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The ’90s Revisited: Dr. Strange #36

90s_revisited

dr_strange_0036Footnote to Infinity

Writers: Roy & Dann Thomas
Penciler: Dan Lawlis
Inker: Andrew Pepoy
Letterer: R. Parker
Colorist: George Roussos
Editor: Mike Rockwitz
Editor in Chief: Tom Defalco
With Special Thanks To: Jim Starlin, Advisor
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: December 1991
Cover Price: $1.50

I bought this issue completely outside of any kind of context for the Dr. Strange: Sorcerer Supreme series. It initially caught my attention specifically for the presence of Adam Warlock on the cover with the Infinity Gauntlet. The corner blurb that this is an Infinity Gauntlet "Epilogue" solidified it for me. I’ve read The Infinity Gauntlet a couple times (though it’s been a number of years now and I’m due for a re-read–as if I’m not extremely far behind on all my NEW reading) and early issues of Warlock and the Infinity Watch. But I’d never read this issue, and I was curious as to exactly how it was addressing Infinity Gauntlet, its place in the timeline. I’m glad to say that my curiosity was satisfied.

We open on Dr. Strange arriving back home, reuniting with his supporting cast. It’s an impromptu party, and among other reunions we see Strange and Clea (who is the only other person in the room that remembers what happened). As they dance around the subject and share the joy of everyone being present, Wong announces that he’s engaged…and moments later, Pip the troll and Gamora appear, disrupting things–they’re here for Dr. Strange, hoping he might aid them in dealing with a driven-mad-with-power Warlock. Strange confronts Warlock, and winds up having to use every resource available to him, basically, just to hold his ground. After he’s "survived" attacks involving the other Infinity Gems (yes, this is back when they were GEMS, not STONES), he turns the tide by going after the Soul Gem–the one most closely linked to Warlock…and manages to get through to him, helping him see what’s happening, and stand down. After thanks, a friendly handshake, and promises to see things stay on the right path, everyone parts ways…though Strange gets a brief encounter with Eternity…the cosmic being representing the universe itself. Eternity intends to claim the Infinity Gems, by bringing Warlock to some cosmic trial…but that’s not for Strange to deal with, and he finishes his return journey home.

I’m sure I would have enjoyed this issue more if I was "up" on contextual continuity for this series at the point this issue falls. I basically remember THAT Strange was involved early on, being maybe the first Silver Surfer made contact with of the Earth heroes regarding Thanos having assembled all the Gems; and then with Warlock and the "behind the scenes" crew in taking on Thanos. I also vaguely remember that Wong was one of the "half the living entities in the universe" that were blinked out of existence at the start of Infinity Gauntlet. I’m not invested in any of the supporting cast or cameo appearances. And I felt like Warlock was extremely out of character, given the out and out attacks directed at Dr. Strange…and it all rang as the old cliché "hero vs. hero" and such that I really don’t care about. At least here, though, the situation is resolved within the same issue, it does NOT take up the ENTIRE issue, and certainly does not become an entire story arc for a mini-series or title. I was glad to see stuff resolved here, and where I was curious going in as to WHERE exactly this took place in "the timeline," the end of the issue with Eternity suggests to me that this essentially led into Warlock and the Infinity Watch #1.

Story-wise, this felt like "the next issue" of the title. That is, it didn’t waste time trying to retell that which is told elsewhere, nor did this feel like just some "middle chapter" or such of a serialized graphic novel. There are details that are obviously "subplots" being moved along, while the main focus of the issue is an encounter that is begun, run, and resolved within this issue. For a reader perhaps checking this out BECAUSE of seeing Strange in Infinity Gauntlet, it seems to have him pulling out all the stops, and in a way "showing off" for the newer readers, while perhaps reminding older readers of what he can do on his own, as more than just a single character of a huge ensemble cast in a Marvel Universe event.

Visually, I liked the art for this issue overall. For one thing, I felt like I recognized everyone I would expect to–particularly Dr. Strange himself, Pip, Gamora, and Warlock. I attribute this to a "house style" that I feel like I recall being prevalent in the early ’90s; at the least, everyone looks familiar enough that I had no problem with their appearances and nothing messed with my memory of how they "should have" looked or whatever.

As a single issue, this isn’t enough to "sell" me on Dr. Strange’s series…I’m in no particular hurry to find out what happens with the next issue (though I’m "curious" at the tease of "Frankensurfer" and wouldn’t be entirely opposed to keeping an eye out for the issue in a passive sense) nor do I feel any great need to rush out and get previous issues. That said…this seemed a solid issue, a decent follow-up to Infinity Gauntlet, and probably not the worst thing one could read from Marvel for the early 1990s. I enjoyed it enough to have more than justified the 25 cents I spent for it, and I’m glad to have read this.

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The Warlock/Thanos/Infinity Gauntlet Shelf: October 2017

As of mid-October 2017, this shelf has had some newer additions!

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There’s a Thanos figure from the newer Guardians of the Galaxy line (based on the animated series, I believe). I picked up the Adam Warlock Toon Tumbler over Labor Day weekend.

And the most recent addition…the "desktop monument" of the Infinity Gauntlet itself, snagged last week spur of the moment on New Comics Day.

I saw it, disregarded it, asked to look closer, and decided to just go ahead and buy it–knowing darned well I’d want it eventually and rather than spend even MORE money trying to hunt it down later, just get it and be done!

Then, of course, there’s the Adam Warlock Marvel Overpower figure (yeah, they did a small line of figures using the branding of the card game!). The Funko oversized Pop vinyl bobblehead (one of the extremely-very-few Marvel ones I’ve bought DUE TO their being bobbles).

The Thanos with the bright orange gloves and boots is from the ’90s Silver Surfer animated series’ toy line.

And the giant Infinity Gauntlet is one of those large coin banks.

I do have a Thanos "bust bank" not pictured, that would almost have to replace the books to work well on this shelf.

The Weekend Haul – Weekend of June 16-18

Over the weekend, I headed down to Kenmore to pick up stuff that’s been pulled the last couple weeks.

Having learned of a sale at another shop–Hazel’s Heroes–and being much closer to it already being down that far south, I ventured a bit off my usual trail to check out the shop, AND the sale. I was loosely aware of the general region of the shop…I’d just never (since becoming aware of the shop’s existence) had the time while down that way to check it out.

I wasn’t sure going in what the sale itself would be, but the Facebook post indicated it was a "big" sale, and with my present (and likely about to fizzle out) hunt for Trial of the Flash-era issues of the silver/bronze age The Flash series, I was all the more interested, as a sale would bring even too-highly priced issues into a reasonable range, or so I figured.

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While I doubt I’ll ever get the whole series, being aware of the Blue Ribbon Digest series, I’ve found I’m interested in those when I find them for a good price. As this sale was, I believe I got both of these for about $1/each.

Pretty sure the same on the TMNT novels. (Beaten to heck, but for the price, well worthwhile for the moment!) The Six-Guns and Shurikens book and Red Herrings I remember reading as a kid. The Donatello: The Radical Robot is one I don’t remember (and apparently there are others for each of the turtles along with Donatello!).

Gotta say…for me, the better value by far is these five books for $5, over, say, Darth Vader #1 (had a #1 in 2015, and now already again in 2017..!).

weeklyhaul_06142017c

The way the sale was structured, the $12 Power of Warlock cost me $5 (again, which is the better value: that or a book that just came out this week?) while the other Power of Warlock issue matched the price of a DC Rebirth issue.

The Tales of the TMNT #5 (original run), Batman and the Outsiders #1, and Robin (original mini-series) #1 cost me a whopping $1/each!

weeklyhaul_06142017d

The Booster Gold issues also all only cost me $1. I mentally kicked myself when I realized for the pricing I missed grabbing #s 0 and One Million; fortunately, I shouldn’t have much issue finding my #0 from my Zero Hour stuff last year, and already found my One Million from last October. The #1 was a "convenience" copy (and for $1, even, beautiful piece!).

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Then, I noticed some boxes of magazines before I could check out. My curiosity got me, and on investigating, found that there was quite a run of old Wizard magazines! Fortunately, despite thinking it wouldn’t even matter, I’d taken a couple photos of my Wizard shelf in lieu of writing down missing numbers. So, I was able to pull something like 25-26 issues to fill in gaps in my existing run of the magazine…plus several issues that I just want a poster out of and for the price, no sense passing them up–these all had an older $3 sticker on them, with a newer $1 sticker.

Since the sale was that stuff up to $5.99 was $1, I expected I was just gonna be paying $1 per Wizard…but the store owner gave me the stack for 50 cents an issue!

So all told, for roughly the price of 9 standard, modern Marvel issues, I got 30 issues of Wizard, most of which fill in gaps in my existing collection (rather than just cheap duplicates), a couple of old Power of Warlock issues, three TMNT books I haven’t seen available anywhere in over 20 years, a couple of (relatively rare) Blue Ribbon Digests, and a few other issues!

Sure beats the heck outta most conventions!


batman_adam_west_bust_bank

Finally, while I was at Kenmore, on a whim, I made a non-comics purchase: a Batman bust bank of the Adam West Batman. A bit more than I might’ve wanted to pay, and DEFINITELY a shame that it took the man’s death last weekend to remind me how much I do actually appreciate his Batman and all that. But I was interested, and opted to get this since it was NOT any kind of "special order" or such, and not a case of anyone profiting off Adam West‘s death! (As, sadly, I suspect Batman ’66 stuff may soon be).

The ’90s Revisited: Warlock and the Infinity Watch #42

90s_revisited

warlock_and_the_infinity_watch_0042Win, Lose, Draw!

Writer: John Arcudi
Pencils: Mike Gustovich
Inks: Keith Williams
Colors: Ian Laughlin
Letters: Jack Morelli
Editor: Mark Gruewald
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: July, 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

This was a hard issue to read. I’m really not familiar with the art team, outside of perhaps earlier work on this title that I read 15+ years ago. While characters are visually familiar from the time, this is hardly the BEST rendition of them. The story is rather scattered and without much context (no "previously page" and not much in the way of in-story exposition). I suppose that’s a good thing by contemporary standards–not wasting much space on that…and this IS a "final chapter" of whatever the story is, as well as a series finale.

Unfortunately, this feels like a rushed, tie-up-as-much-as-possible finale that may have been something seen coming but not entirely "expected."

We basically have a scattered team, with a member physically hospitalized while her mind is active (psychically) with the team; a former member allied with Thanos, another member turned "traitor," and the team’s "home turf" facing a huge storm that could wipe the place out. Out of nowhere, the team’s Infinity Gems (hence "Infinity Watch") all disappear; Warlock is apparently killed; Maxam returns to his own time without further explanation, and the team is left with Warlock heading out on a solo quest to figure out where the gems went. The End.

Frankly, this is a horrible issue in terms of a context-less, isolated cold-read. As said, it’s a series finale, so it’s scrambling to try to wrap stuff up in a hurry as best as possible. For a series that started on such a high note, this is a pitiful whimper to go out on.

Context-wise, from what I recall of reading scattered later issues (I’ve never had the ENTIRE series to read in one go), I can imagine the team and book were headed for a status quo change and some new developments, perhaps plenty of positive, just that stuff got cut short. And a book NOT being given "time" or a new direction given time to shake out, etc. is something that I can "accept" for a story falling flat, even if I don’t like to. In a way, it’s a sign of the times, when series were not written simply as serialized graphic novels, but as episodic things with ongoing developments and actual "subplots" and the like.

A key factor of this issue, though, is its failure to even acknowledge Marvel‘s then "sister" company, Malibu, and its Ultraverse. See…in this issue, the Infinity Gems just simply, arbitrarily disappear out of nowhere, and that’s that. But, if one reads the Rune/Silver Surfer (flipbook Silver Surfer/Rune) issue, we see the Ultraverse character gain the Time Gem, stop time, and snag the rest. Given he steals them all WHILE time is stopped, that explains the sudden, simultaneous disappearance of the gems. It seems counter-intuitive and even a bit shameful to me that that event happens in another book entirely (Silver Surfer got a cartoon in the 1990s, so was more of a "hot" property–so I can see Marvel wanting the bigger brand "out there") with zero acknowledgement in this title…the title in which the Infinity Gems were housed, and the story of their place in the then-Marvel Universe was chronicled for over three years, a long-running title!

I actually found myself with two copies of this issue "handy," hence reading this as an isolated single issue. One copy I’d pulled when I came across it going through some comic box looking for something else in my collection; the other with a stack of 25-cent-bin issues; I’m certain I acquired both from 25-cent bins. And frankly, that’s what this issue is worth. There’s sentimentalism to be had if you’re fond of the title or Warlock or any of the other characters, but that’s about it. Outside of "free," this issue is perhaps worth the "base" price of 25 cents, but I wouldn’t say much more than that. On the other hand, the first issue is a great read (as I remember) as are a number of the early issues, perhaps through the Infinity War stuff.

Overall, I’d give this a pass; there’s a lot of better stuff out there to be read.

New Arrivals: Shadow of the Bat 1 and The Infinity Watch 2

Just a quick post for today. These two books arrived. I’d ordered them back on the 10th or so, but they only just arrived today…ugh.

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Batman: Shadow of the Bat was the first “legit” Batman series I got in on from #1 back in the day. I really dug the covers–and they stood out quite a bit to me with their solid borders around distinctive images…it was a cover dress that really worked.

And proving that not all of their books have to have crap-pricing, Marvel collects the back half-ish of its Warlock and the Infinity Watch series (dropping Warlock from the title for the collected book). The entire 42-issue run and then some is collected across two volumes, making an excellent set of paperbacks!

Unfortunately, DC‘s Rebirth stuff the last few weeks has cut into my spending on collected volumes…though once the “bundles” kick in and such I’ll have several other volumes I’m eyeballing.

Then there’s also the fact that DC actually keeps their books in-print unlike Marvel. But that rant is a subject for some other time.

Marvel Universe Series IV Revisited, Part 19

While informative, I don’t have all that much to say about this page of cards, except that I probably referred to the Warlock vs. Man Beast card when I got into the Warlock character a couple years later; and though I’m aware of some of these conflicts, they don’t particularly interest me on the whole.

Still, I definitely like that these cards had a bit of informative substance on the backs rather than simply listing an issue # of battle and leaving it at that.

Some of these are a bit of “history” that’s held to this day, I think…while others have mostly faded to just being objects of their time.

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Marvel Universe Series IV Revisited, Part 2

While these would not have been my favorite characters back in ’93 when these cards came out, looking back on them now 20 years later, these are indeed some of my favorite Marvel characters, especially this version of them!

Warlock caught my attention in ’95 or so with the Ultraverse Black September event where he wound up in the Ultraverse, in the Rune series. It was around that time that I “discovered” Thanos and a lot of the other “cosmic” Marvel characters.

It’s harder to “see” the actual full image on the individual cards in binder pages…but this one looks really good digitally, which makes me collectively like this page all the more. It’s also not nearly as “busy” as the first in this set, and works so much better for me.

Of all the characters here, I’m probably least familiar with Morg and Starhawk. The others are quite familiar for me.

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