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Chris vs. Previews: April 2010 – The Brave and the Bold, Tim Seeley and More

The 500+ page Previews catalog can be pretty tough to get through, even for the most jaded comics reader. That’s why every month, ComicsAlliance contributor Chris Sims sits down to scour the pages for the best, worst, and most mind-bogglingly insane items and bring them to you, the discerning reader, in our recurring feature, Chris vs. Previews!

P.30 – Serenity: Float Out: While I don’t think I’d ever consider joining the fan club–sorry, Browncoats–I actually think “Firefly” is probably Joss Whedon’s strongest television work. Even so, the transition from the screen to comics just hasn’t worked out for me. The stories Dark Horse has put out so far just haven’t really captured the fun of the series, and while Whedon’s dialogue is certainly the calling card of his television writing, but when it’s removed from the actors who lend their charisma to it and scripted by people trying to imitate Whedon, it tends to just lay there on the page.

This one, however, has my interest.

Not because it’s about Wash, whose death was met with a chorus of LiveJournaled tooth-gnashing by fanfic writers everywhere, but because it’s written by comedian Patton Oswalt.

Under normal circumstances, a licensed property written by a celebrity would be a giant flashing neon sign reading “THIS IS GOING TO BE TERRIBLE,” but I was reading through Oswalt’s highly underrated JLA one-shot, “Welcome to the Working Week,” the other day, and in addition to being named after an Elvis Costello song, it’s actually a pretty fun comic. Oswalt understands how pages work and — as you might expect — he’s got an ear for good jokes, and while that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that this’ll be the one “Serenity” book worth reading, it certainly gives it a better fighting chance than most.P.41 – Mogworld: Hey, it’s the long-awaited solicitation for Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw’s “Mogworld!”

Croshaw, of course, is the creator of the Zero Punctuation series of game reviews, and in case you missed it, I interviewed him about Mogworld back when it was announced. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to it, and not just because I have a vested personal interest in comic book companies paying Internet loudmouths to write about things.

P.77 – Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #3: The big news for DC this month is that they’ve got milestone issues of “Batman,” “Superman” and “Wonder Woman” (#700, #700 and #600, respectively), but for me, that pretty much just means that we’re going to have three Batman comics in a single month written by Grant Morrison, and that is awesome. Especially since one of them features Batman as the happiest pirate I have ever seen.

One day, I hope to be as excited about anything as that guy is about his utility bandolier and bat-shoe-buckles.

P.79 – Batman Beyond #1: With this issue and “Superman/Batman Annnual” #4, DC has gone from publishing zero “Batman Beyond” titles a month — a formula that they’ve stuck with for about nine years now — to publishing two, an increase of well over infinity percent.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining: I like “Batman Beyond” a lot, as it’s the perfect synthesis of what I love about Spider-Man, what I love about Batman, and what I love about fun not-too-distant-future takes on comic book universes, and it’s got cranky old man Bruce Wayne, who I would watch a show about even if there was no actual crimefighting involved. Just Bruce cold yelling at the Price Is Right for 22 minutes each week. Ratings gold, folks.

So did I miss something? Is there a reason for the sudden–but welcome–interest in the character? Or is this just a case of DC dusting off a property they haven’t done anything with in a few years because hey, why not?

P.81 – Batman: Streets of Gotham #13: And in the final piece of Batman-related news, this issue sees the last of the “Manhunter” co-features that, barring any appearances in the newly resurrected “Birds of Prey” title, send Kate Spencer off to publication limbo with Jaime Reyes.

Originally, I’d assumed that with the end of those two and the restructuring of “Green Arrow,” DC was just done with backup features entirely, but it looks like they’re still showing up in “JSA All-Stars,” “Teen Titans” and the Red Circle books. Which means that Blue Beetle and Manhunter can’t support ten pages a month while Azrael, the Outsiders and Magog all have ongoing series. And that just mystifies me.

P.89 – Brave and the Bold #35: Under normal circumstances, this would be exactly the sort of comic I want to read:

The Legion of Substitute Heroes traveling back in time to recruit the Inferior Five, and it’s drawn by Jesus Saiz? That’s even more appealing than last month’s Legion of Super-Heroes/Doom Patrol team-up.

But unfortunately, these are not normal circumstances. These are J. Michael Straczynski circumstances, and his run thus far on “Brave and the Bold” has essentially been an exercise in devoutly missing the point that lost me the second he did a story where Batman told Robby Reed (Dial H For Hero! The Kid of 1,001 Changes!) that it was okay to purposefully let a man die through his negligence.

It’s incredibly frustrating, because the concepts behind team-ups themselves have been both creative and exciting, using pieces of the DC Universe that almost never get the spotlight, and by all rights, they should be amazing. But they’re not. Or at least, they haven’t been, and I’m not really holding out hope that this’ll be the turning point, no matter how badly I want it to.

P.148 – IDW: This month, IDW makes a move to the front of the Previews catalog, joining Marvel, DC, Image and Dark Horse as one of the Premiere Publishers, which is a testament to the power of securing the lucrative “Star Trek,” “Dragon Age” and “Army of Two” licenses. Who would’ve thought that getting the rights to publish “A-Team” comics would be such a game-changer?

P.159 – Love and Capes, v.2: I kid IDW, but they do put out some good stuff, and this is one of the best:

I’ve come out as a dedicated fan of Love and Capes before, so I won’t go through the whole thing again. But I will say that this trade includes the Wedding issue, which i
s not only a high point of the series, but ranks up there with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s “Fantastic Four Annual” #3 as one of the best wedding comics ever. You should read it.

P.172 – Hack Slash Moves to Image: I haven’t been much of a fan of “Hack Slash,” mostly owing to the fact that I’m not a horror movie guy at all so most of the references just completely miss me, but I do like Tim Seeley as an artist a lot, and now he’s given me a reason to like him even more.

As I heard from Tom Fowler’s appearance on the Awesomed By Comics podcast and then confirmed with artist Mike Norton, the move to Image was prompted by an unexpected (and sadly unavoidable) cash crunch at Devil’s Due that left them unable to pay the artists of “Hack Slash.” What’s remarkable about this is that Seeley stepped up and took out a loan himself so that he could pay the artists out of his own pocket.

The fact that Seeley took on a responsibility that wasn’t his in order to make sure his collaborators got the money they were promised speaks well of him as both a creator and as a person. It’s a class act, and it’s the kind of behavior that should be rewarded.

P.23 – Amazing Spider-Man Presents Black Cat #1: As much as it breaks my heart that Amanda Conner’s leaving “Power Girl,” it’s nice that she’s still turning in incredible work like this…

… an absolutely gorgeous image of the Black Cat that was inspired by Penguin’s equally gorgeous James Bond cover designs.

P.40 – Captain America: The 1940s Newspaper Strip #1: ComicsAlliance has covered this before, but man!

This thing looks awesome. Karl Kesel is one of comics’ most underrated talents, both as a writer and an artist, and the idea of doing a “lost” newspaper strip that ran during World War II is exactly the kind of thing that makes me excited to sit down and finally read these when they come out.

P.67 – Young Allies #1: If you would’ve told me five years ago that I’d be genuinely looking forward to seeing a new series starring Rikki Barnes, the Bucky created for the “Heroes Reborn” comics by Rob Liefeld, I would’ve thought you were completely insane.

But that was before Sean McKeever, the guy who made “Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane”–no joke–one of the best Marvel books on the stands–revitalized the character as Nomad in the recent “Girl Without a World” mini-series. The guy’s record isn’t exactly spotless when it comes to teen super-hero teams, but he’s yet to make a misstep for Marvel, and I’m hoping that holds up here.

Plus: Gravity! For the first time in years! I love that guy!

P.300 – Super Pro KO: And speaking of things that I’m looking forward to to a truly ridiculous degree…

…we have Jarrett Williams’s “Super Pro KO!” CA ran a ten-page preview of this one after it was announced at Emerald City, and each page of pro wrestling action starring a “Street Fighter”-esque cast made me look forward to it even more than I already was. It’s the exact sort of thing I need to fill the void in my life until the next volume of “Sharknife” comes out, which by my calculations will be sometime in the next geologic epoch.

P.333 – Charmed: Well, that about does it. I’m pretty sure every single television property that could be licensed has been licensed. I look forward to the first issue of IDW’s Tenspeed and Brown Shoe revival next month.

P.369 – Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose Minimates: You know, even though these things were actually shown at Toy Fair, I still didn’t think they’d actually come out. And yet, here we are:

I don’t even really have a joke for these anymore. I’m too busy marveling that it was actually someone’s job to paint the tiny line of Raven Hex’s thong onto a piece of plastic, and that even a solicitation written by someone who thought it was a good idea to make “Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose” MiniMates managed to get a character’s name wrong. Nice one, Diamond Select.

P.374 – Ming the Merciless Doll: Not gonna lie, folks:

Ever since I quit my day job to become a freelance writer, this is pretty much how I’ve dressed every day.

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