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The Weekly Haul – Week of May 7th, 2014

This week had a moderate haul. Since I picked up Batman Eternal #s 1-4 last weekend, and it’s “only” $2.99, went ahead and picked up #5. And having just read Futures End #0, I went ahead and picked up #1 (again, key being that it’s “only” $2.99!). I feel like I’ve been getting All-New X-Factor out of “habit,” unfortunately…really need to catch up on that reading to decide how far I’m actually sticking with it!

Only one Valiant this week–Archer & Armstrong. And the newest Turok…hard to believe that’s already on issue #4! And the latest TMNT Color Classics, re-presenting the final chapter of Return to New York, this time in color.

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In the simple amusement of ’90s stuff for only 25 cents, I snagged this colorful Cyber Force issue, as well as Zorro #0 from Topps.

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Found a bunch of issues of Jim Starlin‘s ‘Breed, including some sort of gold-foil edition of #1. Pretty sure I have these from last year sometime, but as most of a “run,” figured I’d snag ’em again to be sure.

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Ditto on ‘Breed II

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A relatively rare find (for me, at least), snagged the entire six-issue (#s 0-5) mini-series Codename: Firearm. I know I have this series at least once-over, but again…complete series, all right there, for less than half the price of a current Marvel…yeah, pretty much a no-brainer for me.

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Finally, A Touch of SIlver #s 1-4. Not sure what to make of these, but they looked interesting. The covers with the photos caught my attention, and for $1, figured I’d get ’em to flip through more at my leisure whenever.

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All in all, not a bad haul, with a good mix of new stuff and some nice quarter-bin issues.

Next week I think the Superman arc Doomed starts, and since I’ve been keeping up lately with Superman/Wonder Woman, I’ll probably follow it just for the heckuvit. Plus, I want to get Superman #31 “in honor” of the 1980s’ Superman #31 being one of my first-ever comics.

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Archer & Armstrong: Archer #0 [Review]

archerandarmstrongarcher000Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Pere Perez
Color Art: David Baron
Letters: Tom B. Long
Editor: Josh Johns
Executive Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

This issue was a welcome moment diving back into this title. Unfortunately, I’ve fallen a few months behind in my reading due to a misplaced issue, and have yet to ‘catch up’. Despite that, I didn’t mind jumping in here for the “origin” of Archer…and was kinda surprised at how much of an origin it proved to be!

I don’t know what I expected, exactly…but this origin perfectly fits what I know of the contemporary Valiant universe, and continues to show how things tie together even in titles that don’t normally mix. This issue introduces us to a young boy and his supposed benefactors, and follows what he goes through prior to being adopted by the Archers, and then the trials he faces leading us toward the status quo when we met him back in issue #1.

I greatly enjoyed the fact that this was functionally a one-shot issue. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything not having read recent issues, but I do feel like this has expanded my understanding of the character and his place in the Valiant universe. Though functionally a one-shot, the final scene and page set up the crossover between Archer & Armstrong and Bloodshot and H.A.R.D.Corps beginning next month…while obviously intentional, it doesn’t seem gratuitous, and leaves me looking forward to that.

The story and art in general for this issue are the usual quality I expect of the title, and nothing and no one looks particularly different or out of sorts to my eye. This was simply a solid issue with good story and art.

While not in a “the last issue I read said ‘To Be Continued!’ sense, just for its shedding light on Archer’s background, this is an eventual “must-read” for fans of the series. I doubt it’ll overly detract from one’s reading experience if this is skipped, but it’ll almost certainly be enhanced by this issue. I’d also venture that this issue makes a good bridgepoint or jumping-on point if one’s interested in checking things out with the title, except that half the ongoing title’s main cast is missing, the focus of this being only on Archer’s side.

I’m glad to have picked it up, and read it now rather than putting it off, as it does have me eager to get caught up on the book.

Archer and Armstrong #10 [Review]

Archer & Armstrong (2012) #10 [cover]Mystery Hole

Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Pere Perez
Colorist: David Baron
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Covers by: Clayton Henry, Juan Doe, Matthew Waite, Andrew Robinson
Assistant Editor: Josh Johns
Executive Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

I’m enjoying the standard covers on this series lately. They fit the characters, and are rather amusing given context OF the characters. This one–Armstrong, Archer ,and some alien caught sneaking by, guns pointed at them…something about it just works for me.

Inside the issue, we don’t see this scene exactly…but we do see our heroes breaking into a Project Rising Spirit facility/Area 51 (there’s our tie-in: it’s Valiant, so of course PRS is involved). They’re looking for info on Archer’s past, true info rather than what he’s been told all his life by manipulative parents–but things don’t go quite as planned. We’re also reintroduced to Mary-Maria, whose status quo was left a bit in question recently, and see what she’s now dealing with…holding a lot of potential for quirky situations and interesting character development as we continue on.

I’m honestly not entirely sure where I stand with this title, in a way: I certainly enjoy it, but like Shadowman, I sometimes feel like I’m playing catchup, as its story details don’t often stick with me outside the actual reading of the issues. I guess that puts me as a more generalized or casual fan than a die-hard, for whatever that says about me.

As usual, the story and art work well together. I can follow along without issue, I’m not left scratching my head or finding myself taken out of the story by some weird, stylistic art bit, and I don’t pick up on any great plot holes or such.

In short, I read the issue, I enjoyed the issue, and I expect to be back for the next issue.

Catching up with Valiant: Archer & Armstrong #0 and Shadowman #0

Archer & Armstrong #0

archerandarmstrong000Gilgamesh as told via Armstrong to Archer. Not a bad premise, given Archer’s virtual immortality, and Archer continuing to learn the “real” world after living the “sheltered” existence he had up to the beginning of this series. Though this is a #0 issue, this story fits in the ongoing continuity, as A&A have been through stuff together already, and are now having some downtime before their next adventure.

The art’s the usual enjoyable quality, mixing with a solid story for an enjoyable issue. This could easily have simply been #10 of the series, as a flashback issue…but given the original Valiant‘s penchant for #0 issues (and that in retrospect, 1993’s X-O Manowar #0 is one of the most iconic single issues I recall from my youth) I think it’s kinda fun having these zero-issues for the current Valiant books.

Even if you’re not following the series in general, if you know the basic concept–Armstrong’s immortal, Archer just escaped a cult and is adjusting to the world around him with Armstrong as his truest friend–this is a nice one-shot story that delves into Armstrong’s past, telling a tale that leads into a scene we saw back in #1 and sheds light on Armstrong as well as the Eternal Warrior.

Shadowman #0

shadowman000This was a rather dark (yet illuminating) issue, providing us with an origin story for Darque. We see his birth and that of his sister, as well as how the children grew up, and the events that led to him becoming what he is, and the character becomes slightly sympathetic in that he’s not JUST some two-dimensional baddie. Sucks what he went through, but there’s a motivation there that one can “understand” a bit.

The art fit the story, and the story fits continuity. While the Archer & Armstrong issue was sort of a flashback issue where we still saw the contemporary title characters, this is a Darque story, and we don’t actually see Shadowman. Which makes this a fine #0 issue–we get backstory on the main villain of the piece, which takes place long before the series, hence a #0 issue (takes place before the events of #1) and as a #0 issue it’s functionally its own thing and doesn’t take away from the ongoing narrative and throughline of the ongoing numbering.

 

Archer & Armstrong #3 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 4/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

The Rest of the Stack: Week of September 5, 2012

The Rest of the Stack is my general mini-review coverage of new comics for any given week. It’s in addition to (or in place of) full-size individual reviews. It’s far less formal, and more off-the-top-of-my head thoughts on the given comics than it is detailed reviews.

THE HYPERNATURALS #3

I’m continuing to get drawn in, and the odd vocabulary elements are feeling a bit more normal. I’m liking the flashbacks that are fleshing out the present, and beginning to get a sense of the continuity that’s been built from the start of this series. You know something’s being done right when I’m interested in going back to re-read the issues so far just to appreciate the world that’s been built in such a short span of time. The story is engaging and the characters are easy enough to identify with. The art continues on a high note as well. Though I saw this issue’s end coming a couple pages early that ramped up the tension which made the cliffhanger both that much more appreciable and a bit anticlimactic, as if it ended a panel or two too soon.

BLOODSHOT #3

Three issues in, and I’m quite enjoying this series. Having figured out the art style for the flashbacks vs. the present, I quite enjoy the shifts, as we follow Bloodshot on his quest to find out the truth about his past. While he seeks his past, Project Rising Spirit is determined to remove him from the field permanently. The story kinda sucked me in on this issue; as said, recognizing flashbacks made this a much more enjoyable read and didn’t seem disruptive at all. I like both visual styles as presented here. As I keep saying, I’m enjoying this new take on a “classic” character; even knowing this isn’t the original “version” doesn’t bother me. Sort of a cross between Marvel’s Ultimate Comics line and DC‘s New 52, with the best of both worlds. Definitely looking forward to the next issue.

ARCHER AND ARMSTRONG #2

The cover to this issue puts me in mind of a cover from the early issues of the Wolverine relaunch back in ’03 or so, where we see grumpy Wolverine on the ground, a line of bullet-holes across the wall–and him; and just looking at it, you know someone’s in for a world o’ hurt. Here, we get a look at the two title characters and a scene that kinda plays on the state of things, and (at least to me) comes off as rather amusing. Archer with a crossbow, pondering the Armstrong, who he’s shot umpteen times but calmly (cheerfully, even!) drinking a beer. With his parents’ reality revealed, Archer breaks from them and decides to join Armstrong, and the two begin their quest for the parts of The Boon that are scattered throughout the world. Of course, it wouldn’t be a quest if it was easy, and things sure don’t start easy for the pair. I really like this new take on the characters–it’s fresher and somehow seems a bit more realistic than the classic. I also like that the title characters don’t spend the entire first arc or two against each other–I’m far more interested in how they handle things as a “team,” with such drastically different backgrounds, personality, and abilities. The story keeps me interested, and I like the art–and the character designs. This Armstrong looks younger–and more presentable–than the classic, and somehow, that brings more of a sense of “fun” to the title, amidst the darker, more serious elements.

TMNT MICRO-SERIES #8: FUGITOID

This issue introduces us to the Fugitoid–an alien scientist in a robot body. This issue as a whole is “the origin issue” for the Fugitoid, detailing the robot as well as Dr. Honeycutt, and the motivations that led to the Fugitoid’s situation. While the essense of the original origin is present, details have obviously been changed–and it works really well for me. The art’s pretty solid, and pulls off the “alien, yet similar to Earth” vibe. The story itself is good, though I found out after reading this that the issue spoils something from the next issue of the main TMNT title–though I didn’t feel like there was anything particularly revelatory, and actually thought this played off stuff we’ve already seen. We get a glimpse of an entire culture that works far better for me than their use in the classic cartoon–taking a campy, goofy concept and making it a valid, reasonable element for the current continuity. The issue ends with no ad for a next issue, and I’m unsure if there will be any more–the first collected volume was 4 issues, and this is the 8th–making another complete 4-issue volume. I hope these continue; as I’ve indicated before–I’d gladly keep buying this companion series to the main title, with different creative teams and spotlight characters.

TMNT COLOR CLASSICS #4

While the turtles are out searching for Splinter, they are ambushed by the Foot, who want revenge for the death of Shredder. While battling the ninjas, the turtles come across a strange building marked with the letters “TCRI”–which they recognize as the same as what was on the canister of goo that mutated them. When they investigate the building further, they find plenty of oddities, including the inhabitants of the building, and an alien device they’ve built that spells major issue for the turtles’ future. The story is fairly simple, and things kinda scoot along quickly. This is still early in the existence of the TMNT, so for me it’s more the ideas that were put forth than actual grace in execution of the story. The art’s solid, and quite a contrast to contemporary takes on the characters. Still, I like it, and it’s really cool to see this colorized in a single-issue format; if I didn’t know it started out black-and-white and had no attention called to it, I’d have a hard time believing this wasn’t a color comic to begin with. Despite the various collected volumes already out, I hope this Color Classics series lasts long enough to re-present the entire Mirage vol. 1 TMNT series…though I wouldn’t entirely mind if it skips a bunch of the middle stuff and just re-presents the “core” Eastman/Laird stuff of the first 11 issues, Micro-Series, Return to New York, and City at War arcs.

Archer & Armstrong #1 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 4/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5

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