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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 First Mega-Haul of 2017

This past weekend saw my first "mega-haul" of the year, with a combination of Half-Price Books and a trip to the main comic shop, with freshly-stocked bargain-bins!

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At HPB, I snagged the long-outta-print trade-paperback-sized paperback edition of Batman: Knightfall. This is the Barnes and Noble "exclusive," which makes it all the more "rare" with ALSO being "out of print"…yet the thing was priced at a mere $8…HARDLY a "collectible" price for a book in such great condition all these years later! So much for consistency, I guess…their loss, my gain!

I also snagged the Alien: The Illustrated Story because it’s…well, Aliens. I’m a sucker for this stuff, and while I am thinking there’s a more deluxe/hardcover type edition of this available, for the price and being in-hand, I didn’t want to pass this up.

And finally, since I (thankfully) had "inventory" photos of my phone, I was able to determine that I did NOT yet own Dark Victory (It’s Long Halloween and Haunted Knight that I already owned)…and since I’ve intended to complete the "trilogy" for ages now, I figured I’d get that marked off the list.

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At the comic shop, there was a shortbox of TPBs marked 80% off. I was flat-out astonished to find this Superman: Eradication! volume…honestly did a double-take, and checked my ‘inventory’ to make sure I wasn’t crossing this with something else. But sure enough…this truly is the book I’ve been wanting for ages now, and unable to find for a reasonable price anywhere–in person OR online. And then just because it’s Dan Jurgens, Booster Gold, and at 80% off, the price of a single-issue of a current Rebirth DC comic, I also snagged the JLI vol. 1 paperback.

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I also got the latest issue of Spawn (pull list!), which I think puts me at about a full year of having the title on my pull list…a feat the title has never before done!

The TMNT issue I actually picked up at Toys R Us…it was some sort of Mega Bloks promotional issue that I’d been unaware of. Disgustingly, even this has a variant cover (I only saw this "regular" cover available, happily–I’d’ve been highly annoyed to ONLY be ABLE to get the VARIANT). Ridiculously-priced for what it is…but something about it struck me as something that would gnaw away at me if I did not get it, knowing it existed and I could get it FOR the same "cover price" as any other TMNT issue from IDW.

And then we get into the 25-cent bin haul, after the cut…

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Unplanned Books-A-Million Clearance Purchases 11/3

Thursday evening, I found myself at a Books-A-Million for the first time in quite awhile. Where I’d figured maybe I would find a cheap book or a comic frame…I didn’t expect to find a giant stack of books that had my interest for the price.

I eventually pared a stack of about a dozen books down to three:

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I got all three books for the price of 5 standard Marvel issues and a True Believers issue.

I was disappointed that Captain America and the Falcon by Priest that I found in the clearance section was not actually on (discounted) sale. And while they had a bunch of the Secret Wars (2015) skinny volumes for $4.97 apiece, they weren’t the greatest condition nor interest to me. I absolutely would have gotten the Age of Apocalypse one if that’d been there for that price, though!

The Wolverine volume is Wolverine; and collects a few issues from the latter part of The Essential Wolverine vol. 5 and the earlier issues from The Essential Wolverine vol. 6…but in full color. I quite like the Essentials line, but for this period of the title, the black and white/graytone effect gets very muddy and doesn’t work nearly as well, so getting this run in this format is very cool. All the moreso for the price!

The Avengers: Scarlet Witch fits thematically with my Avengers: Quicksilver volume. And I’ve been interested in reading Powers: Who Killed Retro Girl for awhile, especially since getting/watching the first season of the tv show last year (though I’ve yet to be able to see the second/final season).

It’s amazing, though, to consider just how highly-priced most Marvel volumes are, such that I virtually never buy any at "full price," because that price is just not worth it to me; while DC has had a number of volumes that I’m willing to pay full price for (even though I’d prefer cheaper means!)

New "Old" MiniMates: Wolverine and Sabretooth

I’m definitely a fan of miniature figures of favorite characters. Tonight while checking a local Barnes and Noble for the squarebound edition of DC Universe: Rebirth, I spotted a huge clearance table…and ultimately settled on a couple things.

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I have not much cared for the newer iterations of the costumes for Wolverine or Sabretooth…I’m very much rooted in their early-1990s appearance, as depicted on the X-Men animated series. While there may be slight differences in details, I’m quite happy with this pack.

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I’d forgotten that MiniMates come with stands…I’ll definitely need to utilize them to display these guys at work. They barely balanced for this photo, and would topple if a slight breeze hit them, it seems.

For $5…I’m quite happy with ’em…even though they were not something I’d set out to locate/purchase.

Fantastic Friday Find – Spidey & Wolverine

On a whim, I stopped by a Half-Price Books…where despite extreme frustration with their pricing for comics I decided to flip through a few. This issue stood out immediately, and out of simple curiosity, I pulled it to see what exorbitant amount they wanted for it, given their other ridiculous prices on single-issues.

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The price sticker read $1.50. I looked closer to make sure I wasn’t misreading a 7…but yeah, it was $1.50. A whole dollar under cover price, less than half the cost of a contemporary Marvel, yet this issue is nearly 30 years old.

I’ve been aware of this issue for more than twenty years: it’s an issue a friend and I discovered in 1992 or 1993, but weren’t able to get as we couldn’t find it anywhere for a reasonable price.

It had actually come back to mind for me recently as an issue to specifically look for…but this saved me the hunt, and was significantly cheaper than the up-to-$10 I otherwise would have been willing to spend.

Though I’m excited to finally get to read this, I do have a couple other reading projects ahead of it…but just having this issue after all these years is fantastic!

Age of Apocalypse Revisited: Weapon X #4

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weaponx004Into the Maelstrom!

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: Dan Green
Letters: Pat Brosseau
Colors: Joe Rosas
Separations: Digital Chameleon
Cover: Adam Kubert, Dan Green
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: June 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

Weapon X and Emma Frost open the issue, showing Gateway a holographic projection of North America…the destruction, the death, the whole mess–as they seek to convince him to lead the humans’ armada to Apocalypse’s door. Though counter-intuitive, it ends up being Logan’s in-your-face attitude that ultimately convinces him–not the images of Apocalypse’s atrocities. Moving to the armada, as things get underway they’re attacked by Pierce, who has also alerted Apocalypse’s forces of the coming assault. Pierce is surprised by a trick not exactly up Logan’s sleeve that allows him to save Gateway…who in turn tries one last gambit to get the Armada where it’s headed.

I’d previously "written off" the events of X-Universe as being entirely tangential to stuff and unimportant…the references it gets in this issue shows–at least–that effort is being made to have it matter, and I suppose it actually does, just not in any essential way. Much of this issue is "action," mixed with some foreshadowing. Though the scene with Apocalypse leaving Magneto’s interrogation and showing off a gene-tank to his minion adds context for Carol’s appearance, explains a fatal flaw in Apocalypse (he could easily stop the armada but chooses to allow things to play out just for the entertainment, justifying it that if he WOULD actually be brought down, hey–"survival of the fittest" and all that) and fills a couple pages.

I do feel somewhat disappointed in this issue–I think I feel like while we’ve SEEN a lot of Weapon X here, we haven’t really gotten to KNOW the character. There’s plenty of posturing, but for me at least, I "hear" and see WOLVERINE more than I do this character. Sure, semantics and all, this IS the Wolverine of the AoA reality and all, but the character serves more as "just another character" amidst the Human High Council and such. There’s something to be said of the character not only being capable of but actually working as part of a team, serving as an "agent" of (in this case, the Human High Council) and whatnot…but in retrospect it seems like Logan’s been a small player in his own title.

I like the visuals of the issue overall. I don’t quite "get" visually that Logan’s arm is all that damaged, and while I appreciate that he IS shot on-panel, it looks a bit "convenient" in a sense, like a box being checked. Otherwise, no real complaints on the art, outside of the usual–I don’t like the sideways double-page spreads, as turning a page and then realizing I have to further physically rotate the way I’m holding the comic itself is a huge distraction.

This issue is definitely a product of its time–the 1990s–both hokey and "fitting." Logan chomping a cigar, the various characters’ posturing and recklessness just to show how "cool" they are, etc. Still, it makes for an issue that feels like that bit in a movie where you realize that what’s come before is about to fall by the wayside for the climactic stuff that’ll end the whole thing and leave you barely remembering the story from the first 2/3 to 3/4 of the story thus far.

Had this been a contemporary series, I would not be surprised if Logan would have interacted with characters in X-Universe, as some of that stuff could have been folded together, this series’ chunk of story having such a huge involvement of the HHC. Weapon X doesn’t really tie much up, outside of Pierce being removed from the equation…but where we leave off here has a huge impact, if I’m correctly recalling, on the events that unfold in X-Men: Omega.

Age of Apocalypse Revisited: Weapon X #3

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weaponx003The Common Right of Toads and Men

Writer: Larry Hama
Penciler: Adam Kubert
Inks: Dan Green and Mike Sellers
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Separations: Digital Chameleon
Cover: Adam Kubert
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: May 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

Having "lost" Jean in the previous issue (she can be followed into Factor X #3), Logan heads to Wundagore Mountain seeing Gateway on behalf of the Human High Council. He runs into a couple of cyborgs–humans who voluntarily allowed themselves to be "enhanced" to serve Apocalypse–guarding the place. After dealing with them, he finds Carol Danvers and the two ascend to find Gateway. Meanwhile, the High Council’s resolve deepens. Carol, Logan, and Gateway are attacked by the Cyborgs (who melded for survival) as well as Pierce and Vultura…and after the fight, Logan faces the quasi-success of his mission.

This issue really felt like a whole new one for me–I’d completely forgotten the entirety of this chapter as well as the characters involved. The story isn’t all that thrilling to me despite the action…but then, I’m not a fan of the antagonists–I vaguely recognize Pierce as having a 616-counterpart though I don’t recall the context, and the cyborgs are relatively generic, providing something for Weapon X to fight and dispatch to show how tough and rough he is. Carol Danvers being here seems arbitrary, like her inclusion is simply to have a woman fighting at Logan’s side. Throwing my mind back to 1995, I think Carol was "off the table" at the time with Marvel so this appearance would have been her being "brought back for the story." As such I’m ok with it overall.

Kubert‘s art doesn’t work for me quite as well in this outing (thanks to my disinterest in the antagonists) though I wouldn’t call it bad. It simply doesn’t blow me away in any positive manner.

Passive as it sounds–I didn’t NOT enjoy the issue, but I didn’t find myself particularly enjoying it. It felt like this issue was treading water a bit, moving us from bad-ass Logan & Jean and then the pair splitting, to a "key reveal" I recall happening in the 4th issue right before going on to X-Men: Omega. Still, for me this is a much more satisfying issue than many contemporary comics.

Age of Apocalypse Revisited: Weapon X #2

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weaponx002Fire in the Sky!

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: Dan Green
Colors: Joe Rosas
Separations: Digital Chameleon
Letters: Pat Brosseau
Cover: Adam Kubert
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: April 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

On reading the first page of this issue, I felt lost, and actually re-checked the cover. Yep–this IS #2. Not #3 or 4…I didn’t miss an issue. I don’t actually remember the ending to the first issue, but opening on Weapon X wading to shore amidst refugee/survivors, screaming for Jean definitely threw me a bit.

That’s where the issue opens–Logan’s just located Jean, who left to help with the evacuation of the humans from North America. The two reunite, a definite distance/rift between them that neither seems to want to acknowledge. There’s an attack, and the two leap in to help, though it brings things to a head between them and they part ways. Returning to the Human High Council, Logan is stopped by Mariko, and while the two converse another attack commences, and Logan again leaps into action in a way only he can. By the time the attack is over, Jean has left…though Logan is once more able to follow thanks to their psi-link, and the years of partnership between the two reach a tipping point.

This issue definitely feels like a “middle chapter” of a story. We’re thrown in the deep end at the issue’s beginning, and left with an unresolved situation at its end. At its end, we’re halfway through, having been introduced to Logan (Weapon X) and Jean in their status quo, we’ve witnessed their initial mission to completion and then further development of their situation, and things rapidly shifting into place for what I loosely recall of their placement for the far end of the Age of Apocalypse story.

I do like Hama‘s writing, and it’s still interesting to me to look back and realize what he’d done with the Wolverine character (and here, Weapon X) long before I ever recognized his GI Joe work. I touched on the notion covering the previous issue, but saw hints of it again in this issue: while this Weapon X is this reality’s version of Wolverine, there IS a darkness that I suppose I could “accept”–given what I recall of the ending of this Age of Apocalypse epic–morphing into what I considered a ridiculous and stupid thing in more recent years, NEARLY 20 years after the fact.

There’s an authenticity here that I appreciate, and while the story doesn’t leave me chomping at the bit for the next issue, I’m not disappointed to have read this one.

The art is quite good, and I continue to really enjoy Kubert‘s take on things, particularly Weapon X’s hair. That, combined with the burnt-critter version and then seeing the hair growing back over the span of a number of pages was cool–a sort of detail that worked well and conveyed how “tough” the character is physically.

Weapon X may not be my favorite of the Age of Apocalypse titles, but it’s not one I’ve dreaded reading…it falls somewhere in the middle or a neutral place if I were to rank ’em. This was a good issue, and ties in with stuff unfolding in Amazing X-Men, and while this stands alone overall, it’s great to see reference to other chunks of the whole, as this series is not unfolding in a vacuum.

Age of Apocalypse Revisited: Weapon X #1

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weaponx001Unforgiven Trespasses

Script: Larry Hama
Breakdowns: Adam Kubert
Finishes: Karl Kesel, Dan Green, Chris Warner
Lettering: Pat Brosseau
Coloring: Mike Thomas
Cover: Adam Kubert
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: March 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

After seeing Logan and Jean arrive at the Human High Council in X-Men Alpha, we now find them on a mission while the council decides what to do with the information they’ve been provided. Their mission: to cause trouble for Apocalypse by taking out a structure and allowing a wave of Sentinels in to evacuate what humans can be. Their ride (a sentinel) takes damage, but remains operational; while Logan and Jean fight their way in and ultimately out, even through Havok’s arrival. Once back with the council, the duo learn some shocking news about the humans’ intent moving forward in the face of Apocalypse’s deceit with the Kelly Pact.

This was a good issue, overall. Plenty of action, even if I didn’t comPLETEly follow everything. While I’m sure there are some subtleties I missed in my reading, I take it mostly at surface value. I struggle to see how this Weapon X can be the "villain" I recall from a couple years ago in a more contemporary issue. This seems quite a bit like the Wolverine of the time, but with adamantium (since Magneto never went down his dark path that led to Fatal Attractions and all that entailed). There’s a hint to Logan and Jean’s past, though it’s quick and not something dwelled on by the story. It’ll be interesting to get to the next several issues, and being reminded of the "cool" factor of this title and the character(s).

The visuals were good on the whole…no real complaint. I’m actually a fan of the "big hair" Wolverine rather than the tamed-down Hugh Jackman version of the last decade-plus in contemporary comics. Plenty to "appreciate" here and even as the issue may not be a favorite I still enjoyed it. The only let-down may have come from higher expectations for this than several other recently-read issues.

I do think the cover is one of my favorites–certainly one of the more memorable–of the AoA #1 issues, probably the entire saga. It shows all we really need, with Weapon X front and center and Jean right nearby…two mutants not to be messed with.

Wolverines #1 [Review]

wolverines001Writer: Charles Soule
Artists: Nick Bradshaw, Alisson Borges
Inker: Walden Wong
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editors: Katie Kubert and Mike Marts
Cover: Nick Bradshaw, FCO Plascencia
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: March 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

In a lotta ways, I’m lost. I recognize some characters, of course (at least by name/vague recollection)…but it’s rather difficult to reconcile this as taking place in the same continuity as the stuff I grew up reading in the ’90s and early/mid-2000s. It’s also quite a challenge to consider that Wolverine–Logan–is really, truly, permanently, not-coming-back-ever-never dead-is-dead DEAD. Moving on…

Thankfully, the “Previously…” page is there–I don’t have to track down all those Death of Wolverine follow-up minis I skipped. Sure, they’d flesh out the DETAILS, but for where this series and this first issue in particular picks up, that’d be superfluous for me.

We open on a bloodied Mystique getting psyched to go through a door; then jump “back” to present. Where we find Mystique, Sabretooth, Daken, and X-23 being forced to work with some escapees from Dr. Cornelius’ experimentations. The mission is to locate/retrieve an object to help them survive. Unfortunately, the Wrecking Crew has also appeared in the vicinity, and confrontation ensues. Though the object sought is located–the adamantium-encased remains of the late Wolverine–this success is short-lived with the appearance of an old villain I certainly would not have suspected. The villain absconds with precious bounty, leaving our protagonists’ situation in disarray.

I picked this up to give it a shot–I’m currently buying all 3 weeklies from DC Comics, might as well give Marvel‘s a try. Moreso than that, though…the cover intrigued me. Kinda generic in a way, but it certainly grabs my attention, seeing the adamantium-encased body of Wolverine surrounded by individuals tied to him (from life, and from what he gave it for). We only get the arms of Deathstrike, Sabretooth, Daken, and X-23 (with a couple of the Weapon X kids in the background)…no Mystique. But that’s not something I even noticed until writing this review.

The actual story is ok enough…where I’d thought the premise of the series might be the characters tracking the body, the cover suggested otherwise, which was why I bought this. And since (thankfully!) the cover suggests these characters around the body and the opening of the issue has them seeking it…hardly spoilers to say that yeah, they find the body IN THIS ISSUE. However, the villain that showed up and left the group in bad shape gives the characters a new quest/hunt, which should sustain the weekly nature of the series for a bit.

I appreciate Soule being on this, given my understanding that he’s the architect of the death of Wolverine…good to see that he’s the one to follow-up “long term” on the development, rather than just killing the character and moving on. And while I wouldn’t think I’d care about the characters involved, have not kept up with them (for example, the last I recall of Sabretooth, he was beheaded by Wolverine…though I’m loosely aware there was a recent-ish story that saw his return) the interactions are not too bad here and I’d be interested in seeing more, seeing these characters in a world without Wolverine.

The issue’s visuals are not bad…there’s a cartooney quality at points that’s mildly distracting and reminds me of Humberto Ramos‘ work. Not a terrible thing, but not entirely my cup of tea. On the whole this simply has the look of a comic book…I credit that to the strong linework (and I suppose that’s a shared credit with the inking). Ultimately the art’s relatively neutral for me…neither a significant turn-off nor a draw. It’s just there, it does its job, and I’m satisfied with it.

Had Marvel priced this at $2.99 as an enticement to investing in FOUR issues monthly, I might’ve been tempted to give it a shot on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, this is a $3.99 book…and a large contributing factor to my having been almost completely driven me away from Marvel stuff is their pricing. Their $3.99 price point combined with frequent double-shipping was a huge turnoff…and if 2 issues at $3.99 apiece each month is enough to frustrate me away from Marvel books, DOUBLING that frequency does nothing positive to my mindset.

I did see somewhere (Bleeding Cool, perhaps) that this series is scheduled to be collected in monthly volumes…provided those are not $20 apiece and I can find ’em at a discount, there’s a possibility I’ll go a bit further into this series that way…or perhaps consider an advance/pre-order for a discount on almost certainly inevitable Marvel Omnibus.

If you don’t mind the $3.99 and are a fan of Soule‘s work with Wolverine and/or Wolverine’s death so far, this may be a decent series to consider. As a single issue this fits the norm…the overwhelming part of the price comes from the realization of the series’ shipping frequency.

[ My thoughts on the final issue of The Death of Wolverine (the week it came out) ]

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