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The Weekly Haul: Week of February 20, 2018

The week of February 20th wound up being a pretty small week for me for new comics…though a bit bigger on other stuff! Let’s get to ’em!

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We’ve got the third chapter of The Price, in Batman #65. And somehow we’re already (seems like it just started!) at #10 for TMNT: Urban Legends!

Then there’s the second issue of Naomi…and the first issue of Sharkey The Bounty Hunter.

I’ve generally enjoyed Millar‘s stuff, so figured I’d give another of his #1s a shot, though we’ll see if I get to READING it or going beyond this first issue.

I’ve "thrown in" on the Wonder Comics line for the moment…it has a lotta promise, and I’m all for Young Justice and Tim Drake being (a) ROBIN again, and we’ll see on these others.

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Given the week was "only" 4 issues, I browsed a bit more and came across this Nexus graphic novel from First for $5…a far superior value to "just" yet another Marvel #1 or #10 or #11 or #12 or such. My earliest conscious recognition of Steve Rude was a pinup image he did for Rune back in the ’90s for the Ultraverse. One random pinup image INSIDE a comic, and his work’s been on my radar for over 20 years as a result. No variant covers, even!

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At the weekend, I did "finally" wind up picking up Mr. Freeze from the DC Primal Age figures at Target. I find I’m a bit MORE interested in these figures since watching the Masters of the Universe episode of The Toys That Made Us a week or two back.

I’ve noticed the last few weeks that Aquaman, Scarecrow, and Joker are the main "peg warmers" of the line, though Mr. Freeze as a runner-up (I’m not certain if I would have gotten him, or Green Lantern, given choice between the two).

I also find myself with an increasing interest in tracking down Raiden, Sub Zero, and Scorpion from the Mortal Kombat line in this scale/style.

Several comics and an action figure wouldn’t seem to be all that much.

Where my opening comment about bigger stuff comes in is in regard to another TMNT purchase from the NECA line of quarter-scale figures!

THAT particular purchase will be covered tomorrow or later this week!

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The Weekly Haul: Week of February 13, 2019

This week proved to be rather huge for new comics…at least for me, by my own standards! One might even say it was a Giant-Size week!

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Double dose Batman this week with Detective Comics and the Flash crossover. We also have the debut issue of Wonder Twins, which I opted to check out as I’m pretty much giving this whole Wonder Comics thing a chance.

Then there’s the newest issue of Superman as well as the newest Supergirl. And TMNT is into the "final countdown" to issue #100, as #91 hits!

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Marvel actually got me on MULTIPLE issues this week! The usual with Mr. & Mrs. X #8. I "gave in" on Savage Sword of Conan #1…though I’ve no conscious intention of getting #2 and onward. There’s a nostalgia factor here, and I’m willing to "sample" the thing and get the #1 because it IS Conan, and I want to at least have "tried" one issue if I’m gonna be down on Marvel with it. If I’ve never bought so much as one issue, where do I have any authenticity to criticize?

I didn’t even know about Marvels Annotated until the last second. I’m a sucker for this sorta thing…and as a "key" series from my youth, I’m more than willing to "double-dip" with getting this series again, with notes from the creators. Given the story AND visual quality–and this issue has both the original first issue AND the later-published #0 issue–along with the notes, it feels to me like an EXCELLENT (by Marvel standards) value!

Criminal is back and I realize I have yet to read #1. Though I have all the TPBs (I believe) of the series thus far, with this new iteration, I figured I’d give it a few issues as single issues to see if/how it grabs me, AND see what any collected volume may look like, if it’ll be in line with the others, and so on.

And Alien 3 (the William Gibson adaptation) comes to a close. Unless Tristan Jones is doing further covers of the newest Aliens mini, I’m pretty much done with the property as single issues and will opt for the collected volumes.

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And then DC and/or the vendor that handles these at Walmart opted to drop ALL SIX of their MONTHLY 100-Page Comic Giant issues in the SAME WEEK. Even though these are a solid value at only $5 apiece for their size (these’d be $10 through Diamond to regular comic shops)…SIX of them at $5/each still stacks up to a whopping $30!

A mere 8 months into the "experiment" and we already have TWO re-titled/re-numbered books with the Teen Titans book switching to the Titans title, presumably to capitalize on the DC Universe app/service show but other than the logo on the front and a #1 instead of #8, I believe it’s otherwise exactly what we’ve BEEN getting. The same thing with Justice League being retitled to Wonder Woman.

Then we have the new additions of The Flash and Swamp Thing, after "experiment" issues in a Swamp Thing issue last October and a holiday special in December.

Of the original four, only Superman and Batman continue on with their title and numbering.


I’ve a bit of mental "sticker shock" as I look all these over and tally up the costs–seven $5 issues, an $8 issue, and everything else $3.99. At least the Walmart issues don’t have six out every week; and the Conan and Alien3 issues are one-offs at this point. I’m only getting a couple issues of The Flash for this particular crossover with Batman. I jumped back onto Detective Comics for the run-up to #1000, but have yet to decide if or how far beyond #1000 I’m going to go. At the least, I am NOT impressed with the "Decades Variants" and so expect to simply get a single copy of the regular cover edition and let that be that. (Where last year, I got the standard cover, decades variants AND a couple other retailer covers for Action Comics‘ 1000th issue).

Though I’ve been "mid-life crisis-ing" with some purchasing recently…that cannot and will not extend to comics, at least NOT long-term. Huge weeks like this remind me just what a poor value comics truly are, and will push me to all the more drastic decisions regarding what I’ll buy regularly.

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Toys in the Wild: DC Primal Age

As with many toys based on comics, it IS the comics that spark my interest.

Of course, it doesn’t seem all that often that there’s a sort of "original property" to come of it in quite this way.

Funko had (has? I don’t know if they’re still making them) a line of vintage-style action figures–just small, basic figures on a little card; then they’ve done some larger figures, and their Mortal Kombat ones especially caught my eye (though the price put me off).

Then Bleeding Cool ran a piece about a new Target-exclusive 100-page comic with a similar trade dress to the Walmart-exclusive books…and the "completist" in me decided that yeah, I would be seeking it out.

Apparently this Target one is based on a new toy line or such. And in seeking out the comic I found an endcap display of what seems to be the entire toy line!

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In an age where it seems some entire toy lines are relegated to 2-3 pegs, period…it’s cool to see this line get at least an initial larger endcap display! Here we have 4 pegs of the figures, a t-shirt, lunchboxes, the comic itself, and the Batcave playset. (With a Joker Beast on a shelf below these).

toys_in_the_wild_dc_primal_age_comic

For me, the "main attraction" is the comic. I was somewhat surprised at its basically $10 price ($9.99 or $9.95…) but that’s in line with this sorta thing; I imagine it’s bulk that helps allow the Walmart books to be "only" $5.

This DC Primal Age or DC: Primal Age feels a lot like an Elseworlds thing, or like something out of Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne (except featuring a lot more characters in "a past").

That it’s a comic–essentially an "original graphic novel" but cheaper, and "supporting" (or supported by?) a toy line makes it a bit more "special."

toys_in_the_wild_dc_primal_age_lunchboxes

There are old-style lunchboxes. I’d be sorta interested except that I don’t need yet another sort of item to collect. I dig the look of this one’s art, though…and something about it reminds me a bit of He-Man or even Conan the Adventurer (the animated one, not the live action).

And then there are the figures themselves:

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Maybe my favorite of the bunch is Batman…though unfortunately there’s no Superman. I’m not sure if I feel better about it having read the comic and Superman at least being there, than if he wasn’t even (at least) acknowledged there.

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Green Lantern’s another one that’s rather appealing, and works well here. He’s at once familiar yet fits this alternate reality.

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I’ve got mixed feelings on the look of Aquaman…but I really like that we get an apparently-’90s-inspired "hook for a hand" take on the character.

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This Wonder Woman is one of the more "normal"-looking ones of the bunch; also smaller and far less bulky than most of the others.

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I’m not overly keen on this look for Scarecrow…something to it is fitting of the character/name, but also looks rather generic to me.

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Mister Freeze is an interesting one…almost like an old, blue Conan; I can go with the "ice-gladiator" look, but there’s something slightly "off" to me. At the same time…this would be the first of the villains I’d get!

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King Shark is an interesting character…on one hand, doesn’t seem to fit–a "fish out of water" and all that–but then, on the "primal" theme and "knowing" sharks are rather ancient…it’s kinda fitting.

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While perhaps one of the more "iconic" characters, I’ve gotten rather tired of–and bored of–umpteen different Jokers. Still…like Batman, Joker seems to work well with numerous interpretations.

toys_in_the_wild_dc_primal_age_joker_beast

Of all the characters, The Joker is the one who gets a "ride" or in this case, I guess more of a "mount." It fits, sure, but I’m not overly keen on it. Then again, as a display piece, it’d make a nice addition. I’m just not sure about its $20 price!

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The Batcave seems like a neat thing; sort of the "ultimate piece" to the toy line. $60 may not be horrible for it, but it’s something quite impractical for me as I’d have nowhere to display it, and at this size, displaying is far less versatile than "just" the figures themselves!

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The card backs all seem to be the same…which works; I definitely like that they show "all" the figures.

As mentioned above, though, I’m disappointed that Superman was not included…though I’d hope perhaps there are plans for a second wave of figures that might include him!


While the photos above were taken in the store, I did wind up deciding to buy one for now.

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Here’s a slightly-larger look at the art-depiction of the entire line (another nice throwback touch).

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And here is Batman himself, out of the package and armed with his sword and carrying his shield.

The figure is not particularly-well articulated…but for me at least, that is definitely part of the charm of this sort of figure, in an age of hyper- and over-articulation in figures, it’s great to get some basic figures that just simply look cool and that have some basic poses.

Like a lot of stuff out of the ’80s and my childhood.

Still, at roughly $12/figure I don’t really see trying to get them all; though if they last in the stores long enough, maybe I’ll snag one here and there and eventually end up with them all. I picked up Batman, and am definitely interested in Green Lantern and Aquaman, as well as a villain, so likely Mister Freeze or King Shark. So time will tell.

It’s also very refreshing to see a line such as this with just ONE version of each character; and a good MIX of "good guys" AND "bad guys," where often it seems like there’s not much of a mix with maybe "just" some "good guys" or umpteen variants of a main "good guy" and one or no villains.

I enjoyed the comic–despite its size, I read it basically in one sitting, and I’d say it’s a large reason why I’d enjoy getting some of the other characters! This feels like something that could totally be a cartoon series…and I guess that’s where the comic sort of takes the place of the cartoon, giving stories involving the characters and to provide further interest in the figures.

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Super-Blog Teamup – Redemption: The Shredder

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Welcome to my first Super-Blog Team Up of 2019! The SBTU is a group of content creators (bloggers/podcasters) who periodically come together to–as a whole–touch on a certain shared topic or theme…teaming up to look at a number of different ways that the topic or theme has been done in comics and such…as we all have our own blogs and angles at covering comics and pop culture.

For this outing, the theme is Redemption, or Coming Home.

As with my last entry in the SBTU, I’ve elected to go back to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Previously, I took an in-depth look at the Mighty Mutanimals…specifically, the Death of the Mighty Mutanimals in the pages of the then-Archie-published Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures (TMNTA) title in the early/mid 1990s.

This time out, I’m looking at probably the best-known TMNT villain–The Shredder.

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To start out and focus a bit, let’s look at a couple of quick definitions as found online.

Redemption: the act, process, or an instance of redeeming.

Since that’s somewhat defining something using itself, let’s go a little bit deeper…

Redeeming: serving to offset or compensate for a defect.

There we go–that’s more along the lines of my thought with the word, if I had to put it out there concretely. Redemption is taking something not-so-good, and making it better. Whether taking something I didn’t like and making it something I liked; taking some unlikeable character and making them likeable; turning a disinterest into an interest…there are a number of ways to take it.

In terms of the Shredder, my memory proved a bit faulty as I set out expecting to look at the Shredder going from an out and out villain to being–if not exactly an anti-hero, then at least more like a Magneto circa the original Age of Apocalypse. In this re-examination, though, I’ve realized that the Shredder still more than fits this idea of redemption…as the character started out JUST as "some villain" to me, grew to be an element I disliked (as the character felt over-used and over-exposed for being essentially a one-off or two-off villain in the original Mirage comics), and ultimately has become a character I’m interested in and find to be more complex and deep than just "Ha-ha-ha-ha! Tonight I dine on turtle soup!"

I’m not just observing the "fact of" there being different versions of the Shredder. The different versions have informed my interpretation of the character, the way I’ve seen or appreciated the character…and I’ve "been there for" many of their introductions and development across the years.

INTRODUCTIONS

1980s Cartoon Shredder

shredder_1987My first introduction to Shredder was via the 1980s TMNT cartoon series. You had "the turtles" and you had "Shredder." Shredder was behind the very origin of the turtles–he’d framed Hamato Yoshi as a would-be assassin, usurped the Foot Clan, was why Hamato Yoshi left Japan and wound up in New York, and so on. His machinations were what led to the turtles meeting April O’Neil, and everything that came out of that. For most of its run–and I’d say, for the part that most people know and remember, at the height of the series’ popularity–Shredder was THE villain. Where there were other antagonists, typically they were the result of something Shredder actively planned or accidentally unleashed and subsequently took advantage of. I recall numerous "plan of the episode" plots by Shredder, seeking to "destroy" the turtles, or "take over" New York, or gain "revenge" on Splinter. The series itself was largely composed of done-in-one episodes or short, contained stories. There was a little bit of "build" and some instances of "continuity" or "recurring" characters. Shredder gets a magic sword. Shredder unleashes pizza-monsters. Shredder gets knocked on the head and thinks he’s Michelangelo. Shredder gets a gravity device. Shredder this, Shredder that…

I recall not thinking much of this "as a kid." At the time, it just WAS. That was what the show was. Shredder’s the bad guy, and the turtles stop him. Sometimes he works with Krang, sometimes he and Krang are at odds, often their being at odds affords the turtles their means of victory. Especially in retrospect, it seemed overly simple, and fairly off-putting that across however many seasons, Shredder just went from plan to plan to plan and was defeated each and every time by the turtles, but always got away. He’s incapable of defeating the turtles and virtually defines insanity with trying variations of stuff again and again and again. While there were occasional "moments"–and I think specifically of "Shredder’s Mother" from an episode or two, or Shredder "creating" the "Punk Frogs" in an attempt to duplicate what he saw Splinter having with the Turtles–that allowed a glimpse of the potential for something deeper, more in-depth to explore with characterization…it just didn’t happen in this series. That alone could be a topic for a huge post or series of posts, and I’ll leave off at that.


1990 Film Shredder

shredder_1990I was already familiar with Shredder–obviously–from the cartoon series. So it just made perfect sense that he would be the villain of the movie. The film was live-action, with costumes for the turtles and various animatronic/effects to bring them to life. The film was a lot darker and seemingly more violent than the cartoon…if only for the fact of seeing "live" turtles interacting with actual humans, the violence being "actual" violence rather than just animated "cartoon violence" and all that. This Shredder, like the cartoon version, was basically a villain for the sake of being a villain. He had a history in the sense of having a past with Hamato Yoshi. But other than "just" being some jealous guy who couldn’t get the girl and so killed her and the guy she chose…he was just some figure to blindly seek the destruction of the turtles. There wasn’t much depth explored in his running the Foot and masterminding their New York crime spree. There was plenty of depth SUGGESTED, but for a relatively short "kids’ film," it wasn’t explored in any great degree in terms of him as an individual…nor was there room for such exploration in the time allotted.

When the character "returned" for the second film in 1991, it was with even less depth…no longer was he interested in this Foot Clan…he just wanted the turtles destroyed. We got Tokka and Rahzar out of this (presumably due to issues with bringing Bebop and Rocksteady to live action) with Shredder determining that he needed his own mutants to take on the turtles. Many people probably remember the "Super Shredder" from the end of the film (and this was brought back conceptually late in the 2012 series with its Tales of the TMNT season). While cool in concept, a mutagen-enhanced Super Shredder could have posed a huge threat, but wound up not even fighting the turtles–it just blindly destroyed support beams and brought a dock down on itself. I imagine this was partly a matter of budget and the extent of effects as well as time–who’d want a 2 1/2 hour film aimed at kids, after all? (ha, ha).

Again…as a kid, I didn’t think much of this, and it is much more in thinking back to it that I’ve noted various deficiencies to the character, how he was presented, and all that. I still to this day in 2019 consider TMNT (1990) one of my favorite films and will watch it time and again, year after year, sometimes more than once in any given year. But that doesn’t change just how shallow Shredder feels (to me) as depicted in this live action film universe.


Mirage Comics Shredder

shredder_mirageSomewhere around this time–1989-1991–I got ahold of several graphic novels from "the library" (utilizing the local library, but I believe via their inter-library loan system). These were colorized versions of the original TMNT comics published by First. Initially I only knew that these were a version of the turtles; but quickly realized these were essentially the actual, original comics–just colored–that introduced the characters I’d come to know from the cartoon series. They were a lot more violent–and the turtles in particular actually killed. The Foot (like in the movie, though it was the movie that was based on these comics) were human and thus could be killed (they were not the generic "robots" that the cartoon had). In looking back, I believe the first of these I read was actually the fourth, where Leonardo was first badly beaten by the Foot and then the rest of the turtles and April dealt with the Shredder being "back." This definitely stood out as the story was where large parts of the film got their inspiration…though in the film it was Raphael that was badly beaten by the Foot rather than Leonardo.

In these graphic novels, we had a Shredder who was definitely human, and in some images rather scrawny; hardly the well-muscled buffoon of the cartoon or the fancily-garbed film character. He was dangerous, meant to kill Splinter and the turtles, had killed Yoshi and Tang Shen, had Leo badly beaten, destroyed April’s home, and drove the turtles from New York. (It was some time later that I eventually learned of and got to read the Return to New York story where we found out exactly HOW Shredder had returned, and was finally finished off for good by Leonardo).

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One of the most memorable parts of that graphic novel was a multi-page foldout showing Shredder and a bunch of Foot waiting in ambush! And this comics version of Shredder–while not overly-well-developed–was definitely quite dangerous, perhaps moreso for not being in every single issue/chapter.

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Archie Comics Shredder

tmnta01_cover_shredder_vs_turtlesMeanwhile, there was the Archie-published Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comics. The first few issues–a 3-issue mini-series and the first 4 issues of the ongoing–directly adapted the first season and the first couple or so episodes of the second season of the cartoon. As the comic series diverged greatly from the cartoon into its own continuity, we saw a shift away from Shredder as the core/primary antagonist. He was still a major antagonist but not the primary/sole antagonist. After being defeated and jailed in TMNTA #13 he was out of the picture until TMNTA #21 and then hung around for a few issues’ stories before being "saved" by the Turtles in TMNTA #25. That story had seen Shredder violated by Krang–who had himself attached to Shredder to control his body; and certainly destroyed any likelihood of the pair "working together" again (to say nothing of Krang being left–"re-banished"–to a toxic waste dump-world basically being the last I recall offhand of Krang in that series, period). Having been saved by the turtles, Shredder was now in their debt–he owed them.

shredder_tmnta36The next time Shredder appeared was almost a year later in TMNTA #36 working with a new villain–Verminator-X. Here he and the new villain captured Splinter and were about to make off through a time-portal when Leonardo reminded Shredder that they’d saved his life and he owed them. Honoring this debt, he released Splinter back to them, declaring the score even and that the next time they crossed paths there’d be "no compromise." I don’t recall offhand if or where we ever saw this Shredder again after that, as the series had more than moved past his being a required antagonist. Perhaps that is why I’d thought I remembered a more proactive "honor" to Shredder’s behavior prior to rereading TMNTA #36.

From Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #25:

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And from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #36:shredder_owes_turtles_03

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Mid-Late ’90s Shredder

shredder_imageWhen the original Mirage TMNT series "finally" made it to 50 issues–some 8 years after #1–original creators Eastman and Laird launched their largest singular story arc in City at War, running from that 50th issue to #62. Among other things, this story introduced us to Karai, a new element in the legacy of Shredder and the Foot. In that story she at one point disguises herself as the Shredder, and eventually more or less declares the Foot to be at peace with the turtles–each group will leave one another alone. That Shredder’s influence was still felt and had Foot acting based on what he’d set in motion showed how deeply Shredder was a part of them…and how significant it’d then be for the Foot to not be seeking the turtles’ destruction.

I believe Shredder may also have been slightly used in the live-action Next Mutation series…but that continues to remain a near-complete blind spot for me in TMNT history.


2003 Cartoon Shredder

shredder_2003With a new animated series that premiered in early 2003, the TMNT were back–though this series was much more a serialized story than the one-off episodic nature of the original. This allowed it to follow comics elements a bit more, as well as to have deeper, ongoing development of characters. I recall it beings several episodes in before we met the Shredder at all, and still a few more before the turtles realized he was a threat, and several more until he really became a definitive villain figure for the series.

After a lot of development, much of which was tied to the original comics…it was eventually revealed that this Shredder wasn’t even human at all! He was actually an Utrom, one of the aliens introduced over the course of the series.

shredder_chrellTo me at the time, this was an excellent twist! Krang had been based on the Utroms, and in the ’80s cartoon was closely tied to Shredder. And in the Archie comics, Krang had once attached himself to Shredder, AS Shredder. And so here, we had an Utrom who actually was the Shredder. It also allowed for a longevity across time that would not have made sense for a single human, but played well into stuff set up throughout the 2003 series.

Ch’rell as Shredder was also involved in the 2009 animated film TMNT Forever and proved to be the most dangerous of the various Shredders to that point. This animated film essentially capped off the entirety of the TMNT to its point, ending 25 years’ development.


With the TMNT property sold to Viacom/Nickelodeon, it had a fresh start after 2009. Firstly in the 2011 debut of a new ongoing comics series from IDW, secondly in a new animated series that premiered in 2012, and then in a new iteration of live-action films in 2014 and 2016.


2012 Cartoon Shredder

shredder_2012With the 2012 TMNT animated series we had yet another Shredder. This one seemed relatively similar to previous versions, with elements of the backstory much the same–animosity with Hamato Yoshi, involvement in the turtles coming to be, and so on. But there was something deeper here, as this Shredder not only caused the death of Hamato Yoshi’s wife, but also apparently that of their daughter! However, it was then revealed that he had a daughter of his own–Karai. Yet this turned out to be only part of the story…as Karai was revealed to actually be Yoshi’s daughter–she had not been killed, but was kidnapped by Shredder and raised AS his own daughter.

While in some ways rather cliche and such, it certainly gives a bit more depth and potential to be explored–having "Shredder’s daughter" actually be the daughter of Splinter, and being thus torn between the two; deeply influenced by both.

I still have a number of blind spots even to this animated series, but recall Shredder’s absolute hatred of Yoshi–Splinter–driving him to attack and kill Splinter, even at the cost of the very Earth itself when the alien Triceratons invaded and everyone had to work together to save the Earth. I believe time travel undid that, but that he then still wound up killing Splinter later after being mutated into a Super Shredder (with a look and name based on the 1991 film version of the character).

While there’s some development and difference from previous versions–which is good–there’s something to this version of Shredder that just seems a bit uninteresting to me, being so driven by his hatred of Splinter and the turtles, as well as the 2012 series’ overt (and to me, over-) reverence of the 1980s cartoon while seemingly ignoring the 2003 series.


2014 Films Shredder

shredder_2014The newer film Shredder from the 2014 and 2016 films seems extremely flat and uninteresting to me. The only details that really stood out and that I remember are the way the armor was so over the top and ridiculous, and came off a lot like the "Silver Samurai" character from 2013’s The Wolverine film.

I vaguely recall the character essentially only having a cameo in the 2016 film. That I really don’t recall more detail about the character from either film–despite their recency, that I actually saw them, and being the TMNT fan that I am–feels rather telling about the sheer shallowness of that incarnation of the character.


IDW Comics Shredder

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Where it feels like Shredder has really been done the best is the IDW comics…the current ongoing continuity of the TMNT. And really, in many characters’ cases, I feel like the IDW "version" has become THE definitive version. Both for being the "current" or "live" version at present as of this writing…but also because of incorporating different elements to make an amalgamized version that takes good ideas and brings them together into a single version. Typically my favorite example is Bebop and Rocksteady, who I had thoroughly disliked from the late 1990s until their introduction in the IDW TMNT series. They’re still the big, dumb buffoons…but they’re genuinely dangerous, and we’ve seen them cause true destruction…as well as nearly kill Donatello.

Over-simplifying, perhaps, but to quickly sum up the IDW series: Splinter and the turtles are mutated animals, but they’re also the reincarnated spirits of Hamato Yoshi and his four sons who lived several hundred years ago in Japan. Shredder is the same Oroku Saki that lived then as well, resurrected via mystical means involving a member of a group of god-like entities known as The Pantheon. So there’s this multi-lifetime/multiple worlds sorta struggle going on, where an animosity from hundreds of years ago is replayed in the present.

Shredder was not introduced immediately in this series, and his introduction involved some buildup, as well as skepticism from some of the characters. He and Splinter recognized each other pretty quickly as both realized how deep their ties went–Shredder and Splinter, Oroku Saki and Hamto Yoshi. Over the course of 40 additional issues, we learned a lot more about Shredder and the Foot Clan, and there was more involving reincarnation and the interference of the Pantheon member Kitsune.

This Shredder was dangerous and deadly, tried to corrupt and kill the Hamato family (as he had done in the past), was working with alien warlord Krang for a time, and generally was a major villain that made sense, had depth and mystery and development with room for a lot more development over time.

And then 40 issues ago (#90 is a January 2019 issue), in TMNT #50, things came to a head as he and Splinter fought…and ultimately he was defeated. Not just defeated, but killed–committing seppuku. We’d learned over the series that he and Splinter–Hamato Yoshi–had been clan brothers, and raised from childhood together. Essentially actual brothers as well as sharing a clan. This alone added so much depth…especially to me, being familiar with and able to draw extra context/"feeling" from the likes of Magic the Gathering: The Brothers’ War, about a different pair of brothers and how their rivalry wrecked a world.

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Now, just this month (again, January 2019) we have the beginning of a new "tie-in mini-series" TMNT: Shredder in Hell, that picks up with Shredder dealing with the spirit of the founder of the Foot and his own ties to said spirit; that everything he has done and been has been influenced; and even now, dead, he has a further journey to discover who he truly is.


THE REDEMPTION OF SHREDDER / COMING HOME

I’ve not been the biggest fan of the TMNT series since #50. Much as I’ll rail against Shredder being the end-all/be-all of TMNT villains, the way he was worked into the fabric of the IDW TMNT series, his death felt like this huge breaking point or split. Like #51 was a whole new #1 of a whole new Shredder-less series (and it absolutely WOULD have been a new #1 if TMNT was a Marvel property!). Though with Shredder’s death, Splinter wound up being leader of the Foot–a point that has forced further development of the turtles themselves as well as the relationship between them and their father…and that’s been interesting in itself, and helped to make Splinter more interesting, as more than just some wise old rat or father-figure who is always "right" and just kinda "there" for the turtles.

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We had a long introduction and building-up of IDW‘s Shredder across 50 issues. While not the SOLE antagonist, he was a major, ongoing antagonist with stuff going on in the background even if not serving as a focal point of a given story. In another life, he killed Hamato Yoshi’s sons in front of him, before killing Yoshi himself. In this life, he had a drastic effect on Leonardo, temporarily corrupting him and showing the turtle a whole different perspective on things, giving us a "dark" Leonardo…a chapter of life that has affected the turtle and still holds relevance (the City Fall story arc).

I’ve felt the absence of Shredder in the title and wondered where all it can and will go without the character…as well as where Splinter will be taken, story-wise, with the Foot; as we have never before had a TMNT series last this long with so much development in quite this way.

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Yet now with Shredder in Hell, we’re getting a new story of Oroku Saki, following events already built up, as they’re expanded a bit. And I have no idea where it’s going, but as we already have reincarnation and resurrection, it would be quite believable to see Shredder resurrected–albeit temporarily–despite seppuku. And as a 5-issue/5-month series, this will end about the time of TMNT #94…a mere 6 issues until the big 100th issue and whatever that holds.

I’m interested in this Shredder. I’m curious about where things go. I find the character engaging, and look forward to what’s going to happen. It seems plausible that even if he doesn’t physical return, there’s more yet to be "revealed" about the character that will impact the TMNT, and I believe this is the first time in nearly 35 years that there’s actually been a Shredder-focused series such as this, and I’m wishing it was weekly.

For what started out as a rather generic villain with little real development to a complex, deep character with much potential yet unexplored…IDW has certainly redeemed the character for me. Having followed the entirety of the IDW TMNT continuity since August 2011 when it started, having missed Shredder’s machinations and involvement, getting this new story with a lot of potential and all that…it is in its own way like "coming home." After a lot of time showing that there’s more than just Shredder to serve as antagonist, we’re back to Shredder having SOMETHING going on, and I’m enjoying that it’s not just some one-off thing or quickly-resolved "moment" but seems poised to be more significant.

Even if he doesn’t directly interact with the actual turtles in continuity, just the fact of getting a new story about him, now, and it having any tie at all to current continuity is a good thing, and has me all the more excited about the coming year of TMNT. This also has room to give Shredder a very solid, valid grounding as a favorite villain for me–as opposed to merely "sentimental value" or bias just for being one of the first villains I ever "met" as a kid first discovering fictional worlds and all that.


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Much as with my last SBTU post, this is easily one of my longest, wordiest posts…significantly beyond what I usually write. But it’s not every day that I get to participate in something like this…and with all the great work of fellow SBTU folks, I’m given the incentive to push myself to go beyond the casual usual.

Please check out my fellow bloggers and their posts, participating in this latest Super-Blog Team Up! Also look for the Twitter posts, and any other social media chatter with this project or their blogs! #SBTU #SuperBlogTeamUp


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The Weekly Haul: Weeks of January 02 & January 09, 2019

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Despite my best intentions, starting 2019 out with doubling up on the "Weekly Haul" posting. Some planned changes/updates with logos and such also hasn’t happened yet for the blog, so rather than a hard break with the year, stuff’ll just roll out as it rolls out! Even this post’s "logo" above is not the final version, but I was messing with stuff the other day and decided I’d toss it up, whether it gets used just this once, or becomes a regular. If you’ve any thoughts on it, feel free to leave a comment!


Week of January 2nd, 2019

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The first week of the year started out pretty small, with only a handful of issues. I don’t recall, nor do I care to check back, but I’m not sure if we had an issue of Heroes in Crisis in December, even–of course, this is only by a week, so negligible, but whatever. Much as I’ve liked this writer’s Batman stuff, I’m really not caring for this event…it doesn’t feel like anything’s really HAPPENING. Or not enough per issue. But 4 issues in, and it NOT being $4.99, nor has it slipped to some bi-monthly (or less-frequent) schedule, so I’m probably in for the entire thing at this point…if only to see what comes of it.

It also seems that Action Comics slipped slightly…with #1001 having come out in July, January should see #1007.

While it’s fitting that Marvel (in particular!) honor Stan Lee…it appears to me that they’re only doing so by removing the logos but keeping regular images for covers. To me, that just makes these look like DC variants, and since the cover images don’t incorporate his likeness in any way or such, and it’s not like they’re putting the black memorial band OVER a logo. And given his own large/over-the-top/grandiose-ness…it seems to me a disservice to hide the big, bold logos and such of the characters that directly or tangentially are here because of him.

And Marvel sure wasted NO TIME rushing a ton of Conan stuff out. Much as they did four years ago with Star Wars. And frankly, that really puts me off quite a bit; as well as apparently having a couple more series debuting soon, and just…flooding the market. I opted to get this first issue just to try, but haven’t gotten around to reading it, and have yet to hear anything all that good about it.


Week of January 09, 2019

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This week was definitely a bigger week with more stuff out…though it also annoyed me to a certain degree.

Firstly, we get the premiere of the new Young Justice series with the new Young Justice #1. I quite enjoyed the issue, and look forward already to the next!

This is a Batman week, with both Batman and Nightwing out. I need to catch up on READING Nightwing OR just cut my losses and drop the title. Time’ll tell on that.

We’ve got the premiere of the new iteration of Brubaker and PhillipsCriminal title. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of this title in the past (and particularly remember the 10th anniversary issue!) so definitely giving this issue a shot…though I’ll likely trail off and wind up going with the collected editions. Again…time’ll tell.

The week had TWO issues of Aliens stuff. The conclusion of the 4-issue Dust to Dust mini. and the 3rd of (I believe) 4-issue adaptation of Gibson‘s screenplay for Alien3. I’m pretty sure I’ve wound up with variant covers for both series, just trying to get issues, and Dark Horse is back to the seemingly-rigid 4-issue cycles, so I’ve pretty much decided that for the multiple variant covers every issues and preferring the full(er) stories I’ll get the final issue of this Alien3 thing and then I’m done with the single issues. "Nostalgia" might prompt me to go against this if they do another Fire and Stone or Life and Death-style saga, but otherwise, at least collected volumes don’t USUALLY come with a bunch of variants!

And finally, we’re halfway through Adventures of the Super Sons now, and I have got to get the previous series and all 6 of these pulled together to get caught up on my reading.


I’m really looking forward to the new TMNT: Shredder in Hell mini that starts with the week of January 16th; as well as getting Bendis‘ "backstory" filled in on Jon Kent’s missing time between the end of the Rebirth stuff and his run (or the flashbacks, technically, from Bendis Man of Steel).

And depending on how the week shakes out, I may do a couple other posts soon for some other acquisitions of "stuff." As I’m repeating through this post, though…time will tell!

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Young Justice (2019) #1 [Review]

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Script: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Patrick Gleason
Colors: Alejandro Sanchez
Letters: DC Lettering
Cover: Gleason & Sanchez
Associate Editor: Jessica Chen
Editors: Mike Cotton & Andy Khouri
Group Editors: Brian Cunningham & Mark Doyle

I wasn’t going to get this. I vaguely remember it being announced, as well as seeing SOMETHING about these Wonder Comics and thinking hey…yet ANOTHER new imprint to not get into!

As to the property itself–the title Young Justice–I remember ads for the World Without GrownUps or whatever back in 1998 or so, and the premiere of the original Young Justice ongoing series. I mostly missed out on that at the time–I was getting a lot of Marvel at that point (with the Heroes Return titles) and mainly just the Superman titles from DC, offhand. The END of that Young Justice series (and Titans) came in the Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day mini-‘event’, which I picked up just after my OWN graduation day from college. The event led away from Young Justice and Titans and into two "new" series–a new iteration of Teen Titans and Outsiders, both of which I followed (getting in at #1 for lengthy runs) up to Infinite Crisis or so. I dove deep into DC continuity just after Young Justice. So I never had the nostalgia of the title or the particular iterations of the characters. When the animated series was out, I enjoyed the first several episodes, but lost track of it due to episode scheduling (as I do most animated series, it seems). So I had no huge attachment there to the title, either.

But somewhere along the way between this series being announced and this issue’s release, I found out (online) that Tim Drake would be Robin again, and that "my" Superboy–Connor Kent–the one introduced during 1993’s Reign of the Supermen–would be back. Seeing Superboy in particular on a cover image, I was "sold."

Maybe the first thing about this actual issue to note is the hefty $4.99 price point. I tend to DESPISE $4.99 #1 issues, particularly because of the way I feel that Marvel has abused the practice over the last few years. This issue felt thicker, though, and I’m more forgiving toward DC (though they have squandered a lot of the goodwill they earned from me with Rebirth). It is an extra-sized issue, with 30 story pages (an extra 1/3 content for the price of 1/4), so the "value" is technically there.

We open the issue on Gemworld, with someone relaying information about seven crises and Earth. We then jump to Earth, and a young woman’s arrival in Metropolis. This is Jinny Hex…new to the big city. As she’s dealing with having been pulled over for a busted taillight on her vehicle…agents of Gemworld invade, causing quite a ruckus. Jinny finds herself face to face with Robin (Tim Drake) and seems rather awe-struck. A flashback shows us an interaction between Tim and Cassie Sandsmark minutes earlier, also in Metropolis, as the two catch up briefly before Tim leaps into action with the invasion. Joining the action is Impulse–Bart Allen; he is clearly excited to be in action and interacting with the others while facing the invasion. Before long, Wonder Girl joins in as well as a Green Lantern Ring Construct…and Bart declares that Young Justice is back! It looks as if the heroes may have prevailed, and then they’re caught up in some sort of energy, and Robin comes to on Gemworld facing Amethyst…while Impulse finds himself facing a certain missing teammate to end the issue.

This issue provoked a reaction in me that I haven’t had in awhile from any comic, and that I don’t know entirely how to describe. But to try…in short, I flat-out enjoyed this comic, I loved seeing Tim referred to as Robin again, and something about these characters–even though I lack a huge amount of context for the grouping–really hit my nostalgia buttons. Perhaps because this is the first time it seems Tim Drake has properly–without likelihood of reprint revision–been referred to as Robin since 2009 or so. Perhaps it’s seeing Connor Kent Superboy again for the first time since at least 2011. Perhaps it’s that this feels like something from before the New 52, period.

Likely all of the above and that the issue was just…FUN. I mean, an invasion, the destruction of property and all that…sure, that’s not something to celebrate, but this IS a comic book, and we’re not beaten over the head while reading about the destruction itself or how it’s impacting some random character or bystander. We just get heroes in action, and saving people, and no real focus on dark, grim, gritty stuff.

I know I’ve had issues with Gleason‘s art in the past–I think to the point that I even came to dislike seeing his name on stuff; it was a sign that I would likely dislike the art. His art won me over a bit during the Rebirth run of Superman; and maybe I’m just so thrilled to see Robin and Superboy again, but I really dug the art on this issue! Gleason‘s style seems very well-suited for this sort of frenetic fun and the energetic nature of much of the issue–from Robin laying into Gemworlders to Bart completely enjoying himself in action…and even working in more serious stuff without coming off with stylistic things that’d get me complaining on some principle. There are several double-page spreads, and other than the "Young Justice is BACK!" bit, I could do without them. I tend to feel that most double-pagers are "cheats" and go by way too quickly for taking up multiple full pages, lowering the "value" in terms of per-page story content.

Story-wise, this seems like a pretty good first issue. I’m not at all current on Tim Drake stuff, nor Bart or Cassie; I vaguely recall something about Jinny being in a Walmart-exclusive comic, but she comes off as fresh and new here, as does Teen Lantern; I also lack any real familiarity with Amethyst and Gemworld except that they exist. But I was still able to enjoy the issue, with everyone getting introductions or otherwise at least being named on-page…no need to go online to hunt down "who" someone was or be left scratching my head. (And the lettering had a great touch, working character names in as logos in a way that doesn’t seem to be used much lately and reminds me quite a bit of ’90s comics). This isn’t a perfect story by any means…I didn’t really "get" the invasion or anything much from that–it was more incidental, an excuse for "big action" and something to bring the characters together, to get stuff from Point A to Point B and such. That it included these particular characters being pulled together, though…it worked for me.

This is certainly no done-in-one issue, and it really only serves so far to move pieces around to begin to move toward whatever the full story will eventually be. The issue is significant in itself as a single issue for bringing the characters together (if only certain characters in virtual cameos) and being the first time we’ve seen several in years–or at least, seemingly years. But this is just the opening chapter of a serialized graphic novel, that presumably will be the standard-ish 6 issues in length.

There’s a certain on-page authenticity to the various characters, that both looks and feels like what I’d expect of a Bendis-helmed comic. His work can be hit or miss for me, but this issue is definitely a hit. I got this for the characters involved, and was not disappointed. That Bendis is the writer is incidental to me, and something I’m fine with, based on this issue. Whether that holds for future issues remains to be seen! But for now, I’m definitely onboard for this title in particular…and having thoroughly enjoyed this, I may even consider checking out the other Wonder Comics titles.

If you’re a fan of Tim Drake, Bart Allen (at least as he was pre-2003), early Connor Kent Superboy, and so on…this is definitely worth jumping in on. Especially if you’ve been "away" from the characters for awhile or not staying current with DC‘s continuity. This does not feel like it relies on anything else going on…it’s just the world these characters inhabit and them coming together and working together. This is not spinning out of some other event or title…no prologue in Detective Comics or one of the Justice League titles or some other mini-series. And even if you’re not specifically a fan of a specific character in a particular role, if you enjoy teen heroes, enjoy seeing Robin/Wonder Girl/Impulse/etc. together in a title…I’d say this is worthwhile to check out.

I have every intention myself of picking up the next issue, and if I enjoy it the way I did this issue, I may be onboard for awhile!

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The Weekly Haul: Weeks of November 28 & December 5, 2018

Despite the sincerest of intentions to get this blog back into a more regular schedule…time just keeps getting away from me. AND I’ve been keeping vague due to some stuff in my personal life that I haven’t opted to put out in "public" just yet–despite time flying on it all!

So here we are, doubling up again on two weeks’ worth of weekly hauls…the day before a new one!


Week of November 28, 2018

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This bunch of issues includes the newest Action Comics and Heroes in Crisis. I "gave in" and bought the Nuclear Winter Special as a giant-size issue. It’s "only" 80 pages (compared to the Walmart 100-page issues) but still, it’s like a small paperback…and I’m often a sucker for these issues with a title on a spine.

I’ve yet to read the thing, but decided to try the IDW-published Marvel Action: Spider-Man issue. I don’t pretend to totally "get" Marvel "farming out" stuff like this, but I’ll take it as an IDW comic…and it’s a #1 but at "only" $3.99 instead of Marvel‘s "preferred" $4.99+ for #1 issues. And I need to sort through and figure out what I do and don’t have now for Die!Die!Die!…I may have missed an issue, and at this point probably should have "just" waited for the paperback.


Week of December 5, 2018

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Starting off December, we get Batman #60 and Nightwing #54. Also a new Shazam! series. The second issue of which apparently is already running somewhat late, and I believe this issue is itself "late," which does not bode well to me. But I’m curious about the character and where things are going, and I am a Captain (DC) Marvel fan to a certain degree, so…yeah.

I was willing to get The Merry X-Men Holiday Special as it’s a one-shot, and I’m curious about the series of single-page stories/vignettes. And much more willing to pay a bit more for a one-shot than a bunch of mini-series or simply #1 issues of supposed ongoings.

Adventures of the Super Sons is a habit-buy. I probably shouldn’t be buying it…I don’t think I’ve actually read an issue since the first couple of the previous series…but I keep telling myself I’m going to read the things (and having had some issues, was not going to double-dip switching to paperbacks, nor be "missing" a volume).

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Then there’s Die and Self Made….

Here’s Sarah, who spotted me getting photos real quick for this blog post.

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I’m not sure what it was for the week, but I decided to also grab a couple of new Image #1s in Die and Self Made (or is that Self/Made?). I should probably "know better" than to do that, but c’est la vie and all that.

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As a birthday present to myself last week, I got this Rogue pvc statue from the Marvel Gallery line from Diamond Select. I really like this one…and while I wish there were more X-Men characters available (Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Gambit, a ’90s costume Rogue, etc) I’m happy at least to have this one.

For more about it, check out FigureFan Zero‘s review of it at his blog. I actually knew about this from something he had posted on Twitter several weeks ago, and credit that with me knowing to look for this!


As we’re nearing the end of 2018, I probably ought to start figuring out firstly the "state of the blog" given the last couple of years, as well as stuff going on in my personal life, and the seemingly completely-inversed matchup of intent vs. actuality and time and all that.

Perhaps I’ll get to some sort of year in review, maybe something at the start of the new year…time will tell. For now–for this week–only time will tell if I’ll be back with anything else.

Though my own output has waned of late, please feel free to check out the Facebook Page for links to all of my posts, as well as links to a number of fellow bloggers and other content creators! I also occasionally post random photos there, and mini-rants and such on links that could almost be blog posts themselves if I was so inclined.

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