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The Weekly Haul – Week of July 5, 2017

Even a should-be-small week can get big pretty quick. But this was definitely a worthwhile week…all the more after some apparent worries that "New Comics Day" would be Thursday due to holiday and distributor stuff!

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As far as actual new comics go, definitely a small week, with the new Superman issue and Bane: Conquest, which I almost didn’t get, but since it’s not billed as Rebirth and isn’t part of a bundle, might as well keep up with it in the hopes I get to reading it before collected editions are out.

And it’s kinda hard to believe Comic Shop News is celebrating 30 years! I remember when it was still relatively new, back in 1992 or so. One of these days I’ll get all my issues together and sorted, an have a post for that…especially as I suspect I’m a weird one in the stuff I’ve actually saved over the years…including scattered issues of this!

weeklyhaul_07052017b

Then there’s the books from the bargain racks. For the price of 3 standard Marvel comics, I got each of these Bizarro hardcovers. And the Wolverine: The End was…the price of a current standard Marvel, but with 6 issues, far more worthwhile!

ben_reilly_stuff

And I’ll close off with a random picture of my "Titan" Ben Reilly figure now out of the packaging and on a shelf. I’ve long resisted most of these figures…but for being bigger (albeit less poseable), they’re way cheaper than the much smaller figures, and I’ve given on on some characters here and there. I think I have Spider-Man 2099 somewhere…might start a Spider-Men collection.

Or not, and just enjoy what I have.

The Weekly Haul – Week of January 11th, 2017

This week–for the "main haul"–certainly proved to be extremely small in its way.

At the first shop, I snagged…Action Comics. The 50%-off TPB bargain bins–from which I’d anticipated getting a couple more volumes if they were still there–were completely gone. Period. So I wound up sticking with just the single issue…

…such that this week, I paid with cash out of pocket, because it didn’t seem worth using the debit card for a single DC issue.

weeklyhaul_01112017a

Given how much I’d mentally budgeted, and how little that one issue was, I had no problem going to the second shop.

Which had two issues I wanted that the first did not: God Country and the Vixen issue. And since even those added together were still rather low…

weeklyhaul_01112017b

I snagged 3 more of the figurines I was interested in, rather than "risk" their being gone by the weekend.

Bizarro actually has the "Bizarro #1" placard but that had come off in the bag, and I neglected to realize until after I was done with blog-photos.

I’d forgotten about this old Batgirl costume…it SORTA justifies the current Bat-emblem that I don’t like on Batman’s costume at present.

Unfortunately…in looking for a couple things online, I discovered there’s a Tim Drake Robin figurine from this line that I’m very interested in now…sadly, it costs more than these three were combined!

And a $40 statue I’d been interested in is apparently going for over $200 at the moment.

Such is life.

Such is stuff.

And hey…these figurines will be seen a lot more than any Marvel single-issue #1s, proving to be the far superior value there!

DC Villains Month, Backtracking

villainsmonthcatchup

With the end of Villains Month and all the issues I wound up getting, I still found myself curious about a few more issues…and ended up “backtracking” and picking up several of the “leftover” 2D editions for a few issues…and figured I’ll offer some some thoughts/commentary associated with each of these same as I have all the rest this month.

ARCANE (Swamp Thing #23.1)

foreverevilarcane001I jumped into Swamp Thing at the start of the New 52, but never got to “meet” Arcane himself. I’ve heard of the character through the years, been aware that he existed, but never actually encountered him. I also–based on where I left off when I dropped the title before the Rotworld stuff or whatever it was–knew “something” was going on with Abby, so her appearance here (while not to my taste) isn’t all that “shocking.” It’s interesting finally meeting the character, and it’s easy to see just how dangerous he really is; I could also tell that there seems to be some retconning going on as he interacts with Abby. No problem with the story or art; this one issue is not enough to draw me back in to the ongoing series, though it gets my curiosity up where I’ll be interested in learning where things go, down the line…and/or perhaps I’ll seek the series out in bargain bins someday or snag the issues digitally if there’s a sale or such. Definitely enjoyed this, and I’m glad I picked it up.

BIZARRO (Superman #23.1)

foreverevilbizarrow001Bizarro is another character I’ve really never cared that much for. I didn’t mind the interpretation used in Byrne‘s Man of Steel mini, and the Bizarro’s World arc not long after the Return of Superman wasn’t bad (as I recall). But I’ve never been thrilled with the more recent version from the early-2000s to present. However, having checked out a number of the other Superman-related villains’ issues this month I figured I’d check this out, and have to say that I found this at least somewhat “interesting.” I actually think I’d prefer this interpretation of the concept to a singular character, as this makes more sense to me than some backwards quasi-duplicate of Superman. This issue fits the “Morrisonian” aspects of my understanding to the New 52 Superman, and this felt like it would’ve been right at home in the pages of Action Comics moreso than Superman, but c’est la vie. As an issue I “backtracked” on, I’m glad I didn’t pay $3.99 for the 3-D cover as I’d’ve been particularly disappointed…but as a 2-D edition “after the fact” this was a good read.

H’EL (Superman #23.3)

foreverevilhel001I’d already bailed on the New 52 prior to the recent H’El on Earth Super-book crossover, and never paid attention to any of the solicitations or covers for that story, so knew virtually nothing of the character until seeing this cover. This was another issue that I got–backtracking–because of having grabbed other Superman-family villains’ issues, I figured I might as well be a bit more comprehensive in my “experience” for the month. While I don’t entirely buy into the time travel aspect of stuff, I still felt like I got a better handle on this character from this issue…enough that if there’s a single-volume collected edition of H’El on Earth I might be inclined to try to get/read that sooner than not. Along with that, I’m ALMOST inclined to watch for the Action Comics Annual, except I actively want to keep from getting sucked into more monthly titles right now. I probably would’ve enjoyed this had I bought the 3D edition when I had the chance, but I’m satisfied with the 2D edition and simply having read the issue.

PENGUIN (Batman #23.3)

foreverevilpenguin001The Penguin was one of the earliest Bat-villains I remember becoming familiar with, in whatever iteration. I don’t think I consciously noticed the shift in the character from washed-up umbrella-guy to master gangster, but now that I have noticed that, it’s a fitting role for the character, in my eyes. This issue touched on a number of things I do like about the character and associate with him–from his past having been bullied to present-day exacting revenge upon those (and other) bullies, as well as being a kingpin-like character. I also definitely enjoyed seeing confirmation that he’s not JUST some backseat leader…this Penguin is dangerous on multiple levels and quite capable of wading in and getting his hands dirty, doing his own dirty work, when provoked. This isn’t enough to get me to rush out and buy the recent Penguin mini-series…but if I find the collected volume for a decent price I’m more inclined to check it out, or might even be inclined to on a whim buy the issues digitally since they’re all well into the discounted 2+ months old range. All that said, this issue felt rather short–it pulled me in and the whole thing flew. I’m actually rather disappointed that I didn’t pick this up the week it came out…but content with having read it as I did rather than waiting til sometime later.

TWO FACE (Batman and Robin #23.1)

forevereviltwoface001I’ve got a mixed history with Two Face…generally I’m not that enamored with the character, though I’m not necessarily going to avoid his appearances. I did avoid this issue earlier in September…but found myself curious and so tracked this down to read for the immediacy. I’m not all that impressed by the issue’s story–of the character using his coin-toss to decide to help or hurt Gotham–but it “works” with what I know of and think of regarding the character. It might have been the quick read of flying through the issue but I didn’t get much “substance” from this, and really didn’t feel I gained any particular insight into the character or anything of much interest to consider watching for later. This was just sort of a slice-of-life/what-he’s-up-to kinda thing to me. I would have been quite disappointed buying this at $4 (or the marked-up $10+ I saw the 3D edition going for)…but as a $2.99 issue, not AS disappointed.

All-Star Superman #8 [Review]

Quick Rating: Average
Story Title: Us Do Opposite

Superman and Zibarro on the Bizarro World as said world sinks into the Underverse.

allstarsuperman008Writer: Grant Morrison
Pencils: Frank Quitely
Digitally Inked & Colored by: Jamie Grant
Letters: Phil Balsman
Asst. Editor: Brandon Montclare
Editor: Bob Schreck
Cover Art: Frank Quitely
Publisher: DC Comics

Perhaps it’s the timing, or zeitgeist, patience wearing thin or just plain change-of-tastes…this issue is the first that I’ve really felt outright let-down by.

The issue continues from the previous one (which was itself a "To Be Continued…"), picking up with Superman on the Bizarro world with some guy called Zibarro, an imperfect imperfect (read: "perfect") duplicate of Supes. (At least, that’s the impression I got contextually–whether this issue is on-time (bimonthly) or not, it feels like it’s been awhile since the previous issue, and I didn’t recall much detail from that.) The Bizarro world is sinking into the "underverse," and while Superman has gotten the Bizarros off Earth, he himself is trapped on their world, and rapidly losing his powers (the further into the Underverse they get, the more the sunlight is changed to red sunlight, which of course means no more yellow/power for Supes). This forces Superman and Zibarro to get creative for a solution to their problem. Meanwhile, on Earth, Lois and others compare notes on the situation as a whole, leading Lois to a particular revelation that’s been a long-time coming.

Yes, I was let-down by this issue. For one thing, I had wrongly assumed it would conclude the Bizarro story from the previous issue. I’d figured a 2-parter wouldn’t be bad, but I rather like the one-off nature of earlier issues, where you could pick up a single issue and enjoy it start to finish, without needing context of the previous issue(s). That this is also a "To Be Continued…" issue is a disappointment. The "Bizarro-speak" gets extremely frustrating very quickly…I found myself trying to sort it out/logically comprehend it, but quickly gave up, and relied more on tone and visuals to figure out what was going on, as well as context from Supes and Zibarro speaking normally.

I’m also not a fan of the Bizarro concept as a whole…and while I’m sure this story has some nice homage to silver age stories (much as this series as a whole seems to be a modern-age sensibilities / homage to the silver age), it lacks the charm of earlier stories presented in this series, and simply fails to engage me.

The art is good, as usual, for the story…Quitely provides a that distinct, almost simplistic visual style that has defined this series visually so far, taking apparent cues from Superman: For All Seasons without outright mimicking it. The art fits the story, shows what is going on, and in general works quite well; I really have no complaints with it.

With no real recapping, this issue doesn’t seem like the best point for a new reader to jump on-board. While you do get a story of Superman on the Bizarro world, it’s missing much of the context and the "why" presented by the previous issue. If you’ve read the previous issue, you’ll probably want to read this for the obvious story continuation. And if you’re a general Bizarro fan or fan of silver-age type stories in and of themselves, you may just enjoy this, context-be-darned.

Ratings:

Story: 2.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3/5

All-Star Superman #7 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: Being Bizarro (part 1 of a 2-part adventure)

Bizarre creatures descend on the Earth, duplicating those they come into contact with, while a square world heads toward Earth…

allstarsuperman007Writer: Grant Morrison
Pencils: Frank Quitely
Digitally Inked & Colored By: Jamie Grant
Letters: Phil Balsman
Asst. Editor: Brandon Montclare
Editor: Bob Schreck
Cover Art: Quitely
Publisher: DC Comics

This title continues to be a sort of "modern update" to silver-age stories, with similar elements that seem very familiar from those classic stories, while adding or incorporating a modern twist. Morrison and Quitely deliver another tale that fits well within the continuity established for this title–though it seems almost as if the idea of Supes having been poisoned has been left to the side, with not a mention of it here, nor of the events from the previous issue–in fact, we are plunged directly into the action at this issue’s open.

The issue opens with a P.R.O.J.E.C.T. mission gone bad that may hint at story elements to come, and then we find Superman in space dealing with some unearthly behing before being ambushed by some clay-looking creatures, and witnessing the appearance of a cube planet. Cut to Earth–Metropolis–where more of these creatures crash-land, bringing destruction and chos with them. Upon touching anyone, the creatures take their shapes, and the vocabulary generally recognized as being that of Bizarro. Another one appears, with the costume of Superman, and the battle is on–Superman versus his bizarre duplicate, as well as that for survival amidst the Planet’s staff.

Up-front, this is probably my least-favorite issue of this series–probably largely due to the fact that it’s a 2-parter, so we’ve only got half a story and a decent wait between issues means it’ll be awhile til I get to read the next part.

As stated above, this issue continues very much in line with the previous issues–maintaining both the visual and the written continuity/feel. The story takes the classic Bizarro concept and gives it a mild shove, that seems at once over-familiar and yet inspired. However, I’m not particularly impressed overall. This isn’t bad, but it’s not blowing anything to a new level for me or giving particular "insight" to a character, metatextually or otherwise.

Quitely‘s art keeps the feel I’ve gotten used to for this title, and while I wouldn’t be enthused about seeing it for the "regular" Superman, for this title it works very well; I have no real complaint with it. I was even amused at one panel that made me think "Niiiice…Zombie-Superman!" for a moment.

Unless you’re specifically turned off by Morrison or Quitely and previous issues, you’ll probably find this–like I did–to be another solid (if somewhat disappointing compared to the previous issue) entry in the series. If you’ve not checked the title out before, this may seem a bit more "out-there" than much else, but it IS the start of a new story, so not a terrible point to jump on.

Ratings:

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Superman/Batman #66 [Review]

Night of the Cure

Story, Art & Cover: Scott Kolins
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Colors: Michael Atiyeh
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics

There’s not really a whole lot to this issue, when you get right down to it. Black ring commands Solomon Grundy to Rise; Grundy goes off to kill. Meanwhile, Kirk Langstrom is yet again fighting the whole Manbat thing, and has a run in with Bizarro. And by issue’s end, they’re both facing Black Lantern Solomon Grundy.

Needless to say, I’m not too fond of this issue. Kolins’ art isn’t bad…it’s got a distinctive style that I like for the most part. Plus, I’ve gotten used to Bizarro’s appearance coming off differently with practically every artist who does the character lately. So no real complaint with the visuals.

The story itself, though just doesn’t do anything for me. I’m rather tired of the over-use of Bizarro the last few years; I’ve never been particularly fond of the character, and especially not when he/it shows up every other month or so. The Manbat bit is also rather tiresome and seems like any other Manbat story I can think of; there’s nothing new added to my understanding of the character, and nothing to show the character has moved forward at all; just the standard “every knows this basic original status quo” sort of take on the character, as I read this. Solomon Grundy being chosen by the Black Ring makes sense–he dies and comes back to ‘life’ all the time, so is one of the major offenders of Death.

As an issue of Superman/Batman, this issue is certainly mistitled: neither Superman nor Batman make any appearance here. The logo on the cover is more Manbat-ish and the S is backwards to represent Bizarro, so that part at least shows the difference…but this seems like it ought to have been its own special or mini-series.

As Blackest Night goes, this is one of the weaker tie-ins, and I’m confident the only reason for me to pick up the next issue is that I decided before Blackest Night began that I was going to follow the ENTIRE event/story. (Of course, I had no idea how huge it would become as it’s gone on!)

This is definitely one of those ancillary books that doesn’t seem to have any real bearing on the main story, and ties in due to the Black ring raising Grundy. If you’re interested in Grundy, Bizarro, or Manbat…you’ll probably enjoy this issue much more than I did. Otherwise, the only reason to get this is if you’re determined to follow Blackest Night into every last tie-in.

Story: 5/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 6.5/10

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