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The Weekly Haul – Week of October 8th, 2014

While not a SMALL week, this was a decent week of comics, with 2 promo-priced $1 issues in the bunch.

weekly_haul_october_8th_2014a

I’ve been looking forward to the X-O Manowar #0 most out of this bunch. With Soule soon leaving Superman/Wonder Woman I might be jumping “off,” as it IS a $3.99 book. And I’m far preferring DC‘s $2.99 stuff…

weekly_haul_october_8th_2014b

…most specifically, DC‘s weeklies.

I remember when it was a big deal when they did ONE weekly (52). And earlier this year I’d thought it interesting their trying two weeklies, but now they’re up to THREE.

I’m “trying” World’s End, and will see how it seems, as I have not followed Earth 2 since its first or second issue.

While I’m questioning a single $3.99 book above…I’m not entirely against the notion of buying three $2.99 books ($8.97) each week. It will be expensive–that’s a $36/monthly investment on top of other stuff. BUT it’s a lot of content (relatively speaking) each month, and a lotta story crammed into a single year.

And I’d far prefer to buy a single weekly title than a bunch of separate titles. Much as the Superman books were functionally a weekly during most of the ’90s.

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This Week’s Comics Haul (Week of 2/12)

This was another large-ish week for me…

comics_week_of_0212a

My standing hold of “all $1 books” holds, and has now resulted in my actually owning a My Little Pony comic.

Letter 44 is on the chopping block for me…much as I enjoyed the first issue and the overall premise…I haven’t read the previous issue yet, and here’s the next, so…we’ll see.

comics_week_of_0212b

From the quarter-bin, I snagged a mere 4 issues this week. I believe I’m now just missing Hulk 2099 #1 to have a full set of the main 2099 #1s from the quarter bins. I snagged the Wolverine and the X-Men Annual cuz hey…25-cents for the digital code!

I’m all about seeing as many digital codes as I can NOT go to waste…and snagging issues like this then make future 99-cent Comixology sales that much more likely to hook me, as it’s that many fewer issues to buy, and at 25 cents rather than “even” 99 cents.

Catching up on some recent non-villains reading

ASTRO CITY #4

astrocity004This is exactly the sort of story I absolutely love from this series. Astro City brings to life a certain reality of superhumans existing in ordinary society, and rarely does so better than showing us that not every last individual that develops a power is automatically a hero or villain. We’re brought into a world of individuals who have found other uses for their powers, making a living with the use of their power outside the flash-bang of the constant hero/villain battles. In this case, a telekinetic using her powers to assist in the special effects for film, allowing model movement without cumbersome wires. of course, there are those that would see such use as a waste of talent and seek to round these folks up and force them to use their powers for someone’s gain. But that’s where a network of the non-action folks comes in as they have one another’s backs. Great story, great art, and a fantastic self-contained one-issue story. Even when I tell myself I’ll wait for the collected volume(s), it’s issues like this that keep me coming back for the single-issue Astro City experience!

BATMAN BLACK AND WHITE (2013) #1

batmanblackandwhite001Despite overall enjoyment of the one-shot nature of the Villains Month books this September, as a longer-term thing I’ve been gravitating to DC‘s digital-first stuff that basically exists on its own. I saw and passed on this issue the week it came out, but wound up buying it this past weekend on others’ recommendation and ended up quite enjoying it. While the $4.99 cover price is rather off-putting, it FELT like I had a lengthy reading experience out of the deal. The multiple short stories lend an air of added value, as not only do we not “need” to buy the next issue to resolve a cliffhanger but got several COMPLETE stories in this issue. I quite enjoyed the mix of stories and art, and look forward to the next issue. Also, while I usually hate “sketch covers” and such, which this one would certainly qualify as in my eyes…this one works here because it’s perfectly fitting to the contents of the issue and nature of the book itself. Though I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing this image in full color as a poster or such.

TMNT NEW ANIMATED ADVENTURES #3

tmntnewanimatedadventures003I’m continuing to enjoy pretty much any dose of TMNT in comic form, and this title continues to have exactly what I’m looking for in it. I’m really enjoying Brizuela‘s art as it nicely carries the tone of the tv series while keeping a comic look and being its own thing. I did find the story itself fairly forgettable on the whole here, but in a way that could actually be a bit of a strength: it fits so well with other episodes of the tv series and earlier issues of this series that it just blends right in. The cover made me think we were getting an expanded look at Kraang-Prime, which unfortunately was not actually the case; but still made for a cool, interesting cover. There’s not much in the way of solid “mythology” to this series, as it’s truly a companion of sorts to the tv series…but I’m liking it. Now if we could just get a single-issue edition classic reprint series of the old Archie TMNT Adventures, I’d be all set!

BATMAN ’66 #3

batman66003This issue was fairly fun for me. Usually I wouldn’t much care for this sort of thing, but I enjoyed seeing the Red Hood concept introduced into the ’66 universe. It definitely fit well, and kept the typical tone I’d expect from the classic tv series. Unfortunately, I’m noticing a pattern wherein we have a story taking up 2/3 of the issue and another short filler taking up the final third…and I’ve had to basically force myself through the final story. I appreciate the pagecount for the price, but would prefer more to the main story’s segments. On the whole, I’m still getting a “feel” for this series though look forward to what else we get from it. I suppose I could pick and choose from the digital chapters, but while I’ll buy some comics digitally, since this is a title I’m choosing as a “DC Fix” or “Batman Fix” for the month, I’d prefer to buy it in print for the time-being. I do wonder how long until the visual style wears on me…I appreciate having the characters look like the actors’ depictions and such (note Joker’s facial hair in this issue), but I don’t care for some of the other flourishes.

Astro City (2013) #3 [Review]

astrocity003Mistakes

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Brent Eric Anderson
Cover: Alex Ross
Lettering & Design: John G. Roshell & Jimmy Betancourt of Comicraft
Color Art: Alex Sinclair
Editor: Kristy Quinn
Assistant Editor: Jessica Chen
Executive Editor: Shelly Bond
Published by: Vertigo/DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

I’ve always quite enjoyed stories set in a superhero universe that focus on the “regular people” in the world; how they are affected by the mere EXISTENCE of the super-heroes; how their lives are different from ours, for that “reality.” And I’ve found no series more consistent at delivering that than Astro City, whoever’s publishing the title at the time.

While I thought #1 was starting a single ongoing story, it seems that was either a red herring or something to be revisited later, as last issue gave a whole different story, which is picked up again in this issue.

After realizing her mistake and what she seems to have set off–a huge war between Honor Guard and the Skullcrushers–that’s resulted in much collateral damage and loss of life, our heroine first goes home sick, before resolving to take action…self-imposed penance, essentially. She takes it upon herself to use what resources she has access to, to try to assist those negatively impacted by her mistake, though this leads to another unintended result for her…and inadvertently proves her worth to those she most assumes sees none in her.

The art is clear and consistent as usual, the coloring and overall tone maintaining “the look and feel” I associate with Astro CityRoss‘ cover and ANDERSON’S interiors both.

The story feels like a “typical” sort, for this title in whatever its iteration (Wildstorm, Vertigo, etc)…which is to say it doesn’t blow me away in the way that, say, the #1/2 issue did from all those years back, but this is still darned good stuff!

This issue IS the second of a 2-part story, so while there’s plenty of context to “get” what’s going on in this issue, it’s likely far more appreciable if you at least snag #2 as well and read this in context of that…though you do not need to go all the back to #1.

Definitely recommended!

Astro City (2013) #2 [Review]

Astro City (2013) #2Welcome to HumanoGlobal

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Brent Eric Anderson
Cover: Alex Ross
Lettering & Design: John G. Roshell & Jimmy Betancourt of Comicraft
Color art: Alex Sinclair
Editor: Kristy Quinn
Assistant Editor: Jessica Chen
Published by: Vertigo/DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

$3.99 sucks. I’m really, really very tired of this price point. I think I’m going to keep making sure that’s extremely well-documented in these reviews and other blog posts until I eventually give up on new comics altogether.

That said, if you’re going to pay $3.99 for a single issue of a comic, there are few better series out there than Astro City. Even when you don’t know what the issue will be about or it deviates from the previous issue or whatever…it’s hard not to look back on a given issue without a bit of a smile and some disbelief at how much it was enjoyed and sheds different light on superhero stuff typically taken for granted or outright not often considered.

This issue focuses on a new employee of a hotline–said hotline turns out to be for a call center that weeds out the truly important calls for the Honor Guard, and in other cases outright makes connections allowing Honor Guard to be sent after villains/terrorists before they have a chance to enact plans that would otherwise leave the heroes reactive rather than proactive. We see bits of her training, the sorts of calls she takes, and the excitement with her teammates when they manage to catch a big call and be part of the overall “process” that leads to the saving of so many lives. Though they largely have to keep the true nature of their work secret from family and non-work friends, they find certain perks within their work…but also learn that one mistake can be very costly.

The art is strong as usual for an Astro City issue; everyone who should look familiar does, and those that don’t still look quite good. While the story itself isn’t your usual fare, the sequences with superhero action look as one might expect (if not a bit on the higher end quality-wise) while the normal people look…normal.

Story-wise, this is another great outing, showing that Busiek knows his stuff–and does very well giving us a look at the human side of things, as “normal humans” interact in a world filled with super-powered beings and threats, and how the culture itself is impacted by their very existence.

While I missed this issue on Wednesday and thought “oh well” I quickly realized that no, I actually really wanted to read this, and it became the entire reason of going back to a comic shop Friday rather than simply waiting and picking it up with next week’s books. There really aren’t many series that do that for me.

Provided you have any background at all with Astro City–I’d especially recommend the first TPB Life in the Big City (there’s even a new edition out now)–you’d actually be fine jumping in on this issue without even having read #1…which is another strength of this series: there are a lot of short arcs and done-in-one issues, rather than the “standard” fare from DC and Marvel necessitating 4-6 issues’ investment just for a single story.

I’d largely prefer to hold off for the collected volumes, but for now, this return of Astro City is such a welcome thing, I’m likely to keep going with the single issues for at least a few more months.

Astro City (2013) #1 [Review]

Astro City (2013) #1 [cover]Through Open Doors (Part One)

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Brent Eric Anderson
Cover: Alex Ross
Lettering & Design: John G. Roshell & Jimmy Betancourt of Comicraft
Color Art: Alex Sinclair
Editor: Kristy Quinn
Assistant Editor: Jessica Chen
Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

I’m pretty sure it’s been a few years since I’ve read Astro City. The last I recall, I left off during the Dark Age saga: as I’m typing this, I don’t even recall why I never finished. Might be I’d grown bored; maybe I was “protesting” a cover price if they were $3.99, whatever.

This new #1 is $3.99, but since it seems EVERYTHING is $3.99…I’d really have to just give up comics entirely, now, to “protest” the price point (and I am a lot quicker to find any “excuse” to outright “drop” a title as a result).

But Astro City! The series is back–after awhile under Image/Homage, then the Wildstorm banner and limbo when Wildstorm was terminated, I’d wondered where we’d see the series pop up. And now it’s under Vertigo, which while I wouldn’t consider this a title exactly fitting with Vertigo (moreso that I wouldn’t limit this series to the older crowd) means it’s still under DC, which is what it is. And as a new #1…I’ll bite for the first issue…particularly given the nostalgia factor and that I’ve generally enjoyed Astro City stuff that I’ve read.

We open with a strange man speaking to us of some looming threat, and we’re introduced to American Chibi, a sort of “overlooked” heroine of Astro City (that when you focus on the big ones, obviously some are going to be missed). We’re re-introduced to some familiar faces as well as new; see the city introduced to some powerful new alien, and a “common citizen” chosen to befriend him and be his guide to understanding the Earth. And finally, against his protestations, we learn a potentially disturbing fact about our narrator that can cast the whole story in a new light.

The creative team behind this issue is quite familiar, lending a continued consistency to the title as it’s been bounced from imprint to imprint: the cover logos may change, but the story, the art, the characters–those remain constants, creatively.

As the art is “standard” Astro City art by Anderson, everyone who should look familiar does, and I had no trouble following along…and there was no weird anatomy to throw me off with anyone (well, no weird anatomy that shouldn’t be there), no weirdly constructed pages/panels to leave me scratching my head. Basically, the visual side was a smooth ride all the way through the issue, with nice detail and all the right “touches” I expect of an Astro City comic.

The story left me a bit hesitant at first, but quickly drew me in. I quickly found myself first thinking of this narrator in terms of Doctor Who, which (to me) was rather amusing in a way, and then another sort of familiarity set in, and just when I felt I was getting to “know” the him, the end of the issue changes things rather dramatically.

Overall, the issue does what I’d want in a first issue, especially one like this where it’s an older, continuing property, but the RETURN of that property after several years’ hiatus. We get new characters and old; and we get the details pertaining to the story, that we need, in the story. Having a “history” with Astro City, I pick up on allusions to other stuff, other characters–but even so, I haven’t read any of those in years myself, so I’m foggy on details. But that in no way hinders this story; if anything it just makes me want to go back and re-read some older Astro City stories.

As far as I’m concerned, this is a great return to the series’ existence. I’d originally thought to just try this first issue, “for old time’s sake,” and let that be that…but I’m pretty likely to actually go ahead and snag the next issue.

Upping the random thoughts

I found myself up far too early this Saturday morning. It’s been a long week, and I’d certainly had zero intention of being up “early” on this long weekend.

But sure enough, woke before 7am and wound up staying up. Decided to check out Netflix, which I’ve neglected for about a week, and opted to “start” watching the film Grownups from last year. Wound up going all the way through.

Next searched for stuff to add to the instant queue, and then something else to actually watch and decided I wasn’t in the mood for anything else at length. But there was “Up,” sitting in the front end of the instant queue where it’s been for months. And I haven’t seen any of the film since I went to see it in the theater a couple years back.

Surely, knowing what the beginning held and having been moved in the theater, I wouldn’t ‘fall for’ it again.

But I found myself amused at the beginning–the kids playing in the old house. Smiling at the wedding, wistful as they built a home, crushed at her news, wistful as they moved forward. Nodding in appreciation as “real life” again and again interrupted their plans, and honestly in tears as their lives reached a twilight.

And all through that…really no dialogue past their being kids.

It’s just all this fantastic, recognizeable imagery or symbolism or whatever. It’s stuff that while watching you can follow along and “get” what’s going on. You can fill in the missing dialogue in your own mind, with your own experiences and thoughts and hopes and dreams. You might find yourself projecting a bit, or identifying with stuff. Maybe not exactly–this is a fictional, animated production–but it has such a sense of authenticity about it.

I turned it off after the opener. Oh, I’ll go back and rewatch the whole thing, but as said above–not in the mood for anything at length at the moment.

And then I found that it’s really burrowed into my head, and stirred up my thinking.

Unfortunately, despite all that I read and write, I can’t really find words for it. There’s just this feeling, that I can’t quite describe. And sometimes I think the best expression of it is an analogy that few but comic readers can “get,” and it’s also summed up by the Kurt Busiek (Astro City) story “The Nearness of You.” I know that’s not my life, it’s a fictional story.

But sometimes, with all the what-ifs and if-onlys and all that, it’s easy to imagine all these alternate lives that “could have been” or “might have been,” and all that.

This is real life, though.

And I have no idea what’s coming.

 

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