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The Death of the Super-Blog Team Up Aftermath (and Usagi Yojimbo)

Yesterday was my first foray into the Super-Blog Team Up, invited in by fellow blogger Chris Sheehan (of Chris is on Infinite Earths).

I had a blast working on my contribution, looking at The Death of the Mighty Mutanimals, and sharing my history with the Mutanimals, and how that all came together.

It was also probably the most prep-work I’ve done for any single writing project since my grad school days.

And while right now it’s two posts, two days in a row…I wanted to post again with links to the rest of the Super-Blog Team-Up from this outing.

 

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#RIPSBTU, #SBTU, #SuperBlogTeamUp


I also recently (finally!!) managed to find the newest Usagi Yojimbo action figure, part of the Tales of the TMNT re-branding of Nickelodeon‘s series that’s been running since 2012!

three_usagi

Above–"classic" Usagi from the ’80s line; Usagi from the 2003 line; and "current" or "modern" Usagi fresh off a peg.

It’s a sort of relief to finally have found the figure, after weeks of too-frequent stops in Targets and Walmarts and venturing to further-away locations, and same for Toys R Us and such, hoping to find the figure.

Now I can sit back and not "worry" about finding it or "missing out" if the figures suddenly disappear from stores with the animated series ending.

Posing the figures for the photo with a fairly intentional background also reminds me that there are three more volumes of The Usagi Yojimbo Saga I want; though I’ve yet to make the time to actually sit down and read any of them yet.

Perhaps I’ll get into more on stuff later.

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The Weekend Haul – Weekend of June 16-18

Over the weekend, I headed down to Kenmore to pick up stuff that’s been pulled the last couple weeks.

Having learned of a sale at another shop–Hazel’s Heroes–and being much closer to it already being down that far south, I ventured a bit off my usual trail to check out the shop, AND the sale. I was loosely aware of the general region of the shop…I’d just never (since becoming aware of the shop’s existence) had the time while down that way to check it out.

I wasn’t sure going in what the sale itself would be, but the Facebook post indicated it was a "big" sale, and with my present (and likely about to fizzle out) hunt for Trial of the Flash-era issues of the silver/bronze age The Flash series, I was all the more interested, as a sale would bring even too-highly priced issues into a reasonable range, or so I figured.

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While I doubt I’ll ever get the whole series, being aware of the Blue Ribbon Digest series, I’ve found I’m interested in those when I find them for a good price. As this sale was, I believe I got both of these for about $1/each.

Pretty sure the same on the TMNT novels. (Beaten to heck, but for the price, well worthwhile for the moment!) The Six-Guns and Shurikens book and Red Herrings I remember reading as a kid. The Donatello: The Radical Robot is one I don’t remember (and apparently there are others for each of the turtles along with Donatello!).

Gotta say…for me, the better value by far is these five books for $5, over, say, Darth Vader #1 (had a #1 in 2015, and now already again in 2017..!).

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The way the sale was structured, the $12 Power of Warlock cost me $5 (again, which is the better value: that or a book that just came out this week?) while the other Power of Warlock issue matched the price of a DC Rebirth issue.

The Tales of the TMNT #5 (original run), Batman and the Outsiders #1, and Robin (original mini-series) #1 cost me a whopping $1/each!

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The Booster Gold issues also all only cost me $1. I mentally kicked myself when I realized for the pricing I missed grabbing #s 0 and One Million; fortunately, I shouldn’t have much issue finding my #0 from my Zero Hour stuff last year, and already found my One Million from last October. The #1 was a "convenience" copy (and for $1, even, beautiful piece!).

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Then, I noticed some boxes of magazines before I could check out. My curiosity got me, and on investigating, found that there was quite a run of old Wizard magazines! Fortunately, despite thinking it wouldn’t even matter, I’d taken a couple photos of my Wizard shelf in lieu of writing down missing numbers. So, I was able to pull something like 25-26 issues to fill in gaps in my existing run of the magazine…plus several issues that I just want a poster out of and for the price, no sense passing them up–these all had an older $3 sticker on them, with a newer $1 sticker.

Since the sale was that stuff up to $5.99 was $1, I expected I was just gonna be paying $1 per Wizard…but the store owner gave me the stack for 50 cents an issue!

So all told, for roughly the price of 9 standard, modern Marvel issues, I got 30 issues of Wizard, most of which fill in gaps in my existing collection (rather than just cheap duplicates), a couple of old Power of Warlock issues, three TMNT books I haven’t seen available anywhere in over 20 years, a couple of (relatively rare) Blue Ribbon Digests, and a few other issues!

Sure beats the heck outta most conventions!


batman_adam_west_bust_bank

Finally, while I was at Kenmore, on a whim, I made a non-comics purchase: a Batman bust bank of the Adam West Batman. A bit more than I might’ve wanted to pay, and DEFINITELY a shame that it took the man’s death last weekend to remind me how much I do actually appreciate his Batman and all that. But I was interested, and opted to get this since it was NOT any kind of "special order" or such, and not a case of anyone profiting off Adam West‘s death! (As, sadly, I suspect Batman ’66 stuff may soon be).

Toys in the Wild – Tales of the TMNT: Super Shredder

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Several weeks ago, noticed some new TMNT toys at a local Target. They did not have all of the toys for the wave, but enough to inform me that 1. this seems to be "the" wave/theme for the year (the way the Dimension X wave had been previously) and 2. There’s a new DVD "movie" coming later this year.

While I appreciate the notion of a "movie" and some figures to tie in, I’m not all that keen on it providing for basically "just" another variant for all the turtles, along with an uglier-than-the-others Shredder.

I’m also increasingly discouraged at the absolute "love" for the ’80s animated series and seeming complete snubbing of the 2003 animated series…plus the complete lack of figures based on the IDW comic series. Or in this case, "borrowing" the "Super Shredder" concept from the TMNT II: Secret of the Ooze film (the one I associate as swerving more to the cartoon after the first’s close comic-basis).

As such, I probably won’t be buying any of these…though I could change my mind, especially once I’ve seen the movie.

Final thought before the "gallery" of figures: they all have the same card-back. There’s no "profile" for individual characters or such…nothing from the cards themselves to distinguish which character they’re from. This is something that to me takes away from the "production quality" or "presentation quality" of the line as a whole…like they’re just making generic figures, with a generic card, and tossing them out there. But I guess that’s also a topic for some other post, perhaps.

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Still, though I don’t plan to buy any of these, I certainly applaud the use of the Tales of the TMNT phrasing/title as homage to the original comics. And for changing things up a bit.

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The Fourth Fifty: IDW’s TMNT

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I remember picking up the Mirage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #50 back in the summer of 1992. I didn’t fully “get” the issue, but it was a significant milestone in an age of round numbers (25/50/75/etc), anniversary issues and all that. It was apparently the first full collaboration between Eastman and Laird on an issue of the series in quite some time, plus it kicked off the City at War storyline, which to this day holds plenty of significance to the TMNT mythology 23 years later. In retrospect, the issue came out “only” 8 years into the turtles’ existence…basically in the first quarter of the entire time they’ve been around.

Only the year following, the 50th issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures from Archie hit, concluding a 3-part Black Hole Trilogy that picked up/integrated the alien Sarnath and “canonized” the 2-part The Incredible Shrinking Turtles story from issues 3-4. The issue included a pull-out poster, and gold ink on the cover, lending it a bit of a special look compared to other covers of the series.

In 2008, the second volume of Mirage‘s Tales of the TMNT reached its 50th issue, which was again a pretty significant milestone…all the more for me, personally–it was the first series that I ever followed uninterrupted from the very first issue TO its 50th (and/or beyond).

Now, in 2015, we have the 50th issue of IDW‘s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, another that I have followed uninterrupted from its very first issue to this 50th, and have every intention of continuing as far beyond as they’re willing to go without renumbering.

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Tales of the TMNT #69 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: Dark Shadows

Shadow seeks out her old sensei as her world falls apart around her.

talesofthetmnt069Script/Art: Dan Berger
Letters: Eric Talbot
Frontiespiece: Michael Dooney
Cover: Dan Berger and Steve Lavigne
Published by: Mirage PUblishing

Continuing the usual format of the book–with stories from all different points in the TMNT timeline–this story picks up sometime in the future. Shadow, now a young adult, fights her way through the Foot to confront her Sensei. Upon reaching him, the two exchange bitter words as hints abound as to some major stuff having gone down, leading this girl and a mutant turtle to the point they find themselves at in this issue.

In many ways, the story is quite cliche. We have an enormous global disaster that leads to the in-story “present” being a sparsely populated wasteland with the Big City nearly deserted, and what remains of destroyed/fallen-apart buildings is covered in plants, with survivors operating on a fairly gang-like means of living…survival of the fit.

We’re given vague glimpses at things–cryptic comments and hints at what’s gone down during the time between this issue and the last chronicled point in the Turtles’ timeline; the family falling apart and what drove them–and kept them–apart.

The art itself seems both familiar and yet slightly “off”–as a story that seems pretty core to the TMNT mythos, I’m used to seeing Jim Lawson‘s depiction of characters here. Berger provides visuals that are not entirely dissimilar to Lawson‘s, and more than holds its own in establishing a tone for the story and getting across what’s going on. He gives us a rather brutal panel toward the end, that seems to indicate that a certain disfigurement is practically a “given” for a particular turtle, as I’m pretty sure this is the third time (across the various comic continuities/universes) this has been a point the character’s wound up.

Shadow is pretty much the youngest of the extended TMNT cast. She was introduced in the final story of the original TMNT series, and has been a firm fixture ever since–on a level very similar to her father Casey and characters like April or Splinter. Seeing her as an adult lends to the fact of much time having passed, and experiencing the world through her eyes–glancing back to events that have unfolded particularly in the main “Volume 4” TMNT series–makes her “present” that much more real and believable in this story.

This is only the penultimate issue–there’s one more to go–of this series. But the way this issue unfolded, we get a sense of history for the characters; a sense of destination for where they’re going to wind up, and yet there’s also a sense of hope, that the future is ever-changing with every choice we make.

The initial read-through is quick, particularly with the action sequences…but sitting back and thinking about what was going on…this is very much an issue for the long-time fans, and particularly those willing to consider deeper stuff between the lines and not simply taking the story at its surface/face-value.

Not exactly a timeless classic or other “instant classic,” nevertheless, this issue would serve as a fine cap to the entire Mirage continuity even if there were no more issues due out.

Ratings:

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Tales of the TMNT #67 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: Schooled

Shadow starts at a new school, and must resist the urge to tell everybody about her mutant “uncles.”

talesofthetmnt067Script: Dan Berger
Pencils and Tones: Dario Brizuela
Inks: Andres Ponce
Letters: Eric Talbot
Cover: Dario Brizuela and Steve Lavigne
Frontispiece: Michael Dooney
Published by: Mirage Publishing

Unfortunately, this series has what I can only describe as a “lame duck” feeling about it. There are just a couple more issues due out before the series goes away completely. And being the sole presence of the TMNT in comics for the last few years, there are no other books for these characters to show up in, or co-feature in, and so on. With the property having been sold off, and zero word on any new comic series and whether any of the existing/ongoing continuity would be maintained or if the entire property would be restarted if comics are done…it makes the long-term effect of this issue seem pretty low-key and like it has little point to it. Of course, taken by itself, this is quite an enjoyable story.

This issue sees Shadow–the adopted daughter of Casey Jones and April–getting into a new school, and everyone dealing with that. At the same time, Mikey and Don are out and about on the streets, keeping each other focused as to what’s right and wrong. When Shadow’s first day at school arrives, her family is excited and proud, though they warn her of the danger that would come by her talking about her “uncles” and whatnot…which of course leads to trouble. Still, the resolution is mostly satisfying…at least in keeping with the nature of Casey in particular.

I’ve realized throughout this series that despite the differences in the various visual styles of the artists involved, each largely has something to really like. For example, this issue reminds me of the recent TMNT animated series–particularly Casey’s appearance. The turtles themselves look quite different in detail but still seem like they’d fit in rather well with the animated series’ visual style. My only real gripe is that I don’t think I’ve ever pictured Shadow as a blonde–and I don’t know if that’s me simply never noticing, or what the deal is–but other than that, the art’s good stuff.

As with many issues of this series, this is a done-in-one tale, so you don’t really need earlier issues to follow the story (though they’ll add plenty of context). You can pick this up by itself and enjoy it as a one-shot thing, or as another untold tale from this period in the Turtles’ lives.

It’s just unfortunate that this doesn’t seem like just the latest untold tale to add context to a present-day story…nothing’s really going to come of this or refer back to this.

Recommended for TMNT fans in particular…and whether this issue or most of the prior issues, this series in itself is well worth reading, and its lengthy run these past 6 years is second only to the TMNT Adventures series from Archie back in the 1990s.

Ratings:

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Tales of the TMNT #64 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: The Burning Man

The turtles race all over the city to deal with a number of threats, and ultimately, a demon-from-a-bottle released in a botched attempt to stop the Foot from stealing its container.

talesofthetmnt064Script: Tristan Jones
Pencils: Jim Lawson
Inks: Steve Lavigne
Letters: Dan Berger
Cover: Jim Lawson & Steve Lavigne
Frontispiece: Michael Dooney
Editor in Chief: Peter Laird
Managing Editor: Dan Berger
Design: Eric Talbot
Published by: Mirage Publishing

Michelangelo narrates this issue, as we find out that he and his brothers wound up fighting some sort of demon. This demon was released after Leonardo accidentally broke an urn the Foot was trying to steal. We go from the turtles’ lair as Leo chews Mikey out for stuff going wrong; then see Mikey’s side to things. With the urn broken and the demon having disappeared, there wasn’t much for the turtles to do, so they went about usual business; these distractions led to Mikey being the one to come across the demon again first, and thus Mikey confronts it alone. The others are brought into things in their own way, as the motivation of the demon is determined and attended to. While Mikey won’t take the blame for everything that went down, we do find out at the end of the issue the one thing that he WILL take responsibility for.

Visually, this is the version of the turtles I tend to enjoy most, and the visual style that I’ve come to primarily associate with them over the past 7-8 years or so. It is a bit stylistic, and detail seems to vary a bit, as dictated by the story and what we’re to focus on as the story progresses.

The story itself is quite good, and I really enjoyed a lot of the verbal and visual cues provided by having the story from Mikey’s point of view. I could almost hear the voice of the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series Mikey recounting these events, and that just made it all the more fun.

Jones has written some of my favorite issues of Tales, and I find it a real shame that this will be his last issue, given the change of ownership of the TMNT property and uncertainty of where things go from here.

This is not a dense book…the story is a nice little done-in-one, mainly focused on Mikey but still involving the other turtles such that it is by no means a solo issue. If you can get the issue, it’s very much worthwhile.

Ratings:

Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

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