• July 2020
    S M T W T F S
     1234
    567891011
    12131415161718
    19202122232425
    262728293031  
  • On Facebook

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Comic Blog Elite

    Comic Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

Death in the Family and A Lonely Place of Dying

I finally "pulled the trigger" recenty on several Batman volumes I’ve been planning on ordering. Over the last couple years, I’ve been gradually "upgrading" to newer editions of stuff I’d had, as these newer ones are far more comprehensive than the half-hearted volumes that were originally put out…or just simply have more content per volume, look better, etc.

batman_books_tall1

The one I was most looking forward to was Batman: A Death in the Family. This is one of the stories of my youth, and while I don’t truly "get" the merging of A Lonely Place of Dying into this, noticing that Batman Annual #25 was (supposedly) included definitely had my interest.

death_in_the_family_current_cover

I do like the minimal cover. It’s simple, but very, very telling…the image is haunting, shows the violence of Robin’s death, and is such an iconic image, filled with layer and meaning to me.

death_in_the_family_current_back

The back cover is less to my liking. It fits with contemporary volumes, of course, but I liked the back of the original edition better…or at least, the original’s inclusion of the original cover images.

whats_included1

According to the (back) cover of the book itself, the volume contains 10 issues. The 4-issue A Death in the Family story, the 3 Batman and 2 The New Titans issues that make up A Death in the Family, and the Batman Annual. "and also includes the 2006 follow-up story from BATMAN ANNUAL #25" .

whats_included2

The indicia also would support that, citing the individual issues, with no wording such as "material from" or "excerpted from" or anything indicating truncation or abridgement.

whats_included3

The volume’s table of contents begins to paint a different picture. It’s been nearly a decade since I actually read the annual, so I’ll be darned if I could remember the title of the story. But given the whole Superboy Prime and "punching reality" and all that, causing stuff to change, it would not be inappropriate for that issue’s title to BE "Alternate Ending." The pattern the table of contents uses lists the issues’ contents as their chapter of each story and the original issue numbers. The issues are included in full, no abridgement/etc.

But if one pays attention to the page numbers and the BIOGRAPHIES section below…notice the Annual is 270…but then the biographies are the VERY NEXT PAGE.

hes_alive_batman_annual_25

The sole inclusion from Batman Annual #25 is one. single. PAGE. And it’s not even reprinted as a page the way the entirety of the rest of the volume reprints the pages, this is intended to show AS a page from something else.

As a single page, this SHOULD HAVE been included between A Death in the Family and A Lonely Place of Dying. Given the Annual itself came 17-some years later, it would make perfect sense for it to be reprinted after both original stories. It seemed like a BONUS inclusion to the volume, to give us the original story, the followup, and then the revision, the revisitation that bridges the original stuff and contemporary stuff with Red Hood and such.

This is absolutely misleading, and had I known, if it had registered that the only difference was that this volume is 2-in-1 without the actual Annual in full, I definitely would NOT have bothered with this! I already have the original individual volumes, neither of which contains the Annual that was published those 17ish years after, and I’d thus prefer those.

current_and_older_edition

The art itself is basically the same on this new edition, it’s the words/fonts on the cover that is different. The art is centered on the new one and basically in full, while it’s off to the side on the original, wrapping slightly to the back. The original edition maintains the logo from the comics the story appeared in, as well as the story logo of A Death in the Family from those issues.

death_in_the_family_old_back

Personally, my ideal back cover is a mix of the original and the current…I would include the original cover images, but use the current text describing the story(ies) contained.

My original edition is the sixth printing or so, and quite beat up from numerous re-reads and being with me for over 20 years. Ditto for the Lonely Place of Dying volume.

older_death_in_family_lonely_place_of_dying

Here are the two original editions. They show their age, and are far from anything resembling pristine condition, as they are two of the oldest volumes in my entire collection. That can also be seen below with the prices of both books…

pricing_old_dif

I think the first printing of A Death in the Family may have had a $3.95 cover price, but I’m not certain. Obviously the sixth printing has the $4.95 cover price. Which, with at least a couple of the issues being oversized/extra-length is not bad at all.

pricing_old_lpod

A Lonely Place of Dying was 3.95. That’s five issues, including two issues that I believe were "Direct Market only" for basically $4. The cost of one single issue of what seems to be the majority of what both DC and Marvel put out these days heading into 2016. Granted, a quarter-century or so gap in time, but still…

lonely_place_of_dying_back_cover_text

Above: the back-cover text from A Lonely Place of Dying.

Given the gap between the two stories–Batman #s 430-439–and having Batman: Year Three (which I do not believe has ever been reprinted/collected) as well as The Many Deaths of the Batman (which was reprinted ages ago into a skinny, tiny little volume), I would think a much larger volume would be called for. Tim Drake is technically, officially introduced in Year Three, and that story also involves and has ramifications for Dick Grayson, then-Nightwing, who also played a major role in A Lonely Place of Dying. At minimum, I would expect Year Three to be included, as it also addresses Batman’s deterioration after the loss of Jason, which makes Tim’s arrival all the more poignant and sets things up FOR the latter story.

For that matter, in "losing" A Lonely Place of Dying as a title/book being folded into other stuff, I would think it’d fit quite well in a Robin volume…perhaps as the first few issues of the volume, then the story from Detective Comics where Tim’s mom died, and the (I believe) 3-parter from Batman that led into the first Robin mini-series. That’d make a handsome 12-issue volume; include the Robin mini and it’d be a strong 17 issues. That’d leave Robin II and Robin III to fill a respectable 10-issue volume, before picking up with the ongoing Robin series from 1993-on.

While this post is all over the place…ultimately, if you do NOT already have both A Death in the Family and A Lonely Place of Dying, I would definitely recommend this volume. Just be aware that it does not ACTUALLY contain the Annual that it misleadingly suggests it contains.

The content–the stories themselves–are very much worth it, and two very key stories in the 76+ year history of the Batman (and Robin)!

Superman Shelves Return

superman_shelf_01It’s been a couple years since I really “refreshed” some of the shelves I have, and some recent Superman acquisitions had me curious what things would look like put together again.

So I took some time and pulled all the newer Superman books I’ve bought, and went through and got the Superman shelves re-organized and re-confirmed for myself that Superman is certainly a key part of my collection.

superman_shelf_01a

I’m very interested in tracking down Superman in the Fifties and Superman in the Sixties, as well as Superman Chronicles vol. 7. (I’m not sure if the series made it past 10 or not). I’m sort of interested in other Showcase Presents volumes, but not dead set on ’em…though the nostalgia might kick in and change my mind.

superman_shelf_01b

I think I’m three volumes behind in the The Man of Steel series…and off the top of my head, not sure what else I might be missing from the post-CoIE/pre-Death era outside of The Wedding and Beyond.

superman_shelf_02

I’ve waffled on whether or not to pursue the New Krypton era of stuff, as I just wasn’t overly fond of that…PARTICULARLY in retrospect (though I’ll take it over New 52!) I’ve got the first couple Superman/Batman volumes…though I’ll probably “upgrade” to the newer editions soon, replacing those two with the more compact, robust paperback with both under a single cover.

I’d also like to get the single-volume edition of All-Star Superman, and had been intending to get the single-volume edition of For Tomorrow…though that was rendered a bit moot by recently acquiring the Absolute edition for 75% off. Then again, that unfortunately does not fit properly on any of my shelves, and might be relegated to a “special” shelf with other books that just do not physically fit…which would leave these shelves able to make use of the paperback as well.

(Plus, hey…Superman.)

"Upgrading" and beyond: Priest’s Black Panther

black_panther_old_and_newOne key comic series for me during college was Priest‘s Black Panther. I’d first tried the series because of its part in the launch of Marvel Knights in Fall 1998, and kept up with it for a few issues. I was nearly ready to let it go–and posted something about that on an old usenet forum–and was convinced to try a couple more issues. The way I remember it, the very next issue was “that” one with the big revelation about why T’Challa actually joined with the Avengers…and I stayed with the series through the end of its run and even followed the short-lived The Crew that followed it.

While I have the entire series in single issues, I remember being thrilled to find the series in paperback (though I don’t remember these early volumes being QUITE so early–2001 based on the indicia). And I was QUITE disappointed when nothing else got collected beyond the first 12 issues, and when this series was basically ignored and “forgotten” for everything that’s come since.

black_panther_book_stack

black_panther_one_volume_thicker_than_two_oldNow, in one single volume, we get 17 issues…five more than the previous two volumes combined. Which really makes this quite an “upgrade.” The two prior volumes collected 5 issues and 7 issues each. Though my photo doesn’t show it very effectively, the new volume IS thicker than the previous two, even with the extra set of covers. The old volumes are also noticeably of their time-period, as they’re from when Marvel tried to save money by shaving 1/8 inch black_panther_new_taller_than_both_oldoff the height of their publications to use less paper or something to that general effect.

This new volume also stands out as being another where after all those years, Marvel switched to a red box with white text for their logo instead of the red text on white box.

While I was left hanging with only the first twelve issues collected, with 17 issues or so per volume, three volumes would get us through the first 50 issues or so, and a fourth would be able to include The Crew as an extension of this series.

I’m definitely hoping the cover/title of this edition holds true: Black Panther: The Complete Collection by Christopher Priest.

Though an Omnibus or other hardcover series of collections would be preferred…I’ll gladly take this over nothing, and it sure beats the skinny little 6ish-issue collections.

black_panther_old_prices

Despite the decade or so waiting, the price of this new volume is surprisingly well in-line (if not better value) than the originals. $15 and $17 got me 12 issues for $32; another $3 adds five more issues (the same quantity as the first $15!). Of course, I don’t recall what I paid for these originals, whether it was full cover price or a discount; given I’d’ve sworn I got them during grad school as they came out, but they seem significantly older.

black_panther_new_price

And of course, I paid significantly less than cover price by pre-ordering this from Amazon this time around.

black_panther_new_book_back_text

I doubt I’d care whatsoever about the Black Panther character if it wasn’t for this series. So while I’m shying away from Marvel‘s print products lately…stuff like this gets through on the nostalgia factor.

And being able to have the contents of two books in one with even more content, I’m actually glad to “upgrade” to have–hopefully–the entire series in nice-looking paperbacks that actually look like they go together, on the shelf…and AS a series, having numbering. Perhaps I’m odd, but I prefer the numbers, as it makes it more obvious this isn’t just a single contained story or volume…and the publisher has more “confidence” in it to give a number rather than just one skinny volume at a time with no apparent intent to go beyond the current.

Still…a  Black Panther by Priest omnibus would be quite a volume–even as two volumes–to sit on a shelf with the Classic Quantum and Woody volume.

Finishing the Story: A Redeeming Price on DC’s Convergence

The other day, I very nearly walked out of the Mentor Half-Price Books empty-handed. Several collected volumes caught my attention on the shelf–but each was priced ABOVE cover price. A used books store, named HALF-PRICE Books, and they just randomly price books ABOVE cover price because it’s “out of print.” Yet, isn’t that the POINT? It’s a bunch of USED, old books, that probably are NOT just available walking into the local BAM, B&N, or even Walmart/Target.

But that’s more a topic for another post.

HPBhaul_convergence_0_to_8

This HPB location has a $1 default price, unless specifically priced with a higher price on a bag or bag/board.

BUT…they also had several “sets” in a box, and I flipped through, curious about what OUTRAGEOUS prices they’d have, if they’re already considering 25-cent comics $1.25+ individually.

I noticed this set, and pulled it out, VERY curious…and was rather surprised to see it priced ONLY $15. DC‘s Convergence…#0 and #1-8.

Three of the 9 issues were cover price $5 ($4.99). That’s $15 right there. The other 6 issues were $4 ($3.99), so that’s $24. $39 in cover price, for a series from only 3-4 months ago, complete set in one place…no hunting through multiple stores and paying full price all the while.

Less than half-price. Best yet, the full set CHEAPER than it would cost me to buy the single issues I was missing. And I held off on ordering the collected volumes, because the main thing I wanted was to actually finish reading the full “core” story…but if I’m getting that, I want it to match the other collected volumes…which means a much longer wait for the hardcover to be swapped out for a paperback edition.

Now, I”ll just get to read the story, and the heck with the Convergence collected volumes for awhile.

Acquiring Critical Mass (and TPB pricing)

Usually, I’m not one for buying a tpb the week it comes out, nor for buying it at a shop instead of waiting to get it on Amazon or some other site or finding it at a used book store.

critical_mass_01

But this volume is a bit of a milestone: it begins the collection of Paul Jenkins‘ run on the title–brand-new-to-collected-format material I have been interested in reading for well over a decade!

critical_mass_02

I’ve been trying to keep up with these new editions, and fully intend a serious re-reading project at some point. Until then, though, I add to the shelf, while removing my older editions to make space for these numbered editions.

critical_mass_03

This volume collects 13 issues, and while not the thickEST of the Hellblazer volumes in this new run, it’s still a very nicely-thick book. The best part is that despite that whopping issue-count…the cover price is STILL ONLY $19.99. And truthfully, I felt the need to buy this one in-store because so few volumes carry such a REASONABLE, respectable ratio of price-and-content.

I’ve no doubt that a Marvel volume of this size/this many issues would be at MINIMUM $34.99 if not $39.99. Of course, for Marvel, that’d be a “mere” $3/issue contained within as opposed to the seeming “standard” of $4-$5/issue contained.

This volume works out to about $1.54/issue…which is LESS THAN COVER PRICE for the individual issues it contains. Truly a benefit of the format, and a large part of what draws me in: the bargain of having en entire story or run of issues in a single volume…at a better price than the single issues. All the more as these issues are from the mid-1990s so nearly 20 years old and (at least in my experience) not the easiest to come by in bargain bins.

critical_mass_on_the_shelf

These new editions are becoming a larger part of my overall Hellblazer library. With many of these replacing 2-3 prior volumes, I’m also liking how the collection is shaping up with the thicker volumes instead of a bunch of skinny little things.

I’d thought this 9th volume wasn’t going to replace anything, but then realized that the first issue of the collection–#84–wraps up the material reprinted in the Hellblazer: Rare Cuts volume. At the time, that volume had stuff that hadn’t previously been reprinted, but it was primarily from the earliest part of the series–and these editions have filled in the gaps that Rare Cuts had tried to fill.

With this volume carrying to #96, I figure volumes 10 & 11 will be completely “new” content to my collection, with Son of Man picking up at #129. With several months between volumes, that won’t be something to worry about until next year sometime.

What’s going to be particularly “interesting” to me is when (if?) these catch up to where I “joined in” around #160/161 or so; or just as much a few issues earlier with the start of Azzarello‘s run.

Mid-April Acquisitions

mid-april-acquisitionsThough I shared about the Death and Return of Superman Omnibus a couple weeks ago, I lumped it in as part of April’s acquisitions.

This stack is much taller than last month’s, though not nearly as much more expensive as one might think.

The Evolutionary War Omnibus was 60% off cover price, so it was like buying 7-8 Marvel single issues (and contains 11 or so Annuals).

The Atlantis Attacks Omnibus, Wolverine by Jason Aaron Omnibus, X-Men: X-Tinction Agenda, March on Ultimatum, Ultimate Human, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, and Brand New Day volumes combined cost the same as buying 15 Marvel single issues.

And the Spider-Man: The Real Clone Saga cost about the same as buying 2 single issues.

Which continues to beat the idea into me that idea that I could give up buying any/all new comics, and still have plenty to read–and for far cheaper than keeping up with new comics.

mid-april-acquisitions

Collected volume pricing

Disparate Pricing

marvelbooks20101211 While collected volumes of comics are priced based on their contents…I’m finding more and more lately that paper quality and format lend a different sort of visual perception to the mix.

Take The Heroic Age TPB. $24.99…yet, it’s about twice as thick as the $14.99 Deadpool: Secret Invasion volume. Twice the size, but $5 less than twice the price.

Compare that to Deadpool Classic vol. 1: The Heroic Age…roughly the same thickness is $24.99…yet Deadpool Classic is $29.99–$5 more.

hardvssoft Looking at Deadpool & Cable, there’s a similar thickness—a little more to it than the Classic volume, granted—but it’s $39.99…a $10 difference for not a lot of difference in size.

Those have different contents, though, by several issues at least. Bringing a hardcover into the mix…look at the Invincible Iron Man by Fraction and Larrocca vol. 1 OVERSIZED hardcover. 19 issues in this volume for $39.99…and 18 issues in Deadpool & Cable…which is a paperback, but also carrying that $39.99 price.

With all interests in characters/series (and consideration of quality) being equal…The Iron Man volume would seem to be a much better value for number of issues’ content and physical size/format for the price.

Of course, I do know there are reasons (which may not come to me off the top of my head or that I—in terms of simply purchasing books—don’t even care about) for the varying prices. Print runs, quality of paper, creator royalties, projected profits, and who knows what all.

While I lack a photo at present for the visual…another point of interest are the Vertigo $4.99 TPBs that collect the first issue of many of their popular series. (Additionally, Top Cow recently put out a $4.99 volume with the first issue of several of their soon-to-debut series). Of course, it’s a much different thing to have an “anthology” type volume with a single chapter from multiple series. These serve more as samplers, as opposed to a volume that collects an entire story.

Though Top Cow has recently hooked me with their bargain-priced premiere volumes of Witchblade, Witchblade: Redemption, and The Darkness, collecting an entire arc (5-6 issues) of each for only $4.99. That’s 4-5 “extra” issues compared to the $3.99 single-issue pricepoint of far too many comics out there these days.

Disparate Trade Dress/Editions

variededitions

On a much different note, but dealing with thick volumes and a little with pricing (getting more expensive through the years for successive reprints of the same content/volumes)…Knightfall, and Essentials.

I have all three Knightfall volumes…but each is a different printing. Vol. 1 is the original printing from the mid-1990s. Vol. 2 is from the later printing…maybe early 2000s or late-1990s. And the third volume is from the last few years, whenever it was reprinted after DC changed to their present version of the DC “star” and trade-dress.

The Essential Uncanny X-Men vol. 1 I bought the week before I went off to college, back in August 1999. After the Essentials’ trade dress was revamped, they continued reprinting those earliest X-men issues as Essential Classic X-Men, but numbered the volume as 2, picking up from Essential Uncanny. And finally, under the newest revamp of the trade dress (AND pricing), they put out a 3rd volume.

While the price that I paid was right—I got vols. 2 and 3 of both sets for at least half-off—I’m the sort of person who likes it when a series actually looks like it goes together…whether first editions, second prints, or 10th-print and beyond.

On The Shelf

dragonlanceshelfActually looking like a single series, my Weis/Hickman Dragonlance volumes sit together on a shelf. Ultimately, this is an ongoing series of core characters by these authors. The books all go together, and in this particular edition, they look like it.

Most of these books have seen numerous different editions in paperback with successive printings and even different publishers. Dragons of Autumn Twilight was originally published in the mid-1980s, while Dragons of the Dwarven Depths wasn’t published until about 20 years later.

I don’t collect books—or comics, or collected volumes/TPBs/graphic novels/whatever for value.

But I am very much a collector in wanting to read the stories (I prefer bookshelf editions to single issues these days, given choice and feasibility) and enjoying when the volumes that I get look good together, on the shelf.

“Packaging” is important, too!

It’s certainly not a new topic by any means. But it re-occurred to me today as I was leaving Borders just how much the “packaging” of a product (specifically book or comic/collected-volume) matters.

I went in planning to purchase The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks with my 40%-off coupon of the weekend. The volume, however, seemed both too skinny for its retail price, and too small in dimensions overall–larger than, say, the Zombie Survival guide itself, but smaller than a standard (Marvel or DC) graphic novel. For $17 and flipping through and seeing it more flash than substance (more art than words) I actually decided I’ll hold off on it for now. Sure, it’s still on my want-list, but it can definitely wait.

I also noticed a couple of Marvel books in particular where the “Premiere Hardcover” was next to the TPB. With Captain America: The Man With No Face, the paperback is $15.99 while the hardback is $19.99. Now, I know as well as ANYone that $4 can be quite a bit. But these days, for the price of an average Marvel comic, I’ll pay the “upgrade fee” and get the hardcover when there’s so little difference in price! (when available/able, of course). But there’s something discouraging (for lack of better word) about seeing a nice hardcover with a paperback next to it…and realizing they’re practically the same price despite the price differences. (For that…I’d like to see the paperbacks go to a standard digest-size and be about half the price of the hardcovers.)

I happened across a Zombies anthology (different from the Living Dead anthology)…massive paperback. Granted, it’s all prose…but $20. And for page count, it DWARFS the average Marvel/IDW (and even DC) $20 paperbacks. For sheer size, it would certainly beat out a number of other books for the price.

I listened to a Comic Geek Speak podcast today where they talked about the TMNT Collected Volume One; the content’s good, obviously…but the packaging is very minimal…no text/pictures/description on the back, the spine is just text on a background, and the cover is simply a closeup of one of the Turtles’ faces…no logos, even on the cover.

Now, granted, in bookstores or even at home, the spine is probably what’s gonna be seen most…but still…it’s always nice when a book’s entirety just looks good as well as containing good quality content.

As a book person, I also prefer when things look good TOGETHER on the shelf…and for a series to look like a series…that is, a common trade dress and size. I have actually opted AGAINST buying books because they don’t fit with others or otherwise waited til I could get a different edition that WOULD fit. (I also specifically AVOID the extra-tall mass-market paperbacks…I mean, what’s the POINT of these? I suppose that’ll be a topic for another post).

May not be bait ‘n switch…but what gives?

Newsarama on Cap RebornNewsarama interview with Brevoort

Well…don’t *I* feel like a sucker.  I mean…that’s it?  Another point in the “bleh” column, methinks.


Just spotted this in the new DC solicitations.  The HC I fully expected.  But…what’s up with the simultaneous release of the paperback?

As an ISOLATED thing, I’m perplexed.

Now, if DC (and Marvel) were to start doing this with ALL their collected volumes…I’d be quite the happy camper, I think. I’d much rather have a CHOICE as to which edition to get…withOUT having to wait extra months or (a) year(s) for a paperback if I’m not interested in the hardback.

WONDER WOMAN: RISE OF THE OLYMPIAN HC AND TP
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Aaron Lopresti, Bernard Chang and Matt Ryan
Cover by Aaron Lopresti
When the gods change their plans for man’s world, it’s up to Wonder Woman to protect humanity against an invading army of male warriors and a new adversary called Genocide.
An army of Olympians has risen for an all-out assault on war across the globe and only Wonder Woman can stop them in this new title collecting issues #20-27! One particular attack could spell the end of the Department of Metahuman Affairs and end WW’s secret identity of Diana Prince. And Wonder Woman’s life is changed forever when she faces a monster named Genocide who goes toe-to-toe with her . . . and wins.
Retailer note: This title is scheduled to arrive in stores on November 4 in both hardcover and trade paperback editions.
Advance-solicited; on sale November 4 • 208 pg, FC
HC: $24.99 US; TP: $14.99 US

%d bloggers like this: