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At the Cost of the Fun of Comics

Marvel spiked the price of many of their comics to $3.99 a few years ago, and it was even admitted that it was basically just because people would pay it.

DC immediately drove me away from Action Comics due to lack of REAL CONTENT for its $3.99 price point with the second issue. I’ve now long since left all of DC‘s New 52 titles due primarily to a simple lack of real interest in the monthly product.

IDW‘s standard pricing is $3.99 for everything.

So is Valiant‘s.

Boom! seems to be that way as well.

Image has a bunch of $2.99 books, but between seemingly “written for the trade” or “limited series,” I’d much rather read Image stuff in collected-edition format.

I think I’m back up against a psychological wall again, comic-wise.

At a time when I’m more interested in a bunch of Marvel titles than I’ve been in over a decade…the fact most of those are $3.99 just kills it for me.

And the more I consider, the more I realize that I’m just so psyched-out by how expensive stuff is, most of the fun goes out. When my entire month’s “budget” is blown in 2 weeks and I dread the racking-up of the $3.99 books yet to come for the remaining weeks of the month…it just plain sucks. It’s a stress I don’t need.

And maybe I need to just cut my losses. Yeah, there’s a lotta stuff out there I’d enjoy reading, I’d like to follow, I’m ready to get in with the new #1s on stuff…

Maybe the surgical approach just won’t work, and I need to just hack off entire limbs. For $13 under what I spent this week alone on new comics I could drop to two TMNT books from IDW at the hated-but-exempted-because-it’s-TMNT $3.99 and 2-3 $2.99 books from Marvel (X-Men Legacy, FF, and Thunderbolts).

Wouldn’t be too hard to convince me to add Daredevil to the group–it’s $2.99; ditto for Hawkeye and possibly Gambit as well.

That would still–for a MONTH’S worth of books–be $4 cheaper than this one week’s new books. That $4 would buy me 16 comics from the LCS bargain bin–over a year’s worth of one title, several mini-series, some one-shots/one-offs/special/stand-out issues, some combination.

xomanowarseriesone20120919.jpgI could use the rest of the month to purchase collected volumes–full price or through Amazon. Hit the bargain bins, spend a bit more to fill in gaps in my 1990s X-books and Valiant collections.

Just plain save the money for other occasions.

Comics are supposed to be fun.

But I’m not sure how much fun I’m actually having, at least right now.

100 Months of Life

If my life was a comic, it would be The Life of Walt. Following the trends of the time, the series would have run #1 through whatever, rebooting with a new #1 and subtitle when I went off to college in 1999, as The Life of Walt: BGSU Student. After a short few years and second subtitle The Life of Walt: BGSU Alumni, the series would again reboot for my going off to grad school in 2004 as The Life of Walt: Kent State Student. Following graduation, instead of another renumbering, the series would continue on, and starting from grad school, December 2012 was month #100.

lifeofwalt1to100

I started creating these images partway through grad school, and enjoyed doing so enough that I backtracked, finding older photos to go back from #19 to #1, and in the years since have kept up–for awhile month to month, and “catching up” once or twice a year the last several years.

My dilemma now is: I hate the constant renumbering in contemporary comics, yet #100 would be approximately #384, so January 2013 could simply be #385, and go from there.

Whatever the case–the “covers” above are all distinct images with full-size counterparts on my computer and personal facebook account.

I was inspired by the cover gallery of all the ‘regular’ Amazing Spider-Man covers shown in Amazing Spider-Man #700 several weeks ago.

Marvel Now: Avengers, New Avengers, and A+X

Avengers #s 1-2

avengers(now)001While I’d heard plenty of good about this title, which contributed to my reluctantly deciding to try these issues, I was fairly disappointed. I’m all for big, epic Avengers stuff…but I guess I’ve largely been “out” of Avengers stories for so long that I’m just not interested by these first couple issues. I’m not familiar with the antagonists, and the sheer scale of this story suggests line-wide crossover, and the fact it’s not happening kinda makes this seem like no more than some one-off out-of-continuity story.

I’ve heard so much good about Hickman and praise for his runs on Fantastic Four and FF that perhaps I’ve allowed my expectations to get the best of me, at least for being only two issues in. Still, at $4/issue I’m not inclined to patience, and if this is truly yet another reads-better-in-five-to-six-issue-chunks deal, it’s not enjoyable enough for me as a single issue thing.

avengers(now)002The art’s not bad, though it also seems a bit “off,” and I’m not quite sure what to make of it so far.

The title is not helped by my being strongly reminded somehow of the Justice Society of America mega-arc Thy Kingdom Come a few years ago.

While it’s possible I’ll pick up #3 at some point, unless it’s a slow week I may just cut my losses with this title, as I hadn’t even planned on giving it a shot at all, and have already given it two issues.

New Avengers #1

I bought this issue primarily because I’d given Avengers 1-2 a shot, and was lured in at the prospect of the Marvel Illuminati, and Infinity Gems and such.

newavengers(now)001I was quite disappointed to find this first issue virtually entirely a Black Panther issue, with a lot of stuff seeming to make it very much a “zero issue” rather than a solid first issue.

I really, really liked the art, though–it was a huge treat to look at, and if the series was $2.99 instead of $3.99, I would actually be inclined to give it a few more issues for the art alone.

As-is, I’m frustrated at #1 issues being no more than “just the first chapter” of a graphic novel instead of truly standing on their own, and at $3.99 and not being truly hooked going in…the title’s not predisposed to do well with me.

Add to that that this seems to be set in some totally different time than Avengers #s 1-2 and I’m not interested in just another Avengers-related story that’s not even tied to the “regular” Avengers title.

While I’m not completely opposed to giving this another issue…like Avengers, I may just cut my losses and stick to other stuff.

A+X #s 2-3

aplusx002I really do like the concept of putting characters together that usually aren’t, for the different dynamics. That each story is told in half an issue really means a lot of compression and getting to the point–something that seems all too rare these days in comics (at least from Marvel or DC). Being “continuity-lite” keeps things accessible–not being mired in ongoing stuff, nor forcing me to go buy other titles to keep up with what’s going on.

But that strength also hinders–as it doesn’t seem like this title really “matters” overall–it’s just these quick shorts with characters thrown together for highly brief slice-of-life stuff.

The Rogue/Black Widow story was kinda disappointing–both characters seemed a bit “off,” particularly Black Widow; and by the end of the story it was like the two had been subbed into some sort of alternate take on the “Girls of Gotham” concept with Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. aplusx003The Iron Man/Kitty Pryde story was more interesting–and I suppose contrary to what I said above, does matter: I don’t think I’d ever really seen Kitty as being an official “genius” within Marvel, but after reading that noticed reference to it a couple other places.

The Hawkeye/Gambit story was forgettable and virtually inconsequential to either character; something to it just didn’t sit all that wonderfully with me. And while I never cared for the Black Panther/Storm marriage stuff…the way it was ended seemed sudden and equally forced, almost written off the way the “Angelic Punisher” stuff was when Ennis kicked off the “Welcome Back Frank” arc ages ago. But this quick look at stuff with T’Challa and Ororo kinda “redeemed” the way things went down in AvX.

Ultimately, this series is proving hit or miss, and while I’d be all aboard for only $2.99, I have the feeling that the $3.99 price point is going to really contribute to my leaving this behind sooner than not. By its nature, though, it’ll make great dollar-bin fodder.

Secret History of the Foot Clan #1 [Review]

Secret History of the Foot Clan #1 coverStory: Mateus Santolouco
Script: Mateus Santolouco & Erik Burnham
Art: Mateus Santolouco
Colors: Joao “Azeitona” Vieira
Letters: Shawn Lee
Edits: Bobby Curnow
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

For me, the Foot Clan has simply always been. The Foot were robots in the ’80s cartoon–a fact I simply accepted. They were human in the live-action movies, and the Eastman/Laird comics, and the 2003 and 2012 animated series. And to be honest, I’ve never really given them much thought, as far as their history goes, how some “ancient clan” came to be what they are in the present. They’re just an element of the whole of the TMNT universe.

Until now.

This issue is part flashback, part stranger’s tale, part Splinter’s tale. We open with narration over flashback, and come to find April, Casey, and the turtles in a lecture hall listening to a history professor speak of the Yuu clan, and eventually pages from a book detailing a ninja order known as the foot Clan. This obviously grabs the attention of our heroes, though in different ways. Once the turtles bring this information to Splinter, he relays information of his own. Meanwhile, the Shredder’s forces also show interest in this professor who seems to be getting a bit too close to home, as we make an interesting discovery via yet another character and their involvement in the history of things.

I wasn’t sure what to expect of this mini-series. I guess I figured it would be something fairly typical, unearthing some singular secret or something that would turn the present understanding of the Foot on its side, maybe something for shock value. But the narrative style, the details of actual history not only interest me in the history of this fictional Foot Clan but also leave me wondering what’s actually real–recognizing much as essentially historical fiction, such that I could see doing some research of my own on Japanese history.

You kinda have to have the turtles present–after all, though this is a mini-series emphasizing the history of the Foot, the regular TMNT logo is more prominent on the cover, and if this weren’t #1 it would appear to be just another issue of the ongoing series. I quite like that there’s a lot of looks at the past while we have present-time development of things within the usual, still-developing continuity. I’d actually probably be perfectly happy if this series was set entirely in the past, simply following figures from the past, and not involve the present at all.

The visual style is interesting–I’m not sure what it reminds me of, but there’s something vaguely familiar, even while it’s got its own style that makes it fairly distinct from the current ongoing TMNT book. While the difference is noticeable and I’m definitely reminded of how varied the individual visual interpretations of these characters can be, there’s plenty familiar that doesn’t stray unrecognizeably far from the ongoing series, which I definitely appreciate.

From just this first issue, I’m not sure what the full story is going to be–whether it’ll overall fit into the “historical fiction” category or just in usual TMNT-type stuff. I do know that I enjoyed both the story and visuals and the way they worked together–we get a literal origin of the Foot from just a visual, for example–making for a very well-done comic.

I’m unfamiliar with Santoloucos and Vieira, but their story and visuals seem poised to be a highly welcome addition to IDW‘s TMNT continuity. While I’m a bit dismayed at IDW‘s standard high $3.99 price point and constant over-use of variant covers, for the story and (standard) cover alone, I definitely recommend this to anyone enjoying the ongoing IDW TMNT stuff, and cautiously recommend it even to those interested in Japanese history/historical fiction.

Superior Spider-Man #1 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 3/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Marvel Now: All-New X-Men #s 2-5

allnewxmen002Of all of the Marvel Now books, All-New X-Men has been by far my favorite. I enjoyed the first issue quite a bit, and from the second issue on, the ride’s kept moving at a nice pace–other than the $3.99 price point, I’m actually quite enjoying the double-shipping.

The issue by issue pacing has been a little quick…I’m glad to get into the story more, but I do wish the single issues had a bit more content to them.

The preview that so thoroughly hooked me for the first issue had turned out to be the final several pages of the issue–a little disappointing, but it left me eager for #2. Getting into the second issue was a real treat–the writing is a definite “hit” for me from Bendis, and the art’s been thoroughly enjoyable. allnewxmen003Seeing the younger X-Men in the present and the reactions–theirs as well as the adults–worked very well…especially Wolverine’s reaction to Jean (and vice versa).

The third issue almost seems likely to be a backdoor pilot for Uncanny X-Men; though I have no complaint about the issue having a good look at Cyclops, Magneto, and their group…except it seemed a bit out of place after the first two issues–almost like it should’ve been something else. As a single issue, it sticks out; but the inevitable “graphic novel” collected edition will probably read just fine with the pacing.

allnewxmen004The fourth issue finally sees the intended consequence of the original X-Men being brought forward in time as Cyclops is stunned by their presence and tries to figure out what happened. And of course, the fifth issue seems to bring the first arc to a loose close, while solidifying the status quo.

And as has been all over the place, the fifth issue sees the Beast’s Next Mutation, which–after something like 11 years of getting used to “feline-Beast” is rather jarring and not much to my liking.

As said above–I’m really digging Immonen‘s art, and the rest of the art team is doing a superb job with giving a great-looking issue each time out. allnewxmen005I’ve yet to sit down and re-read the whole arc, but everything’s fit pretty well together visually.

The very concept of this title should leave me disliking it, but this is the original X-Men I read at the start of my freshman year of college in an Essential volume, meeting up with the present-day X-Men after 20 years I’ve followed them to some degree or another. And while the high concept shouldn’t seem to be sustainable–I once said that Lost, Prison Break, and Castle didn’t seem like [tv] series that should go beyond one season, so I’m open to seeing what’s done with this.

And with Bendis on the book, hopefully we get to see at least a couple years of this title, if not a good long run in general with something old bringing something new to the contemporary Marvel Universe.

My Failure to Avoid Marvel Now

allnewxmen005Considering I had planned to simply finish out AvX last year and call it quits for a time with Marvel, they’ve done a great job of keeping me despite that, with this whole Marvel Now initiative.

In fact, at least as far as its impact on me–I’d say the thing’s a huge success.

I didn’t want to buy anything Marvel Now. I didn’t want to be interested. I WANTED the jumping-off point. I was truly looking forward to the excuse to pare back to simply Valiant and TMNT for a few months.

thunderbolts(now)002But I read that darned preview of All-New X-Men, and it hooked me. And I decided to read that first issue of A+X. And the two titles proved a slippery slope into a chunk of Marvel Now for me.

At the beginning of December, I thought Cable and X-Force was due out that week. As I was visiting a friend in Alabama, the only comic shop I had access to was one we found via the Comic Shop Locator Service, and Cable and X-Force was not with the new issues. So, in part due to it being only $2.99, I picked up Thunderbolts #1.

xmenlegacy(now)002A couple weeks ago, my local comic shop put a bunch of Marvel Now issues out on the rack for $1/apiece as “overstock,” so I picked up X-Men Legacy #s 1-2, Avengers Arena #1, and FF #1 to try. For $1 (or 99-cents) I’ll give most any full-size issue a try (I even have a standing order alongside my pull list for $1-and-under specials to be pulled).

While hunting for Avenging Spider-Man #15.1 a couple weeks back, I wound up buying Avengers #s 1-2 to more than meet a $5 minimum purchase for paying with a card at one shop, and then with a slow week last week went ahead and bought New Avengers #1 and X-Men Legacy #3.

avengers(now)002I’m looking forward to trying Uncanny X-Force #1 for the writing–I’ve enjoyed HumphriesHigher Earth, and with that ending figure I’ll give his UXF a shot. I’m also looking forward to an Uncanny X-Men focused on Cyclops and Magneto. Despite myself, I even enjoyed FF enough that–as a $2.99 book–I may look for other issues soon.

The trouble, unfortunately, is that most of these books are $3.99; as are upcoming ones.

Two new Avengers books and they don’t even seem to be set in the same continuity, let alone in the same continuity as what I think I’ve observed with the Captain America book.

aplusx003As of present, I’ve tried at least the first issue of 9 titles, with Uncanny X-Force and Superior Spider-Man #1s both forthcoming yet, which will put me up to 11. Toss in the pending Uncanny X-Men and apparently a Wolverine title (not Savage Wolverine), and across a few months Marvel‘s got me at about half the number of books I tried with DC‘s New 52 relaunch. Spread out like this, though…it feels like there’s more room to “breathe” and actually try different titles without being overwhelmed.

Which, in the end seems to be what they were going for, “learning” from DC‘s putting out 52 new titles in one month.

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