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Toys in the Wild: Avengers 2017

One thing that tends to keep me from "buying in" on a toy line is perceived longevity. I "bought into" a line of DC toys that never took off, despite my thinking it would. I attribute that to inconsistent availability as well as inconsistent (over)pricing.

Similar with other movie-based lines for the Marvel films…they seem to be dumped by stores not long after the films, to make way for the next. Alternatively, there also seems to be a shuffle of "generic" lines meant to bridge the films–tying in without being solely for only one film.

I attribute this new Avengers line as being another of those. Thus far I’ve not seen a Thor figure, though I’ve seen the four others. (Come to think of it, no Hawkeye or Vision or Scarlet Witch, for that matter).

I’ve been seeing these, offhand, for about $8…making them a full $5 cheaper than their slightly smaller counterparts in the 3.75" figure line, whatever Marvel wants to call it this year.

I’d almost be tempted to snag these (hey! female representation via Black Widow!) but I’ll wait and see if we get any villains for the line.

Assuming, that is, that Marvel remembers that there are villains for heroes to oppose, rather than relying primarily on hero-versus-hero for major stories. But then, these are toys, not the comics.

I’d far prefer a line of X-Men toys like this, though…

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avengers_ironman

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Perhaps we’ll get some other figures later this year for this line.

Heck, I’d be curious to see what we’d get for the Infinity War stuff next year, and what sort of representation we’ll get of Thanos. And thinking on films…why are we getting these now, instead of, say, Guardians of the Galaxy figures?

Showing off the Shelves: X-Men January 2017

Today, I’m showing off my current X-Men shelf configuration, with some volumes "weeded out" for present, possibly permanently, or to be added back in once I expand my shelving, which my collection has pretty much outgrown at the moment.

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One of my earliest collected volumes ever was that original The Essential Uncanny X-Men 1 that I bought right before leaving for college back in 1999. Obviously, my X-collection has grown significantly in the last 17 1/2 to 18 years!

I have stuff largely in chronological–or near-chronological–order, moving through the franchise’s history, with this first shelf pretty much covering 1963-1994-ish.

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Picking up in 1995, this second shelf pretty much takes us through the later ’90s, early 2000s, Morrison, Whedon, and up to 2010 or so.

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And moving beyond Second Coming and the Fraction run, a bunch of the miscellaneous/skinnier volumes taper off the X-Men proper, and get into other stuff…primarily Wolverine and X-Factor.

Of course, with Marvel discontinuing the Essential line in favor of the Epic line, I may eventually be swappign out some of the Wolverine and X-Factor stuff, or pay inflated prices to fill the Wolverine run in. Time will tell!

The X-books are–next to Superman–the most significant part of my entire collection, and certainly out-do the rest of my Marvel collection; while not exact, I’d say these account for at least 35% of my entire Marvel collection.

Impressive as they can be…knowing the "gaps" in content from the various X-Men oversized hardcovers and omnibus volumes…I find it kinda hard to imagine sticking just to the omnibus/OHC format…there’s so much more to be had by combining the formats. That said…I’d be interested in the Inferno and Inferno Crossovers volumes if I could get them relatively cheaply…though more immediately I’ll probably be content to just get the paperbacks as those’ll be much cheaper, period, and there are several other paperbacks that I want that do not (to my knowledge) have hardcover counterparts…including several Gambit volumes!

But that all gets off on other topics (like "wishlists")…

Showing off the Shelves: Captain America and Black Panther

While there are several Captain America volumes I’d still like to get sooner than not (Captain America vs. Red Skull, the Fighting Chance volumes), for the most part, I think I’m just about where I’m good for now with the character.

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Of course, the "core" of the collection is the Brubaker Omnibus volumes, collecting about seven years of his work on the character.

And because it’s its own thing and on the shelf immediately preceding the Cap books…I did not crop out the Black Panther by Christopher Priest 4-volume series collecting that series’ run. Though in typing that…it reminds me that there’s also the Captain America and Falcon by Priest volume out there that I’ll want to track down as well…

I’d certainly enjoy a Captain America by Mark Waid omnibus, whether it includes pre and post Heroes Reborn material, or just post. Heck, it’d be great to have a single volume of the Fighting Chance story instead of two half-length volumes.

But it is Marvel, so…yeah.

Anyway…with the addition of the Return of the Winter Soldier Omnibus, this is my current (as of January 2017) Captain America collection.

The Weekly Haul – Week of January 4th, 2017

Despite hitting two comic shops today, it proved to be a relatively small week…particularly for adding the second shop-stop into the mix!

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Picked up the week’s new Superman issue; got the first issue of the Captain Atom mini-series (Added bonus: ONLY $2.99 and it’s a mini-series! Seems all the other minis DC has been doing have been the old $3.99…which is why I’ve not been buying those!)

Had to go to the second shop for the Justice League of America: The Atom – Rebirth. Not sure if the first was sold out, or shorted, or what. And then from the 50%-off/bargain bins at the first, snagged The Amazing Spider-Man by JMS Ultimate Collection vol. 1. Cheaper than 5 single-issue Marvel contemporary stuff. Also re-accentuating the appeal (to me, at least) of Marvel stuff preAvengers: Disassembled, and particularly the nice, thick books that actually feel significant…not the VASTLY over-priced, over-skinny flimsy things with 4-6 issues’ content!

At the second shop, I also scored four Walking Dead Mini-Mates 2-packs…for 99 cents apiece! Can’t beat that pricing!

The ’90s Revisited: Warlock and the Infinity Watch #42

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warlock_and_the_infinity_watch_0042Win, Lose, Draw!

Writer: John Arcudi
Pencils: Mike Gustovich
Inks: Keith Williams
Colors: Ian Laughlin
Letters: Jack Morelli
Editor: Mark Gruewald
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: July, 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

This was a hard issue to read. I’m really not familiar with the art team, outside of perhaps earlier work on this title that I read 15+ years ago. While characters are visually familiar from the time, this is hardly the BEST rendition of them. The story is rather scattered and without much context (no "previously page" and not much in the way of in-story exposition). I suppose that’s a good thing by contemporary standards–not wasting much space on that…and this IS a "final chapter" of whatever the story is, as well as a series finale.

Unfortunately, this feels like a rushed, tie-up-as-much-as-possible finale that may have been something seen coming but not entirely "expected."

We basically have a scattered team, with a member physically hospitalized while her mind is active (psychically) with the team; a former member allied with Thanos, another member turned "traitor," and the team’s "home turf" facing a huge storm that could wipe the place out. Out of nowhere, the team’s Infinity Gems (hence "Infinity Watch") all disappear; Warlock is apparently killed; Maxam returns to his own time without further explanation, and the team is left with Warlock heading out on a solo quest to figure out where the gems went. The End.

Frankly, this is a horrible issue in terms of a context-less, isolated cold-read. As said, it’s a series finale, so it’s scrambling to try to wrap stuff up in a hurry as best as possible. For a series that started on such a high note, this is a pitiful whimper to go out on.

Context-wise, from what I recall of reading scattered later issues (I’ve never had the ENTIRE series to read in one go), I can imagine the team and book were headed for a status quo change and some new developments, perhaps plenty of positive, just that stuff got cut short. And a book NOT being given "time" or a new direction given time to shake out, etc. is something that I can "accept" for a story falling flat, even if I don’t like to. In a way, it’s a sign of the times, when series were not written simply as serialized graphic novels, but as episodic things with ongoing developments and actual "subplots" and the like.

A key factor of this issue, though, is its failure to even acknowledge Marvel‘s then "sister" company, Malibu, and its Ultraverse. See…in this issue, the Infinity Gems just simply, arbitrarily disappear out of nowhere, and that’s that. But, if one reads the Rune/Silver Surfer (flipbook Silver Surfer/Rune) issue, we see the Ultraverse character gain the Time Gem, stop time, and snag the rest. Given he steals them all WHILE time is stopped, that explains the sudden, simultaneous disappearance of the gems. It seems counter-intuitive and even a bit shameful to me that that event happens in another book entirely (Silver Surfer got a cartoon in the 1990s, so was more of a "hot" property–so I can see Marvel wanting the bigger brand "out there") with zero acknowledgement in this title…the title in which the Infinity Gems were housed, and the story of their place in the then-Marvel Universe was chronicled for over three years, a long-running title!

I actually found myself with two copies of this issue "handy," hence reading this as an isolated single issue. One copy I’d pulled when I came across it going through some comic box looking for something else in my collection; the other with a stack of 25-cent-bin issues; I’m certain I acquired both from 25-cent bins. And frankly, that’s what this issue is worth. There’s sentimentalism to be had if you’re fond of the title or Warlock or any of the other characters, but that’s about it. Outside of "free," this issue is perhaps worth the "base" price of 25 cents, but I wouldn’t say much more than that. On the other hand, the first issue is a great read (as I remember) as are a number of the early issues, perhaps through the Infinity War stuff.

Overall, I’d give this a pass; there’s a lot of better stuff out there to be read.

The ’90s Revisited: Captain America #436

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captain_america_0436Fighting Chance (conclusion): Everybody Hurts Sometime

Writer: Mark Gruenwald
Penciler: Dave Hoover
Inker: Danny Bulanadi
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: George Roussos
Editor: Mike Rockwitz
Group Editor: Ralph Macchio
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: February, 1995
Cover Price: $1.50

I’m not sure what I expected out of this issue, but what I got wasn’t it. I’d’ve sworn I read this before, some years ago…having borrowed the entire Fighting Chance storyline from a friend (who had a subscription that incidentally STARTED with the first issue of this 12-part story, which I’d thought was pretty neat at the time!) But this read-through felt like an all-new issue to me, completely unfamiliar and even if I did read it once before, I’d totally forgotten any details (even a bit after actually reading it this time, the details are fuzzy!)

Though it was years after the story was over and done with that I would have read it, I was acutely aware of it going on and remember it really sticking with me as a concept. A whole YEAR’S worth of issues dedicated to a single story! The very thing that gave Captain America his physical ability, to BE Captain America, was killing him! How would that play out? How would such a story end? Surely, the hero would triumph…but wow! What a journey that would be, and such a victory…

Nope.

This issue sees Cap being spit out of some drainage pipe that he was apparently dumped into in the previous issue…pursued by Cobra and Hyde. We get some exposition (super soldier serum killing him, Cap’s under doctor’s orders not to exert himself, he’s thoroughly exerting himself anyway, blah blah blah). Even with his body betraying him, he manages to avoid being killed by the two villains…but at great personal cost. By the end of the issue, he’s pushed himself too far, and with ghostly images of the Statue of Liberty and then-thought-to-be-dead-but not-really-though-we-wouldn’t-find-that-out-for-another-20-years-when-Brubaker-does-TheWinterSoldier-story Bucky flashing before him, Steve seems to lose his battle…he’s paralyzed, a mind trapped in a worthless body.

Hank Pym finds Cap, realizes the situation, and that’s that.

The final chapter, the twelfth issue of a 12-part story…ends on a cliffhanger.

Lovely.

Yeah, yeah…what else should or would I expect…especially reading the issue closer to 2020 than to 2000?

I know Gruenwald‘s name as being one of THE names of this title, and tend to myself think of him as one of the more important writers to handle the character (perhaps for longevity on the title if nothing else). I do like that this issue is squarely a "typical ’90s super-hero brawl" type thing, and Cap is just a super-hero figure, standard ’90s stuff, nothing overly complex (if not simple) about him (compared to sharper, "edgier," more "realistic" takes that would come later). But I found this issue to be rather generic, anti-climactic, and ultimately a disappointment overall.

Of course, as stated above, I think I’d read this once before but didn’t remember anything of it; and this particular reading (either way) was as a singular, isolated issue with no context from any of the introduction and build-up to stuff.

The art was fairly bland…I recognized the characters I would expect to, visually, with no trouble, and there was not much in the way of subtlety to the story being conveyed; any doubt of action was covered by story context.

I’d also forgotten ("realized" after the fact) that despite the initial impact the very notion of this story had had on me, there was an epilogue issue or two that were rather crucial to things, or made a more effective ending (at least looking at cover images and drawing on what I recall of this period in the title’s history).

So ultimately…I do not recommend this issue for a one-issue isolated read. It’s the supposed ending of a major story, yet leaves stuff hanging and just seems like a weak ending for a character such as this after such a long storyline. That said, I would have no problem recommending the run offhand if the entire story and the follow-up issues were found in a 25 or 50 cent bin, just on principle of getting the story for a fraction of the cost of a modern story that’s–at best–equally contrived.

The Weekly Haul – Week of November 30, 2016

This week was a ridiculously HUGE week, in pricing, quantity, and physical size!

Getting into it:

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Newest issue of Surgeon X, which I enjoyed the first couple issues of, after jumping in a bit late. No apparent variant covers with this, or at least none that I saw to distract me or make me wonder which cover is the "real" or "regular" or "basic" cover. IF this is the variant or a variant…yeah, I’ll be highly annoyed, but I’ve seen nothing to indicate that!

I nearly passed on the New Talent Showcase, but I kinda liked the cover, and like the concept of the book, plus I’m just a sucker for these squarebound comics with spine text that can go right on the bookshelf as-is, even though they’re "just" a "single issue" of whatever. I also dig the notion of it being a one-shot/special to showcase the new talent, and not "pushing" some "branding" on a spread of regular/ongoing series as a notion OF the new talent (or "young guns") being somehow, by default, superior or more worthy of promotion than established talent.

While I appreciate the Direct Currents issue being magazine sized to go with the Rebirth preview back in the spring, I’d definitely prefer to see it comic-sized, as I do not presently have a good filing system for magazines. Still, as a "free" thing (comic shops had to BUY this, same as Free Comic Book Day stuff, same as loads of other promotional materials that we as customers tend to receive AS free) I can’t really grouse about it!

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I hate "clustering" of stuff. And it is truly very annoying after getting so used to DC‘s $2.99 price point to have two $4.99 books out the same week; all the more as these are not part of the "regular" series for either title, and thus I’m paying "full price" for to keep with complete runs from the DCBS "bundles" that allow me to get the entirety of Rebirth.

Worse, both of these are out the same week as the one IDW title and general exception to my other rules on pricing of "ongoing" titles and such TMNT Universe. Three issues, each one could be replaced with twenty issues from a quarter bin! $15…for three issues. Ugh!

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I’d "expected" these books last week: the shop passes the various Marvel blowout sales along to customers on their email list…so each of these cost me what two Marvel single issues would have! But each volume has a lot more than only two issues’ content!

And to me, in general, frankly, Marvel is doing a great job lately of making the Clone Saga and Ben Reilly Epic look particularly appealing to me…if only for knowing they’re 1. finite and 2. where they end. I’m just a bit bugged at the fact that books 5 & 6 are out of print/unavailable except at RIDICULOUS markups by third-party sellers. I may want the other two volumes for this set…but especially after getting these at only $8/ea, I sure as heck will not spend $20, $40, $60+ beyond cover price when I’d be hard-pressed even now to "justify" spending cover price on any of these! Great at $8, but Marvel‘s pricing in general is too "premium" for me on print stuff! (All the more their "new" content, as opposed to reprinting stuff from the 1990s)!

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Snagged these Double Take volumes for $1/ea (90% off). I know the company’s done/nothing forthcoming, and would have preferred to get all 10, but these are all that were present. For less than the cost of 2 Marvel issues, these’ll provide plenty of reading, and I’d hope I could (cheaply) find the other three volumes to have the complete, finite set, and though not in singles, this complete "dead universe."

Not impressed with most of the covers or the generic fonts–these look more like flags for a department store for differing lines of clothing or such, or some other generic tagging of something. But the notion of the stories being set in the same "universe" as Night of the Living Dead intrigued me before, and I’m certainly willing to have paid a whopping $1 per volume! (considering I have the shop pulling all $1-and-under promo single-issues, and I got these that each contain five comics’ worth of material!)

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Then just to grit my teeth all the more on a couldn’t-pass-them-up-for-the-price basis, I bought two boxed games. Together, these cost me a few cents more than two DC issues, and for under the price of a single issue apiece ($2.79ish and $3.49ish) I’m willing to have ’em for my games collection/shelf!

All the more at the price-shock of realizing the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game is a whopping $90!!! I’d LOVE to get THAT game, but that will likely have to wait to be some kinda personal reward/celebration of a major life event eventually. Assuming I don’t talk myself out of it in frustration over some key character minis being Kickstarterexclusive. (Thaaaaaat is a matter for another post, perhaps!)

Here’s hoping that next week is particularly light!

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