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Beginning of the End: Big Fun February 2nd, 2018

Early in the week–around January 29 or so–Big Fun of Cleveland, Ohio announced it would be closing…with a 50%-off-everything sale to commence that Friday, February 2nd.

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This is a store that I remember going into with a couple of friends as far back as1999 or so–basically half a lifetime ago–when it was much smaller and across the street. It recently got back onto my radar and had become extra special, a destination store, a reason unto itself to visit the Coventry area, as much so as BD’s Mongolian, and I’d been looking forward to getting several friends out for visits specifically to get them to this store in the nearish future.

Having gotten some missing TMNT figures from them throughout last year, I opted to venture in for the 50% off sale…figuring ignorantly that it wouldn’t be THAT crowded. But man, was I ever wrong there! The entire store was jam-packed, as the line itself to check out snaked throughout basically the whole of the place, with one having to fight through the line itself to look at anything, and staff doing their best to attend to prospective customers in need!

Ultimately, after finding what I wanted within the first 15 minutes in the place, it was another 100+ minutes standing in line to check out, and found a couple more items than planned specifically due to being in line for such a long time!

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I spotted this Barbaric figure in the Ninja Turtles case. After verifying the price, I decided it was WELL worthwhile, as the 50% off put it at contemporary pricing despite being a very rare late-line figure from the trailing-off end of the original TMNT toy line!

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Loose in the case, but with an accessory, I spotted the best-condition Tattoo I think I’ve ever seen since I was a kid. The figure’s clean, has a number of the sticker tattoos, and they don’t seem to be faded or peeling (or outright MISSING) the way they’ve been with a number of instances I’ve seen online. So he was a definite one to get!

bigfun_feb2nd_tmnt_chromedome

Knowing I was in for a long wait in line, I figured I should make it "worthwhile" and take advantage of the 50% off while I was there. So I snagged this Chrome Dome,which seems particularly shiny and clean, and comes with a couple of accessories. My main interest was for the wing on the back…my original figure is missing one! So this whole figure can either outright replace that, or if the part is able to be swapped without breaking anything, can complete my existing figure.

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Then Rahzar was another that had accessories, and though it turned out a friend did indeed have the character, is a relatively worthwhile acquisition for the accessories.

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While waiting in line, I spotted a display of several of these Eaglemoss figurines. I recognized Booster Gold and Penguin as ones I had, but then spotted Blue Beetle. Then I had a sudden bit of doubt: had I merely SEEN the design/pose of Booster so many times that I only thought I had him already? I distinctly remembered a Heroclix mini of the character in my display case, but was no longer absolutely, 100% sure that I had this one. I knew I didn’t have Blue Beetle. And sadly, I was unable to find any posts searching this very blog to cofirm, nor locate a photo in my phone. And since I certainly did not want to pass up either figure for the price…I bought them both.

And promptly discovered on getting home that yes, I did indeed already have Booster. Still, for prices I’d seen online for these, and the 50% off…it was not a horrible price to pay for Blue Beetle, and the "magazine" for Booster. And hey…it means I have an extra Booster to do something with.

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Here they are… Blue & Gold in the display case. You can also see the Heroclix Booster that threw me off.


Without getting into too much…I’m amazed at how many people showed up that first day. Further amazed when I saw a post on Facebook from the store’s Page, showing that there was a line down the block before they even opened that morning, and it was jam-packed all day. I know there were loads of toys and such on display of immense collectability, but I guess I underestimated the eagerness and widespread demand that would be triggered by a 50% off sale.

I probably should NOT have been surprised, though, given my own eagerness at various places to get something for 50% off that I would pass on at "full price" but is suddenly very worthwhile at the discount.

I don’t know if I’ll make it in again or not–while a couple months seems like a long time for "going out of business," I wonder at the pace of backstock from their basement being brought up and being stuff I’m interested in…and not sure about the crowds. Most likely I won’t be going back alone anyway, but perhaps with (a) friend(s) it would be worth it!

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The ’90s Revisited: Justice League America #69

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Justice_League_America_0069Down for the Count

Story and Art: Dan Jurgens
Finished Art: Rick Burchett
Letters: Willie Schubert
Colors: Gene D’Angelo
Asst. Editor: Ruben Diaz
Editor: Brian Augustyn
Cover: Dan Jurgens
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: December 1992
Cover Price: $1.25

I may have read this issue before all of the other Doomsday! issues back in 1992…in fact, I’m almost certain that I did. I then reread it when reading the entirety of the Doomsday! arc the night Superman #75 came out.

This is another issue with a fairly iconic, if generic/plain cover, to me. The fade from the deep, almost purple red across the other shades (a gradient is the word I’m probably looking for) as the background eliminates any sort of buildings, trees, other stuff, and leaves us just to focus on the Doomsday creature punching the Blue Beetle as Bloodwynd, Fire, Booster Gold, and Guy Gardner struggle against it. (And this time around I’d swear is the first in all these 25 years that I really noticed the huge gashes in the side of Blue Beetle’s headgear from the creature’s strike!) And of the various chapters of this story, this issue is one I feel I’ve least seen in bargain bins over the years–even less than Superman #75 itself!

The first page has a call-out/blurb at the bottom directing readers to Man of Steel #18 first, though for me, it’s hard not to have started reading the page before seeing that, as it’s positioned at the bottom, and I start reading at the top, so I’m already through a page of dialogue (granted, a full-page/single image) before getting to it, and thus already slightly "hooked" into the action.

We open on the Justice League in action rescuing people–victims from Doomsday’s having torn up a freeway in Ohio (incidentally, based on details in the novelization The Death and Life of Superman–a stretch of freeway I myself used to drive to and from work!). While they’re dealing with the rescue and cleanup, a parallel thread for the issue is picked up–an episode of the Cat Grant Show being filmed at a high school and broadcast to the country, wherein Cat is interviewing Superman live, as well as questions from the students in attendance. This is interspersed with the League then tracking down the creature–following its path of destruction–and engaging it in a battle that leaves the Justice League itself far worse for wear, and Guy horribly beaten and Ted Kord–Blue Beetle–all but dead. At the end, Booster Gold barely gets his force field up in time to take a massive punch from the creature that sends him flying far away from the scene at a speed that overwhelms his flight ring. His flight is cut short by the arrival of Superman, at which point Booster exclaims that "It’s like Doomsday is here!"

The issue’s story has a lot of little moments, and some of those stick out all the more to me 25 years later, looking back. Seeing Maxima as part of the League, for one thing–I’d only really known her from an issue of Action Comics several years earlier. I believe this was my first introductions to most of the other characters–Bloodwynd, Booster Gold, Fire and Ice, and Blue Beetle. I’d already had Guy Gardner #1 a couple months earlier and knew/recognized Guy from the Eclipso: The Darkness Within annual where he’d tangled with the eclipsed Superman (any of the other Leaguers would have been inconsequential background characters to me for the most part). I remember the interview with Cat, the creature spearing Beetle’s bug with the tree, Maxima mind-probing ahead and declaring of the creature "He’s hate–death and blood lust personified! Nothing more." I also think I remember even then being amazed that Beetle and Guy could have survived the creature’s attack, given the on-panel beatings both took; though Guy at least ostensibly was protected by his ring, where Beetle had no such protection, and was in a coma from here and forward for a number of issues.

The art is quite good, and as with Man of Steel #18, part of that is nostalgia…though I think I like this a bit better. We start to see a bit more of the creature as the green, cabled suit takes some damage (on the cover, anyway!), and the art also seems both consistent with the characters and a bit definitive for me given the times I re-read this as a kid, and as a "source" issue for me in referencing some of the characters for the first time.

While this doesn’t exactly stand alone and definitely continues from the events of Man of Steel #18 and continues directly into Superman #74, as a single chapter of the Doomsday! arc, it works much better alone than the previous chapter…at least for me. Picking up with the creature already loose, and showing the League "playing catch-up" themselves allows the reader to be on the same footing, if nothing else…and the final page where Superman shows up kinda ends the threat being a League thing, as it becomes a Superman thing (and as the rest of the story plays out in the Superman titles, the League is relegated to a support status, as it should be for a story unfolding primarily in several titles technically starring only one main character).

This is hardly a complete story, but it does give us moments of Beetle discovering Bloodwynd’s secret months before it was revealed to readers and fellow characters; this is where Beetle is actually injured (a subplot that continues into the next arc), and does serve as a rather "full" participation in the story for the League, as well as (maybe in a meta sense) illustrating also just how dangerous the creature was that it did so much damage to the League itself in just one issue!

I’d say this one’s worth getting even alone, if you find it in a bargain bin, and certainly is an important chapter in the overall story (such that it really should have had an "honorary" "triangle number"…something that was bestowed on several tie-in titles years later for the Millennium Giants story). Though essentially just a "cameo," this is also where we first meet Mitch–a character that has a bit of a through line across this arc and the Funeral for a Friend/World Without a Superman stuff.

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Token Post: Non-Comics This Week

Just a quick/token-y post.

This week we got a new Teen Titans animated movie. I first went to Target to get it but balked at the EXTRA-steep price. Found it $3 cheaper at Walmart…which sorta balances out the Tales of the TMNT: Super Shredder pricing.

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I think of all the DC animated movies, the only ones I’ve missed the figurines for are the Wonder Woman and Superman/Batman: Apocalypse ones. While nostalgia gives Ted Kord the edge for me in terms of "Favorite Blue Beetle," I can’t deny that I dig Jaime’s version of the costume…

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And these darned figurines are a weak spot or "guilty pleasure" for me, they always sucker me for the extra few dollars for this edition of the movies. (Add Gods and Monsters to the list of ones I did not get with a/the figurine).

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And last for this post, Wild Times: An Oral History of Wildstorm Studios arrived. I’d backed this on Kickstarter a couple months ago and was looking forward to it, and then forgot it with stuff going on in my personal life the last couple weeks…so this was a pleasant arrival.


Hopefully I’ll get to something a little more substantive for tomorrow’s post, but time will tell. I also hope to get to actually watch the Teen Titans movie this weekend…as it does not look like it will happen sooner. As always, though…time will tell!

The ’90s Revisited: Justice League America #70

jusice_league_america_0070Grieving

Words, Layouts: Dan Jurgens
Finishes: Rick Burchett
Letters: Willie Schubert
Colors: Gene D’Angelo
Asst. Edits: Ruben Diaz
Edits: Brian Augustyn
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: January 1993
Cover Price: $1.25

It’s been a lotta years since I read this issue. Honestly, well longer than I’d tend to care to admit otherwise, but most of my re-readings of the "entire" Death of Superman story have been via that original collected volume, or the Roger Stern novelization, or the audio drama. And I tend to stop there–I know I’ve been through the novel several times, and the World Without a Superman/Funeral For a Friend collected volume at least a couple times…but this issue? This Justice League America "tie-in" is not included in the original edition of World Without a Superman. And though the previous issue was far more relevant to the lead-in to the main, sustained Doomsday fight, this one splits off from the core narrative focusing on Superman himself (as chronicled in the Superman-centric titles and such) and focuses more on the League, and these characters’ reactions to and ramifications from the Doomsday battle.

justice_league_america_0070_noflapOn this read-through, it was like reading the issue for the first time. When the Flash showed up, and Batman, and Hawkman, and Aquaman…despite a slight sense of deja vu in the back of my mind, it still surprised me. Looking at this issue’s cover, I remembered some loose, broad strokes–Blue Beetle in a coma, Booster’s suit destroyed, Ice devastated and Guy none to happy about her reaction–but I didn’t remember the details of the issue, the smaller moments. I remember some loose bits from some issues shortly after this–and the fact OF having READ the issues comprising Destiny’s Hand and leading to Justice League America‘s OWN 75th issue–but this is not quite the hyper-familiar territory I’d assumed it was for myself.

This issue opens with us on-site in Metropolis, Superman dead, Lois cradling his body…even an abbreviated, slightly alternate narration to the final moments of Superman #75…and into the early moments of Adventures of Superman #498, the start of the numbered chapters of Funeral For a Friend. And we’re split off, away from the Superman-family focus, and see the League reacting. Booster and Maxima were in the hospital watching over Ted–Blue Beetle. Maxima is rather matter-of-fact about Superman’s death, though she’s far from happy about it…and Booster is in a rough place–Superman’s died, his best friend is in a hospital bed in a coma, and his own suit–the entirety of/source of his powers–is shredded and likely beyond 20th century science to repair. Ice is devastated, Fire comforts her. Guy and Maxima have a go at each other…and other heroes from across the DC Universe begin to congregate, unsure of how or where to properly pay their respects, and finding comfort in the group, even as many lament the loss and wonder why it had to be Superman. The heroes don black memorial armbands with Superman’s shield, though they recognize it’s not much. And we close with Booster at Ted’s bedside, admitting that he doesn’t know WHAT he’d do if Ted dies, too.

The art is both spot-on and yet a little bit off at points for me. Stuff with Flash, Aquaman, Batman, and the other heroes seems fine, and overall this looks like the characters I’d expect, and as I would expect, visually. There are just panels–particularly one of Ice–where facial details seem just slightly off, or not as refined as I’d expect or want. Still, that stuff is rather nitpicky, and barely worth the mention. As a whole, this looks like the Justice League America I recall, and the other characters from the DCU look good and as I’d recall them for the tail-end of 1992’s publishing.

The story is very relevant, as one ought to expect, given this is written by Jurgens, the same writer of Superman, so it’s far from being an "outsider’s" version of this stuff. And given that, the differences or "alternate" takes on stuff, I totally chalk up to being intentional, holding the Justice League America continuity to itself–acknowledging the event and stuff from the Superman titles, but NOT forcing folks to read all of those. (Though there is an editorial note referring readers to Superman #75 prior to reading this). Jurgens seems to carry through ongoing plot threads that seem to have been going on in the title, and for lack of better phrasing, moves pieces around the board to set up the tail-end of his run on the title, getting the characters into Destiny’s Hand.

I see this issue in bargain bins far less often than random chapters from the Superman books, both of The Death of Superman and Funeral for a Friend. I’m relatively certain the copy of the issue I read this time was from a bargain bin, as I don’t believe it’s my original copy (the newsstand barcode gives that away, my original was from a comic shop and had a bleeding-S shield, I believe). While this hardly sits in a vacuum, it does seem like it can somewhat be read as a one-off. It’s an intermediary issue, bridging the pre-Doomsday run and what’s to come…giving characters’ reactions post-Death of Superman, but not yet implementing changes that would carry the League forward after the death.

I would definitely recommend this issue if you find it for a quarter or 50 cents or even $1-ish. I believe there were two editions, and apparently that carried to the newsstand as well–one version that’s just the standard cover; and another with a red and white overlay. The sole difference is really the overlay itself–present or not. The cover and interior under the overlay is the same. Either version is quite worth it, though the one with the overlay has a bit more of a visual distinction…and sits most nostalgic in my mind, as that’s what I got back in 1992.

Quite a trip down memory lane, and has me all the more eager to get around to actually READING the Superman and Justice League America vol. 1 and (once I acquire it) vol. 2.

Zero Hour Revisited – Booster Gold #0

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booster_gold_0000Blue & Gold Chapter 1: The Secret Origin of Booster Gold

Written by: Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz
Pencil Art by: Dan Jurgens
Finished Art by: Norm Rapmund
Colors by: Hi-Fi
Letters by: Randy Gentile
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover by: Jurgens & Rapmund
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

I probably should have actually tucked this in with the "week 3" issues, as this 1. does not end on white pages and 2. takes place prior to events seen in "week 4." C’est la vie…I put this issue almost at the end of stuff because of it being a "retroactive tie-in" published a decade and a half AFTER the actual series.

This issue sees Booster Gold and the Blue Beetles travel through time, and cross paths in the timestream with Parallax (Hal Jordan) and Extant (Hank Hall) circa Zero Hour, 1994. Parallax damages their time-bubble and they’re forced into the 25th Century (with no need to chase down the time-trouble-makers, as they’ve already been dealt with IN Zero Hour–oops, we’ll see that shortly). Turns out the exact day the group emerges in is the day that Booster "threw" a football game and was caught doing so. While striving to ensure that this timestream is not disrupted, they use resources available to continue their own mission and we learn a bit more about Booster’s background as well as the Blue Beetle (several of ’em!) before things have to be dealt with–like putting Dan and Jaime back in their own times without any memory of this issue or the previous having happened…and Ted’s poised to be another "Hero You’ve Never Heard Of" alongside Booster… it’s Blue & Gold, reunited! Though the two quickly realize there’s a bit of a Brother Eye problem that may end things before they’ve truly begun.

This issue was actually published in 2008, some 13 1/2 years after Zero Hour. We were post-Infinite Crisis, post-52, mostly through Countdown, heading toward Final Crisis. And in the early issues of the Geoff Johns run on Booster Gold, with art by Dan Jurgens–the character’s creator and Norm Rapmund‘s excellent inks. And I recall this being one of the more fun series at the time, certainly one of my favorites.

In fact, I had covered the issue at the time, for comiXtreme (and republished in this blog years later), and rated it quite highly. That particular review was based on the issue in that context rather than as a random issue added to this mix, hence any discrepancies between then and now.

Ultimately (given the 14-year-gap in publication) this issue does nothing for the understanding of Zero Hour itself, moving the 1994 series along, etc. But this makes a fun tie-in and providing a more grounded "time" to touch base with–a nod to older/longer-time readers–while serving its own story.

This issue actually kicks off the second arc in the Booster Gold title, and leaves me quite interested in re-reading it…unfortunately, I don’t believe I have any of the early collected volumes, nor ready access (consolidated) to my singles at the moment.

I don’t recommend this in context of Zero Hour itself, really, but it was a great throwback issue, touching in continuity and playing off the #0 issues concept (this was the seventh issue of the series). But as a Booster Gold story, I very definitely recommend the Blue and Gold arc that this kicks off, as well as the first one, 52 Pickup.

The Weekly Haul – Week of May 27th, 2015

I haven’t done one of these posts in awhile, but here we go again.

This was a big Secret Wars (2015) week for me, snagging four first issues to try the series:

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As Secret Wars is just kicking into gear and I’m living so many of its notions, DC‘s counterpart–Convergence–comes to a close. I jumped straight to Convergence #8, and now having read the end find I’m not at all eager to bother reading Booster Gold or Blue Beetle…and I can’t even remember what happened in Blue Beetle‘s first issue!

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And finally to the pull-list stuff: TMNT and Valiant. The latest TMNT issue as well as the “Director’s Cut” TMNT/Ghostbusters #1. Which I thought was a one-shot meant to address the entire mini-series…but turns out to be a prestige format edition of the first issue with “commentary” and script and such thrown in…making this a total double-purchase thing, but one I’m glad to for the format and (presumably) only one-issue-per-month thing. And Valiant‘s Divinity concludes, and the second arc of Timewalker begins.

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Along with all these issues I also had to dig deep into the wallet as I found quite a score in quarter bins. Back in 2005/2006, I used DC‘s One Year Later stunt as a jumping-OFF point for the Teen Titans series that I’d followed–at that point–from its first issue. This week, I found a complete run from that point into the #90s as well as a couple Annuals and such, and several of the pre-One Year Later issues so if I delve into reading before I unify these with the nearly-decade-old issues hidden away in a longbox somewhere, I can refresh slightly before jumping into all-new stuff I’ve never read.

I also found several interesting-looking random issues, along with a beat-up but perfectly readable copy of the Uncanny X-Men/New Teen Titans #1 from back in 1982.

All in all, a HUGE week I hope not to repeat in a single week again anytime soon…but LOADS of reading.

Blue and Gold: NON-Silver Age Showcase volumes

blue_and_gold_04My first exposure to Booster Gold and Blue Beetle that I can recall was Justice League America #69–the Doomsday tie-in that came out back in October 1992 as that storyline kicked off.

They were just these two characters I’d never heard of before that apparently were part of the Justice League. The Blue Beetle was nearly killed by Doomsday–beaten horribly–while Booster was knocked away from the fight (saved by his force field) where Superman caught him, and the creature was given its name.

I would later learn plenty more about the characters and backtrack and keep up with them to varying degrees in the ongoing DC Universe of the 1990s. Unfortunately, I haven’t a clue now when I became aware of both having their own ongoing series shortly after Crisis on Infinite Earths.

I do know that I came across their series in a sale, and have the full runs SOMEWHERE in my accumulation, but that’s a whole other thing.

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I now have both series, complete, in a handy two-volume format.

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The Booster Gold volume came out over 6 years ago, and I picked it up pretty much right away with the expectation that there’d be a Blue Beetle volume to follow before long…never realizing just how long it would actually be!

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Now in early 2015, I finally have my Blue Beetle volume, and despite it being $3 more expensive and some minor cosmetic/visual differences in the trade dress, I’m really pretty happy with it…happy at least to actually have the thing.

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Since I’ve never (yet) read the series I definitely look forward to getting into it and experiencing the stories despite the age of them. While color would be better, since I read for story over art most of the time anyway, I’m not particularly concerned here.

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Though I was specifically interested in both books over the years for the series/content…I also felt inclined to “support” them as post-Crisis on Infinite Earths volumes rather than Silver Age stuff. I would LOVE to see various early post-Crisis titles reprinted like this…especially as DC prepares to move away from “continuity” “mattering” and it seems less and less likely that I’ll have any real interest in their new output.

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