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The Weekly Haul – Week of October 18, 2017

A game I’ve been looking forward to for awhile now finally arrived! Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate. This is basically an adaptation of the Betrayal at House on the Hill, with Dungeons & Dragons elements. Given I quite enjoy both, this was a definite one for me to pick up!

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Of course, the next challenge is getting to actually play the game.

On to this week’s comics

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Hard to believe it’s been over a year and a half now of the "weekly" Superman stuff again, and not liking the "skip weeks" because those are weeks without a new issue of Superman or Action Comics.

Also hard to believe that just between #s 225 and 227, I’ve acquired Savage Dragon 1-101 and assorted mini-series, specials, one-shots, etc.

Quite enjoying the Metal books, story and foil covers! Since the things would be $3.99 anyway, why not have some fun with the foil and such? If ever there was a series that "deserved" the metallic/foil covers, it’s this!

Sadly, the Marvel Legacy stuff is virtually dead on arrival for me. Yet, much as I did this past spring, I’m doing a small sampling to at least (grudgingly) give things a chance. I’m down enough on contemporary Marvel stuff, but if I flat-out never buy anything from them, well, I hardly have room to complain then, right? And at least with these, along with the jacked-up pricing, we get "fancy covers." Unfortunately, these are utterly craptastic quality covers compared to DC‘s. Looking basically head-on, they’re blurry with glare, and neither image truly comes through clearly! More on that matter in another post (or posts) later sometime.

Rounding out the week, trying a randomish Image #1 in Maestros. No clue what it’s supposed to be about, but figured I’d check it out. Wonder Woman/Conan‘s here because I got the 1st issue, and don’t want to have to "hunt" this later. Ditto on Dead of Winter. And I very definitely want to support Alterna and their "newsprint comics," even to being happy to buy an issue multiple times, as even 2 copies of an issue are still cheaper than any one single issue of a Marvel series.

All in all an interesting week with a mix of stuff. Though it definitely pales next to an order I’m expecting by the weekend (that I’ll almost certainly document here once it arrives).

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Letter 44 #1 [Review]

letter44001Written by: Charles Soule
Illustrated by: Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque
Colored by: Guy Major
Lettered by: Shawn DePasquale
Edited by: Jill Beaton
Designed by: Jason Storey
Published by: Oni Press
Cover Price: $1.00

I have a “standing order” at my comic shop: in addition to my “regular” pull-list titles, pretty much anything priced at $1 or less (single-issues) also get pulled. Whether it’s “just” a reprint like the IDW Hundred-Penny Press books, or the Image Firsts or DC What’s Next or a genuine premiere or special issue.

So along with my usual stuff, got a handful of $1 issues today…including this Letter 44 #1. Looking at the cover, and it being from Oni Press (where I stick with DC, Marvel, Image, IDW, Dark Horse, and Valiant, typically) means this almost certainly would not have come to my attention, except that $1 price point.

Only once home and having already read my Valiants for the week, did I look with any interest at the $1 issues…and noticed Soule‘s name on this…a name that came to my attention during DC‘s Villains Month. So I figured this’d be a good issue to “start with”…and it pulled me in.

There’s a new president, who–upon taking office–learns that there’s a LOT going on that renders Earth-bound politics pointless except as a cover for actually preparing the country–if not the world–for potential disaster. Not one day into his presidency, this new president begins to see the tip of the proverbial iceberg as his life–and the way he sees the world around him–is irrevocably changed. The title itself comes from the letter–left from the 43rd president to the incoming 44th–letting him in on the Big Secret..

This very concept plays very well with thoughts I’ve (personally) had in the past, reconciling reality with “comic book reality.” Namely, that while we read about all these huge world-wide/universal threats in (primarily super-hero) comics, since the world has NOT been destroyed and the universe has NOT (that we know of) ended, there’s untold potential of what’s gone on to maintain that. For lack of better phrasing and explanation…this comic immediately fits into what is probably the core “conspiracy theory” I’ll buy into (conceptually, if not the specific situation).

In short…the story grabbed me, kept me reading, anticipating the final page reveal, and I’m very interested to learn what comes next. I was actually so impressed by this issue that–for something I hadn’t even known about seven hours ago–I emailed the comic shop to request it for my pulls, to make sure I don’t miss out on the next issue.

Visually, I’m not blown away by the art, but I’m by no means let down…as this is something I’d not heard of and had no frame of reference for, and is a new property, I have nothing to compare it to, so it just simply looks like it looks; it’s about humans, and they look human, if slightly stylistic and they’re obviously drawings (as opposed to some ultra-realistic/photographic-looking paintings or such, a la Alex Ross).

In short…this surprise issue does what any great #1 issue should do: introduced me to characters and concept, the premise of the series…gave me questions, built anticipation, reveals something of what’s hinted at throughout…and leaves me interested in continuing with the story. Not because it’s some cheesey cliffhanger but because I’m genuinely curious at further development of the characters and the world they live in. It also lets one clearly know the reasoning for the title itself…in this series’ case, the letter left for the new president that changes his perception of the world.

For only $1…I definitely recommend checking this out, if you like non-superhero stories, or want a change of pace. Worst case, you’re out 1/4 of the cost of another full-size issue; best case, you find a new title to follow, having experienced an issue itself and not just some hype.

Stumptown #1 [Review]

Written by: Greg Rucka
Illustrated by: Matthew Southworth
Colored by: Lee Loughridge
Design by: Keith Wood
Edited by: James Lucas Jones
Published by: Oni Press

This comic begins on some high action, much like many made-for-tv movies I recall from my youth…and from the initial climax we’re taken back to a day or so earlier where the story really begins, and follow events through to the opening pages, and then on to the rest of the issue’s story.

We’re introduced to Dex, a private investigator with a gambling issue. Having racked up plenty of debt, she’s offered a job that–rather than her being paid she’s to take in exchange for her gambling debt being forgiven. She’s sent to find the granddaughter of a powerful woman; and quickly discovers that there are other interested parties.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this, but figured it’s the first issue of a new series, so why not? I’d give it a look-see. I’m no fan of the $3.99 price point, but I found myself toward the later part of the issue turning each page expecting to see the first page of a lotta pages of ads. Yet, to my surprise, the story just kept right on going up to the 2nd to last page in the issue. So while this carries that $4 price, it’s a lengthy read, which is quite satisfying.

THe art has a very stylistic feel to it. The color and linework is a bit gritty, and there’s a lot of color shift for tone throughout the issue. Flipping through it, there are multiple page segments that have an overall blue tone or a green, or black and white, and what-have-you. I didn’t really notice it as I read, but this shifting played a nice role in setting scenes apart and setting the mood in each.

The character and her immediate supporting cast come across as fairly stereotypical and formulaic; the situation she finds herself in is also rather cliche.

But somehow, I don’t really have a problem with that. I was pulled into the story, and as with most things: a foundation must be put in place to build upon. This issue has the introduction to the characters and settings, and sure they’re generic right now–but I’m confident from past enjoyment of Rucka’s work that there’ll be more information in the next few issues to make these characters unique and move them beyond mere stereotype.

While I often use the comparison, this was like both a made for tv movie in structure…but works quite well as a pilot episode, introducing things, posing questions to the audience, and leaving me interested in what comes next.

If you like this sort of PI drama, or Rucka’s work, or the art, or any combination of those I highly recommend this. As-is on its own it’s a decent piece of work, worth the $4 cover price to check it out and decide your own feelings on the issue.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 7.5/10
Whole: 8/10

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