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Recent Acquisitions

It’s been an interesting week with several things ‘converging’ for me: a forgotten pre-order item, a purchase substituting for a convention, and my largest single “back issue” purchase ever.

First off, last weekend I happened to to see a link on Facebook to some group called Something Valiant. I clicked through, and found some stuff involving classic Valiant stuff, so did not immediately click away.

I noticed a post offering Harbinger #s 2-5 for a very reasonable price, shipped–and messaged the poster to inquire if they were still available (not seeing any comments on the post). They were, so arrangements were made.

harbinger_90s_2thru5

Easily my biggest “back issue” purchase in this regard–for what I paid for “only” 4 issues. However, considering I’d expected to pay significantly more per issue and not get them all but dropped in my lap from one source, I’m very happy with the purchase, and will certainly reach out to this seller again in the future as I whittle down my “missing” list of classic Valiant.

Another surprise arrival this week was the new Hellblazer volume.

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This is the 11th volume in this incarnation of the series, reprinting it from its start including key tie-ins and such, and incorporating a numbering so it’s not just a bunch of random volumes.

hellblazer_tpb_thicknessIt turns out that I apparently had pre-ordered this from Amazon several months ago and forgot about it. So when it showed up, it was a very pleasant surprise.

I continue to be quite impressed with the size of these volumes, particularly for the cover price. Though this would easily be a $40+ volume from Marvel, this one carries a $24.99 cover price…and thanks to Amazon I got it for less than $12.

Though I grouse about Marvel‘s pricing, they make up a significant chunk of my graphic novels collection due to various clearance and blowout sales and such through the years, as well as having a lot of stuff I’m truly interested in.

A couple years ago, I was quite impressed when I came across the X-Men: The Age of Apocalypse Omnibus at Carol and John’s. It was very far out of my price range, though more recently I’d lamented realizing it was out of print, and so had been jacked up astronomically beyond my price range by “third party sellers.” So when I more recently learned of the Age of Apocalypse Companion I didn’t even consider pre-ordering it from anyone…no sense having the companion volume without the main.

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I was listening to a recent episode of the Collected Comics Library and learned that there’s to be a new printing of the main omnibus in the first part of next year, in time for the new movie. So, rather than beat around the bush and put it off, I found a mostly-reasonable price online and bought this volume, knowing I’ll be able to pair it up in the spring (and for what that’s gonna cost me, I certainly would not want to be trying to buy TWO omnibii nor “risk” this one going out of print!).

Plus, I had decided that I was not going to be attempting to attend a particular convention I had been considering, so with gas money and admission I would not be spending, as well as other random purchases I would not be making…I was able to justify (to myself) this rather large singular purchase.

age_of_apocalypse_companion_omnibus_02

If you look to the right in the photo above, you’ll see a quarter leaned up against the volume–showing just how thick this companion edition is.

And below, it currently has a place on a shelf with the last Omnibus I’d bought, as well as the recent TMNT by IDW hardcover.

tmnt_cap_aoa_hardcovers

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Imperium #4 [Review]

imperium004Writer: Joshua Dysart
Artist: Doug Braithwaite
Colorist: Brian Reber with Ulises Arreola
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover: Rafael Albuquerque, Kano, Rafa Sandoval, Cary Nord, Doug Braithwaite
Editor: Alejandro Arbona
Editor in Chief: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant Comics
Cover Date: May 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

This series is an interesting exercise for me so far. It feels like a definite “evolution” of sorts–having begun with Harbinger as an ongoing, bridged with Harbinger: Omegas and then functionally replacing Harbinger entirely. Its story began with what was laid out by the Harbinger run, but as those characters were scattered and moved about we still have Harada actively doing his thing…which presently is more important to the Valiant Universe than the Renegades’ story.

We find some of Harada’s people visiting another dimension, where one of them–Angela–is possessed by something. On their return, they find her eyes and entire visual system no longer exists and there is a self-aware intelligence inhabiting her body, but is not her. She offers knowledge in exchange for continued freedom/access to do her thing (the intelligence claims to be a scientist itself). She builds a machine, shows off her detachment, and by the end of the issue Harada declares a new war has begun.

If that seems a bit disjointed, it’s what I felt, reading this. I enjoyed the reading overall as a “latest segment of story,” but very much feel like it’s “just” part of a bigger story and not so much a cohesive whole by itself.

The art is definitely pretty to look at overall, if a bit disturbing at points…but that does mean it’s doing its job. For the stuff going on in the “other dimension” I didn’t find myself entirely following along, which I definitely do NOT care for…but if it was supposed to be surreal, I managed to pick up on that much.

We “feel” Harada in this issue more than we actually see him, which I definitely do not mind…the series is Imperium, not Harada. I do like the cover–or at least, the one I got–the “main” “A” cover. It’s got the stylized look of the series so far, and thus fits in visually as well as in simply BEING the newest issue. However, this seems to be the arbitrary conclusion to a short 4-issue arc (presumably for a $9.99 vol. 1 paperback) but does not really feel to me like it resolves anything…it simply continues stuff and kicks the door open on a new matter (presumably to be the focus of the next “arc”).

If you’re already following the title, this is worth getting for the continuation of the story. In and of itself as a single issue it’s nothing to jump over or seek out, though if you like Dysart and/or Braithwaite, and can find the first three issues it’d be worth getting those and this for a larger/longer reading experience (or just wait for the paperback). I do look forward to the next issue…not as some second arc, but just as the next chapter of an ongoing series.

Imperium #1 [Review]

imperium001Imperium I: Overture

Writer: Joshua Dysart
Art: Doug Braithwaite
Colors: Brian Reber & Dave McCaig
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Cover: Raul Allen
Editors: Alejandro Arbona, Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

I’ve been looking forward to this, but on first reading found myself rather let-down. Consciously, analyzing, I can see it’s quite a good story. But this readily suffers from being only one PIECE of a singular, larger story. I read this in a mostly intentional “vacuum,” I’ve pointedly NOT kept up with spoilers, interviews, solicitations (other than seeing THAT an issue would be out), and all that, so where Harbinger ran 25 issues and ended to make way for the Harbinger: Omegas mini-series and now this…as well as Valiant in large part seeming to be moving toward limited-series over long-term ongoing stuff, I haven’t a clue if this is going to be a 4, 5, or 6 issue story; if it’s a mini-series or quasi-ongoing, or what. I see no “of X” with the number so would assume it may be an ongoing or at least a multi-arc/multi-volume series when it’s all collected…but most folks know what “they” say about “assume.”

There’s also a several-page insert in the middle of the issue, an Imperium Prelude, that I’d have to check recent not-yet-read Valiant issues I’ve gotten and keep an eye out in others this month to see if they have it, too. But its placement completely interrupted the flow of the story for me, taking me out of stuff and leaving me distracted more than engaged, and sent my mind toward thinking about other events, whether or not this is “just” an event, and so on. For this issue at least, I think that either should have been left out…or should have actually been placed at the beginning. Moreso, I think it should have been a separate piece altogether, perhaps a promo thing to be given out at comic shops as a 4-paged comic or such to promote this series. (I may even go so far as to rip it out of this issue and file it ahead of this in a box).

We open with Darpan, as an old man, traveling  about a clean, utopian future (well, to those of us reading this in 2015, anyway). He then finds his mine drawn back, and wakes in the present to realize he’d psychically experienced a lifetime in a “dream” projected from Harada. Harada gives Darpan and the others gathered a speech about how they must now adopt different tactics in bringing about the utopian vision he was granted by the Bleeding Monk. However, terrible things will need to be done to get to the end result…and that does not seem to sit well with everyone involved. Harada begins by staking claim to his own territory…putting himself at odds with the planet and the various different people–such as Aric, X-O Manowar–who will certainly come after him.

My initial griping above left aside, and “digging in” while thinking further on this issue, it IS a good issue and a solid start to a series. We’re shown a future, and then the present with people who want to move the world into that future vision. We’re introduced to several characters along with Toyo Harada himself and shown where they stand…undoubtedly some foreshadowing for coming conflict. And for whatever it might say about me personally, there’s both an authenticity to Harada’s end-goal and a part of me that would like to see him achieve it (as long as I don’t have to think too much about what he’ll have to do to get there).

If you’ve read Harbinger and/or Harbinger: Omegas, this is the next “phase” of the overall, ongoing story begun there. Despite that, as much as any such series is, Imperium #1 stands as a decently-accessible jumping-on point. You’ll benefit from the added context of reading Harbinger and Omegas, but you can jump into this pretty well by itself.

I like the art throughout the book…and thanks to the distraction from the placement of the prelude pages, I actually didn’t get distracted by the art itself or find anything really to complain about. It’s a high quality style, realistic without being overly so, plenty of detail over skimping…and quite familiar to me, having read other Valiant stuff with art from Braithwaite.

I’ve enjoyed Dysart‘s Valiant stuff and the “whole” of his stories tend to wind up larger than the parts. Paired with Braithwaite‘s art, this is one of the higher-quality not-exactly-superhero/not-exactly-NOT-superhero books out there…and well worth checking out. Alternatively, I’m confident this will make a very good reading experience in collected-edition format, whether it’s one volume or several.

The Weekly Haul – Week of September 24th, 2014

Finally’ve reached the end of what has been a ridiculously-expensive month of comics with DC’s September ‘event’ done with this week’s batch of books.

weekly_haul_september_24th_2014a

I’m not even sure if there’s a Booster Gold series in the works, or if he’s truly just got a one-shot here, given Futures End is a time-travel thing…but while $3.99 will tick me off and probably discourage it, I’d like to think I’d consider an ongoing again. I picked up Sinestro and Harley Quinn just ‘cuz they were there…figured I could at least check ’em out like this. And Red Lanterns since I got the other Lantern books, might as well get the whole “set.” Next to the Booster Gold cover, that Superman cover is probably my favorite of the bunch, and I’m hoping the issue deals with the “origin” of the mask and such–at least in that I don’t recall it being dealt with in the Futures End series itself while I was reading.

weekly_haul_september_24th_2014b

I figured I’d already checked out the Prometheus issue, I’d get the first Aliens issue of this new Fire and Stone thing. However, finding out it’s essentially just a big 4-mini-series “event” leaves me thinking I may pass on the single issues in favor of collected editions…and the “hope” of one big single collection of the entire thing, whether hardcover or the standard Dark Horse Omnibus size in paperback.

Doomed #2 finally makes its appearance at least a month late. And Armor Hunters concluded “officially” despite an aftermath issue next month and the (presumable) longer-term after-effects it leaves on the X-O Manowar book at minimum.

Definitely looking forward to getting back to smaller weeks again…this was the second week I didn’t even DARE look at the quarter-bins…those DC books really ate up a lot more than I “bargained” for this month.

The Weekly Haul – Week of September 10th, 2014

Another week, another haul.

This week…a HUGE one. Like…buyer’s remorse kinda huge.

weekly_haul_september_10th_2014

Four more of the unplanned-for DC issues. Batman and GLCorps I decided over the weekend I was going to get. I don’t know what it was about Batgirl that grabbed me with this cover, but it did. An d the Justice League United one was nice and flashy…and I was curious about a one-shot continuing into another one-shot, and figured that’d tie a couple weeks together in a way.

Then there’s the Wheedon Three-Way, collecting/reprinting Buffy Season Ten #1, Angel & Faith (series 2 #1, and Firefly: Leaves on the Wind #1), Archer and Armstrong and Armor Hunters: Harbinger #3, with Magnus thrown in for good measure. Prometheus #1 which I believe will be crossing over/tying in to a new Aliens series. Astro City, and TMNT New Animated Adventures…and the massive Legends of the Dark Knight 100-Page Super Spectacular #4.

More than I’d bargained for–especially with the LotDK volume…but it is what it is.

And there’s this “Free Edition” of the Marvel 75th Anniversary Magazine that was thrown in, so that adds some value to the week…being free, even if I only spend a few minutes browsing the thing, at least it’s not something I had to specifically pay for.

The Five Valiant Chromiums

I was going to pass on the later ones after not being particularly thrilled with the initial Armor Hunters #1 Chromium cover, comparing it thoroughly to my favorite “old-school” Valiant chromium cover: 1993’s X-O Manowar #0.

valiant_chromiums_2014_armor_hunters

But I’d requested them, and though the store owner gave me an out–I went ahead and snagged ’em all.

Yeah, I loathe variants on principle, but even I have to make exceptions here or there, and these go with the “old school” “regular and collectors’ editions” format, rather than different images.

Whether one goes with the regular cover or the chromium cover…it’s still the same image and such…one’s “just” paper and the other’s this much thicker, sturdier material. But the fairly “iconic” images–Armor Hunters #1 and X-O Manowar #26–are still consistent. There’s not some random cover by a random artist, or some “theme of the month” or such.

Of course, now that I do have these…it’s back to standard most regular “A” cover available for the foreseeable future!

The Weekly Haul – Week of July 30th, 2014

This week’s haul was rather moderate–not tiny, but not particularly huge or overwhelming in either cost or quantity.

weeklyhaul20140730a

Since I’d requested them sight unseen, I’ve continued with the Chromium covers, and with these being a VERY RARE EXCEPTION to my usual no-variants rule, I’ve got both editions of Armor Hunters: Harbinger. And I’ve continued with Futures End and Batman Eternal

weeklyhaul20140730b

I half-heartedly flipped through the quarter-bins for anything new or interesting. I probably already have the X-Factor issue, but not certain–it’s from near the end of the original run, where my collection remains sparser than earlier in the series. I don’t consciously remember the War Story issue, but had the first couple “waves” of War Story issues, so why not. And several Werewolf issues that I believe will make a fine addition to the Vampire issues I bought last week.

weeklyhaul20140730c

And because–at 90% off cover, Scalped vols. 2 & 3 (I got vol. 1 back in 2007) cost less than $4–I figured why not? I don’t recall how long the series ran, but I haven’t (yet) read the first volume, even, so these’ll add to a hopefully good, interesting reading when I get around to it. And with the discount I’d had on that one seven years ago, I don’t think I’ve topped $12 for the 3 so far.

I am going to have to decide soon if I *really* want to keep up with the DC Weeklies. They’ve not been bad, but I’ve had no problem going several weeks without READING, between actually reading the issues. And with Zero Year ending, I don’t know if the Batman Eternal will start having more direct tie-ins to the main title or not, and I don’t want to be forced (or enticed) into buying yet MORE series on a regular bases, especially when they’d likely be $3.99 to the weeklies’ $2.99.

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