• May 2017
    S M T W T F S
    « Apr   Jun »
     123456
    78910111213
    14151617181920
    21222324252627
    28293031  
  • On Facebook

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Comic Blog Elite

    Comic Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

New Pop Vinyl ’90s X-Characters

I’ve recently gone against my better judgment and bought a couple of Marvel characters in their Pop! vinyl format.

I phrase it this way, because I loathe the bobble-head format. I means that otherwise-solid, otherwise-sturdy, otherwise-quality figures are rendered EXTREMELY fragile and breakable in a way that is NOT repairable with simply a bit of glue or such. And since they’re gonna be "just on display" and not "played with" the way an action figure would…I do NOT get the "appeal" or "reasoning" from Funko TO do the figures this way–it actually killed my interest in the line for awhile and has (and continues) to leave be extremely DISINTERESTED in their Marvel range of characters.

new_marvel_pops_archangel_cable

But there’s a certain nostalgia factor for me that overrode that. First, in coming across Archangel after a friend had shown her figure off some weeks back.

Then over the weekend, I came across Cable in this classic ’90s getup and realized he’d look really cool "with" Archangel. Of course, now the added frustration of ’90s Cyclops and ’90s Xavier being long "out of print" and far too ridiculously-priced to try to acquire, along with an even-MORE-ridiculously-priced Wolverine.

But at least I have these two!

They add "character" to my X-shelf for now, and will likely remain such a presence for awhile!

Continue reading

Advertisements

The ’80s Revisited: The Untold Legend of the Batman #3

untold_legend_of_the_batman_0003The Man Behind the Mask

Writer: Len Wein
Artist: Jim Aparo
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Cover by: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez
Editor: Paul Levitz
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1980
Cover Price: 50 cents

This issue is one of THE comics of my youth, up there with my "original 4" or the likes of Superman #75 and X-Men #41. Until I read through this for this reading, though, I would’ve said I had the issue memorized line for line, narration included…but the memory can be a fickle thing, as can a slightly modified/incomplete audio cast recording!

My original copy of this issue was a reprint edition, that came packaged with an audio cassette tape (for those of you old enough to remember what those are!) that had a cast-recording audio of the issue. I’d personally "digitized" a copy of that to my computer years back, several years BEFORE the rise of YouTube, and did so off a nearly-worn-out tape from listening to it so much! As with a couple parts of the first issue of this mini, going back through it and seeing (not just hearing/listening) to the contents of the issue, I was reminded of how much has stuck with me and came from this issue, even shaping parts of me beyond just "a comic book."

The over-arching story of the issue sees Batman leave the aftermath of the exploding Batmobile to Robin and Alfred while he goes out to question folks on the street, talk to Jim Gordon, sleep on it and go to work at the Wayne Foundation, mull over what Gordon said, make a realization and visit the old Batcave under Wayne Manor, and confront the responsible party to the destruction of the precious costume, and leave things at a Batman status quo such that this mini happened, but doesn’t need to have any lasting effects.

In practical terms, the framework allows us to see the "origin" of the guy that keeps the Dynamic Duo supplied with quality, reliable Batmobiles; Commissioner Gordon’s involvement with the duo; the origin/involvement of Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, and Lucius Fox.

Story-wise, as with the previous two issues, things are kinda flimsy when you look deeply into ’em. But as a kid, I was not that analytical and just took the issue at face-value, the steady, constant moving-ahead-the-story-doesn’t-stop from the audio rendition, and that was that. It’s stuck with me, such that to ME, this is one of THE most important single issues of all time…while to others, I’m sure it’s "just" some arbitrary Batman comic, a pretty cover, or of note for having been reprinted as a breakfast-cereal comic. (I would love to see an ongoing promotion with modern cereal "prizes" being reprints of small stories/minis from DC!)

Visually, this is a great treat, both the cover AND the interior. We have classic Aparo art, which as I noted with the first issue, means this looked like the same Batman I was familiar with in my earliest days and earliest back-issues with the character, seeming all the more important for the consistency. It also very much "defined" great Batman art for me, where I’ve retroactively determined Aparo to be one of my all-time favorite Batman artists, though I didn’t know one name from another at the time I was first exposed to the issue!

The cover is an iconic one for me, from this issue itself, to its being used as THE cover of the original "collected edition" (mass market paperback black-and-white reprint), and even serves as the cover image of the Tales of the Batman: Len Wein hardcover that came out a year or two ago. If I could have a poster of this cover, I’d be all for it!

Overall, this is a consistent piece fitting with the earlier issues, caps stuff off, and was maybe THE most foundational Batman comic of my life!

I definitely recommend the mini-series for older fans of the character and anyone who’d appreciate Aparo‘s art, or Len Wein‘s storytelling and use of characters! As for me…it’s just been enjoyable revisiting the mini and getting my own thoughts out there!


Now having "covered" this series myself, in my own format, I can listen to Michael Bailey and Andrew Leyland discuss the series on their new show: The Overlooked Dark Knight. I’d been planning on covering this series here, and discovering their new podcast prompted me to jump on this sooner so that I could get my thoughts out in this way prior to listenig to theirs–which I’m certain is far more detailed and insightful than what I can share here textually!  Having listened to their work in the past, I highly recommend the show just for their involvement alone, as well as whatever other Batman-related topics they cover.

And for the audio itself from the old cassette tapes of The Untold Legend of the Batman, you can find where folks have posted it on YouTube (links worked as of this posting):

Continue reading

The Weekly Haul – Week of May 24th, 2017 (part two)

I ordered The Untold Legend of the Batman vintage mmpb via Amazon last week.

What arrived is considerably more beaten and battered than the condition described in the 3rd-party listing…for which I solidly blame Amazon itself and its disgustingly-shoddy packaging! (and which was FOLDED to jam into a mailbox rather than being BOXED so that it could actually be protected in shipping).

untold_legend_of_the_batman_mmpb

But having this at all now re-unites a two-book Batman set from my youth:

batman_mmpbs

These were two key books for me as a kid in informing my knowledge of Batman and illustrating some of the villains and whatnot (as well as being BOOKS and not JUST single-issue comics!).

weeklyhaul_05242017b

Meanwhile, Half-Price Books was doing a 20% off sale, and I made it to a location I hadn’t been to in a couple months, and after being horrified at a $250 pricetag on an X-Men hardcover, and outrageous extreme-prices on a couple other hardcovers, I opted to "complete" my Batman Eternal paperbacks collection. I already had vol. 1, and snagged vols. 2-3. Now I’m just missing Batman and Robin Eternal vol. 2 from the 5-volume run of the two series!

weeklyhaul_05242017c

I also found six vintage Highlander mmpb novels and figured that–for the price of 3-4 Marvel comics, I’d pull the trigger on them. I know I’d owned Scimitar at some point and possibly one of the others (can’t remember which) but never in the past had this many of the books!


I snagged some other stuff this weekend as well, but I’ll cover that in another post, as my phone is presently busy transferring almost 90gb of photos to backup! (And this post is itself rather late, all things considered!)

History of the TMNT in Action Figures: Leonardo Box Set

I first saw this box set quite awhile back–probably late 2015, if not late 2014. It was interesting enough..and fairly appealing to me, as "traditionally" Leonardo was always my favorite of the four turtles (though over the years I’ve come to appreciate Raphael and it’s a toss-up on which of the two I’d claim as my favorite at any given moment).

So a box set with 8 of 9 major iterations over the years? Pretty nifty…but the price always seemed so ridiculously high for "just" a display piece like this…and then in it BEING a "display piece," something that would "just" sit around.

history_of_tmnt_feat_leonardo_front

But I found it on "clearance" at Toys R Us, and the price was a lot more reasonable, pulling it down to "tempting" and getting me to "think about it." After stewing on it for a couple weeks, I went into a TRU store figuring I’d go ahead and buy one if they actually still had it (and for the clearance pricing).

history_of_tmnt_feat_leonardo_back

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the store I was in had two of these left…but moreso, they had TMNT stuff 20% off…which included this (20% off the clearance price!).

So for what amounted to roughly $4.60 per figure, I went ahead and bought this. While the only "new" to me figures are the Movie Star Leonardo, the Next Mutation Leonardo, and the Fast Forward Leonardo, at contemporary new-in-box figures’ pricing, this was still worthwhile; and the "extra" copies of the other figures just made for an even better value!

If you want to see more detail about the contents of the figures and what this looks like out of the box, there’s a great video on YouTube with all of that covered.

What I’ll show off below is the back of the box, the actual "history" or "timeline" provided.

history_of_tmnt_feat_leonardo_1984

While this one is billed as the 1984 version, this figure is actually just from the last several years–a wave of "variant" turtles with the sculpts based on the original comics’ style. Years earlier, NECA had done a series in this style as well (2010 or so, perhaps–before the Mirage sale of the property to Viacom/Nikelodeon or the current animated series.

history_of_tmnt_feat_leonardo_1988

I had the original 1988 figure in its 1990-ish iteration; I also have the more recent re-release via the TMNT Classics line.

history_of_tmnt_feat_leonardo_1992

I’m very disappointed that this figure doesn’t come with the belt…it looks "naked" without it. (Isn’t it amazing how complete or "clothed" the characters look with JUST a belt?!?). Based on that YouTube review, I do know without unboxing this set that the figure is not the flexible, rubbery material, so I’m a little less disappointed, as I definitely want to get the rest of these "Movie Star" TMNT (I already have Donatello).

history_of_tmnt_feat_leonardo_1997

I don’t consciously remember seeing any of these at the moment, though I’d be surprised if I hadn’t–but by the time these would’ve been in stores, I was heavy into comics over getting TMNT figures; and I was never particularly enamored with the Next Mutation as it was. Like the reviewer in the video, I agree at it seeming odd to have this "art" image instead of a still from the show…but I’m guessing perhaps this is at least "card art" from the line?

history_of_tmnt_feat_leonardo_2003

I still have my original 2003 Leonardo that I bought that January day in 2003, shortly before the premiere of the new series. I’d either actually seen or was hunting them down, and found the turtles while with a friend, and I believe I at least got all four turtles in one purchase, though I don’t recall on the other characters.

history_of_tmnt_feat_leonardo_2005

I’d trailed off a bit by the time the show went to Fast Forward, and as such had no real context for any of the newer characters, and with occasional/rare exceptions have never much cared for a bunch of "variants" on a character within the same line…and I probably considered Fast Forward to just be a "wave," probably like the current Tales of the TMNT branding/re-issues going on with the present line.

history_of_tmnt_feat_leonardo_2012

Of course I have the 2012 one–I’ve got more of the "current" line than I care to admit, though I’ve passed on plenty of characters and spent way too much time/effort hunting down other characters. I even bought a newer iteration of this "basic" figure to have on my desk at work at my last job.

history_of_tmnt_feat_leonardo_2014

I also had the 2014 movie Leo, and I think also Raphael, though I’m not sure where he’s gotten to at present. I was not particularly thrilled with the 2014 film…though I found the 2016 one to be surprisingly entertaining, especially by comparison, though I "missed" its theatrical run.


Based on info from that video review of this set, I was reminded of the missing 2007 film version of Leonardo…and that’s one that I’d actually like to get. I suspect, though, that with the destruction of the mold or such, that’ll be harder to come by than any of the other versions, thanks to the COLLECTOR-for-MONEY mindset on stuff (as I’ve been perfectly happy with various reissues of classic figures and don’t care if I get an actual VINTAGE "Party Wagon" or the more recent "print run," whichever is cheaper for roughly the same (good) condition!

I have a hard time justifying $15+ for a single figure, and even $9 makes me stop and "think hard" about it. But if you’re interested in this and can find it, seems at present that Toys R Us has whatever limited stock remains in stores of this set for a little over $40, which is quite worthwhile if the interest is there for you! (and still cheaper than most single "statues," so this is worthwhile at this price even if only as a static display piece!)

The Weekly Haul – Week of May 24th, 2017 (part one)

This will be a shorter than usual post, given real-life realities outside of this blog and such.

This was yet another small-ish week…all the MORESO for now due to two shops NOT having the new HIghlander issue, and I found myself incredibly annoyed trying to figure out which of the Action Comics covers was the "regular" cover.

weeklyhaul_05242017a

I’ve been paying the "convenience tax" for TMNT Universe to get it when it’s out on a week I’m not gonna make it to Kenmore for my pulls, so I’ve started getting the variant for that if I’m gonna be buying two copies of the issue anyway (definitely NOT caring for the covers lately, though, or the character in the current story…)

SINCE it was a $9.99 volume, I went ahead and picked up Moonshine vol. 1–I dropped the series in single-issue format last fall due to annoyance with unexpected variant covers, determining that if I’d check the series out at all, it’d be in collected format.

Also snagged a couple Star Wars: Destiny boosters since they were there; and I nearly forgot that Logan came out this week, so picked that up while I was getting some groceries.

I’ll likely have some other stuff to show off before next Wednesday (hence the "part one" in this post’s title), but that’ll all have to wait for more time to compose a post!

The ’80s Revisited: The Untold Legend of the Batman #2

untold_legend_of_the_batman_0002"With Friends Like These…"

Writer: Len Wein
Artist: Jim Aparo
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Cover by: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez
Editor: Paul Levitz
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: August 1980
Cover Price: 40 cents

This is the "middle chapter" of the mini-series…"only" 3 issues. I knew the first issue from having read a copy that Grandpa had; and the third issue (as I’ll get to soon) is one of the single most familiar-to-me-comics ever.

This issue opens with a furious Batman seeking answers in a bar from the lowlifes that might have some knowledge–any knowledge–of anyone brazen enough to break into his sanctuary and steal–and destroy–one of the most precious items he owned. The situation deteriorates as Batman loses himself in a rage rarely seen (at least until post-Death in the Family). He’s snapped out of it by the arrival of Robin (Dick Grayson), and the two head back to the Batcave. Meanwhile, Dick reminisces about his own past with Batman, and how Batman’s affected his life. Once back in the Cave, the two interact with Alfred, who muses on his own background and coming to be butler to the Caped Crusaders; as Batman pores over files of suspects, we get a glimpse at the extended rogues’ gallery, and a bit about the origins of the Joker and Two-Face. Robin suggests they try police headquarters–and a conference with Jim Gordon–but as he readies to leave, a beeping is heard…and our heroes barely have time to seek cover before the Batmobile explodes. Batman declares war on the as-yet-unrevealed villain.

Of the three issues, I’m least familiar with this one. This was actually the "gap" for me in the story, that I first read (I believe) in a paperback reprint of the story–one of those mass-market paperback-size black and white things. I feel like the "focal" origins here are Robin and Alfred, and once again realized how much this version of both has stuck with me and formed the foundation of my understanding of the characters. We also get another reference to a warehouse explosion that I’ve always considered to be a contrivance or such–but I actually wonder (though have yet to actually opt to do the research) if this ties the story to anything in the ongoing Batman or Detective Comics titles, like if the explosion happened in an issue of either title and then this mini takes place as a "side trip" exploring the ramifications.

Visually, I had a definite sense of deja vu, thanks to Aparo‘s art, and I’m amazed to consider that this was published in early 1980, and that Aparo was still (or again?) a key Bat-artist up to stuff I read in my earliest then-modern explorations of Batman stuff in 1989 and the earliest part of the 1990s. I’m also somewhat amazed at the reminder of this being published in a much different time, where the issues (while part of a singular mini-series, a singular story) don’t flow nearly as smoothly one-into-the-next as they do now. Nowadays, it seems like in many collected volumes, one almost has to GUESS at where the issue-breaks are (accounting for mid-issue high moments and such) where this obviously picks up after the events of the first issue, but it’s a sort of "cold start" that does not REQUIRE one to have read the previous issue to follow along with THIS issue.

Chances are, especially these days, if you’re considering reading this issue, you’ve got #s 1 & 3 as well; and cheesey/hokey/flimsy as the STORY-story is (it’s a loose plot to give us the excuse to see a bunch of characters reflect on their origins, and by these better know "the rest of the story" as readers), it’s worth reading. This firmly embodies late-70s/early-80s pre-Crisis Batman, and is a product of its time. I don’t care for the cover proclamation of this being "an instant collector’s item"–if it SAYS it’s a collector’s item, it’s probably NOT. Then again, there’s the original comic edition; there’s a comic-on-cassette reprint edition; there’s a reprint edition that came in boxes of cereal; and there’s the MMPB collection…so DC got plenty of mileage out of this one 3-issue arc; and certainly formed my basis of understanding for these characters!

untold_legend_of_the_batman_0002_blogtrailer

The ’80s Revisited: The Untold Legend of the Batman #1

untold_legend_of_the_batman_0001In the Beginning

Writer: Len Wein
Artists: John Byrne & Jim Aparo
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Letterer: John Costanza
Cover by: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez
Editor: Paul Levitz
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: July 1980
Cover Price: 40 cents

This is a comic that I clearly recall coming across in Grandpa’s collection all those years ago–after he’d loaned me a stack to read, and we visited and I found it in his comics cupboard. It stood out to me immediately for the cover being taken up itself by a giant book, with three very recognizable villains (Joker, Penguin, Riddler) apparently teamed up, utilizing the book to learn more about the Batman. The Joker proclaiming "This book will tell us everything we need to know to defeat the Batman!" To this day, this particular issue is rather "iconic" to me, one of the more "singular" stand-out covers IN comics (though a bit behind the third issue of this very series, which I’ll touch on when I get to that issue).

Presently in 2017 (some 37 years after this issue originally saw print!) the issue is definitely a bit "dated" in that it’s clearly from its time…but for me, it’s rather timeless. And it’s easy to see as I read just how much this very issue originally (and still) informs my FOUNDATION with the Batman character and mythos–from Thomas Wayne’s costume, to Leslie Thompkins and Joe Chill and Lew Moxon, the notion of Bruce as the first Robin, and so on.

The issue opens with Batman having a pleasant moment with Alfred, going through mail…only to discover a package with the shredded remains of the most valuable item in the Batcave–the costume once worn by Bruce’s father, which inspired his own look as Batman! This kicks off some nostalgia/reminiscing between Bruce and Alfred, which gives us as readers the background on the costume, the "base" origin with the death of the Waynes and Bruce’s childhood vow and self-training, to some specifics of the training and such, the origin of both his costume and the Robin outfit, and a glimpse in montage of many of the villains faced over the years. We also get the "expanded" origin details of young Bruce having been taken in by his Uncle Philip, and being "raised" by the man’s housekeeper, Mrs. Chilton (unknowingly mother of the man who murdered the Waynes), as well as Batman and Robin’s discovery of Joe Chill and eventually Lew Moxon, and how the Wayne murder case was finally, completely closed. Despite 18+ pages of additional story (the issue has 21), there’s no resolution regarding the destruction of Thomas Wayne’s costume nor the perpetrator.

What we ultimately have here is basically a framing device to give thin "reason" to characters reminiscing in that classic comics way–think all that hard on it, and it’s like–what? These characters have known each other too long, been through too much, to have this sort of stuff in this sort of detail coming up. There’s also the issue of the thought balloons seeming–by 2017 standards to me–being very in-your-face and blatantly stating stuff that would be left to be hinted at or given only as a subtlety.

While I’ve probably known this issue’s art was John Byrne and Jim Aparo, I feel like it’s "consciously" new information to me in the sense that it feels so revelatory. This series being one of THE early introductions for me to Batman, and the character’s background and generally a compact, definitive source on all things Batman…it would seem to clearly explain why I particularly dig Aparo‘s Batman, and any Batman that looks close to how he appears here!

I also wasn’t aware–until rather recently (a couple years or so back)–that this was written by Len Wein. This series is one that, as a kid, simply WAS Batman. I didn’t know the artists, I didn’t know the writer, I just knew that this was Batman, this was his origin and the showing of everything that made up the character and associated characters, and that was that.

So framing device or not, ludicrously blatant detailing of stuff or not…this was a very key comic for me in my youth, and I love it to this day for what it was, and remains, to me, though this is a much different Batman than the one I’ve known for most of the time I’ve been into "current comics," and could functionally be a whole different character (and in a sense, is–this is from a half-decade PRIOR TO Crisis on Infinite Earths!).

I have a definite soft spot for this mini-series, which is also why it hardly phased me to buy a new-to-me copy of all three issues just for the convenience of re-reading the single issues AND seeing the original ads and such, rather than simply grabbing my Tales of the Batman: Len Wein volume off the shelf to re-read it or such.

I’m certainly biased on the issue, but I think if you’re a fan like me and enjoy the different "eras" of Batman, this is an issue well worth reading in some form.

And while I’ll get into it more for the third issue, it should definitely be noted here: there is an audio-drama of sorts out there for this issue…this entire mini-series was made into a "comics on tape" thing with a voice cast, music, and so on, and packaged with reprint editions of each issue.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: