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TMNT Artisan Edition–Finally!

I’ve been looking forward to the TMNT Artisan Edition for a number of months now! I was looking forward to it, and thought I might’ve missed it, back in March or April, and then thought it was due out around the end of April, and it kept not being on the week’s shipping list, and on and on til now.

tmnt_artisan_edition_book

I’d eventually ended up pre-ordering it via Amazon, just to make certain I wouldn’t miss out on it, and was quite surprised recently when I got a notification that my order had been "upgraded" to get the book day-of-release, August 8th. Of course, given that it seems like most of the time anymore, Amazon gets "access" to stuff a week or two AFTER comic shops, and this is from IDW, I just "assumed" then that I’d be able to get this from a shop mid-late July, but it wasn’t.

Then this week, I find out it WILL BE in shops…this week. But my copy, from Amazon, has already arrived.

This is a huge book, and quite the attractive volume! It contains original layouts and notes and such on the original first TMNT comic, as well as the finished version, and some extra art and such (a couple original ads for the first issue and sketches and such). Not a huge quantity of material, but enough to pad this out and make it highly worthwhile, at least to me.

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As said, this is a huge book…it’s even larger than the TMNT Ultimate Collection volumes IDW put out a few years ago, and this book will not fit on the shelf with these–it’s too tall! So it’ll perhaps get some special display spot, be relegated to laying on its side on top of the books on the shelf, or perhaps I’ll move all the TMNT stuff to a shelf with a bit more space when I next reconfigure my ‘library’.

tmnt_artisan_edition_spread1_sketch

Here’s one of my favorite double-page spreads, and (to me at least) one of the most iconic images of the issue! Interesting how recognizable it is even in the sketch/layout stage…

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…and yet how much more detailed the finished version is! (pardon the compressed/curve in the photo, the pages didn’t want to stay quite as open).

tmnt_artisan_edition_origin_sketch

Here’s the rough layout of the origin/introduction of the turtles…

tmnt_artisan_edition_origin_finished

…and the finished.

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Shredder’s introduction in rough…

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And flipped for the final version in more detail.

I still really dig that this original issue was only ever intended as a one-shot thing, and that Shredder–the real, actual, not-a-clone/etc Shredder–had his first and last appearance in present-day here.

At the same time, I have come to really dig the IDW Shredder across a 50-issue run and appreciate that sort of longevity to that version of the character. But that’s a post for another time.

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Here’s the book next to the latest issue of IDW‘s run. Fitting…a version of the original issue, with what is now the highest-numbered-ever TMNT issue. 1984 – 2017 and still going!

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TMNT/Usagi Yojimbo (2017) One-Shot [Review]

tmnt_usagiyojimbo_oneshot_2017Story, Art, and Letters by: Stan Sakai
Colors by: Tom Luth
Collection Design by: Shawn Lee
Edited by: Bobby Curnow, Philip R. Simon, Megan Walker
Published by: IDW/Dark Horse
Cover Date: July 2017
Cover Price: $7.99

I’ve looked forward to this since it was announced, whenever that was–a couple or a few months ago, perhaps. "Knowing" this was going to be a more expensive issue, I just naturally "assumed" it would be a "prestige format" book–squarebound and such–like the two annuals or the big 50th issue! Instead, for the steep $7.99 price point, we get a slightly-thicker-than-usual standard-feeling issue, staples and all. So that was an immediate bit of disappointment format-wise, and a bit of a shock.

Another initial, pre-story immediate complaint I have is one that’s usual for me: there are TOO MANY DARNED COVERS! Instead of having UMPTEEN different covers, all for the same single one-shot single-issue, why not have a "gallery" included in the issue as a true, actual, real BONUS to those buying the comic, with extra pages by whatever artist(s) showing the characters involved? Instead, we have a number of variants and "exclusives" that are REALLY getting very "old" and extremely off-putting to me as a guy who just wants the entire content-story and iconic, singular covers, not generic incentive chase covers all the darned time!

The story of the issue is fairly basic: increased earthquake activity rocks the land, and we come to find out that everything could be destroyed if a piece of rock isn’t replaced from where it was broken off. Because of the rock’s brokenness, a giant catfish named Namazu is no longer properly held, and HIS movement underground will tear the land apart. Usagi meets Kakera-Sensei and knows what must be done. He gathers four turtles at the river, and Kakera-Sensei works his magic, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are summoned–into or replacing or in place of the four regular turtles. Usagi immediately recognizes them all…but they fail to recognize him. The group sets off, with Kakera-Sensei explaining the situation as they go. Despite a terrible battle with Jei and the forces he’s rounded up, they all manage to save the day. The Ninja Turtles are sent home and the regular turtles returned, and Usagi and Kakera-Sensei go their own ways.

The most noticeable thing for me about this issue–beyond the price and umpteen covers–is the art. This is Stan Sakai working on both his own long-running character (introduced roughly the same time as the TMNT themselves, back in 1984!) and the TMNT for the first time in quite a number of years. At first, the visual style was a little bit off-putting for being different–notably the turtles’ teeth–from what I’m used to of late on the main/ongoing TMNT comic. But after just a few pages, I settled right in and enjoyed the art. I loved some of the "symbolic"-ness of art, showing where someone’s killed on-panel, but it’s far from gratuitous violence and such, and more fact-of-the-matter without being graphically so or gory, etc.

Story-wise, though I had expected this was to be more a story with Sakai‘s Miyamoto Usagi being brought to the Turtles’ world, it was the other way around with the turtles brought to Usagi’s. As I realized this, the art grew on me even more, for being that much more "authentic," given Sakai‘s continued involvement on the main Usagi Yojimbo title. That this felt like what I expect such a story would feel like with just that title, the inclusion of the turtles is like a bonus. The story is rather timeless–at least as far as the turtles–and though it can be pretty safely "assumed" that these are "our" turtles, the current IDW turtles–there’s no particular reference or anchoring point to the current TMNT continuity to bind this to any particular point. There also did not seem to be anything overtly binding this to any fixed point for the Usagi Yojimbo title, either. As such, this would seem like a prime sort of special for fans of either property without needing any particular familiarity with the other…and also one that fans of either could get in on without having to worry about being "up" on any of the other comics of the last few years.

The main hurdle, perhaps, would be that pesky, premium price point. For me, personally, I ultimately will give TMNT stuff a "pass," of sorts that I won’t any other series/property, carried over from the Mirage days, and this would be little exception. That the crossing-over of TMNT and Usagi Yojimbo has been essentially a "tradition" dating back to the earliest days of the properties, of which this is (hopefully) "just" the latest iteration makes this issue that much more of a special thing, worthy in its way of the higher price point.

In the end, if you can get past the price point and the variant covers, I’d highly recommend this to fans of Usagi Yojimbo, fans of the TMNT, fans of both properties/series, and even to "lapsed" fans of either. I’d also recommend it to anyone with any interest in either property, looking for a truly one-shot experience. There’s no "continued FROM" for this, there’s no "To Be Continued," this is just truly a done-in-one, singular stand-alone issue…and a mighty fine one at that.

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Newer Books I’d Been Looking Forward To

While a lot of books and such that I get are relatively spur-of-the-moment, there are certain volumes that I’ll know exist(ed) or learn will be coming out sometime in the future that I’ll particularly look forward to. Several of these converged into just a couple days last week, though several more days were involved in terms of spacing of orders placed.

batman_knightfall_omnibus_vol_01

Awhile back, Bleeding Cool and their “glitch watch” had a piece up about a number of volumes heavily discounted on Amazon, including 50% off the then-upcoming Batman: Knightfall Omnibus vol. 1. With their “pre-order price guarantee,” I figured I’d jump on it for this one, as the price (for me) then had nowhere to go but down, and at a starting point of 50% off, anything else would be icing on the cake. Of course, I seemed to have gotten in at the lowest price, and though a week after comic shops, my card was charged and the book came, so it’s now a part of my collection.

Though it’s got some slight dings/dents…with stuff going on in “real life” right now, I do NOT have the “heart” to fight Amazon over the condition of the thing! Especially as it’s the sort of stuff that I’d honestly “expect” or “accept” buying such a volume in a comic shop or certainly at a used-books shop.

Plus, I’m hoping that this will truly be a definitive edition, and sturdier than the thick paperbacks I’ve been afraid to use for re-reading for fear of killing the spines.

aliens_original_series_and_bug_hunt

Then, in the Aliens side of things, I hadn’t expected either of these volumes out until the 26th of April–“Aliens Day,” (LV-426). However, I realized that the hardcover of Aliens: The Original Comics Series Nightmare Asylum and Earth War was already out/available; so I ordered that through InStockTrades. A few days later, checking up on the exact release date and price for the anthology volum Aliens: Bug Hunt, I learned that it, too, was already available on Amazon.

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Along with the Aliens original series, I also ordered The TMNT 100 Project. At the same time that I was checking on the Bug Hunt volume, I saw that Amazon had TMNT: The IDW Collection V2 back in stock and for as steep a discount as I could expect from InStockTrades…though the latter did NOT have it in stock, so I placed the order through Amazon.

Despite some 5 days’ difference in placing these two orders, all four volumes arrived on Friday.

knightfall_multi_formats_a

The Knightfall volume doesn’t actually have room on the shelf at the immediate moment. I’m hesitant to ditch the paperbacks entirely until the 2nd Omnibus is out this summer…and my entire collection has grown enough in areas over the past year-plus that I need to do a mix of weeding and adding a couple additional bookcases to hold stuff and spread things out so it’s not all crammed together.

aliens_on_the_shelf

It’s sort of amazing to think that the two “Original Comics” Aliens hardcovers’ content is crammed into the Aliens Omnibus vol. 1…but the size difference is also amazing, and far preferable in the larger format. That said, until or unless all the other stuff would get reprinted in this format, I’ll settle for the larger “library” with some doubling-up of actual content with the different editions.

I’m also looking forward to/hoping for another volume like The Complete Fire and Stone volume for the concludes-this-week Life and Death mega-arc from the past year or so.

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I believe that, at last, I’m actually up-to-date/current with IDW‘s releases on the TMNT Adventures volumes as well as the TMNT: The IDW Collection volumes. The IDW Collection volumes–as only 4 volumes–surpass where I’d left off with getting the paperbacks of the ongoing series, the Micro-Series, and the various other mini-series they’d done. And these hardcovers are far superior as they reprint stuff in more of a story-order, where one does NOT have to switch back and forth between multiple volumes to get the proper experience of developments in continuity.

This is the point I’d looked forward to getting to a year and a half or two years ago or whenever it was they started these editions–stopping me in my tracks on the paperbacks.

I suppose I’d also like to note that apparently the TMNT: The IDW Collection V2 had managed to either go outright out of PRINT or at least out of stock… whatever the case, it was enough for third-party Amazon sellers to jack the pricing up to ridiculously astronomical prices. Several weeks ago, I saw something from Diamond with the volume on a list of “Back in Print” stuff, so simply waited for it to show up at a reasonable price again.

This reprinting/re-availability of a “middle volume” is something that it seems like Marvel in particular does NOT do: if something from them goes out of print, it STAYS out of print, at least until they do a whole new trade dress/presentation of something…which then means that even if the story is available again, the volume no longer “fits” into a series on a shelf.

This is one of the primary reasons I’ve NOT continued with the Cable & Deadpool paperbacks, nor gotten into the Deadpool Classic books: I’d love to get them, but I simply DO NOT TRUST Marvel to keep/have them in print long enough for me to actually get the entire series…and I absolutely do not want to get 6 or 7 or even 9 or 11 volumes in, just to suddenly have the final few only available to me for quadruple-or-more the cover price (when cover price itself is far more expensive than I’ve any interest in for the books)…or worse, have a random volume here and there out of print where I can’t even GET more than 3-4 volumes in a “run”.

But I suppose that gets into stuff for another post sometime.

Some Thoughts On the Week’s Comics (Week of April 19th, 2017)

This week involved a lot more comics than previous recent weeks…and of course, that meant a higher quantity of immediate-reads, too. As I’ve been doing the last few weeks, since I’m not getting to full-on single-issue reviews, I’m just offering some of my immediate thoughts related to given issues, even if it’s more meta-textual than about the actual issue.


Batman #21

batman(2016)_0021I’ve been looking forward to this issue for months. Though I’m a good 19 issues behind in READING the title, I had no real problem jumping in…this feels sort of like checking in on a tv show that typically has a lot of slow episodes, where I can jump in after awhile and know I have missed stuff, but not have any trouble coming up to speed with the current episode I’m actually watching.

Essentially, it seems Batman is finally ready or able to "get serious" about this button he found waaaay back in DC Universe: Rebirth #1.

However, he faces an unusual threat over the course of the one minute it takes Barry to get to the Batcave.

For a detailed synopsis and coverage of the issue, check out Chris Sheehan‘s review at his blog, Chris is on Infinite Earths.

This seemed to be more action than substance to me…but darn was it pretty to look at! (Despite the physical violence). I got the "lenticular" cover–quasi-3-D with a shift from Batman to Flash; though I really dig the standard cover, too! This is one of VERY few issues that have seemed actually WORTH a $3.99 cover price (the "enhanced cover" justifies the cost, much as such covers did in the ’90s.) Also AS an "enhanced" cover, where it’s basically still the same image as the standard cover (except the standard one does a "splitscreen" thing), it’s not "just" slapping another artist’s stock image on the thing to sell more issues. It’s a story that looks to be central to the throughline of Rebirth in general, and thus–with ’90s logic–is ok with me to have this as an extra cover, where I do NOT care for variants in general.

I’m very much looking forward to the next few issues of the story, and really hope the Flash issues hold up to the visual quality and story quality of this issue…if not delving deeper story-wise!


Superman #21

superman(2016)_0021I’m much more interested in Superman Reborn: Aftermath stuff right now, so this Black Dawn stuff isn’t really doing it for me. Despite that, I’m actually enjoying the heck out of this title in its own way, especially with Batman and Damian guest-starring, seeing Damian and Jon interacting, and the whole "family element" that seems strong in this title.

We get some development of stuff with the Kents’ neighbors, we get to see the Super Sons in action along with Superman, and even have a returning element from the beginning of this iteration of the Superman book.

I’m sorta anxious to get along to the "back to Metropolis" stuff that I believe is coming up…but at the same time, I’m glad that it wasn’t something that was "just there because now it’s always been there" with zero explanation except that it’s how it is.

I’m wondering what developments are going to mean for certain supporting cast characters that I was starting to like with the pre-Reborn status quo, and hope they get handled well/believably, as roughly 20 issues seems far too short a time for their presence.

I’m quite enjoying the character-sharing going on, and that even without having read the main Batman book or most other titles lately, I still get a dose of them here.

As good as this title’s been…even a less-than-thrilling issue of Superman still beats the heck outta most other titles out there for me!


Highlander: The American Dream #3

highlander_american_dream_0003I was not sure what to expect from this series, and in a way, still don’t. But I actually read #s 2 & 3 back to back, and I’m enjoying it. I think I’d much prefer this as a full singular story than issue-sized chunks, but it’s cool reading Highlander again, and really feeling this is a solid prequel to the original film.

The art feels rather "off"–if I was just looking at this, I would not recognize Connor MacLeod as himself…he doesn’t really look to me like he does as portrayed in the films, in whatever time he’s shown. I get more of a Casablanca Humphrey Bogart vibe here than I do Connor MacLeod or Christopher Lambert.

Story-wise, though, this holds the feel of the original film’s continuity and does not feel like it strays into the tv series’ continuity. In this case, I’m liking that. I like(d) the tv series quite a bit, but it seemingly "retconning" the films is one thing…this holding to them is a welcome change…especially on the understanding/assumption that this is a limited series, hence the subtitle The American Dream.

Whatever the case, this far in, I’m pretty much "stuck" with the singles, now, barring a full-blown double-dipping. Given the price of IDW‘s collected volumes, though, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. All the more with having no idea if they’ll hold the Highlander license long enough or "bother to" put out enough for any significant collection(s). I do definitely look forward to the next issue(s), though I’m tempted to stockpile ’em til the 6th issue to read all at once.


Spawn #272

spawn_0272This is my 16th issue (17 if we count the Spawn Kills Everyone #1 from last year when there seemed to be a delay) keeping up with this title…doubling my prior "longest run" with the title.

This is, though, a title where I’d be hard pressed to really summarize an issue, or retain many character names "consciously," though I’m getting to occasionally recognize characters in the title.

But I’m enjoying the series enough and able to follow along each issue pretty well–or well enough–and so I stick with it.

Of course, with this not being a "favorite" or anything, if they manage to annoy me with variants or a price increase straight from current $2.99 to $3.99 or such, I’ll almost surely drop it cold-turkey. At the same time, I’m kinda hoping to just stick with it to #300…though that’s a good 2 years (at least) away.

Time will tell, but between "jumping in" around #257 and just sticking with it, along with the $2.99 price point when so many others have climbed on to $3.99, this is a welcome monthly-ish title to me. I also greatly appreciate the high number, as it is now THE highest-legitimately-numbered series out there, as far as Marvel/DC/Image/Archie and such go (and excluding the iffy-ness of some of the Disney titles that have not been in constant ongoing production).


It’s nice having an assortment of titles from an assortment of publishers to go through in a given week. Also to have shorter, weekly, compact "event" stories that are "just" crossovers between titles, and not full-blown separate mini-series with tie-in mini-series and entire tie-in story arcs in other titles [The Button]. I’m certainly looking forward to the next chapter of that, as well as the next issue of Action Comics, and figure we’re due for new TMNT stuff.

That said…looking forward to a considerably smaller week as far as new issues at full price go!

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The Weekly Haul – Weeks of March 22nd & 29th, 2017

This week’s both huge yet small. Mostly EXPENSIVE.

THREE $5 issues ($4.99) from DC… but these are the would-be-Annuals-now-simply-Specials with the DC heroes crossing over/teaming up with the Hanna-Barbera characters. I don’t know that I’ll be getting ALL of them over the coming months…but these three had my attention…particularly the Booster Gold/Flintstones one and Green Lantern/Space Ghost. I saw the Adam Strange/Future Quest cover enough times that I apparently added it to my stack…so I’ll make a point to read it at least!

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Then I grudgingly hunted down X-Men: Prime…where typically I’ll "vote with my wallet" AGAINST stuff like this…since I was ALREADY throwing price out the window with the DC books, and have long groused about the state of the X-books, I can at least bite the bullet on this issue to "try" it. After all…I can’t KEEP knocking stuff–can’t knock the "new" stuff or the "change of course" or "seeming change of course" if I don’t at least try it. Then after seeing a preview and LOVING the art (a DEFINITE rarity for me, as I virtually NEVER buy solely based on the art) got the apparently-final issue of All-New X-Men (volume whatever…3, 4?). And the preview book was "free," so…whatever.

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The third issue of Kamandi Challenge is out…I need to read #2 yet, but don’t want to fall behind.

Finally, for a $6 cover price, Dark Horse Number Ones reprints 8 #1 issues from Dark Horse…I’m all about these sorts of volumes, especially on the price. It’s even preferable to $1 #1 reprints!

And speaking of reprints…there’s some sort of $10 edition of Letter 44 vol. 1 out…beats the heck outta the $20 cover price on the original edition! I did not get that as I’ve gotten way behind on the single issues, and have all the single issues. Though for the price, I may track it down eventually.

Below, I cover last week‘s haul, which I neglected til now out of frustration at trying to track down the Action Comics issue.

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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.

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