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New Robins of Spring

I’ve added some new Robins to my collection this year…and most recently, my first-ever “new in package” Eaglemoss figurine!

robin_eaglemoss_box_front

I’ve been contemplating ordering this one for awhile, but held off awhile. I finally pulled the trigger and ordered it, actually expecting it to be “loose,” though hopefully well-packed. I was pleasantly-surprised to get it still in its package, which afforded me a little more context on these figures than I’d seen so far.

robin_eaglemoss_box_back

For one thing, definitely cool to see more, including a number of ones I do not have. I’d gotten the Penguin and Ra’s Al Ghul, but the rest of these are new (to me). Definitely VERY interested in the Superman one, as well as Green Arrow and this version of Batgirl!

newer_robins

Along with the Eaglemoss figurine, other recent additions include the Batman: The Animated Series Robin from Funko, though this one’s one of my Tim Drake exceptions, as I’ve found myself increasingly interested in figures and such of all the Robins, not just Tim.

Then there’s the Imaginext version of Tim’s Robin, as well as the Imaginext version of Red Robin. And finally, the elusive Mighty Minis version of Red Robin.

most_robins_in_context

These join a few of my other Robins, as well as the other Eaglemoss figurines and other Mighty Minis and such. Not in this particular photo are a 12″ Robin from the Batman Unlimited “Titan Heroes” line, a Robin bust bank, a huge version of that Dorbz Robin, and at least one shot glass.

robin_eaglemoss_box_booklet

This is the booklet that came with the Eaglemoss figure…while this is not my favorite version of the costume, it is Tim Drake, and I want to say he was in it for several years before going to the Red Robin thing for a couple years, before the New 52 stuff.

I do look forward to actually reading through this booklet, though I wonder at its take on the character, and what I’ll learn from it or if it’ll seem “off” to me, considering I’ve largely followed the character (off and on) since 1989. (Just think: in 2 more years, Tim Drake will have been around for 30 years! More than 1/3 the entire existence of the Batman comics!)

most_robins_in_context_blogtrailer

Super Sons #1 [Review]

super_sons_0001When I Grow Up… part one

Story and Words: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Colorist: Alejandro Sanchez
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover: Jimenez and Sanchez
Associate Editor: Paul Kaminski
Group Editor: Eddie Berganza
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: April 2017
Cover Price: $2.99

I’ve been looking forward to this title for quite some time…for a number of reasons. One being the fondness with which I recall reading some of the "classic" "Super Sons" stories in Grandpa’s old comics. Another being the inspired nature of putting Damian and new Superboy Jon Kent together and seeing the two playing off each other–my having come to "accept" Damian, and being quite open to the possibilities of a Superboy who is not "just" Superman as a boy or an adopted "clone" or such…but the biological, actual SON of Superman. Then there’s the simple fun of "Son of Batman" with "Son of Superman" and their being kids, and far less "need" for decorum, professionalism, etc. As kids…there’s bound to be a certain lack of a "filter" and hijinks can ensue.

We open with a creepy-ish scene with a family that reminds me a bit of that episode of The Twilight ZoneIt’s a Good Life–with a kid having a family/town in thrall. Then we jump into some action with Robin and Superboy racing away from a crowd of creepy doppelgangers of themselves. And then…we jump to the recent past to see how they got there. We follow Jon on an otherwise normal day, seeing him dealing with being a kid, going to school, and trying to stand up for someone who can’t otherwise stand up for themself, while he HAS the power to do something. We also see Damian dealt with parentally by Batman, forced to face academics rather than action. Of course, he winds up sneaking out anyway, and enlists Jon’s assistance, as Superboy and Robin are on the case. Little realizing what an appropriate adult figure they’d bump into…the boys are in trouble, one way or the other, and we’re but one issue in.

I don’t know what I expected, exactly, from this series, outside of the hype and promise of its potential (see my opening paragraph). I’m at once drawn to, yet put off by, the art. It has a clear, energetic quality to it, a bit cartoony without being ridiculous. And I suppose it reminds me a bit of the look of the Young Justice series from the ’90s somehow, though that may just be a track of thought with no fruit…the mind can be a funny thing sometimes.

The art certainly fits the title, but I guess visually I was just expecting something more along the lines of Jim Lee, Ed Benes, or some other familiar/iconic Superman and/or Batman artist.

So while not my first choice, the art IS good, fits the story, and one can follow the action and such just fine. I’m sure it will grow on me, and become iconic in its own way, if there’s not a rotating art team or such on this title.

Story-wise, this fit in quite well with the "backdoor pilot" story we had a couple months ago in the Superman title, as well as fitting with what I’ve read of both Jon and Damian over the years in general.

We seem to be getting a new "villain" for the story, some new threat that is NOT just the kids facing some cheesy or cast-off villain from their dads’ rogues gallery(ies). And though the dads are part of the story, the story is not about them–they’re rather typically incidental.

But we’re also given plenty of first-issue material here (which is good since this IS a first issue!) in being introduced to the title characters, their supporting cast/relevant family, see them in their own elements, together, and then they’re brought together TO "team up," and encounter a threat that may be beyond either of them individually…and then a direct encounter with someone neither one of them would WANT to encounter.

This is a rich issue for me, having read plenty of (older) Batman and Robin stuff, and plenty of stuff throughout Damian’s 12-ish year existence, as well as the past 8-9 months of Rebirth-era Superman stuff, and the earlier Lois and Clark mini that came out of the events of Convergence (itself nearly 2 years ago). But just knowing tangentially that these are the biological, actual SONS of Superman and Batman, you can jump in and pick up from this issue alone, with its own context and  such.

The primary drawback here is that this is but one issue, and compared to the biweekly main Superman/Action and Batman/Detective books I believe this is monthly…so it’s going to seem drawn out. And though elements I’d expect of a first issue are here, it’s "just" part one of the story, and I’d be quite shocked if this is any less than 6 chapters…this feels like a solid opening chapter of a serialized graphic novel.

All in all, if you have enjoyed these characters in the past–individually or their "team-up" in Superman a couple months back–or are at all intrigued at the notion of the sons of Superman and Batman interacting/having their own adventures…this is a good start. I’ll certainly be giving it another issue or so myself before deciding if it fully seems more worthy of a graphic novel than being strung out as single issues.

For now? It’s only $2.99, and well worth at least giving it this single issue to get your interest up, with what it shows AND what it "promises."

More Mighty Minis!

Out of my last 11 "blind bag" purchases, I’ve gotten 10 characters I specifically wanted…and no more duplicates! (like the 4 or so Lex Luthors I wound up with from the Justice League Action Mighty Minis line…)

It seems that some brands of these have codes on the packaging, and there are discussion threads online that list the codes. As such, the following:

mighty_minis_batman_villains

Several cool-ish villains. Chemo and Mr. Freeze (well, a mutated version…must be from the Batman Unlimited continuity?). A little less appealing to me with all that orange in place of brown is Clayface.

mighty_minis_bane_ww_aquaman

Then we have Bane, who was introduced to comics early in my time, and thus a key character for me…especially growing up in the ’90s!

I went ahead and snagged Wonder Woman and Aquaman to round up my group of characters…even though these are movie versions and not comic versions. I’ll make do with them until more comic-style ones are available.

jla_firestorm_teen_titans_go_robin

Rounded out the Justice League Action with Firestorm, the key remaining character from series 1 that I actively wanted. And then just because I found the codes, snagged a Robin from a Teen Titans Go set.  (Not like I have enough Robins yet…)

imaginext_dc_series_2_kingdom_come_superman_brainiac

And then, having had them brought to my attention, I’d bought several Imaginext blind bags and wound up with multiple Brainiacs. Once I "discovered" there were "codes" I was able to get my Kingdom Come Superman. (also don’t have enough Supermen yet).

mighty_minis_bus1_batman

Finally, at a Toys R Us, I stumbled across several packs of the original/first series of Batman Unlimited and was able to get a blue-and-grey Batman himself…a figure that’s eluded me since these first appeared.

The ’90s Revisited: Batman #416

90s_revisited

batman_0416White Gold and Truth

Writer: Jim Starlin
Penciler: Jim Aparo
Inker: Mike DeCarlo
Letterer: Agustin Mas
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Editor: Denny O’Neil
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: February, 1988
Cover Price: 75 Cents

[ I wrote this up weeks ago, but never got around to editing and posting my text until now. Fellow blogger Chris Sheehan of Chris is on Infinite Earths covered this issue as well, a couple weeks after I wrote my text; you can find his (far more detailed) coverage here from early November of this year. ]

I’m sure I’ve read this issue in the past…though that was probably in the earlier days of my reading comics–like 1992 or so. I’m pretty certain I recall this issue being part of a 3-pack available at a department store (Hills?) as it’s a "back issue" even from that time, yet a random one I read early on. But it’s a much different thing reading it again now, all these years later.

To be perhaps over-simple in summarizing the issue: Robin (Jason Todd) is shown to be reckless, but rescued by Nightwing. Nightwing and Batman later have words, and then Nightwing helps Robin, with Batman’s hidden approval.

I would have already read A Lonely Place of Dying, and new that this Nightwing guy was "the original Robin" and that "the Robin who died" was Jason Todd, and as a back issue, here was an issue that had the two teaming up. Getting the Dick/Bruce confrontation here–and learning that they haven’t talked in 18 months–surprised me on this reading. Firstly, for having a specific timeframe given, and secondly that I didn’t remember it. Knowing what I do nowadays, but still having a blind spot from this period, I would guess that this is "the" issue that detailed the split and/or retconned things to Dick having been shot and ordered off the job, hence striking out on his own with the Teen Titans and becoming Nightwing instead of Robin. (Much the way #408 retconned Jason’s background to having been found stealing tires off the Batmobile). I would guess this is the Batman title’s explanation of things, whether or not it exactly fits with whatever was going on in the Teen Titans book at the time, and with the ripples/ramifications still being situated post-Crisis.

While the cover is kinda generic and not all that appealing to me, it’s definitely memorable…at least to me, given it was (as I remember) one of my earlier "back issues" long before bargain bins became such a thing for me as they have been the past decade or so. The interior art is "classic" to me, and more than once I had to remind myself I was NOT reading A Death in the Family. Part of me is partially amazed to realize this is the same creative team that DID do that story, even though it’s almost a year’s worth of issues off from this one…back in an age where it did not seem like creative teams shifted every several issues. Whining about that aside…I love the art here, as it clearly conveys the story, does everything I’d expect it to…and stirs up the nostalgia as well.

Story-wise, I felt like even here there was a bit of setup for Death in the Family, though it’s likely a bit of "reaching" on my part. Or in another way of looking at it…having the same creative team allowed for more internal consistency for the title both in characterization as well as visualization. Most often, I think of Starlin as doing Thanos/Warlock stuff, with the Infinity Gauntlet and all over at Marvel…but I think it’s safe to say that he’s also one of my favorite Batman writers!

This issue works quite well for me as a one-off, though I’m obviously a bit biased in nostalgia and remembering this…it’s a one-off for this READING but I’m hardly any sort of new reader or such, which makes this in its own way "just another issue" that I happened to read that I can partially contextualize without other issues. Yet we have a beginning, middle, and end…and though this certainly is not the final issue of the series, we do NOT have a cliffhanger or "To Be Continued…" We just get this as an episode that introduces us to the current Robin, the former Robin, contextualizes both, confronts Batman, and we get a bit of development with all the relationships, seeing that they all have different "history" with each other without (as a reader) absolutely having to KNOW the history.

All in all, this is good, solid issue…and one I would definitely recommend if you find it in a bargain bin! It’s certainly worth a quarter, and if the condition is good, I’d even say go up to $1 on it for the reading experience. The potential we see here gets really developed years later in the Dick/Tim dynamic…and we see the start of that here, had Jason lived.

Ads to Make Me Geek Out A Bit

I normally dislike or avoid ads as best I can…but I’m a LOT more "forgiving" of them in-print. Though both Marvel and DC seem to cram their comics full of ads, such that sometimes it seems every-other page is an ad or a double-page ad spread.

But this week, one ad in particular made me geek out, two others significantly impressed me, and another re-made a point to me of just why I so strongly "prefer" the standard/main/basic/A/most-non-variant cover an issue carries. These in just two comics! 


DC Universe: Rebirth – The Deluxe Edition

geeking_out_ads_rebirth_deluxe

I’ve been vaguely aware that this was coming up, but seeing the ad for it really made me geek out. DC Universe: Rebirth is easily one of the most KEY issues of my lifetime, and certainly of the last few years, for me. I started out grudgingly deciding I’d get the issue and wound up getting multiple copies to "support" the thing, a digital copy for immediacy, and a couple of the other prints for the squarebound format… but the issue is what truly, fully SOLD me on Rebirth and prompted me to go all-out on the initiative and dive in as I have…to say nothing of simply giving me a Superman experience driving me to the comic shop every single week for the latest on the character, after most of a decade of blah stuff.


DC Collectibles: Batman the Animated Series – The Batwing

geeking_out_ads_btas_batwing

The "regular size" figures in this Batman the Animated Series line are too expensive for me…as I’m absolutely certain this Batwing toy is. But darnit, this thing looks really freaking cool, and if I had the space and money to throw presumably $100+ at it, I’d love to have it.

As-is, this is a fantastic ad, showing the toy, describing it with context as to its scale (more than three feet long and just over two feet wide and holds two action figures!). Adding the classic quote from the Tim Burton Batman film that was heavily influential on this series (particularly the theme music!) was an added touch.

Then there’s the way it melds the new/current DC logo with the classic tv series logo…


Action Comics #967 – Men of Steel

geeking_out_ads_action_men_of_steel

I just like this image…seeing both Clark and Luthor doing The Shirt Rip, revealing each man’s Super-outfit. While there doesn’t seem to have been all that much with them clashing yet (a feeling I’m thankful for!), this re-ignites my interest on the matter. Having this Luthor interacting with this Superman is fantastic for conflict and character interaction, and I look forward to witnessing more of it for myself.

After having a story "restoring" Clark Kent to things, albeit with a twist; then another story "re-installing" Lois at The Daily Planet, it seems likely that this will re-catalyze the Superman/Luthor relationship in context of the current situation, giving both men reason to clash with the other, rather than either man’s "assumption" of who/what the other is.


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Flashing Back Friday: Super-Powers Robin Classic

The other day, once I realized that comics weren’t in the cards for me (so to speak), I browsed the rest of the comic shop I was in, seeking something to "justify" my otherwise wasted trip.

Even the bargain tables didn’t really have anything of particular appeal for the price points and condition (I finally saw a Dragons of Autumn Twilight hardcover I would’ve been all over for the price, had the interior not been noticeably separated from the cover!).

Then I spotted something in a box under the table, and with one price crossed out, I picked it up to examine a bit more closely.

Some sort of "ArtFX+" statue(ette) of Robin.

robin_classic_artfx_statue_01_front

Apparently normally $30, but the $29.99 was crossed out with a $10 sticker. Given my disappointment regarding comics and the significant discount (coupled with Robin [albeit Tim Drake] being one of my favorite characters) this seemed like an excellent object for its price…and I certainly dug the packaging, having had several of the original Super Powers action figures back in the day.

The front of the box is made up to look like a vintage figure’s front, with the figure in a bubble on a cardboard sheet.

robin_classic_artfx_statue_02_side1

Then the side of the box is made to look like the package is a stack of three of the figure…

robin_classic_artfx_statue_03_side2

…both sides of the box. The "figure"’s pose is a bit awkward (more on that below). But it’s definitely a nifty element to the packaging…including the "distressed box" look adding to the sense of age to this, like it’s a figure or figures "found" somewhere and actually some vintage object.

robin_classic_artfx_statue_04_back

The back continues the effect with typical elements of toy-card design–the line logo, the specific figure logo, other figures available, bar code, other info and warnings, something about this specific figure…

robin_classic_artfx_statue_05_details1

Being #1 a Superman guy, I’d love to track down that figure. And of course, now having Robin, the Batman would be great. And I’m a developing Flash fan…and a lapsed Green Lantern fan…

robin_classic_artfx_statue_06_details2

This being the Robin figure, we get the sketchy image encouraging this figure’s display along with the other "revealed" figures…

robin_classic_artfx_statue_07_details3

And here we have the description of what’s actually in the box, and what this whole thing actually IS.

robin_classic_artfx_statue_08_figure1

The "statue"/figure had its lower 3/4 in a loose plastic baggie, and the whole thing was in this packaging to keep it centered within the box and avoid basic crushing; the hole allows an un-altered view of the figure itself with no distortion from plastic between you and it…also the ability to touch the cape and confirm that it is indeed fabric and not just some semi-rigid plastic.

robin_classic_artfx_statue_09_figure2

And here’s the unwrapped figure/statue standing on the box. As to its detailing to look like a vintage action figure, even though I consciously knew this was a "statue," I still tried to move the arms or legs! It just has that look to it!

There’s also that pose it is in…not as apparent in the above photo, but it’s posed in such a way as to look like Robin is attempting to show off the front of his shorts–legs and back/shoulders back, shorts thrust forward.

More than a little "awkward," to say the least.

robin_classic_artfx_statue_10_figure3

Still, as an "inaction" figure, the pose seems solid, and the thing is easily stood on a flat surface without any real worry of it tipping over to knock anything else over.

This Robin may be Dick Grayson (where pretty much all my other Robin figures are Tim Drake), but it fits nicely in the display case…and as a nice bit of contrast to the Tims.

For $10, absolutely "worth" it. Right now where I’m at in life, I would be hard-pressed to justify a $30 thing to just stick on a shelf, but the $10 works moreso, and is a nice addition to my collection.

And perhaps before too terribly long, I’ll have a new job where I can "fly my geek flag" with Robins at work, again…

Zero Hour Revisited – Robin #10

90srevisited_zerohour

robin_0010Two Birds One Stone

Story: Chuck Dixon
Pencils: Tom Grummett
Inks: Ray Kryssing
Colors: Adrienne Roy
Letters: Albert DeGuzman
Assistant Editor: Jordan B. Gorfinkel
Editor: Denny O’Neil
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

This is probably one of the most "iconic" covers for me of the Robin run…as well as (loosely) one of my favorite issues. I’ve "always" enjoyed Tim and Dick’s interactions, and having their ages/experience somewhat reversed here (while playing with Tim’s relative inexperience solo anyway) just makes for an interesting, entertaining story.

We open on Robin (Tim Drake) pursuing a lead, but he encounters another Robin…one that turns out to be a young Dick Grayson. Realizing this is another instance of a time anomaly, Tim invites him along on the case. While pursuing "Weasel," the two bond a bit, and even learn some from each other. As the case wraps up, almost with a positive ending, outta nowhere, things fade to white.

Story-wise, this fits right into stuff with Zero Hour and the Batman family of titles, in that we have a solo Tim/Robin story, set during Zero Hour, that involves something not easily explained EXCEPT for "Zero Hour time anomalies." We see Tim in action, still early in his "solo career" as Robin (defining "solo" with the start of his ongoing series, having had solo adventures in the past across annuals and three mini-series, as well as Dick Grayson Robin having had solo outings years prior in backups and whatnot). We see that he’s still learning, still growing, and get some character development through that as he interacts with Dick. I also find it interesting Tim noting that he has more experience at the point this story takes place, than Dick does for the time he’s from. That’s the sort of thing MY mind does, pulling up such comparisons (it’s been longer now since Tim’s ongoing series ended than the entire time I knew OF any Robin character, prior to Tim’s ongoing).

This issue being part of a crossover/event serves to enhance things, allowing for character development and forward-movement that would not be possible in a single issue without the established backdrop OF the event. Additionally, this is basically a one-shot/done-in-one story, where you really don’t need to know anything about the previous issue nor what comes next…you just get a story of Tim as Robin by himself, encountering a time-anomaly Dick Grayson, and the two go after some criminal. This doesn’t feel like something continued from a prior issue’s cliffhanger, and it ALMOST ends without a cliffhanger.

Yet the cliffhanger ending is the concrete tie-in to Zero Hour, outside of Dick’s appearance.

The art is certainly up to par with what I’d expect from this "era" of the title. I quite enjoy Grummett‘s work with Tim, and find that his style is what I tend to think of when I picture these early issues of the title. While the characters do have similar appearances, and the costumes have their differences, there’s still just enough hint of the physical differences that I could probably tell them apart with little difficulty. Of course, the rest of the art team helps in this regard, and colors make a difference along with the design differences of the costume.

All in all, this is one of the better tie-ins to the event, as well as being a darned good issue of Robin, period. If you come across this in a bargain bin, it’s well worth picking up. And if you’re a fan of Tim particularly, that goes extra.

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