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The ’90s Revisited: Lord Pumpkin #0

ultraverse_lord_pumpkin_0000The Return of the Great Pumpkin

Storyteller: Dan Danko
Illustrator: Aaron Lopresti
Finishers: Gary Martin, Aaron Lopresti
Letters: Gail Beckett
Color Design: Micky Rose
Interior colors: Foodhammer! with Sharleen Gaertner
Editor: Roland Mann
Published by: Malibu Comics
Cover Date: October, 1994
Cover Price: $2.50

Happy Halloween! For this day, I figured I’d post about one of my favorite "Halloween-themed" characters… Lord Pumpkin! (Even though this totally jumps the gun on an "eventual" Ultraverse reading project).

And why not just cover an entire issue devoted to the character as my means of doing so?

Much as I enjoy the character/concept (if only for the sheer visual ridiculousness), I still have a huge blind spot in terms of concrete comic knowledge of the character and events involving him, outside of a slight memory of the character being featured on the Ultraforce cartoon series, and sharing a "flipbook" for three issues of NecroMantra before the two characters’ stories collided in NecroMantra #4.

But that gets ahead of things a bit.

This issue opens with a pumpkin-headed (or rather, Jack O’Lantern-headed) character arriving on Earth, seemingly with no memory of who or what he is. We then flash back to the GodWheel where we witness a band of fighters seeking to take down the Pumpkin King. On Earth, we see the character essentially "enslaved" by a traveling carnival, and befriended by a young boy. Another player enters the scene, looking to stir up some mischief, providing the boy with a special candle for his pumpkin-headed friend…which leads to a sort of awakening. Ultimately, we see the fate of the fighters and their simultaneously doomed attempt on the evil king’s life as well as said attempt’s impact on Earth, and we see our abused character exact a certain key revenge for his imprisonment…while getting some foreshadowing for the sinister, recurring nature and visual iconography of Lord Pumpkin.

To the best of my un-confirmed, un-researched knowledge, this issue was a one-shot, providing us with a Lord Pumpkin-centric story giving some background on the character–where he came from, who/what he is, and all of that…an "origin story" of sorts. (Yet with the aforementioned NecroMantra flip-book, and a Limited Special Edition variant, one can functionally have Lord Pumpkin #s 1-4 in addition to this #0).

I enjoyed this well enough as a standalone special. We’re introduced to the character, given some background, witness some developments that’ll likely factor into the character’s position as a villain of the Ultraverse, and get a conclusion (while stuff’s left open for later stories). While the character concept is rather ridiculous–a villainous Jack O’Lantern with a human body?–it works, and I am more than willing to suspend disbelief regarding the character. Of course, certain factors that one might question with the character–particularly the pumpkin-for-a-head–is actually dealt with in context of the character/story, and makes for an interesting element for the "villain is seemingly killed but we still know he might be back" trope.

Story-wise in itself, I’m not overly impressed…but then, for a single-issue self-contained thing with a character I recognize more than I "know," and lacking other immediate/conscious context, I don’t supposed I should be. Still, it’s a solid issue and a complete story in itself…serving both as a one-off tale and situating the character within the then-current Ultraverse line.

Visually, I really dug this. The art seems at once simplistic in a way, yet rather complex…and looking at it, it just feels like an Ultraverse comic. It does not look out of place for what memories I have of the line. I was rather interested at realizing Lopresti did the art here, recognizing his name from later Marvel and DC stuff, and not remembering that he was involved in at least this issue of the Ultraverse.

ultraverse_lord_pumpkin_0000bAlong with the "main" cover, there’s a cool variant (I can’t believe I just said that, but I’ll get into the subject of Ultraverse variants in another post) that is also quite fitting for Halloween, and I’m glad to have BOTH.

While not AS "special" as, say, a mail-away special (Ultraverse Premiere #0, Rune #0, The Solution #0) this is still a worthwhile issue to get if you come across it in a 25-cent or 50-cent bin. It stands alone as a self-contained story, but should provide additional complex if you’ve come across the character in other issues…and sets the character up for appearances in later Ultraverse comics (there’s an ad in this issue for the GodWheel mini-series that Lord Pumpkin gets a role in).

I found it rather fortuitous the timing of going through my Ultraverse comics and realizing I had just the time to get to this issue for Halloween.

Sad thing (to me)? I wasn’t yet 13 when this issue was new…yet with an October 1994 cover date, this issue is now 22 years old!

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The ’90s Revisited: Wildstorm Chamber of Horrors #1

wildstorm_chamber_of_horrors_0001Warblade
Story: Ron Marz
Layouts: Bernie Wrightson
Finished Art: Alex Bialy
Colors: Lee Ann Clark
Computer Color: Ominous Color

Lord Emp
Story: Steven Grant
Art: Trevor Scott
Color: Gina Going
Computer Color: Quantum Color

Tapestry
Story: Merv
Pencils: Jason Johnson
Inks: Chris Carlson
Color: Monica Bennett
Computer Color: Ominous Color

Savant
Story:
Jeff Mariotte
Pencils: Tom Raney
Inks: Al Vey
Color: Gina Going
Computer Color: Ominous Color

Framing Pages
Pencils:
Aron Wiesenfeld
Inks: John Beatty, Alex Garner, Al Vey
Color: Monica Bennett
Computer Color: WildStorm Effects, Ominous Color
Production: WildStorm Effects

Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover: Simon Bisley
Pinup: Jeff Rebner & Richard Friend
Editor: Jonathan Peterson
Editorial Coordinator: Amy Zimand
Cover Date: October, 1995
Cover Price: $3.50

Well, that’s an extremely long list of creator credits for this issue! For purposes of this post, I suppose that’s my fault, as I’m not breaking them up for individual-segment thoughts on writing/art/etc. Because while I read the issue, I quickly realized it’s a collaborative one-off piece…essentially a bunch of characters coming together, hanging out, exchanging stories while doing so…and different creators handling the different parts that are then stitched together into this single comic book.

I found this issue in a quarter-bin, and the main reason it even caught my attention was the "generic" Wildstorm in the title…then drew me in with the Chamber of Horrors bit. Hey, Halloween is almost here, and I haven’t acknowledged October. So I’d thought ok, I’ll get this issue, and maybe read it in time to do a post before Halloween. So here we are.

I know the "high points," or the "bullet points" of Image in the ’90s…and largely consider (personally) that most of what gives "The ’90s" a bad rap in comics IS the Image stuff. And while there’s some nostalgia for me, I’ve yet to really dive in and erase the blind spot so much of ’90s Image still has for me. That said, or as such…I’m not all that familiar with characters in this issue…very few by name, just looking at them. I recognize a few, and a couple others sort of look familiar…but this is a jam piece I fail to appropriately "appreciate," I’m sure.

This issue is–as said–a "jam piece," with 5-6 "creative teams" involved in multiple segments that collectively make up the issue. At its core, characters come together and wind up in their own space at a party, but outside of "authorized space" at the museum that’s hosting them, and are free to tell stories amongst themselves that would not work for a general public. So the characters swap stories about horror situations they’ve found themselves in–from dating/making moves on a body possessed by spiders, to experience with the Salem Witch Trials, to a mirror that led to horrible versions of what should have been one’s best dream.

As a whole, this issue was entertaining enough. Reading it, I simply breezed through–I noticed the visual changes, but the story overall seemed relatively seamless…or at least, nothing jarring that didn’t mesh with the other parts. As said, I’m not familiar enough with any of these characters or individual series to come to the table with any real expectations, so stuff really just "is."

The art’s not bad in and of itself…though I really "see" a lot of ’90s Image in the stuff (considering this IS "’90s Image," that’s to be expected!). For a 25-cent purchase that I had zero real "expectation" for going in…I honestly enjoyed the issue, and it was worth the purchase and reading. Despite the title, and the cover, other than it incidentally being the characters gathering around a Halloween party, this could be "any time," just messed-up situations or "out there" stuff.

I never knew this issue existed, nor sought it out. I wouldn’t say it’s really anything to go to great lengths to acquire…but it’s worth a 25-cent purchase/read-through, and can serve (at least visually) as a sort of "sampler" of stuff being put out at the time.

There’s an ad in the back of the issue for a $30 "chromium" poster version of the cover…which makes me wonder if there might be a "chromium" version of this issue out there somewhere. If there is, I obviously haven’t seen it. The cover image gives me a bit of deja-vu…so perhaps I’ve seen it before without consciously taking it in; maybe I’ve seen the poster; maybe just the ad. (Or perhaps there’s some promotional trading card from Wizard with this image on it that I’ve seen).

Though titled Chamber of Horrors…you could definitely find worse horrors than this issue.

The Weekly Haul – Week of October 26, 2016

This week was a rather large week…though, granted, it was also a make-up week, picking up stuff from the usual shop, which I’ve had to drop back to less-frequent visits.

weeklyhaul_10262016_a

New Action Comics from this week; TMNT #63 from last week or the week before, with TMNT Universe from this week. The Aliens: Life and Death issue is from some time back, while Aliens: Defiance is from this week. I’m not certain if Letter 44 and the IDW Greatest Hits: Godzilla are from this week or not.

weeklyhaul_10262016_b

I also stopped by a Half-Price Books intending to check for Dragonlance and Magic: The Gathering novels, see if they had anything new. I did find a new MTG novel. I probably should have walked out then, but I just had to check out comics stuff, didn’t I?

Teen Titans: Earth One (vol. 2) was there…and given my hunt for the first one, knowing I’d want to get this, figured might as well get it now at the actual half-off, rather than waste time/money/gas hunting it later. I assume that at least part of this Batman: Anarky volume was/will be reprinted in the Norm Breyfogle hardcover(s) from DC…but with some stuff leaping from late-1980s to late-1990s, and this being old, out of print, AND ACTUALLY HALF OFF, figured I’d regret not getting it.

Before actually getting to the register, I browsed the single-issue comics section in a cursory fashion…comics were marked as being "price as marked." Found this Batman preview issue with "Free" marked (by the publisher) over the price section…figured I’d challenge the cashier. No other price marked on the item; comics are "price as marked" and it’s marked as "free," but they’re not gonna just give away something. I was quite satisfied when this was manually entered as "25 cents" and I didn’t complain.

superman_from_30s_to_the_70s

I made the "mistake" of browsing a cart of new stuff to the store, and spotted an unfamiliar Superman book. I almost ignored it, but on closer inspection realized what it was, and could not talk myself into passing it up. Superman: From the 30s to the 70s. While hardly in pristine condition…the book is from the (early?) 1970s, so is older than me, and not a book I "see all the time" or such. And it’s Superman. So…’nuff said.

At least it was cheaper than 4 Marvel comics!

Here’s hoping that next week is a small week for new comics…

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #3

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures003The Incredible Shrinking Turtles Part 1

Adaptation: Beth & Ken Mitchroney
Pencilling: Ken Mitchroney
Inking: Dave Garcia
Lettering: Gary Fields
Coloring: Barry Grossman
Cover: Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Steve Lavigne
Editor: Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie
Cover Date: July 1989
Cover Price: $1.00

Straight away, I think this is probably the most “fun” I’ve had re-reading any of these issues so far. The cover image is of course familiar to me–both from simply seeing it through the years as well as being an obvious “Mirage” piece, certainly a large influence of Eastman. The coloring–with all the green–is a little boring, but I am a fan of thick borders around an image…there’s just something about it that works for me, so overall I do like the cover.

I like the interior art quite a bit. Mitchroney keeps a certain “fun” feel to the visuals–and the characters recognizable–while bringing a slightly different style that hasn’t been seen in the Archie issues til this. I think it’s that the turtles look like comic characters here, MEANT FOR comics, rather than just being drawn to look like the tv show. The rest of the characters hold a consistent look to previous issues, but work well to me.

The story is a straight up adaptation of the first part of the cartoon episode, but I like it here. We find the turtles working out and see them interacting when a spaceship crashes in a lake right near where the turtles were hanging out (mighty convenient, that). The turtles leap in to see if there are any survivors, and pull an alien out. The alien references an “Eye of Sarnath” and gives them a device to track the Eye. Shredder (who EXTREMELY CONVENIENTLY has been watching from within a nearby bush) decides he must have the Eye. Later, the turtles are on the hunt, as is Shredder–now having brought Baxter Stockman along. The first piece of the Eye is found on a garbage barge, and while the turtles find it first, Shredder’s right there to take it from them. They fight–Shredder defeating the turtles–and then the piece activates, shrinking the turtles. They escape to the sewers and Splinter enlists April. Before those two can act, they hear a news bulletin about the Empire State Building being shrunk and race to the scene. Already at the scene, Baxter (in a fake Police uniform) takes the shrunken building. Shortly, at Shredder’s hideout we see the villain preparing to use the building as proof of the Eye’s power to convince Krang to send him his foot soldiers.

As usual, there’s a lot crammed into a single issue, though this is thankfully less compressed than the original mini-series. Though the end isn’t much of a cliffhanger, it’s an ok breaking point to me (at least for my not yet having re-read the next issue nor rewatched the actual episode this is based on). There are some monstrous plotholes throughout the issue–something I blame on the simplicity of the cartoon this is adapted from. Despite those, as said above, this issue was a lot more fun to read than the previous five, and I look forward to getting to the second half, and maybe even re-watching the cartoon episode for good measure.

These first few issues had the look of being two-part adaptations of episodes…which could have carried this into the mid-20s on issues if the formula was kept of splitting each episode across two issues. As the first of two parts and the nature of the issues, one doesn’t really need to have read the last couple episodes to “get” this…just know the basics of the turtles and enjoy a “random” story in the (for obvious reasons) style of the ’80s cartoon.

Skipping YEARS ahead (comics-wise) I recall that this story comes back into play, which I think lends to my enjoyment of this issue…particularly with my eagerness to get back into the Clarrain/Allan run.

On the whole…nothing overly special to this issue in and of itself. No particular memories associated with this story beyond where it plays into things that story around #47. But I think it’s safe to say that of these early issues, this one’s my favorite yet!

New Toys: TMNT, Rogue, and Aliens

Over the weekend, along with going to a small convention, I also found a couple toys I’d been looking for…and a friend gave me some others that are equally (if not moreso) cool.

tmnt2012_toys_karai_front

Quite some time back, I was disappointed at the "Karai Serpent" figure. When I recently came across the Armaggon figure, I noticed reference to this figure, and have had my eye out since. Heading into November very shortly and the shopping season, I did not want to pass on this figure, having found it… who knows when I’d come across it again.

tmnt2012_toys_karai_back

I again don’t really see any other figures of particular interest to me–I have come across my original 1980s Mondo Gecko, so am interested in getting the new one for the contrast as I have with a number of other characters. Between what I see on this card back and the 2016 live-action movie figures…there’s really nothing that I’ll be much looking for in the near future, that I am presently aware of.

tmnt2012_toys_karai_profile

Here’s the "profile card" for Karai…


Rogue has long been one of my favorite X-Men characters…at least in the comics. And probably more specifically, the 1990s comics. Even more specifically, probably from 1991’s X-Men #1 to around The Trial of Gambit, maybe a bit beyond.

I had intended to–as with most other waves–ignore the X-Men wave of the Marvel Legends figures.

But I found myself interested in the Rogue figure…if not the price of these figures.

So when I came across the figure at a 25% discount…the price became a bit more palatable…"only" $2 more than what Target (ridiculously!) has as their pricing of the 3.75" figures.

And as I told my friend when I put the figure in the cart…if I did not buy it immediately, we’d never see this figure "in the wild" again. Of course, having bought it…I expect I might see it "everywhere" now.

marvel_legends_rogue_front

I’m not fond of the build-a-figure things anymore…not at these prices. When the regular figures were $7-8ish and you only needed 5-6 to build the bigger figure, they were pretty cool. But at $20/figure (regular asking price), they’re just way too expensive these days, especially when I’m truly only interested in a couple figures in the line and the build-a-figure itself.

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Halloween Comic Con 2016: The Convention Haul

Over the weekend, I had a chance to get to a quasi-local (for me) convention–Halloween Comic Con, hosted by The Pop Shop in Sandusky, Ohio.

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Prior to even going to the event itself, a friend gave me a few things he’d had for me, including a couple of Ultimatum hardcovers he’d picked up for me some time back!

ultimatum_hardcovers_front

The main Ultimatum volume has Ultimates 3 and Ultimatum itself…unfortunately, does not have the Annuals that were collected in the March on Ultimatum regular-sized hardcover. The Ultimatum Companion includes tie-in issues in the run-up to, during, and after the event for Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate X-Men, and Ultimate Fantastic Four; it also includes the Requiem issues for those titles.

ultimatum_hardcovers_spines

All in all, a couple of excellent oversized volumes for the Ultimate collection, and they’re very much the sort of collections I absolutely love: One volume for the “main” event itself and anything “core” to it…then a “companion” volume with the various tie-ins and such! Great package…

Then we get to the actual convention stuff…

swag_bag_soulfire

Free with admission we got this Soulfire Collected Edition volume. Nothing overly special (to me), but as a freebie…not bad at all!

justice_league_war_superman_front

This Superman figure worked out to roughly $4…the price of a single Marvel comic…yet it’s something that generally would be basically a $20 item. Anyone can say what they will about Superman…but me? $4 for a full-size figure like this is something I’m quite game for! (And someday soon I may have to post a photo of my Superman shelf…)

justice_league_war_superman_back

Unfortunately, none of the other figures in this wave were present… I’m not a huge fan of this version of Wonder Woman, but Flash, Green Lantern, or especially the Captain Marvel figure would also have been great scores!

brightest_day_hawk_and_dove

I initially made a mental note of the Hawk and Dove figures, though didn’t spring for them right away. Once I’d had a chance to wander the tables, and we were about to leave, I doubled back to check, telling myself they were a set. I would buy both if they were both still present, leaving whichever one was there if someone had already bought the other. Needless to say…they were both still there, and I snagged ’em.

Neither figure is that remarkable or interesting to me on their own…but the two of them, together, are really freaking cool to me!

superman_tpbs_and_resurrection_man

The Superman figure above and these four volumes were part of a $5/ea or 5/$20 deal. There’s a whole bunch of Superman paperbacks I’d like to own, but not enough to pay much for. At the same cost as a Marvel comic, though…I’m quite willing!

The Resurrection Man volume “rounded out” the deal, and for the price and having 14-ish issues (from the original 1990s run), not bad at all!

dollar_comics_01

Moving on into stuff, I snagged a 2nd copy of Superman #s 150 and 166 with the extra-shiny-ness thing going on. For the price, I was sucked in with the shinyness and the relative rarity…as in this is only the second time I can think of that I’ve seen this version of #150; and my original copy of 166 suffered some unfortunate rolling/bending years back being in the back of a longbox. For under $2/ea, glad to double-up!

50cent_comics_01

For “50 cents each or 5/$2,” I added an extra copy of the Superman: Save the Planet! special to the other four issues that had my attention.

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While I’d made sure ahead of this convention that I had my Ultraverse and TMNT comics sorted and missing issues logged…I neglected to log my stack of DC One Million issues…and unwilling to spend the extra $1 or 50 cents or whatever they would work out to on yet more doubles of those, I probably passed on a simple score of wrapping up my set of DC One Million.

That said…I snagged the DC One Million 80-Page Giant as well as what I hope is only a 2-part DC Two Thousand. I’d hoped for Flash: Terminal Velocity (the run-up to #100) but the stock skipped from the early 50s to the 120s…I settled for the four-part Born to Run story, as I couldn’t remember if I had the single issues or not.

dollar_comics_02

For basically $2 apiece, got Shade the Changing Man #1 and the Prime versus The Incredible Hulk. The former to compare/contrast with the new Young Animal iteration (Shade the Changing Girl) and the latter because hey, that’s a great price for an issue like this! (remember it, as this comes into play a bit later!)

dollar_comics_03

I believe I dug the Wild Dog and Uncanny X-Men issues out of a $1 bin. Hearing the character will be apparently playing a role in this season of Arrow and the surprise reference in another title recently, I figure I’d be glad to have this issue (unfortunately, they did not have the other issues of the series). And with the rumour of stuff for the upcoming Logan film (aka Wolverine III), I wanted to be sure to snag Uncanny X-Men 229 before it pulls a 266 in pricing on me!

(As an aside: if anyone has or could get me a copy of 226 in the $10ish range up to $20, I’d love to talk!)

dollar_comics_04

For the price of a single Marvel comic, I “upgraded” Aquaman #1 from a beat up copy to a nice copy…and filled out my Peter David run to now having a full run of #0 & 1-48! This includes “the” key issue–#2–where Arthur loses the hand…and I danced a fine line taking these photos between not actually sitting to read #s 1-3 and 0 and skimming through #2 and #0 in particular!  I remember when this series started, as well as noting Aquaman’s appearance in Zero Hour itself (see my 2016 Zero Hour Revisited posts), but had never gotten into/kept up with the series, to my later regret. Gladly, with ’90s comics being so (financially) cheap, I’ve embraced being able to catch up at a fraction of even the original cover price cost!

box_of_quarter_comics_01

My friend and I found a table with a huge selection of ’90s 25-cent comics. The listed deal was something like 25 cents each, so many for $2, or fill a USPS priority box for something…he saw us both amassing a decent stack, and made us a deal to go in one one together…so sharing the cost, we proceeded to grab some extra issues we’d passed on…and filled a box. Lotta cool/fun stuff…especially for less than 25 cents apiece!

I have (somewhere) a couple issues of the X-Men Archives, and apparently grabbed 5 of the 6 here. My friend pointed out the Magic: The Gathering issue…in a bag and board, it felt extra-thick, so I snagged it for curiosity of the thickness (turned out it included a copy of the Acclaim Comics preview I’ll reference below).

box_of_quarter_comics_02

Nothing really screams “’90s!” to me like these covers (and a handful of others from Image in 1992-1994). The ’90s get a bad rap, and to me, I’d say that a lot of what I think people really think of in the negative can be best referenced with early Image books moreso than stuff that leaked into DC and Marvel (as I obviously have an incredible fondness for the decade when it comes to comics!)

I also get a certain “satisfaction” out of scoring the “hot Image #1s!” of the early ’90s for a mere 25 (or less!) cents apiece.

box_of_quarter_comics_03

gen13_pricing_wizard_52And speaking of…Gen13. I pretty clearly remember this issue being one of THE “hot” issues of its time…to the point that I now probably have bought 5 or 6 copies for 25 cents each just to retroactively stick my tongue out (figuratively) at all the people who may’ve paid $20, $30, even $40ish for a copy of the thing!

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#HPBHaul for October 21, 2016

Today I went to a local (regional?) clearance sale by Half-Price Books. I had hopes of scoring an elusive Predator novel, or maybe snagging some Magic: The Gathering or Dragonlance novels, but no such luck (long story short).

What I did find was a set of four Penny Arcade collections that–for half the cost of a single Marvel issue–was well worth buying.

hpbhaul_october21a_2016

Along with these, I also found a huge (but rather skinny) volume, Storeyville. Not owning any myself, I assume it’s about the size of the IDW Artist’s Edition volumes…certainly larger than a DC Absolute edition.

hpbhaul_october21b_2016

I also snagged a handful of comics…though not nearly as many as I’d initially loaded up on…they were 50 cents each, so those dollars piled up fast compared to a quarter-bin.

Overall, not a bad haul, but certainly not what I’d hoped for.

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