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Phoenix Resurrection and Death and Legacy and Reprints

phoenixresurrection2017_0001It’s kinda interesting to me that I apparently had the same thought as Marvel last week. Namely, looking back to the last "true" appearance of a "live" Jean Grey to juxtapose the first issue of her apparent return. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

I already posted a review of the actual issue–Phoenix Resurrection #1–with comments on the issue itself as any other issue.

But here, I want to get a bit more of a look at the cover, the "death of" issue from 13 years ago, as well as Marvel‘s reprint of that issue as one of its True Believers $1 issues.

While I’m not keen on Phoenix Resurrection #1’s cover showing off a Dark Phoenix (I"d swear I’ve seen marketing with Jean in her traditionally-green Phoenix outfit), it does make the cover go a bit better with its 13-some-year-old-counterpart, if the issues are looked at as bookends of sorts.

Of course, I would be remiss, as an Ultraverse fan, if I didn’t bring up the fact that this is NOT the first time we’ve had a mini-series/mini-event Phoenix Resurrection. Back in November 1995 or so, the Phoenix Force crossed into the Ultraverse for a story that spanned seven 3-page segments ("flipbooks") of the seven then-current Ultraverse titles, leading into several double-sized one-shots: Phoenix Resurrection Genesis, Phoenix Resurrection Revelations, and Phoenix Resurrection Aftermath.

phoenixresurrection1995_poster

Pardon the quality of the Ultraverse image, as it’s actually a photo of a poster in a frame behind glass, on a wall with less than ideal lighting/reflection.

On to the current issue(s) at hand, though…

death_and_return_of_phoenix

I’d already thought, ahead of last Wednesday’s releases, that I wanted to track down a copy of New X Men #150 for "nostalgia" and as the opening "bookend" of stuff. Perhaps it’s the conscious knowledge of how old the issue is, but #150 actually looks quite dated, to me. Yet, with all the fire/flame effect on it, it fits right in, really, with the new 2017 issue. Even the cover dress is really not all that far off.

death_of_phoenix_orig_vs_true_believers_01

Marvel had the same thought/inclination, apparently, as they put out a True Believers #1 issue reprinting New X Men #150. Perhaps showing the modernity of stuff, even back to the early 2000s, the image doesn’t seem to have really been doctored or modified, outside of having "cover copy" swapped around–in an age of digital/digitally-available art, there’s a lot more that can (easily? simply?) be done, I’d say.

death_of_phoenix_orig_vs_true_believers_02

To hold/feel the two issues, the reprint felt incredibly skinny, like it was physically only about half the size. I recall being rather miffed at the True Believers reprint of X-Men: Alpha a couple years ago NOT having the entire issue in it, and feared the same had happened here!

But on side-by-side comparison, this reprint simply omits…a huge over-abundance of ads! In the original issue, the vast bulk of the issue was in single-page increments, with a story-page on the left, and an ad on the right (occasionally with another 2-page ad to follow). The thing felt so huge and bulky because it was padded out a good 50% or more with ads! So this "skinny" by comparison reprint has the entirety of the issue’s actual content, just minus the ads.

I was also interested at the lack of "previously" caption in the issue…it certainly would have benefited this reprint to have it, to further contextualize what someone was reading, particularly if they were getting the reprint TO read the story for the first time, not having read the original edition.

The original issue–as an extra-sized (even without the ads thing–was $3.50…something that would surely be at least $4.99 if not $5.99+ nowadays. And reprinted in full here for a mere $1. The art’s the same, maybe some slight differences on the coloring, but both issues being "modern," there’s not much of anything that would need to be "remastered" from old paper styling and whatnot.

With the reprint, I felt a bit foolish buying a new copy of the original issue, but I’d planned on getting that one for this sort of comparison, if only for my own sake, but I did get it on sale (for about $2.80, so even with the reprint, I got both for less than what a single, standard, regular Marvel issue would cost).

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Showing Off the Shelves: The Flash (November 2016)

My Flash stuff is the most recent "subcollection" to take off for me, having "started" with The Secret of Barry Allen and not really counting the Flashpoint volumes to pulling those in, and adding a number of other volumes in 2016…including having pre-ordered the Flash by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato Omnibus prior to being laid off.

flash_shelf_late_november_2016

As Flashpoint was an "event," I’d had those books grouped with my other "event books," but decided that as the only "event series" that I have like this (and keeping what I do have of Blackest Night with the Green Lantern stuff, made sense to me to move Flashpoint over to fit in right after the Road to Flashpoint volume, leading directly to the Omnibus (which has the first 25 or so issues of the New 52 run).

I would hope that there’ll be another omnibus collecting the back half of the series, but for now, I’m more interested in/looking forward to The Flash by Geoff Johns vol. 3 and The Flash by Mark Waid vol. 1!

Bargain Bin Haul: Kid Eternity

Flipping through the quarter-bin today, I found two volumes of the Grant Morrison Kid Eternity mini-series. A bit furtrher into the bin, I found the third. I thought I was missing a fourth until I saw the “of 3” and satisfied, pulled all three.

kideternity1to3

I didn’t even notice until I got the issues home and was taking the photo seen above that the three covers form a singular image. Definitely an added “bonus” of sorts. This is ALSO the way such things SHOULD be done, in my opinion–any multi-part non-wrap-around cover image should be DIFFERENT ISSUES, not multiple variants of the SAME issue. But then, these were published some 23 years ago, before all that cropped up.

kideternity1to16

Along with the original mini, I also found the full 16-issue run of the Vertigo ongoing series. The first issue of this is the first Vertigo comic I remember ever being “aware of” AS Vertigo, as an “adult” or “mature readers” comic.

And while I almost left these in the bin, I figured 16 issues was a pretty good chunk of the series. Come to realize looking in the back of #16 that it was the series finale, thus giving me the full series.

This entire run cost me $4.75…hardly more than a Marvel, and cheaper than the cover price of one of the Morrison issues, even all these years later.

Batman Incorporated #8 [Review]

batmaninc(vol2)008The Boy Wonder Returns

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham
Art (pgs 6-9): Jason Masters
Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Associate Editor: Rickey Purdin
Group Editor: Mike Marts
Covers: Chris Burnham with Nathan Fairbairn
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

DC suckered me.

I’d read and heard rumors throughout the Death of the Family stuff going on that we might get a “big death” in the bat-family, and it seemed like most guesses were going toward either Alfred or Damian. Of course, that proved to be yet another Major Joker Story where the scary madman doesn’t actually kill any major characters.

Then I caught wind of this issue–and as the bulk of the comic fans On The Internet learned a couple days ago…this issue gives us that “big death.” Thanks to DC, the “news” was out days before the issue, SPOILING its otherwise surprise for many comic readers–myself included. I’m almost ashamed to say that the spoiler/confirmation of the “big death” prompted me to get this issue.

I recall picking up the reprint of Son of the Demon a few years back, when Morrison‘s run started–and I’m pretty sure I picked up the first couple issues, at least, of his run, not long after Infinite Crisis. With this slightly-muddled memory of being there at the beginning, I wanted to be here at the end. And…my very first Batman comics were less than a year after the death of the second Robin, Jason Todd.

So, Batman Inc. #8…that’s what this review should focus on, right?

This is my first issue of the title. Batman Inc. was not part of the first wave of New 52 titles, and so I gave it a pass when it did premiere. I don’t think I even got around to reading any issues of the original iteration preNew 52. So other than the loose concept–that Batman has agents all over the place in a more formalized structure–I come to this cold.

This issue opens with Robin (Damian…I’m still not totally used to Robin NOT being Tim Drake) flying into an ongoing battle, and connecting with Nightwing. Meanwhile, Batman is fighting against Talia al Ghul (Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter, mother of Damian). Red Robin’s part of the mix, fighting elsewhere. Nightwing and Robin have a moment–the original Robin and current Robin, on their own time as Batman & Robin. Enter an armored warrior from Talia’s end, and the two realize they’re in trouble. Nightwing falls, leaving Robin to stand against this Goliath-figure.

As Robin leaps to the attack, agents outside the fight interfere, and the boy is wounded numerous times, while calling out to his parents to stop this fight.

And for the third time…Batman finds himself with a dead Robin…perhaps the most personal of all, as Damian was his own flesh-and-blood son.

Story-wise…this is a painful issue. Most of the fighting fits, and seems like just another large-scale incident with superheroes involved in some city-wide invasion or such. But the scene of Damian’s battle is just…brutal. Despite all I know of the character–and the character certainly being “old before his time,” this is still a child…and it’s (to say the least) not at all a comfortable scene. I have no idea what Batman and Talia are fighting about this time, the details of their present issues…maybe I’ll find out via Wikipedia or listening to the inevitable podcasts covering this issue, etc.

Visually, I have no problem with the art–even the multiple artists didn’t throw me at all. Reading the issue, I just kinda sped through, taking in what’s going on, and honestly would not even have NOTICED there were multiple artists had I not specifically read the credits to list above for this review.

It was probably a mistake for me to give in and allow much weight be given to this issue. “The death scene” is only a couple pages, and easily recapped. Unlike 1988’s A Death in the Family, I’m reading only a single issue, so it’s not like this is the culmination of several issues’ reading, building to a climactic moment. This is me having a specific moment spoiled by mass media and deciding to read the issue for myself rather than simply read ABOUT it.

As a standalone issue, I’m not all that thrilled with this. I didn’t really pick up on much context of the “why” to the fighting or other context (I’m sure this’ll make more sense read in a collected volume, in-context). But sadly…I got what I paid for. I witnessed the brutal death of another Robin…a visual I’m uncomfortable with, yet get to live with today, and moving forward.

My Earliest Comics (part three) – Grant Morrison’s Secret Origins and the TMNT

I got my introduction to the concept of the comic book way back in 1988 or so, when my mom and grandfather introduced me to comic books with a stack of Silver Age DCs. But my REAL start into comics was with those earliest comics that my parents bought me. This week, I’m providing a brief look at what my earliest comics were.

In this third installment: Secret Origins and the Ninja Turtles!


secretorigins046

I’m not sure what prompted this purchase, but I recall my dad buying this one for me. Maybe it was the “Secret Origins” title itself.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized this issue was by Grant Morrison…it was rather cool to realize I’d read some of his earlier work.

The JLA story particularly stuck out to me, from the point of view of the mountain they had their HQ in. The bit about how “The shining red one” went, then came again, and was gone was very eye opening at the time. I still hadn’t realized that the Flash character I was reading in the then-present (The Superman/Flash Race from Adventures of Superman) was not the same Flash from my Grandpa’s comics.

I think this issue may have been when I started to realize that there was something significant out there that made these comics different from what I’d read of Grandpa’s.

tmnta025

I’ll detail more of my earliest exposure to the TMNT in another blog soon. But A friend brought this comic to my attention at the mall, and I convinced Dad to buy it for me. I had now idea who the alien guy was, or what was going on story-wise beyond this single issue…but it fit right in with the cartoon at the time. The only REALLY weird thing was Krang affixed to Shredder’s head and the turtles having to “save” him.

tmnta017

Not long after #25, I came across this issue at a flea market my aunt was working at. I convinced Mom to let me get this issue, though again–didn’t know what was up with overall story stuff, didn’t pay much attention to numbering at the time except knowing each issue had progressively higher numbers.

Didn’t understand why Raphael had black tights on, but it was what it was…

mutanimalsintro

I’m pretty sure this one was one that Dad bought me. In retrospect, quite the value–96 pages (3 issues’ content) for $3. At the time, I recognized the chapter breaks, though wasn’t entirely aware of what they meant. Eventually came to realize that this contained material that was originally 3 separate issues (the Mighty Mutanimals 3-issue mini-series).

The story–these characters fighting against an alien invasion–was epic stuff back then to my 10-11-year-old self.

tmnta030

I don’t quite recall if I got this issue off the rack at the mall or if I came across it later after discovering an actual comic shop…but I want to say this was my first “regular” issue of TMNTA, when I began specifically collecting TMNT comics.

tmnta031

This issue stuck out for me as really marking a difference in the cartoon and the comics for the Turtles. April had a boyfriend, Splinter seemed younger and much more involved in their lives, and the characters were abroad–not based in NYC. Come to think of it…I don’t recall if they really ever returned to NYC properly in this title. But that’s something for another blog.

Batman and Robin #5 [Review]

Quick Rating: Not Wonderful
Story Title: Revenge of the Red Hood part two: Scarlet

Batman and Robin vs. Red Hood and Scarlet.

batmanandrobin005Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciller: Philip Tan
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Colorist: Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Patrick Brosseau
Assistant Editor: Janelle Siegel
Editor: Mike Marts
Covers: Frank Quitely and Philip Tan
Publisher: DC Comics

I really enjoyed the first issue of this series. It had a sense of excitement and freshness, and just that great sense of things being new and much better than the recent past. However, at this point, even some of what I liked in that first issue is wearing thin…and the "honeymoon" is definitely over.

This issue picks up with Red Hood and Scarlett confronting Batman and Robin. Red Hood’s determined to kill all of Gotham’s criminals and doing so while replacing the "Batman brand" with his own "brand." Scarlet–a girl the duo tried to save earlier in this series–has been manipulated into playing Jason Todd’s game, serving as his "sidekick." We continue to see the Gotham populace react to the bloody vigilantism as well as a more specific reaction from Jim Gordon.

I don’t know what it is, exactly–perhaps Morrison‘s writing style–but this story feels like it got rather convoluted in a hurry. I’ve never liked Jason Todd…I always thought the best story with him was the one in which he "died." The character seemed so much more effective in that tragic role. Now, it seems the character is little more than a bloodthirsty psycho.

Not liking the character, and not feeling much "connect" to the story, this story’s quickly growing stale for me.

The art for this issue doesn’t really do it for me, either. It’s not bad, but it’s somehow just not to my liking, at least not in this issue. It does a good enough job overall of getting things across, but other points I find myself doubling back to try to figure something out. Though I’m not caring for the style lately, Tan does do quite a good job of keeping a visual style similar to Quitely‘s opening arc. There’s a different look and it’s easy to tell that it’s not Quitely…but the style is not some huge departure visually.

All in all…if you like Morrison‘s denser writing style, if the art appeals to you, and/or you like seeing Jason Todd as portrayed of late…this issue’ll be well worth it. If not…you’ll probably enjoy one of the other Bat-books more.

Ratings:

Story: 2/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 2.5/5

Batman and Robin #3 [Review]

Quick Rating: Solid
Story Title: Batman Reborn Part Three: Mommy Made of Nails

Batman and Robin vs. Professor Pyg as the new dynamic duo solidifies as a team.

batmanandrobin003Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Frank Quitely
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Patrick Brosseau
Assistant Editor: Janelle Siegel
Editor: Mike Marts
Covers: Frank Quitely and Tony Daniel
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue picks up with Batman interrogating a lackey in typical Batman fashion–though it turns out he was "allowed" access to the suspect by Commissioner Gordon himself. The two clash over methods, but ultimately part ways still allies (which is a nice change from what could otherwise be a cliched story element). Batman’s trying to find the captured Robin, who we find about to be tortured by "Professor Pyg." Battle ensues as Batman and Robin vow to be an actual team after recent solo play, and though their opponents (doll people) are fairly creepy–especially as rendered by Quitely–they seem to fit quite well into a rogues gallery that includes the likes of Clayface, Two-Face, Mr. Zsasz, and others. After dealing with the villain at hand, the heroes locate someone they’ve been seeking–a man familiar to readers of Morrison‘s past Batman issues who was instrumental in Batman: RIP. We have a full-page panel that is silent here, though if one’s read RIP, the dialogue is known from the opening page of that arc.

All in all, another solid issue. While I can appreciate adding to a fairly limited rogues gallery, I’m not particularly interested in the new villains–at least not yet. I enjoyed the fact that I’ve not been left half a year before seeing any costumed crazies taken down by the new Batman and Robin; I’ve also enjoyed the way we can really see what an abrasive kid Damian is ("Whose neck do I break first?" upon coming back to consciousness) which seems to further the need for guidance–that Dick can provide. It’s also refreshing to read a story from this writer that I can actually follow–that at least is entertaining on face value even if I’m picking up nothing in the way of background references. (If there are a lot of subtle things to be teased out of the story by multiple readings and lengthy analysis…cool. But I enjoyed this read just fine without ’em).

The art feels rather lumpy…it gives the characters a strange sort of appearance. Nothing quite disfiguring, but far from the smooth lines I’m used to seeing the characters with in other titles. Still, for the style, it’s consistent and gets everything across I’d expect it to, so no huge issue for me there…though there are a few other artists whose work would probably make this feel absolutely top-notch.

As is…a good issue, and worth picking up if you’ve been giving the title a try. I’m not sure if this is truly the final issue of the arc, but it feels like it is, so the next issue will likely make another good jumping-on point; if you can find the first couple issues to give you all three, it’s definitely a very worthwhile read.

Ratings:

Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

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