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The ’90s Revisited: The Phoenix Resurrection – Genesis

90s_revisited

phoenix_resurrection_genesisGenesis

Writrs: Ian Edginton, Dan Abnett
Pencillers: Darick Robertson, Mark Pacella, Greg Luzniak, Rob Haynes
Inkers: Tom Wegrzyn, Art Thibert, Larry Stucker, Bob Wiacek, Philip Moy
Letterer: Vickie Williams
Color Design: Robert Alvord
Interior Color: Malibu Color
Asst. Editor: Scott Bernstein
Editor: Hank Kanalz
Published by: Malibu Comics
Cover Date: December 1995
Cover Price: $3.95

As Marvel publishes Phoenix Resurrection in the present, 22 years ago it published The Phoenix Resurrection through Malibu ComicsUltraverse line. Malibu Comics, which Marvel had purchased in order to keep DC Comics from buying the smaller publisher. And with the smaller publisher in-hand…looking back through this issue at least, it seems Marvel had no idea what to do or have done with the small superhero universe it now had in addition to its own.

This Genesis issue was preceded by a month-long promotion in which each of the 7 then-current Ultraverse titles had a 3-page flipbook segment showing the characters encountering some kinda reference to a phoenix, though taken as a whole that made for a disjointed mess. The seven chapters were reprinted/collected into a single issue in The Phoenix Resurrection: Red Shift.

Getting into the main/actual story of the "event" now with this issue, we get a prologue of the Phoenix Force being discovered by some probe from another universe. Before long, through machinations of the Gateway character, a squad of X-Men find themselves once more in a parallel universe that they’ve become increasingly familiar with (a footnote reference to the Mutants vs. Ultras special issue, itself collecting several previously-exclusive American Entertainment editions such as Prime vs. Hulk, Wolverine vs. Night Man, and All New Exiles vs. X-Men).

While bystanders and news media are focused on something coming from the sun, Ultra hero Prime engages the X-Men in combat, because of course they’ve gotta fight. The source of the aforementioned probe–a mother ship that’s buried in the ocean–reunites with a counterpart in the sun, and brings the Phoenix Force to this Earth, and then tries to drain its energy–its life–causing the Phoenix entity to be driven insane with pain. The entity bonds with Prime as a host body, and continues to fight the X-Men, as other Ultras are brought to the scene. (It should be mentioned that apparently the mutants’ powers are severely dampened in this reality…but that’s a crutch that doesn’t much matter for discussion of this particular issue). Eventually, the Phoenix and Prime are separated, and the Phoenix takes a new host, as the issue ends (to be continued in Phoenix Resurrection: Revelations).

Maybe it’s that I look back on the likes of Prime, Mantra, and Rune with memory of more complex, authentic-sounding stories and characters, as well as the same from the X-Men books from the early/mid-’90s (particularly stuff like Fatal Attractions or the Age of Apocalypse and immediate aftermaths) but this just does not feel like it has much depth, nor is there–even in an extra-sized issue like this–much characterization. It’s like the characters were chosen for the book by "popularity" and "mainstream-ness" (plus, of course, being characters appearing in books that survived into the pared-down 7-book line of Black September-onward), and not really for much else. We have a squad of X-Men and some major Ultraverse characters thrown together, but I get no real sense of depth, development, or motivation. The probe and mother ship have a far-too-convenient means of getting the Phoenix to Earth, Gateway seems nothing but "convenience" personified, and we’re told rather than shown that the mutants’ powers are lessened here. Prime comes off as nothing but some petulant kid–while he IS a kid, he’s lacking a depth I feel like I remember from his own original title. Bishop seems to be present for appearance’s sake, and with the mutants not even really trying to use their powers, there’s no particular point to any specific character’s presence…they’re interchangeable.

With the art, I recognize Darick Robertson and Art Thibert as names if not an actual art style here; but having numerous artists on this single issue doesn’t particularly do it any favors…at least for me reading it in a fair bit of isolation here–perhaps they’re the artists on the main books, in which case I’d welcome that (in idea at least), but just jumping into this issue after the Red Shift collection of 3-page shorts, I’m not thrilled with the visuals. I recognize the various characters–there seems to be an attempt to have them all look a certain way, perhaps using a "house style" or such–but virtually nothing stands out to me. Everyone is for the most part a generic iteration of iconic appearance (for lack of better phrasing). The only real stand-out bit for me was the large image of the Phoenix-possessed Prime (though zero mention or visual reference from the Ultraverse side OR X-Men side of the Prime body being healed/repaired after an obvious significant slash from Wolverine’s claws and Jubilee’s reaction to the green goop).

Ultimately, offhand, I didn’t so much "not enjoy" this as I "didn’t ENJOY" it. It’s cool–at least conceptually–to see the mix of characters thrown together and all. But after 17+ years of having "decompressed stories" that are clearly serialized graphic novels, I definitely am expecting much more depth of character and stuff from two sides like this to be brought out.

This is a definite novelty, one certainly worth 25 cents or so as a bargain-bin purchase, if only for the time it takes to read making it more worthwhile than most anything of its size published in present-day. You can definitely dive into this issue withOUT reading anything before it…the "crossover" stuff from the Red Shift 3-page segments are little but token reference-points thus far, making this a better "starting point" if only for having a big chunk of a single story that’s not jumping to a new setting/character every 3 pages. You could do worse than this issue…but much as I’m down on modern Marvel, if you’re looking for "return of Phoenix" stuff, you’d be better served with the contemporary Return of Jean Grey story in the 2017/2018 Phoenix Resurrection, or in 2012’s AvX event series.

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The ’90s Revisited: The Phoenix Resurrection: Red Shift #0

90s_revisited

phoenix_resurrection_redshiftRed Shift

Writers: I. Edginton, J. Smith
Pencillers: J. Royle, P. Peletier, C. Wojtkiewicz, R. Green, B. Murray, R. Haynes
Inkers: P. Moy, S. Moncuse, M. Farmer, T. Austin, G. Martin
Letterers: P. Owsley, V. Williams
Color Design: R. Alvord
Interior Color: Malibu
Asst. Editor: S. Bernstein
Editor: H. Kanalz
Published by: Malibu Comics
Cover Date: December 1995
Cover Price: n/a (American Entertainment Edition)

I remember the Black September ‘event’ back in 1995. Perhaps for its timing–Black September, this new era for the Ultraverse, this reboot/relaunch/renumbering–coincided with my entering high school, so for me my own life was starting a brand new direction and all that. I also remember stuff about this particular trail through the Ultraverse titles post-Godwheel heading into the event, though I missed out on the Ultraforce/Avengers issues, and so dropped in "cold" on the black-cover "Infinity" issues that September (with #1s in October). At the #2s in November, each book had a 3-page "flip book" chapter of this Phoenix Resurrection thing, in much the way Rune had premiered a couple years earlier. Then there were the larger issues Phoenix Resurrection: Genesis and Revelations, and Aftermath…and they led into some other title, Foxfire.

But I don’t recall if I ever got around to actually reading them all, or particularly caring about them all–this was late 1995, and rapidly heading toward one of my "off periods" with comics where I barely kept up with anything for about a year. So reading this now is like reading a whole new thing for me–I was aware of its existence, but have no conscious memory of actually reading the thing. And this Red Shift issue is something I don’t recall being aware of at the time in 1995–I discovered it some years after.

Red Shift is actually a collected edition of sorts: it collects the seven 3-page segments, making up a 21-page single-issue comic. The indicia shows it to be an American Entertainment edition–and its lack of cover price indicates this to be a special issue that would have been available through the mail-order comics company. This issue turns a ten-comic "event" into a 4-issue thing…making for a line-wide event of only 4 issues…something virtually unheard of in present-day, particularly from Marvel!

Marvel had bought Malibu by this point, and though the Malibu Comics logo remained on the covers, there were a number of Marvel characters that had crossed over into the Ultraverse, perhaps most notably Avengers character Black Knight, and X-Men villain Juggernaut. There were a number of other specific-story crossovers, where characters would cross for the story but not as a status quo.

Red Shift feels like what it is, as a collection of 3-page snippets, with numerous visual styles, and nowhere near enough room for any true story to develop, as they’re basically short little vignettes contextualizing each title’s "recent" prior experience heading into the main event story. Had I bought all seven issues specifically for the flip-book/backup, I’d have been sorely disappointed. Though I know the characters from my own prior experience reading Ultraverse stuff, as a standalone issue, this felt like a real mess trying to read it, and I really had to rely on memory of status quo from 22 years ago to have any slight idea what was going on.

The differing art styles seem–especially looking back–to be absolutely very "’90s" in style…with some generic and gratuitous posing, quasi- or wannabe "iconic" images, and so on…nothing overly dynamic or bad, exactly, but nothing great, either. Most of the creative team are names I don’t recognize (though I recognize several, as this would be early work by them before going to higher profile stuff). That leaves things to the characters, who are mostly recognizable, albeit as their relaunched looks, which were less distinctive and striking than their 1993/1994 debut appearances.

Story-wise, again, these were way too short and disjointed to really have any significance or development. Had they been simply 3 pages apiece within a main issue, worked into 3-page-longer-than-usual issues, they might have had more significance, serving as a universe-wide subplot, rather than being isolated out of whatever story was beginning in the respective titles.

All in all, I’m far from impressed by this issue, outside of the novelty of having these disparate segments brought together in a single issue like Rune #0. The art isn’t horrible but isn’t anything wonderful, and the story doesn’t do anything for me and doesn’t really do anything for the characters except provide a slight reference point. If you’re not already into these characters, I’d avoid this issue; there’s almost certainly more to be had in the "main" Phoenix Resurrection issues.

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The Weekly Haul – Weeks of March 22nd & 29th, 2017

This week’s both huge yet small. Mostly EXPENSIVE.

THREE $5 issues ($4.99) from DC… but these are the would-be-Annuals-now-simply-Specials with the DC heroes crossing over/teaming up with the Hanna-Barbera characters. I don’t know that I’ll be getting ALL of them over the coming months…but these three had my attention…particularly the Booster Gold/Flintstones one and Green Lantern/Space Ghost. I saw the Adam Strange/Future Quest cover enough times that I apparently added it to my stack…so I’ll make a point to read it at least!

weeklyhaul_03292017a

Then I grudgingly hunted down X-Men: Prime…where typically I’ll "vote with my wallet" AGAINST stuff like this…since I was ALREADY throwing price out the window with the DC books, and have long groused about the state of the X-books, I can at least bite the bullet on this issue to "try" it. After all…I can’t KEEP knocking stuff–can’t knock the "new" stuff or the "change of course" or "seeming change of course" if I don’t at least try it. Then after seeing a preview and LOVING the art (a DEFINITE rarity for me, as I virtually NEVER buy solely based on the art) got the apparently-final issue of All-New X-Men (volume whatever…3, 4?). And the preview book was "free," so…whatever.

weeklyhaul_03292017b

The third issue of Kamandi Challenge is out…I need to read #2 yet, but don’t want to fall behind.

Finally, for a $6 cover price, Dark Horse Number Ones reprints 8 #1 issues from Dark Horse…I’m all about these sorts of volumes, especially on the price. It’s even preferable to $1 #1 reprints!

And speaking of reprints…there’s some sort of $10 edition of Letter 44 vol. 1 out…beats the heck outta the $20 cover price on the original edition! I did not get that as I’ve gotten way behind on the single issues, and have all the single issues. Though for the price, I may track it down eventually.

Below, I cover last week‘s haul, which I neglected til now out of frustration at trying to track down the Action Comics issue.

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BREAKING: #Amazon Discovers Boxes Still Legal for Shipping!

I heard footsteps and the sound of something being dropped by the front door. Dreading what I might find when I looked, I checked anyway. I was expecting a book I’d pre-ordered months ago but figured this would be another fight with ’em, trying to get something that is minimally damaged at best.

After all, for ages now, Amazon‘s had this flat-out refusal to ship books with any sort of care or pretense of care! I was wondering if my book might be in just a bubble mailer, or one of those crappy "cardboard envelopes" and picturing the various damages the book’s suffered.

Imagine my genuine shock and "holy $#*^!" moment when I saw an actual, genuine BOX! Like, a box-box, 3-dimensional, not an envelope of any sort, but a real live virtually vintage Amazon BOX!

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And of course, I had to document this. It’s like some unicorn randomly ringing the bell and asking to be photographed! Considering I genuinely cannot REMEMBER the last time I received ANY book from Amazon IN A BOX, this is a momentous occasion!

amazon_actually_used_box_11222016b

After my initial surprise, I once more had some trepidation spotting this hole in the box, obvious damage to the box, which could indicate some massive damage to the book inside. No snark to that statement–something like this could mean something was driven into the box, obviously the box is punctured, so who knows what sort of damage might’ve been done to the book? Alternatively, if part of the book made the damage, then who knows what it suffered in doing so?

amazon_actually_used_box_11222016e

To my further surprise, on opening the box, not only did Amazon use a BOX…but they used packaging material in a vain ATTEMPT to "protect" the book!

These flimsy, crappy air-bubble things mostly don’t do a darned thing and are flatter than not, but SOME air remained in the ones on "top" here. And once I removed the book itself, I realized it’d been laying on one (then flat), but it seems likely that this one on top truly DID protect the book.

No obvious damage to the book’s cover, and since the hole left the cardboard punched down INTO the box, it indicates (to me) that something hit from the houtside…but in most likelihood, the gap between the box itself and the book was maintained by the bubble enough to allow the box to take the damage WITHOUT sharing said damage with the book itself!

These bubbles by no means kept the book STILL within the box–it could still slide around and take damage from being rattled during shipping–but this is more packaging material than I’ve seen in the last (at bare under-estimated MINIMUM) dozen books I’ve ordered from them!

This is not ideal, truly acceptable packaging…especially compared to the actual care and quality from InStockTrades/DCBService (which have CHEAPER shipping and I can’t imagine even with their customer base that they do a fraction of Amazon‘s business!) but considering the complaints I’ve had, I didn’t want to not share this today!

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Look–even the cat is wary of this unfamiliar, rare, and foreign object!

Way to Miss the Point, Amazon!

I’ve been in a fair bit of a "fight" with Amazon for nearly a week, now, this time around.

On Monday, September 26th, 2016, I placed an order for the newest Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide (Vol. 46). I don’t usually buy these, certainly not as an annual thing, but the other one I have is from mid 2011, PRE-New 52, and I figured I could handle one every half-decade or so in terms of owning.

More specifically to be able to know "Guide Value" for various books that I’d be interested in as I look toward the "back issues" side of things on an increasing basis…and unfortunately, far too many comic shops don’t bother to "price" their stock, leaving the poor customer unable to actually KNOW what price they’ll be quoted at the counter, and surely impacting what they’ll try to or consider buying. Buuuut that’s a topic for another post.

amazon_open_box_01     amazon_open_box_02

Anyway. I am an Amazon Prime customer. That means that I pay the annual fee, to be a part of Prime, and I do so for the physical shipping, to get stuff shipped "free" with 2-day/ASAP shipping. It may be labeled as or considered "free," but it is paid for by paying for the year TO BE a Prime member.

Nowhere that I have seen or heard of, does it include anything regarding some sort of "lesser" form of shipping as a result.

So, order placed on Monday, 9/26. Item arrived Wednesday, 9/28. The book’s damaged because it is over 1150 pages, very thin paper, and heavy. Since it was NOT packed to remain immobile…it slid around and was damaged in transit (beyond any damage prior). I requested a replacement immediately.

The first replacement arrived two days later, 9/30. This one was in the same sort of mailer, but with gaping wide openings (it was NOT properly assembled) and I could see daylight THROUGH the thing as well as clearly see the book contained within. Which was, of course, damaged in transit.

overstreet_46_third_time_damages_againI immediately requested another replacement, once again citing the damage and leaving "packaging feedback" about the issue with "heavy book + room to move = damage" and waited.

The second replacement (3rd copy) arrived the next day, 10/1. The mailer was slightly better-assembled, but I could still check out the book without even opening the package…and the book was damaged. I requested yet another replacement.

Meanwhile, I’d separately ordered a Green Arrow tpb, which arrived separately on Saturday. That one was in a flimsy yellow bubble envelope a good 50-75% larger than the book…and with no inserts or markings, it was folded and stuck into the mailbox. (So it earned a replacement-request as wel!)

The second copy of the Green Arrow book arrived the same way–overlarge flimsy envelope, folded and stuck in the mailbox.

It was then that I realized I had not seen any notification of the replacement of the Overstreet book being on its way…it was still held up in some hold status, apparently for my having requested multiple replacements.

amazon_missed_the_darned_point

When I contacted them about it, through their site, through their process, as a question on the item checking on "Where’s my order"–I was told that they would issue me a refund, please send the other books back.

To which I complained that it is not a satisfactory resolution–I’m now out a week of time (I could’ve bought the book from two different bricks-and-mortar stores and had a satisfactory CONDITION copy long before this). And to make me do the administrative thing of juggling receipt of packages and re-ordering, and then my own printer/ink/paper and gas to drive packages to a drop-off, and after 8+ days be back at square one? NO!

Their response to my continued explanation of the situation and emphasis on the fact that the book keeps arriving damaged because they refuse to use packing material and a proper sized box?

They made it entirely (temporarily) unavailable for sale "while they investigate the issue."

HELLO! 1. use a box 2. put packing peanuts or crumpled paper or several air pockets or foam or stick it between a couple sheets of cardboard, shrink-wrap that and toss it in the box, where the book itself will stay put, and any banging/beating suffered will be by the cardboard and not the book that I have paid for.

Halting their sale of the book entirely is so totally, completely missing the darned point!

Supposedly they’ll "resolve the issue" within 7 days; I can only imagine they’ll find that their stock is in undamaged condition (it’s getting damaged in transit for their inadequate packaging process).

Meanwhile… wonder if any of those 3rd party sellers will jack their prices up significantly, thinking the thing is outta print?

And my apologies to anyone else who might’ve been planning to order this from Amazon right now and using Prime shipping. It seems I’m the reason the book is (temporarily) not available for purchase through Amazon itself at the moment.

Digging out classic posters

In my first apartment, I went all-out decorating with posters, and had them all over the place. I actually bought several poster magazines just to have MORE, along with an X-Men calendar just for the images (that work quite well AS posters).

In my current apartment I’ve been a lot more reserved, aiming more toward having any posters that I hang be framed ones.

framed_posters

As I’ve been unable to find exactly-matching frames for some, I did finally find several that fit these, with an acceptably-sized “border” left over.

The TMNT poster is from Wizard back in 2003 or so when the short-lived Dreamwave series based on the 2003 cartoon was being published.

The Prime vs. the Ultraverse poster is from a 1993 issue of Hero Illustrated, I believe. And the X-Men poster I believe is from 1993 or so, though I don’t remember where it’s from–it may have been a pull-out from a Wizard magazine, or else a comic shop promo.

$2 UltraForce Jackpot

I think I went into the comic shop looking for a TMNT comic I missed. Found a newly-purchased collection, and some extremely well-priced UltraForce toys. $2 apiece!

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I’m usually NOT a fan of “variant” figures. Polar Prime? Nighstrike Prime? Yeah, kinda dumb. But then I realized that hey…the character can generate a different body every time he “Primes,” so this actually works! And that Night Man just looked cool.

Plus…given I’ve only really this year been coming across these, PERIOD…I’m not gonna pass one up for only $2!

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The “gem” tonight, though, was NM-E. Even the packaging is in better condition than the other figures (though eventually that won’t matter, as I’ve every intention to have these all outta the package once I find the proper display space!)

ultraforce_end_of_august_2014_NMEb

I still think NM-E looks like an Alien,but hey…still one of my favorite (and more “iconic” Ultraverse villains. I just wish there was a Rune figure.

While I wouldn’t mind getting the whole set of these, having the “regular” Prime and Night Man already and now NM-E, I’m mainly going to be looking for Hardcase and Prototype.

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