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Labor Day Haul and Dirk Manning

A nearby comic shop, Comics and Friends, had a Labor Day sale that I went to on Monday. They had a bunch of $1 comics as well as discounts throughout the store…and what REALLY drew me in was Dirk Manning (Nightmare World, Tales of Mr. Rhee, Write or Wrong, and numerous other pieces) being there.

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I’d backed a Kickstarter for the Nightmare World Omnibus (which I’ll surely post about once it arrives, soon!) but had held off on anything else. So I was finally able to get my hands on Love Stories (To Die For), and also snagged the first volume of Tales of Mr. Rhee. I also go to chat with the man himself, which was quite the enjoyable experience…and ratcheted up my looking forward to coming projects he’s got in the works!

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I also snagged a few books from the dollar bins. One that I was particularly excited to get was this Image Zero. Patience would seem to have paid off, as I simply snagged this for $1, in-person out of a bin. Originally, this was only available by collecting coupons out of a bunch of early Image comics, mailing them in with postage and however many weeks/months later getting the issue by mail. So this is a fun little piece to have; my primary interest in it being the Savage Dragon bit, though it turned out I’d already read it via a collected edition.

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I also now, after all these years, own a copy of Thor #500! I picked up #501 as well; and had these been 25-cent books, I would have snagged a lot more. Got Captain America #350 and a ‘Breed collected volume of some sort.

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Then there were the cool #1s on principle: Alpha Flight that I don’t think I’ve ever owned the #1 for (or don’t remember ever getting it, unless I did get it with a small run some years back). The original Thunderbolts #1, though I think this might be a second print, as I remember the cover having more of a greenish tint than the pink. And I’d loved the 1999 Captain Marvel series…and still have to finish tracking down the second series…though also keep hoping there might be a couple omnibus volumes put out for it.

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Finally, I was also able to snag several other issues: these "sunburst variants" of the Heroes Return titles from 1998 or so (Thor was a few months after the others). I think I may have snagged the Thor issue before, and maybe a couple of the others, but never as a set like this. These were my "golden age" of sorts with the titles, following all five for nearly two years, and then trailing off (though I believe I followed Captain America to the end of its volume, and this was the volume of Thor that ended with Disassembled). Fair bit of nostalgia just thinking back on these…and reminds me that next year will be the 20th anniversary OF Heroes Return.

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Amidst the sale and other activities over the weekend, I also zipped around to a number of Walgreens locations, and ultimately managed to snag complete sets of the Ghostbusters, Walking Dead, and Suicide Squad Mopeez plush characters. Suffice it to say that all of these combined only cost me roughly what any two individual ones would have at regular price!

Picked up some other fun stuff, but I think that’ll make for another post later, if at all. Some other posts in mind for the near future, but we’ll see what I actually get to!


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The ’90s Revisited: The Savage Dragon #1

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savage_dragon_1992_0001Baptism of Fire

Creator/Writer/Artist/Inker: Erik Larsen
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Gregory Wright
Editor: Jannie Wong
Color Separations: Digital Chameleon
Published by: Malibu Comics / Image Comics
Cover Date: July 1992
Cover Price: $1.95

I remember seeing THE earliest issues of The Savage Dragon "on the stands" back at Capp’s Comics, back in the day. I don’t recall if I saw the first issue of Spawn or not, but Savage Dragon stuck out to me, somehow…I’m pretty sure it was the cover, with the bright yellow and red/oranginess and the main character charging forward. It was very much an "image" book in that regard–all flash, at minimum. But I’ve "always" since then been at least loosely aware of the title’s continued existence and ongoing nature, continually marching forth into higher and higher numbers (much like Spawn). As of this writing, the ongoing Savage Dragon title’s just had its 225th issue…which combined with my reading in full the Dragon story from the Image 10th Anniversary hardcover, and the ready availability of several collected volumes at significant discount and having a bit more on my shelf already than I realized has really rekindled an active interest in the character for me.

So what better way of things than to go back to the very beginning, to this very first issue of a three-issue limited series (when there was no guarantee the character’d support anything beyond that)?

I know the basics of the character’s origin, and little bits here and there, so this issue isn’t as shocking or such as it may otherwise have been. In a lot of ways, there’s something about this that reminds me a bit of the Ultraverse books–plenty of superhero trappings, but some definite, overt violence that makes the book more "mature" without veering grossly into "adults-ONLY" territory.

We open on a green-skinned fin-headed cop leaping into battle with some guy named Cutthroat, and the two beating on each other. The green guy eventually wins out and Cutthroat and his girlfriend are arrested. We then flash back to the guy in a burning field, and then waking in a hospital to officer Frank Darling, who questions him on who he is and how he came to be there–none of which the guy remembers. Darling tries to recruit him for the police, but "Dragon" refuses. But when his boss is threatened and then the warehouse blown up, killing him…Dragon agrees to try the police thing. He’s a one-man SWAT team, able to take on super-powered criminals the "regular" police don’t stand a chance against. We see Officer Dragon in more action, showing off his stuff and meeting others (criminal and costumed vigilante alike), before seeing a group of super-powered criminals about to be unleashed…and perhaps making for a rather short career for Dragon!

Story-wise, this is pretty basic. It feels like there’s a lot more to it conceptually than actual story-wise…and it’s nearly impossible for me to evaluate this "cold," as I know what I do and so can’t help but come to this already knowing a lot of stuff that wasn’t even available when this was published. That said, it’s cool to read this, consciously aware of things and how they go, while seeing the beginning foundation of it all start to unfold here. This also does as a good first issue should…namely, it introduces us to the titular character, shows him in actions, gives us a bit of an "origin" (at least how he came to be a cop), introduces us to some "minor"/supporting characters, gives us a villain (in this case, several!), and sows some seeds of what’s to come and makes you want to know where things go from here.

The art is solid…the character is very recognizable, of course…and though I’d expect a certain "roughness" to it, there are panels that I’d swear you could show me out of context and I wouldn’t be able to concretely place them as 1993, 2002, or 2017. Larsen‘s work is definitely more refined 225+ issues later, but it’s quite cool to see that he’s held a consistency across 25 years with the character and book.

I definitely look forward to diving into the series and seeing how far I get…whether I do a lengthy read now or "soon," but at least the rest of this mini-series!

I know I got this issue at least a couple times from quarter bins/50-cent bins…I don’t know if (for whatever 3 or so copies I have throughout my collection) I’ve even paid cover price for the issue TOTAL yet. It’s definitely worth a quarter, and if you can get the whole mini-series, I daresay it’s at least worth cover price per issue to get the whole story.

It’s also interesting to note that even though this bears the Image comics "i" logo on the front…this was actually published by Malibu!

For a general reading experience, I’d recommend the collected edition…I know Larsen did some slight revisions and reordered the pages into a story-chronological order for the collected volume and fleshed thinks out a bit…so you’ll have a more thorough and refined story reading that way. Still, I enjoyed reading this as a single issue…and even found that there’s a bound-in mini-poster ripe for framing and hanging on my art-wall!

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!

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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.

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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.

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