superhero is more than a calling”¦ well, actually, it’s a job. Ultra looks at the lives of these superheroines in between the big fights, when they’ve ‘left their spandex at the doo’, so to speak ;). The series is now half-way through, but it’s still very accessible.


Pigtale is the work of another new comics talent (bless Image again), Ovi Nedelcu. It stars an amateur private eye, Boston Booth, who yearns to follow in the footsteps of his dad, but is always rejected. Enter a talking pig-sidekick, and his evil world-dominator-wannabe wolf stepbrother.
The setting sounds incredibly fun, and from the issue previews that I’ve seen at Nedelcu’s website, his cartoony artwork has a distinctive exuberant style, especially through his fun characters designs. His work looks like it could have come from one of the great animation studios, and it’s no surprise that his future and current projects include design and storyboards work with the director of Nightmare before Christmas and on Neil Gaiman’s Coraline.

RISING STARS #24 (pg 162)

Finally this 800-lb gorilla sees it’s end. This book has fought to finish, and I can’t wait to see it’s conclusion. Honestly, it’s going to be much easier to pick up in trade format because of it’s lost readership, but for anyone who didn’t know that it was finishing, now you know – and that’s at least a specific percentage of the battle.


You would think that being the huge Marvel reader that I am, I’d have a lot to say about this month – but there really isn’t that much going on besides a couple notable trade releases and one huge happy note for me.


District X is probably one of the strongest titles coming out of Marvel right now, and I hope that the readership is strong to keep it going for quite awhile. The first arc came out of nowhere and turned Bishop into a character that I looked forward to reading it, and the power of the book is that it is like reading a mix between Gotham Central and CSI: Mutant Town.


This was one of the most recent mini-series that came out of the House of Ideas that I truly loved from beginning to end. The story of a weird Marvel Universe where nobody has powers, but somebody keeps meeting people he remembers. People who he thinks SHOULD have powers. What’s wrong with him… or them?

. X-MEN #166

For those who read any of my reviewing regularly, you know that right now there are only two writers that I whimper in dismay at. One of them is Chuck Austen, and this month X-Men #166 debuts X-Men’s newest writer, former X-Statix scribe, Peter Milligan. This very well might set up the next great era of X-Men so grab it.

After the recent finale of the X-Statix title, the X-Men family of titles had lost its appeal to me (not even the ‘’Astonishing” new edition could capture the same kind of wide-eyed excitement the late title elicited in me. Now, with Peter Milligan coming on board the X-Men title, I’m enthusiastic about the mutant genre once more. He is my favourite writer of all time, and he seems to be keeping the Austen-gathered team around, which contains some of my favourite (see ‘’B-list”) x-characters.
(Also, having reread X-Force #120 and Wolverine/Doop recently, I’m convinced Milligan is the one current writer who can make me glad that Wolverine is still part of the X-Men team!)


Brian K. Vaughan is on a roll! Let’s do a roll call on cool things in this issue: LONGSHOT! STUART IMMONEN! KRAKOA! ARCADE!
And best of all: NO freakin’ MULLET! How’s that for good service? I wonder how far off an Ultimate Mojo is”¦
Ever since Vaughan came on board, he has breathed new life on a title that (for me) had run its course and lost its novelty value. On one hand I’m worried about him going overboard with the new characters he keeps ‘ultimizing’, but I can’t deny the thrill I get from these reimaginings. Keep’em coming!


This looks like the beginning of the rumored ‘House of M’ crossover, as Magneto returns to Genosha carrying the newly-demented Scarlet Witch. If I’m not mistaken this will be the first time Claremont will be writing the Scarlet Witch. Will she be enough to shake this title out of the slump it’s found itself in since the get-go? And is that the Dark Beast on the cover? Looks like the AOA anniversary is approaching in full steam


“”¦and then fandom breathed a collective sigh of relief and cheered in unison”
Peter David is THE Hulk writer, noone can ever deny him that. His run on the character is one of the longest in the history of comics for a company-owned character. He may have had his ups and downs, but when David was good, he was phenomenal and it was real shame when he left the book because he didn’t agree with the take on the character the editorial wanted to enforce on him.
Now, he finally returns to the Jade Giant with this issue, the first part of Tempest Fugit. When a ‘definitive’ creator returns to such a property after some absence, there’s always some trepidation on how his new work will stack up to the ‘classic’ stuff, which is put on a higher pedestal. We’ve seen Chris Claremont undergo this ‘test’ and be found wanting, while George Perez put his old run to shame with his output after Heroes Return. I think, judging from David’s latest work on such rare gems as FALLEN ANGEL and MADROX, that he will amaze us once more.

Oh, and the new Emma Frost action figure is hot. I have nothing else to say about it other than that.


Is that the seductress –all-revealing- figure from the Hellfire days, or the school headmistress (with ugly white lipstick action) Cassaday design? Take a wild guess at which of the two I prefer.

Closing the Marvel section, can I just point to the cover to X-MEN: PHOENIX: ENDSONG #1, it’s the most striking work by Greg Land yet! I’m ordering this poster for my room.



. TOZZER 2 #4 (ABLAZE MEDIA – pg 200)

Tozzer is the abandoned (well, sold off, actually) bastard child of David Copperfield and Claudia Schiffer (or funnily veiled versions thereof: Cop-a-feel and Shifferbrains). And as of the first Tozzer story, a student a Boarboils School for illusionists and stage magicians. Tozzer 2, like its predecessor is a relentless Hollywood/media parody (with the whole cast being oblique references to celebrities) filled to the brim with pop culture gags and in-jokes. I’m going to be reviewing the first issues of the new series more in-depth in an upcoming column.


For just $17.95 you get a pocket-sized reprint of more than a yea’s worth (over 13 issues I think) of Strangers in Paradise stories, continuing the reprinting of vol.3 of the series. The art still looks magnificent even at the reduced size and the trades have great design, with the images on each volume’s spine fitting together to form a big shot of all the characters of the series.

The story, for the uninitiated, revolves around three best friends and the strange games love plays on them. The main focus of the first stories was on Katchoo’s past and the budding relationship between her and Francine, with David thrown in the middle, hopelessly in love with one of the two girls. I was so engrossed by the story in the first pocket volume that I read it in one sitting, over a 5-hour train journey to London. It’s a great read, combining romance, drama and action, and in this format it’s an unbeatable offer.


I love reading scripts, personally. It’s interesting to see how the writing moves to the comic, especially when it’s a series that I rank as one of the best series of the year. Demo was a new take on how somebody writes people with superpowers. So this one is going to be in my reserve bin. Plus it’s twelve scripts for 12.95 – I’m there.

This is THE best mini series of the year for me too, mate! Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan have an amazing synergy that shows from the quality of the comic. I’ve never considered buying a scriptbook for any other series , but this one I can’t pass by.


Reoffered for ordering, 15 minutes features 3 stories by Bob Elinskas and Dave Hedgecock, set around Andy Warhol’s famous comment about everyone’s claim to 15 minutes of fame, in a world where superheroes are part of everyday life. A preview of the first issue, with an everyday slob who receives a powerful superhero artefact in the mail by mistake, can be seen on the SLG website.


From Evan Dorkin’s DORK series, I just love this t-shirt design. And since a picture’s worth a thousand words (and I’m running out):


I will admit that this is getting a shout out because Mark McKenna is a friend, and it’s great to see his vision finally get into the pages of Previews for mass solicitation. This is a kid friendly book about a playful monkey named aptly, Bananatail and his friends. If you have kids and want to have something fun for them to read or read to them, this is an awesome pick.


It’s the sequel to Futurama/Simpsons Infinitely Secret Crossover Crisis, last yea’s hilarious first meeting of the two greatest prime-time animated series casts. The entire populace of Springfield is transferred thousands years into the future, to New New York, where they are turned into slaves!


The second issue of the ‘’buddy movie with a body count”, by the talented Geoff Darrow making his return to comics, helped by the Wachowski Bros, creators of the Matrix. I’m not sure what their involvement in this project is exactly, or if they’re just attached for name recognition to help push the title.


If you haven’t noticed yet, I love trades. Blaylock, of GI JOE fame, puts his 4 issue story together in this digest book. It’s a punky sci-fi story that is just a fun light read. Nothing extreme, just fun story.


‘Thief’ is an odd story written by Clive Barker as it is probably the closest he will ever come out with a book that is universally acceptable. It’s what happens when a naive little boy gets caught up in what he wants over what he needs. I am truly looking forward to seeing how this book becomes graphically adapted. High recommendations to check it out.


Daniel Krall has provided unique retro style art in the past in the pages of ONE PLUS ONE and the MADMAN SPECIAL, and this is his new solo project. The story sets off when a bored rich kid runs off with his stepmother, and the main characters are the rich kid, the detective sent after him and the woman sent to kill him. The book was originally solicited for May, but is getting a resolicit this month.

. BRODIE’S LAW #6 (STUDIO G – pg 317)

I got the first issue of BRODIE’S LAW from writer Daley Osiyemi during the London con 3 weeks ago, and I will be reviewing it properly soon, too. Jack Brodie is a man on the run, framed for his wife’s death and trying to recover his kidnapped son. But he has acquired an extraordinary ability: he can assume the likeness of a person he touches, stealing their face and a part of their soul for a brief time. It’s a gritty action story with intense art which uses a colour palette steeped in bloody reds that give it a unique feel.


Craig Thompson’s first graphic novel work, features two best friends: Chunky Rice, a small turtle, and Dandel, a mouse. Chunky Rice leaves his hometown and leaves his best friend behind. The story is about friendship and separation, as both characters deal with life without one another and the fear of the changes that are happening in their lives.

This is it for Previewscope this month, many thanks to James for his kind contribution!

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Coming up in the next weeks: more FUTURE QUAKE! ULTRA! GOTHAM CENTRAL! A special interview with Joe Casey about everything and a fond farewell to X-STATIX”¦.
As always, I’m waiting for your comments through email or in the new official LYS@D discussion thread.

Manolis Vamvounis
a.k.a. Doc Dooplove

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ah, the good old Dr Manolis, the original comics Greek. He's been at this for sometime. he was there when the Comics Nexus was founded, he even gave it its name, he even used to run it for a couple of years. he's been writing about comics, geeking out incessantly and interviewing busier people than himself for over ten years now and has no intention of stopping anytime soon.