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The Weekly Haul: Weeks of October 24 & 31, 2018 and Halloween Comicfest

It’s amazing how life gets busy at certain times…and how that can be exacerbated by having the computer one has been primarily using for years suddenly decide to freeze up and then refuse to ever boot up Windows again.

Combined with a couple other things going on, and rather than separate posts, let’s cover "The Weekly Haul" stuff from the past couple weeks AND Halloween Comicfest!


Week of October 24, 2018

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Last week had the foiled edition of Action Comics #1004…and I finally pulled 1001, 1002, and 1003 together and caught up on reading! I have to reiterate how much I’ve liked this low-key "stunt month" that DC did this year, where the foiling did not add to the regular price–$3.99 books stayed $3.99, so it’s purely cosmetic. And as a "stunt month," it’s not like it was all over the place. And the best part is that the fancy covers are the main, primary cover and NOT some variant!

Extra dose of TMNT with the second Macro-Series issue, this one focusing on Michelangelo; and the sixth issue of TMNT: Urban Legends, reprinting the 6th issue of the old Image series!

Then the newest issues of Aliens: Dust to Dust, of Flash, and Die!Die!Die!…where I have some collating and catch-up reading to do!


Week of October 31, 2018

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This week is a "fifth week," and so definitely a bit smaller. DC‘s second issue of Heroes in Crisis hit, apparently a week "late." I was not 100% on picking this up, but especially with being a small week, and I’m now leaning toward "grudgingly" picking it up, if only for morbid curiosity…but perhaps just as much so that I can read it for myself and evaluate it for myself. If I don’t like it, at least I’ll get that for myself. I don’t like it so far, but it feels like it’s got some weird sort of potential. I’m also willing to "support" it with it not having umpteen branded official tie-in chapters (so far), unlike the marvelous competition.

I’m digging the main Batman title of late, having jumped back into current reading with The Gift and the run-up to #50; loved the Freeze story, and just keeping up. As a fifth week, figured what the heck? Been ages since a Secret Files [& Origins] issue, so curiosity (and the foil cover) won me over. Plus…it’s Batman.

And I’m definitely enjoying the True Believers What If..? issues–most of them, I have not read before, so they’re particularly fun for only $1.00, where so many of the True Believers issues are reprints of stuff I do already have and/or have read. This What if…Legion had Killed Magneto? draws from the original Age of Apocalypse stuff from 1995. (And I’d meant to ‘cover’ the issue several years ago when I covered the entirety of that original Age of Apocalypse saga, but never quite got around to it then.)

Finally, snagged some Hordes minis to go with others I’ve bought…I have a good-size selection of these now to assemble, prime, and paint, which could be a way to pass a few weeks coming up or in 2019.


Halloween Comicfest 2018

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While it seemed there were more officially-branded Halloween COmicfest issues than ever this year, many were "mini-comics" or "ashcan-sized," and at least from the covers and being backed up on plenty of other reading and considering last year’s issues and maybe prior years…I opted just to snag these. I wasn’t sure what to make of the Adventures of Aspen Mascots but it looked fun; definitely up for the Hellblazer reprint (especially while DC otherwise doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do with the character) for the 30th anniversary. And the completist in me didn’t want to pass on the Rise of the TMNT mini-comic, though I’m not fond of the tv show from the premiere episode.

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As a far, Far, FAR superior value to me than contemporary Marvel #1 issues, for the same price, I snagged both of these issues of the older Captain America series from the 1960s. My grandfather (who helped get me into comics 30 years ago) had at least one of these issues, though I can’t remember which (and pretty sure he didn’t have the other, as I always mixed up the cover images in my memory). So there’s sentimental value in getting these copies if only for that.

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Going through $1 bins, I ended up opting only to get the Tales of the Marvels issues. There’s just not much in the way of Marvel stuff that I find worthwhile outside of 25-50 cent bins…but especially at the moment due to personal stuff going on.

The Gobbledygook issue will go into my TMNT collection; it was a nice find for 33% off, which put it cheaper than any modern Marvel issue.

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I snagged about $4-$5 worth of 25-cent bin comics. These Battlebooks ones stood out to me immediately for the tradedress…I love the way the white/red of the main logo pops and the characters on top of the crisp black background. These are a bit of nostalgia for me–I remember when these first came out! I think I’d originally gotten the Citizen V one, and can’t remember what the other one I picked up was.

These were a sort of game, where (with rules as described on a couple of inserts included in the issue) two players would have the characters "fight" and the results were determined by grids of statistics on the various pages.

They were more interesting than they sound, but are definitely at best value for 25 cents for the artwork. Still, fun finds!

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I have fond memories of the Slingers title. I have yet to actually read the various Spider-Man issues where Peter Parker took on the four alternate guises (Ricochet, Prodigy, Dusk, and Hornet). But when this series premiered, I went with the Ricochet edition, and followed the series to its conclusion (12 issues and a Wizard #0 issue, if I recall correctly).

As I recall, these were variant issues–the beginning and ending are the same in all four issues, but there’s a several (8? 12? 16? I honestly don’t recall as of this typing) page sequence in each issue that is character-specific, where the Slingers split up, so the Ricochet issue follows him when the four split, while in place of those pages, the Dusk issue follows that character instead.

I absolutely would not want this being done with modern comics at modern prices, since it would be vastly over-used very quickly. But now nearly 20 years in the past and available in 25-cent bins, I find this a fun sorta thing–especially getting all 4 issues for only $1.


And that’s it for October. Here’s hoping November’s a good month! Hard to believe we’re nearing the end of 2018 already…but then, lately it’s hard to believe it’s 2018 when sometimes I feel like I still so clearly remember stuff from 1999, or 1998…that I was self-aware even 25+ years ago (and that all these years later, here I am still into comics as much or more than ever before!)

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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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The Weekly Haul Catch-Up and Bargain Bins Haul: Weeks of August 8, 15, and 22

Life’s been a roller-coaster lately with stuff going on in my personal life. Things are looking up–though my world’s been rocked, and actually doing anything for this blog has been about the last thing on my mind!

Playing catch-up on the "weekly haul" from the last several weeks, though…


Week of August 22, 2018

The newest week has been a decent size–not tiny, not huge!

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The second issue of BendisAction Comics; the third post-Flash War issue of The Flash; and the second issue of Mr. & Mrs. X.

Then there’s the second issue of the "surprise" series Die!Die!Die!. I’m not sure if I’ll keep up with this series, but it made its impact on me with the first issue, such that I wanted to get this second issue!

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I also finally remembered to order the newest issue of Collectors. With stuff going on in personal life last year I managed to miss the third issue, and this En Fuego issue.

So it was well worthwhile–"optimizing" shipping cost–to order the latest (#4) as well as the other issues!

These collect the strips from the webcomic series, and I love having a physical edition to go through without having to only view them online!


Week of August 15, 2018

Last week was also fairly regular.

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I quite enjoyed the Mr. Freeze arc in Batman following the events of #50. And I’m loving the TMNT: Urban Legends series, reprinting the Image TMNT series from the late-1990s.

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I probably should not have bothered with Medieval Spawn/Witchblade as here the series is complete and I’ve not actually read the first issue.

We’re 8 issues in on this Marvel digest series. I’d enjoy different reprints rather than a lot of what’s been getting put in these, but c’est la vie.

And I’ve decided to wait til the Bebop & Rocksteady mini has all 5 issues to read them in one go–I gave up the IDW paperbacks for the TMNT stuff years ago in favor of the hardcovers.


Week of August 08, 2018

And two weeks ago a mixed sort of week with a couple of the regulars, plus a couple one-offs.

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The second issue of the newest iteration of Superman, and I love that the "new" run of Supergirl picks up on the Rebirth numbering…that is truly the way it needs to be done!

I opted to "try" The Sandman Universe. I’m not interested in adding a bunch of new series to my purchasing, and while the issue wasn’t bad, it didn’t blow me away. I loved the main The Sandman series when I read it back in 2001/2002 and all…but it’s not something I see enjoying month to month…especially at $3.99 an issue multiple times each month (multiple titles). Especially with DC‘s recent "history" with imprints (Young Animal in particular).

I’ve been back to keeping up with The Flash and decided to "try" the 50th issue of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps; though at this point that’s a bit of a regret.


Bargain Bin Haul

It’s been awhile since much of a true bargain-bin "haul," but I found a lot of fun stuff last week…CLEARLY re-emphasizing again just what a ’90s guy I am!

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These were primarily "newsstand" editions with the newsstand bar codes. I did not realize there was a NON-shiny edition of WildC.A.T.s, so that’s a neat little novelty.

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Snagged a bunch of Malibu #1s.

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And a handful of Now Comics issues, and the random Jesus issue.

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These were some "random" issues of no particular theme. I forgot that I have a small run of early Spawn issues relatively "handy," so the #3 is superfluous. I’m passively interested in the mpi editions of The Man of Steel issues for the novelty…I had acquired the One Night in Gotham City issue with the audiocassette wayyyy back–my first exposure to the "modern" relationship between Superman and Batman.

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These Dracula issues caught my eye…I wasn’t sure what they were, but seems they reprint some early appearances of the Marvel version of the character.

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For the heckuvit, snagged a bunch of "shiny" covers! Paid less for these in total than any single one of the issues cost two decades ago!

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These were a combo of shiny issues, the Spider-Man hologram, some "extra color" covers, and die-cut/etc.

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The Mitefall is a prestige-format issue, Force Works is bagged with some inserts including an animation cell, and the Zen issues of thicker covers with foiling for the logo.

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The Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor issues are absolute relics–back when Marvel would actually acknowledge a new run/etc, rather than renumbering for the sake of renumbering. The rest of these caught my attention as fun acquisitions for "only" 25 cents–duplicate and otherwise.

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I was surprised to find New Warriors #1…but I guess the title’s just not as relevant as it once might have been. I’m still working on my "runs" of the 2099 titles–the original series, not the "modern" iteration(s) of Spider-Man.

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Just some more #1s…

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Some non-Marvel/non-DC #1s.

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A bunch of DC #1s…probably most notable to me is the Teen Titans issue as I am not sure if I’ve ever had a copy of this issue; and given how long the Starman series ran, it’s cool to find #1 like this.

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And finally, even more #1s and specials from DC.


I’m constantly re-amazed at what I can occasionally find in bargain-bins…and the sheer quantity of issues I can stack up for 25 cents…I can buy over 100 25-cent issues for the price of FOUR Marvel #1s present-day!

And these 25-cent issues include various thicker covers, double/triple-size issues, cover enhancements/gimmicks, etc…and these over-100-issues-for-25-cents-each are largely themselves priced such that the entire stack cost less than cover price of maybe 10 of these issues–some of the issues nearly 30 years old!

This is also withOUT attending a convention that I refuse to deal with given lack of communication last year, and "digs" they and their representatives have taken at me online for voicing my concerns over the communication issue last year and how in impacted my attempt to attend the convention.

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The Weekly Haul: Week of July 25, 2018

This week was a fairly small week of new release comics for me…small enough that I "padded it out" a bit.

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The new issue of Action Comics–#1001–was a given, for me. It’s been 3 months coming, since the huge #1000 issue.

After looking forward to The Flash War for so long and even letting the title go for several months, I got back in for the (finally) actual story itself…which seemed too short. This #51 "epilogue" issue is a pleasant surprise-extension of the story.

And Mr. and Mrs. X is Marvel actually getting me with a concept I’m interested in–fially having Rogue and Gambit get to this point (one of my earliest X-Men comics was #24–the "date" issue with the two.

I quite enjoyed the X-Men: Grand Design issues from the turn of the year, and was rather disappointed at the long delay between those and the next ones. Time healed that particular "wound" and it was a pleasant surprise to find this one out this week. Unlike other $5.99 issues, these actually feel heavy and "special" and worth the price.

I hadn’t realized The Hellblazer was ending…but as with the end of the 300+ issue Vertigo run, I opted to snag this final issue "immediately" with the intent to fill in the gaps I have in the story via collected volumes, eventually/someday.

Because I was "curious" after stupidly "buying into" some hype over the Teen Titans Special several weeks ago, figured I might as well give this issue a shot and see if it actually goes anywhere interesting, or if IT is all-hype/etc.

And finally, because it actually reprints an issue I did not yet own and had never even read before, the True Believers issue reprinting What If..? #1 was a handy addition for only $1. (3 Marvel comics for $11…pretty darned cheap considering their usual prices!)

Still, it’s rather dismaying that even the DC titles were all $3.99. I’ll occasionally be ok with occasional higher-price-point issues–Grand Design being an excellent example–but certainly not as a routine, regular thing. And for me, Marvel has far too often "abused" the higher prices in my eyes, such that I was honestly somewhat surprised that Mr. and Mrs. X was "only" $3.99 for a #1 issue. (Which was another reason to support the title–NOT EVERY #1 NEEDS TO BE a $4.99+ giant-sized issue! And yet, I could argue that this one would be more deserving of a giant-size status. Reprint X-Men #24, and maybe some other key issue from the characters’ pasts. Reprint the Avengers Annual Rogue first appeared in, and Uncanny X-Men #266 with Gambit’s first appearance–juxtapose their first appearances with how far they’ve come. After all, this title is not MERELY "the next month’s issue" of a title with a #1 slapped on the cover…it’s truly a new status quo for the characters, it’s a new title we have not seen before, and so on. (As opposed to the fifth(?) Amazing Spider-Man #1 or the seventh(?) Captain America #1 in the last 20 years)

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The Weekly Haul: Week of May 2, 2018

The week of May 2nd was an interesting one for comics for me. Not that big a week in itself, but the week did provide a couple of "firsts" for me!

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This week had the release of DC Nation #0, kicking off 3 events. A Batman one, a Superman one, and a Justice League. I was also able to get a store-exclusive edition that I’ve been looking forward to…I’m a sucker for art like this featuring the shop-cat, Winston. I also snagged the Superman cover with an excellent shirt-rip, as it was "only" $3. I virtually never buy such variants, let alone one marked with such a high ratio…but while something 12 times the cover price is usually prohibitive for me…$3 was not prohibitive.

Then there’s the Action Comics Special, which gave Dan Jurgens a final issue to wrap stuff up before Bendis takes over the franchise. The new issue of Batman has the second issue of this Booster Gold arc. And the second chapter of the Batman vs. Deathstroke story in Deathstroke.

I wasn’t sure if I was gonna continue with GI Joe: A Real American Hero, but like the look of this Special Missions arc focusing on solo characters. Being able to get the "A" cover was also a good thing.

The final issue of this Rogue & Gambit series I think finishes off my Marvel buying in terms of new issues for awhile. I passed on Avengers due to the renumbering, and am so sick and tired of renumbering that I just have near-zero interest in Marvel, period, at this point.

An exception to that is the True Believers $1 issues.

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I think the highlight of the week for me, though, is the Action Comics #1000 poster–in one giant sheet, it shows all 1000 standard/regular/"A"/basic covers from #1 to #1000. I promptly framed this, and mounted it to the door down to my comic space. The poster represents history of the "super-hero," of the longest-running comic book series, and Superman. It’s also extra-appropriate leading into a comic space, even though 1,000 comics are but a fraction of what I own.

It’s also excellent to be able to look at this thing up close, and visually track all these years, from my first issue at #651 to the latest in #1000. Recognizing covers from this event or that event; from when I was a kid, to a teenager; high school; college; grad school, beyond.

And I got this from Comic Heaven, the comic shop I have the most history with, period–going back to 1993 or so!

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Along with the Winston edition of DC Nation, snagged the four-issue Heroes Reborn: The Return from 50-cent bins. Though I own the series already, these are a convenience copy for reading. No clue when I’ll get my main collection organized, so this means that at least for a time, I know where these four issues are, so I have more chance of actually getting to them than if I had to dig through umpteen longboxes to find my existing copies.

And hey…for half the price of a cheap new Marvel issue, I get this complete 4-issue mini-series/event! Really can’t beat that, these days! And this series represented the start of my first real foray into attempting to follow a large chunk of Marvel, albeit 21 or so years ago!

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Action Comics #1000 [Review]

action_comics_1000From the City That Has Everything

Writer/Artist: Dan Jurgens
Inker: Norm Rapmund
Color: Hi-Fi
Letters: Rob Leigh

This is the “primary” story of the issue–a sort of stand-alone “finale” to Jurgens-and-Co.’s run the last couple of years and 45-some issue run. We open on a narration/captions of Jon Kent and Lois talking, against imagery of Superman battling a Khund warship. Jon’s worried his Dad won’t get here in time, as Lois reassures him he’ll be here. As Clark arrives, Lois reminds him that people just want to thank him. We see that they’re at a Thank You, Superman presentation in the park–Metropolis has gathered to try to offer thanks to Superman, though knowing they can’t begin to cover it. Amidst various testimonials of how Superman has impacted and saved folks, Clark keeps thinking he sees further traces of a Khund invasion…perhaps just looking for an excuse to get away from this presentation. Eventually, the crowd gets to see Superman fly into action, as Clark can’t ignore his senses. He finds Wonder Woman, who reveals that there was indeed a major Khund incursion…but it’s been handled. By everyone. Even his fellow heroes are fans, and thank Superman for his role in everything. Without him, none of them would likely be there.

On its surface, this is a rather cheesy story of little substance. There’s some presentation to honor Superman, and he’s avoiding it. Then, alllll the other heroes are there as well, because they wish to honor him, too.

Neat and simple, right? Evocative of classic Silver Age stories (to me), and not terribly deep.

But back to “on its surface.”

See, this is the 1,000th issue of Action Comics. 80 years of Superman. This is a major event, a one-issue spectacular. An anthology of sorts with numerous shorter stories making up the whole. It’s a standalone issue, something that draws from and can influence other stuff, but it’s not truly coming off any To Be Continued… message. It’s (as an issue) not leading directly into anything. It’s expected that this will be read where the previous few issues, or dozens of issues, or even hundreds of issues, have not been read.

There’s loads of “meta” to this–as a story, and as part of the issue.

This Superman–Dan Jurgens‘ Superman–comes from a take on the character where Clark Kent is the man, and Superman is a “mask.” This Superman is Clark Kent…who does what’s right because it is right–not to show off, not for accolades and recognition–and is actually rather uncomfortable being the center of attention. And we get to see that…as we get to see a bit of Lois’ personality. She teases him for trying to get out of the ceremony, but we come to see that she’s the one that spearheaded the gathering of the heroes, and helped coordinate with Batman and the others to “cover for” Superman, so that he could have this day, this event. We also see Jon, the son, both AS the Son of Superman and as a kid. Not fully understanding everything going on, loving his dad but not sure if he’ll make it, and an eagerness to stand in for him, recognizing the importance of the situation and wanting to live up to the family tradition.

I knew going in that Norm Rapmund was involved with the art…and I was loving the art all through the story. There was something extra familiar about it, though, that had a slight smile trying to escape me as I read it, but I couldn’t quite place it. Until I looked consciously at the credits for the story and realized why the art seemed that much more familiar and was evoking such a reaction in me: Jurgens on the pencils. Of course! Regardless of conscious realization in words, on sight I had recognized the (somehow UNexpected) presence of work by probably my favorite Superman artist!

Superman reluctantly accepts the recognition…somewhat awkwardly. The final spread with all the heroes and fans and such…metatextually, real-world…without Superman, there probably would NOT have been any of these other heroes. Certainly nowhere near as many, and probably not even a comics industry.

This story is a send-off of sorts from Jurgens–capping off his run, as well as recognizing and thanking Superman.

And for one such as me–a 30-year-fan of Superman, introduced to him when I was but 7 years old–this is a powerful piece, meaningful and deep, and moving…and if one has to put a one-off story as a capstone to a run, that stands alone and evokes the past, has elements from the run, but isn’t beholden to it and all that…this does it well, and is a worthy opening to Action Comics #1000!

action_comics_1000_variants_30sNever-Ending Battle

Story and Words: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Colorist: Alejandro Sanchez
Letterer: Tom Napolitano

This story opens with a rather hellish, red-tinged image of Vandal Savage having Superman engulfed in some sort of red energy and alien machinery. The narration is Superman, speaking to Lois, apologizing for being sidetracked on the way home–he’s late. Basically, Savage tried to blend Superman with the past, trapping him and leaving the future open for him (Savage) to rule without Superman’s interference. So we get a bunch of pages evoking some key eras in Superman’s history, as we know it in the real-world; but in-continuity the character himself acknowledges that despite the familiarity, he knew it was impossible to have been there in the 1930s, for example. These are all full-page images with the “voiceover” going along with them…not necessarily tied exactly to the image whose page the words are on, but particularly for those familiar with the history of the character and the stories/eras being referenced, the words take on additional (and deeper) meaning than they might otherwise. And the story ends with a shot of Superman standing at a table with a lotta candles (one can assume there are probably around 1,000 of ’em!), Lois and Jon on either side, a “Happy Birthday” sign strung up behind, and even Krypto in the foreground, as we celebrate Superman’s 80th birthday, and the 1,000th issue of Action Comics.

Normally I would not care for this sort of story. Had this been a 15-page sequence in an otherwise-20-paged issue of something (especially if at a $3.99 price point) I would be disappointed and annoyed. Even as one of the longest stories within this issue, it’s still a “mere” 15 pages, and as such, even this sequence is a relatively small portion of the entire issue. As a “short story” in this “anthology” issue of numerous creators…it works quite well. We have a basic story–Superman faces a villain, is flung throughout time, makes it home safe. This reminds me of other stories I’ve read, and feels rather familiar, like it’s a sort of “trope” at this point–where you can have a numerous-issue “event” of a character being thrown through time, or it can be just a casual backdrop “referenced” but not really the point of a story.

Here, this does both: it’s a sort of casual-ish “reference” thing…but the pages as we go through show Superman through the decades–Gleason‘s imagery evoking the general “style” and depiction of Superman through the decades. One page reminds me loosely of the Superman vs. Superboy issue from early in the Byrne era; the next is a familiar image from Miller‘s Dark Knight Returns (and signed by the artist after Frank Miller). There’s a page with the black-costumed, long-haired Superman fighting Mongul, with Steel and Superboy in the background, in reference to the Death and Return of Superman…Reign of the Supermen. There’s a page with a version of Zod, the pointy-crystal Fortress of Solitude in the background, and a Superman trapped in the pane of glass version of the Phantom Zone. There’s even a page showing the Kingdom Come Superman facing Magog, a mushroom cloud in the background with several of the other heroes. And there’s a page showing the New 52 Superman breaking through a wall, shifting to the black-costume, bearded Superman of JurgensLois and Clark, shifting into the Rebirth costume, into the Reborn costume, punching Savage out.

This is an appropriate celebration of Superman, of how (ultimately) he easily overcomes situations, fights through whatever is thrown at him, and that Tomasi puts as Superman’s words: “Each and every time stream, in the end, led home…to my family.”

Tomasi and Gleason being the primary creatives the last couple years on the named Superman title that has run alongside JurgensAction Comics, this is a highly-appropriate story to cap off that run, to share in this issue, and to celebrate and acknowledge the rich history of the character. I often find I’m not overly thrilled with Gleason‘s art–just a personal issue due to comparing it so often to art I prefer–but here, particularly for the time-tossed pages, it shines excellently.

An Enemy Within

Script: Marv Wolfman
Art: Curt Swan
Inks: Butch Guice, Kurt Schaffenberger
Color & Production Assist: Hi-Fi
Letters: Rob Leigh

I appreciate the history of Wolfman with the Superman character, as well as the very fabric of the history of DC Comics in-continuity and out; ditto the importance of Curt Swan as one of THE Superman artists. That said…I did not really care much for this story.

Basically, we have narration from Superman as he’s halfway across the world dealing with a Brainiac threat, while we’re shown a hostage situation involving a principal and one of his students. From the narration, we get that the principal is being mind-controlled by Brainiac, and that Superman is facing the villain…but that action all happens off-panel, concluding with a single image of Superman, that may be recycled from a previous publication. The story is simple, has potential, but for me, personally–especially stacked against the Jurgens and Tomasi stories in this issue, and against numerous episodes of Law and Order: SVU I’ve been watching the last few weeks, it just doesn’t really hold up in a way I particularly care for.

It’s not a horrible story, and the art is solid in and of itself…I respect the inclusion here, but other than the “inclusion” aspect, I just don’t really care for this one.

action_comics_1000_variants_blankThe Game

Storytellers: Paul Levitz & Neal Adams
Colors: Hi-Fi
Letters: Dave Sharpe

This is an interesting, short piece, where Superman shows up to the roof of Lexcorp Tower, and he and Lex talk over a game of Chess…and I’m reminded strongly of the Xavier/Magneto imagery from the Fox X-Men films. Luthor springs a trap of animated Kryptonite chains that wrap around Superman…before the hero straightens, flexes, and bursts the chains with an orange background obviously reminiscent of the Kryptonite Nevermore! from the original Superman #233. Superman reveals that he’s got a Mother Box with him that temporarily prevented the Kryptonite radiation

This is another short piece that I don’t particularly care for. I like the concept well enough, and it reminds me (as said) of the Xavier/Magneto stuff…and the more I think on it, I realize there’s also a bit of that Batman/Joker meeting from The Killing Joke in here, too.

Adams is another whose work I appreciate, whose place in comics history I appreciate…but I just can’t get into his Superman art. I didn’t stick with The Coming of the Supermen, I didn’t care for an Action Comics variant I had from some “Neal Adams Month,” and his Superman in general looks rather “off” to me here.

As this is “only” a 5-page story, though, it’s not horrible; but I might have liked a prose version a bit better, as I dig the story much, much more than I do the art.

action_comics_1000_variants_40sThe Car

Story: Geoff Johns & Richard Donner
Artist: Olivier Coipel
Colors: Alejandro Sanchez
Special thanks to: Matt Wilson
Letters: Nick Napolitano

This is an interesting story that seems to be set in the ’30s; the color palette and general art style certainly gives it a rustic, “period piece” look that fits very well with the story being told. A busted-up car is brought into a shop, and when the mechanic tries to get its story from the owner, the tale is a little bit “out there”–all this damage caused by one man? One man lifted it and smashed it against some rocks, apparently. We then move to the owner–Butch–noticing a colorful figure…that of the “man” who smashed his car. Superman chats with him, showing compassion and having come to “understand” more of Butch’s “side” of things, and leaving him with the notion that even having made mistakes, one can choose to make their life count for something, choose to make something of themselves, better the lives of others rather than doing harm.

I’m sure I would have realized pretty quickly that this is a sort of “sequel” to a big part of Action Comics #1; but this benefited SO beautifully from my having just re-read the Superman story from that first issue, and being probably THE freshest-in-mind Superman story for me prior to this 1000th issue.

This Superman feels very much like the “modern” Superman, though; less of the rough ‘n tough version from that first appearance. But it works, and makes for an interesting piece overall. Especially when one considers just how heinous Butch’s crime was–kidnapping a woman for rejecting him…and one could likely predict at least a couple likely outcomes of such action.

I haven’t cared a lot about the Johns/Donner stuff–particularly the Last Son of Krypton, and Escape from Bizarro World stories, even as those are (now) a good dozen years in the past. I didn’t care for them at the time as part of a seemingly-overly-overt rewriting of Superman away from the version I’d grown up on and back to more of a Silver/Bronze Age version. But this single story, I liked; the modern art showing the classic original Superman, with the feel of the contemporary Superman…and this being both a continuation/sequel and yet even if one doesn’t know or connect that context, it works very well as a singular, one-off bit…

And of the “shorts” in this issue, I think this is one of my favorites.

action_comics_1000_variants_50sThe Fifth Season

Script: Scott Snyder
Art: Rafael Albuquerque
Color: Dave McCaig
Letters: Tom Napolitano

I’m not quite sure what to make of this piece. In a way, I think something to it is “over my head,” perhaps..in a way that I definitely do NOT care for in my comics.

Superman arrives at the Smallville planetarium to find Lex Luthor, who has found the “Eye of Xotar” and Chronos’ “Time Scissors”–that together can be used to literally erase any genealogical line from history. Given this is Luthor…obviously, that’d be Superman’s line, the House of El. As the two muse over their shared past, and the present situation, we see a flashback to Luthor’s early days in Smallville, where we also see that a potentially fatal accident that could have killed Luthor was prevented by a young Clark Kent–Superman as a boy. We also get a bit about a “fifth season,” between Winter and Spring, when the weather can be wildly unpredictable…which seems to be a statement of the story itself. Luthor intended to wipe Superman from history, but maybe discovered that it was Superman that had saved him, and so opted not to.

This isn’t a horrible story, but as said, something about it just feels like it might be over my head, needing extra consideration, disproportionate to its size in relation to the rest of this issue. The art also isn’t horrible, but not really to my liking. On the last page particularly, I don’t care for the depiction of the “S” shield…its top and bottom seem way too thin compared to the middle, especially compared to the “standard” licensed version I’m used to, that I tend to hold mentally as the “standard” to which the various takes on the “S” are compared.

This also plays on Luthor and Superman having known each other as kids–something that was NOT part of the story I grew up on, and so I’m a bit biased against it. Still, knowing that and seeing what’s being gone for here in a way, I’m ok with the story, but won’t single it out as a favorite or such.

Then there’s the narration in the background speaking to the idea of Sol, our sun, eventually expanding: “…and eventually, the sun will eat our Mercury…and then Venus…and then Earth. And then, our time…ends.”

Which seems almost intentionally to lead into the next piece:

action_comics_1000_variants_60sOf Tomorrow

Writer: Tom King
Artist: Clay Mann
Color Artist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: John Workman

Superman kneels, scooping up some coal from the ground and squeezing it into diamond. He stands and we see blazing fire all around, amidst his speaking. It’s been BILLIONS of years, and Earth is finally about to be swallowed up by the red giant Sol has become; no matter that Superman had apparently pushed the entire planet of Earth out of its orbit, it still finds itself being consumed. And Superman speaks to his long-dead parents–Jonathan and Martha Kent–as he says goodbye for the final time. He’s got to let go–of them, and of Earth itself. After five BILLION years. Somehow, Superman, and Lois, and Jon, have been essentially immortal, thanks to (apparently) an “Eternity Formula.” He speaks of them, as he forms the diamond into a specific shape. He tells his parents “I miss you. I love you. Every day. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been. It’s still every day.” And as the planet burns up and wee see the grave plate reading:

KENT
JONATHAN & MARTHA
BELOVED PARENTS & GRANDPARENTS
YOU GAVE US HOPE

Superman leaves with the words “We’re all stardust fallen. And so we look to the sky. And we wait to be reclaimed. Good-bye, Ma. Good-bye, Pa. And thank you. For everything.”

This is an odd sort of story. While we can consider that the ongoing story of Superman is not one that’s gonna end anytime soon; while we’ve had stories of Superman surviving into the far future–thousands, even millions of years…to consider that he’d live another five BILLION years seems a bit out there for me. It changes the character. It’s best not to dwell on.

The point is: to the end of the Earth–literally–Superman has been shaped by his parents. He’s continued to live. He’s lived his life. He’s gone on–but that doesn’t mean that he’s forgotten. The love of his parents–his adoptive parents, the REAL parents he actually knew–they molded him into who he became, and that’s NOT something that changed with time. Their brief moment with him lasted through time, a huge legacy, outlasting the planet itself.

But on a smaller level, this speaks in an abstract sort of way to anyone who has ever lost loved ones. Wondering at the futility of visiting a grave, of speaking to those gone before, and I’d say to how even a year can feel like a lifetime, several years like countless lifetimes, when separated from the loved ones.

And on a “meta” level, Superman has outlived this planet, outlived all those lives…as he outlived his creators, and has and likely will outlive so many others.

On the literal level, this reminds me of an old story of an ancient Supreme or Mr. Majestic (I believe written by Alan Moore) (edit: yeah, I’m pretty sure that was Wildstorm Spotlight: Mr. Majestic #1: a story called The Big Chill.) recalling a world he once spent time on…he thinks its name had begun with ‘E’.

On the general level, that abstract level…this just speaks to the heart and I got choked up contemplating loss to come and what that’ll mean to me personally; and teared up considering losses I’ve already experienced. In a way, this had no reason to hit me like it did; yet, this is its own deeply personal, powerful piece…certainly worthy of being a Superman story, and well worth its inclusion in this issue!

action_comics_1000_variants_70sFive Minutes

Writer: Louise Simonson
Artist: Jerry Ordway
Colors: Dave McCaig
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual

This is another 5-page “short.” Clark is trying to finish a story, with Perry and Jimmy standing by, noting they’re 5 minutes to deadline, with Printing already giving hell for holding the presses. Even as Clark points out he’s nearly done, he’s hearing cries of distress, and jumps from his seat to go into action, while Perry tells him he has five minutes. Superman stops a runaway train; saves Bibbo; stops space debris from crashing to Earth, and still makes it back to the Planet to finish his story. But turns out in being so focused on that, he didn’t even consider the impact he just had, saving numerous people, maybe much of Earth…that the story he WAS working on is nothing compared to the story of Superman’s recent super-feats.

This is a neat piece, and as with others in this issue of Action, not one I’d care much for as an entire issue, but as a “backup,” as a piece included in this issue, I really like it. And with Louise Simonson writing and Ordway on art, it’s one that’s hard to beat, having such positive memories of both creators’ work in the ’90s on my early Superman comics.

And the idea of Clark Kent, Reporter, working, having to deal with stuff as Superman and still make his deadline is not new, but it works well here…and the fantastic art just makes it a beauty to behold.

I enjoyed this for that, and its relative timelessness.

action_comics_1000_variants_80sActionland!

Script: Paul Dini
Pencils: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez
Inks: Kevin Nowlan
Colors: Trish Mulvihill
Letters: Josh Reed

What would a big, giant Superman comic be without Mr. Mxyzptlk? This is a short story showing an amusement park take on Superman and his history, where visitors get to “ride” in a replica of the ship that bore baby Kal-El away from Krypton; lift a tractor like little Clark in Kansas, witness Superman performing super-feats, view other heroes that served with Superman, as well as villains that were fought, and then the way things ended, with Superman… sacrificing himself…giving his life…the ending? The scene we’ve been seeing is a reality of sorts from Mxy, who just can’t quite figure out how he’d like to see the story of Superman end, even though he himself has the power to blink him out of existence with hardly a thought.

I think my initial thought–that it’s “fitting” to have Mxy get a story in something like this–comes from the Newstime special after the death of Superman, where there was some throw-away piece referencing the character, sort of explaining his showing up during all that, and yet not having an actual issue til well after the return.

Story-wise, I’m not overly enamored. It’s a solid enough piece with an interesting premise. Structurally, not a bad story. I think I’ve just kinda felt put-off to Mxy stuff after Superman: Reborn and being reminded of stuff from Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? recently. It has its merits–a glimpse at parts of Superman’s origins; shows us Mxy himself and reminds us he’s around and his powers, and that he can be “just” an imp messing with Superman without wanting to truly destroy him. I just didn’t singularly like this story that much.

Art-wise, this is solid, and though Dini has plenty of pedigree himself, having a new Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez story is quite appealing on principle. I can’t say I’d recognize the art on sight, but knowing Garcia-Lopez has significant association with Superman, this certainly deserves its place in the issue!

action_comics_1000_variants_90sFaster Than a Speeding Bullet

Writer: Brad Meltzer
Artist: John Casaday
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos

This was an interesting story, touching on elements that I don’t often think of with Superman stories. A gunman with a hostage prepares to pull the trigger…while from a significant distance, Superman’s flying as fast as he can to the scene. We get Superman’s inner thoughts as he zips toward the gunman, even as he pulls the trigger and the bullet begins to move, as Superman does the math and everything remaining as-is, knows he will not make it in time. Yet, it turns out while he was focused on the gunman, the hostage was shifting, which bought the extra fraction of a second Superman needed to get there, and he saves her. He compliments her on her bravery, that she could be Police, and flies off.

The story here does a good job with building tension as Superman tries to get to the scene. All too often we have the imagery and stories of Superman getting somewhere JUST in the nick of time to bounce bullets off his chest, or pluck them from mid-air, mid-movement before they strike their intended target…but we rarely get something from his point of view, where even he might realize he will be a fraction of a second too late. We get a positive ending here, though, as the woman–Lila–shifts to resist her attacker and Superman is able to save her.

I was not expecting a Meltzer piece, but he’s another name that I feel certainly deserves his place and involvement with the issue…if not for prior Superman work, then for his real-world involvement with stuff–helping bring attention to the Siegel house, helping bring about the Superman display at the Cleveland airport, and other involvement with folks preserving the history of Siegel and Shuster and all that.

The art isn’t bad…and actually, is quite good–overall. There’s just something to the way Casaday does Superman’s face that seems really “off” to me. It looks like someone else’s face, a stranger’s face, is pasted onto a body with “a” Superman costume. Where some artists’ Superman is recognizable just by the face, I wouldn’t be able to look at the faces in this story and just form those know this was Superman.

For another “short,” I can’t really complain beyond that about this one!

action_comics_1000_variants_2000s“The Truth”

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Jim Lee
Inks: Scott Williams
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Cory Petit

Outside of the number, I’m sure this story is one reason for a lot of people to pick up this issue: it offers a prologue to a prologue to a mini-series that itself will lead into the ongoing story in the continuation of this title and rebooted-numbering fifth-volume of Superman. This piece kicks off Bendis‘ work on Superman…and does so with a beaten, bloodied Superman crashing through what looks like a cave wall, and on zooming out, we see a couple more hits as he smashes through the ceiling and out the side of the L-shaped Lexcorp tower, and then hits a road so hard he bounces a few times, destroying pavement, vehicles, and storefronts. Bystanders of course whip out cellphones to take photos/video of the fallen hero, while they try to drag Superman behind a counter. They comment on him wearing “the red shorts” again (rather than the cosmetic change being just there). Some giant creature with a huge battle axe is after him, and after taking a huge punch and repeated jabs from the just-arrived Supergirl, hits her once, taking her outta the fight (sending her flying toward the huge globe of the Daily Planet). Maggie Sawyer and the SCU shows up, though their weapons do nothing to the creature. There’s more discussion from further bystanders of him having “the shorts” again, and the creature continues to get the best of Superman, continuing to physically beat the crap out of him (so to speak), and a simple energy-blast wave-of-the-hand takes a just-returning Supergirl back out of the fight. Transforming the handle of the axe into a sword, he seems to plunge it with a splash into Superman’s chest, as he claims to be wiping out remaining Kryptonians, finishing the job he started when he destroyed Krypton.

Once upon a time, Jim Lee was just about my favorite Superman artist–perhaps behind or tied with Jurgens and Ed Benes. But here, I just don’t care for the art. I’m sure part of it is the coloring…this seems “dark” and “grim and gritty” especially compared to the rest of the issue, and feels out of place visually with the rest of the issue.

Ditto on the story side–this beating, this violence and Superman just being pummeled and beaten and such, and Supergirl coming off as completely ineffective as well–is sickening after so many happier, brighter, celebratory bits.

Sure, this is a new villain, but we don’t even get the name here. We just get nothing but fight. Superman himself points out he hasn’t gotten a name, and the villain accuses him of stalling, rather than giving his name. And sure, on one hand, it would be old-style, stereotypical monologuing or such to just give a name at that point…typically, the villain would be depicted in a large panel with a logo-style word balloon declaring his “cool”-sounding name and such, so instead he calls Superman out for stalling, and on a technical level, I guess this is good to get away from the typical.

I don’t like that we’re thrown into the middle of a fight like this, that we end on a cliffhanger, when the entire rest of this issue has been self-contained one-off stories and whatnot.

Surely we could have started on a brighter note, seen a bit of a different status quo or perspective maybe hinting at this villain’s coming or some such. I don’t know–but based solely on this 12-page piece, I’m not looking forward to the upcoming Man of Steel mini, and I’m suddenly quite concerned about what to expect from Bendis‘ run, where until now I’ve been content to “wait and see” and been fairly optimistic. I suppose I’ll now have to “wait and see” what we get in the DC Nation #0 issue and go from there.

I guess it’s appropriate enough in its way to launch Bendis‘ run with this issue…and yet despite assurances to the contrary, the part of me that suspects his “coming” heralded the end of Jurgens‘ and Tomasi‘s runs feels like they should have had more pages to play with in this issue, and Bendis could launch with DC Nation or The Man of Steel (after all, the last time, one creator (Alan Moore) ended the previous Superman, and it was the interstitial mini-series Man of Steel where Byrne‘s stuff started.

This is 12 pages of what’s likely a multi-year, dozens-of-issues run by one writer, so ultimately may not be indicative of what to expect on the whole and long-term…but for just these pages, and to come after such positive stories for the other 60+ pages…this just seems out of place and inappropriate for something as celebratory as a 1,000th issue…especially seeing nothing but Superman take a beatdown outta nowhere.

Overall Thoughts on the Issue As a Whole

I’ve looked forward to this issue for a long time. In some ways, I’ve probably looked forward to it for nearly 30 years, ever since the first issue I ever owned of the title (#651). At the least, I’m sure I wondered at a comic making it to #1,000 during the Doomsday! and Funeral for a Friend stuff, and the years following, as Adventures of Superman hit #500, Action hit #700, Superman (vol. 2) hit #100, and so on. I certainly wondered about it seven years ago when DC announced what came to be The New 52, that every single title including Action Comics and Detective Comics would be restarted with a #1. Though I still feel that Action making it to #1,000 technically needs an asterisk denoting the 1-52 sequence (there are no issues numbered 905-956) from the New 52 run. But I give DC a “pass” on that, as it was only one “hiccup” in the numbering. Given cover dress, paper condition, and literally the pricing should anyone actually find a copy of the original issues 1-52, one just needs to add 904 to the issue number to know what the issue is in that sense. There have not been numerous iterations where multiple hundreds of issues here, a hundred issues there, another several dozen issues, a mini-series, and a couple of less-than-20-issues runs suddenly add up to a big number. Number-wise, there’s virtually no reasonable confusion.

When Rebirth was announced, when it was announced that Action Comics and Detective Comics would get their original numbering back, and that Action Comics (especially) would indeed get to make it to #1,000, I jumped back in. And all these issues and almost two years later, here we are. I feel like this issue is a sort of reward, an attained destination, a prize that’s been driven toward since Action Comics #957 back in 2016.

A few months ago, there was some definite ambiguity as to formatting and such for the issue and what to expect for the issue. Part of me thinks this should have been even bigger, included even more–both in the way of original stories as well as reprints. But the companion hardback collection Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman handles a lot of that–with essays and reprints of stories both for characters and creators tied to Superman, and Action Comics itself. I was also a bit curious about what the issue’s story would be, or if it would be an anthology/”jam” issue.

Back in the 1990s there were periodic special issues such as The Wedding Album that were key, integral chapters in the ongoing Superman story unfolding in the actual, ongoing titles; though this would be an actual numbered issue, I’d wondered if this would have any singular through-story that just happened to have a bunch of different artists and maybe some narrative structure allowing for different writers to leave a mark on the story.

Obviously what we got was 15-page chunks of the two main creative teams of the ongoing titles, and then 8 more stories/contributions, and a 12-page launch sequence from the new writer coming onto stuff.

As with my excitement for Rebirth and Action Comics #957, I bought this digitally, and I bought this in-print, and I’ll gladly buy the hardcover edition that I believe will be out this Fall. I also ordered the “Decades Variants” through DCBS, and will be getting the 1,000 covers poster, which will be an excellent, appropriate addition to my comics space.

This is an issue that rightly deserves the “celebration” that variants offer. There are artists who may not otherwise have had involvement with the issue, who get to be associated with Action Comics #1000 if only with a variant. And as the first American comic book to make it to #1000…it’s more than worthy. 80 years of continuous publication of a comic titled Action Comics is nothing to sneeze at. I’m among the first to complain and gripe and grouse about variants, and will continue to, where they merely cheapen stuff and are “abused” (really, does a #17 or a #81 or a #962 truly deserve a variant? What makes such numbers special if they’re just another issue?) But this 1,000th issue deserves the added recognition, the “fun” of certain variants…especially what I’ve seen of the “Decades” variants, that bring back the logo style and even the DC logo of each decade…the DC Bullet I grew up on is back with several of the issues, and even the “swoosh” logo gets some love with the 2000s variant.

$7.99 for a single issue is a bit much in most cases. This is squarebound and has 81 story pages with no ads between stories nor interrupting any stories, and the cover is a stronger cardstock…so this is absolutely worth its price for the physical product as well as the content it contains.

None of the stories seem to specifically continue from anything; nothing I’m aware of comes off of a To Be Continued; and other than the Bendis segment leading into stuff out of/after this issue, that’s still 69 or so pages that stand alone quite well, neither requiring previous reading nor requiring subsequent reading. This is well worth getting just for itself; a 1,000th issue; a standalone, celebratory Superman issue. Perhaps it’s an endpoint; maybe it can be a starting point; it’s definitely an excellent one-off, special thing.

I highly recommend this to any Superman fan or anyone interested in checking out some Superman content, period, and especially if you don’t want to commit to anything ongoing or long-form.

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The Weekly Haul: Week of March 14, 2018

This week proved to be another relatively small week (thankfully!). It even allowed for a “priced” back issue.

weeklyhaul_03142018a

This week sees Action Comics #999 (no, that’s not a typo!) We now have something like six weeks until #1,000 hits end of April. Then the newest issue of Detective Comics, and a freebie in The World of Krypton. This issue is “sponsored by” SyFy trying to drum up support for their new tv series Krypton; the issue reprints the first issue of the Byrne mini-series of this name.

I enjoyed Sideways #1 enough to pick up the second issue…I’m cautiously interested. Then we have the newest issue of Mister Miracle, and the final issue of Ragman (billed as 12 and 6 issue series, respectively!)

The newest issue of DuckTales from IDW, based on the new animated series. IDW is gonna be SOL on me–I’m not putting this on a pull list–I haven’t been reading, haven’t kept up with the actual animated series, but don’t want to catch up and then be missing issues or have to hunt them later. BUT…as soon as an “A” cover is NOT available or I accidentally buy a non-standard/”A” cover, I’m done on principle!

I’m amused by these Venom True Believers issues; even though I do have Lethal Protector #1 (and handy, even, too!), I’ll be interested in comparing the two versions.

Finally, as a “priced” back issue, picked up Action Comics #40 from the New 52 run (aka #944 or so). That leaves me with just a handful of issues to look for as early as this weekend if I make it to a local “convention.”

Here’s hoping next week is a small one, as well!

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