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Cable #150 [Review]

cable_0150_lenticularThe Newer Mutants (Chapter 1)

Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Jon Malin
Colorist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover Artists: Jon Malin, Federico Blee (Lenticular Cover Artists: Rob Liefeld and Jesus Aburtov (based on New Mutants #87 by Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane)
Graphic Designers: Jay Bowen, Anthony Gambino
Assistant Editor: Chris Robinson
Associate Editor: Mark Basso
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: December 2017
Cover Price: $3.99

I "sampled" the ResurrXion stuff back in the spring, though between the pricing, frequency, "art," quantity of variants, quantity of titles involved, etc. I opted not to follow the various series. I did apparently buy Cable  #1 as I saw it recently while going through other recent-ish stuff for something, but haven’t yet read that, and otherwise figure it’s been at least a couple years since I’ve bought anything with Cable on the cover, though I’d followed the beginning of his post-Messiah CompleX series, and the final several years of his ’90s series into the first couple issues of Soldier X back in the day. I even sampled a couple issues of Cable & Deadpool at the beginning and end of the run (oops…Cable gets no "credit" for that series, as Marvel tossed it entirely into Deadpool‘s…um…pool).

Long complaining of Marvel‘s pricing, variants, stunts, rebooting of numbering, renumbering, event-into-event-into-event churn, etc, I’ve also long avoided most of their "newer" output–certainly over the last half-decade. But there comes a point where "curiosity" gets the better of me, or "nostalgia," or perhaps just "morbid curiosity," and I check out an issue or few. Plus, I can only complain so much while never actually purchasing something–I can grouse about stuff all I want, but I feel I have to occasionally have some hands-on experience, not just 100% taking "everyone else’s word" on stuff.

So I’ve got Cable #150. After all the hubbub on the "lenticular covers," I opted to go for that version…after all, it was available in-person, at cover price, and said cover price being the "regular" $3.99, I figured at least I’m getting a "fancy cover" for the price. Alas, though the cover has the slick, plastic-y feel (and sound!) of DC‘s lenticulars, I really don’t like this at all. It’s supposed to have both the New Mutants #87 cover from 1990 or so with the 2017 re-iteration of the image. But try as I might, I can’t get a clear, non-fuzzy view of either that doesn’t have distinct bleed-in of the alternate image. If it wasn’t for the non-lenticular version presented as the first page, I wouldn’t really even know what the "newer" image truly looks like! And honestly, the best the cover has looked to my eye is the scan I did for the image above…so not even "just" to the naked, human eye as far as looking at the cover in-person!

Simply as an image, I like the thing. I really dig the nostalgia–we go from Cable’s first appearance in a #87 to his own series at #150…full circle and all that. While I like the Liefeld re-do of the original, it works well as the cover, and I’m glad the interior is a different artist. Malin does a good job of giving a clean, sleek design to the characters while capturing the classic look–including Cable’s ridiculously huge gun, a staple of the ’90s. On one hand, I’m quite glad to see the character simply looking like himself; on the other, I’d swear he’s been through more changes and was looking much older. Of course, there’s also flashback stuff to this, so, whatever.

Overall, there doesn’t feel like there’s much story to this issue. Cable’s with Longshot, investigating the death of an External named Candra. Confirming the death (which shouldn’t be able to happen, as she was supposed to be immortal), they proceed to meet up with old Cable-ally Shatterstar, and the group then goes to confront the last remaining External: Selene. The confrontation proves less than ideal, with Selene thinking Cable & Co. are there to kill her, not question her…and ultimately we’re left with a bit of a revelation that screams "retcon" to me, while leaving us as readers none the wiser, really, and stuck waiting for another issue.

I’m not familiar with Brisson offhand, but this isn’t bad. Strictly in and of itself, I enjoyed this issue…just not the fact it’s (as "always") simply 1/6th of a constrained story arc. I get a sense of the nostalgia being gone for with this, but don’t really feel like there’s much context to stuff…while I expect things’ll be clarified in later issues, this feels more like the first chunk of pages of a singular lengthier story, and not a full story in itself. I shouldn’t be surprised–that’s basically standard practice these days, for the last decade or more. There is a brief ~3 page segment with the character’s "origin," rather broad and boiled down, but hitting a few key points (far from all, and basically touching on none of the development(s) since 1993). I don’t know that anything Marvel would publish on that front for this would satisfy me, though…especially as none of the origin was "new" to me. I’m clearly not the target audience for it, though!

As usual for a Marvel issue of late…the Marvel brand itself is damaged as far as my feelings towards ’em on so many points, and while by no means a bad issue, this issue is not enough to leave me interested in planning on getting the next issue…and Marvel‘s pricing doesn’t leave me all that expectant of being highly inclined to even bother with the collected edition once it comes out.

Though this brings in some ’90s elements and looks like a familiar-ish iteration of Cable himself, this issue by itself does not stand out as anything overly special, either as part of Marvel Legacy or as a 150th issue. With the screwy numbering and not really being a standalone issue, I’d say wait for the collected edition if anything, if this didn’t already draw you in on nostalgia, number, or cover image(s) alone.

cable_0150_blogtrailer

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Curse Words…for Curse Words: Dropped Due to Variants

If you’ve been reading this blog for ANY length of time, you know that I–as a general rule–loathe variant covers. Primarily "ratioed" variants, but with very FEW exceptions, variants in general, their very existence.

And this week just REALLY reminded me WHY.

And though I COULD blame the comic shop, I personally place the blame squarely on the publisher, FOR doing a variant. Or allowing a variant. Or WHATEVER the case is.

curse_words_variants

After actually rather enjoying the first issue, and looking forward to the second issue, the day finally came: Curse Words #2 was on "the list" as out on February 22nd.

Having been "burned" by a "surprise" variant on Moonshine #2 (which, by the way, immediately prompted me to NOT pick it up ,and thus lost me on singles on that series), I was "re-aware" of even Image doing variants on stuff (something I’d be more inclined to attribute to DC, Marvel, IDW, Boom, and Dynamite!).

So, when I saw two different covers, neither of which was visually "familiar" to me, and I was already expecting there to be a "new" or "unfamiliar" (because I ONLY bought one cover of #1!) issue, I figured fine, they did a second issue with variants, I had not really seen any "marketing" or such for the issue so was not (for once) pre-disposed to preferring one specific cover…so I grabbed the more appealing (to me) cover of the two or so I saw.

Got it home, even included the thing in my photos for my "Weekly Haul" post, none the wiser of anything.

But then I went to READ the thing.

And I saw that the word "Second" was NOT followed by "Issue" after all, on the cover.

Nope…it was followed by "Printing."

I managed to grab a second printing of #1, the issue that I already owned, that I bought and read weeks ago.

And of course, much as with most publishers, comics are not some "returnable" thing, so it’s not even like I can take the thing back to the shop for a refund or such. I’m stuck with a second copy of the first issue now, and no copies of the second.

Frankly, to say that I’m "annoyed" is an understatement.

On principle, I’m done with this book as single issues. I might snag the collected volume(s), but I will NOT support it any further as single issues.

Should I have noticed that it was not actually the second issue? Maybe. BUT when I know the second issue’s due out, with a cover that’s not mimicking the first, and I’m grabbing my comics in a hurry and just want to get stuff and get out after a long day at work, I’m not gonna examine every stupid facet of a cover. I buy comics because I want to read the story, not for stupid covers!

Maybe the shop should have put something with the issue to indicate 2nd printing. Maybe they should’ve shelved it with last month’s books instead of right next to the brand-new 2nd issue (but probably more sales having them together, so someone can immediately see and pick up BOTH issues if they’re looking for them/curious!).

So, I hold Image responsible…with no idea if the "idea" or "push" came from a creator or not. Just use the same darned cover, and mark it as a second printing! IF I wanted more "art" from something, I’d buy a darned print or something!

And on top of this…folks wonder why I tend to gravitate toward collected volumes for new issues. At least THERE, I’m FAR LESS LIKELY to wind up getting some 2nd print of something I already have, with just a cover in quick passing to go on.

More Grumpiness Toward Variants: An Archie Edition

This morning, I was checking out stories at The Beat, and came across a preview for the latest issue of Jughead.

jughead_preview_trigger_variantsSomething about the image used in the header here drew me in–I’ve seen a couple things recently about Sabrina guest-starring or such, and I have a bit of a renewed interest there lately after seeing Melissa Joan Hart in God’s Not Dead 2 and a couple other things that cropped up in my Facebook newsfeed with her…like it being 20 years since the tv show!

I’ve never really considered Jughead to be a character who was interested in romance, so seeing this image of him with Sabrina, it’s a charming image, and got my curiosity.

But upon getting into the article/preview itself, I was "treated" to the first three images being three different covers for the issue.

Instant turn-off!

I hate that Archie got into the "variants game!" I’m sure they had been doing some here and there, but it was never so noticeable as it’s been the last year-plus with the "relaunch" of the various series. And aside from my usual complaints about variants, the very real anecdote from my own experience is having 1. been "interested in" checking out the new series (Archie #1) and 2. finding over 20 copies of the issue…and not one cover was the same. It was impossible to determine a "main" or "regular" or "standard" cover, because there were just simply too many covers, PERIOD.

Then there was the fact that they upped their pricing, jumping from being pretty much the "best value" to having nothing stand-out. It seemed that where Marvel and DC and the other "major publishers" were dealing in $2.99s and $3.99s and in-between… Archie was maintaining at $2.25 or $2.50. Any given issue would be better than DC/Marvel‘s best price, and thus a prime issue for impulse buying (and this is without even getting into the value of the digests!)

But at $3.99, a standard-size, standard-paper comic is NOT an "impulse" or "casual" buy for me, in general. There are the occasional exceptions, but those are quite rare!

And while it’s a matter for another post, in brief, I’ve held to my refusal to utilize Comixology directly for any digital comics purchases (even apparently avoiding a popular buy-1-get-1-free sale for Cyber Monday yesterday). (31 months now, I was NOT just mouthing off with an empty threat of quitting buying through them over dropping in-app purchasing on Apple devices!) But partially due to ill-will I hold toward Comixology, I’m wary of most digital comics purchasing, period. I’ve softened somewhat in that I’ll use the DC app (powered by/interacts with Comixology but allows in-app purchasing) and the IDW/TMNT one (does the same), but I’m not interested in umpteen different apps for buying digital comics, and I’m not going to buy digital comics on a website and then hassle with "translating" that into some sort of e-reader.

Additionally, while it’s great to have the option of locating a key back-issue or such through a publisher directly, it’s not feasible to me to buy individual issues from a publisher directly, unless they would offer free shipping. If I pay $3.99 for a comic and have to pay $3.99+ shipping and/or handling, you’ve DOUBLED the price of THAT ISSUE ALONE. I don’t like paying $4/issue, making it functionally an $8 issue does not begin to improve anything in my eyes. Even if the issue would be "free" the shipping cost still means I’m better off getting the issue(s) at a comic shop…assuming the shop has the issues stocked to begin with.


Perhaps I seem hypocritical in this, as I know that DC and Marvel and virtually every other publisher trades in ridiculous quantities of variants. In this case today, with the Jughead issue, what (I think) particularly set me off was the THREE covers. I can–will–do–mostly turn a blind eye to the existence of variants when there are "only 2" covers. I’ve been beaten into submission on those, and at least can often (yet NOT as often as I’d LIKE) tell which is the "main" cover and which is the variant and can flat-out IGNORE the variant.

But when there are 3 or more covers…it becomes that much MORE likely that I will be unable to get the cover that I actually want! If a shop orders 3-4 shelf copies and there are 2 covers, there’s a better chance there’ll be at least 1 copy of the cover that I am interested in over the others. 3 or more covers further dilutes this and makes it more likely that if I’m not THE first person getting a copy, there’ll be 2 or more copies of the issue, but NOT the cover that I actually want.

And that turns me off and fully discourages buying into the series or continuing with the series at all.

Given the easier availability of stuff from "the big two" and their content being what I’m primarily after, I also have to compromise more. When the smaller publishers or indie publishers pull those same "stunts," it’s a lot easier for me to be harsher and more pointed in my displeasure and avoid them entirely.

I have a nearly-30-year-history with Superman comics and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, with Batman virtually on-par with both of those. Batman I’ve been very choosy on over the years, and even walked away from the Superman titles for over 3 years.

People love variants? Variants are essential to sales, to the continuation of a title? There’s no option to NOT deal in variants? They’re fun? They’re "bonus," or any other spin?

Fine–good on the publisher.

But I am an actual real-life example (particularly when calling stuff out in posts like this or comments on Twitter) of someone who is NOT happy with variants, does NOT enjoy them, for whom the chase and ‘game’ of variants is NOT fun, and who WILL flat-out drop a series…and has "dropped" ENTIRE PUBLISHERS over "variants" shenanigans (Valiant and Boom! Studios).

I get that many will complain but buy anyway. I get that I myself will make rare, occasional one-time/case-by-case exceptions. But as a general rule, I’m quick to drop or continue to just not buy stuff over seemingly insignificant things like variants.

Hey, the publisher is selling or banking on selling multiple copies of an issue to people.

SURELY one of those makes up for not selling any copy to me at all.

TMNT Toys in the Wild – Newtralizer, Shredder (Variant), Cockroach Terminator, and Snakeweed

While I did finally “pull the trigger” on buying the Casey Jones figure, I’ve continued to come across a bunch of figures that I have either not been interested in actually purchasing, or haven’t justified (to myself) the purchase YET.

Here are some more photos of several other figures “in the wild”…

NEWTRALIZER

newtralizer_front

newtralizer_profile

SHREDDER (VARIANT)

shredder2_front

shredder2_profile

COCKROACH TERMINATOR

cockroach_terminator_front

cockroach_terminator_profile

SNAKEWEED

snakeweed_front

snakeweed_profile

 

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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