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Doomsday Clock #1 [Review]

doomsday_clock_0001_supermanThat Annihilated Place

Writer: Geoff Johns
Illustrator: Gary Frank
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover: Gary Frank & Brad Anderson (Lenticular based on existing art by Dave Gibbons)
Associate Editor: Amedeo Turturro
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: January 2018
Cover Price: $4.99 ($5.99 Lenticular variant)

It’s been a long time, offhand, since I read a comic quite so dense as Doomsday Clock #1. And I use the word dense as a good thing overall–in this age of $4.99 comics that hardly take any longer to read than a $3.99 or $2.99 comic, where everything is written to flow seamlessly as a 4 or 5 or 6-issue "graphic novel," it’s great to have a comic that just wants to be a single issue.

I was rather frustrated to learn that the image I’ve seen MOST USED in association with this issue (the Gary Frank Superman cover pictured above) is actually a VARIANT and not the "main" cover. The main cover seems to be a generic "The End is Here" cover (that leads into the issue itself as the classic Watchmen covers did!). In keeping with my usual, though, wanting the cover I’ve most seen advertised and such with an issue, I managed to get the Superman cover. Of course, then I saw a lenticular variant, one I had probably heard of/read about, but not paid attention to (again: VARIANT)…but it being lenticular, and "cover price" (albeit $1 more than the standard issue to account for the lenticular-ness) and me really getting a kick outta the design–Rorschach’s face goes from just the blobs to the symbols of "the trinity" (Superman/Batman/Woder Woman), I went ahead and got that one as well. It’s certainly no worse than having bought a Marvel lenticular, where the lenticulars were entirely different images from their "regular" covers.

I don’t know what I expected from this issue. Being that it’s an obvious follow-up to Watchmen, and apparently integrating those characters into DCU canon (if not continuity, then perhaps affecting continuity from the outside), and seems to have been "timed" to release at the 25th anniversary of Superman’s death (real-world, that is–November 17-20ish 1992), and stuff previewed or "leaked" online indicated an in-issue reference to that date…I had extremely high expectations for this issue. It’s honestly been a long time since I feel like I actually was taken in by "the hype," usually seeing the hype entirely for what it is and maybe "choosing" to "give in," say, on actually getting a variant cover, or actually getting an issue of something I don’t normally get, or diving into an event I’d intended to stay away from. Here, it’s more of an emotional hype…one that left me feeling rather let down.

As said above–this is a dense story–one that would take a long time to really summarize, and for my own reading experience, get well beyond the initial reading I tend to do for reviews. Essentially, we meet a new Rorschach, who is piecing stuff together, much as the original did, starting out the original series. We get glimpses of this current world–late 1992, about seven years after the original’s 1985 setting, as we meet various characters and are re-exposed to older/originals. We also learn that Ozymandias has a sort of countdown clock of his own going this time, but in a much different way than before. Finally, the last several pages give us a glimpse into a non-Watchmen DCU, and an extremely familiar-looking take on the Kents…which makes sense, given Frank was the artist on Superman: Secret Origin, that laid out a particular vision for the characters.

While this has a lot as a single issue, and certainly many layers with stuff that’d be picked up after a second or third or FIFTH reading, still more to be picked up on STUDYING the art beyond the words, and even more on top of that to be noticed after subsequent issues come out and shed more light on stuff…on my single-read-through I hit the end and thought "Wait…that’s IT?" and was starkly reminded of similar disappointment with Grant Morrison‘s Final Crisis.

This is not a "casual" issue, apparently. Picking it up and reading it "cold," even if you’ve read Watchmen, there doesn’t seem to be all that much to it. It’s a first issue, and world-building or re-world-building. It’s surely a strong foundation on which the rest of the issues will draw. But for me, in just picking it up, after all the months of hype, I just did not enjoy it or get much out of it. And I’m steeped in comics history, especially DC, and even more specifically Superman.

Visually, it’s a very good issue–I’m quite a fan of Gary Frank. I felt like there was a lot that was recognizable and familiar here, despite Frank not being Gibbons, and outside of not seeing a Superman costume or a Batman costume or a Wonder Woman costume–really, it felt like there was virtually nothing actually DC in this issue–I felt like this was set in the world I recalled from reading the original Watchmen all those years ago. There’s also a LOT crammed into this issue: it seems to me that the lowest panel-count on any given story-page was five…which is a far cry from the all-too-often-used "cheats" of full or DOUBLE-page splashes with barely a word to go with the art. I welcome the "grid" layouts of the pages, the actual panels and "traditional" gutters–both for squeezing in more content as well as mimicking the style of the original.

Basically, this seems like a really slow start to something, and that it was vastly overhyped, as well as being quite "confusing" as far as the covers go–once again, a major problem with doing variants AT ALL. The $4.99 cover price is rather steep, even with 30 pages of story (if a 20-page issue is $2.99, another 50% would be only $4.50!) but I suppose it’s a bit offset by some of DC‘s issues being $3.99 (the 1-per-month books) so this actually fits that rate.

I wanted more–I wanted something brighter and splashier out the gate than what I got here–but I’m still looking forward to the next issue, looking forward to see how things build, though I suspect this will be a far more impressive story in larger chunks or as a whole rather than as a single-issue-at-a-time monthly (or less-frequent) journey.

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The Weekly Haul: Week of November 8, 2017

This week was a pretty solid week for new comics, with several issues I was actively looking forward to, some just interested in, a surprise, and a couple bargain-bin issues!

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This week has the concluding chapters of The OZ Effect in Action Comics and A Lonely Place of Living in Detective Comics. There’s this week’s new issue of TMNT/Ghostbusters 2.

The latest Metal one-shot/special/tie-in, and the new issue of Fighting American. And since I’d bought the "#800" variant of Superman #34, figured this Wonder Woman one would be a nifty match (I hope whatever Batman one will be as easy to get!).

As said last week, something like this is where a variant actually IS warranted, "fun," a nice nod, etc. And it’s a hugely great thing that it’s NOT–after over a year and a half of "Rebirth numbering" now jumping the titles to the legacy numbers. (Action Comics and Detective Comics are definite exceptions, where it works, as they ONLY have ONE "gap" into which the low-numbers and style CLEARLY differentiate them from their 1930s/1940s counterparts…as opposed to cramming three, four, five-plus #1s/2s/3s/etc in to a single number string).

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The new Mister Miracle and Ragman issues; cases where mini/maxi-series are interesting enough to get as singles…especially when NOT all are "default-priced" at $3.99. These may not be Rebirth-branded titles, but that does not disqualify them (as default) from $2.99 pricing. Same goes for Gotham City Garage (which is–I believe–essentially a "reprint collection" of digital-first chapters).

Then from some Vertigo bargain bins, I snagged the two Swamp Thing annuals; only added $1 to my total, so definitely well worthwhile.

All in all, not a bad week’s worth of issues…though I have GOT to get everything from the last few months rounded back up and properly sorted, and dive in to actually READ, after leaving everything aside to charge through 60+ Savage Dragon and related issues!

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The Weekly Haul: Week of November 1, 2017

This week was a rather large week for new comics! Lotta interesting and interesting-ish stuff out…

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I need to catch up on my actual READING of them, but I’m really digging these one-shots focusing on the various Bat-men. For what I feel compelled to get new in the week, it’s great that there’s a new chapter each week, and does not feel like an overwhelming amount with say, five or six (or seemingly so) or more chapters out in a week. PLUS, the shiny foil covers are fun as they’ve not (yet) been used to fatigue, and for something called Metal, they’re truly appropriate!

Then there’s TMNT/Ghostbusters 2…a fun crossover conceptually, and I enjoyed the first series, so why not a second? And getting at least a weekly dose of TMNT through this, plus the "regular" stuff? Makes for a good month!

As anyone reading this knows, I’m sick and tired of variants, in general. An honest exception is where it’s warranted…such as with this week’s Superman #34! Shows that the 800th issue can be celebrated without having to DERAIL an entire numbered series! It’s observing the anniversary without having to BE a #800!

After the Jetsons backup in one of the specials back in the spring, I certainly wasn’t going to not check out an actual series that looks like it follows up on that! And I’m amused at the "return" of some more obscure characters lately, what with Deadman here, Ragman recently, and Mister Miracle. Then Usagi Yojimbo, which has been trucking along over the years; even with some hiatuses apparently, but it’s back, and I’m enjoying it thus far.

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Now, here’s where location and promotion can pay off: Black Lightning takes place locally, apparently–Cleveland, Ohio–and I don’t think I’d realized, but apparently the creator is local, too! So of course I’ll check this series out! I’m giving Harley and Ivy/Betty and Veronica a chance for the heckuvit…it’s a novelty thing. DuckTales ought to be a given, but I’m still not ready to commit month in/month out…especially as I’m behind on watching the new cartoon.

I need to catch up on actually reading Bane and Astonishing X-Men; already having several issues defeats the point of a collected volume, so "cheaper" to finish out the stories (plus the convenience of having all the issues in-house when I do finally binge-read).

I was not going to bother with Captain America, but some strong positive words on it from a shop owner went a long way with me. It gets this one issue, and I probably won’t come back til the novelty of whatever #700 is…but then again, maybe I’ll end up sticking around until #700. Time shall tell!

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The Lion King is one of my all-time favorite films (period, no sub-categorizing or such for "animated feature" or stuff like that). So for the price of two DC issues (or 1 1/2 Marvel issues), got this mini-graphic novel sized book. I think it might just be a print edition of a digital comic I’d bought years ago, but especially if so, cool to have this in print.

And somehow, I’d missed the DC Essential Graphic Novels edition for 2017, so definitely glad to have it for 2018…my OCD demands I still seek out a 2017 edition to go on the shelf with previous years!

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The Deadman issue is another with an "enhanced cover," which–again–I’m enjoying from DC for the nostalgia and such, and rather judicious use. It certainly fits for something like this title, and as long as it’s only for the first issue, I’m cool with it. (If every issue was this way, no-go!). Even if the $4.99 cover price was because of this, I’m ok with that as well, from DC, in this case: no real hubbub over the cover, so it was just there, and so I was willing to pay the extra. And if the issue would have been $4.99 anyway, then heck yeah, give me something extra! (Like the foil on the Dark Nights/Metal issues!)

And then as a bonus for the week, there were left over comics from Halloween ComicsFest, so I was able to get some of the non-kids-oriented comics (Sabrina, for one) and several other issues I’d missed out on with only choosing the ones I did last weekend. I was satisfied with what I’d gotten over the weekend…so these are definite bonus on top of that, making an expensive week feel that much more substantial!

The Weekly Haul: Week of October 25, 2017

Another simple but expensive sorta week for me! A couple of big issues, a couple of "enhanced covers" a la ’90s goodness, but at today’s prices!

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THE big issue for me this week was TMNT #75. 75th issue, final chapter of the Trial of Krang, squarebound/prestige format, and with this current story, every successive issue is the highest-numbered issue a TMNT comic has ever reached. Here’s hoping we see a #100 and beyond! Due to pull list and geography, I’ll be getting the issue twice…so as the turtles are and always have been a firm exception to my other personal "rules" of comics, I picked up the B cover for now, as the A cover’s on hold for me to pick up probably next week, due to some personal hassles to deal with this weekend.

Then there’s the new Detective Comics, the penultimate chapter of A Lonely Place of Living; ditto (penultimate, I believe) in the Action Comics chapter of The Oz Effect.

Next is the shiny cover that’s become signature for this Metal event. Being in a nostalgic mood and seeing "my" Thor logo and "my" Thor on the cover, I decided I oughtta support the thing.

I’m not much for all anthologies, but decided to throw in with getting the DC House of Horror squarebound special. I believe it’s essentially this year’s New Talent Showcase or such.

Wednesday was dubbed "TMNT Day" for hitting #75, and there was this sampler issue given out that recaps the IDW run so far. Basically a "primer" to allow someone to (I suppose) jump right in with #75.

I’ve been getting Kamandi Challenge all year, but can’t remember where I left off. I’m kicking myself a bit, as at this point I pretty much could wait for the collected edition. I keep getting each new issue in case "this" is the month I binge-read/catch up…but at #10, we’re nearly to the end and to a collected volume!

Finally, I snagged Royal City vol. 1, as it’s a $9.99 vol 1, and a friend had highly recommended the series, even giving me a copy of #1; now I’ll get to read the entire first arc and go from there.

New Hardcovers! JLI, Darkseid War, and The Button

I think this may have been my single largest (or at least expensive!) purchase of collected volumes in one go!

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I’d been particularly waiting for the Justice League International Omnibus (oops, it’s "only" vol. 1!) and was eager to get it. The book is one of the thicker omnibus volumes, and a bit unwieldy at its size, but for all it contains, seems well worthwhile!

Then there’s the Justice League: The Darkseid War Saga Omnibus, collecting the Darkseid War from a couple years ago. I’d balked at the "skinny books" collecting it in multiple parts–I’ve grown really sick and tired of specific, finite stories being broken up into numerous skinny editions JUST for the sake of having "standard 6-issue collected editions." I was curious about the story and interested enough to want it…but not in multiple volumes. Finding out it was getting an omnibus solved that–it’s a nice, thick book and having the entire storyline is a huge plus!

Finally, the Batman/Flash: The Button deluxe hardcover…there’s just something to it for me, the Batman and Flash teamed up, and being the "next step" of sorts from the Rebirth special…and given how much I was already spending, tossing it on was virtually negligible (and cheaper than 2-3 Marvel single-issues!)

Now, we just need a Thy Kingdom Come omnibus of that 12-issue story and 4 specials! (And if they need to pad it out to be thicker, include the original Kingdom Come itself. And if they want to totally go for broke, include The Kingdom along with the New Year’s Evil: Gog special!)

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Interestingly enough, I’m still really not a fan of Darkseid, and DC has gotten me to triple-dip on several things since Rebirth started. I’ve got a couple of JLI skinny hardcovers from awhile back, but missed vol. 2, and was annoyed so didn’t get any of the later ones that there may have been. Now, this way, I’m getting those and more in one volume! (and we’ll see on a volume 2, hopefully not too soon!)

The Mighty Thor #700 [Review]

mighty_thor_0700_lenticularThe Blood of the Norns

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Walter Simonson, Matthew WIlson, Russell Dauterman, Daniel Acuna, James Harren, Dave Stewart, Becky Cloonan, Das Pastoras, Chris Burnham, Ive Svorcina, Andrew MacLean, Jill Thompson, Mike Del Mundo, Olivier Coipel
Letterer & Production: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover Artists: Russell Dauterman & Matthew Wilson
Lenticular Cover: Stephanie Hans (based on the original cover of The Death of Captain Marvel by Jim Starlin)
Associate Editor: Sarah Brunstad
Editor: Wil Moss
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: December 2017
Cover Price: $5.99

Along with Cable #150, I think this was the issue I was truly most curious about, content-wise…and sadly, number-wise. It’s a #700…I think Marvel‘s first. Much like Thor #500 was their first #500 issue back in the ’90s. Then there’s the lenticular cover, playing off of the classic The Death of Captain Marvel…one of my definite Starlin favorites with the whole Captain Marvel/Adam Warlock/Thanos/Infinity Gauntlet/cosmic stuff…a certain classic within my own life and time as a comics reader.

I certainly did not care for the higher price of this issue…but at least it’s a singular issue/narrative (albeit with a number of art teams on its many segments) and not a regular-sized main story with a ton of pointless-ish "extras" and add-ins and such just to inflate the thing artificially. And getting the lenticular cover edition makes it feel a bit more like a special issue and certainly physically/tangibly feel like it’s more worth its price. The quality of the lenticular effect is not good, though, with neither image particularly clear, though it seems the "classic" image is easier to see for backgrounds and title, while "Lady Thor" is fairly easy to see in the center.

Art-wise there’s a bunch of folks on this issue, names both familiar and not to me, perhaps most familiar being Walter Simonson, or Walt Simonson…a classic, notable, significant creator in the history of Marvel‘s Thor title. Given that there’s a lot of stuff happening all over the place–different settings, different times, different characters and types of characters–this issue actually benefits from a number of different art styles. While I don’t much care for some stuff, I can’t deny that overall, characters that I’d recognize look good in this issue, and even ones I don’t. Where the art takes a less-classic or less-realistic turn, it still works with the context of the story segment.

The story itself is lengthy enough and all over the place enough that I’m not gonna try to summarize it in detail here. Plus, not being "up" on the last few years of the characters’ stories outside of internet hearsay, I don’t know that I’d get specifics correct as is. Essentially, there’s a big attack happening that causes the knowledge of everyone’s fate to be removed…now that no one knows what WILL happen, the possibilities are endless. In the course of this, we check in on a bunch of different Thors and Thor artifacts. I still can’t get over this sense I get in reading this that "Thor" has become a "title" more than an actual NAME, and that’s probably where I most balk at the last few years of what I’ve heard of things. THOR might somehow become unworthy to carry Mjolnir, but that shouldn’t change that his NAME still IS Thor. Someone else might get the wield the hammer, but I don’t get how THEY suddenly become THOR. Especially while the genuine god is still around. I don’t know if it’s the same name historically, but at least for this issue, I loved the name given to Throg: Simon Walterson, a play on Walter Simonson.

As said, I’m not "up" on the last few years of stuff, so I’m sure there’s plenty throughout this issue to be appreciated that I don’t, and that I didn’t even notice, for that matter. That said, and all other complaints aside…I didn’t really WANT to like this issue.

But I did like it.

I tend to hate when something feels just like an opening chapter of a bigger story, arbitrarily chopped up into issue-sized chunks. This issue probably gets away with that, then, because it’s lengthier. And being a few days after I bought it, the price wasn’t so fresh in my mind and I was just reading the story FOR the story. The extra pages, the story touching on a number of different characters…this just felt like that much bigger a chunk of story overall. It’s by no means complete, but I didn’t feel lost the way I thought I would, and didn’t feel shortchanged when I got to the end of the issue. While this issue kicks off a presumably six-part The Death of The Mighty Thor, that and the lenticular cover are the only real references I picked up to a pending death, outside of the notion of Jane Foster’s cancer, period, being a built-in timer o sorts.

I also definitely enjoyed the fact that "Odinson" was in the book…he may be "unworthy" but is still present and part of the story, so it’s seeming (from this issue at least) like he’s not been absolutely shunted out of his own book.

I really don’t know if this is something ongoing readers would enjoy or not. I believe Aaron is the same writer that’s been on the various titles the last few years, chronicling the ongoing Jane Foster Thor stories, and much of the art team(s) I suspect are from those titles…so this is probably pretty consistent with the overall story that’s been unfolding. And I can’t speak for other fans who have felt put-off by the changes and such.

But me? I enjoyed this issue far more than I expected or intended to. I don’t know if this really falls into the Legacy headline or not, or if the inclusion of Odinson and other versions is simply TO fit into Legacy. But I’ll actually consider picking up the next issue if it’s not out on a huge week and there’s no confusion over which cover is the standard cover (this issue’s lenticular cover is marked as a variant, but due to marketing and hype, I consider the lenticular covers the main covers regardless of markings from the publisher).

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The Weekend Haul and Completing Subcollections

This past weekend was Comic Heaven‘s anniversary sale (Well, last Thursday and Friday! So into the weekend). I stopped in, and took advantage of the sale to snag some cool stuff!

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For what worked out to be LESS THAN the price of 3 Marvel regular, standard, non-fancy, run-of-the-mill, boring comics, snagged these three paperbacks! They were already bargain-priced…but for the sale, it was buy-2-get-1-free!

The Majestic one fits in with my Superman collection as this is the story from 2004 or so when Majestic crossed over into the DCU and for the arc "replaced" Superman in his own titles! (a fun sorta meta-textual thing, as I believe there was a lawsuit years earlier over Majestic’s similarities to Superman). The Iron Man: Disassembled is the final arc on the Heroes Reborn iteration of the title before leaping into the renumber-every-year-or-few era of Marvel. And Five Ghosts I’ve heard of, and as an Image volume one, certainly worthwhile for me to get to read/try.

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For 30% off back-issues, I picked up this Savage Dragon Companion, which I’d swear was not there the last time I looked at Savage Dragon stuff (orrrrrr I may have been so focused on stuff between issues 50-100 that I neglected to look through the whole of the SD collection available). The marked price was cheaper or similar to what I’d seen on Midtown, and with the 30% off, extremely worthwhile to me!

And nearly 25 years (give or take a month) after the fact, a bagged/boarded FIRST PRINT of Superman #75 that even back then was quickly going for $5+ was marked at a mere $4…the price of a current/contemporary standard/boring Marvel comic. At 30% off, it was cheaper than a current well-priced DC issue, and well worth getting for the "convenience" (and I’m a sucker for these). Especially as I remembered my other "handy/convenient" copy of the first print was a barcoded edition, not the "direct edition".

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Then, another gem was this set of (3rd print) individual issues of the original Batman: The Dark Knight Returns series (back when The Dark Knight Returns was actually only the title of the first issue). With the 30% off, this set cost me less than the original collected edition paperback I bought half a lifetime ago!

Additionally, this set "completes" my "subcollection" of "key" Batman single issues that stood out. I now have single issues for Batman: Year One, Batman: Year Two, Batman: A Death in the Family, and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

I have never held any illusion/intent of getting first prints of TDKR…but have long held that I want a set of the single issues. ESPECIALLY since the cover images remain the same–it’s only (I believe/assume) the color of the title text that changed between printings, these absolutely fulfill my personal requirements for "qualifying" as single issues fit for "completing" this part of my collection!

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Finally, on a whim, I’d stopped into a Books-a-Million to check their "bargain shelf," on the UNexpected minimal slight off-chance that they’d have the X-Men – The Age of Apocalypse: Alpha volume on sale, as they never have for the past year/almost-year that I’ve been checking…but they did this time, so I grabbed that for sure!

And thus, "completed" this "subcollection" of thick paperbacks. I’m pretty sure by hitting the bargain shelves and a couple bargain bins at comic shops, I managed to get these six for about the cost of 15-16 Marvel single-issues. Or in other words, got the set for essentially about 70% off cover price. Of course, to do so, it’s been across at least 10 months or so, maybe more.

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