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The Weekly Haul – Week of August 29, 2018

Last week was a mixed sorta week. Not huge, not tiny, with some bargain-bin stuff but not a huge stack!

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GI Joe: A Real American Hero hits #255–which marks the 100th issue of this IDW run! It’ll be great to see if this can make it to #309/310 and/or beyond–matching or surpassing the original Marvel run!

The second issue of X-Men: Grand Design: Second Genesis is the latest in these series of hyper-dense X-men issues.

I’d missed out on the Astonishing X-Men annual weeks ago, but I’m a sucker for "reunion" issues, with these original X-Men, so went ahead and got it, even though I’ve little to no intention of much else X-Men-related.

And a dose of TMNT with the latest ongoing issue ,and the conclusion to the 5-issue/weekly Bebop & Rocksteady mini.

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Bargain bins yielded four Marvelman hardcovers, each for less than the price of "cheap" contemporary Marvel comics (these hardcovers about $3.50/ea vs. comics’ $3.99 cheap and too-plentiful $4.99/$5.99+)

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The rest of these bargain-bin issues were a 50-cent bin (rather than my preferred 25-cent bin)…but even at 50 cents, lots of great stuff! Unfortunately, mostly #1s with little in the way of "runs."

The Mighty Magnor, which seems to be a "newsstand edition"…I’m not sure offhand if this is the same contents as the pop-up cover issue, or a different series entirely. Zorro #1, Radioactive Man #1 (I would have loved to have gotten the #1000 issue they did), and a Marvel Action Hour: Fantastic Four issue for the goodies included in the bag.

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This 4-issue TaleSpin mini was an excellent find! Firstly, for having all four issues (at 50 cents apiece, that’s still only $2 for the entire series compared to $3.99/issue for contemporary Marvel stuff!) and secondly for having just watched an episode of the new DuckTales series that involved Don Karnage and the sky-pirates!

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Some mixed Archie-published stuff. Street Sharks was a mid/late-’90s thing; I believe they had a cartoon and know they had a toy line. I’m not sure off the top of my head if I had any of the comics, but finding these in-person, wasn’t going to pass on ’em! Then there’s the Conservation Corps issues. I knew them specifically through a TMNT Meet the Conservation Corps special (which I’m sure is what the intent was). I’m really not keen on these now, but there’s still a bit of nostalgia for the property in me regardless, thanks to that TMNT issue. And long before I was aware of it being any sort of older black-and-white-comics property from another publisher, I recall the Zen: Intergalactic Ninja comics, and though I think I have the first issue, I never remember if I have the others.

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A couple of Uncle $crooge comics because they were there, and especially the 250th issue!

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A couple of Disney movie adaptations. I’m not certain off the top of my head if there are issues like this for Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King, though I know there’s a more recent squarebound adaptation of The Lion King that I got just last year. Whether new material or re-purposed, I’m not sure. I like these "iconic" covers…though Aladdin is missing Rajah, the tiger…which seems a bit out of place.

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More Aladdin issues…

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A Little Mermaid issue and two spin-off Sebastian (the crab) issues. I am pretty sure I have Sebastian #2 somewhere, but not sure about #1…and this way, I have them, and together!

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A couple of Beauty and the Beast issues…

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Several random issues; these three are "squarebound"/prestige, so a bit more stand-out to me on the 50-cent price point; worthwhile for "bulk" alone, at minimum. The Chillers issue is basically a prose story with illustrations…I got it more for the potential of the poster than the product itself otherwise.

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…and an excellent "diamond in the rough" is the first issue of Disney Adventures! I had a copy of this back in the day, but it was lost to Time. I received it as some sort of "replacement" for something ordered through one of those Scholastic Book Group catalogs they’d give out in grade-school to order books. I hadn’t expected it, but remember enjoying it well enough…and then long being amazed at how long the magazine lasted…with the fact that I’d gotten in at the very first issue. Having a copy of that again made it the #1 thing of all of these, for me. Though I’m not 100% sure exactly what I remembered the cover image being–it’s different from the actuality–I still recognized this at a glance!

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TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #24

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tmntadventures024Gimme Danger!

Script: Dean Clarrain
Pencils: Garret Ho, Jim Lawson
Inks: Brian Thomas, Rod Ollerenshaw
Letters: Gary Fields
Colors: Barry Grossman
Edits: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: September 1991
Cover Price: $1.25

Well, there goes my thoughts of a consistency moving forward with Allan on art…or at least, that was my first thought with a different style to the art from the first page. Turns out this is a split issue with a lead story and a backup!

The lead story finds Krang and new allies Bellybomb and Slash arriving on an “Eden planet” (planets set aside by elder races of Dimension X as nature preserves/places of peace). Conveniently they arrive not only at the PLANET Cherubae sent Bebop and Rocksteady, but in the very field the two are hanging out. The ship having let its live cargo off, the group is free to return to their Earthbound journey, no longer captive to the ship’s auto-programming. On Earth, Shredder prunes a bonzai tree while lamenting his recent defeat…even as the turtles draw close, having found this latest base. While they fight, Krang has piloted his gang to the HQ and crashes in, leaving the turtles to fight Slash, Bellybomb, Bebop, and Rocksteady while he hides and waits for Shredder. Krang’s plan for revenge and acquisition of a new body prove a “two birds/one stone” situation as he takes control of Shredder’s body, somehow attaching himself to Shredder’s head/face.

The art’s a bit “off,” with both Ho and Lawson splitting the story. After so enjoying the previous issue, the art on this one is quite a letdown. It’s not bad, but definitely different and not what I was expecting. Ho‘s work has come to be somewhat familiar, though I found Lawson‘s part seemed to be a lot different than his last time around with this title. Compared to Mitchroney and Allan, though, this is not a preference for me.

It Started in Chinatown

Script: Dean Clarrain
Pencils: Chris Allan
Inks: Mark Pacella
Letters: Gary Fields
Colors: Barry Grossman
Edits: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick

Though we got a full 20-page story, we also get a “backup story,” starring April as she meets up with new friends Chu Hsi and Fu Sheng. When Fu Sheng is kidnapped, and Chu and April are unable to take on a small army of ninjas, Chu calls forth the warrior dragon spirit to aid the situation.

I had completely forgotten about this backup…I was thinking it’d be a few more issues before we’d hear from Chu and the Dragon again. I’d also forgotten that the “solo April stories” started this early in the run.

Though the story is a rather short, fast-paced segment, it’s cool to see April on her own, competently handling a katana, and having a life away from the turtles. Granted, we only really see her with a couple people the turtles just recently had involvement with, but the point stands. She’s not just simply hanging out with the turtles or fulfilling some stupid damsel-in-distress role.

I don’t recall how many chapters there were to this backup series, but it might throw a small wrench into my “season” analogy if it carries beyond two chapters.

I’d have to research Allan‘s work to see if this was his first series, and if there’s anything on why he was on the backup and not the main feature. Still, seeing more of his depiction of April is a welcome treat, and I look forward to the next issue.

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #5

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tmntadventures005Something Fishy Goes Down

Plot by: Dean Clarrain & Ryan Brown
Written by: Dean Clarrain
Penciled by: Ken Mitchroney
Inked by: Dave Garcia
Lettered by: Gary Fields
Colored by: Barry Grossman
Edited by: Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: October 1989
Cover Price: $1.00

Finally…while covering the original TMNT Adventures mini-series and the first few issues of this ongoing series, I’ve been eager to get to this issue–and beyond. This is where things truly start, in my mind, as this series diverges into its own continuity, away from the cartoon and Mirage comics and truly becomes its own thing.

We begin with the turtles at an aquarium, where they meet a worker who talks to them about the difference in rays and fish, before sending them out as the place is closing. Meanwhile we learn that Bebop and Rocksteady have lost a container of mutagen in the sewer. As Krang gives Shredder a dressing-down we shift scenes to find that the aquarium worker is doing some investigating on the side–disliking pollution and companies doing the polluting. He’s washed in a surge of mutagen-tainted water and disappears. The turtles decided to walk home along the shore and become targets for a torpedo from Shredder’s sub. However, they’re saved when something turns the torpedo around. The turtles find Shredder’s sub–parked for damages–end end up screwing up a mysterious figure’s plans to blow it up, as the figure doesn’t want to harm the turtles–only Shredder. While the turtles fight Bebop and Rocksteady and accidentally flood the sub, the creature–a large mutant ray calling himself Man Ray–confronts Shredder. Declining to kill the villain, Shredder gets away, and the wearied mutant returns to the water, wished well by the turtles. The day saved, the citizens of New York get their fireworks display unaware of Shredder’s plan to have destroyed the Statue of Liberty.

Man Ray (or “Ray Fillet” as the action figure was named) is probably my favorite Mutanimal character (oops, we don’t get that term for quite awhile yet)…certainly my favorite of the “new mutants” introduced in this series; if only because he was the first, and was part of the story in one of the earliest issues I’d read.

The story is solid enough if a bit “convenient” at points…but I enjoyed it a lot more than I did the adaptations of cartoon episodes. I’d totally forgotten about Man Ray having a brief appearance as a human, and would not picture the character like that otherwise. 

The art was a bit of a surprise to pay attention to–I was expecting a bigger change, but the art team’s mostly the same, which leads me to reconsider certain memories OF the art on this series, for better or worse (I think better).

The tone is “fun” yet a bit more heavy and serious than the cartoon and earlier issues…yet still far from the dark, gritty violence that could be found in the original Mirage comics.

As I recall, the next several issues also introduce new characters, as this creative team gets into some serious, fun world-building and differentiates this series from Mirage and the cartoon.

So long as one knows the “basics” of TMNT in general, this issue serves as a great #1 in my mind, and would recommend anyone interested in TMNT Adventures as a series start here rather than with anything earlier.

The Bebop Three – TMNT Toys

Cleaning out a storage room, I recently came across one of my oldest original TMNT action figures: Bebop.

I’d love to re-find my Rocksteady, as that was THE first figure I got, back in those dark days when numerous stores that didn’t even deal in toys had the TMNT figures, but no one seemed to have ANY of the Turtles themselves.

But that’s probably more a topic for some other post.

For now, I present the three incarnations of Bebop that I am aware of presently represented in action figure form (and not counting the oversized supposedly super-poseable figures or mini/vinyl figures…just the "standard" action figures).

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Front and center is the original, who honestly–the more I look at him–just looks really weird to me at this point. On the far right is the 2016 live-action movie version. And back on the far left is the "current cartoon" version.

It’s interesting enough to me to compare the three. The original is…well, the original. A new character created specifically for the then-new cartoon series, a mutant/animal character to be non-human, for the physical violence (same as the Foot being robots, so it was not actually ninja animals beating up on humans). Mutant warthog, various accessories and such playing off the "wackiness" of the toy line, etc. Aside from the face, a muscular, bulky character that one probably would NOT really want to mess with.

The movie version takes the bulk to a different extreme, giving the image of say, a significantly overweight biker or such with this huge beer gut and too-small vest with no undershirt…if not just some "fat slob" and such (foregoing any comparison to bikers).

The current cartoon version is a much smaller, slimmer and aerodynamic image that retains the mohawk and gshades but otherwise quite a different interpretation.

Forgive the possible mental imagery, but the cartoon version seems to answer the question of "what if 1980s Bebop and Movie Bebop had a kid?"

Meanwhile, I would love to have "regular sized" TMNT action figures based on the IDW version of the characters. Those comics are what finally got me to "accept" Bebop and Rocksteady as "valid" characters as an adult, having come to see them as nothing but ridiculous, pointless, and dumb prior to the new IDW incarnation.

Mega Bloks Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I went into Toys R Us looking for one thing only: an Extreme Heroclix Superman figure I’ve seen several times and had finally decided to purchase (particularly given its price in the store compared to prices I was seeing the exact same thing listed for  online–via Amazon and eBay and such!)

I happened across a display of TMNT stuff I hadn’t known existed. I didn’t quite recognize stuff, but quickly realized they were Mega Bloks TMNT toys. That alone had my attention, then–so much for the TMNT Lego stuff.

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Along with the Krang’s Rampage, there were also mini-sets for the four individual turtles, some sort of Turtle-Van set with Shredder and Raph, as well as "trooper" packs with Bebop and several Foot ‘bots or Rocksteady and several Foot ‘bots.

There were also several sets for the "current" TMNT that didn’t really have my interest…except for "blind pack" minis. What the heck? For $2.99 (compared to Lego‘s $3.99 minifig blind packs) I grabbed a couple, figuring they felt like different shapes–so not duplicates–and since I didn’t have any, they’d be "new" to me.

Ultimately I decided I did not have nearly as much interest in those as I did the "classic" TMNT stuff…and though it was certainly more than I’d intended to spend for the evening, I bought Krang’s Rampage.

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I cared nothing for the pizza cart or News 6 billboard "accessories." I simply wanted the turtles, and Krang with android body.

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I had a visitor while I was first examining the contents of the box. Once Ziggy determined the rustling bags were not treats, he ignored me…but didn’t feel like leaving "his" space.

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Eventually I had to set the box between my "work area" and the kitty…he was quite curious, and after he tried to eat a minifig the night before, I wasn’t going to let him walk through the brickspace. He left and returned several times while I assembled.

fully_assembled

A couple hours after I started, the project was complete, and I had two of the four turtles facing off with Krang in his enlarged android body…and I’m quite happy with the result overall.

I did notice as I worked that these bricks feel like a lighter (cheaper) version of Lego, but I expected that–this set WAS cheaper in purchase-price than a Lego equivalent. A lot of pieces seemed pretty custom to this set (as opposed to repurposed pieces creatively integrated for a Lego set.

The mini figures–the two turltes–feel a lot more flimsy than Lego minifigs…but are far more poseable! The detail and articulation make them truly seem like miniature action figures rather than turtle-themed accessories on a standard blocky minifig structure. The weapons also seem much more "in scale" to the figures than the Lego counterparts had.

But all in all, I’m quite happy with the set, and glad for my purchase.

The miniature action figures leave me very interested in acquiring others–especially the Bebop and Rocksteady packs, and make me think it would be simply amazing if they would do a simple trooper pack with a dozen or so Foot ‘bots…making it far more possible in this scale to have the turtles face a small army of the robots than in any scale prior.

And surprisingly enough to me–in searching online for more details of these sets and what might be expected beyond what I saw, in the near future–I learned that "street date" on these was 1/1/2016.

I was in the store seeing these and buying the set I did…1/1/2016.

Though "purist" Lego enthusiasts will almost certainly find these to by physically inferior, on the "fun factor" and "enjoyment," as well as variety (the Lego sets were expensive and only focused on the "current" TMNT and then the 2014 film…Mega Bloks has sets for both the ’80s TMNT as well as the "current" series.

Mega Bloks also has the individual turtle packs–I believe they were $7.99 or so–which make it quite feasible for one to obtain all four of the turtles without having to invest in a $12.99 set and two or more $25-$60+ sets just to get the turtles.

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Above: a closer view of the image from the box showing Bebop, ROcksteady, Foot, and the individual turtle mini-sets.

Below: a differently-lighted photo of the box for Krang’s Rampage after the contents were removed.

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The Weekly Haul – Week of August 19, 2015

As new comics go, this was a very small week, with only two new TMNT books:

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I also hit the quarter-bins, where along with far more X-Men books than I’d had any intention of buying in one shot, I also snagged a couple of key Superman issues:

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Being what they are, and for the price, I wasn’t gonna leave these sitting in the bin. I have tentative plans for one of the Superman #1s and Adventures of Superman #424 for sure.

Hard to believe TMNT is about to hit its 50th issue. I’ve been keeping up with it since #1…

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #44 [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw044Attack on Technodrome (part four)

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Cory Smith
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Cover: Cory Smith, Ronda Pattison
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Published by: IDW
Cover Date: March 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

It’s been a few months since I’ve covered an issue of this title–I think it was the end of the previous arc. Here we are at the end of the next arc–already! Though we’ve had Krang since the earliest issues, this arc and issue is where the “long arc” of stuff pays off.

The Leo, Raph, and Mikey tangle with some of Baxter’s flyborgs, before the scientist recalls them to make his escape…which leaves them free to get the mousers away from the Fugitoid…though this does not go over well with Krang. Meanwhile, Bebop and Rocksteady have been ordered to kill Donatello, and take great pleasure taking on the turtle and Metalhead. While the other turtles face Krang directly, Splinter is aided against Karai by Alopex and Nobody. Back on Burnow Island, Shredder’s mutants fail to help him, and escape…not realizing Baxter has designs on an alliance with their (probably now former) master. The turtles and Fugitoid end Krang’s plans for the Earth though they’re unable to prevent the island from being terraformed. The legacy of their battle is a space on Earth that can be a haven to surviving Utroms. While Honeycutt returns to Dimension X to see Krang answers for his crimes…the turtles return home to find that everyone was too late to save their brother.

Even long as the above summary is…it hardly does justice to the feeling I had reading this issue. I was expecting something big–I may have seen something hinting at a major event, or might’ve just felt like there’d “have to” be something big given all the “buildup” to the Technodrome activating and that it’d be a letdown if “all” that happened was that the turtles defeated Krang with no other lasting repercussions.

The art and writing together made for quite a scene between Bebop and Rocksteady vs. Donatello…and I honestly felt a bit sick reading it, at seeing Donnie take such an outright beating from the two. Gone are the overblown words and threats and no-one-actually-gets-hurt notion of the turtles facing the supposedly-dangerous lunkheads as we got throughout the ’80s/’90s animated series. Here, as I turned the pages I had a mental flash to Batman: A Death in the Family…exacerbated by the panel of Rocksteady’s hammer-swing quite looking like a crowbar. And though we don’t get detail, we get enough–the crack and crunch on the shell, and my realizion that I’d just been contemplating before that I’d never really read any TMNT story with any of the turtles truly having their shell damaged. They’ll be shown with scratches or cuts and such but the shell is generally shown deflecting a sword blade or some other object…but they’re not superhuman or invulnerable.

And we’re shown just enough to SEE that yeah…this is bad. VERY bad. Of course, that itself is made worse by the two talking over what they’d just done, remarking on the damage and what it looks like…definitely solidifying that it wasn’t just some “visual sound effect” and not just some visual angle.

And the end of the issue certainly suggests that the turtle family has been truly reduced by one…and yet no one comes out and says the “d-word” here, and I’m reminded of a key scene in the original Eastman/Laird series when Leo’d been horribly beaten by the foot and his near-lifeless body thrown through a window to the floor amidst the rest of the turtles. While mentally processing as I read the rest of the issue, I’d also thought immediately of the Image TMNT series, in which Donatello wound up a cyborg after a horrific accident all but killed him…the specifics remain a blind spot in my TMNT knowledge but given how much this series has drawn from prior incarnations of the property, I certainly have some expectation of where things can go from here…it’ll be the details and pace that are gonna hold my attention in a big way.

The immediacy of the issue–it’s the current issue as of this writing; it just came out this week; there’ve been no other new TMNT issues SINCE–certainly lends to a sense of importance by itself. Yet, I do truly think that in the long run, this may well be a key, defining issue in the series as well as moment for all the characters…something that’ll be referenced and relevant and to some degree inform the heart of the characters and the series for a good long time.

There’s not much “context” given, this is the fourth chapter of a four-part story, so it’s not particularly a jumping-on point. I certainly recommend the series, whether you backtrack to #41 and the start of this arc or pick up the entire series in collected format. Though I hurt for the characters, look forward to seeing how they get through, this remains one of my favorite comics being published currently by any company, and just about the longest I’ve kept up with any single series consistently on a monthly basis for such an extended time since the late-1990s.

While not the foundation/building blocks of the property, in terms of story quality, development, longevity, consistency, and quality…this is probably my favorite TMNT series, period…and after this issue I am all the more eager to see what comes, and even at the $3.99 price point, would likely enjoy weekly issues as long as the quality was maintained.

[ “The Scene” behind the cut. ]


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