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The Imaginext Collection Begins…

Well, technically my Imaginext collection had already begun, but at this point, safe to say it’s begun in earnest now. At least compared to then.

imaginext_doomsday_superman

Here we have what REALLY had my eye: a Doomsday, with a battle-damaged Superman. Overall, I like this set…though Doomsday is significantly larger in scale than I’d prefer. Still…he should be a hulking behemoth that even Superman would have trouble with, so…it works. I definitely like how it has parts of the "classic" green suit as well as the bony protrusions and such…also lets ’em get away with not having a giant naked monster…

And though his suit is a bit messed up…there’s no "blood" on Superman. And there are no trunks, so it’s not quite "my" Superman, but I don’t miss the trunks all that much…especially with a solid red belt, the cape, and red boots!

imaginext_zedd_goldar

Then we have Goldar and Lord Zedd. These were a Power Rangers 2-pack.

imaginext_mmpr_tigerzord

And here we have the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers themselves. For the sake of completeness and my OCD, I tracked down the White Tigerzord set in order to get the White Ranger.

The rest of the Rangers were 2-packs, and surprisingly easy to find (and/or I got lucky!).


There are a few more Imaginext things I’m particularly interested in…chief among them, the Megazord that is somewhat in scale with these Rangers. There’s also a giant Goldar with its own version of Rita Repulsa that I’m waffling on seeking out.

On the DC side, there are a couple Robin/Red Robin figures…but unfortunately, none as parts of any of the cheaper 2-packs…they’re part of larger sets or vehicle/figure packs…which when I really just want the figure, make ’em more expensive than they’re worth. (At least with the White Ranger, I really dig the Tigerzord, too; and Doomsday was the primary draw for that pack!)

I guess time’ll tell…and I may have another post on these Imaginext toys soon…I really love the variety to the multiple licenses available! Much like Funko‘s Pop line, these allow multiple franchises to co-exist and seem to fit well together. And they’re much more "available" and reasonably-priced than the "adult collector" toys for either Marvel or DC!

The ’90s Revisited: Justice League America #70

jusice_league_america_0070Grieving

Words, Layouts: Dan Jurgens
Finishes: Rick Burchett
Letters: Willie Schubert
Colors: Gene D’Angelo
Asst. Edits: Ruben Diaz
Edits: Brian Augustyn
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: January 1993
Cover Price: $1.25

It’s been a lotta years since I read this issue. Honestly, well longer than I’d tend to care to admit otherwise, but most of my re-readings of the "entire" Death of Superman story have been via that original collected volume, or the Roger Stern novelization, or the audio drama. And I tend to stop there–I know I’ve been through the novel several times, and the World Without a Superman/Funeral For a Friend collected volume at least a couple times…but this issue? This Justice League America "tie-in" is not included in the original edition of World Without a Superman. And though the previous issue was far more relevant to the lead-in to the main, sustained Doomsday fight, this one splits off from the core narrative focusing on Superman himself (as chronicled in the Superman-centric titles and such) and focuses more on the League, and these characters’ reactions to and ramifications from the Doomsday battle.

justice_league_america_0070_noflapOn this read-through, it was like reading the issue for the first time. When the Flash showed up, and Batman, and Hawkman, and Aquaman…despite a slight sense of deja vu in the back of my mind, it still surprised me. Looking at this issue’s cover, I remembered some loose, broad strokes–Blue Beetle in a coma, Booster’s suit destroyed, Ice devastated and Guy none to happy about her reaction–but I didn’t remember the details of the issue, the smaller moments. I remember some loose bits from some issues shortly after this–and the fact OF having READ the issues comprising Destiny’s Hand and leading to Justice League America‘s OWN 75th issue–but this is not quite the hyper-familiar territory I’d assumed it was for myself.

This issue opens with us on-site in Metropolis, Superman dead, Lois cradling his body…even an abbreviated, slightly alternate narration to the final moments of Superman #75…and into the early moments of Adventures of Superman #498, the start of the numbered chapters of Funeral For a Friend. And we’re split off, away from the Superman-family focus, and see the League reacting. Booster and Maxima were in the hospital watching over Ted–Blue Beetle. Maxima is rather matter-of-fact about Superman’s death, though she’s far from happy about it…and Booster is in a rough place–Superman’s died, his best friend is in a hospital bed in a coma, and his own suit–the entirety of/source of his powers–is shredded and likely beyond 20th century science to repair. Ice is devastated, Fire comforts her. Guy and Maxima have a go at each other…and other heroes from across the DC Universe begin to congregate, unsure of how or where to properly pay their respects, and finding comfort in the group, even as many lament the loss and wonder why it had to be Superman. The heroes don black memorial armbands with Superman’s shield, though they recognize it’s not much. And we close with Booster at Ted’s bedside, admitting that he doesn’t know WHAT he’d do if Ted dies, too.

The art is both spot-on and yet a little bit off at points for me. Stuff with Flash, Aquaman, Batman, and the other heroes seems fine, and overall this looks like the characters I’d expect, and as I would expect, visually. There are just panels–particularly one of Ice–where facial details seem just slightly off, or not as refined as I’d expect or want. Still, that stuff is rather nitpicky, and barely worth the mention. As a whole, this looks like the Justice League America I recall, and the other characters from the DCU look good and as I’d recall them for the tail-end of 1992’s publishing.

The story is very relevant, as one ought to expect, given this is written by Jurgens, the same writer of Superman, so it’s far from being an "outsider’s" version of this stuff. And given that, the differences or "alternate" takes on stuff, I totally chalk up to being intentional, holding the Justice League America continuity to itself–acknowledging the event and stuff from the Superman titles, but NOT forcing folks to read all of those. (Though there is an editorial note referring readers to Superman #75 prior to reading this). Jurgens seems to carry through ongoing plot threads that seem to have been going on in the title, and for lack of better phrasing, moves pieces around the board to set up the tail-end of his run on the title, getting the characters into Destiny’s Hand.

I see this issue in bargain bins far less often than random chapters from the Superman books, both of The Death of Superman and Funeral for a Friend. I’m relatively certain the copy of the issue I read this time was from a bargain bin, as I don’t believe it’s my original copy (the newsstand barcode gives that away, my original was from a comic shop and had a bleeding-S shield, I believe). While this hardly sits in a vacuum, it does seem like it can somewhat be read as a one-off. It’s an intermediary issue, bridging the pre-Doomsday run and what’s to come…giving characters’ reactions post-Death of Superman, but not yet implementing changes that would carry the League forward after the death.

I would definitely recommend this issue if you find it for a quarter or 50 cents or even $1-ish. I believe there were two editions, and apparently that carried to the newsstand as well–one version that’s just the standard cover; and another with a red and white overlay. The sole difference is really the overlay itself–present or not. The cover and interior under the overlay is the same. Either version is quite worth it, though the one with the overlay has a bit more of a visual distinction…and sits most nostalgic in my mind, as that’s what I got back in 1992.

Quite a trip down memory lane, and has me all the more eager to get around to actually READING the Superman and Justice League America vol. 1 and (once I acquire it) vol. 2.

The Covers of Superman #75

Here are the covers to Superman #75 from November, 1992:

superman_0075_all_versions

I’m not certain if the second through fourth printings were made available to actual newsstands to have the bar code instead of creator credits in the UPC box (and I’m not sure that I have a version of the first printing with the creator credits). But aside from barcode/not-barcode, these are the six* versions of Superman #75/the death of Superman from 1992 that one might come across.

(* does not include the “platinum” edition nor the 1999/2000 Millennium Edition)

  1. Black-bag Collector’s Edition (may or may not be opened, may or may not contain the bonus items that ‘necessitated’ the bag)
  2. Opened Black-bag edition with none of the accessories
  3. Newsstand edition first print
  4. –second print
  5. –third print
  6. –fourth print

Back in 1992, I’d gotten the black bag edition, opening at least one of the copies (I believe I wound up with 3 total). Right around that time, I was only ever able to get the fourth print newsstand edition…coming across the other printings and bag-less collector’s edition copies in recent years in quarter/bargain bins.

Perhaps suggesting just how relatively “common” the issue has become IN bargain bins…rather than selling one of the tattered-cape covers, I recently saw a dealer at a convention selling a “set” of all 4 printings for whatever price (I couldn’t read it from a distance and didn’t feel like asking).

Hard to believe it’s been 24 years.

Old-School Variance: Superman #75

I’ve often referenced it, but rarely had actual "live" photographic example to illustrate the point.

I do not consider 1990s "Collector’s Edition" and "Newsstand Edition" comics to be variants. Technically, I’ll give you that they are variants–one issue with two (or more) different covers.

Perhaps it’s that typically there would be two covers, and two covers "only" in such cases. There was also the notion of the selling channel–one version was intended for the "direct market" (comic shops) and the other for standard newsstand distribution. Also the fact that they were equally orderable by a shop–no "regularity" of 1:10 or other worse "ratios" on ordering and the other ridiculousness seen today. (special cases such as "platinum" or "gold" editions could be an exception, but those tended to seem truly "special" compared to 2016 1:50 or 1:100 or 1:500 or 1:1000 ratios!)

Back in 1992, there was the cover image. This is what people were looking for. They’d seen the image on tv, in the newspapers, in magazines, etc…so this is what they were looking for; and it was the content of the issue, the "event" of the story that was key, not which of fifty dozen alternative covers you had.

superman_0075_all_4_printings_newsstand

The variance (as opposed to variants/multiple editions) of the Superman #75 covers is due to the multiple print-runs. You have your standard first print; and then for later printings, rather than taking interior art or additional artists, the color of the Superman logo and text The Death of Superman! was changed, and a small Roman Numeral was added to the cover copy to clearly indicate which printing the issue was. (I recently came across at copy of The Killing Joke that I had and couldn’t find anything saying which printing it was…I finally realized/remembered that which printing is indicated simply by the color of the book’s title and the cover price). That’s part of why the issue(s) are so clearly "iconic" and memorable…they’ve not been diluted by umpteen hundred different images for just one issue.

It’s occurred to me that there’s likely additional variance–the UPC box. In my photo here, the first print has an actual bar code…while printings II, III, and IV have the creator credits (these are direct market copies of the "newsstand edition.") I also make a distinction there–bar code vs. not–I consider the same. I’m not actually sure if the later printings have a version with the bar code, or if the later printings were comic-shops-only (newsstands perhaps having gotten the first printing only, and anyone else had to go to the direct market?)

Anyway…the ultimate point of this post is the photo; that these are 4 different versions of the same edition of the same issue, just produced as separate print-runs. Yet same cover image, still instantly recognizable as the same issue, despite not all being printed at the same time.

What If…’The Death of Superman’ Happened in 2016?

superman_075cBack in 1992, DC treated us to Doomsday!, or The Death of Superman. The event played out across six weekly issues of the Superman titles of the time, with a seventh chapter in a Justice League America tie-in issue.

While the various titles went through multiple printings, the cover images stayed the same. DC would add a Roman Numeral to the cover copy–II, III, IV, etc to denote which printing the issue was. To add further difference to the printings, the color of the title logo would be changed from the original.

This meant that the cover image of Superman: The Man of Steel #18 was distinctive and remains iconic, 24 years later. Ditto the various other issues.

Especially on the "key" issue–Superman #75.

Granted, there were actually multiple covers for Superman #75. There was the "black bag edition," also known as the "collector’s edition." This was only available through comic shops (the "direct market") and outside of a "platinum edition" I believe only had a single initial printing.

superman_075b     superman_075a

The "collector’s edition" cover itself was a grey tombstone. This edition was what would in contemporary terms be the "variant" edition.

The "regular" edition–the "newsstand edition"–fit the usual/standard trade dress of the time, and featured an image of Superman’s tattered cape caught on a pole amidst the destruction in Metropolis. Subsequent printings–as mentioned above–change the color of the Superman logo and included a Roman Numeral to denote that each printing was no longer the first printing.

I believe the issue went through four printings–I have never been made aware of a fifth or later. (Exception being years-later reprints, like the Millennium Edition or stuff included with toys, etc.)

That was all fine, I was ok with it–retailers could order however many copies of each edition (though "in the moment" few ordered enough). The later printings kept the issue around to satisfy overall demand…and the cover image became and has remained iconic. There’ve been a number of subsequent comic covers over the years doing the "homage" thing based on the Superman #75 newsstand edition.

That was 1992.


If Superman #75 was published in 2016, in the present? There’d be a zillion variants, totally diluting the cover and any singularly-iconic imagery.

deathofsuperman_03     deathofsuperman_04

A set of two covers that placed together form a single wider image. Why not get folks to buy two copies of the issue with different images just to get one image?

deathofsuperman_01

But hey, there’d also be the wraparound cover, showing the actual death of Superman as a single cover.

deathofsuperman_02

And another wraparound, showing a fallen Superman with Doomsday’s shadow…effective imagery in general, but also not in keeping with the story itself as the two fell together/simultaneously.

deathofsuperman_08     deathofsuperman_11

Regardless of the fact that there’d be the "upcoming" Funeral for a Friend story (also known as World Without a Superman), there’d be at least a couple of "funeral covers" for the actual death issue.

deathofsuperman_07     deathofsuperman_15

There’d be the generic-ish images of Doomsday’s fist with Superman symbols.

deathofsuperman_10     deathofsuperman_19

There’d be a couple that showed Superman is potentially victorious, despite the cover blurb proclaiming The Death of Superman!

deathofsuperman_05     deathofsuperman_06

deathofsuperman_09     deathofsuperman_21

There’d be the generic-ish Superman and Doomsday slug-it-out images with even a "photo cover" of a statue thrown in.

deathofsuperman_25     deathofsuperman_26

Superman and Doomsday colliding covers…

deathofsuperman_23     deathofsuperman_22

Another collision cover, and a generic (yet cool-ish) Superman with Doomsday looming behind him (or the shadow of the creature somehow).

deathofsuperman_18     deathofsuperman_28

There’d be the generic "bleeding-S" covers. Promotion for the comics, and of course there’d be a ready-made animated movie already, with toys and such to further tie-in.

deathofsuperman_12     deathofsuperman_14

There’d be a painted "moment of death" cover, and a "concept sketches" cover.

deathofsuperman_13     deathofsuperman_16

deathofsuperman_24     deathofsuperman_27

There’d, of course, be the Doomsday-centric covers, showing off different takes on the creature in various poses. Recognizable as the creature, but not necessarily anything iconic or singularly stand-out. Or to BE stand-out, make that one of Doomsday reaching toward the reader a 3-D cover!

deathofsuperman_17     deathofsuperman_20

And aside from the different takes on the creature looking somewhat like he does in the actual story, there’d the the much more exaggerated, flashy takes on the character, going a bit beyond.

And there’d be way more fun than just these! See below for even more thoughts on the matter, as I’m "breaking" the post here for length on the front/main page of the blog.

Continue reading

The ’90s Revisited: Wonder Woman #112

wonder_woman_0112Game Over

Writer/Artist: John Byrne
Colorist: Patricia Mulvihill
Assistant Editor: Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt
Editor: Paul Kupperberg
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: August 1996
Cover Price: $1.95

There was little doubt in my mind of Wonder Woman’s survival…more just a matter of “how” the story would end.

We have a much smaller time gap between issues this time, as we open in the midst of the battle with “Doomsday,” which we do know is not the REAL creature, but more a sort of “clone” being fed power from the machine that allowed its creation. Given the enormity of the situation, and the significance of Doomsday (apparently) showing up, it’s no surprise that we get a guest-bit with Superman…a family moment as he places a tree he got for his parents, right before Jonathan pulls up to share a radio report of the creature’s presence. Superman heads off intending to join the battle, despite his parents urging him not to. While Wonder Woman and Champion join forces against the creature, and even Cassie gets into the mix, stuff at Lazarus’ place comes to a head as the authorities arrive to take him into custody over the situation. His “son” the computer spawns yet another creature that kills on the spot, and finally a last-ditch idea is tried…that resolves the situation, allowing the creature’s defeat (before Superman even gets there), and an almost too-neat wrapup to this 4-issue chunk of the series.

As with the last three chapters, this was solid overall, particularly on the art. I liked that the story “expanded” a bit, and brought Superman into play–it only makes sense that he’d be made aware of Doomsday seemingly showing up again, and would NOT make sense to not even give any time to his reaction, or that of anyone who knows him. This is also placed as being during that time when Superman and Lois were broken up…which gives me a better “consciousness” as to the timing of this issue and why I was so totally unaware of Doomsday’s appearances in the previous issue and this one: this came out while I was “out of” comics, between the end of The Trial of Superman and prior to the Superman Wedding and then the Electric Costume saga.

There’s nothing “new” really to say on the art–the creative credits have been the same across all 4 issues unless I’ve misread something somewhere, and what I’ve said before holds true to this issue as well. Perhaps the fact that we get Byrne drawing the mid-’90s Superman with the longer hair is another plus (adding to what I’d said earlier about seeing Byrne tackle Doomsday).

Story-wise, my only primary complaint is the seemingly over-the-top language spouted by Ma and Pa Kent in the Superman bit–that just seemed so shoe-horned in/exaggerated that it didn’t ring true at all to my reading…despite the fact that Byrne was the one that did the early work on the Kents being alive into Clark’s adulthood and seeing him be Superman.

The end of this issue–and ostensibly the “story arc”–seemed a bit quick and almost too-tidy as a wrapup, with some exposition trying to suggest this could never happen again, Lazarus rather quickly coming around about the truth of it not actually being his son truly in the computer, etc. Echoing comments I made with one of the other chapters, this is very much from the era when it was relatively RARE for a collected volume to be put out, with only the biggest, most sold-out stories getting a volume. This was still single issues as the primary focus…such that I don’t even know what to call this four part story. With issue names like “Level 1,” “Level 2,” “Level 3,” and “Game Over,” I suppose it COULD be called Game Over (and probably would with a modern-day collection put out), but there’s no overall title, of which the names would (with a contemporary 2016 comic) would be “sub titles” within the arc’s title.

For an 80-cent overall cost to me for Wonder Woman #s 109-112, this was absolutely a real treat to read, and leaves me confident in the fun nature of Byrne‘s run on the title, and very much interested in carving out some more time (eventually) to read this series at length…along with the likes of the Wally West Flash series.

If you find these issues–this one, or the previous several–they’re definitely well worth bargain-bin pricing (up to $1ish each), as the four issues at even $1 would be the cost of a single current issue…and this story is more than worth the price of a single current comic. As this is not actually part of some large, singular overall story, one could even conceivably dive in here, with the majority of what you need to know being that Wonder Woman’s engaged in battle with fake-Doomsday, and how things go and get wrapped up. The stuff with Lazarus and his wife/companion even give what would seem to be enough context and exposition to let one “get” the basics of what is–and has been–going on to get to this issue.

The ’90s Revisited: Wonder Woman #111

wonder_woman_0111Level 3

Writer/Artist: John Byrne
Colorist: Patricia Mulvihill
Assistant Editor: Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt
Editor: Paul Kupperberg
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: July 1996
Cover Price: $1.95

This is the third issue of a story, and we pick up shortly after where we left off in the previous issue. Doomsday is on a rampage in Gateway City, despite the fact that–to the best of anyone’s knowledge–the creature was hurled into space some time back, never to return to Earth. As the creature tears up real estate, Wonder Woman is brought into the mix–interrupted from the advisory assistance she’s receiving in identifying the substance the fake-Flash and fake-Sinestro were made out of. Even realizing this is the creature that KILLED Superman, Wonder Woman doesn’t hesitate to engage it in battle. While taking her lumps, Champion joins in–though he takes a Supergirl-like hit that takes him out immediately. Seeking to aid her mentor, Cassie retrieves the Sandals of Hermes as well as an unknown artifact and goes to Wonder Woman’s aid. When she’s hit–and nearly killed–it distracts Wonder Woman enough that the beast gets the upper hand, and it looks like this might be game over for our heroine.

Three issues into the story and I’m enjoying stuff…and actually had to “force” myself to NOT dive straight into the next issue. I’m enjoying this story, the art’s good, and I just want to get more of everything. See more of Wonder Woman in action, see more of Cassie and get details of her background, as well as see more of the rest of the supporting cast–Cassie’s mom, Mike, Champion, Wonder Woman as Diana NOT in action…three issues in and this is simply flat-out an enjoyable book!

I had no idea just from the cover what the context of Doomsday’s presence was, but now having read the preceding issues and this one, the creature is a construct created by a computerized process controlled by the “consciousness” of someone’s son. The “clones” are created and programmed, and then let loose on the world, though Kris–who apparently died, but his consciousness was “saved”–can see through the constructs’ eyes. Even though it’s a “fake,” this Doomsday is quite powerful, and not “just” some run-of-the-mill villain, showing up and totally diluting the character. Flash-forward twenty years to present day, and the character is just another of Superman’s rogues–like Darkseid or Mongul. But in 1996, this was before The Doomsday Wars, so Doomsday itself was still an extremely rare villain to actually (or seemingly-actually) show up.

I like the cover (obviously), even though Doomsday is a bit “off” in appearance. This fits with the story, though, and so I can forgive it quite easily. There’s also something rather gratifying about seeing John Byrne handling the character–both from the writing side, and even moreso from the art side, as so much of the Superman mythos at the time of the Doomsday! / The Death of Superman was still closely, tightly tied to the foundation work laid out by Byrne during his tenure on the Superman titles.

This story started with level 1–The Flash, a hero–apparently accidentally causing damage. It continued to level 2 with Sinestro, a villain–causing damage but not outright killing anyone. Then on to level 3 with Doomsday and untold damage and destruction and death. Wonder Woman is facing one of the most powerful things she’s ever faced, and this issue ends trying to convince us of the bad place she’s in…but it’s a comic, it’s #111 where I know the series passed #200, and I don’t recall any other major “Diana-gets-replaced” type stories, so it’s a given she survives. Still, she and her fellow fictional chracters don’t know that as this ends, so it’s on to the next issue to see what comes of this build-up!

And once again, as noted before…EVEN THOUGH this is the third issue of an arc, it still reads like one could pick this up and be no worse off than I was reading the first part of the story. You’re thrust into the action, get a bit of context and new action, and a cliffhanger to lead to the next issue. One story, but each issue could pretty conceivably be someone’s first without them being as totally lost or “coming in mid-story” as one would be picking up the third issue of a present-day arc.

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