• December 2019
    S M T W T F S
    « Nov    
    1234567
    891011121314
    15161718192021
    22232425262728
    293031  
  • On Facebook

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Comic Blog Elite

    Comic Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

The ’00s Revisited: Detective Comics #826

detective_comics_0826Slayride

Writer: Paul Dini
Penciller: Don Kramer
Inker: Wayne Faucher
Colorist: John Kalisz
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Cover: Simone Bianchi
Assoc. Editor: Michael Siglain
Editor: Peter Tomasi
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: February 2007
Cover Price: $2.99

Hard to believe even this issue was published OVER 12 YEARS AGO, but then, it’s been 8 since the announcement of The New 52, and it’s been a decade longer SINCE Tim Burton’s Batman than IT was from the ’60s series. Time flies. This issue is from a period where I’d largely stepped away from the Bat-books, before I came back for Batman RIP and Battle for the Cowl and such. So though I obviously knew Detective Comics was out there, I was not buying it regularly in 2006/2007. I actually found out about this issue from a post on Facebook with a discussion of "favorite Tim stories," and decided to track it down. Sort of surprisingly, the very first place I looked for it, I found it–for about $4, or "only" $1 more than cover price, and perfectly in line with what would be paid for a contemporary 2019 new comic!

This issue opens on Robin–Tim Drake–speeding away, being chased and shot at after winding up in the middle of rival drug gangs. As his bike is totaled, a minivan pulls up and someone throws the passenger door open, calling to him by name. Not looking a gift-horse in the mouth, Robin leaps in…to be greeted by The Joker! When Tim awakes from the Joker’s gas, he’s bound to his seat, the heat in the vehicle is on, the seat-warmer is on, and the original owners of the vehicle are dead in the back. Tim’s in for a hell-ride with one of those most deadly individuals he’s come up against, as the Joker drives over pedestrians and generally tortures Tim with his inability to DO anything. We get some flashbacks to some "human" moments Tim has with Dick…that also lend context to Tim’s eventually distracting Joker enough to escape. Unfortunately, he’s unable to capture the Joker. Batman appears, and the two leave the scene, knowing this is anything but the end of their old foe.

I don’t know if I’d consider this the greatest Tim story ever–but for reading it as a sole, single issue, completely out of any context of issues surrounding it, and getting a complete story in one issue…this is definitely an excellent issue TO get as a one-shot!

Adding to my enjoyment of this issue was having just watched a couple episodes from early in Batman: The Animated Series. Perhaps that this issue was written by the same Paul Dini that wrote those episodes, this had a certain vibe that fit right in with that…especially for being a complete story told in a short amount of time!

The cover is primarily black-and-white…with only the title logo "Detective Comics" in red. Bianchi is a hit-or-miss artist with me…but for a cover, this works very well! It also helps that the cover is actually RELEVANT to the CONTENTS of the issue–something that seems to all-too-rarely be the case in 2019, where "variants" rule and the cover doesn’t often seem to matter.

The interior art is quite good as well. I would not say I’m familiar with Kramer‘s work by style or name, but I was able to follow the story quite well and "get" what was going on, with no great distractions to yank me out of the story. If the art doesn’t "blow me away" with sheer awesomeness, then I greatly appreciate when–as with this issue–it recedes to the background and simply does its job. BY receding to the background it’s better as it becomes part of the story, the issue, and doesn’t take anything away. That said, this is probably one of the best-looking Jokers I’ve seen, and I WOULD welcome this art for the Joker in more contemporary stories!

Story-wise, the writing is very good, and along with presenting a solid story about Tim as Robin–facing and surviving The Joker–it gets into character moments/downtime with the character, and manages to give us a complete story in a single issue! Nowadays something like this one issue would be stretched to at least 3 issues, if not somehow 6 to be a full graphic novel, if one wants a "complete story." While it might be slightly toned back, this would be an excellent episode of Batman: The Animated Series.

Having thoroughly enjoyed this issue, I’m reminded that I may have read that there was a time with the title where Dini was doing a bunch of done-in-one issues…and I will definitely have to "investigate" that as that’s something I would almost certainly enjoy reading more of!

If you’re a fan of Robin, of Tim Drake, of Joker stories, or just getting a full story in a single issue of a comic, I’d highly recommend this! I consider it to absolutely be "worth" $4 or so…and anything under that is a bargain!

detective_comics_0826_blogtrailer

Toys in the Wild: DC Primal Age

As with many toys based on comics, it IS the comics that spark my interest.

Of course, it doesn’t seem all that often that there’s a sort of "original property" to come of it in quite this way.

Funko had (has? I don’t know if they’re still making them) a line of vintage-style action figures–just small, basic figures on a little card; then they’ve done some larger figures, and their Mortal Kombat ones especially caught my eye (though the price put me off).

Then Bleeding Cool ran a piece about a new Target-exclusive 100-page comic with a similar trade dress to the Walmart-exclusive books…and the "completist" in me decided that yeah, I would be seeking it out.

Apparently this Target one is based on a new toy line or such. And in seeking out the comic I found an endcap display of what seems to be the entire toy line!

toys_in_the_wild_dc_primal_age_full_display

In an age where it seems some entire toy lines are relegated to 2-3 pegs, period…it’s cool to see this line get at least an initial larger endcap display! Here we have 4 pegs of the figures, a t-shirt, lunchboxes, the comic itself, and the Batcave playset. (With a Joker Beast on a shelf below these).

toys_in_the_wild_dc_primal_age_comic

For me, the "main attraction" is the comic. I was somewhat surprised at its basically $10 price ($9.99 or $9.95…) but that’s in line with this sorta thing; I imagine it’s bulk that helps allow the Walmart books to be "only" $5.

This DC Primal Age or DC: Primal Age feels a lot like an Elseworlds thing, or like something out of Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne (except featuring a lot more characters in "a past").

That it’s a comic–essentially an "original graphic novel" but cheaper, and "supporting" (or supported by?) a toy line makes it a bit more "special."

toys_in_the_wild_dc_primal_age_lunchboxes

There are old-style lunchboxes. I’d be sorta interested except that I don’t need yet another sort of item to collect. I dig the look of this one’s art, though…and something about it reminds me a bit of He-Man or even Conan the Adventurer (the animated one, not the live action).

And then there are the figures themselves:

toys_in_the_wild_dc_primal_age_batman

Maybe my favorite of the bunch is Batman…though unfortunately there’s no Superman. I’m not sure if I feel better about it having read the comic and Superman at least being there, than if he wasn’t even (at least) acknowledged there.

toys_in_the_wild_dc_primal_age_green_lantern

Green Lantern’s another one that’s rather appealing, and works well here. He’s at once familiar yet fits this alternate reality.

toys_in_the_wild_dc_primal_age_aquaman

I’ve got mixed feelings on the look of Aquaman…but I really like that we get an apparently-’90s-inspired "hook for a hand" take on the character.

toys_in_the_wild_dc_primal_age_wonder_woman

This Wonder Woman is one of the more "normal"-looking ones of the bunch; also smaller and far less bulky than most of the others.

toys_in_the_wild_dc_primal_age_scarecrow

I’m not overly keen on this look for Scarecrow…something to it is fitting of the character/name, but also looks rather generic to me.

toys_in_the_wild_dc_primal_age_mister_freeze

Mister Freeze is an interesting one…almost like an old, blue Conan; I can go with the "ice-gladiator" look, but there’s something slightly "off" to me. At the same time…this would be the first of the villains I’d get!

toys_in_the_wild_dc_primal_age_king_shark

King Shark is an interesting character…on one hand, doesn’t seem to fit–a "fish out of water" and all that–but then, on the "primal" theme and "knowing" sharks are rather ancient…it’s kinda fitting.

toys_in_the_wild_dc_primal_age_joker

While perhaps one of the more "iconic" characters, I’ve gotten rather tired of–and bored of–umpteen different Jokers. Still…like Batman, Joker seems to work well with numerous interpretations.

toys_in_the_wild_dc_primal_age_joker_beast

Of all the characters, The Joker is the one who gets a "ride" or in this case, I guess more of a "mount." It fits, sure, but I’m not overly keen on it. Then again, as a display piece, it’d make a nice addition. I’m just not sure about its $20 price!

toys_in_the_wild_dc_primal_age_batcave

The Batcave seems like a neat thing; sort of the "ultimate piece" to the toy line. $60 may not be horrible for it, but it’s something quite impractical for me as I’d have nowhere to display it, and at this size, displaying is far less versatile than "just" the figures themselves!

toys_in_the_wild_dc_primal_age_package_back

The card backs all seem to be the same…which works; I definitely like that they show "all" the figures.

As mentioned above, though, I’m disappointed that Superman was not included…though I’d hope perhaps there are plans for a second wave of figures that might include him!


While the photos above were taken in the store, I did wind up deciding to buy one for now.

toys_in_the_wild_dc_primal_age_lineup

Here’s a slightly-larger look at the art-depiction of the entire line (another nice throwback touch).

toys_in_the_wild_dc_primal_age_batman_loose

And here is Batman himself, out of the package and armed with his sword and carrying his shield.

The figure is not particularly-well articulated…but for me at least, that is definitely part of the charm of this sort of figure, in an age of hyper- and over-articulation in figures, it’s great to get some basic figures that just simply look cool and that have some basic poses.

Like a lot of stuff out of the ’80s and my childhood.

Still, at roughly $12/figure I don’t really see trying to get them all; though if they last in the stores long enough, maybe I’ll snag one here and there and eventually end up with them all. I picked up Batman, and am definitely interested in Green Lantern and Aquaman, as well as a villain, so likely Mister Freeze or King Shark. So time will tell.

It’s also very refreshing to see a line such as this with just ONE version of each character; and a good MIX of "good guys" AND "bad guys," where often it seems like there’s not much of a mix with maybe "just" some "good guys" or umpteen variants of a main "good guy" and one or no villains.

I enjoyed the comic–despite its size, I read it basically in one sitting, and I’d say it’s a large reason why I’d enjoy getting some of the other characters! This feels like something that could totally be a cartoon series…and I guess that’s where the comic sort of takes the place of the cartoon, giving stories involving the characters and to provide further interest in the figures.

toys_in_the_wild_dc_primal_age_blogtrailer

Zero Hour Revisited – Batman #511

90srevisited_zerohour

batman_0511The Night Before Zero

Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: Mike Manley
Inker: Josef Rubinstein
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Letterer: Ken Bruzenak
Assistant Editor: Jordan B. Gorfinkel
Editor: Dennis O’Neil
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

I definitely remember this issue’s Batgirl. I remember the fact OF her showing up, I remember her appearance in the main Zero Hour book, and I especially remember the impact she had toward the end of that book. But it’s quite likely, having re-read this issue, that this is the first time in nearly 22 years THAT I’ve read it…because I sure did not remember the DETAILS.

We’re only JUST past the Knightfall/Knightquest/Knightsend stuff…like, I think that wrapped with the previous issue, and then we’re dumped straight into Zero Hour. We open with the same scene that we got in Zero Hour #4–of the Joker “discovering” he’s being chased by Batgirl and wondering if it’s a joke. Even though Batman and Robin quickly arrive on the scene, the Joker escapes, leaving the heroes to try to figure out exactly what’s going on. Also on the trail of the Joker, the GCPD arrive, and their presence elicits a surprising reaction from Batgirl–fear. Then they open fire, surprising Batman and Robin (as ANOTHER Robin watches from somewhere out of their sight). Eluding the police, Batman demands answers, and things begin to come together. That horrible night years earlier saw Jim Gordon shot instead of Barbara, though he died. When the new PC–Harvey Dent–took office, he issued a shoot-to-kill-on-sight order against the masked vigilantes. Of course, though this is “normal” for Batgirl, it’s NOT the way Batman and Robin remember events unfolding. Meanwhile, the Joker decides to dispatch PC Harvey Dent, and digs up Gordon’s grave for extra theatrics, but Batman intervenes. Time continues to go wibbly-wobbly, and elements shift–reality returns to normal, though the “other” Batgirl remains…and Batman must seek answers outside of Gotham City.

As may become frequent in these posts, I’ll touch on the art first…because that’s quicker and simpler. Namely…this IS “my” Batman. This is the visual style I recall from when I was a kid…because this is an issue that was published and originally read when I was a kid. The familiarity raises more than a little nostalgia, which contributes hugely to the momentary enjoyment of rereading this quasi-isolated issue. It just fits, and IS the art I remember. It also conveys events of the story itself quite well, performing to my expectation, with the added bonus of just looking really darned good. I would not have been able to cite a name and tell you that it was Mike Manley’s art I loved, but loving the art in this issue and seeing his name…well, there you go.

Story-wise, this is jam-packed, and kinda jumps around a bit. I’m certainly bringing extra baggage to the reading experience, and using some of that to plug any holes in plot or depth or explanation–I know time is wibbly-wobbly here. I know that anomalies are popping up all over the DC universe, and that this is just the start of it. I know that there was confusion at the start of all this, and that things get put right “in the end.” But there are multiple Bat-books, each partaking in Zero Hour, so there are that many more incidents for Batman to encounter in this single month, as the main event unfolds. While I’ve been “conditioned” to a harsher modern Batman, this one can still make mistakes–such as getting distracted enough by the presence of a healthy, non-crippled Barbara Gordon that the Joker can get away. Similarly, this Batman is willing to leave the Joker for later, while other events take precedence…where nowadays, half the country could fall into the sea and Bruce would leave that for “others,” while HE continues tracking down the Joker.

batman_0511_comparison

This is also firmly rooted in continuity, and whether it was the writers coordinating, or (far more likely) Editors doing the editorial thing and coordinating stories between numerous writers), we see stuff in this issue that’s touched on elsewhere, giving us slightly different perspectives (we have Jurgens/Ordway on art for the opening scene where it touches in Zero Hour #4…and then Manley and Rubinstein giving us the exact same scene in this issue). It’s a bit repetitive in the sense of having several pages of the exact same action playing out in two issues read back-to-back…but it’s also quite welcome, because you do not HAVE TO have read Zero Hour #4 already to enjoy this issue, and you get what you need of this for the core Zero Hour story in that issue. This issue simply expands on the situation, playing out the larger situation and filling gaps.

The significance of Batgirl here would probably be lost for modern readers…this was 1994, just a few years (but enough for it to be firmly rooted in continuity) after Barbara was shot, paralyzed, and Batgirl was no more. Of course, with the coming of the New 52, a quarter-century of continuity was wiped out (and a couple “legacy”/successor Batgirls) in order to put Barbara back in action.

Opening on action, seeing characters’ reactions, resolving some of that and setting up other bits makes this at once an issue that can stand on its own (as much as any one issue of an ongoing series can/will) but plays extremely well in the shared sandbox of continuity and the universe-spanning Event series.

Death in the Family and A Lonely Place of Dying

I finally "pulled the trigger" recenty on several Batman volumes I’ve been planning on ordering. Over the last couple years, I’ve been gradually "upgrading" to newer editions of stuff I’d had, as these newer ones are far more comprehensive than the half-hearted volumes that were originally put out…or just simply have more content per volume, look better, etc.

batman_books_tall1

The one I was most looking forward to was Batman: A Death in the Family. This is one of the stories of my youth, and while I don’t truly "get" the merging of A Lonely Place of Dying into this, noticing that Batman Annual #25 was (supposedly) included definitely had my interest.

death_in_the_family_current_cover

I do like the minimal cover. It’s simple, but very, very telling…the image is haunting, shows the violence of Robin’s death, and is such an iconic image, filled with layer and meaning to me.

death_in_the_family_current_back

The back cover is less to my liking. It fits with contemporary volumes, of course, but I liked the back of the original edition better…or at least, the original’s inclusion of the original cover images.

whats_included1

According to the (back) cover of the book itself, the volume contains 10 issues. The 4-issue A Death in the Family story, the 3 Batman and 2 The New Titans issues that make up A Death in the Family, and the Batman Annual. "and also includes the 2006 follow-up story from BATMAN ANNUAL #25" .

whats_included2

The indicia also would support that, citing the individual issues, with no wording such as "material from" or "excerpted from" or anything indicating truncation or abridgement.

whats_included3

The volume’s table of contents begins to paint a different picture. It’s been nearly a decade since I actually read the annual, so I’ll be darned if I could remember the title of the story. But given the whole Superboy Prime and "punching reality" and all that, causing stuff to change, it would not be inappropriate for that issue’s title to BE "Alternate Ending." The pattern the table of contents uses lists the issues’ contents as their chapter of each story and the original issue numbers. The issues are included in full, no abridgement/etc.

But if one pays attention to the page numbers and the BIOGRAPHIES section below…notice the Annual is 270…but then the biographies are the VERY NEXT PAGE.

hes_alive_batman_annual_25

The sole inclusion from Batman Annual #25 is one. single. PAGE. And it’s not even reprinted as a page the way the entirety of the rest of the volume reprints the pages, this is intended to show AS a page from something else.

As a single page, this SHOULD HAVE been included between A Death in the Family and A Lonely Place of Dying. Given the Annual itself came 17-some years later, it would make perfect sense for it to be reprinted after both original stories. It seemed like a BONUS inclusion to the volume, to give us the original story, the followup, and then the revision, the revisitation that bridges the original stuff and contemporary stuff with Red Hood and such.

This is absolutely misleading, and had I known, if it had registered that the only difference was that this volume is 2-in-1 without the actual Annual in full, I definitely would NOT have bothered with this! I already have the original individual volumes, neither of which contains the Annual that was published those 17ish years after, and I’d thus prefer those.

current_and_older_edition

The art itself is basically the same on this new edition, it’s the words/fonts on the cover that is different. The art is centered on the new one and basically in full, while it’s off to the side on the original, wrapping slightly to the back. The original edition maintains the logo from the comics the story appeared in, as well as the story logo of A Death in the Family from those issues.

death_in_the_family_old_back

Personally, my ideal back cover is a mix of the original and the current…I would include the original cover images, but use the current text describing the story(ies) contained.

My original edition is the sixth printing or so, and quite beat up from numerous re-reads and being with me for over 20 years. Ditto for the Lonely Place of Dying volume.

older_death_in_family_lonely_place_of_dying

Here are the two original editions. They show their age, and are far from anything resembling pristine condition, as they are two of the oldest volumes in my entire collection. That can also be seen below with the prices of both books…

pricing_old_dif

I think the first printing of A Death in the Family may have had a $3.95 cover price, but I’m not certain. Obviously the sixth printing has the $4.95 cover price. Which, with at least a couple of the issues being oversized/extra-length is not bad at all.

pricing_old_lpod

A Lonely Place of Dying was 3.95. That’s five issues, including two issues that I believe were "Direct Market only" for basically $4. The cost of one single issue of what seems to be the majority of what both DC and Marvel put out these days heading into 2016. Granted, a quarter-century or so gap in time, but still…

lonely_place_of_dying_back_cover_text

Above: the back-cover text from A Lonely Place of Dying.

Given the gap between the two stories–Batman #s 430-439–and having Batman: Year Three (which I do not believe has ever been reprinted/collected) as well as The Many Deaths of the Batman (which was reprinted ages ago into a skinny, tiny little volume), I would think a much larger volume would be called for. Tim Drake is technically, officially introduced in Year Three, and that story also involves and has ramifications for Dick Grayson, then-Nightwing, who also played a major role in A Lonely Place of Dying. At minimum, I would expect Year Three to be included, as it also addresses Batman’s deterioration after the loss of Jason, which makes Tim’s arrival all the more poignant and sets things up FOR the latter story.

For that matter, in "losing" A Lonely Place of Dying as a title/book being folded into other stuff, I would think it’d fit quite well in a Robin volume…perhaps as the first few issues of the volume, then the story from Detective Comics where Tim’s mom died, and the (I believe) 3-parter from Batman that led into the first Robin mini-series. That’d make a handsome 12-issue volume; include the Robin mini and it’d be a strong 17 issues. That’d leave Robin II and Robin III to fill a respectable 10-issue volume, before picking up with the ongoing Robin series from 1993-on.

While this post is all over the place…ultimately, if you do NOT already have both A Death in the Family and A Lonely Place of Dying, I would definitely recommend this volume. Just be aware that it does not ACTUALLY contain the Annual that it misleadingly suggests it contains.

The content–the stories themselves–are very much worth it, and two very key stories in the 76+ year history of the Batman (and Robin)!

Remembering Detective Comics #606

My first-ever Batman comics were Batman #439 and Detective Comics #604. While looking back I can remember how little “sense” Detective 604 made to me at the time, #606 (my second issue of the series, having missed #605) left QUITE a mark on me, as well as really informing my sense of the then-current Batman. The real sense of true time having passed somewhere between comics my Grandpa’d shared with me and these brand-new ones I was reading.

tec606a

For one thing…Batman at a grave marked R.I.P. ROBIN…with a GHOST of Robin? Ok, from Grandpa’s comics, Robin was Batman’s buddy, his partner, whatever. He was like Batman, he was one of the main characters…but apparently between those comics and this, he’d DIED???

tec604b

tec604c

WAS only a kid.

Time had definitely passed. Stuff had HAPPENED. Whoever this Clayface Four was, she could only mimic Robin…who Batman obviously has regretful memories of. And the shadows to the imagery…that was truly effective!

tec604d

Yeah…apparently Batman had been defeated, at least in The Joker having stabbed Robin to death.

tec604f

As the issue progresses, a glimpse into the past…an event tragic, traumatic, hurtful, impactful, in Batman’s past…

tec604g

More hurt, more violence that he couldn’t stop…

tec604h

Obviously not the brighter, more “fun” Batman I’d seen in Grandpa’s comics. And sure enough…Robin–dead. Though at the time I had no clue who Barbara Gordon was, or that that was her, or The Killing Joke, etc.

tec604i

Obviously…a number of villains in Batman’s life. Crazy, colorful madmen, all of whom wouldn’t mind hurting him, killing him, that he’d not permanently stopped. I sure did not know Killer Cros until years later, and probably was only vaguely familiar with Riddler and Penguin.

tec604j

…and QUITE a cliffhanger. I had no idea who this woman was–Looker–but this image, of a mad/insane Batman, driven there by the sheer horror of everything he’s faced, of the violence and failures (and no references to Zur En Arr)…obviously I knew he “got better,” but it would be several years before I’d acquire the “missing” 2nd and 4th/concluding chapters of this story. Meanwhile, the main Batman title moved on to A Lonely Place of Dying, a new Robin, I let comics go for a short time, and then returned the summer before the Death of Superman stuff.

tec604e

I was too young at the time to fully grasp deeper “meta” elements in comics…particularly ongoing, continuous stories with characters such as Batman, that will never–TRULY–be allowed to permanently change, die, etc. But at the time, this was a grave image, and I remember truly considering the danger Batman was in, and that there wouldn’t be a guarantee of his victory (particularly after seeing all his failures!). I also know at the time I had no sense of who this was, that this was a key, crucial character in the Batman story, as opposed to just some officer.

Over the years, I gradually filled in the gaps. I learned OF stuff, gathered more detail and confirmation of the Joker having KILLED Robin…and then got to read the story itself in a book from a nearby library.

It wasn’t until over a decade after this issue that I got to read A Killing Joke first-hand. Outside a backing-board “trading card” from a 3-pack of comics (ubiquitous-ish in the early 1990s at department stores like Hills), I didn’t even know of the Outsiders until a group the Eradicator was part of in a new title in the mid-’90s.

And the issue had an ad that also stuck with me through the years, showing that time had passed, and giving the far-younger me something else to chew on: more than one Robin? This one hadn’t died? That meant that the dead Robin was at least a 2nd one!

Grayson_Forgetting_the_Past_Tec606ad

I would love to have a poster of this image. Along with The Mud Pack and A Death in the Family, the story this ad is for–A Lonely Place of Dying–is one of “the” Batman stories of my youth, in my introduction to comics, prior to Knightfall. I imagine I’ll cover A Lonely Place of Dying in the near future.

DC Villains Month, Week One

FOREVER EVIL #1

foreverevil001I find it rather…interesting…that the first issue of a “core series” beginning with 52 other “#1 issues” featuring villains, and 3-D-ish covers does not, itself, carry such a cover. That said, I’m really not impressed with Forever Evil #1. It wasn’t bad–and I definitely liked the art–but it’s only the first chapter of SEVEN, and I lack the context going in that might otherwise hold me to it. How did Trinity War end? Is this set in the present? The future? We start cold, with only the parallel universe villains’ word to go on with the fate of the Justice League. While I expect that’ll be revealed over the course of the next six issues with some typical flashbacks and maybe even flash-forwards or flash-sideways…this just fails to strike me as a worthwhile book to read month to month. If I’m not spoiled on a hugely negative ending, I’ll probably seek out the inevitable hardcover, though…in about a year or so when DC finally puts one out.

CYBORG SUPERMAN (Action Comics #23.1)

foreverevilcyborgsuperman001Of the five DC books I bought this week, this was the only one I’d intended to buy, and that on a whim. Cyborg Superman? AKA the “Superman” I initially “bet” on waaaaay back in 1993 as “The Real Man of Steel”? The character whose Sinestro Corps War special I thoroughly enjoyed, and who I recall popping up regularly throughout the ’90s (even if a bit TOO often)? Yeah, why not? Especially with the potential for a 3-D cover, to boot! Sadly, my high expectations proved fruitless, as I am THOROUGHLY disappointed with the “revamping” of the character for fitting into the New 52. This is absolutely NOT “my” Cyborg Superman…this new origin, background, BASIS of the character itself…it’s virtually unrecognizable to me, and feels like this should have been an entirely different character. Still…better to have found that out with a SINGLE issue than getting suckered into trying multiple issues of any title for “promise” of the character appearing/being developed!

JOKER (Batman #23.1)

forevereviljoker001I actually quite enjoyed this one-shot. We get a truly one-off tale of the Joker, from his point of view, as he adopts a baby monkey (ape?) and raises it to be his son and partner in crime…raising it in contrast to his own memories of childhood. Of course, things don’t turn out well, and Joker finds himself back to reflecting on life in his own twisted way. The art was a bit jarring for the flashbacks, but quite good for the main story. I got the feeling that this story could fit pretty much “anywhere” in time…just a period when the Joker went off the grid or such. Since it’s set in “the past,” it’s before he had his face cut off, which makes this all the more timeless and not necessarily set in the New 52 (and being the Joker, who knows how much of this was “real” vs. made up/exaggerated/etc?). All in all, this was a nice one-shot, and with the 3-D cover combined with the short one-issue story, I’m quite satisfied with my $3.99 spent on this issue.

DARKSEID (Justice League #23.1)

foreverevildarkseid001I actually wound up getting this issue because I was intrigued at the Desaad issue, and had pretty much made my mind up to get that issue. And having just read the first 6-issue arc of Justice League a few days ago thanks to a 99-cent Comixology sale, and typically associating Desaad WITH Darkseid…I decided this would go with Desaad’s issue. What I got was an origin of sorts, a glimpse of the “old gods” and the start of the “New Gods.” And a look at how Darkseid shows that he’s not oblivious to what goes on around him, but uses everything to his own ends. Nothing fancy, or deep, or really all that compelling for me. I’ve never been particularly interested in Darkseid in general, and have rarely enjoyed anything with him involved–“Big Bad” or otherwise. This issue did nothing to change that, and only cemented my actual lack of interest in the character.

DESAAD (Earth 2 #15.1)

foreverevildesaad001This issue hooked me with the cover. Desaad has a MUCH different appearance than the sniveling old-man looking character I recall from the ’90s and generally pre-New-52 DC stuff. While I’m not a fan of the new look in and of itself, it is rather striking. Combined with the 3-D effect of teh cover, this one really stood out to me with a lot more “depth” to the image than other issues that seemed a lot more obviously “layered.” As a story, the issue basically shows us Desaad working his machinations, trapped on Earth 2, waiting for Darseid to find/rescue him. He’s not idle–experimenting, mutating, and generally doing horrible stuff. He ends up looking in on a human–My first thought was Jack Kirby–and decides to let the human live for now, better to be “eaten” later. While I was definitely impressed with the cover–the cover can be credited with my buying into the month’s event in general–I wasn’t particularly impressed with the interior; though it could’ve been worse.

OVERALL THOUGHTS ON WEEK 1

I was going to stick to the Cyborg Superman and Doomsday issues this month, and those two mainly “for old time’s sake.” I probably would’ve been grabbed by the Bane issue due out later as well, anyway, for that 1993 nostalgia (despite severe disappointment in The Dark Knight #6). But I wound up buying four of the villains issues, primarily because of the 3-D covers actually impressing me. That, and I was at the comic shop late in the evening, well after some of the other issues sold out, and I was truly just looking at the covers/characters, with no real mind given to creative teams or ongoing stories. Just covers and the characters.

foreverevilweek01

While I was quite disappointed in the new Cyborg Superman, his origin, etc, and far from impressed with the Darkseid story…I enjoyed the Joker story, and the Desaad story was a middle ground. But I really do credit the Desaad issue with my buying into the Villains Month thing: I was impressed by the cover, and if I was buying Desaad’s issue, “had to” buy Darkseid’s issue. And if I was already buying a couple characters’ issues like these…how could I NOT buy the Joker issue? Especially since all 4 were still available in the 3-D editions….despite rather severe allocations and whatnot.

I submitted a list of 12 more Villains books to the comic shop this morning, figuring I’d just throw in and go with characters I’m interested in. I received an email back this afternoon, and a note that for the ones I’ve requested, I should be able to have the 3D editions. While I reserve the “right” to disappointment if I get “stuck” with a 2-D edition amidst all these 3-D covers…tentatively I’m looking forward to MORE one-shots, as I truly don’t remember a time that I read so many such issues that were ok in and of themselves, without feeling like I HAD TO follow them into a bigger story.

Too many covers: Variants are an ANTI-selling point for me

toomanycoversbatman13to17I’ve long been frustrated with variant covers. They’re actually a turnoff to me, these days–comics that I would OTHERWISE try, if I know ahead of time or see in-person there are variants, I might avoid them. Case in point: this week’s Justice League of America #1.

There are over 50 covers for this issue–a standard US flag, all 50 states, and I’m not even sure what all else (Guam? Puerto Rico? Washington DC?). I actually picked up the sole remaining copy at the LCS this week with the Ohio cover, and thought about it. Ultimately, I decided: nope. Not giving in, on principle.

And because I’m not buying the first issue, I’m not going to try the second, and so on. One cover, one comic…yeah, I probably would’ve given it a try. But as with other series I’ve passed on a first issue due to variants: someone buying multiple copies will SURELY make up for me not only not buying any of this issue, but make up for my not buying any subsequent issues…right?

I’ve also long recalled with fondness several comics from the 1990s that came with TWO covers. You might still have a 50/50 split–half the printrun has Cover A on top, half the run has Cover B on top. But for someone like me–if I don’t like the top cover, I could pull it off and voila! Cover I want. Or even if I don’t have a problem with the “top” cover, I also HAVE the other covers.

The closest I have seen with this lately is with digital comics. From what I’ve observed, it seems that digital comics (specifically from Comixology) load with the “standard” cover. However, either as the very next page(s) or at the end of the issue, one might be treated to the other cover images associated with that issue.

I particularly noticed this recently with the Batman: Death of the Family arc. Along with each “main” or standard cover, after the issue’s content, each had several more pages–the issue’s variant covers.

I’m pretty sure I’ve noticed this with several Boom! issues and possibly also Valiant. Truly, for me this would be the way to go if I actually had an interest in the covers. (Though I suppose ideally, with the digital one would be able to select which cover to display in their app).

Combine variants with $3.99 and I’m even further put-off from purchasing the issue.

My attitude toward variants extends to actually avoiding certain news or entire sites. I don’t even bother with DC‘s The Source blog anymore, because I got frustrated with the endless posts touting the next VARIANT cover. See so-and-so’s pencils for [Series] #whatever Variant cover. See this artist’s extra-“rare” ratioed variant. Check out the awesome colors on the final version of such-and-such’s variant for whatever series.

Whenever I browse the latest solicitations, as soon as I start seeing all the “This issue will ship with multiple covers” declaration…I just start scanning on past. Maybe the story, or the start of a new arc would be something to get my attention with to try or give another try of the series…you lose me as soon as I see the variants as a “selling point.”

Granted if I held 100% to avoiding anything with variants, I’d have nothing to buy, so I attempt to turn a relatively blind eye to some titles; particularly the Valiant and TMNT books. However, I have specifically requested my pull list be fulfilled with whatever the Standard or “A” cover is; and I’ve started double-checking anyway to make sure that I do NOT wind up with any specifically marked AS a “variant cover.”

I have a pull list for all the Valiant titles…but even there, I don’t want the pullbox variants. I want the cover that’s used with general marketing; I want the cover that is shown in the “next issue” box or page, and I want the cover that is shown on the back of that month’s issues’ covers as a “checklist.”

I also like the consistency that USUALLY comes from sticking to the standard covers. I like my issues to look like they belong together. I don’t want “naked covers” with just an image (how do you tell what issue it is months or years later going back through a collection or trying to ID it in a longbox at the shop?) or fancy logo placement or stuff like that. I’m paying full price for the issue, so don’t “short” me on the colors, or give me an incomplete pencils-only cover or such. That sticks out like a sore thumb! If you want to show off pencils or black and white…make it the back cover or an inside cover or page!

I liked the way Devil’s Due handled early issues of their GI Joe series–you’d get a “bonus image” as the back cover of an issue. Often it seemed this “back cover image” would be SWAPPED for a 2nd print/variant…and I didn’t really have much of an issue with that.

Or back in 1995 (yeah, almost 18 years ago!) I remember some of the Age of Apocalypse 2nd printings having a faded out image with some of the background to draw more attention to the main character(s) or something to that effect–but the back cover was the original cover.

To a certain degree, I also don’t have as much problem with 2nd/3rd/etc. print variants in general; it’s a new edition, a new printing, so…can’t argue too much. I’m even more forgiving when there’s only some color alterations–maybe a white background’s black, or blue, or red; or maybe the cover’s logo changes color–this comes in handy for identifying a different printing at a glance (Superman #75 from 1992 with a green “Superman” logo is the 4th print, for example).

Below: a larger look at 21 covers for only 5 different issues of the current Batman title from DC: captured via screenshots as I read the digital issues.

toomanycoversbatman13to17

%d bloggers like this: