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Vexed by Variants AGAIN! The Weekly Haul: Week of December 26, 2019

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I am so sick and tired of VARIANTS! And of course, this time it’s gonna be all the MORE memorable because it’s with an event, it’s the final week of the year, etc…it’s not "just" a random week during the year.

It’s ALSO reminding me to STOP GIVING MARVEL A CHANCE.

So, let’s get into it…the final week of the year for new comics…albeit, I have no NEW-new comics, due to the week between Christmas and New Year being a small week of remnants and all that.

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So having ventured to the comic shop and soundly deciding AGAINST Marvel‘s Incoming ($9.99 and they couldn’t even squarebind the thing to go on a shelf?!?) I noticed the 2099 Omega issue from last week that no one seemed to have had.

And there next to it was the latest issue of The Amazing Spider-Man…picking that up to look at, I saw a checklist for the whole event, listing it as the last ASM issue involved.

Ok, I’ve got nothing else for the week…FINE. Let’s see what other issues are available. 33…34…is that 35? Pull out a couple copies…sure enough, yeah. 35…cool. All 4 issues. Plus the Omega issue, as I had bought the Alpha issue a few weeks ago.

Well…let’s see if they have the Doom issue? Yup. Spider-Man? Yup. Ok…what about Punisher? There it was. Ghost Rider? There as well. Hmm…Fantastic Four? Check. Ok…Conan? Sure enough…there. What was missing? Venom. Oh, look…there it was.

I was gonna wait for a collected volume, but with not having any luck finding any reference to an event collected volume online after all, and not having other stuff for the week…AND EVERY ISSUE OF THE EVENT AVAILABLE (to buy all at once, in-person, one place, one purchase, INSTANT GRATIFICATION)…and the shop was about to close for the night.

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I get home, pretty pleased with my buy, despite it being a clear exception to my intent as recently as earlier in the day.

Amazing Spider-Man #34 is a VARIANT!

I grabbed issues in a hurry. Looking at the TITLE, looking at the ISSUE NUMBER. Marvel HAD–to my knowledge–been putting the word "VARIANT" in the box with the Marvel logo and issue number. So having looked at that box on all the issues, I figured I was good. No variants. Just the standard, regular, basic, non-variant covers.

Because of the [bleep]ing THEME, apparently the thing was put ELSEWHERE on the darned cover, where even though I was looking for it with the issue number and Marvel logo, I failed to see it was ELSEWHERE.

Because I was in a rush, and not studying the covers in their entirety and all that. Just taking logos and numbers at face value.

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And thus even the random, against-my-better-judgement satisfaction of snagging an ENTIRE EVENT all at once, is tarnished by stupid frustration.

And that is NOT what comics should be.

To the notion of "it’s just a cover," I argue that IF it’s JUST a cover, then STOP WITH THE [bleep]ing VARIANTS! Let the cover BE THE cover!

I should NOT HAVE TO STUDY every part of EVERY cover of EVERY ISSUE that I buy, hunt for indicia in the issue, spoil the contents of the issue itself for other indication, pull up web pages on my phone, have memorized covers before going to the store just to AVOID VARIANTS.

When I am specifically, ACTIVELY, consciously TRYING TO AVOID variants and I STILL CANNOT avoid them all…there are too [bleep]ing many of the things!

It’s NOT the comic shop’s fault…it’s the publisher.

And my feeling my own stupidity at this.

I dropped all Valiant comics in the summer of 2015 over one 4-issue stunt. And I did the same with Boom Studios in January 2016 over ONE ISSUE’s variants.

Marvel is in rarified air, and by rights, I really SHOULD just drop them entirely, on the principle.

This’ll certainly teach ME to not do any impulse-buys or quantity-buys from Marvel for sure. And reminds me to just stick with BACK ISSUES from the BARGAIN BINS. Stuff I actually KNOW and/or that is inconsequential at a price point up to 90% cheaper than a single new issue.

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The Weekly Haul: Weeks of October 2 and October 9, 2019

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Well, let’s try to NOT get a full month or more behind as several times earlier this year already! Alllllllmost two weeks behind, but c’est la vie. That’s one of the things, I guess, about having one’s own blog and not making any money from it or such–far more freedom of schedule and such!

Several quick, random shout-outs to start things off!

Sadly, far too many great bloggers out there to shout out without being an entire post. But all of the Super-Blog Team Up folks are fantastic and always worth following and reading!


Week of October 2, 2019

The first week of October brought what really is a small-er-ish week, though it felt a lot bigger!

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New Batman, new Young Justice, and the last House of X (really "just" chapter 11 of the 12-part HoX/PoX foundation-laying world-building whatever for the relaunching X-Men family of titles).

The 2nd issue of the 2-issue Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium; the final issue of Batman/TMNT III round out the truly "new" stuff.

We then have the facsimile/replica edition of Batman #251, the Dollar Comics (DC‘s version of Marvel‘s True Believers reprint line) edition of the 1970s’ The Joker #1 (apt timing, obviously intentional, for the new film Joker).

And speaking of Marvel‘s True Believers stuff, two of those, reprinting the first appearances of Bishop as ell as Kitty Pryde and Emma Frost. The Bishop issue in particular is more of a 25-cent book to me…but I’m willing to pay the $1 for the True Believers in general, and definitely want to support the reprints, as I get more out of them than most new stuff the publisher puts out the last few years.

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…And the week’s Comic Shop News stands alone by virtue of the way I do photos for these posts. Since I’ve taken to including it each week, didn’t want to be overly lazy and leave it out.   


Week of October 9, 2019

And then for the most recent week…we lead with multiple $4.99 comics! Which is rather disgusting in its own way. Also a reminder of how absolutely shameful Marvel has gotten with its numbering!

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While a local comic shop (as of this past weekend) has a copy of the original Amazing Fantasy #15 (for only $8,000!)…I am quite happy enough with this $3.99 facsimile edition of the issue. Then we have the final issue of Powers of X, which is also the overall finale to Hickman‘s HoX/PoX saga. And then Spawn #301. #300 a few weeks ago was a big deal for the huge number, matching Cerebus as a creator-owned title reaching such a number, and so on…but now with #301, Spawn exceeds that record (it’s even earned McFarlane a Guiness World Record…a record which I was glad to see the creator acknowledge would never have been reached without all the other people who have also worked on/with the title over the 27 years!). That the series launched after the artists left Marvel which at the time had a 30+ year history of their then-titles, but is now 250 issues beyond any numbers Marvel is publishing 27 years later?

IDW gets the next couple of slots for the reprint series of the Image TMNT series as well as what may (now) be the 2nd-highest-numbered comic series of its obvious category in GI Joe: A Real American Hero. The fact that they’ve successfully published some 112+ issues picking up from #155 some 15+ years earlier totally blows the notion that only low numbers sell! We have another $1 True Believers issue from Marvel, this one reprinting the first appearance of Pyro, I guess? More importantly, it reprints the key Uncanny X-Men for only $1. Even with this edition, I would happily pay $3.99 or so for a replica/facsimile edition of the issue!

Then we have new issues of Superman, Supergirl, and Detective Comics, all of which I feel like I’m woefully behind on reading. And if rumours are to be believed for stuff DC may have coming up, it makes me feel all the more like these have a short lifespan ahead in my buying.

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Finally, we have the latest issue of Event Leviathan, which I’ve been getting–continuing to get–on the notion (now vain!) that I’d catch up on Action Comics and Superman and this title itself and not want to have to THEN chase down issues or such. At this point, 5 of 6 issues in and not having read any, I’d have been far better off just waiting FOR a collected volume! Ugh.

And this week’s Comic Shop News features Vampirella; with the very sorta cover that makes me feel dirty at seeking the title out at all, ever. That the title’s publisher insists on umpteen covers per issue makes it extremely inconsistent to even find issues and though I’d bought the first issue, I’ve missed subsequent issues for either not recognizing a cover, or seeing multiple covers and just not feeling arsed enough to decipher which would be the "A" cover vs. C or E or whatever umpteenth cover.

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The Weekly Haul: Week of February 13, 2019

This week proved to be rather huge for new comics…at least for me, by my own standards! One might even say it was a Giant-Size week!

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Double dose Batman this week with Detective Comics and the Flash crossover. We also have the debut issue of Wonder Twins, which I opted to check out as I’m pretty much giving this whole Wonder Comics thing a chance.

Then there’s the newest issue of Superman as well as the newest Supergirl. And TMNT is into the "final countdown" to issue #100, as #91 hits!

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Marvel actually got me on MULTIPLE issues this week! The usual with Mr. & Mrs. X #8. I "gave in" on Savage Sword of Conan #1…though I’ve no conscious intention of getting #2 and onward. There’s a nostalgia factor here, and I’m willing to "sample" the thing and get the #1 because it IS Conan, and I want to at least have "tried" one issue if I’m gonna be down on Marvel with it. If I’ve never bought so much as one issue, where do I have any authenticity to criticize?

I didn’t even know about Marvels Annotated until the last second. I’m a sucker for this sorta thing…and as a "key" series from my youth, I’m more than willing to "double-dip" with getting this series again, with notes from the creators. Given the story AND visual quality–and this issue has both the original first issue AND the later-published #0 issue–along with the notes, it feels to me like an EXCELLENT (by Marvel standards) value!

Criminal is back and I realize I have yet to read #1. Though I have all the TPBs (I believe) of the series thus far, with this new iteration, I figured I’d give it a few issues as single issues to see if/how it grabs me, AND see what any collected volume may look like, if it’ll be in line with the others, and so on.

And Alien 3 (the William Gibson adaptation) comes to a close. Unless Tristan Jones is doing further covers of the newest Aliens mini, I’m pretty much done with the property as single issues and will opt for the collected volumes.

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And then DC and/or the vendor that handles these at Walmart opted to drop ALL SIX of their MONTHLY 100-Page Comic Giant issues in the SAME WEEK. Even though these are a solid value at only $5 apiece for their size (these’d be $10 through Diamond to regular comic shops)…SIX of them at $5/each still stacks up to a whopping $30!

A mere 8 months into the "experiment" and we already have TWO re-titled/re-numbered books with the Teen Titans book switching to the Titans title, presumably to capitalize on the DC Universe app/service show but other than the logo on the front and a #1 instead of #8, I believe it’s otherwise exactly what we’ve BEEN getting. The same thing with Justice League being retitled to Wonder Woman.

Then we have the new additions of The Flash and Swamp Thing, after "experiment" issues in a Swamp Thing issue last October and a holiday special in December.

Of the original four, only Superman and Batman continue on with their title and numbering.


I’ve a bit of mental "sticker shock" as I look all these over and tally up the costs–seven $5 issues, an $8 issue, and everything else $3.99. At least the Walmart issues don’t have six out every week; and the Conan and Alien3 issues are one-offs at this point. I’m only getting a couple issues of The Flash for this particular crossover with Batman. I jumped back onto Detective Comics for the run-up to #1000, but have yet to decide if or how far beyond #1000 I’m going to go. At the least, I am NOT impressed with the "Decades Variants" and so expect to simply get a single copy of the regular cover edition and let that be that. (Where last year, I got the standard cover, decades variants AND a couple other retailer covers for Action Comics‘ 1000th issue).

Though I’ve been "mid-life crisis-ing" with some purchasing recently…that cannot and will not extend to comics, at least NOT long-term. Huge weeks like this remind me just what a poor value comics truly are, and will push me to all the more drastic decisions regarding what I’ll buy regularly.

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New Books: Silver Surfer Epics and Thanos OGN

This week’s schedule is gonna be a bit off. Sunday night when I went to read Freex #4 to get that post going, Sarah (the cat) came running right over and laid down on the comic. She stood up a bit when I asked her if I could read the one under it instead (Prototype #3) and she then laid right back down on ’em.

Then Monday she pulled the same basic act on me while I tried to dive into some homework–standing between me and the tablet I’m watching course videos on, laying on my papers, etc. I took that as an excuse to procrastinate further, and ran some errands and such.

Long story short…this barely-counts-as-today post is showing off recent acquisitions that I haven’t shown off yet.

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Two Silver Surfer volumes; both Epic Collection books. Silver Surfer: Thanos Quest ("vol. 6" collecting the Silver Surfer) and Silver Surfer: The Infinity Gauntlet ("vol. 7").

And the latest (and unfortunately final, I believe) Thanos OGN by Jim Starlin: The Infinity Siblings.

I’ve been interested in the Silver Surfer: The Infinity Gauntlet for quite awhile now–since it came out whenever it was last year or late 2016. Noticing the recent-ish release of Silver Surfer: Thanos Quest as well as being aware of the Infinity Siblings book prompted me to order all 3, to be "caught up."

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I had been thinking that the Epic Collection was an "upgrade" on Thanos Quest–I still have a squarebound comic issue that reprinted the two issues from 1999 or so (I believe around the time of The Infinity Abyss). And I’ve long had Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos that has several Silver Surfer issues and the 2 issues of Thanos Quest.

I was pleasantly surprised to realize that the only overlap actually is Thanos Quest itself–the Rebirth of Thanos volume has Silver Surfer 34-38 in it; then the first Epic has 39-50, and the second Epic has 51-66. 33 issues across 3 volumes, plus two instances of Thanos Quest, and various other material.

Here’s my "Thanos Shelf" books at present with these added in:

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I suppose it’s more of a "Jim Starlin shelf," though there’s a bit of stuff in there that I don’t think he was on–namely the Avengers vs. Thanos and Thanos: Cosmic Powers (though I could be wrong–memory is fickle). And of course the novel by Stuart Moore.

But to me, by and large, Thanos is Jim Starlin, and his vision/use of the character is THE character. All this Infinity ____ stuff, and I’ve no interest at present in the Infinity event with all its tie-ins. And while it’d be sorta cool to have the Infinity Gauntlet Omnibus, I’m losing my taste for the far-too-large-to-be-practical omnibus volumes, preferring "deluxe hardcovers" and "fat paperbacks" to actually be able to handle and read.

So…new books, and the shelf with them now inserted!

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True Believers – Wolverine: The Dying Game

With all of the Return of Wolverine stuff going on and more mini-series and such than I can keep track of, Marvel has also been putting out a wave of Wolverine-centric True Believers issues lately.

True Believers – Wolverine: The Dying Game reprints the 1990s Wolverine #90, part of the lead-up to the Age of Apocalypse saga. This is a bit of a key issue as it’s the issue where Wolverine actually popped a claw through Sabertooth’s brain, leaving the villain in rather poor condition for quite awhile. The issue ended with the "snikt" and then everything "crystalized" and shattered, representing reality/Time being changed in the past, and this one disappearing.

I originally covered this issue back in 2014 when I covered Legion Quest and then the entirety of the original Age of Apocalypse saga.

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wolverine090This is one of the more "iconic" issues of this series for me–and certainly harnesses the "feel" of this "era" of the comic for me. The cover is the first thing that stands out, with a hybrid Kubert/Hildebrandt Bros. image–the distinctive Hildebrandts image that would be great on its own, with Kubert‘s art overlaid to the side, and the series logo is almost an afterthought or a formality.

The issue’s story is fairly simplistic, with Wolverine returning to the X-Mansion to keep an eye on the imprisoned Sabretooth while everyone else is away. Wolverine starts out refusing to fight, but pieces things together about the time Sabretooth pulls an escape, and the two brawl. Ultimately they wind up with Wolverine on top, having popped two claws, one to either side of Sabretooth’s head. The villain taunts Wolverine, threatening everyone he loves and cares about, and right as Wolverine pops the third claw–into Sabretooth’s brain–the crystallization wave hits and this never happened, as this universe ends.

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I don’t care for this ad from the back cover–other than Fatal Attractions I would not consider these to be the "best" of Wolverine’s stories, with several others I’d place in their stead.

It’s subjective, though!

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True Believers – Wolverine: Fatal Attractions

With all of the Return of Wolverine stuff going on and more mini-series and such than I can keep track of, Marvel has also been putting out a wave of Wolverine-centric True Believers issues lately.

True Believers – Wolverine: Fatal Attractions reprints the 1990s X-Men #25, part of the 30th-anniversary celebration/story arc X-Men: Fatal Attractions. This is also a key issue as it’s the actual issue where Wolverine lost his adamantium–this was where Magneto had had enough, and liquified the metal and forcibly removed it from Wolverine’s body…nearly killing him in the process.

My original post about X-Men #25 is archived here.

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I covered this issue back in 2012, when I covered the entire Fatal Attractions event.

This issue–the “final battle” between Xavier and Magneto, was along with Magneto’s character in Age of Apocalypse and the 1990s animated series a crucial part of my understanding of Magneto. It’s actually kind of fascinating to me to consider that the Magneto in contemporary X-Men comics is the same character that appears here. Of course, we’re talking nearly two full decades of character development between this and now–but it goes to show what can be done with these characters and time. (While I’ve yet to really read any of the classic Rogue issues, I’m also interested in the fact that the Rogue I grew up reading was herself once a villain in the Marvel Universe. If her character can be handled as it has, it’s not too far fetched to think the same can be done with Magneto.)

I also recall thinking it sort of odd that such a huge thing would happen to Wolverine here rather than in his own title…but then, Wolverine wouldn’t even have a title of his own without the X-men.

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On the back cover, we have an ad for some current-ish volumes featuring Wolverine that Marvel wants to push at the moment.

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Though it’s sorta odd to be glad to pay a whole $1.00 for an issue I’ve pulled multiple copies of from 25-cent bins…this issue has such a place in my memory from reading it as a kid that I’m happy to get this “new edition.” There’s something cool to seeing it with a “regular” cover, too, and not the cardstock of the original; and just to see it as a new issue again for the first time in nearly a quarter-century.

I don’t agree with the ad here claiming these to be some of the “best” stories. I think I’d leave Fatal Attractions on there; I’d put the Larsen story with Wolverine going into space in here; probably Not Dead Yet, and almost certainly the stuff from when he got the adamantium back and the whole Death thing from 1999. I might even put the early Greg Rucka stuff from the renumbering back in 2003/4 or so.

I also don’t care for them pushing a vol. 2 over a vol. 1 (suggests to me that vol. 1 is already out of print). The Venom volume doesn’t even look to be Wolverine-focused, just that maybe it guest-stars the character…Wolverine doesn’t even make the cover (unless in that tiny image it’s actually a “Venom-ized” Wolverine). And I don’t remember the actual Wolverine being a major part of the early Exiles issues, though I think I remember there being a story where they guest-starred a bunch of Wolverines?

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The ’90s Revisited: The X-Men Collector’s Edition #1

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Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Andrew Wildman
Lettering: Rick Parker
Inker: Steven Baskerville
Colors: Jim Hoston
Editor: Glenn Herdling
Published by: Marvel Comics & Pizza Hut
Cover Price: "$1.50 Value"
Cover Date: 1993

Back in 1993, the X-Men were an extremely "hot property." Their comics were at a definite high, they had a new cartoon series, they had trading cards, they had action figures, they had all sorts of merchandising going on…they were Marvel‘s Merry Mutants and all that. And one of those merchandising deals was with Pizza Hut. For whatever the price of a kids’ thing, you got a pizza, a plastic cup (If I recall correctly), and one of four comic books, commissioned specifically for this promotion. (I believe available for purchase separately were two VHS tapes, each with two episodes of the still-new Animated Series (Night of the Sentinels parts 1 and 2 OR Enter: Magneto and Deadly Reunions); both of which contained a brief roundtable interview with then-current creatives on Marvel‘s X-Men and Uncanny X-Men titles and such.

Where it would have surely been simple to just slap a new art piece and title logo onto something with a reprint of X-Men #1 or X-Men Adventures #1 or such, new cover, new art, and a new story was produced across essentially a 4-issue mini-series; an all-new original adventure exclusively for Pizza Hut.

We open on the X-Men in the Danger Room as Professor Xavier calls them to his meeting room. He explains that something’s happened with Cerebro (the computer that allows the X-Men to make first contact with new mutants before the villains can recruit them) that endangers the machine’s continued functionality. To repair it, various things are needed…which results in the X-Men being broken off into several teams to each get or accomplish something necessary to the whole of repairing Cerebro. Starting off, as X-Men Rogue and Gambit attend to dealing with in-house wiring, the Danger Room is activated with sentinels from "a dark future" (that many readers will recognize to be intended as the future revealed in Days of Future Past). After the two eventually overcome a trio of these killer giant robots (the scene powers down), we get a brief glimpse at a shadowy figure watching all the X-Men in their current endeavor…suggesting some secretive, behind-the-scenes operator working against the mutants!

The art for this issue is what I would consider typical 1990s fare. It’s not bad, but it’s not wonderful. The X-Men are all in their "Jim Lee costumes," the familiar outfits they were in (I believe) as of late-1991’s X-Men #1, also the looks used for the Fox animated series. Everyone is very recognizable as who they are, though the details of the art aren’t my favorite take. This definitely goes on the notion of a "house style" (as opposed to the artist of whatever book simply giving us "their take" on characters). Like a number of "fringe" titles/issues, this both looks like an actual Marvel issue while carrying a sort of generic feel that sorta/kinda/mostly fits with what was being published at that time without being entirely beholden to it nor affecting/impacting any of the "real" stuff.

Story-wise, this is pretty basic, simple stuff. Open on the X-Men in action. Show off one-liners and two-dimensional "character beats" to remind us of attitudes or such, "establishing" these as the characters that were being showcased in the animate series. Split the characters into separate groups to pad out several issues’ worth of content while allowing for "extended spotlights" on characters in manageable chunks. Showcase "key" expected stuff associated with the franchise/highlight all the characters and "locations" of the franchise.

So we get that–from Cyclops vs. Wolverine, to Wolverine’s random outburst, Jubilee’s snarkiness, Xavier having this dire situation but disappearing "to let" Cyclops and Storm handle stuff, to (particularly for this issue’s focus) Rogue and Gambit flirting, etc. The "characterization" in the issue seems generic and surfacey…but I don’t think it’s meant to be anything else. As something that would be reaching (primarily) kids for whom this might be their first/only experience with actual comics, it was important to give them stuff they recognized, both in the characters’ appearance and their behaviors. So the "character shorthand" stuff is prevalent; showing this mini time-capsule of stuff about them at the time, but not really building, changing, or directing anything new about them.

I fondly remember this period of the X-Men; and this promotion (I still have the VHS tapes and recall really enjoying the round table interviews, and those four episodes are particularly ingrained in my memory from this time). I even have one of the large promotional pieces that someone got ahold of for me some years back.

In and of itself, though, there’s nothing special about this issue, or this mini-series; it’s generic, surfacey stuff that doesn’t particularly draw from any deep continuity (despite the "references" to Days of Future Past), and it certainly doesn’t add anything TO the continuity. I certainly appreciated some of Gambit and Rogue’s flirting in this issue, and was surprised at one comment that certainly was "over my head" in 1993 that got a "Wow, they went there?? They said that ON PANEL?" reaction from me in 2018.

This is a fun novelty thing…hardly essential, but fun to have. I have the original copies I got from Pizza Hut in 1993, and I’m pretty sure I’ve come across these just a couple times over the years in bargain bins (maybe twice or so); the copy I read for this post came from a convention dollar-bin, I believe. So you’re not missing out on anything whatsoever in this issue or any of the other three, and I would not consider them to be "worth" anything much except for nostalgia. For that, they’re certainly worth $1-$2ish each. I don’t feel these are typical quarter-bin fare, not seeing them often…but they’re by no means anything high-ticket or worth $5+ an issue idly.

The cover states these are "A $1.50 value," representing the then-standard cover price of Marvel single issues. With a double-gatefold cover and interior cover, being full-sized issues both in dimensions and page count, written by one of the actual regular writers…this is a fun issue to have, and worth getting; though definitely most satisfying as part of a full set of all 4 issues.

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The cover is a double-gatefold; four "panels" including the front cover. When unfolded completely, this is the full image.

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And the flipside of the double-gatefold, viewed from the inside is this image, spotlighting Rogue and Gambit.

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