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Showing off the Shelves: X-Men January 2017

Today, I’m showing off my current X-Men shelf configuration, with some volumes "weeded out" for present, possibly permanently, or to be added back in once I expand my shelving, which my collection has pretty much outgrown at the moment.

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One of my earliest collected volumes ever was that original The Essential Uncanny X-Men 1 that I bought right before leaving for college back in 1999. Obviously, my X-collection has grown significantly in the last 17 1/2 to 18 years!

I have stuff largely in chronological–or near-chronological–order, moving through the franchise’s history, with this first shelf pretty much covering 1963-1994-ish.

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Picking up in 1995, this second shelf pretty much takes us through the later ’90s, early 2000s, Morrison, Whedon, and up to 2010 or so.

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And moving beyond Second Coming and the Fraction run, a bunch of the miscellaneous/skinnier volumes taper off the X-Men proper, and get into other stuff…primarily Wolverine and X-Factor.

Of course, with Marvel discontinuing the Essential line in favor of the Epic line, I may eventually be swappign out some of the Wolverine and X-Factor stuff, or pay inflated prices to fill the Wolverine run in. Time will tell!

The X-books are–next to Superman–the most significant part of my entire collection, and certainly out-do the rest of my Marvel collection; while not exact, I’d say these account for at least 35% of my entire Marvel collection.

Impressive as they can be…knowing the "gaps" in content from the various X-Men oversized hardcovers and omnibus volumes…I find it kinda hard to imagine sticking just to the omnibus/OHC format…there’s so much more to be had by combining the formats. That said…I’d be interested in the Inferno and Inferno Crossovers volumes if I could get them relatively cheaply…though more immediately I’ll probably be content to just get the paperbacks as those’ll be much cheaper, period, and there are several other paperbacks that I want that do not (to my knowledge) have hardcover counterparts…including several Gambit volumes!

But that all gets off on other topics (like "wishlists")…

New Arrivals: Cap and X-Men

"Bonus" weekend post!

These two books just arrived today!

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Back in December 2014, I’d thought I’d "completed" the set of Brubaker Captain America Omnibii with The Trial of Captain America. Of course, turned out I was wrong.

However, over the years, I lost track of and/or just flat-out missed the thing’s release, until several weeks ago when I saw someone post about it in a Facebook group.

So, I believe, if I haven’t missed anything else…NOW I have a "complete set" of Brubaker omnibus volumes for Captain America (I’ll likely "show off the shelf" in the near future).

Additionally, the X-Men: Bishop’s Crossing volume is one that I’d thought I’d missed out on entirely, having known OF the hardcover, but not seeing any listing for it online (except massively over-priced third-party stuff) with the newer paperback edition just releasing recently.

However, doing a last-second search "just in case," it was available, so I’d added it to my order.

Of course, I’d never touch volumes like these without a massive online discount. I absolutely want to support local comic shops, and continue to buy what I’d "usually" buy from ’em (my DC bundles from DCBS are in addition to my "usual"). Marvel volumes are–almost entirely–far too expensive for me to justify ever paying "full cover price" for.

Also continues to be amazing (to me) that virtually everything I do have interest in from Marvel (content-wise) tends to be OVER 10 years old, and in many cases, over 15 years old! Brubaker‘s Cap stuff seems to be a primary exception.

While I was able to squeeze the Captain America volume onto the shelf, that was partly due to it "replacing" (and going beyond) two other books I’d had already from bargain purchases and partly to my apparently having left a little bit of extra space for something like this.

Unfortunately, I am out of space for X-Men volumes, and have to wait til I can get a couple more bookcases and do some rearranging to properly integrate X-Men stuff from the last few months.

But that’s something for another post sometime.

New Old Books: Kingdom Come and Hellblazer

Considering I just placed the order on Friday, receiving books on Tuesday is excellent service from InStockTrades! I’ve been keeping up with the new Hellblazer editions–here we have vol. 13–which catches the series up to about where I first came into the series back in 2001 with Azarello‘s run…and off the top of my head, I believe this now gives me a complete run of the entire 300-issue Hellblazer series in paperback volumes! (From here, it’s just a matter of swapping out the old editions for the new on a rolling basis, I think!)

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While I don’t like the cover nearly as much as I liked the image on the original paperback, that had much more of the “feel” of the story…this seems to be what DC is sticking with for now, taking the cover they’ve used for roughly 8 years over the one they used for about a decade or so…or over one of the original covers or even a celebratory new cover image.

That said, I quite like the 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Kingdom Come, and for a very rare thing, part of that is the extras the book contains.

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I don’t care much for sketch material or pencils-only stuff–I’m just not a “primarily-for-the-art” kinda guy when it comes to comics. And I prefer to write about, talk about comics more than any true interest in actually writing comics, so even seeing script pages doesn’t tend to do much for me (though I tend to prefer those more). But there’s plenty of text with the sketches and whatnot, and lots of images reproduced in full color, some even full-page, and this is a volume, a story, a creative team, a singular truly special isolated thing that (to me) actually deserves “extras” and such be thrown in.

But the quality of the extras, their relevance and insight, the smile I found myself with, grinning as I flipped through them–some of the pages bringing back memories, others a bit of wonder, some just pleasant, collected excitement seeing stuff I haven’t seen in years or am simply curious about and look forward to reading in-depth. And this is without even getting to the core of the book, the story itself, to get to re-read in this format.

I have the original single issues; the original paperback collection, the 2008 paperback with this new green cover, as well as the hardback original edition of the novelization (bought from a local comic shop at initial release), and even bought the mass-market paperback edition of that for a friend shortly into college. I do not have the Absolute Edition and don’t truly expect I ever will unless it’s reprinted and the timing and finances are just right. But for this not being the Absolute Edition, I really dig this one.

Thanks to the online order, but including shipping, I think I functionally paid about $22 for this, which at the price of a mere 5 single Marvel comics and some shipping, I find to be an extremely reasonable price and very much worthwhile for this.

I also find myself feeling a bit old, that I now own a 20th-Anniversary edition of something I remember buying the original first issue of, new, when it first came out. Time flies…

Superman Shelves Return

superman_shelf_01It’s been a couple years since I really “refreshed” some of the shelves I have, and some recent Superman acquisitions had me curious what things would look like put together again.

So I took some time and pulled all the newer Superman books I’ve bought, and went through and got the Superman shelves re-organized and re-confirmed for myself that Superman is certainly a key part of my collection.

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I’m very interested in tracking down Superman in the Fifties and Superman in the Sixties, as well as Superman Chronicles vol. 7. (I’m not sure if the series made it past 10 or not). I’m sort of interested in other Showcase Presents volumes, but not dead set on ’em…though the nostalgia might kick in and change my mind.

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I think I’m three volumes behind in the The Man of Steel series…and off the top of my head, not sure what else I might be missing from the post-CoIE/pre-Death era outside of The Wedding and Beyond.

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I’ve waffled on whether or not to pursue the New Krypton era of stuff, as I just wasn’t overly fond of that…PARTICULARLY in retrospect (though I’ll take it over New 52!) I’ve got the first couple Superman/Batman volumes…though I’ll probably “upgrade” to the newer editions soon, replacing those two with the more compact, robust paperback with both under a single cover.

I’d also like to get the single-volume edition of All-Star Superman, and had been intending to get the single-volume edition of For Tomorrow…though that was rendered a bit moot by recently acquiring the Absolute edition for 75% off. Then again, that unfortunately does not fit properly on any of my shelves, and might be relegated to a “special” shelf with other books that just do not physically fit…which would leave these shelves able to make use of the paperback as well.

(Plus, hey…Superman.)

Ending the Year: A Quarter-Century Collection Unified

shelf00For the first time in several years, I actually have my comics “library” whole, in one space (outside of some Walking Dead books out “on loan” at the moment). I’ve attempted to arrange the collection in a number of ways over the years, but keep changing stuff here and there. This latest “reunification” was no exception.

Previously, I’d had my Marvel Oversized Hardcovers grouped together, separate from the “regular size” hardcovers and premiere edition hardcovers and paperbacks. Several months back when I reorganized my “last 2+ years” shelves I didn’t do that separation, and decided I liked having stuff together like this more than the sleek look of all the hardcovers lined up together.

I went with a quasi-alphabetical scheme, “grouping” stuff like Avengers, Captain America, Essentials, Spider-Man, Ultimate Universe, X-Men, and such with other stuff peppered throughout. Within these groups I put stuff mainly in story order or in the case of numbered volumes, numerical order with the entire cluster roughly where they’d begin in-story (with a few exceptions for appearances).

And now, showing off the collection in detail!

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Annihilation, Avengers, and Captain America. While I consider AvX more an X-story, the prominent titles on the spines and the AvX logo just made it totally fit better with the Avengers stuff, and keep my head from exploding at putting big A volumes in with the Xs…

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I decided to put my Essentials in the E range, as the word Essential is so prominent on the bulk of my editions (notice that it’s hardly noticeable on the third Classic X-Men volume/current trade dress, instead more closely resembling the Omnibus styleage. (Over on the DC side the Showcase Presents volumes are grouped by character as the “Showcase Presents” is rather small and the character/title far more prominent.)

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The Heroes Reborn and Infinity Gauntlet/etc. stuff are some of my favorite volumes and I wanted them together, so let the Hulk stuff jump the alphabet slightly (with the added excuse that Incredible DOES come before Infinity).I still am missing Infinity Crusade vol. 2, and intend to snag the new edition of Infinity Abyss soon, and likely Infinity next year sometime. As my only real Silver Surfer volume, the Rebirth of Thanos is shelved here as it was a definite prelude to Infinity Gauntlet, and the Thanos – Marvel Universe: The End is here as well as a continuation of the Thanos/Infinity stuff.

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My Spider-Man and Thor collections are relatively small. Spider-Man’s basically all from bargain bins. The oversized Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimates collections are some of the more “premium” books in my collection. Ultimate Spider-Man vol. 1 and Ultimate Marvel Team-Up were–I believe–my first two Marvel hardcovers. Pretty high on my list to track down yet are Ultimate Spider-Man vols. 6 through 9 and the Death of Spider-Man Omnibus.

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The X-Men have largely dominated my hardcovers…the Grant Morrison New X-Men books starting things off; a bargain bin for Supernovas and Rise/Fall of the Shi’Ar Empire continuing things, and the “premium” Messiah Complex/Messiah War/Second Coming ‘trilogy’. Bargains yielded Fall of the Mutants, Mutant Massacre, X-Tinction Agenda and X-Cutioner’s Song; and I’ve had my eye on the Age of Apocalypse Omnibus and believe there’s an Age of Apocalypse Companion coming out next year, both of which would be cool to have, though likely a bit less physically readable than the five-volume paperback series.

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Stuff like Rogue, Longshot, and Magik (with only 1-2 volumes) got shelved elsewhere; but “general X-related” and Wolverine stuff fell here to be WITH the X-Men stuff, if a bit out of alphabetical order. Due to their size, the various digest-sized stuff got grouped here rather than get lost amidst the full-size/oversized volumes. I put the Crossgen books here as well since they’re now under Disney WITH Marvel; and size-wise they’re a good fit.

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And for the first time since returning to active publication, I finally have all my TMNT stuff together and all my Valiant stuff together.

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My Superman collection has continued to expand. While I could replace the Death/Funeral/Return of Superman volumes with the Omnibus…these paperbacks are my original editions from 1992-1993, so they remain with the 2013 Omnibus. I’m yet a couple volumes behind on the Man of Steel paperbacks, and there are a number of Silver/Bronze Age themed collections that I don’t have yet.

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With a bit of spillover from the Superman shelf, the bulk of the Batman stuff fits just below. I’ve had eyes on the newer Knightfall volumes, and do want to get those eventually, as they’re far superior to these original 3 editions (though vols. 1-3 are each from different printings/trade dresses prior). I’ve also had my eye on the new printings of No Man’s Land.

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Green Arrow and Green Lantern have always been a good fit together; especially as I’ve so few GA as to be negligible compared to the GL books. I need to catch  up on the first couple Green Lantern hardcovers in the New 52, plus the Wrath of the First Lantern and The End, (and perhaps paperbacks for GL Corps to that point) but I think I’m almost ready to close out my keeping up with having the entirety of the Johns GL saga/”era”…whether or not I track down any of the tie-in Blackest Night volumes I don’t yet have. For lack of better placement and keeping a few inches to ‘grow’ I also shelved Astro City here. I believe I’m missing a single volume from having the complete run in one edition or another, outside of any collected volumes of the current Vertigo incarnation.

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My ‘general DC’ stuff is a bit less organized; more a clustering. Somewhat alphabetical, but then I grouped the big events: Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, 52, Final Crisis, and Flashpoint. The Shazam books got stuck right after Flashpoint as a couple volumes are in the Superman books, and I didn’t get really “into” Shazam until the New 52 volume came out.

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Hellblazer, Sandman, and Y: The Last Man headline my Vertigo shelf. I do want to “upgrade” my Hellblazer volumes to the newer printings for the early stuff, except I think vol. 2 is already out of print while 1 and 3-5 may not be? I may also “downgrade” the All His Engines to the softcover just to “fit in” more. I’m looking at doing the same with the Sandman: Endless Nights volume. Watchmen sits alone without any Before Watchmen as it’s physically smaller and if I’m to ‘buy into” the Before Watchmen stuff, I want it to physically match with the original.

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I’m still missing a volume of Preacher, and am not happy that to get it I’ll likely have to get the new trade dress that may have some overlap due to the volumes’ issue counts being messed with. Alternatively I’ve considered just revisiting the series with the newest editions that seem likely to be fewer volumes but thicker all the way through. For lack of other placement, the zombies fit nicely here, as does my GI Joe.

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Since reading the novelizations of the comics in the ’90s, I’ve been quite a fan of Dark Horse‘s Aliens stuff…and the novelizations continued into the AvP stuff…so by extension I’m a fan of their Omnibus series, and hope to expand it, at least on the Aliens side. I then have other misc. Image and Image-type stuff, and while Marvel published the Ender’s stuff, that’s it’s own thing, so fell here.

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My DIsney, Archie, Usagi, and Bone stuff wound up down here, followed by Highlander and a true “mixture” of remaining stuff. Having the Death and Life of Superman novel (anniversary edition) on the shelf next to the hardcover didn’t work for me, but I’ve got both because of extra material in the paperback, so it’s relegated here. Several other volumes wound up here that I’m hanging onto but don’t otherwise fit with what they ought to, for me.

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Finally, my comics “reference” and novels wound up on the top of the bookcase. Thus they reside with the comics stuff, but there wasn’t otherwise room to give them their own shelf with the current arrangement.

While going through the entire collection, I did do a bit of “weeding,” pulling a number of volumes I’ve grabbed off $1 tables and such; or that I got years ago when I thought I just wanted “more volumes” “in the collection.” I’ll probably wind up “weeding out” some of the Essentials volumes.

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…and here again is the entire collection as “presented” last Friday, now with the closer-up shelf-by-shelf detail above.

A Look At the Bookshelves

The last several years I’ve been keeping “recent” books separate from the main collection–they’re more convenient this way for me. Until this week, they were in any which order, and I kept finding myself wondering where, exactly, I had stuck something…so I finally got around to organizing three shelves’ worth of graphic novels.

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Above: the full “DC Shelf,” which includes the handful of non-big-name stuff.

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Vertigo and Batman stuff…

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Superman…

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The rest of the DC stuff, primarily Flashpoint and Green Lantern stuff.

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These are recent non-DC/non-Marvel (and non-TMNT/non-Valiant) books…

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The “Marvel shelves,” primarily Marvel but also my IDW-TMNT and Valiant stuff. The GI Joe, Dark Horse Heroes, and Aliens book got moved to join the Transformers and Highlander books so I wouldn’t need to use bookends.

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I love the TMNT Ultimate Collection volumes…just waiting for the fifth/final in that series to come out. I have yet to snag the Valiant Classics Shadowman volume, and may “upgrade” the current Valiant when the hardcovers for those start coming out later this year (if I recall correctly).

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I continue to be amazed at how much Marvel I get in bookshelf format, and how much of it is “older.” A lot of Marvel volumes I’ve bought for anywhere from 50/60% off cover price to a mere $1-$3 apiece.

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And I think part of why I have so many Marvel books compared to DC is the seeming constant “liquidation” of Marvel stuff, and the sheer plentiful-ness of cheaper volumes pretty much anywhere I go. Good and bad, but that’s a topic for another post.

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Though not all that much a fan of the Ultimate line these days, I don’t mind checking ’em out when I can get a $25 hardcover for $3 or so. However, I’m actively looking to fill in my Ultimate Spider-Man run…just need vols 6-9 and I don’t know if there’s a 13 yet.

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I’m definitely interested in tracking down other “major” X-event volumes…most specifically the Age of Apocalypse Omnibus and the Fatal Attractions volume…along with X-Force vol. 2.

Lately I seem to be back on the single-issue bargains train, working on filling out a number of “sub-collections” like DC ’90s Events (Armageddon 2001, Zero Hour, One Million) as well as Classic Valiant and Ultraverse, ongoing Bat-family books from ’86-2011, and ongoing X-titles 1990ish to 2003, with Uncanny X-Men to 2011 or so. But again…that’s for another post.

Collected volume pricing

Disparate Pricing

marvelbooks20101211 While collected volumes of comics are priced based on their contents…I’m finding more and more lately that paper quality and format lend a different sort of visual perception to the mix.

Take The Heroic Age TPB. $24.99…yet, it’s about twice as thick as the $14.99 Deadpool: Secret Invasion volume. Twice the size, but $5 less than twice the price.

Compare that to Deadpool Classic vol. 1: The Heroic Age…roughly the same thickness is $24.99…yet Deadpool Classic is $29.99–$5 more.

hardvssoft Looking at Deadpool & Cable, there’s a similar thickness—a little more to it than the Classic volume, granted—but it’s $39.99…a $10 difference for not a lot of difference in size.

Those have different contents, though, by several issues at least. Bringing a hardcover into the mix…look at the Invincible Iron Man by Fraction and Larrocca vol. 1 OVERSIZED hardcover. 19 issues in this volume for $39.99…and 18 issues in Deadpool & Cable…which is a paperback, but also carrying that $39.99 price.

With all interests in characters/series (and consideration of quality) being equal…The Iron Man volume would seem to be a much better value for number of issues’ content and physical size/format for the price.

Of course, I do know there are reasons (which may not come to me off the top of my head or that I—in terms of simply purchasing books—don’t even care about) for the varying prices. Print runs, quality of paper, creator royalties, projected profits, and who knows what all.

While I lack a photo at present for the visual…another point of interest are the Vertigo $4.99 TPBs that collect the first issue of many of their popular series. (Additionally, Top Cow recently put out a $4.99 volume with the first issue of several of their soon-to-debut series). Of course, it’s a much different thing to have an “anthology” type volume with a single chapter from multiple series. These serve more as samplers, as opposed to a volume that collects an entire story.

Though Top Cow has recently hooked me with their bargain-priced premiere volumes of Witchblade, Witchblade: Redemption, and The Darkness, collecting an entire arc (5-6 issues) of each for only $4.99. That’s 4-5 “extra” issues compared to the $3.99 single-issue pricepoint of far too many comics out there these days.

Disparate Trade Dress/Editions

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On a much different note, but dealing with thick volumes and a little with pricing (getting more expensive through the years for successive reprints of the same content/volumes)…Knightfall, and Essentials.

I have all three Knightfall volumes…but each is a different printing. Vol. 1 is the original printing from the mid-1990s. Vol. 2 is from the later printing…maybe early 2000s or late-1990s. And the third volume is from the last few years, whenever it was reprinted after DC changed to their present version of the DC “star” and trade-dress.

The Essential Uncanny X-Men vol. 1 I bought the week before I went off to college, back in August 1999. After the Essentials’ trade dress was revamped, they continued reprinting those earliest X-men issues as Essential Classic X-Men, but numbered the volume as 2, picking up from Essential Uncanny. And finally, under the newest revamp of the trade dress (AND pricing), they put out a 3rd volume.

While the price that I paid was right—I got vols. 2 and 3 of both sets for at least half-off—I’m the sort of person who likes it when a series actually looks like it goes together…whether first editions, second prints, or 10th-print and beyond.

On The Shelf

dragonlanceshelfActually looking like a single series, my Weis/Hickman Dragonlance volumes sit together on a shelf. Ultimately, this is an ongoing series of core characters by these authors. The books all go together, and in this particular edition, they look like it.

Most of these books have seen numerous different editions in paperback with successive printings and even different publishers. Dragons of Autumn Twilight was originally published in the mid-1980s, while Dragons of the Dwarven Depths wasn’t published until about 20 years later.

I don’t collect books—or comics, or collected volumes/TPBs/graphic novels/whatever for value.

But I am very much a collector in wanting to read the stories (I prefer bookshelf editions to single issues these days, given choice and feasibility) and enjoying when the volumes that I get look good together, on the shelf.

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