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The Weekly Haul: Week of April 25, 2018

This is an odd week. For one thing…it’s Marvel-heavy, which almost never happens–not for new issues, anyway. Secondly, I managed to initially flat-out forget to grab (or otherwise missed) a couple issues I’d specifically intended to get!

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I believe this week’s issue of The Mighty Thor is the final issue…well, for a few weeks, as we’re already getting another Thor #1 soon! Thinking it looks a bit standalone, and though I detest the $4.99 price point, it IS 12 more pages for “only” an extra $1 (compared to the 20-page $3.99 Marvel issues) I grabbed my second Thanos Annual #1 of the last several years. What can I say? It would feel odd not to snag the issue, given the movie that premieres this week!

Of the various True Believers issues…I have to say that the Infinity Gauntlet #1 and now this Infinity War #1 are easily a couple of the best values given the size. And of course, I greatly enjoy that they retain their original logo and (mostly) original cover. After all…these are rather “iconic” covers, from some ancient time when variants were rare, and specific comics were actually recognizable BY their covers.

The newest issue of The Terrifics is here, as is the final issue of the Demon: Hell is Earth mini (which is one less title to be picking up, slightly easing the monthly outspend).

And of course, the newest issue of Previews…which at this point is just an odd catalog, with separate publications for Marvel and DC and whatever else is contained.

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Somehow I missed Detective Comics for the week, as well as the start of the newest Aliens mini-series: Dust to Dust (and just before Alien Day 2018, to boot!).

I also realized I’d either missed, or skipped, the newest issue of Batman: Creature of the Night. I feel like this issue was really late, and suspect the next of being the same…such that this has really lost some of its momentum for me.

C’est la vie!

Once again, here it is the day before the next New Comic Book Day. But then, I’m also getting used to a “schedule” of having Ultraverse Revisited posts on Monday/Wednesday/Friday…so the other couple posts of the week are balancing differently than once upon a time.

Also some other stuff coming up that I should be sharing in the near future!

Meanwhile…tomorrow is another Wednesday for new comics, and this upcoming Saturday is Free Comic Book Day at participating local comic shops!

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Thanos Annual #1 [Review]

thanosannual001Damnation and Redemption

Writer: Jim Starlin
Penciler: Ron Lim
Inker: Andy Smith
Colorist: Val Staples
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Dale Keown & Ive Svorcina
Assistant Editor: Jon Moisan
Editor: Wil Moss
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $4.99

It’s safe to say that Thanos is one of my favorite Marvel characters. However, perhaps that’s something to be further quantified: Thanos as written by Jim Starlin is one of my favorite Marvel characters.

While I have yet to read the entirety of Annihilation or Annihilation Conquest; or the Thanos Imperative, or even the more recent Infinity, I’ve been loosely aware of the character’s recent appearance and involvement in Marvel stuff. I’ve been sucked into buying various issues solely on the appearance of Thanos on the cover, the promise of the character within.

So it was the almost random “notice” of Jim Starlin writing and Infinity Gauntlet artist Ron Lim on art that prompted my purchase of this issue.

Despite the aforementioned favoriteness, it’s been a long time since I’ve read most of what I vaguely recall having once read–maybe 15 years since the original Infinity ____ volumes, a decade since the shortlived “ongoing” series…a fact that’s rather “idealized” Thanos for me, and coated things with that sweet nostalgia of childhood memories that so often props something up IN memory but leads to disappointment upon revisitation.

As such, I was prepared to be quite disappointed in this issue.

I’m not a fan of the standard cover…however, I opted to purchase it over any of the variants I saw. In the short term gratification sense, I probably would have preferred the Ron Lim cover…but I feel strongly enough on the “issue” of variants that I would have been quite disappointed having something LABELLED as a variant rather than the “real” cover. Particularly given the “core” creative team of this issue being Starlin and Lim, it’s truly beyond me why neither of their covers were “the” cover and instead shuffled off as variants. Starlin‘s own cover actually fits the interior story, and Lim‘s is equally as fitting visually…whereas Keown‘s cover is a generic (and not even particularly “iconic” to me) image far more suited as an interior “pin-up” page if not a variant cover instead of being the standard cover.

This issue is essentially a prologue, setup, for the forthcoming graphic novel Thanos: The Infinity Revelation. We open on Thanos upon his first major defeat in Marvel continuity–having lost the Cosmic Cube. Dealing with the massive failure, he is approached by Mephisto, but the intervention of an Infinity Gauntleted avatar of Thanos appears and takes this Thanos on a journey through time and space, as it processes various events and how they play into the younger, defeated Thanos’ future. We’re ultimately given setup for a new event in Thanos’ life, which presumably will be chronicled in the OGN this Fall.

I recall being pleasantly surprised at the ease with which Starlin brushed off several years of less-than-ideal characterization and use of Thanos in Infinity Abyss–that the appearances of Thanos in Ka-Zar, a Hulk Annual, and even a Thor-versus-Thanos arc in Thor’s own title proved to be duplicates of the ACTUAL Thanos; less than perfect at that. So this issue referencing multiple “avatars” of the Infinity Gauntlet Thanos fits right in with past precedent and gave me no pause at all, where it may have with other characters.

As a fairly simple one-off story, this worked well for me, giving me a chance to dip back in with Thanos without feeling like I actually missed anything from Infinity or anything else I didn’t feel lost, and actually quite enjoyed the touches on continuity that I recognized.

Visually, this entire issue was quite a treat. It had a feel of the familiar that I appreciated–and EXPECTED. While familiar, the coloring and such certainly showed through as “modern,” keeping this from feeling entirely like some ’90s throwback. I don’t much like Thanos’ appearance without his headgear, but having seen imagery of him without it before, everything fit. In the various detailing other than noticing how ugly he looks without the headgear, nothing of the art itself jumped out as a distraction. 

I enjoyed seeing familiar scenes and characters, and the only one I really didn’t recognize offhand was what I believe to be a “current” version of Adam Warlock that I’ve not actually read in-continuity yet.

The $4.99 price of this issue is a bit steep; I read the thing cover to cover in under 20 minutes…but then, these days, that’s par for the course to me with a Marvel issue. Steep price point for a quick read, whether it’s good or not.

To best of my knowledge, this is not a follow-up to Infinity, and that story seems to be solely referenced by the “previously” page, so you need not have read any of that to enjoy this. Similarly, if you’re looking FOR Infinity follow-up, this isn’t really gonna meet that expectation. 

However, if you’ve read or are familiar with the Thanos stories from the late-’70s and 1990s to early 2000s, and you’re a fan of Starlin‘s work in general and Thanos in particular, this should be a pretty enjoyable read and whet your appetite for an original graphic novel apparently due out in August this year.

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