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Oblivion Song #1 [Review]

oblivion_song_0001Writer/Creator: Robert Kirkman
Artist/Creator: Lorenzo De Felici
Colorist: Annalisa Leoni
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Associate Editor: Arielle Basich
Editor: Sean Mackiewicz
Cover: Lorenzo De Felici
Published by: Skybound Entertainment/Image Comics
Cover Date: March 2018
Cover Price: $3.99

Seeing some hype on this book ahead of time, when I saw it was "finally" out, I grabbed it to give this #1 a chance. I’m far from "wowed" with this, though there’s a bit of potential to it.

For the first 11 pages of the issue, the whole thing is basically some alien world with creatures that we have no idea what they are, some people that we don’t know who they are, we don’t know what’s going on, and as a comic book, I would expect a fair bit of dialogue or narration/captions to provide some exposition. Instead, it’s like something trying to be a storyboard or some other cinematic thing INSTEAD OF being a comic book.

Agh! Wha–?! Where?!

Huff! Huff! Huff!

Oh, crap.

No, no, no!

Oh, God!

Piece of junk…

C’mon… c’mon…

Work–damn you…

AHHH!

That would be sparse dialogue/word balloons for one page…but for 11 pages, that’s an average of a mere TWO words. Per PAGE.

Now, I count 23 more pages (several of which have similar quantities of dialogue), but that does put this issue at 34 pages, for "only" $3.99 compared to say, Marvel giving 20 pages for $3.99. So I suppose that makes up for this 11-page near-silent "prologue," though I’d almost expect something like that to have been a preview or prologue ISSUE or such with some other content–interview with the creators, some sketch pages, etc. and then the opening of a "regular" #1 to refer to it to remind a person there was content immediately preceding story-wise.

Essentially, over the course of this issue, we learn that some event happened in the past that shifted part of a city into some other dimension. While most have considered those people to be dead, there’s been cause for hope in some returning. We meet Nathan Crenshaw–who has some personally-developed tech allowing him to cross into that other dimension and with some sort of injection, return himself–and/or others–to Earth proper. He needs funding to be able to do this on a large scale, to thoroughly cover ground in the other dimension and rescue those that can be. He’s denied said funding, as we also come to learn that his primary motivation is rescuing his own brother. When he goes back for another go at finding him, we’re then introduced to some inhabitants/survivors of "Oblivion" including an individual certain to be crucial to the situation presented throughout the issue.

Story-wise, this issue does a fair bit of world-building, set-up, and introduction to the concept of the series. It definitely comes off as the pilot episode to a new series…even having the aforementioned cinematic feel that came off to me as counter to the purpose/point of being depicted on the page of a comic book. The scene might play well as live action, but for a comic book, I did not care for it at all–ESPECIALLY as THE opening sequence of a brand-new series.

That said, this is Robert Kirkman, who brings us The Walking Dead, and seeing as that series has run over 150 issues, there’s a lot more to go on from that series than this for now. Everything has to "start somewhere" and this being a whole different story, whole different world, and so on, there’s no context for "shorthanding" anything to convey more than what’s actually given. We’re only able to go on exactly what Kirkman gives us to figure out this world.

Visually, I have no complaint outside of just having zero context for the creatures of Oblivion and being tossed in to try to interpret what I’m seeing with no idea what I’m supposed to be looking at. The art in and of itself is good, and for the depiction of the people in the story and no point of comparison, it just works for me as "a comic book’s art." I imagine I’d have more to say for a subsequent issue, at least in terms of whether or not it stays consistent or such. I’m also glad that as short as much of the issue is on dialogue/words, at least there weren’t double-page "splash pages" to breeze by with but a glance.

This is an extra-length issue, based on assumption of 20-22 pages being a standard-length issue for $3.99; I would not expect so many pages in later issues (though would not mind them!) and would expect the extra pages made up for and allowed for the extended "silent" scenes. I’m curious to see what/how this develops, and on the strength of The Walking Dead would be inclined to give this series a shot. Of course, as with most comics and virtually all "indy" titles, I suspect I’d personally enjoy this more by waiting for a collected edition.

If you can find this for cover price (and not some jacked-up "speculator price") and enjoy Kirkman‘s work in general, I’d encourage picking this up to try for yourself and see how it comes off to you. As long as I’m not duped or otherwise vexed by a variant cover in the meantime or at point of sale, I’ll probably check out the next issue before I decide for sure if I’ll pass on the single issues and wait for a trade. Assuming this would get a "$9.99 Volume One," even getting the first couple issues AND a trade, it’ll cost about the same. That said, I’m not particularly "impressed" with this, and leave it as a more "passive" recommendation than anything "active."

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The Weekly Haul: Week of March 7, 2018

This week ended up being a relatively small, simple week for me as far as new comics go.

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New Superman issue, new Batman issue, 10th issue of Bane: Conquest (of 12). I nearly missed noticing Rogue & Gambit. I gave in on “hype” for trying Kirman‘s new title Oblivion Song. Having quite enjoyed the animated series in the ’90s, I’ve been getting The Tick‘s new series.

And seems we’ve got a new wave of True Believers issues this month for Spider-Man and Venom. I snagged the re-purposed reprint of Amazing Spider-Man #300, billed here as Venom vs. Spider-Man. I was pleasantly surprised at the thickness of the issue, especially for “only” $1! (and for better or worse, this is probably the ONLY way that I’m gonna own a single-issue edition of Amazing Spider-Man #300!)


Fresh Start: No More Marvel

I did notice that X-Men: Red #2 was out…after so-so feelings from the first issue, I was considering getting #2 and giving the series a chance. The same goes for Avengers: No Surrender. After pointedly getting the issues for 6ish weeks running, I stopped cold-turkey. I am so incredibly sick and tired of Marvel‘s absolute unwillingness to stick with ANYTHING for more than a few months. In this case, they announced yet another mass renumbering to start in May, with a new Avengers #1, and Venom is renumbering, and a bunch of other titles. Rogue & Gambit is a 5-issue mini-series to my knowledge, and I’m treating it as its own thing, being a definite fan of the characters…and a definite “sentimental value” to it. And I’m willing to buy reprints like the 300, because it IS a reprint, is an issue I do not own, it’s an issue I have not read, and it’s “only” $1! Best of all, these reprints do not themselves have variant covers on release (and as reprints themselves I do not consider them variants, given the True Believers banner).

I feel like I should have totally, completely stuck to my guns regarding Marvel, but opted to sorta “buy into” a little bit with Legacy and had some now-obviously highly-misplaced “faith” that they MIGHT ACTUALLY “stick with” the “legacy numbering” even if they did other stunts and such.

However interesting stuff may look, however appealing, I’m trying to force myself to just be DONE with them. No Infinity Countdown, no Hunt for Wolverine, no X-Men: Red, no Avengers: No Surrender, no Astonshing X-Men. No Fresh Start for me. I’ll finish out Rogue & Gambit, I’ll perhaps snag reprint editions in True Believers, but as far as new/current stuff with Marvel…I intend to be done!

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Invincible #144 [Review]

invincible_0144The End of All Things (part twelve of twelve)

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Pencilers: Ryan Ottley, Cory Walker
Inkers: Cory Walker, Mark Morales
Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Editor: Sean Mackiewicz
Covers: Ryan Otley, Cory Walker, Nathan Fairbairn
Published by: Image Comics
Cover Date: February 2018
Cover Price: $5.99

I’ve read relatively few issues of Invincible over the years. Off the top of my head, I remember reading some sort of #0 issue when the main series was in its 20s on numbering. Whether I read them or not, I remember when Invincible guest-starred in a couple of Marvel issues Kirkman was writing. I want to say I read #50 or so, and I remember the one-issue-summer-crossover-event Invincible War thing. I have the first paperback of the series, and recall getting the first couple hardcovers to read from a library. And at one point, I had the title on my pull list, though that didn’t wind up lasting terribly long. Without digging all that deeply, I’ve previously covered several issues:

And now it’s been a number of years since the last time I read an issue, consciously–I believe there was a 25-cent issue last year that I got but do not recall reading. So offhand, it’s been more than 1/3 of the series since the last I read, and here I went and bought the last issue, and read the last issue. The final issue "ever," until some follow-up special or mini-series or such is done.

I don’t know what I expected, but this wasn’t it. I knew I was buying the final issue, that it comes at the end of the series, the end of a 12-part story, etc.

Needless to say…spoilers ahead!

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Again, I have NOT read the previous 11 chapters of The End of All Things.

This issue picks up with Mark Grayson–Invincible–telling his son about where he comes from. The sense of deja vu that I got reading this makes me almost certain it is a recreation of a scene from the first issue of the series, as Nolan told Mark about himself and such. A fitting bookend sort of scene. We find that Mark is leaving, and Markus–his son–will be remaining on Earth with Scott, a character I’m not familiar with, but suspect was a fairly major character around #100, and apparently Markus’ acting father, or "real dad." Mark himself is now leader of the Viltrumites, and is leading them off into space to a new sort of greatness–as a peaceful people, rather than a warring empire of domination and conquest. And then the bulk of the issue is vignettes of the years that follow–as we see moments from the various characters’ lives, defining incidents, etc. Mark and his daughter visiting Earth, Markus getting his costume, incidents in space, a revelation about Mark’s wife, and finally, a reflective moment as Mark looks out upon the peace that he has led.

This is definitely a final issue sort of thing. It feels more like an epilogue…but then, an epilogue is still part of the story, so, we’re getting into stupid little technicalities there. In part through the use of the slice of life/vignettes, I suspect a number of lingering plot threads were dealt with, albeit over my head as of this first reading, addressing probable concerns such as Mark’s son, what Markus’ life might be like and if he’d follow in Invincible’s footsteps; and of course we see a number of things play out in broad strokes. In some ways, this seems to offer answers long-term and by covering so many years (centuries?) it effectively lays to rest the story as a whole. Maybe there’ll be other Invincible content or revisitations in years to come, but the broad strokes have been established; we see where everyone ENDS UP, even if we don’t have the page by page issue or story-length details.

I’m sure this is not nearly as satisfying for me as it would be if I was a lot more invested in things, if I had read more of the series and more recently. That said, I really like the way it ended, doing all this–while it gives me some idea of a handful of characters that survive, and some idea of those who don’t, and broad strokes of where things wind up, it also intrigues me–makes me want to find out the details, to go back and get to read the entire series from the start, all the way through. Even if I obtain the compendium volumes–and I suspect 3 of those would get the whole series, possibly with room for spinoffs–I have no idea when I’d actually get around to such an undertaking.

That Invincible gets to end like this–on the creators’ terms, that it gets an ending on their timing, and it becomes a "finite story," I think makes it a lot stronger in some ways, and as long as the series as a whole is kept in print, it will be interesting to see how it lasts, and what sort of fans come in "after the fact," that jump into it knowing/seeing it to be a finite story instead of just another indefinite ongoing series without end.

I’m not thrilled with high priced single issues, and this was $5.99 with multiple covers. I’m not even sure if I got the "main cover" or not, so I’m a bit less thrilled with that. But assuming I did succeed on that front, and given the extra length of this issue AND that it IS a final issue, a finale, a sendoff…I’ll give it a lot more leeway for a one-time "incident" of high pricing, as it’s definitely double-length, so at least justifies its cost.

The story is solid, as said, and seems to wrap up numerous plot threads and the like. Visually, this shares art by the two artists associated with the series, which is a nice touch, giving both a chance to handle this final issue.

All in all, I enjoyed the issue, I’m glad I got it, I’m not overly troubled by the price (only the use of variant covers), and would certainly recommend this to anyone already following the final story. It may be worthwhile also for you if you’ve read the series here and there, TO see where things have wound up and where they go. Yet, as a #144, if you’ve never read the series, this is hardly the place to start.

I wouldn’t consider this a masterpiece, but it seems like a solid wrap-up to a series, and caps off the series well while transforming it into something it would never be able to be as an indeterminate-length ongoing series.

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The Weekly Haul – Week of October 18, 2017

A game I’ve been looking forward to for awhile now finally arrived! Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate. This is basically an adaptation of the Betrayal at House on the Hill, with Dungeons & Dragons elements. Given I quite enjoy both, this was a definite one for me to pick up!

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Of course, the next challenge is getting to actually play the game.

On to this week’s comics

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Hard to believe it’s been over a year and a half now of the "weekly" Superman stuff again, and not liking the "skip weeks" because those are weeks without a new issue of Superman or Action Comics.

Also hard to believe that just between #s 225 and 227, I’ve acquired Savage Dragon 1-101 and assorted mini-series, specials, one-shots, etc.

Quite enjoying the Metal books, story and foil covers! Since the things would be $3.99 anyway, why not have some fun with the foil and such? If ever there was a series that "deserved" the metallic/foil covers, it’s this!

Sadly, the Marvel Legacy stuff is virtually dead on arrival for me. Yet, much as I did this past spring, I’m doing a small sampling to at least (grudgingly) give things a chance. I’m down enough on contemporary Marvel stuff, but if I flat-out never buy anything from them, well, I hardly have room to complain then, right? And at least with these, along with the jacked-up pricing, we get "fancy covers." Unfortunately, these are utterly craptastic quality covers compared to DC‘s. Looking basically head-on, they’re blurry with glare, and neither image truly comes through clearly! More on that matter in another post (or posts) later sometime.

Rounding out the week, trying a randomish Image #1 in Maestros. No clue what it’s supposed to be about, but figured I’d check it out. Wonder Woman/Conan‘s here because I got the 1st issue, and don’t want to have to "hunt" this later. Ditto on Dead of Winter. And I very definitely want to support Alterna and their "newsprint comics," even to being happy to buy an issue multiple times, as even 2 copies of an issue are still cheaper than any one single issue of a Marvel series.

All in all an interesting week with a mix of stuff. Though it definitely pales next to an order I’m expecting by the weekend (that I’ll almost certainly document here once it arrives).

A Lengthy Stay in the ’90s: Savage Dragon

Since Savage Dragon #225 hit, I’ve found myself on quite a Savage Dragon binge. I already had a couple collected editions–including the original–Baptism by Fire–and quickly acquired several more. I also had recently bought and read the Image 10th Anniversary hardcover’s Savage Dragon piece. But that wasn’t enough for me.

I was also pretty sure I’d had a stack of the first couple dozen or so issues…but I was unable to find them, going through a huge portion of my boxes. Finding myself really wanting to read the stuff–and in color, not "just" the black-and-white reprints of the Savage Dragon Archives tpbs–I turned to online comic shops (specifically Midtown Comics, Lone Star Comics, and Mile High), as well as local shops Comic Heaven and Carol and John’s…and just since buying #225…I’ve put together a collection of the original mini-series 1-3; ongoing series 1-101 and a few scattered after that; as well as the Mars Attacks Savage Dragon 1-4, Mars Attacks Image 1-4, Savage Dragon: Red Horizon 1-3, Vanguard 1-6, and Shattered Image 1-4.

Of those, I’ve read the minis and the main series to #50, and several other one-shot/tie-in issues.

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Minus Spawn #52, the above graphic is the bulk of my reading lately…even to falling behind more on new/current comics!

And of course, I still have Savage Dragon #s 51-101 to fly through in the near-future.

Beyond that, I want to track down the various associated stuff–like Freak Force 1-18, the Superpatriot series, I believe there was a second Freak Force book, and a second Vanguard one. There’s also the Savage Dragon: Sex & Violence mini (that I believe took place about halfway through what I’ve already read of the main book).

One "trouble" now is that after so quickly getting such a significant run…it’s going to really try my patience piecing together  the latter 125 issues…some issues I do have, plenty more I’m missing…and now being past the "’90s glut" where everyone was printing huge numbers of everything and "everyone" had all the early issues (making them definite 25-cent-bin fodder now)…the later books did not have such high print runs or popularity/enthusiasm and such, and as such, where they ARE available as back issues, they’re more likely to command "modern" back-issue pricing and such.

But then, I have so much other reading to do, that I want to do, that by the time I get through another 50 issues I already have, I’ll probably be more than fine with a "break" while I get an issue or few here or there on a much slower basis!

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!

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