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Convergence #0 [Review]

convergence000The God Machine

Writers: Dan Jurgens & Jeff King
Art: Ethan Van Sciver
Colors: Marcelo Maiolo
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover: Van Sciver with Maiolo
Editors: Dan Didio and David Pina
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: April 2015
Cover Price: $4.99

This issue is an appalling $4.99, for “only” 30 story pages. Yea, that beats the heck outta 20 pages or so for a $3.99 book, but that’s STILL $5! The cover seems to be the shinier/glossy higher-quality (physically) stock, so at least there’s that, too. There are several pages of backmatter, basically showing off a bunch of different “cities” that will be part of this event, and a tidbit about them, along with a classic (-ish) cover image to go with them…some of the covers more relevant than others. This certainly is not as hefty as an Annual or other special issue. At $4.99 weekly, this would be an absolute no-go for me. However, a bit of internet digging yields the notion that this is an oversized issue as a prologue, and next week’s #1 is oversized as well kicking things off, but then will drop down to the $3.99 for fewer pages.

The story of the issue is basically filling in a “gap” of time from the end of Superman: Doomed, where Superman found himself elsewhere/elsewhen, but then found himself back in regular space/time with no memory of what he experienced. Turns out that what he experienced was meeting numerous incarnations of Brainiac and seeing a number of versions of Metropolis, domed cities on a strange/alien world and railing against the notion of the people within being held prisoner…while learning from the Brainiacs that the main entity has apparently grabbed these cities from just before their timelines would have been destroyed and preserving them.

While it felt (and in my summary above probably sounds) extremely “basic,” it works as a prologue. I’d read Doomed last year, so this sorta adds a little bit to that. It also sets things up for Convergence as an event over the coming weeks.

I can’t help but think that Jurgens’ involvement on the writing side is why certain scenes and versions of Brainiac got shown as they did. I’m not familiar with King though the name is familiar (further internet digging suggests this is his comics-writing debut though he’s worked on tv stuff like White Collar that I’m familiar with). Given the co-writing credit, and not having read other comics stuff by him, too early to tell if I like King’s work or not. I suppose if I continue with this series I’ll be finding out as it looks like he’s got the reins for the main run of the series.

I’ve long enjoyed Van Sciver‘s art, going back a good decade-plus now with his Green Lantern work. While there’s a bit of a “feel” to me in this issue that’s “off” just a bit, I really enjoyed most of the art in this issue. I think the “off” stuff is a combination of things, including Superman’s armor looking strange to me compared to the classic (non-armor) suit. Despite that, I was thoroughly struck by the depiction of the classic Death of Superman scene, and really dug the bearded Superman look by issue’s end–if you look closely, he starts the issue clean-shaven but sports a short beard by the end.

While I was certainly glad to see the classic, “true” (to me) Superman and Doomsday in that one scene, I was quite disappointed to not “meet” any of the non-New 52 Supermen in this issue. I was desperately hoping to get at least a “live” glimpse of “my” Superman. But this proved equal parts Superman: Doomed and Convergence : Prologue…either way a Superman story.

I do not relish the notion of EIGHTY $4 issues (on top of the main Convergence mini)…and though this issue has me chomping at the bit for more non-New 52 DC stuff, I’m truly torn on buying into this as single issues, or waiting for the inevitable collected volumes. Given my “giving in” on Villains Month in 2013 and Futures End Month last year…I may just say the heck with it and see what grabs my attention with the covers of #1s, what most rings that nostalgia bell for me and makes me think “ok, that’s freakin’ cool and I really wanna read that!”

Though this sets stuff up, I haven’t a clue how essential it’s actually gonna be in the long run. However, it’s served its purpose in grabbing my attention (against better judgment). Now having #0–and as such essentially the first issue of the series–I’ll probably grab the big #1.

If you’ve no interest in Superman, or only intend to pick up select 2-issue minis due to favorite characters and such and don’t care or intend to follow the core Convergence story, I’d skip this. If you’re considering the series, dipping in…and can stomach the $5 price…Convergence has technically started with this.

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The Weekly Haul – Week of October 1st, 2014

Despite expecting a rather small week, this was far larger a week than I even wanted!

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At least Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon seem to have split after at LEAST two months of being released same-day. Action Comics and Armor HUnters: Aftermath cap of respective sagas. And Eventually I’ll get around to having Bleeding Cool removed from my pulls. Occasional decent articles, but nothing worth the $4.99, and it’s gonna drive me nuts eventually trying to find where all the issues scattered for the OCD side of me!

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The “second tier” stuff includes a freebee that looks like it came out months ago, and two $1 DC issues. The Batman one is “celebrating” 75 years of Batman, with one of these $1 issues each month through the end of the year or so. The Flash one is obviously timed to coincide with the debut next Tuesday of the new Flash tv series.

I grabbed Futures End to be one less issue to track down later, and spotted the 3D edition of the Wonder Woman issue, so figured I’d get it to read part 1 of the 2-parter that wrapped up in Superman/Wonder Woman.

Last Week’s Books Reviewed (Week of 9/24)

Over the weekend, I posted several reviews. Excerpts below, or click the cover/links to go to the full text of the reviews.

Futures End: Booster Gold #1

The “hope,” the potential weightiness of this single, short issue’s story…the possibility that I’ve just read a new Dan Jurgens story involving “my” Booster Gold…the attractive cover, the sturdiness of the physical cover…this all lends to the issue justifying itself and the $3.99 cover price (at least in this modern age of lesser-quality physical products for the price). Very definitely one of THE best issues of the month, and one I’d certainly recommend–whether the 3D edition or the standard cover edition.

 

 

Superman: Doomed #2

Superman: Doomed will probably make for a nice, thick hardcover collection, similarly thick paperback eventually…and really, that’s gonna be the way to go. If you haven’t followed stuff so far, just wait for the collected volume. If it’s priced around $30 for this entire thing, that will be quite a bargain compared to the price paid for the single issues involved, and will put the entire story between two covers instead of the umpteen ones across five-some months for the single issues.

 

Armor Hunters #4

Context is vital, and while there’s no gigantic singular event in this issue that in and of itself will HERE change the Valiant universe, if you’ve been following the whole thing or just this mini, or X-O Manowar, this is definitely an issue to get, not to be arbitrarily skipped for some random reason. It’s good and worthwhile, and a solid issue in itself. Of course, if you have not been following anything associated with this, it would thus be a rather strange-ish point to attempt to jump into stuff, and I wouldn’t recommend it as a jumping-on point. (Yet every issue is bound to be SOMEONE’s first).

Superman: Doomed #2 [Review]

Superman: Doomed #2Evolutions

Story: Greg Pak & Charles Soule
Art: Ken Lashley, Szymon Kudranski, Cory Smith, Dave Bullock, Jack Herbert, Ian Churchill, Aaron Kuder, Vicente Cifuentes, Norm Rapmund
Colors: Wil Quintana
Letters: Taylor Esposito
Cover: Guillem March & Tomeu Morey
Assistant Editor: Anthony Marques
Group Editor: Eddie Berganza
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99

[———- Please note: I will spoil this issue’s ending below, denoted by a further note. ———-]

This issue is late. I believe it was originally solicited/scheduled for at least a month ago, sometime in August. I’m not certain of course, but I’m guessing that also accounts for so many involved on the art team for the issue. With all the one-shots I’ve been reading this month on the Futures End stuff, in some ways I’d even forgotten about this story for several weeks, only last week realizing “Hey…Doomed #2 never DID come out, did it?!?”

This issue sees the “last stand” of Earth and its heroes against Brainiac. With Superman having given himself over to Doomsday, his “essence” is basically a passenger along for the ride, or in the mind or such, where Brainiac reaches out, showing how much better things would be with Brainiac free to do his thing, why he should be allowed to, etc. Perhaps most pressing is that if Doomsday–Superman–“Superdoom”–destroys Brainiac, it’ll mean the destruction of all human life on Earth, as the stolen minds will be done for and not returned to their bodies.

While showing Superman visions of what could be, Brainiac continues taking down the last remnants of Earth’s heroes–having apparently utilized Superman somehow to “find” them and get through their defenses. He also reveals his core, true motivation to things, which on one hand could be sympathetic but for the notion of “the good of the many outweigh the good of the few” and all that. Lois plays a key part in things, and ultimately the minds–and thus lives–of all on Earth rest with Superman and a gambit to take down Brainiac before he can remake the universe itself.

Visually, this issue is a jumble. A lot of artists involved, but that can be forgiven as they seem to be utilized for the visions of what-could-be and such. I’ve never been a fan of the “Superdoom” look and have found it ridiculous–still do–so that lends a visual weirdness to stuff for me anyway on top of numerous artists. That said, having made it through all the tie-ins and such to this point–all those styles and renditions of involved characters–I can’t complain too much here. The issue is what it is, and whether utilized to show alternate realities or that’s just a fortuitous element given so many involved, I’ll take it at face value. The only point that I REALLY consciously noticed a huge difference was a sequence that reminded me of Darwyn Cooke‘s art.

Story-wise I’m left with a fair bit of frustration at the sheer length of this “event” and such. It seems that SO MUCH was made of the “Doomsday virus” and Superman fighting it/becoming a Doomsday and so on–that Brainiac’s involvement feels like a bait-and-switch. Like this whole thing could have been done in just a couple issues–perhaps Doomed #1, a single month’s slot of tie-ins, then this #2.

Then there’s the fact that this issue itself doesn’t even definitively end but rather kicks down the door onto something else.

[——————————— Spoilers below ———————————]

In “trying to find a place for” Brainiac, Superdoom–powered by all that Brainiac had sought–pushes Brainiac’s ship into a black hole of sorts, ready to sacrifice himself as well to see that Brainiac’s threat to the universe is over. But in this we see shards of something broken, and in those shards, we see what look to me like glimpses of the pre-52 DC Universe…particularly recognizeable to me are Nightwing and his classic first costume (circa 1989) and of course, Superman himself with the “trunks.”

Like this week’s Futures End: Booster Gold issue, this sees to show that in some fashion or another, the DC Universe that *I* grew up on is still out there somehow, and perhaps something involving Brainiac would be a key to–if not bringing it “back,” then at least accessing it.

[——————————— Spoilers above ———————————]

Despite the enormity of what we see on the last pae of the issue, I still don’t feel this story warranted all the chapters it carried, and that this could have been handled in just a handful of issues. Chances are, with the likes of Bleeding Cool and other online spoilers, this issue will wind up being fairly signifiant in the long run and thus in that regard probably worth seeking out, I wouldn’t particularly recommend it in and of itself unless you’ve been following the story in general.

I’m actually (overall) glad I went and hand got it–despite that hefty $5 cover price–for the feelings elicited by that last page, for capping things off, and giving me an “out” to drop back to spending far less each month.

Except that this issue–and event–leads directly to an aftermath issue in October’s Action Comics, at minimum. The story isn’t over. And rather than a definitive conclusion, an actual “bookend” to things…we’re simply propelled on to “The next thing.”

Superman: Doomed will probably make for a nice, thick hardcover collection, similarly thick paperback eventually…and really, that’s gonna be the way to go. If you haven’t followed stuff so far, just wait for the collected volume. If it’s priced around $30 for this entire thing, that will be quite a bargain compared to the price paid for the single issues involved, and will put the entire story between two covers instead of the umpteen ones across five-some months for the single issues.

The Weekly Haul – Week of September 24th, 2014

Finally’ve reached the end of what has been a ridiculously-expensive month of comics with DC’s September ‘event’ done with this week’s batch of books.

weekly_haul_september_24th_2014a

I’m not even sure if there’s a Booster Gold series in the works, or if he’s truly just got a one-shot here, given Futures End is a time-travel thing…but while $3.99 will tick me off and probably discourage it, I’d like to think I’d consider an ongoing again. I picked up Sinestro and Harley Quinn just ‘cuz they were there…figured I could at least check ’em out like this. And Red Lanterns since I got the other Lantern books, might as well get the whole “set.” Next to the Booster Gold cover, that Superman cover is probably my favorite of the bunch, and I’m hoping the issue deals with the “origin” of the mask and such–at least in that I don’t recall it being dealt with in the Futures End series itself while I was reading.

weekly_haul_september_24th_2014b

I figured I’d already checked out the Prometheus issue, I’d get the first Aliens issue of this new Fire and Stone thing. However, finding out it’s essentially just a big 4-mini-series “event” leaves me thinking I may pass on the single issues in favor of collected editions…and the “hope” of one big single collection of the entire thing, whether hardcover or the standard Dark Horse Omnibus size in paperback.

Doomed #2 finally makes its appearance at least a month late. And Armor Hunters concluded “officially” despite an aftermath issue next month and the (presumable) longer-term after-effects it leaves on the X-O Manowar book at minimum.

Definitely looking forward to getting back to smaller weeks again…this was the second week I didn’t even DARE look at the quarter-bins…those DC books really ate up a lot more than I “bargained” for this month.

Doomed: Price/Variants/Scheduling

While I am certainly guilty of “enabling” or such in this case by buying along, the current crossover/”mini-event” Superman: Doomed makes for a bit of “case study” for why I will probably avoid the Futures End stuff and other future “mini events” or such from DC (to say nothing of Marvel‘s pricing, variants, and events).

weekly_haul_080614b

Price

I initially allowed myself to be sucked into Doomed because firstly, it’s Superman; secondly, Doomsday (even though I really do NOT like the revised visual of the character); thirdly, an ad/checklist indicated 4 chapters, so I figured why not? Only 4 issues…sure.

What I had not realized was that this was a 4-month, several-title saga or I would have simply awaited the collected volume…get the whole story in one book, all at once, in one place, no variants, cheaper than the singles, etc.

As far into things as I’ve gotten, I intend to finish this one out, and then I will be far more hesitant with any future such stories.

So far this has been a mix of pricing. As of this typing, we have 12 chapters. 1 was $2.99, 8 were $3.99, and 3 were $4.99…round the penny up on the cover prices and we’re at $42 so far. An ad in the latest issue gives an August checklist showing there are 3 more chapters, and unless I’m completely “off,” that’s 1 each at $2.99, $3.99, and $4.99. Meaning the $17ish story I thought I was getting into has become a $54 investment for 15 issues. (I paid about $55 for my Death and Return of Superman Omnibus that has about 40 issues’ content). And if I were to hazard a guess, I would guess that the hardback will be $29.99 to $34.99 cover price.

doomed_week_01

Scheduling

I no longer pay the attention to “late books” that I used to…probably because I’ve been primarily sticking to Valiant and TMNT comics, and those have been coming out in the months they’re supposed to. I’ve not particularly paid attention to which week of the month, so if there’s been a bit of slidage I’m not particularly conscious of it.

julydoomedchecklist01That said, it’s long been frustrating–if only passively so–the way books seem to “cluster,” rather than be more spread out. Valiant would seem to skip a week or two and then have multiple books out the same week…and I think the last couple months, both the main TMNT book and the Animated Adventures have been out in the same week rather than spaced out. Maybe they have different audiences, but there are some people (like me) who buy both, so instead of spreading the cost through the month, when they both show up the same week, I’m out $8 instead of only $4 that week.

I noted my issue with this when Doomed STARTED, and the issue came up again a couple weeks ago with a $14 3-issue cluster that EASILY could have been spread out–and should have, as both of the $5 annuals were on a July checklist, not August. (In fact, 3 out of the 5 Wednesdays in July had NO new chapter! Superman/Wonder Woman #10 hit July 9th, and there was nothing July 16th, 23rd, or 30th).

julydoomedchecklist02

Variants

That $54 mentioned above actually translates to $62ish for me, as I wound up re-purchasing two issues. I didn’t even KNOW there were variants, and thus WOUND UP WITH variants for Superman #31 and Action Comics #32. Since this story has a trade dress and numbering, I sorta want all my single issues to look like they belong together, PARTICULARLY with the added expense and hassle OF buying this as single issues.

superman31variantsThe other week, I actually had to go to TWO shops just to get the NON-variant edition of Action Comics #34, as there were several variants left but the ‘regular’ trade-dress cover was sold out (and I got to the first shop maybe 2 hours after they opened?).

It’s one thing to have a variant as an actual SPECIAL thing…and on “key” issues (like a #1 or anniversary or such), and on very FEW titles. But when they’re so frequent and common and such that it’s the VARIANT that’s left and the REGULAR issue that sells out, it’s just a little ridiculous. (and it’s not like I’m grousing that a 1st print sold out before a 2nd print or any such).action33variants

I’m not going to blame the shop on the earlier issues: there was only the one cover there, the covers were not MARKED as variant (by the publisher), so I had no reason to suspect they were (perhaps I SHOULD have suspected due to how MANY variants are constantly being pumped out…but that’s another topic for another post). Of course, I wised up thanks to those, hence leaving my usual shop with one less otherwise-in-the-bag sale and went to another shop in seeking the regular edition.

*     *     *     *     *

So, a few more issues to complete this story that I’ve gotten this far into…and I’m done. Again. There are plenty of “classic” stories I’ve yet to read, many I’ll enjoy re-reading, and given my enjoyment of bargain bin hauls…I don’t need the hassle of things like I’ve experienced with Doomed.

And I’m not even getting into any of the issues I have with Marvel events this time around…

The Weekly Haul – Week of August 6th, 2014

Not a horrible week, but not a tiny one, either…

weekly_haul_080614a

Funny…for as much as I consider myself officially “Valiant-and-TMNT-only” I only had one issue fitting that this week.

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A couple weeks with no new chapter of Doomed and now THREE chapters out today…

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I skipped Infinite Crisis when it came out a couple weeks back, but my curiosity got the better of me…figure I can at least check it out, though I’ve little intention of following it.

Honestly rather frustrated with stuff this week–I had to go to two shops in order to get the NON-variant editions of all 3 of the Doomed chapters. And there were 3 chapters–two of them $5 annuals and a $3.99–all in the SAME week.

And yet, here I am buying a bunch of DC and wondering why I’m spending so much after getting back down pretty close to pull-list-stuff-only…

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