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Bargain Bin Haul – Week of July 23rd, 2014

Along with this week’s huge new issues haul, I also bought quite a few quarter-bin issues.

I picked up a number of Vampire comics for a friend, as well as most of the Call of Duty minis from Marvel from 2002 or so (The Precinct, The Wagon, The Brotherhood) for another friend.

quarter_bin_ultraverse_1

I was pleasantly surprised to find copies of the Ultraverse Premiere issues of Hardcase and Night Man, as I want duplicates so I can file Ultraverse Premiere as its own thing in my Ultraverse collection rather than having the series only dispersed as the flipbooks to all the others. I also snagged Night Man 22, and since the Hardcase issue was part 1 of the 3-part NM-E rematch, I picked those issues up as well.

quarter_bin_superman_1

I love the cover of Man of Tomorrow #1, and much prefer this “newsstand edition” cover to the Wedding Album. And for a mere 25 cents I wasn’t about to leave Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow there.

quarter_bin_superman_2

I was rather surprised to find this first-print newsstand edition copy of Superman #75 still there, so snagged it, as I’ve made it a point to snag all first print copies of the issue I come across in 25-cent bins. Wasn’t til I got it out at home that I noticed the huge crease down the center like the issue was folded in half–perhaps this had been a subscription copy where the postal delivery person folded it around envelopes when sticking it into a box. I’m also a sucker for chromium covers, so snagged yet another copy of Superman 82; and since they were there, snagged #100 and Adventures of Superman #505 for the shiny cover.

All in all a very satisfying bargain bin haul!

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Detective Comics #853 [Review]

Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? part 2 of 2

Writer: Neil Gaiman
Penciller: Andy Kubert
Inker: Scott Williams
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Assistant Editor: Janelle Siegel
Editor: Mike Marts
Covers: Andy Kubert
Publisher: DC Comics

There’s something to this story that makes it fit in quite well with the stuff that we’ve had from longtime writer Grant Morrison. The abstracts and symbolism, the nods to other eras of continuity and obscurities of the Bat-verse…these are all pretty much at home in my limited understanding of Morrison’s works. At the same time, where this sort of story wouldn’t work for me coming from Morrison, there’s something about the “history” that I have in reading Gaiman’s books and enjoying, understanding, and simply “getting” them that makes this story work very well.

The story is pretty simple, with not very much action here. A large chunk of story is Bruce talking to an image of his mother, sorting out where he is and what he is seeing. As the issue progresses (everything in the previous chapter having set up the foundation for what we get here, now) we begin to see a bit of a cyclical element to the story–one that actually reminds me just a little bit of Ragnarok, the final Thor story a few years ago from Marvel.

The art, though it doesn’t really jump out at me all that much this issue, is still extemely strong, capturing a classic feel without making me feel like this is actually a comic from decades past. Visually, there’s not much of anything I can think of that’d make it much better.

Gaiman references an old children’s book to great effect in this issue. It’s a reference that is fairly key to the whole thing, bringing a lot of stuff to a fitting close…and a reference that to me, makes this that much more a great story.

Though this doesn’t really serve as a hard bookend, closing the door on a version of the character, it still provides a nice breaking point, a send-off of sorts to characters well-known and loved in the Batman continuity. The story that began last year in RIP, continued through Final Crisis and Last Rites actually continues in the mini-event Battle for the Cowl and into some relaunch-type material in a couple months…perhaps the marketing or something else makes this feel like more of a side-story…a “What would happen if we DID decide to end things now?” kinda thing.

On my first read-through of this issue, I was not sold on the ending. Upon further reflection and asking a friend about the book I thought was being referenced, I realized the brilliance of this story. Whether you’ve been a longtime Batman reader or not, you should have no real trouble following this 2-part story. In fact, you might actually enjoy it all the more being aware only of characters’ existence and not being steeped in the history.

Whatever the case, if you can find the story now as single issues, it’s only two issues and so quite worth snagging that way…if you’re unable to get the story as singles, I very highly recommend picking up the collected volume when it comes out this summer.

Story: 9.5/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 9.5/10

Batman #686 [Review]

Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? part 1 of 2: The Beginning of the End

Writer: Neil Gaiman
Penciller: Andy Kubert
Inker: Scott Williams
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Assistant Editor: Janelle Siegel
Editor: Mike Marts
Covers: Andy Kubert and Alex Ross
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue opens with faceless dialogue, a conversation between two individuals. We then witness Selina Kyle arriving at a location in Crime Alley, where she shows that she can take care of herself, handling her own affairs. In a scene that made me think very much of something from The Sandman: Worlds’ End or House of Mystery, she meets an old character who directs her to her destination–a funeral, apparently. We’re quickly introduced to other attendees, with a couple of mildy interesting moments of a running gag. Those assembled at the apparent funeral are treated to a couple of stories that would seem to have led everyone to being where they are for this issue. Back to the faceless dialogue we’re left with probable set-up and hints of what’s to come in the second and final chapter of this story.

The art in this issue initially threw me a bit–it has several styles that come across pretty clearly, and yet after checking the issue’s credits, I was assured there was a single penciller. Some “sketchbook pages” at the back of the issue clued me in that the style variance was intentional–reminsicent of various visual styles of the Batman through the years. With that in mind, I actually enjoy the variance. Despite the variance, the quality of the work is quite solid, and I really have no complaint.

The story has a lot to live up to. It’s titled Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?–a title meant to place it in similar territory as Alan Moore’s Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?. Additionally, the writer is Neil Gaiman! Given that, I went into this issue half expecting to be let down…and was plesantly surprised when I really enjoyed the issue.

There’s a lot of metatextual stuff at work, and stuff that I can’t help but admit I’m wondering at due to my enjoyment of The Sandman nearly a decade ago. We have a nice almost double-framing device of the story, and stories within the story; everything reminding me of something else. Somehow, though, I greatly enjoyed it in this case where I loathed it in Morrison’s stuff, particularly Batman: RIP.

This probably won’t be a classic on the level of Moore’s Superman story…but I think this will be a stand-out story, worthy of its namesake. I don’t remember the last time I enjoyed a Batman issue as much as this, and whether or not you’ve been following this title, Final Crisis, or other DC stuff, based on this chapter alone the story is well worth nabbing just for a great Batman story by Gaiman.

Highly recommended!

Story: 9/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 9/10

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