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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!

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The Weekly Haul – Week of July 30th, 2014

This week’s haul was rather moderate–not tiny, but not particularly huge or overwhelming in either cost or quantity.

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Since I’d requested them sight unseen, I’ve continued with the Chromium covers, and with these being a VERY RARE EXCEPTION to my usual no-variants rule, I’ve got both editions of Armor Hunters: Harbinger. And I’ve continued with Futures End and Batman Eternal

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I half-heartedly flipped through the quarter-bins for anything new or interesting. I probably already have the X-Factor issue, but not certain–it’s from near the end of the original run, where my collection remains sparser than earlier in the series. I don’t consciously remember the War Story issue, but had the first couple “waves” of War Story issues, so why not. And several Werewolf issues that I believe will make a fine addition to the Vampire issues I bought last week.

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And because–at 90% off cover, Scalped vols. 2 & 3 (I got vol. 1 back in 2007) cost less than $4–I figured why not? I don’t recall how long the series ran, but I haven’t (yet) read the first volume, even, so these’ll add to a hopefully good, interesting reading when I get around to it. And with the discount I’d had on that one seven years ago, I don’t think I’ve topped $12 for the 3 so far.

I am going to have to decide soon if I *really* want to keep up with the DC Weeklies. They’ve not been bad, but I’ve had no problem going several weeks without READING, between actually reading the issues. And with Zero Year ending, I don’t know if the Batman Eternal will start having more direct tie-ins to the main title or not, and I don’t want to be forced (or enticed) into buying yet MORE series on a regular bases, especially when they’d likely be $3.99 to the weeklies’ $2.99.

Armor Hunters #1 [Review]

armorhunters001regArmor Hunters / Part I: Quarry

Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Doug Braithwaite
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover Artists: Jorge Molina, Clayton Crain, Trevor Hairsine, Doug Braithwaite
Assistant Editor: Josh Johns
Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99 ($5.99 Chromium Cover)

It’s definitely safe to say that this is an issue I’ve been looking forward to specifically for quite a few weeks now. Valiant‘s done a great job with “pushing” their titles, and as someone who’s already “all-in” for present, an event like this is well-suited for me. Though I believe the “main” story will be contained to this 4-issue mini-series, there are some tie-ins with X-O Manowar and Unity, as well as several tie-in mini-series. As the opening/first chapter in the event itself, this issue stands alone fairly well while sitting in the midst of established continuity.

This issue opens with an attack on a Russian facility where suits of armor are being developed in as-close-as-possible approximation to Aric’s X-O armor. The aliens attack the base, killing those within, having located the place due to the armors. While no sentience is detected, the armors are destroyed, and the aliens left baffled as to why humans would seek to duplicate such dangerous things. After this attack, Aric finds his people’s new homeland invaded by US forces–though said forces claim to be there to protect them, not to invade. Aric is brought up to speed from the US forces’ side, and seeks further counsel from Malgam (the alien he fought in the Armor Hunters Prelude in X-O Manowar #s 23-24). The alien “hunters” then unleash an attack that leaves little doubt as to their power, and the devastation possible on Earth if the X-O armor is not turned over to them.

As said, this issue sits in the midst of estabished continuity–particularly in references to goings-on in the X-O Manowar title. While readers of that title will have a fuller appreciation of Aric’s attitude and and what led to the present status quo, reading this issue by itself one is simply presented WITh the present status quo. Said status quo can be accepted at face value, but those interested in more can seek out the earlier stories to get the details.

By and large, this issue reads like an issue of X-O Manowar (which makes sense, given Venditti is the writer on both). The aliens are presented as the antagonists, yet don’t come off entirely as ‘villains’–moreso they come off as a “Federation” with no “Prime Directive” and no qualms about razing planets to make sure the apparently sentient armors are eradicated. The characterization seems consistent with the X-O Manowar title, and I have no issues with the story so far as “merely” the opening chapter.

Visually, I don’t have much to say except that I really enjoyed the issue, and nothing to the art really put me off or distracted me from the story. I know Braithwaite‘s art from Unity at the least, which adds to the consistent familiarity of the issue’s look/feel. I like the aliens’ design–they look suitably alien, while also being distinct individuals.

While this issue in and of itself doesn’t seem to justify the huge crossover, its ending does show how the crossover works quite organically as the impact of the issue is not limited to a single facility or base and truly will affect the entire planet.

Though one could presumably “jump in blind” with this issue and reasonably follow stuff, the full enjoyment (at least for me) of the issue comes from its growth out of continuity.

As there are a couple covers/editions, I recommend sticking with the standard cover…I was not suitably impressed at the “enhanced” “chromium” cover, finding it did not have the same boldness of the classic ’90s Valiant Chromium covers.

If you’re reading X-O Manowar, this definitely works as an extension of the title. It’s also worth picking up if you’re planning to follow any of the tie-in minis to get what I imagine will be the larger/broader context. And if you’re just looking for a mini-series to “dabble” in Valiant, this is also worthwhile on the whole.

Valiant Chromium Returns: Armor Hunters #1

It’s been some twenty years since I first got a copy of the original X-O Manowar #0 from the original Valiant. It was the first “chromium” cover I recall, though it was soon followed by the likes of Superman #82 (the “return” of Superman), X-Men: Alpha, X-Men: Omega, Ninjak #1, and others.

In more recent years, such “enhanced covers” have been pretty few and far between, in my observation (though can’t go two steps without tripping over variants!). [EDITED TO ADD: Last September’s 3-D covers from DC obviously were a huge quantity of such covers, but that was a specific event and really beside the point of this post]

When Valiant announced it was bringing back the chromium covers for Armor Hunters #1 and several of the tie-ins…I was actually sorta enthused (QUITE the exception to my usual attitude toward variants and such). But then, these chromium covers hold a certain nostalgia for me beyond all the other gimmicky/”enhanced” covers.

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Unfortunately, I found myself rather disappointed in this particular version of “chromium.” Taken side-by-side, I feel like there’s clearer detail on the regular cover (pictured above on the right).

compare01

Comparing this new Armor Hunters #1 to X-O Manowar #0, I feel like the classic takes the win as well, between the two with brighter, bolder detail and coloring. Granted, that may not be so much the fault of the chromium effect, but it’s there.

compare02

At an angle, the new seems more reflective, picking up glare from an overhead light in a way that somewhat obscures details where the old does not…

…to say nothing of the imprinting showing through on the new where it doesn’t the old.

ah01shiny

Armor Hunters #1–at an angle in the light–gets this dotted, sparkly effect going on.

xo00shiny

At the same sort of angle, X-O Manowar #0 does not give that effect.

To me, part of what made chromium covers what they are was being able to see the outlines on the inside/back of the cover. Armor Hunters does have that effect, so unlike Marvel‘s Age of Ultron #1 last year, I can’t really “disqualify” it from my own personal “chromium collection.” But the muted coloring/subdued tones, the “flat” reflectiveness, and the thicker cover stock of Armor Hunters leaves me truly disappointed, and planning on sticking with the regular covers from here on out.

More Shiny Comics

After a momentary re-kindling of my fascination with “shiny covers” last week, I had the chance to raid bargain bins at a local Half-Price Books store as well as another comic shop, Comic Heaven a few days later over the weekend.

Got these six “shiny covers” at Half-Price Books:

moreshiny01

And then at Comic Heaven, snagged these as part of a 15/$5 deal:

moreshiny02

And while not of the shiny variety, found a full set of the Milestone #1s still bagged (I’ve seen these occasionally in bargain bins, both bagged and unbagged, but I don’t recall ever finding all 4 at once, bagged). I can finally build/complete the 16-panel poster now, as each of these comes with 4 panels of the whole.

milestone01s

Best part is, all the comics shown in this post, shiny covers, polybags, and all?
Cheaper than buying any 2 NEW comics today!

Age of Ultron: Return of the Shiny

chromiums01I got suckered.

Nothing more than an old trick from the 1990s, Marvel.

But I got suckered in on buying Age of Ultron #1 for a rather shiny cardstock cover.

Somewhere this week I saw the issue referenced as a “chromium” cover…and that seemed to be the STANDARD cover (i.e. NOT a 1:10 or other ratioed VARIANT). With a certain fondness for bargain-bin chromium lately…I decided ok, fine…I was determined NOT to buy into Age of Ultron…but for no true increase in cover price but a nice, shiny cover?

Well, turned out the darned thing’s more what I’d consider “foil embossed,” as chromium suggests to me that the cover itself is the metallic/foil stuff, where you can tell from the inside of the issue as well.

So I’m a bit disappointed there. But I may get a review written up this week, so I’ll save the extra comments for that.

The camera doesn’t catch the sheer shinyness of it all…but here’s the issue amidst a bunch of old 1990s chromium fun-ness!

chromiums02

$3.99 vs. $3: Shiny Bargain-Bin Finds

Looking through a new mix of 25-cent books at the LCS today, wound up with a bunch of shiny covers, as well as a few random issues. I have GOT to get a list together soon of what I actually have and what I still need by way of ’90s X-books.

Started out with a couple random issues cuz they were there, and then grabbed Phalanx Covenant:

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And though I grabbed the Phalanx Covenant books for being there…wound up with the 4-part Generation Next arc–pretty sure at least one or two of these are new for me:

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I’m not sure now which issues of Hero Illustrated I’m missing, but pretty sure this one’s new…and for what it is and the price, if it’s a duplicate I’m glad to take a chance anyway. And given I’m not buying current New-52 Superman…well, Man of Steel #1 is just sheer awesomeness I couldn’t bring myself to pass up.

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And finally, for a mere 75-cents, almost $13 in 1990s sparkly-shiny-foil-chromium cover goodness:

kenmore20121114d

11 comics and a magazine for $3–still came out $1 less than any other single issue new this week. What’s it gonna take for me to give up the new and settle in with “just” the old?

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