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 new feature, Chris vs. Previews.

P. 24 - Mass Effect: Redemption #1: The very first item in this month's "Previews" is Dark Horse's upcoming tie-in to BioWare's massively popular video game, Mass Effect. The premise here is that the main character of the video games, Commander Shepard, has gone missing and needs to be found by teammate Liara, whose main function in the game is to hit every single science fiction cliche by being hot, blue-skinned, tentacle-haired and unencumbered by your traditional hu-mon concepts of sexuality.

We are all for this, especially as it'll be interesting to see if there's any attempt made to reference the events of the video game, which--owing to the fact that "Mass Effect" gave players an incredible array of options for storyline and character customization--could vary pretty widely depending on who was playing it. Obviously the gender-neutral "Commander Shepard" name will be a help, but we're really hoping writer John Jackson Miller gives readers options in the word balloons:

"Hey Shepard, remember that time that we (did / did not) kill the Rachni queen with our (late / still living) friend Kaidan and then then had (lesbian) sex?"

P. 34 - Blacksad HC:
Okay, look: We know what you're thinking, and yes, "Blacksad" is a comic about anthropomorphized animals, including hunky cat-men and sexy fox-ladies who occasionally get naked for Adult Hugging. So on one level, yes, it's one of those comics. The difference, though, is that "Blacksad" is actually pretty awesome, with well-written noirish plotlines and absolutely gorgeous art. Just look at this stuff:

Artist Juanjo Guarnido is a former Disney animator, and the clean lines and attention to detail that come through in his art, and Juan Diaz Canales' noir-style scripts have the right amount of self-awareness without crossing the line into parody, which is no mean feat considering that the stories venture into territory like racist white dogs harassing the main character, a black cat.

The first two stories were previously published in America as treasury-sized volumes, but this hardcover collects both of those and a third, and it's well worth checking out.

P. 62 - Blackest NIght Revivals: The biggest news out of DC this month is that, as part of the "Blackest Night" crossover, they're bringing back "dead" comics for one more issue, including an 81st issue of James Robinson's classic "Starman":

On the surface, this sounds like a great idea, and we're behind anything that gets us another issue of Suicide Squad from John Ostrander (and that gets us closer to finally getting that "Squad" trade paperback we've always wanted), but on closer examination, we're a little wary. Most of the books are coming out from different creative teams than the originals, and while Greg Rucka stepping in for Denny O'Neil on "The Question" doesn't sound too bad, we'd rather see Will Pfeifer come back to "Catwoman" than a story from Fabian Nicieza, who never worked on the book.

As to the ones that do have their old creators coming home again, well, like we said: Ostrander didn't miss a step when he revived the team for the eight-issue "Raise the Flag" mini-series and it's clear from her work on "Secret Six" that co-writer Gail Simone is a huge fan, but the years since "Starman" have seen Robinson working on a story where Green Lantern and the Atom tortured people for no reason and re-cast the Justice League (as seen on P. 81) as a bunch of Teen Titans and Congorilla. So there's that.

P. 108 - Joe the Barbarian #1: We don't envy the people in the DC Marketing department that have to write ad copy for Grant Morrison's more esoteric works--we heard that trying to write a ten-word summary of Seaguy
spawned an epidemic of nervous breakdowns--but we've got to admit that Morrison doing "Home Alone by way of Lord of the Rings" in a series that starts with a $1.00 issue sounds pretty awesome.

P. 144 - Dead@17 Sourcebook:

The solicitation describes this one as "the perfect intro for new readers or a handy reference for longtime fans," but we're pretty sure that if you need reference material to figure out the point of "Dead@17," you probably haven't seen the cover.

P. 4 - Siege: Embedded #1: Oh, how embarrassing!

All of the Dark Avengers decided to go as Carrie this year for Halloween!

P. 106 - Marvel Road To... Collections: This month's solicitations from Marvel include "Road to Fall of the Hulks," "Road to Siege," and "Road to Reborn," all but confiming Internet rumors that they've finally named the new editors in charge of the paperback division: Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.

P. 181 - Obamouse: For the past year or so, the output of Antarctic Press has pretty much been divided into two groups: Shameless attempts to cash in on the Obama craze that hit big with "Spider-Man" ("President Evil," their "bioGRAPHIC" comics) and furry comics ("Gold Digger" and its twenty-seven spin-offs). And now, they've found a way to combine them:

(thanks to Mike Sterling for the scan)

According to the soliciation, Fred Perry and Ben Dunn are telling the story of Barack Obamouse, who takes charge of the country while "we are at war with Owl Kaida" and that's as far as we got before the hurting started.

P. 242 - Weekly World News #1:

We were probably more upset than most when the Weekly World News -- "America's Only Reliable Newspaper" -- ceased publication in 2007, but we're still on the fence about whether to pick this one up or not. On the one hand, even with new information from A Baffled Scientist about the Chaos Cloud (which is coming from space to destroy the Earth in 2014), we have our doubts that any new material could top Peter Bagge and Danielle Corsetto's work on providing the definitive biography of Bat Boy.

On the other hand, PhD Ape.

P. 308 - Punisher and Spider-Man Ski-Masks:

Scheduled for release in January 2010, we're pretty sure that these are going to be next year's #1 answer to "What were the perpetrators wearing?"

The Daily Bugle's gonna have a field day with this.

P. 319 - Back to the Future MiniMates: Enchantment Under the Sea 2-Pack:

According to the solicitation, "the stars of the time-traveling classic 'Back to the Future' are up to their old tricks," which we can only assume means that with the release of this two-pack, fans can finally re-enact the 80s' second-most beloved bit of incest in ArtAsylum's popular two-inch scale!

P. 339 - Ghostbusters Slimer Figurine w/ DVD: It's not that we don't think it's nice of them to throw it in alongside the figurine, but let's be honest here:

If you're a big enough fan of "Ghostbusters" that you want to display a licensed replica of 1984's most marketable class-5 free-roaming vapor, you've probably got the DVD already.

P. 350 - Project Dynamote #002 Naked Star "Baby Blue Version" PVC Figure:

"Previews" has no shortage of allegedly sexy import merchandise for the discerning creep with an extra two hundred bucks to burn--heck, they manage to offer statues fetishizing both aprons and high school gym swimsuits on p. 352 -- and this one racks up the creepy factor with a description that includes the phrase "yes, she is naked; and soon she will be the star of your collection," a line that'll probably be appearing in next year's inevitable "Saw" sequel. What really caught our eye, though, was the part that advertises that 'her dress, ribbons and hair soar into the air in erotic fashion."

Dress? What dress?

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