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Beginning of the End: Big Fun February 2nd, 2018

Early in the week–around January 29 or so–Big Fun of Cleveland, Ohio announced it would be closing…with a 50%-off-everything sale to commence that Friday, February 2nd.

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This is a store that I remember going into with a couple of friends as far back as1999 or so–basically half a lifetime ago–when it was much smaller and across the street. It recently got back onto my radar and had become extra special, a destination store, a reason unto itself to visit the Coventry area, as much so as BD’s Mongolian, and I’d been looking forward to getting several friends out for visits specifically to get them to this store in the nearish future.

Having gotten some missing TMNT figures from them throughout last year, I opted to venture in for the 50% off sale…figuring ignorantly that it wouldn’t be THAT crowded. But man, was I ever wrong there! The entire store was jam-packed, as the line itself to check out snaked throughout basically the whole of the place, with one having to fight through the line itself to look at anything, and staff doing their best to attend to prospective customers in need!

Ultimately, after finding what I wanted within the first 15 minutes in the place, it was another 100+ minutes standing in line to check out, and found a couple more items than planned specifically due to being in line for such a long time!

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I spotted this Barbaric figure in the Ninja Turtles case. After verifying the price, I decided it was WELL worthwhile, as the 50% off put it at contemporary pricing despite being a very rare late-line figure from the trailing-off end of the original TMNT toy line!

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Loose in the case, but with an accessory, I spotted the best-condition Tattoo I think I’ve ever seen since I was a kid. The figure’s clean, has a number of the sticker tattoos, and they don’t seem to be faded or peeling (or outright MISSING) the way they’ve been with a number of instances I’ve seen online. So he was a definite one to get!

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Knowing I was in for a long wait in line, I figured I should make it "worthwhile" and take advantage of the 50% off while I was there. So I snagged this Chrome Dome,which seems particularly shiny and clean, and comes with a couple of accessories. My main interest was for the wing on the back…my original figure is missing one! So this whole figure can either outright replace that, or if the part is able to be swapped without breaking anything, can complete my existing figure.

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Then Rahzar was another that had accessories, and though it turned out a friend did indeed have the character, is a relatively worthwhile acquisition for the accessories.

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While waiting in line, I spotted a display of several of these Eaglemoss figurines. I recognized Booster Gold and Penguin as ones I had, but then spotted Blue Beetle. Then I had a sudden bit of doubt: had I merely SEEN the design/pose of Booster so many times that I only thought I had him already? I distinctly remembered a Heroclix mini of the character in my display case, but was no longer absolutely, 100% sure that I had this one. I knew I didn’t have Blue Beetle. And sadly, I was unable to find any posts searching this very blog to cofirm, nor locate a photo in my phone. And since I certainly did not want to pass up either figure for the price…I bought them both.

And promptly discovered on getting home that yes, I did indeed already have Booster. Still, for prices I’d seen online for these, and the 50% off…it was not a horrible price to pay for Blue Beetle, and the "magazine" for Booster. And hey…it means I have an extra Booster to do something with.

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Here they are… Blue & Gold in the display case. You can also see the Heroclix Booster that threw me off.


Without getting into too much…I’m amazed at how many people showed up that first day. Further amazed when I saw a post on Facebook from the store’s Page, showing that there was a line down the block before they even opened that morning, and it was jam-packed all day. I know there were loads of toys and such on display of immense collectability, but I guess I underestimated the eagerness and widespread demand that would be triggered by a 50% off sale.

I probably should NOT have been surprised, though, given my own eagerness at various places to get something for 50% off that I would pass on at "full price" but is suddenly very worthwhile at the discount.

I don’t know if I’ll make it in again or not–while a couple months seems like a long time for "going out of business," I wonder at the pace of backstock from their basement being brought up and being stuff I’m interested in…and not sure about the crowds. Most likely I won’t be going back alone anyway, but perhaps with (a) friend(s) it would be worth it!

beginning_of_the_end_big_fun_february_2nd_2018_blogtrailer

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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).

A Lengthy Stay in the ’90s: Savage Dragon

Since Savage Dragon #225 hit, I’ve found myself on quite a Savage Dragon binge. I already had a couple collected editions–including the original–Baptism by Fire–and quickly acquired several more. I also had recently bought and read the Image 10th Anniversary hardcover’s Savage Dragon piece. But that wasn’t enough for me.

I was also pretty sure I’d had a stack of the first couple dozen or so issues…but I was unable to find them, going through a huge portion of my boxes. Finding myself really wanting to read the stuff–and in color, not "just" the black-and-white reprints of the Savage Dragon Archives tpbs–I turned to online comic shops (specifically Midtown Comics, Lone Star Comics, and Mile High), as well as local shops Comic Heaven and Carol and John’s…and just since buying #225…I’ve put together a collection of the original mini-series 1-3; ongoing series 1-101 and a few scattered after that; as well as the Mars Attacks Savage Dragon 1-4, Mars Attacks Image 1-4, Savage Dragon: Red Horizon 1-3, Vanguard 1-6, and Shattered Image 1-4.

Of those, I’ve read the minis and the main series to #50, and several other one-shot/tie-in issues.

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Minus Spawn #52, the above graphic is the bulk of my reading lately…even to falling behind more on new/current comics!

And of course, I still have Savage Dragon #s 51-101 to fly through in the near-future.

Beyond that, I want to track down the various associated stuff–like Freak Force 1-18, the Superpatriot series, I believe there was a second Freak Force book, and a second Vanguard one. There’s also the Savage Dragon: Sex & Violence mini (that I believe took place about halfway through what I’ve already read of the main book).

One "trouble" now is that after so quickly getting such a significant run…it’s going to really try my patience piecing together  the latter 125 issues…some issues I do have, plenty more I’m missing…and now being past the "’90s glut" where everyone was printing huge numbers of everything and "everyone" had all the early issues (making them definite 25-cent-bin fodder now)…the later books did not have such high print runs or popularity/enthusiasm and such, and as such, where they ARE available as back issues, they’re more likely to command "modern" back-issue pricing and such.

But then, I have so much other reading to do, that I want to do, that by the time I get through another 50 issues I already have, I’ll probably be more than fine with a "break" while I get an issue or few here or there on a much slower basis!

The ’90s Revisited: The Savage Dragon #1

90s_revisited

savage_dragon_1992_0001Baptism of Fire

Creator/Writer/Artist/Inker: Erik Larsen
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Gregory Wright
Editor: Jannie Wong
Color Separations: Digital Chameleon
Published by: Malibu Comics / Image Comics
Cover Date: July 1992
Cover Price: $1.95

I remember seeing THE earliest issues of The Savage Dragon "on the stands" back at Capp’s Comics, back in the day. I don’t recall if I saw the first issue of Spawn or not, but Savage Dragon stuck out to me, somehow…I’m pretty sure it was the cover, with the bright yellow and red/oranginess and the main character charging forward. It was very much an "image" book in that regard–all flash, at minimum. But I’ve "always" since then been at least loosely aware of the title’s continued existence and ongoing nature, continually marching forth into higher and higher numbers (much like Spawn). As of this writing, the ongoing Savage Dragon title’s just had its 225th issue…which combined with my reading in full the Dragon story from the Image 10th Anniversary hardcover, and the ready availability of several collected volumes at significant discount and having a bit more on my shelf already than I realized has really rekindled an active interest in the character for me.

So what better way of things than to go back to the very beginning, to this very first issue of a three-issue limited series (when there was no guarantee the character’d support anything beyond that)?

I know the basics of the character’s origin, and little bits here and there, so this issue isn’t as shocking or such as it may otherwise have been. In a lot of ways, there’s something about this that reminds me a bit of the Ultraverse books–plenty of superhero trappings, but some definite, overt violence that makes the book more "mature" without veering grossly into "adults-ONLY" territory.

We open on a green-skinned fin-headed cop leaping into battle with some guy named Cutthroat, and the two beating on each other. The green guy eventually wins out and Cutthroat and his girlfriend are arrested. We then flash back to the guy in a burning field, and then waking in a hospital to officer Frank Darling, who questions him on who he is and how he came to be there–none of which the guy remembers. Darling tries to recruit him for the police, but "Dragon" refuses. But when his boss is threatened and then the warehouse blown up, killing him…Dragon agrees to try the police thing. He’s a one-man SWAT team, able to take on super-powered criminals the "regular" police don’t stand a chance against. We see Officer Dragon in more action, showing off his stuff and meeting others (criminal and costumed vigilante alike), before seeing a group of super-powered criminals about to be unleashed…and perhaps making for a rather short career for Dragon!

Story-wise, this is pretty basic. It feels like there’s a lot more to it conceptually than actual story-wise…and it’s nearly impossible for me to evaluate this "cold," as I know what I do and so can’t help but come to this already knowing a lot of stuff that wasn’t even available when this was published. That said, it’s cool to read this, consciously aware of things and how they go, while seeing the beginning foundation of it all start to unfold here. This also does as a good first issue should…namely, it introduces us to the titular character, shows him in actions, gives us a bit of an "origin" (at least how he came to be a cop), introduces us to some "minor"/supporting characters, gives us a villain (in this case, several!), and sows some seeds of what’s to come and makes you want to know where things go from here.

The art is solid…the character is very recognizable, of course…and though I’d expect a certain "roughness" to it, there are panels that I’d swear you could show me out of context and I wouldn’t be able to concretely place them as 1993, 2002, or 2017. Larsen‘s work is definitely more refined 225+ issues later, but it’s quite cool to see that he’s held a consistency across 25 years with the character and book.

I definitely look forward to diving into the series and seeing how far I get…whether I do a lengthy read now or "soon," but at least the rest of this mini-series!

I know I got this issue at least a couple times from quarter bins/50-cent bins…I don’t know if (for whatever 3 or so copies I have throughout my collection) I’ve even paid cover price for the issue TOTAL yet. It’s definitely worth a quarter, and if you can get the whole mini-series, I daresay it’s at least worth cover price per issue to get the whole story.

It’s also interesting to note that even though this bears the Image comics "i" logo on the front…this was actually published by Malibu!

For a general reading experience, I’d recommend the collected edition…I know Larsen did some slight revisions and reordered the pages into a story-chronological order for the collected volume and fleshed thinks out a bit…so you’ll have a more thorough and refined story reading that way. Still, I enjoyed reading this as a single issue…and even found that there’s a bound-in mini-poster ripe for framing and hanging on my art-wall!

The Weekend Haul – Weekend of June 9-11

Over the weekend, I wound up getting quite a bit of stuff! Granted, some of it was ordered and arrived over the weekend, but still much more than a usual weekend might be!

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I stopped by Comic Heaven looking for Trial of the Flash issues, with no luck on those. but I did score an anniversary issue of Detective Comics that I think I may have heard of but don’t think I’ve ever read.

Then I found several books more than 50% off in bargain bins I hadn’t realized had been "restocked." (One actually may have been on a bargain shelf display, come to think of it). These, plus a booster pack of Star Wars: Destiny (a dice and cards game) where I got a rather pricey rare card (or "legendary" in game terms) cost me LESS than what the Black Vortex would have cost at cover price!

And it’s kinda hard to believe that there are 75 issues of Savage Dragon across just three of these Savage Dragon Archives paperbacks. (They’re basically like Marvel‘s Essential or DC‘s Showcase volumes–phonebook-sized black and white reprints of series). I remember (among other issues prior) getting Savage Dragon #75 as a new issue and being astounded at how long Larsen kept the result of that issue going at the time. And I’m quite interested in snagging the other Archives volumes as well.

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Then, I took a friend across town to Carol & John’s, where we were unfortunate enough to be there during Winston‘s nap-time. Being cat people, though, we totally understood not waking the kitty!

I snagged the new Marvel Comics Digest starring Spider-Man, and picked up Bane: Conquest #2 which I’d missed/not seen prior (oops!).

At a Books-A-Million, I snagged a Spidey treasury edition…for $3.97 and jumped on it (hey, 5 Marvel issues’ content for a whopping $3.97–cheaper even than a single issue–is a price point I’m willing to sample something at!)

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Also at the Books-A-Million, I found a copy of the (I believe out of print) Gambit Classic vol. 1 for a mere $6.97–seven issues’ content for barely $1 each, and did I mention that I’m pretty sure this volume is out of print? I think its contents are somewhat duplicated in other stuff, but the ’90s fan in me was ecstatic to find this for the price (though I’ll probably pay at least triple this for the second volume if I ever come across it or hunt it down).

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And rounding things out, I’d put an order in with InStockTrades for a few books, sliding I think just a few cents over the minimum threshold for free shipping. And though the box arrived with a hefty dent and outright HOLE in its side from the mail system…since InStockTrades (UNLIKE Amazon) ACTUALLY USES GOOD PACKING PRACTICES, my books were UNHARMED. Additionally, because of actually being packed well, they arrived in new condition, as ordered–something Amazon flat-out REFUSES to do!

Next is to try to hold back a bit, though there are a number of other books and such that I want. It’s just kinda sad when a random visit to a couple comic shops and a bookstore (and an online order) yield better deals and more plentifully so (that interest me, anyway) than a convention.

We’ll see what this week’s new releases hold, and if/when I get another chance to sit down for some major, marathon reading!

The Weekly Haul – Week of September 21, 2016

I continue to be thoroughly, disgustingly frustrated with variants.

See, this should have been a quick, simple week.

Just a couple issues I was looking for; grab ’em and go, right? Check out that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issue below!

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I wound up flipping through EVERY SINGLE ISSUE of Superman, just trying to ensure that what I was getting was NOT a variant.

I then did the same thing with the Aliens issue.

There was only the single copy left of the Savage Dragon, so I sincerely hope it is NOT a variant, either, or I am really gonna be mad.

Puzzling over the TMNT comic?

Yeah, there were 5-6 copies of the title on the rack…but they were VARIANTS! Several “SUB CVR” variants and at least one “RI CVR” variant!

But the regular, actual, main, REAL cover? Nope, nada.

I went to a second shop as well looking for it, but they didn’t even have the issue in ANY form, PERIOD.

So hey, saves ME money. I was gonna double-dip for immediacy…I’ll just have to wait til I get to Kenmore next week or so where the issue is pulled for me.

Shows just how intensely I dislike variants on principle that even if I am buying two copies of the issue for immediacy I still honestly do. not. want. the variants!

There’s a word for this–something like discouraging–but stronger.

If I ever flat-out just up and walk away from comics, it’s going to be on price, and variants-on-principle.

The Weekly Haul – Week of August 5th, 2015

Though the photo looks contrary, this was my smallest week yet since dropping all Valiant several weeks ago.

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The only thing on my pull list is the TMNT issue. The Age of Apocalypse mini is one that I’ll buy even though I’m primarily waiting for Secret Wars to make its way to Marvel‘s Digital Comics Unlimited.

The Eclipso: The Darkness Within issue is from the quarter bin, and really only caught my eye due to being one of the issues with the plastic 3-D diamon shard…a nifty artifact of the ’90s.

The Savage Dragon, the Strangers in Paradise, and Ultimate Spider-Man tpbs were in a 90% off bin…combined, the three were still cheaper than a contemporary single issue!

Finally, the Nightwing volume. This has the original 4-issue mini-series and then the first 8 issues of the ongoing (sadly, the Return of Alfred issue is not included). While I’d prefer to get something like this for a discount, I’m so completely fed up with Amazon right now that they’re not even a consideration. Plus, lacking Valiant, I wanted to get something I wouldn’t otherwise, and continue to support the LCS, so I bought this volume. 12 issues’ content for roughly original cover price, even a bit cheaper…nto bad at all.

I’m looking forward to the Robin volumes like this, and have had my eye on the Spectre ones as well as Saga of the Swamp Thing. These hit a sweet spot of having quite a number of issues while holding to a $20 price point. Sure, tax makes ’em a bit more, but to mentally settle at “$20” works, where even “$21” seems a lot steeper to me.

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