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The Weekly Haul: Week of February 7, 2018

Been a long while since doing one of these posts. But, since I’ve not been in the mood for other posts, wanted to get something up this week. And this week does have several big books in it!

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First off, the Swamp Thing Winter Special that I’ve been looking forward to for awhile. Though it’s an $8 book, it boasts more than two issues’ worth of pages, maybe three…justifying its price. And as a "squarebound" issue, it’ll be able to go on the bookshelf with a growing number of such issues from the last few years. X-Men: Red #1 is here, and at $5, needs to do a LOT to justify its price…though I suppose ultimately it’ll simply fit with X-Men: Prime and X-Men: Blue and X-Men: Gold from last year. I’m definitely a fan of Adam Warlock, so at least somewhat interested in this, if only as a curiosity. Not so keen on Starlin feeling driven from Marvel, though, and haven’t been overly keen on the character in hands other than his. So we’ll see.

Then, of course, Superman and Batman, basically "givens" for me. And Justice League if only because I haven’t figured out where/if to break my run.

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Rogue & Gambit as I am a fan of the characters, and together. Been debating whether or not I’m sticking all the way with Avengers: No Surrender, but definitely in favor of a single title instead of umpteen different Avengers books with erratic shipping schedules. I picked up Jean Grey #10 that I’d considered last month, but since it lacked the Phoenix Resurrection logo, figured it wasn’t going to actually tie to that (boy, was I ever wrong there!)

Getting toward the end of Bane: Conquest, and same for Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica and The Jetsons.

I’ve a lot of reading to catch up on, and find myself wondering just how it was I used to get to read as much as I did just a couple years ago. It’s a shame there aren’t regularly-released "audio-comics" for commuters to listen to and get something of a story out of it. Maybe not the art itself, but…something.

Whatever the case…a huge, expensive start to February, and certainly reminds me of the need to be cutting back on titles, and to REALLY assess what I’m gonna get around to reading right away vs. just as well off to wait for a collected volume!

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#DIYJusticeLeague

This week, several blogs teamed up to show different interpretations of potential Justice Leagues–that is, personal dream-teams and groupings of various characters, regardless of company, time, etc!

Here’s a quick list of those of us that participated, and I really hope I haven’t missed anyone! (Give me a holler if I have!)

Please check out everyone’s posts, and even dig back through older posts. Everyone’s got great stuff–on this DIY Justice League theme, as well as their individual "blog missions", and loads of great content!


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My All-Star TMNT Team-Up

When it comes to DC and Marvel, I don’t think I really have much of anything interesting to add by way of teams I’d like to see. So when going with the idea of talking about "my" Justice League, I found my mind going back to the TMNT, as well as Avengers Forever. This may be a bit more Avengers Forever than Justice League, but we’ll see what I wind up with!

splinter_1980sAs there have been numerous iterations of the TMNT and related properties, I’d be very interested in seeing interactions between them, for something a bit longer than a ~70 minute movie or ~24 minute cartoon episode. I also think that with a team book–such as Justice League–one of the big appealing factors is getting a bunch of heroes in one place and seeing how they interact, and how interactions play off of (and/or into) stuff going on with the individual titles.

So if I was gonna create some sort of Justice League-style group/book/story, I’d gravitate toward the TMNT. And I’d want to pull in characters from different iterations–for nostalgia, and for there being all sorts of story potential spinning off of each character involved, going back into their own "universe" or "time" or whatever. And I’d see something like this–for my part–as a limited, finite thing…at most, maybe 12-18 issues…though with pulling the characters in and potential for "Easter eggs" and other references and such, as a fan I’d probably feel 6 issues to be too few to do the idea much justice (no pun intended).

leo_miragecomicsI’d start out with the 1980s cartoon version of Splinter. This version brings together the mutant rat and the human Hamato Yoshi; it gives us a human background with the mutant/animal present; and there’s just something to the heart of this version of the character that I’ve seen at times that I have not gotten the same way in other versions!

Along with this Splinter, I would want to use the original Mirage iteration of Leonardo, and would pull him from later in the "Volume Four" run of the comics, where he’s in his 30s…he’d be a sort of senior leader of the group, with more experience and such, and it’d be interesting to see this older Leo interact with a version of Splinter; and see how they’d get along, and how their relationship would be, this Leo having recently lost his Splinter, and this Splinter never having had a son so badly injured by the Foot, nor having executed a Shredder.

mikey_2003I’d pull in the 2003 cartoon Mikey, to be the "heart" of the team in general, as well as a lighter side to stuff. He’d certainly bug the heck outta some of the characters, but he’d be thrilled to be interacting with brothers/Splinter from alternate universes and such, and to be part of a "league" of his fellows, playing any sort of overt hero role!

For Raphael, I’d pull in the 1990 movie version. This one would, to me, have similar "heart" but displayed in a different way. He’s short-tempered, darned good at what he does, plenty of room to grow, and experienced his share of tragedy and triumph. It would also be interesting to see him play raph_1990movieoff of Leonardo, with the two having a shared experience in their past–Raph more recently, Leo half or more a lifetime ago–of being beaten within an inch of their lives by the Foot. This Raph would likely be quickly annoyed by Mikey, and cautious of Splinter, and certainly butt heads with Leo.

I’d get the IDW Donatello present-day; in a way, this would be "the" connection to ongoing continuity. And come to think of it, he would also have that "grievous injury" in common with Raph and Leo; but I see this Donnie getting along well with Mikey, if being a bit more serious.

Rounding the group out a bit, I’d get the Archie version of April from later in the TMNT Adventures series–where she’s had training from Splinter, has a katana, and is not going to be surprised or overly "green" in dealing with the turtles’ world (or this case, worlds plural!).

donatello_idwAnd it’d be rather interesting to somehow involve Miyamoto Usagi. He’d already be time-displaced anyway, but he’d actually have ties of his own to several of these characters. I’d likely want to go with the "comics version" of the character, to be his own thing, rather than pulled from the ’80s or 2003 cartoons; though I suppose this would quasi-double-dip with IDW Donnie, given last year’s crossover issue. "Everyone" would be better able to identify with him, I think, in being out of place/knowing these are different versions of individuals they know.

archie_aprilAnd of course, if all of these are brought together, there’d be potential for others–such as from the 2012 cartoon or the 2014 film franchise–to be brought in at some point, if only to cameo.

I don’t know what would bring them together, exactly–perhaps Renet (cliché as that would be) bouncing around in time accumulating representatives from the various timelines to combat some threat. And what would that threat be? We’ve already seen the 2003 cartoon’s Shredder try to destroy the Turtle-multiverse; and we’ve seen ’80s cartoon Shredder and Krang interact with the 2012 series. And frankly, I do get kinda tired of Shredder all the time.

usagi_miyamoto_usagiPerhaps reality has been fractured, hence all these different versions of the characters. And so they come together to learn OF each other, and see different ways their lives could have gone, and learn to appreciate different aspects of one another. Perhaps in the course of this, have some further time-hopping go on. This group is "bound" together someway–maybe a new, future Donatello has created a device that Renet brings, providing all with a technological tether–some sort of armband or anklet or such–that keeps them together and helps them move through time/space without mucking up the timelines.

And eventually, cheesy as it is, they come to see an essence of family that they all share–here with each other, and their family "back home," and maybe get sorta "meta" and let things resolve back to the current IDW universe, as it already seems to draw "elements" from various other iterations…we could see the characters from the other actual continuities somehow dispersed back, and though they may not be the "main" timeline, they know that they’ve influenced a timeline.


I may well have to expand on this idea someday. In fact, I almost certainly will need to, given this largely being a short-term, off-the-cuff brainstorming. Obviously there’s a lot more detail I’d have to work out, specific story, even specific villain/antagonist/etc.


#DIYJusticeLeague

Fellow bloggers’ posts on this same theme (My post you just read was a last-second throw-together to partake in a fun group-prompt!) In no particular order, check out everyone’s posts, and even dig back through older posts. Everyone’s got great stuff–on this DIY Justice League theme, as well as their individual "blog missions", and loads of great content!


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The ’90s Revisited: Justice League America #69

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Justice_League_America_0069Down for the Count

Story and Art: Dan Jurgens
Finished Art: Rick Burchett
Letters: Willie Schubert
Colors: Gene D’Angelo
Asst. Editor: Ruben Diaz
Editor: Brian Augustyn
Cover: Dan Jurgens
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: December 1992
Cover Price: $1.25

I may have read this issue before all of the other Doomsday! issues back in 1992…in fact, I’m almost certain that I did. I then reread it when reading the entirety of the Doomsday! arc the night Superman #75 came out.

This is another issue with a fairly iconic, if generic/plain cover, to me. The fade from the deep, almost purple red across the other shades (a gradient is the word I’m probably looking for) as the background eliminates any sort of buildings, trees, other stuff, and leaves us just to focus on the Doomsday creature punching the Blue Beetle as Bloodwynd, Fire, Booster Gold, and Guy Gardner struggle against it. (And this time around I’d swear is the first in all these 25 years that I really noticed the huge gashes in the side of Blue Beetle’s headgear from the creature’s strike!) And of the various chapters of this story, this issue is one I feel I’ve least seen in bargain bins over the years–even less than Superman #75 itself!

The first page has a call-out/blurb at the bottom directing readers to Man of Steel #18 first, though for me, it’s hard not to have started reading the page before seeing that, as it’s positioned at the bottom, and I start reading at the top, so I’m already through a page of dialogue (granted, a full-page/single image) before getting to it, and thus already slightly "hooked" into the action.

We open on the Justice League in action rescuing people–victims from Doomsday’s having torn up a freeway in Ohio (incidentally, based on details in the novelization The Death and Life of Superman–a stretch of freeway I myself used to drive to and from work!). While they’re dealing with the rescue and cleanup, a parallel thread for the issue is picked up–an episode of the Cat Grant Show being filmed at a high school and broadcast to the country, wherein Cat is interviewing Superman live, as well as questions from the students in attendance. This is interspersed with the League then tracking down the creature–following its path of destruction–and engaging it in a battle that leaves the Justice League itself far worse for wear, and Guy horribly beaten and Ted Kord–Blue Beetle–all but dead. At the end, Booster Gold barely gets his force field up in time to take a massive punch from the creature that sends him flying far away from the scene at a speed that overwhelms his flight ring. His flight is cut short by the arrival of Superman, at which point Booster exclaims that "It’s like Doomsday is here!"

The issue’s story has a lot of little moments, and some of those stick out all the more to me 25 years later, looking back. Seeing Maxima as part of the League, for one thing–I’d only really known her from an issue of Action Comics several years earlier. I believe this was my first introductions to most of the other characters–Bloodwynd, Booster Gold, Fire and Ice, and Blue Beetle. I’d already had Guy Gardner #1 a couple months earlier and knew/recognized Guy from the Eclipso: The Darkness Within annual where he’d tangled with the eclipsed Superman (any of the other Leaguers would have been inconsequential background characters to me for the most part). I remember the interview with Cat, the creature spearing Beetle’s bug with the tree, Maxima mind-probing ahead and declaring of the creature "He’s hate–death and blood lust personified! Nothing more." I also think I remember even then being amazed that Beetle and Guy could have survived the creature’s attack, given the on-panel beatings both took; though Guy at least ostensibly was protected by his ring, where Beetle had no such protection, and was in a coma from here and forward for a number of issues.

The art is quite good, and as with Man of Steel #18, part of that is nostalgia…though I think I like this a bit better. We start to see a bit more of the creature as the green, cabled suit takes some damage (on the cover, anyway!), and the art also seems both consistent with the characters and a bit definitive for me given the times I re-read this as a kid, and as a "source" issue for me in referencing some of the characters for the first time.

While this doesn’t exactly stand alone and definitely continues from the events of Man of Steel #18 and continues directly into Superman #74, as a single chapter of the Doomsday! arc, it works much better alone than the previous chapter…at least for me. Picking up with the creature already loose, and showing the League "playing catch-up" themselves allows the reader to be on the same footing, if nothing else…and the final page where Superman shows up kinda ends the threat being a League thing, as it becomes a Superman thing (and as the rest of the story plays out in the Superman titles, the League is relegated to a support status, as it should be for a story unfolding primarily in several titles technically starring only one main character).

This is hardly a complete story, but it does give us moments of Beetle discovering Bloodwynd’s secret months before it was revealed to readers and fellow characters; this is where Beetle is actually injured (a subplot that continues into the next arc), and does serve as a rather "full" participation in the story for the League, as well as (maybe in a meta sense) illustrating also just how dangerous the creature was that it did so much damage to the League itself in just one issue!

I’d say this one’s worth getting even alone, if you find it in a bargain bin, and certainly is an important chapter in the overall story (such that it really should have had an "honorary" "triangle number"…something that was bestowed on several tie-in titles years later for the Millennium Giants story). Though essentially just a "cameo," this is also where we first meet Mitch–a character that has a bit of a through line across this arc and the Funeral for a Friend/World Without a Superman stuff.

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New Hardcovers! JLI, Darkseid War, and The Button

I think this may have been my single largest (or at least expensive!) purchase of collected volumes in one go!

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I’d been particularly waiting for the Justice League International Omnibus (oops, it’s "only" vol. 1!) and was eager to get it. The book is one of the thicker omnibus volumes, and a bit unwieldy at its size, but for all it contains, seems well worthwhile!

Then there’s the Justice League: The Darkseid War Saga Omnibus, collecting the Darkseid War from a couple years ago. I’d balked at the "skinny books" collecting it in multiple parts–I’ve grown really sick and tired of specific, finite stories being broken up into numerous skinny editions JUST for the sake of having "standard 6-issue collected editions." I was curious about the story and interested enough to want it…but not in multiple volumes. Finding out it was getting an omnibus solved that–it’s a nice, thick book and having the entire storyline is a huge plus!

Finally, the Batman/Flash: The Button deluxe hardcover…there’s just something to it for me, the Batman and Flash teamed up, and being the "next step" of sorts from the Rebirth special…and given how much I was already spending, tossing it on was virtually negligible (and cheaper than 2-3 Marvel single-issues!)

Now, we just need a Thy Kingdom Come omnibus of that 12-issue story and 4 specials! (And if they need to pad it out to be thicker, include the original Kingdom Come itself. And if they want to totally go for broke, include The Kingdom along with the New Year’s Evil: Gog special!)

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Interestingly enough, I’m still really not a fan of Darkseid, and DC has gotten me to triple-dip on several things since Rebirth started. I’ve got a couple of JLI skinny hardcovers from awhile back, but missed vol. 2, and was annoyed so didn’t get any of the later ones that there may have been. Now, this way, I’m getting those and more in one volume! (and we’ll see on a volume 2, hopefully not too soon!)

General Mills Presents: Justice League (2017) #4 [Review]

general_mills_2017_justice_league_0004Alien Justice

Writer: Tony Bedard
Penciller: Tom Grummett
Inker: Keith Champagne
Colorist: Sotocolor
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Cover Artist: John McCrea
Cover Colorist: Mike Spicer
Assistant Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Steve Buccellato
Group Editor: Marie Javins
Design Director: Larry Berry

This is the fourth and (presumably) final issue this time around. Several years ago, they did a run of #s 1-4, and the next promotion had #s 5-9…so I would not be shocked if that happens again (or not, either way). But to my knowledge, for the current promotion, there are only four different issues, of which this is the last.

For me, personally, this is also the most common and plentiful…as of this typing I have something like 9 or 10 copies! It’s become the one to LOATHE seeing when I pull it from a cereal box. That said…

This was probably my favorite read of the four. Perhaps its the immediacy of it–the most recent one I read–as well as the generic feel of #3 that this certainly topped by far. But I really enjoyed this in and of itself.

A giant alien ship shows up over San Diego, and begins sucking up the ocean just offshore. Aliens broadcast to the world what they’re doing and why–they’re taking Earth’s water, as Earth has too much of it and their world doesn’t have enough, and that’s just a huge injustice! The League springs into action, attacking this threat on multiple fronts, each to their strength/specialty. As this is an Aquaman-centric issue, he gets more page time and we get stuff more from his point of view…including the requisite (for this series) “flashbacks” to his youth. As the present-day situation continues, we flash back to see a young Arthur dealing with being of mixed heritage–part surface-dweller, part Atlantean. He sees people react to the notion of someone different, and then talks with his dad, who advises him on the wisdom of finding common ground when one is so different from another. Young Arthur gets a tangible opportunity to put that advice into practice when he encounters some Atlanteans threatening some local fishing boats. The lesson apparently stuck with him, as back in the present, he devises a solution and quickly acts to implement it. With help from (perhaps unexpected) sources beyond “just” the League, a bad situation is halted, with a bit of potential redemption coming out of it, with elements of a win/win scenario.

I was comparatively quite disappointed with the last issue and its feeling of being so generic after the first two issues of this “series.” This issue gets us back to “Name Creators” that I recognize, and is a second Bedard-written issue…with art from Tom Grummett, another creator whose work I quite enjoy, period. As such, it should not have surprised me to enjoy this story as I did. It’s a self-contained piece, and does include a bit of that “special message” peachiness to it…but that’s mitigated quite a bit by my relative lack of familiarity with details of Aquaman…he’s a character I’m pretty aware of while having quite the significant blind spot. Though I’m certain this issue’s flashbacks are “new” and involve a version of the character perhaps different from others…it doesn’t bother me as I have so very little to compare it to.

That lack of familiarity also lent itself to my being able to TRULY appreciate this as I believe one would hope the target audience would/could: this makes me a little more familiar with the character and his background, shows me some important elements of the character, and generally serves as a bit of a touch point for me. It sets some of my character-specific expectations for Aquaman in a way that the other issues did not do for the leading characters…and reminds me a bit of the impact The Untold Legend of the Batman had on me as a kid and my then-knowledge of Batman, or that The Man of Steel #3 “audio comic” did for my understanding of Superman.

Grummett‘s art carried a definite sentimentality for me…the visuals for this issue reminded me of other work he’s done, particularly his prior work on Superman, as well as Robin and Superboy. That’s certainly a good thing–as is the art in itself. This is not just a good-looking “cereal comic,” but a good-looking comic, plain and simple!

Though I’d be inclined to choose Superman or Batman first…this Aquaman issue is definitely THE treat of the set, and very well worth reading if you find it!

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General Mills Presents: Justice League (2017) #3 [Review]

general_mills_2017_justice_league_0003Truth Hurts

Writer: Ivan Cohen
Penciller: June Brigman
Inker: Roy Richardson
Colorist: Jeremy Lawson
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Cover Artist: Dan Panosian
Assistant Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Steve Buccellato
Group Editor: Marie Javins
Design Director: Larry Berry

I like these semi-yearly promotions, with DC Comics in cereal. However, this has been THE worst one yet, from two prior Justice League sets and last year’s Batman v Superman: it took an absurd 19 or so boxes of cereal for me to get ONE copy of this 3rd issue. (Meanwhile, I have 9 of #4!) And contrary to the first two issues by what I would consider "name creators" that I recognize, this issue is the worst of the three so far. Or perhaps "worst" is a "strong word," but this is the most generic of the three so far, and comes off worse for comparison to the first two issues.

This one focuses on Wonder Woman where the previous two focused on Superman and Batman, respectively. The Justice League arrives at the site of a volcano that’s about to erupt. The team splits up to approach the situation in their own ways to try to minimize destruction. Aquaman winds up unleashing an underground stream, dousing the League. Then everyone turns on each other, apparently selfish and irritable and downright mean. Wonder Woman–Diana–reflects on an incident from her childhood where she was hurt by stuff her friends had said about her and fled to another island, where she faced the wrath of a minotaur. Based on that experience, she applies the lesson to the present and ultimately the group discovers that something in the water had affected them all, and they resolve the conflicts by admitting the truths that were brought to the surface, and are able to deal with the volcano, preventing any loss of life, though there’s plenty of property damage. Finally, Diana proclaims that real friendship can survive any revelation, and the Justice League are the truest friends of all.

Again, this is the most generic of the issues for this promotion, and comes off that way both story-wise and perhaps even moreso, visually. The story reeks of the "very special episode" and such…perhaps I’m also annoyed and more sensitive to it given the number of duplicates of the other issues I amassed just trying to get this one. But I didn’t feel like the other two issues were nearly as "preachy" on the "special message," though I had noticed a "message" to each of those as well.

The art here is ok–not horrible, but far from wonderful. The characters and designs are recognizable but seem a bit inconsistent, and lacking the "big name" or "recognized" creators, this comes off all the more as what it is–a generic freebie from a box of cereal that happens to have "current" versions of costumes with characters that aren’t given room for much depth (a one-off single-issue story with numerous characters and an attempt to "focus" on Wonder Woman).

That I went through the hassle I did, accumulated a year’s worth (or more) of cereal goes to show my personal OCD and such (and marks me as an ideal "target" for this sort of promotion!). Though the numbering of these–#s 1 through 4–makes for a "complete mini-series" of sorts, if you’re NOT interested in having all four, I would not worry about trying to get this issue unless you want the specific focus on Wonder Woman (a focus that is more of a "gets more pages" than being a Wonder Woman STORY).

Ultimately, for a "free" comic from a box of cereal, this isn’t horrible, but is far from wonderful. I found myself recalling the likes of The Untold Legend of the Batman, which I believe had a "cereal edition" in the mid-1980s. Those were reprints of an actual in-continuity story…I think I’d almost rather see something like that (re)-attempted…or at least, I think something like this (offering miniature editions of comics in cereal) would be ripe for promoting some of DC‘s actual #1 issues to try to hook readers.

I certainly would not begin to consider this issue "worth" a standard cover price, and not worth the boxes of cereal I bought to acquire it…though at least the variety and quantity means I’m not going to have to buy cereal again for a long time, as I will actually (eventually) use it all.

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