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Bought it For the Cover: Amazing Spider-Man #54

I don’t know how "regular" a "feature" this’ll be, but decided this was an appropriate sort of post to do. If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you’ll know that I have a definitely dislike of most "variant covers." And thanks TO variants, I’ve largely felt that covers are near-meaningless now because any issue that SHOULD have an "iconic" cover has it FURTHER diluted from 2-3 covers every. single. issue. to umpteen extra covers such that there are more covers than there used to be for TWO YEARS OR MORE of any given single title. The "heat" is on the VARIANT, the CHASE, etc. Making the "regular" or "NON-variant" something "common" or "less than" or "basic" or "undesirable" or whatever.

But for Bought it For the Cover I want to highlight an issue that I bought for the cover–only, it’s the REGULAR cover.

Today, it’s The Amazing Spider-Man (vol. whatever…6? 8? 12?*) #54…ostensibly the penultimate chapter of Last Remains.

(*at this point I just figure EVERY Marvel title is at LEAST half-a-dozen volumes in, with all the reboots. Maybe sarcastic, maybe tongue-in-cheek, maybe just snarky or whatever.)

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This was an issue that grabbed my attention seeing the cover. It may be fairly generic–"just" a closeup of Spidey’s face…but rather than white eyepieces, we see a reflection of his hands as he’s shooting webbing out at the city, preparing to swing out.

spiderman_050_1994_stockimageAnd there was just something "familiar" to me about the image, that turned out to be that it’s Mark Bagley art! I’m most familiar with Bagley thanks to his stints on Ultimate Spider-Man, but apparently also on Amazing back during the ’90s.

Anyway, the image grabbed my attention, maybe also reminding me of Spider-Man #50 with a holographic/foil/shiny cover in the ’90s.

(As you’ll notice by the image being present here, I pulled the image of the aforementioned Spider-Man #50 for comparison!)

While not quite as zoomed-in/close-up, should be pretty obvious on the similarities. Prior to googling the old cover, though, I was thinking the holographic eyepieces were simply reflective…I totally forgot about (Kraven?) being visible…but having something "reflected" in the eyepieces certainly lends itself to why I "automatically" or "subconsciously" drew the comparison seeing the issue on the rack.

And being such a fan of ’90s comics–especially ’90s Marvel and DC (as well as Malibu‘s Ultraverse, and Image and such)…it was definitely the nostalgia that helped prompt me into buying the issue even though I knew it was not an opening chapter of a story; it’s by a writer whose work I’ve really not much cared for, and is the 54th issue in a run I’d NOT bought ANY issues from prior.

But that’s actually all the more the IMPACT I want to call attention to, of this simple, basic, "A", "###11", non-variant, cover.

54 issues in, zero context to the story, no particular hype that I was aware of over this issue (plenty for the NEXT issue, though with the newly-coined "webhead" cover), latter chapter of a story, not a writer I care to follow. TOTALLY the ART of the COVER prompting me to pay the $3.99.

No advance hype for this cover reaching me, I wasn’t aware it was gonna be out, I wasn’t looking for it, and even though it caught my attention, I wasn’t even going to BUY it.

But I wound up doing so.

And thanks to this REGULAR cover, I wound up getting the entire Last Remains arc and two issues of epilogue/fallout after the official story itself.

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The Weekly Haul: Week of January 06, 2021

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Another week, another batch of books. And actually a mix that INCLUDES both Marvel and DC "current issues"!

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I am absolutely NOT a "Cates Cult" person. I haven’t DISliked Cates‘ stuff that I’ve actually bought/read, but like Hickman, I find his stuff to be vastly over-hyped in general. That said, I’ve definitely been enjoying Crossover. So much so, that as a piece of extreme rarityI bought a variant cover. Spawn on the cover…and she’s reading Spawn#1. I justify this getting a "pass" because it’s NOT Marvel or DC, and I’m actively collecting Spawn, and I intend to display this issue rather than pack it away in a box or letting it languish in a stack somewhere.

Fire Power, like Walking Dead, seems to be better in chunks of issues. But with the way the series was rolled out last year, I’ve been snagging each issue as it comes out and reading/keeping up with it. It’s follow-able and NOT gory or ultra-violent in the way Invincible was, and there’s just something about it that I simply LIKE. It’s a "comfort food" sorta title that I’m glad to get each time a new issue comes out.

Walking Dead Deluxe is another Image book this week, and another Kirkman book, at that. This issue presents the concluding chapter of the first arc in color, and I can definitely say that I’m presently on-board for the long haul…as long as I can continue getting the "A" covers with no real hassle. I don’t approve of the NUMEROUS variants every issue. HOWEVER, I absolutely love that the variant cover IMAGES seem to be in a gallery of full-page presentations in the back of the issue–additional "Deluxe Content," I guess–but it allows me to HAVE the standard/"A" cover but still get to see the "full size" alternate art/images commissioned for the series. The back cover showing off the art from the ORIGINAL edition is also wonderful. New cover art original to the current deluxe/color edition; show off the original edition’s cover; and a gallery of new art by other artists; AND the entire issue is colorized instead of being a mere reprint of the black and white…THIS is the way such books should be handled, in my opinion.

I continue to snag the "facsimile edition" reprints when I can. This Captain America #117 one is an anomaly for me, though: I also have a copy of the original printing. This gives me a clear, clean, modern copy to READ, though…and to have a comparison for once. (Offhand, prior facsimile editions of issues I already owned have been much more modern and so far less difference for comparison).

It appears that I’m on the Amazing Spider-Man train for a bit…this being the third issue in 4 weeks or so that I’ve picked up new off the rack. We’ll see, though. I think I just "miss" Spider-Man, and the Bagley cover for #54 certainly points to that, as it was the blissful familiarity that prompted me to get that issue!

And then, though I’m pretty much resisting the Future State stuff, I wanted to give the Swamp Thing book a look (and may extend the same to whatever the one Robin thing is that I think I saw something about). Swamp Thing is a weird one for me…I’m not terribly INTO the character/titles, but there’s been a certain nostalgic fondness on my part going back to a comic in a 3-pack I got as a kid. Probably ALSO helps that the character isn’t exactly over-exposed…and yet has quite a history.

Finally, The Next Batman: I wasn’t planning on getting this one, but it was in with my pulls and I realized yeah, I’ve got Batman on my pull list, so it makes sense to have the ‘main’ Batman title from Future State. And it’s bi-weekly, too, so…c’est la vie! However…the thing is $7.99! I probably should have paid more attention a month or two back…and need to determine pretty quick where I’m actually officially gonna stand on Batman going forward. And if this was put in my stack so I could choose if I wanted…well, obviously I bought it, so ZERO complaint from me. Let’s just see how the story itself holds up/worthwhile.

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Here’s my actual edition Captain America #117 next to this week’s facsimile edition.

I accept "branding" stuff but not so keen on the modern Marvel logo being added, and would sorta appreciate the barcode being on the back cover. That being said…at the same time it’s good to have the modern touches like that…since many back issues are bagged/boarded and such, the barcode hidden on the back and the lack of modern Marvel logo could make it all too easy to pass the facsimile off as the original.


Over the first weekend of the new year, I was able to snag half a dozen Dragonlance RPG books. I’d swear I typed up something about the whole thing, but I’m not sure where, so now i’m "re-typing" about these!

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These were found at Half-Price Books for…well…half-price. However, they had several other volumes for something like 150% to 200% cover price, which drives me bonkers. Suffice it to say that I’m interested in the main campaign setting book, as well as the other main hardcover books…and definitely Dragons of Winter (paperback, though).

I spent more on these than I would have preferred, but I passed on several a few years ago and swore to myself that I would not miss out on them again.

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I also snagged this oversized hardcover gallery-ish volume collecting a bunch of Kevin Eastman art.

And the Booster Gold figure was a good price, and looks excellent, so got it as well. That its packaging is falling apart will likely be incentive to just open the sucker and display the figure loose.


I’d also come across Final Faction toys at Dollar Tree…I’ve detailed that in another post over the weekend already.

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Final Faction

Seems to be getting to be an annual tradition for me, unexpectedly "discovering" some new toy line in January of a new year.

In 2019, it was Lanard’s Primal Clash line of dinosaur-riding soldiers.

Last year, in 2020 it was again Lanard but with an Alien Collection.

Now in 2021, it’s Dollar Tree‘s Final Faction.


During the first weekend of the new year while browsing a local Dollar Tree store, I happened to notice some generic "GI Joe-like" figures. I’m not sure what actually caught my attention…perhaps the packaging, perhaps the logo alone, perhaps the sheer quantity of figures on pegs. Maybe it was the Mech character. Whatever the case, I ended up flipping through figures on the pegs to see what the assortment was like, and noticed that the back of the cards showed several characters.

While there were none of the alien/villain characters…they had all 5 of the "good guy" Alpha Team 1 characters, so I figured for the whopping $5 to get one of each figure, not bad…and bought ’em.

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There was a QR code on the back of the cards referencing some cartoon–and maybe that was also a selling point for me?–but the overall packaging was a definite draw.

Each character has a unique card front, which seems like a definite rarity in "dollar-store toys." Even better, each card has a unique back with a "profile" and the classic "clip and collect" note…hitting a huge nostalgia point for me.

The scale of the figures is great, too–3.75"/4" so they’re right on-par with most other figures, and likely could fit right in with modern retro GI Joe or even Star Wars figures.

Another bit of nostalgia/classic-ness is that in addition to the basic figures themselves, there are multiple accessory packs. Most of the characters come with accessories as-is, but these packs let you outfit the group with even more weaponry or add onto the A.C.R.M. and such.

While the A.C.R.M. profile indicates it’s a singular unit piloted by a single specific character…I see it as something cool for a "good guy army-builder," which seems a bit of a rarity to me.

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Here are the five unique "good guy" (Alpha Team 1) figures out of their packaging.

They’re not overly-articulated…you basically have the classic 5 points of articulation–arms and legs move, and head rotates. You also have holes for pegged accessories…particularly on the ACRM.

In watching some YouTube review of the figures, someone compared these to Happy Meal toys, and I think that’s a great point/comparison. These aren’t heavy figures by any means, and definitely DO seem to be well on-par with (if not significantly surpassing MODERN HM toys)…but they’re ONLY ONE DOLLAR EACH.

I’m not ever sure you can buy "just the prize" from McDonald’s for $1.

And the lack of articulation–to me–is a benefit. Less articulation is less points for the figures to break. Less moving parts to destabilize the figures in displaying them. Less for whatever meager paintjobs to gum up and incite the individual into accidentally breaking their figure while trying to get an articulated joint to move.

And below are the "profile cards" for these Alpha Tea 1 figures:

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And what line of toys is complete without some cool villains?!?

We have five "hero"/"good guy" characters…but only three unique Kharn/alien/villain figures.

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However…these seem to be generic alien/villains. None of them are named characters. So it’s basically three classes of alien invaders. The basic Drone…the much beefier Brute…and then the mechanical Synthoid.

And considering the mere $1 price point per figure…these are excellent to "army-build!"

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I’m content with the Brutes and Synthoids…but I feel like the Drones should at least match, if not outnumber the Brutes and Synthoids combined, quantity-wise…which means I’ll be interested in getting at least 9 more Drones.

The Brutes and Drones come with handheld blasters, while the Synthoids don’t come with any additional accessories.

That’s definitely where the accessory packs will come in–adding onto the Drone and Brute, but interchangeable alternate arms (literally!) for the Synthoids.

Below are the "profiles" of these:

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profilecards_kharn_brute

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I’ve assembled this quick collection with a visit to a whopping six different Dollar Tree stores. I particularly wanted multiples on the Kharn, BUT even as cheap as these are and plentiful if in stock at all…I didn’t want to "clear the pegs" at any of the stores, so snagged several from each store, to leave stuff to be further discovered by others.

Though one store only had the heroes, another only had the aliens, and only a couple had the accessory packs.

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Considering the price of even ONE modern GI Joe Retro figure ($12.93 at Walmart IF even in-stock there at all and being ‘scalped’ online for up to $40-something), or the price of a single larger figure (Marvel Legends in the $20-25 range up to $30+ each or $50+ for 2-packs) or NECA singles ($27-30+ for single figures, $50-$53+ for 2-packs, etc) my entire 26-figure collection of Final Faction for under $30 is extremely gratifying. Even allowing for an additional $10ish for 9 more Drone figures (in time) isn’t bad. And a bunch of accessory packs aren’t bad.

Especially considering the sheer quantity and bulk of the collection as a whole vs. merely getting UP TO FOUR figures for any other line.

And while these are Dollar Tree exclusive…based on looking the up on the chain’s website, figures are something like 40 to a case. Forget that 6 to a case or 12 to a case nonsense of stuff at Target or such. These may be exclusive but they don’t seem RARE, and they’re certainly not one-per-store or something that’s disappearing in SECONDS to MINUTES from the store with crowds of people hanging out waiting for the store to open to get in and get ’em etc.

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I saw some $5+ individual figures listed by third-party sellers on Amazon, but that’s somewhat to be expected…being on that platform at all IS going to be third-party and marked up, since these aren’t just available for ANY store to order. (Though $5 + s/h while knowing these are $1 figures is rather steep and DOES technically constitute 500%+ markup from retail price).

But "scalping" and such is a topic for some other post.

These figures are apparently pretty new–from what I can tell, they’ve only been out since November 2020 or so. If your local Dollar Tree doesn’t have them in-stock, presumably they’re coming (or already sold through?). That said…if their site actually FUNCTIONS (it did not, for me, initially, and I’m actually glad it didn’t) apparently you can order certain quantities or full cases of the figures.

I "assumed" there was some whole "season" of multiple episodes out there…but from what I’ve found/seen, there’s really only 1 episode and then a gallery of the figures, and a gallery of the characters.

The episode is listed as "episode 1" suggesting more, but…time will tell.

For price, product, etc…even just a week’s novelty of hunting down these figures in these quantities and a random (if cheesy/laughable) mini-movie as made them VERRRRY worthwhile to me, and I’ve gotten MY money’s worth…even if I get no further Drones…or any more figures for the line, period.

But two particular characters from the cartoon that are not represented are Churro–the dog with a dog-mech, and the Kharn’s specific big-boss. Part of the appeal of these figures is they’re $1/each…but for a larger boss and a dog-with-mech, I’d certainly gladly spend $5 each!

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The Weekly Haul: Week of December 30, 2020

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First post of the new year…but the last weekly haul of the old year!

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With an otherwise small-ish week, I opted to go for Wolverine #8 of the current iteration of the series (6th series? 7th?) for the legacy #350 aspect, figuring hey..maybe it’d be standalone-ish and worthwhile. It wasn’t as "historic" or reminiscent as I’d’ve hoped, though its prologue short was sorta in that vein. As a one-shot (for me) I’m NOT totally disappointed with the purchase, though at $4.99 it won’t be a regular thing…nor will hunting previous issues due to numerous printings AND variants.

Batman Annual #5 mayyyy be my last issue of the run. With #105’s conclusion of the current story recently and discovering that post-Future State the price is getting jacked up to $4.99/issue (not sure if it’s staying biweekly or going monthly) with backup stories continuing in another series that I’m not buying, I might have to let the title go as I will NOT pay $4.99 an issue for that crap.

Usagi Yojimbo: Wanderer’s Road #2 is the second issue of the second "color classics" "run" of the series from IDW. I’d much rather simply a 1:1 colorized reprint run to go alongside the new series, but…whatever.

I wound up with this Last 52 issue…I think I’d meant to get Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Metal, but…again, whatever. Maybe I’ll read it, maybe I won’t. Winding down on DC anyway.

And I decided to give in on the hype with Amazing Spider-Man #55, having bought #54 already, and wanting to be able to "judge" stuff for myself.

Then for $15ish, I couldn’t pass up The Complete Clone Saga Epic vol. 3, especially after just last week getting vol. 2. Unfortunately, seems vol. 4 is gonna be a major PITA to get ahold of for anything even resembling cover price, let alone a "discount" price.

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Taking advantage of a sale, snagged a bunch of Marvel Comics Presents issues that were already really (comparatively) cheap anyway.

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Ditto for X-Men Adventures and X-Men Adventures Season II. Also snagged several X-Men: Legacy issues.

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Then at the other shop, further sale stuff, including splurging on a couple of "the" Carnage ASM issues (#361 is apparently going on the GRAILS list). Then for the sale and heckuvit, grabbed the Marvel Milestones edition of Giant-Size X-Men #1. And a highly-pleasantly-affordable Giant-Size X-Men #2!

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Then a bunch of X-Men Forever and X-Men Forever 2 issues for less than the price of two "regular" modern Marvel issues.

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And a couple more Wolverine (4th series? 5th series?) issues and more X-Men: Legacy issues.


As some added stuff just because of grabbing a screenshot tonight before deciding to get this post written up…

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Looking up that Amazing Spider-Man #361 issue…I was rather "shocked" at the prices from Lonestar/mycomicshop.com! Alllll these (and MANY MORE not in the image!) consignment copies of CGC and CBCS graded issues at such high prices!

I’ll be happy for a very low-grade copy just to have the issue at all and "raw" at that!

But with there being THIS MANY copies available in these higher GRADED conditions…and SO MANY on "consignment"…I gotta wonder if the market is a bit "off" or OVERLY OPTIMISTIC?

Then again, I’m certainly NOT the target demographic/market for stuff like this. But it’s like so many people have the issue–and graded–but are trying to SELL it. And with this many available, it’s NOT like the issue’s being snapped up just for BEING LISTED.

It’ at least looks to me like there are way more copies like this at these prices than people actually buying.

But what do I know?


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The Weekly Haul: Weeks of December 16 and December 23, 2020

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Well…here we are again, closing in on the end of another year. And covering only TWO weeks of new comics instead of 4+!

I’m typing this on Christmas Day 2020…probably gonna let this post go "live" day after just to be relatively timely. Who knows?


Week of December 16, 2020

An odd sort of week…even with a couple of DCs, mostly non-DC…and no Marvel..!

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The Walking Dead Deluxe shouldn’t appeal to me. I got into the series via the collected volumes back when TPB vol. 5 was new. So I shouldn’t care for single-issue versions of those issues. But this is a colorized version…and very much in the vein (to ME) of TMNT Color Classics or the Usagi Yojimbo classic reprints from IDW. And at least for the moment, it’s more enjoyable getting and reading each of these issues than it is most others. And the physical quality of the book seems to be pretty good, too, making its $3.99 seem a better value than most other $3.99s!

Batman #105 seems to conclude an arc and set stuff up for a new arc. But now we first get 8-9 weeks of Future State before #106…and I’ve seen solicitation stuff that suggests (again, to ME, I haven’t properly/fully researched yet) that with #106 the title goes to $4.99 as a REGULAR price point, albeit with an added "backup" story…but the BACKUP STORY will be multiple-part and cross over with Detective Comics, and so I’m feeling REALLY disenfranchised with it and DC in general on the matter.

These Tales from the Dark Multiverse things are not as enjoyable this time around as the first…though even the first wasn’t some total success for me. But for a cross between Marvel‘s What If..? and DC‘s own Elseworlds of years past, I’ve been getting them. How you can do a full such story retelling an alternate version of year-long and dozens-of-issues-long events is beyond me…and probably part of why they haven’t been holding up fully to potential (though the Flashpoint one has probably been my favorite of this year’s specials).

Commanders in Crisis I’m getting because of getting previous issues and not wanting to miss out. Though I’m also torn as I saw something indicating this is to be a 12-issue series. Do I really care to follow along for that many issues without it being an actual ongoing? And I have to wonder how similar (or not) it’s going to be to Crossover.

Then there’s Stillwater which is a similar thing–I got and read and was curious on the first issue, and getting subsequent ones though I’m behind on the reading. Probably ought to stop while I’m ahead, but as long as i’m not snagging loads of DC and Marvel, might as well get other stuff?

Pile Second Coming onto that list/reasoning, too, I suppose. I wasn’t gonna chase after the series, but being able to get the issue last-second off-the-shelf…yeah. Got it.

Finally…after putting it off from the previous week, since the Adventureman hardcover was still available, I went ahead and snagged it. I think it only contains 4 or so issues–so fairly expensive for its content…BUT it’s a hardcover, and oversized, and seems much more worth the price FOR it. All the more against generic Marvel or DC fare.


Week of December 23, 2020

…annnnnd we’re caught up to current week already!

And actually quite a small week for NEW stuff, at that! And it’s NOT EVEN the week BETWEEN Christmas and New Year!

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New Spawn (STILL HOLDING THE LINE AT $2.99!) and GI Joe: A Real American Hero #277. Funny, such high numbers when other publishers SHUN anything double-digit, let alone triple.

Some other stuff sorta interesting, but like the JLA: Winter’s Edge or whatever…with Death Metal still going on/lotta tie-ins, now this event, and Future State in the wings…it’s just event on Event on EVENT and it’s all going on at once but they’re separate…and thus semi-meaningless to me.

So I dug through back issue bins looking for Wolverine #1000. No luck on that, but did find this Exit Wounds issue that caught my eye, so why not? And only $5.25 or so, putting it well in line with current issues…but it’s a bit more rare and "special" because it’s a (gasp!) back issue! Yet it’s new enough to not reek of being a bloat-priced 25-cent-bin-book. (Though with recent "speculation" and such, how long are quarter-bins gonna hang around?)

Then, as with Adventureman the week before, I snagged Reckless a week after its initial release.

AND adding to the price for the week, a couple other THICK volumes for under-$20 each (a good half-or-so-off) caught my eye. So snagged them, cuz I’d rather get 12+ issues’ content for the price of 4-5 single issues.

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Draaaaastically inflating the price for the week as well was this new Gallery statue of Superman. I don’t think I realized this was coming out. I saw it, and decided to get it. It’s Superman, he’s got the trunks.

AND it’s available. Right there. No "hunting," no "chasing," no frustration trying to get it, no "luck" involved, etc. Just a SIMPLE MATTER OF: "here’s a product and its price" and "I will pay that price" and voila! Transaction’s done!

Something that toy company NECA and Target do NOT seem capable of grasping with their various TMNT figures.

So if they don’t want my money, since I have no real chance of getting say, April O’Neil with a generic battered footbot…I CAN get this Superman statue, farrrrrr less fuss and hassle!

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Since Comixology did away with its origins as a pull list thing, I’ve been using League of Comic Geeks to keep track of my weekly plan-to-buys. They showed this Sham Comics 80-Page Giant for this week. Buuuut it’s Source Point Press…which apparently broke ties with Diamond, so I wasn’t going to be able to get the issue at the shop.

So I went to the SPP website to see what issues were available and such. I wasn’t about to pay shipping for just one issue. Turned out all previous issues of the series were available, and at cover price. So…for interest piqued on ONE NEW ISSUE, I ordered all 7.

AND where I expected them to SHIP sometime NEXT week…they not only shipped but ARRIVED this week. BEFORE Christmas!

The issues were just the issues in a box. No bags/boards, no simple bag around all the issues…so I’m not impressed with the PACKING. But the shipping speed impressed me. And since none of the issues were particularly damaged…I’m happy enough with ’em.

This "go to the site and find what issues exist AND they’re all ACTUALLY AVAILABLE thing is REMARKABLE…and something other publishers (especially small-press/indie stuff) should look into. And/or make stuff print-on-demand. My qualms with MODERN not-first-print issues is the way everyone feels this need to make 2nd-or-later print issues with a different cover entirely, or inferior (i.e. "sketch") cover, or otherwise make it see like some dumb afterthought "consolation prize" if you were so unfortunate as to discover a series a few issues in, but too late to get the original printing/Kickstarter/etc.

Anyway…none of that frustration in getting these so I’m a happy camper on ’em!

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At a Walmart, found these guys. And I’m impatient, so I was happy enough to get them now rather than waiting for an online order. They’re not the cartoon versions…but at least they’re REASONBLE on price and affordable. Not the second hand $169 and $237 and such people are charging for the cartoon versions!

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I also went back to the comic shop after verifying which volume(s) I already had for The Complete Clone Saga Epic.(I had volume 1 already). So now I have 1-2. Maybe stupid of me–3-5 are probably long outta print and $300 apiece on the secondary market now. But whatever.

And the Ghost Rider volume has 19 issues, so…not a bad buy. And I’m very much a sucker for these nice, fat volumes instead of piddly tiny ones that fit in a bag and board same as any single issue.

These also fall into the above rant on NECA: they don’t want my money, I’ll spend my money where it’s appreciated and I can simply walk in and get something.


Just a few more days and 2020 is over.

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SBTU: Gold – What If…The Ultraverse had Continued?

sbtu_wi_goldWelcome once again to Super-Blog Team-Up! This is a blog ‘event’ where numerous blogs team up to present posts together on a particular theme or prompt, but done so in the individual blog or podcast’s own style, topic, and so on. For general such content, check out the Twitter hashtag #SBTU!

Whether you stick around for my topic or want to see what else there is–there should be a section of links at the bottom with links to the other SBTU posts this week, and you can follow any of those to a number of other high-quality blogs and podcasts!

This time around, the group topic/theme is split…with several looking at particular Creators, while others are asking the question "What If…?"

After juggling several ideas, I decided to look at the notion of an alternate reality in which the Ultraverse had continued.


The Ultraverse was an imprint of Malibu Comics, launched in 1993. It was a new superhero universe, and for 12-year-old me was quite the exciting thing. I’d juuuuuust missed the launch of Image Comics. And at age 12, I was certainly far too young to have been around for any of the launches/relaunches of what came to be the DC Universe and the Marvel Universe. While there were a number of other new comics universes popping up in the early/mid-’90s (or gaining notoriety), the one that really grabbed ME was Malibu‘s Ultraverse.

The line launched with 3 titles: Prime, Hardcase, and The Strangers. One of the "side elements" that had grabbed me was a promotional "Ultraverse #0" comic you could "only" get via a mail-away offer once you’d collected specific "coupons." There was one coupon each in those 3 launch-titles, another in Malibu Sun (a house previews publication) and I believe the fifth/final coupon was in an issue of Wizard. By tracking down and purchasing all five publications, mailing your coupon and a check in, you’d get the exclusive #0-issue. A good sort of promotion at the time; though I don’t believe the first such promotion. It played into collectability, exclusivity, as well as "encouraging" one to buy more than they might otherwise. (And in 2020 I find it quite tame compared to many modern marketing things).

ultraverse_future_shock_01_feb_97Over subsequent months, the initial 3 series continued, while new 1-2 new titles premiered in most of the subsequent 7 months or so. In mid-1994, Ultraforce teamed up several of the characters like Prime, Hardcase, and Prototype as a new official team (in addition to the Strangers, Freex, and The Solution). In 1995, the Godwheel event series brought Thor and Loki into the Ultraverse; Loki remained for awhile. Shortly after, Rune crossed into the Marvel universe, where he stole the Infinity Gems from the Infinity Watch. The Gems were then lost into the Ultraverse for a few months. Eventually they were re-assembled, Ultraforce faced the Avengers, and reality was changed. "Black September" saw several titles get #Infinity issues and then begin with new #1s. These dropped off after a few issues leaving Prime and Ultraforce; and when those ended, February 1997 saw one last publication in Ultraverse Future Shock.

mantra_0001While I’d jumped on immediately with the Ultraverse, my following the titles was a bit spotty; and overall, the primary titles I wound up more or less catching up with/keeping up with were Prime, Mantra, and Rune. I sampled other titles over time and was aware of the various books, but at the time I couldn’t begin to collect everything. In the years since, I’ve gone back and to the best of my knowledge, managed to collect every single story-issue for the Ultraverse, minus ashcans, promotional/preview things, and a Sega CD Prime comic.

All this is a rather too-brief bit covering my experiences with the Ultraverse…but I felt a bit of background was appropriate, as to my approaching the topic. I was a fan at the very beginning of the Ultraverse, followed to varying degrees through its run including Black September and beyond; and have since gone back and acquired all the issues I missed originally.

And preparing for this round of SBTU was not the first time I’ve "crunched the numbers" and considered the fact that–had the Ultraverse continued uninterrupted–it COULD have titles in the 300 range in present-day.


Disclaimer: All details/info about anything ULTRAVERSE after February 1997 IS MY WORK OF FICTION and wishful thinking. What I present below is one instance of what I could imagine COULD have been, and is part of MY answering the question of "What if the Ultraverse had continued?" It is in no way based in any sort of fact, rumor, inside information, anecdote, creator interviews, etc. whatsoever and should not be taken as such.


What if the Ultraverse had continued?

So, in SOME alternate/parallel universe out there, the Ultraverse continued. In that world, behind the scenes a deal was struck that saw the Ultraverse properties sold off from Marvel, with a new company/publisher created. Going with the branding, it became simply "Ultraverse Comics." Said deal worked out such that June 1997–the fourth anniversary of the original Ultraverse launch from Malibu–saw the re-launch of the Ultraverse as a publisher and a comics universe.

Prime, Mantra, Nightman, and Ultraforce headline this relaunch. All-new #1s, incorporating prior continuity while taking some things in new directions. Double-sized first issues with detailed Marvel XXXXXX Saga styled recaps of prior relevant details, so the titles were grounded in continuity but any new reader would have all the relevant info drawn from before.

In addition and a bit ahead of the times, this alternate-reality Ultraverse was determined not to mess with numbering. Its universe was on its THIRD iteration, its SECOND relaunch/renumbering, and would not sacrifice its numbering again. As the years wore on it would result in the Ultraverse having–next to Image‘s Spawn and Savage Dragon–a body of titles with the highest numbering in North American-published comics.

In this alternate reality, the Ultraverse would have loads of crossovers with other publishers, with numerous mini-series featuring said crossovers. Seeding events from early 2004 to Fall 2005, a Crisis on Infinite Earths type event took shape, led by the Ultraverse titles. Only instead of Infinite Earths it was Numerous Publishers. Various threads begun by Thanos accessing the Ultraverse in 2004 would lead to titles across Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image, Ultraverse, and others showing signs of something much larger going on that would bring things to ahead affecting all participating universes. (Think a mix of COIE, Zero Hour, the 2003+ run up to Infinite Crisis, etc.)

Culminating for the Ultraverse in September 2005 with Ultraforce #100, a new reality was created, and all regular Ultraverse titles went on hiatus for six months. In place of those titles, a weekly Ultrasupes book premiered that ran for 25 weekly issues, detailing the Ultraverse‘s participation in the huge, new reality made up of a mixture of all participating publishers’ characters. Such an effort involving so many publishers and properties from mainstream publishers was a feat not to be repeated, though it would be referenced in continuity for many years to follow.

Flashing forward 14-some years to December 2020, the Ultraverse would celebrate four titles hitting their 275th issues; numbers second only to Todd McFarlane‘s SPAWN which had put out its 300th issue the year before.

It would be absolutely foolhardy for me to try to envision every last issue (and in detail) published across 23 years in a single post, so I won’t even try. Instead, I will present a year-by-year sampling of issues published by this reality’s Ultraverse, beginning with its June 1997 premiere and concluding with December 2020.


Once again: All details/info about ULTRAVERSE comics after February 1997 IS MY WORK OF FICTION. Sit back and enjoy a textual/conceptual glimpse into 20+ years of Potential History That Never Was.


June, 1997

  • Prime #1
  • Mantra #1
  • Night Man #1
  • Ultraforce #1

June, 1998

  • Prime #13
  • Hardcase #11
  • Strangers #12
  • Mantra #13
  • Freex #12
  • Prototype #10
  • Firearm #9
  • Solution #11
  • Night Man #13
  • Solitaire #4
  • Wrath #8
  • Warstrike #6
  • Ultraforce #13
  • Strangers vs. Stormwatch #6

June, 1999

  • Prime #24
  • Hardcase #23
  • Strangers #24
  • Mantra #24
  • Freex #24
  • Firearm #21
  • Solution #23
  • Night Man #25
  • Solitaire #16
  • Wrath #20
  • Warstrike #18
  • Ultraforce #25
  • Exiles vs. Exiles #4

June, 2000

  • Prime #36
  • Hardcase #34
  • Strangers #36
  • Mantra #36
  • Freex #36
  • Prototype #17
  • Firearm #33
  • Solution #35
  • Night Man #37
  • Ultraforce #37
  • Strangers vs. Wildcats #1

June, 2001

  • Prime #47
  • Strangers #48
  • Mantra #48
  • Freex #48
  • Solution #47
  • Night Man #49
  • Wrath #28
  • Warstrike #23
  • Ultraforce #49
  • Prototype vs. Darkhawk #4

June, 2002

  • Prime #59
  • Hardcase #44
  • Strangers #60
  • Mantra #59
  • Prototype #35
  • Night Man #61
  • Sludge #17
  • Solitaire #28
  • Ultraforce #61
  • Siren #13
  • Freex vs. Azrael #3
  • Firearm vs. Spawn #3

June, 2003

  • Prime #70
  • Hardcase #56
  • Strangers #72
  • Mantra #71
  • Prototype #44
  • Firearm #49
  • Night Man #73
  • Solitaire #40
  • Ultraforce #73
  • Prime vs. Deadpool #1
  • Solution vs. GI Joe #5

June, 2004

  • Prime #82
  • Strangers #84
  • Mantra #83
  • Freex #59
  • Night Man #85
  • Solitaire #52
  • Warstrike #41
  • Ultraforce #85
  • Solution vs. Thunderbolts #2
  • Strangers vs. Ghost #2

June, 2005

  • Prime #94
  • Strangers #96
  • Mantra #94
  • Freex #71
  • Solitaire #64
  • Ultraforce #97
  • Prime vs. Justice League #3
  • Prototype vs. Iron Man #1
  • Ultraforce vs. Avengers II #2

June, 2006

  • Prime #100
  • Strangers #102
  • Mantra #101
  • Freex #77
  • Solitaire #70
  • Ultraforce #103
  • Solitaire vs. X #1
  • Prime vs. Justice League #9

June, 2007

  • Prime #113
  • Hardcase #71
  • Strangers #114
  • Mantra #113
  • Freex #89
  • Solution #64
  • Night Man #99
  • Ultraforce #116
  • Ultraforce vs. X-Men #1
  • Prime/Spider-Man #7

June, 2008

  • Prime #123
  • Hardcase #83
  • Strangers #126
  • Mantra #125
  • Freex #101
  • Firearm #66
  • Night Man #111
  • Wrath #48
  • Ultraforce #128
  • Solitaire vs. Predator #6

June, 2009

  • Prime #136
  • Hardcase #94
  • Strangers #138
  • Mantra #135
  • Freex #113
  • Firearm #78
  • Night Man #123
  • Ultraforce #140
  • Siren #27

June, 2010

  • Prime #148
  • Strangers #150
  • Mantra #147
  • Night Man #135
  • Rune #25
  • Ultraforce #152
  • Mantra vs. Dr. Strange #6
  • Firearm/GI Joe #1
  • Night Man vs. Batman #1

June, 2011

  • Prime #159
  • Hardcase #110
  • Strangers #162
  • Mantra #159
  • Firearm #82
  • Night Man #147
  • Ultraforce #164
  • Freex vs. New Mutants #6

June, 2012

  • Prime #171
  • Hardcase #122
  • Strangers #174
  • Mantra #172
  • Freex #129
  • Prototype #73
  • Firearm #94
  • Solution #79
  • Warstrike #55
  • Ultraforce #176
  • Ultraforce vs. The Authority #5
  • Prime vs. Shazam #2
  • Night Man vs. Aliens #2

June, 2013

  • Prime #183
  • Strangers #186
  • Mantra #185 & # 186
  • Freex #141
  • Solution #91
  • Ultraforce #188
  • Mantra vs. Captain Marvel #5
  • Firearm vs. Batman #3

June, 2014

  • Prime #196
  • Hardcase #132
  • Strangers #198
  • Mantra #197
  • Freex #153
  • Prototype #76
  • Firearm #105
  • Night Man #163
  • Solitaire #91
  • Ultraforce #200
  • Firearm/GI Joe II #6
  • Strangers vs. Justice League #1

June, 2015

  • Prime #208
  • Hardcase #144
  • Strangers #211
  • Mantra #209
  • Prototype #88
  • Firearm #110
  • Night Man #175
  • Solitaire #103
  • Wrath #60
  • Freex vs. Teen Titans #2
  • Freex vs. Spawn #2

June, 2016

  • Prime #221
  • Strangers #223
  • Mantra #221
  • Freex #168
  • Night Man #187
  • Solitaire #113
  • Warstrike #67
  • Ultraforce #221
  • Siren #40
  • Firearm/GI Joe III #6
  • Strangers vs. Prometheus #3
  • Ultraforce vs. JLA #4

June, 2017

  • Prime #233
  • Strangers #235
  • Mantra #233
  • Freex #180
  • Firearm #121
  • Night Man #199
  • Sludge #38
  • Solitaire #125
  • Ultraforce #233
  • Strangers/Thunderbolts #3

June, 2018

  • Prime #245
  • Hardcase #161
  • Strangers #247
  • Mantra #245
  • Freex #192
  • Rune #38
  • Ultraforce #245
  • Siren #43
  • Night Man vs. Midnighter #4
  • Strangers vs. X-Men #4

June, 2019

  • Prime #257
  • Strangers #259
  • Mantra #257
  • Solution #98
  • Solitaire #138
  • Ultraforce #257

June, 2020

  • Prime #269
  • Hardcase #177
  • Strangers #270
  • Mantra #269
  • Prototype #109
  • Sludge #59
  • Solitaire #150
  • Wrath #64
  • Ultraforce #269

December, 2020

  • Prime #275
  • Hardcase #183
  • Strangers #275
  • Mantra #275
  • Freex #200
  • Prototype #115
  • Solitaire #156
  • Rune #51
  • Ultraforce #275
  • Siren #53


I absolutely ran out of time to even BEGIN to do all the pretty covers and such I’d envisioned when settling on this topic. Logos and trade dress and the like across various titles. However, in mapping out this fictional, parallel-universe Ultraverse line, I have plenty of fodder for future posts, and to come back to this topic with those covers and such. Especially for the big/round number issues…the 50s, 100s, and so on.

But…

Returning to real-world present-day Earth in 2020:

It’s been 27 1/2 years since the premiere of the actual Ultraverse.

Had Prime, Hardcase, or Strangers proceeded 1 issue per month for all this time, uninterrupted, we’d actually see them at #300+ each.

At 27 1/2 years old, the Ultraverse would be as old now as the Marvel Universe was around 1989 (counting from 1961/62).

Consider how deep and aged Marvel continuity and titles were in the early-1990s, and the Ultraverse would be approaching a similar point!

Remember the 30th anniversary of the Fantastic Four?

What about the 30th anniversary of Spider-Man?

I myself consciously recall the 30th anniversary of X-Men in their Fatal Attractions crossover.

In a modern age of comics where continuity matters little and comics’ numbering is a joke, where variant covers seem to drive the industry and even DC Comics seems to be backing away from emphasis on monthly comics…it’s interesting enough to me to consider what a different world it would be with an Ultraverse still producing new content.

What might the industry look like had it continued? What creators would have continued or built careers there rather than other publishers? What characters and stories might we have gotten as a result…or NOT gotten, as the case might be?

And what of all the gimmicks that we saw with the original Ultraverse?

ultraverse_premiere_0000The primary "gimmicks" I think of with the original Ultraverse is the initial coupons thing for Ultraverse Premiere #0, the full-cover hologram covers for several titles, and the frequency of a #0 issue being what a #1 should have been. Occasional variant covers–the one that most stands out to me in memory is Prime #4 which had a fight between Prime and Prototype…one cover shows Prime victorious while the other shows Prototype victorious.

During the Black September stuff, the #"Infinity" issues sported bright neon-colored logos on all-black covers. There was an image on the back cover, though. Alternate covers provided the logo and trade dress on the image. Whichever "variant" you got, you still got to see the image to associate with the issue. With the #1 issues the next month, variants’ variance was more subtle, with covers carrying a painted look or a standard look.

sbtu_chromium_eraofexcess_hologram_04

But even with a wealth of stuff like this…it was a FARRRRR cry from every single title from every single publisher carrying at minimum "A" and "B" covers, let alone "retailer incentive" covers or "theme month" covers and all that.

I suppose that gets into other topics, though.

As 2020 has itself been a far cry from what I’d planned…perhaps this very post will get me back into gear actually covering the original Ultraverse. I had a good burst a couple years ago with my Ultraverse Revisited run, and DO aim to pick that back up in the near future, real-life-permitting (though I’ve said that since leaving off in 2018!)

ultraverse_revisited

As an abrupt conclusion jumping off from the Ultraverse but holding to the "What If" theme: back in 2016, I did a post looking at the question What If Superman #75 had come out in 2016? Basically, showing off dozens of mocked-up cover images I did to represent the ridiculousness of modern variant covers that totally dilute the market and make any given cover rather generic and unrecognizable.


Super-Blog Team-Up Continues Below!

  

Between The Pages Blog – Scrooge McDuckTales Woo-oo!

Dave’s Comics Blog – Blue Devil Creation

Magazines and Monsters – Comic Book’s Unsung Heroes! Steve Gerber!

In My Not So Humble Opinion – Kurt Schaffenberger, The Definitive Lois Lane Artist of the Silver Age

Comics Comics Comics… – Sergio Argones

SuperHero Satellite – What If Peter Parker became Speedball instead of Spider-Man?

Pop Culture Retrorama – What If The Sinister Dr. Phibes Had Been Produced!

Source Material – What If Captain Confederacy

The Telltale Mind – Arak: Son of Thunder – A Lost Adventure

Comic Reviews by Walt – What if the Ultraverse Had Continued?


 sbtu_what_if_ultraverse_blogtrailer

The Weekly Haul: Weeks of November 18, November 25, December 2, and December 9, 2020

weekly_haul_header

Despite much intention to the contrary, wound up at the point that I’m covering another 4 weeks at a time here/now, rather than keeping up week to week! To a certain degree, I think I’m counting myself lucky I’m doing this much and that this blog isn’t completely "dead"…

This week, getting into comics bought as "new issues" over the past few weeks…


Week of November 18

weeklyhaul_20201118a

GI Joe: A Real American Hero gets to its 275th issue with the conclusion/10th chapter of the 10-part Snake Hunt story. #275…and the numbering dates back to the 1980s; having begun with a bridging issue #155 1/2 before picking up with #156 and continuing for an additional 120 issues now under IDW. 2 1/2 more years and THIS run will match the original Marvel run!

The newest issue of Batman (#103) and the newest The Walking Dead Deluxe (#3) add to both of those series.

The newest issues of Usagi Yojimbo and Catwoman; and the second issue of a new (mini?)-series Commanders in Crisis. I apparently neglected to finish the first issue, but on the likelyhood of enjoying it well enough, snagged the next issue.

Several $1 comics with the True Believers reprints for the first appearance of the Thunderbolts, and another symbiote thing with Venom. And hey…DC actually still put out a $1 reprint with a Sandman issue!

weeklyhaul_20201118b

Comic Shop News, and I couldn’t resist snagging an extra copy of the Thunderbolts/Hulk issue. I love that cover…soooo much nostalgia. AND hey…I support $1 reprints, and all the more like this. I’d rather this than modern variants…as usual!


Week of November 25

Thanksgiving week was an odd week of sorts.

weeklyhaul_20201125a

New Spawn, new Snake-Eyes: Deadgame, new (and final, I think!) Sandman Universe: John Constantine, Hellblazer issue in #12. I also snagged available back-issues #s 8 and 11. I need to figure out where exactly I originally left off to see what I’m filling in from to just have the single issues.

And of course, several $1 True Believers reprints.

weeklyhaul_20201125b

And the usual Comic Shop News, plus the CSN Christmas Special 2020.

weeklyhaul_20201125c

While out ‘n about, snagged this Rogue Figpin at Target. I’m a sucker for the character.

weeklyhaul_20201125e

Backtracking slightly…at a "Black Friday Week" sale, I snagged about 260 bargain-bin issues…the vast majority of them being X-Men and related issues, largely bringing me to having a bunch of stepping-stones leading my collection ahead from where I was going to let stuff peter out at AvX at the latest (2012) to the pre-Hickman Uncanny X-Men volume.

weeklyhaul_20201125f

And then I went back on Black Friday itself and wound up with another 296 bargain X-books, which I spent ages thoroughly going through and organizing at the shop to avoid duplicates. Even bargain-priced, at this quantity I was NOT keen to add a bunch of duplicates WITHIN THE SAME PURCHASE, let alone same-week and such. The Star Trek/X-Men issue hit a certain nostalgia for me conceptually and by the cover…I WILL READ THAT SOMEDAY!

weeklyhaul_20201125d

Also while out on Black Friday, I found these two "retro" Marvel Legends/Hasbro figures on a standalone cardboard display at Target. I’d seen posts earlier in the week about them being due out, and was actually IN Target specifically over Walmart or such because I wanted to look for these, in whatever VAIN attempt it’d be by late-afternoon BLACK FRIDAY.

But they had them.

So, having these in my cart I went ahead and did my other grocery-shopping (the very reason stores like Target DO these stupid EXCLUSIVES to begin with!).

However, APPARENTLY these had a "do-not-sell-until" notice of 11/29–a SUNDAY. (WHAT toy-drop is SUNDAY rather than say, Friday?!? What the heck…really?!?) While I "get" release dates and such, not being STEEPED in the stuff and knowing EXACT DATES and all that, it was EXTREMELY ANNOYING. They wouldn’t sell the thing, despite someone putting street-dated materials out (how does THAT even happen?!?). They wouldn’t even HOLD the things for me (Don’t they do layaway? Don’t they do online pre-ordering? If they were not allowed to take my in-hand cash or in-hand debit card on 11/27, couldn’t they at least put these things that I came into the store for, that I had in-hand, that THEIR people had put out, so that I could return to buy them "guaranteed" in 38-40 hours or so?)

As they refused…I let them know they’d need to void the rest of the sale, and gave them my cart…and walked out of the store empty-handed.

"But Walt, you have a picture of the figures…didn’t you actually get them?!?"

While I had no alarms set at any other point in the week, not even for Black Friday itself…I did for that Sunday. I was in the Target parking lot at 6:55am and walking in with several others at 7am on the dot. One person went straight to the Hot Wheels while I found the cardboard display…which had had at least 4each of Rogue and Gambit 36-38 hours earlier. Now only had ONE each. (So, if they COULD NOT and WOULD NOT sell them or hold them…where’d all the others go?!?). Semi-grudgingly re-grabbed a couple grocery items, bought everything, and got out by 10 after 7.

…the pork chops I bought were expired and we got snowed in before I could return them. Ugh.


Week of December 2

And all that catches us up to "current" with the week AFTER Thanksgiving and such! With being snowed-in for a few days…it turned out that the previous week’s shopping was the last time I would buy comics in my ’30s.

weeklyhaul_20201202a

Newest issue of Fire Power…and I’ve read up to #5, so I can read it without problems. Newest issue of The Walking Dead Deluxe. Also up to previous issue on reading, so can dive in. Batman #104? Yup…read 100-103 so "up to date"…can dive on in. TMNT: Jennika II #2? Read the first issue, can dive on in.

E-Ratic #1…it’s a first issue, so free to dive right in. Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Wonder Woman/War of the Gods…one-shot. Free to dive right in.

I can’t remember the last time I had a week’s worth of new comics that were NOT tied up in stuff I’m behind on reading. THIS is how it should always be.

THIS is the way.

weeklyhaul_20201202b

I spotted Dawn of X vols 9 & 10. I already had up to 7. Asked after 8 and we found it, so I was able to snag all 3 to again be up to date on these paperbacks. Farrrrrr better, to me, than trying to get individual titles’ volumes.

I’m gonna be monumentally ticked-off if Marvel discontinues these. But as of now, I have MORE FAITH in them continuing these, than I do in DC of ANY particular "line," be it imprint, collected volumes, graphic novels, or even group of titles. So Marvel‘s got that for the moment.

Though this means I have 10 of these stacked up waiting to be read in their entirety.

Can’t read what I don’t have, though.

dox_10_vols

AND I figure these SHOULD be more affordable at this point than trying to gather first prints (aka "actual real regular cover editions") of the single issues. $17.99 for 6 $3.99 issues’ worth of content…that’s like gett 25% off even at full cover price. $3 an issue…beats the heck outta $3.99. And having ‘everything’ collected together lets one follow along with ‘everything’ rather than getting lost or having to jump between umpteen volumes.


Week of December 9, 2020

Wow…December 9th proved to be a really large week of new stuff for me!

weeklyhaul_20201209a

I definitely feel like Donny Cates is vastly over-hyped…and the backmatter ads in Crossover #2 did nothing but reinforce that for me. That said…I’d tried Crossover #1 and enjoyed it and decided to snag #2. (Enjoyed it well enough, also).

Newest issue of TMNT–#112 here–means this concludes the first YEAR’s worth of issues post-#100. In a world where it seemed like Marvel was largely unwilling to have books go much past #12, TMNT has topped that by 100! Of course, I don’t feel like there’s been much of INTEREST in the title in ages. Been sorta curious on some stuff, been some nice panels, but 12 issues now and it’s like…."everyone’s a mutant, Hob and Mutanimals are bad!" No Shredder, not MUCH of stuff with Splinter…overall I feel like this is a whole different title and that the title I was reading and enjoying as much as I was ceased last year!

Alien: The Original Screenplay concludes here with #5. Also MAY be THE last Alien publication from Dark Horse. So, how about THAT, speculators?!? Go buy this thing in large quantities becuause everyone’s waiting for Marvel to take over the property, who gives a darn about this? Besides ME, that is?

Then GI Joe: A Real American Hero #276…we begin the final march to #300! As touched on above with #275, this is the 121st issue of the series from IDW. And even at ONLY 121, that’s still above every other legitimately-numbered, North American-published title!

Two issues of Usagi Yojimbo; #15 of the current ongoing series, and #1 of a new Color Classics run. I cannot say I’m pleased at the format of "only" 6-7 issues and a gap, then another 6-7 issues and new cycle of 1-whatever. But if it gets stuff republished and all, I’ll live with it.

That’s six issues for the week already. Finally, an actual DC book in Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Flashpoint. It’s a TFTDM issue, so…yeah. Why not? Though the conceit’s largely wearing off and I haven’t been quite as thrilled with these as I (think?) I was last year. They seem like TOO MUCH of a tie to Death Metal, which I’ve specifically avoided in and of itself.

I noticed Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar #3, and realized I’d completely missed #2! And it primarily caught my eye because of having recently come across my #1 and wondered how many issues I’d missed. Checking "recent back issues," I found #2, and so–DESPITE these being a whopping $4.99 each!!!–I snagged #3 and #2. These displaced Dark Nights/Death Metal: The Last Stories of the DC Universe #1 that I’d actually picked up and had in my pile. $9.98 for 2 issues or $8.99 for one issue tying into an event I’ve been avoiding? Where other specials are such speculator-fueled things that I won’t ever easily be able to snag the singles anyway? Yeahhhh…that’s enough that even otherwise being "interested" in the issue, I was willing to put it back.

weeklyhaul_20201209b

And then there’s Amazing Spider-Man volume whatever #54. Standard, NON-variant cover…grabbed my attention. It’s generic enough, but when you’ve got thousands upon thousands of Spider-Man issues out there over 50+ years, they blend together anyway. But this reminded me of a holographic issue from the ’90s, and of a scene from the 2002 film, and something about it reminded me of classic early-2000s Ultimate Spider-Man. And darned if Bagley isn’t credited on the issue, so that was DEFINITELY a well-founded, nostalgic reaction on my part for good reason! So for being a REGULAR cover and grabbing my attention as it did…against otherwise "better judgement" I bought the issue. NOT some giant-size anniversary special. Not some over-hyped speculator-fueled thing. Just a great cover. We’ll see if I even get around to READING it and what that does.

Finally, snagged the Incredible Hulk Epic Collection: Future Imperfect for $20…an EXCELLENT price for such a thick volume! (50% off cover price). The volume collects issues in the early-400s, so a rather nostalgic period for me back in the ’90s. Where the Marneus Calgar issues trumped Last Stories of the DCU…this trumped the Adventureman hardback that I was also considering. Such is the week-to-week and a good deal at the same time as something well-priced, etc.

And Comic Shop News has a story on Marvel doing a "variants theme month" for the Marvel Masterworks line; as well as a Winter Preview.

$44 for new issues and a $20 tpb + tax…oof. And I used to think $20/wk was huge. I’m counting on this being a matter of the month being front-loaded with stuff ahead of the week OF Christmas and that infamous week between Christmas and New Year. Incidentally, I see that December 2020 is a 5-Wednesday month,so…c’est la vie.


Hard to believe we’re already nearly halfway through December. Three more Wednesdays in 2020. Who knows what 2021’s gonna hold?

So much for me having much to say to wrap up this post. Considering this post comes from at least 3 different typing sessions…everything’s disjointed anyway.

Later this week, should have the final Super-Blog Team-Up of the year.

And other than maybe a couple more of these Weekly Haul posts…who knows if/what else I’ll get posted before the year ends.

IF the year ends.

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Ziggy…3 Years Gone

Yesterday marked 3 years since that horrible day I had to say goodbye to Ziggy.

The "eulogy" of sorts that I wrote the day after is here:

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Lotta thoughts and feelings and reflection and tears last night as I assembled this collage, having dug through some clusters of Ziggy-photos I had on facebook the last few months.

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One of my coping mechanisms and processing of the loss the first year was weekly posts of photos of Ziggy. Reminding the world he lived, he was here. Celebrating his life.

That has continued the last two years, but with monthly posts.

And now it’s been 3 years.

And this collage represents photos from throughout the 7 1/4 years Ziggy was a part of my life. Most of these have become their own sort of "iconic" to me…certainly favorites.

Ziggy will certainly never be forgotten.

28 Years since Superman #75

Hard to believe it’s been 28 years since Superman #75 came out. 1992-2020.

Another couple years and we’ll be at the 30th anniversary. Whether there’ll be a DC Comics that even cares to recognize that at that point remains to be seen.

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Just tonight in working on this post, I’ve decided I need to add the "Platinum Edition" of Superman #75 to my Grails List. It’s certainly a grail–an issue I’ve been aware of and interested in since 1992, and which has eluded me to this day. I don’t think I’ve even seen a copy in person. (If I have, I’ve forgotten it for the moment).

As it is…I finally have the editions in the photo above all together in one place and where I know where they are TO be able to photograph ’em at the anniversary date of the issue!

The Black Bagged edition; a loose copy of the issue unbagged; all 4 original printings of the original newsstand edition, and then two reprints–one from 1999/2000 when DC was doing their Millennium Edition reprints of key issues from their history, and a DC Dollar Comics reprint of the issue.

With the way comics’ distribution was back in 1992, and my possibly faulty memory, I usually tend to think of November 19th as the date the issue came out, but have seen stuff indicating other nearby dates.

I’m choosing this year (2020) to observe the 28th anniversary as November 19.

And with a number of things going on in personal life right now and not really feeling up to a full-fledged/thought-out post (I’m surprised to have typed out as much as I have!), I’ll leave off with several links to posts I’ve done in the past about Superman #75!


The Covers of Superman #75 – a 2016 post showing the distinct original covers to the 4 newsstand printings and collector’s edition from November 1992.


Superman #75 Revisited – a 2017 review I wrote of the issue.


Old-School Variance: Superman #75 – a 2016 post on the multiple printings of the issue and maintaining the iconic cover image.


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What If…’The Death of Superman’ Happened in 2016? – Probably one of my favorite posts in this blog, where I mocked up dozens of variant-style covers to point out the difference between the ICONIC original covers (2 of them!) and how the comics industry was 24 years later (and now 28 years later just as bad or worse!)


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The Weekly Haul: Weeks of October 28, November 4, and November 11, 2020

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Been a few weeks…again. But hey…this time around, while having the no-post-gap of several weeks, I have pics of the hauls OF the several weeks!

So, let’s start with a couple weeks ago–October 28.


Week of October 28, 2020

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The long-awaited and MUCH-OVERHYPED TMNT: The Last Ronin #1 finally came out. Within the issue itself, there are several gallery pages of covers in addition to the usual/standard "gallery" on the inside cover with the usual variants shown off. I count no less than 65 covers. And counting the story pages of the issue…40 pages. So there are 25 more COVERS…than there are STORY PAGES in existence for this issue. I intentionally got the STANDARD cover. Not about to play the variants game with SO MANY variants, let alone this is a $9 issue. For the oversized format (an apparent callback to the size of the ORIGINAL 1984 TMNT #1 dimensions) and 40 story pages, prestige format/no ads, that’s not a horrible price, and IDW could easily have just shoved the price on up to $9.99, but didn’t. However, 10 different covers would be $90 AT COVER PRICE, but with so many covers apparently running $40+…yeah. Even MY "TMNT Exception" doesn’t go that far. At $40+, three covers that are just gonna get filed in some "current year comics" or "overall TMNT" box, or I could get a quarter-scale NECA figure (though I’m not keen on NECA at the moment).

Batman: The Three Jokers #3 is out. Three issues to be a sequel to the single-issue The Killing Joke. But being what it is, and by Johns, and my not being keen on DC distancing itself so much from even Johns’ stuff in general, I had given in on the first issue, so had to get the 2nd and third. And something about this project made it one I was willing to grudgingly get, and actually read ,and while it was rather extended and didn’t really GO anywhere, it worked well enough for me. (Yet just a week after the final issue, I saw an ad for the hardcover single-volume edition…ugh!)

Spawn #311. Nothing much to say for this issue; I’m ridiculously far behind on READING the title…but continue to simply "support" the title DESPITE the spike in variants, for the $2.99 value pricing in an overwhelming sea of $3.99-$9.99 single issues.

Then because I’m a total sucker, and despite the inflated $5.99 cover prices…I snagged the 50th issues of Batgirl and Red Hood Outlaw. Largely on the characters’ involvement in Three Jokers and the combination of coming out of that as well as The Joker War in Batman #100.

Though I have the original edition of the issue introducing the new Black Widow from Marvel Knights, snagged the $1 reprint, cuz as usual, I’m supporting cheap reprints of stuff since generally the reprints are from a time I enjoyed Marvel’s output far more than current-year stuff.

And then speaking of back issues/older stuff…latest issue of Back Issue magazine from TwoMorrows. This is another publication that I’ve been pretty glad to "support." They do high quality, well-researched stuff and the $10 is still a FARRRR greater time-value for the reading than any 2.5 $3.99 comics. Read one article and you’ve probably gotten more reading time than for 2.5 current-year comics, so anything else is just bonus for the money. I’ve probably missed an issue here and there of BIM, but between the cover story and whatnot, unlike comics, the content issue to issue isn’t what I’d see as serialized; it’s more the cover/topic that’ll grab me initially; as well as depending on how large a week on regular issues it might be.


Week of November 4, 2020

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Batman #102 is one I’m looking at sort of like the early 50s of this iteration of the title: it’s like a new #2, but I’ve decided to keep on PRIMARILY to "support" the high issue-numbering. If this WAS merely a new #2, I’d have passed on it and the previous issue. I need to catch up on reading around #s 91/92-99, but I think that’d make this "Ghostmaker" character make a LITTLE more sense to me…though I get slight "Hush" vibes as yet ANOTHER "new" character from Bruce’s PAST from his training is causing issues. Given rumours I saw on BleedingCool about DC essentially saying the heck with ongoing "continuity" come March…I gotta wonder just how far past #100 this iteration of the title will even go…or MATTER. My OCD would hate for me to have ultimately "kept up with" it for 102+ issues just to see it end a mere 4 issues later or something.

Firepower #5 means we’re one issue shy of "completing" a 2nd paperback. And with the "Prologue" tpb and FCBD edition of #1…we still have NOT matched in subsequent content what was initially available at once for this series. Which is both good and bad. I’ll likely be double-dipping, though. I’m not overly keen issue to issue on this book, but expect I’ll enjoy re-reading the first 6 issues in one go as I read the Prologue. And with my increasing avoidance of Marvel and DC, I’m willing to "throw in" with this title along with Walking Dead Deluxe as "regular" titles to replace what I’m not buying from those.

And speaking of…#2 of Walking Dead Deluxe. Once again, I hate the variant covers, and am starting to see this putting the issues out in color as an EXCUSE to do numerous variant covers. I’m specifically looking for the "A" cover (standard) cover. I initially had thought I might go for the one with the classic cover, but 1. that’s technically a VARIANT and 2. new iteration of the book, new cover. At least for these first few issues, I’m glad to give it a shot in color. And as said with Firepower…I’ll "enjoy" and appreciate this more than most new content out of DC and Marvel.

I was surprised to see Avengers #57. It’s a facsimile edition, but I think probably just about THE best one I’ve seen! They kept the original 12cents price on the corner box and simply updated to current with placing a modern barcode on the bottom corner of the cover. I actually wish they’d do this for ALL such editions–reprint the original cover price and all, but make sure the barcode is accurate. (Sure, you’ll get some folks who don’t realize what these are grousing "But it says $1.25, why is it $3.99?!?" but I’d argue that facsimile editions are intended for that middle-ground: the buyer/reader/collector who knows it’s a reprint of something classic, but not someone willing to pay the high prices for the originals. It’s not for casual buyers unaware of such things…if they’re out there.

TMNT: Jennika II #1 is an issue that gets in by virtue of technically being TMNT, and my OCD for keeping up with the IDW stuff (thus far I believe I have one of every single actual issue they’ve published, but not necessarily variants, ashcans, or promo pieces that aren’t full issues). Considering the first Jennika was interrupted by the Spring Shutdowns and #3 didn’t come out til…May? June? [according to IDW’s own site, June.] we’re barely 5 months since that mini. And the character is virtually starring in the main book. Even the other turtles have only had solo one-issue "micro series" outings…so why does Jennika deserve two different mini-series so close together within basically a single year?

I don’t think I even knew about this second round of Tales from the Dark Multiverse…but in a rare case of "advertising" via early-reviews I found out, and decided while I’m NOT getting any of the Death Metal stuff, I got last year’s round of TFTDM books, so might as well get this second round as well. Plus, since I already have the first round and haven’t double-dipped for the collected edition, getting this round also as ‘singles’ will keep to the same format without me double-dipping for OCD’s sake. I’m led to believe this HUSH issue is a retelling/alternate in name only, but…whatever, I guess.

I’m not sure WHERE I left off with the current, about-to-end Sandman Universe Black Label-not-Vertigo Hellblazer title. But for getting a couple of the other oversized/magazine-sized Black Label books, giving this Hellblazer one a chance. PLUS, as I’m a broken record…getting it to "support" the NON-BATMAN, NON-JOKER, NON-HARLEY QUINN such books.

Finally…Cross Over #1. I was NOT going to get this. In fact, I’d specifically decided not to. I feel like Cates is vastly over-hyped lately, since bursting onto the scene (I guess?) with God Country several years ago. I wasn’t going to CHASE this book, wasn’t going to seek it out, etc. But saw a bunch of copies there, and changed my mind. I can give it a look-see. After all…it’s Cates…but it’s NOT Venom or Thanos or Cosmic Ghost Rider/Galactus-Punisher-Old-Man-Wolverine-in-a-Black-Widow-Costume Marvel book. Best I can tell I was able to get the standard/basic/A/non-variant cover so I can simply read it for myself and judge it for myself.


Week of November 11, 2020

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And now catching up to "current week," and it’s a small one! Actually probably could have done without, but I thought there were a couple other issues out this week that I wanted.

Punchline I only got because it’s the same writer from Batman, and as I’ve yet to catch up on reading that run-up to #100, I don’t honestly know if I’d care for this or not. But I’ll be darned if I’ll leave it to have to chase it down later! And I’ll likely–ultimately–file it as an annual with the title. Not sure WHY it does not have "Batman" in the title…seems EVERYTHING ELSE published from DC even SLIGHTLY related to the character does. So why not this direct (apparently) spin-off special?!?

And as always, I’m a sucker for these True Believer reprints. ALL THE MORE when EVEN dropping much of the trade dress, the cover is STILL iconic and recognizable for what one single issue it actually is. The original edition of Thor #337 is from 1983…37 years ago, and still recognizable in and of itself. So many variants these days that you need a freaking ENCYCLOPEDIA and searchable online databases just to know what any given cover is from the cover alone.

Given the relative lack of anything else worthwhile…I picked up another pack of "top loaders" that I’ve been using for my personal "wall book" or "display book" comics. They’re like trading-card holders but sized to hold comics, typically including bag-and-board.


No real idea what else is coming out soon, other than subsequent issues of TMNT, Spawn, Batman, and….GI Joe: A Real American Hero.

Funny…triple-digit numbering all around! Must be something TO that, I guess???

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