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TMNT Villains Micro-Series #5: Karai [Review]

tmntvillainsmicroseries005karaiWritten by: Erik Burnham
Art by: Cory Smith
Colors by: Ian Herring
Letters by: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Tyler Walpole
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

I tend to use the ComixologyPull List” app these days for keeping tabs on what’s coming out in a given week that I’ll be getting (mainly to know how much the week’s likely going to take from my budget). This issue’s release surprised me, as I don’t think I’ve even seen it listed–early or delayed.

Karai visits an old mentor for counsel, and we learn through their interaction of her background. Her father was not a good steward of the Foot legacy, and she found a way to bring back the Clan’s glory. Growing up, she met her parents’ expectations by day, though by night she secretly trained herself in the ways of the ninja, and eventually learned how she could restore the Clan, resurrecting a figure from the past–one she’d come to know as “Grandfather”–Oroku Saki. In the present, though, things have gone awry, and Karai has been “replaced” as Saki’s #2, and she finds herself facing the new #2–a corrupted Leonardo.

This issue continues to illustrate how well continuity can work between creative teams and series. We get a story focused on a major character, giving us some real depth that there truthfully would not be room for in the main series, yet the story ties in very nicely with the ongoing story (City Fall) such that one reading “everything” gets the broad picture, and one simply picking this up gets “a story” in one issue.

I like learning more about Karai’s place in things…this issue drives home just how central she actually is in IDW‘s current TMNT continuity, and casts her beyond some “named figure” for the sake of a named figure being present.

I really like Smith‘s art, and aside from the story, the visuals alone were a real treat to take in. Other than this not being an Annual or graphic novel-length issue, I have nothing negative to say about the art!

Two years in–and multiple Micro-Series minis and such functionally giving two ongoing series of TMNT books is (despite the $3.99 price point) very welcome, and keeping to the quality that’s (thus far) been maintained makes me think I’d wholly welcome a third such issue each month, just to continue with new expansion of the stories and characters that much faster, as my impatience grows to have a far lengthier “history” behind us with all this.

Ultimately, that means that IDW‘s doing something very, very “right,” not only holding my interest with more than one book per month but keeping me consistently eager for more.

Supermen, Batman, and Thanos

Several weeks ago, I came across the Injustice Superman figure at a local Walmart. The thing looked pretty darned cool, and with the sheer LACK of quality 3.75″ DC figures, splurged and bought it.

dc_supermen_batmandkr

Later, looking for the Injustice Batman figure, I came across this Dark Knight Returns Batman. I opted to go ahead and buy it, figuring it’s way cheaper than trying to track down the older DC Direct figure.

And last week I found the much-less-cooler-looking-than-I-thought-I-remembered Superman in New 52 mode. Still, not wanting to have to HUNT for the thing later or pay a premium online, went ahead and bought it. I mainly hate how small the “S” on the chest is for this figure….pretty much everything else looks fine to me.

While on the figure-hunt, I decided to also get another one I’ve had my eye on for YEARS: the Marvel Select Thanos!

marvel_select_thanos

I’ve been interested in this figure for a number of years now, and happened to see it at a couple different comic shops, for what I believe is “retail price” for the Marvel Select line.

And with the character’s mounting popularity of late, I did not want to get “shut out” of being able to acquire this figure at retail price, so went ahead and finally pulled the trigger on buying him.

I think Thanos is now competing with Galactus to have the most “versions” in my collection–in addition to this, I have the 3.75″ Marvel Universe figure from a couple years ago, and the Thanos from the line based on the ’90s Silver Surfer animated series.

TMNT (2013) Toys – Baxter Stockman

After about 10 months of casually “keeping an eye out” and pretty much thinking this line had been given up on, I FINALLY found a new TMNT figure that WASN’T just a variant of one of the four turtles themselves!

I happened to be in a Toys R Us looking to see what DC Unlimited/Batman Unlimited/DC Classic figures they might have and at what price, and happened to notice unfamiliar-looking TMNT figures (some sort of camo/zip-line variant). But when I looked on the back of the card for THOSE, I noticed a couple other new characters as well…so actually looked through all the figures on the pegs.

Other than the zip-line turtles themselves, I found Baxter Stockman…and bought him on the spot, despite Toys R Us typically having a significantly-higher pricing than Walmart or Target (turned out to only be a few cents, though…I later saw Stockman at Target).

baxter_stockman_front

Offhand, this is probably my favorite Stockman figure to date…sure, he’s got that crazy battle-suit, but it sure beats the mutant-fly of the ’80s line or mechanical spider-body/human-head of the 2003 line.

baxter_stockman_profile

The profile fits what I know of the character from the current animated series.

tmnt_goodguys_assortment_baxter

No new TMNT-allies that I’ve seen, which is a shame…not that I really can consciously think of any from episodes I’ve seen so far that would particularly qualify. Here’s hoping Casey Jones shows up in season 2 and gets a figure soon, though!

tmnt_badguys_assortment_baxter

One of the other cards showed a Rat King figure and some other random mutant in addition to the figures shown here. I have no intention of buying Snakeweed, and really have no particular interest in other randomish “mutation-of-the-week” mutants. Rat King is a possibility for an impulse buy. I’m looking forward to a Leatherhead figure, though, if they actually put that out!

The Value of Infinity?

Infinity #1 has a $4.99 cover price, and includes 45 story pages–10 of those previously available (to customers, at least) “free” in the 2013 Free Comic Book Day Infinity issue.

The day that I paid cover price for the issue, I also snagged a number of 25-cent bin issues.

Which means that Infinity #1 was an especially poor value to issue quantity and page count!

comicsvalues

For less than the price of Infinity #1, I was able to purchase:

  • single issues of Batman: Year One (Batman #404-407)
  • the 1989 Catwoman mini-series (I believe this was later collected/reissued as Catwoman: Her Sister’s Keeper)
  • Invisibles #1
  • Spider-Man #1
  • an extra-sized, foil-enhanced Incredible Hulk issue
  • the original first printing of the first Gen13 mini
  • both prestige-format History of the DC Universe issues
  • the foil-enhanced anniversary issues Spectacular Spider-Man #200 and Web of Spider-Man #100
  • the chromium Valiant #0 issues for both Shadowman and Bloodshot

Yet another reason my enjoyment of older/’90s (and even ’80s!) comics is increasing while my enjoyment and interest in current comics continues to wane.

Infinity #1 [Review]

infinity001Infinity

Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Penciler: Jim Cheung
Inkers: Mark Morales with John Livesay, David Meikis and Jim Cheung
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterers: Chris Eliopoulos with Joe Caramagna
Cover: Adam Kubert & Laura Martin
Assistant Editor: Jake Thomas
Editors: Tom Brevoort with Lauren Sankovitch
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $4.99

I wasn’t going to buy this issue. I physically picked it up from the shelf last Wednesday, and then put it back. It’s a $4.99 issue, which is $1 more than “usual” for most Marvel fare these days (though to its credit it’s a thicker than usual issue, even factoring out full-page “chapter headings”). But Thanos’ face is featured prominently on the cover (it IS the cover image, really!), and darned if I’m not a fan of classic Marvel Cosmic Thanos stuff! So despite other online chatter, I decided to go ahead and buy this Friday after all, in the interest of giving it a fair chance.

On the whole, I’d have to say that it was a passively neutral read for me. I did not particularly enjoy it…but I did not actively dislike it the way I’d somewhat expected to.

We see a world apparently destroyed by Avengers…then move to Titan, to a creature whose existence seems to be solely its mission–Thanos’ bidding. With the success of one mission, it is now sent to Earth after other secrets. Various events unfold–Space Knights face an unwinnable situation, SWORD and Captain America and Hawkeye bust a group of Skrulls hiding out, and we see the current status quo of the Inhumans and their King, Blackbolt. The spy creature delivers a message, and we get a hint of Thanos’ plan.

After not enjoying SHIELD #1 a few years ago, not being able to “get into” his early Fantastic Four issues, and being completely turned off to his Marvel Now Avengers and New Avengers launches, I’ve pretty much decided Hickman‘s work in general just is not for me. As such, his name attached to Infinity was a big red flag…one that somewhat holds true even now, having read this issue.

Despite Thanos’ face on the cover, he may as well not even actually appear in the issue for the near-zero on-panel time he gets. For that alone I’m disappointed with the issue. Additionally, there are plenty of characters that I’m not familiar with that I get the feeling I “should” be to truly “appreciate” this issue/story.

Visually I definitely enjoyed the art overall…I’m not a huge fan of some of the costumes (specifically Captain America and Hawkeye) but they look about as good as I can expect here, leaving me only to dislike the costumes themselves rather than the depiction. As for the many characters I’m not familiar with, I suppose the visuals don’t do them any disservice…they look how they do, and I’m cool with that.

The title Infinity–and featuring Thanos’ face on the first issue and other marketing as well as the Free Comic Book Day issue–seem clearly chosen to draw association with past Thanos-centric stories like The Infinity Gauntlet or Infinity Abyss. As such, the comparison is there, and as a first issue, this does not do for me here what those did in their respective stories. Plus, about 10 pages of this issue are what we were given in that FCBD issue, so that wasn’t even a prologue so much as “just” some random scene over 3 months before the arrival of #1.

While I imagine things will pull together and make sense by the end of the six individual issues of this “main story”/mini…as a single issue, Infinity #1 leaves me let-down. If I come across positive enough reviews of the later issues and/or tie-ins, I’ll likely be interest in a collected volume of the entire story; but as it stands, I don’t plan on picking up any of the subsequent single issues for this event/story.

Harbinger #15 [Review]

harbinger015Writer: Joshua Dysart
Penciler: Barry Kitson
Inks: Stefano Gaudiano and Mark Pennington
Colorist: Ian Hannin with Sotocolor
Letters: Simon Bowland
Cover Artists: Khari Evans, Barry Kitson, Trevor Hairsine, and Rian Hughes
Assistant Editor: Josh Johns
Executive Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

I really enjoy seeing heroes’ downtime. Seems like just about every issue of (especially team-books) a title “has to” have lots of action, so I quite appreciate just seeing the characters be themselves, NOT fighting villains, NOT on some huge quest, NOT repelling invasions or facing life-or-death situations, etc.

So this issue was quite up my alley, seeing the kids decompress from the events of Harbinger Wars. They recognized a functional loss, but escaped with their lives, and so take some time in this issue to just be kids, to have fun with each other and the advantages their powers bring. I could enjoy an entire issue of single-page scenes just showing the kinds of stuff the group as a whole would be up to as well as what happens when the characters pair off for activities, the way they relate not just as a group but in the one-on-one interactions.

I’m especially interested in seeing the growing friendship between Faith and Peter, and while I’m pretty sure I’ve only ever read the first few issues of the original ’90s series, that was a good 14 years ago and I don’t recall much of anything at this point…though from “meta” info about that title I’m vaguely aware of a character death early in the series that I’ve been glad to see did not happen here (I sorta expected it to play out in Harbinger Wars).

While we start the issue on a relatively “light” note (all recent events considered), and get plenty of fun and potential as the issue continues, I got a sense of foreboding toward the final few pages. Despite this, I had an honest moment of shock when my fear played out…the end of the issue opens up a whole different potential for this title and the Renegades moving forward.

More and more I find myself considering this the cream of the crop of the current Valiant titles…and with the mythology Dysart‘s building, the character-building and realistic (for a comic starring super-powered psiots) settings and interactions and amount of story actually fit into a single issue, there’s little better out there.

If you like super-hero team books, I definitely recommend this title!

Astro City (2013) #3 [Review]

astrocity003Mistakes

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Brent Eric Anderson
Cover: Alex Ross
Lettering & Design: John G. Roshell & Jimmy Betancourt of Comicraft
Color Art: Alex Sinclair
Editor: Kristy Quinn
Assistant Editor: Jessica Chen
Executive Editor: Shelly Bond
Published by: Vertigo/DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

I’ve always quite enjoyed stories set in a superhero universe that focus on the “regular people” in the world; how they are affected by the mere EXISTENCE of the super-heroes; how their lives are different from ours, for that “reality.” And I’ve found no series more consistent at delivering that than Astro City, whoever’s publishing the title at the time.

While I thought #1 was starting a single ongoing story, it seems that was either a red herring or something to be revisited later, as last issue gave a whole different story, which is picked up again in this issue.

After realizing her mistake and what she seems to have set off–a huge war between Honor Guard and the Skullcrushers–that’s resulted in much collateral damage and loss of life, our heroine first goes home sick, before resolving to take action…self-imposed penance, essentially. She takes it upon herself to use what resources she has access to, to try to assist those negatively impacted by her mistake, though this leads to another unintended result for her…and inadvertently proves her worth to those she most assumes sees none in her.

The art is clear and consistent as usual, the coloring and overall tone maintaining “the look and feel” I associate with Astro CityRoss‘ cover and ANDERSON’S interiors both.

The story feels like a “typical” sort, for this title in whatever its iteration (Wildstorm, Vertigo, etc)…which is to say it doesn’t blow me away in the way that, say, the #1/2 issue did from all those years back, but this is still darned good stuff!

This issue IS the second of a 2-part story, so while there’s plenty of context to “get” what’s going on in this issue, it’s likely far more appreciable if you at least snag #2 as well and read this in context of that…though you do not need to go all the back to #1.

Definitely recommended!

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