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The Weekly Haul: Weeks of January 16 & 23, 2019

Looks like these Weekly Haul posts are becoming more of a biweekly thing than weekly, despite best of intentions otherwise. And broken record as I feel on saying that.

Here are the previous couple of weeks’ worth of new comics…with another new week now just a couple days away!


Week of January 16, 2019

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Detective Comics is really ramping up toward the 1,000th issue! I was amazed at how quickly the first two chapters of this story read, and this one itself seemed a pretty fast read. Loving the art, but the story makes it seem like it’s going to be so much better as a singular "graphic novel" in collected form.

Superman finally–about nine months in–gives us the story of the "missing" time and we now have a mid to late teens Superboy in Jon…which really is not my cup of tea. Perhaps it’ll be undone by the end of this current arc, but I doubt it…we’ll see where it goes, though!

Then we have Supergirl and the TMNT issue of IDW‘s series of 20/20 special issues celebrating the publisher’s 20th anniversary. This TMNT 20/20 jumps forward 20 years, and proved a too-quick read with too little space to really do any justice to the story…and there’s loads of potential here!

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The DC Walmart-exclusive 100-page giants seem to have thrown the 2-every-2-weeks schedule out the window, and are landing all-4-at-once again…right about the 4 week mark since the #6s! And it turns out that #7 is the final issue for both the Justice League of America and Teen Titans iterations…they’re being replaced with Wonder Woman and Titans respectively, starting with new #1s while adding Swamp Thing and Flash to the lineup (apparently Batman and Superman get to continue with their existing numbering.


Week of January 23, 2019

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The most recent week of new comics brings us a non-Black-Label issue with Batman and Constantine; I need to catch up on reading this title, and really look forward to reading this issue! I snagged the second issue of Geoff JohnsShazam! title, even though it’s several weeks late. I have yet to read the first issue, and as my usual trap seems to be…I get a subsequent issue so when/if I finally get to reading one issue, I’m not "stuck" having to "hunt down" another issue.

I lucked out and the local Target had the DC Primal Age exclusive issue. I had a rude surprise in thinking it was going to be like the Walmart issues at $5, but this one was $10! Still, that’s in line with DC‘s own non-Walmart such issues, so…c’est la vie. At least it’s DC and not Marvel

TMNT hits its 90th issue; and we get the third issue of GI Joe: A Real American Hero – Silent Option. And for the heckuvit, I opted to try the IDW 20/20 issue of Jem and the Holograms. It’s a one-shot, and given my own age, I figure it might be interesting to read about the characters 20 years older than "usual," as it puts them into my own real, current age range.

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Despite swearing off of the latest Uncanny X-Men iteration due to pricing, frequency, and event-orientation (with Age of X-Man and such) I couldn’t quite bring myself to pass up this Annual given the focus on–and return of–Cyclops. And I was firmly set on NO MORE DARK HORSE Aliens minis due to variants and the like…but when I recognized Tristan Jones‘ art on this variant…I gave in and got it, since it IS #1, so at least it’s not just another variant-on-any-old-issue-nothing-special. Maybe I’ll suck it up and buy the rest of the mini…especially or at least if he’s got variants on the whole thing.

I snagged this free Isola Prologue issue cuz hey…"free." And we have the weekly Comic Shop News, this one focusing on Age of X-Man: Alpha…something playing on nostalgia (1995’s X-Men: Alpha). If Marvel does some sort of omnibus for the event, has a single-volume of Uncanny X-Men 1-10 and such and I can get then for a decent price…I might snag ’em. Otherwise I’ll wait for conventions later in the year and see if the singles can be had for half price for standard covers…if reviews and word of mouth bear ’em out as worthwhile.

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I’m not actually sure anymore what IDW‘s schedule is for print and digital releases as it almost seems like they’re releasing stuff early digitally with print coming the following week. And I’m not sure how I feel about Spawn Kills Everyone 2 being $3.99 an issue for a 4-issue mini-series…but I threw in with Spawn several years ago, and have decided to at least "stick it out" through the 300th issue. And that includes this mini, given the original special a year or two ago, whenever it was.


All in all, not a huge haul for new comics for the couple weeks…though some other stuff I bought more than made up for the comics spending. Buuuut I’ll get into those as the week progresses!

And as usual…here’s to hoping the new week of new comics is small-ish…

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The Weekly Haul: Weeks of November 14 & November 21, 2018

Time keeps on flying..! It’s amazing how busy life can get and be, especially this time of year!

Here’s stuff from the past couple of weeks!


Week of November 14, 2018

November 14 was an interesting week…with some unplanned purchases!

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Superman, Supergirl, and Mister Miracle were "givens."

I am extremely disappointed at Dark Horse losing Buffy, Angel, and ESPECIALLY Firefly/Serenity to Boom! I refuse to buy anything from Boom thanks to their crap with Power Rangers #0, and sadly, that includes even Serenity. So I was all the MORE interested in "supporting" Dr. Horrible since it’s still from Dark Horse!

Sticking with GI Joe: A Real American Hero; this title progressing from #155 1/2 to #200 and on to #250 and now #257 without renumbering leaves me HOPE that IDW might ACTUALLY allow Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to go past #100!

And though I was NOT going to, I ultimately "gave in" and bought Uncanny X-Men #1 (it’s missing a rather prominent "The" in the title!) though I’ve opted to pass on subsequent issues–$3.99 is too much; weekly is too many issues; especially with extra-priced/extra-sized issues BOOKENDING this initial launch of the title coupled with at LEAST a 25-some-issue Age of X-Man commitment already being pushed before #2 hit…

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I’d been looking forward to–and thought I’d actually MISSED–this issue of Back Issue magazine. So it was a bit of a surprise, but seeing it, I grabbed it immediately!

And of course, the usual Comic Shop News.

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I’d backed Ursa Minor awhile back on Kickstarter due to Dirk Manning‘s involvement, and that issue came in! I had actually lost track of the time, so was (pleasantly) surprised when a mystery package arrived with my name on it!

And Comic Heaven had Apama creator Ted Sikora in for a signing that day, so I picked up the first issues of Apama: The Undiscovered Animal and Tap Dance Killer. I do get the feeling 2019 MIGHT be a fairly "big" year for me delving into "indie" stuff, as I’ve grown increasingly frustrated with the likes of Marvel and even DC

And speaking of: there was also Local Comic Shop Day where DC especially ticked me off with a limited-to-500-copies-only foiled The Green Lantern #1. Long commentary aside, it’s caused me to opt out of the series–I refuse now to buy #s 2-onward–in vote-with-my-wallet-for-real "protest" over the crappiness of the ultra-limited stock. (See also: 40 months I’ve refused to buy anything Valiant, and 34 months I’ve refused to buy anything Boom–I can’t bring myself to drop DC as a whole (particularly Batman and Superman/Action Comics) over The Green Lantern, but I can sure as heck drop THAT title!


Week of November 21, 2018

This past week was another HUGE week overall, thanks to Black Friday stuff added on to the usual…plus the Walmart comics!

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Here we have Batman #59, Nightwing #53, and TMNT: Urban Legends #7.

Then the spin-off GI Joe: A Real American Hero mini-series Silent Option #2. And the ONE Marvel title I’ll still buy–Mr. & Mrs. X, as I am a fan of Rogue and Gambit, so a title starring the two of them (married or otherwise) gets my money.

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This week also had the Christmas extra issue with Comic Shop News.

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Finally, despite just getting the holiday issue a couple weeks earlier, ALL FOUR of the Walmart titles from DC hit at the same time.

I was able to get these before Black Friday, so avoided whatever damages remaining issues wound up with from people checking them out in their poorly-placed area in the pop culture cards aisle by the self-checkouts.


While I might detail more in a later post, Black Friday stuff saw a lot more expense than I’d intended going in, including TMNT toys; all 3 TPBs of the weekly Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman: Trinity series; Superman in the Sixties (completing my set of 40s/50s/60s/70s/80s); Keyforge stuff; several Hordes minis packs (Skorne); some DVD seasons; and some other stuff.

I’m hoping the next couple weeks are rather light…though I suspect December will be rather screwy with Christmas and New Year timing for shipping…so we shall see!

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The ’90s Revisited: The X-Men Collector’s Edition #1

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xmen_collectors_edition_0001Slice of Danger!

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Andrew Wildman
Lettering: Rick Parker
Inker: Steven Baskerville
Colors: Jim Hoston
Editor: Glenn Herdling
Published by: Marvel Comics & Pizza Hut
Cover Price: "$1.50 Value"
Cover Date: 1993

Back in 1993, the X-Men were an extremely "hot property." Their comics were at a definite high, they had a new cartoon series, they had trading cards, they had action figures, they had all sorts of merchandising going on…they were Marvel‘s Merry Mutants and all that. And one of those merchandising deals was with Pizza Hut. For whatever the price of a kids’ thing, you got a pizza, a plastic cup (If I recall correctly), and one of four comic books, commissioned specifically for this promotion. (I believe available for purchase separately were two VHS tapes, each with two episodes of the still-new Animated Series (Night of the Sentinels parts 1 and 2 OR Enter: Magneto and Deadly Reunions); both of which contained a brief roundtable interview with then-current creatives on Marvel‘s X-Men and Uncanny X-Men titles and such.

Where it would have surely been simple to just slap a new art piece and title logo onto something with a reprint of X-Men #1 or X-Men Adventures #1 or such, new cover, new art, and a new story was produced across essentially a 4-issue mini-series; an all-new original adventure exclusively for Pizza Hut.

We open on the X-Men in the Danger Room as Professor Xavier calls them to his meeting room. He explains that something’s happened with Cerebro (the computer that allows the X-Men to make first contact with new mutants before the villains can recruit them) that endangers the machine’s continued functionality. To repair it, various things are needed…which results in the X-Men being broken off into several teams to each get or accomplish something necessary to the whole of repairing Cerebro. Starting off, as X-Men Rogue and Gambit attend to dealing with in-house wiring, the Danger Room is activated with sentinels from "a dark future" (that many readers will recognize to be intended as the future revealed in Days of Future Past). After the two eventually overcome a trio of these killer giant robots (the scene powers down), we get a brief glimpse at a shadowy figure watching all the X-Men in their current endeavor…suggesting some secretive, behind-the-scenes operator working against the mutants!

The art for this issue is what I would consider typical 1990s fare. It’s not bad, but it’s not wonderful. The X-Men are all in their "Jim Lee costumes," the familiar outfits they were in (I believe) as of late-1991’s X-Men #1, also the looks used for the Fox animated series. Everyone is very recognizable as who they are, though the details of the art aren’t my favorite take. This definitely goes on the notion of a "house style" (as opposed to the artist of whatever book simply giving us "their take" on characters). Like a number of "fringe" titles/issues, this both looks like an actual Marvel issue while carrying a sort of generic feel that sorta/kinda/mostly fits with what was being published at that time without being entirely beholden to it nor affecting/impacting any of the "real" stuff.

Story-wise, this is pretty basic, simple stuff. Open on the X-Men in action. Show off one-liners and two-dimensional "character beats" to remind us of attitudes or such, "establishing" these as the characters that were being showcased in the animate series. Split the characters into separate groups to pad out several issues’ worth of content while allowing for "extended spotlights" on characters in manageable chunks. Showcase "key" expected stuff associated with the franchise/highlight all the characters and "locations" of the franchise.

So we get that–from Cyclops vs. Wolverine, to Wolverine’s random outburst, Jubilee’s snarkiness, Xavier having this dire situation but disappearing "to let" Cyclops and Storm handle stuff, to (particularly for this issue’s focus) Rogue and Gambit flirting, etc. The "characterization" in the issue seems generic and surfacey…but I don’t think it’s meant to be anything else. As something that would be reaching (primarily) kids for whom this might be their first/only experience with actual comics, it was important to give them stuff they recognized, both in the characters’ appearance and their behaviors. So the "character shorthand" stuff is prevalent; showing this mini time-capsule of stuff about them at the time, but not really building, changing, or directing anything new about them.

I fondly remember this period of the X-Men; and this promotion (I still have the VHS tapes and recall really enjoying the round table interviews, and those four episodes are particularly ingrained in my memory from this time). I even have one of the large promotional pieces that someone got ahold of for me some years back.

In and of itself, though, there’s nothing special about this issue, or this mini-series; it’s generic, surfacey stuff that doesn’t particularly draw from any deep continuity (despite the "references" to Days of Future Past), and it certainly doesn’t add anything TO the continuity. I certainly appreciated some of Gambit and Rogue’s flirting in this issue, and was surprised at one comment that certainly was "over my head" in 1993 that got a "Wow, they went there?? They said that ON PANEL?" reaction from me in 2018.

This is a fun novelty thing…hardly essential, but fun to have. I have the original copies I got from Pizza Hut in 1993, and I’m pretty sure I’ve come across these just a couple times over the years in bargain bins (maybe twice or so); the copy I read for this post came from a convention dollar-bin, I believe. So you’re not missing out on anything whatsoever in this issue or any of the other three, and I would not consider them to be "worth" anything much except for nostalgia. For that, they’re certainly worth $1-$2ish each. I don’t feel these are typical quarter-bin fare, not seeing them often…but they’re by no means anything high-ticket or worth $5+ an issue idly.

The cover states these are "A $1.50 value," representing the then-standard cover price of Marvel single issues. With a double-gatefold cover and interior cover, being full-sized issues both in dimensions and page count, written by one of the actual regular writers…this is a fun issue to have, and worth getting; though definitely most satisfying as part of a full set of all 4 issues.

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The cover is a double-gatefold; four "panels" including the front cover. When unfolded completely, this is the full image.

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And the flipside of the double-gatefold, viewed from the inside is this image, spotlighting Rogue and Gambit.

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X-Men: Grand Design #1 [Review]

xmen_grand_design_0001X-Men: Grand Design

Cartoonist: Ed Piskor
Editor: Chris Robinson
X-Men Group Editor: Mark Paniccia
Editor in Chief: Axel Alonso
Chief Creative Officer: Joe Quesada
President: Dan Buckley
Executive Producer: Alan Fine
X-Men Created by: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: February 2018
Cover Price: $5.99

I crab about Marvel comics all costing $3.99+ and virtually always put back even curiosities once I “confirm” that they’re $3.99+ for the issue held in-hand. I’m down on much of what Marvel has published for the last few years at least, and have had extremely mixed feelings on what stuff I have picked up.

This issue is $5.99.

And I barely thought anything of it. The issue FEELS thick, and heavy, and quite possibly THE single best value in a single issue that I have come across from Marvel in a long, long time.

It took me three sittings to get through this issue. Granted, I had other stuff going on, but I also hadn’t mentally “budgeted” a long time to stay put and read, used to even the extra-sized issues being pretty quick reads.

I’m not actually sure what I expected from this issue. I think initially I thought it was going to be a book that was text-only; when I realized it was actually a comic after all, I decided to give it a shot. What I got out of it is that whatever the length of the finished product, it’s like this detailed “history” of the X-Men, in comic format–using new art and narrative but covering existing material.

The page design includes coloring to make these glossy, higher-quality-paper pages look like old newsprint; the coloring to the story/art itself lends to that effect, giving this the appearance of a classic 1960s comic book or such. While there’s a little bit of “panel creativity” and “white space,” by and large the page layouts are tight and dense, modular classic panels–squares and rectangles with actual borders and gutters in a way that seems to have been largely jettisoned in “modern” comics. The dense visuals share space with dense text–plenty of caption boxes, speech balloons, and thought bubbles; the art is there, the art shows plenty, but there are no full or double-page splashes. The art serves the narrative, rather than some limited text serving up an excuse for big, flashy art.

Story-wise, I didn’t really feel like there was anything “new” or “fancy” or such here. Nothing particularly stood out, nothing was singularly memorable. But then, I was not expecting such. What the story is, what the writing is, is basically a straight-forward narrative, in chronological order, from the beginning of Marvel Comics into the 1960s and the beginning of the original X-Men issues. Things that were revealed in flashbacks a few issues in or 30-something YEARS’ worth of issues in, it’s here in order, unfolding as events unfolded–NOT in the order that details were doled out to readers as the actual issues were published. And this is presented as a tale from Uatu, the Watcher…giving a good context to things now being told in order.

In many ways, I’m sure a lot of people would consider this a boring read, and a re-tread, and probably a few other negative connotations to stuff. Me? I thoroughly enjoyed this. Part review, part history lesson, part summary, and part condensed revisitation of classic stories. I totally appreciate comics in general and the nature of them; the occasional “new reveal” or such, new flashbacks revealing previously-unknown information, the introduction of a character from someone’s past who just happened to not have been mentioned or relevant til “now” in the story that sheds new and different light on past events. But there’s something cool and refreshing about just following a single, one-directioned narrative pulling in everything–from information we got in X-Men #1, to stuff brought up/shown into 2009, 45-some years after X-Men #1.

X-Men: Grand Design (sample 2 pages' layout)

Pages seem to have 5-9 panels each, some more…making for plenty of room to cram a LOT of story into small space. No half, full, or double-page splashes to “cheat” or anything!

For my $5.99, three “sittings” to read, and sheer amount of time spent to read this whole thing, this is the best value in time-to-money I’ve found in years. As I got to the end of the issue, I wondered if this was monthly, or if I’d have to wait up to TWO months for the next issue…but then saw the next issue is supposedly in a mere two weeks.

At $5.99 an issue, and biweekly, and I’m very much looking forward to the next issue? Anyone reading much of my writing of late ought to realize that alone should speak to the quality I see in this. Again–this will not be for everyone. That said…I highly recommend it, especially to anyone who is or was a fan of the X-Men, particularly the 1960s “early days” OF the X-Men.

Showing off the Shelves: X-Men January 2017

Today, I’m showing off my current X-Men shelf configuration, with some volumes "weeded out" for present, possibly permanently, or to be added back in once I expand my shelving, which my collection has pretty much outgrown at the moment.

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One of my earliest collected volumes ever was that original The Essential Uncanny X-Men 1 that I bought right before leaving for college back in 1999. Obviously, my X-collection has grown significantly in the last 17 1/2 to 18 years!

I have stuff largely in chronological–or near-chronological–order, moving through the franchise’s history, with this first shelf pretty much covering 1963-1994-ish.

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Picking up in 1995, this second shelf pretty much takes us through the later ’90s, early 2000s, Morrison, Whedon, and up to 2010 or so.

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And moving beyond Second Coming and the Fraction run, a bunch of the miscellaneous/skinnier volumes taper off the X-Men proper, and get into other stuff…primarily Wolverine and X-Factor.

Of course, with Marvel discontinuing the Essential line in favor of the Epic line, I may eventually be swappign out some of the Wolverine and X-Factor stuff, or pay inflated prices to fill the Wolverine run in. Time will tell!

The X-books are–next to Superman–the most significant part of my entire collection, and certainly out-do the rest of my Marvel collection; while not exact, I’d say these account for at least 35% of my entire Marvel collection.

Impressive as they can be…knowing the "gaps" in content from the various X-Men oversized hardcovers and omnibus volumes…I find it kinda hard to imagine sticking just to the omnibus/OHC format…there’s so much more to be had by combining the formats. That said…I’d be interested in the Inferno and Inferno Crossovers volumes if I could get them relatively cheaply…though more immediately I’ll probably be content to just get the paperbacks as those’ll be much cheaper, period, and there are several other paperbacks that I want that do not (to my knowledge) have hardcover counterparts…including several Gambit volumes!

But that all gets off on other topics (like "wishlists")…

The ’90s Revisited: Uncanny X-Men #308

uncanny_xmen_0308Mixed Blessings

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: John Romita Jr.
Inkers: Dan Green, Al Vey
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: January 1994
Cover Price: $1.25

This issue brought back a number of fond memories, as well as a new feeling as I “noticed” the art rather consciously this time. Having this issue relatively on-hand for this reading is something I must credit to fellow blogger Chris Sheehan, whose comments/discussion of the issue prompted the purchase and encouraged making the time for the re-read. It was his post that prompted me to re-purchase the issue (for the convenience of immediate availability in print without digging through umpteen unorganized longboxes to locate my original copy).

For a single issue, there’s a lot packed into so few pages. Essentially, though, we have Scott and Jean–Cyclops and Phoenix–walking the grounds outside the X-mansion. For once, there’s no overt threat, no villain interrupting, the world-at-large doesn’t need immediate saving, etc. Just a young man and woman spending time together, enjoying cool fall weather (well, Thanksgiving Day) and doing so amidst a larger group also living on the premises. So we get a bunch of “moments” between characters…and while the couple reminisces, they also come to a decision about their future.

This issue is one of a handful of X-Men comics I recall from the early/mid 1990s where we basically just have the characters hanging out at the mansion, interacting with each other in down-time withOUT having to deal with some villain or crossover or whatever. And reading this in 2016 where every story is written for the trade, and every trade is part of some big event and every event leads into the next with no time between…this issue is highly refresshing. There just aren’t issues like this anymore (at least not from Marvel/DC!).

The story itself is very much what I prefer in comics, giving us the characters, “quiet” “moments” and generally giving us a glimpse of what these characters do, how they might interact when not in the midst of fighting for their survival. We get to see them presented as actual people…which makes them that much more truly relatable (at least, to me!).

I remember thoroughly enjoying this issue over 20 years ago…and I enjoyed the story now. Unfortunately, while I don’t recall noticing the art–back then, if I did it didn’t throw me–but this read-through I REALLY consciously noted the art…and between this and bailing on a Superman story some time back for so disliking the art, I must conclude that as a general thing I dislike Romita Jr.’s visual style. There’s something to the style–sometimes a sense of sketchiness, other times something to faces and lips particularly that just doesn’t work for me and proved flat-out distracting to me, taking me out of the story itself. Which, while a complaint that I have, myself, is not to suggest the art is bad…it’s just definitely not to my taste, and it now being a conscious thing, it’s something I can watch out for.

And then, regardless of the linework and such itself, I had consciously forgotten (but hey, deja vu or such!) how much I dislike the flipping and flopping one must do to read certain ’90s comics, when the artists played fast ‘n loose with the “traditional” comic page and layouts. Some pages read fine, but rather than just varying panels across one or two pages, where one can just page through the issue with a single physical orientation and be fine…here, we’re given some instances with a double-page piece where you have to turn the comic sideways for a top-to-bottom experience with the issue physically turned sideways; others where the issue must be turned on its side for a then-typical left-to-right experience, and so on. Rather than being able to just lay the issue flat and page through, reading, while say, eating a bowl of cereal as breakfast it requires an active, physical experience of manipulating the book, which gets distracting and kicks one out of the story.

All in all, though…this is an excellent X-Men comic that I paid less than $4 for, and got so much more from it than any $3.99 new comic I can think of. If you know your X-Men and enjoy such stories, or have never read this, I’d urge you to give it a shot, if you can get the issue for (or less) that $4. If you find it in a 25-cent or 50-cent bin, all the better!

Getting Into Comics With High Numbers

I was introduced to comics in late 1988 with a stack of Silver Age books Mom had grandpa bring for me–to my knowledge, he simply grabbed a bunch from a cabinet that he and my uncle kept them in…so there was a mix of “Batman” and “Superman” stuff, and probably other DC characters…possibly some Marvel, but they were more DC guys than Marvel.

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In spring 1989 when I learned that they STILL MADE COMICS, that one could still buy NEW COMICS, brand-new, these stories were STILL GOING ON, it was Mom that bought me my first four comics: Detective Comics #604, Adventures of Superman #453, Batman #439, and Superman (rebooted) #31. Not a #1 amidst them, and at the time absolutely no knowledge nor expectation of backtracking TO a #1. When Action Comics eventually returned to the “Superman Family,” it was still several months before I came across the title myself, and my first issue was #651.

It was Captain America #425-beginning the twelve-part Fighting Chance story–that primarily pulled me into having an interest on that title (and that after it not bothering me at all seeing a #400 on an issue tying into Operation: Galactic Storm), and it wasn’t a new creative team or a new #1 that got me into The Flash…it was simply the start of a new arc at #197 with the ongoing/continuing team that led me into several years of following the book, into Infinite Crisis and all the shenanigans with the character, series, numbering from there.

Maybe once upon a time, a #1 was special or significant…but now with ENTIRE LINES being restarted at #1 and doing so REPEATEDLY, every couple years or so such that it’s actually surprising for anything to hit #30, let alone #50 or up, it’s NOT special, and I for one have less faith in a series’ longevity now than ever before: if a book has lasted 120+ issues, that’s a 10-year run, a 10-year history or pedigree, it means that whatever they’re doing with it, it has lasted a decade or more, and isn’t just some short year-and-a-half flash-in-the-pan thing likely to disappear within a “few” months of me getting involved.

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