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Walt’s Weekly Writing Wrap-Up: August 22-28

August 22 – August 28

Non-Review Content:

mynew52dcupicksMy picks of the DC: The New 52 books

My weekly participation in the Booking Through Thursday meme, this week’s topic: History

Some thoughts on the TMNT as my weakness and exception to rules I set for my own comics purchasing habits

Thoughts based on the non-Wednesday purchase of several comics, and the effect of the $3.99 price vs. $2.99 for single issues

Reviews of comics released Wednesday, August 24:

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw001Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1(IDW Publishing)

Action Comics #904(DC Comics)

Brightest Day Aftermath: Search for Swamp Thing #s 1-3(DC Comics)

DC Retroactive: Superman – the 1990s(DC Comics)

X-Men #16(Marvel Comics)

X-Men Legacy #254(Marvel Comics)

Uncanny X-Force #13(Marvel Comics)

actioncomics904searchforswampthing001searchforswampthing002

searchforswampthing003dcretroactivesuperman1990sxmenlegacy254

uncannyxforce013x-men016tmntidw001leo

Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search for Swamp Thing [Review]

Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search for Swamp Thing

Writer: Jonathan Vankin
Pencils: Marco Castiello
Inks: Vincenzo Acunzo
Art (Issue #2): Renato Arlem
Colors: Barb Ciardo
Letters: Sal Cipriano, (Issue #3) Dave Sharpe
Cover: Ardian Syaf, Vicente Cifuentes, Ulises Arreola
Editors: Rex Ogle and Eddie Berganza
Published by: DC Comics

I haven’t finished Brightest Day yet, but I know that the big hubbub over the final issue was the return of Swamp Thing and John Constantine–after a lengthy absence–to the mainstream DCU. And waiting for the collected volumes of Brightest Day, I opted to pass on this series. But this weekend, I found myself looking for something “extra” to pick up, and the comic shop I was at had all three issues, so I decided that rather than spend only $3.99 for a one-shot, at “only” $2.99/issue, I’d snag this entire 3-issue mini.

John Constantine finds himself the butt of his pal Chaz’s jokes for having bought a newspaper–though this particular newspaper had literally called out to him, the Swamp Thing’s attempt to make contact with him through the plant fibers in the paper. The trouble apparently caused by the Swamp Thing draws Constantine into a quest for his old acquaintance. After all, John saw the Swamp Thing through a couple other major events, so only fitting to be part of whatever this latest go-round is. Constantine makes contact with Batman to enlist the detective’s aid. When this doesn’t go as planned, he finds himself in Metropolis seeking the Man of Steel’s brand of assistance. Upon realizing what may actually be going on, John finds himself on a path that neither Superman nor Batman can condone as he seeks to set things right in a way that only he–John Constantine–can do.

It’s been ages since I’ve read any Hellblazer stuff–at least a year and a half, maybe 2+ years–so this was a welcome reading experience. Vankin has a good feel for the character, I felt like I was reading Hellblazer…except this is set within the DCU, with John interacting once more with a world that includes Superman, Batman, and other super-powered people, unlike the world the character’s Vertigo counterpart inhabits. This version of Constantine is younger, though still quite recognizeable as the character he is. There’s plenty of reference to the past to establish the character’s roots, to remind those familiar with the characters past of what they are. And if one is unfamiliar, it serves to establish that this character has a past in the DCU, though he’s not cropped up in a DCU book in quite a few years.

Though the series’ title emphasizes the Swamp Thing, this feels fully like a DCU-based John Constantine/Hellblazer story, and does so far more than I’d anticipated, expecting there to be a lot more focus on Swamp Thing (especially with Swamp Thing being one of the “New 52” in DC’s relaunch in September). Of course, I’ve long been more a fan of Constantine than Swamp Thing, so this focus didn’t bother me and I think my enjoyment of this series was higher than it would have been if it actually did focus more on Swamp Thing).

The story itself felt pretty basic, and even a bit choppy, almost as if it should have been stretched to at least another issue. Given its timing at the very end of this version of the DCU, though, there seems to have been a need to compress it into only three issues. The first two issues had a nice build, reintroducing us to Constantine, as well as putting him back on the map for Batman and Superman. The third issue held a good bit of promise to it, but after 2 1/2 issues’ build, the end seemed to be anticlimactic, almost negating the purpose of having this series to begin with. This could change depending on the status quo in the new Swamp Thing ongoing, but that would almost make this series seem a prologue and worthy of an altered title.

The art was a sort of mixed experience going through the three issues. Offhand, I’m not familiar with the art team(s) behind this series. The style was not unattractive, and seemed to fit the characters involved. Batman and Superman, if only for the amount of Vertigo Hellblazer that I’ve read seemed a bit out of place by existing, though the artists had a good blend that allowed them to visually work with Constantine and Swamp Thing (or vice-versa). Though the second issue had a different artist, the style’s similar enough to the first and third that I honestly didn’t even notice until pulling the credits to write this review.

As I have not yet finished reading Brightest Day, this doesn’t honestly seem or feel connected to that, except that it would sort of explain an apparent resurrection that lies at the core of this story (even as it reminds me a bit of The Spectre’s character shortly after Green Lantern: Rebirth). If this ties to the new Swamp Thing series as I think it might, I’d hope to see this collected either as a Swamp Thing vol. 1 or 0, or somehow simply not as just a Brightest Day companion volume. If you’re a fan of Hellblazer, this series presents a chance to see a younger Constantine interacting with the DC Universe he came from, and get away from the intricate mythology that’s built up over the last 200+ issues of Hellblazer. If you’re interested in Swamp Thing, this wouldn’t seem a horrible story, but Swamp Thing seems a bit player at best, though you’ll find plenty with Constantine, a character with some key ties to Swamp Thing’s past.

Recommended.

Story: 7/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 7.5/10

Non-Wednesday comics…and why $3.99 doesn’t work

dhp003So, running low on budget waiting for pay day, having a HUGE week of new comics, PLUS an extra, extra-priced variant in my purchases…I left Dark Horse Presents on the shelf on Wednesday. However, not wanting to get backed up on the title, stopped into a regular non-“local” comic shop tonight (Friday – Payday) to grab a copy of the newest issue.

While there, I took a look at more of the comics I don’t normally buy, and ones I didn’t give much look to while in my less-than-10-minutes-with-the-commute window of time of getting comics at my LCS on my lunch break the other day.

Saw a lot of interesting-ish stuff, but seemed like most of it was $3.99+ so above my typical threshold for “just trying something new.” I did spot the DC Legacies hardcover, which I so definitely want to get, eventually. Also liked the look of a lot of the DC Retroactive issues. Unfortunately, though…those are all $4.99 apiece, which is rather expensive for one new story (assumedly about a normal-issue’s length) and a reprint of something I probably already have (particularly the 90s books).

Now, I just finished reading Brightest Day vol. 2 a few days back, and kinda itching to get ahold of vol. 3 (as well as the 2-volume Generation Lost series). And I noticed the 3rd/final issue of the Search for Swamp Thing. I’d already been spoiled on elements of the ending–I knew Swamp Thing’s back in the “regular” DCU, and Constantine as well. AND as it’s also been awhile since my last Hellblazer purchase, but I wasn’t up for dropping $20+ in addition to DHP…Search for Swamp Thing stood out.

searchforswampthing1to3I checked the recent-releases shelves: there were several copies of #2 left…and one single, last copy of #1. For $2.99 apiece, all 3 issues available…I don’t know if it’ll be part of the Vol. 3 hardcover of Brightest Day (fat chance when so many collected volumes these days adhere so rigidly to only an exact title, rather than a STORY) or if at all (given we’re just days away from the DC Reboot with the New 52)…but it was less than $10 (I expect even a PAPERBACK collected volume’ll run $9.99 if not $11.99) for the 3 issues…I bought the series.

In a day ‘n age where I mostly refuse to buy minis as single issues, and where I very rarely will even buy something spur of the moment off-the-shelf (non-Wednesday comic shop runs tend to be me looking for very specific items only)…

Probably the BEST thing a comic can do is be priced at or under $3. For $2.99, I’ll be open to trying a single issue, where for $3.99 I’ll put the thing back on the shelf. (double or more-sized special issues of relevance I might consider $5ish, but those don’t tend to be spur of the moment). And here, an entire mini series: firstly, the shop had ALL THREE ISSUES in stock, no need for special orders or asking for copies or looking in the back. And most important of all: $2.99/issue. I didn’t just buy ONE issue, I bought THREE. And this was INSTEAD of the $3.99 Superman Beyond #0. For $1 less PER ISSUE, I bought 3 issues instead of a single $3.99 issue.

Gets me thinking, at least.

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