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The Before: Re-Consolidating the X-Collection June 2022

Dropping the ball on covering Eclipso: The Darkness Within, but c’est la vie…writing for myself, so not too big a deal, no?

The Memorial Day holiday through me off a bit; as well as general "real-life" stuff, as well as some minor "physical labor" displacing some "writing time" and "mood" and such.

Figured as a filler non-content post, I’d post a couple "before" pics, focusing on my pre-HoX/PoX collection of X-Men.

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These 15 shortboxes house my pre-July 2019 X-Men collection, as of my May 2020 sorting/consolidation.

A little over two years ago, I lugged these all downstairs and put them on a rack. Other than grabbing several issues last August or so for the Chris Claremont signing, they’ve remained basically untouched…

…to now be hauled back up the stairs once again.

Because even though I’ve barely touched the boxes’ contents themselves…I’ve been pointedly whittling down my "missing X" list for the past two years. And the time has finally come to re-consolidate stuff…and see where I now actually stand in terms of what’s missing.

And perhaps THIS time actually get data input into an inventory app to begin actual record that way of my collection!

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I doubt I’ll have as many photos as two years ago that I took during the project, but time will tell.

I’m guestimating that overall I’ve likely got at least 2-3 shortboxes’ worth of issues to work into these, and some definite shuffling to do organizationally to better "prepare" for filling out runs and such.

Hauling these boxes up also marks the beginning of some longer-range plans and expectations, as well as a bit of a weird feeling in the gut as I begin a "takeover" of "The Cave" in a way I’d never actually wanted the "opportunity" for.

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The ’90s Revisited: Starman #45

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starman_0045Star Shadows part four: Starlight, StarBRIGHT!

Writer: Len Strazewski
Penciller: John Calimee
Inker: Roy Richardson
Letterer: Bob Pinaha
Colorist: Tom McCraw
Editor: Paul Kupperberg
Cover Date: April 1992
Cover Price: $1.25
Published by: DC Comics

And here we are…final chapter of this 4-part Starman adventure!

The issue opens with the proclamation of the story title, as we look over Kitty Faulkner’s shoulder to see Bruce Gordon’s jet arriving. She sees Bruce but wonders where Will is? As she greets the disembarking Gordon, she’s horrified to find that it’s Eclipso…and even as Rampage, she’s no match for the villain. Will freefalls into the bay and crawls out to a phone booth to call the JLE, but gets a voice service instead. Meanwhile, Eclipso commandeers lab equipment to put a plan in motion: STORE excess energy he drains from Will to use at his convenience. While he torments Kitty for providing him the means to this end, Starman bursts in and the two fight. Will gets the worst of it until Power Girl shows up and joins the fight. Kitty also eventually joins in, having been freed…but unable to transform back into Rampage, she uses a tech gun to blast Eclipso. The heroes immobilize the villain and Starman pops a burst of solar energy, reverting the villain to Bruce Gordon. Day saved, they mill about…as Kitty realizes there’s no way she can compete with Power Girl for Will’s affection. Clueless of her anguish, Will has to chase after her to find out why she’s reacting as she does and the two talk things out…and we end with them clear on how they feel for each other, and Will making a crack about their age difference.

It’s definitely "interesting" seeing Mignola’s work on the cover…though at this point in 2022 and eager to get from this story to the "main event" and such, more than a bit is lost on me. The cover seems rather generic and Eclipso far too bulky, taking on Starman physically. There’s a loose/lack-of-detail Power Girl off to the side almost as an afterthought; and the sun in the background–presumably setting–hardly seems appropriate even symbolically for Eclipso to have such a physical advantage "already" (if the sun is SETTING and NOT rising). It also seems much too bright for the cover callout of "ECLIPSED!". Maybe it’s just MY interpretation/assumptions with this cover but at a glance I might almost think the villain to be sun-based in power rather than the darkness/eclipse.

Story-wise things aren’t all that deep on the whole…it seems like a lot of padded-out fighting and boasts/quips/threats. And Kitty’s jealousy/reaction/over assumption about Power Girl and Will seems sudden and rather shoehorned-in; arbitrary drawma for the sake of drama. (Not that jealousy and such feelings are rational…they’re totally understandable) If this were a masterpiece of superhero fiction I’d presumably be a lot more familiar with it, so "history" seems to support that. Despite this, it comes off as a fairly typical ’90s comic, and a series itself setting…as this turns out to be THE final issue of the series. 45 issues, not QUITE 50…but hey, it sure lasted longer than many modern series that seem to be lucky to crack double-digits at all!

The art team seems a bit more consistent–matching with the previous chapter and the first chapter. Which is a far cry from modern comics where there seems to be more insistence on "integrity of the art team" than on-time shipping of a book. Having an apparently "fill-in" team on an issue may’ve kept the series "on time," which used to be important but not so much in 2022.

With Strazewski’s name on this fueling my nostalgia–the WANT to like the story–I feel almost guilty that I didn’t really "enjoy" this issue. This entire arc has been "in the way" of getting to the Eclipso: The Darkness Within event itself, though, and not a story I remember from the ’90s–I don’t think I was even aware of this series itself until a few years ago, and this story in particular until shortly after. And this has been my first time reading it, so you could say that THIS story was "eclipsed by" the event story.

Nothing about the issue in itself particularly indicates that this is a final issue. No such callout on the cover, and no particular note on the final page of the story. It’s only in wording from the editor at the end of the letters page that one would realize this isn’t JUST the conclusion of a 4-part story but the conclusion of the series itself.

While I had thought this was a prologue/lead-in to The Darkness Within, it definitely does not seem to be the case. More like this story just happened to come about not long before a big event featuring the same villain. A quirk of timing more than any plan or "synergy" or whatever.

It remains to be seen if ANY of this story carries over into the event…but unless something specifically from this story plays a key role in that, I feel it’s pretty safe to say one would not need this story to get into The Darkness Within story.

I’m not sure my $2-3/issue was truly "worth it" for this story, but for "context" and knowing this was there, I’m glad to at least have read it so that whatever part it plays is a "known quantity" for me.

We’ll see how Eclipso: The Darkness Within #1 holds up to my now-heightened expectation and such!

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The ’90s Revisited: Starman #44

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starman_0044Star Shadows part three: Dark of the Moon!

Writer: Len Strazewski
Penciller: John Calimee
Inker: Roy Richardson
Letterer: Bob Pinaha
Colorist: Tom McCraw
Editor: Paul Kupperberg
Cover Date: March 1992
Cover Price: $1.25
Published by: DC Comics

We open with Lobo in our face (metaphorically-speaking) ready to throw a punch. The issue is basically one big fight scene, with Lobo vs. Eclipso, Eclipso vs. Starman, Lobo vs. Starman, Starman and Eclipso vs. Lobo…a bunch of posturing, tough-guy cracks, etc. Eventually Eclipso convinces Starman to help him…but after they manage to "fake" Eclipso/Bruce’s "death" and Lobo takes off to collect his bounty, Eclipso betrays Starman, uses some of his energy, and heads to Earth. As Starman realizes the danger to Kitty back on Earth–expecting Bruce and Will, not the evil Eclipso–he, too, heads back to Earth.

Well, we’re back to Calimee/Richardson on the art, as with #42, and this issue is decidedly less "cartoony" than the previous. And I’ll give credit to the page layouts–in general–for actually having multiple panels, clear gutters overall, etc. This is not a bad issue to look at visually. But it’s basically one big fight scene.

The story is ok-ish…we do glean a BIT of information, such as Eclipso specifically wanting Starman as a battery, to use the hero’s sun-energy and his own black diamond. Eclipso recognizes the hands of the Lords of Chaos in stuff, so it’s not some unknown quantity thing.

Even though it’s been years since I’ve read anything Eclipso-related, specifically anything from The Darkness Within, I feel like there’s something "off" to the character’s presentation here. Expecting this to be a set-up/prologue to that event certainly impacts my lens through which I’m seeing this Star Shadows story.

There’s not much, really, for me to say beyond that. Lobo (because ’90s and Lobo has to be everywhere); tail-end of an ongoing series, yadda yadda yadda. Despite Lobo being on the cover, this doesn’t really have much to offer the reader as a standalone issue…especially 30 years later; but as with previous issues, if you find the entire arc together and at bargain pricing, it might be worth the purchase/read.

I’m much more eager to get to the start of The Darkness Within, again assuming that this story leads into that. So far I’m not seeing any connection other than "Eclipso," so maybe that’ll be something the next/final issue of this story gets to?

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The ’90s Revisited: Starman #43

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starman_0043Star Shadows part two: Blue Moon

Writer: Len Strazewski
Artist: Vince Giarrano
Letterer: Bob Pinaha
Colorist: Tom McCraw
Editor: Paul Kupperberg
Cover Date: February 1992
Cover Price: $1.25
Published by: DC Comics

Well, then…this is a definite change from the modern way of "Delay Delay Delay" to "preserve artistic integrity" for an "inevitable" "graphic novel"–this issue’s artist is a Vince Giarrano, the previous issue’s team of John Calimee, Andrew Smith, Roy Richardson, and Alan Kupperberg. That said, I honestly didn’t immediately notice, I just took the issue’s contents at face value, figuring "oddness" was my lack of in-depth familiarity and fondness for the title and character(s).

This issue opens on a several-page flashback starring Lobo, giving us some random–possibly "typical"–but tame–Lobo "stuff". The character in a bar, being very uncouth, rough, and fairly caricatureish overall…with some then-timely pop-culturally references before being sent on his way to fight Eclipso for a bounty. We also see that the seemingly arbitrary character putting him on the path to Eclipso is actually an avatar of the Lords of Chaos. Lobo literally crosses paths with Starman and Dr. Bruce Gordon. Starman and Lobo fight for a bit, while we see a certain evil emerging with Dr. Gordon that–sixteen pages into our issue–pretty much catches us up to where the previous left off! Eclipso lets on that he definitely had a hand in Starman’s origin before stepping in with Will’s (losing) battle with Lobo. A blast of darkness pauses the battle, reveals Eclipso’s presence, and gives us another cliffhanger as Lobo goofily recognizes his target.

I had to have noticed SOMEthing was up with the art but it didn’t stand out to me until going back through the issue for this post–it got very generic and cartoony at points. It’s far superior than anything I myself could produce, but it’s a far cry from stand-out, impressive distinct work that I’d remember significantly down the road. It gets the job done, for what story there is.

The Lords of Chaos in this issue "should" mean more to me I’m sure, but mostly just ring a distant bell in my mind. I believe something involving a retcon on the nature of Eclipso, but I’m reading along for the experience and there are plenty of sites/blurbs out there to fill in gaps if one wants to go hunting for info. My "retcon sense" is definitely tingling, certainly helped along by the "meta" nature of my read-through for this story–knowing this is THE final arc for the series, possibly the last starring presence of Will Peyton, and kinda leading into the summer 1992 Eclipso: The Darkness Within "event" in DC’s annuals. Having previously only read the issue that crossed over with the Superman: Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite, I don’t have any great knowledge of this title, its tone, and all that sorta context. This has the feel of a hastily-ending series with a "new" villain shoehorned in as "the Big Bad All Along" or such.

Even saying that, though, it’s definitely an "older" and "’90s" comic…for better and worse. Two chapters in of four and I’m beginning to "regret" my idea to start with these issues rather than diving into Eclipso: The Darkness Within #1. I feel like part of me WANTS to like and enjoy this more than I am…but that’s certainly on rose-colored-glasses/memories of enjoying Strazewski’s stuff in the past and the nostalgia the name brings to mind for me.

This is definitely another single issue that I’m not gonna recommend AS an arbitrarily contextless single-issue purchase or quest. If you’re following this classic Starman series, or going after this Eclipso story for pre-The Darkness Within context, etc, it’s worth getting to have the arc; but I feel like I at least could definitely do just fine without it.

We’ll see what the next couple chapters hold!

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The ’90s Revisited: Starman #42

90s_revisited

starman_0042Star Shadows part one: Sun Spots!

Writer: Len Strazewski
Pencillers: John Calimee, Andrew Smith
Inkers: Roy Richardson, Alan Kupperberg
Letterer: Bob Pinaha
Colorist: Tom McCraw
Editor: Paul Kupperberg
Cover Date: January 1992
Cover Price: $1.25
Published by: DC Comics

The cover of this issue proclaims "Eclipso casts a shadow of DOOM over STARMAN!" and we see some weird guy lurking as the background casting a shadow over the title logo, while Starman looks on in apparent surprise while someone in a labcoat looks on, also in apparent surprise…and there’s some linework suggesting a machine of some sort. I see Mignola‘s "signature," presumably Mike Mignola–better known for Hellboy and such. Which explains the stylized nature of Eclipso on the cover. I’ve long associated Mignola with Hellboy and forget that he did work for DC!

We open on a full page piece showing a weird face partway between transformation, and someone asking Starman what’s going on…as she pieces together that this guy really IS the hero and that’s why he’s been flaking on her. His powers surge and he has to direct it to not incinerate her. He quickly heads to STAR Labs for Kitty’s help…but after crashing into Kitty’s lab, collapses. When he comes to, hours later, he’s being examined by both her and some other guy…apparently a Bruce Gordon. We get some expositional conversation, a couple of footnotes to recent back issues, and a bit of context of Kitty (she’s also Rampage), Will (a montage of sorts of his origin/career), and then Bruce and his darker half brought out by a black diamond–Eclipso. And apparently it was actually Eclipso that caused Will to get his powers! After deciding they need to get Will into outer space to better get a read on what’s going on WITH his powers, Will gets a moment with Kitty where he reveals his true face and name and they confess their love for each other. Getting into space with Bruce’s spacecraft, they’re hit by something…as they reel from it, we see that it’s Lobo! Meanwhile, Eclipso apparently re-emerges from Bruce.

Just about all I know about Starman is that his "superhero name" is Starman, star of this book; he’s got SOME sort of legacy tie that came into play in the post-Zero Hour James Robinson series; he’s got solar powers, supporting cast member Kitty is Kitty Faulkner/Rampage who had also been in some early post-Man of Steel-era Superman; and whatever I gleaned from Starman #28 that tied in to the Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite story in the Superman books in 1990-ish.

But hey, that’s enough for ME, for jumping in "cold" to a #42!

While Mignola‘s work on the cover is fairly recognizable–once I realized it was his work–I’m not terribly keen on it. My initial impression looking at the cover was some generic artist’s work, some lower-tier art for a lower-tier comic that when you look at modern DC stuff you wouldn’t even realize ever even EXISTED–both the title, and the character. The art throughout the issue’s not bad, but doesn’t blow me away…I’m really not consciously familiar with the artists. Len Strazewski I recognize from Ultraverse comics–namely as a co-creator of Prime!

The writing here isn’t bad…there’s definitely a lot of context/exposition that seems vastly out of place at this point in 2022–THIRTY YEARS after this comic was originally "new"! But for its time, it works; and it gives someone like me stuff to follow along with and to appreciate. I may not be "up" on all the subtleties of the issue, but it gets across key stuff as I learn more about Starman’s background than I could have recited prior to reading the issue; gives us some development with Will and Kitty, introduces us to this Bruce Gordon guy, and a bit about his history with/as Eclipso, while setting us up for later chapters by the end of the issue.

I can honestly say that I was surprised at Lobo’s showing up…he’s not on the cover, not mentioned, and I went into this issue figuring we’d simply have Starman ultimately encountering references to Eclipso if not the villain himself.

My introduction to Eclipso came through the summer/fall of 1992 with several of the DC Annuals that year; but those came after this issue/story…which is part of why I’m reading it now: I assume it’s THE reintroduction of Eclipso to the DC Universe, and that this story presumably sets up the Eclipso: The Darkness Within event/crossover. So I’m curious for the context and such, and look forward to getting into further chapters.

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Dad and Comics

Recent post in the personal blog, talking about Dad’s part in my comics life.

Not at Comic Con X-Haul 2021

Another "catchup from summer hiatus" post! Back in July or very early August–whenever SDCC was–Cleveland-area shop Carol & John’s had their annual "Not at Comic Con" sale. Among other things, that includes a small room of longboxes of comics for $1 each…but if you buy 50 or more, they drop to 50 cents each!

I wound up going out that Friday after work, figuring what the heck, I could spend $50 or so and either get a handful of issues for under $50, or certainly add 50-ish random issues if I got particularly close to 50 where it’d cost the same either way, 50 or 100!

Well…I wound up getting a FEW more than that.

JUST…a few.

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But filled in a lotta holes in the collection, and while my preferred bargain-bin-sweet-spot is ’90s comics…over the past couple years or so with the CNJ sales, I’m actually able to extend the target scope of my collection beyond ~2003 all the way to the present.

To where–at least for the likes of Uncanny X-Men–I’m pretty close (relatively speaking) to having the entire run going back to my birth month. Alas, #141 in particular’s a problematic one to acquire, as are a few earlier ones. But as of this TYPING I believe I have #s 142-500 at least, and a number of post-500 issues; as well as much of the post-Schism run, a bit of the 3rd one after that, and the 2018-2019 pre-HoX/PoX run.

ANYway…I could ramble a lot more, but rather than that randomness and such, I’m just gonna present a photo gallery below of the issues laid out…if only as a personal record of stuff I’d snagged. (Also as of this typing, I’ve now duplicated on several of the Generation X issues because I stupidly did not check this stack prior to seeking those out and was over-eager to "complete the set.") More on that in another post, I think!

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I’d made it to the shop whatever Friday night that was, a little over an hour until closing. I honestly had not expected to find MUCH, but then found quite a bit. I was watching the time, though, and with just a few minutes til closing, had to grab what I had and get rung out, which was still pretty expensive despite everything being 50 cents!

As of this typing (Thanksgiving Day) I believe they have another sale coming up for Black Friday that I may stop over for. Time will tell!

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The Quarterly Haul: July 21 to October 13, 2021

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Well…I VAGUELY recall thinking–way back in July–over THREE MONTHS AGO–that I’d be getting back to posting The Weekly Haul…well…WEEKLY!

But life–and WORK*–got busy and crazy and all that; had a health scare with the Chloe-cat; and then it was just simply overwhelming thinking about catching up. And with some especially busy weeks with work, and TRYING to actually READ (and CATCH UP TO CURRENT from 2019!) on X-Men stuff…I just haven’t really touched this blog.

Then there’s also that frankly…this is a vanity project. It’s in no way "monetized," and about 14 months ago I even started PAYING for a domain and to have WordPress NOT show ads, so not only am I not making money from this blog, it’s COSTING ME money just by its very EXISTENCE.

Whatever…my blog, my schedule, and it’s a benefit of doing my own thing that I’m not causing others issues with my (lack of) schedule and such.

ANYway…here we are, nearly the end of October. And while I’d actually figured I’d cut my losses and just pick back up with current…I never really stopped my weekly routine of at least taking PHOTOS for this blog, it’s just a matter of actually "processing" said photos and then WRITING and formatting actual blog posts using those photos.

So, this post is gonna be VERRRRRRRYYYYYY photo-heavy as I cover THIRTEEN weeks….from July 21st to October 13! However, I AM going to forego the issue-by-issue commentary and "list," and simply present the photos of the weeks’ hauls, divided up by week. And given the time-frame, some may be SLIGHTLY out of order, as these include purchases from both the weekly shop and another I don’t get to every week…I’ve managed to ID a release date by when certain issues came out (according to League of Comic Geeks) and have the photos roughly ordered within each "week."

These Weekly Haul posts are largely for myself, and while I think I managed to cover every week of 2019…2020 had a huge gap from The Shutdowns and such. And I couldn’t quite get myself to "let go" for this year, so…here we are. If you enjoy it, great…if not…well, hopefully I’ve got some other content you’ll enjoy.

On with the hauls!


Week of July 21, 2021

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Week of July 28, 2021

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Week of August 4, 2021

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Week of August 11, 2021  

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Week of August 18, 2021

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Week of August 25, 2021

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Week of September 1, 2021

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Week of September 8, 2021

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Week of September 15, 2021

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Week of September 22, 2021

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Week of September 29, 2021

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Week of October 6, 2021

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Week of October 13, 2021

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…and Famous Last Words…but hopefully I’m getting this blog back on track!

IF I get to it, then coming soon: "The" Chris Claremont signing, a HUGE haul of X-books from a Not-at-Comic-Con sale, loads of toys acquisitions, and…whatever else comes to mind to post.

As always…time shall tell!

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The Weekly Haul: Weeks of 6/16, 6/23, 6/30, and 7/7, 2021

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Once again, I’ve been lax in posting and so have another MONTH‘s worth of hauls to catch up on!


Week of June 16, 2021

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Planet-Size X-Men #1 is an issue I’d been curious about. Why call it that? Well, as spoilers that made their rounds ahead of time gave notice, the name was quite appropriate! Then New Mutants #19 continues the Hellfire Gala mini-event. Seems that X-Corp #2 does as well, but…I’m not hearing good stuff about the title and am in no rush to read it, though I’ll eventually get to it, I suppose.

Demon Days: Mariko is another Peach Momoko thing. About all I can say about it…but snagged it because it’s an X and I’d picked up the previous issue, so might as well get it new rather than have to hunt for it later.

Alien #4 is "already" the fourth issue and I haven’t read since issue #1. I don’t even really care as that first issue underwhelmed me, and I’m still a bit cranky at the license moving to Marvel from Dark Horse…seemingly ONLY for Marvel to reprint stuff and do variant covers!

While I was absolutely going to completely avoid the Milestone stuff from DC, the cover design was such that I "had to" snag Static: Season One #1 for nostalgia alone. This is the most I think a cover has looked like the classic Milestone since those classics. And since I’m not interested in main DC, I suppose I can check a couple of these out at least…at least the first issues.

Next, Seven Swords #1 is another Aftershock first issue. I don’t care for $4.99 prices but I’ll accept them more readily from a non-DC/non-Marvel publisher. I’m feeling like i"m noticing Aftershock more and more lately…maybe I’ll eventually go "all in" on them? Especially if they’re NOT dealing in oodles of variants.

Finally, Compass #1 is an Image #1 that I grabbed to "check out" if I ever actually get around to reading it. Bolstered an otherwise small-ish haul for the Wednesday.

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Picking up stuff later, got UltraMega #4 as a "next issue" for that series. Then ditto for Stillwater #8, Stray Dogs #5, The BeQuest #4, and Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters #4. By rights I should NOT be buying these, but I’m curious…and apparently I DO actually want to support new (or new-to-ME) stuff.

Walking Dead Deluxe #17 has us ALMOST to the end of the third arc in the title, but in color. I do want to catch up on reading these in color, but definitely appreciate the format and intend to continue "supporting" it.

While not quite TMNT level, I fairly closely associate Usagi Yojimbo  with the property, so continue to support the series through this 20th issue, though I couldn’t begin to recall where I left off reading. Another in the "I’ll catch up–EVENTUALLY!" category.

And then The Blue Flame #2, picked up as I’d bought the first issue at a random shop in early June while visiting a friend in Columbus and (again) decided a subsequent issue is worth the pickup for whenever I actually get around to reading so I don’t have "orphaned" first issues and ridiculous hunts for stuff just to read later.


Week of June 23, 2021

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Spawn’s Universe #1 is the precursor to multiple ongoing Spawn titles. And hey…I’m game. I’ve been buying the main title if only to support its $2.99 price point for over half a decade (60+ issues!) now…why not embrace the universe?

On the X front, this week brought more Hellfire Gala chapters in Way of X #4 and Wolverine #13 as well as the (non-Gala) new issue of X-Men Legends #4.

I really dug Spider-Man: Life Story, so am "grudgingly" giving another such series a chance with Fantastic Four: Life Story #2.

And for however long now, been getting Amazing Spider-Man, and as the current writer’s tenure is drawing to a close soon, I’ve decided I might as well ride this out to the "end" so the "next issue" in this case was #69.

Another "grudgingly" book for me is SWORD #6; but it’s an X-book, so it gets "grandfathered" in where I otherwise would leave it out.

And finally (for the week), TMNT #118 marks the 18th issue BEYOND the huge #100 issue. And I don’t really much care…if I hadn’t been getting every issue anyway since its debut in 2011 I’d have dropped this title for being boring, uninteresting, and…forgettable.


Week of June 30, 2021

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This week was an expensive one with few "units"!

The cheapest issue of the week being Spawn #319–my 63rd issue consecutively/ongoing for the title itself, plus whatever else filled some gaps.

Crossover #7 continues the series…I think I read through issue 3 so far, so I have some catching up to do.

Amazing Spider-Man: The Chameleon Conspiracy #1 is apparently ANOTHER one-shot to add/pad out stuff rather than just keeping it within the main series. With the current run apparently ending around #74 or 75, it reeks of drawing stuff out "manipulatively" for the numbers on the main title.

On the X side we have a final issue and a penultimate issue in X-Factor #10 and Cable #11. I believe this is the final issue of the former and was spoiled ahead of time for me; while the latter has one more issue to go if I recall correctly. Shame to lose the titles, but there’ll surely be more to fill their slots.

On the even more expensive side Green Arrow gets a one-shot commemorating 80 years with the Green Arrow 80th Anniversary special. I snagged the 1980s & 1990s covers for the nostalgia, despite the cost…though I’d actually intended to put the 1980s one back.

And finally for the week, we have Reign of X vol. 1 TPB picking up where X of Swords left off. Though I’m firmly getting the single issues, I’m double-dipping in support of the "anthology" format, believing strongly in it! This is really the way I feel most comics should go: collect 6 or however many titles for a month into a tpb and let me get that to "get everything" in book format without having to chase single issues!


Week of July 7, 2021

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The first New Comics Day of July brought us another X-Men #1. Not sure what "volume" we’re up to, but…it’s an X-book. Hellions #13 & Children of the Atom #5 round out the week on the X-side.

Fire Power #13 is another "latest issue" that I need to catch up with reading on.

Image Firsts: Spawn #1 was only $1, so picked up for the "nostalgia" and price. And it’s Spawn. Why the heck not?

Another book I’d bought a first issue and now keeping up with is Jenny Zero #3. Something kaiju-ish, so…yeah.

Back to "next issues," we have Amazing Spider-Man #70. Nothing much to say on it.

GI Joe: A Real American Hero Yearbook #2 is another reprint…but worthwhile for completion’s sake on the branding. And then I’d totally forgotten about Snake Eyes: Dead Game; and then suddenly we have #5! Apparently this one has all sorts of guest creators…c’est la vie.

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Other issues snagged are more I’m starting to associate with a certain "grouping" in my own mind.

Skybound X #1 kicks off a 5-week weekly series that…I gave in on hype. Also from Skybound, the next issue of Walking Dead Deluxe #18. I think the next issue introduces Michonne…so hopefully it’s not a pain to get. With this issue we’re at the end of the 3rd 6-issue cycle; and halfway to where I started buying the singles the first time around for the title!

Geiger #4 and Nocterra #5 are more "next issues"; while Ordinary Gods #1 got picked up for being an Image #1 to "try."

Finally… Werewolf by Night #32 Facsimile Edition as I still quite enjoy these editions, whatever the title. And I want to support them. I’d gladly "subscribe" to a "series" that was simply these facsimile/reprints of a series. Heck, do a parallel publishing program from Marvel of some old titles reprinting all issues as single issues and I’d probably pay for ’em!


READING-wise I’m at the start of X of Swords in the X-titles, having read from the #1s…and that reading has kept me from "new issues," adding to my "reading deficit." We’ll see what I actually catch up on and when, though.

But hey…this’s been another month’s worth of "new" comics’ hauls. With my boring "thoughts" in very brief to fill out the space showing these off.

At least they give ME record for MY future self of what issues I got, and roughly when they came out.

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The ’90s Revisited – Magic: The Gathering – The Shadow Mage #3

[I’d ‘revisited’ this series as a whole back in August/September 2012 for a group blog that doesn’t exist anymore. And due to a personal issue with Boom Studios’ comics I refuse to buy their new Magic series. So, instead of buying THOSE new comics, and to have my content covering this series fully on my own blog (so as to not disappear when an external blog shuts down), I’m revisiting–as single issues–the ORIGINAL Magic: The Gathering comics published by Acclaim through their Armada imprint back in 1995!]


The ’90s Revisited – Magic: The Gathering

The Shadow Mage #1  |  The Shadow Mage #2  |  The Shadow Mage #3  |  The Shadow Mage #4


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Writer: Jeff Gomez
Penciller: Val Mayerik
Inker: Rick Bryant
Printed Color: Mark Csaszar
Letterer: Bethanne Niedz
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Layton
Cover Painting: Val Mayerik
Cover Date: September 1995
Cover Price: $2.50

After an unplanned three-month hiatus (hey, just like real comics!), I’m back to cover the THIRD issue of this mini-series. And rather than having covered the entire mini while the new Boom series was still on #1…I’m now "in line" with their series, covering the third issue of this classic Armada series while Boom‘s is around #3 or #4..

Perhaps it’s because I’ve had this issue sitting around for a few weeks waiting for me to write up this post, but the cover feels fairly "iconic" to me at this point…though I believe I’d mentioned in my post about #2 that I didn’t even remember the cover and figured it was forgettable. We see Jared in a strange pose somewhat holding up Ezer–or catching him as he falls (but in that case, Jared’s arm should be under his mentor at the man’s back, not around his chest!). Jared looks rather wild and desperate…which is appropriate if he’s facing an enemy more menacing than the Juggernaut carting up behind him!

Getting into the issue itself…we begin with an attack on Arathoxia. Juggernauts break down the city’s gates, before we shift to the Lady Verdenth speaking at Ravidel as the citizenry react to the attack…including Yorgo and his gang, who take up arms to defend "his" city. We shift to the watchtower of Tobias Kavrel, Lord of Stonehaven’s eastern plains, where the lord and his minions come under attack from a Demonic Horde…though they wish to leave the lowly paupers to their fate, Ravidel’s forces aren’t discriminating. Ravidel bids his minions have fun (think Shredder sending Tokka and Rahzar out in TMNT II)…and the scene shifts again. We find Yorgo and crew dealing with Drudge Skeletons before Jared arrives and aids them with a Disintegrate spell. (Amazing in a way that I remember/recognize these). Back in the Sultan’s palace, we learn that he wishes to have the "shadow mage" found, which will give Ravidel what he seeks. Chaos and death continue throughout the city. In House Carthalion, the man who almost caught Jared in the previous issue is found dying. He mistakes Jared for Liana; and while Yorgo and his crew cannot locate "the old woman" Jared bids them find, the man confesses to having part in the murder of the Lady Carthalion (Gwendolyn)…and "releases" Liana. From what, it isn’t immediately apparent. Jared, Yorgo, and crew continue to (try to) help others flee the carnage, while the Lady Verdenth unleashes powerful magic at Ravidel. As that battle (or "duel") continues, Liana retrieves Jared and Ezer, and Ravidel emerges victorious against Verdenth. As Jared prepares to challenge Ravidel himself, Liana intervenes…it’s not yet time. And Jared vows that he will have vengeance against Ravidel.

I’m a bit mixed on the art this time through. On the one hand, it’s not bad in itself, and some of the spells are certainly recognizable if one’s familiar with pre-Weatherlight Magic: the Gathering card art. Other than that it’s mostly "generic fantasy-ish" art…not horrible, but not wonderful. I appreciate the recognizability of characters and spells…but if I didn’t recall the cards and art from way back when, it’d be that much more generic overall. The "planar barge"–that is, the corpse of the Elder Dragon Chromium/Rhuell–is impressive and fairly striking throughout. That Ravidel addresses the corpse as if alive–and it blasts stuff with bolts from its mouth–is interesting, considering it IS, at this point, a corpse, though not obviously a zombie creature or such!

Story-wise, this is also fairly generic in its own way…and yet, we have some progression of stuff. We learn that it was the Lady Verdenth who used her Green magic to save baby Jared while he and Ezer slept in the woods before getting to ‘Thoxia. We also see more "political intrigue" and bickering with the various Houses of the city. And we see Jared’s helplessness and fury at Ravidel amidst allies helping guide him.

As "next issues" go, this one is ok, though not what I’d call "great" or anything. I’m willing to hold it in higher esteem primarily for nostalgia, as this came out in a similar time to the HarperPrism novels, and the whole of Magic: The Gathering lore was still in flux without the directed timeline it enjoys today in 2021. This continues to be a story built around card references…rather than being the story of the cards, or the story on which cards seem based themselves. Re-reading this and poring through to write this post, I re-realize how dense this is…and if my summary above seems to have gaps, I’m trying not to re-write the issue itself as I’d almost need to, with how much is crammed in. Between taking time to "cross-reference" and pick out character names and locations as well as looking at the art based on cards and the sheer density, there’s a lot more time to spend in the issue itself than most modern comics that weigh it at twice or more this issue’s $2.50 cover price…so there’s present-day "value" there, if one already owns and simply reads the issue, or acquires it for the price or less of a modern comic.

To be 3 issues in on this series with a mere single issue remaining…even by pre-2000s standards, it would seem hard to see how this could wrap up with a satisfying ending. While I don’t recall the ending…I do recall that this series was followed up by a 5-issue mini-series…which leaves me assuming that this series did not actually wrap things up in a satisfying way.

Finally…this issue originally came with a sheet of tiny punch-out creature tokens. At one point back in 1995, I had a small container that I kept them in, and actually used them playing some games of Magic. It’s possible I still have that around somewhere, though actually finding them anytime soon/specifically likely would not happen. I’m pretty sure I’d snagged a couple copies of this issue from a bargain bin in the last several years specifically for the tokens, as a novelty-bonus. (Same as I sometimes snag other ’90s comics from bargain bins solely for the polybagged-in bonus item/ephemera).

I’m eager to get to the next issue…as well as to get to more "canon lore"–or at least mid-’90s versions of such–in the Ice Age and other Magic: The Gathering issues.

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