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

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

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


Week of December 16, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Week of December 23, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Just a few more days and 2020 is over.

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Showing off the Shelves: Captain America and Black Panther

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

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

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

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

But it is Marvel, so…yeah.

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

Criminal: Tenth Anniversary Special Edition Magazine

criminal_10th_anniversary_magazine_editionDeadly Hands

Editor: Ray Archer
Content Editor: Ed Brubaker
Art and Design: Sean Phillips, Elizabeth Breitweiser
Production: Drew Gill
Publishing Liasons: Eric Stephenson, Robert Kirkman
Cover: Sean Phillips
Frontispiece: Phil Jacobs
Published by: Image Comics
Cover Date: April 2016
Cover Price: $5.99

I’ve long been “aware of” Brubaker‘s Criminal series. I’ve read a few issues in the past, and quite enjoyed them…as I have most things he’s written/put out, particularly in this sort of capacity. While I’m blanking on the title offhand, I also remember sampling a spinoff/parallel series more recently, but never stuck with it at length…unfortunately, this sort of thing tends to read better in collected format to me, and when ‘everything’ is a mini-series within an overall continuity, I’d just as soon wait for an entire story…just that by the time it gets collected I’m often chasing other stuff and leave the less-familiar/top-of-the-mind stuff for “later.”

That said, I saw this issue–a 10th-anniversary special–and initially passed on it. A couple days later I saw it at another shop…along with the “Magazine Edition” of it, that REALLY caught my eye. I picked it up off the rack at that point to flip through, and put it back. Then picked it up again, flipped through a bit more, started to put it back, and looked at the price. And considered the format. As well as the fact that this is a 10th-anniversary thing, a special, a one-shot…not some new mini to invest in, not just some “latest issue of ____.” And honestly, the novelty of the thing got me.

While the “regular” edition looked just that–“regular” if a bit thick–the magazine edition is made up to look like some beat-up, well-read, well-worn 40-year-old paper product. And some of the interior pages–of this Fang, the Kung-Fu Werewolf–are as well, really steeping this in the mid/late 1970s.

Essentially, this issue gives us the slice-of-life of a boy–about 12–“on the run” with his dad. His dad had gotten a phone call without explaining, took his son, and they hit the road. We get the story from the boy’s perspective–knowing something’s up, but not fully knowledgeable of the details, just “surviving” the situation. At one stop along the way, the guy buys his son a magazine/comic–Deadly Hands–which he reads and enjoys, and then seeks out further issues. At another town, the boy is turned on to a local shop that might have an issue. While his dad disappears for a couple days, the boy is somewhat befriended by a girl, and the two bond a bit. It’s summer, there’s no school, and they’re free to hang out, do what kids do. Ultimately, the brief moment is spoiled as things come together for the kid’s dad, and we get a less than happy ending, as we truly see that this really is a “slice of life” sort of thing. Interspersed with the main story are pages the kid is reading in the Kung Fu magazine, giving us just enough to be interested in that story as well and nods to the likes of ’70s Marvel (at least, that’s where my mind went, though I’m hardly an expert on this particular genre or history of publication).

The magazine edition is a whopping $5.99. However, because of the thickness, and physical dimensions–of being magazine-sized rather than “just” a standard comic book size–as well as being a one-off novelty/nostalgia thing, I had no problem whatsoever with it. I would be hard-pressed to be willing to pay that for an ongoing series of issues, but as a one-time thing, a brand I recognize from a writer whose work I enjoy, I was willing to pay the price.

Actually reading the issue, I’m glad I did, because I enjoyed this a great deal more than most contemporary comics I’ve read lately. I drew a slight connection here to Watchmen, simply for the fact of the story-within-the-story and such, of reading pages of the story a character in the story was reading–but actually didn’t dig too deeply there. I simply enjoyed this, and the only thing taking me out of the story was looking at the effect of the pages and the jumping back and forth between “actual story” and the “story within the story,” but even that achieved something of its own effect that I liked.

Brubaker‘s name–along with the title itself–are the selling point for me. But while it’s the story that I thoroughly enjoyed, it was the visuals of the package that sold me, and thus Phillips and Breitweiser should not be overlooked. The art itself–particularly of the main story–would not have grabbed me, BUT was quite effective in getting things across, and reminded me somewhat of Steve Dillon’s work. The story–both the main and the Kung Fu Werewolf–is conveyed quite well and gives the required feel to both visually…firmly accentuating the writing and making for an attractive overall package, especially in having now read it cover to cover.

If you’re firmly into super-heroes or such, you may not care for this…but if you’re a casual-ish comics reader and/or interested in comics beyond superheroes and zombies, this was a great read. As said, a big part of the ‘fun’ for me was buying the magazine edition, but for the story itself alone, I’d recommend the issue, giving it a certain positive grade myself. While I don’t have the regular edition for comparison, this was ad-free, except the back cover’s faux-ad, part of the effect of the vintage-magazine appearance. I dare say this is at once representative of the high quality of Brubaker and co.’s work on Criminal, though this may well outshine regular issues for being longer and self-contained (whatever nods to prior Criminal stuff–if any–were over my “ignorant” head in this reading).

Completing the Set: Trial of Captain America Omnibus

Over 7 years ago–when I first got my current job–I rewarded myself with the purchase of my first-ever Marvel Omnibus volume in the first Captain America by Ed Brubaker Omnibus volume.

In the years since, I’d ordered the Death of Captain America Omnibus and then the Captain America Lives Omnibus.

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Now I’ve “completed” the “set” with the Trial of Captain America Omnibus.

And much as with the first…this leaves me with a nice, thick volume of “new material” to read, to wrap up the Brubaker run on the series.

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Velvet #1 [Review]

velvet001Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Steve Epting
Colors: Elizabeth Breitweiser
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Published by: Image
Cover Price: $3.50

I’m not sure what caught my eye about this–perhaps the Brubaker/Epting combo, maybe some ad, maybe just something when I was on the Comixology site recently…but this was in my Comixology pull-list that gets emailed Tuesday nights, and since I often check my stack against that, I was able to snag a copy. I don’t usually buy Image #1s as I tend to wait for the collected volumes, but given this was only $3.50 (beats the $3.99 Marvel standard), I got and read it.

We’re introduced to a group of black op spies. When one is killed, it kicks off a bit of a chain reaction as we follow a character that in most other stories would be minor, and learn that she–Velvet–is actually a Pretty Big Deal. She looks into the death herself, and quickly finds herself caught up in a bigger mess than expected, that kickstarts the foremost conflict of this first arc, if not the series in general.

Visually, this is quite good. I had a good ‘taste’ of Epting‘s work during the Captain America run a few years back, and this has a similar look. In and of itself it works well with the story, and as a new property like this, it DEFINES the characters and story. No complaints here.

Story-wise, I enjoyed this issue. It does what I feel a first issue should, introducing the world, the protagonist(s), the conflict(s), gives us some “in” on the characters, and leaves the reader interested in the story and where things will go from here. As with the art, no complaints from me.

As an issue, this is one where it’s the creative team rather than the title or concept that “sold” me. I wouldn’t particularly care for arbitrarily trying some new series about a “female spy” or any “spy story” for that matter, in and of itself. But on strength of their Captain America run, I’m interested in “anything” by Brubaker and Epting (particularly having been reminded OF their Captain America run).

Knowing most such series read better in collected volume, I can’t help but liken this single issue to the pilot of a tv show; yet as a pilot, I’m interested, and will probably check out the next issue. Given Image using the $9.99 first-arc TPB trick, for the price of the singles, I can probably expect to be able to buy the first two issues, opt for the collected volume, and still not exceed the individual issues’ cost…which is also a ‘selling point’ for me.

Definitely a recommended read if you’re looking for a quality spy thriller/adventure by Brubaker and Epting, particularly with an absolute lack of “superheroes.”

Avengers vs. X-Men #12 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 3/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Avengers vs. X-Men #11 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 2.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3/5

Avengers vs. X-Men #3 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Avengers vs. X-Men #2 [Review]

Round 2

Story: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman, Matt Fraction
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Scott Hanna
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Art: Jim Cheung and Laura Martin
Assistant Editor: John Denning
Associate Editor: Lauren Sankovitch
Consulting Editor: Nick Lowe
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Published by: Marvel Comics

The battle breaks out here, as the Avengers attempt to take the beach while the X-Men seek to shove ’em back out to sea. The issue is primarily a big brawl, a long fight-scene, with snippets of stuff sure to be expanded on in the Vs. mini-series and/or tie-in issues. While the two groups duke it out, Cyclops is focused on seeing Hope to safety, while she wants to be in the thick of things, fighting rather than being fought over. By issue’s end, we see the toll the fighting’s already extracted from everyone–and possibly what’s to come as it’s pushed Hope to new levels, and Cap’s “away team” in space finds shock and awe in the approaching Phoenix force.

Story-wise…I’m not too impressed here. There’s more fighting than anything else (at least when taken for face value–there’s more depth than there looks, despite my summary above). It’s definitely interesting seeing some of the match-ups…and the Captain America/Cyclops slugfest made me think perhaps the cover of Avengers #25 is the REAL tie-in of that issue, as I’d swear that cover was yanked right out of this issue. Definitely liked the Iron Man/Magneto match-up…the narrative boxes surrounding that initial fight worked extremely well for me in summing up both characters’ strengths and natural bents.

Visually, little to complain about. The issue was action-packed enough that I honestly did not notice any of the AR logos except on the cover, so I’m even LESS impressed here than I was with ’em on the first issue. Romita‘s art isn’t my favorite, but a darned sight better in my eyes than a number of other artists, and I liked the work in this issue in general.

On the whole, this is another solid issue that moves things in the overall story forward–the battle is joined (not teased and put off til mid-arc), we see further development of things with Hope and the role she seems to be destined to play, and there’s enough to the individual fights that while they can clearly be expanded, it’s not just a panel here, panel there, go read another issue for the actual battle.

And as with the first issue, this issue does leave me looking forward to the next issue. Though I may not feel this way in the end or if I think too hard about the price tag…on the whole I kinda like that this is biweekly. 12 is a large number of “core event title” issues, but biweekly this should be over by early Fall…quite a bit crammed into half a year.

Recommended.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 8/10

Avengers vs. X-Men #1 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

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