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The Weekly Haul – Week of June 28, 2017 (part one)

This is an interesting ‘week’ for me for comics. I mis-timed a couple things, and had weekend plans for multiple weekends crossed-up, so (to make a long story short) I have stuff to pick up this weekend, but still managed to find stuff for Wednesday!

weeklyhaul_06282017a

I don’t know what it is about this A.D. After Death book that so fascinates me! Maybe it’s the format, that it’s like a hybrid of comics, prose, and story-book all in one. The price doesn’t hurt much, either…when each issue would’ve been probably $9.99 if not $12.99 or $14.99 from Marvel, and a book this large and thick would easily be a $49.99 (at minimum) book from Marvel. But it’s half that price, from Image.

Again keying off pricing…the Nights of Dominion volume grabbed my attention visually, but as I picked it up and saw it was Oni and not Image, I started to put it right back–I was not gonna be paying $19.99 for an unknown book like this! But I confirmed the price…which to my surprise was half that, at only $9.99…a $10 vol. 1, a la Image. So I grabbed it.

Then there was the bargain-priced X-Men: Phoenix Rising volume. $4.50. Hardly more than a single-issue from contemporary Marvel…and cheaper than most Marvel #1s these days, or one-shots or annuals from either Marvel or DC. I’d’ve sworn I had the book, but a look at my inventory did not show it present, so even if it somehow is a duplicate…I can live with it for that price!

And finally, Violent Love vol. 1…saw a stack of these by the register, a flash/one-day sale…$5. Same logic as above…for "only" $5, yeah, I’ll try it! Don’t know when I’ll actually get around to it and reading it, but it’ll fit into the Image vol. 1s library and be something to read randomly at some point!

weeklyhaul_06282017b

I’d semi-forgotten about a couple of Amazon pre-orders, and about the time I was thinking I "should" go in and cancel them, I had an email saying stuff had shipped. So for roughly 50% off, I have possession of the oversized 30th Anniversary Predator volume. This is a massive hardcover, much like the two Aliens volumes and the Prometheus/Predator/Aliens/AvP collection from a couple years back.

Size-wise, the Predator volume puts Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes to absolute shame. Far larger, looks like a similar issue-count, but the two are the same price.

Not knowing when I’ll get around to actually reading it, I’m actually quite disappointed with the "package" of the Superboy volume. It’s just a standard-trim hardcover of about 9 issues…old ones, at that. NOT a good "value" in my eyes, for its $50 cover price!

I also do not like the generic text "logo"…maybe it fits the image used, better, but that skinny/non-blocky/non-bombastic text is far too "modern" as a "logo" for comics of this period.

With DC cancelling a bunch of stuff either before release or after a first volume is out for what should be a series, I’ve half a mind to return this volume. I’m collecting Superman stuff, but not so much on Superboy or the Legion…and this is not a deluxe, oversized hardcover nor anything special/deserving of a hardcover offhand like this…better to be out in paperback and slash the price!

We’ll see, I guess…

Next week I’ll likely show off stuff I pick up this weekend if I get down to Kenmore as planned…and I missed this week’s X-Men Series I cards post. C’est la vie!

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The Weekly Haul – Week of June 14, 2017

Another Wednesday’s come around…and a couple new books I’ve been looking forward to…as well as yet another week (over a YEAR now!) in which there’s a Superman comic I’m interested in "by default"…!

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I get tired of the far over-used kneel before Zod! schtick…but it works for this cover…or at least, it did when I first saw the image when the issue was solicited a couple months back. Seeing it now, I’d forgotten about it…but it works, AND it fits the story (Revenge).

I’m actually curious about this Dark Days thing, and since it’s DC and they’ve earned back plenty of my ‘loyalty’ I’m willing to let them have the occasional $4.99 special issues that truly DO seem…y’know…SPECIAL. Since I have a copy on hold, my "convenience/immediacy tax" edition is one of the variants just so I don’t have multiple copies of the same cover (SINCE variants are all-pervasive and I can’t simply will them outta existence). I would have liked the Superman & Batman cover…but I still can’t stand Kubert‘s art when it comes to Superman in particular.

The homage nature of the Legion of Super-Heroes/Bugs Bunny issue really "sold" it for me…and I love the look of these various DC/Looney Tunes crossovers, so why not? They actually ARE special things, so I’ll bite the higher cost, at least as long as the cover’s attractive and properly "sells" the issue (and I don’t get stuck with zero choice as to cover, etc).

And finally, because it was cheaper than two Marvel single issues, and only slightly more expensive than two DC Rebirth issues, I snagged the X-Men vs. Avengers/Fantastic Four paperback. It’ll fit into my collection, or at least disappear into it, quite well I think!

While a bit expensive for only 4 things…I got everything for less than cover price of the paperback, so that’s pretty good, I’d say!

Zero Hour Revisited – Legion of Super-Heroes #61

90srevisited_zerohour

legionof_superheroes_0061End of an Era Finale: Borrowed Time!

By: Waid, McCraw, Immonen, Boyd, Pinaha, McAvennie, Carlson
Special Thanks to: Kurt Busiek
Dedicated with Respect and Admiration to: Binder, Siegel, Shooter, Levitz, Giffen and The Bierbaums
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.95

OK…now THAT is the sort of thing I was expecting!

This issue sees the remaining LoSH members and Legionnaires united, and learn the truth of the Time-Trapper. It’s not just their "now" and such being threatened by the time issues…it’s all of Time itself! And it’s revealed that there’s nothing that can be done here/now to STOP entropy from engulfing everything…but for there to be ANY chance of Time being put right, a duality, the existence of both the older and younger Legion folks–must be resolved. This is by having the young doppelgangers "merged" with their older, original selves…even as the older selves are also about to fade out. And so it ends…lives given, a heroic sacrifice, for even the CHANCE of an eventual positive outcome.

The story is rightly called End of an Era, and this felt enormous.

Unlike the other Legion tie-ins to Zero Hour that were also chapters of End of an Era–this one I felt the enormity, the significance, that sense of this being a pivotal moment–not just for what it has to do with Zero Hour (not much, directly) but also for what it is to the history of the Legion of Super-Heroes. The Legion is a definite blind-spot for me…but I’ve often been "aware of" their presence with occasional interactions with other stuff I’m reading. And I know there have been a number of "reboots" and such, just as I recall the "5 Years Later" and the younger Legionnaires…because even though I didn’t follow the series, I DO recall getting that first issue–Legionnaires #1–because hey, it was the ’90s, it was polybagged with a card, and most importantly–it was a #1 (then still a rare thing compared to modern comics).

I actually enjoyed this issue. I don’t know all the names–but most were "familiar," both in general and from earlier chapters read recently. And I recognize Thom as a character who was involved in JSA stuff during Geoff Johns‘ run–at least around the time of Thy Kingdom Come, a few years back. Though this was read in a vacuum (if somewhat LESS of a vacuum for reading the Legionnaires and Valor chapters already, plus stuff in Zero Hour itself), it was enjoyable and worth reading. I’m genuinely interested in at least "looking into" more Legion stuff (if only via Wikipedia), and curious about how long both this version of the Legion title and Legionnaires actually ran…but not quite enough to look it up while typing.

I’m a bit mixed in feelings on the visuals…I’m not entirely thrilled with them, but the art worked well here. Particularly seeing Immonen‘s name, I feel like I should enjoy the art, and there’s that part of me that wants to say something proactively positive about it, but flipping back through the issue, I’m not really struck by anything overly stand-out about it. It is not bad, but it’s–as with most comics–not one that blows me away with some sense of singular awesomeness. The story is definitely gotten across, and here perhaps more than on other related issues, the fade-to-white is extremely effective both visually and in serving the LoSH story while also tying it concretely to Zero Hour.

Though this does not directly move the plot of Zero Hour forward, it is certainly a worthy tie-in, and one of (continually, surprisingly) few to carry the crossover banner that seems to have been justified in doing so.

Zero Hour Revisited – Valor #23

90srevisited_zerohour

valor_0023End of an Era part 5: Infinite Valor

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Penciller: Colleen Doran
Inker: Dave Cooper
Letterer: Bob Pinaha
Colorist: Dave Grafe
Assistant Editor: Mike McAvennie
Editor: KC Carlson
Partners in Time Travel: Mark Waid and Tom McCraw
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

Of the books I’ve been least-familiar with and had never read before, Valor #23 does quite well as something I didn’t feel terribly lost in the reading…at the least, it was easier to follow along than the Legionnaires issue, given this has a smaller cast (by far!) to juggle, and I already had a bit of expectation from having read the Superboy issue that referenced this one in a footnote!

We find Valor and his wife traveling to meet up with the Legion, though as they travel they’re dealing with the changing, shifting winds of time, with neither past nor future holding steady one moment to the next. As a sort of "side story" within the issue, we also follow an encounter/conversation between the Time Trapper and Rokk–who was trapped in a cosmic archive, reading for years and gaining in knowledge of all Time. While Valor and Tasmia link up with the Legion and join the ongoing fight with Mordru and Glorith, Rokk learns a great deal from the Time Trapper about the nature of this Legion and the Legionnaires as well as the Trapper himself….and Trapper references his experience from Zero Hour #4, which proved an instigating moment for his actions now in End of an Era. Amidst the Legion’s battle, another figure pops into existence–Superboy–playing into/around/with the Zero Hour stuff as well as general Time-stuff because this is a Legion story. And with the conclusion of this issue, we have the conclusion of the series.

I was surprised to see Busiek’s name on this…I either had never realized or never made the conscious connection of his ever having touched this title. Reading stuff in the Letters pages I saw reference to Mark Waid…and I start to suspect that if it was Waid and Busiek on this book, that could be why I’ve only come across the occasional issue in bargain bins! I recall both this title as well as the Eclipso title "spinning out of" the Eclipso: The Darkness Within Annuals event to a bit of fanfare, but never really seeing much come of them, as neither series quite lasted even two years (yet by modern standards they were actual, FULL runs, on par with anything Avengers or Spider-Man or X-Men related!).

Since the focus in this issue was on Valor, and the Rokk/Trapper stuff, even though I’m not overly familiar with the characters, it was easier to follow along than trying to make sense of numerous characters/relationships and interactions. As such, I definitely enjoyed this a lot more, and there’s something about reading a "Final issue" of something that doesn’t exactly have a hard end so much as it ends individually while leaving stuff open for the character(s)/story to continue elsewhere.

The art is a bit wonky to me in places, particularly the opening page, with perspectives and faces and such seeming a bit inconsistent and proportions a bit "off" somehow. There’s also a sketchiness to the linework that isn’ entirely appealing to me, and gives a much different appearance than other artists. That said, for what we get here, everything’s quite follow-able, and I imagine the visuals are consistent with prior issues and would not be quite as noticeable as they are in this if I was reading the Valor series itself and not an isolated issue at the end of its run.

So far I get the feeling that the Legion side of the DCU is dealing with a double-pronged Time crisis…the Zero Hour related one as well as wonky time anyway due to time travel and such. I’m sort of curious about the actual Legion issue, where-ever it falls now in the Zero Hour month’s worth of books, given TWO of the three chapters of End of an Era fell on the same week. As the final issue of that initial week of releases (based on some checklist I’d used to organize by stack of the complete Zero Hour Event), this provides a lower than ideal point, but definitely not at the bottom of the list. It’s easy to write off events as not having much of an effect on books, but I do recall the JSA and the Legion being quite heavily impacted by Zero Hour, whatever other characters were hit.

Zero Hour Revisited – Legionnaires #18

90srevisited_zerohour

legionnaires_0018End of an Era part 4: Changing Times

Story: Mark Waid
Pencils: Chris Gardner
Inks: Dennis Cramer
Letterer: Pat Brosser
Co-Plotter/Colorist: Tom McCraw
Assistant Editor: Mike McAvennie
Editor: KC Carlson
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

I continue to find myself a bit disappointed at these early tie-ins to Zero Hour…as they don’t really seem very much like tie-ins, or only just briefly, tangentially tie in to the Event story.

This issue is both a Zero Hour issue as well as chapter 4 of a 6-part 3-title crossover. Coming in on the start of the back half of the story is not the best place…especially with no "previously" page or such to highlight key developments so far. In that regard–the lack of conscious context makes this seem a lot more like it’d fit contemporary comics, where "jumping in" at the fourth chapter of six is not very prudent.

The main thrust of this issue is that the current Legionnaires fail to stop a couple of baddies from gaining Ultimate Power…and said baddies remake the universe–or at least parts of it…including their own "dark" Legionnaires. Combine that with time-issues associated with Zero Hour anyway, and it’s a bit confusing for a reader not overly familiar with the characters involved. Adding to the confusion is the knowledge (or so I think) that the Legionnaires are "younger versions" of the older Legion of Super-Heroes characters so there’s already at least two versions of several characters without even getting to Time anomalies. We do see several Legionnaires trapped in the 20th century who receive the Superman/Green Lantern/Metron call-to-arms, but outside of that, this issue has nothing useful to add or expand upon regarding Zero Hour itself so far.

The art’s not bad, though I’m not now (nor have ever been) all that familiar with the characters, so there’s no significantly defining version of the characters nor a favorite artist for me to compare this to. Even elements I’m lost on are more my own lack of immersion than necessarily any fault of the art…the characters just ARE what they are…and they’re familiar enough that I’d just have to say that I have no problem with the art itself.

I’m also in a weird place in trying to critically consider the writing…because as said, this is the FOURTH chapter of six…so while I did not enjoy the story, it’s not to say that it’s bad writing or anything. It’s my slogging forward into  this chapter due to it having the Zero Hour banner on the cover, instead of going back to seek out the first three chapters of this story, at least, to gain context on what’s up.

I’m pretty sure I remember Zero Hour being a fairly major "break point" for the Legion books, or so I’d heard, and that would make sense–this seems like an ok chapter within the context of the Legion/Valor stuff…but this really adds nothing of particular value to my reading of the Event itself, and is an issue that should be easy enough to skip without missing out if you were to try to read the event in general.

JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time [Review]

jlaadventurestrappedintimedvd_0129While I’m not thrilled at the idea of the “classic” (for me, this means 1986-2011) DC stories being scrapped in favor of New-52-centric stories being adapted for DC‘s line of direct-to-home-media release, I’ve been looking forward to Justice League: War for awhile, if only just to see how they adapt the story to the screen, given it seemed like basically a lengthy fight scene to me when I read it.

There was no Fall 2013 new release (instead, we got a “special edition” that combined Dark Knight Returns parts 1 & 2 into a single feature)…so I’ve been looking forward to the next NEW film for quite awhile.

Imagine, then, my surprise when I came across JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time while browsing a Target Sunday evening. At first I mistook it for another Superfriends release, yet it had the “classic” JLA logo I’m familiar with from the ’90s/early-2000s, so it got my curiosity up. Target‘s had that “exclusive” line of DC figures under the Justice League branding; so I may have partially wondered if this was a new line of “re-presenting” Superfriends episodes through Target.

But according to the box, it was an original animated movie, albeit Target-exclusive. I wrestled with leaving it–after all, I’d NOT been looking forward to THIS one, and I’ve never been a fan of the Superfriends stuff, so I put it back. Then I picked it up again. And ultimately bought it along with my groceries and such.

In broad strokes, this reminded me of those mini comics that came in boxes of cereal several years back…fun enough, familiar-looking characters, passable stuff that’s fun as something different, but by no means anything special.

I liked the animation well enough…it wasn’t anything phenomenal, but it wasn’t terrible. My primary “issue” with the animation has to do with the character designs themselves–what fault I may have found with the animation probably comes more from this aspect.

The costumes are a blend of preNew 52 and current…Superman’s lacks the ugly collar-and-armor look BUT has the red belt in place of the trunks. Truthfully–I have no issue here as I don’t know if I would have noticed if I’d not been looking for it.

Bizarro and Cheetah looked “off” a bit, while Black Manta, Grodd, and others looked ok enough. Luthor looks like a sleeker, higher quality rendition of something pre-1986 to me, or at least what I unconsciously associate with that earlier period.

Story-wise, this is fairly typical fare for superhero shenanigans. Heroes beat the villains, villains use time-travel to change a key moment in history and thus undo the heroes; “b-list” heroes not affected by the time change (um…wibbly-wobbly, time-wimey stuff) must emerge and put things right.

The use of the Time Trapper here is probably the most accessible version I’ve encountered of the character. Rather than being a known villain of the Legion of Super-Heroes or such, he’s just an entity released from an artifact in the LoS’ museum a la a genie from a bottle. Granted, this makes him/it more of a plot point than any sort of character with any depth, it works for the story. I’m sure my own lack of experience with the Legion–they’re a definite blind spot in my experiential DC knowledge–lends itself to my ready acceptance of this interpretation of the character, where those far more familiar with Legion stuff may well take issue with it.

I didn’t recognize any of the voice actors offhand…but this honestly doesn’t bother me at all. Perhaps largely for not even expecting this movie and having no vested interest in its particular version of the characters (it’s not based on/adapting anything I’m familiar with specifically nor is it a continuation of the ’90s Batman, Superman, or Justice League/Justice League Unlimited animated series or previous direct-to-home-media film).

Since I’m not expecting the “traditional” voice actors for Superman, Batman, or Luthor and had no expectations for any of the other characters, I took stuff at “face value,” wherein all voices fit if only for the fact that none of them particularly DIDN’T fit; no one “sounded weird” to me or had odd voices coming from an otherwise familiar appearance.

In the end, this is–to me–a rather mediocre thing, though. It’s not bad, but it’s not wonderful. Ultimately it’s rather forgettable. JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time is enjoyable in the moment, having watched it…but on the whole it doesn’t strike me as anything worth rushing out to buy. A rental would be an adequate way of scratching any “curiosity itch” one has regarding this for now.

The NEW DC Universe

With the relaunch of DC’s superhero line in September, things start off with 52 #1 issues. Justice League August 31st, and the other 51 in September. The titles for this initial launch have been reported as follows:

  • ACTION COMICS
  • ALL-STAR WESTERN
  • ANIMAL MAN
  • AQUAMAN
  • BATGIRL
  • BATMAN
  • BATMAN & ROBIN
  • BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT
  • BATWING
  • BATWOMAN
  • BIRDS OF PREY
  • BLACKHAWKS
  • BLUE BEETLE
  • CAPTAIN ATOM
  • CATWOMAN
  • DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS
  • DEATHSTROKE
  • DEMON KNIGHTS
  • DETECTIVE COMICS
  • FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF SHADE
  • GREEN ARROW
  • GREEN LANTERN
  • GREEN LANTERN CORPS
  • GREEN LANTERN: THE NEW GUARDIANS
  • GRIFTER
  • HAWK & DOVE

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