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Labor Day Haul and Dirk Manning

A nearby comic shop, Comics and Friends, had a Labor Day sale that I went to on Monday. They had a bunch of $1 comics as well as discounts throughout the store…and what REALLY drew me in was Dirk Manning (Nightmare World, Tales of Mr. Rhee, Write or Wrong, and numerous other pieces) being there.

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I’d backed a Kickstarter for the Nightmare World Omnibus (which I’ll surely post about once it arrives, soon!) but had held off on anything else. So I was finally able to get my hands on Love Stories (To Die For), and also snagged the first volume of Tales of Mr. Rhee. I also go to chat with the man himself, which was quite the enjoyable experience…and ratcheted up my looking forward to coming projects he’s got in the works!

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I also snagged a few books from the dollar bins. One that I was particularly excited to get was this Image Zero. Patience would seem to have paid off, as I simply snagged this for $1, in-person out of a bin. Originally, this was only available by collecting coupons out of a bunch of early Image comics, mailing them in with postage and however many weeks/months later getting the issue by mail. So this is a fun little piece to have; my primary interest in it being the Savage Dragon bit, though it turned out I’d already read it via a collected edition.

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I also now, after all these years, own a copy of Thor #500! I picked up #501 as well; and had these been 25-cent books, I would have snagged a lot more. Got Captain America #350 and a ‘Breed collected volume of some sort.

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Then there were the cool #1s on principle: Alpha Flight that I don’t think I’ve ever owned the #1 for (or don’t remember ever getting it, unless I did get it with a small run some years back). The original Thunderbolts #1, though I think this might be a second print, as I remember the cover having more of a greenish tint than the pink. And I’d loved the 1999 Captain Marvel series…and still have to finish tracking down the second series…though also keep hoping there might be a couple omnibus volumes put out for it.

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Finally, I was also able to snag several other issues: these "sunburst variants" of the Heroes Return titles from 1998 or so (Thor was a few months after the others). I think I may have snagged the Thor issue before, and maybe a couple of the others, but never as a set like this. These were my "golden age" of sorts with the titles, following all five for nearly two years, and then trailing off (though I believe I followed Captain America to the end of its volume, and this was the volume of Thor that ended with Disassembled). Fair bit of nostalgia just thinking back on these…and reminds me that next year will be the 20th anniversary OF Heroes Return.

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Amidst the sale and other activities over the weekend, I also zipped around to a number of Walgreens locations, and ultimately managed to snag complete sets of the Ghostbusters, Walking Dead, and Suicide Squad Mopeez plush characters. Suffice it to say that all of these combined only cost me roughly what any two individual ones would have at regular price!

Picked up some other fun stuff, but I think that’ll make for another post later, if at all. Some other posts in mind for the near future, but we’ll see what I actually get to!


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Snake-Eyes: Declassified #6 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good!
Title: Untitled

An early Joe mission creates the Snake-Eyes readers were introduced to in the original G.I. Joe # 1…

snakeeyesdeclassified006Story: Brandon Jerwa
Pencils: Emiliano Santalucia
Colors: Jason Jensen
Letters: Brian Crowley
Cover Art: Emiliano Santalucia & Jeremy Roberts
Publisher: Devil’s Due

This issue wraps up the Snake-Eyes Declassified story, detailing in six issues the true "origin" of the man known to us only as Snake-Eyes.

This issue takes us into Snake-Eyes’ earliest days with the G.I. Joe team, and details the mission that largely shaped the character, particularly as he was first seen in the original Marvel series, way back in # 1.

As a reader who’s not terribly familiar with the character, I can say only that I enjoyed this issue, and that it seems to have certain elements I was aware of from flashbacks. Discussing the issue with a friend, it seems that not only this issue, but throughout the series, there have been scenes taken directly from those earliest issues, and given that, lends even more credibility/authenticity to this story.
After trauma in/surrounding his service to his country, Snake-Eyes has been through a lot, and has ultimately wound up on a "daring, highly-trained special mission force" where he can put his experience/training/abilities to good use. The Joes are sent on a rescue mission, but a mechanical failure with a helicopter leads to disaster, and in the midst of the disaster, several key things occur that close the gap between previous issues of this mini and the first issue of the Marvel series.

The art works very well here, conveying exactly what needs to be gotten across to the reader, including something as simple and subtle as the shifting of eyes in a 3-panel sequence at the beginning.
In the end, this story works very well as a story in and of itself–of a man’s trauma and the things he goes through as he deals with loss and hurt–but it also places into a single coherent chronicle the backstory to what is arguably one of (if not the) most popular characters of the G.I. Joe saga.

Though a "#6 of 6" is not necessarily the best jumping-on point, if you’ve followed this series thus far, I highly recommend getting this final issue. And if you’ve passe don the series–do consider checking out the TPB when it (inevitably) comes out.

Highly recommended.

Ratings:

Story: 4/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Dragonlance: Chronicles #8 [Review]

Quick Rating: Above Average
Title: Dragons of Autumn Twilight

The Companions battle Verminaard and his minions in Pax Tharkas with many lives hanging in the balance…

dragonlancechronicles008Story: Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
Adaptation Script: Andrew Dabb
Pencils: Steve Kurth
Colors: Djoko Santiko of IFS
Letters: Brian J. Crowley
Editor: Mark Powers
Cover Art: A: Steve Kurth and IFS, B: Tyler Walpole
Publisher: Devil’s Due

This is the final issue of this particular Dragonlance mini-series, and as such, things can be generalized a bit more than in previous issues.

The art has maintained a pretty solid level of quality–though I’m not sure we’ve had the same artist for the entire series. We do have Kurth on art chores for this issue, which is a plus, regardless of previous issues. Kurth‘s art is definitely a departure from a lot of the "classic" Dragonlance art from the 1980s, and even a lot of what I recall from the 90s. And while it may not be definitive, exactly, it very certainly fits these characters and the story. It’s not perfect (what art is, though?) but one gets a sense that these are (physically) 3-dimensional characters interacting with each other. There’s a certain creepiness here that captures the dark nature of this part of the story–and it works well. Where it fails is in some of the details of the story, as it’s not always clear from the visuals exactly what’s going on panel-to-panel.

The story itself comes across as very choppy. Perhaps I’m too biased, having read the original Dragons of Autumn Twilight as many times as I have in the last decade. This issue feels like an extremely abridged retelling of that story, as if it has certain points that it hits on, but lacks the detail of the original–and as such, comes across choppy.

I felt like I had to keep thinking back to the book to fully "get" what was going on with these characters. While the art gives a sense that these could be real, 3-dimensional beings, the story comes off as shallow and 2-dimensional. The blame for this is shared, and it should be noted that the novel this mini is adapted from is itself possibly the weakest of the Weis/Hickman Dragonlance Chronicles volumes.

The story caps off the first volume of the trilogy as the companions battle Verminaard in Pax Tharkas, while a couple dragons tear it up in the background, and Verminaard’s slaves reunite with their families as they prepare to take their leave of the fortress–provided anyone survives the battle.

I suspect that the story on the whole comes across better if read as a whole–reading an adaptation in eight segments separated by several weeks likely takes away from the overall experience. Given that, I don’t recommend this single issue unless you have already been following the mini. However, in a few weeks when the collected volume (advertised adjacent to the final story-page in this issue) is released, consider checking it out.

On the whole, this series has been a solid jump-on point for anyone interested in the "classic" Dragonlance saga. It introduces the core/original characters, generally conveys some key aspects about them, and the art particularly gives a visual interpretation of the characters that is much more realistic and believable than earlier visual renditions.

Ratings:

Story: 3/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Dragonlance: Chronicles #6 [Review]

Quick Rating: Solid
Title: Dragons of Autumn Twilight (chapter 6)

Having been freed by elves from captivity, the companions find themselves witness to the decline of the Qualinesti elves; they also find their next quest in their journey toward saving the world of Krynn…

dragonlancechronicles006Story: Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman
Adaptation Script: Andrew Dabb
Pencils: Stefano Raffaele
Colors: Djoko Santiko of IFS
Letters: Steve Seeley
Editor: Mark Powers
Cover Art: A: Steve Kurth and IFS, B: Tyler Walpole
Publisher: Devil’s Due

This is another good/standard issue of the series. It has been thankfully consistent–the story and art continue to work well together, to provide a true adaptation to the original novel (Dragons of Autumn Twilight). Perhaps in contradiction to that, this issue features art by someone other than Kurth. While a side-by-side comparison will undoubtedly reveal difference, taken by itself it works well here. In light of a certain other publisher often combining artists of late on a single issue, that the entirety of this issue is just one is refreshing.

This issue takes the story up with the companions having just been freed from Fewmaster Toede’s slave-train. Their elven rescuers lead them into Qualinost (one of the Elven homelands, but not the original Elven homeland–but that issue doesn’t rear its head til later and isn’t overly relevant here). Once in Qualinost, we view some of the past come back to haunt Tanis, and get to see Tasselhoff marvel at what must’ve been (in his eyes) quite the childhood for the half-elf. The companions then take on a task from the Speaker of the Sun and head for Pax Tharkas.

The story itself is faithful at its heart if not word-for-word to the source material. The only real gripe I have on that angle with this issue is that here we see Tanis deliberately acquire a particular sword, whereas the original novel had him fumble for a weapon, and belatedly realize what he’d acquired, which added a bit more wonder to the weapon as well as what the companions face. Ultimately it is a minor detail, one that works well in prose format, but like a movie, not every minute detail can be adapted, and it’s better that detail is cut than something more integral to the story.

This is a fantasy comic/story, and based on what Hickman himself considers the weakest of these original novels. As such, you will find aspects of the familiar here. The creature the companions face seems drastically out of place given the sort of story here (I can think of no other examples of such a creature encountered anywhere else in the Dragonlance mythos–if anyone else can, I’d be interested in having that noted). However, from a story that was based strongly on a new Dungeons & Dragons module at the time, such a creature is just another generic sort that gives an excuse for a fight. In this story, it serves to introduce a new aspect to a just-met character that will serve a much larger role later in the Chronicles saga, if not this specific arc.

We’re six issues in, and have covered a lot of ground. As I understand it, we’ve two chapters left to conclude this mini/arc. If you’ve not followed along thus far, this won’t be a particularly good point to jump in. If you’re following it, though, don’t bail now!

Ratings:

Story: 3/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

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