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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #40 [Review]

TMNT (IDW) #40 coverStory: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Mateus Santolouco
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

This issue gives us a brawl between Bebop & Rocksteady and the Turtles & Mutanimals, as well as Casey bonding with April’s father. All but three pages are the brawl, and while I normally wouldn’t consider myself a fan of all-fight issues (or issues this CLOSE to being “all-fight”), there’s enough characterization within the context of the brawl that I enjoyed it.

I’m getting a definite (nostalgic, perhaps) sense of Alopex as a stand-in for Ninjara, though “stand-in” may not be quite the wording I’m seeking. At the very least, seeing the way this current IDW TMNT continuity draws from seemingly “everything” that’s come before, I can’t imagine there’s not some influence from the Raph/Ninjara stuff (from the Archie TMNT Adventures) being drawn from in the current Raph/Alopex stuff.

I definitely appreciate the threat posed by this version of Rocksteady and Bebop–while they maintain the “dumb grunts” status that seems to have kept them so popular through the years, here they’re shown as the danger they really ought to–and can–be. They’re actually scary, and not ones that can be tricked into a cage or into knocking themselves out running into each other, etc (pick a random episode of the classic cartoon and how the turtles got out of being killed by ’em).

Amidst the brawl, we still get “moments” between various characters–Nobody and Alopex, Alopex and Raph, Splinter and Mondo Gecko, Mikey and Slash, etc. We see that these characters have more going on than just the brawl itself. Instead of paper-thin plot points we see how the battle is affecting the characters, and the various alliances…I just see a lot more “complexity” on display here than, say, in the classic TMNT cartoon or the comics adapting episodes of said cartoon. I also continue to LIKE the story-team of Eastman, Curnow, and Waltz over a single writer: I’m thoroughly enjoying this series, and attribute that to the team aspect and presumably more ideas being worked in and “tempered by committee” than we’d get following a single vision.

I also continue to REALLY enjoy Santolouco‘s art on this title. This look for the characters works very well to me and (perhaps for its immediacy) is probably my favorite contemporary look–especially for the overall consistency of the past number of issues.

The cover is a bit misleading and doesn’t really seem to indicate the issue’s story, but I have to admit it looks good in and of itself. I did have to look closer in the shop to make sure it wasn’t a variant, as it struck me as the sort of image that might be on a variant rather than this particular issue.

As the 40th issue, this series is getting “up there” in numbers–it’s hard to believe I started out and have kept up month to month with this title for forty issues now…but I look forward to this (ideally) making it to at least twice this number and perhaps the highest-numbered ongoing TMNT book ever in the 30+ year history of the property.

Also as the 40th issue, it’s another “divisible-by-4” number, which means “technically” the end of another arc based on the standard 4-issue collected volumes IDW insists on. Which means you’re probably better off holding for the collected volumes and jump in on the NEXT issue, or simply jumping in on #41 for the “start” of a new arc. But, following the single issues, certainly nothing to this that turns me off or seems like an issue worth skipping.

Red Thursday

Today, here in the United States, at least, it’s Thanksgiving.

Apparently it should be called Red Thursday, because as far as most things are concerned, apparently all businesses are in the Red, and so desperate to get into the Black that they absolutely, cannot possibly wait until AFTER today to have their big sales to draw people in and “finally” get to the “profitable” part of the year, or some such.

I feel I’ve shown my support by staying in with my family, and not going out and utilizing anything that would overtly cause someone else to not be able to stay in with theirs.

In other words: no Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Kohl’s, etc for me. I stepped a few feet out the front door to toss the trash into a big container in the driveway. Other than that: in with the family.

I might venture out tomorrow, but not until after I would normally already be at work. And I might spend some money, buy some “stuff” that I truly–honestly–do not NEED. But I’m not going for some $600 tv for $100, or a $500 tablet for $49, or some popular new-release movie for 50% off the overpriced $25-$30 mark. I might buy a couple randomish movies “on sale” for $3-4…essentially, the price of a comic.

But then, I might stay in. I got my new comics for the week yesterday. I got a stack of new Superman books from a clearance* table. I ordered a couple books online (through an online system and with zero “expectation” of receiving the order for another couple weeks–no instant-gratification there).

(* I was glad at the time to note the term “clearance” was used rather than “Black Friday” or such, particularly as it was WEDNESDAY, and as of this writing STILL is NOT YET actually FRIDAY.)

Maybe I sound preachy, and this post is certainly not my usual “comics-related content,” but today isn’t just another day.

What am I thankful for? Certainly more than I often feel. And much more and particular stuff than is presently, personally appropriate for this blog.

Tomorrow…back to the usual content. As I finally “accept” the “Season of Christmas,” which I have refused to do for the past month-plus with U.S. Retail largely “jumping the gun” and leaping into “Christmas” before we’d even gotten to Halloween.

The Weekly Haul – Week of November 26, 2014

Yet again, I notice how the three DC weeklies make every week a rather large week anymore…

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I’m quite disappointed to learn that the Gold Key books from DynamiteTurok and Magnus, at least, if I recall–have turned out to be ending at #12. As such, at this point I’ll finish out these runs but probably let the titles go from there (though time and mood will tell in the new year).

While I’d prefer the TMNT stuff be spaced out rather than clumped…it’s definitely cool to get two official TMNT books in one week!

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I’ve liked the look of the Superman: A Celebration of 75 Years book, but wasn’t willing to pay $40 for it. At 70% off (~$12) it’s a steal. Invasion! and Millennium together cost about what 3 Marvel single issues would.

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And these Superman Chronicles volumes (1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 8) worked out to $4.50 apiece or about the same as a single Marvel issue, or cheaper than a single Annual/”special” issue. (Of course, now I “have to” track down volumes 3 & 7 likely closer to full price).

A HUGE week overall, but some great additions to the library, at a mere 30% of cover price. A bit of buyer’s remorse at first, but the more I look at stuff, and contemplate what others will be blowing on Black Friday stuff this week…this kind of WAS Black Friday for me, comics-wise.

The ’90s Revisited: Uncanny X-Men #320

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uncannyxmen320Legion Quest part 1: The Son Rises in the East

Plot: Scott Lobdell
Dialogue: Mark Waid
Penciler: Roger Cruz
Inker: Tim Townsend
Colors: Steve Buccellato
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: January 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

Making me think I missed a chapter, this issue opens on the action, as a squad of X-Men are in the midst of a “battle” with Legion–one in which they’re throwing everything they can at the boy, and the boy’s not even acknowledging them. The issue cycles between this battle and flashbacks to what brought the X-Men to this point–Gabrielle Haller and X-Factor reached out, and so these X-Men came to Israel to see what they could do. Legion finally acknowledges his attackers, jumping back in time with Storm to show her the moments before a jet’s crash that killed her mother. Returning to the present, Storm–despite her hurt and anger–pieces things together, and with the help of Psylocke and Bishop gets the group psychically tethered to Legion just before he makes his main jump back in time. Having used her own powers to anchor herself in the present, Jean is left behind with just enough consciousness to contact Xavier to let him know the X-Men and Legion are gone. Finally, in the depths of space, Lilandra, queen of the Shi’ar, is informed of the beginning of all that is.

This issue had several editions. The X-books at the time were presented in “Deluxe” and “standard” editions–the deluxe having higher quality paper, while the standard was the cheaper paper and (I believe) carried a cheaper cover price. The non-deluxe editions have never been on my radar, and so are being soundly ignored.

With the deluxe edition, there was the regular edition one would buy in comic shops…and there was a “gold edition” that was included in an issue of Wizard magazine. Not just some “ashcan” or “preview” or such, it was the issue in its entirety.

Other than that, there’s nothing (to me) all that remarkable about the cover or anything “iconic” to it. Though I recognize it on sight due to its place in my own life, it doesn’t otherwise stand out in and of itself.

The art is solid, and doesn’t particularly stand out to me, taken by itself. It’s certainly familiar, with the X-Men particularly recognizable, and really the only oddity to me is Iceman’s costume…I don’t recall this costume/appearance, and so at one point I was left wondering who he was while out of his iced-over form. Other than realizing that and wondering who the guy in the unfamiliar costume was, nothing else took me out of the story visually.

The story itself is quite good. I’d noticed Mark Waid‘s involvement with X-Men: Alpha or X-Men: Omega several years ago…and his name again stands out here. Lobdell provides us the plot while Waid supplies the dialogue…yet other than the names in the credits telling me that, I doubt I’d’ve noticed either one of them. For me, going back 20 years, the story just WAS. These were the X-Men, and I took ’em at face value.

Once I realized I had NOT missed a chapter and that we were being presented with some action before the “gap” was bridged with flashbacks, I was ok with the flow of the issue. I doubt this issue’s structure would fly in contemporary comics, as contemporary comics seem primarily written for the trade, and this structure would not play out in a single issue (there’d be an entire issue of action, then an issue of flashback, etc). It’s also sort of odd seeing so few characters involved, despite having appreciated that in the previous issue. But that was part of the premise, I believe–with two X-Men books, each would typically focus on a smaller set of characters from the overall continuity of the whole.

That also poses a bit of a problem here with no explanation given to Bobby’s linking back up with these characters, and where Archangel and Rogue went between the end of #320 and the start of this. However, this opens well given the context of the X-Factor issue, as we go from Legion flying off talking of making things better, and being confronted here with the flashbacks showing that he’s already been setting his plans in motion.

All in all, not a bad opening chapter with plenty of action and context as well as driving the story as a whole forward by the end of the issue. I definitely enjoy that within the pages of a single issue’s pages multiple scenes unfold…that this seems written as a full single issue rather than “just” a chapter of a six-issue arc.

Toys in the Wild – Marvel Infinite @ Target

After ages of Marvel’s Hercules and Marvel’s Gladiator figures from the Marvel Universe line warming the pegs all over at numerous Targets I’ve been to, I’m finally beginning to see a series of the Marvel Infinite Series showing up. I’m seeing them for the “usual” $9.99 at a couple, but also the more ridiculous $10.99.

While it’s nice finally seeing new figures, or reprints of old figures (Drax, Star-Lord, and Rocket with Groot were previously offered as a Guardians of the Galaxy 3-pack, for example) the pricing has REALLY put me off. The figures seem too small to be so expensive on an individual basis.

The larger characters–physically bigger and heavier–“feel” a LITTLE more worth it, but the smaller/skinnier characters seem an even worse value… Seeing the Rocket Raccoon figure REALLY drove that home to me! The figure suffers the same as Yoda in the Star Wars figures lines, being so small, yet being part of a regular assortment, carries the same price as the other figures despite being so much smaller (in-scale).

I recall watching the Guardians of the Galaxy pack at about $18 and initially finding it a bit expensive; but then watching it over a series of weeks/months being continuously jacked up to $26-$27ish I think before the packs disappeared.

I’ve found all these figures in the stores, and while I’m interested in the Drax figure and the Wonder Man, I’m not interested in spending $11ish on each when for that price I can get plenty of other stuff.

While NOT purchasing these, I find myself taking photos of them–proving at least to myself that I saw them in-person at least the once, even if they become hard to find later and a pain to track down when/if I decide I actually WANT to spend the money to acquire them.

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marvel_infinite_starlord

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Magneto #12 [Review]

magneto012AXIS tie-in

Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Roland Boschi
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles and Cory Petit
Cover: David Yardin
Assistant Editor: Xander Jarowey
Editor: Daniel Ketchum
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

It’s the cover that did it. I’ve had absolutely no purchase-level interest in Axis nor any of its tie-ins…but the cover of this issue grabbed my attention. Onslaught, with the Red Skull’s face, dwarfing a defiant Magneto. Talk about hitting the right buttons for me. The original Onslaught story was HUGE in my youth–in scope, in tying back to Fatal Attractions, in tying into that X-Traitor subplot that even touched the cartoon series, that played with the matter of Xavier, his relationship to Magneto, to “The Dream,” etc. The reason Magneto as a character is interesting to me is the way the character was handled in Legion Quest and the Age of Apocalypse and afterward–as well as the “Joseph” period and all that. I’d also seen some sort of “preview” or “solicitation” text on the issue referencing Erik dealing with his friend, and all that–I recall an apparent plot point being the Red Skull stealing Xavier’s brain–so that plus the cover, and I couldn’t bring myself to NOT buy the issue.

Getting into the issue was a different matter. I haven’t read anything else involved with this Axis “event”–Axis itself or tie-in issues–nor have I read the last 8-9 issues of this series, so my reading this issue was functionally jumping in “cold,” so to speak.

Apparently Magneto’s already mid-battle with “Red Onslaught” (how original, that name), and he’s gathered other “villains” and allies (Carnage, Doom, Scarlet Witch, Dr. Strange, etc) to combat the Red Skull in Onslaught mode. He has his daughter (Scarlet Witch) cast a spell meant to access whatever there is of Xavier and bring that to the forefront. While this is going on, he recalls a happier time, in his younger days, when he and Xavier were new friends in Israel. The issue goes back and forth, present to flashback and we see an episode where Magneto revealed his powers to Xavier as they fled Baron Strucker and the two men sought to save Xavier’s lover Gabrielle Haller. Something happens and Magneto’s knocked unconscious, coming to to find the other villains gone and the Avengers present. As he wonders if the Scarlet Witch’s spell worked, he encounters the mind of Xavier–apparently the spell worked–and the two converse, the psionic image of Xavier essentially passing the torch to Magneto and telling him his way was right all along.

The art for the issue isn’t horrible, though I’m not terribly impressed–particularly compared to the cover. I know my attitude toward the visuals is partially the actual style and partially that I don’t care for some of the character designs or “new looks” or such. It’s also “tainted” by my presently re-reading old X-Men issues from late 1994 and loving those–for the nostalgia and the art and familiarity from my past. There’s really no way this issue can hold up visually to the likes of Kubert or Jim Lee or other artists whose work I particularly enjoyed twenty years ago. Yardin‘s cover drawing me in the way it did makes me think I’d enjoy his work on the interior, though.

The story itself seems solid enough, and I was absolutely THRILLED at the actual use of CONTINUITY, that the notion of Xavier and Magneto having become friends while working at a hospital in Israel is still there, and the presence of Gabrielle Haller. Stuff that I’d almost have “expected” to be swept under the rug in favor of some other “take” on the characters’ relationship, some other period of time instead of something that’s been touched on before. While I don’t care whatsoever for the Baron Strucker stuff, and struggled to recall what little I knew/know or thought I knew/know, I know the characters didn’t jump from what we see in Legion Quest to a “present day,” and so it makes sense they’d have other adventures and such. I just don’t much care for the constant “inbreeding” of the same body of established characters being constantly revealed to have had earlier and earlier and earlier interactions/involvements with each other, knowingly or otherwise.

But ultimately, while I WANTED to like this issue, it manages to fall short of my expectations–perhaps because this IS just a single chapter of something much larger, and I’m out of the loop and all that. I’m not overly thrilled to have spent $4 on the issue and had so little Magneto/Xavier as well as so little Magneto vs. Red Skull in direct confrontation, etc. I might be somewhat interested in this Axis event later if I can get a collected volume or the single issues cheaply, but despite being a bit intrigued (was it actually Magneto that set the entire Axis thing in motion, I’m curious about and don’t know from just this issue) I’m not motivated by this issue to chase down anything else for Axis, nor am I left with any particular desire to get the next issue.

This is probably a great issue for ongoing readers of the title; I can’t speak to its place or value in the overall Axis story, though…this doesn’t seem to convey anything one can’t get from the main series, and I actually have the feeling one would appreciate this issue more WITH the main Axis series being read.

There are worse issues one could randomly grab from the middle of a run, inside the middle of an event, I’m sure. But unless you’re specifically following the event or this title anyway, this does not seem particularly worth its $3.99 cover price and I am not going to keep chasing the bait of hoping to see more Magneto/Xavier stuff.

The Weekly Haul – Week of November 19, 2014

This proved to be a rather large week yet again, with some clustering and an impulse purchase.

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Valiant has out what I believe is its first “original” thing since its return 2 1/2 years ago in Punk Mambo #0. Surprisingly enough in a way, the Dynamite Gold Key books keep coming out.

And I couldn’t resist the Magneto issue for that cover and the prospect of him dealing with his once-good-friend being dead and corrupted.

weekly_haul_november_19th_2014b

Then of course the DC Weeklies, a random $1 issue, and Astro City (which I really need to catch up on my reading with!)

I also snagged a bunch of quarter-bin issues (first time in awhile that that actually gave me “buyer’s remorse”), but picked up most of a run of Supreme vol. 2 from Image’s early-days. Also picked up a bunch of X-Force issues that may or may not be duplicates, as I haven’t properly curated my list.

So nothing particularly amazing or special this  week; just a clustering of the Valiant and Gold Key stuff, and the THREE weeklies are starting to make every week rather large.

And the Magneto issue…irked me, on reading. But I’m planning on reviewing that “properly” so I’ll save my comments for there.

DuckTales: The Movie and More Gargoyles (FINALLY)

The DuckTales movie has finally been re-released, it seems–as a Walmart-exlusive.

While I’m not fond of chain-exclusive products, given Walmart IS a frequent haunt of mine and there is no shortage of Walmart locations I have access too, I’m willing to suck it up on that topic.

new_disney_dvds_only_at_walmartAfter however many years it’s been, Gargoyles finally gets the 2nd volume of its second season.

I believe Season 1 hit DVD in 2006, and it didn’t even seem (for awhile) like anything beyond that would be put out…so I’ll take Walmart-exclusive over not-at-all.

While I’m grousing about stuff–what’s with constantly changing packaging formats? I get really tired of trying to get entire series but they look so mismatched with some having “slipcase” cardboard sleeves, some having no sleeve, others being dvd “thincases” in a box, others being a fold-out box in a sleeve, etc.

And it seems it would take a combination of Walmart AND Target to actually collect all 3 volumes of DuckTales, Talespin, Rescue Rangers, and Darkwing Duck. The Walmarts I’ve seen Gargoyles Season 2 Volume 2 at don’t even have Season 1 nor Season 2 Volume 1 in stock…not exactly conducive to selling to new/potential people–who’s gonna buy the 2nd half of a 2nd season cold, that doesn’t already have the previous releases?

The ’90s Revisited: X-Factor #109

90srevisited_thumb[2]

xfactor109The Waking

Plot: John Francis Moore
Script: Todd Dezago
Pencils: Jan Duursema
Inks: Al Milgrom
Lettering: Starkings/Comicraft
Colors: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: December 1994
Cover Price: $1.95

While this issue’s cover proclaims itself the start of Legion Quest, it’s still more of a prologue/lead-in than an official chapter…at least in my reading of it. The issue seems to be happening pretty much alongside Uncanny X-Men #319, though its labeling marks an official starting point from back in an age where stories were not “written for the trade” and neatly grouped in 4, 5, or 6 issue arcs with the eye on the collected volume.

The issue opens with Mystique in a hospital room being confronted by a couple members of X-Factor, where David Haller (Legion) has just awoken from a lengthy coma (I believe he’d been in the coma since the final pre-“adjectiveless” X-Men #1 launch). She’s there to kill him for (apparently) having killed Destiny, and X-Factor is there to stop her from murdering the boy. Finding herself outmatched, she makes to escape, vowing to return; and X-Factor pursues. The situation doesn’t go well, and eventually we’re left with Legion leaving the hospital and passing a message from Destiny (or *a* Destiny in his head) to Mystique. Legion then zaps X-Factor away, and leaves, talking about making things better.

The art’s a bit iffy for me–not bad, but there were parts (especially panels of Legion himself) that just look weird and exaggerated to me. Overall, no huge issue with the art, but it did distract me at a couple points, taking me out of the story.

The story itself isn’t entirely helpful–to me, it’s a “slice of life” sort of thing, with no “previously” page and not a LOT of context on stuff. At the same time…it’s not really needed…especially not for MY purposes here of reading the issue. This read-through is specifically for the issue being part of the Legion Quest stuff, and not for any specific story otherwise going on in the pages of X-Factor. But there’s plenty to give some context–Legion having killed Destiny, she and Mystique had History together, Forge was there when Destiny was killed, he and Mystique have some recent history, etc.

I really like that there’s some dialogue from Legion that I believe lines up with dialogue in Uncanny X-Men #319…this is the height of what I love about continuity in comics. In that issue, we see Xavier’s side as he dreams he’s interacting with Legion, and here we see Legion’s side, through the eyes of those around him at the time. This does not seem like anything that would truly fly in contemporary comics, from separate series not necessarily intended for collection in the same volume.

I also like that there’s lead-in to a story and it’s not just some sudden last-page reveal or epilogue sequence to something: we have at LEAST UXM 319 and this issue showing characters going about their business, the story unfolding in general but we get to key in on the specific “event” of Legion’s awakening and talking about changing the world for the better…which the main Legion Quest story itself is focused on as he actually executes his intentions.

The cover is a BIT misleading, showing a gleeful Legion standing over the unconscious (?) bodies of Mystique and X-Factor. But it fits the issue as we DO have Legion vs. Mystique and Legion vs. X-Factor, and Legion emerges victorious in both conflicts. Combined with the proclamation of Legion Quest beginning here, it’s a rather key image suggesting (among other things) that Legion’s taken out X-Factor before the X-Men even become involved…upping the threat-factor for the start of the main story itself.

Despite that, this issue is hardly essential to the core of that story, as I remember (not yet having read/re-read it recently). But this gives some good context, and alongside UXM 319 pads thing out pleasantly prior to jumping into the heart of the main story itself.

While not quite as enjoyable as last week’s UXM issue, I liked revisiting the X-Factor of this era, and getting a renewed sense of where things were at the time. Of course, even moreso I’m all the more eager to get into Legion Quest itself, and one of my all-time favorite single issues of a comic, as well as my all-time favorite X-Men story!

TMNT Revisited: TMNT Adventures #2

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Full Post at TMNT Revisited

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #2

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