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Lake Effect Comic Con 2018

This past weekend, I went to the 9th annual Lake Effect Comic Con, in Mentor, Ohio. (Think northeast Ohio, a couple miles south of Lake Erie–hence "lake effect!"). The convention started out at the Great Lakes Mall (still in Mentor)…I don’t recall the first couple–they may have been inside the mall itself, but don’t quote me! The ones I remember were in the movie theater lobby, of the theater sharing a parking lot with the mall. And several years ago, this con outgrew that space and moved to the Holiday Inn where I believe this is the third year.

It’s hosted by Comics and Friends, a comic shop in the Great Lakes Mall that I sure as heck wish had been around when I was a kid!

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With various things going on in my personal life, I wasn’t originally "sold" on attending. But when I found out that Dirk Manning was going to be there, I was "sold."

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Since the last time I’d seen him (at Fantasticon back in March), he’d put out The Adventures of Cthulhu Jr. and Dastardly Dirk #1…which I’ve been wanting to get (and ideally in person, at that!). So I snagged that, as well as Then It Was Dark, which is an anthology volume he’s got a story in. (I resisted Tales of Mr. Rhee as I backed a Kickstarter at a level that includes all the volumes of that series). And of course, signed, which is a fun bonus to getting these in-person!

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And for the first time since I’ve been catching him at conventions, I had stuff that I took with me to get signed!

Back in December 2017, at a sale at RuppsComics, I’d come across the first issue of Nightmare World #1 from Ape Entertainment and got that…easily a diamond in the rough! Of course, I couldn’t find the thing back in March, but had managed to in time for this convention. Very cool having this early edition of such an early issue.

And–fun to learn–Dirk showed me where one of the pieces in the issue is different from the final collected version due to a situation with the art that had to be redrawn. I’m pretty sure this is the first instance I have–specifically–of that sort of thing, and I really dig it! To be able to compare an original "version" with a redrawn version and see how they hold up against one another…a rare opportunity!

I also had my Kickstarter edition of the Nightmare World Omnibus, which even though I think it came with a signed bookplate, is not the same as getting the actual book signed in-person!

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Though I’ve meant to previously and didn’t, this time I finally got a photo of Dirk! He’s got quite a selection of stuff available, in multiple formats, and I love seeing his displays. Especially now, with Hope and Cthulhu Jr. included!

Sadly, in trying to be quick so as to not block an aisle or hold anyone up trying to get by…I did not properly frame the photo,cutting off part of the table, as well as Dirk‘s name from his banner…which otherwise is almost perfectly positioned!

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And along with the first photo of Dirk, got my first photo with him, as well!

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In my further wanderings, I came across the guys who do Canada Bear, which was quite cool–I’d already gotten the first two issues from Comic Heaven last year, and hadn’t realized that they had the third issue out already. They also had some prints, and I really liked this Thanos one, so ended up buying it along with the comic.

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I wasn’t all that impressed with the general comics or collected volumes selections at the con. Or at least, I wasn’t seeing much that would spur me to somewhat "randomly" buy something I wasn’t specifically "on the hunt" for. Nothing was matching or beating the selection and pricing I get regularly at Comic Heaven and Kenmore Komics, two stores that really set the standard for me.

But then I did find some bins with books $5 each or 5/$20 that actually had some "worthwhile" books–that is, not Marvel Premiere Edition hardcovers nor exclusively skinny 6-issue books. While $5 (or $4 with the bulk price) is not bad, it’s still not generally "worth it" to ME on "typical" Marvel paperbacks.

But then, when they’re these massive $35+ paperbacks for that $5, they’re absolutely worthwhile to me. And then with the "bulk" price…I got these for the price of any standard Marvel comic presently being published.

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Along with the paperbacks, on the way out there were some Heroclix figures on the freebie table, so I snagged Nebula…because why not?


lake_effect_comic_con_2018hAs said…I wasn’t originally "sold" on attending this convention, but ended up going because Dirk Manning was going to be there.

Though I wasn’t myself interested in many of the booths, I saw a lot of comics as well as comics-related stuff. I saw several costumes–though I was in and out/gone a couple hours before the cosplay stuff.

If I was on-point looking for pre-1990s comics, I’d’ve likely had my fill…but I wasn’t looking for single issues over 50 cents apiece.

I lucked out with my timing on getting to the hotel, and found an empty (and valid) parking spot just to the side of the building, so didn’t have too far to walk to get inside. No problem with getting in and paying for admission, and being directed to the convention space itself.

The overall space was a bit tight, and I’m glad I got there on the early side, as I hardly want to imagine much more of a crowd present, as I don’t tend to do well long-term with small spaces and lots of people. Getting around was fine for me as an able-bodied individual…I didn’t really look for and so couldn’t begin to say in terms of getting around as part of a group, or disability or such.

I do think this one’s outgrowing this space as well, at least as a casual/outside observer.

There was another convention in Akron on Sunday as well, but for where I’m at personally, I would not have made it out given the distance (and lack of Dirk). This Lake Effect convention was about as "local" as I could ask for, so ultimately as the comics person that I am, there’d have to be something really wrong for me to not actually go (even if I’d be in and out in 20 minutes).

It’s also quite cool to see the "community" in the space. I’m more of an "observer" than "active participant," so just "showing up"–especially by myself–is actually a fairly significant thing for me.

I don’t know if I’d quite use the word "fun" for myself for the con–but that’s COMPLETELY me and being quite the introvert. But I am glad that I went, and definitely look forward to the 2019 con!

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Unexpected TMNT

Over the weekend, I’d stopped in at a Books A Million with a  friend. While there, I spotted a TMNT Mini Mates pack that I’ve somewhat had an eye on for probably a year or so (quite awhile, anyway). This time, though, it had a 50%-off sticker on it!

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While the full price was way more than I wanted to spend–even on something supposedly Comic Con exclusive–at half price, it’s FAR more reasonable.

Add to that the fact that I had a $10 card on me, and a BAM membership, and I walked out for 56 cents out of pocket!

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Of course, my OCD has kicked in a bit, and any savings is going to be offset by the fact that I now want to match this set with the Toys R Us exclusive TMNT Mega Bloks black-and-white figures.

I did stop in at a Toys R Us looking for those, and while I didn’t find what I was looking for, I was quite surprised to discover that there were a LOT more TMNT stuff from Mega Bloks than I’d been aware of, primarily gauging stuff by Walmart and Target (both of whom seem to be clearancing out the entire line, what little they’d actually carried!).

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While I’ve typically NOT been a huge fan of the classic cartoon version of Baxter Stockman–for a number of reasons–something to the mini figure grabbed my attention, and hit the right bit of nostalgia for me; so I went ahead and bought this; not so much for any accessories but just for the character itself.

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Apparently Mega Bloks also did the van (the "Party Wagon") as well as a $250 Technodrome; I never even realized these were out there!

Sadly, it seems like perhaps the line is dying, with "everyone" clearancing out the earlier sets from the beginning of 2016 and some of the summer Movie stuff. I don’t know if it’s to make room for more new stuff, or if Mega Bloks has "lost" the license already, or what.

My hope is that they’re just clearing way for some new, awesome stuff for 2017, though!

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Chloe the cat was not impressed with Baxter-Fly. However, when I tried to remove him from her presence, she tried to bite me. Lil’ Miss Attitude… (but I adore this kitty!)

#NotAtComicCon (So I Visited Winston)

not_at_comic_con_logoComic Con is going on right now, but I’m not there. I’m cool with that, as there is plenty of comic stuff for me locally, and I truly prefer it to the sort of travel/etc that would presently be required for me to ever be at SDCC.

But because I’m not there, I was free tonight to pay a visit to Carol & John’s in Cleveland and see Winston (something that’s been on my mind since the other day).

With hours actually conducive to making the trip and such after work Friday, I drove up to Cleveland to visit the shop briefly.

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Once there, I browsed momentarily and then discovered the extent of their #NotAtComicCon sale. Rather than a handful of Dollar Bins…they had a Dollar ROOM set up.

Once I’d browsed many of the boxes and found some neat stuff and even some specifics I was looking for, I returned to the main area, and asked about Winston.

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There he was, just  curled up comfortably, napping on a chair by the counter. He woke up a bit and stretched, then watched me ring out, remaining on his seat, one paw stuck out, seeming to enjoy being the king.

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I usually avoid dollar books in any kinda bulk…they’re sure cheaper than $4/issue, but man do those $1s add up in a danged hurry! Along with a handful of Ultraverse issues, some Valiants, and several X-books…I also found the complete Dead Again arc from the Superman titles from 1994 (though it took a bunch of digging through the titles’ sections in the bins). I also bought the Robin magnet, as I’ve been snagging a bunch of magnets lately, and the Tim Drake Robin (up to about Flashpoint) is one of my all-time favorite comic characters.

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Quite unplanned by me, Ziggy made himself at home on a comic box, and I managed to get this photo of him. My own comic book kitty!

#NotAtComicCon (But Got Archie #1 and TMNT vol. 1)

Comic Con is going on right now, and I’m not there. Still, I don’t have to be in San Diego to buy comics, comics related stuff, or be cool with what I have locally.

Tonight, for instance, I swung by Books-A-Million and wound up with an unexpected comic purchase; and this week a TMNT book I’ve been waiting a number of months to see released and actually acquire the thing is finally in my possession.

I completely did NOT realize the new Archie #1 was out this week. I’m not sure if it sold out or wasn’t ordered or who-knows-what-all at the comic shop, but I figured I’d duck into another shop this weekend to get the issue, or just not worry about it at all. With local construction/traffic issues, it’s not worth going back to the usual shop “just” for the one single issue when another shop is about 2 minutes out of my way on its own or just across the street from a Target I frequent.

I stopped into Books-A-Million, and while standing in line to check out, spotted an Archie comic.

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Now, much as I hate variant covers (and this is obviously the Books-A-Million-exclusive variant), I saw the price sticker was $3.99–same cover price I’d pay at a comic shop–in a sea of BAM variants priced $1-$3 above standard-cover cover price. And rather than have to go outta my way (I was already there with this thing right in front of me), I figured I’d suck it up and buy this…I’ve near zero intention of following the single issues, but I’m quite curious about the story content of the issue. So…we’ll see what I wind up with.

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I first saw an ad for this TMNT book very early in 2015 saying it was due out in March, but seemed it was delayed at least a couple months. I finally saw it on Amazon for a really good price (about 48% off!) and pulled the trigger.

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It was actually that ad, the pending existence of this oversized hardcover edition collecting 17 issues (just over 4 paperbacks’ worth of content) that instantly soured me on the expensive, skinny 4-issue paperbacks IDW insists on holding to.

This volume contains the first 12 issues of the ongoing series, the first 4-issue “Micro Series,” and the first issue of the second “Micro series.” It’s hardback, has the issues in story-order (the “Micro Series” issues taking place amidst events of and influencing the main title) and even has a bound-in ribbon as a bookmark, plus the cover images.

A far superior format and presentation (overall) to the paperbacks, and if I’m gonna “multi-dip” and get the singles as they come out and then a collected format for the bookshelf…I’m darned well gonna stick with this format!

And for the price…I seriously doubt any dealers in San Diego would beat this…or even match it.

#NotAtComicCon (But Still Found a Couple Gems)

not_at_comic_con_logoI believe tonight is ‘Preview Night’ as the 2015 Comic Con kicks off for the year.

And of course, as always…I am not there.

However, despite NOT being at Comic Con…I managed to find a couple of neat goodies locally that are likely better finds than much of what I would otherwise find/buy at something like SDCC.

First up, a half-off full-size-box edition of Munchkin Zombies: Armed and Dangerous. Usually $20, and I found it for $10…plus it comes with the little pawns/tokens. I believe this is usually in one of the little expansion-pack boxes as Munchkin Zombies 2.

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And after being vaguely aware of its existence for years, while simply flipping through the quarter bin at the comic shop this week, I found Countdown to Ultraverse, one of the promo issues from back in 1993 promoting the then-forthcoming super-hero line from Malibu. And with this, I’m that much closer to completing what I intend to for the Ultraverse line…

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The back cover is a neat collage-y/mashup piece showing a bunch of characters…

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…and the inside front cover, providing us the ‘title’ of the publication and a bunch of the initial creators involved with the line.

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The whole book is pretty cool, giving some basic info about stuff, and it’s interesting to look at from 22+ years later. Maybe I’ll make a post of the interiors sometime.

While the Munchkin box might be decently easy to come by at a major convention…I’ve mostly lost faith in any dealers actually having this sort of thing accessible (it’d be lost in dozens of UNsorted longboxes that I’m NOT gonna crawl around digging through) or because it’s not overstock from the last 10-15 years it wouldn’t be there at all.

Yet here I was able to get this for only 25 cents–a significant issue for me–and I didn’t even have to go to a convention to get it…yet it’s certainly something worthy of a Comic Con sort of haul.

A Haul Worthy of Comic Con (part 2)

The other day I shared a bunch of bargain bin comics I’ve picked up the last few weeks. Cool as those were (especially the Robin stack), the “heart” of it all–and where I’ve felt the MOST “progress”–has been with the X-books.

Here is the bulk of my Marvel haul the last few weeks…again, this would put what I could find at any major convention to shame….three local comic shops can outdo a room of 50+ dealers.

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I believe with this issue of Uncanny X-Men, I’m only missing Gambit’s first appearance (#266) from having a run on the title from Inferno to 400-something, and even the 400s are getting filled in nicely (see further below).

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These were issues I actually grabbed to round out a batch of “$.50/ea or 15/$5” issues. I’m going to have to pull together my Iron Man run soon to figure out exactly what I am missing–I’m pretty sure I’ve got at least half of the 1998-2004 series, and a good chunk of the Extremis series.

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Saw all 4 issues, which I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen all 4 at once or not…I know I’ve seen this in chunks of 1-3 issues, though. And for a mere $1? Heck, yeah!

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Kinda bummed, assuming someone cherry-picked #1 here. Still…easier to remember I need #1 than one issue in 2-5.

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As I’ve said repeatedly in this blog: I’m a sucker for “runs.” Doom 2099 #1-26 (missing only #2) was too good to pass up…though I’ve been more interested in getting a run of Spider-Man 2099 like this…and leaning toward adding the 2099 line to my “want list.”

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I’ve long been interested in the Fighting Chance story, in tracking down a copy for myself. I once borrowed this run from a friend, and read it–years ago, over a decade back–but I’ve wanted to have a copy for myself. I’m pretty sure I’ve got most of the run from 438-454 or whatever the final issue was around Onslaught, the entire Heroes Reborn series, the entire Heroes Return series, and a part of the 2002 series…so had my eye on this as a point to go “back to.” Finding all 12 issues of the main arc plus the epilogue in one go for basically $3.25? Beats the heck outta “just” a single $3.99 book today!

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And just because it’s a huge issue and was only 25 cents, snagged another copy of #400. Also grabbed Astro City vol.1 #1, first print…for the sheer novelty of it only being a quarter. Had there been more issues of the series, I would’ve snagged those as well–even though I have the collected volumes through Local Heroes.

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I grabbed Prime and Uncanny #300 because of being big issues…and shiny. Can’t beat comics like this from 20 years ago that would easily be $8+ today…and getting both for about 50 cents.

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Gradually starting to fill in the X-Man issues. I originally followed ALL the X-titles during Age of Apocalypse, and then a few months immediately after, before dwindling off on the various titles. I kept up with X-Man off and on through the years, which makes it a bit harder to remember what I remember because I read or have just seen the cover image for.

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And I think I’m somewhat building another Age of Apocalypse set…at least if I can find all 4 issues of a given series together. I keep seeing Astonishing X-Men, but finally saw a full run of Amazing X-Men.

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Also filling in the X-Men Unlimited run. I’m also trying to track down the NON-shiny covers for the various issues that had ’em…while they’re cool and grab my attention, ultimately I actually want to have all “standard” covers in my main run of the series. In this case, the Phalanx Covenant crossover is the main such series of issues.

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Academy X is probably gonna be one of the harder series for me to fill in, given how “recent” it is. While $1/issue isn’t bad, I suspect that ultimately I’ll wind up having to suck it up and raid $1 bins for this series…barring more significant “finds” than the handful of issues here.

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I wound up buying the first two oversized hardcovers collecting this run…and jumped to the singles from there. So I’m backtracking on the singles. My main “goal” is the ’90s X-books through this NEW X MEN run; beyond that will just be bonus.

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Despite focus on the ’90s, I think ultimately I’m aiming for Inferno to the end of the first Uncanny X-Men series…with hauls like this, it’s not too far outta the question.

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I’ve had far better luck with X-Factor than I have with New Mutants…almost to the point that I’m debating whether I even want to track down the New Mutants series piecemeal. I may content myself with the later printings of Cable’s first appearance to the end, or just stick with X-Force.

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Though this “2nd” X-Factor series technically falls outside my “core” range…the renumbering to 200+ (and finding this 43-issue run) leads me to count it as one entire run on the whole…particularly given PAD’s lengthy run here.

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I’d forgotten that Generation X only ran 75 issues…but should have recalled, as it and X-Man were both part of this Counter X sub-imprint/branding at the end, and both ended at that #75. This run is nearly 1/5 of the entire series…which isn’t bad at all!

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Excalibur’s in a similar vein as New Mutants for me, except I’ve had much more luck finding a number of issues for it. It’s one of the lower “priorities” for me, but since a lot of my fondness of the ’90s is centered largely around titles that existed during Fatal Attractions and around Age of Apocalypse…this certainly counts!

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Finally, a bunch of X-Treme X-Men issues. I’m actually particularly interested in learning more about what went down with Rogue and Gambit, and kinda see them as having disappeared into this series for a few years. How accurate that is remains for me to discover, but nothing wrong with adding another complete X-series to my collection…

A Haul Worthy of Comic Con

Hand in hand with “panels,” comic conventions–to me–mean cheap comics and from sources outside my usual stomping grounds. Yet, more and more lately I find that what dealers bring to local cons just can’t hold up to “everyday bargains” I find at local comic shops: whether it’s 75% of HCs/TPBs when Marvel blows stuff out, the plethora of cheap “sets” and “runs,” or just (what I consider to be) high-quality quarter-bin stuff.

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Right now, aside from wanting to fill out my TMNT collection, I’ve been working on my Ultraverse, Classic Valiant, ’90s Bat-books, and ’90s X-books collections. However, along with stuff for those “main” target areas, I’m a sucker for random single issues–especially with a shiny cover that would’ve cost $3+ 20 years ago but is now just 25 cents–as well as the random “run” of pretty much anything. (Say, 25 of 26 issues of Doom 2099 or 21 of 24 issues of Thunderstrike).

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I’ve loaded up on some great bargain-bin fare the last few weeks from three local comic shops: Kenmore Komics in Akron, JC’s in Cuyahoga Falls, and Comic Heaven in Willoughby (local when I visit my parents).

Above I show some Valiant stuff, including my $1/ea copies of Rai #6 (Leaves me with only one chapter of Unity to track down) and Rai #0.

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I’m missing one single issue from having a (new) complete set of the Comics’ Greatest World original saga, and may research how long each of the spin-off ongoings went; though those series aren’t nearly as plentiful in bargain bins that I’ve seen.

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I grabbed Ultraverse Premiere #0 because…well, it was a mail-away, so not nearly AS common as other early Ultraverse books from this time. Hawkman and Universal Soldier I grabbed for shiny-ness.

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I grabbed the Freex issue as a cover I didn’t recognize off the top of my head. The Green Lantern issue I recall being a “hard to find” issue back in the day, so am quite amused at being able to get (yet another) copy for only a quarter. And Darkwing Duck? Darkwing is just awesome!

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I know I’d had at least one copy of Rune vs. Venom years back, but since officially beginning my Ultraverse quest, for the life of me I have NOT been able to locate it. Stumbling across it–a lone, random Ultraverse issue in a collection of primarily Marvel and some DC was quite a welcome bit of serendipity!

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X-O, Superman, and Doom just for the sake of shiny-ness. Especially X-O…I’m a sucker for these “chromium” covers!

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Detective Comics is going to be one of the harder series for me to fill in due to sheer longevity. Other series have come and gone, but Detective and Batman have 2-3 times as many issues to track down from the 1990s-2000s as any other single related title.

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…Of course, snagging 135 issues plus several annuals for Robin in one go is absolutely FANTASTIC, if only for convenience alone!

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The week after I’d bought the Robin 1-135 stack, I was given these: they’d been destined for that stack, but just hadn’t made it out. I would have gladly paid the $4ish for these, but welcome the “bonus” to what was already a great price for such a tremendous run in one go.

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A couple years ago I assembled a set of Eclipso: The Darkness Within. I’m presently intending to also build a set of Zero Hour, Armageddon 2001, and Bloodlines.

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…and thanks to this set, DC One Million, as I believe this is probably 2/3 of the entire ‘event’.

Wednesday, I’ll plan on showing off the more plentiful Marvel and X-Books bargain bin finds of late.

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