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Impulse Buying and Price: Guardians 2 Hot Wheels

It seems almost amazing at times how much impact price has on impulse purchases. And what a difference that 97 cents makes compared to, say, $3.99 per unit.

Case in point: a wave of Hot Wheels, with various vehicles done up in honor of the main characters in Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 and related stuff.

guardians_2_hotwheels

For a little under the price of a mere 2 regular Marvel comics (or 1 1/2 #1 issues), I snagged all 8 of these. Walmart had a big bin of them, and I poked through, initially curious after the Drax one caught my eye…then decided that ok, if they had all 8 shown on the back of the cards, I’d go ahead and get them…but if they only had 7, or 6, or such, I’d put ’em back and buy none.

But they had all 8, so…I bought ’em.

These’ll go with the Captain America: Civil War wave I picked up the same way last year.

I’m not much of a car guy, but occasional things like this, with snazzy packaging that really grabs the attention (moreso than the vehicles themselves), are fun…and really don’t take up that much space, thankfully. And since I’m not buying up the action figures and other stuff that cost a lot more…I allow myself the indulgence.

All the more with zero interest in other movie toys for stuff like Spider-Man or Wonder Woman, and not even seeing any product for Alien: Covenant and such.

C’est la vie!

The ’90s Revisited: Warlock and the Infinity Watch #42

90s_revisited

warlock_and_the_infinity_watch_0042Win, Lose, Draw!

Writer: John Arcudi
Pencils: Mike Gustovich
Inks: Keith Williams
Colors: Ian Laughlin
Letters: Jack Morelli
Editor: Mark Gruewald
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: July, 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

This was a hard issue to read. I’m really not familiar with the art team, outside of perhaps earlier work on this title that I read 15+ years ago. While characters are visually familiar from the time, this is hardly the BEST rendition of them. The story is rather scattered and without much context (no "previously page" and not much in the way of in-story exposition). I suppose that’s a good thing by contemporary standards–not wasting much space on that…and this IS a "final chapter" of whatever the story is, as well as a series finale.

Unfortunately, this feels like a rushed, tie-up-as-much-as-possible finale that may have been something seen coming but not entirely "expected."

We basically have a scattered team, with a member physically hospitalized while her mind is active (psychically) with the team; a former member allied with Thanos, another member turned "traitor," and the team’s "home turf" facing a huge storm that could wipe the place out. Out of nowhere, the team’s Infinity Gems (hence "Infinity Watch") all disappear; Warlock is apparently killed; Maxam returns to his own time without further explanation, and the team is left with Warlock heading out on a solo quest to figure out where the gems went. The End.

Frankly, this is a horrible issue in terms of a context-less, isolated cold-read. As said, it’s a series finale, so it’s scrambling to try to wrap stuff up in a hurry as best as possible. For a series that started on such a high note, this is a pitiful whimper to go out on.

Context-wise, from what I recall of reading scattered later issues (I’ve never had the ENTIRE series to read in one go), I can imagine the team and book were headed for a status quo change and some new developments, perhaps plenty of positive, just that stuff got cut short. And a book NOT being given "time" or a new direction given time to shake out, etc. is something that I can "accept" for a story falling flat, even if I don’t like to. In a way, it’s a sign of the times, when series were not written simply as serialized graphic novels, but as episodic things with ongoing developments and actual "subplots" and the like.

A key factor of this issue, though, is its failure to even acknowledge Marvel‘s then "sister" company, Malibu, and its Ultraverse. See…in this issue, the Infinity Gems just simply, arbitrarily disappear out of nowhere, and that’s that. But, if one reads the Rune/Silver Surfer (flipbook Silver Surfer/Rune) issue, we see the Ultraverse character gain the Time Gem, stop time, and snag the rest. Given he steals them all WHILE time is stopped, that explains the sudden, simultaneous disappearance of the gems. It seems counter-intuitive and even a bit shameful to me that that event happens in another book entirely (Silver Surfer got a cartoon in the 1990s, so was more of a "hot" property–so I can see Marvel wanting the bigger brand "out there") with zero acknowledgement in this title…the title in which the Infinity Gems were housed, and the story of their place in the then-Marvel Universe was chronicled for over three years, a long-running title!

I actually found myself with two copies of this issue "handy," hence reading this as an isolated single issue. One copy I’d pulled when I came across it going through some comic box looking for something else in my collection; the other with a stack of 25-cent-bin issues; I’m certain I acquired both from 25-cent bins. And frankly, that’s what this issue is worth. There’s sentimentalism to be had if you’re fond of the title or Warlock or any of the other characters, but that’s about it. Outside of "free," this issue is perhaps worth the "base" price of 25 cents, but I wouldn’t say much more than that. On the other hand, the first issue is a great read (as I remember) as are a number of the early issues, perhaps through the Infinity War stuff.

Overall, I’d give this a pass; there’s a lot of better stuff out there to be read.

The ’90s Revisited: Silver Surfer #45

90srevisited

silversurfer045Thanos vs. Mephisto

Writer: Jim Starlin
Penciler: Ron Lim
Inker: Tom Christopher
Letterer: Ken Bruzenak
Colorist: Tom Vincent
Cover: Ron Lim, Tom Christopher
Editor: Craig Anderson
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: January 1991
Cover Price: $1.00

This is an issue of Silver Surfer. That’s the series, the title, that’s the logo on the cover. But…the cover belongs to Thanos and Mephisto…there’s no attempt whatsoever to have the title character–the Surfer himself–worked into the cover image. There’s a square box that has no pretension of some callout or "burst" hyping something: it states simply The Boys are Back! and we see a stoic, confident Thanos "posed" for the image with a sorta creepy, up-to-no-good Mephisto putting an arm around him. This image alone evokes plenty of thoughts and depth…surface stuff and far deeper, should one wish to hyperanalyze.

The cover belongs to these two…as does the interior. The Surfer has fallen (in the previous issue, I’d assume…it’s been well over a decade since I last would have read this run) and he and the Destroyer (Drax) lay lifeless at Thanos’ feet–their souls having been sucked into the Soul Gem. Other than the opening full-page shot and barely a reference in a subsequent panel and then a small panel at the very end of the issue reminding us of their existence–we don’t see Surfer or the Destroyer in the rest of the issue. And while this is a Silver Surfer issue…that does not bother me in the slightest, particularly having bought this for a quarter, because of the cover…and TRULY getting exactly what I wanted, what I expected out of the issue: Thanos and Mephisto. That’s what the cover promised, and that’s what was delivered.

Thanos has assembled his Infinity Gauntlet, having completed his quest to gather the Infinity Stones. The two beings who sought to stop him–the Silver Surfer and Drax, the Destroyer–have been defeated. Mephisto takes this opportunity to step him, pledging himself to Thanos, master of all. Along with doing so, he goads Thanos on, suggesting the greatness he can yet attain, if he reaches out with his infinite power to touch every living/sentient mind in the Universe. Thanos does so, and Mephisto’s ulterior motive is revealed: to steal the Gauntlet for himself. Of course, it turns out that Thanos was prepared for this, and puts Mephisto in his place, wherein the two come to an agreement about How Things Will Be…and we again see the lifeless forms of Surfer and Drax as Thanos considers the notion of there remaining any who could possibly be a threat to his plans.

This issue falls right in the midst of all the lead-up to The Infinity Gauntlet (1991), though unfortunately it does not seem to be part of the Silver Surfer: The Rebirth of Thanos collected volume. (I’m actually not sure if this has been collected anywhere at the moment?) And the cover–basic though it is (a simple greenish turquoise background with the two characters and then the usual cover dress)–just hit the right nostalgia button for me.

Starlin‘s writing here is spot-on for me; I so associate him with this material–this run on Silver Surfer, all his stuff on Thanos heading into and then during the core Infinity Gauntlet and so on–that this is essentially a "perfect" comic. This is Thanos as I appreciate the character, like the character, and simply reading this issue leaves me anxious to re-read this whole run of the title. As Thanos’ creator, Starlin gets a "pass" from me: what he says goes, and if he’s writing Thanos, then to me…that IS Thanos.

Lim‘s art is absolutely fantastic and iconic in itself to me…as depicted in this issue, this simply IS Thanos. The costume, the shadowed eyes, the star-flare in the eyes, whatever details I notice just works for me and seems perfect.

I already "know" this period of the comics; I know stuff before, after, and am certain I’ve read this before, so reading this is a true revisiting for me; like taking a cherished, favorite book and spending a few minutes re-reading a short selection. That’s probably why despite this chunk of story being right in the middle of the lead-up to Infinity Gauntlet, I so thoroughly enjoyed it as a single issue.

This issue is well worth grabbing, particularly as a bargain-bin issue…and especially if it’s truly not reprinted anywhere as yet. It’s a great middle piece between what you’ll find in Silver Surfer: The Rebirth of Thanos tpb and the Infinity Gauntlet.

Toys in the Wild – Marvel Infinite @ Target

After ages of Marvel’s Hercules and Marvel’s Gladiator figures from the Marvel Universe line warming the pegs all over at numerous Targets I’ve been to, I’m finally beginning to see a series of the Marvel Infinite Series showing up. I’m seeing them for the “usual” $9.99 at a couple, but also the more ridiculous $10.99.

While it’s nice finally seeing new figures, or reprints of old figures (Drax, Star-Lord, and Rocket with Groot were previously offered as a Guardians of the Galaxy 3-pack, for example) the pricing has REALLY put me off. The figures seem too small to be so expensive on an individual basis.

The larger characters–physically bigger and heavier–“feel” a LITTLE more worth it, but the smaller/skinnier characters seem an even worse value… Seeing the Rocket Raccoon figure REALLY drove that home to me! The figure suffers the same as Yoda in the Star Wars figures lines, being so small, yet being part of a regular assortment, carries the same price as the other figures despite being so much smaller (in-scale).

I recall watching the Guardians of the Galaxy pack at about $18 and initially finding it a bit expensive; but then watching it over a series of weeks/months being continuously jacked up to $26-$27ish I think before the packs disappeared.

I’ve found all these figures in the stores, and while I’m interested in the Drax figure and the Wonder Man, I’m not interested in spending $11ish on each when for that price I can get plenty of other stuff.

While NOT purchasing these, I find myself taking photos of them–proving at least to myself that I saw them in-person at least the once, even if they become hard to find later and a pain to track down when/if I decide I actually WANT to spend the money to acquire them.

marvel_infinite_wonder_man

marvel_infinite_starlord

marvel_infinite_rocket_raccoon

marvel_infinite_drax

marvel_infinite_hulk

Marvel Universe Series IV Revisited, Part 2

While these would not have been my favorite characters back in ’93 when these cards came out, looking back on them now 20 years later, these are indeed some of my favorite Marvel characters, especially this version of them!

Warlock caught my attention in ’95 or so with the Ultraverse Black September event where he wound up in the Ultraverse, in the Rune series. It was around that time that I “discovered” Thanos and a lot of the other “cosmic” Marvel characters.

It’s harder to “see” the actual full image on the individual cards in binder pages…but this one looks really good digitally, which makes me collectively like this page all the more. It’s also not nearly as “busy” as the first in this set, and works so much better for me.

Of all the characters here, I’m probably least familiar with Morg and Starhawk. The others are quite familiar for me.

Continue reading

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