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The Weekly Haul: Week of May 30, 2018

This ended up being another pretty small week for new issues!

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We have the first issue of BendisThe Man of Steel, starting a 6-week 6-issue "event." GI Joe: A Real American Hero #252 is part 2 of the Special Missions arc that apparently is focusing on individual specific characters.

We finally have another issue of Doomsday Clock. I very nearly passed on this, but in the HOPES that it actually has the Joker in it, that there’s some sort of dealing with the "three Jokers" thing from Rebirth, I opted to get it after all.

I’m not sure if or how late Bane: Conquest is at this point…I don’t remember what I last read, just that I’ve been keeping up with the issues since I had several, to eventually have the full run TO read. I’d forgotten this even existed, though! One more issue to go, though, and I’ll be done.

Then, on strength of the writer’s name, I decided to actually try an Image #1 in The Last Siege, despite it being apparently an 8-issue mini-series.


Outside of the new issues, I wound up ordering 18-19 issues of Cat & Mouse by Roland Mann from mycomicshop.com. I just backed the Kickstarter for a new Cat & Mouse series’ #1 issue, and on realizing I could get a bunch of classic issues, jumped on that.

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Why Variants Have Me Dropping IDW’s Sonic the Hedgehog on Principle

I knew there was something kinda fishy going on with the first issue of IDW‘s Sonic the Hedgehog. But I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

I ended up at a second local shop in order to get the "A" cover of #1, despite thinking I had recognized the art of the cover I’d held in my hands, which was the "B" cover.

Then for #2, I was able to get the "A" cover with no problem, but again, the "B" (VARIANT) cover had seemed more familiar, and I wasn’t quite sure why, and didn’t think much about it.

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But then Saturday, something "clicked" and I realized what it might have been, so I opened to the back of both issues, finding the same double-page ad for the first four issues, and realized what was going on.

For the first issue, I’d specifically noticed the "Cover B" and put the issue back, despite a familiar-ish image, probably from seeing stuff about the series on Bleeding Cool or some other place online about the then-upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog #1.

For the second issue, I was able to get the cover marked as the "A" cover, and didn’t really think about it.

But the advertised covers–the double-page ad in the back of the issues, showcasing the first four weekly issues of the new series–show the "B" covers. The covers by the interior artist, which would be far more fitting as the PRIMARY, or "A" covers.

This severely bugs me, just on principle: part of the POINT of me consciously, specifically seeking out the "A" covers for any given series, IS THAT THE "A" COVER is the PRIMARY cover, the cover that is advertised, etc; and that it is the VARIANTS that come after, the B/C/D/E etc covers. And the VARIANT covers might be ALSO advertised…but generally "online" or places OTHER THAN the ads and "next issue" pages in the print edition; so if you only have the print edition to go on, there’s ONE cover image you’re looking for.

This flips that, and with NOTHING on the ad pages to indicate these are "B" covers–nor even that there are variant covers at all–I personally feel like it’s disingenuous at best. Worse still, I now feel like I have personally been "tricked" on this, AND I feel stuck with covers that ARE NOT THE ADVERTISED COVERS. I will NOT re-buy the two issues just to have the "correct" covers when I’ve already bought the other covers.

And on principle, I am DONE WITH THE SINGLE ISSUES. Just like that, cold turkey. On principle.

Maybe I’ll buy collected editions, but with IDW seemingly to RIGIDLY and PRIMARILY do 4-issue volumes–and with it being highly likely that the first volume collecting Sonic the Hedgehog will be only these first 4 weekly issues–at $17.99 or so, that’s way, Way, WAY too much for only 2 issues of (to me) "new content." And even if they do a smaller-trim volume (6"x9"?) in the $9.99-$12.99 range…that’s still too expensive for content I already have when they’ve already totally ticked me off on principle. (As opposed to me absolutely loving stuff and having a great experience with the whole thing and thus THEN being willing to simply "double dip")


So for mixing up "A" and "B" covers with what’s in print, what they "usually do," and what’s blatantly, actively advertised; for dealing in variants at all, this is a PRIME EXAMPLE of a publisher/series losing me due to variants.

Is it stupid, surfacey, petty, and "cutting off my nose to spite my face"? I’m sure many/MOST would go with THAT.

But to me, it’s stupid, surfacey, and petty of publishers to CONSTANTLY, for every single issue of every single series they ever publish, running with VARIANT covers.

And as said: when I feel like I’ve been tricked, when I feel like I’m stuck with the covers that I don’t want, and when this has resulted DESPITE my CONSCIOUS attention to detail in making sure I’ve gotten the "A" covers SPECIFICALLY…I’m far from feeling satisfied with my purchases.

And there are way too many comics out there at way too high a price for me to get everything that I’d like to, to get everything I have the slightest "interest" in, for me to be spending money on something where I’ve been manipulated or tricked, and am unhappy with what I own.

  • Is it "just a cover"? Then why does there have to be a variant?
  • Buy the cover you want? I specifically buy the "A" covers for consistency, because in recent memory, the "A" cover seems to always be the cover that is advertised. In this case, that’s flipped.
  • Change and buy the "B" cover going forward? Now that messes with my mental OCD, and consciously knowing subsequent such issues do not match/flow consistently.

I’m only one person. But I now have a negative feeling, a negative attitude toward this series; I’m jumping off 2 issues in and there’s plenty stacked against it on me picking up later volumes…and so I’m one less person to sing its praises (nostalgia or otherwise), and one more person with a negative experience.

And I am thus an example: YES, someone WILL actually, truly DROP A SERIES "just" because of the cover, "just" because of variants.

Because (like numbers) the cover does matter.

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The Weekly Haul: Week of April 4, 2018

Well, this proved to be a small week for new comics!

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New issues each of Superman and Batman; sadly, I believe this run of Superman is being cut off in another issue or two, not EVEN making it to #50; and who knows on Batman?

While I’m highly annoyed at the early-release at a convention, and at the constant variant covers…I decided to check out the first issue of IDW‘s Sonic the Hedgehog series. I passed over 20 years ago on the Archie-published premiere, so here I am with a likely-near-"worthless" one now. But hey…nostalgia. (Sonic the Hedgehog was the first videogame I ever "beat" with no cheat codes or "Game Genie" and so on!)

Then we have the second-to-last issue of the Rogue & Gambit mini…I’m pretty sure as "regular" "full price" issues go, that leaves me with only 2 more "planned" Marvel issues (#5 of this series, and the final issue/epilogue of Mighty Thor since I already have the 6 chapters I do, might as well finish out the last issue before Yet. Another. Renumbering). And while I was aware of a Kickstarter thing, I’m verrrrry glad to see Demi-God get a regular, actual, real release…and I’m happy to support it this way, having access to the "A" cover vs. a variant, and it actually having regular distribution and not being limited just to some Kickstarter thing!

And finally, the first of another wave of True Believers issues, this time featuring Thanos…because hey, there’s a movie coming out in just a few short weeks! I do definitely prefer when these True Believers issues are basically a straight up "reprint" of a particular issue–a True Believers Edition–rather than being made out to be a whole other thing–Thanos: The First is a reprint of Iron Man #55–the first appearance of Thanos (and another short/early story from an issue of Logan’s Run). I’d much rather a True Believers Iron Man #55. For a less-iconic singular issue like the Thanos vs. the Avengers I’m ok with it as it’s not the same sort of "key" issue like a first appearance, "death," or "return."

Overall, a nice small-ish week that didn’t leave me with "sticker shock" or such!

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The Weekly Haul: Week of February 28, 2018

This week’s another moderate-sized week…certainly not tiny, but not as big as some. Of course, part of that came from leaving several titles that I’ve bought out of habit but I’m so ridiculously far behind on actually reading that the issues–if I opt to catch up–will probably be bargain-bin-fodder by the time I’d get around to where I’d be ready to read them anyway.

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Action Comics #998 means we’re a mere TWO ISSUES from the big #1000! I’ve been looking forward to The Terrifics for awhile, and glad to see it finally make it out. I think one thing I like about it over the likes of Silencer and Damage is that it actually uses characters I’ve read before, albeit in a new way…WHILE introducing other stuff. Then there’s Detective Comics #975, another title approaching #1000. THen the latest issue of the 6-issue Demon: Hell Is Earth mini. The latest TMNT issue–#79, chapter 4 of Invasion of the Triceratons. And a 25-cent Primer issue from Aspen. 25 cents, of course I’m gonna snag it!

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Then there’s GI Joe: A Real American Hero #s 248 and 249…the “A” covers. I’d snagged #s 246 & 247 a couple weeks back on a whim, so finding an actual “A” cover in stock (as opposed to a “B” or “RI” cover!) for #248, got that AND the latest new issue in #249…just ahead of the big #250 issue!

And while the cover alone would have caught me anyway, knowing ahead of time from a TwoMorrows Facebook post last night that the new Back Issue deals with editors, I was interested in it for content and so went in actually looking for the issue.

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And then there’s the new issue of Previews, which partly showcases on its cover the reason I’ve once more dropped Marvel–they can’t even make it 6 months from real-world-release to announcing the NEXT “Big Thing” or “relaunch” or renumbering-but-it’s-not-a-reboot or whatever. (Whether it’s an actual EVENT series or “just” an initiative…it seems like they are entirely incapable of real-world-time having one thing actually finish before announcing/rolling out the hype-machine on the next thing!)

That said, it’s a new big catalog of comics coming up, and a sort of time capsule for down the road.

And that, for now, is that…the weekly haul to close out February 2018!

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The Weekly Haul: Week of November 8, 2017

This week was a pretty solid week for new comics, with several issues I was actively looking forward to, some just interested in, a surprise, and a couple bargain-bin issues!

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This week has the concluding chapters of The OZ Effect in Action Comics and A Lonely Place of Living in Detective Comics. There’s this week’s new issue of TMNT/Ghostbusters 2.

The latest Metal one-shot/special/tie-in, and the new issue of Fighting American. And since I’d bought the "#800" variant of Superman #34, figured this Wonder Woman one would be a nifty match (I hope whatever Batman one will be as easy to get!).

As said last week, something like this is where a variant actually IS warranted, "fun," a nice nod, etc. And it’s a hugely great thing that it’s NOT–after over a year and a half of "Rebirth numbering" now jumping the titles to the legacy numbers. (Action Comics and Detective Comics are definite exceptions, where it works, as they ONLY have ONE "gap" into which the low-numbers and style CLEARLY differentiate them from their 1930s/1940s counterparts…as opposed to cramming three, four, five-plus #1s/2s/3s/etc in to a single number string).

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The new Mister Miracle and Ragman issues; cases where mini/maxi-series are interesting enough to get as singles…especially when NOT all are "default-priced" at $3.99. These may not be Rebirth-branded titles, but that does not disqualify them (as default) from $2.99 pricing. Same goes for Gotham City Garage (which is–I believe–essentially a "reprint collection" of digital-first chapters).

Then from some Vertigo bargain bins, I snagged the two Swamp Thing annuals; only added $1 to my total, so definitely well worthwhile.

All in all, not a bad week’s worth of issues…though I have GOT to get everything from the last few months rounded back up and properly sorted, and dive in to actually READ, after leaving everything aside to charge through 60+ Savage Dragon and related issues!

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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.

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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’.

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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).

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

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…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!

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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