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The Weekly Haul – Week of August 27th, 2014

A fairly small week. I think I’ve dropped Batman Eternal, passing on it this week. (or at least, maybe I’ll be done with the weekly buying and catch up every few weeks or so).

weekly_haul_august_27_2014

Given Valiant has about 9 titles, two in one week is a nice balance: Rai by itself, and X-O Manowar as the week’s Armor Hunters tie-in.

New issue of TMNT: Turtles in Time, and newest Letter 44 address the rest, with Superman as the lone DC/Marvel representative.

All in all a good week’s worth of comics. Best of all, kept things in the $20 range…

The Five Valiant Chromiums

I was going to pass on the later ones after not being particularly thrilled with the initial Armor Hunters #1 Chromium cover, comparing it thoroughly to my favorite “old-school” Valiant chromium cover: 1993’s X-O Manowar #0.

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But I’d requested them, and though the store owner gave me an out–I went ahead and snagged ’em all.

Yeah, I loathe variants on principle, but even I have to make exceptions here or there, and these go with the “old school” “regular and collectors’ editions” format, rather than different images.

Whether one goes with the regular cover or the chromium cover…it’s still the same image and such…one’s “just” paper and the other’s this much thicker, sturdier material. But the fairly “iconic” images–Armor Hunters #1 and X-O Manowar #26–are still consistent. There’s not some random cover by a random artist, or some “theme of the month” or such.

Of course, now that I do have these…it’s back to standard most regular “A” cover available for the foreseeable future!

The Weekly Haul – Week of July 30th, 2014

This week’s haul was rather moderate–not tiny, but not particularly huge or overwhelming in either cost or quantity.

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Since I’d requested them sight unseen, I’ve continued with the Chromium covers, and with these being a VERY RARE EXCEPTION to my usual no-variants rule, I’ve got both editions of Armor Hunters: Harbinger. And I’ve continued with Futures End and Batman Eternal

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I half-heartedly flipped through the quarter-bins for anything new or interesting. I probably already have the X-Factor issue, but not certain–it’s from near the end of the original run, where my collection remains sparser than earlier in the series. I don’t consciously remember the War Story issue, but had the first couple “waves” of War Story issues, so why not. And several Werewolf issues that I believe will make a fine addition to the Vampire issues I bought last week.

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And because–at 90% off cover, Scalped vols. 2 & 3 (I got vol. 1 back in 2007) cost less than $4–I figured why not? I don’t recall how long the series ran, but I haven’t (yet) read the first volume, even, so these’ll add to a hopefully good, interesting reading when I get around to it. And with the discount I’d had on that one seven years ago, I don’t think I’ve topped $12 for the 3 so far.

I am going to have to decide soon if I *really* want to keep up with the DC Weeklies. They’ve not been bad, but I’ve had no problem going several weeks without READING, between actually reading the issues. And with Zero Year ending, I don’t know if the Batman Eternal will start having more direct tie-ins to the main title or not, and I don’t want to be forced (or enticed) into buying yet MORE series on a regular bases, especially when they’d likely be $3.99 to the weeklies’ $2.99.

The Weekly Haul – Week of July 23rd, 2014

As new comics go, this week is definitely one of the biggest in quite awhile, with a pretty significant haul just FOR the new-this-week comics!

batman_day_free_stuff

This was ‘Batman Day’, so there’s a free special edition of Detective Comics #27, reprinting the original first appearance of Batman, as well as a couple other features/reimaginings/retellings of the story, it looks like. The Vertigo Preview is the way I prefer my “previews”–a separate comic-sized thing, rather than several pages of “padding” in regular issues. The Portfolio of upcoming action figures and statues is interesting…and if I had the space/finances I’d definitely be interested in several of the statues!

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While I was content to go simply with the Adam West mask, the store owner told me to go ahead and take one of each, so…got all four of the masks offered. Dark Knight, Original, New 52, and Adam West.

doctor_who_premieres

Two new Doctor Who series have begun, one focused on the Tenth Doctor, one on the Eleventh. I haven’t been particularly enamored with other Doctor Who comics, but was certainly interested enough to give these both at least a try for the first issue. And continuing my collection of the new Valiant chromium covers…

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Two new Valiant issues including the regular edition of Armor Hunters: Bloodshot. And though the Gold Key line from Dynamite is not Valiant, they’re in the same vein and I’m filing them in my Current Valiant box.

tmnt_stuff

Latest Letter 44 and two new TMNT issues this week…

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And the latest of both of DC‘s current weeklies and the new issue of Superman. While I still loathe the Superman title moving to $3.99, I’m tentatively (case-by-case/issue-by-issue) onboard for the current arc with Johns on the writing.

X-O Manowar #26 [Review]

xomanowar026Tall Tales

Writer: Robert Venditti
Penciler: Diego Bernard
Inker: Alisson Rodrigues
Colorist: Brian Reber
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover Artists: Clayton Crain and Trevor Hairsine
Assistant Editor: Josh Johns
Executive Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99 ($5.99 Chromium Cover)

I’m not often a fan of the main character not being in a book, and for those solely reading this title, that could be a problem this issue. While this IS an issue of X-O Manowar, there’s no appearance or mention of Aric in this issue. Of course, technically, “X-O Manowar” is the armor’s designation whether Aric’s in it or not, but that puts us pretty close to “splitting hairs” territory for the moment. However, as one reading both this and the Armor Hunters mini (the whole ‘event’ for that matter), I have no problem with it, and at worst would liken it to a Marvel event where an ongoing book suddenly becomes “background detail” for a separate “event book.”

I’d said about Armor Hunters #1 that it felt like an issue of this title, and this issue feels like it could be a standalone Armor Hunters issue–even a #1 for an ongoing or such. This issue shows us the “origin” of Malgam and Reebo’s involvement with the Armor Hunters. We find them in a bar seeking their next job, where they stumble across one no one else will touch. Reasoning that if they take on what no one else would they could quickly make a name for themselves, they take it on. Of course, things don’t go at all as they’d planned, and they find themselves in the fight of their lives–for their lives–against a lone Armor…a fight that leads THEM to being the ones in the position of crazy-story-tellers others would mock.

As said, this issue feels to me like it could easily have been a #1 issue of some ongoing Armor Hunters series: we’re introduced to a couple characters, given some context of what they’re about, presented with a challenge, and given an epilogue after that chellenge that leads into What Comes Next. In that regard this would have been a very good first issue, leaving me interested in reading the next in order TO find out what comes next.

As such, as a 26th issue of an ongoing series, it would be easy to say this is misplaced. But for my own background, that’s about all I’ll give on that.

The art for this issue is consistent, clear, and easy to follow. I actually enjoyed the visuals–credit to the entire art team–and never found myself distracted or taken out of the “reading experience” due to anything funky with the art. While Malgam looks different–younger and not yet in a partial/beat-up armor–Reebo is quite recognizable and while the name isn’t as familiar to me yet his appearance IS. Suffice it, then, to say that I liked the art and found no particular fault in it this issue.

The story is quite good, offering us an origin story of Reebo and Malgam AS Armor Hunters, showing their first encounter with an Armor and their introduction to the Armor Hunters group. Since I’m “all-in” with the Armor Hunters event, I have little particular interest in what title contains what story elements in general as long as it has some sort of relation to the overall AH saga. But then, even if one is attempting solely to read X-O Manowar, given that Armor Hunters comes out of this title and holds significant bearing on this title, I see no great problem with this story falling in this issue. While this contextualizes the Armor Hunters mini, I also do not figure it’s any far cry to suspect this will play into later events within X-O Manowar itself, despite Aric not even appearing in this issue.

Though the cover usually doesn’t hold much bearing on my buying an issue when it’s part of something I’m getting “anyway” or that’s on my pull-list…this has gotta be one of my favorite covers of this series, and quite iconic to me of the Armor Hunters event in general. There’s just something to this imagery–of the planet about to blow, the armor racing away, its wearer obviously not happy–that just totally fits for me. That this is a larger than usual image (being a wrap-around cover and all) adds to the whole, and is a nice ‘bonus’ for holding the standard $3.99 cover price. (The chromium edition cover is $2 more at $5.99).

While I’d had no real intention of buying any of the chromium editions after my disappointment in the chromium edition of Armor Hunters #1, I’d forgotten that I’d requested ’em with my local comic shop, so this is the 3rd of the 6 for me, so while the chromium aspect does not–for me–hold up to the quality and appearance of chromium covers from the 1990s, I’m gaining a grudging appreciation for these, in and of themselves.

I really enjoyed this issue on the whole, and while I’ll admit there’s something to be said for its freshness and simply being “the latest chapter,” I think I can safely say it’s one of my favorite issues of the series so far, and another great part of this Armor Hunters epic.

Readers seeking to avoid Armor Hunters will likely have a reasonable disappointment in this issue, while those picking this up BECAUSE of Armor Hunters should find this to be a great piece of the overall picture. While having read earlier X-O Manowar stuff and certainly Armor Hunters #1 will lend further context and significance to this issue, one really does not have to have read any previous issues of X-O Manowar to jump in with this issue if one has read Armor Hunters #1.

I’m very much looking forward to what we get in the next issue, as well as further tie-ins to the overall Armor Hunters event, thanks to this issue!

xomanowar026wraparound

Armor Hunters #1 [Review]

armorhunters001regArmor Hunters / Part I: Quarry

Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Doug Braithwaite
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover Artists: Jorge Molina, Clayton Crain, Trevor Hairsine, Doug Braithwaite
Assistant Editor: Josh Johns
Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99 ($5.99 Chromium Cover)

It’s definitely safe to say that this is an issue I’ve been looking forward to specifically for quite a few weeks now. Valiant‘s done a great job with “pushing” their titles, and as someone who’s already “all-in” for present, an event like this is well-suited for me. Though I believe the “main” story will be contained to this 4-issue mini-series, there are some tie-ins with X-O Manowar and Unity, as well as several tie-in mini-series. As the opening/first chapter in the event itself, this issue stands alone fairly well while sitting in the midst of established continuity.

This issue opens with an attack on a Russian facility where suits of armor are being developed in as-close-as-possible approximation to Aric’s X-O armor. The aliens attack the base, killing those within, having located the place due to the armors. While no sentience is detected, the armors are destroyed, and the aliens left baffled as to why humans would seek to duplicate such dangerous things. After this attack, Aric finds his people’s new homeland invaded by US forces–though said forces claim to be there to protect them, not to invade. Aric is brought up to speed from the US forces’ side, and seeks further counsel from Malgam (the alien he fought in the Armor Hunters Prelude in X-O Manowar #s 23-24). The alien “hunters” then unleash an attack that leaves little doubt as to their power, and the devastation possible on Earth if the X-O armor is not turned over to them.

As said, this issue sits in the midst of estabished continuity–particularly in references to goings-on in the X-O Manowar title. While readers of that title will have a fuller appreciation of Aric’s attitude and and what led to the present status quo, reading this issue by itself one is simply presented WITh the present status quo. Said status quo can be accepted at face value, but those interested in more can seek out the earlier stories to get the details.

By and large, this issue reads like an issue of X-O Manowar (which makes sense, given Venditti is the writer on both). The aliens are presented as the antagonists, yet don’t come off entirely as ‘villains’–moreso they come off as a “Federation” with no “Prime Directive” and no qualms about razing planets to make sure the apparently sentient armors are eradicated. The characterization seems consistent with the X-O Manowar title, and I have no issues with the story so far as “merely” the opening chapter.

Visually, I don’t have much to say except that I really enjoyed the issue, and nothing to the art really put me off or distracted me from the story. I know Braithwaite‘s art from Unity at the least, which adds to the consistent familiarity of the issue’s look/feel. I like the aliens’ design–they look suitably alien, while also being distinct individuals.

While this issue in and of itself doesn’t seem to justify the huge crossover, its ending does show how the crossover works quite organically as the impact of the issue is not limited to a single facility or base and truly will affect the entire planet.

Though one could presumably “jump in blind” with this issue and reasonably follow stuff, the full enjoyment (at least for me) of the issue comes from its growth out of continuity.

As there are a couple covers/editions, I recommend sticking with the standard cover…I was not suitably impressed at the “enhanced” “chromium” cover, finding it did not have the same boldness of the classic ’90s Valiant Chromium covers.

If you’re reading X-O Manowar, this definitely works as an extension of the title. It’s also worth picking up if you’re planning to follow any of the tie-in minis to get what I imagine will be the larger/broader context. And if you’re just looking for a mini-series to “dabble” in Valiant, this is also worthwhile on the whole.

Valiant Chromium Returns: Armor Hunters #1

It’s been some twenty years since I first got a copy of the original X-O Manowar #0 from the original Valiant. It was the first “chromium” cover I recall, though it was soon followed by the likes of Superman #82 (the “return” of Superman), X-Men: Alpha, X-Men: Omega, Ninjak #1, and others.

In more recent years, such “enhanced covers” have been pretty few and far between, in my observation (though can’t go two steps without tripping over variants!). [EDITED TO ADD: Last September’s 3-D covers from DC obviously were a huge quantity of such covers, but that was a specific event and really beside the point of this post]

When Valiant announced it was bringing back the chromium covers for Armor Hunters #1 and several of the tie-ins…I was actually sorta enthused (QUITE the exception to my usual attitude toward variants and such). But then, these chromium covers hold a certain nostalgia for me beyond all the other gimmicky/”enhanced” covers.

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Unfortunately, I found myself rather disappointed in this particular version of “chromium.” Taken side-by-side, I feel like there’s clearer detail on the regular cover (pictured above on the right).

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Comparing this new Armor Hunters #1 to X-O Manowar #0, I feel like the classic takes the win as well, between the two with brighter, bolder detail and coloring. Granted, that may not be so much the fault of the chromium effect, but it’s there.

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At an angle, the new seems more reflective, picking up glare from an overhead light in a way that somewhat obscures details where the old does not…

…to say nothing of the imprinting showing through on the new where it doesn’t the old.

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Armor Hunters #1–at an angle in the light–gets this dotted, sparkly effect going on.

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At the same sort of angle, X-O Manowar #0 does not give that effect.

To me, part of what made chromium covers what they are was being able to see the outlines on the inside/back of the cover. Armor Hunters does have that effect, so unlike Marvel‘s Age of Ultron #1 last year, I can’t really “disqualify” it from my own personal “chromium collection.” But the muted coloring/subdued tones, the “flat” reflectiveness, and the thicker cover stock of Armor Hunters leaves me truly disappointed, and planning on sticking with the regular covers from here on out.

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