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The Weekly Haul: Week of May 04, 2016

Outside of several pretty hefty recent book purchases, actual comics made for a big week this week…and probably my widest, most “diverse” (publisher-wise) such haul in ages!

weekly_haul_week_of_20160504a

In my main/regular/new issues, I have five publishers represented. I was not going to buy the Thunerbolts issue…while I’d greatly enjoyed the late-1990s/early-2000s and somewhat tried again with the series with Marvel Now, I’d trailed off. Something about this cover, though, just REALLY triggers the nostalgia factor for me. While I’d prefer the title be at the top of the cover, for the image they went with, it works…sadly, I am certain this “main” cover is hardly the only cover…thus it lacks the iconic status of the original 1997 Thunderbolts book.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, Thunderbolts (2016) #1 is only $3.99! I have been so extremely put-off by Marvel‘s high prices and the seeming stream of $4.99+ #1s that I’ve written ’em off as too expensive for my interest. I’d far prefer $2.99, but at this point I’ll “support” $3.99 OVER $4.99 for #1 issues, regardless of size (standard or extra…short me on size and the complaint’s renewed!)

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I’d picked up the first two issues of X-Men ’92 recently to “check them out,” having bought the series last year with the Secret Wars stuff…seeing the third issue, I decided to take a chance and buy this one so I’m “caught up” for the reading. I’d been quite surprised that the first couple issues were “only” $3.99 apiece…that #1 was not $4.99 was a major selling point for me!

A $1 issue from IDW, and a catalog of Marvel collected volumes round out the “normal” stuff for the week.

Which brings us to issues of timing, with their release falling on May 04.

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Star Wars Day seems to have become an official Thing, May 4th each year. As in “May the Fourth be with you.” So rather than stagger them across the entire month…Marvel threw us ten $1 reprints of #1 issues. For the price, I’m cool with them; they were pulled for me as part of my “$1 and under promo-priced stuff” part of my pull-list. In addition, I snagged an extra copy of several issues to give to coworkers.

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Given the relative (I believe) “recency” of several of the issues, I’m quite glad I waited. As is, I’m a bit miffed at these now-$1 copies of the $4.99 Star Wars #1 and Darth Vader #1 from last year…ditto on the Vader Down issue. Still, these give me a first-issue jumping-in point to help determine if I want to buy the trades…

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I also hit the quarter-bins, where I snagged several random-ish issues. The Wolverine issue brings back definite memories from when it was originally released, so I grabbed that on the nostalgia alone. I snagged the Captain Marvel because it was #1, did not have the other issues in the bin, and I wanted an ‘even number” of books. Turns out the Generation X/Gen13 books are variants of the same issue. I’m disgusted on principle but can’t be too upset…they’re wraparound covers, and I’m only out 50 cents for a double-length story.

weekly_haul_week_of_20160504f

I totally forgot several weeks ago to follow up on an offer on the Guy Gardner issues–the store owner was planning on clearing them out “soon.” While I think I “missed out on” several early issues in the run, these issues are mostly what I recall being present at the time, so it all worked out in the end. I’m pretty sure somewhere in the Abyss that is my collection of longboxes I have the first 20+ issues–at least the bulk of the run before the book became Warrior…so I mostly passed on those for now, as I’m hoping to get the entirety of my comics collection sorted sooner than not…and I’m trying to exercise a bit of restraint in this regard (though adding 30 25-cent issues ($7.50) to an already cringe-inducingly large week on top of other expenditures may not be the most intelligent thing to do.

Reunification of the Bookshelves Spring 2016

Over the weekend, I finally finished re-sorting/re-arranging the bookshelves. Having a more "concentrated" space as well as the largest number of "dedicated" shelves available, I was able to do stuff a bit differently this time through.

0000_all

I also grouped things a bit differently, and while I pointedly had the shelves themselves spaced the same on each bookcase (3 of one model, two of another), I have a configuration that works fro me, though I can see this "system" going at least slightly awry fairly quickly. Still, the collection’s been a constant evolution anyway.

Follow on below for a shelf-by-shelf "tour" of the entire graphic novel portion of my comics collection.

0001_tmnt_usagi

The TMNT stuff, as well as the newer Dark Horse Usagi Yojimbo Saga volumes. There’s basically just enough room to add the fifth Usagi Yojimbo volume or the second TMNT by IDW volume, but not both. However, I expect acquiring and adding the second TMNT volume will be the final nudge at purging the other IDW floppies from this shelf–I stopped buying those at all when the first volume was solicited, as it is a far superior way of getting the series. Then on top of that, they’ve now got triple-sized paperbacks coming out for only 1.5 times the price of the skinnier ones. Go figure.

0002_superman01

The first Superman  shelf. I start the shelf with some of the various/general collections that span the years without necessarily being chronological/ordered collections or runs of books…at least for what I own. Then the Chronicles volumes, the Showcase, and the Superman vs. _______ volumes. Some of the other Silver/Bronze age stuff, and then the post-CoIE "continuity" run begins.

0003_superman02

The second Superman shelf continues the post-CoIE continuity stuff. I have the Death and Return of Superman Omnibus "out of order" as a divider of sorts, following it with more generalized Superman stuff, including Superman/Batman collections. The New 52-era stuff is here, because I only own the two volumes.

0004_dc_general

There’s some slight "overflow" of Superman-related stuff into general DCU. I start with some general DC Universe stuff, then go roughly alphabetical by "property" (grouping Deathstroke with Teen Titans for obvious reasons).

0005_dc_general_room_to_expand

There’s a slight bit of "overflow" of "general DC" onto the final shelf of this bookcase…and I decided to use the entire shelf in that regard-as the DC stuff expands, I’ll "wrap" stuff through to this shelf, hopefully avoiding the need to completely redo the bookcase anytime soon simply to fit more DC books!

0006_batman01

Batman tops the second bookcase with his first shelf. Given its quasi-non-continuity nature, I stuck my numerous editions of Dark Knight Returns at the start of the shelf, then shift to general Batman collections before the major "continuity" run of stuff.

0007_batman02_room_to_expand

On the second Batman shelf I have more general stuff again that–for me–works better here than at the start of the Batman placement, and into related Batman stuff. I then finish the partial shelf with Omnibus volumes as bookends, with the Robin bust bank as extra decoration. This also allows plenty of space for the Batman collection to expand without much issue, as the bust can be relocated and the Omnibii can as well.

0008_dc_events_and_prose_novels

I decided to separate out the main "event" books. While I have the Crisis on Infinite Earths paperback with the general DC stuff, I have the Deluxe Edition oversized hardcover here to begin the run of major DC events. For lack of better placement but similar nature, I put my various prose novels of DC stuff here as well…most of them adapting the various events, and generally being a good fit in this space.

0009_green_lantern_green_arrow

Rounding out the nearly two bookcases’ worth of DC material is the green stuff…Green Arrow and Green Lantern. The vast majority of this is the Geoff Johns-helmed Green Lantern era, with a handful of other stuff. I never got around to getting the complete run of Blackest Night collected volumes…but I’m happy with what I do have, and have not felt any great need to track those down. With both Blackest Night and Brightest Day being firmly entrenched in the Green Lantern side of things, they’re here rather than with the "general DC events" books.

0010_starlin_thanos_warlock

Topping the Marvel books, I’ve separated out the Thanos and Warlock Infinity stuff, heavy emphasis on the works of Jim Starlin. As these only make up a partial shelf, this is a prime spot to accentuate the books with two incredibly cool banks that have obvious relevance.

0011_xmen01

I’ve got the X-Men books is roughly chronological order, with the Essentials on up to the individual story volumes.

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The second X-Men shelf continues things up to roughly present-ish stuff.

0013_mixed_x_books

I then have a third shelf of "X-Men related" stuff…dominated by Wolverine and X-Factor. While I originally didn’t care for yet another "trade dress" on the Essentials, I’ve come around to actually preferring this latest, where emphasis is now on the character/title and not the word Essential; it allows the books to look a lot better grouped with similar volumes for a series and not stick out as being alphabetically out of place.

0014_marvel_digets_comics_reference

As the smaller paperbacks and digest-sized volumes would get lost in the shelf with the full-size volumes, I separated them out here. Due to their smaller size making them physically lighter, they’re actually grouped on top of a bookcase. I ran out of actual bookends, so fit the "comics reference" books here as well for the moment.

0015_annihilation_and_avengers

The first shelf on this bookcase is Annihilation and Avengers volumes…including the Heroes Reborn volumes. I have the Avengers stuff in a rough quasi-continuity order rather than any strict title-order. Since I have both the run of X-Men: The Complete Onslaught Epic and the singular Onslaught Omnibus, I decided with so many other thick and/or hardcover volumes, the Omnibus was a better fit here than with its paperback counterparts; and works as a split with the story impacting both the X-Men family of characters as well as the Avengers family of characters.

0016_captain_america_daredevil_fantastic_four

Following the Avengers books, I go mostly alphabetical by property for the rest of the Marvel books. I would have sworn I had the two volumes of Captain America: Fighting Chance but turns out I only have the Operation: Rebirth "classic" volume…which is a bit disappointing. There’s another large Captain America paperback I was picturing that I thought I had, but obviously do not. At least with everything back together, I have a better idea once again. I left space on this shelf for the Captain America: Man Without a Country paperback and the third volume of the Black Panther by Priest series.

0017_hulk_to_thunderbolts

Continuing the Marvel run from Hulk to Thunderbolts.

0018_spiderman_thor

Since neither would fit well, I separated out the Spider-Man books (included Spider-Woman as a Spider- book) and Thor. There’s some space left over on this shelf that will allow for some expansion of the Marvel stuff without any major rearranging.

0019_ultimate_universe

The Ultimate Marvel stuff now has a shelf to itself, with the gem of the collection being the near-complete Ultimate Spider-Man run…I just need to track down volume 8 to complete it! I have a handful of miscellaneous other Ultimate books in a loose-ish order, but I’ve actually mentally lost track of all the quasi-reboots and said the heck with it. Perhaps it displays my own ignorance of the books if there’s any glaring out-of-order elements.

0020_aliens

Though it’s a lot of "shelf real estate" to "give up," the Aliens and related get a shelf entirely to themselves, along with some Aliens toys.

0021_hellblazer

I have a near-complete Hellblazer library…I believe the entire 300-issue series has now been collected, and is represented in this run of volumes. I’m pretty sure the only thing under the Hellblazer heading that I’m missing is a Vertigo Resurrected collecting a mini-series set in the future. I also tossed Swamp Thing, Starman, and Watchmen here primarily for space and singularity. I hope to expand my Swamp Thing library in the next couple years, knowing that all the Alan Moore stuff is available, as well as a couple other major runs of the titles.

0022_misc_series

I managed to cram several "series" collections onto another shelf. The pre-Vertigo entirety of Astro City (unless I’m forgetting a volume); then complete runs of Preacher and Sandman in older editions (my parents gave me this 10-volume Sandman run between my birthday and Christmas in 2001!) Though I’ve loaned out several volumes, I otherwise have the complete run of the Walking Dead "serialized paperbacks." Volume 5 was THE newest one when I "discovered" the series…we’re now 20 ADDITIONAL volumes into the run. Kinda hard to believe! Finally, there was (for the moment) just enough room to squeeze the four Serenity hardcovers in.

0023_disney_kids_gijoe_starwars_transformers

This shelf is a mix of Disney Ducks stuff, into Archie and similar physically-sized volumes, then GI Joe, Star Trek/Star Wars, and finally Transformers.

0024_indie01

Breaking from the vertical grouping/progression I mostly followed, I have two shelves where I intermingled "indie stuff" that basically makes up "everything else," and where no particular series truly separates itself from "the bunch" for now. I primarily alphabetized by series title, and order within that for the few that have multiple volumes.

0025_indie02

Knowing that there are now six of these Savage Dragon Archives volumes, if I do wind up getting the rest, I will likely end up splitting those off somewhere. For now, they’re just the "brightest light" in the bunch offhand.

0026_end_misc_valiant

The final graphic novels shelf wound up with several miscellaneous volumes that don’t really fit anywhere else…and Valiant. I’d originally "intended" to keep "classic Valiant" elsewhere, as I don’t really have a problem with it, but as stuff was grouped and sorted and arranged, it came down to just clustering Valiant as a whole together. I am still extremely unhappy with current Valiant over last year’s stunt with Legends of the Geomancer, which stopped me in my tracks on the collected volumes. As it appears that the Book of Death hardcover does NOT have that mini included, I’ve basically written off Valiant in general, and may wind up purging these from the collection at some point–Time will tell!

0027_misc_related

Separate from the main collection, I have a shelf of "coffee-table" style books and such that are primarily comics-related. Most of these I’ve acquired in the past year or two, though the Great American Comic Book volume I think was a Christmas present during college, and the Buffy volume is simply far too tall to fit on a standard shelf with anything else that makes sense, so gets grouped here.


All in all, a massive collection far beyond anything I’d ever imagined growing up…or even within a couple years of college. Where once I’d dreamed of a generic personal library made up of all sorts of books (not just graphic novels), I now have enough of both to truly have the personal library and then some.

In doing all this sorting/organizing/arranging, I also yanked another couple shelves’ worth of books that were either duplicate, older editions to which I’ve gotten the newer, or generally decided I don’t need/want in the collection anymore for whatever reason.

This leaves me–still–with needing to get the actual comics collection sorted, but there should be time for that later after stuff in the personal life settles a bit.

On (Funko) Subscription Boxes

I “discovered” subscription boxes in late 2014. I’d seen some stuff about them prior, but then jumped on with Loot Crate for a “cosmic” box that was to include a Firefly/Serenity exclusive item. I stuck with it for about five months, with steadily decreasing interest before finally cancelling my subscription in frustration when an anniversary-themed box that had pushed a Ghostbusters item ended up ONLY having some crappy doorhanger (paper, not even plastic/wood/anything STURDY) with Ghostbusters imagery printed on it.

Several months ago in the then-still-leading-up-to the Deadpool movie, I followed an ad for the Marvel box–Collector Corps–for its Deadpool theme, and was mostly happy with the box.

I completely forgot to go in and turn off the auto-renewal, until I received notice my next box had shipped.

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I was a bit annoyed at the timing of the box’s delivery–tracking info suggested “by Friday” one week but it did not arrive until sometime the next week after a weekend where it could not be delivered.

Despite that, the Captain America: Civil War box isn’t bad…yielding a mask-up Tony Stark Dorbz figure, a double-pack of Pop! figures, a lanyard, an “exclusive” cover edition of Black Panther #1 (all the more glad now that I did not buy the issue singly a few weeks back!) and a t-shirt; as well as a patch and pin unique to the box, but there’s a patch and pin set for every theme apparently.

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While these two boxes tie in with movies, the next box is not an X-Men box, so I’ve nixed the auto-renewal for now as I have no idea what will be included in the Women of Power box apparently coming up next, but as Funko items go, I can’t think of any that’d particularly appeal to me.

I was reminded to do so after I had some dealing with the DC counterpart… where I’d followed an ad and decided to take a peek and see if it’d be worthwhile, especially learning that I was within the timeframe to get in on the new box:

dc_tv_legion_of_collectors_ad

Unfortunately, it was the last day to get in on the DC TV box, and the registration process did not make things obvious…so in entering payment information, I wound up with a box aimed at a payment address and NOT at any of my three VALID shipping addresses available to me.

I attempted to log back in to the site to “update” my shipping preferences, my shipping address, but was met with a notice that such activity was “locked” due to being so close to the cut-off.

I reached out through the customer service email.

I reached out to the Twitter account.

And heard back on nothing.

I completed my order before 2pm on a Sunday afternoon. Weekend, yes, but as the final day, and having restricted one’s ability to update addresses, I would have expected the company’s accounts to be manned for just such an occasion as mine–requiring immediate, time-sensitive assistance.

No, around 7am, I discovered an email time-stamped 2:22 AM saying that if I could provide the “correct” address within a half-hour or so I could be helped. As it was 7am,, nearly five hours later, I was S.O.L.

I’ve yet to get any sort of response via Twitter.

Frankly, I understand and can totally appreciate having a “freeze” in the process–they say if you’re going to cancel or prevent an “auto-renewal,” you have to do so at least 5 days before the cutoff. You don’t want someone arbitrarily deciding day-of that nope, I don’t actually want this box.

But for someone new who has just signed up on a whim, a new customer to be unable to update/add a differing shipping address (not canceling payment, not trying to back out on stuff) I’m just furious.

And while I don’t usually care to “air dirty laundry,” the lack of helpfulness in this situation has led me to posting this.

I’m by no means the most important customer, nor even necessarily a typical experience…but it’s MY experience, it’s been negative and frustrating, and I’m really very annoyed with it…and it certainly sours me on just “randomly” giving Funko money for stuff in the future.

I was already LOCKED IN on the purchase of this first box, and I reserve the “right” to be extremely critical of it–all the more for the experience I’ve had (including any damage/lack of pristine condition to anything as a result of the delivery situation).

Where I go from there remains to be seen. Since it’s still within that several-day “lockdown,” I can’t even now switch my status to NOT “auto-renew” for the NEXT box, so I’m also forced into at LEAST one more dealing through the website.

This thing had better be worth it!

The ’90s Revisited: The Flash #142

flash0142Get Me to the Church On Time

Writers: Mark Waid, Brian Augustyn
Pencils: Pop Mhan
Inks: Chris Ivy
Letters: Gaspar
Colors: Tom McCraw
Assistant Editor: L.A. Williams
Editor: Paul Kupperberg
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: October 1998
Cover Price: $1.99

This is one of those issues whose cover served as an extremely powerful selling point: “The Wedding of The Flash.” OK. I knew Wally and Linda were married…and that it happened SOMETIME before #200, as that was about the time their kids were born, and I was pretty sure they’d been married awhile prior. So spotting this in the quarter bin without any significant “run” to grab, I still figured it would be a good one-off/isolated issue to read.

We open on Wally dealing with Kobra and his crew, and find he’s got a very personal stake in dealing with the current situation: the terrorists are quite inconsiderate, after all, attacking on his wedding day. Linda and Wally put the last-second finishing touches on wedding plans as Linda’s family arrives. While things get into motion for the wedding, Wally can’t quite shake the feeling that something’s wrong or forgotten. The Justice League arrives, and there’s still no villain attack to disrupt things…as Wally and Linda get a moment to confirm they’re going through with the wedding. As the couple prepares to deliver their wedding vows, Wally realizes exactly what he’s forgotten: writing his. Of course, he doesn’t need to write them–he just reflects quickly on their time together, what they’ve been through–and he’s good. As he slips the ring onto Linda’s finger, there’s a flash of light, and he’s alone with no recollection of Linda’s existence nor that they were at the altar to be wed…while a mysterious figure looks on as Linda screams for help.

As said, the issue’s cover grabbed me. This is “THE” wedding issue. Great, ok, cool. Regular-sized, nothing fancy, just a one-issue key moment, something that happens, but while the same length as any other moment in time, is still one of those key moments one can go back to. Right? And being so used to covers “spoiling” otherwise ‘surprise’ villains or guest-stars, giving away what the issue is about (yet, the cover DOES have to “sell” one on buying the issue if they aren’t already planning to, and I’m certainly guilty of disliking generic, unrelated covers)…I figured I knew what this issue was, and was just going through the motions reading/enjoying the story, but I wasn’t expecting to be surprised. But surprise me it did, and now I very definitely want to read more.

The story itself is very good, mixing “regular” super-speed action letting us see the Flash do what he does, and that not EVERY threat has to be spread across exactly six issues of formulaic structure for a graphic novel collection. Some threats can be handled in a few pages to move the story along. Also signifying this being from an age when there were no routine collections of every half-dozen or so issues, the credits page is worked into the story itself somewhat cinematically–or at least, in a “tv” sort of fashion…showing the Kobra attack to be mere prologue to fulfill our expectation of the Flash in action in-costume and allowing the rest of the issue to focus on Wally, Linda, and co. for the wedding itself. Working other key characters in–like Impulse and Nightwing were nice touches, and though I’m more aware of than familiar with Bart, I appreciated the bit with him and seeing dynamics of “the Flash Family” that I’ve often read of but read very little of myself as yet.

The art is good, and really never left me wondering. It’s not my favorite visual style, and is rather “isolated” here as I’ve not read any significant runs on this title in probably almost a decade. I’m sure I’d appreciate it more in context, and assume it’s consistent with surrounding issues. Where varying visual styles play on actual memory for me with the Superman family of titles, I don’t have that for the Flash, which for every issue of the title I read makes me further regret never jumping in back in the ’90s when these were fresh, current, ongoing episodes of the character.

Despite mentioning “isolation” above in regards to finding this issue and how I see the art on it…the issue on the whole is not the quasi-self-contained or isolated unit I was expecting. I thankfully never got the sense that I “should have” read the previous issue to “get” what’s going on here, so it’s easy to jump INTO…but it certainly doesn’t have a hard-stop point to conclude, and successfully leaves me eager to read more, to find out who the mystery-villain is, to see how Wally and Linda get out of this mess…find out if this truly IS “the wedding issue” or if that “moment” occurs down the road in another issue, etc.

For a one-issue quarter-bin find, this issue was more than worthwhile, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would (in retrospect) gladly pay several dollars for it (though for bulk/quantity I’d prefer to get to load up on the series from quarter-bins!).

Darkwing Duck (2016) #1 [Review]

darkwingduck(2016)001Orange is the New Purple part 1

Storytellers: Aaron Sparrow and James Silvani
Colors: Andrew Dalhouse
Letters: Andworld Design
Assistant Editor: R. Janice Orlando
Editor: Jesse Post
Published by: Joe Books Ltd
Cover Date: April 2016
Cover Price: $2.99

It’s been a few years, but here I am covering a first issue of Darkwing Duck once again. And as with that time, this time finds an issue whose story title is a play off another. Here we have Orange is the New Purple, where back then it was The Duck Knight Returns. As best I can follow, this continues the bulk of the story from that previous series, itself picking up and continuing from the classic (now 25-years-old) animated series of the same name. I don’t truly “get” comic book politics, and was disappointed at the time when Disney‘s purchase of Marvel seemed to spell the end of Boom‘s license and its run on the Disney books. Now, we have another publisher running with the title, but it is not Marvel.

That aside, this works quite well as a first issue.

We open on a parade that is quickly crashed by DW rogue Megavolt, whose attack is quickly dampened by Darkwing. We move on to see DW in his civilian guise, interacting with family and neighbors; while there’s an attack on the transport carrying Megavolt to prison. Later, Darkwing interacts with SHUSH, though things don’t go overly well there with a new assignment. Back at home, DW is flabbergasted at learning that he has not been invited to cut the ribbon at the opening of the new super-max prison that is primarily populated by individuals HE put there. And still later, crashing that particular party, the villain of the piece is (unsurprisingly) revealed and sets the situation to a cliffhanger worthy of any episode of the classic tv series.

As first issues go, this is definitely a solid one. The most noticeable thing for me is the art, which gives us characters that look like they stepped right off the tv screen (albeit with improved, more robust coloring than the cartoon could maintain). This is not some reinterpretations of the characters’ looks; it’s no “new take” or some artist looking to put their stamp on the appearance: it’s just clear, solid work that carries the absolute look and feel of Darkwing Duck and leaves no doubt of what this book is.

The story itself does a great job of things, serving the main points I’d expect FROM a first issue. We’re introduced to the title character; we meet supporting cast members, and associated characters; we see the hero in action, and we get a good taste of where we’re going from this issue. Though this issue is not a singular, complete, contained story, it gets things set up while providing enough in and of itself to satisfy on the single issue level…at least for me. Given how short and formulaic some of the tv episodes could seem, I welcome the longer story that this sets up while still getting the various elements we’d have in a single episode.

This issue feels like a mix of things…it’s a new series, a new first issue, and suitable for younger readers though it hits home for me as an adult reader and long-time fan of the property. It feels like a continuation of the cartoon, and a continuation of the previous comic series that ended several years ago. Of course, part of the latter is that we have some of the same creatives carried over, itself a sort of continuity that I hope is nothing but good.

I enjoyed this issue, and expect I’ll be adding it to my pull list at least for awhile…and might even try to track down the super-sized collected edition ostensibly collecting the previous series if only for a convenient availability of a re-read of that.

If you’re a fan of Darkwing Duck, this is very definitely a comic for you. Maybe best of all…despite never ever having heard of this publisher prior to learning of the collected volume and now this series, they do what it seems most publishers are utterly incapable of: offering a full-sized, full-length comic for “only” $2.99. Like with DC‘s promise of the upcoming price drop back to all-$2.99s, this is as good a price point as one is really going to find in this day and age, and will certainly hold me a lot longer than $3.99 would!

Highly recommended!

Aliens: Defiance #1 [Review]

aliensdefiance0001Episode One: Derelict

Script: Brian Wood
Art: Tristan Jones
Colors: Dan Jackson
Lettering: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover: Massimon Carnevale
Publisher: Mike Richardson
Editor: Spencer Cushing
Designer: Cindy Calcerez-Sprague
Digital Art Technitian: Conley Smith
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Date: April 2016
Cover Price: $3.99

My earliest exposure to Aliens was the final battle with the Queen at the end of the 1986 film, that I saw accidentally, wandering out one time to where Dad had fallen asleep watching it or whatever preceded it. Several years later, I came across and read the novelization of Alien3, which led to me seeing that film (my first-ever R-rated film sought out!), and in turn led to “backtracking” to the others. I also recall at some point realizing I had read the novelization of the first film at some point without ever realizing when I read it that it had anything to do with any movie. I also came across the novels that expanded the Aliens universe, and which I eventually came to learn were themselves based on comics. It would be a few more years before I ever got around to getting to read those original comics–particularly the first ‘trilogy’. While I’ve “lapsed” over the years, the last few years I have been quite interested to learn of any Aliens comic series, and occasionally lament that it’s not a truly ongoing property (while realizing that it works better with finite stories). As a gamer, I’m pretty lax, and have not played the recent game with Ripley’s daughter, though I’ve been told a fair bit of the story (sadly, not consciously retained). But hey…comics, right?

So here I am…brand new long-form Aliens story kicking off, its cover putting me a bit in mind of a/the video game, and intrigued at what I BELIEVE to be at least a 12-issue saga–perhaps the longest single Aliens story I’ve been a part of as a fan (not getting into the comics until about a decade ago). I know Brian Wood‘s name from some prior stuff I’ve read/sampled–Northlanders, DMZ, The Massive–and been aware of his name on stuff like Star Wars more recently…so that’s a welcome factor for a new Aliens series. Icing on the cake is art by Tristan Jones, who I became aware of with his work on the Tales of the TMNT title from original TMNT publisher Mirage a few years back, and have loved seeing his work on various other projects since…and whose visual style seems a perfect fit to me for the Aliens property.

This issue is a first issue, giving us basically a brief paragraph of context/setup before we’re launched into the thick of things. We meet Zula Hendricks, a private involved in a mission to a derelict spacecraft. She and her fellow marines encounter Xenomorphs, and the situation does not go well. She and a synthetic survive, though she quickly learns that the synthetic is acting against programming, and her own world is changing as a result.

The story is good, for what it is. Which is not meant to be a negative statement…but this is only the first chapter of a multi-issue arc, that I believe is a year-long, so this is hardly going to be a full story in and of itself, nor is it giving everything away. And a single issue isn’t really enough space to re-introduce readers to a property, introduce new characters and detail their history, recent past, and present while also showing the scope of the property and of space and the horrors of the Xenomorphs. But we do get a fair bit packed into this, with Zula’s introduction and some flashbacks, a cameo of Amanda Ripley (which I believe thusly situates this time-wise somewhere between the first and second films), the synthetic Davis, some context for Zula and her place in things, and the final-page reveal of what seems to be the “mission” of this particular series…piquing my interest such that I almost wish this was a weekly series, because waiting another month for the next tidbit seems far too long. It’s not a cliffhanger in and of itself, but more a concept that promises a lot of great stuff, and I want to see it developed and played out, and be along for the ride.

Jones’ visuals are a great fit for this story, providing a great overall feel for this issue. His style is–as said above–very well suited for this property, and gives a gritty, dark, creepy look to the Xenomorphs and their brand of violence. The humans/humanoids come across as I would expect, while exuding whatever it is that just FEELS like they’re in an Aliens story. The linework and layouts are impressive, giving a sort of cinematic flow to the issue…and I’m pleased at the lack of full or double-page spreads, which often feel like cheats and wastes of space when they’re the bulk of an issue. Only one page is a single/full-page image, and that’s the ending of the issue, where after all those pages crammed full of panels, it provides a stark contrast, and really drives home the importance of the “moment” that it conveys.

The cover is also a fantastic piece of art, and for me quite iconic and recognizeable. It’s also all the more impressive to me as it’s the only cover image I’ve seen for this, allowing it to stand as itself and not be just one in a sea of variant covers diluting the thing. While there may be a variant or two out there specific to someone, I don’t believe there are any alternate covers from Dark Horse in and of itself as a push.

Plenty of questions are opened up here, and the apparent premise of this series now holds a great deal of potential. I look forward to learning more of Zula as well as Davis, and seeing what sort of interactions the two have. I’m interested in how their ‘mission’ will play out, and play into the larger scope of the Aliens universe. While we get the cameo of Amanda Ripley, I believe her story is told in the videogame, and more of an “Easter egg” tossed in for fans as well as being an indicator of the time this is set in. I look forward to seeing and learning more about the Aliens, and seeing these characters grow in their own knowledge and understanding of same.

It will be interesting to see how this is paced, overall as a series…but I almost wish this was already a completed work. As a first issue, this works well overall. I don’t know that this is something that in and of itself right now as a singular issue will pull anyone “new” into Aliens or be necessarily the greatest introduction to the property…but whether long-time fan of the Aliens comics or just now checking them out being familiar with the films and/or video game, I think this is a great start into the comics side of things.

I’m not particularly enamored with the cover price, but will suck it up, given this is Aliens . I’m definitely on board for this series, and definitely recommend checking it out if you’ve any interest already in the property.

Reunification of the Bookshelves: A Beginning

As I prepare for some hefty changes in my personal life, I’m afforded the opportunity as well to “re-unify” my collection, and the newer setup is affording me more shelf space than I’ve used in one place…which is going to allow for some creative variation on how I actually group stuff on the shelves.

infinity_shelf

For example: I’ve built this “sub-collection” of Jim Starlin-based Warlock/Thanos volumes with content primarily from the ’70s to the early-2000s, the “core” being the “Infinity Trilogy” with events that set stuff up prior, and then the major stuff somewhat shortly after.

And because I’m not having to cram out every inch on every shelf right now with the books themselves, I can do something like this…shelving a couple banks with the books, for a much more fun visual than solely a bunch of spines facing out.

I’ll certainly have other photos to show off shelves later, but I liked this one enough I don’t feel like waiting until the entire project is (re)completed.

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