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Comics "Grails" Update: Early October 2020

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

And it was only $10!

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

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

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

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

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

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

convention_haul_cleveland_harper_show_october4_2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Individual-issue ‘Grails’

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


High-interest Multis:

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

comic_grails_update_early_october_2020_blogtrailer

SBTU – Expanded Universe: Aliens and Predator

sbtu_expanded_universe_aliens_and_predator_header

It’s Super-Blog Team-Up time again!

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

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

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

sbtu_charlton_hero_image

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

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

Ok.

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

DEFINING "EXPANDED UNIVERSE"

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

PROLOGUE

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

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

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

THE BEGINNING

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

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

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

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

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

aliens_novels_trilogy

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

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

aliens_on_top_of_shelves

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

aliens_predator_deadliest_001s

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

aliens_predator_deadliest_002s

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

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

others_vs_aliens_predator

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

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

aliens_vs_predator_trilogy_old

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

SETTLING IN AND MOVING FORWARD

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

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

mtg_bookshelves

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

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

aliens_novels_dh_press

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

aliens_original_minis

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

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

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

aliens_predator_blurays

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

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

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

aliens_on_shelves_002

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

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

aliens_predator_deadliest_of_the_species_1

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

2018 gave us a new Predator film with The Predator.

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

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

IN THE END

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

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

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

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

aliens_vs_predator_original_comics

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

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

predator_original_comics

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

aliens_library_editions

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

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

aliens_on_shelves_001

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

aliens_predator_deadliest_of_the_species_2

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

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

THE END (FOR NOW)

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

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

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

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


sbtu_continues_below

Super-Blog Team-Up: Expanded Universe

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

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

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26 Years of Marvels

Marvels came out in 1994.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

In the end, I suppose time will tell!

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Life During Quarantine: Venturing Back Out

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

Three, actually.

Observing recommended and mandated rules as applicable.

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

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

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


Comic Heaven

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Kenmore Komics and Games

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Carol & John’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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Life During Quarantine: Non-Traditional Hauls

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

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

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

At least for my own personal documentation!

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Odd Tales from the Curio Shop. Tales From Nocturnia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Life During Quarantine: Duplicates From Sorting X-Men Stuff

I decided to break this off into its own post, as my last one got rather lengthy.

In the course of sorting through all my X-Men and related comics, I came across plennnnnnty of duplicates. Some intentional, some just from lack of proper checklist of missing stuff.

While I’d initially had an accurate list I was working from back in 2012 or so; in early-2013 my phone at the time fritzed out, and the backup didn’t work, so I lost my list. Then I found something to restore from, but it did NOT include changes between initially creating the list and then, so I wound up RE-buying a lot of issues needlessly.

This was part of what FINALLY prompted me to get around to going through all this X-stuff; to get a newly-ACCURATE checklist to work from!

A few issues stood out as I went through, enough to take some photos; though I didn’t take nearly as many photos as there are issues that "mean something" to me; so what follows is a SMALLLLL selecting of notable issues I observed, but by no means is it comprehensive!

The first photo I took during sorting was a set of one of each X-Force #1 that I presently have.

Seven in total: 1 each of the original bagged-with-a-different-card #1s (one of each card, still bagged), 1 unbagged first print, and a "gold" second print.

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While these may have been "hot stuff" "back in the day," they’re less so now; and as I’ve obtained a number of copies from bargain-bins, I’ve no qualms about leaving copies of the issues bagged!

I should ALSO note that while I mostly despise modern variants…emphasis there is on modern variants. X-Force #1 has 5 "versions"? Sure. But it was a first issue, a new launch/"re"-launch, and as a #1, a definite rarity at the time (nowadays Marvel might as well number EVERYTHING #1!)

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I came across a variant cover of the 1997 Flashback Month "Minus-1" issue of X-Men, SEEMINGLY signed by Stan Lee! I feel it EQUALLY likely to be genuine as not; it may not have a certificate of authenticity/witness…but over the years, knowing just how MANY issues he had to have signed (and this being published 23 years ago), it’s perfectly likely that SOME issues he signed slipped through the cracks in notice when whole collections have been sold over the years. I’ll choose to believe this is a genuine signature; its validity doesn’t need to be proven. It’s not something I’m gonna be trying to sell, whatever the case!

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Turned out I had a couple of the old Marvel Legends reprints that came with the action figures filed in with the regular issues. This The Beast issue reprints X-Men #3…

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…while this Gambit issue reprints X-Men #4!

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Back in 2002 or so, I snagged the original Wolverine mini-series for 25 cents or so apiece along with the first issue of the ongoing!

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Since 2012,I’d finally acquired Wolverine/Gambit: Victims #4. I’d bought the first three issues as they came out, back in 1995 or 1996, but never got the final issue. So here that mini is, in my possession and finally complete after nearly a quarter-century!

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Apparently I’ve been snagging Onslaught: X-Men repeatedly from bargain-bins!

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Ditto for Onslaught: Marvel Universe! One of these turned out to be some sort of reprint, though…sort of akin to DC‘s Millennium Editions from around 2000, I suppose.

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And several X-Men: Primes.

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The issue immediately prior to the Age of Apocalypse, one of my favorite/significant issues is X-Men #41, which I’ve wound up with a number of copies. These in the photo; the one filed in the collection, and I have a "framed" one as well!

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Over the years, of ALL the issues in the series one could get, the ONLY Mutant X issues that I bought, apparently was #1. Repeatedly. Pulling stuff together, every single copy not from my original collection was #1! At least one of them was a variant of #1, that I was able to merge into the existing collection. And a bit of insult onto injury…despite having bought the series as it came out, start to finish…I found I’m missing a couple issues. The covers are familiar, so perhaps I misplaced them somehow. But thinking I had every issue otherwise would certainly explain "only" buying #1 as a novelty each time I did. (Obviously never recalling that I’d already bought an "extra" "novelty" copy).

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I had several copies of Generation X #1 (the chromium cover); and I have the copy filed away in the collection as well as one with a separate sub-stack of Chromium Covers! I remember the summer this came out, and the Phalanx Covenant crossover/event. I’ve actually been tracking down the NON-shiny covers for that.

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And finally, after its initial significance in 1996, I seem to have maintained a fondness for X-Men #54. This was the issue that finally revealed the secret of Onslaught, just before the event itself. If I recall correctly (as of this typing, having shelved/boxed everything and not now having the issue in front of my to flip through) this was the issue that resolved the "X-Traitor" subplot…hence being a Rather Big Deal at the time. The issue and the Onslaught stuff was a big deal to me as a kid. I’d followed the Age of Apocalypse in its entirety, kept on with the return to the 616 universe, and had read the issue with the first mention of Onslaught, so it was really cool seeing how all that paid off after the build!


I did not come across my Fatal Attractions duplicates stash, so I suspect I’ve got some more rogue (no pun intended) X-stuff around. That’ll be stuff for some other time, though!

Yesterday’s post and this have been a couple weeks in the making, overall. And with quite a few posts’ drafts I’ve found, I decided to go ahead and push these on out before they became yet MORE "dead content".

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Life During Quarantine: Organizing an X-Men Collection

I’m very fortunate in that I already worked remotely prior to all the pandemic/quarantine/lockdown/etc stuff. I’ve seen some disruption, but to a very large degree, work-life has not changed except for "more meetings."

THE main change for me has been suddenly comic shops were closed and so were pretty much all other casual-browsing stores and such that I’d frequent.

I have NOT had the sudden influx of time so many have; sometimes that’s been frustrating, but logically, consciously, I have to be thankful for that–I’ve been fortunate enough to have and keep a job; no cut in hours, pay, furlough, layoff.

That said…I did finally talk myself into taking a few days off several weeks back; just to have a couple "extra" days to do whatever/"not-work" and such.

I decided that as intimidating and overwhelming as its been, it was time to finally try to at least START going through my collectioaccumulation. 50+ longboxes, and nearly as many shortboxes. MOST of them virtually untouched for nearly half a decade.

I’ve long been content to buy countless duplicates as "convenience copies," because I tend to get those from 25-cent bins, sometimes 50-cent bins. But when I know darned well that I already HAVE (an) issue(s) it is just NOT "sustainable" to keep doing that. It should NOT be easier to order new copies from an online comic shop than to simply pull a box and an issue in my own collection.

But while I’ve managed to literally FIT everything into the space I work with, I have not had the space to do some wide spread-out sorting of the entire collection all at once.

So…I had to start somewhere.

X-Men.

Back in 2011 or 2012, I finally had gone through the longboxes I had at my parents’ at the time and pulled everything X-Men and X-Men-related (aka "X-Adjacent") and got those to my apartment at the time; and went through everything there and finally brought them all together, and made myself a checklist on the Notes app on my phone of missing issues I wanted to track down.

My goal was essentially complete runs of all of the ’90s X-and-adjacent books. Uncanny X-Men I’d go back as far as I could–for awhile, Inferno–and then forward to pretty much the then-present.

Now, in 2020, that remains basically the same–except I’m going back to Days of Future Past and basically going for as "complete" as I can with everything to maybe 2010-ish or so before all the especially-ridiculous renumbering crap started becoming so ubiquitous.

I’m not overly concerned with The New Mutants as I am the titles that were current when I got into Marvel in the 1990s; or moreso, X-stuff from the Age of Apocalypse.

Those being Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, X-Factor, X-Force, Wolverine, Cable, Excalibur, Generation X, X-Man, and X-Men Unlimited.

Anyway…the task at hand: first step, gather all the X-Men and related comics in my collection! Stuff I sorted 8-9 years ago; stuff I’ve accumulated since then attempting to fill that initial "missing-X-stuff" checklist, etc.

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I had some boxes pre-marked from back then as well as a couple boxes friends gifted me of Excalibur  and X-Force. I otherwise had to go through MOST of my longboxes (that were not otherwise marked as other stuff–like my Superman Byrne-to-2005ish stuff). Pull the X-stuff and get it consolidated in other boxes and piles and whatnot.

Lug said boxes through the basement and up the stairs.

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And finally pile all together in one condensed space to prepare for the actual sorting. Which wound up having to wait til after I worked a few days again.

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I initially emptied the pre-sorted stuff from 2011/2012 and stacked those.

I’ve been keen on IDing as many of my "original copies" of stuff as I can–same as I was back in ’11/’12. So along with sorting, when I "merged" stuff, I gave priority to my "older" copies. They may not be in the best condition, but if I had it in 1993, that–primarily/hypothetically–should be the copy I kept in the "main" collection.

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With two cats who absolutely MUST sniff, check out, step on, walk on, lay on ANYTHING paper-like on the floor OR that I’m paying attention to that is not initially them, I wound up closing these initial stacks in with empty boxes, and then as I sorted the rest of the books by title, I piled those largely on top of these…but still ran out of room.

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Thankfully, neither cat was overly interested in settling on "piles" as they were "single issues," especially while I was standing/moving around sorting. Sarah was especially keen on keeping tabs, though.

Eventually I had stacks of accumulated back issues by title, with a separate stack (not pictured) of misc. single issues/one-shots/specials/mini-series/etc.

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Then the task was to sort the "accumulation" issues, within each title and merge those into what I already had.

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One series I was particularly keen to get sorted was the 1991-originating X-Men, as I’d gotten this nifty "art box" or whatever; a shortbox with the art from the first issue’s "deluxe edition" cover.

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EXcluding its stint as NEW X MEN and later as X-Men Legacy, this single shortbox almost perfectly holds the entirety of that X-Men series. And I don’t even have to label the box to know what it has in it!

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Sarah-cat was always nearby through the sorting/merging process.

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I was a bit surprised at what I wound up having with Uncanny X-Men. I had a few more "early" issues (pre-#141) than I remembered; and it turned out I’m still missing more issues than I’d thought.

However, as of this typing, from #s 142-454, I’m only missing 158, 359, and 422. Then another 26 issues between 455-514, and all of 515-544or so. So still quite a few to finish out the series. Ultimately, my aim is Uncanny X-Men (vol 1) #s 141-544, plus contemporary Annuals in that range.

Once I’ve managed those, THEN I may look into creeping backwards a bit. BUT I believe the infamous end of the Dark Phoenix Saga was only #137–and I’m still hunting for #141 in my price range; so that’s all of 4 issues to have another "key" in the way.

As-is, going back to #141 is "only" about 47 issues into Claremont‘s run (I believe he started with #94) and Classic X-Men/X-Men Classic suitably covers that era, while there are various reprint volumes and such to cover the original few years of the X-Men.

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X-Factor #92 was one of my earliest issues getting into X-stuff and kicked off the Fatal Attractions arc celebrating the then-30-years of the property. As I was getting into the titles back then, 1993 was "only" 30 years removed from the original silver-age X-Men premiere! And was "only" about 18 years removed from the start of Claremont‘s epic run. (As I type this in 2020, it’s been 27 years since X-Factor #92!!!)

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Not to leave Sarah as the only interruption, Chloe had to get some attention as well!

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I lost track of how many times Sarah knocked over a stack or shoved issues around. Not my first choice…but ultimately, the comics are just THINGS. I cherish these cats, and that they love being around me and my stuff!

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And a random(-ish) photo of Ziggy lounging on some longboxes, taken some years back obviously. He’d "helped" me sort through X-stuff back in 2011/2012 at my parents’ house. Sadly, losing him back in 2017, he never got to see the entirety of this collection of X-stuff unified.

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…and here is the entirety (as of May 11, 2020!) of my X-Men and X-Adjacent collection!

As I was going through boxes at the start of this project, I was able to consolidate a number of my shortboxes and shift stuff around to free up this rack FOR the X-stuff!

It also worked out that I’d just ordered a case of 10 new BCW shortboxes so I was able to put the bulk of the newly-properly-sorted stuff into those.

And I’ve also decided that while it’s going to ultimately be a huge expense…I have GOT to convert the ENTIRETY of my collection to shortboxes. I’m getting way too old to be slinging longboxes!

But as it’s gonna take a bunch of "sub-collections" to get eventually to having the ENTIRE thing sorted…I don’t have to go singular-lump-sum to do that.

I anticipate my NEXT major sorting project to be "Superman and Batman stuff," followed by "general DC", "general Marvel", and then whatever’s left.

I also need to start looking into some sort of inventory system. I failed to do that before shelving the X-stuff, but along with getting my "missing stuff to seek out" lists, I really need to also have a list of what I actually have as well.

Though I can envision the ultimate whole of everything…I have no set timeline in place. Depends on quarantine stuff, work stuff, family stuff…stuff-stuff.


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2020 Grails Update: March 29

As the year began, I listed several "grail" issues for the year. With a couple of those acquired (plus a couple of "unlisted" grails in Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2 and Avengers Annual #7), it’s time to update the ‘grail list’ going forward.

And I’ve added my current price range that I’m willing to spend offhand (ideal max $…recognizing that condition plays a huge part!). If you have (and want to sell) at the price, or see these in the wild for the price and would want to help a blogger out…feel free to give me a holler and we could maybe see what we could work out.

(Of course, plenty of variables including how much I’ve otherwise spent recently, plan to spend imminently, and everything associated with the current COVID-19 crisis! AND I’m not looking to "lowball" anyone–I’m aware of the rarity/scarcity of the issues…as I’m aware of what I’m personally willing to pay to acquire a copy at present. This is also as of March 29, 2020 and may very likely no longer apply–PLEASE consider searching my blog for "grails" or "Grail Comics" and see what newer/more recent entries I may have pertaining to these!)


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2020 ‘Grails’

  • TMNT Adventures Special #10 (Fall 1994) (~$10-15)
  • Prime #1 (hologram cover, silver OR gold) (~$10 silver, ~$15 gold)
  • Uncanny X-Men #141 (part 1 of Days of Future Past) (~$30-40)
  • Avengers Annual #10 (~$30)
  • DC Comics Presents #26 (~$20)
  • Dreamwave TMNT #7
  • TMNT Adventures: Year of the Turtle #1
  • Wolverine (1988) #145 (foil edition)

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And some high-interest series-seeking:

  • Spawn #s 101, 132-256
  • Archie C.O.W. Boys of Moo Mesa (vol. 1) #s 1-3
  • Archie C.O.W. Boys of Moo Mesa (vol. 2) #s 1-3
  • Mirage TMNT #s 3-7, 27, 44
  • Mirage TMNT vol. 2 # 10
  • Mirage Tales of the TMNT vol. 1 #s 1-5
  • Mirage Casey Jones/Raphael #s 2-4
  • Mirage Donatello: The Brain Thief #4
  • Image TMNT #s 1-18, 21+

Of course, a lotta this stuff would be stuff to look for at conventions. But such gatherings are presently on hold indefinitely.

And as I’m quick to order comics I want online, part of what elevates stuff to ‘grail’ status is NOT being able to "just order it online." Whether that’s the issue not being available AT ALL in any online place I have checked…or not available for what is a reasonable price to me.

As I am NOT a reseller and am interested in issues to own for myself, there’s just not the same "value" to issues, and I’m not willing to pay nearly as much as others might.

As of this typing, that TMNT Special is probably my highest-interest grail as it would (to my knowledge) complete my collection of every TMNT comic published by Archie! And the Prime hologram would do the same for my Ultraverse holograms.

The X-Men and Avengers issues being the keys that they are, I’m in less of a hurry, especially for my desired price range. I know they are keys, I know they’re typically far more expensive than what I’m willing to pay. But years of patience paid off and I got Uncanny X-Men #266 for my desired price-range last year (and just months before Marvel did a facsimile/replica edition!). So…hope springs eternal!

I’m also looking to fill in my run of DC Comics Presents, that being a series I was aware of early-on in my comics collecting and considerations of hunting for back issues…though I never did get to much of a hunt and am still missing about half the series. With the New Teen Titans insert (see Chris’ post over at Chris is on Infinite Earths) making the issue a major "key," the series looks to be one of those where 90% of the series is 10% of the cost, and the final 10% of the series carries 90% of the cost!

I’ve already largely lapsed from my initial interest in hunting down the classic Marvel 2099 stuff; time will tell if that fire gets relit.

Considering how crazy the last 3 weeks have been, who really knows?

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[Rant] Life During Quarantine: Another Side-Effect of Variants

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So, stuck inside Saturday night, and a Facebook group I’m in has had some listings from a local-region shop as they sell some stuff to make up for being stuck closed.

And I saw one listing for four issues from a local creator, signed. As a spin-off series, it prompted me to check to see if the series it spun off from was available.

I figured…I really shouldn’t be spending MORE MONEY this weekend, with payday STILL a few days off…but I’m feeling depressed, frustrated, discontent, and willing for a little bit of non-retail "retail therapy."

A quick bit of online-sleuthing and I located the publisher website, and there’s a bundle of the "main" series. For less than cover price, so with shipping, wouldn’t be horrendous. Ok…

Double-checking the spin-off series…first issue is sold-out. Ok, back to that Facebook listing (viewing on the phone since the computer was loading slowly) and happened to notice…wait. That cover for #1 doesn’t look quite right.

Looking between the phone screen and computer screen…aha!

The Facebook listing is for the first four issues, yes…but they’re the variant covers!

NOT what I want. With very few, rare exceptions, I don’t want variant covers. I want to buy the actual/main/regular/real/non-variant covers for stuff!

So, what momentarily flared, the idea of splurging and buying this set of 4 issues from a comic shop owner, while simultaneously ordering 11 issues of a main series from the publisher itself quickly fizzled.

Stuff like this, I’m an all-or-nothing kinda guy. If it’s ALL in front of me, able to buy all at once, no hassling with numerous other sources across an extended period of time to gradually hunt down and piece together a full run/set, I’m far more willing to splurge and be liberal with my spending.

Even when I’m planning until that day to specifically NOT buy the stuff.

So…thanks to them being variants…I’m not buying the set of 4 issues.

Certainly no need to buy the 5th issue someway right now, without those 4.

And without these, no extra/driven desire for that main series.

Because of 4 variants, I’m not buying 15-16 issues that otherwise would virtually guarantee I’d be buying subsequent issues of both series, whenever they’d be put out.

But variants drive sales, right?

Variants entice purchases, right?

Variants are fun for the buyer, right?

right?

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The Weekly Haul: Weeks of 2/19, 2/26, 3/4, and 3/11/2020

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Another month, another "weekly" haul-update. I actually had planned on doing this post earlier in the week, but figured if I was gonna be behind and play catchup, might as well make it another 4-week post to match the last one.

But in a real rarity for me (and this blog!) of late, I actually had two full single-issue posts earlier in the week.

  1. First, I had my first non-Ultraverse ’90s Revisited post in ages, covering Uncanny X-Men #303.
  2. Then I had a (late to post, having written a couple weeks ago) review of the "new" comic TMNT: Jennika #1 (from the Week of February 26, below)…my first review of a newer-than-2010 comic in 14 months or so!

Anyway…onto the point of this post you’re reading…my documenting for myself (at least) what I’ve picked up in the way of new comics for the last few New Comic Day Wednesdays.


Week of February 19, 2020

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New post-#100 TMNT; new Spawn (we’re 6 issues in past the big #300!); and third/last American Jesus for this round. 3-issue mini originally, and this followup is also a 3-issue thing. Maybe we’ll get a new paperback with all 6 issues?

DC Dollar Comics brought a New Teen Titans reprint; and Marvel had some sort of (FREE!!!) Wolverine thing. I won’t turn down free Wolverine, even though I hate the "new logo" and refused to spend $7.99 on a #1 issue.

And since it was a relatively small week, I opted to splurge on the $9.99 DC: Crimes of Passion giant-issue; having developed a bit of a sub-collection of the squarebound not-quite-TPBs DC issues that actually go on the shelf.

(*come to think of it, if they’re not gonna do out-and-out trade paperbacks monthly as anthologies, why can’t publishers just do squarebound COMICS that contain the materials of single-issue titles as anthologies and see which sell BETTER? I’d gladly pay $9.99 for one of these with 4-5 X-books’ content rather than $3.99 apiece for 20-page batches of infographics + a few pages of stories!)

Finally for the week, having snagged Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2 a week or two before, I’d ordered the Avengers Annual to cap off that arc, and check off another "minor grail" for myself.

And as almost-always…the weekly Comic Shop News.


Week of February 26, 2020

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The final week of February finally brought the first issue of TMNT: Jennika. I don’t know that I was looking forward to it, exactly, but I think it was late and I’d begun to "wonder" about it. See my review (linked above), though, for the issue in and of itself.

Usagi Yojimbo Color Classics #2 brings another (color) installment of early UY. While I understand the TMNT Color Classics to have rather limited material to pull from (especially as they focused specifically on Eastman/Lairdcentric TMNT) I a really hoping that this UYCC is an indefinite ONGOING thing that lasts for a lotta years. I’ll happily keep buying both this and the "new" ongoing.

I don’t even remember now why I’d wound up grabbing Dark Horse‘s The Little Mermaid mini, but I think this was the final issue? OCD/completist since I had the earlier issues. I’ve yet to READ any of them to determine if they’re a new adaptation of the film, or some sort of re-imagining, or what. But congratulations to Dark Horse: this is what CAN happen when something is put out that is NOT over-hyped, NOT sold on the quantity of variant covers, NOT some huge event, NOT begun with an over-priced first issue, etc.!

New issue of Hellblazer, which is yet another that I (sadly) need to catch up on reading before I have to kick myself for not just waiting for collected editions. Or perhaps to just decide TO wait for the collected editions and take my hit now.

Then the week’s "facsimile"/"replica" editions: Wolverine #1 and The Flash #123 (easy to remember as 1-2-3!). Though I already have an original edition of Wolverine, I’m glad to keep supporting these reprints! And the Flash issue is a great addition as well as what it is. (Though I did discover a day or two after buying it that I had a Millennium Edition reprint of the issue. I prefer this new one for being closer to what the original would look like…but the ME reprints are a good bit of nostalgia to me some 20 years later!)


Week of March 4, 2020

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March starts off with a bit of a whimper, with "only" 5 issues…two of those (40%!!!) being reprints. Mystery in Space is not honestly one I’d really care for or likely even be all that interested in from a bargain bin. But as said above…I’m happy to "support" these sorts of reprints, as I find far more VALUE in them than modern comics. And of course, $1 comics can hardly be beat as "new" comics, such as the DC Dollar Comics: Swamp Thing issue, reprinting an Alan Moore story.

Having heard a lotta good stuff about King‘s Vision series and Mister Miracle; and despite having bought the entirety of the latter without having yet read it…on the strength of 85 issues of Batman, I figured I’d give Strange Adventures a try. My primary complaint is the "dual" covers that could easily have been flip-book covers or doubled-up covers and gotten a similar effect withOUT making me have to choose one OVER the other. That’ll likely be the primary deciding factor in my picking up #2-onward…how cheesed-off am I at the nature of the existence of "basic" variants for this title?

Speaking of Batman… I’ve repeatedly pointed out (or meant to) my dropping the title with the end of King‘s run. Multiple reasons, varaints, likely pending reboot/relaunch, Something Generation with DC, and then over-hype and speculator/scalper crap with #89. BUT while out of state visiting a friend recently, happened across a copy (first print) of #89. For cover price. Despite all the hype and apparent sell-outs and over-priced flippage and such. I was NOT going to buy it in and of itself, though, even for cover price…not to leave a gap of 3 issues. So I checked. They also had issues 86-88. So in one fell swoop, I was able to catch up on the title (which I already had 1-85!) and as of then was fully caught up. So I emailed the local shop and added it back to my pulls beginning with this 90th issue, figuring fine…I’ll buy Batman and keep the run going, and so I can take stuff in for myself without having to "hunt" or play the "speculator game."

Finally, we’re getting to the tail-end of the TMNT Urban Legends run, reprinting the old Image TMNT series. I had two issues from later in the run that I bought back around 2000 or so; I’m not sure offhand but pretty sure at least ONE of those has now been reprinted in color in this series, and if this issue isn’t the other, then the next issue should be. And then we’ll get the first-time-ever published ending to the series (though how that jibes with a fan-produced ending, I don’t know, and that’s not a game I’m getting into on ridiculously-limited-edition completionist stuff).


Week of March 11, 2020

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And now we’re caught up to the current (as of this typing) week’s haul. And I’ve been halfway waiting for something like this to happen…here, it finally did.

Nothing but reprints for me.

Two DC Dollar Comic reprints of key Robin issues: the death of Jason Todd, and the first issue of the first TIm Drake mini-series. (More fitting would have been to reprint the final chapter of Lonely Place of Dying, where Tim first-ever dons the Robin costume) but for $1, whatever. And of course, I have both of the original issues and I’m still happy to buy these reprints, if only to "support" the reprints program. While I likely would have passed on Robin #1 as such, I still, repeatedly-to-be-said, would somewhat prefer these be done ALL as facsimile/replica editions. More on that below!

The definite gem of the week for me is the facsimile/replica edition of Detective Comics #38, the first appearance of the original Robin (Dick Grayson). I don’t recall now if there’s been a reprint in these recent replicas of #27, but this really makes me want one to go with it. Of the two, I think this is most appealing for me as such a fan of Robin.

Finally, we have a Thor replica/facsimile edition that again…I’ll buy to support the program, even if not every single individual issue is of specific singular interest or significance to me .

And Comic Shop News shows off some DC thing with the multiverse and maybe generations. I barely care at this point, with my only real interest in "new" DC being these reprints, and even Marvel isn’t getting me with non-reprint stuff (even though I SHOULD be an easy mark for their Marvels X and other upcoming Marvels stuff…I refuse to go in on the $4.99 pricing!)


Anyway…there we go. Another month in my "new comics" buying. I’ve bought some other stuff in the time, but those have been non-Wednesday purchases, stuff I consider to be "off" from the standard/regular/weekly "hauls."

As to my earlier-mentioned "idea" on the reprints:

For DC Dollar Comics, have a plain-color blank cover of some appropriate color; either say, standard black for all, or white for all, or something appropriate to the title/cover’s look. And have a small-ish image of the actual original cover (logos, pricing, blurbs, and all!) Whether it’s a small centered image, or nearly-full-size but with a distinct "border" for the flat color base.

Then for actual replica/facsimile editions, do as they’ve been doing with having then look as close to the original as possible.

I just don’t like the way the DCDC reprints are some weird mutant hybrid of original and new appearances. Familiar art, but the new DCDC trade dress, and weird numbers/number-placement on stuff. Like it more or less tells you what it’s reprinting, and yet you still almost have to know to be sure. Reprinting a New Teen Titans #2 with the new trade dress and a #1 on the cover.


This almost works out better doing these posts like this than feeling like QUITE so random/arbitrary as actual weekly things…especially buying so few comics every week.

Maybe I should try to aim for doing one more for March for the 18th and 25th…and then adjust to The Weekly Hauls and just go by month. Hm.

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