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The ’90s Revisited: Robin #1

90s_revisited

robin001Big Bad World

Writer: Chuck Dixon
Penciller: Tom Lyle
Inker: Bob Smith
Letterer: Tim Harkins
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Editors: Dan Raspler, Denny O’Neil
Cover: Brian Bolland
Published by: DC Comcis
Cover Date: January 1991
Cover Price: $1.00

I’ve read this issue before. This might even be the third time I’ve read it–I’m not sure at this point. But for this particular read-through…it came about because I wanted the POSTER that was bound into the issue, without having to rummage through a bunch of unsorted longboxes–so I bought a copy just for the poster. But since I was "handling" the issue, I decided to read it…and quite enjoyed it overall, though unfortunately not quite as much as I’d thought I would.

I’m pretty sure this issue picks up essentially from the pages of a Batman issue, as I seem to recall a scene of Tim debuting the new costume before Bruce and Alfred; but that’s clearly already happened by the time this issue opens.

We open on Tim in the Batcave with Bruce; wearing the then-new (but now highly familiar to me) ’90s Robin costume–the red body, wide yellow belt, green pants, tall/dark boots…and the stylized "R"; as well as the two-colored cape: yellow on the inside, the classic yellow; but black on the outside, so he can wrap into it and blend into shadows same as Batman…not "glow in the dark" or such. The two discuss Tim’s readiness TO be the new Robin, in a bit of Tim’s doubt that I don’t quite remember, but fits for the time. Tim decides to further ready himself, now that he’s "passed" Batman’s training is to take his own journey to train with others in preparation for his role. He heads to Europe, where we quickly learn that another figure from Batman’s past is active: Shiva. Meanwhile, Tim finds the master he sought, though some details aren’t as he expected. He gets drawn into a situation that calls for what Robin can do, that Tim Drake can’t, and gains a potential ally, even as he considers what it’d mean to fail, to let down the Batman.

Which is all a grandiose, vague summary of the issue. It’s interesting to consider a number of "firsts" at the time this was released–first action in the new costume, first "solo" Tim Drake adventure, Tim’s first issue as Robin, first issue of any series–mini or otherwise–of the solo-billed Robin title, etc. And I’ll be doggonned if I am aware of any variant covers. Really! All these firsts…and other than (perhaps) a second printing or such, or maybe some kind of foil-y something or other that I’m not consciously aware of at present, this is THE issue. Period. One cover. One issue. A Brian Bolland image.

Story-wise, this is a very solid first issue. Though I mentioned recollection of a scene preceding this, that’s not integral to this issue. We simply pick up on Tim in costume, apparently freshly made officially Robin, and through dialogue get a bit more detail to fill in gaps on his background and our getting here. He’s given a ‘quest’, we’re introduced to threats and antagonists in addition to the self-set challenge, and get drawn into the story.

I said above I didn’t enjoy this as much as I thought I would–it’s a good issue, and fairly enjoyable in and of itself; certainly nostalgic…especially for me. But that’s part of the problem. One of Tim’s first couple cameos before his full appearance in A Lonely Place of Dying was my first-ever Batman comic…this character was introduced AS I got into comics, and is still around. But this issue by itself–not re-reading the lead-up, not having the rest of the issues handy nor the time to read their contents in one of the TPBs, this is just a snippet of early-Tim Drake stuff. And since this isn’t an ongoing series but "merely" a finite five-issue story, there’s less "need" for the kind of hook an ongoing might need…and I think I frustrated myself not being able to just read the whole story handily in one go.

robin001_posterThe art is quite good, and rather iconic to me. Looking at this, it just screams "early Tim/Robin" to me. The cover isn’t horrible…but the way Robin’s face is, this has gotta be one of the creepiest-looking Robins I can think of! The costume, cape, etc work…but the face just doesn’t fit Tim. I also like that the "corner art" seems to be a carryover from what I recall offhand of the main Batman issues, cementing this as what it is–its own thing, starring Batman’s sidekick, but in a solo title that does NOT emphasize Batman.

If you find this in a bargain bin–or heck, find it for $2 or under, I highly recommend it! Particularly if you’re a fan of Robin, or specifically Tim Drake. But I’d recommend trying to acquire the entire 5-issue mini-series rather than just this isolated issue.

Unless you want the poster…in which case, that ALONE is worth at least a couple dollars!

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The Weekly Haul – Week of June 21, 2017

Well, this turned into a far larger week price-wise than I’d had any intention of…of course, a lot of that goes to some deals, and a couple more of DC‘s $4.99 DC/ILooney Tunes books! And a back-issue.

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Of course, the weekly Superman book–in this case, this week it’s the actual Superman title itself…pretty much concluding the Black Dawn story in an "oversized" "anniversary" #25 issue. Then we have Lobo/Road Runner and Wonder Woman/Tasmanian Devil which, so help me, intrigue me. Super Sons has another issue–I need to make sure I’m caught up to the previous issue. I think I am, but I’m not 100%.

Then just for the novelty of it AND so I won’t have to HUNT for the first issue later, SwordQuest as I’m just curious how the story really will go after the #0 issue…though I don’t like the $3.99 price point. I’ve been getting God Country, and probably should have just waited for the collected volume, as I don’t think I’ve actually read #3 to present.

And finally, because of that darned cover, and figuring if nothing else it’ll go with the last #1 Darth Vader I bought, I figured I’d give the thing a try, now out of the "first week sales figures" range and all that, and it was there, and still cover price. I did NOT, however, buy #2 that came out this week.

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As expensive as three $5 issues and several $4 issues were…I’d had no expectation of finding any great deals on more collected volumes. But for less than the price of 2 Marvel issues, got the oversized hardcover of Wolverine: Sabretooth, collecting two stories. While I’m not the biggest fan of the stuff, it’s still Wolverine, the actual, genuine, regular, true, original character.

Then for roughly the same as seven Marvel single-issues, got the three volumes of Excalibur Visionairies: Warren Ellis. I don’t know if I knew these existed, but all three available together and for this pricing…I couldn’t pass ’em up. And hey…they’re all ’90s or early-2000s X-stuff…especially the Excalibur volumes.

These even put Half-Price Books to shame…and really put convention pricing to shame.

All in all, a big week and plenty of reading to do, and I’m still a hugely long way off from ever catching up. Such is the life of a comic person, I guess…

A Token Friday Flash Post

Finally Friday…and I’m beat.

So today, just a token post, featuring the Flash!

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I stopped by another comic shop I don’t often get to, and located a couple Flash issues from the range I’m looking to fill in.

While I certainly balk at (Marvel) and their $5.99 issues, I am less reserved about $5.99 for 30+ year old comics, particularly when multiple other shops (and online ones, too!) have not had the issues available, or not for any reasonable price!

Plus, I get to hold to my $10 theshold as well–getting comics since 1989, and I’ve never paid/had paid for me more than $10 for a single-issue comic. (Maybe a bit more once shipping was added, for some TMNT stuff).

And I think I’m back to toying with the idea of more ’80s DC back-issue hunting, between the "Trial of the Flash" "era" and some Batman and Detective Comics issues I’m curious about, etc.

Time will certainly tell, as always!

The Weekly Haul – Week of June 14, 2017

Another Wednesday’s come around…and a couple new books I’ve been looking forward to…as well as yet another week (over a YEAR now!) in which there’s a Superman comic I’m interested in "by default"…!

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I get tired of the far over-used kneel before Zod! schtick…but it works for this cover…or at least, it did when I first saw the image when the issue was solicited a couple months back. Seeing it now, I’d forgotten about it…but it works, AND it fits the story (Revenge).

I’m actually curious about this Dark Days thing, and since it’s DC and they’ve earned back plenty of my ‘loyalty’ I’m willing to let them have the occasional $4.99 special issues that truly DO seem…y’know…SPECIAL. Since I have a copy on hold, my "convenience/immediacy tax" edition is one of the variants just so I don’t have multiple copies of the same cover (SINCE variants are all-pervasive and I can’t simply will them outta existence). I would have liked the Superman & Batman cover…but I still can’t stand Kubert‘s art when it comes to Superman in particular.

The homage nature of the Legion of Super-Heroes/Bugs Bunny issue really "sold" it for me…and I love the look of these various DC/Looney Tunes crossovers, so why not? They actually ARE special things, so I’ll bite the higher cost, at least as long as the cover’s attractive and properly "sells" the issue (and I don’t get stuck with zero choice as to cover, etc).

And finally, because it was cheaper than two Marvel single issues, and only slightly more expensive than two DC Rebirth issues, I snagged the X-Men vs. Avengers/Fantastic Four paperback. It’ll fit into my collection, or at least disappear into it, quite well I think!

While a bit expensive for only 4 things…I got everything for less than cover price of the paperback, so that’s pretty good, I’d say!

The ’80s Revisited: The Flash #324

flash_vol1_0324The Slayer and the Slain!

Writer: Cary Bates
Pencils: Carmine Infantino
Inker: Dennis Jensen
Colorist: Carl Gafford
Letterer: Phil Felix
Editor: Ernie Colon
Cover: Carmine Infantino, Rodin Rodriguez
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: August 1983
Cover Price: 60 cents

I have the Showcase Presents: The Trial of the Flash volume, bought a couple years ago. That book has Flash 323-350…basically, the final couple years’ worth of issues of the Silver Age Flash series that took us up to Crisis on Infinite Earths prior to Wally’s series kicking off.

I have "experienced" 28 years of reading new comics myself, all being years after this issue. And in broad strokes I’ve long since "filled in the gaps" or otherwise have "a passing knowledge" of stuff from this "era."

But finding this issue in a 25-cent bin, I was all for it. Sure, I have the issue in that Showcase volume–but that’s black-and-white and a thick volume that’s not the greatest for a randomish, casual read. This issue is in color with all the ads and whatnot in being the actual, original, (vintage) edition.

The cover is what grabbed my attention–The Flash holding Reverse-Flash and exclaiming "Get up, Get up! You can’t be dead!" and a caption proclaiming "But he is–and Flash killed him!" This is both accurate and yet comes off very much as a number of classic covers do–a "technicality" of truth but quite misleading. Of course, I know this isn’t "just" that, but is indicative of an issue with a lasting point that influenced so much at the trailing end of the series.

Then I figured I’d missed the actual occurrence, and "assumed" that this would pick up immediately after the PREVIOUS issue ending on an "Is he or isn’t he dead?" cliffhanger.

What I got from this was a solid read from a key point in pre-Crisis Barry Allen’s life with one of his most dangerous foes, and an issue meeting expectation while drawing me into the then-contemporary story and leaving me curious about a number of things, not limited to: Iris died 40+ issues earlier? I did think that was here. Who is this Fiona, and how important was she as I’ve never consciously been aware of her? And how does an obvious rock-and-hard-place situation stopping a known killer with intent lead to a lengthy story of the Flash on trial?

While I’d half expected to open the issue TO Barry and a dead Thawne, I actually found that the two were still engaged in fisticuffs. Said fisticuffs have made Barry very late for his own wedding, where family and closest friends try to salvage the situation, assuring folks he’ll be there and has NOT left Fiona at the altar. Kid Flash performs a "super feat" rescuing a baby and showing THAT he has the power and speed to do much of what Barry does…and even he is late for the wedding. Or would be, if it was proceeding as it should have. As the wedding situation deteriorates, Wally heads out to try to find Barry, and is intercepted by a Guardian of the Universe (not to be confused with a Guardian of the Galaxy…similar names, different publishers) who does something to dampen his powers, ensuring that no one will interfere with Barry’s fight…at said hero’s request, apparently.

We then switch more fully to the Barry/Eobard fight and see a fraction of what goes on with two mortal combatants at super-speed. Ultimately, seeking to press whatever advantage he maintains, the villain takes the lead, heading to kill the woman who would be Barry’s second wife–forcing Barry to move even faster and decisively to save Fiona’s life. Standing before her as the Flash, he does not tell her that it’s him–Barry–and as she storms away, we learn that Thawne is not just "stopped" but dead.

As said earlier, this cover looks like something right out of the ’70s and classic exaggerated/far-fetched situations. The art inside the issue is solid and seems very much of its time–early 1980s–with all relevant characters being distinct and recognizable, and generally no wonkiness or weirdness throwing me out of the story. Possibly the biggest visual grab for me was that somehow I keep forgetting that Barry was blond, and I’m still used to Wally and thus a Flash without red hair throws me off.

Story-wise, this issue includes a footnote indicating that there were several issues’ worth of development leading to this one–and that by itself serves to pique my interest in finding those issues. It also reminds me that this is from those days long ago BEFORE everything had to be clearly deliniated within a rigid 4-issue or 6-issue "story arc" format…when issues could be issues, telling an ongoing story without necessarily being formulaic X Chapter of Y Story.

I like the structure of this issue, giving us some heroics, super feats, as well as developing the wedding side of things and Fiona’s thinking she realizes what’s happened, then seeing Barry and Thawne and their battle, leading to Barry’s being forced (goaded into?) to kill Thawne to save Fiona.

All in all, I definitely enjoyed this issue. It was an easier read than I expected, half thinking it was gonna drag on and feel overly wordy, as well as thinking I’d be reading simply a random chapter of something–not even a key moment–of a much larger story. Though in a way this IS just another ’80s issue, it being an issue included in that Showcase volume, I feel like it’s an ‘early chapter’ more than an ‘isolated issue’ but found this engaging and interesting, while leaving me interested both in backtracking and getting the later issues (as preferable to "just" a black and white reprint).

For only 25 cents, it was well worth the purchase, a solid read, and I would certainly recommend the issue if you find it in such a bargain bin and don’t mind NOT having the entire 25+ issue "run" necessarily at hand.

The Weekend Haul – Weekend of June 2-4 2017

While everyone else is covering Wonder Woman‘s opening weekend (I saw the film and thought it was fantastic, far more enjoyable and such than Man of Steel or Batman v Superman, and above Suicide Squad) I’m gonna continue on for now. Maybe I’ll write up lengthier, more in-depth thoughts, maybe not.

Prior to seeing the film, I made it to Kenmore to pick up my pulls, and after earlier in the day seeing a staff photo with the statues in the background (and still annoyed that someone bought the Robin statue I had intended to buy a week or two before I went to buy it) I opted to splurge big-time (for me) on this Superman statue.

superman_icons_statue_00

This is my first statue, at least as I’d consider stuff to be statues. I suppose the Super Powers Robin and Super Powers Superman that I have might be considered some sort of statue, but I don’t count ’em as such.

The box for this Icon Heroes Superman says "collectible statue paperweight" and I don’t quite get where "paperweight" comes in, but whatever. This is larger than any other Superman I’ve yet got, heavier, and has a base, and is very much a statue in my book!

superman_icons_statue_01

Though the face is a bit generic, and the "S" seems to be more New 52 to me offhand than not, it works (and the costume is more the classic–including the trunks!). I like the pose, and the "movement" of the cape…that it’s not just "flat" hanging off him.

superman_icons_statue_02

The "detail" of the yellow S on the back of the cape doesn’t seem to be a sticker, but does not seem to be "painted" on…probably some sort of transfer. No bother, though–it looks good to me!

weeklyhaul_05312017b

Comics-wise, had Letter 44, Highlander: The American Dream, and TMNT Universe on my pulls, and couldn’t remember if I’d had Aliens: Dead Orbit but managed to grab that from the shelf. And seeing this other Spawn cover (an updated take on the classic, original #1 issue cover), I bought it to pair with one of my copies of the original first issue for my wall. I’m treating it functionally like buying a small print, and not as a variant cover; regardless of nitpicking on words, though–it’s going to be displayed and not just simply be filed into some box o’ variants or such.

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I also snagged the Wonder Woman Day issues–a reprint of the first issue of the Rebirth run, and a chapter of SuperHero Girls: Summer Olympus. (Then on Saturday, I also snagged the cardboard tiara and bracers for a friend’s daughter from Comic Heaven along with an extra copy of the comics to go with ’em.)

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I spent a whopping $1 from the 25-cent bins on a couple older comics–The Flash and Brave and the Bold, then a ’90s Justice League Quarterly and the newsstand edition of Batman #500.

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Attending the Lake Effect Comic Con on Sunday, I completed my (now-vintage) original set of TMNT: City at War for the same price as some Marvel contemporary #1 issues. And got the X-Men Forever 2 volumes as a 3/$10 deal.

weeklyhaul_05312017g

I also snagged this Marvel Treasury Edition of Superman and Spider-Man for a whopping $5.

This is a bit of a "novelty" for me–I believe the only other "treasury" type issues I have are far more recent–a reprint of GI Joe #1 a friend gave me, and an IDW edition of TMNT #50.

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I got this Batman at a Barnes and Noble, and a Wolverine I had ordered arrived.

While at the Lake Effect Comic Con, I found a dealer than had a large selection of these Pop! figures…but they all seemed to be marked up quite high–far above anything I was willing to pay. I feel "vindicated" (so to speak) on having ordered this Wolverine, and I bought the Batman in a foolish sort of passive-spite, being able to get it at a "regular" price.

Overall, an extremely expensive weekend, particularly with some other stuff I’d ordered (and forgot about).

Here’s hoping this week’s new comics are another very light load!

The Weekly Haul – Week of May 24th, 2017 (part one)

This will be a shorter than usual post, given real-life realities outside of this blog and such.

This was yet another small-ish week…all the MORESO for now due to two shops NOT having the new HIghlander issue, and I found myself incredibly annoyed trying to figure out which of the Action Comics covers was the "regular" cover.

weeklyhaul_05242017a

I’ve been paying the "convenience tax" for TMNT Universe to get it when it’s out on a week I’m not gonna make it to Kenmore for my pulls, so I’ve started getting the variant for that if I’m gonna be buying two copies of the issue anyway (definitely NOT caring for the covers lately, though, or the character in the current story…)

SINCE it was a $9.99 volume, I went ahead and picked up Moonshine vol. 1–I dropped the series in single-issue format last fall due to annoyance with unexpected variant covers, determining that if I’d check the series out at all, it’d be in collected format.

Also snagged a couple Star Wars: Destiny boosters since they were there; and I nearly forgot that Logan came out this week, so picked that up while I was getting some groceries.

I’ll likely have some other stuff to show off before next Wednesday (hence the "part one" in this post’s title), but that’ll all have to wait for more time to compose a post!

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