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The Weekly Haul – Week of June 28, 2017 (part one)

This is an interesting ‘week’ for me for comics. I mis-timed a couple things, and had weekend plans for multiple weekends crossed-up, so (to make a long story short) I have stuff to pick up this weekend, but still managed to find stuff for Wednesday!

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I don’t know what it is about this A.D. After Death book that so fascinates me! Maybe it’s the format, that it’s like a hybrid of comics, prose, and story-book all in one. The price doesn’t hurt much, either…when each issue would’ve been probably $9.99 if not $12.99 or $14.99 from Marvel, and a book this large and thick would easily be a $49.99 (at minimum) book from Marvel. But it’s half that price, from Image.

Again keying off pricing…the Nights of Dominion volume grabbed my attention visually, but as I picked it up and saw it was Oni and not Image, I started to put it right back–I was not gonna be paying $19.99 for an unknown book like this! But I confirmed the price…which to my surprise was half that, at only $9.99…a $10 vol. 1, a la Image. So I grabbed it.

Then there was the bargain-priced X-Men: Phoenix Rising volume. $4.50. Hardly more than a single-issue from contemporary Marvel…and cheaper than most Marvel #1s these days, or one-shots or annuals from either Marvel or DC. I’d’ve sworn I had the book, but a look at my inventory did not show it present, so even if it somehow is a duplicate…I can live with it for that price!

And finally, Violent Love vol. 1…saw a stack of these by the register, a flash/one-day sale…$5. Same logic as above…for "only" $5, yeah, I’ll try it! Don’t know when I’ll actually get around to it and reading it, but it’ll fit into the Image vol. 1s library and be something to read randomly at some point!

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I’d semi-forgotten about a couple of Amazon pre-orders, and about the time I was thinking I "should" go in and cancel them, I had an email saying stuff had shipped. So for roughly 50% off, I have possession of the oversized 30th Anniversary Predator volume. This is a massive hardcover, much like the two Aliens volumes and the Prometheus/Predator/Aliens/AvP collection from a couple years back.

Size-wise, the Predator volume puts Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes to absolute shame. Far larger, looks like a similar issue-count, but the two are the same price.

Not knowing when I’ll get around to actually reading it, I’m actually quite disappointed with the "package" of the Superboy volume. It’s just a standard-trim hardcover of about 9 issues…old ones, at that. NOT a good "value" in my eyes, for its $50 cover price!

I also do not like the generic text "logo"…maybe it fits the image used, better, but that skinny/non-blocky/non-bombastic text is far too "modern" as a "logo" for comics of this period.

With DC cancelling a bunch of stuff either before release or after a first volume is out for what should be a series, I’ve half a mind to return this volume. I’m collecting Superman stuff, but not so much on Superboy or the Legion…and this is not a deluxe, oversized hardcover nor anything special/deserving of a hardcover offhand like this…better to be out in paperback and slash the price!

We’ll see, I guess…

Next week I’ll likely show off stuff I pick up this weekend if I get down to Kenmore as planned…and I missed this week’s X-Men Series I cards post. C’est la vie!

(Mighty Morphin’) Power Rangers on Home Media

The new Power Rangers movie hit home media this week, and as it stood, was one of the movies that I knew I definitely had an interest in purchasing, despite having seen it in the theater.

I opted to go with the Target steelbook edition…largely as it was supposed to come with a “graphic novel,” and I recall stuff like an X-Men one that came with a box set, or the Mask of the Phantasm one that came with a VHS back in the day, or even the full-sized Avengers Season One that came with the first MCU Avengers movie.

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The case itself looks good, and I find that I much prefer these costumes’ appearance in stills like this or in action on the screen…but something about the toys just does not work for me–they look like dollar-store generics to me and don’t have the nostalgia that the classic costumes’ design would have.

As I’m not expecting much of a series here and don’t expect to have much to line this up with on a shelf, I was also more open to the steelbook as it won’t be a weird item amidst others for me. The title and such is still on the side, and I like this image, and even the lightning symbol on the back works well; though I may try to cut down the cardboard that came with it to have the “specs” of the release with the case, since that was not itself duplicated on the steelbook.

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Strictly on the surfacey, technical level, my only real disappointment here is that the so-called “graphic novel” is nothing more than a comic! It is just a differently-sized comic book, essentially a “single issue” (though it may have more pages). [Edit: Power Rangers: Aftershock apparently was a 96-page original graphic novel published in standard edition for $14.99.]

This booklet has 60 pages of story…so either the graphic novel has something else, or this is severely truncated!

I’m also–despite this being “free”–not happy with it as sold. “Sequel comic” or “free comic” or a number of other terms could be used. But to me, a “graphic novel” indicates squarebound and a sturdier cover and such–something “prestige format” perhaps. This most certainly is not that!

I guess this just strikes a chord with me, as it looks (to me) like blatant misuse of the term “graphic novel” to get around the term “comic” or “comic book”–as if either is a bad word.

Had this edition of the release been more expensive for including the comic, I’d be quite miffed. As the non-Target-exclusive version was the same price…this IS still “bonus” and 60 pages, so it’s not like it’s “nothing” was done.

I do look forward to re-watching this, as well as the “extras,” despite seeing too many online pieces already as folks scramble all over themselves to make “news stories” of stuff that’s revealed in comments in the extras and such.

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The ’80s Revisited: Detective Comics #572

detective_comics_0572The Doomsday Book

By: Mike W. Barr
Colored by: Adrienne Roy
Edited by: Denny O’Neil
Cover: Michael William Kaluta
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: March 1987
Cover Price: $1.25

Chapter One:
Artist: Alan Davis
Letterer: John Workman

Chapter Two
Artists: Terry Beatty & Dick Giordano
Letters: Todd Klein
Colors: Carl Gafford

Chapter Three
Arists: Carmine Infantino, Al Vey
Letterer: Todd Klein
Colorist: Carl Gafford

Chapter Four
Artist: E.R. Cruz
Letterer: Romeo Francisco

Centerpiece
Dick Sprang

Chapter Five
Artists: Alan Davis, Paul Neary
Letterer: John Workman

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I’m finding that I’m a bit of a sucker for ’80s anniversary issues. Especially ones like this, where it’s not some round number of an issue, not a bunch of variant covers, not a relaunch or renumbering, not even the culmination of some huge story that’s overly self-aware of numbering. This seems–essentially–to be a nice, hefty, done-in-one full-length self-contained adventure…and it’s not at all hard to see where this could (by present-day standards) be dragged out as some six-issue mini-series (at least) if not multiple 2-3 issues mini-series or such.

But of course that would fly in the face of an anniversary ISSUE. In this case, celebrating 50 years of the title, not Batman himself, though the caped crusader has a definite role in the issue!

What we get here is an extra-sized issue with story elements on multiple fronts, allowing multiple art teams to work on the title, as well as the writer to flex and work with different characters that aren’t strictly Batman or his immediate Bat-group. This issue is from a time much closer to the title’s historical format with multiple characters sharing the title…even though Batman’s been the most prominent character, a number of other characters "came up" through the title, not necessarily related specifically to Batman or stories involving Batman himself.

I’ve been aware of Barr‘s work for a long time…and while I’ve come to know him as the writer of Batman: Year Two, and Camelot 3000, and Batman and the Outsiders and whatnot…I most associate him with Mantra, one of my favorite Ultraverse titles growing up in the ’90s. That a creator of a character I thoroughly enjoyed there also has such a history with Batman has been icing on the cake, so to speak.

I’ve primarily read Detective Comics from #604-onward…very much after the "anthology" format was basically jettisoned and it’s been just another Batman title. So while aware of its history, I haven’t actually read much of that history…at least not while of any age to truly appreciate it (I know I’ve read a number of issues from Grandpa’s collection, back in my earliest comic days, but that was a quarter-century ago!).

Slam Bradley finds himself with a client who’s under the gun–literally. Though Batman and Robin intervene for the moment, there’s more to the situation–and story–and he’s determined to figure it out. What he doesn’t count on is learning of a couple names with prominent ties to the past: Watson…and Moriarty. The Elongated Man–Ralph Dibny–gets involved, with a personal encounter with the villain at hand, confirming what Slam Bradley had learned. We then jump to "the past," and a tale of Sherlock Holmes…fitting to the continuity of this issue’s story, while being simply a new Sherlock Holmes story, and certainly celebrating the title Detective Comics.  The various branches of the overall story converge and we get back to Batman and Robin being on the page as all the characters come together…including a rather surprising (to the characters) figure, one that I had actually come to think would not be present in quite the way they turned out to be.

This issue is just over 30 years old, but I still step around stuff a bit. Consider this your spoiler warning.

After this line, I get into "spoilers," as I would if this had not been a three-decade old back-issue.

Batman meets a significantly-aged Sherlock Holmes here. As this was published in 1987, along with being the 50th anniversary of Detective Comics, it was the 100th anniversary of Sherlock Holmes. And with a mention of living conditions and such, and just HOW old the character looks at the end of this issue…it may have been a bit of a stretch to consider a man would live to be over 120 years old (if he was already an adult in adventures in 1887). Of course, 30 years later, this is no longer plausible in the slightest…at least to me. So it "dates" the issue, but in a good way…and it was a pleasant surprise to find that the cover was not JUST a case of being some thematic team-up where both characters appear in the course of the issue but don’t directly interact…we actually get to see Batman meet THE Sherlock Holmes. (Though I’m not gonna get into the meta-stuff of characters recognizing the STORIES but then having the story-accurate character showing up in their midst as a "real guy").

Though there were multiple art teams for the issue, with them being split up across different chapters (instead of several pages here, several there) it really served the story, and kept things from seeming choppy or such. Batman didn’t seem to be in much of the issue, but where he was, he seemed "’80s-accurate" to me; and the other characters (that I’m less familiar with, particularly from this time frame) all work and don’t stand out as contradictory to whatever I do know about them. The cover led me to believe (in conjunction with something I’d read in the past) that the focus of the issue might’ve been a Batman/Sherlock Holmes team-up/adventure. I was initially disappointed, as I thought when I bought the issue that it’d be a team-up. As the issue went on, it took on more a sense of reality, history, and "legacy" that I found intriguing…such that it was simply a treat to have the aged Holmes show up at the end as he did.

There’s a nice "center spread" by Dick Sprang that makes for a good touch, and far out-beats contemporary practices where it would have been a variant cover or a couple of variant covers. It’s just a nice double-page art piece showcasing Sprang‘s take on the characters.

I believe I paid $6 for this issue, against its $1.25 cover price. By contemporary comics’ standards, this was well worth that price and then some. For time it took to read, it more than out-matched contemporary comics, at the "inflated" or "priced back issue" dollar I paid for it. This would absolutely be worth getting out of a bargain bin…and I have no problem with having paid a slightly more "premium" price for it as an actual, priced back issue and not something from a bargain bin. This stands alone as a singular, strong issue, and other than knowing that the characters exist, you don’t really need to know any present-day (at the time) continuity to enjoy this issue; FROM this issue, I would not be able to tell you myself offhand what was going on in issues immediately before or immediately after this issue.

Highly recommended!

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A Glimpse of the Art Wall

I finally managed to work out lighting and an angle to get a photo that–though it doesn’t manage to show off everything actually hanging–at least shows off a bit more of the size and "shape" of my "Art Wall."

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Basically, it’s one of the walls of the staircase down to the basement. I started out just pushing pins into the wall to hang a couple frames for safekeeping–it was gonna be temporary placement–but then I started adding more frames, as I found ones that worked very well for holding posters from old ’90s comics and such–from Batman issues, Robin III: Cry of the Huntress, and Reign of the Supermen as well as others. I’ve also placed some frames with comics–particularly variants that were actually display-worthy "prints" to get and such.

There’s no real "order" to the wall, as I pretty much just keep adding toward the bottom of the stairs as I find/frame something new. I may eventually get to where I replace some posters for other stuff, and might swap out the comics to keep the wall more of an "art" wall than a "show off comics" wall…but time will tell!

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This second photo’s another attempt to capture an angle of the wall…this time from the top of the stairs looking down.

I feel like the photos are really crummy compared to what I’d usually post…but these frames are basically a sheet of glass over the front, and are quite reflective at certain angles: so with better lighting, there’s more glare and reflection than viewing the actual art. But actually walking down the stairs, it’s easy to see and enjoy the art.

Just one of those things, I guess, where the real-life experience can’t be duplicated with photos online…c’est la vie and all that!

The Weekend #HPBHaul (Weekend of June 23-25)

Along with getting to see a dear friend for the first time in far, far too long…I got to visit three Half-Price Books locations that are out of my usual range. Perhaps because of not being usual haunts, and the last time I’d been to any of the three had to have been at least two years or so ago, I found some stuff at each that proved enough of an interest to actually purchase.

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At the first one, I found a very good-condition copy of Wayne of Gotham by Tracy Hickman. I’ve listened to the Graphic Audio production of this book and quite enjoyed it. Having the hardback (not just some paperback) is fantastic!

Then, I found a set of all ten of the Double Take volumes. I already had seven of the ten…but I’ll be darned if I could’ve remembered which. But fortunately…I periodically try to get photos of my shelves for just such occasions, and was able to –in that way–"look at my shelves" to see which ones were there, and pick out the three to complete my set!

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At the next location, I found the Superman: New Krypton vol. 3 that completes my set of that series of paperbacks. I still need to track down Last Stand of New Krypton vol. 1 in paperback and then I’ll be all set on that story.

This copy of The Further Adventures of Batman is probably THE best-condition copy I’ve seen yet of the paperback. And for Knight of the Black Rose, I thought this was a good-condition copy compared to others I’ve seen, and opted to snag it to add to my Dragonlance collection (yeah, it’s a Ravenloft book, but the character originates in Dragonlance!)

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At the third/final HPB, I happened across these two Superman sourcebooks. The covers alone make them of interest…as well as their subject matter! There were at least half a dozen other DC supplements in addition to these–after the earlier purchases and other stuff going on, there was no way I could justify getting all of them…especially as they’re for a game I doubt I’ll ever actually play. The two Superman ones are justified for me because they’re Superman!

There were several Owly volumes. I’ve always meant to give the book a shot, but never got around to it. I grabbed the cutest-looking one and we’ll see. I can’t imagine not liking it, though!

And finding the Captain America and the Falcon volume makes me highly glad I held off on buying it before at a higher cost. In its own way, this goes with the Black Panther volumes I already have–collecting the Priest run. Since this series, too, was Priest, it’s been on my radar since getting the last Black Panther volume.

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Then at a Walmart, I came across a display box full of the various Wonder Woman movie Pop figures. For this first time (offhand) since I started seeing the line in stores, I actually found the title character herself!

There was a Walmart-exclusive version with a different body pose and without her sword. I liked the look of this "regular" non-exclusive version better, having the sword and shield.

I haven’t cared for many of the "movie versions" of characters…but Wonder Woman is a definite exception for me! I’m also not a huge fan of mask-less human characters for the Pop range of figures–the faces being accentuated and being so plain and boring tends to be an issue for me. But again…for this one, I made an exception.


I actually stopped in at a fourth HPB location on Sunday–this one the closest to home and my most "usual" one…and found nothing of interest enough to buy. A few things to look at more closely than just walking past…but nothing that jumped out as wanting to buy right now or that I’d miss if I didn’t buy.

While I highly disagree with the "base" $2 price for single-issue comics in HPB stores…the "usual" one is one of the stores I tend to get the most frustrated with in their mixing high-price out-of-print volumes in with the main collection.

At the three others I visited over the weekend, I did not have any cases at all of something catching my eye but then being sticker-shocked. Everything was at least the store’s premise of half-price if not more and so made me a rather happy camper (so to speak).


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The ’90s Revisited: Robin #1

90s_revisited

robin001Big Bad World

Writer: Chuck Dixon
Penciller: Tom Lyle
Inker: Bob Smith
Letterer: Tim Harkins
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Editors: Dan Raspler, Denny O’Neil
Cover: Brian Bolland
Published by: DC Comcis
Cover Date: January 1991
Cover Price: $1.00

I’ve read this issue before. This might even be the third time I’ve read it–I’m not sure at this point. But for this particular read-through…it came about because I wanted the POSTER that was bound into the issue, without having to rummage through a bunch of unsorted longboxes–so I bought a copy just for the poster. But since I was "handling" the issue, I decided to read it…and quite enjoyed it overall, though unfortunately not quite as much as I’d thought I would.

I’m pretty sure this issue picks up essentially from the pages of a Batman issue, as I seem to recall a scene of Tim debuting the new costume before Bruce and Alfred; but that’s clearly already happened by the time this issue opens.

We open on Tim in the Batcave with Bruce; wearing the then-new (but now highly familiar to me) ’90s Robin costume–the red body, wide yellow belt, green pants, tall/dark boots…and the stylized "R"; as well as the two-colored cape: yellow on the inside, the classic yellow; but black on the outside, so he can wrap into it and blend into shadows same as Batman…not "glow in the dark" or such. The two discuss Tim’s readiness TO be the new Robin, in a bit of Tim’s doubt that I don’t quite remember, but fits for the time. Tim decides to further ready himself, now that he’s "passed" Batman’s training is to take his own journey to train with others in preparation for his role. He heads to Europe, where we quickly learn that another figure from Batman’s past is active: Shiva. Meanwhile, Tim finds the master he sought, though some details aren’t as he expected. He gets drawn into a situation that calls for what Robin can do, that Tim Drake can’t, and gains a potential ally, even as he considers what it’d mean to fail, to let down the Batman.

Which is all a grandiose, vague summary of the issue. It’s interesting to consider a number of "firsts" at the time this was released–first action in the new costume, first "solo" Tim Drake adventure, Tim’s first issue as Robin, first issue of any series–mini or otherwise–of the solo-billed Robin title, etc. And I’ll be doggonned if I am aware of any variant covers. Really! All these firsts…and other than (perhaps) a second printing or such, or maybe some kind of foil-y something or other that I’m not consciously aware of at present, this is THE issue. Period. One cover. One issue. A Brian Bolland image.

Story-wise, this is a very solid first issue. Though I mentioned recollection of a scene preceding this, that’s not integral to this issue. We simply pick up on Tim in costume, apparently freshly made officially Robin, and through dialogue get a bit more detail to fill in gaps on his background and our getting here. He’s given a ‘quest’, we’re introduced to threats and antagonists in addition to the self-set challenge, and get drawn into the story.

I said above I didn’t enjoy this as much as I thought I would–it’s a good issue, and fairly enjoyable in and of itself; certainly nostalgic…especially for me. But that’s part of the problem. One of Tim’s first couple cameos before his full appearance in A Lonely Place of Dying was my first-ever Batman comic…this character was introduced AS I got into comics, and is still around. But this issue by itself–not re-reading the lead-up, not having the rest of the issues handy nor the time to read their contents in one of the TPBs, this is just a snippet of early-Tim Drake stuff. And since this isn’t an ongoing series but "merely" a finite five-issue story, there’s less "need" for the kind of hook an ongoing might need…and I think I frustrated myself not being able to just read the whole story handily in one go.

robin001_posterThe art is quite good, and rather iconic to me. Looking at this, it just screams "early Tim/Robin" to me. The cover isn’t horrible…but the way Robin’s face is, this has gotta be one of the creepiest-looking Robins I can think of! The costume, cape, etc work…but the face just doesn’t fit Tim. I also like that the "corner art" seems to be a carryover from what I recall offhand of the main Batman issues, cementing this as what it is–its own thing, starring Batman’s sidekick, but in a solo title that does NOT emphasize Batman.

If you find this in a bargain bin–or heck, find it for $2 or under, I highly recommend it! Particularly if you’re a fan of Robin, or specifically Tim Drake. But I’d recommend trying to acquire the entire 5-issue mini-series rather than just this isolated issue.

Unless you want the poster…in which case, that ALONE is worth at least a couple dollars!

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The Weekly Haul – Week of June 21, 2017

Well, this turned into a far larger week price-wise than I’d had any intention of…of course, a lot of that goes to some deals, and a couple more of DC‘s $4.99 DC/ILooney Tunes books! And a back-issue.

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Of course, the weekly Superman book–in this case, this week it’s the actual Superman title itself…pretty much concluding the Black Dawn story in an "oversized" "anniversary" #25 issue. Then we have Lobo/Road Runner and Wonder Woman/Tasmanian Devil which, so help me, intrigue me. Super Sons has another issue–I need to make sure I’m caught up to the previous issue. I think I am, but I’m not 100%.

Then just for the novelty of it AND so I won’t have to HUNT for the first issue later, SwordQuest as I’m just curious how the story really will go after the #0 issue…though I don’t like the $3.99 price point. I’ve been getting God Country, and probably should have just waited for the collected volume, as I don’t think I’ve actually read #3 to present.

And finally, because of that darned cover, and figuring if nothing else it’ll go with the last #1 Darth Vader I bought, I figured I’d give the thing a try, now out of the "first week sales figures" range and all that, and it was there, and still cover price. I did NOT, however, buy #2 that came out this week.

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As expensive as three $5 issues and several $4 issues were…I’d had no expectation of finding any great deals on more collected volumes. But for less than the price of 2 Marvel issues, got the oversized hardcover of Wolverine: Sabretooth, collecting two stories. While I’m not the biggest fan of the stuff, it’s still Wolverine, the actual, genuine, regular, true, original character.

Then for roughly the same as seven Marvel single-issues, got the three volumes of Excalibur Visionairies: Warren Ellis. I don’t know if I knew these existed, but all three available together and for this pricing…I couldn’t pass ’em up. And hey…they’re all ’90s or early-2000s X-stuff…especially the Excalibur volumes.

These even put Half-Price Books to shame…and really put convention pricing to shame.

All in all, a big week and plenty of reading to do, and I’m still a hugely long way off from ever catching up. Such is the life of a comic person, I guess…

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