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Life During Quarantine: Venturing Back Out

After two months, I was finally able to venture out to a comic shop again.

Three, actually.

Observing recommended and mandated rules as applicable.

Not sure when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from IDW will be back (if it comes back?), but a couple more weeks til Batman is back, I believe. Other than the next issue of those, or TMNT/Power Rangers or certain reprint editions…not much that really interests me in the way of new/modern 2020 comics, all the more after the shutdowns.

That said–having finally more or less gotten my X-Men and X-Adjascent collection collated and sorted, I finally have a large, solid list of specific comics I’m definitely "motivated" to hunt down.

So with comic shops finally allowed to be open again and armed with a mask I could physically tolerate for short times, on Saturday I ventured back out to comic shops for the first time since March.


Comic Heaven

First off was Comic Heaven, my weekly comic-shop-home and where I go each week.

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I’d forgotten about the Secret Origins of Super-Heroes replica/facsimile edition being out. Moreso, nothing about DC Super-Stars caught my attention so I hadn’t bothered to message ahead to have it pulled. Or rather, "DC SUPER STARS #17 FACSIMILE EDITION" as it was listed on shipping lists.

And for the heckuvit, I grabbed an extra copy of Uncanny X-Men #266 cuz why not?

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Then I dug into the back-issue bins. I didn’t really think there’d be any new Spawn, at least not from the range of issues I’m looking for. But there was #101…which plugs a hole so that NOW I have #s 1-131 or so, leaving me #s 132-256 (a "mere" 125 or so issues of over 300!).

Also snagged a couple issues from the ORIGINAL Aliens series from Dark Horse.

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From there, managed to score some issues on my X-list. Three X-Force issues and an annual; 1 of 2 X-Factor issues missing, and 4 Wolverine issues!

I have to say…after so many years of sorta randomly buying issues, it felt extremely good to finally be working off a specific (and finite!) list and to chip away at several series I’m specifically seeking to fill!

Of course, there are plenty of other issues I’m also after, but with so few NEW comics, and preferring to spend moderately per purchase even when it obviously adds up over time…that was that for this week, with probably some Generation X, X-Man, and Uncanny X-Men to follow in the near future!


Kenmore Komics and Games

Next was Kenmore Komics and Games, where I’ve been a regular since 2007, but after being laid off in 2016 has been more or less a monthly visit; with far more between visits thanks to the shutdowns.

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An announcement email had let me know there was a restock on the Marvel Champions game several weeks ago, so I’d PayPaled an order for the Captain America and Thor hero expansion decks. Seeing it on the shelf, I grabbed the Black Widow deck as well.

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I’d also jumped on the opportunity to snag several issues of Xenozoic Tales including the first issue! I hadn’t fully thought that through, so made for more of an expenditure than I’d planned, but I told myself I hadn’t been to a comic shop in ages, and would’ve spent way more had I been getting new comics all along, so c’est la vie!

And then for the 33rd anniversary sale, back issues had various discounts. I snagged a couple issues of Batman/Aliens.

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And most of the back-half of Red Robin. I’d followed the series for about 12 issues before losing track ahead of the Flashpoint and New 52. While I’m pretty sure several issues are duplicates, I’m pretty confident this leaves me maybe 1-2 issues short of the complete series…so going all the way back to the original Robin 1990 mini-series!

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Not much luck on the X-list, but I was able to get several issues of NEW X MEN, and then delved down to the third tier or so of my list for a Cable issues from the Cable & Hope post-Messiah Complex series.

Also got another issue of Warlock, bringing me one issue closer to having that complete 15-issue series!

I grabbed a couple random issues that caught my eye as well, and significantly discounted…so not quite 25-cent books, but the next best thing!


Carol & John’s

Finally, swung by Carol & John’s on the way back.

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Unfortunately, Free Comic Day didn’t happen back at the beginning of the month…and this year’s CNJ FCBD event would have been epic…with them bringing Christopher Claremont out! I’d been looking forward to that for months, but maybe it’ll happen yet in some form.

Meanwhile, in lieu of their annual FCBD print, they had a "Free Comic Book Day Cancelled Until Further Notice" print for present, free with any purchase.

I also noticed a remarkable (to me!) price on the vintage-ish (if not vintage, then close TO vintage…) Marvel Legends figures. I quite appreciated the Scarlet Witch/Wonder Man relationship in Busiek‘s Avengers run, and being able to get both characters here together for the price of ONE contemporary Marvel Legends figure was too good to pass up!

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Some weeks back, I’d "won" a couple of livesale/auction issues as well as a "gallery sale" issue; and had claimed a couple of low-priced bulk issues, so picked all those up. A solid haul for stuff I’d basically ordered-and-forgot!

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Picking through some $1-bins, I found a few things to get.

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Getting to actual back-issue bins, I went ahead and snagged X-Factor #5…COMPLETING THE ORIGINAL SERIES in my collection! I’d been missing two issues when I woke…and between CNJ and Comic Heaven I completed the original 149-issue run of the ’90s series!

Also snagged a couple more X-Force and Wolverine issues…including the ELUSIVE Wolverine #96, that–despite keeping up with the title at this point back in the ’90s, post-Age of Apocalypse–I missed back then and somehow KEPT ON MISSING in all the years SINCE!

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And finally, grabbed a few issues of Uncanny X-Men from the X-list.

I also got some "supplies" in the form of several treasury-sized bags and boards, a few silver-age bags and boards, and a well-priced "Stor-Folio" that beats the heck outta the prices I see online.


All told, quite a haul for one weekend…one day!

I doubt I’ll be hitting 3 shops in 1 day frequently…but after the shutdowns, I wanted to make the circuit to support their being open again.

And I definitely look forward to more back-issue bin-diving in the near future as I seek to close the gaps in my ’90s X-Books collection, Spawn, and so on.

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The Weekend Haul – Weekend of June 16-18

Over the weekend, I headed down to Kenmore to pick up stuff that’s been pulled the last couple weeks.

Having learned of a sale at another shop–Hazel’s Heroes–and being much closer to it already being down that far south, I ventured a bit off my usual trail to check out the shop, AND the sale. I was loosely aware of the general region of the shop…I’d just never (since becoming aware of the shop’s existence) had the time while down that way to check it out.

I wasn’t sure going in what the sale itself would be, but the Facebook post indicated it was a "big" sale, and with my present (and likely about to fizzle out) hunt for Trial of the Flash-era issues of the silver/bronze age The Flash series, I was all the more interested, as a sale would bring even too-highly priced issues into a reasonable range, or so I figured.

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While I doubt I’ll ever get the whole series, being aware of the Blue Ribbon Digest series, I’ve found I’m interested in those when I find them for a good price. As this sale was, I believe I got both of these for about $1/each.

Pretty sure the same on the TMNT novels. (Beaten to heck, but for the price, well worthwhile for the moment!) The Six-Guns and Shurikens book and Red Herrings I remember reading as a kid. The Donatello: The Radical Robot is one I don’t remember (and apparently there are others for each of the turtles along with Donatello!).

Gotta say…for me, the better value by far is these five books for $5, over, say, Darth Vader #1 (had a #1 in 2015, and now already again in 2017..!).

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The way the sale was structured, the $12 Power of Warlock cost me $5 (again, which is the better value: that or a book that just came out this week?) while the other Power of Warlock issue matched the price of a DC Rebirth issue.

The Tales of the TMNT #5 (original run), Batman and the Outsiders #1, and Robin (original mini-series) #1 cost me a whopping $1/each!

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The Booster Gold issues also all only cost me $1. I mentally kicked myself when I realized for the pricing I missed grabbing #s 0 and One Million; fortunately, I shouldn’t have much issue finding my #0 from my Zero Hour stuff last year, and already found my One Million from last October. The #1 was a "convenience" copy (and for $1, even, beautiful piece!).

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Then, I noticed some boxes of magazines before I could check out. My curiosity got me, and on investigating, found that there was quite a run of old Wizard magazines! Fortunately, despite thinking it wouldn’t even matter, I’d taken a couple photos of my Wizard shelf in lieu of writing down missing numbers. So, I was able to pull something like 25-26 issues to fill in gaps in my existing run of the magazine…plus several issues that I just want a poster out of and for the price, no sense passing them up–these all had an older $3 sticker on them, with a newer $1 sticker.

Since the sale was that stuff up to $5.99 was $1, I expected I was just gonna be paying $1 per Wizard…but the store owner gave me the stack for 50 cents an issue!

So all told, for roughly the price of 9 standard, modern Marvel issues, I got 30 issues of Wizard, most of which fill in gaps in my existing collection (rather than just cheap duplicates), a couple of old Power of Warlock issues, three TMNT books I haven’t seen available anywhere in over 20 years, a couple of (relatively rare) Blue Ribbon Digests, and a few other issues!

Sure beats the heck outta most conventions!


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Finally, while I was at Kenmore, on a whim, I made a non-comics purchase: a Batman bust bank of the Adam West Batman. A bit more than I might’ve wanted to pay, and DEFINITELY a shame that it took the man’s death last weekend to remind me how much I do actually appreciate his Batman and all that. But I was interested, and opted to get this since it was NOT any kind of "special order" or such, and not a case of anyone profiting off Adam West‘s death! (As, sadly, I suspect Batman ’66 stuff may soon be).

A Token Friday Flash Post

Finally Friday…and I’m beat.

So today, just a token post, featuring the Flash!

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I stopped by another comic shop I don’t often get to, and located a couple Flash issues from the range I’m looking to fill in.

While I certainly balk at (Marvel) and their $5.99 issues, I am less reserved about $5.99 for 30+ year old comics, particularly when multiple other shops (and online ones, too!) have not had the issues available, or not for any reasonable price!

Plus, I get to hold to my $10 theshold as well–getting comics since 1989, and I’ve never paid/had paid for me more than $10 for a single-issue comic. (Maybe a bit more once shipping was added, for some TMNT stuff).

And I think I’m back to toying with the idea of more ’80s DC back-issue hunting, between the "Trial of the Flash" "era" and some Batman and Detective Comics issues I’m curious about, etc.

Time will certainly tell, as always!

The Weekly Haul – Weeks of March 1st & 8th, 2017

Week of March 8th, 2017:

This week was a pretty small week for new comics for me: only two new issues!

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We’ve got the second chapter of Superman: Reborn in Action Comics #975 (a 38-page issue for only $3.99!). And the second issue of Blake Northcott‘s All New Fathom.

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Along with the new issues, I noticed a couple of familiar-in-style polybag tops sticking out of the $1 bins…upon investigating, they were indeed issues of Wizard! For being only $1 apiece, I snagged all 8 issues present, figuring I’ll at least enjoy opening them and going through the goodies that came with them…as well as "replacing" posters long since ripped out and lost.

Ziggy was curious what I was doing, so got himself into the photo. A nice little bonus, no?

And because I totally forgot to do it from last week, below I’ll cover last week’s haul.

Continue reading

Back Issues – September 1st, 2016

After yesterday’s grousing over not being able to get the cover I wanted (the standard/basic/regular/NON-variant) of TMNT Universe #1 at either of the comic shops I went to*, I pulled up Diamond‘s web interface of a comic shop locator thing and found one I didn’t even previously know existed, that was relatively close by.

(* since being laid off, my usual shop is over an hour’s drive away instead of the 8 minutes one-way from the office, and so I’m having to adjust…)

And so, early afternoon, I set off to find this shop, having confirmed their continued existence via Facebook and saw by a photo they’d posted that they did indeed (at least initially) have the issue.

They had it (more on that later/in another post), but as a “new to me” shop, that meant a new selection of back issues to peruse.

I found that they had a number of issues of note that I’ve looked for elsewhere with no luck…as well as a similarly disappointment in holes in their collection. Still, that’s comics for ya, and these “holes” were more ’80s, with a surprising presence of ’90s stuff (though no Ultraverse issues, unfortunately).

However, I was quite put off by the absolute lack of any sort of price sticker.

Which suggested ok, they’re subject to whimsy of the owner/staff or at least price guide valuations…something I loathe when browsing back-issues! Still, in further browsing I spotted the new (recently-released here in 2016) Overstreet guide for sale, and taking a couple minutes, I paged through and looked up several of the issues, and decided that even at “full Guide value” I was willing to pay the prices, and knowing the “guide value” I would not feel bad passing on them if asked for more. Plus, they’re having a 20%-off sale for the weekend with the holiday.

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I was VERY pleasantly surprised when the owner didn’t even look around for where he’d left the guide. Just looked at the issues, quoted me $2/ea, applied the 20% discount, and rang me up.

That alone means I will make a point of going back (hopefully sooner than not) to snag some other issues I saw of interest…as well as look for stuff I forgot, like Spawn and DC Comics Presents.

Just under $6 for World’s Finest #323 (final issue) as well as Donatello and Leatherhead #s 1-2 is excellent pricing! Certainly above cover price, but considering one issue’s 30 years old and the other two are probably 20, I’m happy with the price.

I was expecting the three to run me about $14.

While I “get” collector-pricing and such, and supply-and-demand…as someone collecting for completion with virtually zero expectation of reselling anything of significance, I don’t need stuff to be pristine “Mint” or “Near-Mint” condition, nor do I have any real interest in anything “slabbed,” such that I’m happy with a 25-cent cover’s-off, pages brittle and whole thing beat-up issue for the sake of having it than something that’d fetch $100-$200+ in solid positive condition. These issues more than exceeded that, and while I don’t even know what they’d be “graded” at even in general, for me they fit “reading copy” and are not “bad” so I’m good with ’em.

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From behind the scenes: Ziggy photo-bombing my blog-post-prepping.

Chasing Back Issues: Guy Gardner: Warrior #29

There was a time that I figured I’d never be one to dig through back issue bins and multiple shops just looking for a random issue. Years of great quarter-bin finds and other bargain-bin acquisitions had somewhat numbed me to the notion of paying more than $1 for any given ’90s comic, having come to see most as merely 25-cent fodder.

More recently, I’ve specifically sought out an issue of Adventure Comics because of an ad for it in an issue of The New Adventures of Superboy. I bought a DC Comics Presents Annual due to some talk of the series on a podcast. I’ve sought out "random" issues of a couple other titles due to podcast discussions on them. I tracked down Green Lantern #81 for never having seen it in a quarter bin and wanting to finally read it. And so on.

And really, it’s been awakening this suppressed "joy" of the search (and finding) of certain issues. Thus far, it’s been more success than not, and really is very enjoyable to go into a week with a specific issue of a specific series in mind, and with a single trip through a handful of shops I frequent, find that issue. No ordering online and paying shipping and waiting; just finding the issue, being quite agreeable to the asking price (and it’s right there on the issue, no taking it to a counter and someone looks it up in a "price guide" NOW THAT someone is actually interested in purchasing it).

And in a post on his blog, covering the issue, Chris really piqued my interest in a Guy Gardner: Warrior issue the other day. If I already have the issue somewhere, I don’t recall it, and being intrigued, I went into a nearby shop over the weekend not truly expecting them to have the issue.

They had about half a dozen issues from the entire run…including this one, #29, that I was specifically interested in. And while I was thinking I’d prefer the newsstand cover, finding the "deluxe" "collector’s edition" for under $4 was quite pleasing.

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The price was all the more agreeable as it’s only 55 cents more than the cover price…and even adding in TAX, I only paid $3.75 for the issue.

To put that into perspective: I had a specific issue of a specific series in mind, that was published more than two decades ago, with a typical-’90s "enhanced cover," and I was able to walk into a comic shop and buy it–bag and board included–with tax–for 25 cents LESS THAN a modern 20-page Marvel or DC comic.

Instead of "just" "the latest issue" of something, I specifically sought this out, wanting it…and that wanting it, knowing it would NOT "just" be available at any/all comic shops on a rack prominently displayed…well, that just adds to the satisfaction of the purchase.

Yeah, I may still hold to EXTREMELY RARE exceptions to not paying more than $10 for any given comic, period…but I’m certainly more thoroughly enjoying back issue hunting than I would have thought, and continue to find myself enjoying back issues much more than most any new comics Marvel or DC are currently publishing.

Recent Acquisitions

It’s been an interesting week with several things ‘converging’ for me: a forgotten pre-order item, a purchase substituting for a convention, and my largest single “back issue” purchase ever.

First off, last weekend I happened to to see a link on Facebook to some group called Something Valiant. I clicked through, and found some stuff involving classic Valiant stuff, so did not immediately click away.

I noticed a post offering Harbinger #s 2-5 for a very reasonable price, shipped–and messaged the poster to inquire if they were still available (not seeing any comments on the post). They were, so arrangements were made.

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Easily my biggest “back issue” purchase in this regard–for what I paid for “only” 4 issues. However, considering I’d expected to pay significantly more per issue and not get them all but dropped in my lap from one source, I’m very happy with the purchase, and will certainly reach out to this seller again in the future as I whittle down my “missing” list of classic Valiant.

Another surprise arrival this week was the new Hellblazer volume.

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This is the 11th volume in this incarnation of the series, reprinting it from its start including key tie-ins and such, and incorporating a numbering so it’s not just a bunch of random volumes.

hellblazer_tpb_thicknessIt turns out that I apparently had pre-ordered this from Amazon several months ago and forgot about it. So when it showed up, it was a very pleasant surprise.

I continue to be quite impressed with the size of these volumes, particularly for the cover price. Though this would easily be a $40+ volume from Marvel, this one carries a $24.99 cover price…and thanks to Amazon I got it for less than $12.

Though I grouse about Marvel‘s pricing, they make up a significant chunk of my graphic novels collection due to various clearance and blowout sales and such through the years, as well as having a lot of stuff I’m truly interested in.

A couple years ago, I was quite impressed when I came across the X-Men: The Age of Apocalypse Omnibus at Carol and John’s. It was very far out of my price range, though more recently I’d lamented realizing it was out of print, and so had been jacked up astronomically beyond my price range by “third party sellers.” So when I more recently learned of the Age of Apocalypse Companion I didn’t even consider pre-ordering it from anyone…no sense having the companion volume without the main.

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I was listening to a recent episode of the Collected Comics Library and learned that there’s to be a new printing of the main omnibus in the first part of next year, in time for the new movie. So, rather than beat around the bush and put it off, I found a mostly-reasonable price online and bought this volume, knowing I’ll be able to pair it up in the spring (and for what that’s gonna cost me, I certainly would not want to be trying to buy TWO omnibii nor “risk” this one going out of print!).

Plus, I had decided that I was not going to be attempting to attend a particular convention I had been considering, so with gas money and admission I would not be spending, as well as other random purchases I would not be making…I was able to justify (to myself) this rather large singular purchase.

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If you look to the right in the photo above, you’ll see a quarter leaned up against the volume–showing just how thick this companion edition is.

And below, it currently has a place on a shelf with the last Omnibus I’d bought, as well as the recent TMNT by IDW hardcover.

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The Next Grail – Uncanny X-Men #266

uxm266directI already have most comics that I truly, SPECIFICALLY want. A lot of my bargain-bin finds and such are things that I’ve been aware of, had some interest in, and are cool to GET, but not typically specific, "key" issues that I’ve specifically sought.

As I fill in general holes in my collection with various series, I’m certainly going to get down to where there will be just a few one-off issues here and there that I’m after.

Having recently acquired Spider-Man vs. Wolverine, and the first chapter of Batman: Year Two it got me thinking. My next "grail" issue has got to be Uncanny X-Men #266–the first (full?) appearance of Gambit. I don’t seek it BECAUSE it’s his first appearance…it’s just that because it IS his first appearance, it has never been something tossed into a bargain bin and so has never randomly entered my collection that way.

But not having this issue is a singular hole preventing me from having a run from Inferno through well past #400, and my eventual aim is to fill in to have a complete run from Inferno to 544 or whatever the final issue was before the Schism relaunch alongside Wolverine and the X-Men. All of the other issues are simply a matter of the odds of finding the issue, given the time periods and quantities.

I have no intention of getting #266 to flip or make any profit on. And where a lot of things I’d be content with a reprint, the only reprint in single-issue format that I’m aware MIGHT exist would be one of those black-border issues that used to be packed into the original Marvel Legends action figures. And I truly don’t want a reprint, simply because ALL my other issues in the run are standard/first print issues, to my knowledge (if there are any second prints, they’re the kind that don’t have any cover variation).

As such, even though I do really specifically want the issue, I’m not willing to pay Big Money for it. In 27 years, I have NEVER paid more than $10 for a single-issue comic book. However, I do have to be reasonable: for any kind of halfway-decent copy of this–even "just" a "reader copy" condition WOULD pretty well be a "steal" for $10 or under. I feel (personally) that $20 would be quite reasonable and "fair" for a decent-condition/reader-copy of the issue. The more I pay, the better I’ll expect the condition to be. But I’m by no means looking for a "near-mint," "mint," or high-grade slabbed edition.

I just want it for my collection, as the only hole in an otherwise 150+ issue run, toward a nearly 300 issue run.

And given that this is a KEY "key book," first appearance of Gambit, and the maybe/maybe-not pending Channing Tatum Gambit film looming and such…this would be a worthy issue to be an exception to or break down my $10 "limit" that I’ll spend on single-issues.

Fantastic Friday Find – Spidey & Wolverine

On a whim, I stopped by a Half-Price Books…where despite extreme frustration with their pricing for comics I decided to flip through a few. This issue stood out immediately, and out of simple curiosity, I pulled it to see what exorbitant amount they wanted for it, given their other ridiculous prices on single-issues.

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The price sticker read $1.50. I looked closer to make sure I wasn’t misreading a 7…but yeah, it was $1.50. A whole dollar under cover price, less than half the cost of a contemporary Marvel, yet this issue is nearly 30 years old.

I’ve been aware of this issue for more than twenty years: it’s an issue a friend and I discovered in 1992 or 1993, but weren’t able to get as we couldn’t find it anywhere for a reasonable price.

It had actually come back to mind for me recently as an issue to specifically look for…but this saved me the hunt, and was significantly cheaper than the up-to-$10 I otherwise would have been willing to spend.

Though I’m excited to finally get to read this, I do have a couple other reading projects ahead of it…but just having this issue after all these years is fantastic!

The Future Looking More Like the Past

I have yet to pay more than $10 (EVER) for a single non-collected-edition comic. And the way I’m loving this Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, am not feeling like I’m missing anything passing on basically anything new that DC is putting out, am more than content to get Image stuff as collected volumes (but only going beyond vol. 1 on a select few titles) and have recently dropped Valiant from my pulls…

It’s looking like there might be a ‘future’ for me in the past, in back issues.

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Though it’s obviously beat-up and hardly in great condition, I had no problem at all paying $3 for Detective Comics [vol. 1] #575 over the weekend. The issue is over 25 years old, is a “key” issue that I am missing from my personal post-Crisis run of Batman stuff…and that $3 is no worse than buying some new DC issue that I can make up for in a $1 bin later this year or sometime next year at some kind of convention if it matters.

$3 is $1 cheaper than buying the cheapest Valiant comic and virtually any contemporary Marvel comic.

I don’t see rushing out and into buying stacks and stacks of priced back issues like this. But I certainly can see not being opposed to buying issues from this era for $4 and under just on the justification that it’s not costing any more than buying contemporary issues.

But it’ll be better, because I’m actually interested in stuff from the mid-’80s into the ’90s…far more than I am in current prices and the current direction(s) that…certain publishers…are going in.

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