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The Weekly Haul – Week of May 31st, 2017

This week is ridiculously small! As far as new comics, REALLY was only ONE issue I was specifically looking forward to. I still managed to spend like I’d bought 7-8 Marvel issues, though!

weeklyhaul_05312017a

I’ve been enjoying the four-issue/3.5-title/month-long The Lazarus Contract story crossing The Titans, Teen Titans, and Deathstroke…and while the Deathstroke issue seemed to sell out/be shorted all over last week, no trouble snagging this Teen Titans Special (that I believe was supposed to be an Annual!)

Then of course, there’s the 25-cent issue of Saga, which, hey…for 25 cents, I wasn’t going to NOT get it! I may even read it, see where it seems the title’s gone since whenever I left off on reading via TPBs a couple/several years back!

And finally, because it was there…I snagged the X-Men: Apocalypse Wars oversized hardcover for the staggeringly-high price* of 5 1/2 Marvel single issues! (* Note heavy sarcasm in that phrasing!) I had been intending a nice, cheap week, but gladly tossed that out the window for a bargain-priced volume at this price and for a story I’d been interested in reading but passed on originally just for the price of the single issues.


Perhaps with this "small" week, I’ll catch up on some other reading and such…time will tell!

We also have the Wonder Woman movie coming out this week–surely some Thursday shows, but I’m seeing it Friday with a friend. There’s also Wonder Woman Day Saturday that might warrant a quick visit to a shop or two–Once again, time will tell!

The Weekly Haul – Week of May 17, 2017

This week was another smallish, simple-ish week…at least for the "Wednesday Person" in me. I had the presence of mind to message Comic Heaven at lunchtime to request the Superman, Flash,and Teen Titans issues be pulled for me, anticipating the Flash issue in particular selling out, and with my luck, the Teen Titans issue would also have been a surprise sell-out. And Since I was requesting issues anyway, no sense risking Superman.

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And then, because they had issue 4 in stock, I also bought the new issue #5 of God Country, which I think catches me up…in ownership, at least, though I don’t remember if I’d actually read issue 2 or only the first issue. As a mini-series (apparently like Reborn and also Surgeon X), I’m sorta annoyed–I’d prefer a singular graphic novel–but already having several of the single issues, cheaper to catch up than pay for a whole graphic novel (especially if the single issues will be harder to come by later).

I’ve got several issues on hold at Kenmore that I hope to pick up this week…but it’s amazing how sparse Time can be when it seems at other points to drag.

We have two more Wednesdays this month…with The Button now concluded (and apparently the next big thing being The Doomsday Clock in November) I think the next couple weeks will primarily be seeing stuff continue to unfold in the Superman titles, and the back half of The Lazarus Contract in Deathstroke next week and the Teen Titans Annual (I believe) the following week.

Hopefully small-ish weeks here, given other stuff I’ve put money into lately.

The Weekly Haul: Week of February 1st, 2017

This week proved to be one of the largest "cheaper" weeks for me in terms of new comics.

weeklyhaul_02012017a

The usual Superman issue, and The Fall and Rise of Captain Atom. And of course, not gonna pass on 25-cent new issues…even something like Vampirella that I’d normally avoid (except the Vampirella/Aliens crossover not too far back).

As part of a store promotion, snagged Jupiter’s Legacy (and hoping I don’t actually already have it!). Saw the low $1.25 price point on the Toy Chest thing and decided I wouldn’t mind looking through it…especially with now being on the hunt for a certain Robin statue.

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As a combination of Image-promotion and the Image graphic novel, got these issues and the book "free" (at least a $13 value at cover price).

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And perhaps the highlight of the day, got to see Winston briefly, having expected him to not be around with all the foot traffic of a Wednesday/New Comic Day. He was watching for potential customers, and doing an excellent job of it!

Spawn Kills Everyone #1 [Review]

spawn_kills_everyone_0001Spawn Kills Everyone!

Writer: Todd McFarlane
Art: JJ Kirby
Color: FCO Plascenscia
Lettering: Tom Orzechowski
Cover art: Todd McFarlane
Edtor: Todd McFarlane
Publishing Coordinator: Shannon Bailey
Art Director: Ben Timmreck
Publisher for Image Comics: Eric Stephenson
Published by: Image Comics
Cover Date: August 2016
Cover Price: $2.99

I’d THOUGHT it’d been awhile since the last issue of Spawn. Of course, with loving all the DC Rebirth stuff and recent life events going on, it’s caused a certain amount of blurring of time for me, so I didn’t think too much on it. I’ve been enjoying the Spawn title overall and particularly the price point–yet another thing to support given the actually INCREASING price point I"m noticing more frequently on Marvel books I’ve zero interest in.

Despite figuring I’d managed to somehow miss an issue of Spawn itself, I saw this listed, and then saw this last/only copy on the shelf, and once I verified it was actually "only" $2.99, included it with my double-week purchase.

There’s a certain sort of snarkiness to the cover, with a cutesy Spawn on a pile of skulls with a bunch of over-large knives (the size of swords) and a massive gun bigger than he is. In some ways poking fun at other (past?) extreme-ness…in some ways self-lampooning.

The issue’s story goes right along with this. We have this cutesy Spawn railing against his own cuteness (come to think of it, he looks like a Mopeez plushie [I would totally get one of him, provided it has the cape!] and lamenting the lack of recent movie, while all sorts of other comic characters have had movies. So he’s in San Diego at the comic con and makes his way to Hall H to BE his own movie announcement…but encounters a number of troubles along the way, that get dispatched quite graphically and violently, with plenty of call-outs to recent film franchises. And the whole of the thing is rather immature, crude, irreverent, with poop and fart jokes…and yet something to the whole of it left me having quite enjoyed this issue.

I’m not consciously familiar with the artist…but I really dug the visuals for this issue. I like this take on Spawn (or "Lil’ Spawn" or some such), and the art simply conveyed the ridiculous absurdity of the issue. Despite the "graphic violence," it still stayed somewhat cartooney…of course, I would not recommend giving this to a younger reader, but it’s definitely the sort of "fun" issue for adults, whether current, lapsed, or former fans of Spawn in general, or just looking for a truly one-shot issue with a familiar logo on the cover.

This has the "Spawning Ground" thing at the back, and a "Next Issue" box showing Spawn 265, which further lends me the notion of this being a "fill in" issue, to fill the gap between regular issues of Spawn itself. Given my reading experience with the main title and only somewhat noticing it being awhile since the previous issue I’d read, I’m not all that bothered at the lateness..but I’m definitely glad I noticed and bought this issue.

I didn’t see any "notice" in this acknowledging any lateness (and perhaps I really DID miss an issue), but this is a solid one-shot, well worth its $2.99 (compared to how frustrating some $3.99s can be that are not one-off/self-contained issues). Whether you’ve been following the ongoing title or ever did, if you just want a funny (and see other adjectives above) comic, a one-shot for $2.99…this is one to snag.

Spawn #263 [Review]

spawn0263Plot/Script/Layouts/Pencils/Inks: Erik Larsen & Todd McFarlane
Color: FCO Plascenscia
Lettering: Tom Orzechowski
Cover Art: Erik Larsen
Editor: Todd McFarlane
Published by: Image Comics
Cover Date: May 2016
Cover Price: $2.99

While I’ve no idea how long I’ll stick with it, Spawn is presently on my pull list, at minimum as my tiny individual way of trying to support both "high/continuous numbering" and the $2.99 price point. This is my seventh sequential issue that I’ve picked up…which may be a record for me now, or at least close to matching any previous time I’ve tried to follow the title.

Spawn–or rather, Al Simmons–has returned to Earth…human and normal (not disfigured)…and without his costume (despite the cover, more on that later). With only tatters keeping him from being fully nude, but still functionally naked, he finds himself gaining unwanted attention from the authorities. Resisting unwarranted arrest, he fights back and lands in the hospital for his troubles–having been shot and then bashed in the head. On waking and learning what his situation is, he requests Terry Fitzgerald…who despite relatable reservations helps him. Simmons gets set up for his new life, including the start to (presumably) a new iteration of a supporting cast and status quo.

The cover is quite misleading…we do not get Spawn–and certainly not in that classic sense–in this issue. Nor do we get an Al Simmons surprised at being human. That said, for one of extremely FEW instances in my life and as a comic person, it’s misleading because I’m actually "up" on this title. Much as the cover for #257 grabbed my attention (which started this whole current "phase" for me), I can see how this cover could be rather attention-grabbing and pique the curiosity. There’s also something kinda familiar about it–I’m not sure (nor am I planning to research the matter) if it’s an homage piece or just kinda evokes a bygone age of comic covers.

Of course, I’m quite enjoying Larsen‘s work–both the cover(s) and the interior art. Things one expects a comic’s art to do are done, and the visual style works well for this title. It "looks" and "feels" like Larsen art–it’s immediately recognizable to me as such, and I like it here.

Story-wise, I’m still far from being particularly "familiar" with characters (I had to do a quick Google search to confirm that Terry is indeed the guy Wanda married and such), but I’m enjoying the reading experience. This issue feels a lot like a "first issue," and functionally could VERY well warrant a "new #1" (and truly, many Many MANY Marvel books have "rebooted" or "renumbered" for far, far LESS a shift than the game-changing status quo we begin here!).

The backmatter backs this up…though I was disappointed at how "quickly" I got TO the backmatter of the issue. There’s no marking at the final panel of the issue, the final page of the story content–nothing saying "To Be Continued…" or any such, nor is it particularly cliffhanger-y. But darn it, I’m actually really eager to see where things go from here, how Simmons deals WITH his new status quo, how he gets back into the action and what this all means. The cynic in my worries at the shakeup being temporary…but even if it is, I have a bit of faith that it’ll at least last a few years. Simmons was gone from the title for some 65 issues–on a standard, unbroken monthly schedule of 1 issue every month on the month, that would indicate nearly 5 1/2 years. So I’m fairly confident that this status quo ought to take us to (if not through) #300 and/or beyond.

Criminal: Tenth Anniversary Special Edition Magazine

criminal_10th_anniversary_magazine_editionDeadly Hands

Editor: Ray Archer
Content Editor: Ed Brubaker
Art and Design: Sean Phillips, Elizabeth Breitweiser
Production: Drew Gill
Publishing Liasons: Eric Stephenson, Robert Kirkman
Cover: Sean Phillips
Frontispiece: Phil Jacobs
Published by: Image Comics
Cover Date: April 2016
Cover Price: $5.99

I’ve long been “aware of” Brubaker‘s Criminal series. I’ve read a few issues in the past, and quite enjoyed them…as I have most things he’s written/put out, particularly in this sort of capacity. While I’m blanking on the title offhand, I also remember sampling a spinoff/parallel series more recently, but never stuck with it at length…unfortunately, this sort of thing tends to read better in collected format to me, and when ‘everything’ is a mini-series within an overall continuity, I’d just as soon wait for an entire story…just that by the time it gets collected I’m often chasing other stuff and leave the less-familiar/top-of-the-mind stuff for “later.”

That said, I saw this issue–a 10th-anniversary special–and initially passed on it. A couple days later I saw it at another shop…along with the “Magazine Edition” of it, that REALLY caught my eye. I picked it up off the rack at that point to flip through, and put it back. Then picked it up again, flipped through a bit more, started to put it back, and looked at the price. And considered the format. As well as the fact that this is a 10th-anniversary thing, a special, a one-shot…not some new mini to invest in, not just some “latest issue of ____.” And honestly, the novelty of the thing got me.

While the “regular” edition looked just that–“regular” if a bit thick–the magazine edition is made up to look like some beat-up, well-read, well-worn 40-year-old paper product. And some of the interior pages–of this Fang, the Kung-Fu Werewolf–are as well, really steeping this in the mid/late 1970s.

Essentially, this issue gives us the slice-of-life of a boy–about 12–“on the run” with his dad. His dad had gotten a phone call without explaining, took his son, and they hit the road. We get the story from the boy’s perspective–knowing something’s up, but not fully knowledgeable of the details, just “surviving” the situation. At one stop along the way, the guy buys his son a magazine/comic–Deadly Hands–which he reads and enjoys, and then seeks out further issues. At another town, the boy is turned on to a local shop that might have an issue. While his dad disappears for a couple days, the boy is somewhat befriended by a girl, and the two bond a bit. It’s summer, there’s no school, and they’re free to hang out, do what kids do. Ultimately, the brief moment is spoiled as things come together for the kid’s dad, and we get a less than happy ending, as we truly see that this really is a “slice of life” sort of thing. Interspersed with the main story are pages the kid is reading in the Kung Fu magazine, giving us just enough to be interested in that story as well and nods to the likes of ’70s Marvel (at least, that’s where my mind went, though I’m hardly an expert on this particular genre or history of publication).

The magazine edition is a whopping $5.99. However, because of the thickness, and physical dimensions–of being magazine-sized rather than “just” a standard comic book size–as well as being a one-off novelty/nostalgia thing, I had no problem whatsoever with it. I would be hard-pressed to be willing to pay that for an ongoing series of issues, but as a one-time thing, a brand I recognize from a writer whose work I enjoy, I was willing to pay the price.

Actually reading the issue, I’m glad I did, because I enjoyed this a great deal more than most contemporary comics I’ve read lately. I drew a slight connection here to Watchmen, simply for the fact of the story-within-the-story and such, of reading pages of the story a character in the story was reading–but actually didn’t dig too deeply there. I simply enjoyed this, and the only thing taking me out of the story was looking at the effect of the pages and the jumping back and forth between “actual story” and the “story within the story,” but even that achieved something of its own effect that I liked.

Brubaker‘s name–along with the title itself–are the selling point for me. But while it’s the story that I thoroughly enjoyed, it was the visuals of the package that sold me, and thus Phillips and Breitweiser should not be overlooked. The art itself–particularly of the main story–would not have grabbed me, BUT was quite effective in getting things across, and reminded me somewhat of Steve Dillon’s work. The story–both the main and the Kung Fu Werewolf–is conveyed quite well and gives the required feel to both visually…firmly accentuating the writing and making for an attractive overall package, especially in having now read it cover to cover.

If you’re firmly into super-heroes or such, you may not care for this…but if you’re a casual-ish comics reader and/or interested in comics beyond superheroes and zombies, this was a great read. As said, a big part of the ‘fun’ for me was buying the magazine edition, but for the story itself alone, I’d recommend the issue, giving it a certain positive grade myself. While I don’t have the regular edition for comparison, this was ad-free, except the back cover’s faux-ad, part of the effect of the vintage-magazine appearance. I dare say this is at once representative of the high quality of Brubaker and co.’s work on Criminal, though this may well outshine regular issues for being longer and self-contained (whatever nods to prior Criminal stuff–if any–were over my “ignorant” head in this reading).

The ’90s Revisited: Spawn #25

spawn0025Tremors

Writer: Todd McFarlane
Pencils: Marc Silvestri
Inks: Batt, Billy Tan
Copy Editor & Letters: Tom Orzechowski
Color: Brian Haberlin
Computer Colors: Brian Haberlin, Tyson Wengler, Ashby Manson, Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Background Assist: Nathan Cabrera
Production: Dennis Heisler
Production Assist: Peter Steigerwald
Big Gun: David Wohl
Published by: Image Comics
Cover Date: October 1994
Cover Price: $1.95

Like seems to be the case for me with what (relatively) few Spawn issues I’ve read, I don’t have an easy time summarizing it. This one, Spawn seems to have been “outed” in the media–the world now knows he exists–and so he has to deal with that. He’s living in the alleys amongst a number of other Homeless, serving as a protector to them, though he seems to be less than thrilled at their growing “reliance” on him. After being attacked by a rogue demon, he confronts the entity and learns its backstory–it’s not actually a demon, but a man who was experimented on, resulting in his current form. He seeks vengeance on a gangster named Tony Twist, and given the situation, Spawn sees more benefit in helping than opposing, if his people are left alone as a result.

I bought this issue with a number of other “quarter books” at a Half-Price Books earlier this year…and I suppose for that price, it was worthwhile. I have another copy–my original–of this somewhere in one of my too-many longboxes, but was interested in this issue this time the same as when I originally bought it: the cover, and it’s Spawn #25, one of those “special number” issues. I also remembered there being something else about this, like it being part of some “creator swap” month, but on reading this couldn’t tell if it was part of that or not.

The story is typical Spawn for me…I’m not really sure how else to put it. I recognize Spawn himself of course, Al Simmons; his (former) wife Wanda, and at least know of the man Wanda is married to here. I remember (vaguely) the sense of–at the time–having no clue what Spawn was ‘about’ aside from being this disfigured entity with a huge cape, apparently back from the dead with some sort of “deal with the devil” thing involving his powers and some kind of amnesia that resulted in his living with the homeless/street people.

The art is good overall…which I pretty much expect from Silvestri‘s work. I’m not overly familiar with it, but I’ve seen enough of it to know that I associate it with 1990s/Image stuff (as well as the Grant Morrison New X-Men story Here Comes Tomorrow back in early 2004). The art fits the book…though after reading the story itself and getting into some of the text/backmatter stuff, I gather that Silvestri was NOT the series artist at the time, and so that was probably the creator swap–the creators maybe kept on plot/writing, just swapped books for art duties or such. Whatever it was, it was over 21 years ago, and for Spawn, nearly 240 issues ago as of Spring 2016.

I was impressed with the cover’s visual as well as the physical issue itself–not quite a cardstock cover, but hardly some flimsy paper, and the interior pages seem good quality as well. Thus, for the physical product itself, the 25 cents I paid was mostly worthwhile. Though I read the issue in isolation, it brought back slight memories of having read it back in 1994, and given my attempting to follow recent/current issues of the title, I’d consider my money well spent…though I maybe appreciated the issue/reading experience more for the backmatter than the story content.

Among other things, while knowing the title has been notoriously late in its time, this issue seems to have come out at a time the book had had some major issues in timing, shipping in this order: 18, 21-24, 19, 25, 20, 26. There’s even an ad explaining things a bit, as well as a “cartoon” image “Todd Can’t Count” trying to poke fun at the situation. I find that morbidly amusing in a way at present, given recent complaints of books RE-numbering and such, and continued amazement that this title is presently–in 2016–the highest-numbered (legitimately) comic that I can think of published in the US (Regardless of returning to “legacy numbering,” Detective and Action from DC lost that designation in the 2011 New 52 reboot). I somewhat recall seeing mention somewhere of Spawn having shipped issues out of order, in some online discussion years ago, but didn’t recall exactly when that was, so coming across it hear piqued my interest, and I’d actually be somewhat interested in working on tracking those issues down. I actually already have the first 12 or 13 issues of the series, so can’t imagine it would be terribly hard to find the rest of the run up to this point; nor overly expensive given what a “hot” book Spawn was at this point in the ’90s. But I suppose that’ll be a back-issue quest for some other time, if it even still holds my curiosity by the time I’d get around to it.

All told…this was an ok issue, though not anything I’d encourage hunting down. If the cover strikes your fancy or you want a similarly randomish reading experience, it’s worth the 25-cent purchase, but I wouldn’t recommend paying more than $1, possibly $2 and absolute most for this (and it’s a 21+ year old issue with a $1.95 cover price).

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