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The Weekly Haul: Week of July 11, 2018

This past week was a small week for me for comics!

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The new Superman #1–a long time (several months?) coming. I still think this would’ve been the place to start with the storyline that we got as Man of Steel (2018). Then we have the extra-sized Flash #50, with what I suppose is the "conclusion" of Flash War (at "only" 4 chapters…but an Annual prologue and whatever other lead-up threw me off with the title earlier in the year).

GI Joe: A Real American Hero #253…a series closing in on its 100th issue or so. This "began" with a Free Comic Book Day #155 1/2, if I’m recalling correctly–and then started properly with #156…picking up from the original Marvel numbering going back to the early 1980s! Given the time between 1995 and the start of this run, the series could legitimately have started with a new #1…but this has a feel of TRUE "legacy" in the numbering.

The second issue of Aliens: Dust to Dust is out; and the "surprise" new series from Kirkman Die!Die!Die! premiered with the barest heads-up that it was even going to be available. I opted to check it out on principle: the way I grouse about over-hype and over-marketing and such (particularly from the likes of Marvel) I feel I should at least check something like this out to "support" something NOT being part of the "hype machine" and all that. If they’re willing to take a chance putting it out withOUT all the hype/etc, I can take a chance on a #1. Normally I’d be annoyed at something with a distinct lack of information available…but especially as an exception to the norm, I’ll give it a bit of leeway.


And speaking of exceptions, I was actually going to go ahead and check out the new Amazing Spider-Man #1 given some online spoilers…I even went so far as to physically pick up a copy of the issue to look at…but the $5.99 (while not $9.99!) was still way too much for me for some "casual" "check-out." At $3.99…I’d’ve bought it. That extra $2–whether extra main-story pages or not, is too much. Marvel already put me off with years of $4.99 #1s…going up to $5.99 just keeps me out all the more! With all the relaunches/renumberings/WHATEVER…certainly they could do a "loss-leader" and give some extra pages for a lower price, to get folks to check the thing out?

There’s also some sort of "digital sale" for DC…and though I already have the print edition, $4.99 for the digital Legends of the Dark Knight: Norm Breyfogle was well worth a purchase…all the more as I’ve been annoyed lately at all the digital sales having been $5.99. Though my tablet (an iPad 2) is nearing the end of its functionality (I"ve already had to drop Marvel Unlimited due to incompatibility), it still works with the DC app (over 4 years on and I’ve yet to buy anything through Comixology itself since they dropped in-app purchases through Apple devices.) I’d been on the edge of paying $1.99/issue for the four-part The Mud Pack as it was…so here, for $3 cheaper, got a whole mess of additional issues’ content for the price. AND I don’t feel bad double-dipping on the digital for "only" $4.99 despite having the actual hardcover and numerous copies of each of the single issues from The Mud Pack.

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Oblivion Song #1 [Review]

oblivion_song_0001Writer/Creator: Robert Kirkman
Artist/Creator: Lorenzo De Felici
Colorist: Annalisa Leoni
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Associate Editor: Arielle Basich
Editor: Sean Mackiewicz
Cover: Lorenzo De Felici
Published by: Skybound Entertainment/Image Comics
Cover Date: March 2018
Cover Price: $3.99

Seeing some hype on this book ahead of time, when I saw it was "finally" out, I grabbed it to give this #1 a chance. I’m far from "wowed" with this, though there’s a bit of potential to it.

For the first 11 pages of the issue, the whole thing is basically some alien world with creatures that we have no idea what they are, some people that we don’t know who they are, we don’t know what’s going on, and as a comic book, I would expect a fair bit of dialogue or narration/captions to provide some exposition. Instead, it’s like something trying to be a storyboard or some other cinematic thing INSTEAD OF being a comic book.

Agh! Wha–?! Where?!

Huff! Huff! Huff!

Oh, crap.

No, no, no!

Oh, God!

Piece of junk…

C’mon… c’mon…

Work–damn you…

AHHH!

That would be sparse dialogue/word balloons for one page…but for 11 pages, that’s an average of a mere TWO words. Per PAGE.

Now, I count 23 more pages (several of which have similar quantities of dialogue), but that does put this issue at 34 pages, for "only" $3.99 compared to say, Marvel giving 20 pages for $3.99. So I suppose that makes up for this 11-page near-silent "prologue," though I’d almost expect something like that to have been a preview or prologue ISSUE or such with some other content–interview with the creators, some sketch pages, etc. and then the opening of a "regular" #1 to refer to it to remind a person there was content immediately preceding story-wise.

Essentially, over the course of this issue, we learn that some event happened in the past that shifted part of a city into some other dimension. While most have considered those people to be dead, there’s been cause for hope in some returning. We meet Nathan Crenshaw–who has some personally-developed tech allowing him to cross into that other dimension and with some sort of injection, return himself–and/or others–to Earth proper. He needs funding to be able to do this on a large scale, to thoroughly cover ground in the other dimension and rescue those that can be. He’s denied said funding, as we also come to learn that his primary motivation is rescuing his own brother. When he goes back for another go at finding him, we’re then introduced to some inhabitants/survivors of "Oblivion" including an individual certain to be crucial to the situation presented throughout the issue.

Story-wise, this issue does a fair bit of world-building, set-up, and introduction to the concept of the series. It definitely comes off as the pilot episode to a new series…even having the aforementioned cinematic feel that came off to me as counter to the purpose/point of being depicted on the page of a comic book. The scene might play well as live action, but for a comic book, I did not care for it at all–ESPECIALLY as THE opening sequence of a brand-new series.

That said, this is Robert Kirkman, who brings us The Walking Dead, and seeing as that series has run over 150 issues, there’s a lot more to go on from that series than this for now. Everything has to "start somewhere" and this being a whole different story, whole different world, and so on, there’s no context for "shorthanding" anything to convey more than what’s actually given. We’re only able to go on exactly what Kirkman gives us to figure out this world.

Visually, I have no complaint outside of just having zero context for the creatures of Oblivion and being tossed in to try to interpret what I’m seeing with no idea what I’m supposed to be looking at. The art in and of itself is good, and for the depiction of the people in the story and no point of comparison, it just works for me as "a comic book’s art." I imagine I’d have more to say for a subsequent issue, at least in terms of whether or not it stays consistent or such. I’m also glad that as short as much of the issue is on dialogue/words, at least there weren’t double-page "splash pages" to breeze by with but a glance.

This is an extra-length issue, based on assumption of 20-22 pages being a standard-length issue for $3.99; I would not expect so many pages in later issues (though would not mind them!) and would expect the extra pages made up for and allowed for the extended "silent" scenes. I’m curious to see what/how this develops, and on the strength of The Walking Dead would be inclined to give this series a shot. Of course, as with most comics and virtually all "indy" titles, I suspect I’d personally enjoy this more by waiting for a collected edition.

If you can find this for cover price (and not some jacked-up "speculator price") and enjoy Kirkman‘s work in general, I’d encourage picking this up to try for yourself and see how it comes off to you. As long as I’m not duped or otherwise vexed by a variant cover in the meantime or at point of sale, I’ll probably check out the next issue before I decide for sure if I’ll pass on the single issues and wait for a trade. Assuming this would get a "$9.99 Volume One," even getting the first couple issues AND a trade, it’ll cost about the same. That said, I’m not particularly "impressed" with this, and leave it as a more "passive" recommendation than anything "active."

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Invincible #144 [Review]

invincible_0144The End of All Things (part twelve of twelve)

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Pencilers: Ryan Ottley, Cory Walker
Inkers: Cory Walker, Mark Morales
Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Editor: Sean Mackiewicz
Covers: Ryan Otley, Cory Walker, Nathan Fairbairn
Published by: Image Comics
Cover Date: February 2018
Cover Price: $5.99

I’ve read relatively few issues of Invincible over the years. Off the top of my head, I remember reading some sort of #0 issue when the main series was in its 20s on numbering. Whether I read them or not, I remember when Invincible guest-starred in a couple of Marvel issues Kirkman was writing. I want to say I read #50 or so, and I remember the one-issue-summer-crossover-event Invincible War thing. I have the first paperback of the series, and recall getting the first couple hardcovers to read from a library. And at one point, I had the title on my pull list, though that didn’t wind up lasting terribly long. Without digging all that deeply, I’ve previously covered several issues:

And now it’s been a number of years since the last time I read an issue, consciously–I believe there was a 25-cent issue last year that I got but do not recall reading. So offhand, it’s been more than 1/3 of the series since the last I read, and here I went and bought the last issue, and read the last issue. The final issue "ever," until some follow-up special or mini-series or such is done.

I don’t know what I expected, but this wasn’t it. I knew I was buying the final issue, that it comes at the end of the series, the end of a 12-part story, etc.

Needless to say…spoilers ahead!

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Again, I have NOT read the previous 11 chapters of The End of All Things.

This issue picks up with Mark Grayson–Invincible–telling his son about where he comes from. The sense of deja vu that I got reading this makes me almost certain it is a recreation of a scene from the first issue of the series, as Nolan told Mark about himself and such. A fitting bookend sort of scene. We find that Mark is leaving, and Markus–his son–will be remaining on Earth with Scott, a character I’m not familiar with, but suspect was a fairly major character around #100, and apparently Markus’ acting father, or "real dad." Mark himself is now leader of the Viltrumites, and is leading them off into space to a new sort of greatness–as a peaceful people, rather than a warring empire of domination and conquest. And then the bulk of the issue is vignettes of the years that follow–as we see moments from the various characters’ lives, defining incidents, etc. Mark and his daughter visiting Earth, Markus getting his costume, incidents in space, a revelation about Mark’s wife, and finally, a reflective moment as Mark looks out upon the peace that he has led.

This is definitely a final issue sort of thing. It feels more like an epilogue…but then, an epilogue is still part of the story, so, we’re getting into stupid little technicalities there. In part through the use of the slice of life/vignettes, I suspect a number of lingering plot threads were dealt with, albeit over my head as of this first reading, addressing probable concerns such as Mark’s son, what Markus’ life might be like and if he’d follow in Invincible’s footsteps; and of course we see a number of things play out in broad strokes. In some ways, this seems to offer answers long-term and by covering so many years (centuries?) it effectively lays to rest the story as a whole. Maybe there’ll be other Invincible content or revisitations in years to come, but the broad strokes have been established; we see where everyone ENDS UP, even if we don’t have the page by page issue or story-length details.

I’m sure this is not nearly as satisfying for me as it would be if I was a lot more invested in things, if I had read more of the series and more recently. That said, I really like the way it ended, doing all this–while it gives me some idea of a handful of characters that survive, and some idea of those who don’t, and broad strokes of where things wind up, it also intrigues me–makes me want to find out the details, to go back and get to read the entire series from the start, all the way through. Even if I obtain the compendium volumes–and I suspect 3 of those would get the whole series, possibly with room for spinoffs–I have no idea when I’d actually get around to such an undertaking.

That Invincible gets to end like this–on the creators’ terms, that it gets an ending on their timing, and it becomes a "finite story," I think makes it a lot stronger in some ways, and as long as the series as a whole is kept in print, it will be interesting to see how it lasts, and what sort of fans come in "after the fact," that jump into it knowing/seeing it to be a finite story instead of just another indefinite ongoing series without end.

I’m not thrilled with high priced single issues, and this was $5.99 with multiple covers. I’m not even sure if I got the "main cover" or not, so I’m a bit less thrilled with that. But assuming I did succeed on that front, and given the extra length of this issue AND that it IS a final issue, a finale, a sendoff…I’ll give it a lot more leeway for a one-time "incident" of high pricing, as it’s definitely double-length, so at least justifies its cost.

The story is solid, as said, and seems to wrap up numerous plot threads and the like. Visually, this shares art by the two artists associated with the series, which is a nice touch, giving both a chance to handle this final issue.

All in all, I enjoyed the issue, I’m glad I got it, I’m not overly troubled by the price (only the use of variant covers), and would certainly recommend this to anyone already following the final story. It may be worthwhile also for you if you’ve read the series here and there, TO see where things have wound up and where they go. Yet, as a #144, if you’ve never read the series, this is hardly the place to start.

I wouldn’t consider this a masterpiece, but it seems like a solid wrap-up to a series, and caps off the series well while transforming it into something it would never be able to be as an indeterminate-length ongoing series.

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The Walking Dead #100 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
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Story: 3.5/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

The Rest of the Stack: Week of October 5, 2011

allofthestack

The Rest of the Stack is my general mini-review coverage of new comics for any given week. It’s in addition to (or in place of) full-size individual reviews. It’s far less formal, and more off-the-top-of-my head thoughts on the given comics than it is detailed reviews.

ACTION COMICS #2

actioncomics002Superman’s been smashed by a train, and captured by the government. While his captors question him, Supes is working up enough focus to break free–and woe to those who stand in his way. Meanwhile, his indestructible cape is also put to the test, while Lois Lane gains entry thanks to her father. And it seems Luthor’s out of his depths. Oh, and the actual CONTENT of this issue, the story itself, the thing that I buy any given issue for? 20 freaking pages. For $3.99. Meanwhile, there are 8 pages of generic extras–sketches and internet stuff printed for the sake of pages thrown in to make the issue feel that much thicker, and then the USUAL back-of-the-issue preview for something I’m not even going to buy, and which is not going to change my mind, because either I’m NOT BUYING WHAT IS BEING PREVIEWED…or I’m NOT GOING TO READ it because I am planning to buy it, and don’t want to read a QUARTER to THIRD of its contents before I pay too much for cover price. So on principle alone–$3.99 for 20 pages–this thing is a huge disappointment, and I discourage anyone who hasn’t already from buying the single issue, as such. Collected volume? Sure. I think this’ll be a strong story in the end. But I for one refuse to support this sort of crap for a $4 issue when bought alongside several $3 issues with the EXACT SAME LENGTH STORY. (2/10)

ANIMAL MAN #2

animalman002Lots of death, decay, and gore in this issue. Disturbingly so, really. Buddy finds himself drastically affected by “The Red,” and his daughter seems more powerful than her father, leading him to follow the call of the Red. The cover alone is quite disturbing, and the interior visuals are, too. Even some of the tamer stuff is rather creepy–the skeleton of a cat squatting for milk especially rattled me. And yet…for essentially a horror book, something that typically would’ve been Vertigo…it’s fitting. The story doesn’t have nearly the blown-away effect on me the first issue did. But still, something to this–I’m curious where it’s all leading. And hey…it’s Vertigo, yet not. A worthy second issue, and there’s nothing to this one that prompts me to drop it or otherwise not come back for the next issue. (6/10)

JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL #2

justiceleagueinternational002I wish I was overtly enthusiastic about this issue. There’s something just sort of mediocre about it. It’s nothing spectacular. The story’s not terribly engaging, and doesn’t send me running for back issues and chomping at the bit for the next issue. But the story’s solid enough. The art’s not bad–I do like it, really. And together, they make for a quality book. And while there isn’t much that really jumps out or stands out…I liked it. We have the team, already assembled from the first issue, we see them in action, we see them in down-time, we get interaction and we get a built-up threat that justifies the group staying together. And on the whole, this feels like a second issue–we’ve been introduced to the characters, but here we learn a bit more. Unfortunately, there are a lot of characters, so there’s little focus on any specific character. Much of my not being bothered too much by that is my history with these characters’ prior incarnations, so I’m “projecting” what I know of those onto these. Still sticking around for the next issue, and seeing where this goes…if only for Booster Gold. (6/10)

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