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The Weekly Haul: Weeks of October 28, November 4, and November 11, 2020

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Been a few weeks…again. But hey…this time around, while having the no-post-gap of several weeks, I have pics of the hauls OF the several weeks!

So, let’s start with a couple weeks ago–October 28.


Week of October 28, 2020

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The long-awaited and MUCH-OVERHYPED TMNT: The Last Ronin #1 finally came out. Within the issue itself, there are several gallery pages of covers in addition to the usual/standard "gallery" on the inside cover with the usual variants shown off. I count no less than 65 covers. And counting the story pages of the issue…40 pages. So there are 25 more COVERS…than there are STORY PAGES in existence for this issue. I intentionally got the STANDARD cover. Not about to play the variants game with SO MANY variants, let alone this is a $9 issue. For the oversized format (an apparent callback to the size of the ORIGINAL 1984 TMNT #1 dimensions) and 40 story pages, prestige format/no ads, that’s not a horrible price, and IDW could easily have just shoved the price on up to $9.99, but didn’t. However, 10 different covers would be $90 AT COVER PRICE, but with so many covers apparently running $40+…yeah. Even MY "TMNT Exception" doesn’t go that far. At $40+, three covers that are just gonna get filed in some "current year comics" or "overall TMNT" box, or I could get a quarter-scale NECA figure (though I’m not keen on NECA at the moment).

Batman: The Three Jokers #3 is out. Three issues to be a sequel to the single-issue The Killing Joke. But being what it is, and by Johns, and my not being keen on DC distancing itself so much from even Johns’ stuff in general, I had given in on the first issue, so had to get the 2nd and third. And something about this project made it one I was willing to grudgingly get, and actually read ,and while it was rather extended and didn’t really GO anywhere, it worked well enough for me. (Yet just a week after the final issue, I saw an ad for the hardcover single-volume edition…ugh!)

Spawn #311. Nothing much to say for this issue; I’m ridiculously far behind on READING the title…but continue to simply "support" the title DESPITE the spike in variants, for the $2.99 value pricing in an overwhelming sea of $3.99-$9.99 single issues.

Then because I’m a total sucker, and despite the inflated $5.99 cover prices…I snagged the 50th issues of Batgirl and Red Hood Outlaw. Largely on the characters’ involvement in Three Jokers and the combination of coming out of that as well as The Joker War in Batman #100.

Though I have the original edition of the issue introducing the new Black Widow from Marvel Knights, snagged the $1 reprint, cuz as usual, I’m supporting cheap reprints of stuff since generally the reprints are from a time I enjoyed Marvel’s output far more than current-year stuff.

And then speaking of back issues/older stuff…latest issue of Back Issue magazine from TwoMorrows. This is another publication that I’ve been pretty glad to "support." They do high quality, well-researched stuff and the $10 is still a FARRRR greater time-value for the reading than any 2.5 $3.99 comics. Read one article and you’ve probably gotten more reading time than for 2.5 current-year comics, so anything else is just bonus for the money. I’ve probably missed an issue here and there of BIM, but between the cover story and whatnot, unlike comics, the content issue to issue isn’t what I’d see as serialized; it’s more the cover/topic that’ll grab me initially; as well as depending on how large a week on regular issues it might be.


Week of November 4, 2020

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Batman #102 is one I’m looking at sort of like the early 50s of this iteration of the title: it’s like a new #2, but I’ve decided to keep on PRIMARILY to "support" the high issue-numbering. If this WAS merely a new #2, I’d have passed on it and the previous issue. I need to catch up on reading around #s 91/92-99, but I think that’d make this "Ghostmaker" character make a LITTLE more sense to me…though I get slight "Hush" vibes as yet ANOTHER "new" character from Bruce’s PAST from his training is causing issues. Given rumours I saw on BleedingCool about DC essentially saying the heck with ongoing "continuity" come March…I gotta wonder just how far past #100 this iteration of the title will even go…or MATTER. My OCD would hate for me to have ultimately "kept up with" it for 102+ issues just to see it end a mere 4 issues later or something.

Firepower #5 means we’re one issue shy of "completing" a 2nd paperback. And with the "Prologue" tpb and FCBD edition of #1…we still have NOT matched in subsequent content what was initially available at once for this series. Which is both good and bad. I’ll likely be double-dipping, though. I’m not overly keen issue to issue on this book, but expect I’ll enjoy re-reading the first 6 issues in one go as I read the Prologue. And with my increasing avoidance of Marvel and DC, I’m willing to "throw in" with this title along with Walking Dead Deluxe as "regular" titles to replace what I’m not buying from those.

And speaking of…#2 of Walking Dead Deluxe. Once again, I hate the variant covers, and am starting to see this putting the issues out in color as an EXCUSE to do numerous variant covers. I’m specifically looking for the "A" cover (standard) cover. I initially had thought I might go for the one with the classic cover, but 1. that’s technically a VARIANT and 2. new iteration of the book, new cover. At least for these first few issues, I’m glad to give it a shot in color. And as said with Firepower…I’ll "enjoy" and appreciate this more than most new content out of DC and Marvel.

I was surprised to see Avengers #57. It’s a facsimile edition, but I think probably just about THE best one I’ve seen! They kept the original 12cents price on the corner box and simply updated to current with placing a modern barcode on the bottom corner of the cover. I actually wish they’d do this for ALL such editions–reprint the original cover price and all, but make sure the barcode is accurate. (Sure, you’ll get some folks who don’t realize what these are grousing "But it says $1.25, why is it $3.99?!?" but I’d argue that facsimile editions are intended for that middle-ground: the buyer/reader/collector who knows it’s a reprint of something classic, but not someone willing to pay the high prices for the originals. It’s not for casual buyers unaware of such things…if they’re out there.

TMNT: Jennika II #1 is an issue that gets in by virtue of technically being TMNT, and my OCD for keeping up with the IDW stuff (thus far I believe I have one of every single actual issue they’ve published, but not necessarily variants, ashcans, or promo pieces that aren’t full issues). Considering the first Jennika was interrupted by the Spring Shutdowns and #3 didn’t come out til…May? June? [according to IDW’s own site, June.] we’re barely 5 months since that mini. And the character is virtually starring in the main book. Even the other turtles have only had solo one-issue "micro series" outings…so why does Jennika deserve two different mini-series so close together within basically a single year?

I don’t think I even knew about this second round of Tales from the Dark Multiverse…but in a rare case of "advertising" via early-reviews I found out, and decided while I’m NOT getting any of the Death Metal stuff, I got last year’s round of TFTDM books, so might as well get this second round as well. Plus, since I already have the first round and haven’t double-dipped for the collected edition, getting this round also as ‘singles’ will keep to the same format without me double-dipping for OCD’s sake. I’m led to believe this HUSH issue is a retelling/alternate in name only, but…whatever, I guess.

I’m not sure WHERE I left off with the current, about-to-end Sandman Universe Black Label-not-Vertigo Hellblazer title. But for getting a couple of the other oversized/magazine-sized Black Label books, giving this Hellblazer one a chance. PLUS, as I’m a broken record…getting it to "support" the NON-BATMAN, NON-JOKER, NON-HARLEY QUINN such books.

Finally…Cross Over #1. I was NOT going to get this. In fact, I’d specifically decided not to. I feel like Cates is vastly over-hyped lately, since bursting onto the scene (I guess?) with God Country several years ago. I wasn’t going to CHASE this book, wasn’t going to seek it out, etc. But saw a bunch of copies there, and changed my mind. I can give it a look-see. After all…it’s Cates…but it’s NOT Venom or Thanos or Cosmic Ghost Rider/Galactus-Punisher-Old-Man-Wolverine-in-a-Black-Widow-Costume Marvel book. Best I can tell I was able to get the standard/basic/A/non-variant cover so I can simply read it for myself and judge it for myself.


Week of November 11, 2020

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And now catching up to "current week," and it’s a small one! Actually probably could have done without, but I thought there were a couple other issues out this week that I wanted.

Punchline I only got because it’s the same writer from Batman, and as I’ve yet to catch up on reading that run-up to #100, I don’t honestly know if I’d care for this or not. But I’ll be darned if I’ll leave it to have to chase it down later! And I’ll likely–ultimately–file it as an annual with the title. Not sure WHY it does not have "Batman" in the title…seems EVERYTHING ELSE published from DC even SLIGHTLY related to the character does. So why not this direct (apparently) spin-off special?!?

And as always, I’m a sucker for these True Believer reprints. ALL THE MORE when EVEN dropping much of the trade dress, the cover is STILL iconic and recognizable for what one single issue it actually is. The original edition of Thor #337 is from 1983…37 years ago, and still recognizable in and of itself. So many variants these days that you need a freaking ENCYCLOPEDIA and searchable online databases just to know what any given cover is from the cover alone.

Given the relative lack of anything else worthwhile…I picked up another pack of "top loaders" that I’ve been using for my personal "wall book" or "display book" comics. They’re like trading-card holders but sized to hold comics, typically including bag-and-board.


No real idea what else is coming out soon, other than subsequent issues of TMNT, Spawn, Batman, and….GI Joe: A Real American Hero.

Funny…triple-digit numbering all around! Must be something TO that, I guess???

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Wonder Woman #600 [Review]

This is the third “mega-anniversary” issue from DC in a month’s time (Batman #700 and Superman #700 preceded this) and for me, these are 3-for-3 in terms of being disappointments. Huge numbers, sure…and at least Batman and Superman got to theirs “legitimately.” Last month, Wonder Woman was on issue # 44…so it seems kinda fishy to arbitrarily skip 556 numbers just because issue #45 would be the 600th issue if you strung all the previous series combined in one continuing run.

But that’s a complaint to go into detail on another time.

This issue–even after reading the whole thing–is virtually forgettable. Less than 2 days after initially reading the issue, I couldn’t tell you what the “lead story” even was. I remembered the short with Power Girl’s cat, because it was a cat-story and combined with the Origin of Dex-Starr in Green Lantern #55, they stuck out as significant for hitting me close to the heart, having recently lost a cat I’d had for 18 years. The other story in the issue was setup for when Straczynski takes over the title, and showed a Diana Prince in a costume quite a bit different from the recent “traditional” version (and works extremely well in the story, despite all the buzz in the media..more on that later). There are also a number of “pinup pages” where other artistic teams had a chance to display their take on the character for this anniversary issue.

We open with an “introduction” by Lynda Carter–the actress who portrayed Wonder Woman in the old tv live-action series…I hardly remember the last time I saw a collected edition with an introduction, and now here we have one for a single-issue comic…I understand there’s big-time significance to a female character having so many issues published, but it still seems strange.

Valedictorian
Writer: Gail Simone
Penciller: George Perez
Inker: Scott Koblish
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Assoc. Editor: Sean Ryan
Editor: Brian Cuningham

The first story then begins, with Wonder Woman leading most of the well-known (and some less-so-well-known) female characters into battle, before rushing to a graduation ceremony where she’s glad to have arrived in time to see a girl graduate. We find out this is a girl who was part of the supporting cast, apparently, back when the Wonder Woman title was relaunched in the late 1980s after Crisis on Infinite Earths. The story here–at least to this male reader–as fairly generic. It’s cool to see the follow up on a character who has since her first appearance grown up, which lends some real history to the Wonder Woman tale as a whole…but it’s still–structurally–not all that interesting. The art by Perez is awesome, though, and I can overlook a boring story for the beautiful art, the detailed portrayal of the various characters. Plus, there’s that little tidbit of info older readers know: it was Perez who relaunched the character back in the 1980s, so seeing his return to contribute to a story all these years later–as the artist, and by indication in the credits, as an “inspiration” for the story.

Fuzzy Logic
Writer & Artist: Amanda Conner
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: John J. Hill

Next up, Wonder Woman teams up with Power Girl to defeat “Egg Fu,” and then retire to Power Girl’s office, where they discuss the way Power Girl’s cat has been acting, and Power Girl realizes she needs a place away from the office, where she and the cat can be away from the day-to-day business of things. The art is so-so…nothing spectacular; it doesn’t blow me away or make me feel it’d be anough to carry a boring story. But it works for this story, and doesn’t put me off. The cat seems a bit stocky/bulky…but in terms of a fictitious comic-book cat, I really shouldn’t complain…he’s a cute little thing without being overly-cutesy.

Firepower
Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciller: Eduardo Pansica
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Colorist: Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Travis Lanham

The story that follows is a short that basically pit Superman and Wonder Woman against Aegeus, who has stolen lightning bolts from Zeus. The character apparently is Olympian–I’m not familiar with this version of the character, but the name and visuals seem somewhat familiar, suggesting I’m not entirely unfamiliar–whether in DC‘s comics or simply in reading of Greek mythology. As Superman is vulnerable to magic, he’s more the “backup” in this tale, as Wonder Woman takes the lead in bringing the villain down. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of point to this story in and of itself outside this issue…it’s just a tale to show Wonder Woman and Superman teamed up, though giving Wonder Woman the starring role and relegating Superman to an almost second-tier status (as a guest-star, that’s how it goes, though)! The visuals are ok, but again…don’t stand out as significant (whereas the opening story with Perez’ art I recognized it and knew without looking at the credits that it was Perez’ work).

The Sensational Wonder Woman
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Scott Kolins
Coloris: Michael Atiyeh
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano

The next story reeks largely of being little more than metatextual. Wonder Woman is shown in battle, while narration boxes discuss her journey, and leads to what symbolically indicates the character rushing into an unknown future, from an established past…almost feeling like a vague series or season finale where the makers aren’t sure if they’ll get to do anything else with the story.

Odyssey – Prologue: Couture Shock
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Penciller: Don Kramer
Inker: Michael Babinski
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Travis Lanham

Finally, we have the prologue to Staczynski‘s story, where we find a young Diana Prince in a new, unfamiliar (but with touches of familiarity) costume, seeking an oracle, and referencing a dead mother recently brought back…after having been dead for a few years. We come to see that this new, “current” Wonder Woman is the result of something screwing with the timeline, and she’s going to have to put things back to rights, to exist in the mainstream current DCU again.

We then close with a preview of Action Comics #890 with no cover image to differentiate it from any of the other stories in the issue.

Between stories, we get some “iconic” Wonder Woman pinup pages. While on the one hand they seem a bit like filler material, I am (as I was with Batman #700) very, VERY glad to see these on the INTERIOR of the book, rather than as variant covers!

There’s a two-page spread showing the classic/traditional-costumed Wonder Woman striking a pose in the foreground, with slightly dimmed-out images surrounding as the background, displaying many of the main DC heroes she’s worked with, the villains, and they seem grouped by time-frame, from the different periods of the character’s life, at least post-Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Overall Thoughts on the Issue

These are all decent stories, though the issue as a whole feels more like it should be some sort of Annual rather than a (renumbering aside) regularly-numbered issue in the midst of the ongoing series. If this were a half-half split with an epilogue from the previous writer and a prologue from the incoming writer, with pinup pages to lend to the anniversary feel, it wouldn’t seem so out of sorts. As is, it’s an issue with a whole bunch of stuff crammed in, apparently to give a LOT of people some way to say they “got to work on” this anniversary issue.

If you’re a Wonder Woman fan, this could be a bit iffy. The opening story hardly seems worth a $5 price for its nature just to wrap up Simone‘s run on the book. For newer fans, the final segment is the same way…not worth the $5 just to get such a short prologue to the upcoming run, nor is it worth the price just to get the “debut” of the “new costume” that seems to be THE buzz of late.

This issue seems like it’s more well-suited for the random person who is familiar with the character in American popular culture, but virtually entirely UNaware of current continuity. The stories are so short and lacking in ongoing plot elements that one mostly needn’t know anything of the character or stories…there’s a little more flash than substance here.

Despite the hype…this issue isn’t really worth it unless you specifically want this sort of anthology book. It’s not going to give much to summarize the last several years’ stories, and there’s little more than “previewing the premise” in the prologue to the upcoming arc.

I don’t particularly recommend the issue…but on the whole it’s not something I recommend against, either. Ratings below based on the whole issue and not just any single segment.

Story: 5.5/10
Art: 7/10
Overall: 6/10

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