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The Weekly Haul: Week of October 10, 2018

The past week ended up being a large-ish week, without being huge nor tiny (I know, great phrasing, isn’t it?).

Anyway…let’s dive in!

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The new Superman, Supergirl, and Flash issues are part of the annual "stunt month" stuff that DC often does. This year–foil-ized covers at no additional cover price (that I’m aware of). I’m buying titles anyway, already grudgingly paying $3.99…but hey…SHINY!

The Cursed Comics Cavalcade is an 80-page squarebound issue for $9.99. The Swamp Thing Halloween Horror issue is a 100-page squarebound issue for $4.99…but you have to go to Walmart to get it. All told, though…180 pages for $14.98 is NOT bad these days when a skinny 120-page volume might be $17.99!

Adding to the horror theme, the Constantine: City of Demons – The Movie came out. I haven’t gotten around to watching yet, but I believe it’s basically a series of "shorts" that were available on the CW‘s web site last year, but now stitched together as a feature-length thing. I’m not sure how well it may or may not match up to Justice League Dark from last year, but what little I’ve seen of it, the visuals seem like they’d fit in. And best of all, Matt Ryan reprises the voice for John Constantine!

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Over the weekend, Saturday October 13th was designated Walking Dead Day to observe 15 years since the original The Walking Dead #1 back in 2003. There was a "free" issue with several short stories focusing on specific characters; a $2.99 reprint of #1 with a new cover (that I figured hey, I really wanna support the price point), and a number of blind-bagged issues…reprints of various "key" issues throughout the series (particularly front-heavy to the first 100 issues).

I opted to snag #100, figuring that’d be my easiest point of comparison of new to original editions. I almost ended up "leaving it in the bag," though, figuring "ignorance is bliss."

From what I understand, each blind-bagged issue has 4 covers:

  • Color with trade dress
  • Color "virgin" (no trade dress)
  • Black and White with trade dress
  • Black and White "virgin" (no trade dress)

I opted, ultimately, to open mine, dreading any but the color with trade dress. Surprisingly enough (for a 1:4 chance), that’s the one I got, which makes me feel a lot better about the purchase. However, something to the cover just doesn’t sit right with me/makes me squeamish, so for filing purposes, I slid it back into the black bag.

Also snagged a Batman Day reprint of Batman: White Knight #1, since it was there and I was there.

Finally, I’d forgotten to look for Nightwing #50 on Wednesday after passing on it the previous week, but snagged the last copy on Saturday. I’d not been keen on the $4.99 price and such, but after reading the latest issue of Batman decided I was curious about how stuff was being handled on the Nightwing side of things, and decided it was worth getting, if only to follow for another issue or two and see how long-term stuff will be.

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The Weekly Haul: Week of July 25, 2018

This week was a fairly small week of new release comics for me…small enough that I "padded it out" a bit.

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The new issue of Action Comics–#1001–was a given, for me. It’s been 3 months coming, since the huge #1000 issue.

After looking forward to The Flash War for so long and even letting the title go for several months, I got back in for the (finally) actual story itself…which seemed too short. This #51 "epilogue" issue is a pleasant surprise-extension of the story.

And Mr. and Mrs. X is Marvel actually getting me with a concept I’m interested in–fially having Rogue and Gambit get to this point (one of my earliest X-Men comics was #24–the "date" issue with the two.

I quite enjoyed the X-Men: Grand Design issues from the turn of the year, and was rather disappointed at the long delay between those and the next ones. Time healed that particular "wound" and it was a pleasant surprise to find this one out this week. Unlike other $5.99 issues, these actually feel heavy and "special" and worth the price.

I hadn’t realized The Hellblazer was ending…but as with the end of the 300+ issue Vertigo run, I opted to snag this final issue "immediately" with the intent to fill in the gaps I have in the story via collected volumes, eventually/someday.

Because I was "curious" after stupidly "buying into" some hype over the Teen Titans Special several weeks ago, figured I might as well give this issue a shot and see if it actually goes anywhere interesting, or if IT is all-hype/etc.

And finally, because it actually reprints an issue I did not yet own and had never even read before, the True Believers issue reprinting What If..? #1 was a handy addition for only $1. (3 Marvel comics for $11…pretty darned cheap considering their usual prices!)

Still, it’s rather dismaying that even the DC titles were all $3.99. I’ll occasionally be ok with occasional higher-price-point issues–Grand Design being an excellent example–but certainly not as a routine, regular thing. And for me, Marvel has far too often "abused" the higher prices in my eyes, such that I was honestly somewhat surprised that Mr. and Mrs. X was "only" $3.99 for a #1 issue. (Which was another reason to support the title–NOT EVERY #1 NEEDS TO BE a $4.99+ giant-sized issue! And yet, I could argue that this one would be more deserving of a giant-size status. Reprint X-Men #24, and maybe some other key issue from the characters’ pasts. Reprint the Avengers Annual Rogue first appeared in, and Uncanny X-Men #266 with Gambit’s first appearance–juxtapose their first appearances with how far they’ve come. After all, this title is not MERELY "the next month’s issue" of a title with a #1 slapped on the cover…it’s truly a new status quo for the characters, it’s a new title we have not seen before, and so on. (As opposed to the fifth(?) Amazing Spider-Man #1 or the seventh(?) Captain America #1 in the last 20 years)

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The Weekly Haul – Week of May 10th, 2017

This was a pretty "simple" week, compared to the last several, with only two things I’d consciously planned on getting.

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The new Superman issue of the week, in Action Comics…and the final (late?) chapter of the Batman/TMNT Adventures mini. Then I also decided to check out The Lazarus Contract, and after it’s been how many months, snagged what I believe is the final chapter of A.D. After Death. And I had not realized it at the time when I ordered it, but Rise of the Dungeon Master turned out to be essentially a graphic novel format!

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I happened to peek at the bargain bins at Comic Heaven and found a number of New 52-era paperbacks on sale. For the same price as general Marvel #1s, I snagged these four collected volumes (each with at LEAST 4 issues’ content apiece!). I may be annoyed if DC does an omnibus of this series, but probably not too much–I have most of the rest of the "Constantine Library" in paperback (a couple volumes of The Hellblazer from DC You to track down, and decide if (probably, grudgingly yes) I want to count Justice League Dark and hunt those down, outside of the main long-running Hellblazer series from Vertigo).


Sadly, due to a delay, The Button did not conclude this week, but I believe that’s out next week…and now there’s this Titans/Teen Titans/Deathstroke crossover…following Superman Reborni and The Button, DC is managing quite a string of stories to really have me looking forward to the weekly comic shop runs for at least one, if not more titles…

Justice League Dark and Constantine

Justice League Dark finally made it to stores in its physical form (as opposed to digital-only crap) and one version includes a John Constantine figurine!

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When this line of DC animated moves started, many of the releases had a Best Buy exclusive version, packed with a little figurine of one of the main characters. Eventually, that sort of release expanded to a non-chain-exclusive thing, and the figurines changed, matching a line of figurines one could buy separate as well.

Now we seem to be back to the rectangle-base "generic" figurine…only significantly larger than the early ones.

And while I wouldn’t have necessarily been all that interested in yet another Batman…and wouldn’t really care for a Zatanna…John Constantine was an on-site no-brainer for me (not having actually known ahead of time which character would get a figurine this time around). Granted, a Deadman or Swamp Thing would be very cool…but with a 12-year-old Keanu Reeves film, a one-season tv series, a guest-starring role on Arrow and apparently an upcoming animated series of his own…Constantine would seem an obvious choice.

And frankly…I really like this figure…it’s easily one of the most impressive to me, particularly in size.

Perhaps I’ll actually get to watch this film this weekend!

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Meanwhile…Constantine’s got a whole shelf of books to hang out with…

JLDark and Early Digital: Really?!?

I saw this ad this week, for the new Justice League Dark animated movie. And at first glance, I thought I had missed its release–despite being in a Walmart on Tuesday and actually looking at the movie section and new-release endcap without anything jumping out at me.

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But no…I didn’t actually miss it. I realized the ad says on digital January 24.

I swear, every time I see ads like this, they just make me more and more angry, and less and less likely to buy anything new in the way of movies.

Bad enough the high price and shrinking "first week discounts" (if any) the last several years.

But this "digital-only" "window" just bugs the crap out of me.

Is there anyone who is REALLY just so desperate to see something like this, that they’d rather pay the $20ish for digital ONLY when a "mere" TWO WEEKS later for that SAME PRICE they can add blu-ray AND dvd to their stock?

Maybe if the digital version was say, $10, I’d consider it. I’d wait this one out on principle if I didn’t know myself and OCD on these. With the voice cast, content, and having all the previous such animated releases since the line started back in 2008, I’d kick myself for "missing" the thing.

But I’ve already gotten to where–despite loving them in the theater–I refuse to buy Marvel MCU movies; the way they screw around with "formats" and "combo packs" shut me out years ago.

The Weekly Haul – Week of October 12, 2016

This week proved to be another "small" week for me, though also "key" and "expensive" in others.

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Firstly, yet another week with a new Superman comic (Action Comics, specifically)…I’d have to dig back, but I’ve gotta be getting close to the half-year mark of the week-to-week actively wanting to get the next Superman-related comic out that week, just for the next bit of story. And unlike even the New Krypton stuff (which PALES by comparison to Rebirth!), this is a FUN excitement, a new/updated status quo that I like and am not just going with. And rather than tease me with pseudo-triangle-numbering, the two main Superman books are just coming out, telling solid stories, and now with this issue of Action we’ve even got footnotes again–referencing the sister title (Superman) as if BOTH TITLES are actually taking place in the same timeline, part of the same universe, etc! We also get a nice reference to another series that means next issue will be interesting as well…

I was going to hold off on Supergirl, but that cover just grabbed me! Not so much the rendition of the character herself (this art style is not very much to my liking for her) but the Cyborg Superman, and the promise of potential that it holds in that image.

And I pulled the trigger on the Hellblazer volume to get that outta my system…I don’t think vol. 15 is due for another few months, and unfortunately, I worry too much about stuff going out of print these days, thanks to Marvel refusing to keep anything in print all that long or predictably. This volume is also a bit more of a "key" volume than I’d considered initially.

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With Hellblazer vol. 14: Good Intentions, these new editions have fully caught up to where I came into the series back in 2001 (just over 15 years ago!). This single volume combines three previous paperbacks, as it collects Hard Time, Good Intentions, and …Freezes Over. Sixteen issues in one volume; three story arcs…plus material from Vertigo Secret Files: Hellblazer.

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Now begins the steady march through as the new editions finish, and hopefully over the next several years, we’ll get a full Hellblazer library of volumes that actually look like the single series that they are, and allow one to–in this format–have the entirety of the 300-issue 25-year series.

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Even if the new, numbered editions do not end up spanning the entirety of the run…I do have–with the probable exception of the Hellblazer: Bad Blood mini–the run between the new editions and the smaller "original" editions.

The Hellblazer: Rebirth

hellblazer_rebirth_0001Writer: Simon Oliver
Artist: Moritat
Colorists: Andre Szymanowicz and Moritat
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Cover: Moritat
Associate Editor: Jessica Chen
Editor: Kristy Quinn
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 2016
Cover Price: $2.99

It’s kinda hard to believe it at this point, but I’ve been a fan of John Constantine–the Hellblazer–for 15 years now. I was introduced the character barely halfway into his 300-issue run with Vertigo (around #160) and have followed off-and-on ever since, as well as backtracking. With the new editions of the collected volumes combined with what I already had, I have the entire series–and several of the spin-offs–on my shelf (though I still have some reading to catch up yet fully). I checked out Justice League Dark at the dawn of the New 52, specifically for the "DC Universe version" of Constantine (who had just earlier that year been re-introduced into the DCU proper in the Search for Swamp Thing mini during/following Brightest Day). I checked out the first couple issues of last year’s DC You launch, and had previously checked out the first issue or two of the previous Constantine series.

Neither of those overly grabbed me (and having the Vertigo Hellblazer stuff all in collected editions, I was content to pass on single issues for eventual collected volumes) and I was even going to pass on this issue for the moment (It’s part of a bundle I pre-ordered but still have a couple weeks to wait on arriving)…but I have "history" with the character/title, and seeing the "original" Hellblazer logo used here grabbed me enough to "double dip."

And while this is still a John Constantine–a Hellblazer–that IS set in a world in which Shazam and Wonder Woman exist as well, it also references back to key elements of the Vertigo series, establishing that this is a Constantine that has been impacted by those developments, and not just grabbed from his pre-Hellblazer stage.

In short, he’s back.

After an adventure "banished" in the US due to a curse placed on him by a demon, John returns to London, reunites with his best mate Chas, and sets about dealing with the curse. Of course the demon shows up, as well as another figure from Constantine’s past (that I am not sure if I know or not, or SHOULD know, but whatever), and things are dealt with in "typical" Constantine fashion.

The character appears younger here than I recall him from the Vertigo series, yet the visual style "fits" what I’ve grown used to over the last several years’ worth of stuff in the New 52. The art for the issue works well with the story mixing both the rough "darkness" in tone with something that definitely takes place in a world with super-heroes around.

Story-wise, I really very much appreciate things here, that this ‘feels’ like the version of the character I’m used to. Yet, this is not marked as a "mature readers title" nor is it part of a "mature readers line," therefore certain "language" is "bleeped out," but it’s not hard to fill in the blanks in reading…which is a nice compromise and something I have zero problem with. Often, certain things are all the more effective being "implied" than explicit…including language.

This issue seems like a "bridge" issue, moving from the most recent ongoing into this new "post-Rebirth" series that retakes the simpler Hellblazer name and general-ish status quo. As such, it is also very nicely self-contained in a way that seems like it’ll work very nicely for a reader continuing on from the last series as well as a lapsed reader that hasn’t seen the character since the Vertigo run ended…and funnel both sides into August’s ongoing.

That said…this seems a great issue for fans of either version of the character, and instills a definite confidence in me for the ongoing. That I’m not familiar with the writer is fine by me…I’m more interested in reading about the Constantine character than I am in reading _______’s version of the character. This even works as just a random one-off issue where you don’t really have to have read anything recently before, and it has an actual "ending" without pulling a "To Be Continued…" or cliffhanger on the reader.

I definitely recommend the issue, and look forward to the ongoing series…though I’m not 100% "sold" on whether I’ll opt to follow it as single issues or wait for collected volumes. I’ll be happy to–and presently look forward to–the singles as long as I’m getting the bundles, and will take it from there.

Last Week’s Mega-Haul – Week of December 09, 2015

last_weeks_haul_1209fIn the wake of a seeming random 50% off sale that rolled into a “Black Friday Week” sale at the local comic shop (that saw stuff go from 50 to 60 to 70 to 80 to 90% off on successive days, the remnants wound up as “Dollar Table” items.

And as is usually the case, for the price, I was more than willing to buy a few extra things beyond “just” my usual comics for the week…

And consequently, I more than doubled my library of RPG supplement books, while making the “regular” new comics seem prohibitively expensive by comparison, certainly an extremely poor value compared to the bargain table stuff.

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Along with a randomish-ly purchased Munchkin issue (reviewed the other day) and the latest Constantine: The Hellblazer issue, I got a couple other X-Men volumes at cover price…and largely cleared out the gaming books from the bargain table.

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Considering Lensman had a steep sticker price…and was here for “only” $1…absolutely worth checking out. The FantasyCraft volume also looked interesting, and for $1…and its sheer size and being a hardcover? Certainly worth getting. And the D&D book…ditto. Then, of course, would be a shame to pass on the Civil War volume for $1, if I’d ever wind up with the main volume. And for $1 apiece, the Smallville books were a no-brainer…particularly my being on a relative Superman kick of late.

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And then because they were there, and it’s D&D and only $1 so why not?…cleared out the D&D supplement volumes.

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I definitely remembered seeing the Dragon Magazine Annual volume a couple weeks earlier and being mildly curious…an Annual for a magzine, published to fit right in with other supplemental volumes…definitely cool! (I’m a fan of such things!)

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And Eberron is a name I’m familiar with from sometime down the years… and then Menzoberranzan and Dark Sun are both names I’m QUITE familiar with from the Spellfire game from TSR back in the early days of collectible/trading card games.

All told, including the NEW comics, and tax, I paid slightly less than what any ONE of these hardcover supplement volumes would have cost at cover price. This spoils me, though, on the notion of buying additional volumes…but certainly “weights” things toward D&D Fourth Edition over any of the others!

Constantine: The Hellblazer #1 [Review]

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Writers: Ming Doyle, James Tynion IV
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colorist: Ivan Plascensia
Cover: Riley Rossmo
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Group Editor: Brian Cunningham
Assistant Editor: Amedeo Turturro
Editor: Andy Khouri
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: August 2015
Cover Price: $2.99

I was planning on skipping this. I don’t much care for a watered-down version of the Vertigo/Mature Readers take on the title character, gave up on Justice League Dark early-on for not “starring” Constantine, and generally figured there’s more “history” for the New 52 Constantine than I really care to spend money playing catch-up on. But…this is a #1. New creative team (far as I’m aware), and it’s “only” $2.99. So I figured I’d check it out, give it an issue or so to show me what it’ll be…might as well for the price.

We open on a naked Constantine in a store, using his abilities to “con” a fresh set of clothes out of the employee. When John’s ghost-friends cause a stir, he ultimately finds himself in the company of a female demon who he finds is arranging to have a “soul farm,” so he winds up working the situation to a fairly predictable conclusion through his usual means.

Of course, that “usual” is based on my knowledge of the character from the past, from the original Hellblazer title (that was part of the initial Vertigo line and long anchored the imprint until a couple years ago) moreso than I know of the “mainstream” New 52/DC version.

The art for this issue was a bit off-putting for me when I opened the issue…particularly as I wasn’t even sure the character on the first page was actually John Constantine or not. Granted, I’m not used to seeing the character in the Birthday Suit, and some of the blame probably could be placed on the writing as well, the issue opening as it did. Once things move along a few pages, the art grew on me a bit, to where I’ll accept it much as any other Constantine or Hellblazer artist. Though, with only this single issue, I cannot say I’m likely to count Rossmo among my favorite who’ve worked on the character. However, I can definitely say that I enjoyed a 10-panel double-page spread with a sideways layout…it was different, engaging, effective in conveying so much in that part of the story, and really stood out to me for not just being more of the same.

The story was pretty good overall, and other than the obfuscated colorful language, this really felt like it could be a Vertigo issue. Though we do get left with a cliffhanger, and join the story “in progress” in and of itself the issue does give a “complete” story: We’re introduced to Constantine, his ghost entourage, and see a bit of his personality and nature by his actions, obvious intent, narration, and characters’ commentary. We’re introduced to a particular threat/situation, see his reaction to it, and get a resolution. Then we’re given a question that (ideally) hooks us into coming back for the next issue. Or in short: this is an effective first issue, doing what I would expect of a first issue.

While a first issue is not much to go on, the fact that this issue is devoid of superheroes/superheroics (only a passing mention that they even exist) is a welcome thing. My hope with this title is that it’ll be DC‘s way to have their cake and eat it, too: a solo title featuring John Constantine, BEING John Constantine, without the superheroes’ interaction…just Constantine doing his thing in his own world of sorts. But he’s part of the “main universe,” too, and thus remains available for stories that would call for his brand of involvement. I enjoy seeing him dealing with the superhero crowd…but when I pick up a book starring him, I’m not doing so for superhero stuff.

This title’s “subtitle” of The Hellblazer seems tacked-on and like some afterthought given its size and rather obviously being “just” a font rather than a focused part of the title logo. That strikes me as being a sort of appeasement, like saying “Ok, ok, we get it, y’all want a monthly comic with Hellblazer in the title!” (Granted, I understand the title Hellblazer was only ever initially used because Hellraiser was not available).

As a first issue and not knowing how dark the title may go, how long it’ll last, whether it will cross over directly with and mingle with the superhero stuff…taken by itself I think this is as close as we’re gonna get to a return to the classic Hellblazer book. As a fan of that series, I do recommend giving this a shot. I suspect readers of the recently-ended Constantine will appreciate this as well. And overall–in this day and age of seemingly EVERYTHING being $3.99+, this is a $2.99 book for the moment, so I’d recommend getting this even just to “support” the price point if you’re a single-issue buyer.

I’ll probably be back for the second issue and go from there. For my $2.99 this time, the issue was definitely worth the purchase and read, and my buying any more issues at all will be due to this fact, as I’d had every intention of outright ignoring anything DC put out for the foreseeable future.

New (to me) TPBs to Start December

Along with new comics, this week I scored several bargain volumes:

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The Marvel volumes were all 90% off so cost me $1.50 to $2 each…less than HALF the cost of a SINGLE ISSUE.

And the Hellblazer volume I got for $5, less than 1/3 its cover price.

Everything in the photo above for basically the cost of 3 single Marvel issues.

Yet I’m probably most thrilled with the Hellblazer volume as it gets me one book closer to a full run of the Hellblazer trades, outside of the new “complete” editions being published every few months.

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