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My Multiple Editions of Kingdom Come

While it’s only more recently with the release of the 20th Anniversary Edition of the book that brought it back to my attention (as well as several podcasts and other recognition being given to celebrating the 20-year-history of it), Kingdom Come is truly one of the "classics" from my formative years being into comics.

kingdom_come_multi_editions

Pictured here are the 4 original issues, the hardback of the novelization, the 2008 new edition TPB, the original 1990s edition TPB, and the just-released 20th Anniversary Deluxe Hardcover.

Consciously missing are the Absolute Edition as well as some other ’90s hardcover, and the MMPB edition of the novelization (which as of this morning ranges from ~$32 with shipping on Amazon for "used" copies and ~$84-87 for "new" condition).

I had tried the first issue or two "off the rack" 20 years ago, based on the Alex Ross art, and I think a bit of the "collector" mentality–this being the "next" Alex Ross project, or DC‘s version of Marvels. (having little idea that he’d be a key foundation for Earth X as Marvel‘s version of Kingdome Come!).

I never initially finished out the story–it was a couple years later at least before I got a copy of the first TPB edition and finally read the entirety of the story. And of course, the novelization was a real treat, roughly in the age when I so thoroughly enjoyed other novelizations like The Death and Life of Superman and Batman: Knightfall (and though I didn’t know they were novelizations of comics at the time, several Aliens and Aliens vs. Predator novels).

While I’m not opposed to owning any of the "missing" editions, the only one I’m particularly interested in is the book-on-tape "audio-drama" edition, though I don’t expect to ever find that for anything resembling a reasonable price.

I missed Dark Knight and Watchmen by just a couple years…but it’s been an interesting experience seeing what an integral part of the "landscape" Kingdom Come has been, for my actually being there from the start.

Now, DC Comics just needs to do a single-volume edition of the Johns story from JSA a few years back–Thy Kingdom Come and include the Kingdom Come Specials in the volume.

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#HPBHaul – May 29th & 30th, 2016

Along with getting to see one of my best friends for the first time since last year, I got to visit a Half-Price Books location far off my beaten path…one that I don’t think I’ve been to in at least a couple years (the last time that I went to it with her).

And this visit was quite a jackpot!

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First off, just walking down the main aisle, I spotted a distinctive Batman logo on the spines of two hardcovers. When I stopped to pay attention, I noticed a third one with no dust jacket. I had no idea what these were, I did not even know they’d existed. Now, I have a couple of mass-market paperbacks, The Further Adventures of the Batman (a friend gave me years ago, featuring the Joker) and I recall two others, The Further Adventures of the Batman vol. 2 (featuring the Penguin) and The Further Adventures of the Batman vol. 3 (featuring Catwoman).

These three hardback editions seem to be still other volumes focusing on a mixture of big-name Batman rogues. And I knew that if I left ’em, I’d totally regret it, so I grabbed all 3 (even the one without a dustjacket…at least I have the volume, and maybe I can find a dust jacket for it later).

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Another excellent score are these Aliens and Predator MMPBs–somehow, I did NOT already have the Berserker one despite all the other Aliens books. And until a couple months ago with discovering the The Rage War "crossover" I’d not paid any attention to past Predator volumes. Finding these three–I believe–leaves me only the DH Press books published back in ~2006 by Dark Horse that are unfortunately extremely rare and absolutely ridiculously priced on the secondary market (I, for one, will NOT pay $230.00 or $90.00 or even $30.00 for a single MMPB!)

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Finally, there’s Manhattan Transfer, a sci-fi book I remember getting and reading from the library at LEAST twice as a kid–I loved the story! And I’d thought of it here and there and occasionally tried looking it up online, but could never even find placeholder references for it. Several weeks ago I was talking about this with a coworker, and it rang some kind of bell with him, and he found it…AND revealed why I’d had zero luck finding it. The book is Manhattan Transfer while I’d been looking for variants on Manhattan Project. Oops.

And the Super-Powers dvd would not normally have interested me, but it was "only" $7…I figure all I have to do is spend 15-20 minutes watching it, and it’ll justify itself in value against two $3.99 comics! Anything more is just bonus on that.

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And then on Monday I went to another HPB where I (finally) bought the GI Joe: Cobra Civil War and GI Joe: Cobra Command volumes. I’d been eyeing them for weeks, and had determined that if I was going to buy either I wanted to buy both…but even at half off, it wasn’t a minor purchase.

Fortunately, both yesterday and today, what I bought was 20% off the posted pricing, which made the already-great buys even better…and I "pulled the trigger" on buying these to avoid "missing out" and truly regretting it later.

Continued Grousing about HPB Comics Pricing

Continue reading

The ’90s Revisited: Uncanny X-Men #308

uncanny_xmen_0308Mixed Blessings

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: John Romita Jr.
Inkers: Dan Green, Al Vey
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: January 1994
Cover Price: $1.25

This issue brought back a number of fond memories, as well as a new feeling as I “noticed” the art rather consciously this time. Having this issue relatively on-hand for this reading is something I must credit to fellow blogger Chris Sheehan, whose comments/discussion of the issue prompted the purchase and encouraged making the time for the re-read. It was his post that prompted me to re-purchase the issue (for the convenience of immediate availability in print without digging through umpteen unorganized longboxes to locate my original copy).

For a single issue, there’s a lot packed into so few pages. Essentially, though, we have Scott and Jean–Cyclops and Phoenix–walking the grounds outside the X-mansion. For once, there’s no overt threat, no villain interrupting, the world-at-large doesn’t need immediate saving, etc. Just a young man and woman spending time together, enjoying cool fall weather (well, Thanksgiving Day) and doing so amidst a larger group also living on the premises. So we get a bunch of “moments” between characters…and while the couple reminisces, they also come to a decision about their future.

This issue is one of a handful of X-Men comics I recall from the early/mid 1990s where we basically just have the characters hanging out at the mansion, interacting with each other in down-time withOUT having to deal with some villain or crossover or whatever. And reading this in 2016 where every story is written for the trade, and every trade is part of some big event and every event leads into the next with no time between…this issue is highly refresshing. There just aren’t issues like this anymore (at least not from Marvel/DC!).

The story itself is very much what I prefer in comics, giving us the characters, “quiet” “moments” and generally giving us a glimpse of what these characters do, how they might interact when not in the midst of fighting for their survival. We get to see them presented as actual people…which makes them that much more truly relatable (at least, to me!).

I remember thoroughly enjoying this issue over 20 years ago…and I enjoyed the story now. Unfortunately, while I don’t recall noticing the art–back then, if I did it didn’t throw me–but this read-through I REALLY consciously noted the art…and between this and bailing on a Superman story some time back for so disliking the art, I must conclude that as a general thing I dislike Romita Jr.’s visual style. There’s something to the style–sometimes a sense of sketchiness, other times something to faces and lips particularly that just doesn’t work for me and proved flat-out distracting to me, taking me out of the story itself. Which, while a complaint that I have, myself, is not to suggest the art is bad…it’s just definitely not to my taste, and it now being a conscious thing, it’s something I can watch out for.

And then, regardless of the linework and such itself, I had consciously forgotten (but hey, deja vu or such!) how much I dislike the flipping and flopping one must do to read certain ’90s comics, when the artists played fast ‘n loose with the “traditional” comic page and layouts. Some pages read fine, but rather than just varying panels across one or two pages, where one can just page through the issue with a single physical orientation and be fine…here, we’re given some instances with a double-page piece where you have to turn the comic sideways for a top-to-bottom experience with the issue physically turned sideways; others where the issue must be turned on its side for a then-typical left-to-right experience, and so on. Rather than being able to just lay the issue flat and page through, reading, while say, eating a bowl of cereal as breakfast it requires an active, physical experience of manipulating the book, which gets distracting and kicks one out of the story.

All in all, though…this is an excellent X-Men comic that I paid less than $4 for, and got so much more from it than any $3.99 new comic I can think of. If you know your X-Men and enjoy such stories, or have never read this, I’d urge you to give it a shot, if you can get the issue for (or less) that $4. If you find it in a 25-cent or 50-cent bin, all the better!

Thoughts on Rebirth #1, Lois and Clark #8 and Superman #52[SPOILERS]

weekly_haul_week_of_20160525a

I’d been looking forward to these issues for awhile, with way more excitement and interest than I’ve had in most comics in ages.

Please be forewarned, I’m going to spoil these issues here, especially the Rebirth issue!

Superman: Lois and Clark #8

I remember highly anticipating the first issue of this series, due to the prospect of this meager “bone” tossed to me as a fan of the pre-Flashpoint Superman. It’s been a rich series, giving me so much that I’ve wanted, particularly as “my” Superman was now like I remembered the pre-CoIE Earth-2 Superman–not being the focus, not being “the” Superman, there could be hugely major shakeups in the status quo, such as Clark and Lois actually having a (biological) son. There’s the huge, overwhelming (to me) loss of the pre-Flashpoint world they knew…but with stuff in Rebirth I think there’s something to be said/suggested in this Superman sticking around but at least us as readers having “hope” that his world and past and loved ones are still “out there somewhere.”

While the above was more speculative and incomplete, I’ll be “spoiling” Superman #52 below as well as the Rebirth issue after it.

Superman #52

This issue concludes the Super-Leag…er…The Final Days of Superman story that’s crossed the various Super-books for the last few weeks/couple months. I’ve known what was coming, it was part of why I opted to follow the story. Get the story, see the events that lead to the apparent death of the New 52 Superman.

SPOILERS!

I don’t know what I expected, but this was not it. Surely there’s more DEPTH to stuff, things to be explored, subtexts one can root out…but on the surface, on initial reading, reading to get to the end…I felt like this was a letdown.

That’s it?!? That’s how he goes out?

And even with an 8-part story leading into it (remember, 1992’s Doomsday! arc (aka The Death of Superman was 6 chapters plus a Justice League tie-in) that should have made this epic, this felt padded and drawn-out, and while Superman “knew it was coming” this seemed like a weak way for him to go out, despite doing so literally in a “blaze” of glory (and that is NOT intended as a reference to the character Blaze).

Clark–the pre-Flashpoint Superman–steps in, the two DO meet (albeit briefly–and yeah, here’s the selling point that had me buying the #50s…I wanted to see them MEET), and we get an abrupt end to the New 52 Superman, which paves the way for the other Superman to ‘take over’ or ‘step back into his rightful place’ or some such.

The story ultimately doesn’t seem to have had much POINT except to “clear the board” and allow for things to keep moving FORWARD without actually backtracking or saying someone didn’t exist, etc. And that will surely also be coming into play in the next few months of stories.

Below, I SPOIL stuff in the issue, so be forewarned!

DC Universe: Rebirth #1

Now that I’m ready to actually write about this, I’m at a loss for words.

The art was an immediate attention-grabber…it just looked GOOD. And with the likes of Gary Frank, Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis, and so many other “brand name creators”, how could this not? These are The Big Guns, some of THE big names whose art I’ve so enjoyed in the past (over the last 10-15 some years), so seeing their work was a huge treat, and I did not mind the bits of difference between ‘chapters’ and such…I was far, far more interested in the story itself.

And that story takes place across nearly 70 pages, with so many little moments that I really can’t even begin to properly “summarize” it, nor am I going to offer a page by page commentary on the issue.

Suffice it to say, I’m spoiling this issue.

This.

Is.

Your.

Final.

Bit of.

Spoiler.

Space.

To quote one River Song… “Spoilers, Sweetie!”

So…

Wally is BACK. My Wally. Original Wally. Wally West, Wally that was Kid Flash, in the Teen Titans, great friends with Dick Grayson, that became Flash after Barry died in the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wally that “died” during Zero Hour, Wally that was the focus of more than 226 issues of his own ongoing series, Wally that disappeared and was seemingly–at best–“replaced” to be in line with the then-upcoming/now established tv show.

And he’s brought back in a way, it’s explained such that it does NOT invalidate the New 52 Wally West, it allows both to exist, to co-exist without my having any particular problem with it.

All the hype, and in getting to that, typing that…I’ve realized that THAT was my take-away with this issue.

Wally West is BACK!

Add to that we have some coy setup, more someone behind the scenes of the ones behind the scenes of the ones behind the scenes.

I remember the woman from Flashpoint #5, the ending, when stuff was somewhat supposedly “put right,” she had influence on what became the New 52 including the incorporation of the Wildstorm characters into the main unierse along with elements formerly/primarily Vertigo. Well, this woman–Pandora, I believe–is dealt with, and whatever power she had? She’s minor compared to this other power.

And from Wally’s narration, there’s this concept that 10 years had been “stolen,” that “love” had been stolen, “legacy” had been stolen, that it had all been stolen to make the heroes weaker, prevent them from being capable of taking something on.

Everyone being YOUNGER. A Superman in his early/mid-20s instead of mid-30s, and never married, etc. Barry, with no Legacy; no Jay to Barry to Wally to Bart. A compressed span of time in which Batman went through numerous Robins. Etc and so on and so forth.

And ultimately, to ME, to MY reading, the way I read this, the way I took it to heart…this “salvages” things. This validates the New 52 against pre-Flashpoint DCU. Essentially we have someone messing behind the scenes, manipulating vastly untold powers in ways that affect the very multiverse…and there’s still something COMING.

Continue reading

The Weekly Haul – Week of May 25th, 2016

This is it–the week I’ve been looking forward to for awhile, at least a couple months!

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While I was disappointed to learn that–as I’d expected–Superman: Lois and Clark was NOT going to be some long-running ongoing series…the title’s got a darned good reason to not be continuing, as its purpose is basically ceded to the main titles.

And we have the final chapter of The Final Days of Superman in the final issue of the New 52 iteration OF the Superman title. This is the eighth chapter, that I want to say I’ve followed weekly now since at least the second chapter–I don’t recall if I had to wait a week to get the 2nd or if both were already out or not when I “gave in” on the Superman #50s.

Most importantly, though, we have DC Universe: Rebirth #1, a supposedly-80-page issue for $2.99. (What they neglect to advertise is that those pages include house ads for titles that begin showing up next week or so…there are only 68 STORY pages of actual content. Though I’ll certainly be drowned out in the general internet hubbub, I’ll touch on the three issues (primarily Rebirth) with tomorrow’s post.

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The second issue of the new Aliens series is out (I guess it HAS been a month already!), as well as the 25th issue of Letter 44, which though I’m way behind in reading I’ve been following since the bargain-priced $1 premiere issue grabbed my attention a couple years ago. IDW gets in on the action of self-promoting the top __ books everyone should buy from _____ (insert publisher. In this case, IDW!)

And doing what I hate, and giving me possibly my first big regret to the “standing TMNT order” for the pull list, IDW put out not only two issues of the TMNT line the same week instead of spacing them out, but two issues of the SAME TITLE, one being a totally ridiculous $5.99 ($6! What kid’s gonna drop $6 on this cartoon-based comic with some arbitrary sports star?!?) For TMNT Amazing Adventures, that makes this a $10 week!

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I swung by the other shop I sometimes get to, and ended up hitting the $1 bins…scoring several issues of Spawn that I don’t think I have…though the cover to #16 gives me serious déjà vu (making me think it’s 1. an image used on the cover of Wizard back in the day, 2. an issue I already have, and/or 3. an iconic image that stuck in my mind over the years from an ad [probably in Wizard if so!]). As I’m settling in with current issues and actually getting to enjoy them a bit and seeing more potential on the series, I’m increasingly interested in back issues, and kinda curious at how hard it would be for me to put together a run of the title.

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I also scored a couple other issues, as well as some “ephemera” (I love that word, perfectly describes a lotta the random crap I saved over the years. “Legitimizes” it and all that!).

The original first issue of the first mini-series of Savage Dragon, as well as a one-shot (or at least, just one issue here) continuing the Solar, Man of the Atom property back in the Acclaim days.

Ephemera-wise, there’s a promotional 75-cent Incredible Hulk ashcan; a Spawn comic originally packaged with one of the earlier action figures from McFarlane…and a Now Comics news-zine thing of some sort that piqued my curiosity enough to snag for 25 cents (though with Real Life going on right now, I haven’t a clue when I’ll get around to digging into it).

No collected volumes this week, no pending orders, etc… I’m burning out a bit from the stream of recent-ish purchases…and looking at a month of a crapload of DC titles.

That the DC books are gonna be $2.99 is SUCH a huge refresher, given the wealth of $3.99 stuff out there. Even stuff double-shipped that winds up costing $5.98/mo would be 40 content pages and is two issues rather than 2/3 of that for a single issue.

Surely much more discussion on that angle of topics soon.

Spawn #263 [Review]

spawn0263Plot/Script/Layouts/Pencils/Inks: Erik Larsen & Todd McFarlane
Color: FCO Plascenscia
Lettering: Tom Orzechowski
Cover Art: Erik Larsen
Editor: Todd McFarlane
Published by: Image Comics
Cover Date: May 2016
Cover Price: $2.99

While I’ve no idea how long I’ll stick with it, Spawn is presently on my pull list, at minimum as my tiny individual way of trying to support both "high/continuous numbering" and the $2.99 price point. This is my seventh sequential issue that I’ve picked up…which may be a record for me now, or at least close to matching any previous time I’ve tried to follow the title.

Spawn–or rather, Al Simmons–has returned to Earth…human and normal (not disfigured)…and without his costume (despite the cover, more on that later). With only tatters keeping him from being fully nude, but still functionally naked, he finds himself gaining unwanted attention from the authorities. Resisting unwarranted arrest, he fights back and lands in the hospital for his troubles–having been shot and then bashed in the head. On waking and learning what his situation is, he requests Terry Fitzgerald…who despite relatable reservations helps him. Simmons gets set up for his new life, including the start to (presumably) a new iteration of a supporting cast and status quo.

The cover is quite misleading…we do not get Spawn–and certainly not in that classic sense–in this issue. Nor do we get an Al Simmons surprised at being human. That said, for one of extremely FEW instances in my life and as a comic person, it’s misleading because I’m actually "up" on this title. Much as the cover for #257 grabbed my attention (which started this whole current "phase" for me), I can see how this cover could be rather attention-grabbing and pique the curiosity. There’s also something kinda familiar about it–I’m not sure (nor am I planning to research the matter) if it’s an homage piece or just kinda evokes a bygone age of comic covers.

Of course, I’m quite enjoying Larsen‘s work–both the cover(s) and the interior art. Things one expects a comic’s art to do are done, and the visual style works well for this title. It "looks" and "feels" like Larsen art–it’s immediately recognizable to me as such, and I like it here.

Story-wise, I’m still far from being particularly "familiar" with characters (I had to do a quick Google search to confirm that Terry is indeed the guy Wanda married and such), but I’m enjoying the reading experience. This issue feels a lot like a "first issue," and functionally could VERY well warrant a "new #1" (and truly, many Many MANY Marvel books have "rebooted" or "renumbered" for far, far LESS a shift than the game-changing status quo we begin here!).

The backmatter backs this up…though I was disappointed at how "quickly" I got TO the backmatter of the issue. There’s no marking at the final panel of the issue, the final page of the story content–nothing saying "To Be Continued…" or any such, nor is it particularly cliffhanger-y. But darn it, I’m actually really eager to see where things go from here, how Simmons deals WITH his new status quo, how he gets back into the action and what this all means. The cynic in my worries at the shakeup being temporary…but even if it is, I have a bit of faith that it’ll at least last a few years. Simmons was gone from the title for some 65 issues–on a standard, unbroken monthly schedule of 1 issue every month on the month, that would indicate nearly 5 1/2 years. So I’m fairly confident that this status quo ought to take us to (if not through) #300 and/or beyond.

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