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The Weekly Haul: Week of January 13, 2021

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Look at this! The third week in a row covering a week’s worth of new issues to stay current! Also the second post on this blog in as many days…with at least one more lined up before the week is done. The world will surely be back into 2020 territory at this rate!

So…another small-ish week, with some double-dip and a random purchase.

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Foremost (for me) for the week is the Captain America facsimile edition. If Marvel would actually do these as a weekly thing–some ’80s or ’90s (or earlier) facsimile edition every single week, I’d absolutely be on board with that, on principle!

Amazing Spider-Man #57 continues the fallout from Last Remains, which I got into thanks to the (non-variant!!!) cover of Amazing Spider-Man #54. I’m pretty sure this is the third issue of this title in as many weeks, and the fourth in five weeks or so. I’m not onboard for a weekly series, and even biweekly for a Marvel title is not much in the cards for me.

I couldn’t pass up the Chris Claremont Anniversary Special…it’s Claremont. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as much X as I had expected/hoped…though I really didn’t even know what TO expect at all. Still, could do a lot worse, especially for a random one-shot. And having become aware of some other "anniversary" issues coming up, I may have to settle myself in to buy some of ’em, if they have any sort of decent homages back to ’90s stuff that appeals to me…as opposed to all the modern stuff that I just don’t seem to care much for.

I picked up DC Future State: Robin Eternal #1 because it’s Robin…but I’m really NOT digging this whole Future State thing. I might have gone all-in to immerse myself in it/have this finite "event" story…but it lost me first for no bundles from DCBS (their Rebirth bundles had me all-in for over a year on at least purchasing those issues) for the event. Then there’s the variance in pricing, with at least $3.99 AND $4.99 AND $7.99 issues…maybe more prices. Also the variance in mini-series’ lengths. Some are 2 issues, some are 4…not sure if there are any one-shots/specials in addition.So last week I bought Swamp Thing and The Next Batman; this week Robin Eternal and while I’ll likely finish Swamp Thing and this, I’ve chosen to opt out of Future State otherwise, and by extension, Infinite Frontier or whatever the next "initiative" is for DC. Going through the motions otherwise.

X-Force #14 is an issue I bought due to the cover getting my attention; isolated, random purchase otherwise.

Finally, the second volume of Fire Power is out. $16.99 for the contents of 6 $3.99 comics. I’m double-dipping…I’ve been getting the single issues, but want the collected volume to go with the prelude OGN/vol. 1. And as I’m increasingly averse to Marvel and DC, I’m looking for other stuff to follow and keep with and have largely settled on Fire Power and Walking Dead Deluxe as a couple of such titles…double-dipping or otherwise.

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And this week’s Comic Shop News on its own, though it’d usually be in the main image. My photo "stage" was different this week and I couldn’t get it in the main image as a single shot. The BeQuest looks interesting…I might actually check it out. Looks like it’s from Aftershock, so it’s "eligible" where I won’t touch Boom! Studios‘ stuff, even these 5 years later after their stunt with the ratioed covers for MMPR. (Petty as it is, I actually looked to make sure the title was not Boom! here–I would have foregone the CSN cover if it was).

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Thanks to a post in the NEOTACC group on Facebook, I was made aware of the Skeletor/Panthor set from Mega Construx being in-stock at the local Walmart 5 minutes away. And waiting on a ridiculously-lengthy installation/update to Windows 10 on my work computer (thanks, Microsoft, for forcing me to work late that night to make up the time you stole!) I was able to make the 20-minue run so as to avoid complete loss of patience with my work computer…and acquire a very cool set!

I also–in looking for Skeletor/Panthor–came across the Raphael single figure, which goes with the Donatello I already have. I think I saw someone’s post recently that indicated Michelangelo and Leonardo had already been out, so I may be SOL on those, but then again, I could probably use extra weapons from other duplicates and get dupes of these more recent ones. Or just say screw it and go with what I have…will still look cool on the shelf!

And snagged the GI Joe set of metal mini-figs cuz why not? It’s the ONLY non-vehicle GI Joe thing that’s ever actually in-stock at Walmart. Maybe if they MOVED they’d get something different in, or realize they actually need more of the "retro" figures that are never in-stock.

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And then for the heckuvit, I bought the TMNT movie Casey Jones Pop vinyl that I came across at a different Walmart over the weekend. Here he is next to the older cartoon-based Casey that came out a couple years ago.

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The Weekly Haul: Week of January 06, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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The ’90s Revsited: Captain America #12

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captain_america_(1996)_0012Heroes Reunited part 4 of 4: Let It Be

Story: Jeph Loeb
Pencils: Joe Bennett, Ed Benes
Inks: Homage Studios
Colors: Nathan Lumm & Wildstorm FX
Letters: RS & Comicraft/Albert Deschesne
Editors: Mike Heisler & Mike Rockwitz
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: October 1997
Cover Price: $2.99

Here we are with Captain America #12. An "anniversary" issue, double-sized (and extra-priced for its time), yet it is "only" $2.99…cheaper than something HALF its size even twenty years later. This is chapter 4 of the 4-part Heroes Reunited arc that spanned Fantastic Four (1996) #12, Avengers (1996) #12, Iron Man (1996) #12, and this issue.

We open on Rikki Barnes–a girl that’s apparently been Cap’s partner of late, a new "Bucky"–as she discovers a mess of a break-in at her grandparents’ house. This turns out to be Dr. Doom, who goes on about her being some chronal anomaly that shouldn’t exist. Captain America arrives and saves her, confronting Doom, as things start to come out. The Fantastic Four are currently battling Terrax in Central Park (presumably from where Fantastic Four (1996) #11 had left off…or one of the #11s); there are other heralds as well, and the FF WILL perish. Doom has already seen the Earth destroyed three times, and now his time-travel device is damaged and can’t be counted on for a fourth trip. Galactus prepares to consume the Earth after his heralds soften things up a bit…and only by trusting Doom and the information he brings to the table can the heroes hope to prevail. While the "Knights of the Atomic Round Table" work on a solution and build on Banner’s idea that they find a way to "overload" Galactus, Rikki ponders her place and the personal idea of how she’s not supposed to even exist. The Silver Surfer arrives and tries to get her to convince the others to evacuate what people they CAN from Earth before its destruction. When he flies off, she manages to grab his board; Cap gives chase and pleads with her to let go (mirroring what we know of his facing the original loss of Bucky in WWII). Galactus blasts her, apparently perturbed that a human would dare to touch the Surfer, and thus something that belongs to Galactus. Of course, this becomes some poignant bit that makes the whole thing PERSONAL for the heroes, prompting them to want all the more to take down Galactus (as if the entire WORLD being at stake wasn’t enough). So, too, does the Silver Surfer join in, seeing the injury of one human where he was ok with billions being not just injured–but killed. The Surfer becomes the key, bearing the heroes’ devices and artifacts, betraying Galactus, and though he dies, Galactus is destroyed as well. Doom refuses to stay with the heroes even in friendship; and a brief epilogue, Cap meets James Barnes and Peggy Carter Barnes, with Fury explaining that he knew them but can’t be told how/when…and as Cap prepares to take off, The Watcher talks about how all this has been only one of many tales of heroes reborn.

I felt like more than the previous three chapters of this story, this one had a lot of "splash pages" and "double-page splashes" and such…a bit of a "cheat" regarding the page count, propping that up to a higher count but not really increasing the "value" of the amount of story contained in the pages. The art itself is quite good, and I enjoyed it…once again, despite multiple pencilers I didn’t notice any overt, clear shift from one to another…I simply read the issue, followed the story, and nothing wonky or weird jumped out screaming "this is a different visual style here from that last panel/page" or such. One can do a heckuva lot worse than to have Ed Benes art in an issue…and for my not noticing any stand-out difference, I’d have to say that at least here, the same goes for Joe Bennett.

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The cover is part of a 4-part image…something I’ve pointed out in the previous chapters’ write-ups; and something I far, far, FAR prefer to contemporary practices that would see something like this done all on one single issue, forcing one to buy 4 copies of just one issue to get the full image. Here, the buyer is rewarded: buy all 4 chapters of Heroes Reunited, get this bigger 4-piece image.

Story-wise, this was a mixed issue for me. It felt a bit choppy and bigger on ideas while constrained by space: we have a bit of "subplot" of Rikki contemplating her existence just because a supervillain claims she shouldn’t exist…and there’s not much room for that to really be explored and all–for the character, for Cap, for anyone. For the story essentially picking back up with the Fantastic Four facing Terrax, it seems like we get to a resolution with Galactus being destroyed a little too easily and conveniently; though we have the "shorthand" of being able to just be SHOWN different heroes facing different heralds, and "assuming" that (if one’s read the previous three chapters of Heroes Reunited) we’ve already seen the action/details, we don’t have those details actually within this issue itself. It also hasn’t entirely felt like we’ve had any real focus on Doom gathering pieces of information through the previous chapters in a way to fit stuff…more like he gleaned a bit of extra info from SHIELD in the Iron Man issue and now put it to use (though we don’t really get clued in on the exact data).

As a whole, though…this caps off the four part story with Doom bringing what’s needed after several failed attempts, that allows the heroes to destroy Galactus withOUT destroying Earth. We get a rather arbitrary/sudden turn of the Silver Surfer for this being a new iteration of his seeing the heroes, rather than a continuation. But the issue ultimately stands somewhat alone; one gets context of what’s gone on, so you don’t NEED TO have read the previous chapters. You’ll just "get" more out of this issue if you have, and appreciate the overall story a bit more, I think.

I guess I feel like this is like far too many epic stories: the setup in the first chapter can be great and full of potential…but fails ultimately to live up to the potential in MY mind. That we get an epic story on this scale in only 4 issues (though they’re the size of 8 regular-sized issues) with no other tie-ins and such is something that would be completely "impossible" today, and so even a "choppy" issue is preferable to avoid umpteen tie-ins and expanded chapters and such.

I’d bought this originally when it was a brand-new issue; but the copy I read this time is one I got from a quarter-bin; and certainly is well worth the 25 cents if only for the amount of time it took to just READ the issue (even WITH double-page splashes!). And to get all 4 issues of this Heroes Reunited arc for $1, for the reading experience, I definitely enjoyed this stuff…maybe a little more for the art than story, but I hadn’t realized quite how much this story had stuck with me, of seeing the heroes lose–die–multiple times before achieving victory.

There were 13th issues for all four series, as another 4-part story, with the Marvel characters and this Heroes Reborn universe merged with the then-Wildstorm Universe; and then there was the 4-issue Heroes Return mini-series that bridged the characters from these series back to new series in the main/actual Marvel Universe.

But on the whole, this story served to "end" this iteration of the series, and works well enough on its own to be well worth reading for a bargain price (25 cents, 50 cents, $1-ish). I’d say if you find it for 25-50 cents it’s definitely worth reading Captain America #12 on its own; but it’s best read along with the other #12s, and a real treat for $1 or less an issue (making for a reading experience 8 times as long as a contemporary regular Marvel issue for the same price as the contemporary issue!)

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The ’90s Revisited: Iron Man #12

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iron_man_(1996)_0012Heroes Reunited part 3 of 4: Matters of the Heart

Plot: Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee
Script: Jeph Loeb
Pencils: Ed Benes, Terry Shoemaker, Mike Miller
Inks: JD & Homage Studios
Colors: Wildstorm FX
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne
Editor: Ruben Diaz
Inspiration: Special Thanks to Scott Lobdell
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: October 1997
Cover Price: $2.99

[ Heroes Reunited part 1 of 4 was in Fantastic Four (1996) #12  |  Heroes Reunited part 2 of 4 was in Avengers (1996) #12 ]

This felt like the most "standalone" issue of this 4-parter so far, and felt a lot more tied to previous issues than the other chapters. This issue has several references to the previous issue, beyond simply THAT a conflict had begun or stuff come before.

We open on Tony Stark being brought into a meeting involving The Fantastic Four and the "Hulkbusters." As he gets up to speed on the overall situation, a fight breaks out between the Thing and Hulk, eventually interrupted by Invisible Woman separating them in invisible force-shield bubbles. Cosmic readings are picked up, and the group finds several entities headed to Earth. Tony cuts out–leading the others to think maybe he hasn’t changed as much as thought…but we find that he’s actually checking in on Happy and Pepper–actually caring about others beyond himself. The FF went into action against the heralds of Galactus while Tony’s (separately) kidnapped from Happy’s hospital room by Dr. Doom…while Pepper frets over this, Happy seems fine, figuring it’ll all be resolved within the day. Doom takes Stark to the Helicarrier; meanwhile, Liz gets past security and interacts with Hulk–who reverts to Banner. On the Helicarrier, Stark suits up as Iron Man and confronts Doom before they’re joined by Fury, who lays things out before assembling other heroes, and breaking the news that the Fantastic Four have been (by then) killed in action. The remaining heroes head out to make true their name as "Avengers" and engage the heralds in battle, before Hulk and Iron Man attempt to take on Galactus himself. As he sees them fail, Doom activates his device, and armed with the new knowledge of this latest go-round, disappears back in time for another attempt at stopping Earth’s destruction.

As said, this issue feels the least connected to the overall story/pattern. Doom is there, and we have reference to stuff, but that’s almost incidental. This feels like it probably could read pretty well without the first two chapters, and only earlier issues of this very series (Iron Man) for context. I both like that and yet don’t at the same time. The story title of the issue and the title/credits page don’t even have any reference to Heroes Reunited, unlike the first two chapters; almost like this story was written with a few story-beats required but otherwise completely independent of the overall 4-parter.

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With the art, there are multiple pencilers…but that again didn’t bother me as nothing really seemed to jump out at me or have any jarring differences in appearances. Simply reading the issue, I’d only know there were multiple pencilers because of looking at the credits. I’m a reader-first, so when the art is at least "similar" enough that I don’t really notice it change–that is a good thing. I suspect at least part of that is also due to the consistent inks, colors, and lettering; perhaps heavier handed inking and no huge variation of colors can well hide the different pencils. All that said, I enjoyed the art on this issue! I don’t know how I’ve gone all these years without noticing it, and I didn’t notice it on the interiors, but the EAR on Iron Man on the cover just looks extremely odd and "off" to me and is really the only thing that totally "threw" me off with the visuals. Also as said with the previous two chapters, I’m quite glad the cover can work as it does on its own, yet is part of a 4-part image; as opposed to any one of the chapters having 3 extra variant covers to make up the singular image. Get all four chapters of this four-chapter story and have 1 full image; get any single issues and you have a cover that has the characters in the issue and can be its own thing.

As with the Fantastic Four and Avengers issues of this story, this works well enough as a one-off issue…it’d be worth getting even by itself if you found it for 25-50 cents or so; even up to $1ish. Any more than $1-$2 and I’d recommend definitely getting it as part of a set of the four issues of Heroes Reunited. Despite working alone, I’d recommend this more as part of a set for the "experience." I’m glad to have read it, and somewhat surprised at the details I remembered from whenever the last time I read this was–possibly only back in 1997!

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The ’90s Revisited: Avengers #12

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avengers_(1996)_0012Heroes Reunited part 2 of 4: Shadow’s End!

Writer: Walter Simonson
Pencilers: Michael Ryan & Anthony Winn
Inkers: Saleem Crawford, Sal Regla, Armando Durruthy, John Tighe
Colorist: Nathan Lumm
Computer Color: Wildstorm FX
Letters: RS & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne
Editor: Rachelle Brissenden
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: October 1997
Cover Price: $2.99

[ Heroes Reunited part 1 of 4 was in Fantastic Four (1996) #12! ]

After reading Fantastic Four #12, I was thinking I remembered this story/event being a bit more formulaic, but apparently I misremembered.

This issue opens with Thor performing funeral rites over "Thor 2," who has died in battle. Back on the Helicarrier, a blast is delivered that obliterates the body…a Viking Funeral! Before things can go back to normal, a pilot Fury had sent out returns with a dire warning of Galactus…just before Dr. Doom shows up with his own tale of Earth’s destruction and how the heralds of Galactus must be destroyed at once and their devices disabled. The heroes spring into action, targeting Galactus’ devices. The Fantastic Four battles the Silver Surfer in Moscow even as Doom sets his own machinations into motion. Though the FF ultimately destroy the device, Doom’s unleashed a huge nuclear attack that obliterates all but the Silver Surfer. SHIELD takes heavy losses against Plasma, but with the sacrifice of the Helicarrier and Fury, that capacitor is destroyed. Meanwhile, Hank Pym has revealed a duplicate of the Vision that he’d had, leading to Pym, Scarlet Witch, and the Vision joining the Hulk in the Antarctic. They face the fury of Firest… FireLORD. Victory again comes with a high price. In Hong Kong, more heroes take on Terrax…again with losses, ultimately destroying another capacitor. Doom intends to nuke New York City to take out Galactus himself…but a failure to launch seals the planet’s doom (with the immediate destruction of most of the former Soviet Union in one blast). Through all these deaths, the Silver Surfer has observed the selfless sacrifices and acts of love, coming to realize he can’t stand by. He joins with the remaining heroes as they unleash a final, desperate gambit to destroy Galactus, even as they know their own lives and the entre Earth are forfeit. Doom makes his escape once more as the Earth dies, taking Galactus and the solar system with it (leaving only Mjolnir floating in empty space).

I had a few problems with plot points through this issue… For once thing, I’d thought Terrax had already been on Earth and fought the Fantastic Four in New York, rather than his going to Hong Kong. I suppose Doom’s time-shenanigans changed that, if he arrived prior to Terrax’s original descent. And at the end, it seemed like the heroes "conveniently" just "gave up" and were quick to unleash the gamma energy that destroyed the solar system, to take out Galactus. While I "get" the notion of them making this ultimate sacrifice to stop Galactus, so that untold millions of OTHER worlds might be spared…it just seemed so quick and no one even arguing at the fact that they were basically THEMSELVES triggering the destruction of the Earth on the premise that Galactus was just going to destroy it anyway. By this logic, why bother fighting Thanos, if everyone’s gonna just die (eventually) ANYway, might as well kill the entire universe so that Thanos doesn’t go about doing it piecemeal.

Story-wise on the whole, this is not a horrible issue. It moves at a quick pace, jumping all over to cover a lot of ground. As with the FF issue, this issue by itself could easily be stretched out into an entire mini-series, or at least multiple issues. (Heck, for Heroes Reunited, these days each issue would be split into 3-4 issues/minis/arcs and drag out 12-16 months!) Reading this just as the next chapter, it’s ok, though I’m interested to get to the other issues of this arc. This picking up on stuff from #11, with nothing else even alluding (to the reader) about the events of FF #12, this seems like a poor (or just very, very dark!) ending to Avengers.

heroes_reunited_02

Art-wise, despite the multiple creatives involved, I didn’t really notice differences specifically as I read through the issue…which is a good thing, to me! If I can "know" there are different artists and yet nothing jumps out at me as "Hey! This looks different…oh, here’s where the art was split!" then I tend to be happy with it. I enjoyed the art throughout this issue–particularly the look(s?) for Dr. Doom himself. I definitely like that the cover is part of a singular larger image, yet works well enough by itself. Certainly beats modern comics where the 4-part image would have been variants for the same issue, and maybe "gated" or "chase" variants at that!

Other than context for Doom’s commenting about having already witnessed the world ending and knowing a bit about him (having) a time travel device, this issue pretty much stands alone–it’s better to be read in order after the FF #12 issue, but being read solely in following the Avengers title, it seems like it must’ve held up pretty well to that overall story.

Found in a bargain bin ($1 or under) this would be worthwhile, or if you’re getting all of the Heroes Reborn Avengers issues. I wouldn’t recommend this for more than $1 by itself; but it’s definitely worth getting if you can get it as part of a set of all 4 issues of Heroes Reunited!

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The ’90s Revisited: Fantastic Four (1996) #12

90s_revisited

fantastic_four_(1996)_0012Heroes Reunited part 1 of 4: Doomsday!

Plot: Jim Lee
Script: Brandon Choi
Pencils: Ron Lim & Brett Booth
Inks: Mike Miller, Tom Mcweeney & Homage Studios
Letters: Richard Starkings/Comicraft’s Dave Lanphear
Colors: Wildstorm FX w/Jessica Ruffner
Editor: Ruben Diaz
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: October 1997
Cover Price: $2.99

It’s probably been a good 20 years since I last read this story, but as I’ve yet to actually do a solid read-through of the entirety of the HEROES Heroes Reborn thing, so the sense of familiarity I had in the reading was a very welcome thing.

The cover itself hit me with all sorts of deja vu…and seems like something that in some ways could qualify as a favorite or “iconic” cover…at least because hey–you have the Fantastic Four in full-on attack mode against a distressed Galactus, who is quite recognizable as the giant purple Kirby-entity that he is. I’d actually forgotten until looking at the other issues in this 4-part epic that the cover joins with the other 4 chapters to forma larger 4-part image. Which, of course, would virtually never happen today, 20-some years later, when any potential for such things absolutely MUST be used all on the same exact issue as variant covers, instead of a fun “bonus” or “reward” of getting one copy of an entire story!

After the front cover itself, the next thing to immediately grab my attention was the fold-out nature of the cover. This is from a brief period when Marvel utilized the cover to provide both a page giving the premise of the title and a list of core characters and another page to recap what’s come before as one heads into the issue. Though Marvel has since gone through other things and seems to primarily at present do a “page” with this sort of info as just a text piece, I can definitely say I’d prefer this overall…at least by comparison.

In a way, this issue is rather simple, despite its extra length that allows quite a bit of detail to unfold. Dr. Doom returns to New York, and the final piece of a device he’s been working on is finally in reach. Meanwhile, the Fantastic Four continue a standoff with the heralds of Galactus, before their master summons them away, and the FF are picked up by SHIELD. Nick Fury has also gathered Iron Man and Captain America–Avengers–as things are bigger than they appeared. Probes that had been launched earlier penetrate Galactus’ space and reveal his ship, and the release of devices to several points on Earth. This leads to the various heroes splitting off, each to attend to the building situation in different places. Johnny Storm–the Human Torch–goes to the Himalayans with the Inhumans to face Firelord and one squad of Avengers goes to Monster Island to face Plasma (and by extension of being on Monster Island, the Mole Man). The fight with Firelord winds up falling to Black Bolt, who is able to destroy the device, but its energy emission on destruction kills the Inhumans and Human Torch. Meanwhile, Namor sacrifices himself to neutralize the device guarded by Plasma. As the fight moves to Galactus himself, now on Earth, the SHIELD Helicarrier is compromised…and after it’s evacuated, Nick Fury and the Countess steer it into Galactus’ ship, giving their lives. Unfortunately, Galactus survives. In the ongoing battle, we get surprising twists and turns…and deaths. The Thing and Black Panther are killed, and as the situation deteriorates further, Doom enters the fray, determined to gain the Power Cosmic for himself…and his interference screws things up further for the heroes. As Reed appeals to Doom’s better side, it becomes apparent that the situation is hopeless. As the world dies, Doom alone escapes via his device.

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This issue alone would in present-day terms be an entire event in itself, at least for the most part. I know where things go, and why this is “only” part 1 despite the deaths and then destruction of Earth itself. The extra size to the issue, with plenty of dialogue and captions and such certainly gives us more in a single issue than we’d likely feel we got in an entire event in the present.

The story seems to mostly be its own thing…there are “moments” and plenty of references that would probably mean more to me if I’d read the previous few issues, or the entire series so far; but I felt comfortable jumping in here and just seeing characters behaving largely to form, regardless of their depth.

The art is excellent–for the most part, I felt like Lim and Booth gave some of my favorite appearances to characters throughout the issue. Overall I didn’t notice much of a change between the two…the only point I really felt like I noticed an actual/major difference is in one panel having a large, majestic Captain America, and then another panel with him looking maybe half the size and pretty much TOO “lean.” The entire visual team seemed to work quite well together here, at least in my reading: I enjoyed that this did not feel like it had multiple teams on it.

As series go, this is “functionally” the last issue of this version of the Fantastic Four. There is a 13th issue, but due to its crossover with the then-part-of-Image Wildstorm universe prior to Wildstorm‘s being bought by DC Comics, that issue has not (to my knowledge) been reprinted or the story “acknowledged” in-continuity/etc…making it a sort of one-shot and curiosity.

While I’d initially checked out the first issues (as of this writing, I honestly don’t recall if I’d followed the next few issues of FF or not but recall #7 or so for sure) I was quite a bit “behind” by the time of this crossover. I imagine that I was aware of things coming up, thanks presumably to Wizard Magazine, which was probably part of my getting this story as the issues came out…gearing up for the end of Heroes Reborn and the return of the characters to the main Marvel universe.

This issue more or less works on its own, though it ends on quite the bad note if read in isolation. If you can find all four of the #12s for Heroes Reunited, though, they make quite a set, and just from this first chapter, I’m eager to get into the rest.

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The Weekly Haul: Week of November 1, 2017

This week was a rather large week for new comics! Lotta interesting and interesting-ish stuff out…

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I need to catch up on my actual READING of them, but I’m really digging these one-shots focusing on the various Bat-men. For what I feel compelled to get new in the week, it’s great that there’s a new chapter each week, and does not feel like an overwhelming amount with say, five or six (or seemingly so) or more chapters out in a week. PLUS, the shiny foil covers are fun as they’ve not (yet) been used to fatigue, and for something called Metal, they’re truly appropriate!

Then there’s TMNT/Ghostbusters 2…a fun crossover conceptually, and I enjoyed the first series, so why not a second? And getting at least a weekly dose of TMNT through this, plus the "regular" stuff? Makes for a good month!

As anyone reading this knows, I’m sick and tired of variants, in general. An honest exception is where it’s warranted…such as with this week’s Superman #34! Shows that the 800th issue can be celebrated without having to DERAIL an entire numbered series! It’s observing the anniversary without having to BE a #800!

After the Jetsons backup in one of the specials back in the spring, I certainly wasn’t going to not check out an actual series that looks like it follows up on that! And I’m amused at the "return" of some more obscure characters lately, what with Deadman here, Ragman recently, and Mister Miracle. Then Usagi Yojimbo, which has been trucking along over the years; even with some hiatuses apparently, but it’s back, and I’m enjoying it thus far.

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Now, here’s where location and promotion can pay off: Black Lightning takes place locally, apparently–Cleveland, Ohio–and I don’t think I’d realized, but apparently the creator is local, too! So of course I’ll check this series out! I’m giving Harley and Ivy/Betty and Veronica a chance for the heckuvit…it’s a novelty thing. DuckTales ought to be a given, but I’m still not ready to commit month in/month out…especially as I’m behind on watching the new cartoon.

I need to catch up on actually reading Bane and Astonishing X-Men; already having several issues defeats the point of a collected volume, so "cheaper" to finish out the stories (plus the convenience of having all the issues in-house when I do finally binge-read).

I was not going to bother with Captain America, but some strong positive words on it from a shop owner went a long way with me. It gets this one issue, and I probably won’t come back til the novelty of whatever #700 is…but then again, maybe I’ll end up sticking around until #700. Time shall tell!

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The Lion King is one of my all-time favorite films (period, no sub-categorizing or such for "animated feature" or stuff like that). So for the price of two DC issues (or 1 1/2 Marvel issues), got this mini-graphic novel sized book. I think it might just be a print edition of a digital comic I’d bought years ago, but especially if so, cool to have this in print.

And somehow, I’d missed the DC Essential Graphic Novels edition for 2017, so definitely glad to have it for 2018…my OCD demands I still seek out a 2017 edition to go on the shelf with previous years!

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The Deadman issue is another with an "enhanced cover," which–again–I’m enjoying from DC for the nostalgia and such, and rather judicious use. It certainly fits for something like this title, and as long as it’s only for the first issue, I’m cool with it. (If every issue was this way, no-go!). Even if the $4.99 cover price was because of this, I’m ok with that as well, from DC, in this case: no real hubbub over the cover, so it was just there, and so I was willing to pay the extra. And if the issue would have been $4.99 anyway, then heck yeah, give me something extra! (Like the foil on the Dark Nights/Metal issues!)

And then as a bonus for the week, there were left over comics from Halloween ComicsFest, so I was able to get some of the non-kids-oriented comics (Sabrina, for one) and several other issues I’d missed out on with only choosing the ones I did last weekend. I was satisfied with what I’d gotten over the weekend…so these are definite bonus on top of that, making an expensive week feel that much more substantial!

Toys in the Wild: Avengers 2017

One thing that tends to keep me from "buying in" on a toy line is perceived longevity. I "bought into" a line of DC toys that never took off, despite my thinking it would. I attribute that to inconsistent availability as well as inconsistent (over)pricing.

Similar with other movie-based lines for the Marvel films…they seem to be dumped by stores not long after the films, to make way for the next. Alternatively, there also seems to be a shuffle of "generic" lines meant to bridge the films–tying in without being solely for only one film.

I attribute this new Avengers line as being another of those. Thus far I’ve not seen a Thor figure, though I’ve seen the four others. (Come to think of it, no Hawkeye or Vision or Scarlet Witch, for that matter).

I’ve been seeing these, offhand, for about $8…making them a full $5 cheaper than their slightly smaller counterparts in the 3.75" figure line, whatever Marvel wants to call it this year.

I’d almost be tempted to snag these (hey! female representation via Black Widow!) but I’ll wait and see if we get any villains for the line.

Assuming, that is, that Marvel remembers that there are villains for heroes to oppose, rather than relying primarily on hero-versus-hero for major stories. But then, these are toys, not the comics.

I’d far prefer a line of X-Men toys like this, though…

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Perhaps we’ll get some other figures later this year for this line.

Heck, I’d be curious to see what we’d get for the Infinity War stuff next year, and what sort of representation we’ll get of Thanos. And thinking on films…why are we getting these now, instead of, say, Guardians of the Galaxy figures?

Showing off the Shelves: Captain America and Black Panther

While there are several Captain America volumes I’d still like to get sooner than not (Captain America vs. Red Skull, the Fighting Chance volumes), for the most part, I think I’m just about where I’m good for now with the character.

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Of course, the "core" of the collection is the Brubaker Omnibus volumes, collecting about seven years of his work on the character.

And because it’s its own thing and on the shelf immediately preceding the Cap books…I did not crop out the Black Panther by Christopher Priest 4-volume series collecting that series’ run. Though in typing that…it reminds me that there’s also the Captain America and Falcon by Priest volume out there that I’ll want to track down as well…

I’d certainly enjoy a Captain America by Mark Waid omnibus, whether it includes pre and post Heroes Reborn material, or just post. Heck, it’d be great to have a single volume of the Fighting Chance story instead of two half-length volumes.

But it is Marvel, so…yeah.

Anyway…with the addition of the Return of the Winter Soldier Omnibus, this is my current (as of January 2017) Captain America collection.

New Arrivals: Cap and X-Men

"Bonus" weekend post!

These two books just arrived today!

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Back in December 2014, I’d thought I’d "completed" the set of Brubaker Captain America Omnibii with The Trial of Captain America. Of course, turned out I was wrong.

However, over the years, I lost track of and/or just flat-out missed the thing’s release, until several weeks ago when I saw someone post about it in a Facebook group.

So, I believe, if I haven’t missed anything else…NOW I have a "complete set" of Brubaker omnibus volumes for Captain America (I’ll likely "show off the shelf" in the near future).

Additionally, the X-Men: Bishop’s Crossing volume is one that I’d thought I’d missed out on entirely, having known OF the hardcover, but not seeing any listing for it online (except massively over-priced third-party stuff) with the newer paperback edition just releasing recently.

However, doing a last-second search "just in case," it was available, so I’d added it to my order.

Of course, I’d never touch volumes like these without a massive online discount. I absolutely want to support local comic shops, and continue to buy what I’d "usually" buy from ’em (my DC bundles from DCBS are in addition to my "usual"). Marvel volumes are–almost entirely–far too expensive for me to justify ever paying "full cover price" for.

Also continues to be amazing (to me) that virtually everything I do have interest in from Marvel (content-wise) tends to be OVER 10 years old, and in many cases, over 15 years old! Brubaker‘s Cap stuff seems to be a primary exception.

While I was able to squeeze the Captain America volume onto the shelf, that was partly due to it "replacing" (and going beyond) two other books I’d had already from bargain purchases and partly to my apparently having left a little bit of extra space for something like this.

Unfortunately, I am out of space for X-Men volumes, and have to wait til I can get a couple more bookcases and do some rearranging to properly integrate X-Men stuff from the last few months.

But that’s something for another post sometime.

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