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The Weekly Haul – Week of April 26, 2017

This week involved QUITE the feline-centric New Comics Day!

I swung by Carol & John’s, and was greeted at the door personally by Winston himself, who quickly led me into the shop to show off the pint-glasses. (Or he was watching birds outside, and I just got in the way). Whatever the case, he let me scratch his head and pet him, and then he wandered off to attend to his other duties around the shop.

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Here he is…the Master Greeter himself…though he wouldn’t look right at the camera for me. I guess that’s where I should point y’all to ComicCatWinston on Instagram.

Loads of great pics!

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Then, while getting situated for this week’s post, my own cat, Ziggy, played the photo-bomber role again. Often I’ve just shown these on this blog’s Facebook page, but thought I’d include it here as well…’cuz hey, why not?

His butt is planted on this week’s Action Comics issue, while his paws are digging into the lenticular cover of Flash #21, while Streaky looks on curiously from the background.

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…and now to the standard, static photos for the week!

I bought one of the Carol & John’s prints for Free Comic Book Day 2017 in support of the shop and their annual shindig. I have no idea if I’ll get to make it out for any official FCBD festivities, but with getting to visit the shop a lot more frequently since starting the current job, I can definitely display such a print without feeling "off" in doing so!

While it was actually another shop–Hazel’s Heroes Comics and More–that had a post this week about Super-Pets in stock, that reminded me of the existence of the plush critters. While I wouldn’t mind getting Krypto and Dex-Starr, I was more interested in Streaky the Super-Cat. And guess who I saw peeking out at me from a shelf?

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As I keep on saying, I love that there’s a new Superman comic each week now that I look forward to. Of course, as with last week, the Superman titles have taken a slight back-seat to the Batman/Flash crossover The Button.

As I’m a sucker for nostalgia, the Splitting Image book caught my eye…I’m pretty sure this is reprinting some classic ’90s issues from early in the Image days. Whatever the case, I figured it’s a fun collection.

Then as New Comic Day fell on Aliens Day (or Alien, singular), we have the first issue of the new series Aliens: Dead Orbit as well as the finale to the mega-arc Life and Death that’s been going since March 2016.

And since I’m double-dipping for immediacy on the TMNT Universe issue, I opted for the "B" cover, though I don’t care for it as much as the actual regular cover.

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Then there were several more of the True Believers reprints. This time, Uncanny X-Men #281, Generation X #1, and I passed on Astonishing X-Men #1, as they utilized the ridiculously-stupid Wolverine-Claws cover instead of the team-image (for the FIRST ISSUE of a TEAM BOOK).

There was also a free handout of a reading chronology of Marvel stuff. I flipped through it briefly and found most stuff unrecognizable or uninteresting, but there may be a gem or two hidden in there.


Hard to believe we’re already at the end of April 2017. We’re 11 months into DC‘s Rebirth initiative, and I don’t think a week’s gone by since that first special issue that there hasn’t been at least one DC book (typically a Superman issue) I’ve been looking forward to. And the last few weeks with Superman: Reborn and now The Button, they’re really ramping things up, so that I hardly care what else is out next week–I’m looking forward to the next chapter of The Button, and quite curious as to where else stuff will unfold in the mega-arc of the universe-wide tapestry.

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Age of Apocalypse Revisited: Generation Next #4

aoa_revisited_logo

generationnext004"Bye"

Created by: Scott Lobdell and Chris Bachalo
Inks by: Mark Buckingham
Lettering by: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Colors by: Steve Buccellato and Electric Crayon
Cover: Bachalo
Edited by: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: June 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

This is certainly the darkest end to any of these minis yet, for the Age of Apocalypse.

Illyana’s been found…but her rescuers are not unscathed from their trials. Even with the arrival of Colossus, the kiddos aren’t quite able to make it, and the students find themselves left behind as Colossus INSISTS she be carried to safety, the mission Magneto set. Only then does he "go back" to save his students…and the result is where lies the aforementioned darkness.

As with the rest of the series, I’m not a big fan of the art on this book. In many places it’s just too "busy" for my tastes, with too many lines, and this title definitely has some of the weirdest-looking characters. It remains distinctive and carries a darker tone, so the uncomfortable weirdness is appropriate…it’s just not something I particularly enjoy.

While the characters and situation are believable, I don’t much like seeing this side of Colossus, or Kitty…it’s uncomfortable to see them in these roles. Still, the story is rather believable, especially given what we’ve seen of them before–students AND teachers…and we’ve been set up to see this as a "suicide mission," just that we don’t normally see the sorts of character deaths that we do here.

Of course, that’s something that "can" be done in this case–the final issue of a four-issue glimpse into the twilight of the Age of Apocalypse. Consciously, as readers, it was clear by this point that the "regular" X-Men universe would return and that the Age of Apocalypse–if only in terms of publishing–was racing to its conclusion. Unless characters would cross over, or get a scene in X-Men: Omega…this would be "it" for them, and the story already being a divergent status quo, stuff can be done that simply would not fly in the regular books.

Though I’ve not been a fan of the art in particular on this series, the story’s been good, and it’s been a lot more interesting than I’d expected going in. Generation Next #4 now balances to Generation X–four issues of each, with Generation X only "taking the lead" by the return of the regular books and cessation of Generation Next…an interesting "meta" dynamic I’ve always noticed.

Age of Apocalypse Revisited: Generation Next #3

aoa_revisited_logo

generationnext003It Only Hurts When I Sing

Creators: Scott Lobdell & Chris Bachalo
Inks: Mark Buckingham
Colors: Steve Buccellato and Electric Crayon
Letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Edits: Bob Harras
Cover: Bachalo
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: May 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

We continue to see the kids’ infiltration of the prison camp as they seek Colossus’ sister, Illyana. Their search quickly turns toward doom for the group…and we see the stark contrast in this Colossus by the way he regards the lives of his students in this situation. We’re also shown a lot more about the conditions in the facility as well as the sorts of individuals who keep the place running. Finally, we’re left with a decent cliffhanger as characters struggle for maximum survival, though perhaps purchased at a steep cost.

This issue gives us what I believe is the first on-page appearance of the Sugar Man…a rather gross little beast of a character. I didn’t like the character back in 1995, and I don’t now in 2015. The character seems a perfect fit for the art and story, though, showing the horrors and weirdness that populate the world of this story.

Visually I’m not impressed…and continue to attribute most of that to Bachalo‘s art, which just isn’t that appealing to me, outside of Colossus and Kitty. The story is pretty good on the whole, and I do enjoy that we get to see the characters "in action" and they way in which they infiltrate the place. Though this is by no means my favorite issue nor favorite TITLE, it’s still a solid issue with good story and distinctive art. I vaguely recall a key event for these characters, but truly cannot remember if it occurs in the pages of this mini or not until X-Men: Omega.

As a third issue of four, this works well enough and does leave me curious about the unfolding of the events in the next issue, even if I’m not singularly enamored with this issue. It gets the job done, and also has me further curious about some of these characters in the "regular" Marvel universe.

Nothing special, nothing horrible.

Age of Apocalypse Revisited: Generation Next #1

aoa_revisited_logo

generationnext001From the Top

Created by: Bachalo & Lobdell
Inker: Mark Buckingham
Colors: Steve Buccellato/Electric Crayon
Lettering: Starkings/Comicraft
Cover: Chris Bachalo, Mark Buckingham
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: March 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

On a more pronounced scale than X-Man #1, I remember disliking this series and so kinda "dreaded" "having to" read it to progress through the Age of Apocalypse saga. I know present-day I tend to not care for Bachalo‘s visual style, finding it cluttered and often hard to follow in the flow of just reading the story. But I actually rather enjoyed this issue.

The bulk of the issue follows a "training exercise" in which the younger mutants fight–Danger Room style–as training in use of their powers. First against each other, and then against their teachers–Colossus and Shadowcat, who prove to be quite ruthless and deadly, and encourage the same in their students. "Training" gets cut short with the appearance of Magneto, who (in his first "live" appearance to the kids) has Bishop in tow and seeks discovery of a possible time traveler…who, as it turns out may well be the sister Colossus thought killed. It will be up to this team of mutants to retrieve her.

As said, I haven’t really cared for Bachalo‘s work in more contemporary comics, and as such really was not looking forward to this issue. But I actually forgot as I read that this was a Bachalo-drawn issue, as the problems I’ve had with more recent stuff he’s done does not seem to be apparent here. I don’t know if that’s the inks, colors, pencil styles, or what. Whatever it is, I’m thankful, as this issue thusly has a distinct grittier, darker tone than the other issues I’ve read so far of the Age of Apocalypse #1s…setting it apart but not distractingly so.

The story isn’t bad…it doesn’t blow me away and is actually fairly cliché in its own way…but it works here, setting tone and showing the harshness of things these kids are facing (though we don’t get much explanation for Kitty’s behavior/personality compared to her non-AoA self).

While I have YET to read the Phalanx Covenant in full and really much with all the Generation X characters, I always found the timing of this interesting: by the end of the Age of Apocalypse stuff, there’d been equal time spent with Generation X as a title as this Generation Next…4 issues and 4 issues.

Not a bad read, certainly much more enjoyable than I remembered or expected…we’ll see what the later issues do for me.

The ‘90s Revisited: December ’94 X-Books

As the events of Legion Quest were reshaping the ENTIRE line of X-books for the start of 1995, even the titles not directly involved in Legion Quest itself reflected the fact that story was going on, with each title ending with the reality-ending crystallization wave washing over things, most of the books being left on a cliffhanger. While I wasn’t originally going to cover these other titles due to not being direct tie-ins/chapters of Legion Quest, I figured I’d touch briefly on them after all. Here are the resultant five “mini-reviews” of the rest of the December 1994-shipping X-Books.

WOLVERINE #90

wolverine090The Dying Game

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: Mark Farmer & Dan Green
Lettering: Pat Brosseau
Coloring: Marie Javins
Cover: Adam Kubert, Greg Hildebrandt, Tim Hildebrandt
Editor: Bob Harras

This is one of the more "iconic" issues of this series for me–and certainly harnesses the "feel" of this "era" of the comic for me. The cover is the first thing that stands out, with a hybrid Kubert/Hildebrandt Bros. image–the distinctive Hildebrandts image that would be great on its own, with Kubert‘s art overlaid to the side, and the series logo is almost an afterthought or a formality.

The issue’s story is fairly simplistic, with Wolverine returning to the X-Mansion to keep an eye on the imprisoned Sabretooth while everyone else is away. Wolverine starts out refusing to fight, but pieces things together about the time Sabretooth pulls an escape, and the two brawl. Ultimately they wind up with Wolverine on top, having popped two claws, one to either side of Sabretooth’s head. The villain taunts Wolverine, threatening everyone he loves and cares about, and right as Wolverine pops the third claw–into Sabretooth’s brain–the crystallization wave hits and this never happened, as this universe ends.

While not on the same level as X-Men #s 25 or 41 or Wolverine #75, this is an issue that’s long stood out to me. The ending plays very well with the pre-Age of Apocalypse cliffhanger thing, leaving us hanging a bit on the supposed fate of Sabretooth, what it means for Wolverine to have at long last apparently killed his old foe, etc. (However, the popularity of the characters renders this cliffhanger moot, where some of the "lesser" characters/titles have faded over the years and hold far less memory).

X-FACTOR #111

xfactor111Explosive Performance

Plot: John Francis Moore
Script: Todd Dezago
Pencils: Jan Duursema
Inks: Al Milgrom
Colors: Glynis Oliver
Letters: Starkings/Comicraft
Cover: Tom Grummett, Al Milgrom
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Group Editor: Bob Harras

This issue is one of the more memorable cliffhanger-issues for the month’s X-books, with Guido (Strong Guy) falling to a heart attack, and Reality ends before we learn if he’s actually dead or not.

I remember THAT I’d read a handful of issues of the title from #92-onward thanks to my introduction via the Fatal Attractions crossover the year before. However, other than apparently having read the END, I don’t recall THIS issue’s story prior to reading it this time around.

On the whole, this was a solid enough jumping-in issue…helped perhaps by having read #109 (the Legion Quest Prelude). As I read this issue, I kept mixing up Lila Cheney with Dazzler…two characters I’m familiar enough with name-wise but not so much story-wise. And though I didn’t totally follow–there’s a definite sense I missed plenty with skipping #110–I didn’t feel "lost" or have any particular problem with reading this issue.

That’s probably primarily helped by the fact I read this solely for its "tie-in" to Legion Quest and specifically TO get to the cliffhanger, to have the sense of where the title left off immediately preceding the shift into the Age of Apocalypse itself.

GENERATION X #4

generationx004Between the Cracks

Story: Scott Lobdell and Chris Bachalo
Inks: Mark Buckingham
Colors by: Steve Buccellato
Lettering: Richard Starkings/Comicraft
Cover: Chris Bachalo
Editing: Tom DeFalco, Bob Harras

I’ve yet to *really* ever read any issues of this title–I couldn’t say for sure if I’ve ever actually read an issue, including this one. I remember getting this when it came out, though, so I probably did read it…just without knowing much about the characters. I’d only partially followed the Phalanx Covenant stuff that led to Generation X, and didn’t yet know (m)any of the new characters. This issue’s very stylistic, which I’m not all that enamored with. The story itself isn’t bad, though I don’t much care for the page borders or the little character wandering said borders and holding up page-number signs. It’s an interesting thing to do, and I can appreciate it setting this title apart, as well as the "meta" nature of it. Perhaps it was even "fun" at the time. It just doesn’t do much for me.

Reading this issue for its "lead-in" to Age of Apocalypse was quite disappointing, as it also "bucked the trend" of the other X-books in doing its own thing and then a tacked-on bit to account for the ending of the universe. Not bad in and of itself–a good way to get around being totally formulaic, but my appreciation does not equal enjoyment–and this was the least-enjoyable of the non-Legion Quest X-issues heading into the big event.

X-FORCE #43

xforce043Teapot in a Tempest

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Tony Daniel
Inker: Kevin Conrad
Coloring: Mike Thomas
Cover: Tony Daniel, Kevin Conrad
Editor: Bob Harras

I definitely don’t remember this issue’s story as something I’d read before. I’m familiar with a number of the characters–perhaps from stuff I’ve read in the last 20 years, where I can’t say for sure I’d’ve been familiar with them at the time. I liked the art for this issue, and it’s interesting to see that it’s Tony Daniel, whose work I enjoyed on Batman a few years back. In addition to appreciating the art, I enjoyed this snippet of story–it was cool seeing a number of different characters/situations without them all having to be together in one space; with these multiple ongoing subplots weaving about. The Reignfire reveal seems like it was rather huge at the time, though not recalling anything of the character tells me that’s not something that’s particularly carried to this day.

That the issue involved communication with Cable and was affected by his absence due to things going on in Legion Quest was a definite treat, showing how the various characters tie together and that this issue is not something "on the fringe" of the X-universe of the time but was still closely affected.

EXCALIBUR #86

excalibur086Back to Life

Writer: Warren Ellis
Pencil Artist: Ken Lashley
Ink Artist: Tom Wegrzyn
Letterer: J. Babcock
Colorist: J. Rosas
Cover: Ken Lashley, Tom Wegrzyn
Editor: Suzanne Gaffney
Group Editor: Bob Harras

While I certainly did not pick up on the significance of things at the time, rereading this issue brought back snippets of memory–particularly Kitty’s threat to put Wisdom’s cigarette out, and the issue’s end with the jet crashing.

I do not recall consciously noting before now that this was a Warren Ellis-written issue, though somewhere along the way I became aware of his having been the writer in this general time, and being the one behind the Pete Wisdom character. That this seems to be Wisdom’s first appearance is rather cool.

This issue was a welcome glimpse back to the then-status-quo, and a reminder that Kitty and Nightcrawler had a period of time where they were NOT part of the X-Men themselves. I’d also forgotten about other characters, as well as how much I "miss" Moira’s presence in the X-books. Of course, given contemporary things, that’s practically a generational factor.

The cliffhanger of the characters facing a crash-landing that they weren’t certain of surviving was compelling even back in the day, and has me curious about how the point was resolved when everything returned after the Age of Apocalypse…I’m partially torn on digging that issue out to find out versus allowing myself the wondering until after covering the event itself.

A Haul Worthy of Comic Con (part 2)

The other day I shared a bunch of bargain bin comics I’ve picked up the last few weeks. Cool as those were (especially the Robin stack), the “heart” of it all–and where I’ve felt the MOST “progress”–has been with the X-books.

Here is the bulk of my Marvel haul the last few weeks…again, this would put what I could find at any major convention to shame….three local comic shops can outdo a room of 50+ dealers.

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I believe with this issue of Uncanny X-Men, I’m only missing Gambit’s first appearance (#266) from having a run on the title from Inferno to 400-something, and even the 400s are getting filled in nicely (see further below).

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These were issues I actually grabbed to round out a batch of “$.50/ea or 15/$5” issues. I’m going to have to pull together my Iron Man run soon to figure out exactly what I am missing–I’m pretty sure I’ve got at least half of the 1998-2004 series, and a good chunk of the Extremis series.

mephistovsmarveluniverse

Saw all 4 issues, which I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen all 4 at once or not…I know I’ve seen this in chunks of 1-3 issues, though. And for a mere $1? Heck, yeah!

2099worldoftomorrow

Kinda bummed, assuming someone cherry-picked #1 here. Still…easier to remember I need #1 than one issue in 2-5.

2099doomissues1to26minus2

As I’ve said repeatedly in this blog: I’m a sucker for “runs.” Doom 2099 #1-26 (missing only #2) was too good to pass up…though I’ve been more interested in getting a run of Spider-Man 2099 like this…and leaning toward adding the 2099 line to my “want list.”

captainamericafightingchance

I’ve long been interested in the Fighting Chance story, in tracking down a copy for myself. I once borrowed this run from a friend, and read it–years ago, over a decade back–but I’ve wanted to have a copy for myself. I’m pretty sure I’ve got most of the run from 438-454 or whatever the final issue was around Onslaught, the entire Heroes Reborn series, the entire Heroes Return series, and a part of the 2002 series…so had my eye on this as a point to go “back to.” Finding all 12 issues of the main arc plus the epilogue in one go for basically $3.25? Beats the heck outta “just” a single $3.99 book today!

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And just because it’s a huge issue and was only 25 cents, snagged another copy of #400. Also grabbed Astro City vol.1 #1, first print…for the sheer novelty of it only being a quarter. Had there been more issues of the series, I would’ve snagged those as well–even though I have the collected volumes through Local Heroes.

shinyxbooksissues

I grabbed Prime and Uncanny #300 because of being big issues…and shiny. Can’t beat comics like this from 20 years ago that would easily be $8+ today…and getting both for about 50 cents.

xmanissues

Gradually starting to fill in the X-Man issues. I originally followed ALL the X-titles during Age of Apocalypse, and then a few months immediately after, before dwindling off on the various titles. I kept up with X-Man off and on through the years, which makes it a bit harder to remember what I remember because I read or have just seen the cover image for.

amazingxmenageofapocalypse

And I think I’m somewhat building another Age of Apocalypse set…at least if I can find all 4 issues of a given series together. I keep seeing Astonishing X-Men, but finally saw a full run of Amazing X-Men.

xmenunlimitedissues

Also filling in the X-Men Unlimited run. I’m also trying to track down the NON-shiny covers for the various issues that had ’em…while they’re cool and grab my attention, ultimately I actually want to have all “standard” covers in my main run of the series. In this case, the Phalanx Covenant crossover is the main such series of issues.

newxmenacademyx

Academy X is probably gonna be one of the harder series for me to fill in, given how “recent” it is. While $1/issue isn’t bad, I suspect that ultimately I’ll wind up having to suck it up and raid $1 bins for this series…barring more significant “finds” than the handful of issues here.

newxmen

I wound up buying the first two oversized hardcovers collecting this run…and jumped to the singles from there. So I’m backtracking on the singles. My main “goal” is the ’90s X-books through this NEW X MEN run; beyond that will just be bonus.

uncannyxmenissues

Despite focus on the ’90s, I think ultimately I’m aiming for Inferno to the end of the first Uncanny X-Men series…with hauls like this, it’s not too far outta the question.

xfactororiginalseries

I’ve had far better luck with X-Factor than I have with New Mutants…almost to the point that I’m debating whether I even want to track down the New Mutants series piecemeal. I may content myself with the later printings of Cable’s first appearance to the end, or just stick with X-Force.

xfactor2005

Though this “2nd” X-Factor series technically falls outside my “core” range…the renumbering to 200+ (and finding this 43-issue run) leads me to count it as one entire run on the whole…particularly given PAD’s lengthy run here.

generationxissues

I’d forgotten that Generation X only ran 75 issues…but should have recalled, as it and X-Man were both part of this Counter X sub-imprint/branding at the end, and both ended at that #75. This run is nearly 1/5 of the entire series…which isn’t bad at all!

excaliburissues

Excalibur’s in a similar vein as New Mutants for me, except I’ve had much more luck finding a number of issues for it. It’s one of the lower “priorities” for me, but since a lot of my fondness of the ’90s is centered largely around titles that existed during Fatal Attractions and around Age of Apocalypse…this certainly counts!

xtremexmenissues

Finally, a bunch of X-Treme X-Men issues. I’m actually particularly interested in learning more about what went down with Rogue and Gambit, and kinda see them as having disappeared into this series for a few years. How accurate that is remains for me to discover, but nothing wrong with adding another complete X-series to my collection…

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