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The Weekly Haul – Week of July 23rd, 2014

As new comics go, this week is definitely one of the biggest in quite awhile, with a pretty significant haul just FOR the new-this-week comics!

batman_day_free_stuff

This was ‘Batman Day’, so there’s a free special edition of Detective Comics #27, reprinting the original first appearance of Batman, as well as a couple other features/reimaginings/retellings of the story, it looks like. The Vertigo Preview is the way I prefer my “previews”–a separate comic-sized thing, rather than several pages of “padding” in regular issues. The Portfolio of upcoming action figures and statues is interesting…and if I had the space/finances I’d definitely be interested in several of the statues!

masks_of_the_bat

While I was content to go simply with the Adam West mask, the store owner told me to go ahead and take one of each, so…got all four of the masks offered. Dark Knight, Original, New 52, and Adam West.

doctor_who_premieres

Two new Doctor Who series have begun, one focused on the Tenth Doctor, one on the Eleventh. I haven’t been particularly enamored with other Doctor Who comics, but was certainly interested enough to give these both at least a try for the first issue. And continuing my collection of the new Valiant chromium covers…

valiant_stuff

Two new Valiant issues including the regular edition of Armor Hunters: Bloodshot. And though the Gold Key line from Dynamite is not Valiant, they’re in the same vein and I’m filing them in my Current Valiant box.

tmnt_stuff

Latest Letter 44 and two new TMNT issues this week…

dc_stuff

And the latest of both of DC‘s current weeklies and the new issue of Superman. While I still loathe the Superman title moving to $3.99, I’m tentatively (case-by-case/issue-by-issue) onboard for the current arc with Johns on the writing.

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Thoughts on Last Week’s Comics: Week of November 20, 2013

X-O MANOWAR #19

xomanowar019I’ve said before–right now, I’m “all in” with the current Valiant. As such, I quite enjoyed that this is a tie-in to Unity. PLUS, it just makes sense: since Aric–X-O–is the inciting factor OF the events of Unity, it would be rather weird for this book to NOT touch on that. Where I’d thought Unity seemed like a slightly more epic issue of X-O Manowar, with a more expanded cast…this issue does a great job of re-humanizing Aric, keeping him relatable and not being some god-like faceless alien bent on conquering a country. Yet, after Unity #1, Nord‘s art here seems out of place and rather weird to me. The story continues on from earlier issues, and events have built rather organically, so nothing seems forced. I like the cover’s symbolism, as well as the design: the Unity Tie-In blurb is at the bottom of the cover, so looking at the cover, the info is there…but it does not take away from the Valiant trade-dress at the top, and in a typical comics-racking format, it’s probably not even going to be seen, and thus the book sells itself on its own merits without RELYING on being a tie-in.

BLOODSHOT AND H.A.R.D. CORPS #16

bloodshot016I continue to be impressed with this “new direction” and re-titling of the Bloodshot book. While I remember anticipating the supporting cast that I’d thought was being built to, the H.A.R.D. Corps angle is working really well for me. It feels like an organic development and mixing, and the characters seem to fit together quite nicely. Perhaps most of all I greatly appreciate that despite adding H.A.R.D. Corps to the title–literally–the numbering continues onward…Valiant clearly recognizes that the series doesn’t need to re-start to #1 again every few months. Seeing Bloodshot himself amped up with the tech H.A.R.D. Corps sports–albeit more powerful since he can survive stuff normal humans can’t–is an additional treat in finding out what the character can, can’t, and will/won’t do. I’m also liking the ongoing interactions with Harada, as it makes sense that someone like Harada would be involved in far more than just chasing down some kids. I’m hoping the H.A.R.D. Corps crew is around for quite awhile, and that this title keeps up with the quality. I’m certainly around for awhile yet!

ETERNAL WARRIOR #3

eternalwarrior003I noticed an “editor’s note” in this issue, placing the events of the issue/story before the events of Archer and Armstrong #5…and that one little note made me suddenly enjoy this story all the more. Instead of being just some random story, knowing it takes place before the other appearances of Gilad in the pages of Archer and Armstrong, X-O Manowar, and now Unity gives me more context to appreciate. This is in its own way an origin story for the Eternal Warrior…not so much how he came to be (that’s touched on in A&A) but how he goes from one status quo to the “present day” status quo of Valiant in general. I’m also quite appreciating the character interactions, and laughed out loud at the old lady trying to shush Gilad and his daughter for their arguing in public. I’m interested in the conclusion of this arc, but admittedly even MORE interested in #5, seeing the Eternal Warrior of the future…which is kind of a shame, given advance solicitations and “convention announcements” and such, as I’d have more preference on just anticipating the current arc.

TMNT NEW ANIMATED ADVENTURES #5

tmntnewanimatedadventures005I’m finding myself growing to PREFER Brizuela‘s visual style to the actual cartoon itself. The turtles look great in this issue–as they have in the previous issues. While Fishface is one of the more ridiculous concepts of the series, this issue shows what a threat he can be, and is maybe the first time I’ve come this close to enjoying the character at all. I’m drawing obvious parallels between this series and Archie‘s TMNT Adventures; both developing from tv series, both serving as an alternative for fans of the cartoon vs. just the comics. This series has yet to straight up adapt any episodes, yet it’s set in the same continuity, rather than developing its own universe. It works, I’m going to continue on with this title if only for the art…but unfortunately, some of the shininess has worn off for me, and I find myself preferring the regular ongoing IDW continuity. Still, fans of the show will appreciate this most likely, and it’s a good title of one-off/one-issue stories if you want to read something with the TMNT but not have to deal with a lot of continuity or related/tie-in issues.

BEN10 #1

ben10001I was originally drawn to Ben10 upon discovering Dwayne McDuffie‘s involvement, and watched a handful of episodes from a DVD I snagged sometime last year. I never managed to get very far into the series (and I think what I saw was the equivalent of a second or third season), so I’m not all that steeped in Ben10 continuity to know if this is a tie-in or continuation of the cartoon’s continuity, or just its own thing. I don’t suppose it matters TOO much…I zipped right through the issue and enjoyed it in and of itself. However, not being entirely certain of where this is in the larger Ben10 universe/timeline, I’m pretty sure I’m left “on the outside” just enough that I’m not really the target audience for this book. Still, it was worth my trying for being the first issue…but I rather doubt I’ll keep sinking $4/issue into this. If you are or have a fan of the show, I’d definitely say check this out…it’s the premiere issue, after all. But if you’ve never experienced anything Ben10, this issue doesn’t particularly fill you in on stuff so wouldn’t seem the greatest ‘first-introduction-to-the-series/premise’ story to dive in on.

DOCTOR WHO: PRISONERS OF TIME #12

doctorwhoprisonersoftime012I haven’t read issues 1-11, but I bought this issue BECAUSE it’s the last issue…also in anticipation of the Day of the Doctor 50th Anniversary Special. Story-wise, I was fairly lost…not having any details whatsoever of the previous 11 issues. I’m also a bit iffy on the art, with this issue having something just a bit “off” about the various Doctors. Despite that, I could recognize them all, and love the double-page spread of all 11 Doctors. That I could identify each is testament to how far I’ve come as a Doctor Who fan since March of this year. I’d figured I’d probably go for a collected volume of this series, but I’m pretty sure it’s being split into 3 books, so barring a single-edition, I’ll cut my losses with having this single issue that includes all the Doctors and be glad I only spent the $3.99. I imagine if you’ve been following the series to date this puts a nice cap on the series and possibly the entirety of IDW‘s holding of the DW license. In and of itself, I’m kinda “meh” on this…the issue wasn’t bad, but not exactly my cup of tea…yet I hope that’s more my lack of 11 issues’ context than anything of the series itself.

TMNT New Animated Adventures #4 [Review]

tmntnewanimatedadventures004Story: Erik Burnham
Art: Dario Brizuela
Colors: Heather Breckel
Letters: Shawn Lee
Edits: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Dario Brizuela
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

After April brings cell-phone video of a lone Foot ninja sneaking around, the turtles investigate. Unfortunately, it turns out to be a trap, as the Foot test a newly-rendered poison on them (delivered via blow-darts). Raphael is hit, which leads the turtles to race to find ingredients for the antidote. Of course, archnemesis the Shredder is behind things, and sends Dogpound to prevent the turtles from obtaining the final ingredient.

Story-wise, this isn’t all that deep…but then, being based on the animated series I wouldn’t expect much depth. As this continues the trend of the done-in-one format, there’s also not much room for a lot of depth…and I’m ok with that. This issue particularly (over the previous issues) feels like it would fit in equally well with the original ’80s animated series or the current, and I even found myself “hearing” the ’80s voicecast as I read the turtles’ dialogue (Dogpound was a mix of Bebop and Rocksteady).

Visually, this continues to be one of the best-looking “adaptations” I’ve seen as Brizuela‘s art continues to carry the spirit and design of the animated series while keeping its own look that just “is.” I find myself increasingly preferring Brizuela‘s visuals to the animated series itself.

All in all, yet another solid issue, likely enjoyable by any fan of the current tv show, and even a bit to those who prefer the original animated series.

Catching up on some recent non-villains reading

ASTRO CITY #4

astrocity004This is exactly the sort of story I absolutely love from this series. Astro City brings to life a certain reality of superhumans existing in ordinary society, and rarely does so better than showing us that not every last individual that develops a power is automatically a hero or villain. We’re brought into a world of individuals who have found other uses for their powers, making a living with the use of their power outside the flash-bang of the constant hero/villain battles. In this case, a telekinetic using her powers to assist in the special effects for film, allowing model movement without cumbersome wires. of course, there are those that would see such use as a waste of talent and seek to round these folks up and force them to use their powers for someone’s gain. But that’s where a network of the non-action folks comes in as they have one another’s backs. Great story, great art, and a fantastic self-contained one-issue story. Even when I tell myself I’ll wait for the collected volume(s), it’s issues like this that keep me coming back for the single-issue Astro City experience!

BATMAN BLACK AND WHITE (2013) #1

batmanblackandwhite001Despite overall enjoyment of the one-shot nature of the Villains Month books this September, as a longer-term thing I’ve been gravitating to DC‘s digital-first stuff that basically exists on its own. I saw and passed on this issue the week it came out, but wound up buying it this past weekend on others’ recommendation and ended up quite enjoying it. While the $4.99 cover price is rather off-putting, it FELT like I had a lengthy reading experience out of the deal. The multiple short stories lend an air of added value, as not only do we not “need” to buy the next issue to resolve a cliffhanger but got several COMPLETE stories in this issue. I quite enjoyed the mix of stories and art, and look forward to the next issue. Also, while I usually hate “sketch covers” and such, which this one would certainly qualify as in my eyes…this one works here because it’s perfectly fitting to the contents of the issue and nature of the book itself. Though I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing this image in full color as a poster or such.

TMNT NEW ANIMATED ADVENTURES #3

tmntnewanimatedadventures003I’m continuing to enjoy pretty much any dose of TMNT in comic form, and this title continues to have exactly what I’m looking for in it. I’m really enjoying Brizuela‘s art as it nicely carries the tone of the tv series while keeping a comic look and being its own thing. I did find the story itself fairly forgettable on the whole here, but in a way that could actually be a bit of a strength: it fits so well with other episodes of the tv series and earlier issues of this series that it just blends right in. The cover made me think we were getting an expanded look at Kraang-Prime, which unfortunately was not actually the case; but still made for a cool, interesting cover. There’s not much in the way of solid “mythology” to this series, as it’s truly a companion of sorts to the tv series…but I’m liking it. Now if we could just get a single-issue edition classic reprint series of the old Archie TMNT Adventures, I’d be all set!

BATMAN ’66 #3

batman66003This issue was fairly fun for me. Usually I wouldn’t much care for this sort of thing, but I enjoyed seeing the Red Hood concept introduced into the ’66 universe. It definitely fit well, and kept the typical tone I’d expect from the classic tv series. Unfortunately, I’m noticing a pattern wherein we have a story taking up 2/3 of the issue and another short filler taking up the final third…and I’ve had to basically force myself through the final story. I appreciate the pagecount for the price, but would prefer more to the main story’s segments. On the whole, I’m still getting a “feel” for this series though look forward to what else we get from it. I suppose I could pick and choose from the digital chapters, but while I’ll buy some comics digitally, since this is a title I’m choosing as a “DC Fix” or “Batman Fix” for the month, I’d prefer to buy it in print for the time-being. I do wonder how long until the visual style wears on me…I appreciate having the characters look like the actors’ depictions and such (note Joker’s facial hair in this issue), but I don’t care for some of the other flourishes.

TMNT New Animated Adventures #2 [Review]

tmntnewanimatedadventures002Story: Kenny Byerly
Art: Dario Brizuela
Colors: Heather Breckel
Letters: Shawn Lee
Edits: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Dario Brizuela
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

Snakeweed is probably the most memorable of my least-favorite characters introduced in the new TMNT series. He may have also been the first–I don’t quite recall for sure. So while I was looking forward to another issue of the New Animated Adventures…the fact that it featured Snakeweed as the mutant du jour was rather dismaying.

This issue’s well in line with fitting the tone of this series so far (the FCBD and #1 issues), but for Snakeweed it’s certainly my least-favorite issue so far.

Leo’s been looking forward (for weeks!) to a marathon airing of the entire Space Heroes series and exposing his bros to the show. The power cuts out, and while he complains, Splinter suggests a reverence for nature rather than a railing against nature’s storms. Eventually the power is restored, only for the turtles to learn of a plant infestation in the city. They investigate and discover Snakeweed’s involvement and a new plan–to release spores in a storm to spread more Snakeweeds and overtake the humans, returning the planet to a vegetative state. The turtles split up–two to tackle the mutant himself and two to contain the spores.

I continue to enjoy Brizuela‘s art on this, and really like the visual take on these characters. They’re quite recognizable as being based on the tv series, yet maintain a comic book feel that avoids looking like some straight “adaptation” or “imitation”…it’s truly its own thing.

Story-wise, as said, I have a strong dislike for Snakeweed, so I’m not impressed there. In and of itself, the story works, and everyone seems “on” to what one would expect within this shared tv/comic continuity, so objectively this is definitely another solid issue. Long-time TMNT fans will also likely note a surprising yet obvious “Easter Egg” with April partway into the issue that brings back memories.

I’m looking forward to the next issue–the cover preview suggests the involvement of Kraang Prime, which is all the more appealing for my dislike here of Snakeweed, as well as having just a few days ago finally having watched the tv series’ season one finale.

If you’re enjoying the tv series, but don’t want to venture into the full-blown comics continuity of IDW‘s ongoing series, this is certainly a great book to jump into for some TMNT comics’ enjoyment. And if you just enjoy TMNT comics, this is well worthwhile…more color adventures, and it stands by itself (alongside the tv series) offering a “different” take on these characters.

TMNT New Animated Adventures #1 [Review]

TMNT New Animated Adventures #1Story: Kenny Byerly
Art: Dario Brizuela
Colors: Heather Breckel
Letters: Shawn Lee
Edits: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Dario Brizuela
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

I’ve been quite looking forward to this premiere issue for a couple months now, since at least the FCBD issue back in May. In many ways, this is sort of a #2 issue, as it fits excellently with the FCBD issue (which was itself a full issue and not just a few pages’ preview or a short one-off amidst so-called “dvd-style extras” or such.

As I’d said then and hold with this issue, this truly feels right at home within the continuity of the Nickelodeon animated series–the characterization is consistent, and I even “hear” the voices from the show as I read this.

The visuals are a great blend of simply “comic book art” and “adaptation form another medium” as the characters are very recognizeable as based on the CGI designs of the animated series…yet Brizuela‘s art is distinctive and does not seem to “try too hard” to BE what it is not–it’s 2-D art and works very well, and avoids being particularly “cartooney” or over-simple.

Story-wise, this is an April-centric issue, focusing largely on her integration into the turtles’ family unit, and showing her increasing skills unter Splinter’s tutelage while we see her equally as fallible as the turtles themselves–also teens.

After showing off her stealth and receiving praise from Splinter, April accompanies Donatello to a junkyard to track down a piece of of tech for his inventions. Unfortunately, the junkyard turns out to be a bit more than they bargained for, and April is captured by the military, and the turtles have to intervene. Ultimately, a lesson is learned by all, and things continue on.

I’ve enjoyed the main/”real” TMNT continuity from IDW these past couple of years, and despite not being entirely enamored with the animated tv series, I did enjoy reading this issue. As long as I’ve been into TMNT in general, I very fondly remember the original Archie-published TMNT Adventures, so this TMNT New Animated Adventures is a bit reminiscent of that in intent, it seems. It remains to be seen if this will branch off into its own individual continuity, but I’m content to follow this as an extension to the tv series’ continuity.

As with the tv series, this story is a done-in one/self-contained story…you get a full story in one issue, and there’s no need to get the next issue to FINISH this story…which is another nice thing about this. Though the next-issue ad indicates one of my least-favorite characters of the series, I’ll happily give it a chance simply for being TMNT, and of course Brizuela‘s art.

TMNT New Animated Adventures FCBD 2013 [Review]

tmntnewanimatedadventuresfcbd2013Story: Erik Burnham
Art: Dario Brizuela
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Edits: Bobby Curnow
Cover by: Dario Brizuela
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $0.00

I’ve been “expecting” this series for quite awhile. I recall thinking it’d be one of the first TMNT things put out by IDW, and precede the new animated series. Obviously I was wrong in that expectation, but that also made me all the more curious about this issue, having watched most of the episodes so far of the tv show serving as inspiration.

I was quite gratified to find that this issue totally fits–for me, anyway–within the continuity of the show. It was like an adaptation of an episode, yet even better–because it’s an original story, with some really good art, that simply captures the spirit of the show while doing its own thing.

We open with Mikey showing off some new moves and getting teased by his brothers. Splinter steps into things, and uses the brotherly rivalry as a teaching moment–the turtles are all quite good with their chosen weapons…but what’s their skill level with an unfamiliar weapon? Ordered to maintain a temporary weapon swap, the turtles head up out of the sewers, and wind up fighting some Purple Dragons before encountering an even larger menace, and learning the wisdom Splinter set forth.

The story has these characters nailed–the personalities from the nick tv show shine through on all involved characters, and some of the quips are highly true to the show. I was especially impressed at a moment with Raphael and Donatello where Raph grabs Donnie and instructs him “Don’t you EVER try and finish that sentence”–the context and hearing the voice from the cartoon in my head nearly made me laugh out loud in a way that so rarely happens.

Visually I really enjoyed the art. Brizuela‘s name is familiar to me from work on a number of issues of Tales of the TMNT from 2004-2009. It’s very cool to see another “veteran” of Mirage TMNT doing some new TMNT work for tmntnewanimatedadventuresfcbd2013backIDW…something I hope to see more of from creators with any interest in doing so. The characters all look like their animated counterparts (though admittedly CGI to 2D); but the art’s still got a certain uniqueness about it. It’s obviously based on the cartoon, but it’s not trying to BE the cartoon. It’s also quite a lot better-looking than stills taken from the cartoon itself.

This is easily my favorite Free Comic Book Day issue this year, and I’m really looking forward to the first issue of the actual ongoing series this summer.

If you can only grab one FCBD issue this year, I’d highly recommend this to fans of the TV show or fans of Burnham or Brizuela‘s other work, and general fans of the TMNT as a whole.

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