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New Toys on New Comic Day

Despite it being a New Comic Day, I’m more excited with a couple of toy purchases this week.

Valiant‘s weekly email noted that the announced-awhile-back-and-I’d-forgotten MiniMates pack of X-O Manowar and Bloodshot was now in Toys R Us stores…so I stopped by my local TRU and found it. And bought it.

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While in TRU I also browsed the Lego stuff, and happened to notice a new Mech:

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Since they’re often cheaper at and I was going to Target anyway, I ended up getting the Mech there, though it proved to be the same price as TRU.

I suppose I might be “back” into Legos again for a time. We’ll see, though…

The Valiant #3 [Review]

thevaliant003Writers: Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt
Artist: Paolo Rivera with Joe Rivera
Letterer: Dave Lanphear
Assistant Editor: Kyle Andrukiewicz
Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant Comics
Cover Date: February 2014
Cover Price: $3.99

While it could just be that it’s the most immediate, this is probably my favorite issue of this mini so far.

The main thrust of the issue is that Gilad (the Eternal Warrior) has allied himself with a number of allies (basically, the rest of the major characters in the Valiant universe) to fight The Immortal Enemy, an entity as old as Time itself that is trying to kill the newest Geomancer. Gilad’s failed a number of times in the past to prevent this, but he’s highly determined that it will never happen again. Meanwhile, authorities behind Gilad’s group are working to get a mysterious box opened. As all this is going on and the heroes seem to be defeated, Bloodshot has been getting Kay (the new Geomancer) to safety and prepares to defend her if needed–he’s her last line of defense. The two learn more of each other, and Kay tests her powers…but the Immortal Enemy continues its path to the Geomancer.

I breezed through this issue hardly noticing the art, overall. In this case that’s definitely a good thing–it just fit the story, conveyed plenty, and didn’t really left me wondering what was going on. I don’t care much for lengthy “silent” scenes where I have to “focus” on the art to pick up on what’s going on. I far prefer to read a story and be able to “notice” the action going on behind the words…and this issue struck me as very well balanced in that regard. It certainly worked for me.

The story itself has shifted from what I’d thought was going to be an Eternal Warrior or Unity story to a Bloodshot story, and I think I truly like that. I’m further behind on a lot of my Valiant reading than I’d like to be, so I’m enjoying the Bloodshot emphasis all the more. I’m also definitely enjoying the development of something between Bloodshot and the Geomancer–the two are such different characters, and yet there’s definitely something quite interesting about them being “teamed up” and interacting directly with one another. I skipped the recap at the beginning of the issue, but had no problem “picking back up” with things, and am eager to get to the story’s conclusion despite knowing it leads into Bloodshot Reborn (as opposed to simply concluding as a 4-issue story that sits for a bit before being picked back up).

As a third issue of four, this is by no means a jumping-on point. But it certainly draws from what’s been set up in the first couple issues and leaves me looking forward quite a bit to the final issue, and with some suspicion that Bloodshot’s status quo has been significantly altered…and I’m hoping that Kay makes it through this story and would quite enjoy seeing her as part of the cast of the new Bloodshot series this spring.

I remember expecting skinny squarebound issues when Valiant announced the “prestige format” of the series, having gotten used to that for Marvel and DC “prestige format” comics in the 1990s. What I’ve got instead is a cardstock cover, endpapers, and a pleasant lack of ads. Best of all–the cover price remains “only” $3.99…and I count a full 22 story pages–making the physical quality of the individual issue(s) well worth the cover price, particularly compared against a standard issue. We also get “commentary” in the back with several pages of blended art, showing a few of the story pages divided in quarters showing the layouts, pencils, inks, and colors which is a neat effect…these pages overlaid with commentary in “narration boxes” from writer Jeff Lemire contextualizing some stuff about the issue (no need to have a smartphone with an app to pull up some video short that’ll eat into a data plan for a few words from a creator).

All in all, quite a good issue…plenty enjoyable, high quality, and certainly worth its cover price.

The Weekly Haul – Week of October 1st, 2014

Despite expecting a rather small week, this was far larger a week than I even wanted!

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At least Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon seem to have split after at LEAST two months of being released same-day. Action Comics and Armor HUnters: Aftermath cap of respective sagas. And Eventually I’ll get around to having Bleeding Cool removed from my pulls. Occasional decent articles, but nothing worth the $4.99, and it’s gonna drive me nuts eventually trying to find where all the issues scattered for the OCD side of me!

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The “second tier” stuff includes a freebee that looks like it came out months ago, and two $1 DC issues. The Batman one is “celebrating” 75 years of Batman, with one of these $1 issues each month through the end of the year or so. The Flash one is obviously timed to coincide with the debut next Tuesday of the new Flash tv series.

I grabbed Futures End to be one less issue to track down later, and spotted the 3D edition of the Wonder Woman issue, so figured I’d get it to read part 1 of the 2-parter that wrapped up in Superman/Wonder Woman.

Armor Hunters #4 [Review]

Armor Hunters #4Kill

Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Doug Braithwaite
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover Artists: Doug Braithwaite, Tom Fowler, Trevor Hairsine, and Clayton Henry
Assistant Editor: Josh Johns
Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

I can say from the start that this did not end with quite the grandiose hugeness I was expecting. For an 18-issue (now 19 including the upcoming Aftermath issue) thing, I don’t know what I was hoping for exactly, but this wasn’t it.

But then, I wasn’t buying this because it was Armor Hunters. I wasn’t following the story because of it being “an event” or the “latest event” or anything like that. I wasn’t following it because of chromium covers or variant covers. I wasn’t following it BECAUSE of any of the marketing or checklists or whatever. I was buying this because it was Valiant, and from May 2012’s relaunch to present, I’ve been “all-in” on Valiant.

That said, I found this issue to be a solid one, wrapping up this particular “core chapter” in the ongoing story that is Valiant continuity as a whole.

The art is very good as usual…I really had no complaints there. The style works and fits the story, and I was never taken out of things because of some visual quirk or stylistic twinge or otherwise anything distracting about the “meta” nature of anything with the art. The characters all looked good, the action was easy to follow, everything seemed consistent with what I’ve seen before. The art thus was good in the best way: only consciously “noticeable” because I’m choosing to comment on it in the capacity of this review. In the reading, it simply “was.” Nothing stand-out distractingly “great” but nothing distractingly bad–it allowed the story to take the stage.

Through the issue, we see Aric armor up again with the X-O suit, and reconnect with Bloodshot and the Unity team, as all come back together and the immediate threat of the team of “Armor Hunters” themselves is brought to a close.

The story is relatively simple on the surface for the issue–a lot of fighting as the hunters are laid low while the Earth-heroes take their own share of physical punishment for the trouble. But we also get some interesting elements for moving forward, and I feel like a key “promise” was indeed fulfilled–and satisfyingly so. While I don’t recall now if it was in some preview or interview or such (it may have been outside the “normal, organic” nature of following the comics themselves withOUT having comic news sites or such involved) but in my mind I’ve had the notion that we’d learn more about Aric’s armor in particular, and then as an event we’d have some lasting elements to carry on beyond.

We’ve learned that the armor is one of many, that they exert a parasitic influence over the “host” (that they’re a “host” rather than simply a being that is wearing the armor says plenty), that it’s not some one-shot thing of the armor being able to heal the host, and so on.

We have the lasting impact of Mexico City’s destruction–a city does not just get wiped off the map and get forgotten. That will be a long-term lasting thing in the Valiant continuity, setting it apart from the “real world” where we as readers know Mexico City has NOT actually been destroyed during an alien attack.

We also have the impact of things on Aric with the armor now totally bonded with him, and the limitation that he now lives with–he’s in control of the armor and it won’t just take him over, won’t heal him automatically. He now can WILL the armor to heal him…but in so doing, he cedes that much more control TO the armor, such that if he takes enough physical damage in need of the armor’s brand of healing, eventually he WILL be lost to the armor.

We also have a new relationship between Aric and MERO…as well as the first explanation I can consciously recall of the title X-O Manowar being given beyond some arbitrary X-O class armor also known as manowar armor…as an “Executive Officer” titled “Manowar,” Aric sort of has a “superhero name” now, yet not…but the title is given to him, as a thing, rather than merely being a description of the armor that he happens to wear.

While an 18 or 19 part “epic” is a bit grandiose for such a small family of titles as Valiant puts out, and rather large for ANY “event” or “crossover” as an independent thing…it totally makes sense as it has played out. The core story’s been in this 4-issue mini-series. Given the ties to the X-O Manowar title itself, we’ve gotten Aric’s story here and background on Malgam and the Armor Hunters in that title. Something of this scale would certainly affect the world as a whole, hence Unity’s involvement. Bloodshot’s recruitment fits and as one of the main/big players in the Valiant Universe his action should not be relegated to off-panel “mentions.” And as Generation Zero steps out into the world in general it’s logical that they–and the remnants of the Renegades–would become involved in disaster relief efforts.

Granted that’s a much larger-scale view than “just” this fourth issue, but having read everything, this is “just” a part of that.

Context is vital, and while there’s no gigantic singular event in this issue that in and of itself will HERE change the Valiant universe, if you’ve been following the whole thing or just this mini, or X-O Manowar, this is definitely an issue to get, not to be arbitrarily skipped for some random reason. It’s good and worthwhile, and a solid issue in itself. Of course, if you have not been following anything associated with this, it would thus be a rather strange-ish point to attempt to jump into stuff, and I wouldn’t recommend it as a jumping-on point. (Yet every issue is bound to be SOMEONE’s first).

The Weekly Haul – Week of September 17th, 2014

Another monstrous week price-wise…outside of Batman Eternal and the $1 reprint/special edition of Gotham Central #1 (perfectly timed for Monday’s premiere of Gotham) (and the freebie Banned Books Week guide), everything was that price point I so despise…but at least they were the spiffy 3-D covers that sucked me in again this year!

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And of course, perhaps conspicuously so, one might notice the absence again of anything from Marvel. Such a shame, especially considering how much I enjoyed the X-Men in the ’90s and certain parts of other stuff in the last 10-12 years.

weekly_haul_september_17th_2014b

Definitely a good-looking crop of the DC 3-D books for Futures End this week. Might be the classic-looking yellow-and-red logo against the blue field, but I think that Supergirl cover is my favorite this week.  I wasn’t going to pick up Batman/Superman…but figured it’s a one-shot, already spending a lot for the week, it’s Batman, and Superman…so I might as well add it to the pile.

So here’s to a lot of interesting reading and the third of four weeks of getting fairly deeply re-acquainted with a bunch of DC output.

The Five Valiant Chromiums

I was going to pass on the later ones after not being particularly thrilled with the initial Armor Hunters #1 Chromium cover, comparing it thoroughly to my favorite “old-school” Valiant chromium cover: 1993’s X-O Manowar #0.

valiant_chromiums_2014_armor_hunters

But I’d requested them, and though the store owner gave me an out–I went ahead and snagged ’em all.

Yeah, I loathe variants on principle, but even I have to make exceptions here or there, and these go with the “old school” “regular and collectors’ editions” format, rather than different images.

Whether one goes with the regular cover or the chromium cover…it’s still the same image and such…one’s “just” paper and the other’s this much thicker, sturdier material. But the fairly “iconic” images–Armor Hunters #1 and X-O Manowar #26–are still consistent. There’s not some random cover by a random artist, or some “theme of the month” or such.

Of course, now that I do have these…it’s back to standard most regular “A” cover available for the foreseeable future!

The Weekly Haul – Week of July 23rd, 2014

As new comics go, this week is definitely one of the biggest in quite awhile, with a pretty significant haul just FOR the new-this-week comics!

batman_day_free_stuff

This was ‘Batman Day’, so there’s a free special edition of Detective Comics #27, reprinting the original first appearance of Batman, as well as a couple other features/reimaginings/retellings of the story, it looks like. The Vertigo Preview is the way I prefer my “previews”–a separate comic-sized thing, rather than several pages of “padding” in regular issues. The Portfolio of upcoming action figures and statues is interesting…and if I had the space/finances I’d definitely be interested in several of the statues!

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While I was content to go simply with the Adam West mask, the store owner told me to go ahead and take one of each, so…got all four of the masks offered. Dark Knight, Original, New 52, and Adam West.

doctor_who_premieres

Two new Doctor Who series have begun, one focused on the Tenth Doctor, one on the Eleventh. I haven’t been particularly enamored with other Doctor Who comics, but was certainly interested enough to give these both at least a try for the first issue. And continuing my collection of the new Valiant chromium covers…

valiant_stuff

Two new Valiant issues including the regular edition of Armor Hunters: Bloodshot. And though the Gold Key line from Dynamite is not Valiant, they’re in the same vein and I’m filing them in my Current Valiant box.

tmnt_stuff

Latest Letter 44 and two new TMNT issues this week…

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And the latest of both of DC‘s current weeklies and the new issue of Superman. While I still loathe the Superman title moving to $3.99, I’m tentatively (case-by-case/issue-by-issue) onboard for the current arc with Johns on the writing.

Valiant’s Comixology Ads: Easily My Favorite Ads at Present

valiantpastandpresentadsI typically ignore ads in comics as much as I can, finding that more often than not they’re just not relevant or interesting to me. Sometimes an ad will really stick out to me, though–such as the ad for the Deadpool Corps series a few years back with the “Deadpool Corps Oath.” I’ve also posted before about quite liking the way Valiant was doing its back-cover house-ads; though the last few months they’ve shifted to a full-cover ad for Unity and such, with a two-page spread inside to advertise a month’s books.

I’ve also noticed–pretty much since the Valiant launch back in May 2012–the recurring Comixology ads in the various books. The ads are pretty much the same, except for the showcased covers. For each title, the ad changes to show the first issue of the original ’90s valiant series next to the (non-variant) cover of the first issue in the current series.

I’ve found myself enjoying these ads, and the sense of history they impart. If you’re a fan of the classic books “trying” the current stuff, they show that the classic stuff is available simply, through Comixology. If you’re just a fan of the current stuff, it shows what the original cover was, and offers a “way in” if you want to check out the original take on the character(s). Plus, to me, there’s just something about seeing the two covers next to each other that I like in each ad. (Though it also drives home my frustration at the abundance of variant covers from the current Valiant and solidifies my preference for the “standard” or “iconic” cover of a given book).

These also remind me THAT so much classic Valiant is now available digitally, and will certainly facilitate some of my reading soon, as I’m likely to grab the digital editions of early issues rather than wait til I can find the print editions (for stuff like Harbinger, X-O Manowar, and Rai in particular). It’s already allowed me to read what I believe is the entirety of the original Quantum and Woody stuff.

Anyway, as recurring ads go, or quasi “house” ads, these have gotta be my favorite since the various Superman house ads in the ’90s in the DC books.

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valiantpastandpresentad_harbinger

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Thoughts on Last Week’s Comics: Week of November 20, 2013

X-O MANOWAR #19

xomanowar019I’ve said before–right now, I’m “all in” with the current Valiant. As such, I quite enjoyed that this is a tie-in to Unity. PLUS, it just makes sense: since Aric–X-O–is the inciting factor OF the events of Unity, it would be rather weird for this book to NOT touch on that. Where I’d thought Unity seemed like a slightly more epic issue of X-O Manowar, with a more expanded cast…this issue does a great job of re-humanizing Aric, keeping him relatable and not being some god-like faceless alien bent on conquering a country. Yet, after Unity #1, Nord‘s art here seems out of place and rather weird to me. The story continues on from earlier issues, and events have built rather organically, so nothing seems forced. I like the cover’s symbolism, as well as the design: the Unity Tie-In blurb is at the bottom of the cover, so looking at the cover, the info is there…but it does not take away from the Valiant trade-dress at the top, and in a typical comics-racking format, it’s probably not even going to be seen, and thus the book sells itself on its own merits without RELYING on being a tie-in.

BLOODSHOT AND H.A.R.D. CORPS #16

bloodshot016I continue to be impressed with this “new direction” and re-titling of the Bloodshot book. While I remember anticipating the supporting cast that I’d thought was being built to, the H.A.R.D. Corps angle is working really well for me. It feels like an organic development and mixing, and the characters seem to fit together quite nicely. Perhaps most of all I greatly appreciate that despite adding H.A.R.D. Corps to the title–literally–the numbering continues onward…Valiant clearly recognizes that the series doesn’t need to re-start to #1 again every few months. Seeing Bloodshot himself amped up with the tech H.A.R.D. Corps sports–albeit more powerful since he can survive stuff normal humans can’t–is an additional treat in finding out what the character can, can’t, and will/won’t do. I’m also liking the ongoing interactions with Harada, as it makes sense that someone like Harada would be involved in far more than just chasing down some kids. I’m hoping the H.A.R.D. Corps crew is around for quite awhile, and that this title keeps up with the quality. I’m certainly around for awhile yet!

ETERNAL WARRIOR #3

eternalwarrior003I noticed an “editor’s note” in this issue, placing the events of the issue/story before the events of Archer and Armstrong #5…and that one little note made me suddenly enjoy this story all the more. Instead of being just some random story, knowing it takes place before the other appearances of Gilad in the pages of Archer and Armstrong, X-O Manowar, and now Unity gives me more context to appreciate. This is in its own way an origin story for the Eternal Warrior…not so much how he came to be (that’s touched on in A&A) but how he goes from one status quo to the “present day” status quo of Valiant in general. I’m also quite appreciating the character interactions, and laughed out loud at the old lady trying to shush Gilad and his daughter for their arguing in public. I’m interested in the conclusion of this arc, but admittedly even MORE interested in #5, seeing the Eternal Warrior of the future…which is kind of a shame, given advance solicitations and “convention announcements” and such, as I’d have more preference on just anticipating the current arc.

TMNT NEW ANIMATED ADVENTURES #5

tmntnewanimatedadventures005I’m finding myself growing to PREFER Brizuela‘s visual style to the actual cartoon itself. The turtles look great in this issue–as they have in the previous issues. While Fishface is one of the more ridiculous concepts of the series, this issue shows what a threat he can be, and is maybe the first time I’ve come this close to enjoying the character at all. I’m drawing obvious parallels between this series and Archie‘s TMNT Adventures; both developing from tv series, both serving as an alternative for fans of the cartoon vs. just the comics. This series has yet to straight up adapt any episodes, yet it’s set in the same continuity, rather than developing its own universe. It works, I’m going to continue on with this title if only for the art…but unfortunately, some of the shininess has worn off for me, and I find myself preferring the regular ongoing IDW continuity. Still, fans of the show will appreciate this most likely, and it’s a good title of one-off/one-issue stories if you want to read something with the TMNT but not have to deal with a lot of continuity or related/tie-in issues.

BEN10 #1

ben10001I was originally drawn to Ben10 upon discovering Dwayne McDuffie‘s involvement, and watched a handful of episodes from a DVD I snagged sometime last year. I never managed to get very far into the series (and I think what I saw was the equivalent of a second or third season), so I’m not all that steeped in Ben10 continuity to know if this is a tie-in or continuation of the cartoon’s continuity, or just its own thing. I don’t suppose it matters TOO much…I zipped right through the issue and enjoyed it in and of itself. However, not being entirely certain of where this is in the larger Ben10 universe/timeline, I’m pretty sure I’m left “on the outside” just enough that I’m not really the target audience for this book. Still, it was worth my trying for being the first issue…but I rather doubt I’ll keep sinking $4/issue into this. If you are or have a fan of the show, I’d definitely say check this out…it’s the premiere issue, after all. But if you’ve never experienced anything Ben10, this issue doesn’t particularly fill you in on stuff so wouldn’t seem the greatest ‘first-introduction-to-the-series/premise’ story to dive in on.

DOCTOR WHO: PRISONERS OF TIME #12

doctorwhoprisonersoftime012I haven’t read issues 1-11, but I bought this issue BECAUSE it’s the last issue…also in anticipation of the Day of the Doctor 50th Anniversary Special. Story-wise, I was fairly lost…not having any details whatsoever of the previous 11 issues. I’m also a bit iffy on the art, with this issue having something just a bit “off” about the various Doctors. Despite that, I could recognize them all, and love the double-page spread of all 11 Doctors. That I could identify each is testament to how far I’ve come as a Doctor Who fan since March of this year. I’d figured I’d probably go for a collected volume of this series, but I’m pretty sure it’s being split into 3 books, so barring a single-edition, I’ll cut my losses with having this single issue that includes all the Doctors and be glad I only spent the $3.99. I imagine if you’ve been following the series to date this puts a nice cap on the series and possibly the entirety of IDW‘s holding of the DW license. In and of itself, I’m kinda “meh” on this…the issue wasn’t bad, but not exactly my cup of tea…yet I hope that’s more my lack of 11 issues’ context than anything of the series itself.

This Week’s Comics Haul (November 20, 2013)

I’m loving the $1 “promo” issues of late. At the LEAST they add “value” to the “stack.” I picked up Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #12 (of 12) on a whim just to check it out since I haven’t a clue when I’ll get to read the entire series. And Ben 10 I figured I’d just try, see if I liked it. With only about 8 titles and at least 4 Wednesdays in a month, I haven’t figured out why Valiant can’t better “stagger” their books!

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Also hit the quarter-bins at JC’s in the Falls. Finally got Supergirl #1 (PAD’s run), couldn’t pass up Superman the Man of Steel #1 on principle (see upcoming Akron Comicon post from the con a couple weeks ago).

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And finally got Superman Red to go with my Superman Blue that I got a couple years ago. I’m re-realizing how much I like the pre-New 52 Tim Drake Robin character, particularly given my history with the character and comics in general (another story for another time). These figures will be coming out of the packages ASAP; to display with my other JLA figures, and the cards are slightly curled and just seem “worn” such that I might as well ditch the packaging.

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