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The Weekly Haul: Week of April 19th, 2017

Much as expected, this was a huge week for me, in quantity of NEW comics, in PRICE, and having looked forward to stuff in general!

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I’ve been looking forward to The Button for months now, pretty much since it was announced, and to finally have the first chapter leaves me anxious for the next, now!

I had not even realized that I missed an issue of Highlander; so I believe NOW I’m actually caught up. And I decided to try the Riverdale Digest #1 half thinking it was going to be original material. Nope…it reprints the first issues of several of the "new" Archie titles. For $6, not a bad thing…and I’d be happy to pay $6 on a continuing monthly basis for a digest like this cycling through "monthly" issues of each series it contains! (Beats the heck outta $3.99 for one issue, and wading through two-DOZEN variant covers!)

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I’m WAAAAAY behind on READING Letter 44, but haven’t wanted to give the title up. Of course, I just found out that it apparently will be ending at #35 in July…so hopefully life will be such that I’ll be able to dedicate some serious reading time to re-read what issues I actually HAVE read, and then on through the whole run!

I’m definitely into the "habit" or "groove" of following Spawn, though I’ve no clue where it’s going or whatnot. As long as it stays at $2.99, I’ll probably keep up. However, it’s one that I definitely WILL drop on principle if it jumps to $3.99! The price point is one of its high selling points for me, and what helped get me onto it over a year ago.

Despite being quarter-bin fodder, I snagged a number of these True Believers editions/reprints of key X-Men premiere issues. Though I’m sorta (morbidly) amused at having paid $1 for the X-Men "Blue" issue, considering how many copies I have of it, and that I’ve bought copies of the "deluxe" edition (that this reprint’s cover is a panel from) just to rip the cover off as a poster.

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I also raided the bargain bins…though I found a lot more in an expanded 50-cent bin than the 25-cent bin that I was interested in. Knowing I’m already looking to fill in some 49-50 issues of Action Comics and nearly as many Superman as-is from the New 52 era, I figured with these issues of Superman Unchained, I think now I just need to snag #9 to have the whole series.

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Then there were some 25-cent issues of Detective Comics; at least 2 of which I don’t think I already had.

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And continuing my general trend…I’m happy to get ’90s Marvel comics from bargain bins. 50 cents on these, though I know I already had the Marvels issue, and 99% certain I already had the Amazing Fantasy 16-18 run. Still, for the convenience and all, and the four issues combined being still only HALF the price of a contemporary issue, not bad.


It’s also proving to be an interesting week with a convergence of release dates and such for several things I’d pre-ordered and/or had on my "radar" that I finally realized were out!

Definitely hoping next week will be a lot smaller at least price-wise, but we’ll see!

Superman Unchained

superman_unchained_02In early 2013 or so, I recall a bit of personal excitement that had me ready to jump back into the Superman books…the prospect of a quasi “return” to there being several familiar titles each month. Superman and Action Comics were (and are, and remain) two “staples” of the New 52, and aren’t likely to disappear regardless of creative team turnover. There was the digital-first Adventures of Superman, and the pending Scott Snyder-takes-on-Superman fourth title, rumored at the time to be “Man of Steel” or such with the new movie on the immediate horizon.

The Snyder book wound up being Superman Unchained, and quickly soured me. I remember a fair bit of hubbub over the price point on the title–the first issue was $4.99, apparently super-priced due to the inclusion of a pull-out “poster” that would actually tie to the story. I got the issue, and was VERY disappointed with the so-called poster, as it was just some stupid, giant-sized “panel” of Superman crashing through a satellite. Nothing that couldn’t have simply been done as a “regular” double-page spread or such. It by no means needed a poster or pull-out or whatever, and was nothing “worth” putting on a wall or framing for the wall.

That the title was a $3.99 book–to my knowledge–combined with the frustration over the vastly over-hyped pull-out soured me. Add to it the slew of expensive variant covers and I didn’t even bother to pick up #2, accepting my loss on the first issue and moving on.

Flash ahead to present, and this “new series” had turned into a “limited series,” ran late, lost steam, etc. and generally fell off my radar.

But there’s a collected volume, a deluxe oversized hardcover…collecting the ENTIRE SERIES, the entire story into a single, nice-looking volume.

superman_unchained_01And while this would EASILY be a $50-$60 book (if not $75 just for the sheer heckuvit) from Marvel…from DC, Superman Unchained is a WHOPPING $29.99 cover price as an oversized hardcover. 9 issues, content from a Director’s Cut of #1, PLUS a cover gallery of all those too-many-to-count variants of the first six or so issues (presumably before the title ran late and lost steam and all that). 9 issues at $3.99 apiece would be $36ish. $37 for that first issue being an extra $1. Add another $4 for the Director’s Cut (I think it was actually $4.99 if not MORE, though) and we certainly hit the $40 mark. Heck, even at a mere $2.99/issue…9 issues and the director’s cut puts us squarely at $30 MINIMUM.

This book–oversized, hardcover, no ads, no wait between issues, no screwy over-hyped poster gimmick, everything in one volume–is $30.

I have yet to read the story itself…but it’s Snyder. It’s SUPERMAN. It’s A STORY, it’s significantly longer than the Earth One OGNs that I’m willing to buy despite the $20+ cover price. So it’s safe to say that yes…I’m happy with my purchase. The volume is seems a good value. I can’t imagine I’ll dislike the story enough to “ruin” having bought the book. Having followed Doomed earlier this year, I didn’t notice anything in that that was truly impacted by this story; nor have I seen anything else I’m consciously aware of that ties back to this.

So I get an epic-length self-contained Superman story and even if it sucks, it’s done in one at this point and I’m not going to be led into buying other titles or having to track anything down. Money well spent, and an impressive volume for the shelf. 

That I enjoyed paging through the cover gallery as much as I did almost warrants the purchase by itself.

This is truly an example of why I–by FAR–prefer the collected edition format to the single issues.

I don’t have to track down all the variants to get to ENJOY them, their very existence, seeing them with the logo/trade dress. Below, see (on the right-hand side) the “Superman Reborn” series of variants, reuniting classic ’90s Superman creators with the post-Death of Superman-era characters.

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Above: Covers from Superman Unchained #1…

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Above: Covers from Superman Unchained #2…

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Above: Covers from Superman Unchained #3…

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Above: Covers from Superman Unchained #4…

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Above: Covers from Superman Unchained #5…

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Above: Covers from Superman Unchained #6.

Not a Poster (and where are the chains?)

supermanunchained001variant001While I was quite impressed by Man of Steel, I found myself rather disappointed (to say the least) in Superman Unchained #1. I think THE primary problem for me with Superman Unchained was the issue of the extra $1 to the cover price (already going to be $3.99, the poster’s inclusion bumped the price an entire $1 to $4.99!)

And yet…the poster is not at all what I personally would consider an actual poster. To me, a poster is a stand-alone image, where the art speaks for itself. It might be an oversized (or same-sized) cover image, or reproduced from interior art–a panel or splash-page.  It might be a wholly original image, perhaps an artist’s work not usually associated with a character. And if it is captioned, it’s intended as a stand-alone.

What we got with this issue is simply a detachable fold-out to allow for two panels at 4 times the usual page-size (or double the size of a 2-page splash).

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The first side is simply a falling satellite with Superman smashing through…but just looking at the image, I can’t even tell what it’s supposed to be. Some sort of spaceship exploding or otherwise breaking apart…but no CONTEXT. Can’t even tell that it’s Superman there…and it’s certainly no poster-worthy Superman depiction–no heroic pose, nothing that truly “says” Superman here.

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On the reverse side, we do get a MUCH closer-up view of Superman…you can tell that it’s Superman, that he’s punching…something, so we’re a little closer to expectation. But the image is spoiled by the awkward, off-center pose, and all those text boxes. They may not be overly noticeable at first glance from a distance…but while that MIGHT be a slight strength at first, it leads into another problem: you have to get up close to the poster to read anything on it, and it’s hard to un-notice the text once you notice it.

supermanunchained001variant002And since this comes from within the issue itself, is a part of the story, this does not at all stand alone–you lose the context of that story that ties to the text boxes. It also means that you’re missing these details from any later re-read of the issue itself if you’ve removed and hung the poster, rather than tucking it back into the issue where it–obviously–is intended to belong.

Basically, the reader is asked to pay extra so that the artist can have art shown off at an abnormally over-sized perspective for no real gain to the story itself (to say nothing of losing all flow of story by having to take the time and hassle to remove the thing from the issue in the first place! Why not a clear polybag? DC already uses those for the “combo pack” editions, I believe!)

Then, the issue is swamped with variants–many actually appealing for their nostalgia factor AS a comic book. Rather than simply having a different image under the company logo, title logo, and UPC box…the entire trade dress of the cover is redone in the classic styles, with the classic company logos and so on.

Granted, the visual style would evoke different periods of the comics. But going with the different logos and trade dress, you truly wind up with an entirely different comic by the cover alone–whether something that looks like it came out of my grandpa’s cabinet, or from the midst of the era of Superman I most enjoy.

supermanthemanofsteel050But the variants aren’t stopping with the “celebration” of this first issue–nope, they’re continuing with the next issue at minimum, if not beyond. And while I’d thought to “give in” and give the issue a “pass” for being a #1…keeping this up–especially with RATIOED variants–is absolutely not gonna keep me around (in fact, it’s soured me entirely!)

Add to all of the above that I didn’t pick up on anything within the first issue to really warrant the title Unchained, vs. the long-rumored Man of Steel or something else. Depending even on where the story goes based on the first issue’s cliffhanger, I don’t see Unchained coming from that–perhaps if we actually saw a Superman breaking free of SOME sort of imprisonment (chains or otherwise)–or being imprisoned (and so having something to break free from) it would make sense.

The standard cover at least has debris and sorta looks like chains on it at a glance…but unless that’s a requirement for every standard cover to justify the title, even that sort of gimmick will likely wear thin its welcome in quite a hurry.

In the end, I suppose all of this is simply further indication that I’m not the target audience. And since I’m not enjoying what’s being done at present–I’ll stick to my back issues.

Superman Unchained #1 [Review]

Superman Unchained #1The Leap

Writer: Scott Snyder
Penciller: Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Cover: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair
Assoc. Editor: Chris Conroy
Group Editor: Matt Idelson
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99

So…$4.99 for this Superman Unchained #1. It’s functionally a 20-page story with a 2-page “epilogue” or “backup” or “extra feature.” 22 pages for $4.99. BUT there’s what was billed as a “tipped-in POSTER” included. This poster is just a double-sided foldout allowing for two single images roughly 4x the size of a normal-sized page, the most “poster-like” loaded with caption boxes. Maybe technically this counts as an extra 8 pages…but that STILL only brings the pagecount to 30…for $4.99. Removing this so-called “poster” involved peeling it off a bound-in piece of tagboard–something which I would assume complicated the printing/binding process in itself to put in, plus the folding, placement of the glue, and the placement of the “poster.” And the “poster” itself had a couple dots of this glue, keeping it from flapping open.

All this hassle, and it’s basically for one side of a “poster” being this huge image of Superman crashing through a satellite, and then an extra-large image of him narrating the situation on the other side. Hardly something that would really make sense on the wall as a poster, more just some comic page pulled out of an issue and stuck on the wall.

$4.99. Five dollars. And while I read the first arc of Superman when the New 52 began–so have a BIT of context of Lois, Perry, and Clark’s relationships…I’m not even that clear on what things are here. And the issue’s big “reveal,” the thing that’s such a big deal, isn’t. Not to me. It doesn’t fit. It doesn’t interest me. It doesn’t change things.

So, objects are falling to Earth. Superman’s trying to stop them, letting one go since he sees it’ll fall “harmlessly” while he stops this huge “Lighthouse” satellite that’s gonna hit like a gigantic nuclear bomb. He confronts Lex Luthor, who has an alibi, and as he seethes over this, learns someone stopped that object he’d let go–but if it wasn’t him, Wonder Woman, or Green Lantern–then who, exactly, WAS it that stopped the thing? We learn of General Lane’s involvement, and of a secret weapon against Superman that goes back to the beginning of things.

Visually…the art’s good. It’s Jim Lee, whose art I’ve tended to almost always enjoy. Maybe I’m just irked about the “poster,” and/or the price and/or my own lack of context for not keeping up with Superman the last 15 months, but the art doesn’t blow me away. It’s good, but it’s not the “great” that I’d’ve hoped for. It’s not the Jim Lee art that a decade ago prompted me to NOT drop the Superman titles but rather keep up a few more months until Lee‘s run on an Azzarello story would begin.

Story-wise, I’m just not interested. I know a lot of people are loving Snyder‘s work, and will consider this to be great Superman…but unfortunately, this is NOT “my” Superman. Perhaps the collected volume(s) will end up being my thing, if I myself hear enough good about it to warrant checking them out. But for now…this issue just doesn’t do anything (positive) for me.

I have no intention of grabbing the next issue, and it’ll depend on others’ reviews whether or not I even bother returning to this title in any form, outside proper bargain bins. For your page count, you’d be better off grabbing the first Superman: Earth One graphic novel and reading that, especially if you’re looking for a specific tie-in to the Man of Steel film.

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