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Weekend Wonders and Even More Comics’ Pricing concerns

Though I’ve been largely avoiding most of DC‘s recent output, not much caring for most of the New 52 stuff…this weekend, I found myself totally drawn into their recent Injustice: Gods Among Us digital-first series. I’m pretty sure I missed the first print edition issue (see below for the result of that little interest).

injusticegodsamongus01to06

But, having given the first issue away for “free” recently, I read it…and decided what the heck…another $1.98 to spend $1.98 for a ~30 page comic story wasn’t bad at all in this age of a few $2.99 but mostly $3.99 comics.

But I got to the end of chapter 3 (each $3.99 print edition I believe “collects” 3 chapters of the story as a single issue) and was interested still, so I went ahead and got chapters 4-6. Then 7-14.

And read the entire lot of ’em.

injusticegodsamongus07to12

For something based on a videogame I haven’t played and probably won’t get to play (I own an old Wii that’s been a “Netflix box” and these days won’t even recognize wifi so just sits there), this series has been rather enjoyable–at least for a one-night, one-time, read-it-all-in-a-single-sitting kinda thing.

I might even “double-dip” and pick this up in print if I can find the first issue for cover price (and if not a first print, then hopefully no funky color variance or stupid “sketch/pencils-only” variants or such).

injusticegodsamongus1314

I’d followed the first bunch of Legends of the Dark Knight digital “issues” until I realized each “issue” was actually only about 10-12 pages, and once they started coming out in print, I’ve stuck with the print editions. And I might do the same here, having “sampled” a big chunk of stuff, and once the print catches up to this, see from there.

Friday I stopped by another comic shop with the intention of picking up Injustice #1 if they had it. Instead, I wound up buying four other things (they didn’t have Injustice #1).

doctorwhovol3issues05and06

I noticed an issue of Doctor Who from IDW. It was #6; I flipped through it, noticed it was “part 2 of 2” of whatever the story is, and saw #5 right behind it–part 1 of 2. Figured with the mood I was in, Amy and Rory on the cover of #5 and having JUST watched the midseason 7 finale The Angels Take Manhattan, I decided to grab both issues, just to check out the comics version of things, since I’m quite enjoying the tv series.

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Despite thinking I’d gotten my fill of cheap hardbacks last week…seeing the 16+ issue Mighty Avengers: Dark Reign volume (normally $44.99) for $10.99, I decided to pick it up. That’s cheaper than buying 4 of the single issues, or like paying just under 70 cents per issue…and getting them without ads and in this single, hefty hardcover tome.

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However, the Avengers volume stands in stark contrast to the Aliens volume…which incidentally carries a cover price of $10.99. Not horrible for what it is–a hardcover “graphic novella,” much in line with one I’d bought quite awhile back. I’m a bit of a sucker for the various Aliens comics…and not having kept up with Dark Horse Presents, I’m kinda enjoying seeing some of the specific stories serialized in that series collected as their own titles so I can buy “just” what I’m specifically interested in (so far, X and Aliens).

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I’ve mentioned several times in the past in this blog that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stuff is my main “weakness” where I’ll overlook pricing in a way that I refuse to do with Marvel/DC in particular. Aliens books tend to be another…though I much prefer the Aliens Omnibus volumes for the “classic” comics material rather than the full-dimensioned smaller collected volumes.

Definitely an expensive weekend overall (especially with several World War Hulk digital issues thrown in there–I might not have bothered with the main 5-issue series, even at 99-cents per issue…but already having #1 thanks to the Marvel 700 #1s Giveaway, I figured having the full event “core series” for the price of a single print issue was worthwhile.

But I think this coming week is going to be fairly small, so that should make up for it a bit.

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Siege #2 [Review]

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Olivier Coipel
Inker: Mark Morales
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover: Coipel, Morales & Martin
Associate Editor: Lauren Sankovitch
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Published by: Marvel Comics

This issue is largely a lengthy fight-scene. Ares vs. Balder. Ares vs. The Sentry. Dark Avengers vs. Thor. And while these battles are going on, Steve Rogers rallies the Avengers, with Nick Fury providing transportation. And the issue ends on a ridiculously annoying note.

While I like the visuals overall, something about the Sentry comes across like some totally ticked-off child, if not some sort of demon-possessed child. The other characters all look pretty good–and are quite recognizable. The only part where I really had any trouble following the action in the visuals was the most gruesome image of the issue–you’ll know it when you see it. Though the gore makes it clear the character has been killed, it seems to come out of nowhere. If the final page of actual comic store didn’t have “To Be Continued” I’d be asking why a page was left out–what seems to be done for cinematic/dramatic effect feels extremely anticlimactic, and does nothing to make me want to get the next issue. The sequence–in my eyes–should have been played out.

The story itself seems very simplistic…we see things going awry and Norman losing control of the situation as he’s closer to being exposed publicly. Characters fight, someone dies, etc. The fight sequences make the issue read far too quickly–there’s too much quick action and too little dialogue. I’d almost prefer to see a tie-in mini to flesh out the action, and let the main series involve more dialogue and interaction as the event goes down.

In and of itself, there’s not much of anything here to recommend this issue. Marvel only makes it worthwhile as it’s part of the story that ends the Dark Reign, and we’re almost–almost–to the point where Osborne’s gonna start to get some of what’s coming to him. This is an “event book,” and the “core mini” at that–this seems the bare minimum one should get if specifically following Siege. While there’s loads of other stuff surely going on, this has been doing a decent job–for what I’ve read–of having the main stuff unfolding here rather than in the tie-in/crossover issues.

Not wonderful, but there’s plenty worse out there to be read…plenty that doesn’t at least have as its end result a brighter tone to come for the Marvel Universe.

The text piece at the end held no interest to me–it may have some stuff for context, but I couldn’t even get through it.

Story: 3.5/10
Art: 8/10
Overall: 5/10

Siege: Embedded #2 [Review]

Writer: Brian Reed
Artist: Chris Samnee
Color Artist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer & Production: VC’s Rus Wooton
Cover: Adi Granov
Editor: Lauren Sankovitch
Executive Editor: Tom Brevoort
Published by: Marvel Comics

I think I read the first couple issues of Civil War: Frontline, and while I snagged an issue or two from a quarter bin somewhere, I don’t believe I’ve read any of the World War Hulk: Frontline. I also hate the $3.99 price point, but after growing so weary of even just the phrase “Dark Reign” and seeing that on comics on the shelves. That Marvel would actually do a 4-issue event in Siege seemed astonishing to me, and I’d decided to compromise my principles and buy the core issues despite the $3.99 tag–at least it was an ‘event book’ and not just another standard, monthly issue of an ongoing title. With the Origins of Siege freebie the week prior, and a small week of new issues, I decided to give Siege a bit more of a shot than I would otherwise, and not only bought SiegeEmbedded #1, but also picked up #1…and while I was at it, snagged the cabal one-shot from December.

With the second issue of both Siege and Siege: Embedded out this week, I again went ahead and snagged both.

This issue continues the journey of Ben Urich, his travel buddy Will, and Volstagg, in the wake of the “inciting incident” that allowed Norman Osborne the excuse to invade Asgard. Urich is interviewing people during the journey while stopped at gas stations, while his buddy tries to keep Volstagg from being noticed. When the group hits a traffic jam, things get bad pretty quick as Osborne’s people lock onto Volstagg’s Asgardian properties. While he fights the would-be captors, Urich and Will wind up in less than ideal conditions, where they must rely on one another without their Asgardian friend.

The issue’s art seems rather simplistic in a way…not really in a grim and gritty way, but just some stylistic thing. It’s not bad–but it’s nothing wonderful, either.

The story itself seems to have virtually nothing to do with Siege itself, other than Volstagg’s presence/situation. Siege sets the “environment,” but other than that, this doesn’t seem to add anything to the main title’s story. This is just its own story set within the event. I’m somewhat enjoying this story as–while it involves super-beings–the main character(s) are not themselves super-heroes/villains. They’re just people who live in a world populated by super-beings.

As said–this really adds nothing yet to Siege itself. But if you’re looking for a larger experience than just the main Siege book, this is worth getting, as it is also a 4-issue mini-series, and there’s the chance it’s not going to get you hooked on another ongoing title that just ties in to Siege.

Ultimately, a solid issue, but kinda take-it-or-leave-it. I’ll be interested to see how the series is collected–it’d be great to see this collected WITH Siege itself, though I’d be shocked to see that actually happen.

Story: 7/10
Art: 4.5/10
Overall: 6/10

Secret Invasion: Dark Reign #1 [Review]

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist and Cover: Alex Maleev
Color Artist: Dean White
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Production: Joe Sabino
Assoc. Editor: Jeanine Schaefer
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics

A week late and a dollar short…that about describes this.

Picking up where Secret Invasion #8 left off, this issue follows the “dark Illuminati”–a group of fairly villanous Marvel characters that serves here as a counterpart to the Illuminati group revealed in the “Road to Civil War” era. We see what Norman is willing to offer these individuals, and for what price, as well as some of their initial reactions to the offer and what they could do with it.

The story isn’t too bad–for what it is. What it is isn’t all that much–basicaly just a wordier description with pictures of the “premise” behind this whole “Dark Reign” thing kicking off (a sentence about what brings each character to the table would suffice).

The art is fairly stylistic–not something I’d consider terribly realistic, though it is by no means bad. It’s got a gritty feel to it that seems out of place for characters I’d consider to not be part of a “gritty” story. On the whole, though, you could get a lot worse. The main weakness is that Namor doesn’t look like Namor–he looks to me like some drunken, unshaven guy off the street put in Namor’s clothes.

As a whole, this issue is almost entirely uninteresting. I was only slightly curious as to what details might be provided heading into Marvel’s Dark Reign event, and enjoyed Bendis when I read Ultimate Spider-Man, so was thinking a “talking heads issue” given the context would actually hold me interest and feel like a good story. This felt quite short…only 26 pages of story, plus NINE pages of “previews” for three other titles.

This was NOT worth its cover price to me–better to have paid $2.99 for the main story and have NO previews. Hardcore Marvel fans and those actually enjoying the overall direction the Marvel Universe has been taking will probably enjoy this, especially if picking up a bunch of titles from across the Avengers/X-Men families of books. If you’re a casual fan or not chomping at the bit for stuff following that last page of Secret Invasion, don’t bother with this issue. The previews and price actually detract from the overall experience of the issue for me, hence the final rating falling below the story/art ratings.

Story: 6/10
Art: 6/10
Whole: 5.5/10

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