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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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The Complete Life and Death

I’ve been waiting for this book for a long time. It’s been well over a YEAR since the individual comics finished and it seems like forever that the individual skinny paperbacks have been out…and even a paperback edition collecting the entire series has been out for awhile.

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But this oversized hardcover "library edition" version of The Complete Life and Death is finally out.

This collects the entire Life and Death mega-arc, that spanned four mini-series, each touching on a brand: Prometheus, Aliens, AvP, and Predator.

Even the first issue of the story had comparison to/reference of the previous such mega-arc Fire and Stone…and it’s great to finally have this volume to add to my growing library of these beautiful hardcovers!

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Here’s the book with the other hardcovers and paired with Fire and Stone.

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…and here’s my entire Aliens shelf. Assuming I discovered the Aliens vs. Predator novels in 1995 (I don’t recall for sure as of this typing nor do I feel like looking up copyright dates), that’s less than a decade after the first Predator FILM. And it’s been 23 years SINCE then…so for the majority of the time I’ve even been aware of either property, they’ve been a "shared universe," particularly in the comics.

For me, they just go together.

This shelf is the comics/graphic novels shelf…I have several shelves of novels (I believe I most recently showed those off back in April for Aliens Day 2018.)

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1990s Aliens Toys: Bishop

I remember, as a kid, seeing some Aliens toys while out at some store with my Mom. I’d thought they were kinda cool, but she had zero interest in buying any of them for me.

I think I’d associated them with an arcade game that was at the local skating rink…it’s also possible that I associated them with a bit of a movie I’d seen when Dad fell asleep watching tv; it’s also likely that–this being Kenner–I may have seen commercials for the toys. At the same time–the more I do think about it–I may have already read the novelization of Alien3, and perhaps had already seen the movies, which may have further explained my noticing/taking an interest in these…possibly prior to my getting into the books based on the Dark Horse Comics series.

I recently came across a couple of the figures at a local The Exchange and for the price, went ahead and bought them…though disappointingly, they did not have any of the actual Alien creatures…just a couple of the soldiers.

I was also particularly interested in the "free comic" that was included, quite interested in what that was content-wise. I did not bargain for it to be a rolled up pamphlet with no real story that simply serves as a guide to playtime and/or other toys to get!

Anyway…here’s stuff with the first figure–Bishop!

Aliens_Kenner_Bishop_front

The character looks like a "cool" android here, but not much like the film character. Considering these toys were (as I recall) marketed to kids, and (also as I recall in coming across them as a kid) found in the toy aisle with other kids’ toys…it’s just as well that there were differences as I doubt most kids that would’ve been wanting these toys would have been old enough to (responsibly) be shown such a violent R-rated film.

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The back of the card gives a tidbit of information about the character, and shows off the other toys in the line–something that (in this quantity) I wish more toy lines would do to this day. Seeing/knowing what’s out there does a lot more than having to (or happening to) "research" a toy line and whatnot. Show off the other cool stuff and prompt the person with this toy to also want those toys!

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While these were just into the early 1990s, they tried to (somewhat) follow the "clip and collect" thing (something I personally most associate with GI Joe and TMNT figures).

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Also good to have some basic info about the figure without having to "guess" or "not know until purchase" and getting the figure out of the package!

Aliens_Kenner_Bishop_back_tagline

"Space Marines," huh? "Space ______" sounds cool, I guess. Aliens "attacking," but no significant details. "heavy metal," yeah, ok, sign of the times. Generic text/"tagline"/"elevator pitch" for the line…rather sanitized, but hey…these were for kids!

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The aliens look a bit blocky here…but still cool. I’d be most interested in the Alien Queen and the Scorpion Alien, though wouldn’t mind getting the other two!

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The rest of the "Space Marines"–though I notice at least one prominent character missing. Ripley had to be included, obviously…but otherwise, apparently who actually wanted any females? I’m not sure who "Atax" is with the "disguise" suit; but otherwise, looks to me like a good mix on the characters generically: A woman, "only" a couple white guys, a black guy, and robot.

And perhaps that was one of the things for the film–quite the good ensemble cast.

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And as with any ’80s or ’90s toy line…of course you had to have "vehicles" to go with the figures! Of these, I’d sorta be interested in Ripley’s power loader…though ultimately I’m not all that interested in any of these.

As for the line itself, I’d love to find the Aliens themselves cheaply, even "loose," though I’d be quite interested in seeing what sort of "story" one gets across all the included "comics" inserts.

And speaking of said inserts…here’s the Bishop one, numbered as "No 1" and apparently starting off the adventure!

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The Weekly Haul – Week of May 3rd, 2017

This ended up being a "decent’ week of new comics–not horrendously expensive, but not all that small or cheap, either! But a bit of a spread on stuff I’ve been looking forward to, stuff I continue with, and some new stuff. Though it would have included Youngblood #1…except–thanks to all the variant covers–the "advertised" cover on the Image website was NOT available. Since I couldn’t get the advertised (and thus assumed to be "standard" or "basic" or "CVR A" or "regular") I did not buy the issue at all…and they lose any chance of my buying into nostalgia and trying any further issues. For screwing around with variants, they lose me entirely.

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This week sees part 3 of the Batman/Flash crossover The Button. A new Superman issue. Though I don’t plan to follow all 12 issues offhand, curious about the Bane: Conquest series, and the cover having a familiar-ish font for the logo and iconic look in itself as an image. New Captain Atom…and a couple new Ninja Turtles!

I am ESPECIALLY happy to see the return of the "classic" ’80s TMNT logo on the Funko Universe issue. E, after even the "classic" toys line adopted a "corrupted" form to make it look more like the newer branding!

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Having just last weekend "caught up" on the Life and Death mega-arc through the AvP properties, I’m rather keen for more all around, so definitely welcome this new Predator series.

I missed the Kamandi Challenge issue last week. And as to Swordquest….twenty-five cents. Not about to pass up that one…all the more with my nostalgia-factor kicked into high gear lately on stuff after listening to the unabridged audiobook of Ready Player One (and presently being "on the hunt" for War Games to watch for myself!).

No bargain/back-issues this Wednesday, no collected volumes.

We’ll see what’s waiting at week’s end…and Free Comic Book Day…and of course, the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie premieres tonight/Friday.

Latest Aliens and Predators Shelf Configuration – September 12, 2016

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aliens_shelf_sept12bWe’re into September, which means a couple of new Aliens related books due out.

I believe this week will see the release of The Complete Aliens Omnibus volume two, collecting two of the Dark Horse novels after the initial trilogy.

And the end of the month will see the release of Alien vs. Predator: Armageddon (Book 3 of a "crossover trilogy" called The Rage War by Tim Lebbon.

We also have the current Dark Horse Comics series Aliens: Defiance in progress, as well as a new Judge Dredd/Aliens/Predator series with an upcoming Aliens: Life and Death (though after 2014’s Aliens/Predator/AvP/Prometheus event and subsequent one-volume collection, I’m just waiting for the one-volume collection this time around, most likely).

There was also a recent collection of general DC Comics/Dark Horse Aliens stuff put out, and more recently a volume of DC Comics/Dark Horse Superman stuff (of primary interest to me, the Superman/Aliens and Superman/Aliens 2 material) published.

Along with the various books and comics, there’s the new Aliens Queen 6" Funko Pop figure that just came out (at least according to a months-old Amazon pre-order that just arrived). While I’ve had the "regular" Alien, this Queen is one of the larger oversized figures… and I quite like it, all things considered.

A couple weeks ago, I found one of the mid-2000s Dark Horse Press Predator novels at a used book shop*. Rather crummy condition, but at half cover price and to have it, I won’t complain much for the moment.

(* not Half-Price Books. I figure it could be missing the cover and they’d mark it up to at least $50 just because it’s out of print and not necessarily due to any great demand beyond myself…)

I believe there are only 3 or so Predator novels I’m missing, now to have all of those; certainly still missing a bunch of comic/collected volumes, but I’ve found the novels a lot more satisfying for both Aliens and Predator, and certainly more "history" with the novels.

And as seen in the photos above, also some cool toys for them–primarily Funko product, with a couple Minimates creatures and a Neca figure thrown in for my kinda bookshelves…

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Aliens: Defiance #1 [Review]

aliensdefiance0001Episode One: Derelict

Script: Brian Wood
Art: Tristan Jones
Colors: Dan Jackson
Lettering: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover: Massimon Carnevale
Publisher: Mike Richardson
Editor: Spencer Cushing
Designer: Cindy Calcerez-Sprague
Digital Art Technitian: Conley Smith
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Date: April 2016
Cover Price: $3.99

My earliest exposure to Aliens was the final battle with the Queen at the end of the 1986 film, that I saw accidentally, wandering out one time to where Dad had fallen asleep watching it or whatever preceded it. Several years later, I came across and read the novelization of Alien3, which led to me seeing that film (my first-ever R-rated film sought out!), and in turn led to “backtracking” to the others. I also recall at some point realizing I had read the novelization of the first film at some point without ever realizing when I read it that it had anything to do with any movie. I also came across the novels that expanded the Aliens universe, and which I eventually came to learn were themselves based on comics. It would be a few more years before I ever got around to getting to read those original comics–particularly the first ‘trilogy’. While I’ve “lapsed” over the years, the last few years I have been quite interested to learn of any Aliens comic series, and occasionally lament that it’s not a truly ongoing property (while realizing that it works better with finite stories). As a gamer, I’m pretty lax, and have not played the recent game with Ripley’s daughter, though I’ve been told a fair bit of the story (sadly, not consciously retained). But hey…comics, right?

So here I am…brand new long-form Aliens story kicking off, its cover putting me a bit in mind of a/the video game, and intrigued at what I BELIEVE to be at least a 12-issue saga–perhaps the longest single Aliens story I’ve been a part of as a fan (not getting into the comics until about a decade ago). I know Brian Wood‘s name from some prior stuff I’ve read/sampled–Northlanders, DMZ, The Massive–and been aware of his name on stuff like Star Wars more recently…so that’s a welcome factor for a new Aliens series. Icing on the cake is art by Tristan Jones, who I became aware of with his work on the Tales of the TMNT title from original TMNT publisher Mirage a few years back, and have loved seeing his work on various other projects since…and whose visual style seems a perfect fit to me for the Aliens property.

This issue is a first issue, giving us basically a brief paragraph of context/setup before we’re launched into the thick of things. We meet Zula Hendricks, a private involved in a mission to a derelict spacecraft. She and her fellow marines encounter Xenomorphs, and the situation does not go well. She and a synthetic survive, though she quickly learns that the synthetic is acting against programming, and her own world is changing as a result.

The story is good, for what it is. Which is not meant to be a negative statement…but this is only the first chapter of a multi-issue arc, that I believe is a year-long, so this is hardly going to be a full story in and of itself, nor is it giving everything away. And a single issue isn’t really enough space to re-introduce readers to a property, introduce new characters and detail their history, recent past, and present while also showing the scope of the property and of space and the horrors of the Xenomorphs. But we do get a fair bit packed into this, with Zula’s introduction and some flashbacks, a cameo of Amanda Ripley (which I believe thusly situates this time-wise somewhere between the first and second films), the synthetic Davis, some context for Zula and her place in things, and the final-page reveal of what seems to be the “mission” of this particular series…piquing my interest such that I almost wish this was a weekly series, because waiting another month for the next tidbit seems far too long. It’s not a cliffhanger in and of itself, but more a concept that promises a lot of great stuff, and I want to see it developed and played out, and be along for the ride.

Jones’ visuals are a great fit for this story, providing a great overall feel for this issue. His style is–as said above–very well suited for this property, and gives a gritty, dark, creepy look to the Xenomorphs and their brand of violence. The humans/humanoids come across as I would expect, while exuding whatever it is that just FEELS like they’re in an Aliens story. The linework and layouts are impressive, giving a sort of cinematic flow to the issue…and I’m pleased at the lack of full or double-page spreads, which often feel like cheats and wastes of space when they’re the bulk of an issue. Only one page is a single/full-page image, and that’s the ending of the issue, where after all those pages crammed full of panels, it provides a stark contrast, and really drives home the importance of the “moment” that it conveys.

The cover is also a fantastic piece of art, and for me quite iconic and recognizeable. It’s also all the more impressive to me as it’s the only cover image I’ve seen for this, allowing it to stand as itself and not be just one in a sea of variant covers diluting the thing. While there may be a variant or two out there specific to someone, I don’t believe there are any alternate covers from Dark Horse in and of itself as a push.

Plenty of questions are opened up here, and the apparent premise of this series now holds a great deal of potential. I look forward to learning more of Zula as well as Davis, and seeing what sort of interactions the two have. I’m interested in how their ‘mission’ will play out, and play into the larger scope of the Aliens universe. While we get the cameo of Amanda Ripley, I believe her story is told in the videogame, and more of an “Easter egg” tossed in for fans as well as being an indicator of the time this is set in. I look forward to seeing and learning more about the Aliens, and seeing these characters grow in their own knowledge and understanding of same.

It will be interesting to see how this is paced, overall as a series…but I almost wish this was already a completed work. As a first issue, this works well overall. I don’t know that this is something that in and of itself right now as a singular issue will pull anyone “new” into Aliens or be necessarily the greatest introduction to the property…but whether long-time fan of the Aliens comics or just now checking them out being familiar with the films and/or video game, I think this is a great start into the comics side of things.

I’m not particularly enamored with the cover price, but will suck it up, given this is Aliens . I’m definitely on board for this series, and definitely recommend checking it out if you’ve any interest already in the property.

Vampirella/Aliens #1 [Review]

aliensvampirella001Writer: Corinna Bechko
Artist: Javier Garcia-Miranda
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Colorist: InLight Studios
Cover Artist: Gabriel Hardman
Cover Colorist: Jordan Boyd
Published by: Dynamite Entertainment
Cover Date: N/A (September 2015)
Cover Price: $3.99

In twenty-seven years, throughout the entirety of the ’90s and the ‘bad girl’ craze and all that…I never bought even one single issue of Vampirella. That impressive run has now come to an end, thanks to a cover and crossover…with Aliens.

Some cloaked/hooded figures in some sort of underground temple on Mars are attacked by Aliens, and quickly revealed to be vampires. Even their enhanced abilities are no match, and they’re wiped out. Some time later, a ship arrives at the station on the surface, carrying an individual with special expertise…Vampirella. She and the station crew investigate stuff and–of course–encounter the Aliens. They also learn that vampires are not the cause of the strangeness but victims. After fending off an attack that left most of the group unconscious with creatures having attached themselves to faces…we see that even Vampirella isn’t immune to Aliens and their larval Facehugger forms.

I don’t honestly know what I expected from this. I’d known the series was coming up, probably even knew this first issue was due out, but I forgot about it all the same, until I saw it on the shelf.

Despite the presence of Vampirella…the cover looks like an Aliens comic. Aside from the ridiculously unnatural near-lack-of clothing on the female, this could be any Aliens comic, by the looks of it. And that suits me just fine, simply being interested in something new with Aliens. I also like the way the two publishers’ logos are…neither one seems out of place, and the way they appear with the issue number and creator names, if one didn’t know better it’d be quite possible to think that one’s an imprint of the other rather than two “competitors.”

I’m not familiar with the creative team, so nothing prior to compare this to in that regard. But in terms of being “an Aliens story,” this is pretty formulaic and familiar…which I actually appreciate and enjoyed as I read this. (That’s what Aliens crossovers ARE, too, to me: something entertaining despite formula…because it’s Aliens vs. ______ [insert character/property]!) So there’s not much story-wise, to me. I’m aware OF Vampirella but know basically nothing about the character or her past stories/continuity. Ok, so she’s a vampire? Cool…that means she’s at least “tougher” than “regular humans” (as we see in this issue). I don’t really “need” anything else…I’m entertained at “Aliens vs. Vampires” here.

Visually…I like the art. This looks and ‘feels’ like an Aliens comic. And that’s more than good enough for me. I’m especially impressed with the cover, though. Different artists, but the styles work well together–the interior art isn’t a match to the cover, but it’s not a jarring difference or anything. And surprisingly–almost shockingly–despite one particular glimpse of a “classic” look to Vampirella herself, we’re treated mostly to a far more feasibly-dressed female figure that doesn’t make me feel dirty for buying an issue with Vampirella in the title.

I’m not sure if this is 4 or 6 issues for the mini-series, but right now (particularly given the issue’s cliffhanger) I’m very interested in the next issue, and will be keeping an eye out for it next month, whether or not I stick with the single issues for the entirety.

Not being entirely familiar with Vampirella, I don’t know if fans specifically of the character will enjoy this (at least for this issue alone), though I can’t imagine (so far) that it particularly contradicts basic stuff with the character. As an Aliens fan, coming to this because of that side? I really enjoyed this.

The $3.99 for one story chunk is off-putting as ever, put I’ve been pretty much beaten into submission on the fact that all the comics I buy are basically $3.99. While this is certainly an issue worth picking up to try the series, to get to read the story now and as it unfolds, and whatever other usual motivations are present for buyiing a $4 single issue.

Based on this first issue alone, I suspect the eventual collected edition will be of definite interest to Aliens fans, and as we get further into the mini, I won’t be surprised if there’s more material with what will appear to be a distinctly Vampirella tone, for those fans.

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