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Hall of Fame City Comic Con 2017

Saturday, I attended the Hall of Fame City Comic Con, held in Canton, Ohio. I’m not sure when, exactly, they got on my ‘radar,’ though I think they might have been a Facebook ad (one of the astronomically-rare few to be properly, successfully "targeted," but that’s another story).

hofccc_sept30_a_program

After being thoroughly burned on the NEO Comic Con, I wasn’t entirely sure what to "expect" from this one, and very nearly opted not to go. But since I had pre-ordered a ticket, I figured it’d be silly not to, even if I walked in, did a quick walk-around and walked back out.

Going in, two of my main "goals" were to meet/get stuff signed by Norm Rapmund and Ethan Van Sciver.

I also wanted to find a bunch of Savage Dragon comics on the cheap.

And find some good deals on collected volumes that weren’t just the same old boring/repetitive mix of $10 Marvel hardcovers and SKINNY TPBs.

Finally, there was a Green Lantern panel scheduled with both Daryl Banks and Ethan Van Sciver that seemed likely to be interesting (Banks was the artist of the fall of Hal Jordan; Van Sciver was the artist on the redemption of Hal Jordan). Plus, it was the only one that seemed to hit me as a demographic, involving any kind of super-hero comics.

So…how did this con go?

hofccc_sept30_b_signed_issues

I had three Booster Gold issues with me to get signed by Mr. Rapmund. I wound up sticking with two, though…but could easily had multiple dozens of issues, loving so much of what the man’s done!

Then for Mr. Van Sciver, I opted for my "key" issue where I first became really aware of him as an artist–Green Lantern Rebirth #1.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything with me to get signed by Mr. Banks…something I fully intend to correct in a few weeks if I make it to another con I’m aware of that he’s supposed to be a featured guest at!

hofccc_sept30_c_bargain_books

I happened across a booth with a bunch of paperbacks, and initially figured to be just another one selling a bunch of over-stocked skinny Marvel books. But I spotted a fat, thick volume, and realized that this booth actually had some real QUALITY stuff for its pricing. I regret a couple volumes I passed on, but still wound up with these eight (8!) volumes.

I believe the paperback Marvels all have a cover price of at least $34.99, if not $39.99 apiece. And I happened to notice a $29.99 price on the hardcover The Puma Blues (a title that caught my attention due to recently becoming re-aware of the title thanks to research I did for my Super-Blog Team Up post The Death of the Mighty Mutanimals. It’s by Stephen Murphy and Michael Zulli; long associated with their Mirage Studios work with the Ninja Turtles.

Each of these worked out to a whopping $5 apiece…so I’m kicking myself all the more for those couple of Wolverine books I passed up!

hofccc_sept30_d_eradicator

After the Green Lantern panel, I headed back out onto the floor, and wound up stopping at a booth with a bunch of Pops because I saw a Swamp Thing, and because of the flow of foot traffic. Once I’d looked at some stuff and was ready to walk away…I spotted a familiarly-packaged Superboy, and on further investigation found Eradicator as well as the black-suited Superman. There was no way in heck I was spending to buy all three…so I selected the Eradicator, finding the design a lot more appealing to me, and this is a figure I’ve wanted for quite a long time!

hofccc_sept30_e_con_print

Realizing I was blowing my budget, I decided to call it a wrap, knowing anything else I was likely to find would probably put me way over-budget. But on my way out, I opted to buy a copy of this "autograph print," for the art and being a ‘souvenir’ of the con, even though I should have bought it on the way in and then made the rounds to get it signed by all six guests. But then, I’m not an autograph hound, and prefer that when I get signatures for comic stuff, it’s the actual comics and they mean something to me. Not "just" some signature on a print for the sake of filling in some blanks. And I assume the sale of these prints help out the con itself, so figured why not?

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I also stopped back in at an entrance-way table, where as I’d "suspected," there were still plenty of these Voltron posters. I dug the look of this, and didn’t want to be carrying something like it around the whole con…but grabbed it on the way out.

hofccc_sept30_tru_clayface

On the way home, having had the Pops-spark rekindled a bit for the day, I stopped at a Toys R Us hoping to find the Rafiki figure with baby Simba, but no luck. They did have this Clayface, which I’d looked for elsewhere and not seen, and assumed to be one of the oversized figures. Finding it and not wanting to have to "hunt" for it later, went ahead and snagged it!

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Along with getting those Booster Gold issues signed, also got to get a photo with Mr. Rapmund!

with_daryl_banks_and_ethan_van_sciver

And what I’d "pictured" as just getting a quick photo of the men from the fall and redemption of Hal Jordan wound up with me being in the photo with Mr. Banks and Mr. Van Sciver!


So, all in all…for me, this was about as excellent a convention as I could have hoped for, in going to it alone and not seeing any obvious 25 or 50 cent bins, and being somewhat jaded from other experiences.

I am glad I went, and have to say I’m extremely eager to read more of the Green Lantern run Mr. Banks did the art for, and to get a couple things signed by him in November.

I definitely enjoyed the panel, generally enjoying hearing favored creators speak about their work and various other things in the "comics industry," and very much enjoyed some of the topics covered in the panel. In its way, the panel itself was practically worth the price of admission in itself!

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Convergence #8 [Review]

convergence008Last Stand

Writers: Jeff King and Scott Lobdell
Pencils: Stephen Segovia, Carlo Pagulayan, Eduardo Pansica, Ethan Van Sciver
Inks: Jason Paz, Scott Hanna, Trevor Scott, Stephen Segovia, Ethan Van Sciver
Colros: Peter Stiegerwald
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover: Andy Kubert, Brad Anderson
Special Thanks: Geoff Johns, Beth Sotelo, Mark Roslan
Asst. Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Marie Javins
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: July 2015

[Please note that I WILL be “spoiling” this issue in this review. If you have not read it yourself and/or do not wish to know how the issue–and Convergence itself in general–conclude, you’ll want to stop reading; though I have about 2 1/2 paragraphs before I truly get to “spoiler” territory.]

I think I left off about six weeks ago–I’m pretty sure I jumped off after #2, never picking up #3 of this series. And though my enthusiasm quickly, almost totally tapered off…I again found myself curious about how this would wrap up, particularly given recent rumors at certain comic sites, and wanting to see/experience it for myself instead of just reading about it.

Of course, that was not truly worth the $4.99 cover price (at this point, that means I’ve bought THREE $4.99 issues and only one $3.99 issue of Convergence proper, which is absolutely disgusting to me). The cover also is quite generic and basic, not impressing me at all.

The story itself is relatively basic, and I certainly lack context of the past few issues. A group of heroes has gathered, to make their last stand. Someone named Deimos has just been killed by Hal/Parallax resulting in the planet becoming unstable, and its destruction threatens the Multiverse itself. A few remaining time-travelers (specifically Booster Gold, his sister, and Waverider) show up…and their solution is to bring Brainiac back. In turn, Brainiac’s solution is to absorb the temporal energy that’s been unleashed and return the heroes home, while having himself restored and the Multiverse fixed. Part of fixing the Multiverse is preventing its total collapse in the “first” Crisis. And fix stuff they do, and all the worlds are restored, the many many worlds of a Multiverse.

I mention that the story is relatively basic, and that’s in the “heroes are gathered, a last-ditch solution arrives, is executed, and we get page after page of “moments” to end the current series/event while not truly capping things off” sense.

Essentially, it seems that in a way, this means that Crisis on Infinite Earths is given a different ending, in which the final five Earths, at least, do not collapse into one single Earth, and generally that anything and everything that has ever happened in a DC comic has a place in the multiverse and is still out there somehow.

[The way I choose to interpret it is that we’re seeing the creation of a divergent branch OF the multiverse with worlds where Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, Flashpoint, Infinite Crisis, etc. all happened or will happen existing amidst worlds in which none of those happened, and so on.]

The issue’s art is a mixed thing, with a bunch of pencilers and inkers involved. Fortunately, though seeming much like a “jam piece,” dealing with multiple versions of characters and various Earths and all that, I didn’t honestly consciously “notice” that overly much…I noticed some differences here and there but mentally wrote them off as nature of the story.

While the series didn’t hold me week to week, knowing now how it ends, I do expect I’ll still be interested in a collected volume–I half considered that it’d “only” be 5 issues to fill in my “gap,” but with DC‘s rather reasonable pricing, that $20 for 5 issues will probably be 2/3 or more the price of the inevitable hardcover of all 9 issues, so I expect to try to “hold out” for that.

Unless you’re like me and just want to get the immediate gratification of “experiencing” (reading) this issue and its place in DC History right now, or have already kept up ith the rest of the series…you’re better off waiting, I think.

This isn’t the worst ending of an event, but I wouldn’t consider it great, either as it seems to throw wide the doors on things than it does close them on even this story in itself. It does set up the new Earth 2 for the ongoing “primary”/focal part of the DC Multiverse (formerly The New 52) and leaves the entirety of DC history open such that it seems “possible” that anything/everything that’s ever been at DC is now “available” to be used in DC comics in general. Whether this ultimately proves to be good or bad, I don’t know.

I can’t say I’m thrilled with the issue in and of itself…but I am glad to have gotten to read this immediately, and be given some small “hope” of interesting self-contained stuff down the line. For the immediate present, though, this serves as a jump-off for me.

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.

The Flash: Rebirth #6 [Review]

Fastest Man Alive

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Ethan Van Sciver
Inkers: Ethan Van Sciver & Scott Hanna
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Colorist: Brian Miller of Hi-Fi
Colored by: Brian Miller of Hi-Fi
Cover by: Ethan Van Sciver
Assistant Editor: Chris Conroy
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Published by: DC Comics

This mini started out billed as a 5-issue series. Then it got expanded to 6 issues. This sixth/final issue comes basically 10 months after #1 shipped. Frankly, the issue–while something I’d like to…well, like…seems to be something that ought to have been wrapped up long before now.

Story-wise, we open on Barry and Wally chasing Zoom through time–the latter has vowed to kill Iris, the former are trying to stop him. Of course, the duo catch the villain and ensure he won’t threaten anyone ever again (well, for the rest of THIS issue, at least…it’s a comic. He’s gonna come back!). Then they return home where there’s a parade for Barry…I believe the one he was nervous about way back in issue #1. And what would a re-insertion of a classic character into contemporary continuity be without the “validation” of the Justice League affirming the return and his place with them?

The art for this issue–while good–lacks a certain sense of greatness, and isn’t nearly as appealing as I’d’ve hoped. Perhaps the lateness of the issue would suggest time was taken to really make it pop, or something. Even on a couple of the huge full-page/double-spread shots, I’m not entirely clear what’s being shown, though they make a little more sense when I take time to go back and “study” them, looking for what they COULD be, beyond what simply looking at them AS I read the story gives me. There’s one that I’m not sure if it’s being suggested that this chase through time IS the lightning that gave Barry his powers in the first place (which would seem to be a time paradox), or if they’re just viewing it, or if it’s just there to fill out the page and clue us in that they’ve reached the earliest time OF Barry’s time as The Flash.

The story itself mostly ties up the broadest of loose ends, but already sets the stage for not only the return of Zoom to active status, but also someone called “Doctor Alchemy,” who I presume is some largely un-used silver-age Flash villain that’s gonna be raised up to show us how awesome he can be, much as was done with Black Hand in Green Lantern (though I’m not expecting lightning to strike twice, in this case). Johns seems to have a definite love for the character, which I applaud…but this series in itself has done far too little to “sell” me on Barry as the primary Flash character (seems if anything, it’s been Johns using Barry to such good effect with Hal in Green Lantern and the core Blackest Night book that’s sold me at all on the merit of having Barry around.

Obviously, if you’ve already bought the first five issues, this issue’s one that you might as well consider picking up for the sake of completing the series. It’s in no way a selling point in itself though for the series, and based on this issue alone I’d suggest ignoring it. The collected volume will probably read much better, with the wait between issues stretching a mere turning of a page or two rather than months, and the whole of the story will be fresher in one’s head and thus probably feel more coherent.

As a whole, this issue’s quite a disappointment, a lukewarm ending to what should’ve been a hot series.

Story: 4/10
Art: 7/10
Overall: 5.5/10

The Flash: Rebirth #3 [Review]

Rearview Mirrors

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
Colorist: Brian Miller
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor: Chris Conroy
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Cover: Ethan Van Sciver, Alex Sinclair (variant by Van Sciver & Brian Miller)
Publisher: DC Comics

The “Rebirth” bit is losing its shine with me here. While expectations have been that the trumpeted return of Barry Allen is the focus of this series–that he’d be restored as Hal Jordan was to Green Lantern in that title’s “Rebirth” mini–my expectations are steadily dropping.

This issue sees reaction to Barry apparently interacting with the speed force in such a way that others tapping into it are dying as his body seeks more and more speed power, in an almost vampiric sorta way. While everyone else hustles to figure a way to separate Barry from the speed force–sure, he’d lose the speed, but at least he’d be ALIVE–Barry determines to go his on sacrificial course…one that puts him back in the familiar role of essentially racing Superman. The issue’s ending puts Barry face to face with who the villain of the piece likely is, in a way that also reminds me very much of the Green Lantern: Rebirth series.

The story, somehow–perhaps I just don’t want to like it–seems one of the weakest I can think of from Johns. While I’d known Kyle as Green Lantern longer than Hal, I’d still known Hal as Green Lantern first. However, the first real exposure I had to the Flash, it was Wally–and in restrospect, had BEEN Wally for bout 3 years before I owned my first comic. While the situation presented in this story is mildly interesting, I do not find Barry himself interesting…certainly not the way I did Hal. And I make the comparisons given the creative team and the title of this series–obviously meant to BE compared to GL:R.

The art by Van Sciver–ESPECIALLY the cover–is top-notch; I really can’t complain about it. Much as Van Sciver brought in the glowing/projected imagery for the GLs of the Lantern logo, he brings that to bear on the Flash with the lightning. Not that it’s original, but something about it really pops.

As a whole, this is a higher quality book than the first couple issues of the post-Bart-as-Flash title that I actually read. It’s not bad for those new to the Flash family of characters (I am myself learning more of the character grouping than I’d known of them prior), so overall accessible to new readers. It’s just lacking a certain excitement and enjoyment factor. With Green Lantern, it felt like the return/rebirth of Hal Jordan mattered. With Barry…it feels like we’re looking for a reason FOR his return to matter.

Story: 7/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 8/10

The Flash: Rebirth #1 [Review]

Lightning Strikes Twice

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor: Chris Conroy
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Cover: Ethan Van Sciver, Alex Sinclair
Publisher: DC Comics

We open with a mystery in this issue, as someone with a tie to or fixation on the Flashes attacks and kills people in the Central City crime lab. As other police storm the lab, the killer–who was gathering certain chemicals–seems to reenact the accident that gave Barry Allen his powers. We then move to a “welcome back!” parade being held in honor of the recently-returned Barry Allen; while those closest to him also revel in the hero’s return. Barry resists the attention and importance placed on his return. When an old foe returns, Barry is onhand to deal with the foe–though what he gets is far from what he expected.

The art for this issue is quite good…but somehow for me fails to hold up to my expectations for how much I enjoyed the art on the OTHER Rebirth mini. Very solid stuff here, and you’d be hard-pressed to find much better, though!

I’m quite underwhelmed with the story so far. With the exception of a handful of my grandfather’s old comics more than a decade ago, the only instances I’ve ever had reading Barry have been few and far between, with him making brief appearances in Wally’s life…so I don’t know how the characterization holds up (ore doesn’t) by comparison. At the moment, I’m really not interested in Barry, even after this issue, and while the issue’s end leaves me curious as to what’s caused what happened, I can’t help but wonder if it’ll come across more cliched than not.

It was Johns’ focus issue on Zoom a few years back that first really drew me into the world of the Flash, and it’s Johns’ Flash that developed any interest I really have in the character–so I’m holding out hope that my interest will develop a lot more as this series progresses.

Probably the main drawback of this issue as a whole is that it feels–more than a lot of comics–like it IS a story chopped into segments. If you ReallyHaveToKnowRightNowAsItUnfolds what’s going on, jump on this issue. If you’re just looking for what’s hopefully going to be one of THE Flash stories with great art, I suspect you’ll be better off waiting for the collected volume.

Story: 7/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 7.5/10

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