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The Weekly Haul – Weeks of March 1st & 8th, 2017

Week of March 8th, 2017:

This week was a pretty small week for new comics for me: only two new issues!

weeklyhaul_03082017a

We’ve got the second chapter of Superman: Reborn in Action Comics #975 (a 38-page issue for only $3.99!). And the second issue of Blake Northcott‘s All New Fathom.

weeklyhaul_03082017b

Along with the new issues, I noticed a couple of familiar-in-style polybag tops sticking out of the $1 bins…upon investigating, they were indeed issues of Wizard! For being only $1 apiece, I snagged all 8 issues present, figuring I’ll at least enjoy opening them and going through the goodies that came with them…as well as "replacing" posters long since ripped out and lost.

Ziggy was curious what I was doing, so got himself into the photo. A nice little bonus, no?

And because I totally forgot to do it from last week, below I’ll cover last week’s haul.

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The Weekly Haul: Week of February 1st, 2017

This week proved to be one of the largest "cheaper" weeks for me in terms of new comics.

weeklyhaul_02012017a

The usual Superman issue, and The Fall and Rise of Captain Atom. And of course, not gonna pass on 25-cent new issues…even something like Vampirella that I’d normally avoid (except the Vampirella/Aliens crossover not too far back).

As part of a store promotion, snagged Jupiter’s Legacy (and hoping I don’t actually already have it!). Saw the low $1.25 price point on the Toy Chest thing and decided I wouldn’t mind looking through it…especially with now being on the hunt for a certain Robin statue.

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As a combination of Image-promotion and the Image graphic novel, got these issues and the book "free" (at least a $13 value at cover price).

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And perhaps the highlight of the day, got to see Winston briefly, having expected him to not be around with all the foot traffic of a Wednesday/New Comic Day. He was watching for potential customers, and doing an excellent job of it!

The Fall and Rise of Captain Atom #1 [Review]

fall_and_rise_of_captain_atom_0001Blowback

Writer: Cary Bates
Co-Plotter: Greg Weisman
Artist: Will Conrad
Colorist: Ivan Nunes
Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Cover: Jason Badower
Editor: Kristy Quinn
Group Editor: Jim Chadwick
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: March 2017
Cover Price: $2.99

Several months ago, I read a random Captain Atom Annual from the late 1980s. It was the first Captain Atom comic I remembered reading in years (though I believe I forgot entirely about the character’s appearances midway into the New 52, as well as the character even having a series in the early New 52 days!) It was shortly after reviewing that Annual that I learned there would be a new mini-series by the writers of that time–Bates and Weisman. Of course, I assumed it would be yet another $3.99-an-issue mini, given a number of DC‘s other recent ones.

Color me surprised when I realized firstly the issue was coming out already (somehow I’d thought it was to come in February), realized I forgot to include it for DCBS as it’s not part of the bundles I’ve been getting, and all the more that it’s ONLY $2.99 an issue! This does NOT carry the Rebirth branding…but I take it from its content–and particularly its PRICE–that it is indeed squarely within current Rebirth stuff.

This issue is relatively simple: we start out with the good Captain in a containment facility, in a chair much like the one I recall him being in back in the 1980s’ #1 issue I read whenever it was that I read that (perhaps as far back as 2002 or 2003!), talking with his handlers about stuff that’d recently happened…which left me a bit lost for a moment. Did something happen with the character in a major way that I didn’t know about in the New 52 stuff? Did I miss something recently amidst all the stuff I’m behind on actually reading?

But then the story flashes back to some hours earlier, placing this into that old clichéd format…though ultimately I appreciate what it was going for, while I disliked it as I was reading.

Captain Atom’s sick, and it’s causing issues with his very energy matrix, expelling energy randomly–"venting"–and endangering those around him…perhaps the entire planet, just by his existing in this condition. While making his way back to base, he happens across a cruise ship in trouble, and refuses to turn his back on it…but the energy-expenditure of helping leaves him in far worse condition. His energy output brings members of the Justice League to investigate, though ultimately they’re not quite able to do as hoped, and there’s much destruction that they have to play damage-control with, while Captain Atom blames himself for what happened. Ultimately, we see that the issue’s perhaps the start of a new status quo, and I’m put a bit in mind of Savage Dragon, and quite curious where things go from here.

I don’t care much for the clichéd story format of starting on the climax, then flashing back X amount of time and "building" back to and then surpassing the climax. But I cannot deny its effectiveness–it elicited reaction from me as I read, and as I’ve thought about it since, I realize that it accentuates the fact that this is a SINGLE ISSUE. It made this single issue function as one, as an opening episode, rather than our perhaps getting this ENTIRE ISSUE as the height of the story, to pick up in #s 2-4 as flashback, #5 to get back to this, and then a final issue denouement.

Though this is a mini-series, this issue behaves as if it is an ongoing series, and behaves very well as a single issue and not JUST some first chapter of a single whole that must be read in one go to fully "get."

Even having forgotten recent years’ stuff with the character, I followed this issue just fine. My familiarity (such as it is) with the character allowed me to appreciate names mentioned as well as the visuals (such as the cover being fairly reminiscent of 1987’s first issue!) This character has about 30 years of history in the "modern" DC universe, and however many years prior to Crisis on Infinite Earths…but I think someone not all that familiar could certainly enjoy this in and of itself. Much as with a new movie, the lack of intricate continuity knowledge might even be better for enjoying this simply as a story in itself, without piecing it within long-form continuity.

I love the fact that Bates and Weisman are back on this; having them steering this story, re-establishing the character presumably for going forward after they set the standard with the character in the late 1980s seems quite fitting, to me. As such, I definitely look forward to reading this as single issues…getting the story AS it unfolds.

However…unless DC pulls something rather shocking–say, of extending this to an "ongoing" status–it is a 6-issue mini-series and I’d be even more surprised if it does NOT get a collected edition (or "graphic novel") that could be read all at once as a single, complete(-ish, as comics go) story.

If you’re a fan of the character from years back, and not a fan of the character, say, from Countdown on through to the present, this would be the point to jump back in, and ignore the last decade or so of Captain Atom stuff. And if you’re new to the character, this is a solid starting point, or re-directing (a la all of the Rebirth one-shots) the character from whatever’s been known of him during the New 52.

I enjoyed this issue personally, but see that it should be a solid singular story that as a full story I’ll very likely strongly recommend…but despite my praise, it’s not something so singularly fantastic in this single issue as to compel any/all potential readers to rush for this single issue.

I look forward to #2!

The Weekly Haul – Week of January 4th, 2017

Despite hitting two comic shops today, it proved to be a relatively small week…particularly for adding the second shop-stop into the mix!

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Picked up the week’s new Superman issue; got the first issue of the Captain Atom mini-series (Added bonus: ONLY $2.99 and it’s a mini-series! Seems all the other minis DC has been doing have been the old $3.99…which is why I’ve not been buying those!)

Had to go to the second shop for the Justice League of America: The Atom – Rebirth. Not sure if the first was sold out, or shorted, or what. And then from the 50%-off/bargain bins at the first, snagged The Amazing Spider-Man by JMS Ultimate Collection vol. 1. Cheaper than 5 single-issue Marvel contemporary stuff. Also re-accentuating the appeal (to me, at least) of Marvel stuff preAvengers: Disassembled, and particularly the nice, thick books that actually feel significant…not the VASTLY over-priced, over-skinny flimsy things with 4-6 issues’ content!

At the second shop, I also scored four Walking Dead Mini-Mates 2-packs…for 99 cents apiece! Can’t beat that pricing!

The ’80s Revisited: Captain Atom Annual #1

captain_atom_annual_0001The Dark Side of the Force

Writer: Cary Bates
Co-Plotter: Greg Weisman
Penciller: Pat Broderick
Inker: Bob Smith
Colorist: Carl Gafford
Letterer: Duncan Andrews
Editor: Denny O’Neil
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: 1988
Cover Price: $1.25

I’ve long been aware of Captain Atom, and have even read some issues here and there with the character. I believe he was in some Justice League (America) issues; I know he was in Armageddon 2001; I read at least most of the Captain Atom: Armageddon series he was in, blowing up the Wildstorm universe some time back; there’s the parallel with Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen…and of course, the character’s brief but pivotal role in Kingdom Come, to name a few offhand. I think I may even have read the first issue or two/few of his 1980s ongoing series at one point, though I don’t consciously remember much beyond the basic origin (so I probably read it around the time I read Watchmen back in the early 2000s).

Going through a stack of comics recently, I happened across this issue–certainly a quarter-bin find–and it struck me as interesting "in the moment" to read due to the cover proclamation: "Enter: Major Force!" I’m more familiar with Major Force as the character that killed Kyle Rayner’s girlfriend (stuffing her body in the refrigerator) back in the early days of the new direction for Green Lantern. Having briefly revisited that era recently in covering the Zero Hour crossover, I was all the more curious about how long the character had been around. This issue seems either a first appearance, or at least a post-Crisis on Infinite Earths (CoIE) first appearance. Given the character tying into Captain Atom’s origin and some guessing, I’m pretty sure this is the first appearance of the character.

The issue opens with a conspiracy-theorist radio show, the host talking about a corroborated incident of a UFO crashing in a quarry. We then move to Captain Atom arriving on the scene, and something emerges–an alien creature that the Captain winds up fighting. Meanwhile, an anonymous Major joins the scene, and we see that events are being manipulated to create an apparent origin of a new super-hero: that of a Major helping Captain Atom and being fused with an alien creature. When, in fact, this is the result of a later experiment like the one that created Captain Atom, but with different variables…and the "alien" is in fact another test subject. Due to his position and government involvement, Captain Atom goes along with things, introducing/endorsing this new guy to the public…as they get Major Force. Predictably (this comic is from 28 years ago!) Force doesn’t "work out" in the role of super-hero, as his methods are violent and don’t account for innocents/civilians. When CA tries to rein things in, the Major fights back. Captain Atom emerges from the battle victorious…though in its course he seems to have made a decision, delivering his message ("I quit!") along with the unconscious Major Force to his government handlers.

The issue has page numbers, with the story ending on a page numbered ’39’ so this is basically a double-length issue. As an Annual, it’s a ‘special’ issue, with a bigger story (but relatively self-contained) than just another issue of an ongoing series. Being from the late 1980s, and evaluating this (having read it), it seems to be an Annual from when such things "counted," and were truly a bonus or special issue along with the ongoing run, and having stuff important to the character’s ongoing status quo. In this case, the issue seems to be the point at which Captain Atom has had enough of just going with the flow and taking orders, and after seeing what the government/his handlers are up to, he can’t stick around simply accepting the status quo.

As an Annual (and a first one, at that), I figured this to be a decent sort of one-shot, though a lot of that comes from my own experience with comics, and DC history/continuity. We don’t get a lot of context/background on Captain Atom or a supporting cast in this issue, but we do get some slight references such that knowing what I do, it all fits.

I’m good with the art–it neither blows me away nor disappoints…it just "is." This looks and feels (visually and story-wise) like an ’80s comic, and something to it (such as the introduction of a character I know gets used more and in key ways years later) feels a lot LIKE the start of a new super-hero universe…which at this point, the then-current DC Universe essentially was. And I like that.

The story itself is decent, and seems to draw on existing continuity (at least from the Captain Atom series) and expects the reader to at least somewhat know what’s going on; introduces a new villain/antagonist or opposite version of the hero with an origin, background, some character/world-building, and ultimately resolution…while leaving things open for later use of the character as well as modifying the status quo (presumably, at least!) for the ongoing series. I notice that quite unrelatedly, this is the second issue in the last few days I’ve read written by Bates (the other was Action Comics #428) and am pretty sure the co-plotter (Greg Weisman) is the same who eventually did Gargoyles for Disney years after this.

For an issue that I only paid a quarter to purchase, this was definitely a good value for the time it took to read, and I enjoyed adding this piece to the puzzle–I’ve now read the introduction of Major Force and this also re-kindles a bit of my interest in the early Captain Atom series (I believe I have the first year or so of issues SOMEWHERE in my collection).

While this issue won’t hold the reader’s hand, it’s a solid piece with a nice length, and is definitely worth a read if you’re interested in the title character, villain, or this period in DC‘s history. If you find it in a bargain-bin–MAYBE up to $2ish–its well worthwhile. At a higher price, I’d say you’d have to really have a specific interest in this, rather than anything casual.

From the back of the bandwagon: My DC New 52 thoughts, Week #3

BATMAN #1

batman001I rather like the various “new” gadgets Batman’s got here–especially the linkup to the Bat-computer in the cowl. I also liked the way this issue starts, with the words describing Gotham. Getting this info from Batman’s POV. I was also QUITE glad to see Dick and Tim along with Damian, and to find out that Yes, Tim was indeed a Robin, and is now Red Robin. I’m less thrilled with the direction the story took by issue’s end, as it reminds me just a bit too much of Frank Miller‘s Dark Knight Strikes Again. But as far as the bat-books so far go, I certainly enjoyed this one more than I did Detective Comics, and found this to–in its own way–be probably the most-accessible of the bat-books so far, offhand. I think I was always gonna get this, being one of the Old Titles: Action, Detective, Superman, Batman. I’m not convinced I’ll keep with this title long-term, though…but while I’m not blown away, I’m not entirely unimpressed. (7.5/10)

BLUE BEETLE #1

bluebeetle001This issue wasn’t part of my original plan. But I figured that I skipped on the debut of the last BB series, so might as well check this one out. I was somehow kind of surprised to find that this basically gives us a whole new origin for the character–but I actually like that, I think. Reboot, relaunch, whatever the term–as the start of a new DCU, it makes sense to give the character a fresh start. If the old origin was kept, there’d be a LOT of explaining to do by way of Ted Kord and Infinite Crisis (and Booster Gold), so this steps free of those loose ends. I’m only tangentially aware of the animosity between the scarab and the Green Lanterns (there was that Sinestro Corps War tie-in in the last BB series, and at least one episode of Batman: Brave and the Bold). No real problem with the art…and the story’s decent. I haven’t quite decided for certain if I plan to keep up with this series–but it’s definitely worth checking out! (7/10)

CAPTAIN ATOM #1

captainatom001.jpegAnother issue I had not originally planned on checking out, but added last-second. Offhand, this is probably the stinker of the week for me–though I’d read this, I couldn’t even remember what happened in it. And paging back through it, I feel like I didn’t even read it to begin with, despite knowing I actually did. This is certainly not the Captain Atom that I’ve known for the last two decades. As far as restarts go, and as a debut issue, I’m not even slightly impressed. The art is very stylized, and not in a way that I particularly enjoy. I don’t like the new visual design for the character, either, though I don’t know if that blame lies wholly on the design itself or this particular stylized interpretation. The story really does not feel accessible–not only do I not know this character, we start out right away with his powers acting weird on him, which feels like it should be at LEAST a second arc, or something saved for later. I don’t know what CA’s powerset is to begin with, and so him not being able to control it or it changing on him means nothing. Not planning on coming back for #2. (4/10)

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #1

greenlanterncorps001Though it’s been cool getting back into the GL books after a year and a half “off,” I’m not entirely thrilled with this one. And yet…this wasn’t horrible. I definitely enjoyed seeing Guy and John interacting, and the issue’s story did a good job of setting up both those characters, and that this ultimately involves the GL Corps as a whole, and is not limited to just the Earth-GLs. I especially enjoyed seeing Guy at the job interview; John’s interview scene was interesting as well. I never cared for either character until Rebirth and Sinestro Corps War…and I’ve found Guy’s development to be the most compelling, as I actually like reading the character now. The art for the issue isn’t really up my ally–it feels far too much like Gleason‘s style, which has always been my main turnoff to reading Green Lantern Corps. I’d intended to keep out of the GL corner of the New 52 and stick to the attempt of waiting for the collected volumes to read the stories, but the fresh/specific jumping-on point might just manage to suck me in for a brief time. (7.5/10)

NIGHTWING #1

nightwing001.jpegYet another title I hadn’t originally planned on picking up. But it’s Nightwing. And it’s #1. And despite being into comics at the time, I never did pick up either of the previous Nightwing #1s. Heck, other than the crossovers with the big Batman stories, I never really followed Nightwing, period. Unfortunately, I don’t know that that’s going to change all that much…but I think this has me hooked, at least for this first arc. The art’s good, which was quite enjoyable. And I like the idea of Dick revisiting Haley’s Circus, though I’m pretty sure this’s been done a few times before. At the least, I’m reminded a bit of Batman: Year 3, the final issue of which was my very first Batman comic, EVER. And just after that was the Lonely Place of Dying arc…both stories holding a key piece of my introduction to Dick Grayson as Nightwing, and all that. I think I’d’ve enjoyed this issue even without the new villain; and I am tired of seeing Dick getting so (physically) beat up all the time…seems he’s always getting these disastrous injuries, and yet keeps right on going…worse than Batman. I haven’t decided how I feel about swapping the blue for red in the costume…but given it’s been more than two years since seeing him in the previous costume, I don’t have any huge problem with this change. If anything, the blue maybe tied him more to Batman, while the red ties him more to Robin. I’ll be back for #2, though probably taking the series on an issue by issue basis. (8/10)

The NEW DC Universe

With the relaunch of DC’s superhero line in September, things start off with 52 #1 issues. Justice League August 31st, and the other 51 in September. The titles for this initial launch have been reported as follows:

  • ACTION COMICS
  • ALL-STAR WESTERN
  • ANIMAL MAN
  • AQUAMAN
  • BATGIRL
  • BATMAN
  • BATMAN & ROBIN
  • BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT
  • BATWING
  • BATWOMAN
  • BIRDS OF PREY
  • BLACKHAWKS
  • BLUE BEETLE
  • CAPTAIN ATOM
  • CATWOMAN
  • DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS
  • DEATHSTROKE
  • DEMON KNIGHTS
  • DETECTIVE COMICS
  • FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF SHADE
  • GREEN ARROW
  • GREEN LANTERN
  • GREEN LANTERN CORPS
  • GREEN LANTERN: THE NEW GUARDIANS
  • GRIFTER
  • HAWK & DOVE

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