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The Weekly Haul: Week of November 6, 2019

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I’m pretty sure this was the cheapest Wednesday I’ve had in MONTHS…and that INCLUDES buying an Image Compendium volume!

Let’s get to the week’s books..!

weeklyhaul_20191106a

I’d totally forgotten about the "acetate covers" or whatever they’re called. DC has really lost me overall, so the only thing redeeming about it is…even WITH this "fancy cover" on Batman #82 (or is that City of Bane #82???) it still carries a $3.99 price point. Small "wins," right?

New issue of TMNT: Urban Legends…we’re well past the halfway-point for this series, and just a couple issues shy of where I’d gotten in on the original Image run of TMNT for a couple issues. Looking forward to catching up on the reading and getting to that point…as well as the series finally getting a proper ending of sorts. The primary drawback to me is that I still want to get the original Image issues…but ALL anyone ever seems to have at conventions and such IS the IDW stuff, be it the current ongoing, color classics, or whatever.

Spawn #302 puts us 2 issues past the big one, and we’re back to the regular price point of $2.99 that got me onto the title a few years ago. I’m getting REALLY sick of the variants even on this title…but at least with it "only" being $2.99, even if I get a variant, I can still get multiple copies for the price of a single Marvel.

We have yet another DC Dollar Comics release in Flashpoint #1. This one seems rather RECENT to me to be reprinting, even though–scarily enough to think about–it’s been 8 1/2 years since it first saw print! I suppose it’s fitting for this week with the City of Bane issue, given the Flashpoint Batman’s involvement in the ongoing stuff.

And the CORRECT-PAGE-ORDER edition of the DC Dollar Comics Batman #497 is out. I didn’t bother to try to exchange the original. I still had bought a $1 comic, and for "only" $1 I’m willing to buy it again, still for the nostalgia and all that. Of course, it’s gonna be a crappy time for back-issue buyers with no indicator on the cover that anything’s different or amiss about the issue.

The biggest surprise of the week for me was this Image Firsts Compendium vol. 3. I saw it and picked it up to look at–a curiosity. It’s been several years since I’d seen one of these as a new publication. I recalled having the first volume, so for "only" $5.99 I figured I’d add it to my collection. It reprints 8 or so #1 issues from Image, in a handy single volume and cheaper than even the Image Firsts $1 editions if you want "everything." AND when I got home and checked my existing collection…I DO already have both earlier volumes, so I’m adding vol. 3 to my collection without any gaps!

Finally, we have this week’s Comic Shop News, this time spotlighting Captain America: The End, which I believe is one of a bunch of pending one-shots giving more characters the The End treatment–a limited story to provide an "ending" to the character(s) in question. This is capitalizing on series from YEARS back like Hulk: The End, Wolverine: The End, and the 18-issue trilogy of 6-issue arcs making up X-Men: The End. Of course, these are sure to be $4.99+ an issue with too many splash pages and such…over-hype and under-delivery that turns me off to so much of Marvel‘s fare.

I’m not their target audience, so I just won’t buy what I don’t care for…more power to those who want the stuff and get what they pay for.

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New Toys: TMNT, Rogue, and Aliens

Over the weekend, along with going to a small convention, I also found a couple toys I’d been looking for…and a friend gave me some others that are equally (if not moreso) cool.

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Quite some time back, I was disappointed at the "Karai Serpent" figure. When I recently came across the Armaggon figure, I noticed reference to this figure, and have had my eye out since. Heading into November very shortly and the shopping season, I did not want to pass on this figure, having found it… who knows when I’d come across it again.

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I again don’t really see any other figures of particular interest to me–I have come across my original 1980s Mondo Gecko, so am interested in getting the new one for the contrast as I have with a number of other characters. Between what I see on this card back and the 2016 live-action movie figures…there’s really nothing that I’ll be much looking for in the near future, that I am presently aware of.

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Here’s the "profile card" for Karai…


Rogue has long been one of my favorite X-Men characters…at least in the comics. And probably more specifically, the 1990s comics. Even more specifically, probably from 1991’s X-Men #1 to around The Trial of Gambit, maybe a bit beyond.

I had intended to–as with most other waves–ignore the X-Men wave of the Marvel Legends figures.

But I found myself interested in the Rogue figure…if not the price of these figures.

So when I came across the figure at a 25% discount…the price became a bit more palatable…"only" $2 more than what Target (ridiculously!) has as their pricing of the 3.75" figures.

And as I told my friend when I put the figure in the cart…if I did not buy it immediately, we’d never see this figure "in the wild" again. Of course, having bought it…I expect I might see it "everywhere" now.

marvel_legends_rogue_front

I’m not fond of the build-a-figure things anymore…not at these prices. When the regular figures were $7-8ish and you only needed 5-6 to build the bigger figure, they were pretty cool. But at $20/figure (regular asking price), they’re just way too expensive these days, especially when I’m truly only interested in a couple figures in the line and the build-a-figure itself.

Continue reading

More New Flash–But With Damage

Sadly, I’m not referencing the ’90s character Damage.

Amazon Prime continues to astound me at their lack of use of shipping materials in mailing stuff–particularly paperback graphic novels–that are already oversized and much more subject to easy damage and dingings and such than say, a tight-wrapped “brick” of a mass-market paperback edition.

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This damage is to the bottom of the back…on the shelf it won’t even be noticeable! But to me, it’s the principle of the thing. I pay for Amazon Prime for the shipping; both books were hardly discounted (like 20%)…and they were just stuck into a basic padded mailer, no cardboard, no plastic wrap, no anything really to help protect them in shipping.

The envelope was oversized–and almost big enough the two books could have been inside, side-by-side. And the envelope looked like it had tire treads on it–hardly the first time I’ve received packages that way–so…I am not a particularly enthused camper right now.

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But look! New (to me) Flash books! With these, and last week’s The Flash: Rebirth, and my already having the Flashpoint complete event in collected volumes…I’m definitely building my “Flash collection.”

Once I get the replacement copies for these–once I get satisfactory replacement copies*–I’ll be set for a bit. And at this point I think it’s safe to say that I’ll be adding the New 52 stuff…I already pre-ordered some sort of omnibus with the first 25 issues, and I guess I’ll see what’s what from there.

(* Numerous times over the past few years, I’ve wound up with 3, even 4 or 5 copies of something in-hand due to requesting replacements when Amazon refuses to use packing materials and stuff does not arrive in pristine condition. Shrink-wrap the books to a piece of cardboard in a box? Cool. Shrinkwrap the books and toss a couple bubbles in to minimize stuff moving around? Ok. Put cardboard in and ship in a stiff mailer? Great. Show some effort. Show me that the books were NOT just chucked in something and thrown down a conveyer belt.)

Convergence #8 [Review]

convergence008Last Stand

Writers: Jeff King and Scott Lobdell
Pencils: Stephen Segovia, Carlo Pagulayan, Eduardo Pansica, Ethan Van Sciver
Inks: Jason Paz, Scott Hanna, Trevor Scott, Stephen Segovia, Ethan Van Sciver
Colros: Peter Stiegerwald
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover: Andy Kubert, Brad Anderson
Special Thanks: Geoff Johns, Beth Sotelo, Mark Roslan
Asst. Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Marie Javins
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: July 2015

[Please note that I WILL be “spoiling” this issue in this review. If you have not read it yourself and/or do not wish to know how the issue–and Convergence itself in general–conclude, you’ll want to stop reading; though I have about 2 1/2 paragraphs before I truly get to “spoiler” territory.]

I think I left off about six weeks ago–I’m pretty sure I jumped off after #2, never picking up #3 of this series. And though my enthusiasm quickly, almost totally tapered off…I again found myself curious about how this would wrap up, particularly given recent rumors at certain comic sites, and wanting to see/experience it for myself instead of just reading about it.

Of course, that was not truly worth the $4.99 cover price (at this point, that means I’ve bought THREE $4.99 issues and only one $3.99 issue of Convergence proper, which is absolutely disgusting to me). The cover also is quite generic and basic, not impressing me at all.

The story itself is relatively basic, and I certainly lack context of the past few issues. A group of heroes has gathered, to make their last stand. Someone named Deimos has just been killed by Hal/Parallax resulting in the planet becoming unstable, and its destruction threatens the Multiverse itself. A few remaining time-travelers (specifically Booster Gold, his sister, and Waverider) show up…and their solution is to bring Brainiac back. In turn, Brainiac’s solution is to absorb the temporal energy that’s been unleashed and return the heroes home, while having himself restored and the Multiverse fixed. Part of fixing the Multiverse is preventing its total collapse in the “first” Crisis. And fix stuff they do, and all the worlds are restored, the many many worlds of a Multiverse.

I mention that the story is relatively basic, and that’s in the “heroes are gathered, a last-ditch solution arrives, is executed, and we get page after page of “moments” to end the current series/event while not truly capping things off” sense.

Essentially, it seems that in a way, this means that Crisis on Infinite Earths is given a different ending, in which the final five Earths, at least, do not collapse into one single Earth, and generally that anything and everything that has ever happened in a DC comic has a place in the multiverse and is still out there somehow.

[The way I choose to interpret it is that we’re seeing the creation of a divergent branch OF the multiverse with worlds where Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, Flashpoint, Infinite Crisis, etc. all happened or will happen existing amidst worlds in which none of those happened, and so on.]

The issue’s art is a mixed thing, with a bunch of pencilers and inkers involved. Fortunately, though seeming much like a “jam piece,” dealing with multiple versions of characters and various Earths and all that, I didn’t honestly consciously “notice” that overly much…I noticed some differences here and there but mentally wrote them off as nature of the story.

While the series didn’t hold me week to week, knowing now how it ends, I do expect I’ll still be interested in a collected volume–I half considered that it’d “only” be 5 issues to fill in my “gap,” but with DC‘s rather reasonable pricing, that $20 for 5 issues will probably be 2/3 or more the price of the inevitable hardcover of all 9 issues, so I expect to try to “hold out” for that.

Unless you’re like me and just want to get the immediate gratification of “experiencing” (reading) this issue and its place in DC History right now, or have already kept up ith the rest of the series…you’re better off waiting, I think.

This isn’t the worst ending of an event, but I wouldn’t consider it great, either as it seems to throw wide the doors on things than it does close them on even this story in itself. It does set up the new Earth 2 for the ongoing “primary”/focal part of the DC Multiverse (formerly The New 52) and leaves the entirety of DC history open such that it seems “possible” that anything/everything that’s ever been at DC is now “available” to be used in DC comics in general. Whether this ultimately proves to be good or bad, I don’t know.

I can’t say I’m thrilled with the issue in and of itself…but I am glad to have gotten to read this immediately, and be given some small “hope” of interesting self-contained stuff down the line. For the immediate present, though, this serves as a jump-off for me.

Convergence: Booster Gold #1 [Review]

convergence_boostergold001Ride the Wave

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Penciller: Alvaro Martinez
Inker: Raul Fernandez
Letterer: Corey Breen
Colorist: Chris Sotomaor
Cover: Dan Jurgens, Danny Miki, Hi-Fi
Assistant Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Marie Javins
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: June 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

I was all set to just pass entirely on Convergence this past week. But after how thrilled I was to get my Blue Beetle Showcase volume recently, and seeing the familiar "classic" Booster Gold AND Blue Beetle logos on issues this week…I wound up buying ’em. And I was especially sold on this issue seeing Jurgens‘ name there.

Though set amidst Convergence itself, this issue basically sees the pre-Flashpoint Booster and co. meet up with the New 52 Booster as they try to piece together what’s going on. We learn a few things about the timeline (such as the fact that Booster is Rip’s father in one timeline does not guarantee it’d be so in another) as well as that while pre-Flashpoint Booster has thought he was bouncing through time, he was actually being bounced through the various domed cities. Though the group manages to get to the surface they find themselves caught up fighting Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes before the older Booster is pulled away, to be greeted by a familiar city…and ally.

Despite the fight with the Legion keeping this "grounded" in the realm of "just another Convergence tie-in," overall this issue felt a lot more like its own independent thing. Still very much a part of Convergence, but with the time-travel stuff and the recent (post-52 Weekly Series) status quo for Booster this stands apart. The Futures End month Booster Gold issue last year also stood alone a bit and seemed to indicate there was something more going on with multiple timelines’ Boosters…and this picks up where that left off, thematically.

It’s a bit of a tease, and likely not in a good way, being able to follow "my" Booster Gold this way. But it definitely gives the appearance of a long game and Big Stuff to throw Booster into the mix with his own issues like these despite having no solo ongoing book since Flashpoint.

The story’s good, and plays quite well with established continuities–at least for me–and far more than any of the other Convergence issues or tie-ins, I actually"feel" like I’m getting a momentary continuation or revisitation with "my" Booster rather than a glimpse of characters purported to be the ones I knew that somehow seem more like they’re "based on" than actually being those characters.

I’m not overly familiar with the art team, but the art on this issue is quite solid and looks really good overall. Some of the colors seem a bit dark and heavy, but overall this looks like what my memory says could be an issue of the last Booster Gold ongoing, and with Jurgens continuing to write the character…it feels a lot more "true" to me.

Whatever Convergence as a whole holds, I would be quite comfortable with considering the New 52 Futures End: Booster Gold issue and this mini to be a direct continuation of the 2007 Booster Gold series…and that alone makes this well worthwhile.

If you want something that isn’t just another fight book or loosely based on characters from a scant handful of previous continuities, this is one issue that seems like it’ll actually "matter." Even if I pick up no further Convergence tie-ins, I’ll definitely be back for the next issue of this.

Convergence – Week of April 15th, 2015

Convergence–the two-month “event” that covers for the absence of the “regular” DC books while the editorial offices are transferred from the East coast to the West–is officially in full swing. This week’s releases were the #2 issue of the core mini and a bunch of #1s for tie-in 2-issue minis.

Rather than try to cover stuff singly, I decided continue like last week and just do one huge post for the Convergence stuff I bought this week. We’ll see how coming weeks go, in this regard.

Convergence #2

convergence002This week got the price down…now that we’re done with the "special" #0 issue and oversized #1, the "core" of this event drops to $3.99…which is rather steep for yet being a $1 DROP in cover price. This issue gives us more detail on the Earth-2 refugees and presumably backstory to cover the events of Earth 2: World’s End for those who didn’t read that series. We also see the Flashpoint Batman (Thomas Wayne) meet his son from the pre-Flashpoint world and the two make a plan for dealing with their situation. The others from Earth-2 make a stand against Telos that unfortunately doesn’t work out all that well…and then a new ally shows up.

The art for this issue isn’t that bad, though I don’t believe I’m familiar with the penciler or inker. The art got stuff across, and nothing stood out in a negative way enough to be memorable to me. The story, though, borders on formulaic, boring, and generic despite having a lot of potential. I’ve yet to get around to actually reading the entirety of Flashpoint but I have read the core story and the Batman mini so I appreciate the presence of Thomas Wayne here as well as his meeting with a pre-Flashpoint (judging from the costume) Bruce.

That the story so far seems largely a framework for a lot of punching and has yet to really involve characters I’m really looking to see more of is a definite turnoff. To me, Flashpoint was always self-contained as a single event rather than serving as an "era" or particular period of comics. And seeing the Earth-2 characters as New 52 characters…this just doesn’t do much FOR me.

I’m tempted to jump off for now on this core series…maybe it’ll read better as a single whole in collected format. At $2.99 an issue I’d be more inclined to suck it up and keep up…but the $3.99 (as always) very quickly wears thin on me.

Convergence: Batman Shadow of the Bat #1

convergence_batmanshadowofthebat001This issue got my attention by its title alone. Batman: Shadow of the Bat was the first Bat-title I was able to get from #1 back in the day and followed for a good chunk of its early run, returning at its end with No Man’s Land. I wasn’t thrilled at the notion of Azrael’s presence, but if I had any doubt on picking the issue up…the cover absolutely sucked me in. Despite being relatively generic in a sense, the coloring and the title logo make this easily one of my favorite comic covers of 2015 so far.

The story sees Jean-Paul Valley and a still-healing Bruce Wayne both trying to work undercover to find out how a new (to us) villain is going to hit the city’s food supply. The two work together while yet at odds with one another’s methodology, and when the dome drops find themselves quickly facing a couple of Wetworks agents that promise to make their already rough day even worse.

The art on the issue is good overall with an almost quasi-painted look at points. Some panels are just ugly–at least the villain’s appearance–but that’s presumably intentional. On the whole, though this definitely looks and feels much like an issue of the old Shadow of the Bat title. As with the other #1s I’ve read so far we have the tie-in to the first issue of Convergence with Telos’ speech…which is starting to feel a bit repetitive to me despite whatever positive I had to say of its inclusion previously. I suppose I somewhat expected a staggered timeline and not getting that is something I’ll have to soon decide if I’m ok with.

Convergence: Superman Man of Steel #1

convergence_supermanmanofsteel001I’d intended to pick this one up on title alone…to go with Superman and the forthcoming Adventures of Superman and Action Comics, to have a couple months of picking up "all 4" classically-titled Superman books. While I enjoy the Steel character I was decidedly disappointed at the cover logo showing this is actually a Steel book with a missing Superman.

With Superman missing from THIS Metropolis, and all super-powers being nulled out, Steel’s in a position of being one of the most powerful individuals in the city. Having taught his nephew and niece how to repair HIS armor, the two had secretly created Steel armor of their own. When some rogue Lexcorp battlesuits show up, Steel takes them on single-handedly…just before the dome drops and the Gen13 kids show up. Despite Steel’s orders, his kids join the battle (as does the re-powered Parasite), and by issue’s end Steel’s very fate is in question.

I’m not as familiar as I’d prefer to be with Steel…I have most of his 50-issue series but have yet to read more than a handful of issues…I’m most familiar with the character from Reign of the Supermen and guest appearances in the main Superman books…and probably much longer once he was no longer Steel and was simply around as a non-suited supporting character in the books in the 2000s. As such, I don’t have much attachment here…certainly not as much as I’d like.

The art works well enough for me, as does the story (in and of itself) but I’m not too keen on the Gen13 kids nor of this being a Steel issue vs. a Zero Hour-era Superman. While I’m curious as to Steel’s fate I’m not certain I care enough to follow into the next issue. If I do it’ll likely be more on the "principle" of this being "only" 2 issues and my OCD not justifying having bought HALF the series only to leave the other out.

Convergence: Green Lantern/Parallax #1

convergence_greenlanternparallax001I have fond memories of the early Kyle Rayner days. The numbering had even worked out at the time for the first year or so–issue #50 of Green Lantern was Hal’s final issue, and Kyle was the full star in #51…essentially a #1. I remember the first few issues–particularly what happened to his girlfriend, and then his #0 issue post-Zero Hour with Hal.

As such I decided to pick this issue as one of my select few…for that ’90s nostalgia. So the premise of Kyle and Hal both being present was sorta interesting for that…and yet Hal being present doesn’t quite work for me with what I remember of his timeline, going essentially from Green Lantern #50 to Zero Hour to…where-ever.

Given the notion that it’s the power from internalizing the rings and main power battery from Oa that drove Hal mad, the power being cut off by the city being taken and domed, the guilt-ridden Hal turns himself in to be jailed…his only regular visitor being Kyle, who tries to convince him he’s needed. When the dome comes down as Telos kicks his fight-for-survival thing into motion, Kyle’s ring picks back up with the charge it had…though Hal’s "clarity" as Parallax returns along with HIS power. Parallax finds himself attacked, and quickly seeks out the source city to put an end to it.

I’ll be interested in seeing Hal/Parallax kick some butt…especially as I have zero emotional investment in Lady Qark and that city/world. I’m aware OF it but it’s from far enough before my time and outside my experience with pre-Crisis stuff. And for what this is, as a 2-issue series, I don’t have any particular misgivings about picking up the next issue to see how things wrap up.

I’d’ve been happier if this was simply a Green Lantern issue…having the more modern Parallax logo on the cover kinda spoils things as it’s a logo I don’t currently recall seeing til well after Zero Hour (either circa Final Night or the post-Rebirth era around the Sinestro Corps War).

Overall Thoughts This Week

Where last week I stuck with the Core Mini Plus Two, I allowed myself 3 issues this week. I seriously considered the Superboy and Supergirl issues as well, but wound up holding my ground on principle with the $3.99 price point and trying to keep my "double dipping" at a minimum as I suspect I will seek the entirety of Convergence in collected format when all’s said ‘n done.

As said above, I was disappointed that the Superman: Man of Steel issue was Steel-centric and that as a result I did not get to see "my" superman from the Zero Hour era (which could be argued was a different Superman than the pre-Flashpoint one).

I believe next week’s books are Crisis on Infinite Earths-era centric, and I look forward to the Adventures of Superman one WITH Supergirl, but not planning presently on much else…and may even pass on the core mini moving forward, as noted above. While I can justify limited double-dipping with the notion that I’ll have a handful of issues from any given volume on the tie-ins…I all but KNOW the core mini will be its own volume and thus a far more DIRECT double-dip.

Whatever excitement I had is definitely wearing thin only two weeks in, and broken record that I am…a lot of that is certainly to be blamed on the $3.99 price point of the entirety of the event.

Convergence – Week of April 8th, 2015

Convergence–the two-month “event” that covers for the absence of the “regular” DC books while the editorial offices are transferred from the East coast to the West–is officially in full swing with this week’s release of the #1 issue of the core mini and nearly a dozen #1s for tie-in 2-issue minis.

convergence001_wraparound_full

I’m not at all impressed with the cover, particularly as it appears just as an issue…but I give DC credit that this is a wraparound cover rather than having the two-panel image be an “interlocking” variant.

Rather than try to cover stuff singly, I decided–for this week, at least–to just do one huge post for the Convergence stuff I bought this week. We’ll see how coming weeks go, in this regard.

Convergence #1

convergence001Somehow, I was expecting a LOT more out of this, especially for the price. $4.99 is an awfully steep price for ANY single-issue–surpassing my hated $3.99 by a full additional 25%–and not delivering a whole lot for the cost. There are 30 story pages but also 4 “backmatter” context-pages detailing some of the “cities” in the issue.

While on some level I “know” that much of the issue involves characters fresh outta Earth 2: World’s End and presumably events of New 52: Futures End…there’s not one note anywhere in THIS issue that caught my attention referencing that. “See Earth 2: World’s End for the grisly details” or “See final few issues of Futures End” or whatever. So these are just characters that show up, and I can wonder what makes THEM so special that they get so much page-time? 

Having the “singular event” of Telos “broadcasting” himself to EVERYONE makes for a good rally-point for the first issues of the various tie-ins…something to tie them all together even if every other detail of the story has nothing to do with it…it roots them in the time-frame.

I was excited and looking forward to this issue, but sorely let-down by what I got. If the entire series was $4.99 I’d CERTAINLY pass…but it DOES drop to $3.99 after this. I’ll “grudgingly” pick up the next issue…but if it feels too much like this first one, I may let it go and wait for a (relatively) cheaper collected volume.

Convergence: Superman #1

convergence_superman001Despite HUGE changes around Infinite Crisis and beyond, I still clung to the notion that the Superman that existed up to the dawn of the New 52 was still somehow at least somewhat “my” Superman. As such, I was looking forward to this chance to revisit the character. 

Finding Superman powerless and in Gotham City was a bit of a surprise, as was learning that the whole city has been “trapped” in a dome for over a year (how “convenient” that Clark, Lois, AND Jimmy were all in Gotham at the time!). Clark’s played secret vigilante, unable to suppress the need to help others. Luckily for him, reaching the “end of the line” conveniently coincides with Telos dropping the domes and his powers returning just in time to repel a hail of bullets.

We learn that Lois is pregnant (presumably something that was able to happen due to Superman’s powers being gone), which seems to be one of the “final steps” that seem to be allowed in anything for Superman–once he has a kid it’s like that’s “it” for his story…so something as brief and temporary as this is–of course–the perfect time to “allow” such a development.

As a two-issue thing, it seems TOO short to be HALFWAY through the story already. That also makes it too short for so much space given to Telos’ bit. While I appreciate and am glad that’s there, I’d be glad for a PANEL of it, tying this to the core story but otherwise let this stand alone OR “assume” that someone has read Convergence #1 (or put the full speech FROM Convergence #1 into the backmatter for those truly curious).

And speaking of the backmatter–the recapping of stuff made me doubt myself, that perhaps this was Superman and Lois shortly after the wedding (circa 1997)…yet there was reference to stuff from the early 2000s as well, making for a very selective over-brief recap of only huge moments.

All in all I’ll be interested enough in the next issue, but I can’t quite “recommend” this in and of itself…either you’re interested in what I believe is immediately-pre-Flashpoint Superman or you’re not. 

Convergence: Batman and Robin #1

convergence_batmanandrobin001This issue picks up on a Gotham City where Batman’s back from being presumed dead/lost in time–it’s Bruce-Batman and Damian-Robin, sometime after Dick’s tenure as the Caped Crusader. Ivy’s largely responsible for the citizens of the city surviving–her control over plans has allowed for quality production of food–and the Penguin wants to threaten that. 

Batman and Robin arrive to spoil his plans, and encounter a Red Hood. Damian is jealous of how Batman seems toward his former Robin, which leads to some definite tension and an eventual having-it-out within the present Bat-family…right before the dome closing them in drops and they hear Telos’ message.

As with the Superman issue, I was glad we had the unifying moment of Telos’ message…but even moreso than in the Superman issue, it felt to me like it took up way too much space in this issue for this only being a two-issue story.

The backmatter was less than impressive to me, though it was more informative than the Superman one–I’m far more familiar with Superman than “later Batman” stuff. I have never liked the Red Hood character, and 11-some years later still have not “embraced” the returned-to-life Jason Todd…and probably never will. Having had a couple days to mull over the reading experience, I’m pretty sure I’ll only pick up #2 because of having bought #1…not for any particular interest in where this issue goes from here.

Given that pre-Flashpoint Batman essentially continued straight into the New 52, this is more like an alternate take splitting off briefly from a specific point more than it is revisiting something that’s been lost…and I do wish I’d chosen to go with the Batgirl issue instead to get Red Robin.

Overall Thoughts This Week

Even though I’m tentatively “buying into” this Convergence thing, the price of the books is a big issue for me. With 2013’s Villains Month and last year’s Futures End month, for my $3.99 and whatever-length story, I was getting that fancy cardboard stock and 3-D image cover…and the issues largely stood alone as functional one-shots. With Convergence, everything is $3.99, and I’m not even getting a slightly better quality coverstock, no fancy image technology…and this is a TWO-MONTH thing. Whatever I buy a #1 of, I’ll likely want to then get the #2…and if something would get my attention with a #2 I’d want to backtrack and also get #1.

Additionally, along with any of the issues I’d pick up, there’s the WEEKLY main/core series itself, so that’s already ONE “slot” taken up for anything extra I would buy. With the higher price point, 2 issues (the main title and a single tie-in) would almost match my buying all 3 weeklies for the last 26 weeks previous…and matching the quantity will be a significant bump beyond.

And since I’m already thinking quite a bit about possibly snagging whatever collected edition format is presented for Convergence as a whole (I’m guessing a hardcover for the core series and 4-8 paperbacks for the tie-ins) I’m already going to be rather heavily “double-dipping,” which is not very appealing to me for this. But…I’m eager enough to revisit some stuff and to read some of these that I don’t want to “just wait” and not read them at all…especially if there are some “surprise” things.

If I’m going to “double dip,” I’ll grudgingly do so on the main series and a handful of tie-ins…but I’m finding myself a LOT more “conservative” on other random books as a result. At the $3.99 “premium price” I am not going to buy half the event just to pay top dollar for collected volumes. Since I don’t even know what titles will be collected how (for example, will we have one or two volumes apiece for a Convergence: Crisis on Infinite Earths, Convergence: Zero Hour, Convergence: Pre-Flashpoint? Or will we get the series collected by “family” with Superman books clustered, Batman books clustered, etc.?)

Given my gripes and concerns…probably the largest reason I find myself looking forward to anything more is the simple notion of getting a couple months of Superman, Superman: Man of Steel, Adventures of Superman, and Action Comics again. There’s also stuff like Shadow of the Bat, which I believe the original ongoing was the first actual continuity Bat-book I got in on at its start, back in 1992 or so. And that I recently listened to the GraphicAudio adaptation of Crisis on Infinite Earths, and this strikes me as a sort of 30-year successor to that story.

Convergence #0 [Review]

convergence000The God Machine

Writers: Dan Jurgens & Jeff King
Art: Ethan Van Sciver
Colors: Marcelo Maiolo
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover: Van Sciver with Maiolo
Editors: Dan Didio and David Pina
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: April 2015
Cover Price: $4.99

This issue is an appalling $4.99, for “only” 30 story pages. Yea, that beats the heck outta 20 pages or so for a $3.99 book, but that’s STILL $5! The cover seems to be the shinier/glossy higher-quality (physically) stock, so at least there’s that, too. There are several pages of backmatter, basically showing off a bunch of different “cities” that will be part of this event, and a tidbit about them, along with a classic (-ish) cover image to go with them…some of the covers more relevant than others. This certainly is not as hefty as an Annual or other special issue. At $4.99 weekly, this would be an absolute no-go for me. However, a bit of internet digging yields the notion that this is an oversized issue as a prologue, and next week’s #1 is oversized as well kicking things off, but then will drop down to the $3.99 for fewer pages.

The story of the issue is basically filling in a “gap” of time from the end of Superman: Doomed, where Superman found himself elsewhere/elsewhen, but then found himself back in regular space/time with no memory of what he experienced. Turns out that what he experienced was meeting numerous incarnations of Brainiac and seeing a number of versions of Metropolis, domed cities on a strange/alien world and railing against the notion of the people within being held prisoner…while learning from the Brainiacs that the main entity has apparently grabbed these cities from just before their timelines would have been destroyed and preserving them.

While it felt (and in my summary above probably sounds) extremely “basic,” it works as a prologue. I’d read Doomed last year, so this sorta adds a little bit to that. It also sets things up for Convergence as an event over the coming weeks.

I can’t help but think that Jurgens’ involvement on the writing side is why certain scenes and versions of Brainiac got shown as they did. I’m not familiar with King though the name is familiar (further internet digging suggests this is his comics-writing debut though he’s worked on tv stuff like White Collar that I’m familiar with). Given the co-writing credit, and not having read other comics stuff by him, too early to tell if I like King’s work or not. I suppose if I continue with this series I’ll be finding out as it looks like he’s got the reins for the main run of the series.

I’ve long enjoyed Van Sciver‘s art, going back a good decade-plus now with his Green Lantern work. While there’s a bit of a “feel” to me in this issue that’s “off” just a bit, I really enjoyed most of the art in this issue. I think the “off” stuff is a combination of things, including Superman’s armor looking strange to me compared to the classic (non-armor) suit. Despite that, I was thoroughly struck by the depiction of the classic Death of Superman scene, and really dug the bearded Superman look by issue’s end–if you look closely, he starts the issue clean-shaven but sports a short beard by the end.

While I was certainly glad to see the classic, “true” (to me) Superman and Doomsday in that one scene, I was quite disappointed to not “meet” any of the non-New 52 Supermen in this issue. I was desperately hoping to get at least a “live” glimpse of “my” Superman. But this proved equal parts Superman: Doomed and Convergence : Prologue…either way a Superman story.

I do not relish the notion of EIGHTY $4 issues (on top of the main Convergence mini)…and though this issue has me chomping at the bit for more non-New 52 DC stuff, I’m truly torn on buying into this as single issues, or waiting for the inevitable collected volumes. Given my “giving in” on Villains Month in 2013 and Futures End Month last year…I may just say the heck with it and see what grabs my attention with the covers of #1s, what most rings that nostalgia bell for me and makes me think “ok, that’s freakin’ cool and I really wanna read that!”

Though this sets stuff up, I haven’t a clue how essential it’s actually gonna be in the long run. However, it’s served its purpose in grabbing my attention (against better judgment). Now having #0–and as such essentially the first issue of the series–I’ll probably grab the big #1.

If you’ve no interest in Superman, or only intend to pick up select 2-issue minis due to favorite characters and such and don’t care or intend to follow the core Convergence story, I’d skip this. If you’re considering the series, dipping in…and can stomach the $5 price…Convergence has technically started with this.

The Flashpoint Paradox

flashpointparadoxbrdI’ve kept up with all of the DC animated features since this line started back in 2007 or so with the Doomsday one, loosely based on the Death of Superman story from 1992. And while I’ve enjoyed certain ones more than others (New Frontier and Under the Red Hood immediately come to mind)…I have to say that after first viewing, Flashpoint Paradox is in that upper level.

While I own all 6 paperbacks collecting the entirety of the Flashpoint ‘event’ from 2011, I’ve only yet actually read the original mini-series and the Batman tie-in mini-series. So while hardly immersive, I’m not unfamiliar with Flashpoint in general. And perhaps it’s partially that I’m not overly steeped in knowledge of the entire event that helped me to enjoy this, as from what I recall of the comics, this is quite a good adaptation.

My primary “issues” with this film are story-wise, and the same I had with the comics–specifically the way things play out with Barry’s powers, and that against “usual” the ending is–we as viewers/readers are aware–not the actual ending. The comics’ ending kicked off the New 52, and I believe this film leads into New 52-era followups, leaving stuff based on the “old” DC Universe behind (at least for awhile?).

For the most part I had no problems with the visuals…as an animated features this worked very well for me. There wasn’t really much of anything jarring or offputting to me about the animation itself. Some of the character designs were a bit “off” from what I’d’ve expected…but in and of themselves, nothing bad.

flashpointstack

As said, I’ve only (as of this typing) read the “core” Flashpoint comics and the Batman mini…so the allusion to that actually made sense to me. Other stuff–particularly the cameos–were fine with me, because I don’t know the comics’ stories, so for me, there’s nothing of concern missing. And for what I recall of the comics (and granted, it’s been a couple years now), there’s more context to things given in this film than was in the core Flashpoint mini-series, making this a better package in a way.

The voice cast was good…I sorta noticed the familiarity to Lois Lane’s voice, somehow missed it in Superman, and while no Kevin Conroy, Kevin McKidd pulled off a very good Batman. I’m not particularly “set” on any particular Flash voice, to say nothing of being pretty sure the voice I’m familiar with from Justice League and Justice League Unlimited was for Wally, not Barry.

Just as Justice League: The New Frontier led me to buy and read the source material, The Flashpoint Paradox has led me to pull the source material from my shelf and finally make the time to actually read it.

flashpointcollection

I bought this for the “promo”/”first week pricing” special at Target…probably the cheapest blu-ray/dvd/digital combo I’ve found for any of these films; and for the $13.99 this was quite worthwhile for the film alone, and I anticipate multiple re-watchings.

The bonus materials are so-so, and rather ‘standard” at this point. Several episodes of past DC animated series, featurette(s) on the focal character/story of the film, a lengthy promo/preview/featurette on an upcoming film, plus the usual stuff–commentary, digital comic that I can’t even read on the tv screen, etc–that I typically ignore.

So all in all…I definitely recommend seeing this…but unless you really care about extras, or the HD (which I’ve never noticed difference between blu-ray/dvd with) you’re probably just as well getting the DVD. And unless you’re in a hurry to see this…it’s not unfathomable to expect that by the time the next animated feature comes out, this one’ll be around the $9.99 price point at your local Target/Walmart type stores. And if this is available in a nearby Redbox kiosk, it seems quite worth an evening’s rental!

Weekend new purchases: Beginnings and Endings

weekendbuysGenerally speaking, I’m not much for “recent back issues.” Obviously I’m all about mid-90s back issues, and other such–but with “new” stuff (from the last few years) I have pretty much picked up what I intend to as stuff’s come out. And when I miss something and decide to go back–that’s where I’m highly likely to snag a collected volume.

This weekend, though, I wound up tracking down 10 very recent back issues. Uncanny X-Force #4, Mighty Samson #2, Ruse #3, and Walking Dead #85 I’d somehow missed when they first came out, and with the exception of the X-FOrce issue (marked up $1.01 above cover price) I got these for cover price.

weekendbuysThen with the recent hype over the DC stuff, I wound up deciding I wanted the Stormwatch issue, so finally tracked that down (4th and final comic shop visited for the week/weekend). Since I’d bought Flashpoint #1 when it came out, and #5, and have been rather impatient, I decided to snag the other 3 issues since they were all in stock at one shop. That shop had Batman: Knight of Vengeance #s 1 & 3. Another shop had #2. Final shop had 1-3, so I snagged those. (See, folks? Have an ENTIRE mini-series in stock, and I’ll buy it! Have even just 1 issue missing, and I will leave it on the shelf. EVEN IF I am going to another shop that may well have that missing issue.)

While there, I wound up snagging that Apocalypse figure–hate paying the premium/marked up price in a comic shop, but it’s one I’ll be SHOCKED to ever actually see on the pegs at walmart. And I bought the WARMACHINE templates for the next time I get to play the game; slowly geared up.

finalbordersI also visited Borders for the final time. Thursday went to the local Borders near my apartment, where I snagged a handful of books for ridiculously cheap prices. While in Ann Arbor over the weekend, ducked into the one there but walked out a couple minutes later. Too little selection and far, FAR too many people…and I’d just bought a bunch of comics (see above) so was no need to spend extra time in the bookstore.

Sad to see the chain go, but I still have a couple of Barnes & Nobles relatively nearby, as well as a couple Half-Price Books and a third used-books store, so I’ll get by. But that’s for some other post.

And if you’re wondering at me covering the DC New 52 books? I’m still determining if or how I’m doing that–but I don’t feel like being “just” another review in the sea of HIGH-PROFILE reviews of the stuff.

Here’s to a new week, though. Hopefully much smaller on the wallet, too!

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