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$2 UltraForce Jackpot

I think I went into the comic shop looking for a TMNT comic I missed. Found a newly-purchased collection, and some extremely well-priced UltraForce toys. $2 apiece!

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I’m usually NOT a fan of “variant” figures. Polar Prime? Nighstrike Prime? Yeah, kinda dumb. But then I realized that hey…the character can generate a different body every time he “Primes,” so this actually works! And that Night Man just looked cool.

Plus…given I’ve only really this year been coming across these, PERIOD…I’m not gonna pass one up for only $2!

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The “gem” tonight, though, was NM-E. Even the packaging is in better condition than the other figures (though eventually that won’t matter, as I’ve every intention to have these all outta the package once I find the proper display space!)

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I still think NM-E looks like an Alien,but hey…still one of my favorite (and more “iconic” Ultraverse villains. I just wish there was a Rune figure.

While I wouldn’t mind getting the whole set of these, having the “regular” Prime and Night Man already and now NM-E, I’m mainly going to be looking for Hardcase and Prototype.

The Complete Calvin & Hobbes…finally on a shelf!

A few years ago, a friend gave me this box set. And it’s a sort of “forgotten favorite” in a sense, as I rarely think of it when I think of other big things in my collection.

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But it’s really one of the most meaningful items in my collection, being from a friend, and being Calvin & Hobbes. And it now sits in a prime spot on my new bookcase.

The Weekly Haul – Week of August 27th, 2014

A fairly small week. I think I’ve dropped Batman Eternal, passing on it this week. (or at least, maybe I’ll be done with the weekly buying and catch up every few weeks or so).

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Given Valiant has about 9 titles, two in one week is a nice balance: Rai by itself, and X-O Manowar as the week’s Armor Hunters tie-in.

New issue of TMNT: Turtles in Time, and newest Letter 44 address the rest, with Superman as the lone DC/Marvel representative.

All in all a good week’s worth of comics. Best of all, kept things in the $20 range…

Showing off the New Wizard Shelf

I added a new bookcase to my room this week as part of a new effort to re-organize and move away from the “piles” that have accumulated a bit since the last thorough cleaning.

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And I’ve decided once again to let the Wizard library have a shelf, where presently my entire Wizard run fits entirely onto a single shelf. While it’s not a COMPLETE run…it’s still a pretty lengthy run.

What’s pictured above spans issues 1-171 of the magazine’s history, and includes several “specials” published outside the regular numbering as well.

I may have mixed feelings on Wizard, but there’s no denying that it’s a bit of a time capsule and “slice of the moment” to flip back through old issues, see the various covers, and so on.

Finally! A Marvel Book Worth Its Cover Price!

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walmart_guardians_of_the_galaxy_cosmic_avengers_cMost Marvel volumes are vastly over-priced and well beyond what I can actually bring myself to spend for a single unit.

However, I found a promo-priced volume at Walmart that is VERY worthwhile.

This is a full-sized Marvel volume (if flimsy in the cover-department) for a whopping $5.00 cover price. I mean…this has MORE THAN ONE ISSUE of content in it. It has a digital code on top of the several issues it reprints. It’s a square-bound volume.

It’s not worth $19.99…but $5? Yeah, that beats the heck outta the usually bargain-priced $9.99 volumes that I consider more than worthwhile to “sample” a title. And so it is with this “Walmart Exclusive” that I found myself MORE THAN willing to spend cover price to buy the thing, and check out a title I wouldn’t otherwise.

I believe there are 3 other $5 volumes Walmart is offering–a 7-issue Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Amazing Spider-Man: Big Time, and (Bendis‘) Avengers vol. 1. If I come across the Spidey one, I might spend the #5 for that story. The Avengers one I’m quite “iffy” toward, and I already have the Cap issues in my Ed Brubaker Omnibus, so no particular “sense” duplicating for now (unless these $5 volumes were to become an ongoing “thing” and I could amass a small “library” of such volumes).

Definitely looking forward to reading this, after I catch up on some other reading. And who knows, maybe it’ll do something for me.

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The Weekly Haul – Week of August 20th, 2014

This week’s haul was a bit late, with me not making it to the shop until Friday this week. Back to a Valiant-heavy week, which is not a bad thing…

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I’m still a bit on the fence with Batman Eternal…I went ahead and picked up this week’s #20, figuring if nothing else, I’ll leave off on a round number that way, if I do decide to drop it. I suppose I should look into whatever the next “big” thing is in the main Batman title, because of Batman Eternal keeps to itself, maybe I’ll stick with it, even though I’ve all but decided to keep outta the Futures End stuff.

And I believe there’s only one more chapter of Superman: Doomed to go. And hey…three Valiants this week. Normally I might gripe about the clustering, but this week seems like a good mix.

The TMNT Annual is a prestige-format thing like the 2012 one was, and should be an interesting read.

I also hit the quarter bins and snagged a run of Rex Mundi and Out of the Vortex…might detail those later.

Not bad for the week…

The ’90s Revisited: Superman/Doomsday Hunter/Prey

supermandoomsdayhunterpreytpbStory & Layouts: Dan Jurgens
Finished Art: Brett Breeding
Lettering: Bill Oakley
Color Guides: Greg Wright
Color Separations by: Android Images
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $14.95

It’s been a bit over 20 years since this story first debuted, back in the spring of 1994. I remember the excitement I had for its premiere, and the orangey front cover of the first issue is rather “iconic” to me–extremely distinctive and always grabs my attention.

While this took Superman–and Doomsday–from actual continuity at the time, it’s a primarily stand-alone series that gave fans a rematch between Superman and Doomsday, as well as an origin to the monster. Its events drew directly from continuity and impacted ongoing continuity in such a way that it could just as easily have been part of the ongoing “regular” comics story-wise, though its epic nature was well-suited to a separate series.

While I read an old collected edition this time through, the series was originally published as three prestige-format volumes priced at $4.95 apiece (and this was in 1994!). The format, of course, put each at the size of a small graphic novel, and the collected work is as thick as any contemporary 6-issue volume.

While the rest of the Superman creative teams were also involved in the whole Death/Return of Superman saga, this volume being a Jurgens/Breeding work and feeling so very familiar in this read-through suggests to me that this is where I primarily came to associate Jurgens with Doomsday, and this has pretty much the best-looking renditions of the character (in my mind) to this day. (I certainly prefer this version by far to anything in the contemporary New 52 with the character).

Though the story works as a whole–Superman hunts Doomsday and the two fight once more–the story is fairly nuanced, and nicely balanced across the three parts. 

The first volume is a hunt–as Superman recognizes the impact of lingering fear from having died at the beast’s previous attack and the need to face his fear. While he seeks a way to find Doomsday, we see the creature’s arrival and impact on Apokalips…taking down Darkseid, the Cyborg’s return, and Superman catching up. As a first chapter it’d be rather short to have the two actually meet, and we see Doomsday sent off before Superman can confront him.

The second volume sees Superman (and Waverider) dealing with things on Apocalypse–taking down the Cyborg, as well as Superman learning the origin of the creature. The origin takes up a goodly part of the chapter, and provides a (fictionally) plausible background for the creature from inception to its emergence in the Death of Superman story.

The third and final volume sees Superman actually face the creature in battle, with an entire planet at stake, with a new costume for the occasion. (Said costume is rather cool in itself to me for the nostalgia factor, but reeks of ’90s belts and pouches. I look at it as a chance for the costume to be done but not have to be kept in-continuity.) The creature is defeated, and status quo restored, making this not exactly timeless, but free of absolutely fitting between specific issues of the ongoing Superman titles of the time.

Another nostalgic factor to me for this volume is the fact that it contains an “introduction” (something long lost in the contemporary age of collected volumes) by Jurgens, discussing the story’s genesis and including some early design sketches of Doomsday.

I believe this series was reprinted in the Superman/Doomsday Omnibus that came out awhile back (and which is presently out of print last I’d checked) but have seen the singles for this in bargain bins. I would certainly enjoy a nice “deluxe hardcover” treatment for this, or even combine it with the later The Doomsday Wars which was done in the same length and format detailing a later confrontation with Doomsday, Superman, and (I believe) the Morrison-era JLA.

All in all, definitely one of the “greats” from my childhood, a favorite volume, and it certainly holds up to this day. Re-reading this was far more enjoyable than any of the Superman: Doomed chapters the last several months, and felt like a far better spending of time.

Though best read in context/knowledge of the general Death/Return of Superman stuff, this can be read by itself pretty well. In and of itself it’s a complete story, that does not REQUIRE previous reading, nor does it drive one into future reading.

Doomed: Price/Variants/Scheduling

While I am certainly guilty of “enabling” or such in this case by buying along, the current crossover/”mini-event” Superman: Doomed makes for a bit of “case study” for why I will probably avoid the Futures End stuff and other future “mini events” or such from DC (to say nothing of Marvel‘s pricing, variants, and events).

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Price

I initially allowed myself to be sucked into Doomed because firstly, it’s Superman; secondly, Doomsday (even though I really do NOT like the revised visual of the character); thirdly, an ad/checklist indicated 4 chapters, so I figured why not? Only 4 issues…sure.

What I had not realized was that this was a 4-month, several-title saga or I would have simply awaited the collected volume…get the whole story in one book, all at once, in one place, no variants, cheaper than the singles, etc.

As far into things as I’ve gotten, I intend to finish this one out, and then I will be far more hesitant with any future such stories.

So far this has been a mix of pricing. As of this typing, we have 12 chapters. 1 was $2.99, 8 were $3.99, and 3 were $4.99…round the penny up on the cover prices and we’re at $42 so far. An ad in the latest issue gives an August checklist showing there are 3 more chapters, and unless I’m completely “off,” that’s 1 each at $2.99, $3.99, and $4.99. Meaning the $17ish story I thought I was getting into has become a $54 investment for 15 issues. (I paid about $55 for my Death and Return of Superman Omnibus that has about 40 issues’ content). And if I were to hazard a guess, I would guess that the hardback will be $29.99 to $34.99 cover price.

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Scheduling

I no longer pay the attention to “late books” that I used to…probably because I’ve been primarily sticking to Valiant and TMNT comics, and those have been coming out in the months they’re supposed to. I’ve not particularly paid attention to which week of the month, so if there’s been a bit of slidage I’m not particularly conscious of it.

julydoomedchecklist01That said, it’s long been frustrating–if only passively so–the way books seem to “cluster,” rather than be more spread out. Valiant would seem to skip a week or two and then have multiple books out the same week…and I think the last couple months, both the main TMNT book and the Animated Adventures have been out in the same week rather than spaced out. Maybe they have different audiences, but there are some people (like me) who buy both, so instead of spreading the cost through the month, when they both show up the same week, I’m out $8 instead of only $4 that week.

I noted my issue with this when Doomed STARTED, and the issue came up again a couple weeks ago with a $14 3-issue cluster that EASILY could have been spread out–and should have, as both of the $5 annuals were on a July checklist, not August. (In fact, 3 out of the 5 Wednesdays in July had NO new chapter! Superman/Wonder Woman #10 hit July 9th, and there was nothing July 16th, 23rd, or 30th).

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Variants

That $54 mentioned above actually translates to $62ish for me, as I wound up re-purchasing two issues. I didn’t even KNOW there were variants, and thus WOUND UP WITH variants for Superman #31 and Action Comics #32. Since this story has a trade dress and numbering, I sorta want all my single issues to look like they belong together, PARTICULARLY with the added expense and hassle OF buying this as single issues.

superman31variantsThe other week, I actually had to go to TWO shops just to get the NON-variant edition of Action Comics #34, as there were several variants left but the ‘regular’ trade-dress cover was sold out (and I got to the first shop maybe 2 hours after they opened?).

It’s one thing to have a variant as an actual SPECIAL thing…and on “key” issues (like a #1 or anniversary or such), and on very FEW titles. But when they’re so frequent and common and such that it’s the VARIANT that’s left and the REGULAR issue that sells out, it’s just a little ridiculous. (and it’s not like I’m grousing that a 1st print sold out before a 2nd print or any such).action33variants

I’m not going to blame the shop on the earlier issues: there was only the one cover there, the covers were not MARKED as variant (by the publisher), so I had no reason to suspect they were (perhaps I SHOULD have suspected due to how MANY variants are constantly being pumped out…but that’s another topic for another post). Of course, I wised up thanks to those, hence leaving my usual shop with one less otherwise-in-the-bag sale and went to another shop in seeking the regular edition.

*     *     *     *     *

So, a few more issues to complete this story that I’ve gotten this far into…and I’m done. Again. There are plenty of “classic” stories I’ve yet to read, many I’ll enjoy re-reading, and given my enjoyment of bargain bin hauls…I don’t need the hassle of things like I’ve experienced with Doomed.

And I’m not even getting into any of the issues I have with Marvel events this time around…

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #37 [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw037Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Cory Smith
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Cory Smith
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

This is easily one of my favorite issues of the series so far…yet it’s not exactly one that would stand alone entirely as an introduction to the book. The fact that it deals deeply in established continuity, bridging the previous arc(s) and leading into the next is a huge strength for the issue.

When I first saw this cover (I get the “A” covers as a matter of principle) I almost grinned. Shredder and Krang facing each other as if an uneasy alliance or entering an alliance, with the under-construction Deathsta…er…Technodrome in the background? This could easily be a poster, and one I would frame and hang if I had it. So to say that the cover caught my attention in and of itself is an apt bit to note in an age of generic interchangeable covers and variants.

The interior art is similarly eye-catching, which makes sense–Cory Smith provides the interiors as well as the “A” cover. The characters’ appearances all look very good, fit established appearances from other artists, and on the whole I just can’t find anything disconcerting or off-putting that drew me out of the story or any negative reaction. I’m not typically an art-focused reader, but to put it simply: I really enjoyed the visuals to this issue.

The story opens on Shredder and Krang and immediately had me curious what they’d be up to in this issue, and half-wondering if it’d be a “talky” issue. We then shift to see what Alopex is up to, with Kitsune, and see that there’s definitely something building there. The story returns to Shredder and Krang’s conference, which doesn’t get either very far before violence breaks out and it becomes quickly apparent that the two will be at odds with each other even while having a common foe in the turtles.

This was indeed a bit of a “talky” issue…though moreso, it was Shredder vs. Krang (with a bit of Shredder’s goons vs. Krang’s goons thrown in for good measure). From the characters’ exchange I’ve realized I definitely–as I’ve somewhat suspected for awhile–missed an issue of the Utrom Empire series somehow. I found myself rather engaged throughout the issue, enjoying it immensely and wishing it wasn’t quickly drawing to a conclusion.

That the story credits three creators is something that I think has made this series extremely enjoyable for me: Eastman as original co-creator of the property, and three years in Curnow and Waltz have certainly established themselves. As a team they’re providing stories and character moments and concepts that have made IDW‘s TMNT continuity possibly the most well-rounded and pretty much my favorite of the myriad TMNT continuities out there.

There’s a definite nostalgia factor for me with Alopex–I’d initially thought she’d be a stand-in for the Ninjara character that appeared in the ’90s TMNT Adventures series…though that could yet be, just (like everything else with IDW‘s continuity) developing a bit slower and with more detail as we go along. I also far prefer this version of Krang to any other version, much as I prefer the comics Cobra Commander to the GI Joe cartoons’ version(s) of the character.

Koya and Bludgeon also remind me of TMNT Adventures characters–Koya of a character whose name I don’t recall offhand, and Bludgeon of the time-travelling shark Armaggon…whether or not these current characters have any bases visually or otherwise on the classic characters doesn’t much matter as I simply enjoyed seeing these, and have the freedom to “hope” there’s some sort of tie.

While I wouldn’t really recommend using this issue as a cold jumping-on point, it’s a strong done-in-one “interlude” that carries itself while bridging arcs and reminding readers of what’s come before that presumably will come into play in the next arc. If you’re a fan of Shredder and/or Krang this isn’t a bad issue, either, even if you’ve been away for an arc or few. 

(However, if you’re looking for the turtles themselves? They don’t appear in this issue’s story. And I’m more than fine with that–the conflict with Shredder and Krang was so engaging that as I read, I was hoping this’d be the case so as to not steal page-time away from the villains.)

As much as ANY comic is these days, this is definitely worth its cover price for the read, particularly as an ongoing reader of the series/continuity. Highly recommended.

When Will I Learn?

All these years later, and I’m still snagging these when they come out. When WILL I learn?

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I watched this already tonight. I’ve never played the Arkham video games, nor even really know what their story is.

Maybe that would’ve helped.

I hardly noticed that this Batman was again voiced by Conroy. I really don’t like this “modern” visual design for Harley.

Perhaps much as I’ve let most DC comics go, it’s time to start letting these movies go. Next up is Throne of Atlantis. Another New 52-inspired animation.

I’d like to see Kingdom Come parts 1 and 2. Perhaps Prodigal. Or Zero Hour. Maybe a Reign of the Supermen. Or get into Vertigo and give us a Swamp Thing, or better yet–Hellblazer. If part of the appeal of this line is the PG-13 aspect, that they can cuss and show blood and be violent and even show some near-nudity…surely we could get a quality Hellblazer animated film!

At least I have an addition to my miniatures line from this. And if Aquaman–predictably–is the mini for the next one, I may break down and get that, too, if only FOR the mini.

Time will tell.

I’d recommend redboxing this if you’re interested. Or give it a few months and get it cheaper when it’s marked down a bit.

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