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A New Adventure on Krynn

I’ve recently had my interest in Dragonlance rekindled a fair bit. And this goes beyond a couple shelves of hardcovers and games…this gets into the vast array of MMPB volumes that were pumped out over nearly a quarter century.

dragonlance_new_sept19a

As with "sub collections" of comics, the earlier stage is the cheapest–going from "just having a few" to "acquiring ‘more’ of them." It’ll be once I track down a majority of the books that the last few will be ridiculously, incredibly expensive.

But for now I’m still down at–and sticking TO–truly half price or less (with the next stage being the move to roughly cover price when factoring in discount + shipping).

At one Half-Price Books I snagged the five volumes above. I would have sworn I already had the Brothers in Arms volume, but if so, it got mixed in/packed away somewhere away from my actual collection. I think a friend had the The Dragons of Krynn book back in the day; and the other three pictured above are simply new books to me.

dragonlance_new_sept19b

At the other Half-Price Books, I snagged the above two books. The Time of the Twins is an older (I think original) edition (not sure/don’t care if it’s a first print or not)…it completes my "set" of Dragonlance Legends in this trade dress.

The Love and War volume is (I believe) also an original (if not first print) edition, and I’d rather have the newer one, but this I got for the nostalgia and immediacy–I like the cover, and Raistlin is one of my favorite characters. Plus, I have Tales vol. 1 in this trade dress, so it’s another that I won’t mind multiple editions "in the end."

Sadly, several books at both stores had my interest but I decided they were beat up/damaged enough that I would end up wanting to replace them anyway so no sense buying them now.


While I do have a number of different editions of some of the books–particularly the Chronicles series–I don’t currently have any real intention of hunting down every Dragonlance book in every edition published over the years…though I think it might be a decently-achievable goal to simply seek a copy of all the books in some edition.

I do not like that a bunch of the original editions–including at least one series that I do not think was ever reprinted in a later edition–merely had the sub-series title/numbering on the spine, but not the actual title of the book itself. (Tales Volume Three on the spine, but you only see Love and War on the front cover or interior.)

dragonlance_paperbacks_before_sept19

Here’s my existing MMPB Dragonlance collection (minus the new books pictured earlier in this post).

The ’80s Revisited: Shazam: The New Beginning #s 1-4

shazamthenewbeginning001Writers: Roy and Dann Thomas
Artist: Tom Mandrake
Inker: Jan Duursema
Letterers: Agustin Mas
Colorists: Carl Gafford, Joe Orlando
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Dates: April/May/June/JUly 1987
Cover Price: $0.75

Until this month, I’d really only known DC‘s Captain Marvel (Shazam) as a guest-star…an important figure, but I’d only really ever stuff where he was a guest-star, not THE star, of a book. While memory may fail me, I’m pretty sure my first real introduction to the character was Action Comics Annual #4 (a 1992 Eclipso: The Darkness Within crossover).

I saw him again pictured in Death of Superman stuff–the funeral stuff at least. I believe I would have seen him in Zero Hour, and I was aware of the Power of Shazam series though I’ve yet to actually read any issues except the Blackest Night issue from a few years ago. Maybe his most significant–and to me, emotional–appearance was in Kingdom Come.

Of course, he again wound up on my radar with the Superman/Shazam: First Thunder story shortly before Infinite Crisis, and then during the magical side of that story. I was aware of (but again have yet to read) the Trials of Shazam series. I was aware of the “corruption” of Mary Marvel with the Final Crisis stuff, and recall seeing Captain Marvel in the I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League, as well as an issue or two of Giffen/DeMatteis‘ original Justice League. And of course, I was aware of the property from various things I’ve read about the history of comics, and seeing solicitations for the various collected volumes (such as the Showcase volume).

And most recently, probably getting my hands on the collected edition of Jeff Smith‘s Shazam and the Monster Society of Evil and a few issues of the Johnny DC Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam series.

shazamthenewbeginning002I saw the Monster Society of Evil and Billy Batson stuff as stand-alone/out-of-continuity things, so haven’t considered those.

Which brings me to my recent acquisition/reading of the New 52 Shazam vol. 1, which in turn led me to an immediate reading of the serendipitously having-just-bought this entire 4-issue mini in a quarter-bin…which I understand backtracks a bit from the Legends crossover and tells the origin of Billy Batson and Captain Marvel in context of the then-new DC Universe post-Crisis on Infinite Earths.

All of the above to get to actually talking about the issues this post purports to be about.

Much as I wanted to LIKE this, much as I was interested–at least conceptually–in reading this, and appreciate HAVING read it, now having the “experience” of the series as part of my Shazam/Captain Marvel knowledge-base…the series was ROUGH to get through.

First and foremost, this is a series from some 25 years ago–more than 1/3 of the character’s entire existence ago. It’s very much a product of the ’80s, and quite verbose…there were times I was taken out of the story simply being overwhelmed by the density of text in any given 2-page section I’d turn to.

shazamthenewbeginning003I’m honestly quite convinced that this same story told in present-day with all the main elements would easily be done as at least 12 issues (a 3-issue mini per issue). (Given that density, I’m honestly not going to attempt to recap the story itself in this post!).

Yet, rough as it was to get through–having read primarily “new” comics for a number of years now and rarely actually delving into anything older than 1993 for more than a single issue at a time–I’m quite glad to have read this. Sure, it’s a lot packed into few pages…but while that drives against what I’m “used to,” and so gave a bit of negative by way of my having to “force” myself to stick to the series rather than read something else and then come back to it…ultimately, I am glad I did so. 

There were plenty of plot holes and “leaps” of logic, stuff that wouldn’t fly today…but there was a lot more to ’em than I imagine there’d’ve been to similar concepts a decade or two earlier, or even at the beginning of the property in the 1940s.

But we got the “essential” stuff: Billy, the Wizard, Sivana, Black Adam…even reference to Hoppy. And with the density of narration and dialogue, while not as smooth as a modern depiction, we get quite a bit of detail and motivation. Not so much “shown” as “told,” but the end result is largely the same…especially combined with my pre-existing knowledge of the character.

shazamthenewbeginning004Visually, I can’t say I was all that impressed. The art wasn’t bad, by any means…but it really didn’t stand out all that much to me (especially not compared to Gary Frank‘s art on the New 52 volume, and my memory of the cover to Action Comics Annual #4). Sure, those may be unfair comparisons, but they are what they are. It also certainly did NOT help that the copy of the issues I read are very much “reading copy” condition…with much of the art a bit faded and blurred due to the ink/newsprint paper quality from the time.

Barring specific interest in this take on the character–time period or creative team–I don’t know that I’d particularly recommend seeking these out. However, if you find ’em in a bargain-bin in readable condition, they’re worthwhile, and if you can get the set for $4 or less, the time you’ll likely spend reading one issue would “value” the issue far beyond a modern $3.99 issue.

Having now read this, I’m definitely interested in reading/re-reading other Shazam stuff…though beyond the recent Superman vs. Shazam tpb, I don’t think I’m gonna go “older” than this series…I’ll stick to the Power of Shazam run I bought a year or two back, and whatever collected volumes I can get my hands on. I’ll also be seeking out more on Black Adam, having come to like that character quite a bit under Johns‘ writing, in 52 and in JSA.

Revisiting Dakkon Blackblade – A Magic: The Gathering Legend

Writer: Jerry Prosser
From a story by: Steve Conard & Jeff Gomez
Pencils: Rags Morales
Inks: Barbara Kaalberg
Letters: Bryan Dresner
Color: Atomic Paintbrush
“The Dragon War”: Jack C. Harris & Alex Glass
“Magic: The Untold STory”: Sharon Claire Mitchell
Graphic Design Edtorial Pages: Kenny Martinez
Assistant Editor: Jeof Vita
Armada Line Edtor: Jeffrey Artemis-Gomez
Published by: Armada/Acclaim Comics
Cover Price: $5.95
Cover Date: June, 1996

This is another of Armada‘s MTG projects that I’ve actually just read for the first time. I’m not sure where I got this volume–whether it was new at the time, from a bargain bin, or from a friend. Whatever the case–it’s one of the later books, and not one I’ve found to be all that common.

This issue has art by Rags Morales–something I found to be very interesting, as he’s been an artist whose stuff I’ve had an eye on since 2004’s Identity Crisis from DC. The art works really well–the issue looks like good fantasy to me. The style has something that I haven’t noticed in the other MTG books that at the same time is obviously fantasy but also looks like mainstream comic art.

The story itself doesn’t impress me all that much, as it seems to be a bit of a legend within a legend. While we learn a bit about Dakkon and how he gets his blade, and I’m not entirely sure what I did expect…this wasn’t it. The cover, I suppose, put me in mind of Dakkon being on some quest to track down/fight the Swamp King, and I just thought this would be a bit more “epic” than it proved to be. However…I got a huge kick out of learning the origin of the Carthalion line.

Given contemporary MTG comics are $4.99, for another 96-cents, this is a “prestige-format” one-shot with plenty of story pages, a notable absence of advertising, and PLENTY of “back-matter” which makes it quite worthwhile at the cover price by today’s standards. I’m not sure it would have seemed as worthwhile 15/16 years ago…but this is absolutely worthwhile if you find it for cover price or under, anywhere.

I had to force myself to read the prose story in the back–something about the larger-than-a-book pages and double-columns put me off. In the end, it was an enjoyable story, and definitely a “compressed” thing–it could easily have been a mini-series in itself if it was put out in non-prose comics format. The essay “analyzing” the various Armada comics wasn’t all that informative, though I read it all the way through without too much trouble, once finally in the mindset to read pages of text in a comic. These definitely packed a lot more time and value into the issue as I probably spent–all told–at least an hour to read everything cover to cover, which beats pretty much any other comic out there.

As said above, I’d not read this before, so no real sentimental value on this; no particular memories of when it came out and all that. It’s another MTG comic, that I enjoyed reading as I read it, had to force myself to read the prose, but generally it was a good read.

Other Revisiting Magic: The Gathering posts:

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