• August 2019
    S M T W T F S
    « Jul    
     123
    45678910
    11121314151617
    18192021222324
    25262728293031
  • On Facebook

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Comic Blog Elite

    Comic Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

  • Advertisements

The ’90s Revisited: X-O Manowar/Iron Man in Heavy Metal #1

90srevisitedxomanowar_ironman_heavymetal001Heavy Metal part 1

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artist: Andy Smith
Letters: Virtual Calligraphy
Color Art: Twilight Graphics
Assistant Editor: Omar Banmally
Consulting Assistant Editor: Nancy Poletti
Consulting Editor: Mark Gruenwald
Editor: Lynaire Thompson
Editor in Chief: Bob Layton
Published by: Acclaim Comics/Valiant
Cover Date: September 1996
Cover Price: $2.50

I vaguely remember when this series was originally out. I don’t remember details, but I’m supposing (in retrospect) that the Iron Man connection is what caught my eye…though there was probably Wizard coverage, and I wasn’t unaware of X-O Manowar from the #0 issue at least. Of course, there was the video game, which this is based on or inspired by or what-have-you. Given Acclaim was doing the video game, and had bought Valiant, it makes a lot of sense that there’d be a tie-in comic.

While I’ve found many of the "later" Valiant comics, this issue has eluded me until recently when I noticed both issues of the "crossover" on eBay. Being edged out on the bidding at the last second I looked for other instances, and including shipping scored a copy of both this X-O Manowar/Iron Man issue and the companion Iron Man/X-O Manowar for the price of a single contemporary Marvel comic. While this oughtta be quarter-bin fodder, not finding it that way made it worthwhile to me to pay a bit of a premium just to HAVE the issues.

The cover looks rather odd to me–far from an ideal thing, and rather generic. There’s something a bit "off" to me about both armors…probably the "early digital" art, which may even be a still from the video game (I don’t care enough to investigate further). Either way for a cross-company crossover this does not look like anything special from the cover alone.

Upon opening the issue I immediately saw an art style that did not appeal to me. I don’t know if I’ve seen or liked anything else from Andy Smith, but in this issue, I am not a fan. It’s not horrible art, and it’s certainly far, FAR superior to anything I could possibly do myself. It gets things across and isn’t too wonky or anything…basically it does its intended job but does not stand out as anything special.

Seeing Nicieza‘s name as the writer was an immediate appeal for me…but getting into the issue I felt rather left down. This thing’s all over the place and does not feel developed at all. We jump from villains we aren’t given much about to other villains; and world to world. I found myself confused to realize partway through that we’re actually dealing with MULTIPLE sets of Iron Man/X-O Manowar and not just the two characters being matched up for a single double-universe adventure.

I believe this was a time when Iron Man had been "de-aged" or replaced by a younger parallel-dimension version of himself or some such, so that’s not ENTIRELY off-putting to "learn" here but that’s not really explained. And given this is an issue from Acclaim, it’s certainly well-past the X-O Manowar stuff I was familiar with, am familiar with…and having just read a 2015-published issue of the contemporary X-O Manowar series found the character dull and not at all 3-dimensional here.

I’ve often enjoyed Nicieza‘s work, particularly his X-Men stuff, and find myself seeing this as being completely hobbled by BEING a video game tie-in, presumably with a bunch of "checklist" points to be hit during the issue. And with Acclaim and Marvel both getting to publish an issue, there’s probably a certain bit of symmetry that had to be achieved as well. All of which ultimately leads to an issue that I didn’t enjoy.

I would be incensed at having paid full price for this–particularly had it been published in 2015 and passed off as anything supposedly special. However, it’s still something that I’ve been curious about for years, and a definite "artifact" of its time…so despite not enjoying the issue, I do expect I’ll read the Marvel-published one as well just to "get the story," and all that. Unfortunately this does somewhat taint my expectations toward the bulk of the Acclaim-published Valiant stuff and makes me hesitate just a bit on diving into reading any of those anytime soon.

Advertisements

Bargain Bin Haul: GI Joe and Quantum & Woody

This week proved to be another fantastic week for bargain finds, as the local shop had just recently bought a huge collection.

Having bought a large run of GI Joe comics recently, I was offered another SIGNIFICANTLY larger run…

gijoe150_155

The “gem” of the run is easily the final few issues of the original Marvel-published series. If I were to attempt to purchase these off eBay, these six issues alone–#s 150-155–would cost more than I paid for what (in today’s single purchase) is an instant major “subcollection” in my overall collection.

quantumandwoodyTPBs

The store owner also–though putting most of the collected volumes out for general sale–pulled these four Quantum and Woody Acclaim Comics volumes for me. These worked out to about $2.50 per volume, and seem to have at least 4 issues’ content each.

gijoelongbox_sideview

All told, the GI Joe collection more than filled a longbox, and what didn’t fit–when combined with what I bought last month and allowing room to fill in a handful of minor “gaps” in the collection–will surely almost fill another. This collection is: Original Marvel #s 21-155, Devil’s Due 1-43 and America’s Elite 1-36, IDW‘s first volume 1-24, Origins 1-18ish, Cobra 1-13 and Cobra II 1-4, plus a bunch of other mini-series, specials, one-shots, etc.

Valiant Beer – a Darque Brew

While I tend to collect a lot of things–comics, books, toys–typically it’s mass-market stuff. But tonight I acquired what seems to me to be a very unique object:

An unopened bottle of Valiant “Darque Brew” beer from the 1990s.

Valiant Beer (Darque Brew)
It even still has the original card and shipping container from Acclaim.

Revisiting Dakkon Blackblade – A Magic: The Gathering Legend

Writer: Jerry Prosser
From a story by: Steve Conard & Jeff Gomez
Pencils: Rags Morales
Inks: Barbara Kaalberg
Letters: Bryan Dresner
Color: Atomic Paintbrush
“The Dragon War”: Jack C. Harris & Alex Glass
“Magic: The Untold STory”: Sharon Claire Mitchell
Graphic Design Edtorial Pages: Kenny Martinez
Assistant Editor: Jeof Vita
Armada Line Edtor: Jeffrey Artemis-Gomez
Published by: Armada/Acclaim Comics
Cover Price: $5.95
Cover Date: June, 1996

This is another of Armada‘s MTG projects that I’ve actually just read for the first time. I’m not sure where I got this volume–whether it was new at the time, from a bargain bin, or from a friend. Whatever the case–it’s one of the later books, and not one I’ve found to be all that common.

This issue has art by Rags Morales–something I found to be very interesting, as he’s been an artist whose stuff I’ve had an eye on since 2004’s Identity Crisis from DC. The art works really well–the issue looks like good fantasy to me. The style has something that I haven’t noticed in the other MTG books that at the same time is obviously fantasy but also looks like mainstream comic art.

The story itself doesn’t impress me all that much, as it seems to be a bit of a legend within a legend. While we learn a bit about Dakkon and how he gets his blade, and I’m not entirely sure what I did expect…this wasn’t it. The cover, I suppose, put me in mind of Dakkon being on some quest to track down/fight the Swamp King, and I just thought this would be a bit more “epic” than it proved to be. However…I got a huge kick out of learning the origin of the Carthalion line.

Given contemporary MTG comics are $4.99, for another 96-cents, this is a “prestige-format” one-shot with plenty of story pages, a notable absence of advertising, and PLENTY of “back-matter” which makes it quite worthwhile at the cover price by today’s standards. I’m not sure it would have seemed as worthwhile 15/16 years ago…but this is absolutely worthwhile if you find it for cover price or under, anywhere.

I had to force myself to read the prose story in the back–something about the larger-than-a-book pages and double-columns put me off. In the end, it was an enjoyable story, and definitely a “compressed” thing–it could easily have been a mini-series in itself if it was put out in non-prose comics format. The essay “analyzing” the various Armada comics wasn’t all that informative, though I read it all the way through without too much trouble, once finally in the mindset to read pages of text in a comic. These definitely packed a lot more time and value into the issue as I probably spent–all told–at least an hour to read everything cover to cover, which beats pretty much any other comic out there.

As said above, I’d not read this before, so no real sentimental value on this; no particular memories of when it came out and all that. It’s another MTG comic, that I enjoyed reading as I read it, had to force myself to read the prose, but generally it was a good read.

Other Revisiting Magic: The Gathering posts:

Revisiting Homelands on the World of Magic: The Gathering

Writer: D.G. Chichester
Artist: Rebecca Guay
Letters: Kenny Martinez
Asst. Editor: Jeofrey Vita
Editor: Jeffrey Artemis-Gomez
Cover Painting: Tim & Greg Hildebrandt
Published by: Armada/Acclaim Comics
Cover Price: $5.95
Cover Date: February, 1996

It’s been a lot of years since I’ve read this. I have a number of memories associated with the Homelands expansion of Magic: The Gathering (the card game itself). For one thing, it was the first (and to date, only) expansion set I ever got a full box of–my parents bought me a box for Christmas that year. In addition to the awesomeness of seeing more story in the cards–finding out the character of Serra herself (already being familiar with her Angels) as well as Baron Sengir (whose Sengir Vampire was always creepy-looking), to the various analogues and soft reprints of other cards–there was this comic, getting the actual story of a set all in one place at one time.

If I remember correctly, the issue came polybagged with one of several “rare” cards…unless misremembering, I got a Baron Sengir this way.

The story itself is huge in scope–spanning centuries, definitely not your “street-level” kind of story, but one from the point of view of near-immortality. While it’s an interesting approach, too much time passes too quickly in such a short span to really get to know any characters in any organic sense–we get “told” more than we’re “shown.”

While very highly-compressed (if this were a Marvel property it would probably be spread across at least 12 issues) I do appreciate the overview or “survey” of the world and its cultures, and seeing the impact of Feroz and Serra upon the place.

Flipping through, it looks like a quick read, but the actual reading took a lot longer than I would have expected…part of the “compression,” I guess.

Prior to recognizing her name, I recognized Rebecca Guay‘s art with the Serra Angel special while trying to find a copy of it last month without spending $50+. I’d recognized the art without knowing quite why–connecting it to this issue cleared that right up. The visual style is a bit impressionistic, sort of surreal and maybe slightly abstract…but it works for this story.

This is specifically the story of Homelands–but it’s also the stuff of legend, as one has to have already passed through a huge span of time to talk about it, so while we see the story unfold, this could be a story being told to someone well after the fact–a legend of the world’s history told to a child, perhaps.

As part of the Armada MTG universe, we get a cameo of Taysir–whether this is early Taysir or not, I’m not entirely sure–but it roots that character in the “canon” of Magic: The Gathering, not just some character created in a licensed comic but an actual part of the official story.

Also as part of the Armada line, we have the usual “backmatter” that is very much a part of all of the Armada MTG comics. We have a 2-page article from one of the creators of the Homelands expansion, talking about what went into the making of the set itself. Then we get a specific timeline of the history of the world, from the beginning of the story to the present, further contextualizing everything that was just read about and putting things into more solid terms. There are another couple pages on the history of Dominaria, and then a couple pages about Taysir. Set creators each share their favorite cards from the set, and we get a several-page overview of the set’s themes, by color after that. Finally we get the typical Seer Analysis that looks at some of the specific cards referenced in the story and how they were adapted.

I really like the Hildebrandts‘ cover…it’s very fantasy-esque, though also very highly colorful, making it stand out quite a bit to me.

In my experience, this issue/volume seems to be the most common of the prestige-format issues Armada released…I’ve come across this several times through the years in bargain bins, where I have not the other Armada prestige issues.

While this carried a $6 cover price back in the 1990s, by contemporary standards this is well worth that price. The story is a good length, and the back-matter (if of interest to you) lends a lot of extra time to spend on reading beyond just the comic itself. This also serves as a sort of “guide” to Homelands, and I see it as the precursor to the MTG novels that would later be released along with each card set, doing the same thing this did: tell the canon story of the set including incorporating the various characters and cards into the story, the ongoing continuity of the game, providing a richer context for those who wanted to delve deeper than just the flavor text on the cards themselves.

While Homelands never proved to be a particularly key set and never seemed to me to be all that popular…in terms of MTG comics, this is–for me–probably one of the most significant ones, and definitely my favorite of all the covers.


Other Revisiting Magic: The Gathering posts:

Revisiting Elder Dragons – A Magic: The Gathering Legend

Full post at FantasyRantz.wordpress.com.

A 2012 look at Acclaim/Armada‘s 2-issue mini-series from the 1990s with a tale of the Elder Dragons from the Legends expansion of Magic: The Gathering.

Recent Cool Acquisitions

I recently acquired several cool comics that I’ve had my eye on for awhile. With Valiant being back, and a bit of sticker shock at the price on early issues of the original 1990s series, I made use of Amazon to order the other two hardcovers I missed back in 2007/2008. I got the Archer and Armstrong volume when it came out (pre-ordered through DCBS) but never got around to tracking these others down.

The Harbinger volume came from a Half-Price Books online seller through Amazon; X-O came new from Amazon. Shipped, I paid about $12 under cover price total for the two books. And though marked as “used,” the Harbinger volume is in just as good (if not slightly better) condition than the X-O one…just that I didn’t have to peel the shrink-wrap off of it.

And not too long ago, I complained about the pricing eBay folks are asking for a Magic: The Gathering comic I’ve been after. Amidst all of the ridiculously-priced auctions, I did come across one with a reasonable opening bid. With a gift balance on my account, all told I wound up getting the Serra Angel issue for just under $10 (shipped).

Not a bad purchase, if a bit much in a way. Yet, something like this would easily be an $8+ product from Marvel or DC these days, if not $10 in and of itself. As-is, it’s got a $6 cover price from the 1990s, and will probably take at least as long to read as 2 1/2 issues of most $3.99 contemporary comics.

This came as-is; already opened–so no giant Serra Angel card. BUT given I specifically want to read the thing, and I’m sure the lack of original/sealed bag and card helped to keep the price “low” I have no problem whatsoever with what I got. Actually makes it easier as I don’t wind up tempted with the thought of leaving it in the bag or trying to re-offer it or such myself.

%d bloggers like this: