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The ’80s Revisited: Detective Comics #604

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detective_comics_0604The Mud Pack Part One: Men of Clay

Writer: Alan Grant
Penciller: Norm Breyfogle
Inker: Steve Mitchell
Letterer: Todd Klein
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Assoc. Editor: Dan Raspler
Editor: Denny O’Neil
Cover Price: $1.00
Published by: DC Comics

This cover is another iconic one for me at least…with a mud/clay version of Batman and someone holding a glinting knife over it. There’s no cover credit in the issue…because this almost certainly was when covers were done by the main artist of the issue. And they actually reflected something from the issue itself…either thematically or literally. In this case…literally.

The issue opens with someone holding a mud statue of Batman, and then we jump to a few pages of some clay guy (Preston Payne, Clayface III) in Arkham, talking to a mannequin he’d been in love with but had to tell he wanted to break up. When she didn’t answer, he smacked her and freaks out when her head flies off. He winds up breaking down his door and killing/maiming guards…escaping. Elsewhere, Batman takes down some generic criminals in an alley before responding to a call about the escape. Meanwhile, a cloaked figure stalks through the movie theater district reminiscing about old times and when films were good, talking to someone named Matthew. When he’s approached by some would-be muggers, they get more than they bargained for as he shows them true horror as a slasher, killing them. While Arkham guards hunt Payne, they meet up with a woman in a costume who has mind-powers; Payne had passed out from tranquillizer darts, and she makes the guards shoot each other before she leaves with Payne in tow. In an abandoned theater/now-HQ, the cloaked figure speaks to Matthew again and we learn that Matthew had been Clayface, perished during a crisis, and whoever this is is trying to bring him back. He fails. Batman confers with Commissioner Gordon and they realize Looker of the Outsiders is involved…or so they think. It turns out we have another Clay-person in this Sondra Fuller or "Lady Clayface" or "Clayface Four." She’s like Hagen apparently was–a shape shifter…but it seems she can actually mimic others’ powers! She’s working with the cloaked guy who turns out to be Basil Karlo, apparently the "original" Clayface. While Matthew’s nothing but slopped mud now, this unites the original Clayface with successors Clayface Three and Clayface Four…a unique group sure to now be able to as one, claim fame, fortune, power…and kill the Batman! (And for effect, he stabs the mud statue of Batman he had, fulfilling the cover’s image).

While there’s the name Batman on the cover and he’s kinda in the background, the cover to Batman #439 is more Nightwing than Batman. Which makes this one all the more striking, being a large closeup of Batman, someone holding a knife…is it a statue? Is it Batman himself trapped in a covering of mud? It also feels like a fairly unique cover, all the more for the colors…so much muddy brown on a black background…it’s hardly a bright, cheery colorful thing to leap off and grab someone’s attention. For me, though, it was part of my first exposure to then-current Batman in 1989, and has remained a striking cover to me that always seems to grab my attention if I see it anywhere! And something like this story would be an excellent candidate for a Batman: Clayface or whatever those villain-spotlight TPBs are; or of a massive reprint issue for this arc, etc. Yet other than a Norm Breyfogle-specific collection, I don’t think this Mud Pack story has ever actually been collected as its own thing! Which is a darned shame, really.

41-year-old me in 2022 here thinks he knows that Clayface III (Preston Payne) is an Alan Moore character from an Annual. But this issue seems to give us what we need to know about him, what he is and does to appreciate the character. Same for Karlo…though we get less on Lady Clayface. We see her in action, but not much else. We also get the Hagen bits/references…bringing this group of villainous/antagonist characters together (for the first time?) as a unified threat, setting up whatever comes next. The issue is almost cinematic in some ways with an intro image, then prologue, introducing the characters and bringing them together, the Karlo "reveal" as the mastermind, and so on…leaving off on a (perhaps melo) dramatic cliffhanger/threat.

Visually, this has a definite difference from the Batman over in that title. Breyfogle‘s Batman is rather distinctive to me and rather prone to shadows and for lack of a better phrasing, a sort of "flow" with the action. I also really like his Bat-Signal…it’s recognizable, but its "wavy" effect seems much more authentic than a clean circle on clouds as it’s often depicted. As some of my earliest, regular Batman art, this set the standard for me, along with the likes of Byrne and Aparo as "my" Batman, and a style I very much enjoy.

There’s another thing to this issue that struck me as a kid: the cover proclaims "Free Full-Color Batman Mini-Poster Inside!" Bound into the center of this issue is an actual poster that can be removed (carefully)…a double-page sized image of Batman, and seems to be the same paper as a cover…something higher quality than the basic "newsprint" the bulk of the issue was printed on. This poster is single-sided; and does not even have ads or other promo stuff on its back; removing it in no way decreases (and actually, INcreases) the readability of the issue…no story/panels are lost, it’s truly an actual bonus for the issue! Some comics in the late-’80s/early-’90s would feature "pin-up pages" of art by creators either not as associated with a character or not holding the "main" art gig for the character/team; filler space, etc. This poster is its own thing, an original image not just lifted from a panel…and certainly "worthy" of a cover itself…but, no "variants" here!

I’ve snagged multiple copies of this issue over the years. My original in 1989; as well as copies from bargain bins; at least one copy was solely for that poster, which I have framed on a wall; and a copy I got to get signed by Breyfogle himself some years back when I was unable to locate my actual original copy in time; and now this copy I got for this reading project at present.

I’d definitely recommend this issue if only for the poster, should you happen across it in a bargain bin. The Mud Pack seems a totally forgotten, high-quality story (albeit perhaps from rose-colored glasses of nostalgia) that I’d definitely recommend getting if you’re able to get all 4 chapters; and ideally copies for less than whatever modern comics cost. To me, this is certainly a 25-cent book; but decently worthwhile going up to $3/$4 (maybe $16 at most for all 4 chapters) just because it’s such a quality Batman/Clayface(s) story and strikes me as having a lot more…SOMEthing…than modern $5 and $6 single-issues.

I did a bit of "internet research" because neither this issue nor Batman #439 had cover dates on them…but I know I had to have gotten them at the same time as Adventures of Superman #453 (April 1989) and Superman #31 (May 1989). Apparently somewhere in this timeframe DC and Marvel had some shenanigans on adjusting cover dates, and from what I can figure out, it seems likely that the correlation here–what put these 4 together for me–was that the Superman issues probably were "left over" and had not been pulled; while the Batman issues were very new. Or something to that effect.

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The ’80s Revisited: Batman #439

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batman_0439Batman Year III Chapter Four: Resolutions

Writer: Marv Wolfman
Penciller: Pat Broderick
Inker: Michael Bair
Letterer: John Costanza
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Assoc. Editor: Dan Raspler
Editor: Dennis O’Neil
Cover Price: $1.00
Published by: DC Comics

This is another issue that’s very iconic TO ME but not necessarily anyone else. This was my first-ever issue of the main Batman title that I got. #439…438 issues came before I got my first! And it’s got a large "Year 3" on the cover…AND it’s marked as "part 4 of 4." It’s hundreds of issues in; it’s the final chapter of a multi-part story; and it’s some middle year, not even a "first year" or such! And I was 8 when I first got the issue, yet it didn’t stop me from getting the next two issues, or further issues of both Batman as well as Detective Comics. But I suppose kids in 2022 are incapable of that…at least for the way publishers treat contemporary numbering outside of Detective Comics and Action Comics.

We open where an Anthony Zucco has apparently just been killed, and Nightwing scolds Batman for letting it happen. The two talk, and there’s obviously some "history" here. We find out the dead guy had some book with details about crimes all over Gotham…so now "the underworld" wants it and an all-out hunt begins. The two talk further in the Batcave–in costumes, but masks off–before Batman leaves, insisting on doing stuff alone. Nightwing and Alfred talk, and we get several pages of flashbacks to how Nightwing–Dick Grayson–was legally able to become Bruce Wayne’s ward…and why it was ward and not adopting him as a son. Dick heads out to check on stuff that might lead him to answers, and we cut to where Batman’s much more brutal than usual, beating answers out of criminals rather than speaking. Meanwhile, Dick follows up and gets useful information without the actuality of violence. While Dick returns to an orphanage he spent some time at, Bruce is back at the cave, putting things together a bit slower than Dick had. Dick speaks with Sister Mary Elizabeth and pieces the final bits together to determine where Zucco’s book is. As he finds it, the primary person behind the situation arrives and wants the book for himself…and Batman arrives in time to realize he’s about to lose Dick the way he lost Jason. Things don’t play out that way, though…but the book is lost to the elements. While Batman returns to the cave alone, Dick visits his parents’ graves.

As said at the start of this post…more than 400 issues, a third year, and part 4 of 4, all elements that should have put an 8-year-old off from getting this comic, at least according to 2022 standards. I don’t even know if I comprehended those elements, though…as an 8-year-old, I simply saw the word "Batman" on the cover and knew it to be a Batman comic. That’s it…plain and simple. Didn’t matter that there was a 438 on the cover; didn’t matter that it said it was the 4th of a 4-part story; didn’t matter that it said "Year 3," it was a Batman comic.

I’ve long considered Jim Aparo, John Byrne, and Norm Breyfogle to be my favorite Batman artists…and in my "memory" I’m sure I figured this to have been one of theirs. It’s not…and I need to add Broderick to that list, I think, based on my most recent read-through of this issue and how well the art worked for me (despite this particular copy of the issue having dulled, the inks bled, and generally the issue’s newsprint paper is hardly in pristine condition 33 years later). Along with stuff like Untold Legend of the Batman, that Man of Steel issue One Night in Gotham City, and Breyfogle on The Mud Pack in Detective, this is iconic early Batman (and Nightwing) for me, visually.

Story-wise, this seems like a solid issue. Even though I have read the entire 4-parter a couple times in the years since it came out, this issue stands out due to being my first issue of the title. Same for this re-read: I read it cold, rather than the entire story. We get a bit of context about Zucco’s death, from Bruce and Dick’s verbal sparring; to figure out what’s been going on in earlier chapters…at least as relevant to this issue specifically.

When I first read the issue as a kid, I had no clue there’d been a Year One or a Year Two. In a way I never give this story much thought in that regard as a Year Three, except right now I take it sort of like Years One and Two were Bruce’s start…and it was the 3rd year when Dick joined. So in a way, this is as much Dick’s story as Bruce’s…maybe more.

I also don’t think terribly much about who WROTE these earliest issues of the title that I read…at the time it was absolutely the character I was getting/reading, with no regard for any given writer or artist. And compared to the likes of Superman, I only dabbled with Batman comics, and the Batman comics never had the same depth nor singular ongoing story the way the Superman books did that led me to being much more familiar with some of the artists and continuity over there. That said, Marv Wolfman being the writer is a pleasant re-realization for me, and sort of a re-epiphany "of course!" as far as what was set up in this story and in the next–A Lonely Place of Dying.

I definitely see the depth in this issue, and the importance of the Bruce/Dick stuff and the flashbacks. As a kid, I probably sort of understood the flashbacks were supposed to be Dick–Nightwing–but I had no real understanding that this was Robin! I also had only begun to "realize" that "a" Robin had even died, or that the original had "grown up" and become Nightwing. In this issue I just saw this guy that had history with Batman/Bruce and they didn’t get along well for some reason.

I don’t believe this story was ever collected as its own thing…I’m pretty sure it was even left out of the Death in the Family volume that combined Death in the Family with Lonely Place of Dying! Death in the Family had a TPB; I believe The Many Deaths of the Batman had a TPB; and I know A Lonely Place of Dying had a TPB (that was one of my very first-ever TPBs!). But this story did not have one. I’m not even sure if this wound up being included in any of the larger collected volumes DC has put out the last few years, and while I know some of the Detective stuff like The Mud Pack wound up in a Norm Breyfogle volume…I don’t have the knowledge of the same thing happening with this story.

I’ve seen a mix of stuff for Batman: Year Three over the years; from issues in bargain bins to being offered in the $10-something range and anything in between. Some of that’s probably moreso the first chapter that introduced Tim Drake, though.

On the whole, I wouldn’t recommend this as a single issue…but if you find it in a bargain bin, I’d recommend getting all 4 parts; it’s definitely worth a read if you can get all four for $5ish or under!

Reading this again has me itching to read other issues from around this time…particularly to actually sit down and read Death in the Family through Lonely Place of Dying straight through. But that’ll be a reading project for some time down the road, perhaps.

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The Monthly Haul: October 20 to November 17, 2021

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Well, ONCE AGAIN, despite the best of intentions, I let a few more weeks slip by!

So, here we are again with me covering multiple weeks in one post. This time out, "only" FIVE weeks, though…a month. October 20 through November 17!

As with my last post catching up on 3 months, I’m just going to leave these as more of a "gallery" than anything else rather than trying to come up with random ‘vamping’ stuff to fill space/remember back across the weeks and all that.


Week of October 20, 2021

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Week of October 27, 2021

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Week of November 3, 2021

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Week of November 10, 2021

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Week of November 17, 2021

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And with that, we’re allllllmost caught up to "current."

And despite my last few times saying so….barring some catastrophic technology issue, should be covering the CURRENT/most recent week–11/24–in my very next post…on MONDAY!

And from there, will start dropping some posts that I’ve had percolating for months in my mind that are finally getting written…and we’ll see where the next 5-6 weeks take us as far as 2021 goes, before whatever 2022 brings…

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The Weekly Haul: Week of April 14, 2021

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Another week, some new comics…

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Nothing all that exciting this week. Wolverine and Children of the Atom are "the latest X-books this week." Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon is the latest issue of that series…cruising on along on strength of the first issue and Larry Hama‘s name.

Then Star Trek: The Next Generation: The GIft as a reprint of an older story and getting some nostalgia. I’m not much interested in "modern" TNG comics, but occasional stuff like this I’ll check out. Cheaper than "hunting" back-issues to get the story, anyway.

GI Joe: A Real American Hero #279 is another "latest issue/issue-out-this-week."

And the Batman & Scooby-Doo Mysteries is the first time in a few weeks that DC has been on here. But it’s a $2.99 comic! Given their shift mostly to $4.99/$5.99 and such…I’d be just part of the problem if I complain about their prices but then DIDN’T support a $2.99 book!

Finally, for the Comic Shop News issue this week…Looking just at the top, my first thought was "…again?" on The Mighty Crusaders/The Shield. My second thought was "Huh…that looks like Rob Liefeld art…" Unfolding the issue…sure enough, saw the ‘signature’ on the art. Say what you will about the man’s art…it’s typically very recognizable!

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Looking Forward to a Possible Documentary Feature Film about Batman: The Animated Series

Yesterday, I shared a link and posted the following to Facebook. This is simply me supporting a project I’d love to see happen. I myself am backing the project, and this post is totally me, Walt–unsponsored, un-requested/etc. The only thing I receive from this is the satisfaction of doing what little I can from my little corner of the internet here to shine some attention on a worthy project!


Did you discover Batman thanks to the ’90s animated series? Do you fondly recall the early to mid-’90s with shows like Batman and X-Men? Have you enjoyed their successors–Superman, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited… even the modern live action films?

Is Kevin Conroy the voice of "your" Batman? Mark Hamill the voice of "your" Joker?

So much came from this brilliant series–its animation, its writing, its voice talent. And the folks behind the series are mostly still around–they’re still alive and many still active in the industry…and able to be involved in a project like this. Information, anecdotes, recollections…they’re not just names and written quotes in history texts or bland wiki entries somewhere online.

Phil’s got a documentary lined up to cover this show, with interviews from many involved firsthand on having brought a key vision of Batman to the screen with influence lasting to this very day.

I’m not generally one to "push" crowdfunding ventures but this one that I’m certainly personally behind. Phil does awesome work, and this would be an awesome one to see able to be made.

If you’d consider checking it out–don’t just take my wording for it…visit the Kickstarter page (link is in the comments), see it in Phil’s own words, and think about "backing" this, even if only for a few dollars. Toss in $3-4–about the cost of a cup of coffee on the go(???)–and you’ll be part of this documentary happening. And you’ll probably spend more time watching it than that cup of coffee would have lasted.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/livestockproductions/stay-tooned-presents-btas/


If you opt to click the link above (or click the image below), it’ll take you to Kickstarter and you can click around within the campaign page for the project.

As of my grabbing the screenshot, there are 78 backers and $7,066 raised of a $10,000 "goal."

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The way Kickstarter works is, you "pledge" whatever amount, and then at the END of the campaign–funds are collected…assuming, of course, the campaign met its goal. It’s an all-or-nothing situation: either it’s funded, or it’s not. You are NOT charged immediately–you’re only charged at the end and then only if the campaign met its goal.

But you have to actually pledge in order for that to happen.


I’d love to see this come to fruition. That’s why I’m posting about it…I don’t think I’ve ever posted something like this, supporting/endorsing a Kickstarter thing, if that helps show I’m not just blowing smoke on the matter.

If you’re reading this…I’d recommend checking out the campaign, and if you’re interested and able, back it.

If you want to check out Phil’s other work, his site is at https://retailsunshine.com/.

And for another documentary he self-produced recently, you can find Sparking Sunshine on his YouTube channel.


And with that…I’m shutting up for now.

I have several other posts planned for this week, but "real life" is already rearing its head, so whether I make it through another week of "(week)daily" posts or not remains to be seen.

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A Year of DC 3.75"/4" from Spinmaster

Last year, I started seeing some new DC action figures from Spinmaster. (Also from McFarlane Toys). The Spinmaster figures are smaller–3.75" or 4" scale, I’m not actually certain which…but considerably smaller than 6"/7" figures like the DC Multiverse or Marvel Legends figures.

Due to increasingly limited shelf-space…and already having a shelf jam-packed with loose Superman figures–I didn’t immediately open the Superman that I got. And then I chased down a black suit, bearded variant. And then over the past year, I’ve occasionally snagged another figure as my eye’s been caught.

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Having the "actual" Superman (Rebirth-era without the trunks) I’m not bothered by other variants. I’m actually hoping for a version WITH the trunks! I’m not overly-keen on Lex Luthor, but liked the appearance with the packaging and actually having the "logo" for his name. The "tech" Superman or whatever reminded me of the Cyborg Superman, so while obviously not that, I snagged it. Captain Marvel, Flash, and Aquaman were cool. After the Mattel 3.75 Infinite Heroes Wonder Woman standing out in my mind as one of those figures that would not stand on its own, I only got her figure to go with Superman and (separately) Batman.


But it’s been more than clear to me that Spinmaster‘s (and DC‘s!) HEART lies with BATMAN. Soooo many more figures, where the general DC ones seem–by comparison–to be token action figure presence to claim presence, perhaps to maintain a license or some such? Stuff over MY pay grade.

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Robin (Tim Drake) is one of my favorite comic characters, and over the last few years I’ve wound up with quite a collection of Robin figures and such.I like to think that these variant Robins are intended to be the various characters–Tim, Damian, and Jason, at least.

I finally caved recently-ish and snagged the most NORMAL-LOOKING/most-comics-accurate-looking-to-me Batman. Nightwing and Catwoman for obvious ties to Bat-stuff.

And an apparently armored Batman putting me in mind of Dark Knight Returns, but perhaps intended more as Batman v. Superman. Whatever. It’s bulky and cool.

Then there were some of the big, bulky villains! Killer Croc, Bronze Tiger, King Shark, and Man-Bat.

Somewhere along the way, spotted Talon and figured for this line, and being (relatively-speaking) pretty cheap (1/3 to 1/2 the price of the larger Multiverse scale figures), I’d rather have more characters, so grabbed it. Same for Killer Moth. I even grudgingly bought Batwoman figuring she’d go well with a grouping of Detective Comics: Rebirth characters at least.

And that golden Joker…happened across that and initially figured I’d get it as "trade bait," but have since more or less settled on keeping it for the heckuvit, at least for now. There’s another Joker variant that I may keep an eye out for as well. Despite this, I still think it’s rather stupid to have limited chase variants in action figures; but all the more when they’re functionally UNPAINTED figures merely done in some alternate color plastic!

But as said…with this scale and the possibility quantity-wise, I’m more ok with stuff than I’d be if these were DC Multiverse or such.

And these are just "basic figures," without getting into any of the multi-packs and such that have even more recently caught my eye.

I see plenty of activity in a toy group I’m in on Facebook about the Multiverse figures…but I feel like I don’t/haven’t seen much of anything for this line.

Fine by me–if the only figure(s) being "chased" for this line ARE the solid-color-unpainted variants, that leaves more of the actual figures for me to be able to get without dealing with…shall we say…"resellers."

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The Weekly Haul: Week of January 20, 2021

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Another mixed week of stuff. First time in awhile that I’ve snagged a "current Marvel" due to the writer!

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So I may have known there was a new Iron Fist comic coming, but what I had not consciously noted was that it was written by Larry Hama. That alone would be enough to sell me on it. But something about the cover also helped sell it. I haven’t decided if it quite fits my recent Bought it For the Cover category, as I think I’m holding that for "live" attention-grabbed-by-the-cover.

We’ve got the second issue of Batman/Catwoman…and I’ve figured I’d give it at least the first 3 issues or so. Though all coming a year later than they were supposed to, a certain sense of relevance has worn off.

I’m continuing to enjoy Walking Dead Deluxe…#7 here starts the 2nd arc, which puts us juuuust past the "novelty" of a colorized vol. 1 graphic novel. Though come to think of it, I think it was said that these color editions are NOT going to be collected anytime soon…so I dunno. My frustrations in general particularly with DC of late (kinda "numb" to Marvel) leave me embracing stuff like WDD as something a bit outside the norm but holding enough familiarity to feel normal.

It’s sort of annoying on principle that IDW let BOTH the new issue (#113) of TMNT as well as the secondary mini-series (TMNT: Jennika II) both come out the same week. Along with generally spacing all books from a given publisher across a month, it seems that attention should be given to spacing books that are part of the same tight "family of titles" are spaced out as well. This issue of TMNT itself seems to pick up a bit from the past year’s worth of issues; we have a couple of "new/classic" characters introduced…though the issue certainly does NOT fit the solicitation suggestion of what happens in the issue! And I think I read Jennika II #1, but wasn’t even interested enough to read #2 (yet)…buying because it’s technically TMNT and I have every (regular cover) single-issue of TMNT and non-promotional minis/one-shots as published by IDW thus far.

Then there’s the newest Dawn of X TPB–vol. 11. Still wanting to support these, and hoping they at least continue through/including X of Swords, and ideally beyond. Though they could do to be a bit more frequent given the addition of other titles, specials, and mini-series. Collecting half a month’s worth of books each month (or less-frequent) helps lose relevance. 11 volumes in is quite an investment at this point, but proven to be a cool (to me) way to get stuff that does NOT involve having to chase down numerous iterations/printings/etc of a bunch of titles with oodles of variants apiece and all that.

Finally…Batman/Catwoman #1. Yup…#1. Cuz dummy that I am, I misplaced the copy I’d bought a couple months ago when it came out. So I opted to buy a new copy since it was available (and at cover price!) so I could read that and then #2, instead of allowing another series to get backlogged because I can’t find a previous issue. Not something I’ll do regularly…and having read the first two issues now, I can honestly say that I have no idea what’s really going on, except it seems to be split between at least three different time periods, though I’m guessing since there are NO captions to clearly deliniate "present" or "the future" or "a few years from now" or whatever. Nothing even particularly clear to separate any "present" from "flashback." But 105 issues of Batman since 2016, 85ish of those being the basis for B/C and I’m stubbornly interested in seeing stuff to its conclusion, however challenging that’s become.

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

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

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


Week of December 16, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Week of December 23, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Just a few more days and 2020 is over.

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

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

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


Week of November 18

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

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

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

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

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


Week of November 25

Thanksgiving week was an odd week of sorts.

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

And of course, several $1 True Believers reprints.

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

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

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

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

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

But they had them.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Week of December 2

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

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

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

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

THIS is the way.

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

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

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

Can’t read what I don’t have, though.

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


Week of December 9, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

IF the year ends.

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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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