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The Weekly Haul: Week of November 6, 2019

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I’m pretty sure this was the cheapest Wednesday I’ve had in MONTHS…and that INCLUDES buying an Image Compendium volume!

Let’s get to the week’s books..!

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I’d totally forgotten about the "acetate covers" or whatever they’re called. DC has really lost me overall, so the only thing redeeming about it is…even WITH this "fancy cover" on Batman #82 (or is that City of Bane #82???) it still carries a $3.99 price point. Small "wins," right?

New issue of TMNT: Urban Legends…we’re well past the halfway-point for this series, and just a couple issues shy of where I’d gotten in on the original Image run of TMNT for a couple issues. Looking forward to catching up on the reading and getting to that point…as well as the series finally getting a proper ending of sorts. The primary drawback to me is that I still want to get the original Image issues…but ALL anyone ever seems to have at conventions and such IS the IDW stuff, be it the current ongoing, color classics, or whatever.

Spawn #302 puts us 2 issues past the big one, and we’re back to the regular price point of $2.99 that got me onto the title a few years ago. I’m getting REALLY sick of the variants even on this title…but at least with it "only" being $2.99, even if I get a variant, I can still get multiple copies for the price of a single Marvel.

We have yet another DC Dollar Comics release in Flashpoint #1. This one seems rather RECENT to me to be reprinting, even though–scarily enough to think about–it’s been 8 1/2 years since it first saw print! I suppose it’s fitting for this week with the City of Bane issue, given the Flashpoint Batman’s involvement in the ongoing stuff.

And the CORRECT-PAGE-ORDER edition of the DC Dollar Comics Batman #497 is out. I didn’t bother to try to exchange the original. I still had bought a $1 comic, and for "only" $1 I’m willing to buy it again, still for the nostalgia and all that. Of course, it’s gonna be a crappy time for back-issue buyers with no indicator on the cover that anything’s different or amiss about the issue.

The biggest surprise of the week for me was this Image Firsts Compendium vol. 3. I saw it and picked it up to look at–a curiosity. It’s been several years since I’d seen one of these as a new publication. I recalled having the first volume, so for "only" $5.99 I figured I’d add it to my collection. It reprints 8 or so #1 issues from Image, in a handy single volume and cheaper than even the Image Firsts $1 editions if you want "everything." AND when I got home and checked my existing collection…I DO already have both earlier volumes, so I’m adding vol. 3 to my collection without any gaps!

Finally, we have this week’s Comic Shop News, this time spotlighting Captain America: The End, which I believe is one of a bunch of pending one-shots giving more characters the The End treatment–a limited story to provide an "ending" to the character(s) in question. This is capitalizing on series from YEARS back like Hulk: The End, Wolverine: The End, and the 18-issue trilogy of 6-issue arcs making up X-Men: The End. Of course, these are sure to be $4.99+ an issue with too many splash pages and such…over-hype and under-delivery that turns me off to so much of Marvel‘s fare.

I’m not their target audience, so I just won’t buy what I don’t care for…more power to those who want the stuff and get what they pay for.

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The Weekly Haul: Week of October 16, 2019

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This week’s an interesting week in terms of the weekly haul. Along with comics, it includes the single most expensive "leisure item" I think I have EVER bought!

Let’s get into ’em…

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When the Tales From the Dark Multiverse things were announced, they were very appealing to me. Re-imaginings of key stories such as Knightfall and The Death of Superman particularly, as key stories that really largely "defined" comics for me as a kid. Stuff to be sort of Elseworlds without the name, slotted into modern stuff. I was keen to get this Knightfall issue…though on reading it, did not enjoy it the way I’d thought I would. I’ll save that for further thought and a possible review.

DC really screwed up the DC Dollar Comics Batman #497–printing pages out of order, so you have pages 19, 21, 20, then 22. It’s particularly egregious as it’s a reprint, and not even "just" some new comic having an issue. It’s been published correctly in the past, repeatedly! How it gets screwed up now in 2019 is beyond me.

And perhaps appropriate in a Batman-heavy week is the latest chapter of City of Bane as we near the end of King‘s run on this main title. Particularly appropriate as this arc–if not the entire series–is a sort of "modern riff" on the original Knightfall arc.

It’s equally an X-Men heavy week, with the first issue of Hickman‘s ongoing X-Men title. I’m not keen on it being "legacy numbered" 645 or whatever–taking up the Uncanny numbering withOUT the Uncanny part of the title. Seems just MORE of Marvel‘s wanting to have its cake and eat it, playing fast and loose and ARBITRARILY with numbering. Additionally, while a small part of the issue, an exchange with "Kid-Cable" and Jean realllly put me off, as well as continued use of insert/whitespace pages. I’m also not keen on the apparent villain, and the apparent characterizations of several characters including Storm. As if HoX/PoX hadn’t already given me plenty of clues, I wonder what I am–or will be–subjecting myself to if I try to go all-in on the X-books or any of the titles at all. Especially as the next few weeks are just a "first wave" with MORE titles to follow, and the feeling I myself (reasonably or NOT) get of unpredictability/lack of clarity of publishing frequency coupled with Marvel‘s propensity to do random-seeming $5+ issues and/or the multiple-$4-issues-per-month for a single title.

The True Believers issues give us the first appearances of Rictor and Jubilee. Again, issues I’m glad to support for the $1 price point and NOT being "new" issues, but appreciating the quality and personal preference for the past.

We also have the finale (3rd issue of 3) of Superman: Year One from DC‘s massively over-pushed Black Label. I still need to read the second issue and then this; I recall not being AS put off by the first issue as a lot of folks did…we’ll see how I feel once I’d read a couple more issues and have the story in its entirety. I also feel like DC is really shoving Black Label as a "THING" and it’s a complete turn-off to me; all the MORE after their stuff with Batman: Damned that seemed like they neutered the entire purpose of this thing.

Finally, for the heckuvit and it being available for the price, I picked up a back-issue copy of Spider-Man Unlimited #1. This is the original series–and the issue that kicked off Maximum Carnage, which I remember getting each chapter as it came out across the several months; all 14 or so chapters! (Back when 14 chapters was a LOT for any given crossover, rather than just the number of variant covers on the first issue of an event mini that includes umpteen tie-in minis at inflated prices). I’d much rather pay $5 for a back issue with the nostalgia factor that I’ll enjoy seeing/owning/re-reading/etc over some blasé generic one-of-umpteen-covers reads-in-5-minutes-and-not-even-designed-to-stand-alone chapters of a current "event" comic.

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And then there’s the Arcade1Up edition of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles / TMNT: Turtles in Time arcade cabinet.

This cost me only slightly less than my Nintendo Switch (with two games); but it’s a fixed unit capable of playing only two games. (without "modding"). BUT this is TMNT, which has long been my "exception" to normal stuff–be it variant covers, price I’ll pay per issue, etc. And the nostalgia factor for me of the original arcade game AT arcades/the mall…to own this 3/4-scale edition with its various features (no coins needed, all 4 controllers for up to 4 players at once [previous home console versions only allowed 2 players at a time, to best of my knowledge offhand–and specifically thinking of the Nintendo TMNT II: The Arcade Game] is very appealing.

"Online research" and YouTube folks have made it clear the opening song is changed–something to do with copyright issues–but I don’t know if I would’ve truly noticed had "everyone" not been "talking about it." I may have noticed something "off" but likely would have chalked it up to memory, and assuming that the game always HAD been slightly different from the cartoon.

A lot of people dislike the lack of a light-up marquee; but that really doesn’t bother me. I love the idea of these "mini" arcade cabinets; having such a thing in my home for playing at my own leisure and all that. The artwork is at least largely what I remember from the original machine, and enough of the "experience" of the unit itself is there to satisfy my arcade-nostalgia and such; I don’t need a 3/4-scale unit to be 100% accurate to the full-size original.

I don’t know how much "play" the unit will get long-term, but it’s definitely a major "piece" in my "collection," and one I’m glad to have. 9-year-old me is ecstatic at owning such a thing; while pushing-40-me finds it a very cool item.


Partly the purchase of the arcade machine; partly recent general expenses entertainment/leisure-wise…I’ve found even my "interest" in certain other expenses tamped down a bit. At least comic-wise.

I’ve also splurged a bit on some gaming stuff (partly on principle because I could) as well as a couple things I’d pre-ordered months ago on Amazon came up; and a couple Kickstarter things wrapped up.

I’m leaning more and more toward trying to cut back on comics, as I find less and less of interest, get turned off to stuff I feel like I "should" be liking; prices keep going up, variants piss me off, and rumors of gestating upcoming "initiatives" and so on percolate.

One more week down, and we’ll see what the coming one brings.

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Newer Books I’d Been Looking Forward To

While a lot of books and such that I get are relatively spur-of-the-moment, there are certain volumes that I’ll know exist(ed) or learn will be coming out sometime in the future that I’ll particularly look forward to. Several of these converged into just a couple days last week, though several more days were involved in terms of spacing of orders placed.

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Awhile back, Bleeding Cool and their “glitch watch” had a piece up about a number of volumes heavily discounted on Amazon, including 50% off the then-upcoming Batman: Knightfall Omnibus vol. 1. With their “pre-order price guarantee,” I figured I’d jump on it for this one, as the price (for me) then had nowhere to go but down, and at a starting point of 50% off, anything else would be icing on the cake. Of course, I seemed to have gotten in at the lowest price, and though a week after comic shops, my card was charged and the book came, so it’s now a part of my collection.

Though it’s got some slight dings/dents…with stuff going on in “real life” right now, I do NOT have the “heart” to fight Amazon over the condition of the thing! Especially as it’s the sort of stuff that I’d honestly “expect” or “accept” buying such a volume in a comic shop or certainly at a used-books shop.

Plus, I’m hoping that this will truly be a definitive edition, and sturdier than the thick paperbacks I’ve been afraid to use for re-reading for fear of killing the spines.

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Then, in the Aliens side of things, I hadn’t expected either of these volumes out until the 26th of April–“Aliens Day,” (LV-426). However, I realized that the hardcover of Aliens: The Original Comics Series Nightmare Asylum and Earth War was already out/available; so I ordered that through InStockTrades. A few days later, checking up on the exact release date and price for the anthology volum Aliens: Bug Hunt, I learned that it, too, was already available on Amazon.

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Along with the Aliens original series, I also ordered The TMNT 100 Project. At the same time that I was checking on the Bug Hunt volume, I saw that Amazon had TMNT: The IDW Collection V2 back in stock and for as steep a discount as I could expect from InStockTrades…though the latter did NOT have it in stock, so I placed the order through Amazon.

Despite some 5 days’ difference in placing these two orders, all four volumes arrived on Friday.

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The Knightfall volume doesn’t actually have room on the shelf at the immediate moment. I’m hesitant to ditch the paperbacks entirely until the 2nd Omnibus is out this summer…and my entire collection has grown enough in areas over the past year-plus that I need to do a mix of weeding and adding a couple additional bookcases to hold stuff and spread things out so it’s not all crammed together.

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It’s sort of amazing to think that the two “Original Comics” Aliens hardcovers’ content is crammed into the Aliens Omnibus vol. 1…but the size difference is also amazing, and far preferable in the larger format. That said, until or unless all the other stuff would get reprinted in this format, I’ll settle for the larger “library” with some doubling-up of actual content with the different editions.

I’m also looking forward to/hoping for another volume like The Complete Fire and Stone volume for the concludes-this-week Life and Death mega-arc from the past year or so.

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I believe that, at last, I’m actually up-to-date/current with IDW‘s releases on the TMNT Adventures volumes as well as the TMNT: The IDW Collection volumes. The IDW Collection volumes–as only 4 volumes–surpass where I’d left off with getting the paperbacks of the ongoing series, the Micro-Series, and the various other mini-series they’d done. And these hardcovers are far superior as they reprint stuff in more of a story-order, where one does NOT have to switch back and forth between multiple volumes to get the proper experience of developments in continuity.

This is the point I’d looked forward to getting to a year and a half or two years ago or whenever it was they started these editions–stopping me in my tracks on the paperbacks.

I suppose I’d also like to note that apparently the TMNT: The IDW Collection V2 had managed to either go outright out of PRINT or at least out of stock… whatever the case, it was enough for third-party Amazon sellers to jack the pricing up to ridiculously astronomical prices. Several weeks ago, I saw something from Diamond with the volume on a list of “Back in Print” stuff, so simply waited for it to show up at a reasonable price again.

This reprinting/re-availability of a “middle volume” is something that it seems like Marvel in particular does NOT do: if something from them goes out of print, it STAYS out of print, at least until they do a whole new trade dress/presentation of something…which then means that even if the story is available again, the volume no longer “fits” into a series on a shelf.

This is one of the primary reasons I’ve NOT continued with the Cable & Deadpool paperbacks, nor gotten into the Deadpool Classic books: I’d love to get them, but I simply DO NOT TRUST Marvel to keep/have them in print long enough for me to actually get the entire series…and I absolutely do not want to get 6 or 7 or even 9 or 11 volumes in, just to suddenly have the final few only available to me for quadruple-or-more the cover price (when cover price itself is far more expensive than I’ve any interest in for the books)…or worse, have a random volume here and there out of print where I can’t even GET more than 3-4 volumes in a “run”.

But I suppose that gets into stuff for another post sometime.

The First Mega-Haul of 2017

This past weekend saw my first "mega-haul" of the year, with a combination of Half-Price Books and a trip to the main comic shop, with freshly-stocked bargain-bins!

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At HPB, I snagged the long-outta-print trade-paperback-sized paperback edition of Batman: Knightfall. This is the Barnes and Noble "exclusive," which makes it all the more "rare" with ALSO being "out of print"…yet the thing was priced at a mere $8…HARDLY a "collectible" price for a book in such great condition all these years later! So much for consistency, I guess…their loss, my gain!

I also snagged the Alien: The Illustrated Story because it’s…well, Aliens. I’m a sucker for this stuff, and while I am thinking there’s a more deluxe/hardcover type edition of this available, for the price and being in-hand, I didn’t want to pass this up.

And finally, since I (thankfully) had "inventory" photos of my phone, I was able to determine that I did NOT yet own Dark Victory (It’s Long Halloween and Haunted Knight that I already owned)…and since I’ve intended to complete the "trilogy" for ages now, I figured I’d get that marked off the list.

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At the comic shop, there was a shortbox of TPBs marked 80% off. I was flat-out astonished to find this Superman: Eradication! volume…honestly did a double-take, and checked my ‘inventory’ to make sure I wasn’t crossing this with something else. But sure enough…this truly is the book I’ve been wanting for ages now, and unable to find for a reasonable price anywhere–in person OR online. And then just because it’s Dan Jurgens, Booster Gold, and at 80% off, the price of a single-issue of a current Rebirth DC comic, I also snagged the JLI vol. 1 paperback.

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I also got the latest issue of Spawn (pull list!), which I think puts me at about a full year of having the title on my pull list…a feat the title has never before done!

The TMNT issue I actually picked up at Toys R Us…it was some sort of Mega Bloks promotional issue that I’d been unaware of. Disgustingly, even this has a variant cover (I only saw this "regular" cover available, happily–I’d’ve been highly annoyed to ONLY be ABLE to get the VARIANT). Ridiculously-priced for what it is…but something about it struck me as something that would gnaw away at me if I did not get it, knowing it existed and I could get it FOR the same "cover price" as any other TMNT issue from IDW.

And then we get into the 25-cent bin haul, after the cut…

Continue reading

The ’90s Revisited: Batman #497

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batman_0497Broken Bat

Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: Jim Aparo
Inker: Dick Giordano
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Letterer: Richard Starkings
Asst. Editor: Jordan B. Gorfinkel
Editor: Dennis O’Neil
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: Late July, 1993
Cover Price: $1.25

This is one of the most iconic, “key” comics in my life. The writing is straight-forward, the art is superb, and when I picture Bruce Wayne, this is the version I see. Not necessarily the worn-down, beaten man the issue opens with, but the face, the body structure, the human trying to be more-than-human.

With a lead like that, what did I REALLY think?

This issue is only slightly past the midpoint of the Knightfall story. It’s 3 issues before the big 500th issue, and yet is more of a crucial, impactful issue than that, in terms of its effect on the series for a time. The cover spoils the issue, even though really, we already knew it was coming…such was the nature of the beast, even at that time before the internet as we have it now. The cover–at least for the edition(s) I’m used to–feature a half-cover overlay as a sort of “enhancement” or such; just a black-and-white thing mimicking the upper-left corner copy and first part of the title logo…but then has the partially-eclipsed Bat-logo with the text

“You thought it could never happen…

THE BREAKING OF THE BATMAN”

Flip that up, and you have the actual cover itself, the iconic image of a ridiculously-huge and disproportionate Bane pressing Batman backwards over his knee. While the image is NOT lifted from the interior, it certainly conveys its point, and the issue is thus blatantly, fully marked as “the” issue where Batman gets his back broken…even as this “middle chapter” within a larger 19-issue story.

The issue opens with Bruce Wayne just into the manor, surprised at the presence of Bane. The two actually talk, having a semi-civil-ish exchange, basically discussing recent events very matter-of-factly, before the “final battle” between these two is joined. Batman is virtually non-existent, as Bane essentially tosses Bruce Wayne in a Batman costume around, pummeling him nearly to death, the man’s feeble attempts at fighting back doing nothing to slow the villain. As Alfred escapes and seeks out Tim for help, Bane decides on a different course of action than he’d apparently originally intended.

“I am Bane, and I could kill you…but death would only end your agony and silence your shame! Instead, I will simply… BREAK YOU!”

Slamming the battered body down over his knee, Bane then drops him.

“Broken… and done.”

The visuals in this issue are brutal…and it’s almost painful to look at, and just really take in just HOW MUCH of a beating Bane dishes out…yet how resilient Bruce/Batman is, simply to actually SURVIVE the experience. There are subtleties that even just on this read-through I picked up that I hadn’t before (and this is one of the most repeatedly-read comics in my own life) which says a lot! Even a number of years’ worth of issues later, this is the same Bruce Wayne seen in A Death in the Family and during the New Adventures run of the title and others between. This is simply the iconic–to me–visual rendition of the character and by far my favorite.

Story-wise, on the surface there’s really not much. Bane is here, beats up Batman, in essentially an issue-log fight sequence ending with Bruce broken on the ground. It’s something that in the present I would be inclined to strongly dislike–after all, isn’t this just “padding” and “decompression,” having an ENTIRE ISSUE as a fight sequence?!? Yet rather than being a full 1/6th of a graphic novel or such, this is “merely” 1/19th of the Knightfall story itself; the ending of the first TPB of the original collected version, and appropriately-placed within the huger contemporary edition. This truly is just a small piece of a larger story, and so the fight being such a major thing, it does not FEEL padded-out. There are touches that I really liked, especially on this read-through, such as panel “flashbacks” to “recent events,” that I do recall from times I’ve read them, and jog my memory on stuff throughout the Knightfall arc thus far and stuff leading up to it. I could almost hear the somber music swelling as we see these interspersed with “now” and know we’re heading to The Fall, a defining moment for the character of Batman…the guy who can never be defeated, who is always fully prepared with contingencies for everything…but here, he’s gone, worn down as Bane intended, softened TO the point of defeat.

I know I got this copy that I read this time out of a quarter-bin, it’s an issue I’ve seen “hold its price” in terms of what dealers will ask for it…so it’s certainly worthwhile if you find it IN a bargain-bin! Given the full Knightfall story is available in multiple formats and collections, unless you sincerely want to own/read/experience this as a single issue, I would not say it’s actually worth anything more than $1 or so for print or (grudgingly for immediacy) $1.99 for digital.

However, if you’re grabbing this in-print…you MIGHT want to lift that overlay and check which printing you’re buying. I was rather surprised on this copy to realize I’m holding a 2nd print…perhaps that’s part of why it was “only” 25 cents. The only difference I can see outside of the Roman Numeral “II” is that the color of the bat behind the word “Batman” on the cover is yellow for this printing, but white on the first.

Collected volume pricing

Disparate Pricing

marvelbooks20101211 While collected volumes of comics are priced based on their contents…I’m finding more and more lately that paper quality and format lend a different sort of visual perception to the mix.

Take The Heroic Age TPB. $24.99…yet, it’s about twice as thick as the $14.99 Deadpool: Secret Invasion volume. Twice the size, but $5 less than twice the price.

Compare that to Deadpool Classic vol. 1: The Heroic Age…roughly the same thickness is $24.99…yet Deadpool Classic is $29.99–$5 more.

hardvssoft Looking at Deadpool & Cable, there’s a similar thickness—a little more to it than the Classic volume, granted—but it’s $39.99…a $10 difference for not a lot of difference in size.

Those have different contents, though, by several issues at least. Bringing a hardcover into the mix…look at the Invincible Iron Man by Fraction and Larrocca vol. 1 OVERSIZED hardcover. 19 issues in this volume for $39.99…and 18 issues in Deadpool & Cable…which is a paperback, but also carrying that $39.99 price.

With all interests in characters/series (and consideration of quality) being equal…The Iron Man volume would seem to be a much better value for number of issues’ content and physical size/format for the price.

Of course, I do know there are reasons (which may not come to me off the top of my head or that I—in terms of simply purchasing books—don’t even care about) for the varying prices. Print runs, quality of paper, creator royalties, projected profits, and who knows what all.

While I lack a photo at present for the visual…another point of interest are the Vertigo $4.99 TPBs that collect the first issue of many of their popular series. (Additionally, Top Cow recently put out a $4.99 volume with the first issue of several of their soon-to-debut series). Of course, it’s a much different thing to have an “anthology” type volume with a single chapter from multiple series. These serve more as samplers, as opposed to a volume that collects an entire story.

Though Top Cow has recently hooked me with their bargain-priced premiere volumes of Witchblade, Witchblade: Redemption, and The Darkness, collecting an entire arc (5-6 issues) of each for only $4.99. That’s 4-5 “extra” issues compared to the $3.99 single-issue pricepoint of far too many comics out there these days.

Disparate Trade Dress/Editions

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On a much different note, but dealing with thick volumes and a little with pricing (getting more expensive through the years for successive reprints of the same content/volumes)…Knightfall, and Essentials.

I have all three Knightfall volumes…but each is a different printing. Vol. 1 is the original printing from the mid-1990s. Vol. 2 is from the later printing…maybe early 2000s or late-1990s. And the third volume is from the last few years, whenever it was reprinted after DC changed to their present version of the DC “star” and trade-dress.

The Essential Uncanny X-Men vol. 1 I bought the week before I went off to college, back in August 1999. After the Essentials’ trade dress was revamped, they continued reprinting those earliest X-men issues as Essential Classic X-Men, but numbered the volume as 2, picking up from Essential Uncanny. And finally, under the newest revamp of the trade dress (AND pricing), they put out a 3rd volume.

While the price that I paid was right—I got vols. 2 and 3 of both sets for at least half-off—I’m the sort of person who likes it when a series actually looks like it goes together…whether first editions, second prints, or 10th-print and beyond.

On The Shelf

dragonlanceshelfActually looking like a single series, my Weis/Hickman Dragonlance volumes sit together on a shelf. Ultimately, this is an ongoing series of core characters by these authors. The books all go together, and in this particular edition, they look like it.

Most of these books have seen numerous different editions in paperback with successive printings and even different publishers. Dragons of Autumn Twilight was originally published in the mid-1980s, while Dragons of the Dwarven Depths wasn’t published until about 20 years later.

I don’t collect books—or comics, or collected volumes/TPBs/graphic novels/whatever for value.

But I am very much a collector in wanting to read the stories (I prefer bookshelf editions to single issues these days, given choice and feasibility) and enjoying when the volumes that I get look good together, on the shelf.

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