Previews Picks January 2001
Selective highlights and researched insights into the most interesting new comics offered in each month's Previews catalog (without spoilers).
About these pages, and other months' books

Key: [super]Super/Action, [humour]Humour/Fun, [sci-fi]SF, [fantasy]Fantasy, [all ages]All Ages, [les/bi/gay]Les/Bi/Gay, [smut]Smut, [beyond genre]Beyond Genre.
Listings are in reverse order by publisher. Prices and page count are mentioned only if it's outside the arbitrary industry "norm" (i.e. 24-32 pages, $2-4). Items I think are especially worth checking out are offset in boxes.

 Whatever Press
- NEW SERIES: The first feature in Whatever Press.ents (note the wordplay; Previews' typesetters missed it) is Road Movie, about a young woman who's just been released from a mental institution, and promises "a sprinkling of satire, humor, and contemporary questions". [beyond genre] [humour]

 Top Shelf
- NEW SERIES: The Billy Dogma Experience is a new series by Dean Haspiel featuring his surreal title character, an unbalanced tough guy charged with "trafficking an unsolicited belief system, panhandling for a purpose, and daydreaming of a better tomorrow". The first issue "Boy in my Pocket" looks at life from his girlfriend Jane Legit's perspective. Fun stuff for intellectuals. [beyond genre] [humour]

Studio Foglio
- NEW SERIES: Girl Genius is an upcoming series from Kaja and Phil Folgio (creator of Buck Godot, What's New, and the comics adaptation of MythAdventures, as well as the naughty XXXenophile), about an old-fashioned (but female) mad scientist. They're offering a promotional "#0" issue with character profiles and such as a kind of preview to the series. $1.50 for 24 pages (the regular profit-making issues will be $3). [sci-fi] [humour]

- COLLECTION: 32 Pages is a collection of short pieces by Akiko creator Mark Crilley, in which he reveals that not everything he does is appropriate "for all ages". I've seen a few samples, and they look pretty amusing. [humour]

 - NEW PUBLISHER: Xeno's Arrow has been picked up by Radio Comix. Book 2 of the light-hearted sci-fi series by Gregory Beettam and Stephen Geigen-Miller begins after the events of the first series (chronicling the escape of Xeno and his cohorts from the intergalactic zoo), with a new 6-issue story. (The first issue of the first series can be read free online.) [sci-fi] [all ages]

 Penny Farthing
- LIMITED SERIES: Zendra is former Vertigo/Helix editor Stuart Moore's first "indie" project, writing a six-issue color series for penciler Martin Montiel and inker J.C. Buelna, with layouts by Peter Gross. It's a space opera in which a lone genetically-re-engineered human female holds the key to recreating the species. [sci-fi]

- COLLECTION: Frumpy the Clown: Freaking out the Neighbors collects Judd Winick's earlier commercially unsuccessful comic strip featuring a cranky clown living with a suburban family. $16 for 132 pages, in a 9x10" format to better fit the strips themselves. [humour]

- COLLECTION: Trek to Narma Dim collects the first 12 issues of Gutwallow, a fun adventure series for both adults and kids by Dan Berger, about a gingerbread man who escapes from an evil wizard, saves the world from aliens, etc. ("Like Lord of the Rings if it were done by Chuck Jones," according to Stan Sakai.) Three short stories are thrown in for good measure. $25 for 312 pages. [all ages] [fantasy]

- NEW SERIES: The Tick has appeared in color before, both in comics and on TV, so the gimmick here is a little strained, but the first issue of this new color series tells about the blue hero's amazing transition to a world full of color. [humour] [super] [all ages]

- NEW SERIES: Boneyard is a new not-just-for-adults series by Richard Moore, about a man who inherits a cursed local cemetary haunted by various not-so-bad-after-all monsters, including a pretty vampire whom he takes a special liking to. [fantasy] [humour]

People complain about the price of comics, but lowering prices is darn near impossible with the state of the current market. Nonetheless, Marvel's going to try it on a small scale, lowering the price of key "jump on" issues by 26 cents, to $1.99. This month they're doing it with Avengers #38 for the start of penciler Alan Davis, and Incredible Hulk #24 for the start of penciler John Romita Jr. Hopefully the modest size of the "Slashback" price cuts will avoid the "backlash" Milestone got when they tried a similar promotion with a more drastic cut... and store owners balked at the lost retail profits.
- NEW SERIES: Erik Larsen is the key person behind the new Defenders series, with assistance from Kurt Busiek on the writing, and Klaus Jansen on the art. The first issue is $3 for 48 pages, after that it'll be down to standard size/price. [super]
- REPRINT: To go along with the launch of the new series, Marvel are putting out Day of the Defenders, a 64-page reprint of the seminal team-ups of folks who then became the Defenders. $3.50 [super]
- - LIMITED SERIES: Hulk Smash is a two-part story by the team of Garth Ennis and John McCrea, about an army lieutenant whose unit is facing down the angry Hulk. [super]
- - REPRINTS: They're called "essential", so it's a good thing Marvel's putting them back into print, especially since the star is on the verge of some serious publicity. I'm referring to The Essential Spider-Man vol. 1 & 2. Each is $15 for 528 black and white pages, and collectively they reprint up to Amazing Spider-Man #43, including annuals, by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, of course. [super]
- COLLECTION: On a somewhat more modest scale, they're collecting the first three issues of Ultimate Spider-Man in a 96-page book for only $4. Hint: Visit the Marvel web site and you can get this same collection, plus the next two issues of the regular series, for just $3 postage. [super]
- COLLECTION: Adding "essential" material to the catalog is a good idea as well. Essential Thor reprints 528 pages of Asgardian adventures from Journey Into Mystery by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in black and white for a modest $15. [super] [fantasy]
- COLLECTION: A bit newer and a bit more colorful isThor Visionaries: Walt Simonson featuring Thor #337-348 by... oh, you figure it out. 288 pages for $25. [super]
- COLLECTION: A bit thicker, but at the same price is Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller vol. 2 which features more of you-know-who's run on who-know-what-series. 336 pages, with new color separations for better printing. [super]

Image actually have a web site now, not just the 5-minute-job place-holder page they've had for the past year or several. It's kind of low on actual content (instead linking to the various creators' sites), but at least they don't look like some kind of loozer web-illiterate company anymore.
- ONE-SHOT: Superstar: As Seen On TV is the long-awaited debut of what was actually the first Gorilla Comics feature announced, and an idea Kurt Busiek has had kicking around in his head for quite a while. He's a superhero whose power levels are dependent on his popularity. The art is by the stalwart Stuart Immonen. 48 pages for $6. [super]
- NEW SERIES: Area 52 is about the storage facility where things get put when the folks in Area 51 are done with them... or rather it's about the people who work there, which is what makes this look interesting. And of course you can expect their lives to get exciting. The online preview of #1 doesn't contain any dialog or captions, which makes it difficult to assess the writing (by Witchblade creator Brian Haberlin), but it's refreshingly free of anatomically impossible "women" wearing dental floss, and the art (by Clayton Henry) is pretty good. [sci-fi]
- IN THIS ISSUE... of Big Bang Comics is the return of the 1963 heroes, for a crossover between two sets of Silver Age superhero parodies/homages. Jim Valentino co-writes and co-illustrates. [super] [humour]
-COLLECTION: The first six issues of Bendis and Oeming's Powers, along with strips from Comic Shop News and additional stuff like sketchbooks and scripts are being reprinted in one volume, 207 pages for $20. [super]

- NEW SERIES: Petey & Pussy is a new series by Xeric grantee John Kerschbaum, whose The Wiggly Reader comes strongly recommended. Petey and Pussy are a dog and cat (respectively) with balding human heads who previously appeared in The Wiggly Reader. [humour]

- RETURNING SERIES: Love and Rockets, one of the most influential and acclaimed series of the late 20th century, is restarting in the 21st. All three of Los Bros. Hernandez will be back: Jaime, Beto, andMario, and each issue of the series (slated to come out every four months) will feature an installment from each of them. $4 for 32 pages. [beyond genre]

 Drawn & Quarterly
- COLLECTION: Portraits From Life is a collection of six of David Collier's biographies, featuring the stories of 1920's Olympic athlete Ethel Catherwood, English-born Iroquois conservationist Grey Owl, the wrongly-convicted "murderer" David Milgard, Collier's grandfather Richard, and "psychedelic" coiner Humphry Osmond. $13 for 112 pages. His earlier Just The Facts is also relisted. [beyond genre]

DC Universe
- SPECIALS: Taking advantage of the extra shipping week in January, DC are offering a set of extra JLA issues. The gimmick is that the members of the team forget what the letters stand for, so each goes off and creates a different version. They include a Justice League of Amazons (Wonder Woman and a bunch of female heroes, written by Len Kaminski), of Atlantis (Aquaman and the other undersea heroes, also by Kaminski), of Arkham (Batman and some asylum inmates, by Paul Grist), and of Aliens (Supes, J'Onn, and other offworlders, by Judd Winick). The framing "bookends" are by Tom Peyer. [super]
- THIS MONTH IN... the Batman-family titles is "Officer Down" a one-month crossover storyline about the shooting of a certain police officer, and the hunt by the costumed heroes of Gotham for the perpetrator. The involved titles are Batman, Detective, Gotham Knights, Robin, Nightwing, Birds of Prey, Batgirl, and Catwoman. [super]
- SPECIAL: Scarface: A Psychodrama is a 48-page exploration of the Ventriloquist and his mobster dummy, written by Alan Grant with art by Charlie Adlard. $6. [super]
- THIS MONTH IN... Superman we're told that Everything You Know Is Wrong. At least about Krypton. Joy. The cover shows both the pre-Crisis and post-Crisis versions of Jor-El & Lara and Kal-El's escape pod/rocket, which is intriguing... but if there's one thing I am tired of, it's stories that "correct" well-established facts. At least the holofoil cover is included at no extra charge. [super]
- NEW SERIES: After a "delay" in which the first story arc by short-term artist Michael Zulli was instead released as several issue of Legends of the DC Universe, the new series featuring Hal Jordan as The Spectre is being launched, with its ongoing creative team of J.M. DeMatteis and Ryan Sook. [super] [fantasy]

DC Misc.
- REPRINT: Dropsie Avenue: The Neighborhood is the latest addition to DC's library of Will Eisner graphic novels, this one starring his greatest recurring character since the Spirit: his New York City neighbourhood. $15 for 176 pages. [beyond genre]
- REPRINT: The 1971 100-Page Super-Spectacular: Love Stories is being reproduced in a "replica edition", 96 pages for $7. [beyond genre]
- - NEW SERIES: The awkwardly titled Cartoon Network Starring... is being replaced by the slightly less awkward Cartoon Cartoons, which will feature short pieces by a bunch of the usual suspects starring various Cartoon Network characters... and reminding me in the process of just how "out of it" I am, having never seen a single one of them on TV myself. Still holding the line at $1.99. [all ages] [humour]

DC: Vertigo
- LIMITED SERIES: User is a 3-part story by Devin Grayson, illustrated in turns by the painterly John Bolton and digitally by Sean Phillips, about a young woman who becomes a literal - but virtual - knight in shining armour in an online chatroom. Of course one can't expect the distinction between virtual and real to last. Each issue is $6 for 48 pages. [sci-fi]
- LIMITED SERIES: For good or bad, this is not Gerard Jones' and Mike Parobeck's El Diablo. This is Brian Azzarello's and Danijel Zwzelj's take on the classic DC western character. It'll run for 4 issues. [beyond genre]
- COLLECTION: You get a second chance at 100 Bullets #6-14 with Split Second Chance, a second reprint of issues from the series by Azzarello and Eduardo Risso. $15 for 224 pages. [beyond genre]

 DC: WildStorm
- - LIMITED SERIES: The current Star Trek captain faces an intersteller threat the original Star Trek captain defeated 30 years ago. But Janeway doesn't have the ace that Kirk up the sleeve of his tunic, and has to figure out how to defeat another Doomsday Machine in Star Trek: Voyager - Planet Killer. It's a 3-issue series written by sci-fi novelists Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith with pencils by Star Wars artist Robert Teranishi. [sci-fi]

 Dark Horse
- - LIMITED SERIES: Logically, Actions Speak should've come out before Louder Than Words, but it's not like this is the first time Sergio Aragonés has done something illogically. This is another 6-issue series of short pantomime stories like the earlier series. [humour]
- COLLECTION: The Groo Kingdom by Aragonés and Mark Evanier is the {counting on fingers: A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J-K} 11th collection of Groo stories, for a total of $10 for 96 pages. It's not due until February, though... don't ask me why they're soliciting it already. [humour]
- COLLECTION: Heart of Empire: The Legacy of Luther Arkwright, previously serialised in 9 parts, is now available in a single volume. Along with the original Arkwright series (also available from Dark Horse's backlist section), this is some intelligent, acclaimed, well-crafted comics. $30 for a hefty 296 color pages. [sci-fi]

 Comics Conspiracy
- NEW SERIES: Comic Book's generic title isn't a new gimmick; what remains to be seen is whether the superhero parody inside is fresh or not. The sample pages on their web site feature solid... perhaps appropriately generic... art. At least it's a modest risk: $2 for 16 pages. [humour] [super]

 Castle Rain
- LIMITED SERIES: Jestercrow is a three-part bi-monthly story about a secret peace-keeping group on another world, and a member of it who begins to question his role. The advert features a quote from Plato, which is promising for those of us who like some thought by behind their fiction. Written by Michael Angelos, and penciled by JSA artist Stephen Sadowski. [sci-fi]

- GRAPHIC NOVELLA: Caliber is working with Forest Light Productions, an outfit working to put together "perenniel" books with a lasting place in the market, and one of their projects is an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen, by Mitchell Perkins and George Broderick. $8 for 64 pages. [fantasy] [all ages]
- NEW SERIES: Warriors & War is another of Caliber's recent line of non-fiction books. Not exactly my personal favourite topic, but if you have an interest in historical matters, you might find it worth a look. $4 for 48 pages. [beyond genre]
- COLLECTION: Likewise with Zulu Nation, a reprint of two series by Gary Reed and illustrator Wayne Reid about two key battles in British military history. $18 for 152 pages. [beyond genre]

Bries is a Belgian publisher/distributor, new to Previews as far as I can recall. They're featuring a handful of books here, each of which looks fairly accessible to new readers, being in the European tradition rather than the American serialised approach.
- ANTHOLOGY ONE-SHOT: Wind was the first publication by Bries (Flemish for "Breeze"), featuring 13 stories about wind, by creators from various countries, including a couple I even recognise. It made several "best anthology" lists for 1999, when it originally came out. $15 for 106 pages. [beyond genre]
- ONE-SHOT: Brain Songs is a collection of five dark short stories by Uli Oesterle. $13 for 96 pages. [beyond genre]
- ONE-SHOT: The Man on the Moon is also a collection of short stories of a melancholic nature, by German creator Ulf K. $8 for 48 pages. [beyond genre]
- ANTHOLOGY SERIES: Eiland ("Island") by Stefan VanDinther and Tobias Schalken is already on issue #3, but it's an anthology featuring both short and medium-length stories, so I doubt you'd be coming in on the middle of anything. $17 for 64 color pages. [beyond genre]

- ONE-SHOT: Winds of Winter is a story about the Five(?) Horsemen of the Apocalypse and what happens while they sit around waiting for their time to act... such as falling in love. The story is by Gianluca Piredda and Stefano Cardoselli, though they boast a bunch of pin-ups by other artists. It's a bit pricey at $4.50, but keep in mind that this is a color small-press book, so that's not blatant profiteering. And it's $9.45 cheaper than the edition bagged with a CD soundtrack. [fantasy]

  Amaze Ink/Slave Labor
- NEW SERIES: Highway 13 might look familiar; SLG first solicited it a few months ago, but they're giving it a better promotional push this time, probably figuring it can do better than the orders they got the first time. It's a quarterly series by graphic designer and illustrator Les McClaine about a teenager named Rick and his werewolf Garth, exploring America, with comic results. I found some more info and samples at McClaine's site, which demonstrates he's a proficient artist. [fantasy] [humour]
- COLLECTION: Gloom Cookie is a goth-y series by Serena Valentino and Ted Naifeh that doesn't take itself too seriously, which makes it fun. The first six issues are being reprinted, 200 pages for $18. [humour] [fantasy]
- COLLECTION: Wedgies! is second volume reprinting four more issues of the critically-acclaimed series Lenore, along with a new color story by Roman Dirge. 104 pages for $14. [humour] [fantasy]

- COLLECTION: The first 4-issue reprint of Mike Allred's The Atomics wasn't just a fluke, as demonstrated by King-Size Giant Spectacular: Lessons in Light Lava & Lasers which reprints #5-8, at an affordable $9 for 96 pages. Also, Allred and Erik Larsen are trading guest appearances this month, as the Savage Dragon appears in issue #13 of The Atomics, and Madman & friends appear in Savage Dragon. [super] [humour]

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