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Ultraverse Revisited: Solution #3

ultraverse_revisited

solution_0003The Hunted

Writer: James Hudnall
Penciller: Darick Robertson
Inker: Barbara Kaalberg
Letterer: Tim Eldred
Color Designer: Tim Divar
Interior olor: Foodhammer!
Editor: Hank Kanalz
Cover Date: November 1993
Cover Price: $1.95

Once again, looking at an issue of The Solution I find myself wondering how, exactly, I managed to #1 miss this series entirely as a kid and #2 not pick up on this sooner even as an adult.

This issue opens with a young woman being stalked by a couple of menacing figures that we come to realize (along with her) are aliens–Darkurians–as they “morph” into their true form of hulking, monstrous beasts ready to devour her. Then another figure enters, first playing music from a harmonica, and then wielding fantastic weapons that are quite effective against these Darkurians. The next day, we join in with several members of The Solution as they debate publicity, with everyone but Lela having reasons for NOT wanting to be in front of any cameras. Vurk, impatient and edgy, prepares to leave. Lila asks Aera to put a “trace” on him–using her magic so that they’ll be able to locate him, should the need arise. Vurk hits the town, looking for some excitement–though what he finds interesting and what a cab driver finds interesting don’t exactly intersect. He’s in luck, though, when he stumbles across a figure he recognizes–a certain harmonica-player (incidentally, apparently named “Harmonica”). Shifting to his large, brutish (alien) form, Vurk leaps into battle with Harmonica…the two are old opponents. Harmonica’s weapon/harmonica seems to be able to transform into whatever he declares–laser, flight-belt, sword, whatever–and he more than holds his own against Vurk. The fight is inconclusive, halted first by police and then by the Solution (having located Vurk via that “trace”). We shift to the Solution meeting with a client…and learning that they’ll be working with someone. We see on the final page: Hardcase and Choice!

This issue’s story seems so simplistic in a way. Show some aliens mugging a random woman on the street, they get killed to show how bad-ass this Harmonica guy is. Touch base with the Solution–they are the team this title’s about, after all–then Vurk goes off on his own. He fights Harmonica, giving us an extended fight scene that shows us how bad-ass HE is, before stuff is brought to an abrupt halt with neither being victorious…this leaves things open for later. And we end with the setup for a “crossover” with Hardcase to leave us ready for what comes next. Nothing’s all that deep, but we get our title characters present in the issue, while the focus is on one particular member…and we get a bit of a sense of history for him with encountering Harmonica, as well as development in his admitting his own people want to kill him. As He’s a “tank” on the team, Harmonica being able to take him on, having taken out the Darkurians earlier, and getting away here without issue sets Harmonica up to be a bigger player in future issues.

And I absolutely love the art in this issue! It’s clean, and detailed, the character designs definitely have that nostalgic, ’90s “vibe” but without seeming hokey or rushed. I’m sure this is thanks not only to Robertson‘s pencils, but also Kaalberg‘s inks with Divar and Foodhammer!‘s coloring. I don’t know if it’s my personal color preference or other details, but I especially like Lela’s appearance and costume. I feel like I’m all over the place with enjoying or being “iffy” on Ultraverse issues’ art…perhaps it’s other comics’ art I’ve looked at since my last Ultraverse coverage.

My enjoyment of this issue is largely that it’s nothing “deep,” and even picturing the issue’s opening a la Law & Order or CSI, with a brief intro to set something up, then a jump to the actual main characters and them dealing with stuff after the events of the initial sequence. Having read a couple issues of the series before this also laid some groundwork, so while I’m not great with characters’ names yet (especially being a couple months–at least–since reading the previous issue) but recognize them visually and having seen them, it’s easy to “go with the flow” of things.

As “just some ’90s issue,” this would probably work pretty well overall as a standalone issue…it has the feel of a random issue trying to set something up without being itself bogged down with stuf from prior issues. The cover itself isn’t all that interesting; and I never really paid it much attention, focusing mainly on the title logo and issue number. Essentially we get naked-backside-of-Vurk fighting against Harmonica-with-a-sword…boring as a cover for only reading previous issues, but at least “fitting” given the actual interior contents of this issue.

If you find this for 25 cents or so–bottom-price bargain bin, basically–it’s worthwhile if only for “exposure” to the title and such. Generally-speaking, it’ll work better with the context of the first couple issues (admittedly, also ideally bargain-priced).

While I’ve been iffy with this title on lack of knowledge…it’s quickly becoming a high-quality, enjoyable favorite…which I feel like I didn’t expect when I started this deep-dive into the Ultraverse.

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The ’00s Revisited: Detective Comics #826

detective_comics_0826Slayride

Writer: Paul Dini
Penciller: Don Kramer
Inker: Wayne Faucher
Colorist: John Kalisz
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Cover: Simone Bianchi
Assoc. Editor: Michael Siglain
Editor: Peter Tomasi
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: February 2007
Cover Price: $2.99

Hard to believe even this issue was published OVER 12 YEARS AGO, but then, it’s been 8 since the announcement of The New 52, and it’s been a decade longer SINCE Tim Burton’s Batman than IT was from the ’60s series. Time flies. This issue is from a period where I’d largely stepped away from the Bat-books, before I came back for Batman RIP and Battle for the Cowl and such. So though I obviously knew Detective Comics was out there, I was not buying it regularly in 2006/2007. I actually found out about this issue from a post on Facebook with a discussion of "favorite Tim stories," and decided to track it down. Sort of surprisingly, the very first place I looked for it, I found it–for about $4, or "only" $1 more than cover price, and perfectly in line with what would be paid for a contemporary 2019 new comic!

This issue opens on Robin–Tim Drake–speeding away, being chased and shot at after winding up in the middle of rival drug gangs. As his bike is totaled, a minivan pulls up and someone throws the passenger door open, calling to him by name. Not looking a gift-horse in the mouth, Robin leaps in…to be greeted by The Joker! When Tim awakes from the Joker’s gas, he’s bound to his seat, the heat in the vehicle is on, the seat-warmer is on, and the original owners of the vehicle are dead in the back. Tim’s in for a hell-ride with one of those most deadly individuals he’s come up against, as the Joker drives over pedestrians and generally tortures Tim with his inability to DO anything. We get some flashbacks to some "human" moments Tim has with Dick…that also lend context to Tim’s eventually distracting Joker enough to escape. Unfortunately, he’s unable to capture the Joker. Batman appears, and the two leave the scene, knowing this is anything but the end of their old foe.

I don’t know if I’d consider this the greatest Tim story ever–but for reading it as a sole, single issue, completely out of any context of issues surrounding it, and getting a complete story in one issue…this is definitely an excellent issue TO get as a one-shot!

Adding to my enjoyment of this issue was having just watched a couple episodes from early in Batman: The Animated Series. Perhaps that this issue was written by the same Paul Dini that wrote those episodes, this had a certain vibe that fit right in with that…especially for being a complete story told in a short amount of time!

The cover is primarily black-and-white…with only the title logo "Detective Comics" in red. Bianchi is a hit-or-miss artist with me…but for a cover, this works very well! It also helps that the cover is actually RELEVANT to the CONTENTS of the issue–something that seems to all-too-rarely be the case in 2019, where "variants" rule and the cover doesn’t often seem to matter.

The interior art is quite good as well. I would not say I’m familiar with Kramer‘s work by style or name, but I was able to follow the story quite well and "get" what was going on, with no great distractions to yank me out of the story. If the art doesn’t "blow me away" with sheer awesomeness, then I greatly appreciate when–as with this issue–it recedes to the background and simply does its job. BY receding to the background it’s better as it becomes part of the story, the issue, and doesn’t take anything away. That said, this is probably one of the best-looking Jokers I’ve seen, and I WOULD welcome this art for the Joker in more contemporary stories!

Story-wise, the writing is very good, and along with presenting a solid story about Tim as Robin–facing and surviving The Joker–it gets into character moments/downtime with the character, and manages to give us a complete story in a single issue! Nowadays something like this one issue would be stretched to at least 3 issues, if not somehow 6 to be a full graphic novel, if one wants a "complete story." While it might be slightly toned back, this would be an excellent episode of Batman: The Animated Series.

Having thoroughly enjoyed this issue, I’m reminded that I may have read that there was a time with the title where Dini was doing a bunch of done-in-one issues…and I will definitely have to "investigate" that as that’s something I would almost certainly enjoy reading more of!

If you’re a fan of Robin, of Tim Drake, of Joker stories, or just getting a full story in a single issue of a comic, I’d highly recommend this! I consider it to absolutely be "worth" $4 or so…and anything under that is a bargain!

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The Weekly Haul: Weeks of March 13 & 20, 2019

Personal life once more got in the way of even a simple, weekly haul post…so here’s a double-up from the last couple weeks! As such this also includes some Walmart, Half-Price Books, and Mac’s Backs books!

Week of March 13, 2019

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New Superman, Supergirl, and Wonder Twins.

I decided to try the new Transformers series. If IDW is rebooting the continuity and such and starting wholly fresh…fine, I’ll check stuff out. I’m not interested in following a ton of spin-offs and tie-ins or gigantic shared-universe stuff. But a contained universe, starting small, and seeing how much/if it grabs me…that I’m open for.

$4.99 for 100 pages of The Maxx is certainly worthwhile on principle…I’m more than happy to support such huge issues at great price points!

And speaking of…$7.99 for Annotated Marvels is still a great price and quite worthwhile to ME for my own nostalgia with the series. To get the cardstock covers, the reprint of the original issue (which I want to say–someone can correct me if I’m wrong–were $5.99 25 years ago) and the annotations for "only" $8 new is perfectly ok by me!

Then we (finally!) got the SECOND issue of the IDW Spider-Man series…I’d begun to think I’d flat-out MISSED this (and maybe the 3rd issue as well)! Not sure why it’d be so long since the previous issue, but it’s definitely something that if I miss an issue, that’d be that–I’m not gonna go way outta my way to hunt it down, but I’ll support it for several issues to check out and treat as its own relatively self-contained thing (I hope!)

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Then there were the release of the new issues of the six Walmart-exclusive (apparently only exclusive for a bit longer) 100-page Giants. I definitely dig the Superman cover most of all…the "iconic" Flash/Superman racing thing is quite nostalgic for me, going back to a 1989 issue of Adventures of Superman and its cover (which I eventually learned was itself an homage to a silver-age issue).

Though these are out, apparently there’s a "surprise" Detective Comics #1000 100-Page Giant due, but I’ve yet to find that one…and these six issues pictured above have probably been THE most spotty I’ve seen for the issues since last summer in availability–like the vendor cleared out all the previous stock and is only sparingly stocking these.

weeklyhaul_20190313c

Along with the Walmart comics, Half-Price Books had another one of their week-long sales via coupons, with Monday & Tuesday 20%-off-one-item coupons, Wednesday & Thursday 30%, Friday & Saturday 40%, and Sunday 50%-off coupons. I went to HPB on the Friday and snagged these Dragonlance novels.

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On the Saturday, I was in the area and visited a used-books store called Mac’s Backs, and scored a couple of Highlander novels I was missing, as well as 3 of the early Myth books by Robert Asprin.

I also visited another HPB location and wound up getting a pack of Justice League: New Frontier figures with a comic…alas, I neglected to get a photo of it, so perhaps that’ll be another post later.


Week of March 20, 2019

weeklyhaul_20190320a

Batman, Nightwing, and Naomi hit this week. The Batman issue is probably THE most disappointing issue I’ve read in ages–VIRTUALLY a "silent" issue that can be flipped through in moments and summed up as "Batman chases someone, and the identity might be a surprise." It includes a scene that references the Batman/Elmer Fudd issue from a couple years ago if you know what you’re looking at…but that’s hardly worth $3.99 on its own!

TMNT has its 92nd issue–we’re a "mere" 8 issues away from the first-ever TMNT #100 at this point! The new issue of Criminal is out. And I was juuuuust curious enough about Spider-Man: Life Story to get it…and it’s by far THE single best Marvel comic I’ve read in ages! A lotta personal stuff to it with personal nostalgia and such, but even so…I’d highly recommend it despite the $4.99 price!

I gave in on some "hype" over the Immortal Hulk issue and decided to check it out…it’s #15, and it’s the first Hulk comic I’ve bought as a new issue in YEARS and it wasn’t actually all that bad. It has be curious about the series, and maybe I’ll check it out via Marvel Unlimited…and maybe I’ll get the next issue. We’ll see.

Finally, the IDW iteration of Avengers has its 3rd issue–now an issue ahead of Spider-Man despite starting after that one.

weeklyhaul_20190320b

And since I was getting a splash of Marvel and didn’t hate the Captain Marvel movie, snagged the preview thing of CM stuff. And the usual Comic Shop News stuff with a spring 2019 preview I may or may not actually page through.

Depending on what personal life holds, I’ll hopefully "catch up" and actually get stuff posted for several other recent acquisitions in the toys-arena…as well as some new shelving arrangements.

And though I’ve been saying it for years now, perhaps this spring I’ll actually, finally get around to a full showing-off of my "comic cave." Though the space has come to resemble a cramped comics/dvds/games/toys store.

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The Weekly Haul: Week of March 6, 2019…and Fantasticon Toledo 2019

This was another small-ish week for new comics–single issues, anyway. But a much bigger week with other stuff!

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The week has the new issue of Batman with #66, resuming Tom King‘s run after the 2-issue Flash crossover. We’re "already" at the 3rd issue of Young Justice (time’s flying!). And we’re now 2/3 through this 12-issue Super Sons series.

On strength of Hama‘s stuff and the longevity of the series, I opted to also snag this GI Joe Yearbook issue rather than try to hunt it down later.

And though I had not planned on it for the week, the new issue of Back Issue was out, and had my attention from the Alex Ross Earth X cover.Though I somehow have not managed to finish previous issues, I can attest to the strength and value of this magazine, that I’ve quite enjoyed issues I’ve managed to get!

I’m not sure what to think of the notion, even, of Savage Avengers…but that’s what Comic Shop News chooses to spotlight this week.

80_years_of_Batman_and_Superman_books

As new comics stuff at the comic shop goes, though, the real gem for me is the Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman Deluxe Edition. Much like last year’s Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman Deluxe Edition, this is a huge volume with a number of stories from throughout the history of the title, and I love that the trade dress was maintained to make the two books visually quite complimentary!


Along with new comics, this week also had a couple of conventions. Wizard World: Cleveland was held this weekend (I live close enough that if you’re not local, I can claim "Cleveland-area" geographically). However, where I’d’ve adored having a local Wizard World show 15, 20, definitely 25 years ago, I haven’t yet been to a Cleveland iteration.

Admission is just too high, with too many extra/hidden "fees" and such tacked on to manipulate the actual price, and too few comics dealers and comics-related things for me to justify the massive expense!

That said…I attended Fantasticon in Toledo, Ohio, with a couple of friends, and had quite a good time of it! And the admission price for that convention was under $10–I’m pretty sure a good 75% cheaper than WW and probably more comics in the room!

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Going into the con, my two main "goals" were to pick up the Plume Omnibus by K. Lynn Smith, as well as the new issue of Haunted High-Ons from Dirk Manning.

As it worked out…that was a complete success!

Manning has got to be one of the most personable, friendly creators I’ve ever met, and he’s honestly been "the" draw for me with several shows (or at least the deciding factor). And through his work, I’ve "discovered" Smith, as well as a number of others. But while I couldn’t justify the omnibus the last time I was at an appearance, this time I went in with it as the #1 thing on my list.

Manning has become a definite "exception" in my eyes–akin to my TMNT "exception"–such as my willingness to purchase a variant cover, or to find enjoyment in some "exclusive edition" of something.

The creators have a joint project in Hope, the first issue having been out in an early edition last year, and getting a wide, improved release this upcoming May for Free Comic Book Day. And they’ve (as of this writing) got a Kickstarter project that’s already fully-funded (so if you "back" it, it’s basically a "given" that you’re getting the book, no coming down to the wire and wondering if the thing will squeak across a fundling goal).

I’m quite judicious in my opting to back any such projects…but this was one I backed immediately. It’s for a collected edition of the first six issues of Hope, and though it’s not due til sometime next year, I’m happy to pay for it now and know it’ll be coming!

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The convention was a bit less successful in terms of other comics. I did get a print of this Firestorm cover from (and signed by) Gerry Conway. I found the Amazing Adventures issue and the Flash #1/2 in a 50%-off-marked-prices bin (so, cheaper than any contemporary new comic!). And for the heckuvit at another booth, saw this Aquaman #1 for $1, and decided to go for broke and buy it.

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At another booth, I came across this Rafiki with Simba Pop vinyl figure. I’d seen this at Toys R Us back in 2016, I think, maybe earlier, maybe later–but obviously some time prior to the chain’s closure. And I couldn’t find it again after that, so when I saw it for a "standard" price (as opposed to some jacked-up stupid price) I went ahead and got it.

At a Gamestop after the convention, saw some Captain Marvel Pop figures and remarked to my friend that if they had Goose the Cat I’d probably get it. Well, she had a keener eye than I did, and long story short…I got the figure. I’d hoped with it being a bit smaller it MIGHT be an "exception" to the "all-Marvel Pops are bobble-heads" but unfortunately that’s not the case. I’d be interested in a lot more of the Marvel figures if they were NOT bobbles..!

As another not-exactly-the-convention purchase, someone had a small table set up selling Girl Scout Cookies, so I snagged a couple boxes, as I missed out last year, and possibly the year before.

And I’d had another toy arrive that I’d ordered the week before…and which will likely be detailed in an upcoming post. But including that, and some other stuff, it’s been an incredibly expensive couple weeks.

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The Weekly Haul: Week of February 27, 2019

February ends with a rather small-ish comics week…but we have the ending of The Price, the newest Batman/Flash crossover (after 2017’s The Button) as well as the final triple-digit issue of Detective Comics!

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Detective Comics #999 is out…leaving us just a handful of weeks away from the second DC* title to hit the coveted #1000**.

(* you do recall that DC Comics takes its name from this title, right?)

(** albeit with a 52-issue gap for the New 52 run slotted into place)

The Price wraps up, and I feel like the first three chapters of this–in under a month–have covered more ground than Heroes in Crisis itself! And I have got to get my Action Comics issues pulled together and catch up on my reading, with this Leviathan Rising story that apparently spills into a huge special issue and a couple of spin-off titles later this year.

It’s the completist in me that keeps me getting Heroes in Crisis. Plus, wanting to be able to speak of it from experience and not just take issues with it because of clickbait-articles and such at Bleeding Cool. I’m grudgingly interested in where it winds up, and the true fate of Wally, and to see if there’s really anything to the story, as I do feel like so far it’s basically a ton of flashback, random talking, and hardly any PLOT. It’s also been relatively contained…I know several other comics have tied in but I don’t recall seeing any "logoed" issues with the Heroes in Crisis "branding" or ones that take their identity FROM being a tie-in. The Flash/Batman crossover this month seems to be the largest "tie-in" so far, and a Green Arrow issue last year dealing with Roy’s memorial. I may have missed something earlier in The Flash as I opted out on the post-Flash War stuff with the various Forces.

Like Action Comics, I need to get my issues of Die!Die!Die! pulled together and read. Yet another month where I thought I would have gotten to it, and so I get another issue rather than fall behind if a binge-catchup really does it for me. That said…I’m much more willing to buy like this for something from Image than I would be from say, Marvel, on principle.

Finally, I won’t pass up a 25-cent Aspen sampler. Or most any brand-new 25-cent comic, for that matter.

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I posted this photo to Twitter the other day, but with so few new comics, how about an extra photo for this post?

Here’s what all the Walmart DC 100-Page Giant*** issues look like, brought together!

(*** That I’m aware of existing as of end of February, 2019.)

There are also some of the double-the-price-of-100-pagers 80-page specials that I’ve gotten over the past couple years. The Target-exclusive DC Primal Age and more recent Man and Superman issues are not here, though.

Somehow, it’s already the end of February/start of March 2019! Time is flying…

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