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This Week’s Comics Haul (Week of 2/12)

This was another large-ish week for me…

comics_week_of_0212a

My standing hold of “all $1 books” holds, and has now resulted in my actually owning a My Little Pony comic.

Letter 44 is on the chopping block for me…much as I enjoyed the first issue and the overall premise…I haven’t read the previous issue yet, and here’s the next, so…we’ll see.

comics_week_of_0212b

From the quarter-bin, I snagged a mere 4 issues this week. I believe I’m now just missing Hulk 2099 #1 to have a full set of the main 2099 #1s from the quarter bins. I snagged the Wolverine and the X-Men Annual cuz hey…25-cents for the digital code!

I’m all about seeing as many digital codes as I can NOT go to waste…and snagging issues like this then make future 99-cent Comixology sales that much more likely to hook me, as it’s that many fewer issues to buy, and at 25 cents rather than “even” 99 cents.

Valiant’s Comixology Ads: Easily My Favorite Ads at Present

valiantpastandpresentadsI typically ignore ads in comics as much as I can, finding that more often than not they’re just not relevant or interesting to me. Sometimes an ad will really stick out to me, though–such as the ad for the Deadpool Corps series a few years back with the “Deadpool Corps Oath.” I’ve also posted before about quite liking the way Valiant was doing its back-cover house-ads; though the last few months they’ve shifted to a full-cover ad for Unity and such, with a two-page spread inside to advertise a month’s books.

I’ve also noticed–pretty much since the Valiant launch back in May 2012–the recurring Comixology ads in the various books. The ads are pretty much the same, except for the showcased covers. For each title, the ad changes to show the first issue of the original ’90s valiant series next to the (non-variant) cover of the first issue in the current series.

I’ve found myself enjoying these ads, and the sense of history they impart. If you’re a fan of the classic books “trying” the current stuff, they show that the classic stuff is available simply, through Comixology. If you’re just a fan of the current stuff, it shows what the original cover was, and offers a “way in” if you want to check out the original take on the character(s). Plus, to me, there’s just something about seeing the two covers next to each other that I like in each ad. (Though it also drives home my frustration at the abundance of variant covers from the current Valiant and solidifies my preference for the “standard” or “iconic” cover of a given book).

These also remind me THAT so much classic Valiant is now available digitally, and will certainly facilitate some of my reading soon, as I’m likely to grab the digital editions of early issues rather than wait til I can find the print editions (for stuff like Harbinger, X-O Manowar, and Rai in particular). It’s already allowed me to read what I believe is the entirety of the original Quantum and Woody stuff.

Anyway, as recurring ads go, or quasi “house” ads, these have gotta be my favorite since the various Superman house ads in the ’90s in the DC books.

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valiantpastandpresentad_harbinger

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valiantpastandpresentad_archerandarmstrong

valiantpastandpresentad_shadowman

valiantpastandpresentad_quantumandwoody

valiantpastandpresentad_eternalwarrior

Unity #1 [Review]

unity001Written by: Matt Kindt
Art & Cover by: Doug Braithwaite
Colors: Brian Reber
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

I have yet to read the original Unity stuff from the ’90s as I’m still missing an issue or two and haven’t spent the money on the series of collected volumes. And given that Solar and Magnus are not part of the contemporary Valiant universe and the tagline for THIS series is “Victory is not absolute” (rather than “Time is not absolute”), there’s plenty of difference.

THIS Unity isn’t an event so much as it’s a title, a team…one that is formed in response to Aric (with his X-O Manowar armor) setting down in modern Romania (ancient Dacia) and claiming it as his own, re-claiming it for his people, liberated from the Vine homeworld. Russia launches an attack–this is their backyard–and Aric is victorious, which makes them all the more nervous, and the chain effect is that the entire world is poised on the brink of World War Three. As self-styled savior, Toyo Harada gets involved, first sending in his Unity team, before realizing that he’d have to get involved personally, leading an elite team of his own.

Truthfully, I don’t know if this is a “limited series” a la Harbinger Wars (if so, no clue how many issues), or if it’s actually an ongoing series, and the big “instigating event” for the formation of a status quo is “just” this tie-in to X-O Manowar. But for the moment…I’m not too concerned. I’m “all-in” with Valiant at present–getting basically anything they put out as in single issue format. As such, limited series or ongoing, I’m getting this either way.

This felt like a longer issue than usual, with a lot going on. Really, having kept up with X-O Manowar, this actually felt like an issue of that, just involving a more diverse cast than usual, and less focus on Aric as the protagonist (he’s definitely the antagonist here). That this fits so well with that is definitely a credit to continuity in my mind, and what can be done with characters that are typically involved in separate titles coming together in one. At the same time, while I mention continuity, this can also be a decent entry-point for newer readers. The “core” story is given on the inside front cover, about Aric’s past. The other characters come into play throughout the issue and you get some context for them on a surface level at least. Of course, longer-time Valiant readers will have even more context, a deeper appreciation for some of the various character interactions, based on having come across them before…particularly Ninjak and Harada; as well as Aric himself and Gilad (the Eternal Warrior) from the actual X-O Manowar series.

As a first issue, I liked this. We’re introduced to the instigating event: Aric has claimed Romania and isn’t budging from his ancient homeland. The rest of the world isn’t happy, but have yet to put together an effective (for them) response. We get the introduction of major players–Aric himself, Harada, the Eternal Warrior, Ninjak–as well as the actual Unity team Harada deploys. The opposing sides actually meet and battle in this issue (we aren’t left solely with posturing and “setup” or “building anticipation” for this issue). The effects of the first battle are felt, and set things in motion that the issue’s end promises will be brought into play next issue.

Visually, not a bad issue. After all the months of anticipating this series, wondering what would actually play out, and so on, I was far more eager to dig in on the story side than anything with art. The fact I read right through the issue without having to stop to wonder what exactly was going on action-wise is certainly credit to the art team. Doing the job well, I like when I don’t “notice” the art much one way or the other.

I doubt this issue alone would ‘sell’ you on the Valiant Universe as a whole. But if you’ve been curious, it’s a good point to get in, and be introduced to characters involved in at least three other titles (X-O Manowar, Harbinger, Eternal Warrior), and a huge influence in a fourth (Bloodshot/Bloodshot and H.A.R.D.Corps). And following only a few months after Harbinger Wars, this title brings the Valiant universe together, bridging multiple titles without forcing a multi-title crossover…you can get the story from this issue even without having read any of the other titles.

My only real problem with this issue is the many variant covers; I’ve long had issue with there being so many/regularly variants anyway, but with five or six (at least) variants, this was rather ridiculous to me.

Ultimately, variants or otherwise, if you’ve any interest in Valiant past or present, I do recommend this issue. And if nothing else…you have a $3.99 book that is not being double-shipped, and does not continue (directly) into some other series.

Harbinger #17 [Review]

harbinger017Writer: Joshua Dysart
Art: Clayton Henry
Color Art: Moose Baumann
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Assistant Editor: Josh Johns
Executive Editor: Warren Simons
Cover Artists: Barry Kitson, Sean Chen, Matthew Waite
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

After the last couple issues, I really thought things were going one way…but this issue turns that on its head in a way that I didn’t see coming, even from the ending of the last issue. It was actually the “previously…” text on the inside front cover that clued me in…but seeing that, I think, caused me to ‘dive in’ on this issue all the more eagerly.

We flash back to the end of the stuff in Las Vegas–the Harbinger Wars–and see that what we THOUGHT happened…didn’t ACTUALLY happen. Harada was far more prepared than we thought, and what our heroes have experienced since then has been to keep them quiet and calm…prisoners of Harada. Yet, while savoring his victory, we find out that Harada’s resources–including Harada himself–are spread quite thin, and as he approaches a deep exhaustion, the danger to all around him grows exponentially.

The art on this is good…truthfully, I hardly even noticed it as I read…I was simply engrossed in the story and all the potential it holds. It does what the art should, conveying what’s going on, getting the story across where words don’t or can’t, and keeps the reader moving through the issue.

Story-wise…I’m really enjoying this. It’s hard to believe we’re already 17 issues in…sure, that’s not a HUGE quantity, but looking back we’ve had quite a bit of ground covered. And in this day and age where it hardly seems anything lasts much longer than 12-15 issues, this is a real treat with (thankfully) no end really in sight.

This issue’s story drew me in, revealed answers to questions on my mind, and left me honestly curious about where things go from here.

As the third issue of the current arc, this issue isn’t in and of itself the greatest jumping-on point…but it’s definitely not an issue to pass on if you’ve enjoyed things thus far, and especially if you found yourself thinking the last couple issues indicate a repetition of the classic, original series.

Recommended, and I’m looking forward to #18!

Thoughts on Some Recent Valiants

ETERNAL WARRIOR #1

eternalwarrior001I’m not sure what I expected exactly, from this premiere issue…based on bits of “preview” I’d seen despite my usual aversion to and attempts to avoid such things, I’d figured this would be set in the past, so wasn’t disappointed. That is a definite beauty of telling stories about a functionally immortal character who has lived thousands of years…there is a rich timeframe from which to draw and tell stories from! I suppose in some ways I think of Highlander for stuff like this, so it was kind of odd to consider children as part of the picture, but their placement works, and leaves me interested in seeing what comes next. I wasn’t blown away by this issue’s story, though I enjoyed the art. Even so, I find this a very worthy addition to the Valiant line and look forward to what the title holds moving forward.

HARBINGER #16

harbinger016This was a welcome “next chapter” given the way the previous issue ended, and seemed to make a bit more sense of what went down, giving more “reason” for it, as well as allowing some continued character development for a character I’d figured we wouldn’t be seeing again except as a corpse. Tying the character and their powers into the larger arc gives added depth I’m appreciating, and whatever the final ongoing fate of the character, there’s plenty of “meaning” given to things. I also quite enjoy the depiction of Faith and the reality given the character–smart enough to recognize reality yet willing to indulge in the fantastic. The story and art continue to be quite solid, keeping this title as one of my typical favorites of the contemporary Valiant universe.

BLOODSHOT AND H.A.R.D.CORPS #14

bloodshot014I was expecting something a bit different than what I found here, but quite like what we got. I expected more of a grudging team-up coming out of Harbinger Wars, and something that would feel more like a backdoor pilot of sorts. Instead, this actually came off as a #1 issue firmly rooted in existing continuity…but thankfully there’s no renumbering, only a small rebilling of the title…and there’s actually the continuing story showing the fallout of recent events. I really dig this as a way to introduce another major concept of classic Valiant to current continuity without having to add yet another title, and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where things go for these characters and the title–especially as I never much considered Bloodshot a team character. Yet, obviously he’s going to (have to) become one, at least of sorts.

X-O MANOWAR #17

xomanowar017I’m not exactly loving the art on this title…while it is not bad, there’s just something that seems a bit “off” about the X-O armor. Yet, perhaps that’s the primary “issue” I have with it, because the characters otherwise do look pretty good on the whole. I’m definitely enjoying the story on the whole, though I’m not exactly thrilled at Aric growing into a sort of villain figure of sorts. However, at the same time, that is definitely a realistic thing for someone that shows up and takes over part of a country, whatever the motivations. As established, I can’t see Aric just backing down or arbitrarily/suddenly shifting an ingrained mindset to fit a contemporary mindset that accounts for 1600 years of change in such a short time. The continued development also keeps the character grounded: whatever his intentions, he’s “just” a fallible human, finding himself rather suddenly with a lot of power, making things up and learning as he goes along.

General Thoughts

recentvaliants

Outside of the TMNT comics, the first four Valiant titles of the current crop represent the longest I’ve stuck with any given series in quite a number of years. Factoring in the initial four and the eventual addition of Shadowman last year, Quantum and Woody a couple months back and now Eternal Warrior, this is the largest body of titles I’ve stuck with at length in quite awhile as well. Even when there’d be a valid excuse to essentially “double-ship” a title (a #0 and the next numerical instance) in one month, it seems that Valiant has refrained from doing so; at least with the Shadowman and Bloodshot #0s. Even being up to 7 ongoing titles (which admittedly can seem like a large “commitment” on the surface), one has but to look at Marvel‘s double-shipping and see that Valiant would have to add yet another title just to match the number of $3.99 issues’ commitment one currently enjoys every month for half the number of titles.

Harbinger #15 [Review]

harbinger015Writer: Joshua Dysart
Penciler: Barry Kitson
Inks: Stefano Gaudiano and Mark Pennington
Colorist: Ian Hannin with Sotocolor
Letters: Simon Bowland
Cover Artists: Khari Evans, Barry Kitson, Trevor Hairsine, and Rian Hughes
Assistant Editor: Josh Johns
Executive Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

I really enjoy seeing heroes’ downtime. Seems like just about every issue of (especially team-books) a title “has to” have lots of action, so I quite appreciate just seeing the characters be themselves, NOT fighting villains, NOT on some huge quest, NOT repelling invasions or facing life-or-death situations, etc.

So this issue was quite up my alley, seeing the kids decompress from the events of Harbinger Wars. They recognized a functional loss, but escaped with their lives, and so take some time in this issue to just be kids, to have fun with each other and the advantages their powers bring. I could enjoy an entire issue of single-page scenes just showing the kinds of stuff the group as a whole would be up to as well as what happens when the characters pair off for activities, the way they relate not just as a group but in the one-on-one interactions.

I’m especially interested in seeing the growing friendship between Faith and Peter, and while I’m pretty sure I’ve only ever read the first few issues of the original ’90s series, that was a good 14 years ago and I don’t recall much of anything at this point…though from “meta” info about that title I’m vaguely aware of a character death early in the series that I’ve been glad to see did not happen here (I sorta expected it to play out in Harbinger Wars).

While we start the issue on a relatively “light” note (all recent events considered), and get plenty of fun and potential as the issue continues, I got a sense of foreboding toward the final few pages. Despite this, I had an honest moment of shock when my fear played out…the end of the issue opens up a whole different potential for this title and the Renegades moving forward.

More and more I find myself considering this the cream of the crop of the current Valiant titles…and with the mythology Dysart‘s building, the character-building and realistic (for a comic starring super-powered psiots) settings and interactions and amount of story actually fit into a single issue, there’s little better out there.

If you like super-hero team books, I definitely recommend this title!

A Wednesday-Worthy Haul

This week’s Wednesday haul was a bit more normal-ish, except it included a couple of full-price back-issues I’d previously specifically avoided. Bloodshot #13 and Harbinger #14 I picked up as usual–they’re on my pull-list. The Eternal Warrior/Bloodshot Sketchbook was a freebie.

And sometime last weekend I’d determined that I would go ahead and give Adventures of Superman a chance. I am so disinterested in current New 52 Superman stuff that maybe some “out of continuity” tales of a Superman more like I remember will scratch this particular “itch.” But I made a condition for myself: only two issues into the series, I would ONLY buy either issue if BOTH were available…which left me only with some of those bargain-bin issues shown earlier this week from Comic Heaven. Kenmore had both of these, so I added them to my “regulars,” and still came out ahead of a week with multiple Marvels…

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As is fairly “usual” for me, I did do a quick rummage through the bargain bins at Kenmore. This week, the entire stack of bargain-bin comics matches the price of any of the four “regular” comics…which continues to be an increasingly disturbing thing!

xbooksandhulk

Found an X-Man issue on my list of missing-issues. A Hulk issue that just looks “fun” to read. And my two favorite issues of Fatal Attractions, and two of my all-time favorite issues, period…I just don’t pass up either of these issues when I find ’em for 25 cents…!

wonderman

Also found another X-Men issue I’m missing. And keeping true, found the entire mini-series for Wonder Man here, so snagged it. $1.25 for what in TPB would run at least $20-25 these days from Marvel…can’t beat that!

premiereissues

About a quarter of one of the bargain bins seemed to be nothing but #1 (and #0) “premiere” issues from the ’90s. I don’t know if someone started to cherry-pick the bargain bins and put a stack back, or if it was part of an unsorted collection purchased and tossed in the bins. So I cherry-picked from those. I grabbed the Stormwatch and Megaton issues because they’re bagged with a trading card. Figure maybe I can just horrify someone by opening the plastic to remove the card. Also a certain “novelty” to snagging Hitman #1 for 25 cents (last year having snagged his very first appearance for 50 cents). And X-Men Unlimited #1…that’ll just be a convenient opportunity for re-reading.

I recognize one of the figures on the Megaton cover…looks like someone from an old Image series that had a flipbook with a Savage Dragon issue. I’ll need to look into that later.

gambitandwolverineholograms

And finally, part of what I like (other than the stories themselves!) with the Fatal Attractions issues: the holograms!

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