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The ’90s Revisited: Armageddon 2001 #1

armageddon_2001_001Dark Time

Writer: Archie Goodwin
Penciller: Dan Jurgens
Inker: Dick Giordano
Letterer: Albert De Guzman
Colorist: Anthony Tollin
Asst. Editor: Kelley Puckett
Editor: Dennis O’Neil
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: May 1991
Cover Price: $2.00

One up-front problem with reading this issue now: I know who Monarch is…who he was supposed to be…and how stuff’s developed over the quarter-century since this issue was published. So there’s no true wondering, curiosity, nor concern to me about that…nor does this issue hold any particular story/continuity significance to me outside of being the introduction of Waverider. Which–honestly–is the reason I picked it up this time around. I wanted to revisit that character’s introduction, given the name appears only as homage in the current DC’s Legends of Tomorrow tv series.

The issue opens on someone being saved by a hero pulling him out of some rubble…though he doesn’t seem to remember which one…it could be any of a number of heroes active in the late 20th century (1991). We then move to the year 2030 (when this issue was published, that was nearly 40 years in the future. Now…it’s a mere 14 years!). Matthew Ryder is a scientist, working for the government…which itself is under this Monarch–a super powered being who rules over all, providing order and peace. Or as Ryder sees it…”order” and “peace.” Though he has a family, he sees even family time as a mere intersection of four lives drifting apart from each other. At work, one day, there’s a breakthrough, and time travel becomes a reality…at least to some degree. Ryder volunteers to be a test-subject, but is turned down: he simply won’t conform and blend with society. One way we see this is with his visiting a small shop for black market disks on turn of the century history (REAL history, not the stuff force-fed from the top-down). Events come to a head and Ryder stakes his life on a risky endeavor that brings him to the attention of Monarch…and ultimately “earns” his place in the time travel testing. Ultimately, this leads to his rebirth as an energy-being with temporal abilities–at a touch, he can see one’s most probable future. This is an ability he plans to put to use to try to determine which of “the heroes” becomes Monarch…as Matthew Ryder (now Waverider) seeks to change the future.

As said above–I already know the resolution to “who is Monarch?” so there’s no particular significance/drama there for me personally. Though I’ve also read this very issue at least once in the past, I didn’t remember much detail, so in many ways this felt like a first reading for me. The issue also felt a bit dated with its technology references that are now 25 years old. I’d forgotten that this entire issue was basically “the origin of Waverider,” to give us background on who he was, how he came to be, the time-travel stuff, the Monarch question…basically to set the character to then move through the various Annuals with a lot more context than could reasonably be set up a dozen times. The story in no way blows me away–it’s ho-hum in that regard–BUT it is absolutely not bad, either. It failed to excite me now, 25 years after its publication, some 24 1/2 years after its story was fully wrapped up…but as a piece of its time, it worked.

Visually, I quite enjoyed the issue…which did not surprise me, given the Jurgens art, and having so thoroughly enjoyed his work on Superman in the ’90s. With most of my ‘experience’ with Waverider and the Linear Men coming from the pages of Superman and Zero Hour (art by Jurgens on both titles) and the Superman/Doomsday Hunter/Prey mini (again, Jurgens art), character designs and such in this issue felt extremely familiar in a good way, lending to a visual continuity I always enjoy.

As best I can recall at this typing, my earliest exposures to Waverider were the Adventures of Superman Annual that took part in the Armageddon 2001 story as well as the 2nd/bookend issue to the event Armageddon 2001 #2. Those were followed by his appearance in the Legacy of Superman special and then certainly Zero Hour. He also appeared in an issue of Superman shortly before the Doomsday! story, but I missed that and I recall the issue being a hassle to acquire.

Which all gets back to: I don’t recall much “fallout” from this series outside of it having obvious effect on another title of the time and the way elements were picked up (yet again: by Jurgens) for Zero Hour, or Waverider’s place in the DC Universe for a few years. I know there were a couple of follow-up mini-series, but I’ve never heard anything particularly good about those nor had any inclination to make time to read them myself…but I imagine if even those had had a lasting impact I’d’ve known about it by now.

All told, as a “4/$1” “clearance” issue at a Half-Price Books…this was certainly worth my expense and time to read. It also has re-ignited my interest in tracking down the entire story to actually read…especially since it’s “only” 12 annuals plus the two-issue bookend mini.

The Weekly Haul – Week of February 24, 2016

Another week, another haul…

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I keep saying I’m not buying anything from DC, and yet there’s Superman: Lois and Clark, on its fifth issue now, that I’ve actually been following. I’ve seen several ads for the Coming of the Supermen book, and that cover just really stood out to me. Love the logo–the yellow and red, the nearly-classic costume (“modesty shorts” included), the fact that it’s a Neal Adams book…ok, I’ll check it out.

I’d wondered at the lack of TMNT Color Classics last week…but as I’m behind on reading that, it didn’t bother me; though it meant TWO TMNT books this week.

Though I’m not much sure what to make of Spawn of late, there’s “something” to  Erik Larsen‘s involvement WITH McFarlane, on one of THE original Image books, as well as the fact that the thing has–for more than TWENTY YEARS–maintained its original numbering with no reboots, no renumbering, no shenanigans.

And finally…I recently read an early-1980 issue of The New Adventures of Superboy that had an ad for that issue of Adventure Comics, and it struck me as interesting, so I decided to “look for it” at the LCS…and found it. There was one in better condition for $4, but since I just want to read the thing, I was happy to pay a mere $1.50 (a 375% markup on cover price) (that’d make a $3.99 comic basically a $15 issue).

While I’ve stuck very tightly to the quarter bins and such…I’m increasingly interested in specific back issues, and find that if I’m specifically interested in it, and it’s $4 or less, I’m typically cool with it–if I’ll pay $4 for a SINGLE ISSUE of something “new,” why not pay the same or less for something specific that’s 10, 20, 30, even closing in on 40 years old?

usagi_yojimbo_saga_vols_1to4a

Whenever it was that The Usagi Yojimbo Saga vol. 1 was published–I recall seeing it and being quite impressed with it…especially for its size! I believe the “original” collections were $13-15 each…and the new vol. 1 collected THREE of the previous volumes…at a much larger size…for less than cover price of two of the older editions. Though it went on my mental checklist to buy, I didn’t get around to it and then vol. 2 arrived, then 3….then 4, then 5. So I finally sucked it up and ordered the first four (for a significant discount through InStockTrades), figuring the latest (5) should be in print long enough I can maybe hold off a bit.

I’d planned on adopting Usagi as a character to focus on in 2011, though that didn’t end up working out as planned.

Just over half a decade later, I’m far better prepared materially…if not with the time to jump in on the actual reading quite yet.

boss_monster_1and2a

Over the past weekend, I was treated to playing Boss Monster and Boss Monster 2 with a couple friends.

I thoroughly enjoyed it overall, and while I’d been planning to purchase the game several times in the past, actually getting to see stuff again, and the new “limited edition” of the second, I opted to “pull the trigger” and buy the two. There’s a third “mini expansion” but I had to show a LITTLE restraint…especially having ordered the Usagi Yojimbo books and another purchase I’d made over the weekend.

boss_monster_1and2b

The game certainly taps a major bit of nostalgia for me…and I absolutely love the packaging design on both boxes, as well as the “variant art” sleeve for the 2nd one!

And though I usually hate “variants,” in this case I am perfectly ok with it: because it’s a paper sleeve that the box slides into. I could ditch the sleeve and just have both boxes exposed; or I can use the sleeve, but I still get to enjoy the box itself when I’ll have stuff out to play.

(Similarly, for a comic, if they’d ever go back to the “double covers,” then whichever is “on top” I would either have the cover I want for display or could rip the top one off leaving the one I want exposed.)

Thoughts on a Couple Announcements: DC Rebirth

So, a couple posts being floated around social media caught my attention tonight. And they’re a decent way to do another stream-of-consciousness post. So…here we go!

“Action,” “Detective Comics” Return To Original Numbering For “Rebirth”

While it sounds like everything “else” is either restarting with yet another new #1, or continuing recent numbering (i.e. MY understanding is nothing will be hitting #53), we’re getting “legacy numbering” on the two formerly-longest-running titles.

I do call shenanigans here. If they’re JUST continuing the “New 52” or non-PreFlashpoint stuff…then they should keep the recent numbering or dig into the same hole with yet another #1. Or, if throwing a bone to older/long-time fans and giving us perhaps a single book with a version of the character(s) we want back…give us Action #905-onward. If this is just a 2-year march to #1000 for the sake of that numbering…it’s STILL a messed-up game of trying to have (had) their cake and eat it too, so to speak.

It’s also all the more disheartening–for me–because that puts a 50+ issue GAP in my run on Action Comics, that definitely hits my OCD in a bad way. All the more for having had the book at $3.99+ for 4 1/2 years.

DC Announces Full “Rebirth” Line, Twice-Monthly Books, Lowered Price Point

I’m all for the lowered price point. That does seem (to me / for me) to be where they often sucker me in, OVER a Marvel book. I’m far more likely to give random issues a shot at $2.99, where for $3.99 I’ll leave the issue on the shelf.

I’m far from keen on all the specials–THAT seems like they’re trying to double-dip; get someone with a special, but then have to get ANOTHER issue to get the “first” issue of either a new numbering or continuation of the direction.

Then again…perhaps that could go toward another omnibus–a Rebirth Omnibus with all the Rebirth specials in it.

I do sort of like the notion of some of the “combo” books–Batgirl and the Birds of Prey jumped out at me in particular–where if the book’s to be twice-monthly, you can kinda have one book, but two sets of characters. (I often remember that time ages back with Thunderbolts at Marvel where they went biweekly for awhile…but you essentially had two simultaneous stories going on, so each story got a focus once a month).

I think most appealing to me would be to just split the various titles, and throw everyone a bone. Give us an Action Comics, say, with adventures of the pre-Flashpoint Superman (one who was never trapped in Gotham in a Bottle). A biweekly Superman could follow the New 52 Superman and perhaps involve the Lois and Clark Superman family. Give us an Adventures of Superman–perhaps picking up itself with #650–with a pre-CoIE Superman. Give us a We Are Robin book that perhaps alternates issues with Damian and Tim Drake…or give us a Red Robin book with the pre-Flashpoint Tim Drake.

And yet, it is also seeming like just a scramble to grab people.

I’m buying Superman: Lois and Clark. I left the New 52 Superman title hardly 6 issues in, briefly revisiting around #31 for Doomed and the “full circle” where my first-ever issue of Superman I owned was the post-Crisis Superman #31. I bailed on Action Comics after #2 when the story ended 2 pages past the center staples, for $3.99, and only briefly revisited during Doomed.

I revisited Batman for a bit digitally for Death of the Family and a bit after that, including and slightly past the death of Damian. I never got around to most of the other books, even where I had some slight interests here and there…then of course, I got suckered by the three weeklies, though I fell prohibitively far behind on actual reading, so have far too many issues to “catch up on” reading there.

I want to see DC have a DIRECTION, or a long-term plan…something I can feel a CONFIDENCE in. Get away from all these variants, the “theme-of-the-month” and such. Roll back–as they are–to $2.99.

Why not do a bit like Convergence…and give us “pockets” of books. These handful of titles feature new adventures of a version of characters from pre-Crisis DC. This handful of books is set in the pre-Flashpoint DC. These over here are the New 52-continuity characters. And perhaps a scattering of one-shots and minis that can fit in where-ever.

Since everything’s basically “for the graphic novel” now anyway, why not cut back to just a handful of “core” ongoing books, and then let everything else BE a mini-series, or series of mini-series.

Give us a 5-issue Red Robin featuring pre-Flashpoint Tim Drake. If the writer only has that story TO tell…then leave it at that. Collect it into a book with the title of the story itself, and go on to other stuff. Someone else comes along with another story to tell, that can build of that…then 5 months later, pick up and give us #s 6-14 maybe. If it’s 8 months after that before anyone else has more to do with the character…fine.

For better or worse…I’m more likely to give DC another chance…but as has become usual for me…if I don’t’ like where something’s going or the tone or variants or just something “not positive” comes to me while grumpy…I’m not above dropping something mid-arc, or with the 2nd issue, even if I’d “planned” on going further.

There’s some potential…we’ll just see how “time” bears it out.

The Weekly Haul – Week of February 17, 2016

Raided the 80%-off bin…and snagged these four volumes. $25 for the four.

Four decently-thick (especially Inferno) volumes…for the price of 6 current single issues. And given Marvel‘s propensity lately for the $4.99 to $5.99 #1s…hey…these make for that much more of a value-purchase.

tpbs_acqu_02172016

The drawback is now going to be tracking down the 2nd volume of the Complete Collection by Matt Fraction run, having scored vols 1 & 3 here. But considering what it would’ve been for all 3 at full price, even if I’d pay full price for it, I’m still well ahead on things.

Deals like this continue to totally blow away even convention deals, as most dealers seem to primarily stock $10 bins of scattered Marvel hardcovers ($19.99 cover price)…while “complete” collections or thicker volumes like these are scarce, at least for reasonable prices.

As to regular comics this week…a $1 reprint under my “all $1-or-less issues” and an off-the-shelf Power Man and Luke Cage issue…because of a couple friends, figured I’d TRY the first issue if only to be able to talk about it with them…though I can’t see following it on a regular basis unless it surprises me and totally sucks me in.

Mid-February Stream-of-Consciousness

[Pardon the lack of usual nice formatting and such…I’ll never get this posted if I try to go through and do my usual formatting. Plus, this isn’t a fancy post…I just started typing, and this is the result. For now.]

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. I’ve found myself a BIT more active posting stuff over on the Facebook Page, though.

I feel like a lot of the “fun” in comics has disappeared for me. I’m less and less inclined to go to the comic shop…and I’ve actually skipped weeks here and there lately…as there’s nothing (even on my pull list) out in a given week that I’m planning to buy…or I’m behind on reading so not gonna read the issue immediately even if I buy it…so no particular rush to get to the shop.

I’m less and less interested in NEW comics…and increasingly frustrated with the likes of Marvel and DC both for their single issues, be it pricing, numbering, or whatever.

Marvel keeps renumbering every couple years such that numbers don’t mean squat anymore–they might as well just add a “subtitle” of the year to their books, and start fresh at #1 in January for any quasi-ongoing/recurring titles. Say, Deadpool 2016 1-12 for this year. Deadpool: Merc With a Mouth 2016 1-4 if they do a mini-series. Amazing X-Men 2016 1-12. All-New X-Men 2016 1-12. Etc. Then they can do Amazing X-Men 2017 #1 next January. New year, new “season.” If they squeeze out 18 issues in a year, just add to the count. If they run over the calendar year, keep the year of #1 on the book, so at least when one looks at back-issues, they can know which iteration of the title (with the same Marvel logo, same title logo, same creative team, and umpteen variant covers) any given issue belongs to.

DC hasn’t seemed to know what to do with Superman…and the only thing right now that REALLY interests me at all is Superman: Lois and Clark…but heaven knows if that’s even going to continue past “Rebirth” this summer. Though its concept is good, I’m not even entirely sure how much I’m enjoying it…versus clinging to it as the sole chip of bone thrown to me as far as continuing stories of a Superman resembling the one I grew up on.

Variant covers, “chase” covers, “chase” CONTENT, renumbering, high prices, lack of continuity (or sense of continuity)…it all just discourages me at this point and leaves me grumpy.

It’s hardly a wonder to me that the vast majority of my graphic novel purchases for ages are all volumes collecting older “classic” stuff…largely 1990s material, with some stuff back to the 1980s, and some into the early 2000s.

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