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[Rant] Life During Quarantine: Another Side-Effect of Variants

ranting

So, stuck inside Saturday night, and a Facebook group I’m in has had some listings from a local-region shop as they sell some stuff to make up for being stuck closed.

And I saw one listing for four issues from a local creator, signed. As a spin-off series, it prompted me to check to see if the series it spun off from was available.

I figured…I really shouldn’t be spending MORE MONEY this weekend, with payday STILL a few days off…but I’m feeling depressed, frustrated, discontent, and willing for a little bit of non-retail "retail therapy."

A quick bit of online-sleuthing and I located the publisher website, and there’s a bundle of the "main" series. For less than cover price, so with shipping, wouldn’t be horrendous. Ok…

Double-checking the spin-off series…first issue is sold-out. Ok, back to that Facebook listing (viewing on the phone since the computer was loading slowly) and happened to notice…wait. That cover for #1 doesn’t look quite right.

Looking between the phone screen and computer screen…aha!

The Facebook listing is for the first four issues, yes…but they’re the variant covers!

NOT what I want. With very few, rare exceptions, I don’t want variant covers. I want to buy the actual/main/regular/real/non-variant covers for stuff!

So, what momentarily flared, the idea of splurging and buying this set of 4 issues from a comic shop owner, while simultaneously ordering 11 issues of a main series from the publisher itself quickly fizzled.

Stuff like this, I’m an all-or-nothing kinda guy. If it’s ALL in front of me, able to buy all at once, no hassling with numerous other sources across an extended period of time to gradually hunt down and piece together a full run/set, I’m far more willing to splurge and be liberal with my spending.

Even when I’m planning until that day to specifically NOT buy the stuff.

So…thanks to them being variants…I’m not buying the set of 4 issues.

Certainly no need to buy the 5th issue someway right now, without those 4.

And without these, no extra/driven desire for that main series.

Because of 4 variants, I’m not buying 15-16 issues that otherwise would virtually guarantee I’d be buying subsequent issues of both series, whenever they’d be put out.

But variants drive sales, right?

Variants entice purchases, right?

Variants are fun for the buyer, right?

right?

rant_quarantine_variants_blogtrailer

MORE Valiant Variant Annoyance!

I complained several weeks ago about discovering that my copy of X-O Manowar #31 was only one-HALF of an image…no wrap-around cover, no gatefold. I’d have to buy TWO COPIES of the SAME ISSUE if I wanted to actually have the entire cover image.

Now I find out the same thing’s happening with #32 as well!

xomanowar032_ab

And I don’t even like the image all that much from this perspective.

Aric’s butt, or what looks like it could be Giant-Man’s foot from The Ultimates coming down on an armored figure.

If you have a four-issue arc…put the halves on subsequent issues. If you have a 3-issue arc, do a wrap-around cover or a gatefold, or AT LEAST provide some sort of pull-out poster or something.

if it’s just a cover, why do it?

And for those who would say to me that it’s no big deal, if I don’t like it I don’t have to buy the variants/multiple-copies-of-the-same-issue, I say: if it’s no big deal, then the publishers should QUIT DOING IT!

I’ve already "accepted" variants as a "Thing" but darn it…I’m sick and tired of even "just" sticking to my "standard, most basic" or "A" cover or such winding up with only half an image.

Seems there was a 5-part interlocking series of variants for X-O Manowar #0…FIVE. BUT I can overlook that as those were a variant image entirely, and didn’t impact me with my standing order of "A-cover or most basic non-variant" for my pull list. I bought one single copy of that issue, got the image that had been used in advertising/previews for the issue, the standard image I’d come to associate the issue prior to its release.

With these 2-part interlocking covers where they ARE the standard covers…I don’t have that choice. OR I have to seek out a rarer variant just to have a single image for the cover…and the image may or may not be all that relevant to the issue in question.

Much as I’ve stayed "loyal" to Valiant, maintained a blanket "everything single-issue Valiant puts out" for my pull list…this is frustrating and annoying enough to have me asking myself what it would look like if I dropped Valiant entirely.

Or shifted to collected volumes only. After all, those (TYPICALLY!) have only one cover, and there’s the chance the variants might be included as bonus pages/backmatter there, and let me avoid the "issue" of variants with the singles.

Chase Variant #1 [Review]

One Shot (Is All I Need)

By: Rich Johnston, Saverio Tenuta, and Bagwell
Variant cover by: Rob Liefeld
Published by: Image Comics

I tend to enjoy metatextual comics such as this. On the one hand, they’re fun, getting both a story and a commentary if one looks at multiple layers. At the same time, the drawback is that sometimes seeing those layers from the get-go can take one out of the story entirely.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Chase Variant, except that from the cover, it appears to be just another “bad girl” book, much as Image was known for in its earlier days. And the story opens up with a bang (two of ’em, actually), and immediately reveals its hook: the “main” story is that of a bioengineered government agent named (of course) Chase Variant. She has four arms, gun in each hand, and is a much revered, efficient assassin. She’s also, actually, a 1:1000 chase card in a collectible card game, which is being played out. 3/4 each page is the main story–the in-game story, if you will, of Chase as she knows herself. The other quarter-page looks at the cards in the “real world” as the game is being played.

The story is pretty basic, without much depth or character development. While that would be very, very bad for the debut issue of a new series, this is a one-off…a one-shot, and so lack of depth is much more forgivable. Where this excels is at drawing on the thoughts I’d imagine any gamer has had in playing a game, of trying to craft a visualization or story around the playing of cards which describe basic characters or actions. There are rules and structures to such games, perhaps even an overall story that informs the specific cards that can be used. But the story itself, each game in which the cards interact uniquely really plays out in the imaginations of the players, unlike a comic, movie, or video game.

The visuals are not bad. I’m unfamiliar with the artists offhand, so really don’t have anything prior to compare this work to. In and of itself, the art on this issue does a good job of depicting what’s going on; capturing that dark and gritty feel that the character’s world ought to have, were this an ongoing story. Other than the occasional gratuitous visual shot and the character’s get-up (which is actually commented on within the story), no real complaint.

This is a fairly unique one-shot. In some ways, it could be seen as a sort of adult Yu-Gi-Oh, in that the cardplay informs the story. At the same time, it seems like a commentary on such card games and the presence of rare chase cards, as well as the evolution of ways of playing any given game, and the cards that eventually get introduced into long-running games.

If you’re looking for something a bit different and without continuity–past/present/future–to deal with, this is a good issue for that. Certainly a worthwhile issue to keep an eye out for.

Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10
Overall: 7/10

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