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Toys in the Wild: Avengers 2017

One thing that tends to keep me from "buying in" on a toy line is perceived longevity. I "bought into" a line of DC toys that never took off, despite my thinking it would. I attribute that to inconsistent availability as well as inconsistent (over)pricing.

Similar with other movie-based lines for the Marvel films…they seem to be dumped by stores not long after the films, to make way for the next. Alternatively, there also seems to be a shuffle of "generic" lines meant to bridge the films–tying in without being solely for only one film.

I attribute this new Avengers line as being another of those. Thus far I’ve not seen a Thor figure, though I’ve seen the four others. (Come to think of it, no Hawkeye or Vision or Scarlet Witch, for that matter).

I’ve been seeing these, offhand, for about $8…making them a full $5 cheaper than their slightly smaller counterparts in the 3.75" figure line, whatever Marvel wants to call it this year.

I’d almost be tempted to snag these (hey! female representation via Black Widow!) but I’ll wait and see if we get any villains for the line.

Assuming, that is, that Marvel remembers that there are villains for heroes to oppose, rather than relying primarily on hero-versus-hero for major stories. But then, these are toys, not the comics.

I’d far prefer a line of X-Men toys like this, though…

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Perhaps we’ll get some other figures later this year for this line.

Heck, I’d be curious to see what we’d get for the Infinity War stuff next year, and what sort of representation we’ll get of Thanos. And thinking on films…why are we getting these now, instead of, say, Guardians of the Galaxy figures?

Showing off the Shelves: Captain America and Black Panther

While there are several Captain America volumes I’d still like to get sooner than not (Captain America vs. Red Skull, the Fighting Chance volumes), for the most part, I think I’m just about where I’m good for now with the character.

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Of course, the "core" of the collection is the Brubaker Omnibus volumes, collecting about seven years of his work on the character.

And because it’s its own thing and on the shelf immediately preceding the Cap books…I did not crop out the Black Panther by Christopher Priest 4-volume series collecting that series’ run. Though in typing that…it reminds me that there’s also the Captain America and Falcon by Priest volume out there that I’ll want to track down as well…

I’d certainly enjoy a Captain America by Mark Waid omnibus, whether it includes pre and post Heroes Reborn material, or just post. Heck, it’d be great to have a single volume of the Fighting Chance story instead of two half-length volumes.

But it is Marvel, so…yeah.

Anyway…with the addition of the Return of the Winter Soldier Omnibus, this is my current (as of January 2017) Captain America collection.

New Arrivals: Cap and X-Men

"Bonus" weekend post!

These two books just arrived today!

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Back in December 2014, I’d thought I’d "completed" the set of Brubaker Captain America Omnibii with The Trial of Captain America. Of course, turned out I was wrong.

However, over the years, I lost track of and/or just flat-out missed the thing’s release, until several weeks ago when I saw someone post about it in a Facebook group.

So, I believe, if I haven’t missed anything else…NOW I have a "complete set" of Brubaker omnibus volumes for Captain America (I’ll likely "show off the shelf" in the near future).

Additionally, the X-Men: Bishop’s Crossing volume is one that I’d thought I’d missed out on entirely, having known OF the hardcover, but not seeing any listing for it online (except massively over-priced third-party stuff) with the newer paperback edition just releasing recently.

However, doing a last-second search "just in case," it was available, so I’d added it to my order.

Of course, I’d never touch volumes like these without a massive online discount. I absolutely want to support local comic shops, and continue to buy what I’d "usually" buy from ’em (my DC bundles from DCBS are in addition to my "usual"). Marvel volumes are–almost entirely–far too expensive for me to justify ever paying "full cover price" for.

Also continues to be amazing (to me) that virtually everything I do have interest in from Marvel (content-wise) tends to be OVER 10 years old, and in many cases, over 15 years old! Brubaker‘s Cap stuff seems to be a primary exception.

While I was able to squeeze the Captain America volume onto the shelf, that was partly due to it "replacing" (and going beyond) two other books I’d had already from bargain purchases and partly to my apparently having left a little bit of extra space for something like this.

Unfortunately, I am out of space for X-Men volumes, and have to wait til I can get a couple more bookcases and do some rearranging to properly integrate X-Men stuff from the last few months.

But that’s something for another post sometime.

The ’90s Revisited: Captain America #436

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captain_america_0436Fighting Chance (conclusion): Everybody Hurts Sometime

Writer: Mark Gruenwald
Penciler: Dave Hoover
Inker: Danny Bulanadi
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: George Roussos
Editor: Mike Rockwitz
Group Editor: Ralph Macchio
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: February, 1995
Cover Price: $1.50

I’m not sure what I expected out of this issue, but what I got wasn’t it. I’d’ve sworn I read this before, some years ago…having borrowed the entire Fighting Chance storyline from a friend (who had a subscription that incidentally STARTED with the first issue of this 12-part story, which I’d thought was pretty neat at the time!) But this read-through felt like an all-new issue to me, completely unfamiliar and even if I did read it once before, I’d totally forgotten any details (even a bit after actually reading it this time, the details are fuzzy!)

Though it was years after the story was over and done with that I would have read it, I was acutely aware of it going on and remember it really sticking with me as a concept. A whole YEAR’S worth of issues dedicated to a single story! The very thing that gave Captain America his physical ability, to BE Captain America, was killing him! How would that play out? How would such a story end? Surely, the hero would triumph…but wow! What a journey that would be, and such a victory…

Nope.

This issue sees Cap being spit out of some drainage pipe that he was apparently dumped into in the previous issue…pursued by Cobra and Hyde. We get some exposition (super soldier serum killing him, Cap’s under doctor’s orders not to exert himself, he’s thoroughly exerting himself anyway, blah blah blah). Even with his body betraying him, he manages to avoid being killed by the two villains…but at great personal cost. By the end of the issue, he’s pushed himself too far, and with ghostly images of the Statue of Liberty and then-thought-to-be-dead-but not-really-though-we-wouldn’t-find-that-out-for-another-20-years-when-Brubaker-does-TheWinterSoldier-story Bucky flashing before him, Steve seems to lose his battle…he’s paralyzed, a mind trapped in a worthless body.

Hank Pym finds Cap, realizes the situation, and that’s that.

The final chapter, the twelfth issue of a 12-part story…ends on a cliffhanger.

Lovely.

Yeah, yeah…what else should or would I expect…especially reading the issue closer to 2020 than to 2000?

I know Gruenwald‘s name as being one of THE names of this title, and tend to myself think of him as one of the more important writers to handle the character (perhaps for longevity on the title if nothing else). I do like that this issue is squarely a "typical ’90s super-hero brawl" type thing, and Cap is just a super-hero figure, standard ’90s stuff, nothing overly complex (if not simple) about him (compared to sharper, "edgier," more "realistic" takes that would come later). But I found this issue to be rather generic, anti-climactic, and ultimately a disappointment overall.

Of course, as stated above, I think I’d read this once before but didn’t remember anything of it; and this particular reading (either way) was as a singular, isolated issue with no context from any of the introduction and build-up to stuff.

The art was fairly bland…I recognized the characters I would expect to, visually, with no trouble, and there was not much in the way of subtlety to the story being conveyed; any doubt of action was covered by story context.

I’d also forgotten ("realized" after the fact) that despite the initial impact the very notion of this story had had on me, there was an epilogue issue or two that were rather crucial to things, or made a more effective ending (at least looking at cover images and drawing on what I recall of this period in the title’s history).

So ultimately…I do not recommend this issue for a one-issue isolated read. It’s the supposed ending of a major story, yet leaves stuff hanging and just seems like a weak ending for a character such as this after such a long storyline. That said, I would have no problem recommending the run offhand if the entire story and the follow-up issues were found in a 25 or 50 cent bin, just on principle of getting the story for a fraction of the cost of a modern story that’s–at best–equally contrived.

Captain America Hot Wheels, Books on the Shelf, and Priest’s Black Panther

I’m not a cars guy. Not “into” them, I don’t care about horsepower, the type of engine, special tires, speed, etc. They’re utilitarian, mine gets me from point A to point B (mostly, work) and the fanciest thing is that I have a license plate with the Superman S-shield printed right on it.

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So last Friday when I was wandering through a Walmart half hoping to find the Pop! Vinyl Black Panther (which they apparently did not stock or were sold out of) I did happen across several bins of Hot Wheels cars…and the Captain America #100 and Captain America & Bucky ones caught my attention.

I noticed they were numbered, indicating there were 8 cars total in the “set.” Me being me, the OCD kicked in and I “had to” see firstly if they had all 8 to begin with, secondly what they all looked like, and thirdly after completing a set in my cart, for the price, I failed to talk myself out of them. In an age where Target charges $13+ for a 3.75″ figure in minimal packaging and $20.59 for 6″ figures I remember getting for $5.99-$7.99 12 years ago…I was enthralled at the notion of buying a full set of 8 toys for less than $1 apiece (sure, 3 cents under, but still!).

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Also over the weekend I was able to get the new editions of the Death of Superman volumes shelved, officially “replacing” the original editions in the “main” shelf. As original editions and several of my earliest collected volumes from when such things were overall quite rare to exist, they’ll always have a place in my collection.

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And where I’ve been meaning to since last summer when I first checked out the Marvel Unlimited thing, I finally dove into Priest‘s Black Panther run again, reading the first 9 issues over the weekend (and more since saving the cover images, and by the time this post goes live, I’ll be even further into the run).

For ME, Priest‘s Black Panther is THE definitive take on the character, and the first 50 or so issues are the definitive run and a definite favorite piece of my entire collection of single issues, if only for the nostalgia of the covers. It’s rather scary to realize that it’s been nearly 18 years since this run originally began, and it ended about 13 years ago!

captain_america_hot_wheels_bStill…it’s great to have a film (Captain America: Civil War) inspire me to want to read something like this, spurring me into action…rather than leave me cold on something and end any particular enthusiasm toward “related material” the way a certain other film this year did.

While I really highly enjoyed the film and plan to see it again while it’s in theaters (something even Avengers: Age of Ultron failed to do last year), I do not know if I’ll get around to covering it here the way I did the aforementioned “certain other film this year.”

Seeing the new Cap film was a fun experience, the film itself was very good, and I really appreciated the way it ended with the story progressed, pieces set for Events Still To Come and yet it provided a sort of resolution that left me more satisfied than not with things.

And a re-increased interest in Captain America. Even while it also made me feel rather old, having realized that Chris Evans, Scarlet Johansson, and Elizabeth Olsen are all younger than me (to say nothing of a handful of other key Marvel Cinematic Universe actor/actresses.

The Weekly Haul – Week of April 13, 2016 (side haul)

Due to some real life stuff going on this week, I didn’t make it to the usual shop today…but did stop off to check on last month’s Superman/Wonder Woman issue (as I belatedly acquired and read out-of-order Superman #50 and Action Comics #50).

Unfortunately, they did not have that issue…but they did have the “free” edition of the Captain America 75th Anniversary magazine, the DC Previews for Rebirth, and I decided to pick up a couple other issues.

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If I’m going to wind up getting caught up on Superman, might as well “keep up” for a couple months here before Rebirth. And figured I’d try the first issue of Xena…never actually watched the show, but figured this is a #1, I’ll give it a shot.

And then the Cyborg issue caught my attention with Captain Marvel on the cover (The Big Red Cheese will always be CM in my book, whatever they choose to “officially” call him, particularly in the/post New 52!). For “only” $3, I can handle a random one-off issue. I’d considered catching up on The Coming of the Supermen, but I just so entirely do NOT enjoy the Fourth World/New Gods stuff that I’m not even interested in reading it anytime soon.

I’d also forgotten about Justice League vs. Teen Titans being out this week, so snagged that…including the no-longer-Best-Buy-exclusive figurine pack. More expensive than I remembered these being in the past, but kinda paying for the figurine that comes with it.

The “regular”/”main” haul should come tomorrow…or Friday. Time’ll tell!

Getting Into Comics With High Numbers

I was introduced to comics in late 1988 with a stack of Silver Age books Mom had grandpa bring for me–to my knowledge, he simply grabbed a bunch from a cabinet that he and my uncle kept them in…so there was a mix of “Batman” and “Superman” stuff, and probably other DC characters…possibly some Marvel, but they were more DC guys than Marvel.

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In spring 1989 when I learned that they STILL MADE COMICS, that one could still buy NEW COMICS, brand-new, these stories were STILL GOING ON, it was Mom that bought me my first four comics: Detective Comics #604, Adventures of Superman #453, Batman #439, and Superman (rebooted) #31. Not a #1 amidst them, and at the time absolutely no knowledge nor expectation of backtracking TO a #1. When Action Comics eventually returned to the “Superman Family,” it was still several months before I came across the title myself, and my first issue was #651.

It was Captain America #425-beginning the twelve-part Fighting Chance story–that primarily pulled me into having an interest on that title (and that after it not bothering me at all seeing a #400 on an issue tying into Operation: Galactic Storm), and it wasn’t a new creative team or a new #1 that got me into The Flash…it was simply the start of a new arc at #197 with the ongoing/continuing team that led me into several years of following the book, into Infinite Crisis and all the shenanigans with the character, series, numbering from there.

Maybe once upon a time, a #1 was special or significant…but now with ENTIRE LINES being restarted at #1 and doing so REPEATEDLY, every couple years or so such that it’s actually surprising for anything to hit #30, let alone #50 or up, it’s NOT special, and I for one have less faith in a series’ longevity now than ever before: if a book has lasted 120+ issues, that’s a 10-year run, a 10-year history or pedigree, it means that whatever they’re doing with it, it has lasted a decade or more, and isn’t just some short year-and-a-half flash-in-the-pan thing likely to disappear within a “few” months of me getting involved.

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