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The Weekly Haul: Week of February 22, 2017

This week in comics is probably my most expensive in awhile…or at least, it sure feels like it! But then, multiple $3.99 issues and two $4.99s will do that! (Ugh!)

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Actually, the only $2.99 of the week was Action Comics. I’ve been looking forward to Highlander for awhile, though other than knowing that there was a new (mini?) series coming, and something giving me the notion it’s a prequel to the original film, I know virtually nothing about it yet. I’m giving Curse Words and Kamandi Challenge a second issue, and of course, keeping up with the Prometheus/Aliens/Predator/AvP: Life and Death arc. And with TMNT being just about my favorite property, a bit eager on that new issue despite the price point (again, with TMNT remaining my conscious exception to pricing that’d put me off of other properties).

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And a second-for-the-week $4.99 TMNT book in the "Director’s Cut" of Batman/TMNT Adventures #1. I knew I’d ultimately regret it if I didn’t get the thing…and rather than waste time/money later in extra-hunting to get it, figured I’d just nip that right in the bud (so to speak).

And then the Dr. Strange keychain and Outcast #25 were "free" bonuses at the shop (along with a full-size Dr. Strange movie poster that I may photograph later once framed!).

Next step is getting stuff actually read!

Showing Off the Shelves: TMNT (November 2016)

I’m showing off the latest configurations of "sub collections" on my shelves.

Here, today, are my TMNT and Usagi stuff. While not officially tied together, I’ve long associated Usagi Yojimbo with the TMNT stuff; and so they fit together well on a shelf. Though I’m basically maxed-out on this shelf now, so the Usagi stuff might end up getting moved to fit elsewhere before too long.

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I’d jumped on the TMNT Ultimate Edition line as soon as it started, and "kept up" with it, including the surprise/addition of the 6th volume. Then I have the 1First graphic novel series, collecting the early Mirage stuff in color the first time. These were my initial introduction to the original/Mirage version of the characters, having had my start with the classic cartoon and the Archie-published TMNT Adventures.

After those we have stuff from Mirage itself over the years–first some of the generic collected volumes; then a bunch of the mid-2000s collected volumes up to the cgi-TMNT film just before Laird sold the property.

From there, the Archie edition of the original TMNT Adventures mini, collected; along with 4 of the 6 TMNT Classics Digest that reprinted the earlier TMNT Adventures issues; and then the current run of IDW‘s volumes collecting the TMNT Adventures run. From there, some other versions of the TMNT Adventures collections, the IDW TMNT hardcover, the 30th Anniversary Special and the 2012 & 2014 Annuals.

Finally, the first 4 Usagi Yojimbo mega-collections from Dark Horse.

I’d had a number of the earlier IDW TPBs of their TMNT series; but stopped with those as soon as I found out about the oversized hardcovers–and though I’m a couple volumes behind, my aim is to use THOSE for my "double-dipping" on the series. They’re the far better value, with about 3 paperbacks’ contents for about/slightly over the cost of 2.

I had at one point figured I’d be getting some of the various other large hardcovers IDW has been putting out for the various TMNT stuff…but they’re all different dimensions, and just don’t look like they go together that well, and thus are quite unattractive to me as a group of books.

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Then, of course, there are the TMNT toys. While this is not the entirety of my TMNT toys collection…it is a full shelf’s worth, laid out for display at present.

Where is the NON-Variant?!? TMNT Universe #1 Frustration

Welcome to The Weekly Haul Disappointment post for this week.

Yeah, there’s a bit of annoyance there, and disappointment, and frustration, and as I type this, I’m more “resigned” to things than the lit-up pissed-off that I was a couple hours ago.

See, ever since it was announced, I’ve been looking forward to the new TMNT Universe series from IDW. I’ve been loving the regular ongoing series (well, the past year or so post-Shredder hasn’t been nearly as interesting to me, but that’s another topic for another time) and I was jazzed at the prospect of a second ongoing title! (Presumably there’ll still be room for the occasional parallel-running mini-series in addition to the ongoings, but two ongoings allow for a lot more development without having to keep track of a bunch of “side” mini-series to begin with).

Reading last week’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #61 and seeing the house ad for the series made me think first that I had flat-out missed the issue somehow, and then think it was late. (Of course, then I realized there was a fifth Wednesday for the month of August this year, and so it would still hit for “August 2016” and thus be “on time” for all the more I recalled any specific date).

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So, with it being a fifth-week situation, and no new DC books due out for Rebirth (thus, no new Superman or Action Comics issue), there was one single, solitary issue I was particularly interested in for the week. TMNT Universe #1.

tmnt_universe_0001_regSo despite recent discouragements and frustrations in life, and a particularly bad start to the day, I eventually set off for a comic shop intending to pick up this TMNT issue I’ve been looking forward to.

I was honestly sort of afraid it might sell out, given it might be under-ordered as being “just” another TMNT book, and yet I believe the cover artist (if not interiors) is the same as the Batman/TMNT mini, and it wouldn’t surprise me for that alone to impact sales of this (frustratingly enough).

So when I walked into the shop, I went straight to the “new comics” rack, skipped over the first half of stuff and found the “T” section, and spotted the logo/title and physically picked up a copy…as I began to realize something was wrong.

I was, of course, expecting the cover above. The cover whose image had been advertised as being the cover. The cover whose image I’d come to associate with looking forward to the issue. The cover…to TMNT Universe #1.

tmnt_universe_0001_subInstead, I had a Kevin Eastman-style cover, which even though it’s a really freakin’ cool-looking image, is not the solicited image. It’s NOT the cover I have been looking forward to, expecting, and is not the standard cover. The one that actually, truly belongs to the issue.

This would be an absolutely fantastic poster.

I would love this as a poster, in fact.

But it’s a generic, stock-ish image of classic Mirage Studios TMNT, something that makes me think of the recent-ish TMNT Ultimate Edition hardcovers, or like something reprinting the original, classic TMNT #1, or a posterbook of Eastman covers, or something that actually is not this new, in-continuity parallel ongoing series to be a companion to the main Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles title. This image does not reflect current goings-on in the series, and thus is not “relevant” for the ongoing stuff. It simply suggests a typical Turtles vs. Shredder and Foot.

After some honest debate and waffling on the matter, and despite the admittedly cool cover (which would have been perfectly fine had it been advertised as THE cover), I put the thing back, and didn’t buy it there. They had at least 15-20 copies of this cover, but none of the standard/regular cover.

tmnt_universe_0001_riI went to another shop I haven’t been to in awhile that was close-by, figuring ok, they would have the correct standard/basic/non-variant cover.

Unfortunately, on walking in and locating their “new comics this week” I was again greeted with a bunch of issues sporting that same cover–cool, but not the standard, basic, most non-variant cover.

I actually picked up their entire stack to gently flip through in the vain hope of at least one copy sporting the main cover.

No luck on that front, though I did find a copy of the “RI” cover (Retailer Incentive). Looking for the image online, I believe this one was indicated as the 1:10 ratioed variant, and since I did not see a price on the front, I turned it over to check the barcode box on the back, but alas! No price.

And I was in no mood whatsoever by then to even take a chance at being further pissed-off by asking the price and being told some outrageously jacked-up number (even $10) so I neatly put the stack back, and left.

I was angry enough to post an angry tweet on the matter.

It’s just a comic. It’s just a cover.

And frankly, simply buying the standard, basic, advertised cover for a brand-new issue, out today, with plenty of copies of the issue in-stock and available for cover-price should never be such an amazingly frustrating experience!

It’s not fun. It’s not cute. It’s not some “bonus” or such, it’s not “nostalgic” or a “nod to the past.”

It’s the sort of thing that–were it basically anything else other than TMNT, I’d be done with the series, and possibly even done with the publisher, just on principle. But as I’ve been on record in the past saying, TMNT is my exception, the thing that (so far) I’ll “give a pass” on and such.

But this is really trying whatever patience I have, and is a concrete reminder of just how freaking ridiculous stuff is getting in the world of contemporary comics and their publishing.

tmnt_universe_0001_correct_cover

Classic GI Joe TPBs And Half-Price Books Complaining

weekend_august19_gijoe_01Back in 2001, a friend of mine had been talking to me about GI Joe–toys, comics, etc. And then more strikingly, and as has stuck with me for the last 15 years or so–I remember his commenting on the release date of a new comic series: Devil’s Due published their then-new GI Joe comic on September 12th, 2001. One day after 9/11.

Several years later, he and I went to a signing at his local shop with Michael Turner. Along with the an Identity Crisis issue, poster, and something else…I bought the Marvel GI Joe vol. 1 paperback, reprinting the first 10 issues of that original series.

I never did get the rest of that 5-volume series, that had reprinted just under 1/3 of the core/main ongoing series.

Skip ahead a few years to IDW…they got the new license, and apparently the rights to any/all prior-published GI Joe comics (Marvel and Devil’s Due), so they followed the Marvel format and reprinted the classic series in 10-issue volumes. Somewhere along the way, I wound up with the IDW edition of the first volume, and then the second. (I keep that original Marvel one for the sentimental value, but have a definite desire to get the entirety of the run of the classic volumes.) The Classic GI Joe run is all the more appealing to me as I recently discovered that IDW is (wisely and awesomely, I might add!) re-collecting their own GI Joe: A Real American Hero run into subsequently-numbered volumes. The ARAH series had a "zero issue" as a Free Comic Book Day #155 1/2 a number of years ago, and then picked up with the original Marvel numbering at #156 and continues (I believe) to this day, somewhere in the #220s.

[A 15+ YEAR publishing gap, and they STARTED the series–that would have had every right and been completely, entirely legitimately in-bounds to begin with #1–at #156. And it’s done well enough at least to go at least 60 issues now!]

The other day, despite being a lot tighter with my finances lately, I found a number of the IDW Classic GI Joe volumes and snagged them–I know I intend to get them, and when else am I going to find a bunch at the same place/same time for 50% off?

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While they had 5 volumes (3-7) I noticed a nasty tear in the outer spine of the 7th volume that would be glaringly obvious (to me, at least) on the shelf, not reasonably repairable, and certainly not at all worth my time/hassle for the higher price (seems the first 6 volumes were $19.99 before jumping to $24.99 for 7+).

Still, already having the first two, even "only" getting the four volumes at half-off cover (surprisingly, as I honestly do not know if these–or these specific printings–are still considered "in print" or not) made for a fantastic deal, especially balanced against the notion that each volume has 10 issues, and 10 contemporary Marvel comics would be what I paid for 40 issues’ content across these four volumes.

Unfortunately, I discovered a bit of a surprise Sunday night when I went to peel the price stickers off.

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Usually, Half-Price Books has these stickers that–like many bookstores–adhere reliably to the book covers…but unlike cheapo retail/grocery store price tags, the bookstores’ tags are generally of some material/stickiness that can be peeled off easily, simply, and cleanly, leaving no residue, stickiness or other damage/marking behind.

However, under the "new" HPB stickers, I found horrible residue from what seems to be an older HPB sticker. At first glance, I thought maybe (just maybe) I had done a bad peel, ripping it off way faster than necessary. But no, examining what was left behind, it most definitely was not from the sticker that I myself had peeled off.

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The sticker I peeled off is still clean and–aside from "curling," undamaged. The bad-sticker underneath is peeled/torn in such a way that I feel rather justified "assuming" any one of several things:

  • Someone screwed up with sticker stock that was used, and after attempting to peel it off, realized it couldn’t simply be done and so just covered it up with the new sticker
  • Someone screwed up the price, and after ripping off the old sticker simply put a new one over with no regard that as something that could well be in their "collectibles stock," someone might actually care about un-removable bad-sticker residue in buying or not buying the books
  • Someone bought these from HPB sometime ago, gave up attempting to remove the original sticker, so what’s there was just left there, and when it was sold back to HPB, they just put new stickers over the old (again, covering up what can significantly forfeit true VALUE to many people in the CONDITION of a book)

My primary peeve, personally, in this case is that the bad-sticker stuff was COVERED UP. I had no clue of it until after I got the books home–it’s NOT like I peel price stickers off a book AT THE STORE or anything. Buying used, or second-hand, or whatever–I have a much higher tolerance for condition of the book…but it tends to greatly bother me on pricing. If "expected price" is 1/2-off cover price and most stuff is in pretty good condition…when something is noticeably damaged, I’d be inclined to think that justifies a modified-downward price…such as on what they seem to deem as so worthy of being "collectible materials." If it’s so "collectible" and they’re such experts to deal in wildly-varied values of stuff, surely they should also attend to issues like huge patches of shredded/leftover stickers/sticker residue.

That said, while I am highly frustrated at the scraping I had to do to "mostly" remove the residue…I’m still very glad I was able to get these 4 books for half-cover-price each, making them extremely reasonably priced…and bringing me up to about the 1/3 mark for having the entire series of Classic GI Joe.

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Above: including this purchase, my "GI Joe Library."


Along with my specific complaints about the GI Joe volumes…the Half-Price Books location I found them at was one I haven’t been to in about 6 months, so I was quite shocked when I checked their "regular comics" section out of curiosity, given the two locations closer to where I live have the "all are $1 unless marked" and "all are now 25 (50? I can’t remember) cents unless marked."

This one has them as $2 unless marked–and with marked prices generally being at least $2 if not more (with $10, $15, $25 marked, and some color photocopies/printouts put as proxies in the bins with the actual issues held behind the counter for $25+ issues).

The issues that would be $2? Mainly stuff that I would deem–at best–$1 bin fodder at an actual comic shop.

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Meanwhile, checking for some joy in the "clearance" endcap yielded its own shock: clearance comics were all price-stickered as $1.00!

To say that I was appalled would be an understatement…so much so that I tweeted out the above photo with my frustration the other day!

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But getting into all this has led me to what is likely the topic for an entire post on its own.

Free Comic Book Day Haul 2016

Free Comic Book Day is no fun alone.

Suffice it to say, I went to one shop that was nearby for the weekend, picked several issues, bought a collected volume I’ve been intending to purchase for a couple weeks now, and got out.

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Free Comic Book Day’s good for when schedules work with friends–a group thing, a social thing.

Of the books, really the only one I “went in looking for,” or was particularly aware of ahead of time, was the ROM #0 issue. But I’d actually already “accounted for” that so it was not going to be a problem.

It just seemed a shame to NOT go out for FCBD, as I don’t think I’ve actually missed any of ’em yet.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Deviations [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtles_deviations0001Deviations

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Zach Howard
Additional Art: Cory Smith
Ink Assist: Joylon Yates
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Publisher: Ted Adams
Cover: Zach Howard
Published by: IDW
Cover Date: March 2016
Cover Price: $4.99

Aside from the price, I’ve enjoyed these Deviations issues (having read the Ghostbusters and the GI Joe issues prior to this one). My most obvious comparison to describe the Deviations designation is that these are IDW‘s version of the classic Marvel series What If..? That is, a key story point is chosen, an an alternative outcome is explored. For obvious reasons, IDW phrases it In a World… Where _______ happened! instead of What If… _______ happened?, but the result is functionally the same. This issue (as with the other four one-shots) carry a hefty $4.99 cover price…hefty in general, though admittedly not drastically beyond the standard $3.99 price point of regular-sized issues.

In a world where the turtles join Shredder, we find a hunted Splinter struggling to survive against his sons, who have been fully brainwashed into Shredder’s control and the world of the Foot. Old Hob is brought into things–the turtles getting Splinter’s location from him–and then the confrontation. The turtles capture Splinter, and present him to Shredder. Total victory nears for Shredder–the turtles have defeated rival gangs, brought Splinter (Hamato Yoshi) to him, and he is at the height of his modern power…and then things crumble. Splinter is not unprepared and–along with Hob and (separately) a revenge-bent Hun (father of Casey Jones, who in this continuity was KILLED by Shredder)–battle is joined, with results rather different from “actual continuity,” establishing a new status quo for this world while leaving us as readers to wonder where things might go from here.

While the Ghostbusters issue I read pivots on the original film’s story, and the GI Joe one is more of a generalized thing…this TMNT issue pivots on a specific event within current IDW Comics continuity, specifically the inciting bit of the City Fall arc…where Casey Jones was stabbed (but survived) in this issue, he died; and where Shredder gained control of only Leonardo, here he got all four of the turtles. As with the rest of the TMNT issues, this one involves multiple folks for the story, Waltz for the actual script, and mostly familiar art credits. Howard‘s art fits my memory of City Fall in that while this has its own style visually, it’s not any sort of jarring contrast to Santolouco‘s art. As such, and having followed the IDW series from its start through present I feel more “aware” of stuff with this story and like this is a perfect fit for my expectation of the Deviations books.

The story itself works and feels very much like any given issue of the ongoing series, and the art–as mentioned above–fit very well, making for an all around attractive package and enjoyable read. My chief nitpick with this issue is that it is too short and I’m not a fan of paying more for the sort of backmatter included in this issue, artificially inflating the feel of its size.  We have 24 story pages, and then 6 pages of The Anatomy of a Page where we see plot, script, layout/pencils, inks, colors, and lettering in progression.

I would very much enjoy seeing more exploration of this alternate timeline or even exploration of other alternative outcomes. A world where Raphael never reunited with his brothers. A world where the turtles failed to stop General Krang. A world where the turtles were too late to save Donatello. Etc. To me, this sort of thing would be great for some mini-series…four issues would allow more room than one and would provide for companion volumes to existing TMNT collected volumes. And if a creative team really got involved or an alternate take really hit with fans, it could be revisited multiple times and expand the alternate world.

I’d love to say I recommend this to “anyone,” as it IS a one-shot and thus not like one has to invest in multiple issues…but this really seems more like a treat for the longer-time fans. To really appreciate the story, one would have to have read City Fall…otherwise this is just some generic issue with bad turtles working for Shredder. That this hinges on City Fall inherently allows for a lot more context (the first 20-some issues of the series). Certainly recommended for anyone who has followed IDW‘s ongoing TMNT series at any length or at least enjoyed the first few volumes and City Fall. The $4.99 is steep even for the “extra” pages…but it IS a one-shot, cheaper than the 2012 and 2014 Annuals, and the paper stock is sturdy so it at least feels like a much better quality (physically) than many $3.99 books.

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