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More Mighty Minis!

Out of my last 11 "blind bag" purchases, I’ve gotten 10 characters I specifically wanted…and no more duplicates! (like the 4 or so Lex Luthors I wound up with from the Justice League Action Mighty Minis line…)

It seems that some brands of these have codes on the packaging, and there are discussion threads online that list the codes. As such, the following:

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Several cool-ish villains. Chemo and Mr. Freeze (well, a mutated version…must be from the Batman Unlimited continuity?). A little less appealing to me with all that orange in place of brown is Clayface.

mighty_minis_bane_ww_aquaman

Then we have Bane, who was introduced to comics early in my time, and thus a key character for me…especially growing up in the ’90s!

I went ahead and snagged Wonder Woman and Aquaman to round up my group of characters…even though these are movie versions and not comic versions. I’ll make do with them until more comic-style ones are available.

jla_firestorm_teen_titans_go_robin

Rounded out the Justice League Action with Firestorm, the key remaining character from series 1 that I actively wanted. And then just because I found the codes, snagged a Robin from a Teen Titans Go set.  (Not like I have enough Robins yet…)

imaginext_dc_series_2_kingdom_come_superman_brainiac

And then, having had them brought to my attention, I’d bought several Imaginext blind bags and wound up with multiple Brainiacs. Once I "discovered" there were "codes" I was able to get my Kingdom Come Superman. (also don’t have enough Supermen yet).

mighty_minis_bus1_batman

Finally, at a Toys R Us, I stumbled across several packs of the original/first series of Batman Unlimited and was able to get a blue-and-grey Batman himself…a figure that’s eluded me since these first appeared.

My Multiple Editions of Kingdom Come

While it’s only more recently with the release of the 20th Anniversary Edition of the book that brought it back to my attention (as well as several podcasts and other recognition being given to celebrating the 20-year-history of it), Kingdom Come is truly one of the "classics" from my formative years being into comics.

kingdom_come_multi_editions

Pictured here are the 4 original issues, the hardback of the novelization, the 2008 new edition TPB, the original 1990s edition TPB, and the just-released 20th Anniversary Deluxe Hardcover.

Consciously missing are the Absolute Edition as well as some other ’90s hardcover, and the MMPB edition of the novelization (which as of this morning ranges from ~$32 with shipping on Amazon for "used" copies and ~$84-87 for "new" condition).

I had tried the first issue or two "off the rack" 20 years ago, based on the Alex Ross art, and I think a bit of the "collector" mentality–this being the "next" Alex Ross project, or DC‘s version of Marvels. (having little idea that he’d be a key foundation for Earth X as Marvel‘s version of Kingdome Come!).

I never initially finished out the story–it was a couple years later at least before I got a copy of the first TPB edition and finally read the entirety of the story. And of course, the novelization was a real treat, roughly in the age when I so thoroughly enjoyed other novelizations like The Death and Life of Superman and Batman: Knightfall (and though I didn’t know they were novelizations of comics at the time, several Aliens and Aliens vs. Predator novels).

While I’m not opposed to owning any of the "missing" editions, the only one I’m particularly interested in is the book-on-tape "audio-drama" edition, though I don’t expect to ever find that for anything resembling a reasonable price.

I missed Dark Knight and Watchmen by just a couple years…but it’s been an interesting experience seeing what an integral part of the "landscape" Kingdom Come has been, for my actually being there from the start.

Now, DC Comics just needs to do a single-volume edition of the Johns story from JSA a few years back–Thy Kingdom Come and include the Kingdom Come Specials in the volume.

New Old Books: Kingdom Come and Hellblazer

Considering I just placed the order on Friday, receiving books on Tuesday is excellent service from InStockTrades! I’ve been keeping up with the new Hellblazer editions–here we have vol. 13–which catches the series up to about where I first came into the series back in 2001 with Azarello‘s run…and off the top of my head, I believe this now gives me a complete run of the entire 300-issue Hellblazer series in paperback volumes! (From here, it’s just a matter of swapping out the old editions for the new on a rolling basis, I think!)

kingdom_come_20th_and_hellblazer_vol13

While I don’t like the cover nearly as much as I liked the image on the original paperback, that had much more of the “feel” of the story…this seems to be what DC is sticking with for now, taking the cover they’ve used for roughly 8 years over the one they used for about a decade or so…or over one of the original covers or even a celebratory new cover image.

That said, I quite like the 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Kingdom Come, and for a very rare thing, part of that is the extras the book contains.

kingdom_come_20th_extras_interior

I don’t care much for sketch material or pencils-only stuff–I’m just not a “primarily-for-the-art” kinda guy when it comes to comics. And I prefer to write about, talk about comics more than any true interest in actually writing comics, so even seeing script pages doesn’t tend to do much for me (though I tend to prefer those more). But there’s plenty of text with the sketches and whatnot, and lots of images reproduced in full color, some even full-page, and this is a volume, a story, a creative team, a singular truly special isolated thing that (to me) actually deserves “extras” and such be thrown in.

But the quality of the extras, their relevance and insight, the smile I found myself with, grinning as I flipped through them–some of the pages bringing back memories, others a bit of wonder, some just pleasant, collected excitement seeing stuff I haven’t seen in years or am simply curious about and look forward to reading in-depth. And this is without even getting to the core of the book, the story itself, to get to re-read in this format.

I have the original single issues; the original paperback collection, the 2008 paperback with this new green cover, as well as the hardback original edition of the novelization (bought from a local comic shop at initial release), and even bought the mass-market paperback edition of that for a friend shortly into college. I do not have the Absolute Edition and don’t truly expect I ever will unless it’s reprinted and the timing and finances are just right. But for this not being the Absolute Edition, I really dig this one.

Thanks to the online order, but including shipping, I think I functionally paid about $22 for this, which at the price of a mere 5 single Marvel comics and some shipping, I find to be an extremely reasonable price and very much worthwhile for this.

I also find myself feeling a bit old, that I now own a 20th-Anniversary edition of something I remember buying the original first issue of, new, when it first came out. Time flies…

The Weekly Haul: Week of March 02, 2016

Last week proved to be a tiny week for NEW comics, but a large week for quarter-bin stuff. The only NEW comic I purchased was the first issue of a new Predator series…that apparently starts off a new "cycle" of minis to be an overall larger story in the style of 2014’s Fire and Stone books. Whether I’ll stick with singles or wait for the "inevitable" collected volume remains to be seen. I’m guessing this will be separate from the new Aliens series kicking off soon with art by Tristan Jones.

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There were also a couple of free "ashcan" comics from IDW…I won’t tend to pass up "free," though I was a bit disappointed to realize I’d already missed the first issue of the one at least…sorta defeats the purpose (to me).

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Hitting the quarter bins, I found a lot of great stuff. Several Green Arrow issues, including the first, and #100–which is an issue I’ve long been curious about, but never found in a quarter been, but never’ve been curious ENOUGH to seek it out otherwise. (Or if I have found it, I sure don’t remember it).

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The New Titans arc Who is Wonder GIrl? and its epilogue…much cheaper this way than some out-of-print, jacked-up-because-it’s-"OOP"-paperback…and less than half the cost of a single new comic.

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Several of these have some water damage/wrinkling, but again…to get Kingdom Come as well as The Kingdom for half the price of a single issue of something new is not bad at all.

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For the convenience-of-a-reread factor and nostalgia with it being present, I snagged another copy of Batman: Year 3.

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Ditto for A Lonely Place of Dying, since the three Batman issues as well as both of the The New Titans issues were present. No fuss, no hunting.

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Just for kicks and all three chapters being present, snagged The Penguin Affair. I’m fairly certain I’ve read this before, but I don’t consciously remember it.

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For the randomness of ’em, snagged Legends of the Dark Knight #1 and the Batman movie adaptation (this is the prestige format edition). I thought it was cool seeing the original Marvel Knights issue of Daredevil #1…the issue was a big thing for me when it came out, getting to jump in at the start of a Daredevil series at #1, and loved the art! Finally the Total Justice issue grabbed my attention as being based on the toys…though I neglected to realize it was a mini-series, so I’ll have other issues to (eventually/maybe) track down.

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Some "late" Solar, Man of the Atom issues from old Valiant. While my feelings toward current Valiant have soured big-time, I’m still half-heartedly looking to finish my "reading copy" collection of the original runs.

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And then along with those Green Arrow issues, got a bunch of Green Lantern. I added another 10 or so issues to this bunch the next day from quarter bins at another shop; and after all these years, finally located #81 in a back-issues bin at a third shop (I paid $3.99 for it–again, not a huge deal given its age, scarecity and NOT exceeding what I’d pay for a questionable "new" comic).

weeklyhaul_0302016

Given the size of the stack–80 issues–rather than hassle with multiple bags and such, I bought a shortbox for the transport (and I can always use more boxes, so the only "harm" is in the timing and being an extra $5 I wasn’t planning on going in).

I’m really getting the "back issue bug" lately, and with finding Green Arrow #100, tracking down Green Lantern #81, buying a couple pre-Crisis issues (Superman and a DC Comics Presents annual); buying the Adventure Comics issue last week, I’m thinking that all the more, I may shift toward hunting back issues. Of course, while I can justify quarter-bin copies as duplicates for convenience, I cannot justify paying several dollars for an issue that is or likely is a duplicate, so I’ll need to really get the body of my collection sorted and modify some checklists to make sure that as I pursue older books, I’m not chasing issues that are merely hiding in one of my existing boxes.

The Man in the [Man of Steel] Mask: Clark Kent vs. Superman as "Real"

supermanbookshelf

While going through some old stuff I recently uncovered, I found this old essay I wrote for a class in my undergrad days…probably 2002 or so. Figured I’d share it on this blog, as it’s at least some “new” content, and I’ve obviously not been posting much lately.

A lot has changed in the intervening years since this was written–including the fact that the Superman in the comics today is NOT the same Superman referenced throughout this essay (as of 2006 and the end of Infinite Crisis).

As I formatted this to post, I spotted a bunch of glaring errors and issues…but left ’em in here, to maintain the integrity of the original document. And…this could become a monster of a project if I were to play editor to my 8-9-years-younger self. 


In Superman comics since 1986, Superman’s identity has been changed—most notably in the portrayal of the Clark Kent portion as “true” while Superman is portrayed as a “mask.” Despite nearly sixteen years since the change, this portrayal of the character has had little impact on the way he is seen. Many people—fans, scholars, and the general public—see Superman as the “real” character while Clark is the fiction. “Superman differs from his predecessors in science fiction by being able to exist within society by disguising himself as the self-deprecating and mild-mannered Clark Kent. It is the Kent alter ego that is supposedly a fiction, while the Superman personality is taken as real.” (Thomas Andrae “From Menace to Messiah” 1987.) Using the Superman comics themselves, I will show Clark Kent as the primary character while Superman is the mask.

In the essay “The Good, the Bad, and the Oedipal” (1987), Lester Roebuck suggests that “The Man of Steel’s heroic stature depends on his ability to keep the Clark Kent portion of his psyche carefully segregated.” I believe that it is actually the maintaining of his Clark Kent psyche that allows for the heroic stature of Superman. Raised as Clark Kent from birth by adoptive parents Jonathan and Martha Kent, and instilled with a sense of American values inherited from them, Superman as a hero is merely Clark Kent in a costume. In The Death of Superman (1993), this is explicitly stated: “The raised him to be a hero…to know the value of sacrifice. To know the value of life.” In World Without a Superman (1993), the reader is shown a flashback to Jonathan talking with a young Clark, and Clark explains “You’re the one who taught me how to care!” Additionally, in 1986’s Man of Steel, after revealing to Clark the rocket that brought him to earth, Jonathan tells him “Whatever this thing really is, wherever you came from, you’re our son now. You’re an American citizen–and that means you’ve got responsibilities.” When Clark prepares to leave Smallville, he shows acceptance of parental guidance when he tells Martha “After all the times you and he have talked to me over the years . . . You told me all those times that I should never use my special abilities to make myself better than other people–to make other people feel useless . . . It’s time for me to face my responsibilities.” With that, Clark began several years of secretly helping others, before he was discovered. He worked in secret, seeking no glory or fame for himself, simply wanting to help his fellow man, as his parents had taught him to do.

After the world’s discovery of this super-man, Clark returned to his parents for advice. Explaining his concern:

“They were all over me! Like wild animals. Like maggots. Clawing. Pulling. Screaming at me. And it was all demands! Everybody had something they wanted me to do, to say, to sell! It was as if my first public appearance had unleashed the worst, the greediest, the most covetous part of everyone . . . They’d taken everything you’ve ever taught me and ripped it apart . . . I know I still have to use my powers to help people who really need me…but now they’re going to be looking for me. Expecting me. And I just don’t know how to deal with it!” (Man of Steel)

Working with his parents, the costume and identity of Superman is created. Years later, Jonathan reflects to Martha “I had the idea . . . The costume. The secret identity.” (World Without a Superman). After the costume is created, Clark proclaims “The whole thing works just fine! It’s got exactly the symbolic look I wanted. So, from now on, whenever there are people who need my very special kind of help, it won’t be a job for plain, ordinary Clark Kent…It’ll be a job for Superman!” (Man of Steel). This illustrates that Superman is intended as a “mask” to be worn in public. As Clark tells Lois in The Death of Clark Kent (1997): “I’m Clark Kent first and Superman second! Superman is the mask I’ve worn all along to have a private life!”

Continue reading

Booking Through Thursday: Headlines

bookingthroughthursdaybuttonHmm … I can’t quite come up with an outright question to ask, but thinking about the theory of fiction and how it can affect and be affected by real world events can act as a buffer between the horrific events on the news and having to actually face that horror. So … what happens when the line between fiction and reality becomes all-too slim? Discuss!

We often use fiction to escape reality, or at least visit something beyond “reality,” so when the huge events of fiction happen in real life…or something from real life pops up in our fiction, it really can be a bit jarring.

dckingdomcomeIn DC ComicsKingdom Come—the novelization of the graphic novel, at least—there’s a scene where the main character is going about his life, and comes to realize that everyone around him is focused on a giant tv screen—where news of a nuclear explosion that’s wiped out much of Kansas is coming through.

The morning of September 11, 2001 was eerily like that for me. I got out of an early morning class, to find the entire lobby filled with people, all focused on a  single tv on a cart someone had wheeled out of an office. It was a standing crowd, and people lined the stairs, no one really talking, everyone just taking in the shocking news.

I recall coming across a quote that I believe was attributed to Grant Morrison, then writer of New X-Men:

“How close is the real world coming to the comic world?  We were talking about crazy madmen launching attacks on the world years ago.”

bttexmachinaThen there’s Ex Machina by Brian K. Vaughan…whose premiere issue brought a huge surprise twist as its cliffhanger, providing a huge “what if..?” and setting itself in an “alternate reality” from our own, splintered off based on what happened that day.

In the last several weeks, I’ve been on an Ultimate X-Men tear, reading from early in the series right up to Ultimatum in barely a week…and then realizing that I actually now own Ultimatum, reading that as part of the experience…the whole thing also filling out my knowledge from the confusion I had last year when I read about half of the Ultimate Spider-Man series.

ultimatumIn Ultimatum, a huge tidal wave suddenly strikes Manhattan, destroying it. The various heroes rally to deal with the disaster—but many of their own are lost when the “Ultimatum Wave” first hits, and many others are lost in the aftermath.

There’s also reference to Europe freezing, as it seems Magneto managed to switch the magnetic poles of the planet, and the destruction caused is world-wide.

In the Magic: The Gathering novels, the early books in the series begun in 1998 with The Brothers’ War…we find all sorts of disaster, localized and global…all of which affect the local or global culture.mtgapocalypse

Additionally, this is seen in the Dragonlance novels, where an entire continent is devastated by a “fiery mountain from the sky” that completely destroys one city, and causes a huge upheaval that changes the terrain (another city famed for its sea and ships finds itself suddenly landlocked without a sea).

Given how I’m rambling a bit here…I would really suspect it possible to write a whole series of posts, each one focusing on and digging into any of these examples individually, and so many more. I’ll probably kick myself later today as more examples come to me.

Ah, yes: The Sum of All Fears. I don’t honestly recall if I’ve read the book, but I certainly saw the movie…and I recall that freaking me out.

Photos From Home #2

DC Direct
Kingdom Come Superman; Hal Jordan; Kilowog
; Nightwing; Batman; Robin; Black Hand; Mongul

Magog #1 [Review]

Lethal Force

Writer: Keith Giffen
Penciller: Howard Porter
Inker: John Dell
Colorist: Hi-Fi Designs
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Assoc. Editor: Rachel Gluckstern
Editor: Mike Carlin
Cover: Glenn Fabry (variant by Porter & Dell)
Publisher: DC Comics

I was rather surprised at this issue. I almost passed on it, figuring the character to not be something I’m interested in following long-term. But I gave it a shot, and I’m pretty much glad I did.

We open on a scene that provides us with some exposition–who Magog is, his recent past and what he’s about. We also see him into action with a couple pages that were seen originally in the “preview” in the back of a bunch of DC’s books a few weeks back, showing the more military/black ops side of Magog as the soldier. What he finds there leads him back to his current home and to confrontation with the JSA. After an exchange with Alan Scott, and an introduction to supporting cast members, we see Magog back into action. He’s currently the agent of the JSA who can or WILL get his hands dirty in ways the others can’t or won’t. Magog is not a super-hero; he’s a metahuman in a world of super-heroes, but he’s a soldier. (It would be interesting to see Magog interact with The Shield, come to think of it!).

Storywise, this issue is largely setup and contextualization. It does a good job of that–bringing one up to speed on the basics of the character, putting into place a supporting cast and status quo.

The art is high quality…I really like the visual style we’re presented with here. It’s not totally some grim ‘n gritty visual, but it’s not bright, hopeful and flashy, either. It feels very down-to-earth, and appropriate for the title character.

While this Magog is not the exact same character introduced in Kingdom Come nearly a decade-and-a-half ago, the similarities are there in tone as well as name and costume. One could envision this character developing into that one, but the differences are what add a layer of interest. Differences…or simply more information and insight into the individual…giving him depth rather than being a plot-point in someone else’s story.

Giffen seems to have a good handle on this character, and though I’m not entirely ready to “commit” to this series, I’m sufficiently hooked for at least another issue to see if the magic holds beyond this premiere issue.

Story: 7/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 7.5/10

The Brave and the Bold #23 [Review]

Shadows of Tomorrow

Writer/Artist: Dan Jurgens
Finished Inks: Norm Rapmund
Colorist: Brian Miller of Hi-Fi
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Assoc. Editor: Chris Conroy
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Cover: Jurgens, Rapmund, and Tom Chu
Publisher: DC Comics

It’s been a long time since I picked up any issues of this series–it’s one that seemed to have a promising concept, but just didn’t strike me as “mattering” all that much, and so I didn’t keep up beyond the first couple issues and a random issue or two I’ve scored from a bargain bin. This issue is one in which the cover was extremely influential–far, far moreso than most comics (since I usually walk into the store already having decided what I’m going to buy).

This one I saw on the shelf, and the combination of the cover image and the characters being put together (Booster Gold & Magog) made for something I was actually interest in checking out. The cover image of a grim Magog–shadowed face, angry-Booster reflected in his armor–reminds me a bit of that classic Wolverine vs. Hulk cover (whether it was intended to or not). I’ve enjoyed the most recent incarnation of the Booster Gold series, and his post-52 status quo has been interesting and really done a lot for the character in my mind–giving him a lot more purpose and credibility. And given the events at the tail end of the Thy Kingdom Come epic in Justice Society, I’m quite interested in seeing how the “new” Magog is handled, as there’s more to this version of the character than what had been running around the DCU for much of the past decade.

This issue opens with Booster and Skeets racing to the time lab in response to alarms, and finding mentor/leader Rip Hunter materializing, apparently in battle with someone. Working the Time Platform, they isolate Rip, bringing him back without his assailant…but with a scrap of a Superman costume from another time/world. When Rip forbids Booster from investigating Magog’s future (the assailant), Booster decides he can at least begin researching Magog in the present. Booster’s investigation leads to an encounter with Magog where the two–with vastly different methods–attend to a hostage situation and terrorists.

On the whole, this issue really felt like an issue of Booster Gold. Jurgens and Rapmund on writing/art are quite familiar to me recently for their work on the Booster Gold title. That said, the art for this issue is quite enjoyable–the visuals by this creative team make for my favorite depiction of Booster & co., and the take on Magog leaves me with no problems, either.

The story, too, felt like (despite being a single-issue/on-off tale) it really belongs in an issue of Booster Gold (and would have been a perfect filler in place of what we got in Booster Gold #20. As the creator of the character, Jurgens knows the character and supporting cast, and seems to have a good grasp of what makes for a good story with them. He also adds some depth to Magog, and sets up what could be an interesting relationship between Booster and Magog, given the nature of the characters and time travel.

This seems a great issue to snag for a single-issue enjoyable read. It doesn’t seem to be directly continued from any prior cliffhanger, and it leaves on a satisfying ending that does not require one to jump right into the next issue for a cliffhanger’s resolution. As a one-shot, regularly-priced ($2.99) comic, this is easily the best comic of the week for me.

Highly recommended for readers of Booster Gold, or fans of either character.

Story: 8.5/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 9/10

Justice Society of America #22 [Review]

One World, Under Gog part VII: Thy Will Be Done

Story: Geoff Johns & Alex Ross
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencilers: Dale Eaglesham
Painted pages by: Alex Ross
Inker: Nathan Massengill
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover: Alex Ross (variant by Eaglesham & Hi-Fi)
Very special Thanks to: Mark Waid
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue wraps up the ongoing “Thy Kingdom Come” saga in this title. This issue jumps a lot, beginning with the JSA doing their thing with Gog while Superman and Starman have a few moments together before the former is sent “home.” The rest of the team deals with the effects of the loss of the “gifts” that Gog had bestowed, and the issue ends with a slight twist on the signature Johns end-of-saga look-ahead.

The art on this story was just what I’ve come to expect for the book. It’s high quality and yet looks like a comic book. There are also painted panels/sequences interspersed done by Ross that as usual are top-notch. While it’s a bit jarring to go from one style to the other, I for one would not trade it–it’s great to see the “Kingdom Come” world done by Ross–it lends a certain authenticity to the world, as well as a bit of a notion of things coming full-circle.

The story aspect of this issue is also quite good. There’s not a lot of “conflict-action” in the issue, as it seems largely about tying up loose ends and capping off this huge saga. A number of characters get “moments” that kinda set their status quo post-saga, showing us where they are at right now, moving forward.

After just over a year–12 prior issues, 1 annual and 3 specials–the saga concludes in this single standard-sized issue for $2.99. No extra-sized, extra-priced issue; no spinning off to another title or special for the actual conclusion; no weaseling in a virtual “to-be-continued” to get one buying even more books.

We have high quality art, solid high quality story, and a fitting conclusion to all the events. The story is capped here, though it by no means slams the door or leaves stuff closed. The scenes of Earth-22 prompted me to grab the original Kingdom Come story–I was curious if there was “recycled art,” but no–the words were the same, but the angles different…and something about the way it was done, I thought it was fantastic. (It was also quite classy that Mark Waid is thanked in the credits, as so much has been built upon his original story).

This really is not an issue for new readers–new readers can probably pick this up and appreciate it in general, but this issue is very much for the long-term readers who have followed this story, and is quite the reward for doing so. Of the comics I picked up this week, this was by far my favorite.

Story: 9/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 9.5/10

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