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The Weekly Haul Catch-Up: May 22 to July 3, 2019

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Well…it’s been a looooong time since my last post. I certainly had not PLANNED on being 6 weeks between posts! But here we are! Work and "life" have gotten in the way of late–by the time I’m done with work I’m usually vegging out for the night; and family stuff has gotten in the way with weekends. AND since it’s not like I do this blogging for money or anyone other than myself…for better or worse, it’s one of the first things to fall to the side.

Of course, I’ve had the INTENTION each week of at least doing the Weekly Haul post, so I’ve had photos…so let’s just play catch-up all in one large go for now!


Week of May 22, 2019

This was a surprisingly Marvel-heavy week, with three Marvel issues!

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Action Comics, Detective Comics, and Dial H for Hero from DC.

Then Mr. & Mrs. X from Marvel, along with a True Believers (or rather, Marvel’s Greatest Creators, I guess) reprint of the What If..? issue that debuted Spider-Girl back in the day. And a "Facsimile Edition" of Alpha Flight #1.

Then there’s a single-issue edition of Drawing Blood #1, which is actually already available as a full-size collected edition via a Kickstarter from a couple years ago.

Back Issue has really come onto my radar the last couple years, and I was definitely interested in this issue spotlighting the THIRTIETH-anniversary of Tim Burton‘s Batman!

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We also once again had the full 6-drop of all the DC 100-Page Comic Giant! editions at Walmart…zero pretense of the "new comics every 2 weeks" or however they were billed at first!

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MINUS the Detective Comics 1000 issue, here’s what a shelf of the first 11 months’ worth of these looks like!


Week of May 29, 2019

This was one of THE most expensive smaller weeks in quite awhile for new comics!

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There’s the $5.99 Batman: Last Knight #1; the $9.99 Superman: Leviathan Rising giant-size issue; the $5.99 X-Men: Grand Design – X-Tinction #1; 3 issues for $10 on top of the "usual" frustrating $3.99 cover prices.

Said "regular" $3.99 each for the Heroes in Crisis finale; TMNT #94; and TMNT: Urban Legends #13.

Then $4.99 for Doomsday Clock #10 (apparently I was 5 weeks to getting around to actually reading it!) and $4.99 for the Detective Comics Annual.

Quite a price tag for "only" 8 issues!


Week of June 5, 2019

This week’s haul was big for a different reason! For the first time since the 25-cent issue a couple years ago, I bought an issue of The Walking Dead!

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New issues of Batman, of Young Justice, and of Adventures of the Super Sons.

The fifth issue of the current iteration of Criminal (just after I’d caught up on the previous four issues!)

And then, thanks to BleedingCool spoiling it for me, I was able to get a copy of Walking Dead #192. Granted–it was already spoiled for me, and was itself a surprise–I’d TOTALLY figured the ending (also spoiled) of #191 was all HYPE and would not actually go the way it did! Spoiled though it was, I figured I wanted to read it for MYSELF and NOT have to wait for another collected edition.

For the novelty of it–with Peter David and Dale Keown–decided to get Incredible Hulk: Last Call.

Then TMNT: Urban Legends #13 again (different cover…oops!), and Batman/TMNT III #2.


Week of June 12, 2019

And here we have the first issue of Event Leviathan, snagged because I wouldn’t want to have to hunt it down later, but presently "unreadable" until I catch up on my Action Comics reading. THen the new issues of Superman and Supergirl…I dig the covers, and Superman in particular at a glance fooled me a couple times into thinking I was looking at a ’90s comic!

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Then the new Detective Comics issue, Wonder Twins, and GI Joe: A Real American Hero.

I’m continuing to enjoy Spider-Man: Life Story and totally equate it with Superman: Secret Identity. I’m not sure how it’s gonna read in a collected volume, as it REALLY benefits from the gap between issues for its own time jumps. It’s technically a single narrative, but more like a bunch of one-shots; each with a 10-years-older Spider-Man, having progressed from being a teenager in the ’60s, 20-something in the ’70s, 30s in the ’80s, to his 40s here in the ’90s.

And a random True Believers Spider-Man vs. the gray Hulk issue.

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I also had gotten curious about the Flash: Year One story…and finding that all three issues available at the time were…available, I opted to snag them!

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Ordered a couple weeks earlier but arriving the week of June 12th, I got the Rebirth Deluxe Editions of Action Comics vol. 2-3 and Superman 1-4. Along with the vol. 1 of Action Comics and Action Comics #1000 Deluxe Edition that I already had, this gives me basically the complete "Rebirth-era" Superman saga in hardback.

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The Action Comics #1000 volume does not begin to match the trade dress, but then it IS sort of the break-point between these and the Bendis-era stuff. I’d consider going for the Batman and Detective Comics hardcovers…but with all the changes DC‘s been making to stuff, I haven’t a clue how many they’ll do or if later volumes will fit the trade dress or be split, and so on.

I’d gotten the Action Comics volume a couple years ago, and only got these others when I realized 1. they were available for ordering all in one go and 2. they were a "complete" set.


Week of June 19, 2019

I’d bailed on Usagi Yojimbo from Dark Horse when the series tried to switch to renumbering as mini-series to the story arc after having just gotten a couple issues with the intent of jumping on long-term. Getting a new start at IDW actually WARRANTS a new #1 and I’ll give the series another shot, having been aware of it for much of its history and enjoying what I HAVE read of it!

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Along with the premiere of the new Usagi series, yet another issue of Batman. I’m a few issues behind on reading–again–but have more or less been keeping up for 30-some issues now. I’m NOT happy about Tom King being forced off the main title and will likely consciously pass on the series from there–especially with the likelihood of a renumbering being close behind.

I’m enjoying getting the various facsimile editions from Marvel…again showing that I’m more than willing to buy their older stuff and far less keen on the new! I picked up a couple issues of the Marvel MAX Howard the Duck series back in 2001 or so, but otherwise don’t think I’ve actually gotten stuff…so this reprint of the first issue ought to be a good treat to read!

The final issue of Marvels Annotated wraps up the 5-issue (#s 0-4) re-presentation of the 1994 series for its 25th anniversary.

The next issue of TMNT: Urban Legends has us about 2/3 through the series. On a whim, I got Warlord of Mars Attacks for the sheer novelty of the properties’ mash-up.

And though I’ve not been a great fan of Frank Miller OR John Romita Jr., it’s Superman so I grabbed the first issue of Superman: Year One. It’s also notable for being one of the EXTREMELY VERY RARE cases where I consciously opted for the "variant" cover, far preferring it to the generic-seeming regular cover.

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And again here with the next round of the Walmart DC 100-Page Comic Giant!s.

I’m not entirely clear on their future from here…I believe they’re continuing, but no longer Walmart EXCLUSIVE; but not being the most stringent follower of solicitations or Diamond‘s PREVIEWS, I’m not sure if they’re orderable yet through comic shops, if the things will be re-numbering (again), and so on.


Week of June 26, 2019

Getting closer to present, the week of June 26th is only a couple weeks old!

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New Action Comics, new Detective Comics, and new Flash (for Year One).

The newest Spawn–#298–leaves us with just a couple issues til the big #300, which will be quite the sentimental thing for ME (and something I’ll likely cover in another post–perhaps moreso once that issue is out!).

We have the FINAL (ugh!) issue of Mr. & Mrs. X–as the board is cleared for the Hickman re-launch of stuff. Which I may check out against my own better judgment…I have my pre-conceived notions and expectations, but sort of feel I ought to give it a chance and see if I’m still on point with it or not.

And then the latest Dial H for Hero

And after far, far too long–the third/final issue of Batman: Damned.

Finally…for the sheer novelty of it, a very good-condition copy of the black-bagged edition of 1992’s Superman #75 for "only" $10.


Week of July 3, 2019

And lookie-here…we’re finally "current" again! The most recent week of new comics!

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I was tentatively on-board for Walking Dead #193 to "see what happens next" after the events of #192–PLUS in the month SINCE #192 hit, I managed to catch up completely on reading the series, going all the way back to the immediate aftermath of All-Out War in the early #120s! 70 or so issues read in a month! Of course, I’m floored at it turned out to be the FINAL issue…though I applaud the use of the "fake solicitations" a la Ultraverse (Malibu Comics) back in 1993 when they solicited a couple additional issues of the original Exiles series despite that being a 4-issue series with an ENDING.

As mentioned earlier, I’m stupidly far behind on reading Action Comics, and thus all of the Leviathan stuff…and not being quite sure where this Lois Lane series fits into things, I snagged the first issue. Hopefully I’ll get caught up sooner than later and figure out where things are…I’m NOT all that keen on adding Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen to the buys, especially if I’m not likely to get around to reading them until they’d be in collected format anyway!

Then the latest Batman/TMNT III issue; and the final issue of Adventures of the Super Sons.

Another facsimile edition in New Mutants #98. And continuing the ’90s fun…a $2.00 copy of the first print of Superman #75 "newsstand" edition. As with the previous week’s buy of the black bagged edition…got it for the novelty of the thing!

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And since I’ve taken to showing the week’s issue (albeit often un-referenced/mentioned), here’s this week’s Comic Shop News cover, spotlighting the return of the Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium coming soon.


And there I’m finally "caught up" again. Amidst all these weeks’ worth of new comics are some toy purchases I may or may not get to showing off, and a game or two, some movies, and some general "real-life" stuff.

But if I get to them, they’ll be their own posts.

And maybe sometime this summer I’ll get back to actually doing some reviews and other TRUE "content" for this blog.

At the least, I’m pretty sure I have an Exiles #4 post pretty much ready to go, and then have to get to Firearm #0, Ultraverse Premiere #0, and the November 1993 Ultraverse ads post to finish that month…and I’d like to get to December 1993’s Break-Thru event before too long. But we’ll see what real life holds in the nearer-than-not future!

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A 100-Issue Goal Extension and a Grail

Last month with a rare day off of work, I was able to dig into some quarter bins at a shop outta my usually weekly reach. And had a few good finds that led into a HUGE (for me) find. And then just over a week later, got a Grail comic that I’ve been after for years.

Let’s dive on in…

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I’m a sucker for older TMNT stuff. I need to get my list(s) re-updated to be sure of what I do and don’t still need. I’m pretty sure this Turtle Soup issue is a duplicate, but for 25 cents, not one to pass up. I also hadn’t realized how damaged the TMNT Adventures issue was…but it’s a newsstand edition of one of the first issues I ever got, off a spinner rack in Waldenbooks. A couple of Atari Force issues caught my eye…as did Invasion! #s 1-3 and the Wonder Woman tie-in.

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Then G.I.Joe/Transformers 1-4 (the complete mini-series) for only $1 was a no-brainer. Ditto the Contest of Champions mini and Thor #400.

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Though not quite in order, I realized there was a run of early Marvel Comics Presents, and rather than "cherry-pick" the #1, I snagged the "run." 8 issues…

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…and then the next 8. For less than the price of an issue of the new iteration of the title in 2019, I snagged the first 16 issues of the original.

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One of my earliest #1 issues back in the ’90s–one that was a point of "pride" to me–was Classic X-Men #1. Back when a #1 was actually a fairly big deal and really meant something. It was how I first read the introduction of Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and so on. Finding several of the earliest issues, I figured I’d grab ’em–I’m pretty sure I’d gotten another small run of the title recently, whether this duplicates or enhances that, I’m not sure offhand. And then the two-issue X-Men/Alpha Flight mini is a great find for only 50 cents!

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Continuing on, I thought it was cool to find the 4-issue X-Men and the Micronauts series. And the X-Men/New Teen Titans special! Then a small run of several of the old Annuals. #s 5-7…

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…and on up to #12.

But then I happened on one of the more significant finds (for me)…

A huge run of Uncanny X-Men itself. Beginning with #144 (only a couple issues off from the infamous Days of Future Past from #s 141-142!) and short only 6 issues from giving me 144-238! And I already knew I had #239-onward into the 400s, maybe early 500s, minus #266 (the first appearance of Gambit). So with this 90-ish issue run, I’m only a handful of issues off from being able to push all the way back to Days of Future Past–something I never really considered (Since pulling together all of my X-stuff back in 2012ish, I’ve been aiming for a complete run of Uncanny X-Men from Inferno-onward to the end of "volume one"!)

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And then, after a lotta years’ patience and being determined to find the issue at a certain price point and being completely unwilling to pay "top dollar" for it, since I just want the issue as part of this run…when I walked into the shop only a week after the huge haul, I was informed that a copy of #266 in my price range had (finally!) shown up.

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Then another week later, at an evening "pre" Free Comic Book Day event, I was able to get three of those missing 6 (albeit at a "premium" but still half-off their marked price)!

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$3.50/issue for "key" issues that I specifically wanted, that "mean" more to me for filling in this particular run was a very good price! AND also significantly (to me) cheaper per issue than "just any" brand-new issue I’d get off a new comics rack! #s 171, 198, and 200.

So now, short those other three issues–#s 158, 201, and 221–I’m pretty sure I now have #144-500ish. Which means it’s high time I pull stuff again and get my X-books sorted out again so I can be sure of what I’m still missing from that Uncanny run and decide what my next "grail" book(s) will be to hunt down that may actually be attainable. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1–at $3000+ is significantly out of my reach, though it’d be an amazing acquisition. With the earliest issues of the Mirage series, I’m content with later printings to plug the gaps.

Perhaps the original Image edition of the actual Image run of TMNT–though those are largely a moot thing with IDW publishing the series again; and using the "original" covers, even.

I do think I’ve largely decided that I’ll likely push back to Days of Future Past itself–certainly the 2nd half–as I believe THAT was even where the title "officially" went from the words "The Uncanny" being a tagline to being part of the title itself (a distinction that allowed for the 1991 and umpteen other "adjective-less" #1s of X-Men.)

Time shall definitely tell!

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The Weekly Haul Catch-Up: Weeks of May 2, 9, & 16, 2019

Well, it’s been a few weeks since a Weekly Haul post. I’ve taken photos to do the posts, but real life got in the way of doing these posts themselves.

So, here are 3 weeks’ worth crammed into one!


Week of May 02, 2019

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A very DC week!

Batman and Batman/TMNT III were out May 2nd…as well as the 25-cent Year of the Villain issue. Like its predecessor last year or the year before–the issue is not all that interesting to me, and turns me off more than on to upcoming stuff; especially as I really have zero interest in "The Batman Who Laughs" OR Snyder‘s Justice League stuff.

We’re nearing the end of Adventures of the Super Sons, and who knows what the future holds for these characters. I’ve also gotten behind in reading the various Wonder Comics titles. Even though I recently decided to go "all-in" on them, if I’m already behind and not overly concerned about it…do I really need/want to be buying these titles?weeklyhaul_20190502b

At a visit to a Five Below store, I snagged a copy of the classic How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way. I remember getting this from the library several times as a kid–though it’d been defaced by other borrowers in a rather inappropriate way. Having my own (clean) copy is cool…though after I bought it, it occurred to me that I may have snagged a copy from Half-Price Books previously…though where that particular copy got to, I’m not sure at the moment.

They also had this Hot Wheels Batman classic ’66 Batmobile. It’s basically the only car I really "care" about, NOT being a "cars guy." So, it’s another little trinket to add to the ever-expanding collection.

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Then a couple days after New Comic Day, went with friends to an evening pre-Free Comic Book Day event where they’d brewed some custom beer. I tried the Wolverine’s Canadian Ale, and a friend gave me his empty Cyclops Weak Summer Pilsner bottle so I’d have both!


Week of May 09, 2019

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May 9th was a small-ish week comics-wise. I’m once more falling behind on reading for Detective Comics, which even though I tend to like the writer’s work, leads me to wonder if I care enough to "keep up with" the title, now that we’re past #1000 and it lacks the "excitement" of the "build-up to" that 1000th issue.

I’ve kept up with Supergirl primarily on principle–I think I had all of the Rebirth run, and definitely wanted to support the notion of a series ACTUALLY CONTINUING THE NUMBERING. I’ve yet to read any of the current run, unfortunately, so it seems another one ripe for dropping. And as said above on other Wonder Comics…I begin to wonder if I was a bit premature going "all-in" on the imprint if I’m not gonna get around to reading the things!

It continues to be rather "telling" to me that I’m happy to re-buy (at a premium price) stuff like Annotated Marvels for $8 as that’s "only" double the price of a standard new Marvel issue but it’s an extra-sized thing with even more added content in the annotations..and it’s a known quantity to me, having gotten the original Marvels issues new as they came out back in 1994!

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While at a Gamestop looking for the TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan game for X-Box, I spotted this Batman Funko Pop figure and knowing I’d "eventually" want it, went ahead and bought it so I don’t have to "hunt" it later.

Which is, in itself, another thing I’m noticing a lot more lately–I’m buying way more than I’d typically do, because it seems "everything" so QUICKLY goes "out of print" and "unavailable" that if I don’t buy it on the spot, I won’t be able to (reasonably) do so later.

And that takes a lotta "fun" outta stuff.


Week of May 16, 2019

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…And now we’re to the current/most recent week!

New Superman issue, new Batman issue, and the new Naomi. I’m not into "speculating" on books, and this title is maybe more a driving factor in my reconsidering the Wonder Comics line if I’m not getting around to the reading.

Then there’s the new Immortal Hulk issue. This makes the 3rd issue in a row for the latter for me…though I don’t know that I’ll want to keep going with the series. It’s not really coming off the way I expected, and I’d probably get more from it if I’d read the earlier issues–but if I do those by Marvel Unlimited I might as well do the series that way.

I’ve been digging the Spider-Man: Life Story series, so that’s a "given" for me; and while I was really looking forward to the first issue of Shredder in Hell, I was NOT counting on it being BI-MONTHLY as it’s been so far. At this writing the series should’ve been finished already (or the final issue coming out in a couple days)…not having 2 more issues yet to come sometime later this year!

Despite the being-behind-on-reading, I’m a bit more willing to suppor IDW‘s Marvel stuff. Though even these may be short on my list as the newness/novelty wears off and collected volumes start coming out that put the single issues’ cover prices to shame.


I’m feeling fairly grouchy toward a lotta comics lately…and while much of my frustration is with Marvel, DC is stacking up quite a bit. I’m none too keen on the upcoming Lois Lane or Jimmy Olsen 12-issue series. I’m behind on reading the main Superman and Action Comics titles as-is. And I’m NOT looking forward to the Leviathan "event" about to start. Also put-off by the Year of the Villain build-up (some of that from the 25-cent special having an opposite-from-intended effect on me, turning me off to stuff rather than building my excitement). As of this writing, I just saw some articles on Bleeding Cool with the August 2019 solicitations (and stuff from the Diamond Retailers’ Summit or such) with the upcoming cardstock cover variants (adding $1 to cover price for affected issues!) and that puts me yet further off from stuff.

EVERY SINGLE ISSUE having AT LEAST 2 covers continues to be a turn-off on principle.

Then the way stuff goes out of print and out of stock on collected volumes leaves me cold–recently, I’d thought I could "catch up" on the GI Joe Classic line; but maybe 2-3 weeks after I ordered vols. 7-8 (I had 1-6 from a few years ago) suddenly most of 9-16 is unavailable except from 3rd-party sellers jacking the prices way up for being "out of print."

I had had Game of Thrones spoiled for me from casual posts thrown out on Facebook that went significantly well beyond what I’d experienced so far, so I grudgingly gave up and gave in and though I’m only sequentially to season 5: episode 2, I watched season 8: episode 5, and will probably suck it up and watch the finale. If it’s gonna be totally spoiled for me anyway I might as well AT LEAST get the spoilers FIRST HAND from watching MYSELF!

So there’s that ending–and we’re a few weeks past Avengers Endgame and essentially the ending to 11 years’ worth of Marvel Cinematic Universe films–and The Big Bang Theory just ended–so it feels like a lot of endings lately.

And I begin to consider: maybe it’s time for me to take more of a "break" from comics?

Though I’ll "eventually" have to "play catch-up" anyway for the likes of Superman and Action Comics as I always do; perhaps I need to cut back to just a few things.

Spawn to #300. TMNT stuff. And Tom King‘s Batman, since it seems like NO ONE ELSE even actually does more than 10-20 issues anymore.

It’s not like I wouldn’t have other stuff to read–to catch up on reading–even if I never bought any more comics ever!

So who knows…

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Ultraverse Revisited: Strangers #6

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strangers_0006The Tao of Physiques!

Author: Steve Englehart
Pencil Art: Rick Hoberg
Ink Art: Dave Simons
Letterer: Dave Lanphear
Color Designer: Robert Alvord
Color Team: Prisms
Editor: Chris Ulm
Cover Date: November 1993
Cover Price: $1.95

This issue opens with a full-page image of Deathwish throwing Electrocute through a wall. The issue’s title–The Tao of Physiques!–is big and bold on this page, as well an explosive callout proclaiming "All Out Action with The Strangers And" [issue credits]. There’s also a small box saying "Thought he was GONE, didn’t you? So did THEY…"

Essentially, this first page is like an AD for the issue, something you might find in another comic. Or like some sort of ’90s action movie poster, showing a hero vs. a big bad with a title, some hype-y language, names of creators, and some tagline.

This seems like something that absolutely would NOT be found in modern comics, and helps ‘date’ this issue as something out of its true to life time period OF the ’90s. It’s also something that–having recently read a discussion thread on some of the ills of modern comics particularly post-2000–feels all the more welcome as something of a time some quarter-century-plus in the past.

The Strangers have just defeated Deathwish, and help clean up the destruction that resulted from that battle; the various members discussing this need and the "explosion" of Ultras onto the scene and whatnot. They then find a survivor–an old man–in the wreckage and he gets transported to a hospital, with several of the Strangers following. Once there, weird stuff starts happening…and Deathwish rises again! Yrial seems detached and basically AGAINST helping, leaving the rest of the Strangers to deal with Deathwish. As they fight him–and marvel at his still being around when they thought he was destroyed–we see Yrial perform some Voodoo stuff she doesn’t want the Strangers to know about, and it turns out she’s gotten to the bottom of things…as she releases another entity from a dying woman, that seems to balance out the power of Deathwish; the new entity confronts Deathwish and both disappear, while the two human bodies they came from disappear into dust. As the issue ends, we see that the Strangers will next face Prototype during Break-Thru!

It’s kinda interesting to me that the issue ends with reference to Break-Thru but not much "selling" of the event or its premise; and no standout ads for it coming up, nor even one of the Ultraverse Checklist ads. The previous issue seemed almost a done-in-one with the rise of a new villain that had been foreshadowed, but then immediately defeated. Yet here already we have the "return" of the villain, and again a "defeat," perhaps permanently, with the introductions out of the way previously, allowing a full unleashing in this issue. We also get "moments" of development for other characters, the lost art of thought balloons, and generally touching on several plot threads at once (Hugh and Candy, Yrial and Zip-Zap, the whole team vs. Deathwish).

Surfacy as some of the stuff might be, it’s pretty loaded with potential when one looks a bit between the lines, so to speak. We see a growing relationship between Yrial and Zip-Zap…a friendship more than mentor/mentee; for lack of better phrasing, almost like a Storm/Jubilee thing from the X-Men ’92 cartoon, if Jubilee was Storm’s anchor-point rather than vice-versa. Candy is self-aware, but still not truly alive, and wants to know what it is to truly be alive and feel real feelings and such, and takes a lot of her frustration out on Deathwish. I don’t know if these elements get explored in further depth as this series progresses, but I look forward to future issues and finding out!

The art is pleasantly detailed–it’s not over-rendered into false realism but it’s not simplified cartoony. It continues to be strong and consistent with past issues, which is a great thing that seems another element lost in many modern comics. I recognize all the characters that seem like SHOULD be recognized, save for the woman the light-entity comes from; but I suppose that could be argument for a job well done as she was seemingly "just some woman" and not someone we SHOULD have paid attention to (and none of the characters did, either…it was Yrial’s magic that allowed her to even pick up on anything).

In 2019, this sixth issue would be the conclusion of a singular opening story; and we’ve essentially had several smaller stories within this title, including a crossover with Hardcase. But this does kind of cap things off with Deathwish seeming even more out of the picture than the previous issue, and the team more "gelled" than before; and this is the last issue before the first big "event" of the Ultraverse in Break-Thru.

As a total broken-record, I say yet again that this is an issue that doesn’t necessarily work entirely on its own as a single issue in a vacuum; there’s no great reason to go into a 4-longbox-bargain-bin section and pull just this issue as a prize unto itself. You’ll get bits of character stuff for a number of characters; a rise/return of a powerful villain and the team fighting him, and so on–so a bargain bin buy wouldn’t be horrible. But this would be enjoyed a lot more with at least the previous issue, if not as part of a small run of all 6 issues thus far (7 if you also get the Hardcase #4 crossover issue).

I enjoyed this, and I’m looking forward to the next issue as much for continued development of the Strangers as for getting into the event itself.

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Ultraverse Revisited: Hardcase #6

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hardcase_0006Friends and Enemies, Part Two: Returning Favors

Writer: Jim Hudnall
Penciller: Scott Benefiel
Inkers: Mike Christian & Jordi Ensign
Letterer: Tim Eldred
Color Design: Moose Baumann
Interior Colorists: Family Fugue
Editor: Hank Kanalz
Cover Date: November 1993
Cover Price: $1.95

After being stabbed and looking like he was bleeding out, we open this issue with Hardcase having an out of body experience, watching Choice find his body, fend off Hardwire, and try to get Tom to a hospital. While having this experience, Hardcase–Tom–is told by Linda (Starburst) to go back while he can. After waking in a hospital bed, Tom and Choice are visited by an old friend…who turns out to be an "old friend" in The Alternate. She claims she’s trying to help them survive, while "The Man Who Isn’t a Man" prepares to send agents to the moon to get something for him that he can destroy all Ultras with. Thanks to his remarkable healing, Hardcase is up and ready before long to re-confront Hardwire, and being prepared this time, succeeds. When police show up, Hardcase dislocates both of the villains arms, so that he can’t use his fingers against them. After this all wraps up, Tom lays in bed with his mind in overdrive, reflecting on the evening–Choice, as well as what he actually saw while dying.

The art for this title has been rather uneven…but it worked well in this issue, taken alone. The cover is nicely detailed, with Hardcase looking like Hardcase…even though it has him seemingly deliberately looking AWAY FROM the attacking villain. Within the issue, the art seems good as a whole. It seems slightly "off" to me–but then, my primary memory of the title and its art comes from the first issue, so that’s what I tend to judge a lot of the art against. It’s better than a couple of the other early issues, though, and better than I remember some of the later issues. The story’s not hard to follow–the action of what’s going on–and that’s the main thing. It’s nothing to write home about, but nothing I’m gonna really complain about.

Story-wise, we get some solid follow-up on Hardcase’s injury–and that while he’s nearly invulnerable, he can be hurt; but he also heals much faster, so even dire damage isn’t necessarily fatal. That said, we get some hints at forthcoming answers for Choice, and knowing what I do of the Ultraverse, it’s easy to pick up on the references to the moon and such (all the more after seeing them in Prime–which is another "core" Ultraverse title as one of the three originals). We get some resolution to this initial encounter with Hardwire; foreshadowing of stuff to come, and generally have a decently well-rounded ’90s comic that moves everything forward as an "episode" rather than being just a 1/6th slice of some singular graphic novel the way most modern/2018/2019 comics seem to be.

As with many ’90s comics and other Ultraverse issues, one could pick up on context simply reading this issue…but it’s not one I’d recommend in isolation or as some singular target issue. It bridges the previous issue and what’s to come in Break-Thru, contributing a bit of setup for that event and preparing us for Hardcase joining the greater stage of the Ultraverse as a whole. This is well worth a 25-50 cent purchase to have along with the earlier issues…but you’re better off grabbing the first issue than this if you just want a single issue of Hardcase.

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The Weekly Haul: Week of April 24, 2019

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Last week was a monumental week on a couple of fronts. Comic-wise, not so much. But I’ll get to those momentarily.

Avengers: Endgame premiered, and thanks to a friend scoring early tickets, I got to see a 6pm show of the film Thursday, April 22nd! I haven’t settled on quite the adjectives to use for it, and I really presently have no intention of attempting any formal review of the film.

I found the film to be "fitting," satisfying, well worth seeing, and I definitely enjoyed it. I loved catching various references and callbacks to other/earlier Marvel films, and one particularly key moment of self-identification that flashed back to the first of the Marvel Studios films.

While I lack the words, given the foundation of 21 earlier films, within the context of all those films and having seen them and all that…I’d be hard-pressed NOT to rank it up there with the original Iron Man and Captain America: Civil War. Though just as Infinity War brought back an awe originally found in the first 2012 Avengers, this one definitely surpassed that by far, for me.

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Eventually, I’m going to get caught up on Action Comics again. I’m almost going to have to, if I’m gonna follow the other Leviathan stuff coming in May. That said, there was definitely something to seeing the #1010 next to #1002–two four-digit numbers–with Detective Comics. I’ve yet to play any of the Arkham games…so this Arkham Knight stuff doesn’t hit the high notes for me that it probably does for others. I’m also still not overly keen on this new logo for the title…less so when seen next to the classic, nearly-original 80+ years old Action logo.

Heroes in Crisis #8 reveals stuff…and I was rather "shocked" when I realized that against initial intentions, I’ve kept on with each issue, after thinking I’d leave it for a collected edition if at all. I strongly feel like the title’s event(s) could EASILY have been condensed to 3-4 issues with the "interviews" done as bonus text pieces as backmatter and achieved the same effect in less than half the time/expense of the series as a whole. I’m digging King‘s Batman run…but HiC is far, far more a "miss" for me.

I also need to catch up on my reading for Mr. & Mrs. X…but keep up with the series because it’s Rogue and Gambit, and I’ve quite a bit of relative "history" with the characters going back 26-some years now.

I clearly, consciously remember getting Avengers Forever #1 "off the shelf" back in 1998–nearly 21 years ago. So it was fitting to get it again in this format–for only $1–and the realization that there are several years of high school graduates who were born AFTER the issue originally came out! In 1992/1993 as I was fully getting into comics, 21 years back was 1971/1972…I was closer to to Claremont‘s revamp of the X-Men then, than I am now to getting in post-1991!

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TMNT #93 kicks off City at War and begins the final run-up to #100. Criminal–basically, anything from Brubaker and Phillips–is always a treat. And for the heckuvit, I decided to "try" Ascender #1…though who knows when/if I’ll get to reading the darned thing.

Comic Shop News gives House of X the spotlight…and I’ve got mixed feelings on the thing. I’m curious and interested in something big and "key" with the X-Men…but I am NOT keen on the high-priced single-issues, nor the inevitable waste of space of entire pages with just a couple words on them that are typical to everything from Hickman…to say nothing of generally having a sense of pretentiousness from what I’ve read by the writer. Not so much that the writer is pretentious, but the air of the comics seem that way, as well as what I get from having to "do homework" to "appreciate" the stories. With two concurrent (and I believe, biweekly?) 6 issue-series across 12ish weeks…I’ll possibly check out first issues, but more than likely leave stuff for collected edition(s) if reviews warrant.

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I hit a significant quarter-bin jackpot on Good Friday (likely detailing that in an upcoming post). This past weekend, I found less of particular interest, despite snagging a "grail" (also in the likely-upcoming post). But for $1.75…two Wizard specials ($4.95 apiece cover price, I believe), the "chromium"/fancy covers for Bloodshot #0 and Turok #1 (another $8ish between the two), a Machine Man issue (that I mistook as some sort of 2099 special I’d missed all these years), and oversized Captain America (with stuff about Galactic Storm) and one of the number of variants from 2000’s X-Men #100. Easily $30ish in "value" for $1.75. Far superior value over even one $5 contemporary Marvel issue.


Hard to believe that the next New Comic Book Day will be MAY 2019 already. And it’ll be the first  NCBD post-Avengers Endgame. I wonder how different that may feel.

Or not.

Time’ll tell!

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NECA Aliens: Alien Queen Deluxe

This shows just how far behind I’ve gotten in producing content for this blog! I got this about FIVE WEEKS ago! But only just now getting around to sharing/posting about it!

I’d seen this several years ago in a Toys R Us, but at the time it was wayyy outta my price range. Of course, I spent much of 2018 contemplating stuff in the price range, and finally pulled the trigger on the most expensive toys I’ve ever bought: the NECA Baby Turtles, a (non-NECA) Power Rangers Legacy Megazord, the NECA 1/4-scale Raphael, the Gamestop-exclusive 7" 1990 movie turtles, the 1/4-scale Leonardo & Michelangelo, the 1/4-scale Donatello, and the ’80s 2-packs.

And so it just made sense to (finally) get this Alien Queen, as well!

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Like the other figures, this one has a window on the front for you to see (part of) the figure itself, and a nice dioramic image on the rest of the box.

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One side of the box is another window to see in to the Queen, while the other side shows the typical photo/rendition of the figure…in this case, with another figure for some scale, though that figure is not actually something included in this box (and that fact is noted: "Marine Figure Sold Separately").

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The back of the box is the Queen herself and a brief overview of what she is.

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The figure is very "top-heavy," and in many poses–especially at her most "natural" and menacing, she won’t stand on her own…so a base with two rods is included to allow for various poses and balancing. The TMNT Donatello figure is a standard Ninja Turtle figure for size comparison…it was what I had handy when I was taking these photos back in March!

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I like the Queen raised up a bit more to show her height. She TOWERS over the other figures…as she should! While the 1/4-scale TMNT figures are amazing…they’re really only "in scale" with themselves (and the baby turtles). This Alien Queen is in scale with other NECA Aliens products, so they can all stand together and look awesome in the same scale!

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And here’s–as of this writing–my Aliens shelving. The Queen and other figures are on top of a bookcase, with the books on the shelves immediately below.

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The Aliens/Predator comics stuff doesn’t fit the newer shelving the figures are part of, so the comics and such are still in the midst of the graphic novels collection area…which is definitely plenty appropriate!

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