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The Weekly Haul: Week of January 15, 2020

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This week’s a bit more in line with what I’d like, where I can actually get several comics without racing headlong into $30+ at the register!

One more expensive issue, a $2.99, and a $3.99…plus two $3.99 replica editions/facsimile editions that are well worth $3.99 apiece compared to fair market value on the original editions!

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I haven’t gotten around to reading the first issue of this Question mini yet….but on strength of the creators and the character, I’m interested, and if I get to binge-reading, I’d regret not having all issues. And as I’ve passed on a couple other similar projects, I think I’d decided that if I was getting the first issue, I was getting the later issues, barring some significant reason not to.

The new Spawn issue puts us 4 past 300. I’d think 300 issues is impressive, but is anyone else buying this title? I mean, it’s over 300, that’s hitting triple-digits legitimately, 3 times over, and starting toward the 4th! No one wants any issue numbered higher than can be counted on their own fingers and toes, right??? Or is there something to ACTUALLY keeping the numbering going, AND actually keeping to a reasonable price? This is the 48th consecutive issue I’ve bought of Spawn as a new issue…on strength of that $2.99 instead of $3.99. It was $2.99 when DC was at $3.99 for everything. It was $2.99 when DC cut back to $2.99 and double-shipping with Rebirth, and it’s still $2.99 as DC has leapt back to $3.99! (Meanwhile, Marvel‘s cranking out the $4.99+ books!)

Apparently Second Coming is a mini-series. Or a "season" (blah!). I’m pretty sure I’ve snagged all 5 previous issues, but unfortunately I’m not 100% on that. Still…it sorta proves my point to myself to quit knowingly buying short mini-series and wait for the collected volumes! At this point, after all, I assume a collected edition will make its way along very shortly, perhaps for only $9.99, but even if "only" $19.99 that’ll be like a "free" issue content-wise over the singles, which I’ve paid basically $24 to get.

Then we have Detective Comics #359 (Replica Edition) and The Incredible Hulk #180 (Facsimile Edition). Two reprint editions of comics from…well, some years before I was even born. The former being the first appearance of Batgirl and the latter having one panel at the very end of Wolverine, apparently making it the first appearance of the character, despite the next issue generally being the one credited. (I mean, if you get technical I absolutely would go with #180 as the first appearance, but what’s the POINT when it’s JUST one single panel? I’d much rather have the issue where you see the character DO STUFF and actually find out a little about him and see him face the Hulk and all that!)

I have to give Marvel credit…I’d swear I saw some ad or it was the solicitation text pointing out they gave us #180 last year, so now they’re giving us 180 since it’s "also" part of the first appearance and such. For these reprint editions, I’m actually all for that. Heck, I would PROBABLY buy a bunch of Marvel books if they simply every month published reprint editions of various older runs in this facsimile/replica format!

Comic Shop News meanwhile hits #1700. I’d swear I remember when it was in the mid-ish 300s back in the ’90s. It’s cool to see something like this still going after all this time. In some ways–with it being hard to count on being available by the next week, even–issues of CSN are almost like a "ticket stub" of the weekly purchasing. Or a "proof of purchase" or such. A "souvenir" of being a weekly comics person. Of going to a bricks and mortar shop (I don’t believe the online retailers provide CSN…though I could be wrong).

It’s rather telling that I have NO new Marvel issues; and though The Question is technically DC, it barely counts, given the way they’re pushing this larger physical size and the Black Label…um…label…so much. I’d consider it Black Label more than DC in the same way one used to be able to consider something Vertigo more than DC.

And as said…a decent week, a little over $20, but closer to $20 than $30. And it’s my enjoyment of replica/facsimile editions that lands two of the 5 on my pile this week. I feel like I’m finally getting back to a GOOD "balance" where there’s "enough" worth getting to keep to the weekly thing, but without having massive sticker-shock or buyer’s remorse.

Of course, 20 years ago, this haul would’ve probably been $8 cheaper. But this is the here and now.

That said…we’ll see what next week holds!

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The Weekly Haul: Week of June 27, 2018

This week’s proved to be a rather small (though more expensive for its size) week.

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The new Man of Steel issue…which, while it has a nostalgia-inducing cover evoking the nearly-26-year-old Doomsday / The Death of Superman story doesn’t so much as mention or touch on that story whatsoever. Flash 49, part 3 of The Flash War. And due to "hype" I snagged the Teen Titans Special…while it may be a bit of a turning point, I do NOT feel like it lived up to any of the hype at all.

Marvel has stupid-ridiculous prices for its single issues and collected volumes. But 6 $3.99 issues and 1 $4.99 issue in a $19.99 paperback is (comparatively) not bad. So I went ahead and got the Thanos Wins tpb. I suppose it’s also a way to support this straight to PAPERBACK thing, rather than going to hardcover first and THEN "eventually" paperback. ORRRRRR I flat-out missed the hardback, so…whatever.

Then because it was on sale, I picked up Hulk: World War Hulks for a whopping $5.99. Something like this–a deluxe/oversized hardcover, good and thick…for basically the price of a single Marvel issue? I’m there.

It’s also helpful finally updating my phone’s photos-of-my-shelves inventory so that I could look and confirm this wasn’t a duplicate, as I recognized the cover. But that’d be because half the cover is from Fall of the Hulks: Alpha that I reviewed some years back..

Next week will be ‘interesting’ with New Comics Day being July 4th…or Independence Day here in the U.S. and stores being open due to DC and Marvel putting out key issues that’ve been highly hyped, and no one shifted to this past week or July 11th, and Diamond didn’t push by a day for stuff to be on sale on Tuesday or held til Thursday.

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Dollar Sale Haul: Comics & Friends March 25th, 2018

This past Sunday, Comics & Friends (a comic shop in the Great Lakes Mall in Mentor, Ohio) had a $1 sale, with a bunch of longboxes of books for $1 each! I almost didn’t go, but figured I hadn’t been there in awhile, it was an excuse to "get out" for a bit, and maybe I’d luck into something especially cool.

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I ended up snagging a number of #1 issues. I’d usually "feel bad" about just grabbing a #1…but these were basically "orphans," where it was just the #1, if not multiple copies of the #1. And where I saw the X comic on its own for $1, the entire issue of Hero Illustrated that had a copy bagged with it was available, so I went that route. And though I have an intense dislike of contemporary Valiant, I still enjoy the classic ’90s stuff… and a Rai paperback for $1 is well worthwhile!

I don’t think I ever snagged The Demon #1 before; I’m all about Batman: Shadow of the Bat #1’s "Collector’s Set" for the posters and such; Elfquest #1 here is in better shape, I think, than a previous copy I’d gotten at one point. Amidst a bunch of other Image #1s, I’m not certain if I already had Youngblood #1, and while several of the other early-Image #1s seem pretty common in bargain bins, I don’t often see this. I’ve long been aware of the Dinosaurs for Hire series, but pretty sure I never had this #1. I’m also not certain off the top of my head with The Ferret #1…though I would not be surprised either way (having or not already having) it.

And just because I remember Wizard magazine overhyping Gen13 #1 and claiming it into the $40 range at one point, I take a certain satisfaction in continuing to acquire copies of this issue and still not being anywhere near that sort of price range as a total.

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I snagged a random Myth Adventures issue (it caught my eye as something right outta The Crapbox of Son of Cthulhu!); a Hero Illustrated promo comic of Concrete (I don’t recognize or remember it offhand…it may be from an issue I have yet to acquire); a "spare" copy of the promo Zero issue from DC (from its original Zero Month that followed the Zero Hour event). And then several "special" Marvel issues in Iron Man #300, Incredible Hulk #400, Avengers #375, The Secret Defenders #12, Incredible Hulk #418, and Fantastic Four #381. Anniversary issues, oversized and fancy foil/shiny covers or die-cut, and the "death" of Mr. Fantastic for a couple years. I’d typically consider these all to be 25-cent bin stuff, but I’m occasionally willing to go up to $1 or so like this "in the moment" and such.

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$1 each for "recent" New 52 issues with $5.99 and $4.99 cover prices is not bad. I didn’t buy into the blind-polybag-cover crap for the #50s at the time…but for $1, snagged Batman #50 and Batgirl #50; neither of which I owned before Sunday, offhand. And knowing I’ll eventually be wanting to fill in the ancillary Superman titles (Superman/Wonder Woman, Superman/Batman, Batman/Superman, etc.) snagged the first Batman/Superman Annual. I also snagged several "classic" ’90s Valiant issues that I think I probably already own, but they’re still in my phone as ones I was looking for, so I figured I’d get ’em just to be sure.


All in all, it was a bit more of an expensive purchase than I’d planned…but still kept it under $30. And a lot of these are ripe for potential/imminent The ’90s Revisited posts, so there’s that as well!

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The ’90s Revisited: Iron Man #12

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iron_man_(1996)_0012Heroes Reunited part 3 of 4: Matters of the Heart

Plot: Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee
Script: Jeph Loeb
Pencils: Ed Benes, Terry Shoemaker, Mike Miller
Inks: JD & Homage Studios
Colors: Wildstorm FX
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne
Editor: Ruben Diaz
Inspiration: Special Thanks to Scott Lobdell
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: October 1997
Cover Price: $2.99

[ Heroes Reunited part 1 of 4 was in Fantastic Four (1996) #12  |  Heroes Reunited part 2 of 4 was in Avengers (1996) #12 ]

This felt like the most "standalone" issue of this 4-parter so far, and felt a lot more tied to previous issues than the other chapters. This issue has several references to the previous issue, beyond simply THAT a conflict had begun or stuff come before.

We open on Tony Stark being brought into a meeting involving The Fantastic Four and the "Hulkbusters." As he gets up to speed on the overall situation, a fight breaks out between the Thing and Hulk, eventually interrupted by Invisible Woman separating them in invisible force-shield bubbles. Cosmic readings are picked up, and the group finds several entities headed to Earth. Tony cuts out–leading the others to think maybe he hasn’t changed as much as thought…but we find that he’s actually checking in on Happy and Pepper–actually caring about others beyond himself. The FF went into action against the heralds of Galactus while Tony’s (separately) kidnapped from Happy’s hospital room by Dr. Doom…while Pepper frets over this, Happy seems fine, figuring it’ll all be resolved within the day. Doom takes Stark to the Helicarrier; meanwhile, Liz gets past security and interacts with Hulk–who reverts to Banner. On the Helicarrier, Stark suits up as Iron Man and confronts Doom before they’re joined by Fury, who lays things out before assembling other heroes, and breaking the news that the Fantastic Four have been (by then) killed in action. The remaining heroes head out to make true their name as "Avengers" and engage the heralds in battle, before Hulk and Iron Man attempt to take on Galactus himself. As he sees them fail, Doom activates his device, and armed with the new knowledge of this latest go-round, disappears back in time for another attempt at stopping Earth’s destruction.

As said, this issue feels the least connected to the overall story/pattern. Doom is there, and we have reference to stuff, but that’s almost incidental. This feels like it probably could read pretty well without the first two chapters, and only earlier issues of this very series (Iron Man) for context. I both like that and yet don’t at the same time. The story title of the issue and the title/credits page don’t even have any reference to Heroes Reunited, unlike the first two chapters; almost like this story was written with a few story-beats required but otherwise completely independent of the overall 4-parter.

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With the art, there are multiple pencilers…but that again didn’t bother me as nothing really seemed to jump out at me or have any jarring differences in appearances. Simply reading the issue, I’d only know there were multiple pencilers because of looking at the credits. I’m a reader-first, so when the art is at least "similar" enough that I don’t really notice it change–that is a good thing. I suspect at least part of that is also due to the consistent inks, colors, and lettering; perhaps heavier handed inking and no huge variation of colors can well hide the different pencils. All that said, I enjoyed the art on this issue! I don’t know how I’ve gone all these years without noticing it, and I didn’t notice it on the interiors, but the EAR on Iron Man on the cover just looks extremely odd and "off" to me and is really the only thing that totally "threw" me off with the visuals. Also as said with the previous two chapters, I’m quite glad the cover can work as it does on its own, yet is part of a 4-part image; as opposed to any one of the chapters having 3 extra variant covers to make up the singular image. Get all four chapters of this four-chapter story and have 1 full image; get any single issues and you have a cover that has the characters in the issue and can be its own thing.

As with the Fantastic Four and Avengers issues of this story, this works well enough as a one-off issue…it’d be worth getting even by itself if you found it for 25-50 cents or so; even up to $1ish. Any more than $1-$2 and I’d recommend definitely getting it as part of a set of the four issues of Heroes Reunited. Despite working alone, I’d recommend this more as part of a set for the "experience." I’m glad to have read it, and somewhat surprised at the details I remembered from whenever the last time I read this was–possibly only back in 1997!

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The ’90s Revisited: Incredible Hulk #350

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incredible_hulk_0350Before the Fall

Writer: Peter David
Penciler: Jeff Purves
Inker: Terry Austin
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Petra Scotese
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: December 1988
Cover Price: 75 Cents

I snagged this issue from a quarter bin because of the cover. Hulk, Thing, and Dr. Doom??? Yes, please! Of course, then I opened the issue, and first thing I really take in text-wise is a note to pick up Fantastic Four #320, first…apparently this issue picks up where that one left off.

How DIFFERENT this is from modern-day comics! Where if there’s any crossover like this at all, it’s some MAJOR EVENT, with SPECIAL BRANDING and COVER BLURBS and all that, Part #whatever of 6 or 9 or whatever chapters for some pre-figured collected edition!

Instead, no…it’s an issue I grabbed completely on its own, essentially my "first" in that I don’t know I’ve read anything from early in Peter David‘s run, know only tangentially/broad stuff from it, etc…and EVEN THOUGH the issue refers me to another first…I can STILL follow along in this issue, as it catches me up on or refers to essentials so that I can read this as it is, as a one-off issue, not part of some mega-event or gigantic crossover.

Much of this issue is a bit of a slugfest, with the Thing coming out the worse for the issue’s portrayal. We open on the Thing standing over the beaten-down form of the gray Hulk, while a green Hulk approaches, challenging him. Apparently the Thing has recently been greatly enhanced, with an odd extra-rocky physical shape and strength beyond what he’d had before, allowing him to come out on the winning side against the Hulk! While he tangles with the green Hulk, the gray Hulk wakes and is met by Dr. Doom, who reveals to him that the green Hulk is an advanced robot, and prods gray Hulk into challenging the Thing smartly. So he does–luring Thing into a hit-and-run match that with further strategy leaves Thing defeated, and gray Hulk finds himself ultimately chatting with Beast and being drawn into some other big thing going on.

That this is not some numbered chapter of some big event goes to the way Marvel comics used to be–simply a shared universe. Some villain might decide to tangle with a hero he doesn’t usually, but then that hero seeks out the usual hero for advice, thus drawing them into things, and eventually you have a "story" that effectively spans multiple titles…yet it’s not officially billed as such. Of course, this style was also when "collected volumes" and "graphic novels" as they’re known in 2018 were 20+ years in the future. Single issues were just that–single issues–and the Marvel Model was not All-Event, All-the-time.

Story-wise, I like what I got here, overall. It’s not my usual fare, and in some ways a bit "talky" and a bit "basic" or "convenient" (Dr. Doom palling around with Hulk and finding old Eternals tech, etc) and Thing vs. Hulk being something, and so on…but for an issue I picked up for 25 cents, it’s not bad, and was an entertaining sort of read, as well as a bit of a time capsule. 1988…30 years ago!

Visually, this definitely carried what I see (remember?) as a "house style" for characters, making them all definitely recognizable and such. While Thing is extra-rocky and I’m not fond of the look, I recall just enough Marvel history to know that he’s had several odd appearances, and that this was a temporary shift for him, obviously going on at the time this was published.

I’m sort of curious to read the Fantastic Four issue referenced, and even to follow this into Avengers Annual #17…but not really enough to make a big focus of tracking the issues down. If I think to, I may look for them in dollar bins at upcoming comic events I attend, but mostly I just enjoyed this as a 25-cent issue and something "different" to read. Though it’s only a "middle chapter" essentially, it has a definite sense of "authenticity" about it that I do not get from contemporary Marvel comics.

And look–it’s #350, a nice "anniversary-numbered" issue, and it’s only 75 cents, the standard/usual price. Not artificially inflated. And to my knowledge, no variant covers. It’s just a comic that’s glad to be a comic, that works as a comic, and doesn’t try to be anything else.

Definitely recommended if found in a bargain bin, but though more enjoyable in its way than many modern comics, not overly spectacular in and of itself–it’s not worth putting a big hunt in.

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Toys in the Wild: Avengers 2017

One thing that tends to keep me from "buying in" on a toy line is perceived longevity. I "bought into" a line of DC toys that never took off, despite my thinking it would. I attribute that to inconsistent availability as well as inconsistent (over)pricing.

Similar with other movie-based lines for the Marvel films…they seem to be dumped by stores not long after the films, to make way for the next. Alternatively, there also seems to be a shuffle of "generic" lines meant to bridge the films–tying in without being solely for only one film.

I attribute this new Avengers line as being another of those. Thus far I’ve not seen a Thor figure, though I’ve seen the four others. (Come to think of it, no Hawkeye or Vision or Scarlet Witch, for that matter).

I’ve been seeing these, offhand, for about $8…making them a full $5 cheaper than their slightly smaller counterparts in the 3.75" figure line, whatever Marvel wants to call it this year.

I’d almost be tempted to snag these (hey! female representation via Black Widow!) but I’ll wait and see if we get any villains for the line.

Assuming, that is, that Marvel remembers that there are villains for heroes to oppose, rather than relying primarily on hero-versus-hero for major stories. But then, these are toys, not the comics.

I’d far prefer a line of X-Men toys like this, though…

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Perhaps we’ll get some other figures later this year for this line.

Heck, I’d be curious to see what we’d get for the Infinity War stuff next year, and what sort of representation we’ll get of Thanos. And thinking on films…why are we getting these now, instead of, say, Guardians of the Galaxy figures?

Secret Wars – Week of June 3, 2015

I actually enjoyed reading the Secret Wars comics I bought this week…so much so that I spent more time reading and less time even considering reviewing. And given general “life gets in the way” time-constraints (and lack of patience, if I’m totally honest) I decided instead of writing up single-issue reviews, I’d just touch base on the issues I bought this week and thoughts I had. Not exactly reviews, not exactly something else. Just my rundown of my trip into Battleworld.

Secret Wars #3

secretwars(2015)003I continue to be surprised (pleasantly) at this series. I’m less and less appreciative of the full-page text/chapter breaks (seems like a waste of pagespace to me), but I’m finding the core story here to be a lot more accessible than I expected, given the writer. Given we basically already know the outcome, and have for months before this even started, it’s still a good ride going through. As this third issue in the series, there is a shift and I sort of feel like we’ve had 3 distinct “situations” presented with the first issue giving us the end of the 616 and 1610 Earths, the second immersing us in this current Battleworld Earth, and now we begin to see some cracks and the drawn-back curtain on how this world was came to be and its background. I definitely look forward to the next issue, and whatever tie-ins I do or don’t get, I’m pretty sure I’m “all in” for this core book.

X-Tinction Agenda #1

secretwars_xtinctionagenda001The cover alone for this issue would have sold it for me. Having a classic cover-dress absolutely punched my nostalgia button–corner box with the character headshots; the bold, blocky title logo, the overly dramatic image, and even the “ACTION-PACKED FIRST ISSUE” blurb…totally something out of the early 1990s. Topping that off, the simple fact that this is an X-book. I’ve yet to read the original X-Tinction Agenda story, but I know OF it. And this issue provides some interesting (to me) character sets as well as the situation casting certain characters into a “villains” type of role…while keeping them sympathetic to me as a reader. Despite that, I’m not overly invested in these versions of the characters, and the cliffhanger doesn’t mean much to me except as “generic” potential foreshadowing. Given my enjoyment of classic ’90s X-Men stuff, chances are good that I’ll stick with this series for its duration.

Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1

secretwars_amazingspiderman001Given the better part of the last decade has had me with near-zero interest in the One More Day/postOne More Day take on Spider-Man, getting a fresh take on a MARRIED Peter Parker (who HAS A KID, to boot!) is something I really could not NOT support. And thankfully, despite some wariness on my part at Slott writing the book (what I’ve read of his work on Spider-Man over the past view years has had mixed reactions on my part)…I quite enjoyed the issue. Some page layouts were a bit weird and distracting as I tried to determine the exact flow of panels, but the art itself was great. The story gives a nice mix of Peter in action and interacting with his family, as well as setting up the world he and MJ live in, and providing an interesting spin on the character as things are set up for the rest of this series. I definitely look forward to the next issue (for better or worse, this is a double-ship month so I only have a couple weeks) and will see how things are shaping up from there as to whether I keep up with the series to its conclusion.

Future Imperfect #1

secretwars_futureimperfect001This is another Secret Wars tie-in based on a story I’m quite AWARE OF but have yet to actually read. I didn’t REALLY have any particular interest in it…but then I saw that it IS a Peter David book, so on his name alone, I decided to check this out. And overall, I’m glad that I did. I had no particular pre-conceived notions getting into this, so it just unfolded, and even gave an interesting twist where I thought I saw something developing but then got something else that felt like it should have been equally obvious. I also enjoyed the art overall in itself, if not all the character designs. Despite that, this is one that as a story doesn’t hit any real nostalgia buttons for me, and given the large quantity of books each week may fall off for me as I simply don’t have the “budget” to get every last tie-in title that’s on my radar. Still…having the original creator (David) getting to revisit something like this with a fresh series is something I welcome, and am glad to see out there. It also leaves me much more interested in actually reading the original, just to “experience” that for myself after all these years.

Years of Future Past #1

secretwars_yearsoffuturepast001The original Days of Future Past story in X-Men was probably the first major story that I spent awhile trying to track down just to read. I was aware of its existence, knew what issues it had been in…but did not have actual, physical access to it to read the thing. I was introduced via the ’90s cartoon, then eventually found a paperback children’s novelization, and finally at some point found the two-issue “mini tpb” to read it (years ahead of collected volumes and digital or even eBay negating such troubles). This is an oversized issue at $4.99 instead of $3.99, and that almost put me off from getting it, but since it even FELT oversized, I decided to suck it up and buy the thing…I’m giving as many of the #1s a shot as I can, figuring shops will have a better handle on ordering for the second issues, and at least I won’t miss out on a surprise #1 taking off in popularity. This had some interesting enough bits, but overall this didn’t exactly grab me…I appreciate it being drawn from the Days of Future Past-era stuff but doesn’t actually hold the tight significance of that original story for me.

Overall Thoughts on the week

Considering I’ve been largely away from Marvel for most of the past couple years, with most weeks not even buying anything they put out, it’s been quite an anomaly the last several weeks actually having Marvel in my purchase stack. This week brought out the sticker shock…with a cluster of THREE Star Wars books, and buying FIVE Secret Wars tie-ins, as well as a couple random issues AND my usual pull-list issues. Even so, while I may be “iffy” on tie-ins on a case-by-case basis, five or so weeks in and I’m still enjoying Secret Wars and still looking forward to more!

Age of Apocalypse Revisited: X-Universe #2

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xuniverse002Dying Breath

Story by: Scott Lobdell
Script: Terry Kavanagh
Pencilers: Carlos Pacheco, Terry Dodson
Inkers: Cam Smith, Robin Riggs
Colorist: Kevin Tinsley
Color Separations: Electric Crayon
Lettering: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Cover: Pacheco & Smith
Editors: Marie Javins, Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: June 1995
Cover Price: $3.50

We open on a new/arbitrary character–a father holding his child, as people are given over to Rasputin for upgrading, a last chance to stand with mutants without being eradicated. We then move to our Phenomenal Five (I saw THAT term in the monthly checklist on the X-Books This Month section) who have been captured and are helpless…at least until a contingency plan kicks in. Meanwhile, no one’s told the humans of the atrociously low survival rate of the upgrade process, that only one in a hundred-thousand survive any length of time and few of those survive indefinitely. Stark’s plan kicks in, and the humans begin breaking free, and the rebellion is on. After the battle, few humans are left, but they’ve acquired technology from Mikhail’s ship and make a last bid for permanent escape from Apocalypse’s rule.

This issue is all over the place. And when it ends…I only know it does because there are simply NO MORE STORY PAGES. There’s no particular icon or note or any indication the last page is the last page. It has all the makings of a second-to-last page, that you’d turn the page for some full-page image to finish out the series, but instead it turns to a double-page ad, then a double-page info/profile section, another couple ads, and that’s that.

The art’s so-so…not bad, not spectacular, and a bit minimalistic at points and just somehow looks a bit "off" from the rest of the Age of Apocalypse. Of course, multiple pencilers and inkers, suggesting (to me, with contemporary sensibilities) that this issue had run behind and needed to be caught up in a hurry to get it out on time. That’s also something that suggests further to me that this series was an afterthought of sorts, a late addition to the AoA stuff.

The story’s also only so-so. It could certainly be worse, but it doesn’t really feel like it has any real significance, given we’ve had no real reference, even, to these characters, nor any dealings with Rasputin elsewhere in the AoA, so this is just stuff going on "in the World of the Age of Apocalypse" and can be pretty safely ignored in the grand scheme.

Another element that lends the notion of this X-Universe series being set apart from the rest of the AoA is the covers. These are $3.50 cover price with cardstock covers and foil-ized logos. The chromium double-size bookend issues make sense as they’re "special," kicking off and concluding the entirety of the story. But the issues in-between have all been standard covers with no fancy enhancements or foiling or such. This mini just reeks of typical ’90s saturation.

Unless you’re–like me these last number of weeks–specifically determined to read the entirety of what was published as part of this original Age of Apocalypse series, this seems like a safe mini to skip. And I’m thankful to be through this because now I can jump into the #4s and the final parts of the story, as the various threads in the minis begin to–finally–pay off.

Age of Apocalypse Revisited: X-Universe #1

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xuniverse001Last Stand

Story by: Scott Lobdell
Script: Terry Kavanagh
Penciler: Carlos Pacheco
Inker: Cam Smith
Colorist: Kevin Somers
Color Separations: Electric Crayon
Lettering: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Cover: Pacheco & Smith
Editors: Marie Javins, Bob Harras

We open on the familiar face of Gwen Stacy–dead in the regular Marvel universe but obviously alive in this altered reality of the Age of Apocalypse. She’s essentially a humanitarian worker here…saving those she can in Wakanda, though she quickly is reminded she can’t save everyone. Fisk and Osborne–Marauders–have arrived…though they’re almost immediately challenged by a Stark cargo ship carrying Tony Stark and Clint Barton. Once the Marauders are dispatched, there’s a reunion on the ground between Stark and Donald Blake. Shortly after, Mikhail Rasputin arrives on a peace mission from Apocalypse…though upon inviting Stacy, Stark, Blake, and others into his ship, his true colors stand revealed.

"Passable" is the first word that comes to mind on the art, though it’s not quite the word I’m grasping for. The art works here and I really don’t have a problem with it–but it’s nothing special or spectacular. Given the nature of this book, one probably shouldn’t expect too much of it as this is possibly the most "fringe" book of the Age of Apocalypse arc.

I could say the same for the story–I’m far less engaged by this than I’ve been with any of the other issues of AoA thus far. The story itself isn’t horrible or anything…it just fails to really draw me in or make me "care."

So far, we’ve been presented with a specifically X-centric take on this Earth–where mutants rose to power, crushing humanity beneath their collective heel. As an X-centric story overall, we’ve seen no appearance of nor any real reference to the likes of Iron Man, Captain America, the Avengers, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four–any of the "non-X" groups of characters or solo characters of the Marvel universe. This 2-issue series seems geared specifically to deal with that fact, by presenting us with a bunch of characters and references to off-panel prior deaths and such so as to not leave ’em out of continuity ENTIRELY.

While i’m quite glad for the addressing of continuity in this way, trying to answer the question of what happened to these various other characters–the execution leaves plenty to be desired, in my eyes. I’ve been quite content to consider that the Human High Council in Europe "speaks for" humanity, and to "assume" that the likes of Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, and any younger characters had the entirety of their origins derailed by Apocalypse’s rise to power and thus would be faceless humans on the whole.

Given that…this series’ existence makes sense, but is a definite step away from the rest of the AoA issues, involving non-X characters. This mini does not seem to tie into any of Magneto’s plans nor have anything to do with him or any of the other X-groups, and as such this is largely "filler"…worth a read if you want a take on the non-mutant characters, but (for me) not at all essential to the rest of the AoA-verse.

Toys in the Wild – Marvel Infinite @ Target

After ages of Marvel’s Hercules and Marvel’s Gladiator figures from the Marvel Universe line warming the pegs all over at numerous Targets I’ve been to, I’m finally beginning to see a series of the Marvel Infinite Series showing up. I’m seeing them for the “usual” $9.99 at a couple, but also the more ridiculous $10.99.

While it’s nice finally seeing new figures, or reprints of old figures (Drax, Star-Lord, and Rocket with Groot were previously offered as a Guardians of the Galaxy 3-pack, for example) the pricing has REALLY put me off. The figures seem too small to be so expensive on an individual basis.

The larger characters–physically bigger and heavier–“feel” a LITTLE more worth it, but the smaller/skinnier characters seem an even worse value… Seeing the Rocket Raccoon figure REALLY drove that home to me! The figure suffers the same as Yoda in the Star Wars figures lines, being so small, yet being part of a regular assortment, carries the same price as the other figures despite being so much smaller (in-scale).

I recall watching the Guardians of the Galaxy pack at about $18 and initially finding it a bit expensive; but then watching it over a series of weeks/months being continuously jacked up to $26-$27ish I think before the packs disappeared.

I’ve found all these figures in the stores, and while I’m interested in the Drax figure and the Wonder Man, I’m not interested in spending $11ish on each when for that price I can get plenty of other stuff.

While NOT purchasing these, I find myself taking photos of them–proving at least to myself that I saw them in-person at least the once, even if they become hard to find later and a pain to track down when/if I decide I actually WANT to spend the money to acquire them.

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