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A Week’s Haul: Week of October 21, 2020

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I’ve long since given up the notion of accounting for every week of new comics in 2020. But for lack of posting lately, it’s time to get something new up, and what better than to fall back onto a simply “topic” of the current week’s haul of new stuff?

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So, I dropped Batman about a year ago or whenever it was—with the end of King’s run. End of a lengthy run, the title obviously would tread water and MAYBE only get to #100 before yet another renumbering ,blah blah blah. I felt vindicated after Punchline blew up. But when I found first print copies of several issues including “that” Punchline issue, I figured screw it…so deep in, why not just go to #100? Buuut….here we are with #101 this week. And I’m incredibly annoyed with DC at this point, with so much this year, but…I feel like I almost “have to” “support” their keeping a title going into TRIPLE DIGIT numbering. I mean…when was the LAST TIME that ANY modern DC or Marvel title crossed into triple digits LEGITIMATELY. And I do NOT count Action or Detective in that. So here we are with ostensibly an altered status quo…and legit FUNCTIONING AS a new #1, though actually being #101. We’ll see how it goes, and how long til I drop the title again after all.

Speaking of triple digits…TMNT #110. After #50, issue 51 had felt like a new #1 with the monumental events of #50…but still the series continued its numbering. All the more with TMNT’s #101 feeling like a whole new series. While it took awhile after #50 for my interest to really rebuild, I’m not getting that this time around. All the more with a Jennika mini-series having just finished and already a Jennika II announced…no other character/mini has gotten TWO goes in just a few months. While I have no real SOLUTIONS myself, this “mutant town” thing is getting old REALLY fast—it doesn’t feel like it’s actually, honestly GOING anywhere. Sure, there are a bunch of new mutants, sure the Turtles are now running a dojo to train new mutants (huh…sounds like an X-thing). But 10 issues in…where’s stuff with Shredder? Where’s more/actual fallout of stuff with Splinter? Of the TMNT that’ve been around for 34 years more than Jennika AS “ninja turtles”?

Stillwater #1 caught my attention somehow…and unlike too many other #1s I’ve bought intending to try, it was one that I actually read. And it was enjoyable enough, I figured I’d watch for #2 and if I caught it without it selling out/without my missing out on #2 casually/easily from the LCS, I’d get it. So…here we are. And hey…it’s not something annoying from DC nor Marvel, so it has that going for it as well.

Ah, but then Marvel—we have a True Believers issue featuring Taskmaster. And honestly…it’s the cover that got me. I can’t actually place the cover image…but I recognize it. And for “only” $1, it was easy to just add it to my stack.

Finally, Catwoman. Added to my pull list because I wanted to support the writer…when I thought Blake Northcott was THE new writer. Turned out she only had a 2-parter. But hey…because of that, goosed the numbers a bit otherwise.

And then, because it was a value-priced at less than the price of certain Marvel anniversary-ish issues, and at the price of only two bare-bones regular “floppy” Marvel single-issues (while containing TEN ISSUES’ contents), snagged Deadpool Classic vol. 1 finally. Honestly, for the price, I bought it because I couldn’t remember if I owned the thing already or not. Turns out I did not, and thus, it’s an even better value as being a new volume to me! And I’m leaning toward the Deadpool Classic line being my next series to kinda dive into. I’m stalled out on the "Classic" GI Joe: A Real American Hero (vols. 9 to 11 yet missing) and had my eyes on this series years ago. And since the various volumes are all out, it’s not like most DC series where there’s a fixed, finite run to BE collected, but having to wonder how many volumes the series will get this time before being cancelled withOUT collecting one whole run. I’m quite put off from modern Deadpool (and Venom, and Harley, and Joker). But ‘90s stuff? THIS is where it’s at! All the more for bargain pricing…

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Comics "Grails" Update: Early October 2020

2020 has certainly been a heckuva year. While I believe it was spring 2019 that I acquired Uncanny X-Men #266 in "my price range," I feel like it’s really been this year that I found myself much more proactively seeking out "grails."

That is, specific comics that I’ve wanted for a long time, and/or that I canNOT "simply" go to mycomicshop.com or such and place an order when the localest shops don’t have the issue(s).

Whether it’s that online shops and sellers I know of don’t have the issue(s) period or that they’re not in my price range, at the start of the year, I made a list of grails I planned to seek through the year at the various shows and conventions…having no idea (obviously) of what 2020 would be.


It’s been years, I think, since I’d made it to one of the Harper shows in the area. But things fell into place and I was able to attend the Cleveland Comic Book & Nostalgia Festival on October 4th at the Westlake Hilton.

It was about what I remembered; I went in knowing it would basically be a "dealer room," and got what I expected. However, it seemed a bit more open, and much less crowded than shows past…which was obviously a good thing.

Ohio, so masks required; AND for the first time in everything this year, a place where my temperature was taken before admission. Apparently I was slightly cool–so be it! No fever here.


Once in, I loosely scanned the place. I had zero intent of squeeeeezing in between people or crowding/being crowded. I spotted a booth/table with some open space and checked stuff out.

I noticed a box with a tab for TMNT, and browsed. Not much selection…more TMNT Adventures than I’d have expected, and I nearly let it go at that, but did a second flip-through…and spotted a cornerbox referencing Fall 1994. Thinking there’s no freaking way… I pulled the issue up…to see that image. THE TMNT Special #10 cover I’ve been looking for! My top/#1 grail book. The issue that–to the best of my knowledge–completes my collection of every TMNT issue published by Archie.

And it was only $10!

Browsing a bit further, I found a Spawn issue–#135–for a decent price, and snagged that.

After browsing a few more booths–mainly checking for Uncanny X-Men #141 for a decent-to-me price or Avengers Annual #10 for same–I found a good-looking copy of Avengers Annual #10…and was shocked to see it priced at $10! I’ve had $30 in mind for awhile…so $10 was absolutely worthwhile to me!

AND…that was TWO GRAILS in short order at one single show!

I even got to thinking how "freeing" it felt to be "able to" consider some of the higher-priced books. Even though I’d still topped out at $10 for any given issue at the show…I was actually looking at "wall books" and considering issues!

Yet further into the show, browsing for the facsimile edition of The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 (the wedding issue), I’d come across a few copies of the original edition. $30 for the newsstand "Spider-Man and MJ" cover. $25 each at another booth for my choice of the "Spider-Man" or "Peter Parker" cover. I wanted the "Peter Parker" cover. $22 for the "Spider-Man" cover at another booth. And then…jackpot, Tiger! A copy of the "Peter Parker" cover…for $8!

Considering I went into the show prepared to (grudgingly) pay $10 for the facsimile edition…$2 less for an original was ABSOLUTELY fine-by-me!

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At that point, I was ready to call it a day overall. I wasn’t seeing Uncanny X-Men #141 at all to even price-compare; and me being me I prefer to browse without questioning if dealers have an issue–I go with face value WYSIWYG. At shows like this, I’m going for impulse-buys…not extended deals, possible phone calls and such. Either it’s there and in my price range or it’s not; end of story.

I found a booth with a mix of issues that somehow caught my attention. Spotted a copy of the Superman issue with a familiar cover from my youth…Must There Be a Superman? For $5. And as I’m getting to be a broken record about…considering a meaningless 1 of a dozen covers latest issue of WHATEVER is often $5 nowadays, $5 for a decades-old back issue doesn’t phase me anymore. (Not to mention depending on the issue and condition, being willing to go higher than I ever dreamed as a kid…and as I think I’ll get to below). Also snagged a copy of Superman Adventures #1. I am not sure if I already have the issue or not, but it seemed well worthwhile to me, and again…good for the price!

As I was paying, I noticed a wall book–Uncanny X-Men #158…for $10. With #s 141, 143, and 158 being the three issues I was missing between #141-421…I’d been mildly curious as to why no one seemed to have #158. This copy was marked with a note of being the first appearance of Rogue (as Avengers Annual #10 has always been that to my understanding, I take it 158 is the first Uncanny X-Men appearance of the character!). But if it’s at all a first appearance or second appearance or whatever…that explained its scarcity for casual browsing and the like.

Though I’d had the $5 in mind on the Superman issues, they were actually discounted a bit. As I was pulling out my wallet for the extra couple dollars to add the X-Men issue to my purchase, the guy paused on grabbing my change…and said we’ll call it even! So, actually got the issue for a little less than the $10…which made an EXCELLENT capping-off point for the show for me!

Including admission, I spent less than $65. While I hadn’t had Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 on my "grails list," it was absolutely a "grail" going in, or rather, the facsimile edition was.

The TMNT issue, the Avengers issue, and the Spider-Man issue were all issues I’d resigned myself to being in the $30 range each…but $28 scored all three of them for me.

Having several other issues I’m very satisfied with to own were welcome bonuses; as well as checking off another X-Men issue before it gets to the point of being elevated to an individual-issue "grail" status

All that said…it’s time to update the grails lists.


Default text==no change
Green==change/addition
Grey Strikethrough==acquired

Individual-issue ‘Grails’

  • TMNT Adventures Special #10 (Fall 1994)
  • Prime #1 (hologram cover, silver OR gold)
  • Uncanny X-Men #141 (~$30-40)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1984) #1 (~$100; 3rd print)
  • Avengers Annual #10
  • DC Comics Presents #26 (~$20-30)
  • Dreamwave TMNT #7 ($5-10)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1984) #44 ($5-10)
  • Uncanny X-Men #143 (~10)
  • TMNT Adventures: Year of the Turtle #1
  • Wolverine (1988) #145 (foil edition)


High-interest Multis:

  • Spawn #s 132-134, 136-256
  • Uncanny X-Men #s 422, 455, 460, 464, 465, 467, 481, 482, 489, 492, 493, 494, 501, 503, 504, 505, 506, 507, 508, 511, 513, 514+
  • Archie C.O.W. Boys of Moo Mesa (vol. 1) #s 1-3
  • Archie C.O.W. Boys of Moo Mesa (vol. 2) #s 1-3
  • Mirage TMNT #s 3-5
  • Mirage TMNT vol. 2 # 10
  • Mirage Tales of the TMNT vol. 1 #s 1-5
  • Mirage Casey Jones/Raphael #s 2-4
  • Mirage Donatello: The Brain Thief #4
  • Image TMNT #s 1-18, 21+

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Remembering Kayla on the 30th Anniversary of Her Birth

When we got Kayla in January 1992, she was 15 months old. She was a purebred–and she had "papers"…so her birth date was documented: October 4, 1990.

While she was never a showcat, or anything of the sort to me, to the family…it was always cool (to me) that we had an exact date of birth for her. An actual bonafide birtrhday, and so we knew her exact age all her life.

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We lost her in May 2010…on mothers’ day. She was just over 19 1/2…we’d had her over 18 of those years.

Today–October 4, 2020–is 30 years since this kitty joined the world. And having that exact birthdate makes it that much easier to celebrate that, than to "observe" the anniversary of her loss. And certainly NOT to at all trivialize what she means to me–what she was, how she was, the part of my life she played for nearly half my life–making it to 19 1/2, it wasn’t such a shock to me losing her. But I don’t really wanna get into that here, now, on a post celebrating her life.

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She was always such a curious cat. You couldn’t put a paper bag or a box anywhere without her checking it out. Even if she’d been asleep…it was like she had a homing beacon for boxes…she’d wake up and go right TO a new-to-her box to check it out. And even if it wasn’t new, she’d often be found on or in a box.

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I always remember going through my comic boxes the one time and I heard a certain noise and looked over to find her hunkered down, madly pawing at a bunch of comics…a box whose lid I’d left off. It was adorable, and I rushed to get my camera to get a photo of her going at ’em…never occurred to me her damaging them.

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This is one of my favorite photos of her…it was in the kitchen at the old house, a case of water bottles on top of another box. It was her pedestal/throne. I wish the camera had been higher quality…but such is the changes in technology over the years!

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Here she is curled up on an ottoman we used to have. I remember taking this photo because of the added cuteness of her being curled up as she is, on the round ottoman!

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Here’s an even rarer photo…where I’m actually IN the photo with Kayla, holding her. Unlike all the other cats we’ve had…she was always so mellow AND enjoyed being held. I could simply pick her up–even cradling her onto her back like a baby like this–and she’d just chill in my arms. Christy never tolerated that, and Ziggy never cared for it, and Sarah doesn’t. Chloe sorta puts up with it briefly, but never the way Kayla did!

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Another photo I remember the moment of taking (if not the date now)…It was hilarious to me at the time cuz I was trying to get a pic of her sitting there but she walked up and swiped at the camera–my face!

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Queen Kayla on her throne! I forgot that we’d had that chair this long…still have it, though it’s nearing the end of its time.

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Typical "weird-kitty" pose…

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Comfortable kitty sprawled on a sheet…

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This was a pic of Kayla with a frame of photos I’d put together after we lost Christy. This would be from sometime in 2009…we lost Christy in September 2008.

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Kayla chilling by her feeding station–in front of the pantry to the right of the fridge, against a chair-slash-stepladder thing we used to have.

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One of the few photos I have of Kayla "sitting pretty" and catching a lot of the blue to her eyes!

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Here’s Kayla with the ceramic bowl that her original owners gave us when we got her. I think there’d been two, but we’d wound up being down to the one, and eventually something happened to it or it got put away or such.

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Kayla on a toweled corner of the large rectangular ottoman we’d wound up with; that was more "coffee table" than ottoman.

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Another rare photo with me actually in it with Kayla. This is a cropped photo from Christmas Day 2007; that’s Dad with me; Mom and my sister are also in the original photo.

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After we lost Christy, I found this poem–Weep Not For Me–by Constance Jenkins, and it REALLY hit me…and along with Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, helped me process my grief after losing Christy. And it has been something I’ve tried to have with Kayla, and with Ziggy.


This past spring marked 10 years she’s been gone. She’s far from forgotten, though. Even my parents still sometimes slip and say "Kayla" when referring to Chloe or Daisey. And I still think of her, miss her, and so on.

And I’m ever so glad for the 18 years I got to spend with her a part of my life–from middle school into high school, through college, through grad school, and deep into my longest-held job. She was part of my life through some of my most formative years.

So…30 years now since she was born…

Happy birthday, little cat…

Thank you for all your years of love. And someday I’ll see you over the bridge.

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33 Months vs. 10 Years: Ziggy

The other day–Monday, I believe–September 7th–marked 33 months since losing Ziggy.

At the same time…it marked 10 years since he was brought into my life.

I’ve posted before–"Happy Birthday" posts, observing his birthday as the day Dad adopted him.

As well as others since losing him almost 3 years ago.

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I’ve marked the passage of time. For the first year after losing him, each week I posted photos of Ziggy to my personal facebook profile.

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From the first year, I backed off to monthly…and many of the photos have become "repeats" and favorites for me, reposting different ones different weeks…overall, and assemblage of memories of this special cat.

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It’s not that I want to celebrate the loss…I don’t "celebrate" his death. But on the anniversaries of the loss, to visibly, beyond myself, remember Ziggy. Celebrate Ziggy. That he lived. That he was such a part of my life.

And I wonder, perhaps, at future guilt…I know a day will come when I’ll lose Chloe. Sarah. Even a parent. And I don’t know that I’ll process the same way. It won’t be something to TRULY be able to "compare" or such.

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Over the last few months, I’ve had what I’m considering "anxiety episodes" or "anxiety flare-ups" just considering mortality, recognizing mortality.

Of my cats.

My parents.

Friends.

Myself.

Though I didn’t know him well, Reggie’s death earlier this year hurt more than I may have expected. Seeing others hurting in the loss also hit me hard.

Losing a family friend a few weeks ago–and the zero "closure" I’ve had on that, while seeing others hurt as well–has hurt.

Being grateful and thankful to still have both my parents is certainly a blessing, but as I see friends and people I know losing parents, it drives home all the more what I will inevitably one day face.

And maybe that’s part of what’s hit so hard in losing Ziggy, in the way I’ve had to process.

I’d had 9 years (of 13 1/2) without Christy in my everyday life when we lost her. Nearly 11 (of 18 1/2).

But Ziggy was a DAILY part of my life from mid-July 2016 until early December 2017; and part of my coping with the loss of a job, a move, health stuff with Dad, and so on.

While no longer with me in-person, Ziggy has impacted a quarter of my life so far.

And in facing other depressions and distractions, it was a punch in the gut this afternoon when I "realized" I’d missed his birthday this year.

So here I am.

Whatever this post is.

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A Weekend Haul: Week of August 5, 2020

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Well…six weeks with no actual posts. Tons of partially-typed up "drafts" and such, but…my heart’s just not in it these days.

I’m (as I think I’ve mentioned in the past) fortunate enough that I was NOT laid off–at the start of things back in March, nor in the time since. It’s amazing how much more draining it can be, though, when it seems like "everyone else" is laid off and suddenly has weeks and months of spare time, and my schedule’s stayed the same or been a bit more demanding.

And recent shakeups in comics have hardly been encouraging to me.


Among other things, since the state started "reopening" I’ve not gone back to Wednesdays. DC has screwed that up, trying to force Tuesdays. They’re within their rights, sure, but doesn’t mean it’s a good look and all.

And with state-mandated restrictions forcing stuff…I just haven’t had the heart to "bother with" stuff during the week.

So I still haven’t had a New Comics Wednesday since sometime back in March. And with other life-stuff going on, never got around to weekly-ish posts to "keep up" with these "Weekly Haul" posts and had to intermix stuff to clean up "piles" and trying to read stuff and all that…lost track of what was from which week and all, so…screw it. Documented 2019’s new comics purchases basically in full, but 2020 has had its share of crap and I’m foregoing any beginning-of-the-year goals.

Blah.

On to the weekEND haul, officially stuff for the week of August 5.

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Fire Power has been THE new title for me. It even hit in such a way that I arranged for several friends to also get the first OGN. I loved that we got such a big chunk of story starting out. UNfortunately, it makes the first issue after the "wait" something that doesn’t begin to live up to that. Buuuut…in addition to snagging another copy of the FCBD issue (to now have copies for the friends I gifted the OGN to) I also snagged the "regular" #1 issue. Yeah it’s basically a duplicate of the FCBD edition, but my OCD insisted I get it anyway. "But Walt!" you might be thinking "Don’t you HATE/LOATHE/DESPISE variants!?" These are wholly different editions rather than "variants" and though the content is basically the same, there’s also the events of 2020 screwing with stuff such that I’d rather give Kirman & Co. a bit extra like this than get some random DC or Marvel book that’s just gonna annoy me.

So…FCBD edition, regular #1, and regular #2 of Fire Power. #2 was about half a silent issue which was disappointing to me…but I’m invested enough I’ll be back for #3 anyway, and go from there.

Dark Horse losing the Aliens and Predator licenses is another of the aforementioned discouragements…so you bet I’m gonna support Dark Horse while I can with this Alien: the Original Screenplay adaptation.

Batman #96…I think this marks six issues that I’ve accumulated again but yet to read. Thanks to missing some initial release of Nightwing tying in, I’m flat-out not getting ANY tie-ins for this Joker War thing. And this far, I’m basically finishing out to Batman #100 in a couple months and planning on walking away from there. Satisfy my OCD on the series, but even though DC changed course and apparently is NOT gonna relaunch/renumber to a new #1, I’m still ready to be done. I’m tired of the overhype (perhaps it’s more a certain rumor site’s crap than DC‘s but DC shoulders plenty of blame in my general frustration with them lately).

The newest issue of Usagi Yojimbo–#11–though I’ve lost track of where I left off reading. I’ve sorta folded UY in with TMNT and so it gets a "pass" where other titles wouldn’t.

Finally, snagged the FCBD reprint edition of The Boys #1 to check out.

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Then, seeing that I’d barely crack the $20 mark for the week, figured I’d grab something else, and saw this Marvel-Verse Thanos digest-sized book. I decided if it was $14.99 I’d leave it…but if it was $9.99 I’d get it. Since it’s pictured here and I’m talking about it, I’ll let you figure out the price.

It’s got a handful of random Thanos issues it it; stuff I’ve mostly got in other editions (except a reprint of a Ka-Zar issue from 1998 or so). But whatever…something like 5 issues’ content for basically $2 each rather than the $4/$5/$6+ Marvel‘s pushing for nowadays.


Looks like the coming week is gonna be another "light" week of comics. I suppose that’ll make up for stuff a bit, and for other recent expenses and such.

And I’m definitely increasingly willing to spend more on single back-issues…particularly when they’re issues I’ve known about and/or been "interested in" to some degree for a number of years…or just see that I’d flat-out APPRECIATE them much more than "just some new issues" released any given week.

More on that sooner or later, I suppose.

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SBTU – Expanded Universe: Aliens and Predator

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It’s Super-Blog Team-Up time again!

This time around, the group is tackling the notion of the "Expanded Universe"–with many different topics, as always!

Please check out the list of links at the bottom of this piece for the other entries in this team-up of blog-posts…or skip on down their now, as my piece here is rather lengthy, rambly, and not exactly what I’d had in mind when I began!

With a big thanks to Chris Bailey (@Charlton_Hero) for the graphic below:

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In recent years, the terms "Extended Universe" and "Expanded Universe" have meant a couple different things to me. They also tie in to the term "Cinematic Universe," in terms of movies. Namely, the Marvel "Cinematic Universe" and the DC "Extended Universe." (Or "Expanded," I’m rarely clear on what’s (semi-)"official" with the "MCU" and "DCEU.") I’ve never liked the "EU" in reference to the DC movies when used alongside Marvel‘s "MCU," because to me it should be "DCU" same as we have the "DCAU" (DC Animated Universe) and such.

What? I’m getting critical and negative and that’s DC and Marvel when you’re expecting Aliens and Predators?

Ok.

Outside the aforementioned DC and Marvel movies, I see the terms Expanded Universe and Extended Universe as fairly interchangeable/synonymous and I don’t expect to be 100% consistent in my use throughout this piece. (So please take them as interchangeable and synonymous within my writing here.)

DEFINING "EXPANDED UNIVERSE"

To me, an EU is a property that begins in a fairly-specifically limited (if not one-off) format. For example: you have an original movie (singular)…it universe-builds, it sets a context, it tells you a story…and that’s that. Beginning, middle, end. In and out and done. Look at The Terminator, before any sequels. Or Highlander, before any sequels. And so on.

Perhaps we don’t start with a movie…perhaps we start with a novel. Emphasis on "a." Singular. You get this self-contained story, and that’s that. The whoooooole thing is that one book. It’s a good book, an enjoyable book, a memorable book…but still AAAAAAAA book. (For example: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay)

Where "EU" comes in is with that singular thing cropping up in another medium with new content sharing elements from the original…building on or (you guessed it!) expanding and extending what was found in the original. The Terminator got a movie sequel as well as comics. Then other comics, even a tv series, along with multiple sequels. Highlander had sequels, a tv series, original novels, an animated series, comics, etc. Kavalier and Clay had Escapist comics, and a comic sequel of sorts (The Escapists) where present-day creators got the rights to the old Escapist character and the story followed their journey. I’m not sure if there’s a tv show in the works, but it’d certainly be ripe for an HBO miniseries or such at the least, which would be further expanding.


In today’s case, I’d figured I’d look at Aliens. But that really necessitates bringing Predator into the conversation. Both properties started as singular films…got a sequel…were continued into comics, then video games, further sequels, novels and novelizations, more videogames, toys, and so on. Both universes expanded and intermingled, even sharing universes ahead of more famous and/or contrived attempts at cinematic shared universes that would follow.

As I’ve tried to figure out how I want to cover this, I finally decided that there are Wiki articles out there that’ll tell you plenty about the properties and the expanded stuff. (Alien, Predator, Prometheus, and so on.)

But this being a personal blog, maintained by me (just one random guy)…why not my personal journey into the franchises? After all…it’s what I know. Recounting stuff is from my own memory, my own experiences, and it’s ME. You want clinical facts about the properties? Use those Wikipedia links. If you’re willing to indulge my rambling on the topic, you’ll get my conscious experience, my conscious memories of Alien(s) and Predator that began with Alien3 and expanded to where I am today.

And if you’re still with me some 500+ words into this thing…here’s where we get more to the point.

PROLOGUE

As a kid, I loved to read, and read every chance I could, and would read pretty much anything I could get my hands on. So much so that I’d read many books within a day, and was constantly getting books from the library (and losing many, which is a topic for some other time). I especially remember stuff like The Boxcar Children and The Hardy Boys Casefiles (I’ve yet to read original Hardy Boys stuff…the Casefiles series had the characters a bit older and more action-oriented. Again, a topic for some other time). I’d read plenty of fiction–most I can’t even remember. I also read a fair bit of sci-fi from early-on before I truly knew what a "genre" was. I also read plenty of comic books and whatever comic-related prose I could get my hands on. I recently was fondly recalling high school and how much time I’d squeeze in for reading, especially freshman year–from reading on the bus to/from school to reading in homeroom, squeezing in a minute or two of reading between classes when able; reading at lunch, reading in study hall (preferring to read than work on homework).

Somewhere in the earliest days of middle school, perhaps, I’d read Alan Dean Foster’s novelization of Alien as just any other sci-fi novel and nothing about it really stuck out to me at the time. Separately, Dad had fallen asleep with the tv on and I’d wandered out–at this point I remember it as during the day, but could have been late at night; I’m not really sure. What matters is, I was curious about what was going on in whatever was on, and I wound up watching to its end, whatever it was. The horrors I saw included some monster ripping a guy in half (and he bled white instead of red!) as well as the lady fighting the monster and saving her daughter.

I wouldn’t make the connection on these–That they were Alien and Aliens–until I finally saw the films intentionally.

THE BEGINNING

alien3_bookSome time in 1993 or 1994, I ended up finding/reading the novelization of Alien3. Having read this book that was clearly based on a movie, I wanted to see said movie, and eventually convinced my parents to rent it/let me see it. Then, since that was the 3rd film, of course I "had to" see the others. I vaguely recall there being some delay to getting to see Alien and that I wound up seeing the films in reverse order, that Alien was the big finish for me.

It was in finally seeing Alien that I recognized the story–particularly the scene with Kane exploring the pit of eggs–and realized I’d read the book some time before.

I’m not sure if I have yet ever re-read that novelization; if I did, I know I haven’t in the last 20+ years! I just recently–June 2020–learned via a YouTube video purporting to reveal X # of "things you didn’t know about ALIEN" that the creature itself was apparently kept secret from all…including Foster, who wrote the novel of the film! So in possibly-faulty memory and that new "fact learned," I could see not immediately having linked that novel(ization) with the film by title and such…there probably was not a detailed enough description of the creature itself to lock in my memory initially. And, as said earlier in this piece, at the time I was a voracious reader and wouldn’t begin to be able to recall by title everything I’ve read. (It took me ages a few years ago to finally discover an old sci-fi novel I’d enjoyed as a kid, that I’d thought was called The Manhattan Project but turned out to be The Manhattan Transfer). hero_illustrated_002_predator_came_with_ashcanI have other "mini-memories" of "moments" from books I’d read that I’m certain I’d ONLY be able to positively link to their source by somehow managing to find AND re-read in near-entirety the same novel(s) again.

I very clearly remember a cover to a magazine–Hero Illustrated–that featured a Predator cover, the creature fighting a bunch of Aliens. The issue had come with an "ashcan" for a then-upcoming or recently-begun series involving both the Aliens and the Predator.

Somewhere around this time, I came across Aliens: Earth Hive by Steve Perry. I read it, and it fascinated me. I recall–among many other things–noticing some parallels in a couple of the main characters…particularly Billie and Wilks. Their story seemed similar to that of ALIENS. This eventually wound up making perfect sense when I learned that in the original comics, these WERE Hicks and Newt!

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One of the key things I took away from the movie novelizations was that sense that if even ONE Alien made it to Earth, that was it. It could not be allowed to happen, or that’d be the end. And with no Ripley, the story of Earth Hive played out where that happened–the Aliens overran Earth.

A second novel picked up from there, following Wilks and Billie to a space station where some guy thought he was training Aliens to help him take back the Earth. By the third novel, Ripley had come back into the picture and led the characters to a distant world to catch a super-queen, possibly the source of the Aliens. They ultimately got it to Earth where they left it in a valley to draw the majority of Earth’s infestation to it at which point bombs put on a months-long timer would go off and eradicate the majority of the creatures. One of the subplots of The Female War involved us coming to find out that Ripley is herself a "synthetic," though she initially did not know that (Someone not knowing they were synthetic was established as possible in the first novel of the ‘trilogy’ in Bueller). As Ripley had died in Alien3 and yet appeared here, that seemed a reasonable explanation to me. As I think about it now, that was probably one of my earliest real experiences with a "retcon" or "retroactive continuity."

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Somewhere in that mid-’90s time, I came across some Aliens toys at a store while out with Mom; if it was not Kmart, I have no conscious idea what store it was, as I know it was not Hills, and I don’t think Target or Walmart were in this part of Ohio yet. While possibly just deja-vu, I’d also swear I’d seen at least one commercial for these toys around then. Regardless, despite finding these toys, Mom was unwilling to let me get any of them; so it’d be a good 20-some years until I’d start my foray into Aliens toys. Despite not getting any of the toys as current things, I do recall noticing later that I’d seen them, and realizing there were several toy lines for kids that were based on "kid-ified" animated things, themselves based on hard R-rated films! (Several examples offhand including the likes of Terminator, Robocop, Highlander, Toxic Avenger, and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes…and I’m sure there are plenty of others I’m not thinking of!).

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I was vaguely aware that there were comic books with the Aliens as well as another creature–the Predator. There was that August-1993-cover-dated Hero Illustrated #2 (see earlier image) featuring a Predator on the cover and the issue having come bagged with a mini-comic featuring Aliens/Predator: The Deadliest of the Species–a then-new series beginning soon.

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Flipping through that issue and not finding any prominent article on either property–but a bit of info about the comics and an ad for the home version of an Aliens vs. Predator videogame–I suspect it was just a "given" to me that Aliens went with Predator. Add to that an arcade machine at the local skating rink and I just don’t think I really ever took the properties as being completely separate things. (Much likeStar Trek: Generations was my main intro into Star Trek and to me there’s never been an either/or on TOS vs. TNG–they’ve "always" been a single continuity).

I’m pretty sure my first experience with Aliens in comics was the Superman vs. Aliens prestige-format mini-series. I was already deeply into the Superman comics at the time, and loved that even as a random inter-company crossover, the miniseries seemed to have consequences on the Superman side at least, including giving us an in-continuity Argo City or such and a "Kara."

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Despite always simply accepting Predator and Alien(s) as existing in the same universe, I was never all that into the Predator side in and of itself. I have some memory of a friend describing a scene from Predator in which the titular character had skinned someone (and that you saw the skinned body on screen) from awhile before seeing the film myself. I’m pretty sure I saw the films–Predator and Predator 2–prior to college, but I’m not absolutely sure. They never stuck with me quite the same way (especially Predator 2 that I hardly remember except knowing that I saw it at least once). Predator came back a bit to me during grad school and has stuck with me since for some of the cheesey "Arnold stuff" (particularly the "Get to the CHOPPAH!" line).

By the time I saw the films, I’d read at least two Aliens vs. Predator novels. I was most interested in them for being Aliens stories; that they were Aliens vs. Predator/included Predators was incidental to me at the time.

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As pertains to our topic at hand…they continued to EXPAND the universe, to me.

SETTLING IN AND MOVING FORWARD

By the time Alien Resurrection came out in late 1997, I was pretty well steeped in stuff. I was very disappointed in the film, though, for jumping some 200(?) years into the future after Alien3 rather than using the Ripley-as-Synthetic plot point from the books. While I still didn’t take it as such at the time, I now (in 2020) realize that was my first real experience with the difference between "the films" and an "Expanded Universe." Great stories from the books that had expanded my knowledge and understanding and the appeal of the property to me…but they weren’t even acknowledged by the movies!

During college, much of my "main" reading of a "universe" had gone to Magic: The Gathering, as well as continuing with Dragonlance from the mid-’90s and Aliens had kind of fallen off for me.

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alien_novelizations_oldBut then in 2004 while I was working the overnight stocking shift at Meijer (think a Walmart/Target hybrid) when I was browsing the books section, I came across a novelization of AVP…there was a new movie, this time featuring the Aliens AND Predator(s) in one film! I bought the book immediately…though to this day, I don’t actually recall if I ever got around to reading it. Those few months working overnights were part of an interesting period of my life as I struggled to make sense of being out of college and yet still being absolutely clueless about what life was supposed to be. As with many things…a topic for some other time.

I remember the makers of Heroclix giving us a new game–Horrorclix–and the line included several things with Aliens and Predators with the AVP branding. Though interested–in particular to have Aliens in scale with Superman–I never got any (and a June 2020 internet search shows them as being well outside any reasonable price range for me now!)

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In 2005 or so, DH Press (DH for Dark Horse as in the comics publisher) began publishing new Aliens and Predator novels. I was thrilled to get new Aliens novels (though sadly, I passed on the Predator ones at the time, and those are absolutely stupid-ridiculous prices online now in 2020, which is highly frustrating). I suspect this was probably around the time that I finally made the connection or otherwise learned that Earth Hive, Nightmare Asylum, The Female War, Genocide, and so on–those novels I loved as a "kid" that really got me into the property(ies)–were novelIZATIONS. Of Dark Horse comics.

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In 2007 I learned that Dark Horse Comics would be publishing a collection of some of those original comics. A friend actually gifted that volume to me; and thus, I got to read the comics version of the stories I remembered reading as novels. That year also brought the second AVP film, Requiem.

2009 or so brought some new Aliens and Predator comics, led off by a shared Free Comic Book Day issue.

2010 brought AVP: Three World War which once again had the creatures in one series. That year also brought us a new Predator film that took a cue from Aliens and simply added the "s" to pluralize the title: Predators.

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2012 brought the film Prometheus. I recall seeing a movie poster for it, at the theater I frequented in Kent; as well as a couple different trailers for the film. Rumor had it that the film would somehow tie in with Alien or be a "prequel" or some such. It was also when I think I consciously began to recognize Ridley Scott as a specific name, as well. That said, once I saw the film myself, I was NOT particularly impressed by it the first time through…but it’s grown on me on repeat viewings.

In 2014, Dark Horse gave us a huge "event" of sorts…a massive-seeming story involving four different 4-issue mini-series that linked into an overall story: Fire and Stone. This encompassed a Prometheus series, a Predator series, an AVP series, and an Aliens series. Each 4-issue mini-series was technically its own thing, but with a larger story to be gleaned by reading all the minis and a one-shot that followed.

There were also new novels from Titan; though they were branded on the Alien (singular) name rather than Aliens plural…which has always felt a bit "odd" to me, though admittedly distinctive, if only to be separate from the plural branding of the Dark Horse stuff. Alien: Out of the Shadows, Alien: Sea of Sorrows, and Alien: River of Pain kicked things off.

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2015 brought us Aliens/Vampirella which marked the first time I’d ever bought anything Vampirella.

2016 brought a lot of new material. Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens; another 4-series event in Life and Death (Prometheus/Predator/Aliens/AVP); The Rage War (new novels, each branded under Predator, Alien, and Alien vs. Predator, respectively, from Titan). Along with the multi-series Life and Death event, we also got the start of one of the largest series for the Aliens comics in Defiance; matched in length (I believe) only by the 13-issue Colonial Marines story in the ’90s and the 12-issue Aliens/Predator: The Deadliest of the Species by Christopher Claremont in 1993-1995).

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2017 gave us the first new "solo" Alien film in 20 years with Alien: Covenant as a follow-up to Prometheus and again by Ridley Scott

2018 gave us a new Predator film with The Predator.

There were also a couple of anthologies of short stories published–Bug Hunt for the Alien franchise, If It Bleeds for the Predator franchise.

There have also been several more comics mini-series for both franchises over the last couple years.

IN THE END

What started out as just another sci-fi/random book for me in the early 1990s "expanded" as I discovered the expandING universe of Aliens/Predator. One novelization…(actually three novelizations in the end). Multiple original novels. More movies. Comics. Toys. Videogames. Audiobooks.

Alien and Predator seem to be things that originally "ought" to have begun and ended with their original singular-titled films. But they expanded into larger universes with books, toys, videogames expanding stuff. They blended, further expanding both franchises’ scope.

Both of the "shared universe" films AVP and AVP: Requiem were out before Iron Man–the first film of Marvel’s "Cinematic Universe"–saw release.

Even though this post took on a different shape than what I think I must’ve thought or planned it to…my own personal collection has expanded quite a bit in the last few weeks as I’ve made a point of tracking down other collected volumes I didn’t have, and a definite focus on single issues.

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I’m learning of comics I didn’t even know existed for either property, both singularly and as crossovers.

I look forward to some imminent expanding of my firsthand knowledge of Predator comics in reading single issues as well as a couple of collected volumes of recent minis. I plan to finally read the original Aliens vs. Predator mini-series…and several weeks ago spent a lot of time finally reading Aliens/Predator: The Deadliest of the Species. I’d known THAT was a 12-issue series begun in 1993. Though I did not realize it took two years to get all 12 issues out and that it wrapped in 1995. I remember the initial marketing for the first issue in 1993, but not much beyond that.

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I also neglected to get into much about the toys other than their existence in the ’90s. THOSE were the Kenner toys and included a bunch of different types of aliens, based on various hosts. A gorilla alien, a rhino alien, a snake alien, a scorpion alien, etc. In recent years, NECA has been producing a bunch of high-quality "adult collectible" figures based on the Aliens stuff–movies, comics, etc–and same for Predator.

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Lanard has even gotten in on the toys with some basic figures for kids. I was very pleasantly surprised to discover these back at the beginning of 2020!

My personal Aliens library is one of the more significant subcollections of my overall collection, particularly as toys, graphic novels, and novels.

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As it stands now, the Aliens and Predator comics have become a key "focus" for me, boosting my collection and pulling various comics together from the scattered abyss that is the bulk of my comics collection at present. With this eventual post in mind, and amidst boosting the collection, I acquired and read Aliens/Predator: The Deadliest of the Species as well as re-reading the original trilogy of Aliens mini-series; I have a collected volume of the original mini, and single issues for the 2nd and third. I also decided somewhere amidst it all that I’m interested in the various books, even in multiple editions…where I’d once thought to merely "upgrade" or keep to a single edition.

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I also have several volumes set to come eventually but they haven’t been shipped…apparently being held up (as of this writing) by Archie vs. Predator and Archie vs. Predator II.

Though I’d already long realized this stuff was important to me, it’s been interesting recalling just how much so that is, as well as how much more I’ve yet to track down and actually read!

THE END (FOR NOW)

I’m never good at ending these huge, lengthy posts. And even in this final typing, I keep thinking of stuff to add or that I forgot to get into/go over…and eventually a writing project like this just has to be put to bed.

I welcome any comments, thoughts, shared stories, etc. relating to what I’ve shared above. It’s possible that I’ll do some posts in the future covering individual issues or minis as I get to reading them…but I’ve got some other projects that’ve been on the back burner for awhile that are ahead in the queue, so who knows.

If you’ve made it this far, I do thank you for your patience and indulgence.

And I encourage you to check out the rest of the Super-Blog Team-Up by considering any of the links below!


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Super-Blog Team-Up: Expanded Universe

Super-Hero Satellite: M.A.S.K.: The Road To Revolution

Between The Pages Blog: Fantastic Forgotten Star Wars Characters
Comics Comics Comics – The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones
Comic Reviews By Walt: SBTU – Expanded Universe: Aliens and Predator
Dave’s Comic Heroes Blog: Logan’s Run Marvel Movie Adaptation
The Telltale Mind: Archie Andrews – Superstar
Radulich In Broadcasting: Flash Gordon Universe
The Source Material Comics Podcast: TMNT/Ghostbusters
Unspoken Issues: Mad-Dog (Marvel Comics, 1992)
Bronze Age Babies: Seven Decades of Apes-mania, and We’re Afflicted!
Echoes from the Satellite – Tales from the Forbidden Zone – The Pacing Place
Black & White and Bronze Comics – Beast on the Planet of the Apes Review
The Daily Rios – Little Shop of Horrors
Lost N Comics Youtube – Expanding the Medium: Motion/Audio Comics
Pop Culture Retrorama: The Phantom Universe
Cavalcade of Awesome – Jumper Universe
MichaelMay.Online: Treasure Island Universe
DC In The 80s: The TSR Universe

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26 Years of Marvels

Marvels came out in 1994.

While I don’t recall the exact date of getting #1…I do remember being in Comics & Collectibles with Dad, and chatting with Chris (the owner), and he showed us this absolutely stunning/beautiful issue with a painted image of the (original) Human Torch and some sort of clear cover piece with the title.

It was an expensive issue–$5.95 cover price! (at a time when most regular comics were $1.50-$1.95).

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I managed to get all four issues, and though a lot of the nuance of the series was lost on me at the time, I still loved the art, and remember Alex Ross was the FIRST artist–by name–whose work I could recognize/name at a glance.

Not terribly long after the original issues, there was a new #0 issue published. Sadly, this one did not have the fancy cover/deluxe format. However, it fits very well in with the second print editions of the main series.

And then last year we got the Annotated Marvels or Marvels Annotated, with #0’s content covered in the first issue. And following the four issues, a new Marvels Epilogue was released.

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I’m almost certain that I had a paperback edition of Marvels, for awhile. As of this typing, I was unable to locate it, so half wonder if I gave it away at some point.

Otherwise…I have the 10th Anniversary Edition deluxe oversized hardcover; the recently-acquired 25th Anniversary Edition deluxe oversized hardover; the Platinum Edition oversized slipcase edition; and the Monster-Sized hardcover.

For scale, the smallest books in the pic above–the deluxe oversized hardcovers–are larger wide/tall than a standard comic book!

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It’s sort of odd to consider that my original editions are now vintage comic books! They are definitely unique artifacts in my collection…in part as I’ve had them so long AND I’m relatively certain I have never even seen these editions in a quarter-bin or fifty-cent bin…probably not even a dollar bin. The first two issues’ covers are particularly "iconic" to me; and there’s a scene that must be in #3 of the Silver Surfer and a field of asteroids that always stuck with me.

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I’d also gotten the #0 issue while it was still new, along with the "2nd print" of #1. I only in 2020 got the "2nd print" of #s 2-4. These were regular-format issues with standard covers and interiors without the cardstock/acetate deluxe treatment…and were half the price of the deluxe originals.

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In 2019, the series was reprinted again for its 25th anniversary, this time with a bunch of extra material/annotations regarding the originals. Of course, while the originals are singular, iconic covers…OF COURSE Marvel had to do multiple variant covers on each issue. I, of course, went for the standard covers–showing the original-style logo (up the left side of the cover this time instead of across the top) and new images. There were other new images for the variants…as well as near-"virgin" editions of the original covers with virtually no trade dress. (And to me the trade dress–the solid color and border with the image otherwise showing through the title–is an iconic part of the series and its covers; a ‘virgin’ cover looks to me like just some "print" or like someone ripped the acetate layer off!

Like the 1994 #0 issue, 2019’s Epilogue issue is a standard-sized comic, regular cover without any cardstock/fancy upgrades to it.


Before the pandemic/shutdowns, Marvel was publishing Marvels X that I’ve "thought of" as a Marvels-style take on the X-Men side of stuff but have come to realize might have more to do with the Earth X/Universe X/Paradise X trilogy of projects.

I believe there was also some sort of Tales of the Marvels thing in the works.

I’ll have to (later) verify on Marvels X; I’ve never gotten into that series nor found collected volumes of the trilogy affordable with matching trade dress and such.

I’d been pretty dead-set against Tales of the Marvels or whatever it was to be, on principle and the use of variants and pricing. Having brought all my classic Marvels stuff together now, I think it likely that I’d make an exception.

Obviously I have a thing for this classic project, having three editions of the single issues, and at least four editions of the collected editions.

In the end, I suppose time will tell!

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Life During Quarantine: Venturing Back Out

After two months, I was finally able to venture out to a comic shop again.

Three, actually.

Observing recommended and mandated rules as applicable.

Not sure when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from IDW will be back (if it comes back?), but a couple more weeks til Batman is back, I believe. Other than the next issue of those, or TMNT/Power Rangers or certain reprint editions…not much that really interests me in the way of new/modern 2020 comics, all the more after the shutdowns.

That said–having finally more or less gotten my X-Men and X-Adjascent collection collated and sorted, I finally have a large, solid list of specific comics I’m definitely "motivated" to hunt down.

So with comic shops finally allowed to be open again and armed with a mask I could physically tolerate for short times, on Saturday I ventured back out to comic shops for the first time since March.


Comic Heaven

First off was Comic Heaven, my weekly comic-shop-home and where I go each week.

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I’d forgotten about the Secret Origins of Super-Heroes replica/facsimile edition being out. Moreso, nothing about DC Super-Stars caught my attention so I hadn’t bothered to message ahead to have it pulled. Or rather, "DC SUPER STARS #17 FACSIMILE EDITION" as it was listed on shipping lists.

And for the heckuvit, I grabbed an extra copy of Uncanny X-Men #266 cuz why not?

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Then I dug into the back-issue bins. I didn’t really think there’d be any new Spawn, at least not from the range of issues I’m looking for. But there was #101…which plugs a hole so that NOW I have #s 1-131 or so, leaving me #s 132-256 (a "mere" 125 or so issues of over 300!).

Also snagged a couple issues from the ORIGINAL Aliens series from Dark Horse.

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From there, managed to score some issues on my X-list. Three X-Force issues and an annual; 1 of 2 X-Factor issues missing, and 4 Wolverine issues!

I have to say…after so many years of sorta randomly buying issues, it felt extremely good to finally be working off a specific (and finite!) list and to chip away at several series I’m specifically seeking to fill!

Of course, there are plenty of other issues I’m also after, but with so few NEW comics, and preferring to spend moderately per purchase even when it obviously adds up over time…that was that for this week, with probably some Generation X, X-Man, and Uncanny X-Men to follow in the near future!


Kenmore Komics and Games

Next was Kenmore Komics and Games, where I’ve been a regular since 2007, but after being laid off in 2016 has been more or less a monthly visit; with far more between visits thanks to the shutdowns.

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An announcement email had let me know there was a restock on the Marvel Champions game several weeks ago, so I’d PayPaled an order for the Captain America and Thor hero expansion decks. Seeing it on the shelf, I grabbed the Black Widow deck as well.

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I’d also jumped on the opportunity to snag several issues of Xenozoic Tales including the first issue! I hadn’t fully thought that through, so made for more of an expenditure than I’d planned, but I told myself I hadn’t been to a comic shop in ages, and would’ve spent way more had I been getting new comics all along, so c’est la vie!

And then for the 33rd anniversary sale, back issues had various discounts. I snagged a couple issues of Batman/Aliens.

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And most of the back-half of Red Robin. I’d followed the series for about 12 issues before losing track ahead of the Flashpoint and New 52. While I’m pretty sure several issues are duplicates, I’m pretty confident this leaves me maybe 1-2 issues short of the complete series…so going all the way back to the original Robin 1990 mini-series!

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Not much luck on the X-list, but I was able to get several issues of NEW X MEN, and then delved down to the third tier or so of my list for a Cable issues from the Cable & Hope post-Messiah Complex series.

Also got another issue of Warlock, bringing me one issue closer to having that complete 15-issue series!

I grabbed a couple random issues that caught my eye as well, and significantly discounted…so not quite 25-cent books, but the next best thing!


Carol & John’s

Finally, swung by Carol & John’s on the way back.

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Unfortunately, Free Comic Day didn’t happen back at the beginning of the month…and this year’s CNJ FCBD event would have been epic…with them bringing Christopher Claremont out! I’d been looking forward to that for months, but maybe it’ll happen yet in some form.

Meanwhile, in lieu of their annual FCBD print, they had a "Free Comic Book Day Cancelled Until Further Notice" print for present, free with any purchase.

I also noticed a remarkable (to me!) price on the vintage-ish (if not vintage, then close TO vintage…) Marvel Legends figures. I quite appreciated the Scarlet Witch/Wonder Man relationship in Busiek‘s Avengers run, and being able to get both characters here together for the price of ONE contemporary Marvel Legends figure was too good to pass up!

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Some weeks back, I’d "won" a couple of livesale/auction issues as well as a "gallery sale" issue; and had claimed a couple of low-priced bulk issues, so picked all those up. A solid haul for stuff I’d basically ordered-and-forgot!

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Picking through some $1-bins, I found a few things to get.

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Getting to actual back-issue bins, I went ahead and snagged X-Factor #5…COMPLETING THE ORIGINAL SERIES in my collection! I’d been missing two issues when I woke…and between CNJ and Comic Heaven I completed the original 149-issue run of the ’90s series!

Also snagged a couple more X-Force and Wolverine issues…including the ELUSIVE Wolverine #96, that–despite keeping up with the title at this point back in the ’90s, post-Age of Apocalypse–I missed back then and somehow KEPT ON MISSING in all the years SINCE!

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And finally, grabbed a few issues of Uncanny X-Men from the X-list.

I also got some "supplies" in the form of several treasury-sized bags and boards, a few silver-age bags and boards, and a well-priced "Stor-Folio" that beats the heck outta the prices I see online.


All told, quite a haul for one weekend…one day!

I doubt I’ll be hitting 3 shops in 1 day frequently…but after the shutdowns, I wanted to make the circuit to support their being open again.

And I definitely look forward to more back-issue bin-diving in the near future as I seek to close the gaps in my ’90s X-Books collection, Spawn, and so on.

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Life During Quarantine: Non-Traditional Hauls

Coming up on two months since I’ve been to a comic store. During the shutdowns, I’ve wound up with some "non-traditional" hauls.

Some Kickstarter stuff’s come in–pledged for as far back as a year or more. Some new "Walmart comics" that I was able to order via their site. And an excellent order from Mirage Studios for a run of Usagi Yojimbo that I’ve really never seen (never looked that hard though) anywhere.

And as stuff stacked up, I figured I’m not doing other worthwhile content, so might as well do a "Haul post" and highlight these.

At least for my own personal documentation!

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Odd Tales from the Curio Shop. Tales From Nocturnia.

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I’ve increasingly been a fan of TwoMorrows‘ stuff. Where was all this when I was in school and could have used these as reference citations for papers?!? I’d be interested in the complete American Comic Book Chronicles series…but it’s a bit pricy (textbook-like) and not all volumes are in-print. I backed a Kickstarter for this new printing of the 1980s volume. It also prompted me to acquire the 1990s volume last summer. I also backed their anniversary volume The World of Twomorrows. Why not?

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I was drawn to the Deborah Daring by the art. Unfortunately, I was blindsided by shipping. With all the ‘upgrades’ during the campaign, shipping became a very expensive nightmare to the US from Canada. I was initially ready to write the thing off, but some of that "heat" "in the moment" dealing with the shipping has worn off, so we’ll see if/when I get around to actually reading the thing!

Then we have the Haunted High-Ons: The Darkness Rises hardcover, collecting the 6-issue mini-series! This one was a no-brainer for me, enjoying Manning‘s work and all!

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I’d backed Everglade Angels on strength of Northcott‘s name; having Lobdell on it as well is quite a bonus. Yet another thing that I need to get around to actually reading…but sure is pretty to have thus far!

One of my profs from college introduced me (via Facebook) to Phil Machi some years back; and we’ve been facebook friends now for however many years. I’ve known of his work and enjoyed seeing all he posts about it…but somehow had never gotten around to purchasing anything.

So I put an order in for Silver Lining, one of his Retail Sunshine volumes…and have quite enjoyed it! Just in the first several pages, I was chuckling at the humor…though I’ve not had any extensive work in retail, I’ve had just enough to begin to have a hint of what it can be like…and I’ve read enough Reddit stories to have a feel as well. But to get stuff in strip format like this makes it all the more entertaining and engaging!

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AND Phil threw in this sketch for me as well…totally made my day getting the package and seeing this!

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The collected volume of the 6-issue Hope series came…and I still can’t help but think it should have more of the pink/purpleish tone of the first issue, which is rather iconic to me. That said, this blue cover is enough of a change to draw the eye, and I do like it, and hope to really dig in soon having the whole story in one place and not scattered!

Then For Goodness Sake volume one which is a full K. Lynn Smith piece; another to get into!

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While I’m not keen on exclusive-to-a-single-retailer things… a new line of comics has hit Walmart. Norah’s Saga particularly caught my attention, being another of Blake Northcott‘s projects; but I snagged all four issues to give them a try…though I had to order them online, as the Walmart I’ve been frequenting did not have them out (despite their app saying they had them in stock).

I’m more willing to give stuff like this a shot at $5/issue for the novelty than I am a mainstream publisher; though not on a continuous basis.


I’ve wound up getting quite a bit of stuff directly from Mirage Publishing over the years–back issues, a couple posters, and whatnot.

They may not be pristine "Near-Mint" or such…but that’s great! While I’m not gonna willingly damage my own comics, and don’t necessarily want anything beat to heck and back…I’m VERY MUCH a "reader copy" kinda guy…generally more interested in having the issue than I am with having it "graded" or "gradable" at high grades.

So everything I’ve gotten from Mirage has been excellent for me!

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All the more with a semi-recent order of the Mirage Usagi Yojimbo run.

The site listed issues 4-16 as available. Figuring that’d leave me with just a couple issues (2-3) to hunt down in the wild (pretty sure I’d seen #1 somewhere in going through boxes the last couple years) I pulled the trigger and ordered them.

A few weeks later when my package arrived, I was greeted with a VERY pleasant surprise: #s 1-3 included! So a complete run of the Mirage iteration of the series!

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I emailed to make sure it wasn’t a mistake–and was confirmed to be intentional!

So it was a huge thank-you then…and now publicly! Thank you, Mirage, for being most excellent!

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Life During Quarantine: Savage Dragon, the Anniversary of Marvels, and the Walking Dead

A couple weeks ago, I got it into my head to see what Savage Dragon Archives volumes were available to order. InStockTrades actually had volumes 4-9 available…which–when added to 1-3 that I’ve had for years–would take me all the way to Savage Dragon #225 content-wise! Which for me is basically "the entire series," though I’ll probably "give in" and get #250 later this year when that comes out.

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I also remembered that the 25th anniversary edition of Marvels was supposed to have been out, so I looked for that, and decided to add it on into the order as well…and was curious about its size, "assuming" it would be "oversized" but not for certain.

I was definitely thinking about the 10th anniversary edition, and wondered if they’d be the same size.

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Lo and behold…they are! Which is most excellent! I’ll need to do a deeper dig later, but I know primarily a huge difference is the 25th anniversary edition has the "annotations" from the Annotated Marvels re-release from last year, and I believe also contains the Marvels Epilogue issue.

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I remember being flabbergasted at the cover price of the 10th anniversary edition…and it was quite awhile after it came out before I acquired my copy (at a significant discount, though I don’t remember offhand what I paid for sure). The 25th anniversary edition is priced a mere ONE CENT higher than the 10th anniversary edition. (And to think…that was the 10th, but this 25th could be the 15th of the 10th…)

I’m a sucker for this series, though, and may have to do a post specifically looking at it, sometime later.

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Those Savage Dragon perfectly fit on the shelf (well, having displaced some miscellaneous color editions of the series). I really like having the "entire series" like this…it’s very satisfying compared to so many other series that I’m missing volumes.

Part of pulling the trigger on these is still being ticked-off at missing out on a bunch of GI Joe: A Real American Hero volumes by about a week last year. Saw that IST had all the ones I was missing, and "had to" just order them so I wouldn’t "miss out" again!

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While these don’t exactly show off the "over the years" piecemeal sort of collection the various existing TPBs are…I don’t have a full run of those, even; and I’d rather have a single version.

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Where does The Walking Dead come in? Just so happens that the shelf my Savage Dragon volumes were on share with The Walking Dead.

Here are several of the hardcover novels from over the years. I’m sure I’m missing at least a couple, but I’ll either find ’em or I won’t…maybe I’ll specifically hunt them later. Maybe I’ll happen across them somewhere.

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And here’s the complete run of The Walking Dead in paperbacks. The BKV(?) special from last year; all 32 volumes of the series; the Walking Dead Survivors Guide, and the sticks-out-like-a-sore-thumb-hardcover-ONLY Here’s Negan.

I went through a "shark-movie" phase quite awhile back, and from there into zombies. When I finally gave Walking Dead a shot, the 5th paperback had just come out. I started with volume 1, and VERY quickly breezed through acquiring/reading all 5 volumes. I then waited several months, having by then missed an issue or two after volume 5, figuring I’d get volume 6, and then jump on with the single issues.

Following the singles didn’t work all that well for me, and I went in and out getting them. I remember getting singles to the early-50s at least (a little over a year of singles) and feeling like #49 was almost a whole new series. I went TPB-only for awhile, but got back to the singles for the story leading up to just past #100. Then back to the TPBs…but dabbled with digital for All-Out War…and then left the series altogether for a few years.

Last year with hype over a questionable cliffhanger with Rick, I hopped back in and quickly filled the gap from the previous few years, and followed the singles to the end of the series (later getting the TPB for the sake of "completing" the series.


And now I have a nice little shelf of two (for me) complete series…plus some novels.

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