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Darkwing Duck (2016) #1 [Review]

darkwingduck(2016)001Orange is the New Purple part 1

Storytellers: Aaron Sparrow and James Silvani
Colors: Andrew Dalhouse
Letters: Andworld Design
Assistant Editor: R. Janice Orlando
Editor: Jesse Post
Published by: Joe Books Ltd
Cover Date: April 2016
Cover Price: $2.99

It’s been a few years, but here I am covering a first issue of Darkwing Duck once again. And as with that time, this time finds an issue whose story title is a play off another. Here we have Orange is the New Purple, where back then it was The Duck Knight Returns. As best I can follow, this continues the bulk of the story from that previous series, itself picking up and continuing from the classic (now 25-years-old) animated series of the same name. I don’t truly “get” comic book politics, and was disappointed at the time when Disney‘s purchase of Marvel seemed to spell the end of Boom‘s license and its run on the Disney books. Now, we have another publisher running with the title, but it is not Marvel.

That aside, this works quite well as a first issue.

We open on a parade that is quickly crashed by DW rogue Megavolt, whose attack is quickly dampened by Darkwing. We move on to see DW in his civilian guise, interacting with family and neighbors; while there’s an attack on the transport carrying Megavolt to prison. Later, Darkwing interacts with SHUSH, though things don’t go overly well there with a new assignment. Back at home, DW is flabbergasted at learning that he has not been invited to cut the ribbon at the opening of the new super-max prison that is primarily populated by individuals HE put there. And still later, crashing that particular party, the villain of the piece is (unsurprisingly) revealed and sets the situation to a cliffhanger worthy of any episode of the classic tv series.

As first issues go, this is definitely a solid one. The most noticeable thing for me is the art, which gives us characters that look like they stepped right off the tv screen (albeit with improved, more robust coloring than the cartoon could maintain). This is not some reinterpretations of the characters’ looks; it’s no “new take” or some artist looking to put their stamp on the appearance: it’s just clear, solid work that carries the absolute look and feel of Darkwing Duck and leaves no doubt of what this book is.

The story itself does a great job of things, serving the main points I’d expect FROM a first issue. We’re introduced to the title character; we meet supporting cast members, and associated characters; we see the hero in action, and we get a good taste of where we’re going from this issue. Though this issue is not a singular, complete, contained story, it gets things set up while providing enough in and of itself to satisfy on the single issue level…at least for me. Given how short and formulaic some of the tv episodes could seem, I welcome the longer story that this sets up while still getting the various elements we’d have in a single episode.

This issue feels like a mix of things…it’s a new series, a new first issue, and suitable for younger readers though it hits home for me as an adult reader and long-time fan of the property. It feels like a continuation of the cartoon, and a continuation of the previous comic series that ended several years ago. Of course, part of the latter is that we have some of the same creatives carried over, itself a sort of continuity that I hope is nothing but good.

I enjoyed this issue, and expect I’ll be adding it to my pull list at least for awhile…and might even try to track down the super-sized collected edition ostensibly collecting the previous series if only for a convenient availability of a re-read of that.

If you’re a fan of Darkwing Duck, this is very definitely a comic for you. Maybe best of all…despite never ever having heard of this publisher prior to learning of the collected volume and now this series, they do what it seems most publishers are utterly incapable of: offering a full-sized, full-length comic for “only” $2.99. Like with DC‘s promise of the upcoming price drop back to all-$2.99s, this is as good a price point as one is really going to find in this day and age, and will certainly hold me a lot longer than $3.99 would!

Highly recommended!

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Aliens: Defiance #1 [Review]

aliensdefiance0001Episode One: Derelict

Script: Brian Wood
Art: Tristan Jones
Colors: Dan Jackson
Lettering: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover: Massimon Carnevale
Publisher: Mike Richardson
Editor: Spencer Cushing
Designer: Cindy Calcerez-Sprague
Digital Art Technitian: Conley Smith
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Date: April 2016
Cover Price: $3.99

My earliest exposure to Aliens was the final battle with the Queen at the end of the 1986 film, that I saw accidentally, wandering out one time to where Dad had fallen asleep watching it or whatever preceded it. Several years later, I came across and read the novelization of Alien3, which led to me seeing that film (my first-ever R-rated film sought out!), and in turn led to “backtracking” to the others. I also recall at some point realizing I had read the novelization of the first film at some point without ever realizing when I read it that it had anything to do with any movie. I also came across the novels that expanded the Aliens universe, and which I eventually came to learn were themselves based on comics. It would be a few more years before I ever got around to getting to read those original comics–particularly the first ‘trilogy’. While I’ve “lapsed” over the years, the last few years I have been quite interested to learn of any Aliens comic series, and occasionally lament that it’s not a truly ongoing property (while realizing that it works better with finite stories). As a gamer, I’m pretty lax, and have not played the recent game with Ripley’s daughter, though I’ve been told a fair bit of the story (sadly, not consciously retained). But hey…comics, right?

So here I am…brand new long-form Aliens story kicking off, its cover putting me a bit in mind of a/the video game, and intrigued at what I BELIEVE to be at least a 12-issue saga–perhaps the longest single Aliens story I’ve been a part of as a fan (not getting into the comics until about a decade ago). I know Brian Wood‘s name from some prior stuff I’ve read/sampled–Northlanders, DMZ, The Massive–and been aware of his name on stuff like Star Wars more recently…so that’s a welcome factor for a new Aliens series. Icing on the cake is art by Tristan Jones, who I became aware of with his work on the Tales of the TMNT title from original TMNT publisher Mirage a few years back, and have loved seeing his work on various other projects since…and whose visual style seems a perfect fit to me for the Aliens property.

This issue is a first issue, giving us basically a brief paragraph of context/setup before we’re launched into the thick of things. We meet Zula Hendricks, a private involved in a mission to a derelict spacecraft. She and her fellow marines encounter Xenomorphs, and the situation does not go well. She and a synthetic survive, though she quickly learns that the synthetic is acting against programming, and her own world is changing as a result.

The story is good, for what it is. Which is not meant to be a negative statement…but this is only the first chapter of a multi-issue arc, that I believe is a year-long, so this is hardly going to be a full story in and of itself, nor is it giving everything away. And a single issue isn’t really enough space to re-introduce readers to a property, introduce new characters and detail their history, recent past, and present while also showing the scope of the property and of space and the horrors of the Xenomorphs. But we do get a fair bit packed into this, with Zula’s introduction and some flashbacks, a cameo of Amanda Ripley (which I believe thusly situates this time-wise somewhere between the first and second films), the synthetic Davis, some context for Zula and her place in things, and the final-page reveal of what seems to be the “mission” of this particular series…piquing my interest such that I almost wish this was a weekly series, because waiting another month for the next tidbit seems far too long. It’s not a cliffhanger in and of itself, but more a concept that promises a lot of great stuff, and I want to see it developed and played out, and be along for the ride.

Jones’ visuals are a great fit for this story, providing a great overall feel for this issue. His style is–as said above–very well suited for this property, and gives a gritty, dark, creepy look to the Xenomorphs and their brand of violence. The humans/humanoids come across as I would expect, while exuding whatever it is that just FEELS like they’re in an Aliens story. The linework and layouts are impressive, giving a sort of cinematic flow to the issue…and I’m pleased at the lack of full or double-page spreads, which often feel like cheats and wastes of space when they’re the bulk of an issue. Only one page is a single/full-page image, and that’s the ending of the issue, where after all those pages crammed full of panels, it provides a stark contrast, and really drives home the importance of the “moment” that it conveys.

The cover is also a fantastic piece of art, and for me quite iconic and recognizeable. It’s also all the more impressive to me as it’s the only cover image I’ve seen for this, allowing it to stand as itself and not be just one in a sea of variant covers diluting the thing. While there may be a variant or two out there specific to someone, I don’t believe there are any alternate covers from Dark Horse in and of itself as a push.

Plenty of questions are opened up here, and the apparent premise of this series now holds a great deal of potential. I look forward to learning more of Zula as well as Davis, and seeing what sort of interactions the two have. I’m interested in how their ‘mission’ will play out, and play into the larger scope of the Aliens universe. While we get the cameo of Amanda Ripley, I believe her story is told in the videogame, and more of an “Easter egg” tossed in for fans as well as being an indicator of the time this is set in. I look forward to seeing and learning more about the Aliens, and seeing these characters grow in their own knowledge and understanding of same.

It will be interesting to see how this is paced, overall as a series…but I almost wish this was already a completed work. As a first issue, this works well overall. I don’t know that this is something that in and of itself right now as a singular issue will pull anyone “new” into Aliens or be necessarily the greatest introduction to the property…but whether long-time fan of the Aliens comics or just now checking them out being familiar with the films and/or video game, I think this is a great start into the comics side of things.

I’m not particularly enamored with the cover price, but will suck it up, given this is Aliens . I’m definitely on board for this series, and definitely recommend checking it out if you’ve any interest already in the property.

Reunification of the Bookshelves: A Beginning

As I prepare for some hefty changes in my personal life, I’m afforded the opportunity as well to “re-unify” my collection, and the newer setup is affording me more shelf space than I’ve used in one place…which is going to allow for some creative variation on how I actually group stuff on the shelves.

infinity_shelf

For example: I’ve built this “sub-collection” of Jim Starlin-based Warlock/Thanos volumes with content primarily from the ’70s to the early-2000s, the “core” being the “Infinity Trilogy” with events that set stuff up prior, and then the major stuff somewhat shortly after.

And because I’m not having to cram out every inch on every shelf right now with the books themselves, I can do something like this…shelving a couple banks with the books, for a much more fun visual than solely a bunch of spines facing out.

I’ll certainly have other photos to show off shelves later, but I liked this one enough I don’t feel like waiting until the entire project is (re)completed.

The Weekly Haul – Week of April 27, 2016

This seems to be a small week overall. I’d thought I had more stuff on my pulls than I actually had waiting for me.

weekly_haul_week_of_20160427a

I’ve been looking forward to Aliens: Defiance for ages now; and I’m following the current Superman story as we head toward Rebirth, and wasn’t about to pass up the new Darkwing Duck (especially with no personal conflict–I have yet to have any problem with this publisher, while I’d’ve been quite conflicted if it was again a Boom product).

weekly_haul_week_of_20160427b

Taking up some of the “slack” I did a final raid of the Essentials bargain bins. I got these four volumes for the price of a whopping TWO new Marvel single issues.

I honestly would’ve snagged a bunch of other volumes, but they were “later” numbered volumes in series that would be financially prohibitive to try to track down amidst everything else…to say nothing of simple shelf-space which has come to be a definite premium on the whole.

Then there’s the online stuff…where my doubt and stubbornness paid off in placing an order today that I’ll likely post about next week when it arrives. Along with the Age of Apocalypse Omnibus, it takes care of the “splurging” part of my tax return for the year, I think.

Criminal: Tenth Anniversary Special Edition Magazine

criminal_10th_anniversary_magazine_editionDeadly Hands

Editor: Ray Archer
Content Editor: Ed Brubaker
Art and Design: Sean Phillips, Elizabeth Breitweiser
Production: Drew Gill
Publishing Liasons: Eric Stephenson, Robert Kirkman
Cover: Sean Phillips
Frontispiece: Phil Jacobs
Published by: Image Comics
Cover Date: April 2016
Cover Price: $5.99

I’ve long been “aware of” Brubaker‘s Criminal series. I’ve read a few issues in the past, and quite enjoyed them…as I have most things he’s written/put out, particularly in this sort of capacity. While I’m blanking on the title offhand, I also remember sampling a spinoff/parallel series more recently, but never stuck with it at length…unfortunately, this sort of thing tends to read better in collected format to me, and when ‘everything’ is a mini-series within an overall continuity, I’d just as soon wait for an entire story…just that by the time it gets collected I’m often chasing other stuff and leave the less-familiar/top-of-the-mind stuff for “later.”

That said, I saw this issue–a 10th-anniversary special–and initially passed on it. A couple days later I saw it at another shop…along with the “Magazine Edition” of it, that REALLY caught my eye. I picked it up off the rack at that point to flip through, and put it back. Then picked it up again, flipped through a bit more, started to put it back, and looked at the price. And considered the format. As well as the fact that this is a 10th-anniversary thing, a special, a one-shot…not some new mini to invest in, not just some “latest issue of ____.” And honestly, the novelty of the thing got me.

While the “regular” edition looked just that–“regular” if a bit thick–the magazine edition is made up to look like some beat-up, well-read, well-worn 40-year-old paper product. And some of the interior pages–of this Fang, the Kung-Fu Werewolf–are as well, really steeping this in the mid/late 1970s.

Essentially, this issue gives us the slice-of-life of a boy–about 12–“on the run” with his dad. His dad had gotten a phone call without explaining, took his son, and they hit the road. We get the story from the boy’s perspective–knowing something’s up, but not fully knowledgeable of the details, just “surviving” the situation. At one stop along the way, the guy buys his son a magazine/comic–Deadly Hands–which he reads and enjoys, and then seeks out further issues. At another town, the boy is turned on to a local shop that might have an issue. While his dad disappears for a couple days, the boy is somewhat befriended by a girl, and the two bond a bit. It’s summer, there’s no school, and they’re free to hang out, do what kids do. Ultimately, the brief moment is spoiled as things come together for the kid’s dad, and we get a less than happy ending, as we truly see that this really is a “slice of life” sort of thing. Interspersed with the main story are pages the kid is reading in the Kung Fu magazine, giving us just enough to be interested in that story as well and nods to the likes of ’70s Marvel (at least, that’s where my mind went, though I’m hardly an expert on this particular genre or history of publication).

The magazine edition is a whopping $5.99. However, because of the thickness, and physical dimensions–of being magazine-sized rather than “just” a standard comic book size–as well as being a one-off novelty/nostalgia thing, I had no problem whatsoever with it. I would be hard-pressed to be willing to pay that for an ongoing series of issues, but as a one-time thing, a brand I recognize from a writer whose work I enjoy, I was willing to pay the price.

Actually reading the issue, I’m glad I did, because I enjoyed this a great deal more than most contemporary comics I’ve read lately. I drew a slight connection here to Watchmen, simply for the fact of the story-within-the-story and such, of reading pages of the story a character in the story was reading–but actually didn’t dig too deeply there. I simply enjoyed this, and the only thing taking me out of the story was looking at the effect of the pages and the jumping back and forth between “actual story” and the “story within the story,” but even that achieved something of its own effect that I liked.

Brubaker‘s name–along with the title itself–are the selling point for me. But while it’s the story that I thoroughly enjoyed, it was the visuals of the package that sold me, and thus Phillips and Breitweiser should not be overlooked. The art itself–particularly of the main story–would not have grabbed me, BUT was quite effective in getting things across, and reminded me somewhat of Steve Dillon’s work. The story–both the main and the Kung Fu Werewolf–is conveyed quite well and gives the required feel to both visually…firmly accentuating the writing and making for an attractive overall package, especially in having now read it cover to cover.

If you’re firmly into super-heroes or such, you may not care for this…but if you’re a casual-ish comics reader and/or interested in comics beyond superheroes and zombies, this was a great read. As said, a big part of the ‘fun’ for me was buying the magazine edition, but for the story itself alone, I’d recommend the issue, giving it a certain positive grade myself. While I don’t have the regular edition for comparison, this was ad-free, except the back cover’s faux-ad, part of the effect of the vintage-magazine appearance. I dare say this is at once representative of the high quality of Brubaker and co.’s work on Criminal, though this may well outshine regular issues for being longer and self-contained (whatever nods to prior Criminal stuff–if any–were over my “ignorant” head in this reading).

Unexpected HPB Find

I’d’ve sworn I recently saw a copy of Teen Titans Earth One at a Half-Price Books, but did not see it in Mentor last weekend. So this past Friday, I made an extra point of stopping at the Mayfield one to see if perhaps it’d been there. No such luck on that book…but I did find another book that I wanted, was a no-brainer on purchasing, but which I had not even consciously considered finding.

batman_from_the_30s_to_the_70s

While far from the best condition imaginable, for a mere $15, I consider this quite a treasure! This is a hardback (I believe there were both the hardback and a paperback edition), and after hearing some discussion of this (or the Superman counterpart) it was briefly on my radar, though having zero intention of dropping $40+ it quickly faded.

So the $14.99 on this totally spoiled my intent of getting in and out quickly and for roughly $10.

The trouble now is…I really want the Superman volume all the more.

The Weekly Haul – Week of April 20, 2016 (Bargain Bins)

Along with my ‘regular’ purchases, stopped off at the other local comic shop, looking primarily for the Superman/Wonder Woman issue I was now missing in the current storyline…or so I thought. (Turns out the missing chapter is an issue of Batman/Superman, which would have been a really useful bit of information to have consciously had!

Not finding what I was there for, I hit the bargain bins and found a bunch of 25-cent comics of interest.

I also found another Ultraforce figure that I don’t believe I’d found before: Topaz.

weekly_haul_week_of_20160420c

Best thing is the figure was only $2…a real “no brainer” for me for sure!

weekly_haul_week_of_20160420d

I came across a bunch of Showcase issues. Here are the handful of Showcase ’93 and the couple Showcase ’96 I found. The Two-Face one–a chapter of Batman: Knightfall–is a duplicate, but one worth having, if only for filing purposes.

weekly_haul_week_of_20160420e

And the gem of the bunch, the back half of Showcase ’94…making it relatively easy to mentally track…I just need to find issues 1-5!

weekly_haul_week_of_20160420f

Most of Strangers 1-16. A bunch of those early issues are apparently ‘variants’ in that they have the UPC/barcode on the covers instead of “nothing” or a non-barcode that many “direct market” books had from this time period. Normally I’m not one for variants, but finding a near-complete run of a bunch of issues make it well worthwhile, especially for the price of one single contemporary Marvel issue.

weekly_haul_week_of_20160420g

Turok, Sovereign Seven, and The Man of Steel were lone #1 issues…but what the hey? I’m half interested in how many copies of Turok I can amass; and the others never hurt to have extras. The “ashcans” were cool finds–I have ’em all somewhere, but they’re rather rare (in my experience) due to their size…either not being filed with comics that are then sold, or “hiding” because they’re smaller and thus passed over…at least in bargain bins.

weekly_haul_week_of_20160420h

I know I have at least a couple of these Justice League America issues, but while pulling them I’d hoped there would be more, and then figured until I get my collection actually sorted again, not gonna hurt too much to have a larger isolated ‘run’ for now.

weekly_haul_week_of_20160420i

I found myself working toward an ‘even number’ for my mental math of my stack, so grabbed a couple random-ish issues. One of the store workers was sorting through a small box of comics and tossed some more “recent” releases on the quarter bins…functionally giving me first crack at ’em, so I snagged the bottom row above.

weekly_haul_week_of_20160420j

Whether I get around to them sooner than later or not, I always enjoy finding Superman comics from before the Death of Superman, and then several of the others are just ones I like, particularly for the iconic covers from an age when such things could stand uniquely and not be lost in an overwhelming sea of variants.

The older issue of Action Comics where Clark tells Lois he’s Superman is a first print…I recall there being at least two printings, so it’s cool to snag an extra copy of a first print like this.

Not that I’m unaware of it or anything, but I’m such a sucker for the ’90s, and continue to enjoy these finds much more than most new comics.

And while I recognize that I’m rather “spoiled” right now with relatively easy access to a number of shops with 25 and 50 cent bins and various bargain-bins…it’s still apalling to consider that I can buy 64 such comics like this…for the same price a mere FOUR new Marvel comics of 20 pages each. 80 pages of story, or 64 entire issues? Not hard to see the better value when one enjoys the bargain-bin finds.

I just wish I had so much more time to actually dig in and read and re-read stuff more frequently.

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