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Photos From Home #13

Marvel / Fury Files 3.75″ figures
Hulk; Iron Man; Captain America; The Thing; Colossus (Wolverine & the X-Men 3.75″)

These are several of my favorites from the Marvel 3.75″ figures.  Hulk and Thing seem to me the best value for the price of these figures (though Hulk was a gift from a friend)…these two are relatively huge compared to the other figures in their line. (Ditto Colossus).  Iron Man and Cap of course are represented well here…I just wish I had a Thor to go with them.  Pikachu is left over from a keychain I had in high school…a remnant of my time as a Pokemon fan. (I couldn’t get him to sit in Hulk’s hand to wait for a poundin’).

Photos From Home #12

Back in the spring of 1994, a friend convinced me to try out the Magic: The Gathering card game–at the time, I don’t think the game had even existed for more than 7 or 8 months. I initially missed the first novel published based on the game (Arena), but got in with Whispering Woods, which turned out to be the first of a 3-book series.  I followed the rest of the series, though never enjoyed these as much as the first 4.

In 1998 or early 1999, I stumbled across The Brothers’ War, and enjoyed the reading experience a great deal–particularly as it fleshed out a story only hinted at prior in comics and the cards themselves.  Late in my first semester at college I started picking up the other books, and enjoyed the rich story being assembled that tied together the entire Magic: The Gathering setting to that point.  I followed the series for several years and a number of the “cycles.” I’ve fallen behind by quite a few years at this point.

Two other series that I have a number of books are the Aliens series–based on the movies and Dark Horse’s excellent comics continuity. The other is MechWarrior: Dark Age, which followed WizKids’ moving that saga forward a generation or two for its then-new collectible miniatures game. You’ll also see the only 2 Mage Knight novels published…these were OK reads, but I was looking forward to more–sadly, they never did put any more out that I’m aware of.

7th Son: another great book…coming soon.

7th Son: DescentMost of my reading is comics.  Between work and other stuff in life, I don’t have nearly the kind of time I had a decade ago in high school, or even in college, to just read. And while I certainly enjoy comic reviewing, the online comics community, and of course, the actual reading of comics…that doesn’t leave much time for other reading.

However, when it comes to new books by John Grisham and Brad Meltzer and the occasional other author (I may pick up Dan Brown’s new book in the near future)…I tend to make an exception, and switch to reading the new book before returning to comics.

And thanks to so enjoying the podiobook experience last year, another break-from-comics-to-get/read-a-book is coming up in about a month, when JC Hutchins’ 7th Son: Descent is finally out in print/paperback.

As America reels from the bizarre presidential assassination committed by a child, seven men are abducted from their normal lives and delivered to a secret government facility. Each man has his own career, his own specialty. All are identical in appearance. The seven strangers were grown— unwitting human clones—as part of a project called 7th Son.

The government now wants something from these “John Michael Smiths.” They share the flesh as well as the implanted memories of the psychopath responsible for the president’s murder. The killer has bigger plans, and only these seven have the unique qualifications to track and stop him. But when their progenitor makes the battle personal, it becomes clear he may know the seven better than they know themselves.

Hutchins has composed a fantastic series in 7th Son. Whether you’ve already listened to the podiobook version of the series or are just hearing of it…I highly recommend checking this out. I expect to post more in coming weeks about this; in the meantime, check out jchutchins.net for more information from the author.

Photos From Home #11

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003)
Shredder; Foot Elite Guard (multiple); Foot Ninja (multiple)

Remembering my cat…one year later.

I don’t even know where to begin…not for this public post. Not with emotions stirred up and raw tonight.

One year ago, after several days of processing a leukemia diagnosis given my cat, I received The Call, and my mom informed me that she was gone.

Just gone, just like that.

I never got to say goodbye.

In my wildest imaginings, in the worst-case-scenario I’d pictured…it never dawned on me until that moment that I would never see Christy again.

So life goes on. It’s been a year.

The feelings seem fresher than ever, perhaps for noting this morbid anniversary.

And maybe some would suggest I forget, that it’s not that big a deal, that she was “just a cat,” or whatever.

But I can’t do that. I won’t do that.

This cat was part of my life for 13 1/2 years, virtually half my life.

And other than my other cat–Kayla–and my sister and parents–there has been no other (human or otherwise) that has been SUCH a constant to this point in my life.

Tonight, I sat down thinking to take several minutes and copy/paste a handful of photos into a single image file. Time passed quickly, and when I next thought about it, well over an hour had passed, and I had this image (below). Click on the image/link for the full-size image.

Photos From Home #10

DC Infinite Heroes
Captain Marvel/Shazam; Superman; Wonder Woman; Flash; Green Arrow; Green Lantern; Guy Gardner; Silver Age Supergirl; Dr. Fate; Spectre; Atom; Wildcat; Hawkman; Black Lightning; Jim Gordon; Sinestro; Joker; etc.

These two shelves are the larger part of what’s on a living-room wall. The other shelf has some of my Marvel 3.75″ figures, as well as some of my favorites from DC Direct. Other things fit nicely along with the shelves for further decoration of the area.

Superman: Secret Origin #1 [Review]

The Boy of Steel

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Gary Frank
Inker: Jon Sibal
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Steve Wands
Assoc. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Covers: Frank w/ Anderson
Publisher: DC Comics

I don’t know how to describe it, really…but there’s something special just about the look of this issue. The cover’s fantastic–Gary Frank is by far one of my favorite Superman artists. The logo on the gradient-blue sky background stands out very nicely (and yet does not look out of place). This is the first issue of a mini-series…the Secret Origin part tells us we’re going back to the “beginning,” and seeing a young Clark on the cover, happy and with his parents, also both looking happy–speaks volumes to the characters. Perhaps it’s that this really gives credence to that saying about a picture being worth a thousand words–a thousand words to the positive thus hit before one’s even looked inside the issue.

Then again, perhaps it’s none of that, and simply the anticipation for this issue–after it was announced last year, and I thought it would be out by early summer and had to wait these extra months for it, and I just so enjoy finally getting to begin reading a definitive origin for the character since the Byrne stuff was chucked awhile back.

The story begins with Clark playing football in answer to challenge from classmates. Peter Ross breaks his arm tackling Clark, and guilty as Clark feels for that, he’s guilted further by facing Pa (in a scene that somehow put me VERY much in mind of that scene with Peter and Uncle Ben in the Spidey film as Uncle Ben lectures Peter on Responsibility). We see other elements introduced–Lana, and the school, Ma and Pa, Smallville itself, Lex Luthor, to name a few. These all come together as the issue progresses and we see first the discovery and solution to some newly-developed/discovered powers on Clark’s part (and how his parents play a strong role in that) and then the implementing of his powers as disaster strikes Smallville. Finally, we see the development of the costume.

The art–as I said above about the cover–is just fantastic. There’s a detail and realism to the visuals that works so well with the story and getting things across…and yet, it doesn’t feel like it’s being overtly realistic. It just captures a level of detail that makes it easy for the mind to fill in the blanks and set these static images to motion as you read.

For newer readers, this is simply an “origin” story–telling the beginnings and background/motivation to things we’re seeing play out in the current issues of the Superman books.

For long-time readers, it may be much more. This seems set to be THE origin, the definitive story of Superman’s background in the books’ current incarnations. Forget Man of Steel and Byrne…forget Birthright and Waid…for that matter, forget Smallville. This is none of those…and yet, it seems to be quite respectful to them all, acknowledging them subtlely and taking key elements from them as the story requires.

Though I’ve looked forward to this series–and yes, delivered extremely well, meeting (and maybe exceeding) my anticipation/expectation–I remained skeptical. I grew up on the 90s Superman, beginning while the “Byrne revamp” was yet FRESH…and there are several key moments to that interpretation of the character that have been done away with in recent years that I’ve greatly disliked. While this fails to RESTORE them…something about Johns’ crafting of the story puts other things in a light that begins to redeem the changes, making them sit much better with me.

The return of what I consider “silver age elements” is handled nicely, and in a modern way that makes things quite plausible in the present.

I don’t think I could’ve asked for a better opening chapter of this mini.

Even if you’re not following the current New Krypton stuff in the ongoing titles, or any Superman comic at all…this is a book to pick up. The writing, the art, the story as provided by the blending of both…makes for a great read, and I’m already eager for not just the entirety of the story, but to see this thing put into a single volume.

Highly, highly recommended.

Story: 8.5/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 9.5/10

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