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Thoughts On This Week’s Secret Wars #6

secretwars(2015)006I think this is my final issue. This cover–probably for having been printed in advance–still shows “of 8” whereas the series has been expanded to 9 issues at least. And displaying the tardiness of this book, the first POST-Secret Wars books hit this week already…meaning that only 2/3 into this event series, we’ve already got the post-series status quo showing up.

Back in 2005/2006, DC did their One Year Later jump, intentionally midway through Infinite Crisis…but that was promoted that way. That something would happen in Infinite Crisis and all of DC‘s titles would jump ahead a year, though Infinite Crisis itself would still have a couple issues remaining to play out.

It was PLANNED that way.

And frankly, despite the early “fun” to Secret Wars stuff and the nostalgia factor…I find myself back to the general negative feelings on their stuff that I’ve often wound up with.

They hype this big, huge event far beyond anything that could truly, possibly be delivered. And then while the story has barely started, is less than halfway through…they’re already hyping the NEXT thing. The NEXT status quo, the NEXT event, the NEXT whatever.

There’s no room for things to just settle, to let something play out, to give books several months to “cool off,” to explore ramifications and “aftermath” of stuff from one big event before jumping into the next.

Solicitation cycles and all that, I’m sure. To say nothing of the 6-issue periodical volumes.

I’d truly had high hopes that we’d see a fresh, all-new Marvel Universe that I could start with, Day One, and “meet” characters anew. We’d still have had everything to that point, but now have a new universe for EVERYONE to start with…even if it also involved a mashup of “the 616” and the Ultimate lines.

But other than several characters “crossing over” or “carrying over” or whatever (hardly much different than say, Sugarman, Dark Beast, Holocaust, and Nate Grey–X-Man–carrying over to the “main” X-Men line after the original Age of Apocalypse), it’s the same Marvel Universe that we started with. 

“My” Wolverine is still dead, with X-23 and a crossed-over Old Man Logan as a replacement/excuse to keep original-Wolverine dead while still HAVING Wolverines.

Then there’s opening the issue onto a white page with gray lettering stating “Three Weeks Later.” Given the sporadic release of the title and my having trailed off on tie-ins and such, I found it a bit jarring and less than appealing. “Three weeks after WHAT?!?” I asked myself. “I don’t even remember how the previous issue ended!” Sure, a few pages in, I came to a recap, but that doesn’t change my initial, involuntary reaction to the issue.

And while I didn’t “notice” it as much earlier on, or could overlook it, or whatever…I can’t help but feel a sense of pretentiousness to the book…that sense now of it trying to be some High Story, on some higher, multiple-levels more than “just” some straight-up super-hero thing with a huge quantity of characters all interacting that leads to a new Marvel Universe from the parts.

As is often the case, though…it will likely read a LOT better in a collected edition, when the ENTIRE story can be binge-read. At this typing, I figure I’ll finish out the Age of Apocalypse series, probably watch for some other stuff in dollar bins that I started with…but by and large, I think I’m done with this until I suck it up and buy a collected edition. 3 issues left, one probably a $4.99 to $5.99 as an extra-sized finale…that’s $13-$14 toward a collected volume!

All-New All-Different Marvel November Checklist

November 2015

All-New Hawkeye #1
All-New Wolverine #1
All-New X-Men #1
All-New , All-Different Avengers #1
Black Knight #1
Carnage #1
Deadpool #1
Drax #1
Hercules #1
Howard the Duck #1
Illuminati #1
Mighty Thor #1
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1
Ms. Marvel #1
Nova #1
Silk #1
Spider-Woman #1
Star-Lord #1
Ultimates #1
Venom: Space Knight #1
Vision #1
Web Warriors #1

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[source: promotional postcard (pictured above)]

The Weekly Haul – Week of August 12th, 2015

This was another small-ish week despite a large “side purchase.”

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I’d not been certain, but apparently I actually had left Letter 44 on my pull list. Oni has been good to me relatively speaking, so no problem there.

Marvel FINALLY has another issue of Secret Wars out.

I got the Lazarus volume for a whopping $1.00. Given I grab virtually any promo issue at $1, and I do have vol. 1…this was a virtual no-brainer.

Finally, though I’d hoped to snag the new Spectre vol. 1 paperback, that wasn’t in stock, and I haven’t read Nightwing vol. 1 yet so no sense getting vol. 2, and I spotted this Superman volume (The Power Within), which reprints the Superman thread from Action Comics Weekly #s 601-641 and several other issues. As a definite fan of this era of the character, I opted to go with it.

Along with these, I raided quarter bins at two shops for a stack of #1 issues. Also snagged a bunch of other issues that caught my attention. I normally don’t like pulling a bunch of #1s for the #1 on the cover, but this was the start of a project I’ll be able to talk about in a few weeks, that I’m hoping yields some fun results…particularly as it’s costing ME and has nothing to do with any kind of profit (nor attempt at profit).

The Weekly Haul – Week of July 29th, 2015

This proved to be a pretty big week for me…two Marvels and an IDW.

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I completely forgot about the Deadpool book, and figured I’d stay on it–not sure if it’s 4 or 5 issues, but I’m enjoying it and opted not to wait for it to hit Marvel Unlimited next year. And X-Men ’92 is just nothing but awesome on all sorts of levels. TMNT is TMNT, and a “given” for me.

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Though I usually stick to ’90s stuff through present, I delved a little further back with some back issues this week. Between quarter bins and some $1 bins, I snagged a handful of older comics that happened to appeal to me tonight.

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These Captain America volumes were already heavily discounted…but because they’re also rather beat-up–certainly not “brand-new” condition–the shop owner cut the price on both in half. So both volumes combined wound up costing me as much as three Marvel single issues.

So, definitely quite a haul for the week. Next week looks like it’ll be the first post-Valiant week where I’m not expecting anything one-off that’s been pre-ordered, where I’d been expecting these volumes as well as several I showed off last week.

For the difference, I’ll probably raid the back-issue bins…see if I can find one of the un-reprinted Silver Surfer issues from the run-up to 1991’s Infinity Gauntlet, or maybe a random Silver Age Superman or such…or browse the racks for an Image #1 or check the shelves for an Image vol. 1 paperback. Time will certainly tell!

Age of Apocalypse (2015) #1 [Review]

secretwars_ageofapocalypse001Sticks and Stones…

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artist: Gerardo Sandoval
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover: Sandoval & Curiel
Asst. Editor: Xander Jarowey
Editor: Katie Kubert
Executive Editor: Mike Marts
Published by: Marvel
Cover Date: September 2015
Cover Price: $4.99

For what I believe is the first time in years, the “classic,” ORIGINAL Age of Apocalypse logo is back (though lacking the oval and “After Xavier: The“). For over a decade, it seems a newer logo/font has been the “in” thing for use with the branding, from the 10th anniversary-onward. Add to that the fact that we have Magneto and Rogue prominently shown as well as a gratuitous placement of Weapon X (Wolverine)’s hand and claws, and this is something that absolutely grabbed my attention. (There’s also the fact that I revisited the saga in its entirety earlier this year, too!). While the characters are a bit “off” in appearance on the cover, this is still a great image to me, and I especially dig this rendition of Rogue.

We open the story to find the Savage Land under attack by Holocaust–son of Apocalypse (and in this Secret Wars version of the world, Apocalypse is Baron of the realm, with only god Doom above him). Holocaust is also one of Apocalypse’s Horsemen, sent to retrieve the young mutant Doug Ramsey (aka “Cypher”). Storm and Quicksilver’s squad of X-Men arrive to fight the monster and save Cypher…though things quickly go pear-shaped for all involved. We then shift to the aftermath and find what Mr. Sinister, Dark Beast, and the Summers brothers are up to as well as learning more about the situation, as Cypher pieces together an important bit of information. And finally, we get to Magneto’s squad of X-Men…and are left hanging for next issue.

As mentioned above about the cover, Sandoval and Curiel‘s art has the characters looking a bit “off” to me…but despite that, the work is very good, and overall I like what I got in this issue. Maybe I would have enjoyed this even more with one of the “classic” artists that worked on the original 1995 Age of Apocalypse, but this IS a newer story, a new look at stuff, and is not actually that SAME Age of Apocalypse (evidenced especially by the presence of modern Tablets that didn’t exist in any sort of commonality back in ’95). There are some differences–Magneto seems overly muscled, Cyclops’ hair seems a lot thicker, longer, and far more wild, and Sinister’s coloring seems more muted than I expected–but in and of itself, I’m cool with it. I enjoyed the look and feel of this issue.

Another selling point for me was very definitely that Nicieza–one of the writers on the original story–is the writer here on this book now. I generally find that I am far more accepting of changes to core elements of a story in new “takes” on an original when an original creator is involved…it’s sort of their seal of approval, being involved.

As we only have a few issues for this story as opposed to several dozen for the original, Nicieza deals nicely with scaling down the cast for the main story while directing our focus a bit. There’s a certain familiarity here that I truly appreciate, while the differences seem to come primarily from the fact that this is an Age of Apocalypse that is part of Battleworld and not solely its own thing…so certain continuity elements simply don’t exist here that did in the original…and/or they flat-out don’t matter. The story rang true to my reading, even more than probably anything else done with the AoA in the past 10  years.

You don’t need to have read the original story to follow this…there’s plenty in-context to move things along. As a part of Secret Wars and the whole “NOW, ALL THAT REMAINS…IS BATTLEWORLD!” this functions believably as simply an alternate take on/situation for X-Men characters. If you’re familiar with and enjoyed the original Age of Apocalypse epic, this version of the characters seems plucked from the heart of that, rather than some new status quo picking up years after the original.

The $4.99 cover price is a bit steep…and though I think I knew OF it a few weeks back looking ahead, I forgot about it, so was somewhat surprised when I re-realized what I’d paid for this. That’s probably also credit back to the cover imagery and logo and then my enjoyment of the story–I was distracted and not bothered by the price. We get about 30 content pages–more than the standard 20-22, so as much as any are these days, I’ll accept that as “justification” for the $4.99.

I thoroughly enjoyed the issue, and despite trying to shift to Marvel‘s Digital Comics Unlimited, I may actually keep current with this series. Highly recommended to Age of Apocalypse fans in particular…this may not be nearly as special as the original story, but as a new story it captures something that really works…at least to me.

Secret Wars – Week of June 10, 2015

Several weeks in and finally getting to some of the #2s for the Secret Wars tie-ins. I enjoyed the week’s reading overall, though none of the #2s particularly stood out or overly impressed me. As always, I’m not thrilled with the $3.99 price point, but these could have been worse for the price. We also had the Marvel Zombies #1, which I covered by itself.

Inferno #2

secretwars_inferno002I definitely picked this up because of the first issue, and was curious at where things would go. This issue manages to lose the “shiny newness” factor of the first and settles (for me) into a middle ground of “good” but “not terribly memorable in itself.” Even though I did read the issue, its content and the specific details of the issue mostly faded from conscious memory…outside of what happens to Nightcrawler. I’m quite sure I’d have enjoyed it more if I was familiar with the original Inferno story; but here, I’m simply experiencing the details of this iteration with a general knowledge of continuity after the original. While I’m not overly engaged at this point, the only real negative for me (story or art or overall) is a passive lack of engaged interest. Nothing actively puts me off or kills my willingness to continue with the series.

Secret Wars 2099 #2

secretwars_2099002I’m still not entirely sure what to think of this book, but as a Peter David one I really find myself wanting to like it. This issue gives us more background (and questions) on the Avengers 2099…particularly Captain America and her alter ego. We also re-meet the Hulk of 2099 and see him face off with the Avengers. I only loosely remember the existence of the Hulk 2099 title and character, with a lot more “awareness OF” than actual reading experience on the character. While we have Miguel heading Alchemax, this is sort of the first (familiar) 2099 character for me, grounding the new characters (Hercules simply seems to be “my” Hercules but traumatized). Taken alone as itself I don’t think I’d care nearly as much for this title; but as a 2099 combined with David‘s writing, I want to see where this goes, and look forward to the next issue.

Ultimate End #2

secretwars_ultimateend002Things start to make a lot more sense to me here and explain stuff I was unclear on with the first issue. For one thing, I assumed the first issue had some bit of flashback going on, or something preceding the start of Secret Wars itself; I get clarification here that what I’m actually seeing is heroes from two different worlds put together and trying to figure their situation out, but AS a part of Battleworld. We get some nice character interactions between the two Tony Starks, and other Spider-Man/Peter Parker and Ultimate Gwen and Aunt May. We also get a Green Hulk vs. Gray Hulk fight to cap off the issue. I’m also seeing that unlike my initial assessment, this is much like any of the other tie-ins to Secret Wars in that we have characters from the given setting(s) and get a story involving them, in the context of Battleworld.

Overall Thoughts on the week

I’ve definitely found myself significantly more interested in the #1s to “try” them than with the continuations of the series. I’ve already passed on Secret Wars Journal #2, and suspect that in the coming weeks/months I’ll “drop” other titles and possibly pass on even more. No matter how interested I may be or how “fun” the thing might look…I have a limited budget, and $3.99 upon $3.99 stack up REALLY fast, and whatever of these tie-ins I buy are ON TOP OF stuff I’m already getting, and are not going to supplant any of those. The “sticker shock” of Marvel‘s $3.99 books continues to be THE #1 detriment for me. I look forward to the next couple weeks, with less tie-ins that I’m after, and hope that what I *am* getting with balance out more across the weeks as the event goes on.

An Ad I Actually Really Like: Marvel Legends Hulkbuster BAF

I’m usually annoyed with ads, or at best, just flat-out ignore them. But a recent Secret Wars (2015) issue had an ad on the back for a new Marvel Legends Build-A-Figure line. The actual figure to be built? A large Hulkbuster Iron Man.

marvel_legends_hulkbuster_ad_fullsize

Yeah…to me, that’s pretty darned cool. And as I’m already highly interested in (what I believe is to be available soon if it isn’t already) the Marvel Selects Hulkbuster…and have the one from the Iron Man 2 toy line (3.75″ scale) and the one from the newer Avengers: Age of Ultron  2.5″ scale…kinda my thing.

So…give me this ad more often instead of the other crap that I want to ignore or that just plain holds zero active interest for me.

This ad successfully made me aware of the line so I’ll be watching for it, shows me its BAF is awesome, and has me interested (at least in buying the BAF on ebay someday).

Marvel Zombies (2015) #1 [Review]

secretwars_marvelzombies001Journey Into Misery: Episode 1

Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Kev Walker
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer & Production: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Artists: Ken Lashley & Paul Mounts
Asst. Editor: Alanna Smith
Editor: Daniel Ketchum
Published By: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: August 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

The original Marvel Zombies series roughly a decade ago ultimately led me to The Walking Dead and a years-long Zombies kick with movies and such. I remember using that original series as a personal ‘reward’ for studying toward the end of a semester in grad school: read X amount for school, take a break and read a comic.

So it was no small bit of nostalgia prompting me to pick this up, and it’s on the title rather than the cover…while it’s not bad or anything, it doesn’t work overly well for me. It definitely draws from the concept of taking a bunch of established Marvel characters and zombi-fying them, but it’s hardly new fare. While the standard-ish Marvel Zombies logo is there…I think I would have really enjoyed a nice homage cover here…perhaps a play off a classic 1980s Secret Wars cover, if not a zombi-fied version of a current Secret Wars (2015) cover.

Still, the issue’s art is good and I really had no problem with it, especially within the general theme of a decaying world with rotting, walking corpses and all that.

The story picks up with Elsa Bloodstone showing off how hard willed and steadfast she can be, fighting back the zombie hordes trying to get past the Shield. When The Red Terror (Azazel?) shows up, she manages to defeat him…but not before he’s teleported her hundreds of miles beyond the Shield. On waking after her victory she meets a young stranger, and the two grudgingly set off on a quest for survival.

Where I recall the classic Marvel Zombies series being more fun and generic, this feels like it has a lot more plot, with Elsa as the star and the zombies being relatively incidental. And honestly, I like that. Spurrier gives us the start of a good story here, and as a Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead fan this evokes a sense of those, but with superheroes and super-powered characters.

While there’s a bit of context to be gleaned having already been familiar with past Marvel Zombies stuff, on the whole this can definitely be taken quite well without having read any of that previous MZ stuff…you get what you “need” from this issue itself. The Elsa Bloodstone name seems familiar to me, but I know more OF the name/term “Bloodstone” in terms of Marvel comics than I know through “experience.”

I was actually surprised by how solid this issue seemed to me, how much I enjoyed it and am genuinely interested in seeing where stuff goes. And while I come to the book lacking any significant Bloodstone knowledge, I could see this making me a fan of the character/artifact. This is definitely a worthwhile addition to the slew of Secret Wars tie-ins, and one I’m glad to have given a shot.

Secret Wars – Week of June 3, 2015

I actually enjoyed reading the Secret Wars comics I bought this week…so much so that I spent more time reading and less time even considering reviewing. And given general “life gets in the way” time-constraints (and lack of patience, if I’m totally honest) I decided instead of writing up single-issue reviews, I’d just touch base on the issues I bought this week and thoughts I had. Not exactly reviews, not exactly something else. Just my rundown of my trip into Battleworld.

Secret Wars #3

secretwars(2015)003I continue to be surprised (pleasantly) at this series. I’m less and less appreciative of the full-page text/chapter breaks (seems like a waste of pagespace to me), but I’m finding the core story here to be a lot more accessible than I expected, given the writer. Given we basically already know the outcome, and have for months before this even started, it’s still a good ride going through. As this third issue in the series, there is a shift and I sort of feel like we’ve had 3 distinct “situations” presented with the first issue giving us the end of the 616 and 1610 Earths, the second immersing us in this current Battleworld Earth, and now we begin to see some cracks and the drawn-back curtain on how this world was came to be and its background. I definitely look forward to the next issue, and whatever tie-ins I do or don’t get, I’m pretty sure I’m “all in” for this core book.

X-Tinction Agenda #1

secretwars_xtinctionagenda001The cover alone for this issue would have sold it for me. Having a classic cover-dress absolutely punched my nostalgia button–corner box with the character headshots; the bold, blocky title logo, the overly dramatic image, and even the “ACTION-PACKED FIRST ISSUE” blurb…totally something out of the early 1990s. Topping that off, the simple fact that this is an X-book. I’ve yet to read the original X-Tinction Agenda story, but I know OF it. And this issue provides some interesting (to me) character sets as well as the situation casting certain characters into a “villains” type of role…while keeping them sympathetic to me as a reader. Despite that, I’m not overly invested in these versions of the characters, and the cliffhanger doesn’t mean much to me except as “generic” potential foreshadowing. Given my enjoyment of classic ’90s X-Men stuff, chances are good that I’ll stick with this series for its duration.

Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1

secretwars_amazingspiderman001Given the better part of the last decade has had me with near-zero interest in the One More Day/postOne More Day take on Spider-Man, getting a fresh take on a MARRIED Peter Parker (who HAS A KID, to boot!) is something I really could not NOT support. And thankfully, despite some wariness on my part at Slott writing the book (what I’ve read of his work on Spider-Man over the past view years has had mixed reactions on my part)…I quite enjoyed the issue. Some page layouts were a bit weird and distracting as I tried to determine the exact flow of panels, but the art itself was great. The story gives a nice mix of Peter in action and interacting with his family, as well as setting up the world he and MJ live in, and providing an interesting spin on the character as things are set up for the rest of this series. I definitely look forward to the next issue (for better or worse, this is a double-ship month so I only have a couple weeks) and will see how things are shaping up from there as to whether I keep up with the series to its conclusion.

Future Imperfect #1

secretwars_futureimperfect001This is another Secret Wars tie-in based on a story I’m quite AWARE OF but have yet to actually read. I didn’t REALLY have any particular interest in it…but then I saw that it IS a Peter David book, so on his name alone, I decided to check this out. And overall, I’m glad that I did. I had no particular pre-conceived notions getting into this, so it just unfolded, and even gave an interesting twist where I thought I saw something developing but then got something else that felt like it should have been equally obvious. I also enjoyed the art overall in itself, if not all the character designs. Despite that, this is one that as a story doesn’t hit any real nostalgia buttons for me, and given the large quantity of books each week may fall off for me as I simply don’t have the “budget” to get every last tie-in title that’s on my radar. Still…having the original creator (David) getting to revisit something like this with a fresh series is something I welcome, and am glad to see out there. It also leaves me much more interested in actually reading the original, just to “experience” that for myself after all these years.

Years of Future Past #1

secretwars_yearsoffuturepast001The original Days of Future Past story in X-Men was probably the first major story that I spent awhile trying to track down just to read. I was aware of its existence, knew what issues it had been in…but did not have actual, physical access to it to read the thing. I was introduced via the ’90s cartoon, then eventually found a paperback children’s novelization, and finally at some point found the two-issue “mini tpb” to read it (years ahead of collected volumes and digital or even eBay negating such troubles). This is an oversized issue at $4.99 instead of $3.99, and that almost put me off from getting it, but since it even FELT oversized, I decided to suck it up and buy the thing…I’m giving as many of the #1s a shot as I can, figuring shops will have a better handle on ordering for the second issues, and at least I won’t miss out on a surprise #1 taking off in popularity. This had some interesting enough bits, but overall this didn’t exactly grab me…I appreciate it being drawn from the Days of Future Past-era stuff but doesn’t actually hold the tight significance of that original story for me.

Overall Thoughts on the week

Considering I’ve been largely away from Marvel for most of the past couple years, with most weeks not even buying anything they put out, it’s been quite an anomaly the last several weeks actually having Marvel in my purchase stack. This week brought out the sticker shock…with a cluster of THREE Star Wars books, and buying FIVE Secret Wars tie-ins, as well as a couple random issues AND my usual pull-list issues. Even so, while I may be “iffy” on tie-ins on a case-by-case basis, five or so weeks in and I’m still enjoying Secret Wars and still looking forward to more!

The Weekly Haul – Week of June 3rd, 2015

Secret Wars is in FULL FORCE this week, having so very quickly ramped up in quantity, frequency, etc. Marvel is truly hitting a bunch of nostalgia points with me, which is exactly what they were going for, I know…but they’ve successfully re-targeted me as an audience, if only for the duration of Secret Wars itself (though moreso the tie-ins).

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I have yet to get around to actually READING the original Hulk: Future Imperfect or X-Men: The X-Tinction Agenda stories, but those are classics I’ve long been aware of and actually own (in some form) somewhere in my collection…but haven’t read. X-Men: Days of Future Past was one of THE stories in my youth, and one of the earliest hard-sought reading experiences for me to track down (I had to settle for a children’s novelization of the story before I ever got to read the actual comics!).

And of course, a married Spider-Man? After all my grousing through the years about Brand New Day and all that? An actual Amazing Spider-Man comic with Spidey, Peter, MJ, a baby, etc.? You’d darned well better believe I picked THIS one up.

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On a frustrating note…there are five Star Wars titles that I’m aware of at the moment. WHY an entire 60% of that load had to fall into ONE WEEK is absolutely BEYOND me. A tangible effect, though, is that because of these, I SKIPPED Secret Wars stuff I otherwise would have bought.

I actually read Grayson #1 in the Young Gotham Sampler, and enjoyed it; if the vol. 1 that just came out/is due out were a PAPERBACK I think I’d be all over it. As-is, as a hardcover, it’s gonna wait. And while I’d had spoilers for the end of New 52: Futures End and the Batman Beyond stuff, I still opted to check this one out for myself…ESPECIALLY once I noticed the $2.99 price point (yeah, TWO-ninety-nine, NOT the virtually-standard-now THREE-ninety-nine)!

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And finally on the tail end, my actual PULL LIST stuff: TMNT & Valiant. While good when I actually read ’em, I’m (dishearteningly so) amazed at how much DAMAGE has been done to my feelings toward their stuff in general of late due to the Legends of the Geomancer crap. (Damage that I think has contributed to my embracing Marvel for a bit with stuff I’m truly enjoying and looking forward to.)

I knew going into the shop this week that it was gonna be huge and expensive…I didn’t even step PAST the new issues rack this week. No quarter-bin temptations, no random back issues, etc. Just the new books, paid, and got the heck out.

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