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DC Gallery: Shazam!

A couple weeks back–January 16–I noticed a new statue on a display shelf at Comic Heaven. Captain Marvel! (Well…legally/officially "Shazam" but that’s a whole other post/series of posts).

Anyway…a new DC Gallery statue from Diamond Select!

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I’d known this was "coming soon," but was thinking it was due at the end of the month, January 30 or so. But seeing it in front of me…and having suspected I’d be quite interested in it when I saw an image of it some weeks earlier–I bought it on the spot!

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While the face is somehow a bit off, and short of actual light-up effects, the lightning isn’t going to be spot-on…I still like the design of this overall; it captures the character for me–more of the new, perhaps, than the classic…but I didn’t really come to be much of a fan of this character until a couple years into the New 52 era. So I’m naturally going to be more accepting of changes if I notice them at all. And of course, there’s the simple matter of taking what I can get!

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I continue to really like this line of statues. They’re solid without being too heavy; light without feeling stupid-cheap.

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This piece joins several of my Marvel Gallery statues from the last few months, as well as an unpictured-here Batman: The Animated Series Robin that resides with a bunch of other Robin stuff in my collection.

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The Weekly Haul: Weeks of January 16 & 23, 2019

Looks like these Weekly Haul posts are becoming more of a biweekly thing than weekly, despite best of intentions otherwise. And broken record as I feel on saying that.

Here are the previous couple of weeks’ worth of new comics…with another new week now just a couple days away!


Week of January 16, 2019

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Detective Comics is really ramping up toward the 1,000th issue! I was amazed at how quickly the first two chapters of this story read, and this one itself seemed a pretty fast read. Loving the art, but the story makes it seem like it’s going to be so much better as a singular "graphic novel" in collected form.

Superman finally–about nine months in–gives us the story of the "missing" time and we now have a mid to late teens Superboy in Jon…which really is not my cup of tea. Perhaps it’ll be undone by the end of this current arc, but I doubt it…we’ll see where it goes, though!

Then we have Supergirl and the TMNT issue of IDW‘s series of 20/20 special issues celebrating the publisher’s 20th anniversary. This TMNT 20/20 jumps forward 20 years, and proved a too-quick read with too little space to really do any justice to the story…and there’s loads of potential here!

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The DC Walmart-exclusive 100-page giants seem to have thrown the 2-every-2-weeks schedule out the window, and are landing all-4-at-once again…right about the 4 week mark since the #6s! And it turns out that #7 is the final issue for both the Justice League of America and Teen Titans iterations…they’re being replaced with Wonder Woman and Titans respectively, starting with new #1s while adding Swamp Thing and Flash to the lineup (apparently Batman and Superman get to continue with their existing numbering.


Week of January 23, 2019

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The most recent week of new comics brings us a non-Black-Label issue with Batman and Constantine; I need to catch up on reading this title, and really look forward to reading this issue! I snagged the second issue of Geoff JohnsShazam! title, even though it’s several weeks late. I have yet to read the first issue, and as my usual trap seems to be…I get a subsequent issue so when/if I finally get to reading one issue, I’m not "stuck" having to "hunt down" another issue.

I lucked out and the local Target had the DC Primal Age exclusive issue. I had a rude surprise in thinking it was going to be like the Walmart issues at $5, but this one was $10! Still, that’s in line with DC‘s own non-Walmart such issues, so…c’est la vie. At least it’s DC and not Marvel

TMNT hits its 90th issue; and we get the third issue of GI Joe: A Real American Hero – Silent Option. And for the heckuvit, I opted to try the IDW 20/20 issue of Jem and the Holograms. It’s a one-shot, and given my own age, I figure it might be interesting to read about the characters 20 years older than "usual," as it puts them into my own real, current age range.

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Despite swearing off of the latest Uncanny X-Men iteration due to pricing, frequency, and event-orientation (with Age of X-Man and such) I couldn’t quite bring myself to pass up this Annual given the focus on–and return of–Cyclops. And I was firmly set on NO MORE DARK HORSE Aliens minis due to variants and the like…but when I recognized Tristan Jones‘ art on this variant…I gave in and got it, since it IS #1, so at least it’s not just another variant-on-any-old-issue-nothing-special. Maybe I’ll suck it up and buy the rest of the mini…especially or at least if he’s got variants on the whole thing.

I snagged this free Isola Prologue issue cuz hey…"free." And we have the weekly Comic Shop News, this one focusing on Age of X-Man: Alpha…something playing on nostalgia (1995’s X-Men: Alpha). If Marvel does some sort of omnibus for the event, has a single-volume of Uncanny X-Men 1-10 and such and I can get then for a decent price…I might snag ’em. Otherwise I’ll wait for conventions later in the year and see if the singles can be had for half price for standard covers…if reviews and word of mouth bear ’em out as worthwhile.

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I’m not actually sure anymore what IDW‘s schedule is for print and digital releases as it almost seems like they’re releasing stuff early digitally with print coming the following week. And I’m not sure how I feel about Spawn Kills Everyone 2 being $3.99 an issue for a 4-issue mini-series…but I threw in with Spawn several years ago, and have decided to at least "stick it out" through the 300th issue. And that includes this mini, given the original special a year or two ago, whenever it was.


All in all, not a huge haul for new comics for the couple weeks…though some other stuff I bought more than made up for the comics spending. Buuuut I’ll get into those as the week progresses!

And as usual…here’s to hoping the new week of new comics is small-ish…

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The Weekly Haul: Weeks of November 28 & December 5, 2018

Despite the sincerest of intentions to get this blog back into a more regular schedule…time just keeps getting away from me. AND I’ve been keeping vague due to some stuff in my personal life that I haven’t opted to put out in "public" just yet–despite time flying on it all!

So here we are, doubling up again on two weeks’ worth of weekly hauls…the day before a new one!


Week of November 28, 2018

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This bunch of issues includes the newest Action Comics and Heroes in Crisis. I "gave in" and bought the Nuclear Winter Special as a giant-size issue. It’s "only" 80 pages (compared to the Walmart 100-page issues) but still, it’s like a small paperback…and I’m often a sucker for these issues with a title on a spine.

I’ve yet to read the thing, but decided to try the IDW-published Marvel Action: Spider-Man issue. I don’t pretend to totally "get" Marvel "farming out" stuff like this, but I’ll take it as an IDW comic…and it’s a #1 but at "only" $3.99 instead of Marvel‘s "preferred" $4.99+ for #1 issues. And I need to sort through and figure out what I do and don’t have now for Die!Die!Die!…I may have missed an issue, and at this point probably should have "just" waited for the paperback.


Week of December 5, 2018

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Starting off December, we get Batman #60 and Nightwing #54. Also a new Shazam! series. The second issue of which apparently is already running somewhat late, and I believe this issue is itself "late," which does not bode well to me. But I’m curious about the character and where things are going, and I am a Captain (DC) Marvel fan to a certain degree, so…yeah.

I was willing to get The Merry X-Men Holiday Special as it’s a one-shot, and I’m curious about the series of single-page stories/vignettes. And much more willing to pay a bit more for a one-shot than a bunch of mini-series or simply #1 issues of supposed ongoings.

Adventures of the Super Sons is a habit-buy. I probably shouldn’t be buying it…I don’t think I’ve actually read an issue since the first couple of the previous series…but I keep telling myself I’m going to read the things (and having had some issues, was not going to double-dip switching to paperbacks, nor be "missing" a volume).

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Then there’s Die and Self Made….

Here’s Sarah, who spotted me getting photos real quick for this blog post.

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I’m not sure what it was for the week, but I decided to also grab a couple of new Image #1s in Die and Self Made (or is that Self/Made?). I should probably "know better" than to do that, but c’est la vie and all that.

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As a birthday present to myself last week, I got this Rogue pvc statue from the Marvel Gallery line from Diamond Select. I really like this one…and while I wish there were more X-Men characters available (Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Gambit, a ’90s costume Rogue, etc) I’m happy at least to have this one.

For more about it, check out FigureFan Zero‘s review of it at his blog. I actually knew about this from something he had posted on Twitter several weeks ago, and credit that with me knowing to look for this!


As we’re nearing the end of 2018, I probably ought to start figuring out firstly the "state of the blog" given the last couple of years, as well as stuff going on in my personal life, and the seemingly completely-inversed matchup of intent vs. actuality and time and all that.

Perhaps I’ll get to some sort of year in review, maybe something at the start of the new year…time will tell. For now–for this week–only time will tell if I’ll be back with anything else.

Though my own output has waned of late, please feel free to check out the Facebook Page for links to all of my posts, as well as links to a number of fellow bloggers and other content creators! I also occasionally post random photos there, and mini-rants and such on links that could almost be blog posts themselves if I was so inclined.

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Justice League: War

justiceleaguewarboxcover_0206I (finally) read the entire Justice League: Origin 6-parter a few months ago, having taken advantage of one of Comixology‘s 99-cent sales. I don’t recall right now if I’d originally stuck with the book for 3 issues, or 4..but I know that I “let it go” before the arc was done, as I was bored with it and it seemed more flash than substance. Sure, it was pretty to look at for the most part, but the story was just lacking, and not up my alley of preference.

I’d like to think that I approached this film with little expectation and an open mind, but so recently off the JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time thing, biased against anything seeming truly long-term in the New 52 comics, and not particularly ENJOYING the comics this is based on I think I was predisposed to dislike Justice League: War.

Visually, with the animation, I liked this a good deal better than Trapped in Time. In particular, something about this Superman worked better for me than a lot of previous animated versions, though I could certainly do without the “collar.” Granted, I’ll take the collar over nearly-bare-shoulders and a sagging cape, gladly!

Nothing with the animation–in and of itself–ever grabbed my attention positive or negative. Which, technically, is a positive in my eyes. It just is what it is…neither calling attention to itself for revolutionarily spectacular style or effects nor being “off” in such a way that I noticed it or had a problem with it.

I’m far more used to Batman’s costume changing through the years, and am less familiar in general with the other characters’ costume specifics to have any particular opinion there. Superman’s costume worked well for me (or as well as it can)…I don’t mind the loss of the “trunks” and the darker blue to the suit is fairly subtle and doesn’t bother me, either.

My problems with this film come with the story…or as I felt, its lack thereof. This seemed to be little but one fight scene after another, alternating between hero-versus-hero, heroes-versus-generic-bad-guys and heroes-versus-boss-bad-guy. Basically, this might as well have been a video game, punctuated here or there with a few moments of mandated pre-provided plot.

While I “get” that these aren’t “my” versions of the characters–this IS based on the New 52, after all–there’s a certain “heart” missing from all of the characters in this. None of the heroes have any qualms about wading in to the slaughter of the parademons–there’s no hesitation, no questioning if they’re alive or should be rounded up rather than killed–by ANY of the characters. There’s also the admittedly nitpicky aspect of Shazam cursing (an obvious huge step away from the “holey moley!” exclamations often attributed to the character)…this was (for me) the most bothersome of the subtle things in this film.

Aside from a few touches of humanity–Batman and Superman acknowledging Clark and Bruce; Vic/Cyborg and Shazam/Billy’s secret; Batman sharing his identity with Green Lantern come to mind–these came off as two-dimensional archetypes rather than characters to actually care about. We’re just outside witnesses to the events that unfold, albeit with front-row seating. We don’t get into any of the characters’ heads, we get only–at best–hints to their pasts, we don’t actually see anything “personal” with them or any supporting cast/characters.

I didn’t note any of the voice actors going in, so rather than hearing so-and-so AS _______, I simply heard the characters speaking. By the end credits I realized Alan Tudyk voiced Superman, and having recently been on a Firefly/Serenity kick, that was a welcome surprise. (Of course, as said earlier: there’s not enough to the characters to really care, or for me to really get to where I’d recognize a single voice I’ve not previously associated with the animated character). All the voices seemed to work, none of them gave me any pause to hear THAT voice coming from the given character.

The extras aren’t particularly impressive. I always watch the featurettes as I’m interested in the content and refuse to watch video interviews online, and tend to find these of a higher production value than “just” some quick interview video posted online.

The Jim Lee featurettes seem just a “love fest” to Jim Lee. I would have preferred more of a documentary feature on the history of the Justice League and its varied incarnations through the years–from the original mash-up of “let’s throw all our characters into one book!” to the late-’80s “Bwa-ha-ha” and the ’97 Morrison “Big Seven” through Meltzer‘s Identity Crisis and post-Infinite Crisis reboot on to the current New 52 stuff.

I bought my copy from Best Buy specifically for the Superman figurine. I already had several figurines from previous releases and had missed a Superman one several years ago, so paying the $2 above Target and Walmart‘s $18ish opening-week price didn’t bother me on that end. That the film failed to truly entertain or really hold my interest is a sincere disappointment. Having now experienced this one for myself, I’m quite hesitant at the thought of any future Justice League New 52 films (such as one hinted at by a scene in the end credits).

All in all, if you already know these characters, if you like the New 52 incarnations of ’em and don’t mind the film’s “assumption” THAT you already know the characters (and want almost all-action and virtually no character development), you’ll probably dig this film. Alternatively, if you prefer deeper stories and well-rounded characters/character-interactions and the like, you’re about as well off here as you’d be watching friends play a videogame.

If anything, I’d recommend (if possible) a Redbox rental, and then if you happen to enjoy this, consider a purchase at that point.

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The Trials of Shazam vol. 2 TPB [Review]

trialsofshazamtpb002Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Howard Porter, Mauro Cascioli
Letterers: Rob Leigh, Travis Lanham
Original Series Covers: Howard Porter, Mauro Cascioli
Reprints: The Trials of Shazam #s 7-12
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $14.99

This volume took me a bit longer to “get into” than the first…partially less excitement to get into the volume (now having a good idea of the story and such after reading the first). Of course, plenty of distraction, too with a “new comics day” and a local comic convention since reading the last volume.

We pick up here with Freddy’s journey…he’s got part of the powers of Shazam, and Sabina has the others so far…with a couple of the gods’ powers as yet unspoken for. He winds up recruiting “help” from the Shadowpact, on the idea that his attaining the powers is less important than Sabina NOT getting them. As she steals more power and the balance of magic is close to being toppled, the “war” actually breaks out with Sabina launching a spell that needs one million souls and will push Dark Magic far beyond Light magic. Freddy meanwhile recruits the Justice League and leads the counter-assault. Things finally come to a head, and the legend of Shazam moves forward.

Story-wise, this volume is consistent with the first; this felt like the back half of the same story, with obvious progression and development from what came before. I definitely liked seeing the other characters involved…while I expected this to be Shazam-centric, seeing that this takes place in the shared, main DC Universe of the time makes it so much better than just being off in its own little corner. It’s also cool to see Freddy being responsible and involving others as the situation needs it rather than egotistically insisting on going it alone (suggesting there’s plenty of strength simply in recognizing when one needs to turn to others, perhaps).

Visually, the first couple chapters match the entire previous volume while the final four are a shift as we move to Cascioli on art rather than Porter. While this is in itself a bit jarring and quite noticeable, it works pretty well…and I definitely prefer a complete such shift than stuff being interspersed. It may not be entirely consistent with the first 8 chapters, but the parts are consistent with themselves, and everyone is still quite recognizable. I actually think I’d’ve preferred this latter visual take for the entire thing if that’d been possible.

As a whole, a good volume, though I maintain that I’d’ve by far preferred this be one large volume to its existing two skinnier volumes. This is a singular overall story that seems near-arbitrarily split in half just for the sake of being halved, or of keeping its collected volumes as the “standard” 6-issue things.

I’d think it obvious, but as the second of two volumes, if you’ve not read the first, I don’t see any real reason to seek this out unless you’re specifically looking for the ending of the story rather than the beginning or ‘full’ story. But if you’ve read the first half, this is definitely well worth getting to finish, to have the complete story. Overall, I’d recommend trying to get both volumes at once if possible to read as close together as possible.

I wasn’t sure what to expect of this series and already knew the “core” ending going in. But I definitely  enjoyed reading this, and find myself very disappointed to realize for the moment that other than the New 52 Shazam volume I read weeks ago, I don’t know if there are any collections with NEW Shazam stuff after this story out there or what issues to get for any appearances of Shazam.

The fact that that bothers me and that I’m interested in more of this take on the characters is a definite positive to me and credit to the story.

If you want to see the Shazam/Captain Marvel stuff actually progressed and status quo changed/updated (or at least don’t mind it happening), this is definitely well worth reading!

The Trials of Shazam vol. 1 TPB [Review]

trialsofshazamtpb001Writer: Judd Winick
Artist: Howard Porter
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Reprints: The Trials of Shazam #s 1-6 and a selection from Brave New World #1
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price:
$14.99

I vaguely recall the events preceding this…the huge goings-on around the run-up to Infinite Crisis as well as the events of Infinite Crisis itself…this is an aftermath that I was tangentially “aware of” but never got around to (being able to) read until now.

Given my recent/ongoing surveying of multiple eras of the Shazam stuff, other than some sentimental value on the Action Comics Annual during the Eclipso: The Darkness Within event I don’t feel any particular attachment to any version the way I am sure I have with Superman, Batman, and many other characters I’m much more familiar with at length. So that puts this story into a unique position in my reading knowledge.

The idea of this journey, the “trials” strikes me as a classic Hero’s Journey; giving us what I believe might be the first “starring role” for Freddy (outside a possible co-starring role in Ordway‘s Power of Shazam ongoing way back that I have yet to read) and setting him up to fill the shoes of the “original” Captain Marvel.

With the demise of the Wizard, everyone’s roles in the world of DC magic shifts. Billy Batson–Captain Marvel–steps into the role of the Wizard, and Freddy is prepping to fill Billy’s old role. But with the change in magic, the rules have also changed. The gods’ powers cannot now be merely “bestowed”…they must be EARNED. Thus, Freddy must go about these “trials” in order to earn each power, from each god represented in the name SHAZAM. He’s given a guide who leads him on this journey; even while opposing forces rally to prevent his completing the trials. 

This volume gives us the first half of the Trials of Shazam series. While it does contain six issues plus some material from the Brave New World one-shot, it still feels rather skinny. Thankfully, I obtained this volume through an eBay purchase along with the second…both plus shipping for less than the cost of either individual volume. This is another case of where I truly believe–for “only” a 12-part limited series–the story should be in a single volume, even at double the cover price of these half-size volumes. That this is only HALF the story is the core drawback of the volume.

Visually I’m not terribly impressed. The art’s definitely not bad…it’s good, in fact. But there’s something that I can’t quite put my finger on that’s missing or lacking, most likely simply my expectation given I had to put some conscious “work” into obtaining these volumes while prior Shazam stuff I’ve sought out were easily found on a shelf, in a back-issue bin or via Amazon. The art conveys the story and gives a look and feel to things and maintains consistency…I’m really never left with any confusion in a panel as to what’s going on. In and of itself the art is of a higher “technical” level than “emotional” for me.

Story-wise, this seems fairly run-of-the-mill and formulaic. As said above, it fits what I know/recall of the classic Hero’s Journey; plugging Freddy (and the Marvels) right in. Taken strictly on its own, as such, there’s nothing really all that new or “special” to this story. Being a super-hero comic (and something I’m reading the better part of a decade after it came out–knowing what ultimately came about and that the continuity this is part of doesn’t even exist anymore except in memory and “the back issue bin” and bookshelves) it definitely lacks an excitement and simply feels like it’s running through the motions more than anything else. That this is an extended “transition period” moreso than it is any true challenge or question of what’s to come.

Despite that, what makes this really worth reading is that it is a significant story in the overall Shazam/Captain Marvel saga, particularly in the late DC Universe of the 1990s/early 2000s…presenting actual, large changes to the status quo and moving characters forward in a way that they’re rarely allowed to; putting real growth into the Shazam mythos.

If you have an interest in the “legacy” aspect of characters; of passing-of-the-torch stories, of the Hero’s Journey, and the like, this fits in well with that. Ditto if you’re–like I am–surveying major available stories of the Shazam characters regardless of era/continuity. I’m not sure if this volume is technically out of print or not, but as it is only the first half of a singular overall story, I would definitely recommend getting the whole story at once if you’re going to at all…be it both volumes of the TPB edition or all the single-issue comics.

The ’90s Revisited: Action Comics Annual #4

actioncomicsannual004Eclipso: The Darkness Within / Living Daylights

Written by: Dan Vado
Pencilled by: Chris Wozniak
Inked by: Karl Altstaetter, Trevor Scott, Karl Kesel, Steve Mitchell
Lettered by: Albert De Guzman
Colored by: Matt Hollingsworth
Assistant Edited by: Dan Thorslan
Edited by: Mike Carlin
Cover by: Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.50

Offhand, this issue is my earliest memory of the Captain Marvel character. If I was “aware of” him prior, it’s not a conscious memory. I wanted to re-read this issue given my recent foray (October 2013) into the Shazam/Captain Marvel character, as well as for the nostalgia. That, and while not from the 1970s or 1980s, I would have pegged this as a perfect issue for the Superman vs. Shazam collection…and this is certainly the issue that I think of when I think of the two characters fighting.

The issue’s cover is fairly iconic for me, showing an Eclipsed Superman struggling with Captain Marvel, captioned The Evil of Eclipso vs. the Power of Shazam! It’s rather interesting to realize the cover is by Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti, given Quesada‘s eventual and current involvement with Marvel. The 11-year-old Me certainly had found it engaging, igniting curiosity as to the Eclipsed Superman and who this other guy was that he was fighting.

The interior art, while not nearly as thrilling, gets the job done. Particularly on this re-read, I was more interested in the characters and interactions than the actual art, though nothing about it particularly screamed “go find more that matches this art!” Given this is an extra-sized issue produced simultaneous with the weekly ongoing saga in the main Superman books, and is from 21 years ago, it’s not a great concern and largely gets a pass as such.

The story itself is a bit mixed. On one hand, I’ve read this before, I know the overall bit of the Eclipso: The Darkness Within ‘event’ and where things go; I have a fuller context all these years later of the characters, situations, and so on, so it’s hardly as engaging as it was originally.

The story picks up with a town having been captured by Eclipso, and the heroes are unable to reclaim it. The only condition by which he’ll relinquish his hold is in trade for Superman’s body–which he has, thus far, been unable to possess. Given this is Superman, of course he agrees–willing to sacrifice himself for the good of others (regardless of all the potential harm that could be done by Eclipso controlling his body and powers). While he makes the deal with Eclipso, the other heroes begin a plan to combat an Eclipsed Superman, which involves bringing in Captain Marvel–the only one to truly have a chance of going toe to toe with the Man of Steel.

The story itself isn’t terribly deep…though it does provide reasonable motivation for what occurs…stuff doesn’t come outta nowhere (such as Captain Marvel just happening to “fly by” at the exact moment he’s needed…he actually has to be called in). We have broad, ongoing plot points of the Eclipso: The Darkness Within story in general, and this feels much more like a key point in the event rather than “just” the “encounter of the week” with a Black Diamond.

I actually paid $4 for this copy of the issue, for the immediate gratification of getting to re-read the thing without having to dig through umpteen longboxes or quintuple the issue’s cost paying for shipping, etc. Despite paying that kind of money for a 21-year-old comic that typically oughtta be 25 or 50 cent-bin fodder, it was worth it for the reading experience…especially given the cost matched virtually any current Marvel, many current DC, and anything presently on my pull list–yet this issue has more than twice the content of a current series (in some cases, nearly 3 times the content!).

If you can find this in a bargain bin or just have an interest in Superman and Captain Marvel/Shazam fighting, this is definitely a worthwhile issue. Ditto if you’re looking for just a handful of the Eclipso Annuals from 1992.

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