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The ’90s Revisited: The Phoenix Resurrection – Genesis

90s_revisited

phoenix_resurrection_genesisGenesis

Writrs: Ian Edginton, Dan Abnett
Pencillers: Darick Robertson, Mark Pacella, Greg Luzniak, Rob Haynes
Inkers: Tom Wegrzyn, Art Thibert, Larry Stucker, Bob Wiacek, Philip Moy
Letterer: Vickie Williams
Color Design: Robert Alvord
Interior Color: Malibu Color
Asst. Editor: Scott Bernstein
Editor: Hank Kanalz
Published by: Malibu Comics
Cover Date: December 1995
Cover Price: $3.95

As Marvel publishes Phoenix Resurrection in the present, 22 years ago it published The Phoenix Resurrection through Malibu ComicsUltraverse line. Malibu Comics, which Marvel had purchased in order to keep DC Comics from buying the smaller publisher. And with the smaller publisher in-hand…looking back through this issue at least, it seems Marvel had no idea what to do or have done with the small superhero universe it now had in addition to its own.

This Genesis issue was preceded by a month-long promotion in which each of the 7 then-current Ultraverse titles had a 3-page flipbook segment showing the characters encountering some kinda reference to a phoenix, though taken as a whole that made for a disjointed mess. The seven chapters were reprinted/collected into a single issue in The Phoenix Resurrection: Red Shift.

Getting into the main/actual story of the "event" now with this issue, we get a prologue of the Phoenix Force being discovered by some probe from another universe. Before long, through machinations of the Gateway character, a squad of X-Men find themselves once more in a parallel universe that they’ve become increasingly familiar with (a footnote reference to the Mutants vs. Ultras special issue, itself collecting several previously-exclusive American Entertainment editions such as Prime vs. Hulk, Wolverine vs. Night Man, and All New Exiles vs. X-Men).

While bystanders and news media are focused on something coming from the sun, Ultra hero Prime engages the X-Men in combat, because of course they’ve gotta fight. The source of the aforementioned probe–a mother ship that’s buried in the ocean–reunites with a counterpart in the sun, and brings the Phoenix Force to this Earth, and then tries to drain its energy–its life–causing the Phoenix entity to be driven insane with pain. The entity bonds with Prime as a host body, and continues to fight the X-Men, as other Ultras are brought to the scene. (It should be mentioned that apparently the mutants’ powers are severely dampened in this reality…but that’s a crutch that doesn’t much matter for discussion of this particular issue). Eventually, the Phoenix and Prime are separated, and the Phoenix takes a new host, as the issue ends (to be continued in Phoenix Resurrection: Revelations).

Maybe it’s that I look back on the likes of Prime, Mantra, and Rune with memory of more complex, authentic-sounding stories and characters, as well as the same from the X-Men books from the early/mid-’90s (particularly stuff like Fatal Attractions or the Age of Apocalypse and immediate aftermaths) but this just does not feel like it has much depth, nor is there–even in an extra-sized issue like this–much characterization. It’s like the characters were chosen for the book by "popularity" and "mainstream-ness" (plus, of course, being characters appearing in books that survived into the pared-down 7-book line of Black September-onward), and not really for much else. We have a squad of X-Men and some major Ultraverse characters thrown together, but I get no real sense of depth, development, or motivation. The probe and mother ship have a far-too-convenient means of getting the Phoenix to Earth, Gateway seems nothing but "convenience" personified, and we’re told rather than shown that the mutants’ powers are lessened here. Prime comes off as nothing but some petulant kid–while he IS a kid, he’s lacking a depth I feel like I remember from his own original title. Bishop seems to be present for appearance’s sake, and with the mutants not even really trying to use their powers, there’s no particular point to any specific character’s presence…they’re interchangeable.

With the art, I recognize Darick Robertson and Art Thibert as names if not an actual art style here; but having numerous artists on this single issue doesn’t particularly do it any favors…at least for me reading it in a fair bit of isolation here–perhaps they’re the artists on the main books, in which case I’d welcome that (in idea at least), but just jumping into this issue after the Red Shift collection of 3-page shorts, I’m not thrilled with the visuals. I recognize the various characters–there seems to be an attempt to have them all look a certain way, perhaps using a "house style" or such–but virtually nothing stands out to me. Everyone is for the most part a generic iteration of iconic appearance (for lack of better phrasing). The only real stand-out bit for me was the large image of the Phoenix-possessed Prime (though zero mention or visual reference from the Ultraverse side OR X-Men side of the Prime body being healed/repaired after an obvious significant slash from Wolverine’s claws and Jubilee’s reaction to the green goop).

Ultimately, offhand, I didn’t so much "not enjoy" this as I "didn’t ENJOY" it. It’s cool–at least conceptually–to see the mix of characters thrown together and all. But after 17+ years of having "decompressed stories" that are clearly serialized graphic novels, I definitely am expecting much more depth of character and stuff from two sides like this to be brought out.

This is a definite novelty, one certainly worth 25 cents or so as a bargain-bin purchase, if only for the time it takes to read making it more worthwhile than most anything of its size published in present-day. You can definitely dive into this issue withOUT reading anything before it…the "crossover" stuff from the Red Shift 3-page segments are little but token reference-points thus far, making this a better "starting point" if only for having a big chunk of a single story that’s not jumping to a new setting/character every 3 pages. You could do worse than this issue…but much as I’m down on modern Marvel, if you’re looking for "return of Phoenix" stuff, you’d be better served with the contemporary Return of Jean Grey story in the 2017/2018 Phoenix Resurrection, or in 2012’s AvX event series.

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The ’90s Revisited: The Phoenix Resurrection: Red Shift #0

90s_revisited

phoenix_resurrection_redshiftRed Shift

Writers: I. Edginton, J. Smith
Pencillers: J. Royle, P. Peletier, C. Wojtkiewicz, R. Green, B. Murray, R. Haynes
Inkers: P. Moy, S. Moncuse, M. Farmer, T. Austin, G. Martin
Letterers: P. Owsley, V. Williams
Color Design: R. Alvord
Interior Color: Malibu
Asst. Editor: S. Bernstein
Editor: H. Kanalz
Published by: Malibu Comics
Cover Date: December 1995
Cover Price: n/a (American Entertainment Edition)

I remember the Black September ‘event’ back in 1995. Perhaps for its timing–Black September, this new era for the Ultraverse, this reboot/relaunch/renumbering–coincided with my entering high school, so for me my own life was starting a brand new direction and all that. I also remember stuff about this particular trail through the Ultraverse titles post-Godwheel heading into the event, though I missed out on the Ultraforce/Avengers issues, and so dropped in "cold" on the black-cover "Infinity" issues that September (with #1s in October). At the #2s in November, each book had a 3-page "flip book" chapter of this Phoenix Resurrection thing, in much the way Rune had premiered a couple years earlier. Then there were the larger issues Phoenix Resurrection: Genesis and Revelations, and Aftermath…and they led into some other title, Foxfire.

But I don’t recall if I ever got around to actually reading them all, or particularly caring about them all–this was late 1995, and rapidly heading toward one of my "off periods" with comics where I barely kept up with anything for about a year. So reading this now is like reading a whole new thing for me–I was aware of its existence, but have no conscious memory of actually reading the thing. And this Red Shift issue is something I don’t recall being aware of at the time in 1995–I discovered it some years after.

Red Shift is actually a collected edition of sorts: it collects the seven 3-page segments, making up a 21-page single-issue comic. The indicia shows it to be an American Entertainment edition–and its lack of cover price indicates this to be a special issue that would have been available through the mail-order comics company. This issue turns a ten-comic "event" into a 4-issue thing…making for a line-wide event of only 4 issues…something virtually unheard of in present-day, particularly from Marvel!

Marvel had bought Malibu by this point, and though the Malibu Comics logo remained on the covers, there were a number of Marvel characters that had crossed over into the Ultraverse, perhaps most notably Avengers character Black Knight, and X-Men villain Juggernaut. There were a number of other specific-story crossovers, where characters would cross for the story but not as a status quo.

Red Shift feels like what it is, as a collection of 3-page snippets, with numerous visual styles, and nowhere near enough room for any true story to develop, as they’re basically short little vignettes contextualizing each title’s "recent" prior experience heading into the main event story. Had I bought all seven issues specifically for the flip-book/backup, I’d have been sorely disappointed. Though I know the characters from my own prior experience reading Ultraverse stuff, as a standalone issue, this felt like a real mess trying to read it, and I really had to rely on memory of status quo from 22 years ago to have any slight idea what was going on.

The differing art styles seem–especially looking back–to be absolutely very "’90s" in style…with some generic and gratuitous posing, quasi- or wannabe "iconic" images, and so on…nothing overly dynamic or bad, exactly, but nothing great, either. Most of the creative team are names I don’t recognize (though I recognize several, as this would be early work by them before going to higher profile stuff). That leaves things to the characters, who are mostly recognizable, albeit as their relaunched looks, which were less distinctive and striking than their 1993/1994 debut appearances.

Story-wise, again, these were way too short and disjointed to really have any significance or development. Had they been simply 3 pages apiece within a main issue, worked into 3-page-longer-than-usual issues, they might have had more significance, serving as a universe-wide subplot, rather than being isolated out of whatever story was beginning in the respective titles.

All in all, I’m far from impressed by this issue, outside of the novelty of having these disparate segments brought together in a single issue like Rune #0. The art isn’t horrible but isn’t anything wonderful, and the story doesn’t do anything for me and doesn’t really do anything for the characters except provide a slight reference point. If you’re not already into these characters, I’d avoid this issue; there’s almost certainly more to be had in the "main" Phoenix Resurrection issues.

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Phoenix Resurrection and Death and Legacy and Reprints

phoenixresurrection2017_0001It’s kinda interesting to me that I apparently had the same thought as Marvel last week. Namely, looking back to the last "true" appearance of a "live" Jean Grey to juxtapose the first issue of her apparent return. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

I already posted a review of the actual issue–Phoenix Resurrection #1–with comments on the issue itself as any other issue.

But here, I want to get a bit more of a look at the cover, the "death of" issue from 13 years ago, as well as Marvel‘s reprint of that issue as one of its True Believers $1 issues.

While I’m not keen on Phoenix Resurrection #1’s cover showing off a Dark Phoenix (I"d swear I’ve seen marketing with Jean in her traditionally-green Phoenix outfit), it does make the cover go a bit better with its 13-some-year-old-counterpart, if the issues are looked at as bookends of sorts.

Of course, I would be remiss, as an Ultraverse fan, if I didn’t bring up the fact that this is NOT the first time we’ve had a mini-series/mini-event Phoenix Resurrection. Back in November 1995 or so, the Phoenix Force crossed into the Ultraverse for a story that spanned seven 3-page segments ("flipbooks") of the seven then-current Ultraverse titles, leading into several double-sized one-shots: Phoenix Resurrection Genesis, Phoenix Resurrection Revelations, and Phoenix Resurrection Aftermath.

phoenixresurrection1995_poster

Pardon the quality of the Ultraverse image, as it’s actually a photo of a poster in a frame behind glass, on a wall with less than ideal lighting/reflection.

On to the current issue(s) at hand, though…

death_and_return_of_phoenix

I’d already thought, ahead of last Wednesday’s releases, that I wanted to track down a copy of New X Men #150 for "nostalgia" and as the opening "bookend" of stuff. Perhaps it’s the conscious knowledge of how old the issue is, but #150 actually looks quite dated, to me. Yet, with all the fire/flame effect on it, it fits right in, really, with the new 2017 issue. Even the cover dress is really not all that far off.

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Marvel had the same thought/inclination, apparently, as they put out a True Believers #1 issue reprinting New X Men #150. Perhaps showing the modernity of stuff, even back to the early 2000s, the image doesn’t seem to have really been doctored or modified, outside of having "cover copy" swapped around–in an age of digital/digitally-available art, there’s a lot more that can (easily? simply?) be done, I’d say.

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To hold/feel the two issues, the reprint felt incredibly skinny, like it was physically only about half the size. I recall being rather miffed at the True Believers reprint of X-Men: Alpha a couple years ago NOT having the entire issue in it, and feared the same had happened here!

But on side-by-side comparison, this reprint simply omits…a huge over-abundance of ads! In the original issue, the vast bulk of the issue was in single-page increments, with a story-page on the left, and an ad on the right (occasionally with another 2-page ad to follow). The thing felt so huge and bulky because it was padded out a good 50% or more with ads! So this "skinny" by comparison reprint has the entirety of the issue’s actual content, just minus the ads.

I was also interested at the lack of "previously" caption in the issue…it certainly would have benefited this reprint to have it, to further contextualize what someone was reading, particularly if they were getting the reprint TO read the story for the first time, not having read the original edition.

The original issue–as an extra-sized (even without the ads thing–was $3.50…something that would surely be at least $4.99 if not $5.99+ nowadays. And reprinted in full here for a mere $1. The art’s the same, maybe some slight differences on the coloring, but both issues being "modern," there’s not much of anything that would need to be "remastered" from old paper styling and whatnot.

With the reprint, I felt a bit foolish buying a new copy of the original issue, but I’d planned on getting that one for this sort of comparison, if only for my own sake, but I did get it on sale (for about $2.80, so even with the reprint, I got both for less than what a single, standard, regular Marvel issue would cost).

The ’90s Revisited: Lord Pumpkin #0

ultraverse_lord_pumpkin_0000The Return of the Great Pumpkin

Storyteller: Dan Danko
Illustrator: Aaron Lopresti
Finishers: Gary Martin, Aaron Lopresti
Letters: Gail Beckett
Color Design: Micky Rose
Interior colors: Foodhammer! with Sharleen Gaertner
Editor: Roland Mann
Published by: Malibu Comics
Cover Date: October, 1994
Cover Price: $2.50

Happy Halloween! For this day, I figured I’d post about one of my favorite "Halloween-themed" characters… Lord Pumpkin! (Even though this totally jumps the gun on an "eventual" Ultraverse reading project).

And why not just cover an entire issue devoted to the character as my means of doing so?

Much as I enjoy the character/concept (if only for the sheer visual ridiculousness), I still have a huge blind spot in terms of concrete comic knowledge of the character and events involving him, outside of a slight memory of the character being featured on the Ultraforce cartoon series, and sharing a "flipbook" for three issues of NecroMantra before the two characters’ stories collided in NecroMantra #4.

But that gets ahead of things a bit.

This issue opens with a pumpkin-headed (or rather, Jack O’Lantern-headed) character arriving on Earth, seemingly with no memory of who or what he is. We then flash back to the GodWheel where we witness a band of fighters seeking to take down the Pumpkin King. On Earth, we see the character essentially "enslaved" by a traveling carnival, and befriended by a young boy. Another player enters the scene, looking to stir up some mischief, providing the boy with a special candle for his pumpkin-headed friend…which leads to a sort of awakening. Ultimately, we see the fate of the fighters and their simultaneously doomed attempt on the evil king’s life as well as said attempt’s impact on Earth, and we see our abused character exact a certain key revenge for his imprisonment…while getting some foreshadowing for the sinister, recurring nature and visual iconography of Lord Pumpkin.

To the best of my un-confirmed, un-researched knowledge, this issue was a one-shot, providing us with a Lord Pumpkin-centric story giving some background on the character–where he came from, who/what he is, and all of that…an "origin story" of sorts. (Yet with the aforementioned NecroMantra flip-book, and a Limited Special Edition variant, one can functionally have Lord Pumpkin #s 1-4 in addition to this #0).

I enjoyed this well enough as a standalone special. We’re introduced to the character, given some background, witness some developments that’ll likely factor into the character’s position as a villain of the Ultraverse, and get a conclusion (while stuff’s left open for later stories). While the character concept is rather ridiculous–a villainous Jack O’Lantern with a human body?–it works, and I am more than willing to suspend disbelief regarding the character. Of course, certain factors that one might question with the character–particularly the pumpkin-for-a-head–is actually dealt with in context of the character/story, and makes for an interesting element for the "villain is seemingly killed but we still know he might be back" trope.

Story-wise in itself, I’m not overly impressed…but then, for a single-issue self-contained thing with a character I recognize more than I "know," and lacking other immediate/conscious context, I don’t supposed I should be. Still, it’s a solid issue and a complete story in itself…serving both as a one-off tale and situating the character within the then-current Ultraverse line.

Visually, I really dug this. The art seems at once simplistic in a way, yet rather complex…and looking at it, it just feels like an Ultraverse comic. It does not look out of place for what memories I have of the line. I was rather interested at realizing Lopresti did the art here, recognizing his name from later Marvel and DC stuff, and not remembering that he was involved in at least this issue of the Ultraverse.

ultraverse_lord_pumpkin_0000bAlong with the "main" cover, there’s a cool variant (I can’t believe I just said that, but I’ll get into the subject of Ultraverse variants in another post) that is also quite fitting for Halloween, and I’m glad to have BOTH.

While not AS "special" as, say, a mail-away special (Ultraverse Premiere #0, Rune #0, The Solution #0) this is still a worthwhile issue to get if you come across it in a 25-cent or 50-cent bin. It stands alone as a self-contained story, but should provide additional complex if you’ve come across the character in other issues…and sets the character up for appearances in later Ultraverse comics (there’s an ad in this issue for the GodWheel mini-series that Lord Pumpkin gets a role in).

I found it rather fortuitous the timing of going through my Ultraverse comics and realizing I had just the time to get to this issue for Halloween.

Sad thing (to me)? I wasn’t yet 13 when this issue was new…yet with an October 1994 cover date, this issue is now 22 years old!

Halloween Comic Con 2016: The Convention Haul

Over the weekend, I had a chance to get to a quasi-local (for me) convention–Halloween Comic Con, hosted by The Pop Shop in Sandusky, Ohio.

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Prior to even going to the event itself, a friend gave me a few things he’d had for me, including a couple of Ultimatum hardcovers he’d picked up for me some time back!

ultimatum_hardcovers_front

The main Ultimatum volume has Ultimates 3 and Ultimatum itself…unfortunately, does not have the Annuals that were collected in the March on Ultimatum regular-sized hardcover. The Ultimatum Companion includes tie-in issues in the run-up to, during, and after the event for Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate X-Men, and Ultimate Fantastic Four; it also includes the Requiem issues for those titles.

ultimatum_hardcovers_spines

All in all, a couple of excellent oversized volumes for the Ultimate collection, and they’re very much the sort of collections I absolutely love: One volume for the “main” event itself and anything “core” to it…then a “companion” volume with the various tie-ins and such! Great package…

Then we get to the actual convention stuff…

swag_bag_soulfire

Free with admission we got this Soulfire Collected Edition volume. Nothing overly special (to me), but as a freebie…not bad at all!

justice_league_war_superman_front

This Superman figure worked out to roughly $4…the price of a single Marvel comic…yet it’s something that generally would be basically a $20 item. Anyone can say what they will about Superman…but me? $4 for a full-size figure like this is something I’m quite game for! (And someday soon I may have to post a photo of my Superman shelf…)

justice_league_war_superman_back

Unfortunately, none of the other figures in this wave were present… I’m not a huge fan of this version of Wonder Woman, but Flash, Green Lantern, or especially the Captain Marvel figure would also have been great scores!

brightest_day_hawk_and_dove

I initially made a mental note of the Hawk and Dove figures, though didn’t spring for them right away. Once I’d had a chance to wander the tables, and we were about to leave, I doubled back to check, telling myself they were a set. I would buy both if they were both still present, leaving whichever one was there if someone had already bought the other. Needless to say…they were both still there, and I snagged ’em.

Neither figure is that remarkable or interesting to me on their own…but the two of them, together, are really freaking cool to me!

superman_tpbs_and_resurrection_man

The Superman figure above and these four volumes were part of a $5/ea or 5/$20 deal. There’s a whole bunch of Superman paperbacks I’d like to own, but not enough to pay much for. At the same cost as a Marvel comic, though…I’m quite willing!

The Resurrection Man volume “rounded out” the deal, and for the price and having 14-ish issues (from the original 1990s run), not bad at all!

dollar_comics_01

Moving on into stuff, I snagged a 2nd copy of Superman #s 150 and 166 with the extra-shiny-ness thing going on. For the price, I was sucked in with the shinyness and the relative rarity…as in this is only the second time I can think of that I’ve seen this version of #150; and my original copy of 166 suffered some unfortunate rolling/bending years back being in the back of a longbox. For under $2/ea, glad to double-up!

50cent_comics_01

For “50 cents each or 5/$2,” I added an extra copy of the Superman: Save the Planet! special to the other four issues that had my attention.

dollar_comics_05

While I’d made sure ahead of this convention that I had my Ultraverse and TMNT comics sorted and missing issues logged…I neglected to log my stack of DC One Million issues…and unwilling to spend the extra $1 or 50 cents or whatever they would work out to on yet more doubles of those, I probably passed on a simple score of wrapping up my set of DC One Million.

That said…I snagged the DC One Million 80-Page Giant as well as what I hope is only a 2-part DC Two Thousand. I’d hoped for Flash: Terminal Velocity (the run-up to #100) but the stock skipped from the early 50s to the 120s…I settled for the four-part Born to Run story, as I couldn’t remember if I had the single issues or not.

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For basically $2 apiece, got Shade the Changing Man #1 and the Prime versus The Incredible Hulk. The former to compare/contrast with the new Young Animal iteration (Shade the Changing Girl) and the latter because hey, that’s a great price for an issue like this! (remember it, as this comes into play a bit later!)

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I believe I dug the Wild Dog and Uncanny X-Men issues out of a $1 bin. Hearing the character will be apparently playing a role in this season of Arrow and the surprise reference in another title recently, I figure I’d be glad to have this issue (unfortunately, they did not have the other issues of the series). And with the rumour of stuff for the upcoming Logan film (aka Wolverine III), I wanted to be sure to snag Uncanny X-Men 229 before it pulls a 266 in pricing on me!

(As an aside: if anyone has or could get me a copy of 226 in the $10ish range up to $20, I’d love to talk!)

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For the price of a single Marvel comic, I “upgraded” Aquaman #1 from a beat up copy to a nice copy…and filled out my Peter David run to now having a full run of #0 & 1-48! This includes “the” key issue–#2–where Arthur loses the hand…and I danced a fine line taking these photos between not actually sitting to read #s 1-3 and 0 and skimming through #2 and #0 in particular!  I remember when this series started, as well as noting Aquaman’s appearance in Zero Hour itself (see my 2016 Zero Hour Revisited posts), but had never gotten into/kept up with the series, to my later regret. Gladly, with ’90s comics being so (financially) cheap, I’ve embraced being able to catch up at a fraction of even the original cover price cost!

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My friend and I found a table with a huge selection of ’90s 25-cent comics. The listed deal was something like 25 cents each, so many for $2, or fill a USPS priority box for something…he saw us both amassing a decent stack, and made us a deal to go in one one together…so sharing the cost, we proceeded to grab some extra issues we’d passed on…and filled a box. Lotta cool/fun stuff…especially for less than 25 cents apiece!

I have (somewhere) a couple issues of the X-Men Archives, and apparently grabbed 5 of the 6 here. My friend pointed out the Magic: The Gathering issue…in a bag and board, it felt extra-thick, so I snagged it for curiosity of the thickness (turned out it included a copy of the Acclaim Comics preview I’ll reference below).

box_of_quarter_comics_02

Nothing really screams “’90s!” to me like these covers (and a handful of others from Image in 1992-1994). The ’90s get a bad rap, and to me, I’d say that a lot of what I think people really think of in the negative can be best referenced with early Image books moreso than stuff that leaked into DC and Marvel (as I obviously have an incredible fondness for the decade when it comes to comics!)

I also get a certain “satisfaction” out of scoring the “hot Image #1s!” of the early ’90s for a mere 25 (or less!) cents apiece.

box_of_quarter_comics_03

gen13_pricing_wizard_52And speaking of…Gen13. I pretty clearly remember this issue being one of THE “hot” issues of its time…to the point that I now probably have bought 5 or 6 copies for 25 cents each just to retroactively stick my tongue out (figuratively) at all the people who may’ve paid $20, $30, even $40ish for a copy of the thing!

Continue reading

Dissecting a Dollar-Store Comic: Freex #1

I usually don’t pay much attention to comics in the "dollar stores" and such. Usually they’re just quarter-bin fodder, random stuff I’ve no interest in, or already have–and certainly not worth $1 or more…particularly when I’d be more interested in buying several at once. (Or often packages are more than $1, but contain several issues of which–at best–I only know what 2 of them are).

Today, I was at a Dollar Tree, and without looking for them, had one catch my eye…very obviously Freex #1, from back in July 1993.

dollar_store_comic_01

As a novelty thing, and not loading up with a bunch of other random stuff that would add up to a hefty price tag to get out of the store, I was all the more willing to buy this. Hey, just one single dollar, one single issue…and of course, this is half the price of what it would be at Half-Price Books… and there’s something enjoyable about coming across an issue like this completely unplanned and un-expected.

I was also just slightly curious about the "bonus" collector trading card pack and cards.

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Looking on the back of the pack, I saw the contents list, and my curiosity was piqued at the "How to Collect Comic Book Collectors Guide." I was pretty sure I’ve had/seen this in the past…if not this exact "brand," then certainly something similar. But for today’s mood…it was a curiosity and selling point for me…and definitely an "added value" to dropping a whole entire dollar on a vintage comic book I have at least half a dozen times over.

dollar_store_comic_02

I could tell despite all the stuff on the front of the package (basically just a sealed polybag) what this issue was–Freex #1, from the second month of Ultraverse launches! Adding (sentimental) "value" was seeing that the issue was itself still in original polybag with the Ultraverse Premiere #0 coupon…in this case, a "wild coupon" for the mail-away issue. The original trading card is also there.

While I’ve seen this #1 issue numerous times in bargain/used-comics bins, I’d guess that it’s at most a 50% find-rate with the bag, coupon, and card included. I have plenty of sentimental value attached to this, as I "nearly missed out" on the mail-away issue: I was able to use one of these "wild coupon" to make up for the one I was unable to obtain from an issue of Wizard Magazine (having collected all the others).

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I’m not at all impressed with the included trading cards. Some sort of Elvis card, which has no appeal to me–enjoy his music, but no interest in trading cards featuring the guy (or even musical artists in general). Some sort of "puzzle card" from this WWII Trading Cards set…worthless because I have no other cards, and it’s maybe only 1/9th of a single photo, meant to be assembled as a full set. I also have some personal "issue" with something like war being glorified in trading card format (or just commercialized, if not necessarily glorified).

I do remember VR Troopers (vaguely), but I’m far, far more a Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers guy, so not even enough interest to bother opening the pack for now. Far as I’m concerned, miscellaneous ephemera to be tossed aside for now…maybe it’ll wind up in the trash, maybe it’ll wind up in someone else’s hands… or perhaps it’ll just languish amidst other such ephemera in my possession.

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This How to Collect Comics thing is slightly larger than an actual comic, but smaller dimensionally than a magazine. The entire unit is newsprint, so nothing at all fancy nor particularly high quality. It’s very reminiscent of the old American Entertainment and Entertainment This Month catalogs, except I’d peg it as a far lesser quality than those…perhaps the nostalgia and sentimentality I hold regarding AE/ETM (one of the catalogs being a large part of my getting back into comics and being able to get "back issues" prior to discovering "comic shops").

I’m not too keen on stuff trying to offer "instruction" on collecting comics…and don’t much care for even these packs in the sense of trying to (continue to?) push the notion of any/all comics, by default, simply for existing being some sort of valuable item. Even as a sales tactic like this pack was, in a dollar store. I mean, if they’re willing to sell it such that I–as the end user, the customer–am "only" paying $1, then (to me) it’s highly obvious that the issue is not worth anything more than that dollar. At most.

I like these for the sense that some kid might get to access a random such comic without having a comic store, without having to "go digital," and being some random thing a parent may buy–after all, it’s "only $1" and all that.

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It’s certainly odd to me to consider that anyone would "need" some kind of guide like this, but then, I have 28 or so years’ experience to completely, thoroughly take stuff for granted, these elements of a comic cover. (Then again, I suppose at times whoever is sorting single issues at Half-Price Books could perhaps benefit at better understanding of subtitles and elements of comic titles/layouts).

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This is just some totally-filler, cheesey page. I almost hate to say it, but really…it’s just sad. Maybe it’s slightly humorous (at least, say, for a kid) it doesn’t hit me that way as a guy in his mid-30s.


All in all, for re-acquiring the issue, and having something to focus my attention and time on for as long as it took to take these photos, get them loaded for the post, write this post, and so on…it certainly made this well worth the $1 I spent.

This does have me rather interested in seeking out more dollar stores to check for this sort of pack and see if I can find any fun gems…as it was, I saw numerous copies of an issue of The Maxx, as well as Secret Weapons #1 from classic Valiant, and a couple Image issues from the early days…probably WildC.A.T.s or Youngblood though I couldn’t easily tell at a glance if the Youngblood was #1 or not.

Several years ago, I’d bought a pack of several comics like this simply because of a Batman poster…there’s a Superman one that exists that I’d love to find.

Despite this singular purchase being worth $1 to me on content and time spent involved with it, that is not a "natural default" for these, and many comics found this way I personally would consider to absolutely be quarter-bin fodder, and far from worth $1. But if one doesn’t have a comic shop nearby or access to back issues, and especially if there manages to be an issue or "bonus item" included of appeal to the individual…it’s absolutely worthwhile!

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The Weekly Haul – Week of April 20, 2016 (Bargain Bins)

Along with my ‘regular’ purchases, stopped off at the other local comic shop, looking primarily for the Superman/Wonder Woman issue I was now missing in the current storyline…or so I thought. (Turns out the missing chapter is an issue of Batman/Superman, which would have been a really useful bit of information to have consciously had!

Not finding what I was there for, I hit the bargain bins and found a bunch of 25-cent comics of interest.

I also found another Ultraforce figure that I don’t believe I’d found before: Topaz.

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Best thing is the figure was only $2…a real “no brainer” for me for sure!

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I came across a bunch of Showcase issues. Here are the handful of Showcase ’93 and the couple Showcase ’96 I found. The Two-Face one–a chapter of Batman: Knightfall–is a duplicate, but one worth having, if only for filing purposes.

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And the gem of the bunch, the back half of Showcase ’94…making it relatively easy to mentally track…I just need to find issues 1-5!

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Most of Strangers 1-16. A bunch of those early issues are apparently ‘variants’ in that they have the UPC/barcode on the covers instead of “nothing” or a non-barcode that many “direct market” books had from this time period. Normally I’m not one for variants, but finding a near-complete run of a bunch of issues make it well worthwhile, especially for the price of one single contemporary Marvel issue.

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Turok, Sovereign Seven, and The Man of Steel were lone #1 issues…but what the hey? I’m half interested in how many copies of Turok I can amass; and the others never hurt to have extras. The “ashcans” were cool finds–I have ’em all somewhere, but they’re rather rare (in my experience) due to their size…either not being filed with comics that are then sold, or “hiding” because they’re smaller and thus passed over…at least in bargain bins.

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I know I have at least a couple of these Justice League America issues, but while pulling them I’d hoped there would be more, and then figured until I get my collection actually sorted again, not gonna hurt too much to have a larger isolated ‘run’ for now.

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I found myself working toward an ‘even number’ for my mental math of my stack, so grabbed a couple random-ish issues. One of the store workers was sorting through a small box of comics and tossed some more “recent” releases on the quarter bins…functionally giving me first crack at ’em, so I snagged the bottom row above.

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Whether I get around to them sooner than later or not, I always enjoy finding Superman comics from before the Death of Superman, and then several of the others are just ones I like, particularly for the iconic covers from an age when such things could stand uniquely and not be lost in an overwhelming sea of variants.

The older issue of Action Comics where Clark tells Lois he’s Superman is a first print…I recall there being at least two printings, so it’s cool to snag an extra copy of a first print like this.

Not that I’m unaware of it or anything, but I’m such a sucker for the ’90s, and continue to enjoy these finds much more than most new comics.

And while I recognize that I’m rather “spoiled” right now with relatively easy access to a number of shops with 25 and 50 cent bins and various bargain-bins…it’s still apalling to consider that I can buy 64 such comics like this…for the same price a mere FOUR new Marvel comics of 20 pages each. 80 pages of story, or 64 entire issues? Not hard to see the better value when one enjoys the bargain-bin finds.

I just wish I had so much more time to actually dig in and read and re-read stuff more frequently.

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