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A New Adventure on Krynn

I’ve recently had my interest in Dragonlance rekindled a fair bit. And this goes beyond a couple shelves of hardcovers and games…this gets into the vast array of MMPB volumes that were pumped out over nearly a quarter century.

dragonlance_new_sept19a

As with "sub collections" of comics, the earlier stage is the cheapest–going from "just having a few" to "acquiring ‘more’ of them." It’ll be once I track down a majority of the books that the last few will be ridiculously, incredibly expensive.

But for now I’m still down at–and sticking TO–truly half price or less (with the next stage being the move to roughly cover price when factoring in discount + shipping).

At one Half-Price Books I snagged the five volumes above. I would have sworn I already had the Brothers in Arms volume, but if so, it got mixed in/packed away somewhere away from my actual collection. I think a friend had the The Dragons of Krynn book back in the day; and the other three pictured above are simply new books to me.

dragonlance_new_sept19b

At the other Half-Price Books, I snagged the above two books. The Time of the Twins is an older (I think original) edition (not sure/don’t care if it’s a first print or not)…it completes my "set" of Dragonlance Legends in this trade dress.

The Love and War volume is (I believe) also an original (if not first print) edition, and I’d rather have the newer one, but this I got for the nostalgia and immediacy–I like the cover, and Raistlin is one of my favorite characters. Plus, I have Tales vol. 1 in this trade dress, so it’s another that I won’t mind multiple editions "in the end."

Sadly, several books at both stores had my interest but I decided they were beat up/damaged enough that I would end up wanting to replace them anyway so no sense buying them now.


While I do have a number of different editions of some of the books–particularly the Chronicles series–I don’t currently have any real intention of hunting down every Dragonlance book in every edition published over the years…though I think it might be a decently-achievable goal to simply seek a copy of all the books in some edition.

I do not like that a bunch of the original editions–including at least one series that I do not think was ever reprinted in a later edition–merely had the sub-series title/numbering on the spine, but not the actual title of the book itself. (Tales Volume Three on the spine, but you only see Love and War on the front cover or interior.)

dragonlance_paperbacks_before_sept19

Here’s my existing MMPB Dragonlance collection (minus the new books pictured earlier in this post).

Showing Off a Shelf – Nicol Bolas & Magic: The Gathering

It’s been a number of years since I had my Magic: The Gathering novels properly shelved, and in my recent moving re-discovered my Nicol Bolas card from 1995’s Chronicles set. Additionally, I have the 6" "oversized" Pop vinyl of Nicol Bolas that I picked up a couple years ago.

nicol_bolas_mtg_08152016

So here I’m showing them off.

Back in 1999/2000 I was loving the novels, and followed them (keeping up with the actual reading of them, even!) for at least a couple years, through the publication of Apocalypse that pretty much drew together the entirety of M:TG‘s story from its start to that point. I also read a bunch of the earlier ones from the mid-1990s years before and have those as well.

I may have more to show off in coming days/weeks as I get settled in after last month’s move and utilize two newly-assembled bookcases (this photo comes off a repurposed one).

Age of Apocalypse Revisited: X-Men Chronicles #1

aoa_revisited_logo

xmenchronicles001Origins

Writer: Howard Mackie
Penciler: Terry Dodson
Inker: Klaus Janson
Colorist: Matt Webb
Lettering: Starkings/Comicraft
Cover: Carlos Pacheco, Cam Smith
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: March 1995
Cover Price: $3.95

"Traditionally," this is one of my favorite Age of Apocalypse issues. As much as anything tied to the larger AoA epic really is, this is a self-contained issue, functionally a one-shot. And it’s double-sized, a larger chunk of story in one go than anything but X-Men: Alpha itself so far.

Everything else to this point has been set in the "present-day," the contemporary X-Universe of the time, 20 years after the death of Xavier. This issue is set some years earlier than that–at the dawn of the Age of Apocalypse itself, at Apocalypse’s "first strike" of sorts, against humanity at large.

We meet a young-ish Magneto training his band of X-Men in a secret location in the mountains. The group is introduced to a new teammate–the older and more dangerous man known as Logan…or Weapon X. As training draws to a close, a second new member is brought to their location–a young woman named Rogue. Amidst all this, Apocalypse strikes…forcing Magneto into action sooner than he’d expected. And while he and his young mutants fight off Apocalypse’s minions…another strike is carried out against their home.

Probably the most "glaring" thing about this issue–for me–was a narration box stating (after introducing the characters) "Together, they from the mutant team known as…the X-Men." They FROM the mutant team? Not form–eff oh are emm–they "from" it? A simple transposing of two letters, but for me it stands out in a huge way. Maybe it’s been corrected in digital reprints or other reprint editions, but I’m pointedly reading the single issues that were actually put out at the time.

But to be frank on it…if the worst I see in editing is a spelling glitch and I’m not grousing about huge giant plot-holes or character inconsistencies…I’d say things are going pretty well on that front. Being human, I can forgive the only spelling error I’ve noticed in however many issues so far.

The art has an interesting flavor to it, feeling at once "typical ’90s" to me and yet definitely conveys an "older" tone just from the look, even though the story is pointedly set in the past. As I often find myself saying: the visuals don’t blow me away, but they were quite well for the issue and I didn’t particularly notice anything worth grousing about.

Given the real-world quantity of comics chronicling the adventures of the X-Men through the years and the amount of time purported to have passed for these characters…there is still a huge body of stories that could be told of the characters in this Age of Apocalypse timeline. At the time this was published, everything was ‘face value’ and this issue was the sole, primary glimpse into "the past" of the characters, giving us one of THE key stories–that of Apocalypse’s first strike against humanity as well as the fate of the Scarlet Witch.

And this has that feel…sort of like having all these contemporary issues, but then picking up an old issue and reading a good story that "still matters" in current continuity. While I’m consciously aware of plenty of "Untold Tales from the Age of Apocalypse" stories that eventually came out, this is the first and one of the best. We see a version of the characters both familiar yet different…but not yet as "dark" as they are by "present day." This gives us–as readers–the chance to witness the introductions of Rogue and Weapon X to the team, Apocalypse striking out, without having to solely be "told" it happened.

It’s also rather nice to get "just" a story of these X-Men that does not directly tie to the premise of the main epic, of bringing pieces together for the final showdown at the end of the Age of Apocalypse. Knowing solely the basic premise–that Xavier was killed in the past and Magneto formed the X-Men instead–one can easily read and enjoy this issue in and of itself as a one-shot without even having to read any of the other Age of Apocalypse issues.

To me, this truly is Age of Apocalypse done right…unlike most everything done SINCE the 1990s involving the timeline.

Dragonlance: Chronicles #6 [Review]

Quick Rating: Solid
Title: Dragons of Autumn Twilight (chapter 6)

Having been freed by elves from captivity, the companions find themselves witness to the decline of the Qualinesti elves; they also find their next quest in their journey toward saving the world of Krynn…

dragonlancechronicles006Story: Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
Adaptation Script: Andrew Dabb
Pencils: Stefano Raffaele
Colors: Djoko Santiko of IFS
Letters: Steve Seeley
Editor: Mark Powers
Cover Art: A: Steve Kurth and IFS, B: Tyler Walpole
Publisher: Devil’s Due

This is another good/standard issue of the series. It has been thankfully consistent–the story and art continue to work well together, to provide a true adaptation to the original novel (Dragons of Autumn Twilight). Perhaps in contradiction to that, this issue features art by someone other than Kurth. While a side-by-side comparison will undoubtedly reveal difference, taken by itself it works well here. In light of a certain other publisher often combining artists of late on a single issue, that the entirety of this issue is just one is refreshing.

This issue takes the story up with the companions having just been freed from Fewmaster Toede’s slave-train. Their elven rescuers lead them into Qualinost (one of the Elven homelands, but not the original Elven homeland–but that issue doesn’t rear its head til later and isn’t overly relevant here). Once in Qualinost, we view some of the past come back to haunt Tanis, and get to see Tasselhoff marvel at what must’ve been (in his eyes) quite the childhood for the half-elf. The companions then take on a task from the Speaker of the Sun and head for Pax Tharkas.

The story itself is faithful at its heart if not word-for-word to the source material. The only real gripe I have on that angle with this issue is that here we see Tanis deliberately acquire a particular sword, whereas the original novel had him fumble for a weapon, and belatedly realize what he’d acquired, which added a bit more wonder to the weapon as well as what the companions face. Ultimately it is a minor detail, one that works well in prose format, but like a movie, not every minute detail can be adapted, and it’s better that detail is cut than something more integral to the story.

This is a fantasy comic/story, and based on what Hickman himself considers the weakest of these original novels. As such, you will find aspects of the familiar here. The creature the companions face seems drastically out of place given the sort of story here (I can think of no other examples of such a creature encountered anywhere else in the Dragonlance mythos–if anyone else can, I’d be interested in having that noted). However, from a story that was based strongly on a new Dungeons & Dragons module at the time, such a creature is just another generic sort that gives an excuse for a fight. In this story, it serves to introduce a new aspect to a just-met character that will serve a much larger role later in the Chronicles saga, if not this specific arc.

We’re six issues in, and have covered a lot of ground. As I understand it, we’ve two chapters left to conclude this mini/arc. If you’ve not followed along thus far, this won’t be a particularly good point to jump in. If you’re following it, though, don’t bail now!

Ratings:

Story: 3/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

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