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Spawn #258 [Review]

spawn258Story: Todd McFarlane
Art: Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane
Color: FCO Plascenscia
Lettering: Tom Orzechowski
Publishing Coordinator: Shannon Bailey
Art Director: Ben Timmreck
Production Artists: Joe Ferstl, Jordan Butler
Publisher for Image Comics: Eric Stephenson
Cover: Erik Larsen
Editor: Todd McFarlane
Cover Date: November 2015
Cover Price: $2.99

Spawn has made it to Hell and has a message for Satan. Oh, and he fights a horde of demons, leaving only one ‘alive’ to deliver the message.

Oops…sorry! I just gave you the ENTIRE issue right there, including the end.

I noticed this issue was out this week, and having had my interest up from the previous issue, I wanted to check out Erik Larsen‘s first issue. Visually, it’s quite good. The cover is not nearly as impressive as the previous issue, but I like it well enough. And per my usual, knowing I wanted to get the issue, I didn’t flip through the interior…which proved unfortunate.

Story-wise…there are about 3 pages. Art-wise, we have a 20-page issue.

We see Spawn at the entrance to Hell, facing a huge horde of demons that knew he was coming and have been waiting for him. He plans to leave one alive to deliver a simple message to Satan…and the next 17 pages are dialogue-less, caption-less images of Spawn fighting the demons. I suppose SOMEWHAT to the issue’s credit, there’s a countdown of the number of demons remaining, and every several pages you see the count diminishing significantly.

My disgust grew with each page turned that revealed another page or pages with no…actual…words.

This was not billed as a "silent" issue. An issue-length brawl is not my idea of an issue worth being "silent." A fight like this–to me–ought to have been 3-4 pages, max…even if that meant having a grid with 50-100 thumbnail-type panels conveying the length and magnitude of Spawn’s fighting. Not an entire issue.

The final panel provides what turns out to be a sort of "punchline" to the issue as we learn what Spawn’s simple message for Satan is. Perhaps it’s supposed to evoke those action-movie one-liner/groaners (and I can picture David Caruso‘s Horatio Caine from CSI Miami donning his shades while delivering this line) or simply show us how powerful Spawn is, how singularly determined and focused he is on somehow "saving" Wanda.

But I paid $2.99 (THANKFULLY 25% cheaper than the standard $3.99 that most comics cost) for an issue to read…not look at and analyze the imagery, etc. I glaze over with certain action sequences in general in comics. I can appreciate detail and nuance to art…but when there’s some frenetic action sequence and it’s just several pages, I tend to fly through it, "taking it in" as I would a tv show that has a 3-4 second quick-action bit. I also expect forward movement in story/plot…and for me, there’s none of that here…or at least, certainly NOT an entire issue’s worth. TECHNICALLY we move from Spawn facing a horde of demons…to having defeated them. Catch-22: I feel there should be more to the issue–words–to read as he does this, if it’s significant enough to worry him, or bother him, or threaten him. If (as seems to be shown) they’re not truly a concern for him, the sequence could be pulled off far more effectively (in my mind) with turning the page and simply seeing a trail of defeated demons behind Spawn as he passes his message along.

I simply can’t believe this is indicative of Larsen‘s extended involvement with the title…and the previous issue interested me enough in seeing where things go that as frustrated as I am with this issue, I’m probably now going to check out the next issue (despite not liking this one) to see if #259 is what I expected of this one.

If you’re a fan of Larsen–particularly his art–or of McFarlane‘s inks, or seeing the two collaborating on art, and you don’t care too much or won’t be bothered by an essentially "silent" issue, you’ll probably enjoy this.

That being said…on my personal standards and expectations, I do not recommend this issue…and would actually encourage passing on it and trying the next issue, if you were considering this one.

Heck, if you want to see a bunch of pages with no dialogue/captioning, there are countless "free previews" out there to show off silent art where you still have to actually buy the issue to GET the dialogue and such…which is what this feels like.

Superman Shelves Return

superman_shelf_01It’s been a couple years since I really “refreshed” some of the shelves I have, and some recent Superman acquisitions had me curious what things would look like put together again.

So I took some time and pulled all the newer Superman books I’ve bought, and went through and got the Superman shelves re-organized and re-confirmed for myself that Superman is certainly a key part of my collection.


I’m very interested in tracking down Superman in the Fifties and Superman in the Sixties, as well as Superman Chronicles vol. 7. (I’m not sure if the series made it past 10 or not). I’m sort of interested in other Showcase Presents volumes, but not dead set on ’em…though the nostalgia might kick in and change my mind.


I think I’m three volumes behind in the The Man of Steel series…and off the top of my head, not sure what else I might be missing from the post-CoIE/pre-Death era outside of The Wedding and Beyond.


I’ve waffled on whether or not to pursue the New Krypton era of stuff, as I just wasn’t overly fond of that…PARTICULARLY in retrospect (though I’ll take it over New 52!) I’ve got the first couple Superman/Batman volumes…though I’ll probably “upgrade” to the newer editions soon, replacing those two with the more compact, robust paperback with both under a single cover.

I’d also like to get the single-volume edition of All-Star Superman, and had been intending to get the single-volume edition of For Tomorrow…though that was rendered a bit moot by recently acquiring the Absolute edition for 75% off. Then again, that unfortunately does not fit properly on any of my shelves, and might be relegated to a “special” shelf with other books that just do not physically fit…which would leave these shelves able to make use of the paperback as well.

(Plus, hey…Superman.)

After All These Years…Proper Storage!

After all these years–going on 20 years or so–I finally have begun what only seems like PROPER storage to me, for comics.

I bought a large storage rack–48″ wide, 72″ tall, 24″ deep–and it’s got the capacity to hold 25 longboxes. As of this typing, it’s got 17 1/2 (a shortbox), and I love the setup, and look forward to getting the rest of my boxes situated.  (And then begin the process of actually sorting the accumulation and getting back to an actual collection!)

Even the cat seems to approve.


TMNT Toys in the Wild: Dimension X, Mutant Shredders, and Karai Serpent

With another new season just started for the Nickelodeon TMNT series, it’s not surprising to find a new wave of the toys hitting at Target and Walmart (presumably elsewhere as well, but I have only been to and seen them at Walmart and Target lately).

Continuing with a “theme” like previous turtles variants, we have the Space-suit turtles for their apparent adventure in/from Dimension X, as well as villain Lord Dregg. I also happened across the Mutant Shredders pack.

A couple weeks earlier, I’d finally come across the Karai Serpent at a Family Dollar store, but where $8 is pushing it, $9 really pushing it…$10 is way too much for me for a basic TMNT figure like this.

As with my various other posts of this nature…photos of the figures on the card with their “profile” from the back are below.





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My Four X-Men 100s

Sometimes, it actually doesn’t seem like it’s been all that long that I’ve been into comics. It can seem so recent, my reading certain stories for the first time, discovering characters the first time, wondering at the mysterious backgrounds and motivations and all that for them.

Characters that were around for a couple years already seemed old and completely established.

Yet other times, reality sets in and I realize that some of those characters had hardly even been introduced, and I’ve basically been around for their whole existence, within a reasonable +/- tolerance.

Rarely is it driven home more for me than with key "anniversary" issues.

Such as looking at these, the even #100s issues I’ve been around for with Uncanny X-Men…that regardless of having been following much at the time or not, I’ve bought "off the shelf" as new issues.


Four of the six "round number" 100 issues for the title. #300 in 1993, through #600 this past week. I’ve been buying the title off and on for half of its entire existence.

Which is a mighty scary thought, considering I came to the party 300 issues into the run.

Uncanny X-Men #600 [Review]

uncannyxmen600Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Sara Pichelli, Mahmud Asrar, Stuart Immonen, Kris Anka, Chris Bachalo, David Marquez, Frazer Irving
Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger, Tim Townsend, Mark Irwin
Colors: Marte Gracia, Jason Keith, Chris Bachalo, Frazer Irving
Cover: Chris Bachalo
Lettering & Production: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Assistant Editors: Christina Harrington, Xander Jarowey
Editors: Mike Marts and Mark Paniccia
Published by: Marvel
Cover Date: January 2016
Cover Price: $5.99

Winter Carnival

Writer: Mary Jo Duffy
Penciler: George Perez
Inker: Alfredo Alcala
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Cover Art: Paul Gulacy
Associate Editor: Ralph Macchio
Editor: Dennis O’Neil

The first X-Men comic I clearly, consciously remember getting is Uncanny X-Men #300. The costumes, the characters, the cover–it fit the then-current animated series on tv that I was getting familiar with, and had a nice shiny cover to draw extra attention (to say nothing of being a thicker cover physically, making for a durable, high-quality issue to hold).

Several years later I picked up #400, and then years after that 500–though I hadn’t kept up with every issue of the title.

So again now, I bought #600 despite not being entirely current on the title (and overlooking the multiple reboots between the last legitimately-numbered issue and this) because of having bought the last several 100-issue round-number issues when they came up. Some 22 years after getting #300, here I am with #600.

My understanding is that this is Bendis‘ final X-Men issue, as far as being the driving force behind the main X-books. Despite catching up a fair bit on Uncanny X-Men and All-New X-Men recently via Marvel‘s Digital Unlimited, I’m still a bit out of the loop on whatever’s transpired between where I left off there and stuff immediately prior to Secret Wars and the Last Days stuff. But I do know the characters and the bulk of recent stuff in the most general of terms.

This issue finds Beast (Hank McCoy) experiencing an “intervention” by his teammates, forcing him to confront what he’s done of late–with emphasis on having time-traveled to bring the original X-Men into the present where they’re now stuck. Amidst the intervention/confrontation, we get some flashes to a number of smaller interactions–“original” Jean wants to leave the group for awhile; “original” Bobby confronts current Bobby on repressed feelings; Kitty, Colossus, and Illyana catch up with each other, and so on. Meanwhile, we also see Scott Summers’ recent dream to fruition…and it proves to be just a bit different than we’ve been led to believe.

We also get a lengthy “backup story” by Perez, a solo Iceman thing, that while it looks good does not feel particularly relevant nor current. It seems set in the early 1970s, though it feels like a more recent piece. The art is very good–I usually do enjoy Perez‘ art–though I don’t entirely appreciate the black-and-white instead of color. Perhaps it was intended this way, maybe it was a stylistic choice, but that contributes to it not feeling like it belongs in this issue.

The main feature’s story is solid enough, and though it doesn’t feel like an ongoing issue but more like a one-shot, it works decently enough as itself, as what it is. At the same time, I’m not thrilled at what appears to be Bendis trying to cement several key points just before taking off, like he has to solidify or shoehorn in some stuff to force subsequent writers to address things or leave Bendis‘ work to be an absolute character element. I do definitely approve of the supposed conclusion of the Cyclops arc, and hope to see stuff picked up on, that it’d “redeem” the villanous element applied to the character over the last several years.

Visually…while I appreciate the CONCEPT of letting a bunch of artists work on the issue as “the” big anniversary issue…I can really do without it. The shifting visual styles is distracting and draws attention to stuff in a way that takes away from the otherwise-natural shifting nature of the story, giving us some smaller character moments while addressing the larger overall confrontation with Beast.

I definitely enjoyed Perez‘ work on the Iceman story…but it’s such an unrelated thing that I’m honestly resentful at its inclusion, at this issue being over-priced at $6 over the “standard” $4 just for the story’s inclusion. Better a $3.99 issue without it than $5.99 WITH. That said, the story would work as some bonus/extra cheap attraction, as it really has nothing to do with current continuity, and has no likely/obvious ongoing elements to contribute to stuff, other than being a ’70s-looking/’70s-sounding story.

The main story’s art was distracting…and I was reminded how recognizable and unwelcome (to me) Bachalo‘s art is amidst it all…especially for the cover. It’s also very disappointing that the cover looks like it’s half of or one of several “panels” of a larger image, without even a wraparound…only a bunch of variants.

I bought this issue personally for being the anniversary issue, being the actual high-number or “legacy-numbered” issue. That’s for the personal element of having got #300 off the shelf, and each subsequent 100-numbered issue. In and of itself, if you have followed Bendis‘ X-work, you’ll want to pick this up. Otherwise, this is quite skippable for whatever will be ‘current” moving forward. Outside of whatever closure you’d get having followed this series, and/or All-New X-Men, I’d suggest skipping this and waiting for whatever nearest #1 most directly follows and grabs your attention.

Marvel December Launches [Checklist]

December 2015

A-Force #1
All-New Inhumans #1
All-New X-Men #1
Daredevil #1
Guardians of Infinity #1
Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! #1
Red Wolf #1
Scarlet Witch #1
Spidey #1
Squadron Supreme #1
Starbrand & Nightmask #1
The Totally Awesome Hulk #1
Weirdworld #1


[Source: Promotional postcard, pictured above]


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