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The Weekly Haul: Week of May 04, 2016

Outside of several pretty hefty recent book purchases, actual comics made for a big week this week…and probably my widest, most “diverse” (publisher-wise) such haul in ages!

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In my main/regular/new issues, I have five publishers represented. I was not going to buy the Thunerbolts issue…while I’d greatly enjoyed the late-1990s/early-2000s and somewhat tried again with the series with Marvel Now, I’d trailed off. Something about this cover, though, just REALLY triggers the nostalgia factor for me. While I’d prefer the title be at the top of the cover, for the image they went with, it works…sadly, I am certain this “main” cover is hardly the only cover…thus it lacks the iconic status of the original 1997 Thunderbolts book.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, Thunderbolts (2016) #1 is only $3.99! I have been so extremely put-off by Marvel‘s high prices and the seeming stream of $4.99+ #1s that I’ve written ’em off as too expensive for my interest. I’d far prefer $2.99, but at this point I’ll “support” $3.99 OVER $4.99 for #1 issues, regardless of size (standard or extra…short me on size and the complaint’s renewed!)

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I’d picked up the first two issues of X-Men ’92 recently to “check them out,” having bought the series last year with the Secret Wars stuff…seeing the third issue, I decided to take a chance and buy this one so I’m “caught up” for the reading. I’d been quite surprised that the first couple issues were “only” $3.99 apiece…that #1 was not $4.99 was a major selling point for me!

A $1 issue from IDW, and a catalog of Marvel collected volumes round out the “normal” stuff for the week.

Which brings us to issues of timing, with their release falling on May 04.

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Star Wars Day seems to have become an official Thing, May 4th each year. As in “May the Fourth be with you.” So rather than stagger them across the entire month…Marvel threw us ten $1 reprints of #1 issues. For the price, I’m cool with them; they were pulled for me as part of my “$1 and under promo-priced stuff” part of my pull-list. In addition, I snagged an extra copy of several issues to give to coworkers.

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Given the relative (I believe) “recency” of several of the issues, I’m quite glad I waited. As is, I’m a bit miffed at these now-$1 copies of the $4.99 Star Wars #1 and Darth Vader #1 from last year…ditto on the Vader Down issue. Still, these give me a first-issue jumping-in point to help determine if I want to buy the trades…

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I also hit the quarter-bins, where I snagged several random-ish issues. The Wolverine issue brings back definite memories from when it was originally released, so I grabbed that on the nostalgia alone. I snagged the Captain Marvel because it was #1, did not have the other issues in the bin, and I wanted an ‘even number” of books. Turns out the Generation X/Gen13 books are variants of the same issue. I’m disgusted on principle but can’t be too upset…they’re wraparound covers, and I’m only out 50 cents for a double-length story.

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I totally forgot several weeks ago to follow up on an offer on the Guy Gardner issues–the store owner was planning on clearing them out “soon.” While I think I “missed out on” several early issues in the run, these issues are mostly what I recall being present at the time, so it all worked out in the end. I’m pretty sure somewhere in the Abyss that is my collection of longboxes I have the first 20+ issues–at least the bulk of the run before the book became Warrior…so I mostly passed on those for now, as I’m hoping to get the entirety of my comics collection sorted sooner than not…and I’m trying to exercise a bit of restraint in this regard (though adding 30 25-cent issues ($7.50) to an already cringe-inducingly large week on top of other expenditures may not be the most intelligent thing to do.

Vader Down [Checklist]

Star Wars: Vader Down event Checklist

  • Star Wars: Vader Down #1 – Part 1
  • Darth Vader #13 – Part 2
  • Star Wars #13 – Part 3
  • Darth Vader #14 – Part 4
  • Star Wars #14 – Part 5
  • Darth Vader #15 – Part 6

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[source: promotional postcard, pictured above]

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.

Darth Vader (2015) #5 [Review]

darthvader(2015)005Vader part V

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Adi Granov
Assistant Editor: Heather Antos
Editor: Jordan D. White
Executive Editors: C.B. Cebulski, Mike Marts
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: July 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

I intended to drop this. I don’t like the lack of dialogue, and captioning, and how quick it is to read. The speed at which I can blast through an issue makes it a REALLY HORRIBLE “value” for what I spend. But DARN IT…this thing is great to look at, sure is pretty. And I already got the first FOUR issues, the first 2/3 of the arc, and I just had to go and look inside to see if this was a new story or still continuing the existing one, and it’s part 5. So…I bought this, against conscious prior intent…and so help me, I’m really enjoying this title when I get past the conscious, principled complaints.

It ALSO certainly did NOT help that I just re-watched the original Star Wars films, so have these characters–and this time period in the Star Wars canon–front and center in my mind, craving whatever else there is that looks good, looks like it fits, and…in some ways, perhaps I’m just a “sucker” for this stuff right now. The fact that as I sit and type this I feel like I have a stupid, silly grin on my face accentuates that.

Of necessity, we already pretty much know the ultimate fate–or lack thereof–that will befall most of these characters. These droids aren’t around come Empire Strikes Back–they’re not even significant enough to be referenced. Ditto Doctor Aphra. But that doesn’t excuse the feeling they matter right now, in this story, as it is presently unfolding.

I don’t care for the Doctor Who comics, and shoehorning in of new/different/”extra” Companions…yet I’m ok with this for Star Wars comics. Aphra is unlikely to survive, but she’s cool right now, and likeable, and written well and modern despite being set in a story between movies that saw initial theatrical release more than three decades ago.

There’s not a LOT of story in this issue, and I have to keep going back to the art as what makes this. I’m aware of Gillen having done a fair bit with the X-Men title/characters some years back, but largely have yet to read that run, so there’s nothing to the story itself here that I can look at as seeing/feeling this is a Gillen story. But the consistency of the characters and the witty one-offs (Triple-Zero being what he is yet having concern for politeness made me grin) and such give this a modern, contemporary feel while Larroca‘s art (though actually, credit’s gotta go to the ENTIRE visual team) really makes this book. And I don’t usually care about the art enough to gush like this.

I’d love to simply not like this book, because it’s published by Marvel and I’ve not been thrilled with Marvel for awhile as well as the fact that Star Wars and Dark Horse have been pretty much synonymous to me for basically the entire time I’ve been reading comics until just a few months ago.

But despite myself, it’s enjoyable and a fun read and quite worthwhile in and of itself. If you’re a fan of Star Wars, and Darth Vader…I highly recommend this. If you haven’t followed the single issues, it will definitely be worth checking out in the inevitable collected volume.

Art, Pagecount, and Price in Comics

I’d picked up the first several issues of the new Marvel Star Wars and Darth Vader comics, and while I enjoyed them “well enough,” the “new & shiny” has worn off and I’m back to the fact the things are $3.99 and not feeling as “worth it” to me. (the rapid expansion of the “line” is a contributing factor as well).

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I recently caught up on some of my reading and quickly realized how FAST I was blowing through the issues. I flipped back through and realized how there was a definite LACK OF words on many pages.

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I love the art, and the fact it has a nicely “cinematic” look is certainly appealing–VISUALLY–but AS it does a great job, I can see it, appreciate it, but I blow right through, taking stuff in like quick single frames of a movie.

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I don’t even notice much in the way of “visual sound effects” (possibly the tradeoff for not “covering up” the art) so there’s even less to slow the eye from passing quickly over stuff, taking it in and continuing on; seeing and ‘hearing’ stuff in the back of the mind.

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Granted, for the purposes of this post I’m only providing photos of some of the pages-other pages do have a lot more in the way of dialogue/word balloons–but the fact that so many of the pages go so quick is highly problematic for me as we ONLY get 20 pages of story for the $3.99 cover price.

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[Above pages all from Darth Vader #3; below are from #4]

While I certainly like and enjoy good art in comics–for me, bad art can taint a story, but good art merely adds to a story. I buy comics for the story…without a story that interests me, I don’t care how beautiful the art “in general” is.

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Particularly when I re-read comics from the ’90s and earlier I notice just how “wordy” they seem compared to a lot of modern comics. Caption boxes, plenty of dialogue, even some labels and occasional editorial notes.

Moreso with pre-’90s comics I notice the more consistent “standard” panel layouts where panels seemed primarily contained to boxes…sure, the layouts might not be as dynamic as present-day, but having more distinct panels (in my mind and memory as I type this post) seems to mean “more” panels on a page.

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Particularly when there’s a lot of quick action in-story, just like I’m not going to hit pause or switch to some half-speed mode watching tv or a movie I don’t feel any need or desire to pause in moving through an issue to look closely at every little detail that might be present or marvel at the sheer quality of the detail, etc.

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If you’ve read my blog at any length you certainly know that I have a problem with $3.99 as a price point for comics (especially for Marvel and DC, while I’m more lenient on other publishers). Only 20 pages for my $3.99 gets quite annoying; and $3.99 when I can breeze right through an issue in 5-6 minutes would mean I’m paying the equivalent of $40/hr for entertainment. That’d be like spending $60-$80 to watch a movie!

I can buy a prose novel–a STORY–for $8 and carry the thing around reading for those 5-10 minutes at a time here and there for WEEKS before finishing it.

Not all comics are quite so quick a read (and they are certainly of varying quality)…and as said earlier, I really like the art on these issues; it’s just that I don’t find the art alone to be enough to justify the cost in and of itself.

I was already figuring I’d cut my losses and drop the Star Wars books/avoid newer ones–I can pick single issues up later from bargain bins or I can buy the collected volumes or I’ll outright forget ’em and life will simply go on.

The page count and lack of story PER ISSUE just doesn’t work for me.

The Weekly Haul – Week of March 11, 2015

Finally “back on schedule” after a couple of off-weeks. Vacation 600 miles away a couple weeks ago, trying to catch up on the DC Weeklies before getting prohibitively far behind, while getting back into work after a week off made the last couple weeks iffy on comics.

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The new Ninjak series premiered this week, and I couldn’t resist grabbing the Bill & Ted comic for nostalgia’s sake. Magnus wraps up, I’ve bought my third Marvel Star Wars issue, and been keeping up with my reading Unity.

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I’m almost certain I do have the original edition of the iZombie series, which was ALSO $1 cover price IF I’m recalling correctly, back when Vertigo was premiering some of their series for that $1 price point.

I’m amazed that I have YET to find anything that will tell me concretely how many issues the DC Weeklies each run…obviously we’re almost done, given Convergence starts next month, but still…52? 25? 48?

I have a  LOT of reading to do, and need to find a “guide” to the Convergence books, as I’ll probably buy a few (heck, 3/wk matches these Weeklies) but I’m more inclined to know how Convergence will be collected.

A topic for another time, perhaps.

The Weekly Haul – Week of February 11th, 2015

Another large week with clustering: THREE Valiants. Again…

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As well as the first issue of Darth Vader, and the final issue of the entire Fire and Stone “crossover” mega-story with the Prometheus, Aliens, AVP, and Predator properties.

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I actually passed on the DC Weeklies for now in favor of this image firsts compendium. It’s a fairly hefty paperback with NINE #1 issues (that’d be at least $27 cover price offhand) for a mere $5.99. For only $1 more than the Darth Vader issue, I have 9 #1s to sample in a single paperback.

I’ll probably catch up on the weeklies next week…nearing the end so just finishing those out and hope that when I finally catch up on the reading it proves worthwhile.

The Weekly Haul – Week of February 4th, 2015

This seemed like the smallest week in quite awhile. “only” the three DC weeklies, two Valiants, and Star Wars from Marvel.

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And I don’t quite get why we have two issues of X-O Manowar in a row…that’s even more clustering than the usual for Valiant.

Next week is gonna be huge, and with DC‘s news today about the changes to the line in general, I’m rather discouraged toward continuing with any of their output.

Star Wars (2015) #2 [Review]

starwars(2015)002Skywalker Strikes (part II)

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: John Cassaday
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Artists: Cassaday & Martin
Assistant Editor: Charles Beacham
Editor: Jordan D. White
Executive Editors: C.B. Cebulski & Mike Marts
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: April 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

On the surface, I’m not at all impressed with this issue. This is a #2, so it’s not the first issue, it’s not MY first issue, nor my first-issue-since-I’m-not-sure-when, and it reminds me that it’s just one chapter in an inevitable graphic novel/collected edition (I’m 99% certain it’ll get a shiny hardcover edition–possibly oversized if not a “premiere” edition).

On the surface, there’s not really a lot covered in this issue: Luke fights Vader; Han and Leia stomp around in a Walker; C-3PO is captured by the scavengers dismantling the Falcon; Though Han and Luke proved to be more of a threat than expected, Vader rallies and vows to personally deal with Luke.

The issue is mostly action, with a lot of little details to the fighting and such, to where if I tried to do a more detailed recap, I might as well write a “novelization” of the issue. The story itself is solid, with enough to the interactions to recognize the characters and get a feeling of authenticity that I definitely appreciate, feeling like this is truly stuff that (could have) happened between the films. Along with that authenticity, there’s an element of knowledge of stuff that comes later, sort of wink-and-a-nod toward stuff we as readers are assumed to know (but if one doesn’t “know” nothing is actually lost).

Visually, this is a strong issue…I definitely like Cassaday‘s work, though I can’t imagine getting more than one arc with it, for now (see above about the graphic novel). Still, taken in and of itself I like the art and have no real complaint…I flew through the issue without trouble being able to tell what was going on, and simply enjoyed the experience without anything in the art tripping me up.

But this isn’t the first issue, a first issue–it’s very much a second issue. While the opening page recap is good and reminds me of key stuff from the first issue, and I like the style, it’s also of necessity a bit briefer than I’d prefer. Having read the first issue, it works well; but trying to consider the recap and then this issue’s contents by themselves, the brief recap doesn’t quite work for me.

My lack of being impressed comes primarily from this not being a standalone issue as well as being able to “see” how it’ll fit quite well into a collected volume as part of a longer, continuous reading experience. Additionally, I can’t imagine many in this day and age actively seeking this issue and reading it without the context of the first issue.

That aside, the quality feels consistent from the first, though I don’t have that issue handy for comparison. If you enjoyed the first issue, and don’t mind (functionally) getting the graphic novel in 6 or so chunks, this is well worth getting. If  you missed the first issue and don’t already have an interest in seeking that out, I’d suggest waiting for the collected volume or such. With this being a $3.99 comic, I definitely do not recommend seeking out #2 as a one-shot/standalone thing.

The Weekly Hauls: Weeks of 1/7 & 1/14

Been a couple weeks since I’ve posted one of these.

LAST week, had two huge issues in the Valiant Greatest Hits #2 and the Legends of the Dark Knight Super-Spectacular #5. Of course, as is standard nowadays, the three DC weeklies…and picked up Wolverines #1 to check it out…but it’s a $3.99 weekly, which I’m just not willing to pay. And the third issue of the new Eternal Warrior mini.

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THIS week, I decided to try the new Mortal Kombat X premiere, snagged the final issue of the AVP: Fire and Stone mini…and Marvel‘s new Star Wars #1 (I posted a review the other day).

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There’s also the three DC weeklies, the latest Astro City…and 3 Valiants in one week.

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It’s been a really heavy couple weeks…and it’s rather disconcerting–yet again–to realize how far behind I am on reading the weeklies…despite keeping up with the purchasing (so I don’t have to catch up later and hassle with the hunt).

I am looking forward to their being done, and getting that $9/week back in-pocket for other stuff…of course, I might just be trading those for a couple of HUGE September-like months with DC‘s big event this spring.

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