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Favorites of Walt: The Comic Shops #5 – Comic Heaven

favoritesofwaltcomicshopslogo

Comic Heaven goes back almost to the beginning for me, my experience with comic stores and the "direct market."

This was a store that I discovered due to being in a plaza with an arcade friends and I would go to on occasion.

Yeah.

An arcade.

Back when we’d go out to these places with all these video game machines, get change from the dollar-changer, and play the games. Before the home gaming systems completely took over.

But that’s neither here nor there, overall.

Comic Heaven didn’t seem like much at the time, to me. It was "another comic store" among the many in the area. They’ve pretty much always had a solid selection of new comics, a very respectable back issue stock, as well as carrying the various collectible cards and games as well as action figures, t-shirts, and so on.

My initial love of this particular comic store was that they carried Spellfire (the old collectible card game based on the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons). I still remember buying booster packs there, and some of the great cards pulled from those.

This shop’s never had a discount program that I’m aware of; nor have they ever been my "primary" or "home" comic shop. Yet, they are one of the greatest, most stable comic shops I’ve known.

Locationally, they’re very easily accessible when I’m heading in to visit or leaving from a visit to my parents and where I grew up–making them often a "backup" shop–and as almost all comic shops vary on what they carry and quantities stocked, they often will have that elusive issue that I missed elsewhere…or they’ll have something simply not stocked elsewhere.

They have a large back issue stock, though I hardly ever look through it. Probably my favorite part of the store is their collected-edition stock. They have a decent-sized (though recently drastically-reduced) manga collection; a sizeable collection of Marvel and DC stock, as well as stuff from most other well-known publishers; hardback and paperback.

There’s also a bargain section of the store with clearanced gaming supplies and books, several 50-cent/dollar bins, and a small selection of half-off collected editions.

Other than actual gaming stores, Comic Heaven has THE best selection of gaming miniatures I can think of. The collection is made up primarily of Warhammer (Fantasy & 40K), with a decent selection of Warmachine (though that seems almost halfhearted…but at least they carry it!), as well as Reaper/Dark Heaven minis, Battletech, and other misc. minis. They also carry quite a few of the Citadel paints.

There are a lotta memories I have associated with the shop. May not be my home/primary shop…but I’m extremely thankful to have them nearby and a fairly regular part of my comic-shopping routine.

NEXT WEEK: Ground Zero Comics.

JLA/Hitman #1 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: On the Darkside Part One

Faced with the return of an old threat, the JLA finds itself in close quarters with the Hitman!

jlahitman001Writer: Garth Ennis
Art and Cover: John McCrea
Colorist: David Baron
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Editors: Peter Tomasi & Michael Siglain

Before I sat down to read this, I noticed some doubts had crept in. When this 2-parter was solicited, something about it piqued my interest–I would not have sought it out if it hadn’t. But seeing it sitting on my desk waiting to be read, I asked myself how entertaining it could possibly be. I’ve never read one single issue of Hitman. All I know of it comes from panels reprinted online and/or in Wizard magazine (such as the main character vomiting on Batman) and that the character was (one of?) the only success story to come from the Bloodlines event that ran through the 1993 DC Annuals. And the 90s JLA logo evoking a feel of the 90s-to-Infinite Crisis version of the Justice League–an era I’m not terribly familiar with–left me wondering if I’d care at all for this.

Thankfully, once I started reading, I just kept going.

We open on a scene with someone asking Clark Kent some questions, ultimately leading Kent to divulge a story Superman had shared with him a long time ago. This framing sequence leads into the core story itself. With information discovered about a returning NASA probe, the JLA realizes that a threat from the past is resurfacing, and that they’ll need access to another remnant of the past–and Batman knows just where to find such a person. Unfortunately, this person is Tommy Monaghan–the Hitman, and he doesn’t exactly mesh well with the JLA. Before too much can go down between the two parties, the real threat arrives, and the JLA finds itself in quite the ridiculous predicament, both frightening and yet almost silver-age simplistic.

Ennis crafts a very entertaining tale here, that takes these characters who–on the surface, at least–should have nothing to do with each other and puts them together in a believable fashion, while allowing the absurdity of things to also show through. The two things that stood out most to me and really tripped my geek-meter were the use of footnotes (which have me stoked to track down the referenced issues, not to merely understand what’s going on here–I get that just fine, but to read the original events characters reference and thus enjoy stuff that much more). And the Bloodlines event is mentioned by name and in broad strokes recapped–showing that other than being a generic "origin" for the Hitman, it’s an event that actually DID happen, that these characters DO remember, that actually MATTERED in the grand scheme of things.

Offhand, I’m not familiar with the artist, though the visual style feels familiar. I know that I like the visuals here, overall–the art just works, plain and simple. Though Batman in particular seems just a bit off with the sculpting of the cowl, something about it feels–somehow–like it fits.

This is the first of two chapters, probably "just" a one-off sorta story that while it references and builds on "continuity," will have no lasting impact on it at present. As a package, though, it’s a fun, enjoyable story. There’s a dark humour present here, and the character interactions speak to a fairly rich history. Also, for a guy that grew up on 90s’ comics, this carries the feel of those mid-to-late-90s comics, while the framing sequence seems pretty timeless, such that it could be taking place in the present.

If you’re a fan of the pre-Meltzer incarnation of the JLA, or of the Hitman, this should be a nice romp through familiar-but-now-gone territory. And even if you’re not familiar with one or both sides, this stands decently as its own story…and you could do a heckuva lot worse.

Ratings:

Story: 3/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

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