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The Weekly Haul – Week of November 7, 2018

Last week wound up being a decent-sized week, both for new comics as well as Half-Price Books having a coupon sale with 40% and 50% off coupons!

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First off, the new issues of Batman and Nightwing that have become top-of-the-stack reads fo rme.

Then there’s the newly-relaunched Green Lantern title with a "The" added onto the beginning, and a new, boring, plain-looking logo as The Green Lantern #1. While I had figured it’d be a curiosity, I had not expected it to be sold out less than an hour into the afternoon–arriving earlier than usual lately and it was already sold out! (Much thanks to Sean for selling me a copy that he’d had aside for himself!).

Adventures of the Super Sons is quickly solidifying as something I’ll try to read after the fact, but knowing I’ll want the singles, it’s less aggravating to just get them as they come out than try to hunt them down later.

The newest issue of The Walking Dead presents Outpost Zero as a "flip book," and I honestly bought this for the Outpost Zero segment more than anything else (and then the Walking Dead side is just a face and no actual Walking Dead logo/titling!).

I feel like Leviathan #3 is running a bit late, but i"m not certain. I’m still undecided on following this long-term, but figure with each issue as long as it doesn’t put me off too much, I’m not opposed to continuing–AND I really like the logo/title design!

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I have yet to check out the new Netflix series for Sabrina, but as usual I’m up for a $1.00 reprint, this one The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, part of the Archie horror line that seems to have more or less stalled out.

A Kickstarter that I’d backed awhile ago for a Munchkin Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles finally came in, and one of the "bonus" items was a reprint of the original Mirage edition of TMNT #1!

And then at a Walmart looking for other stuff, I happened to notice this latest "holiday" 100-page Giant, so snagged it, keeping myself up to date on those issues.

And finally, the newest issue of DC Nation as well as the newest Comic Shop News!

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Half-Price Books occasionally does coupon sales via email, where they send coupons every day for a week or so, with a progressively higher discount percentage, beginning at 20% then going to 30%, 40%, and then ending on 50%.

I went to an HPB further away than my "usual" area, and while I’d intended to get a game, I happened to spot Ultimate Spider-Man volume 8 in the locked case, and as the one volume I was still missing, found an employee and was able to get a look at the book itself.

It was priced significantly above cover price, but still well under what I’ve seen it sold for online…and with the 40% off coupon, that brought it down to cover price, so I jumped on it!

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…and that now gives me a complete run of Ultimate Marvel Team-Up (Ultimate Spidey) and Ultimate Spider-Man itself, vols. 1-12 and the Death of Spider-Man Omnibus…this is the entirety of the original Ultimate Spider-Man series, including annuals and a mini-series/tie-in or few!


I didn’t get this post ready over the weekend, nor finished on a lunch break–and between starting this and actually posting…news hit the world that Stan Lee has passed away.

Morbid though it is, when it came to "tribute art" or such, the image I first thought of–and words to offer on his passing that came to mind–are from the cover of that omnibus.

I’ll surely have more to say later…as will likely everyone else whose lives have been touched by comics!

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The Weekly Haul – Week of August 5th, 2015

Though the photo looks contrary, this was my smallest week yet since dropping all Valiant several weeks ago.

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The only thing on my pull list is the TMNT issue. The Age of Apocalypse mini is one that I’ll buy even though I’m primarily waiting for Secret Wars to make its way to Marvel‘s Digital Comics Unlimited.

The Eclipso: The Darkness Within issue is from the quarter bin, and really only caught my eye due to being one of the issues with the plastic 3-D diamon shard…a nifty artifact of the ’90s.

The Savage Dragon, the Strangers in Paradise, and Ultimate Spider-Man tpbs were in a 90% off bin…combined, the three were still cheaper than a contemporary single issue!

Finally, the Nightwing volume. This has the original 4-issue mini-series and then the first 8 issues of the ongoing (sadly, the Return of Alfred issue is not included). While I’d prefer to get something like this for a discount, I’m so completely fed up with Amazon right now that they’re not even a consideration. Plus, lacking Valiant, I wanted to get something I wouldn’t otherwise, and continue to support the LCS, so I bought this volume. 12 issues’ content for roughly original cover price, even a bit cheaper…nto bad at all.

I’m looking forward to the Robin volumes like this, and have had my eye on the Spectre ones as well as Saga of the Swamp Thing. These hit a sweet spot of having quite a number of issues while holding to a $20 price point. Sure, tax makes ’em a bit more, but to mentally settle at “$20” works, where even “$21” seems a lot steeper to me.

Ultimate End #1 [Review]

secretwars_ultimateend001Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Mark Bagley
Inker: Scott Hanna
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Production Design: Manny Mederos
Cover: Mark Bagley
Assistant Editors: Chris Robinson, Emily Shaw
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: July 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

Despite missing the first two issues (to this day 14-some years later I’ve had to rely on reprints for my personal collection) I had jumped into the Ultimate universe basically at its start, with Ultimate Spider-Man #3, and I believe I finally got to read the first two issues initially in a Mighty Marvel Must-Have edition. As such, seeing as how–after several false-starts on the “end” of the Ultimate universe–the ending is finally here, I couldn’t pass this up. And like I started with Ultimate Spider-Man with the single issues, so, too, I found it fitting to follow the single-issues here as well.

This triggers plenty of nostalgia for me from the cover, which utilizes the original trade dress of the Ultimate books–the two solid-color bars down either side of the cover with a skinnier image between. The Ultimate End logo looks familiar, though I think the font is slightly “off” from some of the other Ultimate _______ logos; and of course we have the Battleworld banner across the top and the Secret Wars stamp marking this as part of the overall Secret Wars 2015 event, specifically the Battleworld class of tie-ins. I had noticed an alternate cover with the Miles Morales Spider-Man costume, that looked like the original Ultimate Spider-Man #1 cover that I almost chose over the standard cover. However, never having acquired an original USM #1, I stuck to my guns on getting just the standard/main non-variant cover for this.

We open on (a) Spider-Man tangling with a Serpent Squad, putting him into interaction with Cloak, Dagger, and a Spider-Woman. We then shift to a huge gathering of heroes that seems made up of a mix and combination of “616” characters and “Ultimate” characters. Spidey joins in as everyone is debating the fault and situation itself they all find themselves in, before the party is further crashed by Thors.

Simply opening the book and reading, I was actually expecting the Miles Morales Spider-Man, so was surprised to see a classic-costumed Spidey. Further, this seems to be a Peter Parker Spidey, suggesting he’s either the 616 Spider-Man or another. The issue has a prologue and then jumps to “3 weeks ago,” and references a white portal/other world, so as a cursory read-through I’m not certain on the timing and how much the characters know of where they are and if that was pre-incursion or what; I have not kept up on any Marvel the last several years until Secret Wars #0 and 1. So what may be totally obvious to readers following along was not to me.

Still, knowing the basic premise, that didn’t bother me much…I recognized the various characters overall. Whether this was actually Battleworld as I assumed or a flashback to the universes still being separate isn’t a huge deal to me. Story-wise this worked well enough and had a familiar “feel” stylistically. The art of course is familiar, and Bagley‘s work is just as good now as I recall from when I was following the Ultimate Spider-Man series with his art.

This is only the first issue of–I believe–five, so there’s by no means a complete story here. We’re introduced to stuff, mostly, with a little bit of background/flashback given; this is clearly a first chapter of a larger singular story within the Secret Wars/Battleworld stuff. As I expected that going in and did NOT expect some one-off single-issue tale, I’m fine with that; I also went into this with the expectation that I’d enjoy it and that barring some huge disappointment or negative factor, I wasn’t going to bail on the series just from whatever this single issue held.

I enjoyed the issue overall–story and art, and appreciated the mix of nostalgia and new. I do look forward to the next issue and want to see where things go. I bought this because of my own history with the Ultimate books; though I suspect this may be one of the more “key” tie-ins to the overall Secret Wars as it deals specifically with ending the Ultimate Universe. (After all, Secret Wars is kicked off by the Ultimate and 616 Universes as the final two in existence, merging).

This seems like a very strong issue for a tie-in reading experience, and well worth getting if you’re following Secret Wars. It also seems likely to be a good story overall for putting the lid on the Ultimate Universe, fairly friendly even to readers like me who haven’t really read any of the Ultimate books for years. You could certainly do a lot worse than this issue!

Recent Ultimate Spider-Man Acquisitions

Over the last several weeks, I actually came across a couple volumes of the Ultimate Spider-Man oversized hardcovers that I’d thought long since out of reach, at least barring very specific hunting.

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I came across vol. 9 at a sale at Comic Heaven recently; and about a week later discovered vol. 6 on the sale table as well. I ordered the Death of Spider-Man “omnibus” last weekend, having found it for just under 50% cover price INCLUDING shipping.

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I’m now “only” missing volumes 7 & 8 from having the complete run. Yet, I don’t want to pay full cover price, ideally…and certainly no intention of paying significantly ABOVE cover price JUST because the darned things are “out of print.”

Still…it’s a new short-term “goal” for my collection, and a bit of a challenge given the volumes are several years out of print and not simply in-stock online for “easy” purchase.

Ending the Year: A Quarter-Century Collection Unified

shelf00For the first time in several years, I actually have my comics “library” whole, in one space (outside of some Walking Dead books out “on loan” at the moment). I’ve attempted to arrange the collection in a number of ways over the years, but keep changing stuff here and there. This latest “reunification” was no exception.

Previously, I’d had my Marvel Oversized Hardcovers grouped together, separate from the “regular size” hardcovers and premiere edition hardcovers and paperbacks. Several months back when I reorganized my “last 2+ years” shelves I didn’t do that separation, and decided I liked having stuff together like this more than the sleek look of all the hardcovers lined up together.

I went with a quasi-alphabetical scheme, “grouping” stuff like Avengers, Captain America, Essentials, Spider-Man, Ultimate Universe, X-Men, and such with other stuff peppered throughout. Within these groups I put stuff mainly in story order or in the case of numbered volumes, numerical order with the entire cluster roughly where they’d begin in-story (with a few exceptions for appearances).

And now, showing off the collection in detail!

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Annihilation, Avengers, and Captain America. While I consider AvX more an X-story, the prominent titles on the spines and the AvX logo just made it totally fit better with the Avengers stuff, and keep my head from exploding at putting big A volumes in with the Xs…

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I decided to put my Essentials in the E range, as the word Essential is so prominent on the bulk of my editions (notice that it’s hardly noticeable on the third Classic X-Men volume/current trade dress, instead more closely resembling the Omnibus styleage. (Over on the DC side the Showcase Presents volumes are grouped by character as the “Showcase Presents” is rather small and the character/title far more prominent.)

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The Heroes Reborn and Infinity Gauntlet/etc. stuff are some of my favorite volumes and I wanted them together, so let the Hulk stuff jump the alphabet slightly (with the added excuse that Incredible DOES come before Infinity).I still am missing Infinity Crusade vol. 2, and intend to snag the new edition of Infinity Abyss soon, and likely Infinity next year sometime. As my only real Silver Surfer volume, the Rebirth of Thanos is shelved here as it was a definite prelude to Infinity Gauntlet, and the Thanos – Marvel Universe: The End is here as well as a continuation of the Thanos/Infinity stuff.

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My Spider-Man and Thor collections are relatively small. Spider-Man’s basically all from bargain bins. The oversized Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimates collections are some of the more “premium” books in my collection. Ultimate Spider-Man vol. 1 and Ultimate Marvel Team-Up were–I believe–my first two Marvel hardcovers. Pretty high on my list to track down yet are Ultimate Spider-Man vols. 6 through 9 and the Death of Spider-Man Omnibus.

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The X-Men have largely dominated my hardcovers…the Grant Morrison New X-Men books starting things off; a bargain bin for Supernovas and Rise/Fall of the Shi’Ar Empire continuing things, and the “premium” Messiah Complex/Messiah War/Second Coming ‘trilogy’. Bargains yielded Fall of the Mutants, Mutant Massacre, X-Tinction Agenda and X-Cutioner’s Song; and I’ve had my eye on the Age of Apocalypse Omnibus and believe there’s an Age of Apocalypse Companion coming out next year, both of which would be cool to have, though likely a bit less physically readable than the five-volume paperback series.

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Stuff like Rogue, Longshot, and Magik (with only 1-2 volumes) got shelved elsewhere; but “general X-related” and Wolverine stuff fell here to be WITH the X-Men stuff, if a bit out of alphabetical order. Due to their size, the various digest-sized stuff got grouped here rather than get lost amidst the full-size/oversized volumes. I put the Crossgen books here as well since they’re now under Disney WITH Marvel; and size-wise they’re a good fit.

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And for the first time since returning to active publication, I finally have all my TMNT stuff together and all my Valiant stuff together.

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My Superman collection has continued to expand. While I could replace the Death/Funeral/Return of Superman volumes with the Omnibus…these paperbacks are my original editions from 1992-1993, so they remain with the 2013 Omnibus. I’m yet a couple volumes behind on the Man of Steel paperbacks, and there are a number of Silver/Bronze Age themed collections that I don’t have yet.

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With a bit of spillover from the Superman shelf, the bulk of the Batman stuff fits just below. I’ve had eyes on the newer Knightfall volumes, and do want to get those eventually, as they’re far superior to these original 3 editions (though vols. 1-3 are each from different printings/trade dresses prior). I’ve also had my eye on the new printings of No Man’s Land.

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Green Arrow and Green Lantern have always been a good fit together; especially as I’ve so few GA as to be negligible compared to the GL books. I need to catch  up on the first couple Green Lantern hardcovers in the New 52, plus the Wrath of the First Lantern and The End, (and perhaps paperbacks for GL Corps to that point) but I think I’m almost ready to close out my keeping up with having the entirety of the Johns GL saga/”era”…whether or not I track down any of the tie-in Blackest Night volumes I don’t yet have. For lack of better placement and keeping a few inches to ‘grow’ I also shelved Astro City here. I believe I’m missing a single volume from having the complete run in one edition or another, outside of any collected volumes of the current Vertigo incarnation.

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My ‘general DC’ stuff is a bit less organized; more a clustering. Somewhat alphabetical, but then I grouped the big events: Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, 52, Final Crisis, and Flashpoint. The Shazam books got stuck right after Flashpoint as a couple volumes are in the Superman books, and I didn’t get really “into” Shazam until the New 52 volume came out.

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Hellblazer, Sandman, and Y: The Last Man headline my Vertigo shelf. I do want to “upgrade” my Hellblazer volumes to the newer printings for the early stuff, except I think vol. 2 is already out of print while 1 and 3-5 may not be? I may also “downgrade” the All His Engines to the softcover just to “fit in” more. I’m looking at doing the same with the Sandman: Endless Nights volume. Watchmen sits alone without any Before Watchmen as it’s physically smaller and if I’m to ‘buy into” the Before Watchmen stuff, I want it to physically match with the original.

shelf13

I’m still missing a volume of Preacher, and am not happy that to get it I’ll likely have to get the new trade dress that may have some overlap due to the volumes’ issue counts being messed with. Alternatively I’ve considered just revisiting the series with the newest editions that seem likely to be fewer volumes but thicker all the way through. For lack of other placement, the zombies fit nicely here, as does my GI Joe.

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Since reading the novelizations of the comics in the ’90s, I’ve been quite a fan of Dark Horse‘s Aliens stuff…and the novelizations continued into the AvP stuff…so by extension I’m a fan of their Omnibus series, and hope to expand it, at least on the Aliens side. I then have other misc. Image and Image-type stuff, and while Marvel published the Ender’s stuff, that’s it’s own thing, so fell here.

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My DIsney, Archie, Usagi, and Bone stuff wound up down here, followed by Highlander and a true “mixture” of remaining stuff. Having the Death and Life of Superman novel (anniversary edition) on the shelf next to the hardcover didn’t work for me, but I’ve got both because of extra material in the paperback, so it’s relegated here. Several other volumes wound up here that I’m hanging onto but don’t otherwise fit with what they ought to, for me.

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Finally, my comics “reference” and novels wound up on the top of the bookcase. Thus they reside with the comics stuff, but there wasn’t otherwise room to give them their own shelf with the current arrangement.

While going through the entire collection, I did do a bit of “weeding,” pulling a number of volumes I’ve grabbed off $1 tables and such; or that I got years ago when I thought I just wanted “more volumes” “in the collection.” I’ll probably wind up “weeding out” some of the Essentials volumes.

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…and here again is the entire collection as “presented” last Friday, now with the closer-up shelf-by-shelf detail above.

Mid-March Acquisitions

A few more reasons I love my local comic shop: over the last couple weeks, got Ultimate Comics X: Origins, Ultimate Spider-Man vol. 10, The Iron Age, and X-Force vol. 1 hardcovers for 75% off.

Fitting right into that theme, I stumbled across X-Men: X-Cutioner’s Song for what worked out to 73% off cover price at another shop last week.

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I read the first issue of Ultimate Comics X a little over 3 years ago, and even having paid full price for that issue then, I still have not paid the equivalent of 3 single issues for this series…and definitely look forward to reading this to see if it’s worthwhile.

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Back in 2004-2005 or so, I tracked down X-Cutioner’s song after simply never having gotten around to it in years previous. I believe I found a cheap secondhand copy of an old edition of the paperback…but I’ve had my eye on this quasi-“Omnibus” edition for a couple years now…spotting it for $14 made my week!

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Ultimate Spider-Man #160 [Review]

Death of Spider-Man: Part 5 of 5

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Mark Bagley
Inker: Andy Lanning with Andrew Hennessy
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Art: Bagley & Ponsor
Assistant Editor: Sana Amant
Senior Editor: Mark Paniccia
Published by: Marvel Comics

So, this issue is mostly one big fight scene. Seems the Green Goblin’s been busy, and it’s all come back down to Norman Osborn vs. Peter Parker. But unlike that first time the Goblin came back–when it was Mary Jane who was thrown off a bridge, playing on readers’ knowledge of what happened to Gwen in the regular Marvel Universe–this time, it just feels like little more than a ripoff of a two-decades-old Superman story. Yet, it works.

The villain apparently rose…many have fallen, and it’s down to the titular hero to save those around him from said villain.

Face it…the title of the story, the branding of the last few issues of this title and the Ultimate Avengers thing–it gives it all away. Much like knowing weeks before the story even began that Doomsday! was a tale that would end with the death of Superman. It was the journey to get there, watching the hero gradually take more and more of a beating, attempting to dish it back, and ultimately making a final sacrifice to save those he loves from a monster’s rampage.

The story itself–pretty simplistic. I haven’t read the first four chapters of it in this title, and bought (but wound up only skimming) the issue where Peter takes the bullet for Cap….yet, the recap page at the beginning of this issue sum things up pretty succinctly–I don’t need those chapters to “get” this.

The art–maybe not fantastic, but after recently reading the first tpb of the post-Ultimatum Ultimate Comics Spider-ManBagley‘s art–which I’ve always enjoyed and associated with Ultimate Spider-Man–is SUCH a thing of beauty. The characters actually look like I’d expect, as I got used to. The way they looked over the course of all those practically biweekly issues in college and all those TPBs after that when I went back to the series last year and caught up on over 60 issues of story.

As a whole…not truly worth the $3.99 cover price. Not even with that black plastic bag with the hero’s logo in red on it. But y’know? I missed out on Ultimate Spider-Man #1; I wasn’t able to acquire any issues til #4 or so, and was only able to get back to #3. But by and large (I got the first hardcover with those first 13 fantastic issues) I got in at the beginning. So I couldn’t bring myself to entirely “pass” on this ending.

If you’re already buying this title, sticking with the singles after the Ultimatum stuff and the renumbering and the re-renumbering, the changes in art and all that…if you read the earlier chapters of this story…again, face it: you were already going to or have bought this issue already. If you’ve sat things out, wondering at simply waiting for the collected volume: keep to that route. You’ll get a full story. If you’ve avoided this story on principle…hold to it.

This isn’t going to be for everyone. In many ways, I should be appalled at this. To see the character I so enjoyed reading about–and the supporting cast–put in this (albeit fictitious) situation, to see things come to this…it’s horrible. Heart-wrenching. But when you come down to it…this issue makes this version of Peter Parker, Spider-Man, much more real, at least in the moment. We saw his origin. His beginnings. His career. And now, his end.

If you can find this issue, without being taken for a marked-up price…I recommend it. If you’re a lapsed fan of the series, it might be worth getting to be there for the end. If nothing else–consider the collected volume.

Story: 4/10
Art: 9/10
Overall: 7/10

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