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IDW TMNT Collection (September 2018)

For the first time in nearly half a decade, I’ve finally pulled together the entirety of my TMNT collection (since IDW started publishing them).

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The collection doesn’t fit into a single shortbox, so I have it split between the two…and they’re not tightly-packed, so there’s room for probably another year or so’s worth in the first box, and plenty of room in the second for some adjusting to avoid over-tight packing.

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The first box (on the left) has the main series and one-shots/annuals/etc. and TMNT Universe, plus the Heroes and Villains iterations of the Micro-Series (and I’ll likely file the upcoming Macro-Series issues here as well).

The second box includes the various other mini-series, as well as the New Animated Adventures and Amazing Adventures ongoings that were based on the 2012 Nickelodeon animated series.

To the best of my knowledge–as of this post (end of September 2018), this is a full run of every "single issue" from IDW for the main/new TMNT material. (This excludes the digest-sized episode adaptation things, and the Color Classics reprints that I have in a longbox of pre-IDW TMNT stuff).

These are all "just" the "A" covers–I have a handful of variant covers that I’ve wound up with over the years (TMNT are a grudging "exception" to my rule on variants, where I’ll bend slightly on the matter). A collection including all the variants would probably be 3, 4, even 5 times this size, and absolutely beyond the scope of my own interest…which is the story side. The OCD "collector" side that I indulge is in having 1 of each issue, period.

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The Complete Life and Death

I’ve been waiting for this book for a long time. It’s been well over a YEAR since the individual comics finished and it seems like forever that the individual skinny paperbacks have been out…and even a paperback edition collecting the entire series has been out for awhile.

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But this oversized hardcover "library edition" version of The Complete Life and Death is finally out.

This collects the entire Life and Death mega-arc, that spanned four mini-series, each touching on a brand: Prometheus, Aliens, AvP, and Predator.

Even the first issue of the story had comparison to/reference of the previous such mega-arc Fire and Stone…and it’s great to finally have this volume to add to my growing library of these beautiful hardcovers!

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Here’s the book with the other hardcovers and paired with Fire and Stone.

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…and here’s my entire Aliens shelf. Assuming I discovered the Aliens vs. Predator novels in 1995 (I don’t recall for sure as of this typing nor do I feel like looking up copyright dates), that’s less than a decade after the first Predator FILM. And it’s been 23 years SINCE then…so for the majority of the time I’ve even been aware of either property, they’ve been a "shared universe," particularly in the comics.

For me, they just go together.

This shelf is the comics/graphic novels shelf…I have several shelves of novels (I believe I most recently showed those off back in April for Aliens Day 2018.)

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The Weekly Haul: Week of September 26, 2018

This week’s an interesting week for new comics, particularly for the hype/buildup to DC‘s latest event series, Heroes in Crisis.

And of course…

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Well, Sarah says "Hi!" She kicked Heroes in Crisis away from the rest of the issues entirely, but seemed particularly enamored with Star Trek vs. Transformers.

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So, this week begins Heroes in Crisis. I’d wavered on the issue, and have to admit it was somehow the cover art that pushed me over the edge on it, back to actually buying the issue. Maybe the S-shield on Superman being nice and large.

Action Comics has been a gimme for almost 2 1/2 years again; not sure what to think of this one from the cover; we’ll see once I’ve read it.

Not too keen on Flash for the cover, and I think I’m iffy on sticking with the title. I’d already let it lapse, jumped back in for the Flash War and I’m not particularly interested with the various "Forces" introduced, nor in a non-Wally Flash title.

I doubt I’ll stick with it, but there was just something to the notion of Star Trek vs. Transformers that has me curious enough to at least get the first issue.

Spawn‘s been an ongoing thing for me for a couple/several years now, though I’m ridiculously far behind on actually reading. But as a $2.99 title, I feel like I’ve gotta support the price point, at minimum!

And can’t beat $1 #1 issues for actual series, such as Oni‘s The Long Con. I wound up getting the entirety of Letter 44 (~35 issues) thanks simply to the first issue being $1 instead of $3.99. Marvel could CERTAINLY learn a thing or two from that sort of pricing scheme!

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Norm Breyfogle (1960-2018)

I was sitting, reading, when a notification popped up for me. Tom Mason had posted something in the Ultraverse Facebook group. I try to keep up on stuff with the group, and especially take notice when Mason posts.

When I saw what he posted–as it took a moment to sink in what I was reading–I actually said out loud "Holy crap..!"

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The screenshot above should link to a Bleeding Cool article.

I’m sure there’ll be loads of articles in the days to come on the man, his life, his work, stuff from the last several years, quotes from creators, and so on…at BC and all the usual comics sites. There’s already a lot of stuff on Twitter.


I was lucky enough to have met Norm once. Granted, it was–at least as I recall it–maybe for an entire minute or so.

It was at the 2012 Akron Comicon, and along with fellow Ultraverse creator Mike Barr, he was the draw for me, the main reason to be there.

For me, it was exciting just to get to briefly meet, in-person, the man who had drawn the very first Batman comic I ever owned, that my Mom bought for me in 1989: Detective Comics #604.

And he’d been the artist on Prime, another of my favorite comics from the ’90s.

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There are no sufficient words when anyone’s life ends; especially not from someone who never actually knew the person and all that.

But I was a fan of his work. Breyfogle‘s Batman was definitive, and extremely recognizable, and–to me–is among THE BEST. Aparo, Byrne, Breyfogle.

Between (my) early issues of Detective Comics and Batman, and the likes of Prime…he was a key artist in my childhood experience with comics…something that cannot be erased.

I know he’d had health issues the last few years (I’m sure there’ll be plenty of stuff out there about that, too!); but his having survived stuff in 2014 or so, I guess I just "assumed" he would still be with us for a long time to come; that he’d still be a presence in comics.

So it was shocking to learn that he’s passed.

I never knew him, and I know he wouldn’t (and I would not expect) him to remember me–just some guy that handed him several comics to sign more than half a decade ago, in a line that had dozens of people, at a single appearance–but through his art, through his work, which I assume he enjoyed and took well-deserved pride in…he touched many lives, of which I can confirm specifically in my own case.

And while I feel the loss in this way, I can’t imagine the loss his family feels, that of loved ones and friends and such. And cliché as it is, I can only pray for eventual healing, peace, and comfort in the wake of loss, though the loss never leaves you and anyone touched by the loss is forever changed.

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The Weekly Haul: Weeks of September 12 & 19, 2018

I’m definitely falling behind with stuff. C’est la vie…it’s my blog, I’m not getting paid or making any money for this, so…it’s all at my own leisure/whim/schedule!

Playing catchup from the previous couple weeks…

Week of September 12, 2018

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Superman #3, Supergirl #22, and Flash 54 from DC. It’s good to see Supergirl, at least, able to continue some numbering; I definitely want to support the title if only for that!

Then from IDW, the newest issue of GI Joe: A Real American Hero, hitting its 101st issue…which is rather hard to believe from IDW with their numerous GI Joe renumberings over the past few years. This also keeps it at one of THE highest-numbered series in ongoing comics, and the only one currently being published to attain its number LEGITIMATELY. Had they “piggybacked” on Devil’s Due‘s runs, which HAD been set as the same continuity as the Marvel series, they could be pushing #350 in the first half of 2019. As-is, this numbering is from the Marvel series AND its continuity is Larry Hama‘s, continuing off his run with that original series.

Week of September 19, 2018

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I had been sorta iffy on DC‘s Black Label line. But I was curious about the format of the book in conjunction with the price. Magazine-sized, “only” $6.99 (for a bigger format, prestige/squarebound than “regular” issues) and the Azzarello/Bermejo art team. The overemphasis on a certain part of human anatomy has been ridiculous, though. I honestly do not think I’d’ve even noticed had every so-called “comic news” site not been trumpeting it from the rooftops (the charge led by a certain BC site).

The regular Batman #55 continues to be an interesting read, though I’m not sure about the direction things seem to be going. Time will tell, but I don’t see its events leading me into another title right now.

And it’s great to see Hama get to do even more in his GI Joe stuff without being constrained 100% to only one single title.

Mister Miracle is nearing its conclusion…and hard to believe we’re already at Mr. and Mrs. X!

Time definitely flies…

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Ultraverse Revisited: Night Man #2

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nightman_0002Mangled!

Author: Steve Englehart
Pencil Artist: Gene Ha
Ink Artist: Andrew Pepoy
Letterer: Dave Lanphear
Color Design: Tim Divar
Colorists: Foodhammer!
Editor: Chris Ulm
Cover Date: November 1993
Cover Price: $1.95

One trouble with reading "all" of the Ultraverse titles is that it means I’m not "focusing" or "concentrating" on a single title…I’m not investing in a singular character/team, and there’s a definite disconnect in reading chapters of a singular story months/weeks apart, with numerous other issues in between. Of course, this does somewhat mimic–as is my intent here–following the Ultraverse as it originally came out 25+ years ago. Still, it would be interesting to run through a single series issue by issue or story by story.

All that said, this is the second issue of The Night Man and it feels like forever since I read the first issue!

The cover shows our main character fighting a guy in some sort of exo-armor/exoskeleton while neon signage in the background indicating the neighborhood they’re fighting in–outside an establishment presenting nude girls.

The issue opens with Johnny Domino in bed, five hours into his attempt to sleep, and finally admitting defeat. Reflecting on recent events–his car accident, the start of The Strangers and an "Ultra Fever" (the public’s fascination with the mass-emergence of Ultras recently), his failure to save Ginger in the first issue–he heads out into the night. His own Ultra-ability kicks in as he senses the murderous intent of an individual and intervenes…meeting someone calling himself "Mangle." Johnny isn’t able to capture the villain, but does rescue a boy, and returns the boy to his home (though the kid didn’t want to go home). We get a bit of insight into Johnny’s sense of rightness, seeing what it means to him that family rifts be put right while they can…showing some longer-term hurt in the character. Investigating Mangle’s reference to Nuware, Johnny investigates, confronting J.D. Hunt about it with little result. Frustrated, he winds up playing his sax on a beach where his dad hears (he’s a security guard) and without knowing the story still manages to offer useful advice to his son. Johnny gets back out there as Night Man and learns about his new foe before a rematch.  Despite having the opportunity to kill Night Man here and now thanks to his advantageous exoskeleton, Mangle decides it’s a game and leaves Night Man alive–proclaiming that he likes to play–and leaves the scene. Beaten, Night Man realizes he’s been lied to…BIG TIME!

I like the art for this issue…Johnny looks as I’d expect–particularly recognizable by his hair, and I like the Night Man outfit. That said, I’m not "blown away" by the art–it is good, but it’s only for this review and noting the credits that I recognize it as Gene Ha. I think I recall not caring much for his art style with Adventures of Superman back in issues before Infinite Crisis…and that being where I first came to recognize his name. That I like the art here is a good thing, and that’s that!

Story-wise, this issue definitely continues from the first issue, though not exactly off a cliffhanger. It’s definitely the "next issue," with plenty of context and exposition to remind us of recent stuff such that–though one definitely benefits from having read it–it’s technically possible to read this issue by itself and follow right along without truly missing much. It feels a bit clunky and awkward, as such…but it’s definitely a product of its time (the early 1990s), and I’ll gladly take it at this point, being so inundated with modern comics’ propensity to force one to do "homework" just to figure out what’s going on, thanks to seemingly everything being written for an eventual "graphic novel."

I like that we get some added development of Johnny himself, emphasis on his inability to sleep and yet still function, that he has a relationship with his father, that he’s got certain sensibilities (seeing the rescued kid home) even as a vigilante-of-the-night, and so on. Nothing’s particularly deep, and while this issue could be summed up in really brief, broad strokes, there’s a lot of stuff going on, world-building with the character and this title.

As I’ve said time and again, there isn’t really anything about this issue that would make me suggest seeking it out individually and specifically…but it’s definitely a solid second issue, a "next issue," and nothing turn-off-ish about it to say "nah, don’t bother." This is of course, bargain-bin fodder as a physical object…but finding it in a bargain bin (especially with #1 and 3+ also available) I’d recommend giving it a look-see.

I look forward to continued seeing the continued development of this title and its place–and the character’s place–in the Ultraverse.

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Ultraverse Revisited: Sludge #2

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sludge_0002Because They Pay Me

Writer: Steve Gerber
Penciller: Aaron Lopresti
Inker: Gary Martin
Letters: Patrick Owsley
Color Design: Robert Alvord
Interior Colorists: Violent Hues
Editor: Chris Ulm
Cover Date: November 1993
Cover Price: $1.95

It feels like ages since I read Sludge #1–though it hasn’t been THAT long. I remember vague details but not character names and such. Even the main character, I "only" remember as "Sludge," though I remember he was a dirty cop who maintained certain principles and was shot up for it.

In that regard, this issue felt like "another episode" if not "THE next episode" of stuff, comparing this to a tv series.

We have a cold open on an inner monologue, someone who was bullied as a kid. We come to see that the kid has grown up and become a mercenary…his "defenses" and "coping mechanism" to deal with the bullying led him to this position…and he’s good at his job, enjoying dishing out the killing. Meanwhile, a couple thugs are pressuring someone to pay up on a debt, and to send a message plan to take a body part. It’s up to the guy who owes to determine which–and whether it’s external or internal. Sludge comes across them and recognizes one of the thugs, which leads to confrontation and the thug winds up dead. Also meanwhile, authorities are trying to figure out what the connection is with dead folks and their having been killed by massive overgrowth of cells where the faces essentially grow over themselves, suffocating the individuals. As readers, we know–we’ve seen–it’s Sludge, where his touch does the deed. Getting these multiple viewpoints, we’re learning and seeing more than Sludge for the moment, as this issue’s stuff comes together. Someone at the pharmaceuticals company involved in stuff hires the mercenary, and after we see him deal with another contract, he’s on to Sludge. As we’ve seen the mercenary’s internal state, we see that on first sight, Sludge becomes the embodiment of all the torture he went through as a kid, the creature MUST be killed, it was born to die as he–this mercenary–was born to kill it. We end the issue with him standing over the apparently-dead body of Sludge.

I tend to think of Sludge as a dark title visually…probably I’m thinking of the blues and blacks from the first issue’s cover, which is the main cover I think of for the character/title. This issue felt "colorful" overall, which made Sludge himself seem a bit out of place and more "alien" or "Other." That’s a good thing, especially if it was done intentionally and is not just me "reading too much into it" or "finding more than what’s actually there." I also like some of the subtleties and "moments" that are actually left to the imagination–such as a woman who is killed. We know she’s killed, but it’s not overtly shown, it’s not gratuitous. The visuals convey what’s needed and get the story across very well!

Story-wise, this issue focuses on the villain, while giving us incidental additions to Sludge’s character and situation. It’s a bit scary how well I can identify with the villain’s experience as a kid–not that it’s a direct matchup–and reiterates to me what a difference there is in how one handles a situation. Regardless, this makes the villain more sympathetic than he’d be otherwise. It’s interesting to be able to get into the guy’s head a bit–it grounds him, makes him more authentic–even though I never rooted for him and certainly don’t condone his line of business.

We get the introduction of this villain with his background and all; we also get development in the overall story as far as Sludge himself is concerned, and he gets a bit of resolution regarding individuals involved in his becoming the creature he is now; and there are more underhanded dealings with the pharmaceutical company as the whole thing is pushed to be covered up and principle loose ends–namely Sludge–are to be dealt with. And the cops are figuring out that something is out there and something is going on, which makes things doubly problematic for the "bad guys."

This issue builds on the first issue, but also stands alone fairly well. As a reader you definitely benefit from having the context and setup of the first issue; aside from the context, this doesn’t really refer back to stuff and doesn’t do the "continued from…" thing. It’s surprisingly readable and enjoyable as a one-off, and as with many Ultraverse issues…it’s well worth 25-50 cents to buy and read from a bargain bin. As I’ve been fortunate to find so many Ultraverse issues as cheaply as I have, I’d tend to recommend not going over $1 or so for this…but if you have to order it online to get it at all, it wouldn’t be horrible to pay its cover price, give or take depending on your desire to read it yourself!

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