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The Last of the Giants?

The last day of the month. (Possibly?) the last shipment (for me) from DCBS. The last of the DC Giants.

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And somewhere in there apparently I’d added a spare copy of the Uncanny X-Men #266 replica edition. And the Alterna Giants issue. Probably to go along with the Robin 80th anniversary issue and such. Trying to add stuff to the order to "justify" the DC giants and shipping, considering we went from what appeared like we’d be getting 10-12 per month down to the minimum number per month that Walmart started with a couple years ago.

As of tonight (3/31/2020) had an email from Lonestar/mycomicshop.com saying they’re closing down for the duration of the shutdown order in their state. Midtown‘s offering delays for any orders, despite pumping out emails of supposed sales on stuff (might sound good for some %percent sale but hardly matters if they don’t have anything or MUCH actually for that pricing).

With this DCBS shipment, I believe that’s all my "channels" cleared out and up to date.

More endings.

We’ll see what/if there are any new beginnings

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The Weekly Haul: Week of March 25, 2020 – The End

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The End…for now?


"The Shutdown." COVID-19. "Corona Virus." Whatever.

Life during quarantine.

No more new comics for the foreseeable future, hence March 25’s comics marking "The End" for now.

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Two new TMNT comics: the main ongoing series’ 104th issue…and the recent ‘companion mini-series’ Jennika (2nd issue of 3) giving our newest turtle the spotlight. Also from IDW is the latest Usagi Yojimbo Color Classics issue.

Then there’s the newest Spawn issue–#306. Hard to believe it’s already been (over) 6 months since the big 300th!

So that’s IDW and Image

What of DC (that just under 4 years ago I went all-in on with their main "DC Universe" titles)? What of Marvel (whose X-Men are some of my favorite characters, whose Age of Apocalypse in 1995 holds to this day as one of my all-time favorite comics events 25 years later)?

Well, from Marvel there’s the facsimile edition of Incredible Hulk #182 and from DC there’s their Vertig…er…Black Label / Sandman Universe dual/sub-imprint whatever Hellblazer #5.

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Then there’s the newest issue of Back Issue from TwoMorrows Publishing. Even just reading a couple articles in any given issue is high quality and provides more value:time ratio for the price than a single issue of a comic! So always glad to get an issue, and support the publisher!

Along with the week’s new comics, I was given a copy of the newest Previews (and its assorted accessories) with the acknowledgement that it’s probably "worthless" now with the shutdowns, but it is what it is. (The catalog).


Plenty of thoughts on all this real-world stuff. Several major fictional parallels I’ve recalled or been reminded of. But those are for some other post, perhaps.

For now…figured I’d get this posted, and that’s that for 2020’s The Weekly Haul posts for the foreseeable future.

May find other content to post. Haven’t shared newest shelves, or configurations of all my junk. Actually getting some The ’90s Revisited posts done lately (probably none this week, though). And who knows?

Depression’s barking at my heels, exhaustion’s been a near-constant thing lately. I saw that explained somewhere today or yesterday as being that there’s nothing to specifically, physically FIGHT, but neither is there any true running away from all this–FLIGHT–and so supposedly it’s natural to be more exhausted with the fight-or-flight reaction jammed up.

Who knows?

Life during quarantine, though.

More later in some fashion.

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2020 Grails Update: March 29

As the year began, I listed several "grail" issues for the year. With a couple of those acquired (plus a couple of "unlisted" grails in Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2 and Avengers Annual #7), it’s time to update the ‘grail list’ going forward.

And I’ve added my current price range that I’m willing to spend offhand (ideal max $…recognizing that condition plays a huge part!). If you have (and want to sell) at the price, or see these in the wild for the price and would want to help a blogger out…feel free to give me a holler and we could maybe see what we could work out.

(Of course, plenty of variables including how much I’ve otherwise spent recently, plan to spend imminently, and everything associated with the current COVID-19 crisis! AND I’m not looking to "lowball" anyone–I’m aware of the rarity/scarcity of the issues…as I’m aware of what I’m personally willing to pay to acquire a copy at present. This is also as of March 29, 2020 and may very likely no longer apply–PLEASE consider searching my blog for "grails" or "Grail Comics" and see what newer/more recent entries I may have pertaining to these!)


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2020 ‘Grails’

  • TMNT Adventures Special #10 (Fall 1994) (~$10-15)
  • Prime #1 (hologram cover, silver OR gold) (~$10 silver, ~$15 gold)
  • Uncanny X-Men #141 (part 1 of Days of Future Past) (~$30-40)
  • Avengers Annual #10 (~$30)
  • DC Comics Presents #26 (~$20)
  • Dreamwave TMNT #7
  • TMNT Adventures: Year of the Turtle #1
  • Wolverine (1988) #145 (foil edition)

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And some high-interest series-seeking:

  • Spawn #s 101, 132-256
  • Archie C.O.W. Boys of Moo Mesa (vol. 1) #s 1-3
  • Archie C.O.W. Boys of Moo Mesa (vol. 2) #s 1-3
  • Mirage TMNT #s 3-7, 27, 44
  • Mirage TMNT vol. 2 # 10
  • Mirage Tales of the TMNT vol. 1 #s 1-5
  • Mirage Casey Jones/Raphael #s 2-4
  • Mirage Donatello: The Brain Thief #4
  • Image TMNT #s 1-18, 21+

Of course, a lotta this stuff would be stuff to look for at conventions. But such gatherings are presently on hold indefinitely.

And as I’m quick to order comics I want online, part of what elevates stuff to ‘grail’ status is NOT being able to "just order it online." Whether that’s the issue not being available AT ALL in any online place I have checked…or not available for what is a reasonable price to me.

As I am NOT a reseller and am interested in issues to own for myself, there’s just not the same "value" to issues, and I’m not willing to pay nearly as much as others might.

As of this typing, that TMNT Special is probably my highest-interest grail as it would (to my knowledge) complete my collection of every TMNT comic published by Archie! And the Prime hologram would do the same for my Ultraverse holograms.

The X-Men and Avengers issues being the keys that they are, I’m in less of a hurry, especially for my desired price range. I know they are keys, I know they’re typically far more expensive than what I’m willing to pay. But years of patience paid off and I got Uncanny X-Men #266 for my desired price-range last year (and just months before Marvel did a facsimile/replica edition!). So…hope springs eternal!

I’m also looking to fill in my run of DC Comics Presents, that being a series I was aware of early-on in my comics collecting and considerations of hunting for back issues…though I never did get to much of a hunt and am still missing about half the series. With the New Teen Titans insert (see Chris’ post over at Chris is on Infinite Earths) making the issue a major "key," the series looks to be one of those where 90% of the series is 10% of the cost, and the final 10% of the series carries 90% of the cost!

I’ve already largely lapsed from my initial interest in hunting down the classic Marvel 2099 stuff; time will tell if that fire gets relit.

Considering how crazy the last 3 weeks have been, who really knows?

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[Rant] Life During Quarantine: Another Side-Effect of Variants

ranting

So, stuck inside Saturday night, and a Facebook group I’m in has had some listings from a local-region shop as they sell some stuff to make up for being stuck closed.

And I saw one listing for four issues from a local creator, signed. As a spin-off series, it prompted me to check to see if the series it spun off from was available.

I figured…I really shouldn’t be spending MORE MONEY this weekend, with payday STILL a few days off…but I’m feeling depressed, frustrated, discontent, and willing for a little bit of non-retail "retail therapy."

A quick bit of online-sleuthing and I located the publisher website, and there’s a bundle of the "main" series. For less than cover price, so with shipping, wouldn’t be horrendous. Ok…

Double-checking the spin-off series…first issue is sold-out. Ok, back to that Facebook listing (viewing on the phone since the computer was loading slowly) and happened to notice…wait. That cover for #1 doesn’t look quite right.

Looking between the phone screen and computer screen…aha!

The Facebook listing is for the first four issues, yes…but they’re the variant covers!

NOT what I want. With very few, rare exceptions, I don’t want variant covers. I want to buy the actual/main/regular/real/non-variant covers for stuff!

So, what momentarily flared, the idea of splurging and buying this set of 4 issues from a comic shop owner, while simultaneously ordering 11 issues of a main series from the publisher itself quickly fizzled.

Stuff like this, I’m an all-or-nothing kinda guy. If it’s ALL in front of me, able to buy all at once, no hassling with numerous other sources across an extended period of time to gradually hunt down and piece together a full run/set, I’m far more willing to splurge and be liberal with my spending.

Even when I’m planning until that day to specifically NOT buy the stuff.

So…thanks to them being variants…I’m not buying the set of 4 issues.

Certainly no need to buy the 5th issue someway right now, without those 4.

And without these, no extra/driven desire for that main series.

Because of 4 variants, I’m not buying 15-16 issues that otherwise would virtually guarantee I’d be buying subsequent issues of both series, whenever they’d be put out.

But variants drive sales, right?

Variants entice purchases, right?

Variants are fun for the buyer, right?

right?

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The ‘90s Revisited: Magic the Gathering: Gerrard’s Quest #1

90s_revisited

magic_the_gathering_gerrards_quest_001Gerrard’s Quest Part 1: Initiation

Written by: Mike Grell
Pencils by: Pop Mhan
Inks by: Norman Lee
Letters by: Michael Taylor
Colors by: Dave Stewart
Separations by: Lisa Stamp, Stu Hiner, Brian Gregory, Harold MacKinnon
Cover by: Mark Harrison
Editors: Peet Janes and Ian Stude
Cover Date: March 1998
Cover Price: $2.95
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

I’ve been “aware of” this series for over 20 years. The original MTG comics were published by Acclaim, under their Armada imprint. Those lasted a couple years with a number of mini-series and specials. This, too, is a mini-series…but by late-1997/early-1998, the license had moved to Dark Horse. Also by this point there was a move toward a unified “whole” in the MTG continuity/story, rather than everything being a mash up of fantasy tropes and generic fantasy-style stories.

Here we begin “Gerrard’s Quest.” Despite that being the story title (even in the indicia!) it is NOWHERE on the cover of the issue. While the “issue’s chapter” IS “Initiation” that is what’s on the cover…where usually it would be interior-only, or in addition to the series’ subtitle. This is solely billed (cover-wise) as Magic the Gathering #1 of 4. Nothing to indicate anything came before…nothing to indicate (now long after the fact) that this is the first chapter of Gerrard’s Quest (as the long-outta-print collected volume is titled and the story referred to in general).

Without even looking back, I’m quite sure that even the Armada books had subtitles on the covers and/or the subtitle logos of whatever set the issue(s) contained stories for. So that’s a huge dislike of this to me from the start. Having only the MTG logo and the title “Initiation” at the bottom of the cover, it suggests to me that the issue is ABOUT some initiation. Into what, though? Is it the reader being initiated into the “I-read-Magic-the-Gathering-comics” portion of the comics audience? Is it about someone joining some group of planeswalkers banding together to save the multiverse? By the cover alone, the ONLY thing really of interest to me would be the MTG logo. The rest of the cover just looks like some generic fantasy-ish thing and even knowing the broad strokes (having read loads of the novels and re-read a bunch of the novels in the last 17 months or so) I’m not immediately sure who any of the characters/entities on the cover are supposed to be, outside of Gerrard.

The story in the issue is choppy and all over the place. It’s rather loose, and really seems little more than hitting bullet points. I’d have to practically re-write the issue to give it a proper summary here. Suffice it to say that it picks up with Gerrard lamenting others dying for him, and the burden of the artifacts that are his birthright, the “Legacy.” The ship he’s on gets to Rath, a lotta fighting happens, someone he apparently knew dies, other stuff happens and…yeah. Having read the anthology/novel Rath and Storm at least twice now (once back in 1999 or 2000, once back in late 2018 or early 2019) I have a vague idea from memories of THAT as to who THESE characters are and what’s going on.

Early in the issue I get the sense that the crew is on their way to Rath and the Stronghold to save Sisay. And then there’s some scene with people related to Crovax and then suddenly the Weatherlight and its crew are there…and after Rofellos dies, Sisay is with them.

What the heck did I miss?!?

This feels like little more than a generic visual review/overview of a prose story. And sure, it ends on a cliffhanger-like note with a to-be-continued promise…but strictly in terms of this issue, I’m not invested in any of these characters. I don’t KNOW who any of these characters ARE from this issue. (I only know the characters because I’ve read the prose novels!) Other than the clear sense that Gerrard’s upset about involvement with his “Legacy,” it’s just…pictures and dialogue.

I like the art well enough despite my clumsy attempt to describe it ahead: the layouts get sorta interesting and creative. The inks and colors work well. The overall visual experience seems a bit rough and angular and almost “gritty,” if that’s the word I’m looking for. It’s not awful, but it doesn’t have the smoother, sleeker sense of shiny wonder and just SOMETHING I can’t find the words for.

I finally tracked this mini-series down recently via a site I didn’t realize I COULD order comics from. Pulling this issue to read, I had visions of covering this whole mini-series…but assuming the subsequent 3 issues are on par with this one…I’m gonna be floundering for words and repeating myself and it’ll generally be a mess! The only REAL reason I would even suggest anyone track this issue/series down is if you’re a COMPLETIST on MTG comics.

Seriously.

In place of this, I would recommend tracking down the book or ebook of Rath and Storm, edited by Peter Archer, and read that instead. And that’s disappointing enough to say, given this is written by Mike Grell. But if you like his writing in general…find something else he’s written and read or re-read that and you’ll probably appreciate it more. I may yet read the rest of this mini, and maybe I’ll change my mind. But as of just this issue alone…it’s a disappointment and far more in the vein of “early MTG” than the far more epic, storied stuff that would come not long after in the novels and such.

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The ’90s Revisited: TMNT Adventures: The Year of the Turtle #3

90s_revisited

tmnt_adventures_year_of_the_turtle_003Year of the Turtle Chapter Three: Story’s End!

Writer: Dan Slott
Penciler: Hugh Haynes
Inker: Elman Brown, Phil Sheehy
Colorist: Chia-Chi Wang
Letterer: Jeff Powell
Cover Artists: Ron Lim, Elman Brown, Heroic Age
Interior Separations: Graphic Colour Works
Production Manager: Caryn Antoniuk
Production: Joe Pepitone, Pat Spaziante, Frank Gagliardo
Editor: Freddy Mendez
Managing Editor: Victor Gorelick
Editor-in-Chief: Richard Goldwater
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: March 1996
Cover Price: $1.50

While I’m pretty certain I’d read this issue once before (over 20 years ago, though) other than a couple of broad, key details it didn’t see all that familiar; it was more like reading it for a first time after having read ABOUT it or some such.

We pick up with Splinter (no mention of Hamato Yoshi?!?) in "man form" (human) getting reacquainted with his human specs and realizing the turtles are in trouble, so rushing to their aid. The turtles, meanwhile, reel over the shock of Michelangelo’s transformation while trying to keep the villains from getting the final piece of the amulet. Long story short ("it’s comics") they wind up teleporting to Shredder’s lair and fighting the villain, having realized that the only way to save ("restore") Michelangelo is to see that the amulet is put together, but that they get to use it instead of Shredder. "Chaos" ensues and at the appointed time and place, the amulet is literally on Michelangelo…and its phenomenal, cosmic power is used to enlarge a slice of pizza. Shredder is so angered that he goes catatonic, while Splinter and the other turtles are able to use the amulet to "restore" Michelangelo…albeit without his memory. So we see that it IS Mikey who is the "child" Splinter has been telling the stories to. And while it was the "last" turtles story…we see that it should have been tempered with "so far" all along.

As with the previous issues, the art works well enough. It’s not great but not horrible. It certainly fits the characters and story in general, even if it’s fairly generic design-wise. As I’m not overly-engaged or thrilled with the story, my lack of enthusiasm carries over to the art, perhaps unfairly. I’ll take it readily over certain other designs for the turtles…especially thinking of the more recent Rise of the TMNT character designs that I do not care for.

Story wise I feel like this was a bit of a waste…like a failed pilot or some such. Rather than even being left with the idea of Michelangelo having to re-learn everything and who everyone is and his part of the group dynamics…we see Splinter revealing that his arms are getting hairier as the effects of the artifact wear off and thus implies he’s going to revert to his mutated form again…so we’re left to assume the same for Michelangelo (Which makes me wonder why Splinter and the turtles had to act to restore Mikey if the changes wrought by the artifact are wearing off on their own?) It’s tied up TOO neatly, and as only a 3-issue thing with no follow-up (ever, that I’m aware of) it goes from something with huge promise and potential impact on the characters should its continuity be used to a forgettable 3-part story of all of 70-ish pages.

Granted, some of my feeling on the thing is the past 18+ years of having "decompressed storytelling" as the "norm" and the rise of the rigid 4-issue and 6-issue arcs for convenient "graphic novel" packaging. In 2020, 3 issues seems way too short, like there should have been a lot more space for exploration of characters, situations, and so on…and like this should have been the start of something longer with the turtles having to adjust to a new status quo of Splinter as a man, and protecting(?) Mikey while he re-trains and relearns everything…and perhaps see personality stuff for him in being TOLD what and who he WAS vs. who he now IS and such.

As a whole, this Year of the Turtle mini is an interesting curiosity while not having anything crucial or lasting. It’s more a "footnote" in the history of the TMNT property.

I don’t recall how much I had paid for #3 here; certainly no more than $10 and almost certainly quite a bit less as I’d remember a significant price. I know I paid $5 for #2 at some point last year (the price sticker was still on the bag/board), and $8 for #1 earlier this year (recency/email receipt for that detail). Essentially, I  paid probably under $25for the 3 issues, putting it well on-par with just any 4-5 issues of a present-day series. I’m also a completist and want to have every TMNT issue published by Archie.

I’m not aware of this story being REPRINTED anywhere, so the actual, physical single issues are–I believe–the only way to read this. But if you’re a casual fan or otherwise not interested in "everything," you can definitely pass on this without truly missing anything significant. If you’re a fan of Dan Slott and want to read some of his early stuff, that’d be another reason to track these down. Overall, I’d recommend some of the later IDW collected volumes of the Archie stuff for more depth and weight of story…or perhaps some of the actual IDW TMNT content that "counts" and "matters" in the present ongoing TMNT continuity.

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The ’90s Revisited: TMNT Adventures: The Year of the Turtle #2

90s_revisited

tmnt_adventures_year_of_the_turtle_002Year of the Turtle Chapter Two: Snow Way Out!

Writer: Dan Slott
Penciler: Hugh Haynes
Inker: Elman Brown
Colorist: Chia-Chi Wang
Letterer: Jeff Powell
Cover Artists: Ron Lim, Scott Koblish, Heroic Age
Interior Separations: Graphic Colour Works
Production Manager: Caryn Antoniuk
Production: Joe Pepitone, Pat Spaziante, Frank Gagliardo
Editor: Freddy Mendez
Managing Editor: Victor Gorelick
Editor-in-Chief: Richard Goldwater
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: February 1996
Cover Price: $1.50

Even as this issue opens, I know more than I "should," as I remember having read the 3rd issue two decades or so back. It’s interesting to notice the fact that we never actually see the child Splinter is interacting with. Already knowing that takes some of the wonder of it away, but isn’t a huge deal kicking the issue off.

There IS a "previously" page that sums up the previous issue…but with far more specific detail and context than was even conveyed IN the issue. Basically a TELLING rather than SHOWING, that lends a bit of (1) weakness to that issue in retrospect and (2) influenced my (retroactive) understanding of that issue, that I’m sure influenced my write-up. I’m not too keen on that fact, but…hey. Comic books.

Story-teller Splinter (the man) finds the child’s room a mess, but being a man of his word, continues his telling of the last Ninja Turtles story. Shredder has 2 of the 3 parts of the artifact, so it’s a race to the final piece. After his ambush of Splinter, Shredder has scrolls that detail the hidden fortress the piece is in, meaning that his hench-people know where traps and such are, while the Turtles are seeking blindly. Though they survive some surprises and locate the final piece…T.K.O. uses telekinesis to liberate it from the turtles. All have to escape the ninja-monks guarding the facility. Once outside, trying to show off, the villains go to add insult to injury, which gives the turtles an "extra" chance at retrieving the artifact…when an explosion happens. The turtles check in with each other but can’t find Michelangelo at first. Then, amidst ninja gear (a familiar orange mask and dual nunchakus) they find…a turtle. An ORDINARY non-mutant turtle. (Remember the artifact piece Shredder had undid SPLINTER’s mutation last issue). And speaking of…story-teller Splinter tells his child that that’s enough of the story for now, and if the room is cleaned, the final part of the story is next.

Even though the characters are turtles, I can’t think of MANY examples of them overtly utilizing their shells in any creative fashion. Leo and Mikey pulling into their shells while Raph and Donnie use them as snowboards makes sense in a way, though can’t be comfortable (and one MIGHT wonder at a broken shell if they hit a rock or such!).

The villains are cheesey ’90s-themed characters in names and abilities. I ought to leave it at that. I suppose I appreciate them a bit more than Waster, Fist, Dead-Eye, and Lynch–the "EXTREME!" villains that did in the Mutanimals during their backup run in TMNTA 48-54. They’re still dumb and cheesey, very dated as of 2020 (granted, this is from 24 years ago!), so whatever.

I don’t really care for this Shredder. He doesn’t come off as much of anything from before–comics or movies, despite having the look of the 1990 film Shredder. We also have a fair bit of having to take stuff at face value with the hench-folks…though their ease of getting the artifact and then blowing their advantage to try to do in the turtles does seem like the stupid, bone-headed move Bebop and Rocksteady would do in the cartoon that would allow the turtles escape/survival when they otherwise would not have done either.

For my memories of the original cartoon (especially the early episodes) I recall the turtles straddling the line between Splinter’s mutation (Hamato Yoshi stuck as an animal) being a curse while their own (regular turtles to sentient humanoid turtles) was a blessing, and the "threat" of ever coming in contact with Mutagen again as that would turn them "back" into ordinary turtles. Seeing Michelangelo thus reverted is a new/original development for an actuality in the story; and holds great potential. At least, in the sense of opening a lot of possible stories and ongoing development. The character was not KILLED, but was unexpectedly and suddenly removed from the equation, and opens a load of questions.

As with the previous issue, the art’s not bad…though it lacks the charm of the ongoing TMNTA series. I do look forward a bit to (re) reading the third and final issue to "close the loop" with this series, even though with reading THIS issue, I believe I’ve now technically read the whole thing.

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