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The Mighty Thor #700 [Review]

mighty_thor_0700_lenticularThe Blood of the Norns

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Walter Simonson, Matthew WIlson, Russell Dauterman, Daniel Acuna, James Harren, Dave Stewart, Becky Cloonan, Das Pastoras, Chris Burnham, Ive Svorcina, Andrew MacLean, Jill Thompson, Mike Del Mundo, Olivier Coipel
Letterer & Production: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover Artists: Russell Dauterman & Matthew Wilson
Lenticular Cover: Stephanie Hans (based on the original cover of The Death of Captain Marvel by Jim Starlin)
Associate Editor: Sarah Brunstad
Editor: Wil Moss
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: December 2017
Cover Price: $5.99

Along with Cable #150, I think this was the issue I was truly most curious about, content-wise…and sadly, number-wise. It’s a #700…I think Marvel‘s first. Much like Thor #500 was their first #500 issue back in the ’90s. Then there’s the lenticular cover, playing off of the classic The Death of Captain Marvel…one of my definite Starlin favorites with the whole Captain Marvel/Adam Warlock/Thanos/Infinity Gauntlet/cosmic stuff…a certain classic within my own life and time as a comics reader.

I certainly did not care for the higher price of this issue…but at least it’s a singular issue/narrative (albeit with a number of art teams on its many segments) and not a regular-sized main story with a ton of pointless-ish "extras" and add-ins and such just to inflate the thing artificially. And getting the lenticular cover edition makes it feel a bit more like a special issue and certainly physically/tangibly feel like it’s more worth its price. The quality of the lenticular effect is not good, though, with neither image particularly clear, though it seems the "classic" image is easier to see for backgrounds and title, while "Lady Thor" is fairly easy to see in the center.

Art-wise there’s a bunch of folks on this issue, names both familiar and not to me, perhaps most familiar being Walter Simonson, or Walt Simonson…a classic, notable, significant creator in the history of Marvel‘s Thor title. Given that there’s a lot of stuff happening all over the place–different settings, different times, different characters and types of characters–this issue actually benefits from a number of different art styles. While I don’t much care for some stuff, I can’t deny that overall, characters that I’d recognize look good in this issue, and even ones I don’t. Where the art takes a less-classic or less-realistic turn, it still works with the context of the story segment.

The story itself is lengthy enough and all over the place enough that I’m not gonna try to summarize it in detail here. Plus, not being "up" on the last few years of the characters’ stories outside of internet hearsay, I don’t know that I’d get specifics correct as is. Essentially, there’s a big attack happening that causes the knowledge of everyone’s fate to be removed…now that no one knows what WILL happen, the possibilities are endless. In the course of this, we check in on a bunch of different Thors and Thor artifacts. I still can’t get over this sense I get in reading this that "Thor" has become a "title" more than an actual NAME, and that’s probably where I most balk at the last few years of what I’ve heard of things. THOR might somehow become unworthy to carry Mjolnir, but that shouldn’t change that his NAME still IS Thor. Someone else might get the wield the hammer, but I don’t get how THEY suddenly become THOR. Especially while the genuine god is still around. I don’t know if it’s the same name historically, but at least for this issue, I loved the name given to Throg: Simon Walterson, a play on Walter Simonson.

As said, I’m not "up" on the last few years of stuff, so I’m sure there’s plenty throughout this issue to be appreciated that I don’t, and that I didn’t even notice, for that matter. That said, and all other complaints aside…I didn’t really WANT to like this issue.

But I did like it.

I tend to hate when something feels just like an opening chapter of a bigger story, arbitrarily chopped up into issue-sized chunks. This issue probably gets away with that, then, because it’s lengthier. And being a few days after I bought it, the price wasn’t so fresh in my mind and I was just reading the story FOR the story. The extra pages, the story touching on a number of different characters…this just felt like that much bigger a chunk of story overall. It’s by no means complete, but I didn’t feel lost the way I thought I would, and didn’t feel shortchanged when I got to the end of the issue. While this issue kicks off a presumably six-part The Death of The Mighty Thor, that and the lenticular cover are the only real references I picked up to a pending death, outside of the notion of Jane Foster’s cancer, period, being a built-in timer o sorts.

I also definitely enjoyed the fact that "Odinson" was in the book…he may be "unworthy" but is still present and part of the story, so it’s seeming (from this issue at least) like he’s not been absolutely shunted out of his own book.

I really don’t know if this is something ongoing readers would enjoy or not. I believe Aaron is the same writer that’s been on the various titles the last few years, chronicling the ongoing Jane Foster Thor stories, and much of the art team(s) I suspect are from those titles…so this is probably pretty consistent with the overall story that’s been unfolding. And I can’t speak for other fans who have felt put-off by the changes and such.

But me? I enjoyed this issue far more than I expected or intended to. I don’t know if this really falls into the Legacy headline or not, or if the inclusion of Odinson and other versions is simply TO fit into Legacy. But I’ll actually consider picking up the next issue if it’s not out on a huge week and there’s no confusion over which cover is the standard cover (this issue’s lenticular cover is marked as a variant, but due to marketing and hype, I consider the lenticular covers the main covers regardless of markings from the publisher).

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The ’80s Revisited: Detective Comics #572

detective_comics_0572The Doomsday Book

By: Mike W. Barr
Colored by: Adrienne Roy
Edited by: Denny O’Neil
Cover: Michael William Kaluta
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: March 1987
Cover Price: $1.25

Chapter One:
Artist: Alan Davis
Letterer: John Workman

Chapter Two
Artists: Terry Beatty & Dick Giordano
Letters: Todd Klein
Colors: Carl Gafford

Chapter Three
Arists: Carmine Infantino, Al Vey
Letterer: Todd Klein
Colorist: Carl Gafford

Chapter Four
Artist: E.R. Cruz
Letterer: Romeo Francisco

Centerpiece
Dick Sprang

Chapter Five
Artists: Alan Davis, Paul Neary
Letterer: John Workman

dick_sprang_remembers_detective_572

I’m finding that I’m a bit of a sucker for ’80s anniversary issues. Especially ones like this, where it’s not some round number of an issue, not a bunch of variant covers, not a relaunch or renumbering, not even the culmination of some huge story that’s overly self-aware of numbering. This seems–essentially–to be a nice, hefty, done-in-one full-length self-contained adventure…and it’s not at all hard to see where this could (by present-day standards) be dragged out as some six-issue mini-series (at least) if not multiple 2-3 issues mini-series or such.

But of course that would fly in the face of an anniversary ISSUE. In this case, celebrating 50 years of the title, not Batman himself, though the caped crusader has a definite role in the issue!

What we get here is an extra-sized issue with story elements on multiple fronts, allowing multiple art teams to work on the title, as well as the writer to flex and work with different characters that aren’t strictly Batman or his immediate Bat-group. This issue is from a time much closer to the title’s historical format with multiple characters sharing the title…even though Batman’s been the most prominent character, a number of other characters "came up" through the title, not necessarily related specifically to Batman or stories involving Batman himself.

I’ve been aware of Barr‘s work for a long time…and while I’ve come to know him as the writer of Batman: Year Two, and Camelot 3000, and Batman and the Outsiders and whatnot…I most associate him with Mantra, one of my favorite Ultraverse titles growing up in the ’90s. That a creator of a character I thoroughly enjoyed there also has such a history with Batman has been icing on the cake, so to speak.

I’ve primarily read Detective Comics from #604-onward…very much after the "anthology" format was basically jettisoned and it’s been just another Batman title. So while aware of its history, I haven’t actually read much of that history…at least not while of any age to truly appreciate it (I know I’ve read a number of issues from Grandpa’s collection, back in my earliest comic days, but that was a quarter-century ago!).

Slam Bradley finds himself with a client who’s under the gun–literally. Though Batman and Robin intervene for the moment, there’s more to the situation–and story–and he’s determined to figure it out. What he doesn’t count on is learning of a couple names with prominent ties to the past: Watson…and Moriarty. The Elongated Man–Ralph Dibny–gets involved, with a personal encounter with the villain at hand, confirming what Slam Bradley had learned. We then jump to "the past," and a tale of Sherlock Holmes…fitting to the continuity of this issue’s story, while being simply a new Sherlock Holmes story, and certainly celebrating the title Detective Comics.  The various branches of the overall story converge and we get back to Batman and Robin being on the page as all the characters come together…including a rather surprising (to the characters) figure, one that I had actually come to think would not be present in quite the way they turned out to be.

This issue is just over 30 years old, but I still step around stuff a bit. Consider this your spoiler warning.

After this line, I get into "spoilers," as I would if this had not been a three-decade old back-issue.

Batman meets a significantly-aged Sherlock Holmes here. As this was published in 1987, along with being the 50th anniversary of Detective Comics, it was the 100th anniversary of Sherlock Holmes. And with a mention of living conditions and such, and just HOW old the character looks at the end of this issue…it may have been a bit of a stretch to consider a man would live to be over 120 years old (if he was already an adult in adventures in 1887). Of course, 30 years later, this is no longer plausible in the slightest…at least to me. So it "dates" the issue, but in a good way…and it was a pleasant surprise to find that the cover was not JUST a case of being some thematic team-up where both characters appear in the course of the issue but don’t directly interact…we actually get to see Batman meet THE Sherlock Holmes. (Though I’m not gonna get into the meta-stuff of characters recognizing the STORIES but then having the story-accurate character showing up in their midst as a "real guy").

Though there were multiple art teams for the issue, with them being split up across different chapters (instead of several pages here, several there) it really served the story, and kept things from seeming choppy or such. Batman didn’t seem to be in much of the issue, but where he was, he seemed "’80s-accurate" to me; and the other characters (that I’m less familiar with, particularly from this time frame) all work and don’t stand out as contradictory to whatever I do know about them. The cover led me to believe (in conjunction with something I’d read in the past) that the focus of the issue might’ve been a Batman/Sherlock Holmes team-up/adventure. I was initially disappointed, as I thought when I bought the issue that it’d be a team-up. As the issue went on, it took on more a sense of reality, history, and "legacy" that I found intriguing…such that it was simply a treat to have the aged Holmes show up at the end as he did.

There’s a nice "center spread" by Dick Sprang that makes for a good touch, and far out-beats contemporary practices where it would have been a variant cover or a couple of variant covers. It’s just a nice double-page art piece showcasing Sprang‘s take on the characters.

I believe I paid $6 for this issue, against its $1.25 cover price. By contemporary comics’ standards, this was well worth that price and then some. For time it took to read, it more than out-matched contemporary comics, at the "inflated" or "priced back issue" dollar I paid for it. This would absolutely be worth getting out of a bargain bin…and I have no problem with having paid a slightly more "premium" price for it as an actual, priced back issue and not something from a bargain bin. This stands alone as a singular, strong issue, and other than knowing that the characters exist, you don’t really need to know any present-day (at the time) continuity to enjoy this issue; FROM this issue, I would not be able to tell you myself offhand what was going on in issues immediately before or immediately after this issue.

Highly recommended!

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25 Years of Spawn

Spawn recently had a 25th-anniversary Director’s Cut issue published, as part of the Image 25th anniversary year releases.

I initially bought the McFarlane cover (an homage to Ultimate Spider-Man #1), enjoying the homage and ‘tradition’ of homage covers of the title.

I wound up buying a second copy (different cover) in a RARE case of finding a worthwhile variant.

spawn_25_years

The cover’s a painted version based on the original #1 issue’s cover. And having a 2nd copy of #1 anyway, I realized I could put together a great little "art piece" utilizing the two issues, and so treated the purchase of the 2nd copy to be akin to buying a print.

And here in an 11" x 14" frame (the perfect size for bound-in comics posters or 2-panel wraparound covers and such) (or in this case, two distinct/separate issues), I have a copy of 1992’s Spawn #1, and 2017’s Spawn Director’s Cut #1.

Of course, being in the frame like this still physically protects the issues–they’re held tightly in place better than they’d be in a bag ‘n board; but the frame’s glass can be simply popped out with a little effort, so I still have "access" to these AS COMICS along with having this on my "art wall."

The Weekly Haul – Week of May 17, 2017 (Part Two)

Along with the closer-to-current-home shops that I’m able to get to pretty easily and "casually" I still maintain a pull list at the shop that’s been my "main" shop for nearly a decade now, prior to being laid off last summer.

I had a bigger haul there at Kenmore Komics & Games over the weekend, with the store’s 30th Anniversary Sale!

weeklyhaul_05172017b

I’ve maintained Spawn as a pull for over a year now, close to a year and a half–and at this point figure it’ll remain at least until McFarlane and/or Image bump it up to $3.99. I’ll be ok with a bump to say, $3.50, but if they go straight for the 33% hike straight past $3.25, $3.50, and $3.75 straight to $3.99, I’ll surely balk at it!

However, as a "special occasion," I’m ok with the $4.99 for the Spawn 25th Anniversary Director’s Cut of #1–I’m entertained at the cover (an homage to Ultimate Spider-Man #1, incidentally from 2000 or so–barely 8 years into Spawn‘s existence, where USM is itself some 16 1/2 years in the past!

Then there’s The Sovereigns, which I was NOT going to go for–it’s like Dynamite has no idea what to do with these characters! There was a year-long (year and a half with delays?) run of several of the former Gold Key books, then there was some other mini-series last year "teaming them up," and now there’s this–which seems to be yet another take on the properties (as a shared universe at that). Still, with my ill-will toward Valiant (coming up on 2 years since I dropped their entire brand cold-turkey over their crap stunt with Legends of the Geomancer), I’ll support a crappily-run situation like these in protest…at least Dynamite just has the generic/general/standard CRAP with variant covers, and isn’t actively trying to screw over fans for CONTENT.

And I’d requested the standard cover for Flash #22…I still want to get a standard Batman #21 to "frame" along with this for my wall.

weeklyhaul_05172017c

As part of the 20th anniversary sale, I hit the back-issue bins and found The Untold Legend of the Batman mini-series. I’m quite certain I have these issues in my collection already…but darned if I’d be able to locate them without digging through several dozen shortboxes and a few dozen longboxes…with the sale, I got all three issues for less than the cost of two contemporary Marvel comics. So three issues’ content that I want to read sooner than later cheaper than two issues that I’d have no interest in? Definitely a worthwhile price, and well within my notion that I’ll gladly (relatively) pay up to $4ish in general for back issues as that’s balanced against what I’m paying anyway for a new/contemporary comic.

weeklyhaul_05172017d

I also finally remembered to check for the AvX: Consequences #5 issue, hoping I’m actually remembering the correct issue that I’m missing. I’d managed to get 4 of the 5 issues as single issues, but somehow either flat-out missed the fifth, or misplaced it and never came across it consciously when going through my boxes. So though I have the two hardcover Omnibus volumes, this gives me a complete set, I believe, of the core AvX 0-12 and Consequences 1-5.

I also snagged the Supergirl volume from a 50%-off bin, figuring for the savings, well worth getting for now, even though the first volume wasn’t there. Fortunately, it turned out I already had the first volume–it’s the Supergirl by Peter David volumes I never wound up acquiring…so this goes with the first volume and thus was all the more a great purchase!

weeklyhaul_05172017e

Along with the purchases, got two free Castle volumes in hardcover–apparently with chain bookstore returns, the shop got quite a large volume of these for free as part of a blowout, so they were additional notes of "thanks" to customers for coming by.

kenmore_30th_anniversary_dice

Finally, as with the 25th anniversary half a decade ago, John had commemorative dice made, and told me to go ahead and take a couple sets. Along with a couple Gen Con D6s, the 25th anniversary one has been a favorite, and these’ll be going into the dice bag as well!

All in all, quite the haul for not a bad price, and some sweet bonuses. There’s also a Riverdale print that I’ll likely be adding to my wall o’ art.

Hard to believe that I’ve been around long enough to see comic shops celebrating 20+ year anniversaries; given timing, I’d just missed the 20th anniversary when I discovered Kenmore, but have been around for nearly 1/3 of the shop’s existence.

And closer to this house, Comic Heaven  recently celebrated an anniversary–I know I have been going there for nearly 24 years now! And even Comics & Friends at the Great Lakes Mall I believe has been around nearly a decade now–their Lake Effect Comic Con is coming up in a couple weeks for its eighth year!

The Covers of Superman #75

Here are the covers to Superman #75 from November, 1992:

superman_0075_all_versions

I’m not certain if the second through fourth printings were made available to actual newsstands to have the bar code instead of creator credits in the UPC box (and I’m not sure that I have a version of the first printing with the creator credits). But aside from barcode/not-barcode, these are the six* versions of Superman #75/the death of Superman from 1992 that one might come across.

(* does not include the “platinum” edition nor the 1999/2000 Millennium Edition)

  1. Black-bag Collector’s Edition (may or may not be opened, may or may not contain the bonus items that ‘necessitated’ the bag)
  2. Opened Black-bag edition with none of the accessories
  3. Newsstand edition first print
  4. –second print
  5. –third print
  6. –fourth print

Back in 1992, I’d gotten the black bag edition, opening at least one of the copies (I believe I wound up with 3 total). Right around that time, I was only ever able to get the fourth print newsstand edition…coming across the other printings and bag-less collector’s edition copies in recent years in quarter/bargain bins.

Perhaps suggesting just how relatively “common” the issue has become IN bargain bins…rather than selling one of the tattered-cape covers, I recently saw a dealer at a convention selling a “set” of all 4 printings for whatever price (I couldn’t read it from a distance and didn’t feel like asking).

Hard to believe it’s been 24 years.

My Multiple Editions of Kingdom Come

While it’s only more recently with the release of the 20th Anniversary Edition of the book that brought it back to my attention (as well as several podcasts and other recognition being given to celebrating the 20-year-history of it), Kingdom Come is truly one of the "classics" from my formative years being into comics.

kingdom_come_multi_editions

Pictured here are the 4 original issues, the hardback of the novelization, the 2008 new edition TPB, the original 1990s edition TPB, and the just-released 20th Anniversary Deluxe Hardcover.

Consciously missing are the Absolute Edition as well as some other ’90s hardcover, and the MMPB edition of the novelization (which as of this morning ranges from ~$32 with shipping on Amazon for "used" copies and ~$84-87 for "new" condition).

I had tried the first issue or two "off the rack" 20 years ago, based on the Alex Ross art, and I think a bit of the "collector" mentality–this being the "next" Alex Ross project, or DC‘s version of Marvels. (having little idea that he’d be a key foundation for Earth X as Marvel‘s version of Kingdome Come!).

I never initially finished out the story–it was a couple years later at least before I got a copy of the first TPB edition and finally read the entirety of the story. And of course, the novelization was a real treat, roughly in the age when I so thoroughly enjoyed other novelizations like The Death and Life of Superman and Batman: Knightfall (and though I didn’t know they were novelizations of comics at the time, several Aliens and Aliens vs. Predator novels).

While I’m not opposed to owning any of the "missing" editions, the only one I’m particularly interested in is the book-on-tape "audio-drama" edition, though I don’t expect to ever find that for anything resembling a reasonable price.

I missed Dark Knight and Watchmen by just a couple years…but it’s been an interesting experience seeing what an integral part of the "landscape" Kingdom Come has been, for my actually being there from the start.

Now, DC Comics just needs to do a single-volume edition of the Johns story from JSA a few years back–Thy Kingdom Come and include the Kingdom Come Specials in the volume.

My Four X-Men 100s

Sometimes, it actually doesn’t seem like it’s been all that long that I’ve been into comics. It can seem so recent, my reading certain stories for the first time, discovering characters the first time, wondering at the mysterious backgrounds and motivations and all that for them.

Characters that were around for a couple years already seemed old and completely established.

Yet other times, reality sets in and I realize that some of those characters had hardly even been introduced, and I’ve basically been around for their whole existence, within a reasonable +/- tolerance.

Rarely is it driven home more for me than with key "anniversary" issues.

Such as looking at these, the even #100s issues I’ve been around for with Uncanny X-Men…that regardless of having been following much at the time or not, I’ve bought "off the shelf" as new issues.

uncanny_xmen_300_400_500_600

Four of the six "round number" 100 issues for the title. #300 in 1993, through #600 this past week. I’ve been buying the title off and on for half of its entire existence.

Which is a mighty scary thought, considering I came to the party 300 issues into the run.

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