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The Weekly Haul: Week of March 6, 2019…and Fantasticon Toledo 2019

This was another small-ish week for new comics–single issues, anyway. But a much bigger week with other stuff!

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The week has the new issue of Batman with #66, resuming Tom King‘s run after the 2-issue Flash crossover. We’re "already" at the 3rd issue of Young Justice (time’s flying!). And we’re now 2/3 through this 12-issue Super Sons series.

On strength of Hama‘s stuff and the longevity of the series, I opted to also snag this GI Joe Yearbook issue rather than try to hunt it down later.

And though I had not planned on it for the week, the new issue of Back Issue was out, and had my attention from the Alex Ross Earth X cover.Though I somehow have not managed to finish previous issues, I can attest to the strength and value of this magazine, that I’ve quite enjoyed issues I’ve managed to get!

I’m not sure what to think of the notion, even, of Savage Avengers…but that’s what Comic Shop News chooses to spotlight this week.

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As new comics stuff at the comic shop goes, though, the real gem for me is the Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman Deluxe Edition. Much like last year’s Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman Deluxe Edition, this is a huge volume with a number of stories from throughout the history of the title, and I love that the trade dress was maintained to make the two books visually quite complimentary!


Along with new comics, this week also had a couple of conventions. Wizard World: Cleveland was held this weekend (I live close enough that if you’re not local, I can claim "Cleveland-area" geographically). However, where I’d’ve adored having a local Wizard World show 15, 20, definitely 25 years ago, I haven’t yet been to a Cleveland iteration.

Admission is just too high, with too many extra/hidden "fees" and such tacked on to manipulate the actual price, and too few comics dealers and comics-related things for me to justify the massive expense!

That said…I attended Fantasticon in Toledo, Ohio, with a couple of friends, and had quite a good time of it! And the admission price for that convention was under $10–I’m pretty sure a good 75% cheaper than WW and probably more comics in the room!

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Going into the con, my two main "goals" were to pick up the Plume Omnibus by K. Lynn Smith, as well as the new issue of Haunted High-Ons from Dirk Manning.

As it worked out…that was a complete success!

Manning has got to be one of the most personable, friendly creators I’ve ever met, and he’s honestly been "the" draw for me with several shows (or at least the deciding factor). And through his work, I’ve "discovered" Smith, as well as a number of others. But while I couldn’t justify the omnibus the last time I was at an appearance, this time I went in with it as the #1 thing on my list.

Manning has become a definite "exception" in my eyes–akin to my TMNT "exception"–such as my willingness to purchase a variant cover, or to find enjoyment in some "exclusive edition" of something.

The creators have a joint project in Hope, the first issue having been out in an early edition last year, and getting a wide, improved release this upcoming May for Free Comic Book Day. And they’ve (as of this writing) got a Kickstarter project that’s already fully-funded (so if you "back" it, it’s basically a "given" that you’re getting the book, no coming down to the wire and wondering if the thing will squeak across a fundling goal).

I’m quite judicious in my opting to back any such projects…but this was one I backed immediately. It’s for a collected edition of the first six issues of Hope, and though it’s not due til sometime next year, I’m happy to pay for it now and know it’ll be coming!

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The convention was a bit less successful in terms of other comics. I did get a print of this Firestorm cover from (and signed by) Gerry Conway. I found the Amazing Adventures issue and the Flash #1/2 in a 50%-off-marked-prices bin (so, cheaper than any contemporary new comic!). And for the heckuvit at another booth, saw this Aquaman #1 for $1, and decided to go for broke and buy it.

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At another booth, I came across this Rafiki with Simba Pop vinyl figure. I’d seen this at Toys R Us back in 2016, I think, maybe earlier, maybe later–but obviously some time prior to the chain’s closure. And I couldn’t find it again after that, so when I saw it for a "standard" price (as opposed to some jacked-up stupid price) I went ahead and got it.

At a Gamestop after the convention, saw some Captain Marvel Pop figures and remarked to my friend that if they had Goose the Cat I’d probably get it. Well, she had a keener eye than I did, and long story short…I got the figure. I’d hoped with it being a bit smaller it MIGHT be an "exception" to the "all-Marvel Pops are bobble-heads" but unfortunately that’s not the case. I’d be interested in a lot more of the Marvel figures if they were NOT bobbles..!

As another not-exactly-the-convention purchase, someone had a small table set up selling Girl Scout Cookies, so I snagged a couple boxes, as I missed out last year, and possibly the year before.

And I’d had another toy arrive that I’d ordered the week before…and which will likely be detailed in an upcoming post. But including that, and some other stuff, it’s been an incredibly expensive couple weeks.

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The ’90s Revisited: Ninjak Yearbook #1

ninjakyearbook001Writer: Mike Baron
Penciller: Bryan Hitch
Colorist: Steve Whitaker
Letterer: Adam Niedzwiecki
Editor: Maurice Fontenot
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Layton
Cover: Stu Suchit
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.95

After having recently read the Trapped by Webnet arc in the current Unity series,when I was flipping through a quarter-bin the other day, I bought this issue and actually read it same-day, even though I already had it. It was the immediacy, and I wasn’t sure what to expect, except a Ninjak story and the cover had a headshot of someone that I couldn’t imagine being anyone other than Dr. Silk.

For as many of the original Valiant books as I’ve amassed the last couple years, I’ve read surprisingly few so far (telling myself I’m waiting til I can read the entire Valiant universe start to finish with no gaps). So I didn’t quite know what to expect here. The issue is labeled as a Yearbook…I’ve come to realize that would be original Valiant‘s way of saying “Annual.” So this is the 1994 Annual for the Ninjak ongoing, and while I half expected a big To Be Continued, I was pleasantly “surprised” to find that this issue is self-contained.

I didn’t think about the art all that much as I read the issue, but I really didn’t have any problem with it. Nothing jumped out in any negative way, and I didn’t feel “distracted” by it, either. It just got the visuals across and told that side of the whole of the story. In typing this post I see Bryan Hitch was the penciler, so in retrospect I kind of “see” it, though it definitely (obviously) predates his work on The Ultimates by a number of years. Combined with the coloring, I’d have to say I prefer Ultimates to this, but there’s also the fact of reading this 20-year-old single issue, and that Hitch and comics/printing in general had a good 8-some years of development between when this issue was published and when The Ultimates came along.

The story is relatively simple: Ninjak’s out and about in his civilian guise, and gets recruited for a mission. Dr. Silk’s making trouble, and of course needs to be stopped. Ninjak encounters a rather personal foe en route to stopping Dr. Silk, and by issue’s end we’ve reached the adventure’s end.

Perhaps over-simplifying, I’d say this issue is basically a single-issue Ninja-Spy story: part ninja-guy in Ninjak, but he’s also a spy. And it sure as heck beats being just some kick-off to a longer story, or a concluding chapter of a longer story, or being a middle chapter of a story…etc.

I quite enjoyed reading the issue, and it was CERTAINLY worth the 25 cents, if solely for the amount of time it took to read. I’ve maybe read one or two other Ninjak issues through the years, though I’m honestly not even sure if I’ve read the first issue…I think I know more of the contemporary version of the character from the last couple years in current Valiant‘s X-O Manowar, Unity, and Armor Hunters titles. 

That being said…I never felt lost or taken out of the story by my lack of knowledge; though I’m consciously aware of “continuity” and such, this worked just fine for me as a single-issue “episode” of stuff. Perhaps it’s a bit formulaic…but for me, that worked in the issue’s favor.

While this is a sort of Annual as opposed to an arbitrarily-chosen issue of the ongoing series, it’s very satisfying to be able to just pick up one issue and have an enjoyable story, good art, and no burning desire to go grab another issue immediately to continue or finish the story.

Now recognizing the Yearbook issues as basically being annuals, I may actually target them for reading prior to getting down to any solid “reading projects” for classic Valiant.

If you come across this in a bargain bin, it’s certainly worth 25 cents to $1. While it’s good, it’s not any issue of particular or singular significance, and as a “generic ’90s book” I wouldn’t suggest paying more than $1 for a copy, and personally consider it truly 25-cent-bin fare.

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