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Showing Off the Shelves: Batman (December 2016)

I’ve been getting newer stuff worked in and generally re-situating my shelves, leading to showing off the current configuration.

Lagging a bit behind my Superman collection, which is well onto its third shelf, my Batman collection still has a little way to go to fill its second shelf and creep onto its third.

batman_shelves_late_november_2016a

While The Dark Knight Returns is more of an "ending" to the story (or should’ve been, but Strikes Again and III are another subject/post entirely) I ended up starting the shelf off with it–I have the story in numerous editions, much like other favorites The Death of Superman and Kingdom Come.

Then, following what I did with the Superman stuff, I lead with the "survey" collections spanning the years, then try to approximate rough chronological order from the Silver Age into modern times. The Batman run seems a lot more solidly event-oriented, with the bulk of the "inches" on the shelf being the event collections.

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Following the event stuff, I ease a bit into the New 52 era, and then back out into broad stuff. Even as I type this, it crosses my mind that the Batman Arkham volumes actually belong up in the earlier volumes as ‘survey’ books that are not collecting any singular story but a broad range of issues featuring a particular character.

The glaring gaps in my Batman collection are all the more glaring compared to Superman; but that’s not terribly surprising, as I’ve been a much more solid Superman fan than Batman over the years. No great dislike of the character; just a far deeper like of Superman.

The few hardcovers that I have are largely glaring stick-outs to me, such that I’d be somewhat interested in trying to replace them with paperbacks; particularly Heart of Hush and Batman: R.I.P. I’d ordered Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader at the same time as the Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow counterpart, so am somewhat hesitant to replace one, as they tie together in my mind; perhaps someday I’ll replace ’em both.

It’s simply astounding to consider the vast library of Bat-stuff out there…I have a relatively large collection here, but I swear I don’t have a fraction of what’s (been) available!

Mentor, OH Comic Signing/events for December 10 & 11, 2016!

I just received an email from one of the local comic shops in the area–Comics and Friends, located in the Great Lakes Mall in Mentor, OH.

They’re having a couple of signing events this weekend–see below.

Chris Lambert I know from practically the beginning of my knowing comic shops existed–he was the owner of Comics and Collectibles back in the ’90s, and a huge part of my formative years as a comics fan!

Saturday, December 10th:

comics_and_friends_chris_and_dave_20161210

And Sunday, December 11th:

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This is a neat comic shop, if a bit different from any others I’ve come across: this one is inside an indoor mall; "the Mall" to me, growing up. There’s no outside storefront, you have to know it’s in the mall, or just be in the mall yourself, to know it’s there. I usually park at the mall’s Macy’s "anchor store," and go in that way–the comic shop is the first store outside the Macy’s, into the mall.

And they have a good selection on back issues, very fair prices on ’em, lots of "sets" and a decent selection of toys and bank busts, and Heroclix and the like; a kids’ section, and a good selection of collected volumes.

The space is a bit cramped at times–being "just" a store slot in a mall–but it’s certainly a comic shop (as opposed to some other store that happens to also have comics), and I’ve found plenty of great deals here; found issues here that everyone else was out of, and while it’s not my "regular LCS," it is one that I like to visit on a fairly regular basis.

I don’t know that I’ll personally be able to make it to the events this weekend with prior plans…but if you’re reading this blog and in the vicinity, it’s well worth checking out–for the event themselves, or just the shop!

For more info, you can find them online at ComicsAndFriends.com!

The Weekly Haul – Week of December 07, 2016

Down to the final several weeks of the year (and the first comics week for me post-2016 birthday)! Counting back to somewhere after Halloween 1988 and early spring 1989, I’ve been "into" comics for 28 years now–over 75% of my lifetime! Or to phrase another way… I’ve only NOT been into comics for something less than 1/4 of my entire life!

This week worked out to be a pretty small week overall…really small, actually, such that I snagged a collected volume at full cover price and bought some stuff from $1 bins!

weeklyhaul_12072016a

After the driving I’ve been doing lately, I opted to stick with "just" the closer comic shop for this week–which means I’ll have at least the Aliens: Defiance issue waiting for me next week.

Along with my non-pull-list double-dipping on the Superman titles (not waiting for end-of-the-month bundles to arrive to read), I picked up a 2nd copy of the Direct Currents #1 magazine…and showing how much I did not look at it last week, I was pleasantly shocked to see the Super Sons ad on its back… that’s got to be probably my most anticipated upcoming title! And I love that they’re using the "classic" Superman/Batman logo with it!

And then, having seen the volume in the Comixology Pull list thing, I was interested in this One Week in the Library book. A HUGE thing it had going for it was the cover price–$9.99–so I didn’t feel too badly about buying it at "full price," after last week paying $4.99 each for two annuals and an ongoing TMNT, as well as $7.99 for the New Talent Showcase issue. This is much thicker/substantive.

AND it’s a case of the title, the CONCEPT, a textual DESCRIPTION "selling" me (again, along with the price point). Not some 20-40% "preview" of the issue online ("leaked" or otherwise). Just a title and concept for an acceptable price!

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With a surprising lack of 50-cent/12-for-$5 bins, I looked through a bunch of $1 bins that seem to have replaced the cheaper/older stuff at this shop.

No runs to speak of, at least not that I picked out, but I did find these six issues that were worthwhile to me to pick up.

Kaijumax for the heckuvit–only $1, and I have the $9.99 collected volume, so even now I’m still well below cover price on the individual issues, and this gives me the actual first issue to compare against the collected volume. A DC #50 in The Flash was quite worthwhile for only $1…rather than the original $4.99 price! Same for The Flintstones–for the $1, I’ll check it out where I was unwilling to buy it at full cover price.

The Street Fighter/GI Joe was interesting enough as a concept, and for "only" $1, more than willing to snag the issue, if only for the cover. While I loathe variants, I can’t deny that some of these overdone "action figure cover variants" hit a nostalgic sweet-spot for me! And for the price, opted to go with this, even if I wind up just using the cover itself–literally–as an art piece or such.

Then the Magic: The Gathering and Munchkin issues I bought soley for the card included with each. Well, primarily on the Munchkin issue; and I’m not sure if I already had this MTG issue, but on the offchance I ever decide to track down the single issues, doesn’t hurt to already have this now at the price.


Knowing I was looking at a small week, and coming off a weekend where I pointedly did my best to ignore my own birthday, I went ahead an placed an order with InStockTrades for an X-Men book I’ve wanted for awhile (and there are several more high on my want-list that I cannot justify buying all at once, though I’m increasingly anxious regarding their remaining in-print and thus significantly discounted!).

Unfortunately, though, I was also surprised with a real-life intrusion of discovering a burned-out headlight, necessitating the purchase of a replacement, which will likely now be a rather cold-weather endeavor in the doing of replacing the thing. Coldest day of the week, it looks like, so of course the bulb wouldn’t blow while we were having highly-unseasonable warm weather…

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #13

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures013The Final Conflict

Plot: Dean Clarrain & Ryan Brown
Script: Dean Clarrain
Pencils: Ken Mitchroney
Clean-Ups: Buz McKim
Inks: Dan Berger
Letters: Gary Fields
Colors: Barry Grossman
Cover: Steve Lavigne, Ken Mitchroney
Edits: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: August 1990
Cover Price: $1.00

Anymore, a thirteenth issue would seem a bit more special than it was even made out to be in the ’90s. Twelve issues is typically a single year, and a fairly standard-ish length for a “maxi-series” or such. Thirteen begins the second year of publishing, meaning a book has lasted past that first year. Of course, the TMNT Adventures book started out roughly bimonthly before eventually moving to a monthly schedule, so 13 isn’t all that significant…except that (sure, it’s a “stretch”) a lot of non-basic-network tv shows seem to be 13 episodes to a season/series, and I really like the analogy and have come to stick with the notion of looking at this comic series as a progression of “seasons.”

This is a “fun” issue…and certainly not the most standard of things the way it opens. Despite the cliffhanger of the previous issue–the turtles and their allies surrounded by Maligna’s insectoids–we spend the first several pages of this issue with Stump and Sling (the Intergalactic Wrestling promotors/hosts) going live with a broadcast, filling their viewers in on recent events (basically, TMNT Adventures #12), clarifying who the “players” are, and then throwing us (the reader/viewers) into the action.

While fighting the warrior children of Maligna, the turtles and allies realize that they’re being filmed…they’d agreed to another wrestling match for Stump, but rather than a repeat of the previous time it seems they’ve actually agreed to be filmed fighting for the Turnstone. Wingnut and Screwloose take off, though they wind up getting to make trouble for Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady. Leonardo and Trap find they have different notions of what works in battle, and Leatherhead finds himself hurled out of the arena in what turns out to be a fortuitous–if not predestined–turn of events. Maligna’s warriors are defeated, though Krang blasts the arena, scattering the victors before taking off. Meanwhile, Leatherhead finds the Turnstone, and manages to summon Cherubae. Seeking answers, he asks her WHY she transformed him, and she suggests that it was to ensure he’d be here, to be in the right place at the right time to get the Turnstone before Krang.

Leatherhead hands the Turnstone off to her, and she brings the conflict to an immediate end, banishing the villains and arranging for everyone to return to where they’re going…as well as ensuring the Turnstone will cause no further problems.

This is another Mitchroney-art issue, which I have no problem with. I definitely appreciate his designs for the characters, and I like the look. This also adds a consistency carrying over from the previous issue, giving a little bit more of a unified whole to the story than “just” a couple of single issues that happen to carry a continuation of story.

The story itself–the writing–for me is probably at its best so far, as we’ve gone from “mutant of the month” to a more unified continuity involving characters beyond just the four turtles. We wouldn’t have the characters we do here if there hadn’t been some of those “mutant of the month” issues and foundations put down, though. The previous issue suggested a difference in Bebop and Rocksteady from their cartoon counterparts (and even from the earlier issues of this series that adapted episodes from the cartoon). This issue does what it seemed the cartoon would never do (I know it sort of did eventually): resolve Krang, Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady’s story, taking them off the board.

Bebop and Rockstead are sent to a world of animals where they can “run free” amongst ’em…and their reaction seems to confirm that in this continuity, they ARE mutated animals rather than mutated humans. Shredder is sent to prison–presumably the Turnstone’s nudged reality to account for the logical process of having Oroku Saki behind bars and not cut loose the moment someone realizes there’s a random extra person amidst their prison population. And Krang is banished to a toxic waste dump world. Thus, without KILLING any of them, these primary antagonists known from the cartoon are effectively removed from their place of threat, leaving the board clear for the turtles to move on without constantly facing these four.

And that’s certainly another thing I enjoyed here–getting to see a resolution, much as a season finale, combined with the fact that I do know what’s to come, and that the turtles get plenty of adventures NOT involving Shredder being a problem.

This certainly could have served as a series finale, but thankfully the book continues, as we really get to see more development of these characters’ world while learning of the real world at the same time. Though this series is collected in primarily 4-issue chunks at present (and in the ’90s 3-issue chunks), it’d be great to see a larger collected volume with the 9 post-cartoon-adaptation issues thus far as a single piece.

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #12

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures012The Lost World

Script: Dean Clarrain
Pencils: Ken Mitchroney
Inks: Dan Berger
Letters: Gary Fields
Colors: Barry Grossman
Cover: Ken Mitchroney, Steve Lavigne
Editors: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: July 1990
Cover Price: $1.00

While this series has diverged from the cartoon continuity that started things off, this issue gives us a new change to Bebop and Rocksteady rather than a “mutant of the month.” Where in the cartoon, the two were human punks that Shredder mutated with the mutagen ooze…this issue opens with Rocksteady dreaming/remembering being a rhino in Africa…suggesting that he and Bebop are mutated animals rather than mutated humans.

The villains have arrived in Dimension X, seeking the turtles and their rescuer–Cherubae, the true form of the “swamp witch” Mary Bones. Planetside, Cherubae fills the turtles in on stuff over a campfire–her background, why she (and Krang) were on Earth, the Turnstone. Before long, Krang’s ship comes upon them, and things move into action. Krang blasts Cherubae, and she drops the Turnstone, though no one sees exactly where it lands. Realizing they can’t help her, the turtles set out to locate the fallen Turnstone. The Sons of Silence–seemingly allied with Krang–disappear and take Cherubae, leaving the others behind. Krang sends Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady to seek the Turnstone, while Krang himself zips off to enlist aid from a being named Maligna.

In exchange for the promise of being led to Earth to have her way with it, Krang is granted the aid he seeks. Still searching for the Turnstone, the turtles come across an old coliseum. Before they can really check it out, they’re met by Cudley, serving as middleman (middleCOW?) for Stump and Sling. If they’ll agree to wrestle again, they’ll be given immediate allies. Swallowing their pride, the turtles agree, and Cudley spits out Wingnut, Screwloose, Leatherhead, and a new face–Trap. As Cudley leaves, the group contemplates what to do from here, when they realize they’re surrounded by a number of bug-creatures: Maligna’s children.

I definitely like the story here. For one thing, it sets this series even further apart from the cartoon, while playing with the characters we’re used to. Krang continues to not use (or even have?) his android body, nor does he seem particularly concerned. Bebop and Rocksteady are given some new depth, though it’s possible I’m reading more into it in this issue, knowing what comes later. I’m quite glad that we’re not given long, drawn-out mysteries and such, other than the “prophecy” and buildup toward The Final Conflict. Mary Bones was Mary Bones until last issue, and just pages after we learn she’s actually someone else, that someone is explained to us (and the turtles). We’re also introduced to Maligna, who I’d totally forgotten appeared here. The character is rather generic in this issue…but this sets up some major story beats for coming issues, and Maligna’s impact on the series carries through the late #50s if I recall.

I really very much enjoy Mitchroney‘s art, and suppose at least for now as I reread these issues, he’s high on my list of preferred TMNT artists. There’s nothing I really need to comment on visually here that I haven’t touched on with previous issues.

While we’ve had some quasi-cliffhangers, I’d consider the end of this issue to be the first “major” such cliffhanger as the turtles and their allies are about to be forced into a fight sooner than they could’ve expected. And as I noted with the previous issue, this feels a bit like one of the final episodes of a tv season, getting to the big-stakes endgame and facing a “big bad” and all that with characters that could’ve been pretty much one-offs being brought back into play and a definite sense of continuity from things laid as foundation points over the prior run of episodes.

I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next issue, and totally enjoying getting back into these stories for the first time in close to two decades, and certainly more than half a lifetime.

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #11

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tmntadventures011White Light

Script: Dean Clarrain
Pencils: Jim Lawson
Inks & Letters: Gary Fields
Colors: Barry Grossman
Cover: Ken Mitchroney, Steve Lavigne
Editors: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: June 1990
Cover Price: $1.00

The issue begins with Bebop and Rocksteady, who’ve been trapped in the rubble from the cave-in back in #9. While they contemplate hunger and a weird smell (that neither will claim credit for) a white light shines and several figures emerge, before the scene shifts to the turtles noticing the abundance of rats. They find themselves “herded”  to a figure named Ha’ntaan, who calls himself the Rat King and claims anywhere a rat is found as part of his kingdom. Getting by without particular conflict, the turtles continue their search for Shredder and soon find a trail of chemicals and wastes in the waterflow of the sewer, finding their way to a giant Foot Soldier robot guarding something. Said something turns out to be a trap as the turtles are captured by the figures that Bebop and Rocksteady saw at the beginning of the issue. These figures are a group of aliens called the Sons of Silence, and apparently are working with Krang (and by extension, Shredder). While the villains celebrate their pending victory over their enemies, the scene is observed through the Turnstone by Mary Bones…who decides her time on Earth is at an end and drops the disguise. She uses the Turnstone to rescue the turtles, while Krang & Co. head back to Dimension X in a modified-into-a-spaceship Technodrome.

There’s something a little bit “off” with this issue’s visuals. We’re on a Lawson issue, but there’s something to this issue that made me think it was someone else. I can’t really complain too much as the art’s far from bad, but as I’ve come to really like Mitchroney‘s art on this version of the turtles, I’m less impressed with Lawson‘s. There are a couple panels that I do really like, of Raph amidst the rats, where the rats themselves are quite expressive and I actually felt for the little critters. Despite being a bit “off,” the art isn’t bad, and everyone’s recognizable and everything is gotten across that needs to be for my enjoyment of the story.

The story itself is back to what I consider a bit more of the “mythology” of the series, with things coming together toward the “Final Conflict.” While I mention in my summary above Mary Bones “rescuing” the turtles, I suppose we don’t know for sure that that’s what she’s done, only that she’s removed them from Krang and the Sons of Silence. These Sons are not mutants–or don’t appear to be–and with Mary Bones’ reference to them, she knows of them and they seem thus to be aliens, perhaps from Dimension X.

I remember this issue being one of the hardest of the early issues for me to track down, though I can’t honestly remember WHEN I finally managed to do so, nor where I found it…whether it was an issue I found somewhere in-person or if it’s one of a handful I acquired via eBay in the early 2000s while I was in college. I’d known OF the Rat King from the action figure and cartoon, and thanks to stuff like Wizard and whatnot knew he’d been in this issue, #11…but even much as I remember other characters and what became of them in this series, this issue felt like a brand-new read, as if I hadn’t read it before. That, and a slight bit of deja vu in “memory” regarding a couple panels.

I’m a little disappointed there wasn’t MORE to the Rat King himself, what he’s about, an origin, etc., in this issue…but as I believe he’s a Mirage character that was carried over into this title, it’s a bit different than characters created by the guys working on this book. The character is a bit of a dim spot for me, knowing I’ve seen the character in the Mirage vol. 4 books and I believe also during City at War.

If I’m recalling correctly, this issue is sort of a “bridge” between the “development” issues and the issues where a number of these characters–the “mutants of the month”–come back into play. Reflecting at present, it’s occurred to me that it’s much like a tv season, with The Final Conflict serving as the end of this “first season” of TMNT Adventures.

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #10

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tmntadventures010Going Down?

Plotted by: Dean Clarrain & Ryan Brown
Written by: Dean Clarrain
Penciled by: Ken Mitchroney
Inked by: Dan Berger
Lettered by: Gary Fields
Colored by: Barry Grossman
Cover: Ken Mitchroney, Steve Lavigne
Edited by: Scott Fulop and Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: May 1990
Cover Price: $1.00

We open on a bit of ‘lecturing’ on the hazards of man-made pollution via waste-dumping, move to a flashback of Bebop and Rocksteady dumping waste into a sewer-stream, before joining the turtles and Splinter. The turtles talk with Splinter about recent events, piecing things together before setting off to chase down a lead on Krang’s whereabouts. Splinter had his own question–asking Raph why he continued to wear his black costume (from Stump Asteroid) unlike his brothers who are back to their traditional look. Meanwhile, Shredder has called an exterminator, and mentions Bebop and Rocksteady having been gone a few days (perhaps buried under rubble of a cave-in?).

The exterminator is bitten by a roach, then falls into a sewer opening. Meanwhile, the turtles have found nothing at Shredder’s old sub-dock, but realize he might be nearby based on where they bumped into Bebop and Rocksteady earlier. As they pursue this latest lead, Mikey realizes they’re being followed…as Leo realizes they’re being approached. The guys find themselves facing the exterminator (mutated into a giant cockroach) and a mutated planarian worm calling himself Wyrm. While both seek to harm the turtles, they turn on each other…and as they fight, a gas pipeline is ruptured along with some live wires, causing an explosion. As the turtles check on injuries, Raphael notices there’s suddenly a bunch of rodents around them.

I’m starting to get used to the alternating Mitchroney/Lawson art scheme on this title. Now that I’m consciously noticing it, it works, and while every single issue may not be entirely consistent, every-other-issue is (mostly). And as an expected thing, I’m cool with it and take no real issue with the matter. That said, I think I’m preferring Mitchroney‘s style for seeming a little more detailed, softer, and more expressive and (I hate to use the word) “cutesy.” There’s a tone to this that I like, and as an issue of TMNT Adventures, I have no real problem with the art; it fits the book, the story, and general nostalgia and certainly gets everything across that needs to be gotten across.

The story is the sixth issue of a “mutant of the month” (this time TWO of ’em!) in Wyrm and the exterminator, that I seem to recall as “Scumbug” though I don’t think he was named in this issue. I VAGUELY recall the character appearing in the cartoon…but that could just be some sort of deja vu or crossing of memories. I do remember the action figure at the least. I’m curious now to revisit the current animated series to see if Michelangelo calls the one cockroach character ‘scumbug” or “a scumbug” or such.

I mention above that this issue opens with “lecturing,” and while I noticed it twenty-some years ago reading this series (particularly around #17 and then some of the #30s to #40s) there’s a bit of a “message” being put out there, an element of putting some real-world thoughts and subject matter forth. Whether I’d presently see it as a bias or some other political/PC “buzzword” is something I’ll leave out…this puts subject matter out there for consideration by the reader, by kids, to be able to look into on their own, or to go back to later when/if the subject comes up in general. To “connect” it back to a comic they read.

There’s plenty of “convenience” to the story, and some parts of the plot have noticeable (to me as a 34-year-old) holes. But it’s the turtles, it’s new characters, it’s stuff being moved forward a bit, and while far from being a favorite issue, it’s not horrible.

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