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The ’90s Revisited: Dr. Strange #36

90s_revisited

dr_strange_0036Footnote to Infinity

Writers: Roy & Dann Thomas
Penciler: Dan Lawlis
Inker: Andrew Pepoy
Letterer: R. Parker
Colorist: George Roussos
Editor: Mike Rockwitz
Editor in Chief: Tom Defalco
With Special Thanks To: Jim Starlin, Advisor
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: December 1991
Cover Price: $1.50

I bought this issue completely outside of any kind of context for the Dr. Strange: Sorcerer Supreme series. It initially caught my attention specifically for the presence of Adam Warlock on the cover with the Infinity Gauntlet. The corner blurb that this is an Infinity Gauntlet "Epilogue" solidified it for me. I’ve read The Infinity Gauntlet a couple times (though it’s been a number of years now and I’m due for a re-read–as if I’m not extremely far behind on all my NEW reading) and early issues of Warlock and the Infinity Watch. But I’d never read this issue, and I was curious as to exactly how it was addressing Infinity Gauntlet, its place in the timeline. I’m glad to say that my curiosity was satisfied.

We open on Dr. Strange arriving back home, reuniting with his supporting cast. It’s an impromptu party, and among other reunions we see Strange and Clea (who is the only other person in the room that remembers what happened). As they dance around the subject and share the joy of everyone being present, Wong announces that he’s engaged…and moments later, Pip the troll and Gamora appear, disrupting things–they’re here for Dr. Strange, hoping he might aid them in dealing with a driven-mad-with-power Warlock. Strange confronts Warlock, and winds up having to use every resource available to him, basically, just to hold his ground. After he’s "survived" attacks involving the other Infinity Gems (yes, this is back when they were GEMS, not STONES), he turns the tide by going after the Soul Gem–the one most closely linked to Warlock…and manages to get through to him, helping him see what’s happening, and stand down. After thanks, a friendly handshake, and promises to see things stay on the right path, everyone parts ways…though Strange gets a brief encounter with Eternity…the cosmic being representing the universe itself. Eternity intends to claim the Infinity Gems, by bringing Warlock to some cosmic trial…but that’s not for Strange to deal with, and he finishes his return journey home.

I’m sure I would have enjoyed this issue more if I was "up" on contextual continuity for this series at the point this issue falls. I basically remember THAT Strange was involved early on, being maybe the first Silver Surfer made contact with of the Earth heroes regarding Thanos having assembled all the Gems; and then with Warlock and the "behind the scenes" crew in taking on Thanos. I also vaguely remember that Wong was one of the "half the living entities in the universe" that were blinked out of existence at the start of Infinity Gauntlet. I’m not invested in any of the supporting cast or cameo appearances. And I felt like Warlock was extremely out of character, given the out and out attacks directed at Dr. Strange…and it all rang as the old cliché "hero vs. hero" and such that I really don’t care about. At least here, though, the situation is resolved within the same issue, it does NOT take up the ENTIRE issue, and certainly does not become an entire story arc for a mini-series or title. I was glad to see stuff resolved here, and where I was curious going in as to WHERE exactly this took place in "the timeline," the end of the issue with Eternity suggests to me that this essentially led into Warlock and the Infinity Watch #1.

Story-wise, this felt like "the next issue" of the title. That is, it didn’t waste time trying to retell that which is told elsewhere, nor did this feel like just some "middle chapter" or such of a serialized graphic novel. There are details that are obviously "subplots" being moved along, while the main focus of the issue is an encounter that is begun, run, and resolved within this issue. For a reader perhaps checking this out BECAUSE of seeing Strange in Infinity Gauntlet, it seems to have him pulling out all the stops, and in a way "showing off" for the newer readers, while perhaps reminding older readers of what he can do on his own, as more than just a single character of a huge ensemble cast in a Marvel Universe event.

Visually, I liked the art for this issue overall. For one thing, I felt like I recognized everyone I would expect to–particularly Dr. Strange himself, Pip, Gamora, and Warlock. I attribute this to a "house style" that I feel like I recall being prevalent in the early ’90s; at the least, everyone looks familiar enough that I had no problem with their appearances and nothing messed with my memory of how they "should have" looked or whatever.

As a single issue, this isn’t enough to "sell" me on Dr. Strange’s series…I’m in no particular hurry to find out what happens with the next issue (though I’m "curious" at the tease of "Frankensurfer" and wouldn’t be entirely opposed to keeping an eye out for the issue in a passive sense) nor do I feel any great need to rush out and get previous issues. That said…this seemed a solid issue, a decent follow-up to Infinity Gauntlet, and probably not the worst thing one could read from Marvel for the early 1990s. I enjoyed it enough to have more than justified the 25 cents I spent for it, and I’m glad to have read this.

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Rearranging Some of the Toys (Early March 2018)

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been working on re-doing my comic-space in the basement. New/additional bookcases, sectioning out the space, and to do all that has involved (temporarily) packing up a bunch of the non-book stuff that found a home on shelves over the previous 2 1/2 years or so.

Though I’m still "in-process" with it all, here are some photos of stuff that either didn’t get "packed away" or has found its way back out.

"Showing off some shelves," if you will.

toys_march13a

Some of my Heroclix oversized figures. "Plastic statues" for lack of other description. I think Galactus remains my favorite, though I like Spectre, the Sentinels, Dark Phoenix, and Sinestro with his yellow construct, as well! (If I didn’t, they wouldn’t be here on display!)

toys_march13b

I have two different Mongul figures. The one on the left is from a line of DC/Superman toys some years back; the one on the right is (I believe) a DC Direct figure. I think this sculpt was re-used for a Sinestro Corps version…mine’s from the Infinite Crisis series, offhand.

The Galactus figures are from the 1990s SIlver Surfer line; Funko‘s Marvel Mystery Minis; and the old iteration of Mighty Muggs, respectively.

toys_march13c

Kilowog is a DC Direct figure, one of my favorites! Hulk is a Marvel Legends figure. The Skrull Giant Man is from the Marvel 3.75" line–I believe he was a Walmart-exclusive giant figure. This Galactus is the Marvel Legends build-a-figure, when these were large and special and cost less than half of what Marvel Legends figures go for present-day.

toys_march13d

I continue to add to the "Thanos collection," most recently adding the finally-taken-out-of-packaging-after-several-years Marvel 3.75" iteration and the Lego mini-figure that I got the other day.


I have a lot of other toys/figures/etc. that I’ll likely show off in the near-future as I continue the re-arranging project. I’ll also almost certainly show off the up-to-date graphic novel collection/library, and maybe even an overall "tour" of the basement space. Time shall definitely tell!

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Fantasticon and B&N Haul from March 10, 2018

Over the weekend, I attended a local-ish convention–Fantasticon, in Toledo/Ohio. I went with several friends, stuff was good, and got a few things, and then more at a Barnes & Noble we went to after dinner.

fantasticon2018haul_03202018a

Probably the main thing for going was that Dirk Manning was going to be there. Always great to see him…probably the best creator I’ve interacted with over the years in terms of enthusiasm, approachability, and all that.

And having just debuted it in the last couple weeks or so, I was able to get a couple copies of Hope #1 by him and K. Lynn Smith (one for me, one for a friend). Busy rest of the weekend so haven’t read it yet, but I hope to have a review up in the near future!

Then there was a randomish back-issue-bin-dive where I came across a still-sealed black-bag-edition of Superman #75–the Death of Superman issue. (Yeah, that issue!). It was marked $3, and cost $3, and is the first copy of this edition that I’ve bought in over 25 years. The bag’s a bit wrinkly and some color damage to it like it had stuck to something or something had stuck to it…but darnit, for $3, the stuff inside is more than worth it, and I very definitely intend to open this thing…perhaps that will also be a near-future-ish post!

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Outside of (re) meeting Dirk and getting that issue of Hope, my "back issue comics goal" was several issues of New 52-era Action Comics…which wound up being a miserable failure. Ditto for issues of the Marz/Banks early-Kyle-era Green Lantern run.

However, I did find a run of Green Lantern: Mosaic…that when combined with the issues I got a couple weeks ago, give me a complete run of the 18-issue series, right here, right where I know where all eighteen issues are right this moment together.

gl_mosaic_18issues

To some degree, this is a small culmination of 23+ years, having been aware of this series from a friend getting issues from #1 back in 1992. I wasn’t immediately interested myself until later in the run or shortly after. Though I’ve often seen #1 or a handful of issues, I’ve never in all this time (until now) managed to come across or assemble a complete run. From these last several weeks, I now definitely have at least 3 copies of #1, if not more…and certainly several duplicates…but at least I have a single, full run now in one place and I am comfortable not having any further inclination to buy more copies of any of the issues!

fantasticon2018haul_03202018c

For less than the price of two modern Marvel comics, snagged this Emerald Twilight Parallax figure from the Kenner Total Justice line. This was basically half the cost of a contemporary 3.75" figure, cheaper than basically any "basic" figure, period, these days, and 1/3 the cost of a DC Multiverse "full-size" figure. I’ll need to get this outta the packaging before I change my mind…he’s gonna look quite good against a backdrop of my Green Lantern shelf!

fantasticon2018haul_03202018d

I’d long since resigned myself to never getting the Thanos "mini-figure" from Lego as I was not spending the money for the set that he came with, and I wasn’t even gonna begin considering "online prices" for a single figure, as any reasonable price would be obliterated by factoring in shipping. But finding this large mini-fig for the price of only 2 modern Marvel comics was a no-brainer for me…especially as I’m keen on Thanos at present, anyway!

fantasticon2018haul_03202018f

At a Barnes & Noble, found these three Funko Dorbz figures of the TMNT in a $2 bin on clearance. Quite disappointed not to have found all 4…but these were the ones that were present, and my friend even did an extra dig-through to make sure I hadn’t overlooked it!

fantasticon2018haul_03202018e

And then, partly because they were half-off so I could get both for the price of one, I got Sam I Am and his friend cuz…why not? I’d considered getting them a couple other times, and found them individually other times without the other; and figured I’d wind up kicking myself if I passed on these.

fantasticon2018haul_03202018g

Turned out that these were also only $2 apiece. Since they’re usually $6+ each, and I didn’t have any of the DC and am still missing several of the TMNT, 8 boxes worked out to be like buy-3-get-5-free (but slightly cheaper).

Of course, me being me, my first choice would be wanting Superman, and then ideally blue-and-grey Batman, Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, and Martian Manhunter. For the TMNT I was most interested in Bebop, Casey Jones, or Splinter.

fantasticon2018haul_03202018gb

I wound up with three specific ones I was interested in most, and glad to at least have gotten a Batman to go with Superman and Wonder Woman. April O’Neil is a duplicate from the TMNT wave; and I’m not thrilled with Power Girl, and would have a number of the other minis ahead of Black Manta and Harley Quinn. But for the cost, it was well worthwhile (though also means I probably won’t buy any more as I now have extremely-high odds of getting a duplicate!).

All in all, including admission and the Barnes & Noble stuff, I spent about $8 more than what it would have cost me just to get in the door into Wizard World Cleveland had I gone to that the weekend before.

So…not bad at all!

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The Warlock/Thanos/Infinity Gauntlet Shelf: October 2017

As of mid-October 2017, this shelf has had some newer additions!

infinity_shelf_october_2017

There’s a Thanos figure from the newer Guardians of the Galaxy line (based on the animated series, I believe). I picked up the Adam Warlock Toon Tumbler over Labor Day weekend.

And the most recent addition…the "desktop monument" of the Infinity Gauntlet itself, snagged last week spur of the moment on New Comics Day.

I saw it, disregarded it, asked to look closer, and decided to just go ahead and buy it–knowing darned well I’d want it eventually and rather than spend even MORE money trying to hunt it down later, just get it and be done!

Then, of course, there’s the Adam Warlock Marvel Overpower figure (yeah, they did a small line of figures using the branding of the card game!). The Funko oversized Pop vinyl bobblehead (one of the extremely-very-few Marvel ones I’ve bought DUE TO their being bobbles).

The Thanos with the bright orange gloves and boots is from the ’90s Silver Surfer animated series’ toy line.

And the giant Infinity Gauntlet is one of those large coin banks.

I do have a Thanos "bust bank" not pictured, that would almost have to replace the books to work well on this shelf.

Recent Infinity Acquisitions: Jim Starlin Collection Expanding

I recently listened to an episode of Comic Geek Speak about the Silver Surfer, Captain Marvel, and Adam Warlock. While I at least knew of a lot of the stuff, it was quite cool hearing stuff again, all in one chunk (well, across 2-3 listenings). But I hadn’t really consciously connected just how truly important Starlin‘s work has been to the Marvel universe (particularly cinematically). Though I already had most (if not all) of his Marvel work that I own shelved in its own section.

But the podcast got me really anxious to “finish” the ThanosInfinity Trilogy” of OGNs, as well as get The Infinity Entity since I’d been aware that was a sort of “between books” story. And then the inside-cover ads for related volumes reminded me of the Thanos vs. Hulk volume.

starlin_infinity_trilogy_OGNs

So all told, I added three new volumes to my collection in short order (having already acquired the first two a couple/several months ago at a significant bargain). And for the moment I believe the only real, major piece that I’m missing now is the new-ish Captain Marvel by Jim Starlin volume, much like the Warlock by Jim Starlin volume. Though I’m pretty sure that volume is likely mostly a re-branded packaging of The Life and Death of Captain Marvel. (EDIT: same contents, with the addition of “material from DAREDEVIL (1964) #105 and LIFE OF CAPTAIN MARVEL #1-5.”)

I’m really not interested in the nonStarlin stuff with Infinity and Thanos and such. And while some stuff in this particular subcollection isn’t all Starlin (latter issues of The Infinity Watch, for example) this is a key subcollection for me, with a shelf all its own.

Helped out by a large plastic bank I got a couple years ago that makes for a rather awesome shelf, in my mind!

starlin_collection_january_2017

(Guess this post would also qualify for my “Showing off the Shelves” stuff, too…)

The ’90s Revisited: Warlock and the Infinity Watch #42

90s_revisited

warlock_and_the_infinity_watch_0042Win, Lose, Draw!

Writer: John Arcudi
Pencils: Mike Gustovich
Inks: Keith Williams
Colors: Ian Laughlin
Letters: Jack Morelli
Editor: Mark Gruewald
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: July, 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

This was a hard issue to read. I’m really not familiar with the art team, outside of perhaps earlier work on this title that I read 15+ years ago. While characters are visually familiar from the time, this is hardly the BEST rendition of them. The story is rather scattered and without much context (no "previously page" and not much in the way of in-story exposition). I suppose that’s a good thing by contemporary standards–not wasting much space on that…and this IS a "final chapter" of whatever the story is, as well as a series finale.

Unfortunately, this feels like a rushed, tie-up-as-much-as-possible finale that may have been something seen coming but not entirely "expected."

We basically have a scattered team, with a member physically hospitalized while her mind is active (psychically) with the team; a former member allied with Thanos, another member turned "traitor," and the team’s "home turf" facing a huge storm that could wipe the place out. Out of nowhere, the team’s Infinity Gems (hence "Infinity Watch") all disappear; Warlock is apparently killed; Maxam returns to his own time without further explanation, and the team is left with Warlock heading out on a solo quest to figure out where the gems went. The End.

Frankly, this is a horrible issue in terms of a context-less, isolated cold-read. As said, it’s a series finale, so it’s scrambling to try to wrap stuff up in a hurry as best as possible. For a series that started on such a high note, this is a pitiful whimper to go out on.

Context-wise, from what I recall of reading scattered later issues (I’ve never had the ENTIRE series to read in one go), I can imagine the team and book were headed for a status quo change and some new developments, perhaps plenty of positive, just that stuff got cut short. And a book NOT being given "time" or a new direction given time to shake out, etc. is something that I can "accept" for a story falling flat, even if I don’t like to. In a way, it’s a sign of the times, when series were not written simply as serialized graphic novels, but as episodic things with ongoing developments and actual "subplots" and the like.

A key factor of this issue, though, is its failure to even acknowledge Marvel‘s then "sister" company, Malibu, and its Ultraverse. See…in this issue, the Infinity Gems just simply, arbitrarily disappear out of nowhere, and that’s that. But, if one reads the Rune/Silver Surfer (flipbook Silver Surfer/Rune) issue, we see the Ultraverse character gain the Time Gem, stop time, and snag the rest. Given he steals them all WHILE time is stopped, that explains the sudden, simultaneous disappearance of the gems. It seems counter-intuitive and even a bit shameful to me that that event happens in another book entirely (Silver Surfer got a cartoon in the 1990s, so was more of a "hot" property–so I can see Marvel wanting the bigger brand "out there") with zero acknowledgement in this title…the title in which the Infinity Gems were housed, and the story of their place in the then-Marvel Universe was chronicled for over three years, a long-running title!

I actually found myself with two copies of this issue "handy," hence reading this as an isolated single issue. One copy I’d pulled when I came across it going through some comic box looking for something else in my collection; the other with a stack of 25-cent-bin issues; I’m certain I acquired both from 25-cent bins. And frankly, that’s what this issue is worth. There’s sentimentalism to be had if you’re fond of the title or Warlock or any of the other characters, but that’s about it. Outside of "free," this issue is perhaps worth the "base" price of 25 cents, but I wouldn’t say much more than that. On the other hand, the first issue is a great read (as I remember) as are a number of the early issues, perhaps through the Infinity War stuff.

Overall, I’d give this a pass; there’s a lot of better stuff out there to be read.

Stuff I Didn’t Buy – Week of November 16, 2016

My "Weekly Haul" this week ended up consisting of Superman #11, Aliens: Life and Death #3, Reborn #2, and Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye #2. I may get into those tomorrow or Friday.

But, indulging in some negativity and ranting (this is my own blog, after all–read it or not, completely up to you!) here are several things I didn’t buy, but considered buying, almost bought, or under other conditions would have bought…and why.

Moonshine #2

moonshine0002a     moonshine0002b

I picked up Moonshine #1 last month to try, and for what it is, enjoyed it enough that I’ve been watching/waiting for #2 to come out. It’s finally out this week (Oct. 5 for #1, Nov 16 for #2…that’s about SIX weeks, no?) Thing is…it’s a brand-new series. New series, new creators, not spinning out of anything, hasn’t had long enough to really develop or have any "in jokes" or (to me) any real iconography or symbols or other stuff to warrant any relevant/useful/interesting/cool variant covers. But there they were on the shelf, two covers that–at least at the shop I was at–sat there in equal-ratio. So, just looking at them, I saw nothing overly obvious to indicate which was the "main" cover, the "A" cover, the "primary" or "basic" cover…in short, which one was NOT the "variant."

In searching for suitable images to use for this post, I’ve narrowed it down to the one with the skulls as being the cover I’d’ve gone with–and that was the one I’d added initially to what I had in my hands to purchase. But whether it was there or not, I did not see anything to indicate which should be which…and I refused to stand there in the middle of the shop, googling on my phone to try to determine an answer…but I also was not going to suffer buying a variant when I want to have the "regular" cover.

So, I wound up saying "screw it!" and put ’em both back.

Because of a variant cover, a series I was otherwise trying, interested in, willing to give a chance to–I opted NOT to buy #2, and as such will NOT be buying ANY OTHER single issues for.

Hope it’s worth it, folks. Maybe I’ll buy the collected edition, which presumably will have a single cover. But even there, for throwing a random variant in there, you’ve cost yourself MY purchase, and MY goodwill, such that here I am giving your book more space and time pointing out the customer frustration with variants, and that you won’t have me (not that I matter, personally) playing any role in talking the book up positively.


DC Universe: Rebirth – The Deluxe Edition Hardcover (LCSD edition)

dc_rebirth_deluxe_lcsdHere’s another one I’ve been looking forward to. I believe the "regular" edition of this should be out soon; a week or two, perhaps, yet.

But what really turned me off about this (and I was sort of surprised to see it out already instead of being held back til Saturday) is the cover. That is, the "sketch" cover. THe lines-only, without cover, except in the trade dress and credits.

See, I don’t get why people like these. (If you do, more power to you–I simply do not get it!) To me, it looks like a draft, and unfinished product, an inferior product. It’s not finished, it’s not the intended edition, etc.

So while I’d’ve been willing to plonk down full cover price for this thing in-person, in general…I was NOT willing to do so for an inferior cover.

Yeah, it’d almost certainly be on my shelf spine-out and I wouldn’t even SEE the cover most of the time. But when I’d pull it down off the shelf, I’d see it, and I’d be treated to the unfinished image at that point, and reminded of the sheer ridiculousness of it, when I can simply wait a week or two and get the full color cover edition, which is the actual product, and actually has the cover to grab attention and attract one to reading it.


Thanos #1

thanos_0001I should have been a prime mark for this book. Thanos, and it’s a #1, so supposedly a jumping-on point, right?

But this is Marvel. And at this point, I don’t trust them. Yeah, I could buy the issue, but is this a 6-issue series? Or 12? Will this be partaking in events before issue 10?

And then, there’s that shattered NOW! thing, recycling an initiative from just four years ago.

And that big #1 in the upper left corner, but then a small white #1 down near the Marvel logo and UPC box, as if to clarify "yes, this actually IS a true #1, this is not one of the issues we’re trying to TRICK you into buying as a #1 when it’s really a #7 or #18 or some other such!"

Further, there’s the fact that I’m not interested in buying any Marvel #1 issues for $4.99! That is way too freaking much for a single issue, padded/"’bonus’ material" or not!

Oh…well, this is "only" $3.99? Yeah, well, it’s seemed all the other #1s have been $4.99, and Marvel has been very clearly conditioning and "training" me into the SIMPLE "assumption" that ALL of their #1s are $4.99…so sure, it’s a "surprise" when it’s not, but I still have the other stuff above counting against it such that $1 less than assumed price is not a great selling point–this is STILL $1 MORE than grabbing a random DC Rebirth issue!

There’s also the odd mix Marvel has lately of stuff ignoring enough continuity to be frustrating in general to one who greatly enjoys continuity (at least 1980s into early 2000s) and yet being so stupidly tied-into stuff as to feel impenetrable if one has not been closely following recent events. Flipping through, I caught what looked like Thane, who I believe is a "son of Thanos" or such from Infinity (an event/crossover I did not and have not read) and thus another aspect of things I am actively disinerested in.

Perhaps most "petty" of me…this is not a Jim Starlin book, and I much prefer his take on the character, if only for some sort of internal consistency that I (again) do not trust Marvel to maintain in general at this point.


So, I walked out with my four comics that did not frustrate me on sight. Superman #11 had a variant cover, but the bulk of the covers present were the same–the one I got–and the other cover I couldn’t even tell what the image was supposed to be, just glancing at it. On Cave Carson, I was able to use the same methodology: this cover had more of this than the other, and seems to fit the title better. And it’s at least an "established" (if decades-old-since-established) property and not a brand-new-concept-characters-universe-everything kinda issue. Aliens is an Aliens comic, the 3rd issue of a stated-up-front-on-the-covers 4-issue-miniseries rather than something being cancelled before telling its intended first story or such. And Reborn #2 only had one cover available on the shelf, so no "confusion" or wonder about what the "main" cover is.

But as stated last week by Valiant‘s Dinesh Shamdasani, "we’d love nothing more but the industry is not set up for that" [having only 1 cover per issue] and "must also remember that while we both may not like variants lots of people love them."

Still, I’m obviously a clear case where having variants is a detriment, and that’s a couple of lost sales (magnified the longer Moonshine runs) and whatever else spills out of that.

And thanks to crap with variant schemes and holding content hostage, I’m presently (since July 2015) refusing to purchase anything from Valiant, and since their stunt with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #0 earlier this year, I refuse to touch anything from Boom! Studios, either.

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