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The Weekly Haul – Week of August 29, 2018

Last week was a mixed sorta week. Not huge, not tiny, with some bargain-bin stuff but not a huge stack!

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GI Joe: A Real American Hero hits #255–which marks the 100th issue of this IDW run! It’ll be great to see if this can make it to #309/310 and/or beyond–matching or surpassing the original Marvel run!

The second issue of X-Men: Grand Design: Second Genesis is the latest in these series of hyper-dense X-men issues.

I’d missed out on the Astonishing X-Men annual weeks ago, but I’m a sucker for "reunion" issues, with these original X-Men, so went ahead and got it, even though I’ve little to no intention of much else X-Men-related.

And a dose of TMNT with the latest ongoing issue ,and the conclusion to the 5-issue/weekly Bebop & Rocksteady mini.

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Bargain bins yielded four Marvelman hardcovers, each for less than the price of "cheap" contemporary Marvel comics (these hardcovers about $3.50/ea vs. comics’ $3.99 cheap and too-plentiful $4.99/$5.99+)

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The rest of these bargain-bin issues were a 50-cent bin (rather than my preferred 25-cent bin)…but even at 50 cents, lots of great stuff! Unfortunately, mostly #1s with little in the way of "runs."

The Mighty Magnor, which seems to be a "newsstand edition"…I’m not sure offhand if this is the same contents as the pop-up cover issue, or a different series entirely. Zorro #1, Radioactive Man #1 (I would have loved to have gotten the #1000 issue they did), and a Marvel Action Hour: Fantastic Four issue for the goodies included in the bag.

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This 4-issue TaleSpin mini was an excellent find! Firstly, for having all four issues (at 50 cents apiece, that’s still only $2 for the entire series compared to $3.99/issue for contemporary Marvel stuff!) and secondly for having just watched an episode of the new DuckTales series that involved Don Karnage and the sky-pirates!

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Some mixed Archie-published stuff. Street Sharks was a mid/late-’90s thing; I believe they had a cartoon and know they had a toy line. I’m not sure off the top of my head if I had any of the comics, but finding these in-person, wasn’t going to pass on ’em! Then there’s the Conservation Corps issues. I knew them specifically through a TMNT Meet the Conservation Corps special (which I’m sure is what the intent was). I’m really not keen on these now, but there’s still a bit of nostalgia for the property in me regardless, thanks to that TMNT issue. And long before I was aware of it being any sort of older black-and-white-comics property from another publisher, I recall the Zen: Intergalactic Ninja comics, and though I think I have the first issue, I never remember if I have the others.

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A couple of Uncle $crooge comics because they were there, and especially the 250th issue!

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A couple of Disney movie adaptations. I’m not certain off the top of my head if there are issues like this for Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King, though I know there’s a more recent squarebound adaptation of The Lion King that I got just last year. Whether new material or re-purposed, I’m not sure. I like these "iconic" covers…though Aladdin is missing Rajah, the tiger…which seems a bit out of place.

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More Aladdin issues…

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A Little Mermaid issue and two spin-off Sebastian (the crab) issues. I am pretty sure I have Sebastian #2 somewhere, but not sure about #1…and this way, I have them, and together!

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A couple of Beauty and the Beast issues…

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Several random issues; these three are "squarebound"/prestige, so a bit more stand-out to me on the 50-cent price point; worthwhile for "bulk" alone, at minimum. The Chillers issue is basically a prose story with illustrations…I got it more for the potential of the poster than the product itself otherwise.

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…and an excellent "diamond in the rough" is the first issue of Disney Adventures! I had a copy of this back in the day, but it was lost to Time. I received it as some sort of "replacement" for something ordered through one of those Scholastic Book Group catalogs they’d give out in grade-school to order books. I hadn’t expected it, but remember enjoying it well enough…and then long being amazed at how long the magazine lasted…with the fact that I’d gotten in at the very first issue. Having a copy of that again made it the #1 thing of all of these, for me. Though I’m not 100% sure exactly what I remembered the cover image being–it’s different from the actuality–I still recognized this at a glance!

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The Weekly Haul: Week of July 25, 2018

This week was a fairly small week of new release comics for me…small enough that I "padded it out" a bit.

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The new issue of Action Comics–#1001–was a given, for me. It’s been 3 months coming, since the huge #1000 issue.

After looking forward to The Flash War for so long and even letting the title go for several months, I got back in for the (finally) actual story itself…which seemed too short. This #51 "epilogue" issue is a pleasant surprise-extension of the story.

And Mr. and Mrs. X is Marvel actually getting me with a concept I’m interested in–fially having Rogue and Gambit get to this point (one of my earliest X-Men comics was #24–the "date" issue with the two.

I quite enjoyed the X-Men: Grand Design issues from the turn of the year, and was rather disappointed at the long delay between those and the next ones. Time healed that particular "wound" and it was a pleasant surprise to find this one out this week. Unlike other $5.99 issues, these actually feel heavy and "special" and worth the price.

I hadn’t realized The Hellblazer was ending…but as with the end of the 300+ issue Vertigo run, I opted to snag this final issue "immediately" with the intent to fill in the gaps I have in the story via collected volumes, eventually/someday.

Because I was "curious" after stupidly "buying into" some hype over the Teen Titans Special several weeks ago, figured I might as well give this issue a shot and see if it actually goes anywhere interesting, or if IT is all-hype/etc.

And finally, because it actually reprints an issue I did not yet own and had never even read before, the True Believers issue reprinting What If..? #1 was a handy addition for only $1. (3 Marvel comics for $11…pretty darned cheap considering their usual prices!)

Still, it’s rather dismaying that even the DC titles were all $3.99. I’ll occasionally be ok with occasional higher-price-point issues–Grand Design being an excellent example–but certainly not as a routine, regular thing. And for me, Marvel has far too often "abused" the higher prices in my eyes, such that I was honestly somewhat surprised that Mr. and Mrs. X was "only" $3.99 for a #1 issue. (Which was another reason to support the title–NOT EVERY #1 NEEDS TO BE a $4.99+ giant-sized issue! And yet, I could argue that this one would be more deserving of a giant-size status. Reprint X-Men #24, and maybe some other key issue from the characters’ pasts. Reprint the Avengers Annual Rogue first appeared in, and Uncanny X-Men #266 with Gambit’s first appearance–juxtapose their first appearances with how far they’ve come. After all, this title is not MERELY "the next month’s issue" of a title with a #1 slapped on the cover…it’s truly a new status quo for the characters, it’s a new title we have not seen before, and so on. (As opposed to the fifth(?) Amazing Spider-Man #1 or the seventh(?) Captain America #1 in the last 20 years)

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X-Men: Grand Design #1 [Review]

xmen_grand_design_0001X-Men: Grand Design

Cartoonist: Ed Piskor
Editor: Chris Robinson
X-Men Group Editor: Mark Paniccia
Editor in Chief: Axel Alonso
Chief Creative Officer: Joe Quesada
President: Dan Buckley
Executive Producer: Alan Fine
X-Men Created by: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: February 2018
Cover Price: $5.99

I crab about Marvel comics all costing $3.99+ and virtually always put back even curiosities once I “confirm” that they’re $3.99+ for the issue held in-hand. I’m down on much of what Marvel has published for the last few years at least, and have had extremely mixed feelings on what stuff I have picked up.

This issue is $5.99.

And I barely thought anything of it. The issue FEELS thick, and heavy, and quite possibly THE single best value in a single issue that I have come across from Marvel in a long, long time.

It took me three sittings to get through this issue. Granted, I had other stuff going on, but I also hadn’t mentally “budgeted” a long time to stay put and read, used to even the extra-sized issues being pretty quick reads.

I’m not actually sure what I expected from this issue. I think initially I thought it was going to be a book that was text-only; when I realized it was actually a comic after all, I decided to give it a shot. What I got out of it is that whatever the length of the finished product, it’s like this detailed “history” of the X-Men, in comic format–using new art and narrative but covering existing material.

The page design includes coloring to make these glossy, higher-quality-paper pages look like old newsprint; the coloring to the story/art itself lends to that effect, giving this the appearance of a classic 1960s comic book or such. While there’s a little bit of “panel creativity” and “white space,” by and large the page layouts are tight and dense, modular classic panels–squares and rectangles with actual borders and gutters in a way that seems to have been largely jettisoned in “modern” comics. The dense visuals share space with dense text–plenty of caption boxes, speech balloons, and thought bubbles; the art is there, the art shows plenty, but there are no full or double-page splashes. The art serves the narrative, rather than some limited text serving up an excuse for big, flashy art.

Story-wise, I didn’t really feel like there was anything “new” or “fancy” or such here. Nothing particularly stood out, nothing was singularly memorable. But then, I was not expecting such. What the story is, what the writing is, is basically a straight-forward narrative, in chronological order, from the beginning of Marvel Comics into the 1960s and the beginning of the original X-Men issues. Things that were revealed in flashbacks a few issues in or 30-something YEARS’ worth of issues in, it’s here in order, unfolding as events unfolded–NOT in the order that details were doled out to readers as the actual issues were published. And this is presented as a tale from Uatu, the Watcher…giving a good context to things now being told in order.

In many ways, I’m sure a lot of people would consider this a boring read, and a re-tread, and probably a few other negative connotations to stuff. Me? I thoroughly enjoyed this. Part review, part history lesson, part summary, and part condensed revisitation of classic stories. I totally appreciate comics in general and the nature of them; the occasional “new reveal” or such, new flashbacks revealing previously-unknown information, the introduction of a character from someone’s past who just happened to not have been mentioned or relevant til “now” in the story that sheds new and different light on past events. But there’s something cool and refreshing about just following a single, one-directioned narrative pulling in everything–from information we got in X-Men #1, to stuff brought up/shown into 2009, 45-some years after X-Men #1.

X-Men: Grand Design (sample 2 pages' layout)

Pages seem to have 5-9 panels each, some more…making for plenty of room to cram a LOT of story into small space. No half, full, or double-page splashes to “cheat” or anything!

For my $5.99, three “sittings” to read, and sheer amount of time spent to read this whole thing, this is the best value in time-to-money I’ve found in years. As I got to the end of the issue, I wondered if this was monthly, or if I’d have to wait up to TWO months for the next issue…but then saw the next issue is supposedly in a mere two weeks.

At $5.99 an issue, and biweekly, and I’m very much looking forward to the next issue? Anyone reading much of my writing of late ought to realize that alone should speak to the quality I see in this. Again–this will not be for everyone. That said…I highly recommend it, especially to anyone who is or was a fan of the X-Men, particularly the 1960s “early days” OF the X-Men.

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