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Thoughts on Last Week’s Comics: Week of November 20, 2013

X-O MANOWAR #19

xomanowar019I’ve said before–right now, I’m “all in” with the current Valiant. As such, I quite enjoyed that this is a tie-in to Unity. PLUS, it just makes sense: since Aric–X-O–is the inciting factor OF the events of Unity, it would be rather weird for this book to NOT touch on that. Where I’d thought Unity seemed like a slightly more epic issue of X-O Manowar, with a more expanded cast…this issue does a great job of re-humanizing Aric, keeping him relatable and not being some god-like faceless alien bent on conquering a country. Yet, after Unity #1, Nord‘s art here seems out of place and rather weird to me. The story continues on from earlier issues, and events have built rather organically, so nothing seems forced. I like the cover’s symbolism, as well as the design: the Unity Tie-In blurb is at the bottom of the cover, so looking at the cover, the info is there…but it does not take away from the Valiant trade-dress at the top, and in a typical comics-racking format, it’s probably not even going to be seen, and thus the book sells itself on its own merits without RELYING on being a tie-in.

BLOODSHOT AND H.A.R.D. CORPS #16

bloodshot016I continue to be impressed with this “new direction” and re-titling of the Bloodshot book. While I remember anticipating the supporting cast that I’d thought was being built to, the H.A.R.D. Corps angle is working really well for me. It feels like an organic development and mixing, and the characters seem to fit together quite nicely. Perhaps most of all I greatly appreciate that despite adding H.A.R.D. Corps to the title–literally–the numbering continues onward…Valiant clearly recognizes that the series doesn’t need to re-start to #1 again every few months. Seeing Bloodshot himself amped up with the tech H.A.R.D. Corps sports–albeit more powerful since he can survive stuff normal humans can’t–is an additional treat in finding out what the character can, can’t, and will/won’t do. I’m also liking the ongoing interactions with Harada, as it makes sense that someone like Harada would be involved in far more than just chasing down some kids. I’m hoping the H.A.R.D. Corps crew is around for quite awhile, and that this title keeps up with the quality. I’m certainly around for awhile yet!

ETERNAL WARRIOR #3

eternalwarrior003I noticed an “editor’s note” in this issue, placing the events of the issue/story before the events of Archer and Armstrong #5…and that one little note made me suddenly enjoy this story all the more. Instead of being just some random story, knowing it takes place before the other appearances of Gilad in the pages of Archer and Armstrong, X-O Manowar, and now Unity gives me more context to appreciate. This is in its own way an origin story for the Eternal Warrior…not so much how he came to be (that’s touched on in A&A) but how he goes from one status quo to the “present day” status quo of Valiant in general. I’m also quite appreciating the character interactions, and laughed out loud at the old lady trying to shush Gilad and his daughter for their arguing in public. I’m interested in the conclusion of this arc, but admittedly even MORE interested in #5, seeing the Eternal Warrior of the future…which is kind of a shame, given advance solicitations and “convention announcements” and such, as I’d have more preference on just anticipating the current arc.

TMNT NEW ANIMATED ADVENTURES #5

tmntnewanimatedadventures005I’m finding myself growing to PREFER Brizuela‘s visual style to the actual cartoon itself. The turtles look great in this issue–as they have in the previous issues. While Fishface is one of the more ridiculous concepts of the series, this issue shows what a threat he can be, and is maybe the first time I’ve come this close to enjoying the character at all. I’m drawing obvious parallels between this series and Archie‘s TMNT Adventures; both developing from tv series, both serving as an alternative for fans of the cartoon vs. just the comics. This series has yet to straight up adapt any episodes, yet it’s set in the same continuity, rather than developing its own universe. It works, I’m going to continue on with this title if only for the art…but unfortunately, some of the shininess has worn off for me, and I find myself preferring the regular ongoing IDW continuity. Still, fans of the show will appreciate this most likely, and it’s a good title of one-off/one-issue stories if you want to read something with the TMNT but not have to deal with a lot of continuity or related/tie-in issues.

BEN10 #1

ben10001I was originally drawn to Ben10 upon discovering Dwayne McDuffie‘s involvement, and watched a handful of episodes from a DVD I snagged sometime last year. I never managed to get very far into the series (and I think what I saw was the equivalent of a second or third season), so I’m not all that steeped in Ben10 continuity to know if this is a tie-in or continuation of the cartoon’s continuity, or just its own thing. I don’t suppose it matters TOO much…I zipped right through the issue and enjoyed it in and of itself. However, not being entirely certain of where this is in the larger Ben10 universe/timeline, I’m pretty sure I’m left “on the outside” just enough that I’m not really the target audience for this book. Still, it was worth my trying for being the first issue…but I rather doubt I’ll keep sinking $4/issue into this. If you are or have a fan of the show, I’d definitely say check this out…it’s the premiere issue, after all. But if you’ve never experienced anything Ben10, this issue doesn’t particularly fill you in on stuff so wouldn’t seem the greatest ‘first-introduction-to-the-series/premise’ story to dive in on.

DOCTOR WHO: PRISONERS OF TIME #12

doctorwhoprisonersoftime012I haven’t read issues 1-11, but I bought this issue BECAUSE it’s the last issue…also in anticipation of the Day of the Doctor 50th Anniversary Special. Story-wise, I was fairly lost…not having any details whatsoever of the previous 11 issues. I’m also a bit iffy on the art, with this issue having something just a bit “off” about the various Doctors. Despite that, I could recognize them all, and love the double-page spread of all 11 Doctors. That I could identify each is testament to how far I’ve come as a Doctor Who fan since March of this year. I’d figured I’d probably go for a collected volume of this series, but I’m pretty sure it’s being split into 3 books, so barring a single-edition, I’ll cut my losses with having this single issue that includes all the Doctors and be glad I only spent the $3.99. I imagine if you’ve been following the series to date this puts a nice cap on the series and possibly the entirety of IDW‘s holding of the DW license. In and of itself, I’m kinda “meh” on this…the issue wasn’t bad, but not exactly my cup of tea…yet I hope that’s more my lack of 11 issues’ context than anything of the series itself.

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This Week’s Comics Haul (November 20, 2013)

I’m loving the $1 “promo” issues of late. At the LEAST they add “value” to the “stack.” I picked up Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #12 (of 12) on a whim just to check it out since I haven’t a clue when I’ll get to read the entire series. And Ben 10 I figured I’d just try, see if I liked it. With only about 8 titles and at least 4 Wednesdays in a month, I haven’t figured out why Valiant can’t better “stagger” their books!

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Also hit the quarter-bins at JC’s in the Falls. Finally got Supergirl #1 (PAD’s run), couldn’t pass up Superman the Man of Steel #1 on principle (see upcoming Akron Comicon post from the con a couple weeks ago).

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And finally got Superman Red to go with my Superman Blue that I got a couple years ago. I’m re-realizing how much I like the pre-New 52 Tim Drake Robin character, particularly given my history with the character and comics in general (another story for another time). These figures will be coming out of the packages ASAP; to display with my other JLA figures, and the cards are slightly curled and just seem “worn” such that I might as well ditch the packaging.

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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.

Collection Maintenance and the Unintentional Valiant Haul

ziggyonxmenboxesAfter years of intentions, this year I’ve finally started to–at least in small steps–do some maintenance on my comics collection.

I’ve been getting comics for 23+ years now, and aside from giving away some duplicates and occasionally buying comics intended for friends, my collection’s simply grown. Compound that with having the oldest chunk of my collection at my parents’ house while I’ve lugged the last decade’s worth of comics around with me 20120904valiant01(and some absolutely incredible sales at the local comic shop and a full longbox purchase at a Free Comic Day sale a few years ago) and my collection is nothing remotely approaching ordered.

Last year I sped through several of my boxes to pull what Ultraverse comics I could find, and pretty much assembled a “what’s missing” list that I’ve sorely neglected for about a year now.

20120904ultraverseThe last several months I’ve been gathering my X-Men comics together, with thoughts toward a major reading project. Having scoured the old boxes at my parents’, and weeks later transporting the boxes of X-Men stuff to my apartment, I’ve finally begun going through the most recent of my longboxes, and found a great many of the X-Men comics I knew I had–including sizeable runs of X-Force, Cable, and Wolverine.

But I also found that–like I discovered when I pulled Ultraverse comics last year–that I’d been snapping up lots of Valiant comics from various bargain-bins.20120904valiant02

I’ve been referencing all these “classic” Valiant series that I’ve never read as I’ve reviewed the “New” Valiant stuff this summer…and come to discover (and I still have more than a dozen longboxes to sort through) that I have a pretty good stack of Valiant stuff–primarily Archer & Armstrong and X-O Manowar, as well as a couple early runs of Turok and H.A.R.D. Corps.

20120904valiant04And…there’s X-O Manowar #0. Turns out the thing’s apparently been one of my favorite bargain-bin pulls, as I know of a couple other copies I’ve snagged this year, and I found 2-3 other copies going through stuff tonight–though apparently I neglected to pull them, not realizing I was going to find so many other Valiant comics to justify pulling those together.

It’s amazing the way time flies when one takes such a trip down memory lane…and how hard it is to flip through a longbox of comics without stopping to page through the odd issue here or there, and wish there was more time in the days, to just sit and read everything.

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