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The Weekly Haul – Week of December 21st, 2016

This was a relatively small week, with a number of factors.

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New Superman; new Aliens: Life and Death (hard to believe it’s been 2 years now since the whole Fire and Stone thing!). And from a 50% off bin, the first volume of the Clone Saga to go with my first four Ben Reilly Epic.

50% off a Marvel trade is often stretching price-worthiness for me; "only" 40-42% (such as from InStockTrades) is a stretch in general, though still beats the heck outta full price.

Where with DC having reasonably-priced volumes, I’m much more willing to pay full price for those!

…And I’m leaving this at that. Short ‘n sweet. Back to revisiting the ’90s Friday, most likely… and maybe a "bonus" post or two over the weekend with Christmas and all.

The Weekly Haul – Week of October 26, 2016

This week was a rather large week…though, granted, it was also a make-up week, picking up stuff from the usual shop, which I’ve had to drop back to less-frequent visits.

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New Action Comics from this week; TMNT #63 from last week or the week before, with TMNT Universe from this week. The Aliens: Life and Death issue is from some time back, while Aliens: Defiance is from this week. I’m not certain if Letter 44 and the IDW Greatest Hits: Godzilla are from this week or not.

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I also stopped by a Half-Price Books intending to check for Dragonlance and Magic: The Gathering novels, see if they had anything new. I did find a new MTG novel. I probably should have walked out then, but I just had to check out comics stuff, didn’t I?

Teen Titans: Earth One (vol. 2) was there…and given my hunt for the first one, knowing I’d want to get this, figured might as well get it now at the actual half-off, rather than waste time/money/gas hunting it later. I assume that at least part of this Batman: Anarky volume was/will be reprinted in the Norm Breyfogle hardcover(s) from DC…but with some stuff leaping from late-1980s to late-1990s, and this being old, out of print, AND ACTUALLY HALF OFF, figured I’d regret not getting it.

Before actually getting to the register, I browsed the single-issue comics section in a cursory fashion…comics were marked as being "price as marked." Found this Batman preview issue with "Free" marked (by the publisher) over the price section…figured I’d challenge the cashier. No other price marked on the item; comics are "price as marked" and it’s marked as "free," but they’re not gonna just give away something. I was quite satisfied when this was manually entered as "25 cents" and I didn’t complain.

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I made the "mistake" of browsing a cart of new stuff to the store, and spotted an unfamiliar Superman book. I almost ignored it, but on closer inspection realized what it was, and could not talk myself into passing it up. Superman: From the 30s to the 70s. While hardly in pristine condition…the book is from the (early?) 1970s, so is older than me, and not a book I "see all the time" or such. And it’s Superman. So…’nuff said.

At least it was cheaper than 4 Marvel comics!

Here’s hoping that next week is a small week for new comics…

New Toys: TMNT, Rogue, and Aliens

Over the weekend, along with going to a small convention, I also found a couple toys I’d been looking for…and a friend gave me some others that are equally (if not moreso) cool.

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Quite some time back, I was disappointed at the "Karai Serpent" figure. When I recently came across the Armaggon figure, I noticed reference to this figure, and have had my eye out since. Heading into November very shortly and the shopping season, I did not want to pass on this figure, having found it… who knows when I’d come across it again.

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I again don’t really see any other figures of particular interest to me–I have come across my original 1980s Mondo Gecko, so am interested in getting the new one for the contrast as I have with a number of other characters. Between what I see on this card back and the 2016 live-action movie figures…there’s really nothing that I’ll be much looking for in the near future, that I am presently aware of.

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Here’s the "profile card" for Karai…


Rogue has long been one of my favorite X-Men characters…at least in the comics. And probably more specifically, the 1990s comics. Even more specifically, probably from 1991’s X-Men #1 to around The Trial of Gambit, maybe a bit beyond.

I had intended to–as with most other waves–ignore the X-Men wave of the Marvel Legends figures.

But I found myself interested in the Rogue figure…if not the price of these figures.

So when I came across the figure at a 25% discount…the price became a bit more palatable…"only" $2 more than what Target (ridiculously!) has as their pricing of the 3.75" figures.

And as I told my friend when I put the figure in the cart…if I did not buy it immediately, we’d never see this figure "in the wild" again. Of course, having bought it…I expect I might see it "everywhere" now.

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I’m not fond of the build-a-figure things anymore…not at these prices. When the regular figures were $7-8ish and you only needed 5-6 to build the bigger figure, they were pretty cool. But at $20/figure (regular asking price), they’re just way too expensive these days, especially when I’m truly only interested in a couple figures in the line and the build-a-figure itself.

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The Weekly Haul – Week of September 21, 2016

I continue to be thoroughly, disgustingly frustrated with variants.

See, this should have been a quick, simple week.

Just a couple issues I was looking for; grab ’em and go, right? Check out that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issue below!

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I wound up flipping through EVERY SINGLE ISSUE of Superman, just trying to ensure that what I was getting was NOT a variant.

I then did the same thing with the Aliens issue.

There was only the single copy left of the Savage Dragon, so I sincerely hope it is NOT a variant, either, or I am really gonna be mad.

Puzzling over the TMNT comic?

Yeah, there were 5-6 copies of the title on the rack…but they were VARIANTS! Several “SUB CVR” variants and at least one “RI CVR” variant!

But the regular, actual, main, REAL cover? Nope, nada.

I went to a second shop as well looking for it, but they didn’t even have the issue in ANY form, PERIOD.

So hey, saves ME money. I was gonna double-dip for immediacy…I’ll just have to wait til I get to Kenmore next week or so where the issue is pulled for me.

Shows just how intensely I dislike variants on principle that even if I am buying two copies of the issue for immediacy I still honestly do. not. want. the variants!

There’s a word for this–something like discouraging–but stronger.

If I ever flat-out just up and walk away from comics, it’s going to be on price, and variants-on-principle.

Latest Aliens and Predators Shelf Configuration – September 12, 2016

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aliens_shelf_sept12bWe’re into September, which means a couple of new Aliens related books due out.

I believe this week will see the release of The Complete Aliens Omnibus volume two, collecting two of the Dark Horse novels after the initial trilogy.

And the end of the month will see the release of Alien vs. Predator: Armageddon (Book 3 of a "crossover trilogy" called The Rage War by Tim Lebbon.

We also have the current Dark Horse Comics series Aliens: Defiance in progress, as well as a new Judge Dredd/Aliens/Predator series with an upcoming Aliens: Life and Death (though after 2014’s Aliens/Predator/AvP/Prometheus event and subsequent one-volume collection, I’m just waiting for the one-volume collection this time around, most likely).

There was also a recent collection of general DC Comics/Dark Horse Aliens stuff put out, and more recently a volume of DC Comics/Dark Horse Superman stuff (of primary interest to me, the Superman/Aliens and Superman/Aliens 2 material) published.

Along with the various books and comics, there’s the new Aliens Queen 6" Funko Pop figure that just came out (at least according to a months-old Amazon pre-order that just arrived). While I’ve had the "regular" Alien, this Queen is one of the larger oversized figures… and I quite like it, all things considered.

A couple weeks ago, I found one of the mid-2000s Dark Horse Press Predator novels at a used book shop*. Rather crummy condition, but at half cover price and to have it, I won’t complain much for the moment.

(* not Half-Price Books. I figure it could be missing the cover and they’d mark it up to at least $50 just because it’s out of print and not necessarily due to any great demand beyond myself…)

I believe there are only 3 or so Predator novels I’m missing, now to have all of those; certainly still missing a bunch of comic/collected volumes, but I’ve found the novels a lot more satisfying for both Aliens and Predator, and certainly more "history" with the novels.

And as seen in the photos above, also some cool toys for them–primarily Funko product, with a couple Minimates creatures and a Neca figure thrown in for my kinda bookshelves…

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The Weekly Haul – Week of September 7th, 2016

This was a much better haul this week, with a visit to the usual comic shop, and only a passing visit to the closer-by one.

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Though they’re doomed to be duplicates with the Rebirth bundle from DCBS, snagged Superman and Supergirl. Also Darkwing Duck and Aliens: Defiance, from previous weeks’ pulls.

Then I did end up hitting the bargain bins.

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A quick glance at the bargain bins told me there was nothing really of interest, but I flipped through anyway, once I spotted a bin that I hadn’t seen at first. In this one, for 80% off, I found the Marvels: 10th Anniversary Edition, and quickly did the math in my head. Yep. For $10, on a $50.00 book that I have honestly wanted since I first learned of its existence some twelve years ago, this was a no-brainer. The book sports a little bit of wear–or at least, the dust jacket does. But it’s more than acceptable given the price!

Then the Wolverine hardcover was a freebie for buying something from the 80% off bin! At the closer-by shop, after seeing it for several weeks, I "gave in" and snagged the Heralds volume. Oversized hardcover, contains 4 issues (I think), at the price of one single regular-sized Marvel comic? Considering I couldn’t find it showing in my ‘inventory’ on my phone, opted to go for it.

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There were a lot of "new" ’90s books in the quarter-bins, and I snagged a few, though they were still collectively cheaper than two current Marvel books!

The Batman: Sword of Azrael #1 I recall as–at one time–being listed in Wizard as a $40 book. 25 cents today! It wasn’t til I got the thing home that I noticed a scribble on the cover…could be an autograph, though there’s no certificate or anything for its authenticity. Still, for only 25 cents, I’m quite happy. I actually had forgotten that the cover folds out…and this on a roughly standard-priced single-cover "iconic image" issue. Today these would be 3 different covers, all for this first issue: the center image as the "main" cover, the left panel as the "original Azrael" cover, and of course, the actual "Batman" cover for the right.

And there’s just something–to me–appealing with a handful of the Marvel #1s that Marverick and Mutant X are a part of.

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I’m quite interested in assembling the entire 18-issue run of Eclipso, and have been for years. Ideally from 25-cent bins, as I could probably just go online and get it relatively easily as $1+ single issues. Snagged the Prodigy variant because of the art, and nostalgia (Slingers was a cool concept, to me!). The Sovereign Seven Plus issue is one I may or may not have already, but not a bad one to snag. And the Doom Force caught my eye initially as a #1, then for curiosity with the "Suggested for Mature Readers" note. And the cover just looks like a ’90s book..! So why not?

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I’ve been working on an extra set of Mantra, and this Giant-Size issue comlements that nicely. The Superman issue is one of my favorite cover images, one I’d love to have a poster of! Nomad #1 for the sake of hey! Nomad #1! And though I had a copy from several years ago, I think this copy of Parallax: Emerald Night is in better condition and so will be a ‘replacement copy’ as well as a ‘convenience copy’ to have my "core series" set of The Final Night unified for now.

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I’m a sucker for old Wizard issues, especially as they are a relative rarity at all in bargain bins, and I have a shelf full of all my old issues and then some. The Image themed Wizard Special Edition is a new one for me. And this copy of #12 is in far better condition than the copy I had previously, thus serves as an excellent replacement copy for the rather beat-up copy I’d had. The Mage issue/collected edition was an oddity that caught my attention…it’s a Book One yet has a #9 on the cover…I still don’t have the issues all straight for this series. But for only 25 cents, I added it to the stack!

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These six issues were relatively random. Several for nostalgia, others for probably filling-in-of-holes in runs. All of these would likely be $2+ at Half-Price Books, with the Batman issue probably getting priced at $5-$10, based on recent patterns of pricing. All six for 25 cents each at the actual comic shop that knows the value of these sorts of issues.

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And finally, several Marvel Annuals…I may eventually see if I can assemble a set of all of the ____ and ____ ’98 annuals. For now, two new (I think) ones, plus the ’96 X-Force and Cable. I would have passed on the Gen13/Generation X and Generation X/Gen13 issues had both not been present. I found one in the back of one box, the other in the front of an adjacent box, and decided to grab them. Some weird synergy to them, and hopefully an interesting read eventually!

All in all, considering the stack of older stuff, the hardcovers, AND the new issues, this was an excellent haul…though one that certainly could have been a lot more expensive.

#HPBHaul – May 29th & 30th, 2016

Along with getting to see one of my best friends for the first time since last year, I got to visit a Half-Price Books location far off my beaten path…one that I don’t think I’ve been to in at least a couple years (the last time that I went to it with her).

And this visit was quite a jackpot!

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First off, just walking down the main aisle, I spotted a distinctive Batman logo on the spines of two hardcovers. When I stopped to pay attention, I noticed a third one with no dust jacket. I had no idea what these were, I did not even know they’d existed. Now, I have a couple of mass-market paperbacks, The Further Adventures of the Batman (a friend gave me years ago, featuring the Joker) and I recall two others, The Further Adventures of the Batman vol. 2 (featuring the Penguin) and The Further Adventures of the Batman vol. 3 (featuring Catwoman).

These three hardback editions seem to be still other volumes focusing on a mixture of big-name Batman rogues. And I knew that if I left ’em, I’d totally regret it, so I grabbed all 3 (even the one without a dustjacket…at least I have the volume, and maybe I can find a dust jacket for it later).

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Another excellent score are these Aliens and Predator MMPBs–somehow, I did NOT already have the Berserker one despite all the other Aliens books. And until a couple months ago with discovering the The Rage War "crossover" I’d not paid any attention to past Predator volumes. Finding these three–I believe–leaves me only the DH Press books published back in ~2006 by Dark Horse that are unfortunately extremely rare and absolutely ridiculously priced on the secondary market (I, for one, will NOT pay $230.00 or $90.00 or even $30.00 for a single MMPB!)

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Finally, there’s Manhattan Transfer, a sci-fi book I remember getting and reading from the library at LEAST twice as a kid–I loved the story! And I’d thought of it here and there and occasionally tried looking it up online, but could never even find placeholder references for it. Several weeks ago I was talking about this with a coworker, and it rang some kind of bell with him, and he found it…AND revealed why I’d had zero luck finding it. The book is Manhattan Transfer while I’d been looking for variants on Manhattan Project. Oops.

And the Super-Powers dvd would not normally have interested me, but it was "only" $7…I figure all I have to do is spend 15-20 minutes watching it, and it’ll justify itself in value against two $3.99 comics! Anything more is just bonus on that.

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And then on Monday I went to another HPB where I (finally) bought the GI Joe: Cobra Civil War and GI Joe: Cobra Command volumes. I’d been eyeing them for weeks, and had determined that if I was going to buy either I wanted to buy both…but even at half off, it wasn’t a minor purchase.

Fortunately, both yesterday and today, what I bought was 20% off the posted pricing, which made the already-great buys even better…and I "pulled the trigger" on buying these to avoid "missing out" and truly regretting it later.

Continued Grousing about HPB Comics Pricing

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Aliens: Defiance #1 [Review]

aliensdefiance0001Episode One: Derelict

Script: Brian Wood
Art: Tristan Jones
Colors: Dan Jackson
Lettering: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover: Massimon Carnevale
Publisher: Mike Richardson
Editor: Spencer Cushing
Designer: Cindy Calcerez-Sprague
Digital Art Technitian: Conley Smith
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Date: April 2016
Cover Price: $3.99

My earliest exposure to Aliens was the final battle with the Queen at the end of the 1986 film, that I saw accidentally, wandering out one time to where Dad had fallen asleep watching it or whatever preceded it. Several years later, I came across and read the novelization of Alien3, which led to me seeing that film (my first-ever R-rated film sought out!), and in turn led to “backtracking” to the others. I also recall at some point realizing I had read the novelization of the first film at some point without ever realizing when I read it that it had anything to do with any movie. I also came across the novels that expanded the Aliens universe, and which I eventually came to learn were themselves based on comics. It would be a few more years before I ever got around to getting to read those original comics–particularly the first ‘trilogy’. While I’ve “lapsed” over the years, the last few years I have been quite interested to learn of any Aliens comic series, and occasionally lament that it’s not a truly ongoing property (while realizing that it works better with finite stories). As a gamer, I’m pretty lax, and have not played the recent game with Ripley’s daughter, though I’ve been told a fair bit of the story (sadly, not consciously retained). But hey…comics, right?

So here I am…brand new long-form Aliens story kicking off, its cover putting me a bit in mind of a/the video game, and intrigued at what I BELIEVE to be at least a 12-issue saga–perhaps the longest single Aliens story I’ve been a part of as a fan (not getting into the comics until about a decade ago). I know Brian Wood‘s name from some prior stuff I’ve read/sampled–Northlanders, DMZ, The Massive–and been aware of his name on stuff like Star Wars more recently…so that’s a welcome factor for a new Aliens series. Icing on the cake is art by Tristan Jones, who I became aware of with his work on the Tales of the TMNT title from original TMNT publisher Mirage a few years back, and have loved seeing his work on various other projects since…and whose visual style seems a perfect fit to me for the Aliens property.

This issue is a first issue, giving us basically a brief paragraph of context/setup before we’re launched into the thick of things. We meet Zula Hendricks, a private involved in a mission to a derelict spacecraft. She and her fellow marines encounter Xenomorphs, and the situation does not go well. She and a synthetic survive, though she quickly learns that the synthetic is acting against programming, and her own world is changing as a result.

The story is good, for what it is. Which is not meant to be a negative statement…but this is only the first chapter of a multi-issue arc, that I believe is a year-long, so this is hardly going to be a full story in and of itself, nor is it giving everything away. And a single issue isn’t really enough space to re-introduce readers to a property, introduce new characters and detail their history, recent past, and present while also showing the scope of the property and of space and the horrors of the Xenomorphs. But we do get a fair bit packed into this, with Zula’s introduction and some flashbacks, a cameo of Amanda Ripley (which I believe thusly situates this time-wise somewhere between the first and second films), the synthetic Davis, some context for Zula and her place in things, and the final-page reveal of what seems to be the “mission” of this particular series…piquing my interest such that I almost wish this was a weekly series, because waiting another month for the next tidbit seems far too long. It’s not a cliffhanger in and of itself, but more a concept that promises a lot of great stuff, and I want to see it developed and played out, and be along for the ride.

Jones’ visuals are a great fit for this story, providing a great overall feel for this issue. His style is–as said above–very well suited for this property, and gives a gritty, dark, creepy look to the Xenomorphs and their brand of violence. The humans/humanoids come across as I would expect, while exuding whatever it is that just FEELS like they’re in an Aliens story. The linework and layouts are impressive, giving a sort of cinematic flow to the issue…and I’m pleased at the lack of full or double-page spreads, which often feel like cheats and wastes of space when they’re the bulk of an issue. Only one page is a single/full-page image, and that’s the ending of the issue, where after all those pages crammed full of panels, it provides a stark contrast, and really drives home the importance of the “moment” that it conveys.

The cover is also a fantastic piece of art, and for me quite iconic and recognizeable. It’s also all the more impressive to me as it’s the only cover image I’ve seen for this, allowing it to stand as itself and not be just one in a sea of variant covers diluting the thing. While there may be a variant or two out there specific to someone, I don’t believe there are any alternate covers from Dark Horse in and of itself as a push.

Plenty of questions are opened up here, and the apparent premise of this series now holds a great deal of potential. I look forward to learning more of Zula as well as Davis, and seeing what sort of interactions the two have. I’m interested in how their ‘mission’ will play out, and play into the larger scope of the Aliens universe. While we get the cameo of Amanda Ripley, I believe her story is told in the videogame, and more of an “Easter egg” tossed in for fans as well as being an indicator of the time this is set in. I look forward to seeing and learning more about the Aliens, and seeing these characters grow in their own knowledge and understanding of same.

It will be interesting to see how this is paced, overall as a series…but I almost wish this was already a completed work. As a first issue, this works well overall. I don’t know that this is something that in and of itself right now as a singular issue will pull anyone “new” into Aliens or be necessarily the greatest introduction to the property…but whether long-time fan of the Aliens comics or just now checking them out being familiar with the films and/or video game, I think this is a great start into the comics side of things.

I’m not particularly enamored with the cover price, but will suck it up, given this is Aliens . I’m definitely on board for this series, and definitely recommend checking it out if you’ve any interest already in the property.

The Weekly Haul – Week of April 27, 2016

This seems to be a small week overall. I’d thought I had more stuff on my pulls than I actually had waiting for me.

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I’ve been looking forward to Aliens: Defiance for ages now; and I’m following the current Superman story as we head toward Rebirth, and wasn’t about to pass up the new Darkwing Duck (especially with no personal conflict–I have yet to have any problem with this publisher, while I’d’ve been quite conflicted if it was again a Boom product).

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Taking up some of the “slack” I did a final raid of the Essentials bargain bins. I got these four volumes for the price of a whopping TWO new Marvel single issues.

I honestly would’ve snagged a bunch of other volumes, but they were “later” numbered volumes in series that would be financially prohibitive to try to track down amidst everything else…to say nothing of simple shelf-space which has come to be a definite premium on the whole.

Then there’s the online stuff…where my doubt and stubbornness paid off in placing an order today that I’ll likely post about next week when it arrives. Along with the Age of Apocalypse Omnibus, it takes care of the “splurging” part of my tax return for the year, I think.

The Weekly Haul: Week of March 09, 2016

This has been a HUGE week for me with money spent, well beyond any usual “preference,” purchasing the DC: The New 52 Zero Omnibus for over $100 cheaper than cover price, as well as the hardcover Graphic Novel + BluRay + Digital editions of The Death of Superman and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

And of course, some “regular” stuff in the mix.

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After last week’s huge bargain-bin haul of Green Lantern stuff, I also tracked down a newsstand edition copy of GL #81–the “funeral” issue for Hal Jordan, that had (at least via quarter bins and price I was willing to pay) eluded me since its release some 19ish years ago.

This week, curious if the usual LCS had a non-barcoded newsstand edition or better condition copy, I found that they did not…however, they had the “Collector’s Edition” for “only” $6. For only $2 more than a contemporary comic, coming with the bag and board, cardstock cover with enhancement and being a nearly two-decade-old comic that I have NOT seen all over the place…I barely hesitated.

My actual pull-list books for the week consisted of the three TMNT books here–the series based on the animated cartoon series; the final issue of City at War done in color, and the latest issue of the Batman/TMNT 6-issue mini (clearly a DC-driven product, as IDW doesn’t seem capable or willing to do anything longer than 4 issues at a time for anything “current”/”new”).

And seeing my obvious interest in the ashcan, I was given the Aliens: Defiance ashcan, previewing the upcoming Aliens series with art by Tristan Jones (whose work I’ve enjoyed on a number of other projects, chiefly Mirage TMNT stuff before the sale to Viacom).

If you’ve read many of my reviews, you know I’ve groused in the past about multi-page “previews” of upcoming books “padding” whatever the current issue is that I’m reading. I’ve also suggested I’d rather companies do some separate “preview issue” each week or month rather than stuff a quarter of an issue into other books so that if I buy a new book it feels extra thick and is disappointingly short, and when I buy something that was previewed, I’m only getting 3/4 the value sine 1/4 was already given away.

Ashcans are a great way to get around that, and I’d fairly willingly pay for some, if only for the novelty. If they can be just given away, all the better! This one I actually read cover to cover, and enjoyed the art–one of very few times the art is more of a draw for me than the story. (Though being an Aliens project, I’d’ve already been interested; Jones‘ art ensures my monthly purchase of the thing).

We’ll see what next week holds, I guess…though hopefully it’ll be a far cheaper week…

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