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Um…Oops? (Or, The Unexpected Quarter-Bin Haul)

Apparently there was a snafu with Diamond and shipping this week in the US, with the holiday and all. I’m not sure actual details, but with Carol and John’s doing New Comic Day on Thursday, I decided I’d stop by real quick, see if they had one issue I was after. And maybe I’d find a second issue for the heckuvit.

I was gonna be in-and-out real quick, buying maybe 2 comics, if that.

cnj_comics_07062017

They’d put out several longboxes of 25-cent comics. After half-heartedly flipping through one, I decided to take on the next, and then a couple more. I had a decent stack going.

Then another longbox was brought out. So, sure, I’ll look through that. Then another.

Bought my stuff, they gave me a box to cart them out in…and here’s another longbox, with the promise of yet a couple more.

Ultimately, I bought 148 comics…only 1 of them "current."

flash_by_waid_rebirth_action_comics_deluxe_01

And on getting home Thursday night, I had a package waiting for me: my latest InStockTrades order.

While I’m waffling on how I feel about the "deluxe hardcover" treatment for Action Comics (as opposed to a "thick" paperback), it’s still a cool volume. And as far as I know, these are the only two Flash by Mark Waid volumes out thus far, and two excellent additions to my Flash shelf.

Finding time to read ’em all, though…that’s gonna be another thing entirely!


With the extra purchasing this week and last, though…I totally blew whatever might have become a "convention" budget or a "sale" budget, so I plan to attend to the recent purchases–and hopefully some solid reading–and am foregoing a convention that would be little fun anyway going alone, and a sale that…well, I’d surely spend way too much at (given half a chance) and other expenses that’d be involved.

C’est la vie and all that. Another week closing out…and we have the new Spider-Man film!

The ONLY trailer(s) I have seen for it thus far were theatrical–and really, I think it’s only one, and was before Wonder Woman or Guardians vol 2. I know OF some stuff, from casting to images forced in front of me…but by and large, I’ve managed to avoid stuff, and intend to continue to do so, even if it means trying to "stay offline" for the day or such.

Zero Hour Revisited – Legion of Super-Heroes #61

90srevisited_zerohour

legionof_superheroes_0061End of an Era Finale: Borrowed Time!

By: Waid, McCraw, Immonen, Boyd, Pinaha, McAvennie, Carlson
Special Thanks to: Kurt Busiek
Dedicated with Respect and Admiration to: Binder, Siegel, Shooter, Levitz, Giffen and The Bierbaums
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.95

OK…now THAT is the sort of thing I was expecting!

This issue sees the remaining LoSH members and Legionnaires united, and learn the truth of the Time-Trapper. It’s not just their "now" and such being threatened by the time issues…it’s all of Time itself! And it’s revealed that there’s nothing that can be done here/now to STOP entropy from engulfing everything…but for there to be ANY chance of Time being put right, a duality, the existence of both the older and younger Legion folks–must be resolved. This is by having the young doppelgangers "merged" with their older, original selves…even as the older selves are also about to fade out. And so it ends…lives given, a heroic sacrifice, for even the CHANCE of an eventual positive outcome.

The story is rightly called End of an Era, and this felt enormous.

Unlike the other Legion tie-ins to Zero Hour that were also chapters of End of an Era–this one I felt the enormity, the significance, that sense of this being a pivotal moment–not just for what it has to do with Zero Hour (not much, directly) but also for what it is to the history of the Legion of Super-Heroes. The Legion is a definite blind-spot for me…but I’ve often been "aware of" their presence with occasional interactions with other stuff I’m reading. And I know there have been a number of "reboots" and such, just as I recall the "5 Years Later" and the younger Legionnaires…because even though I didn’t follow the series, I DO recall getting that first issue–Legionnaires #1–because hey, it was the ’90s, it was polybagged with a card, and most importantly–it was a #1 (then still a rare thing compared to modern comics).

I actually enjoyed this issue. I don’t know all the names–but most were "familiar," both in general and from earlier chapters read recently. And I recognize Thom as a character who was involved in JSA stuff during Geoff Johns‘ run–at least around the time of Thy Kingdom Come, a few years back. Though this was read in a vacuum (if somewhat LESS of a vacuum for reading the Legionnaires and Valor chapters already, plus stuff in Zero Hour itself), it was enjoyable and worth reading. I’m genuinely interested in at least "looking into" more Legion stuff (if only via Wikipedia), and curious about how long both this version of the Legion title and Legionnaires actually ran…but not quite enough to look it up while typing.

I’m a bit mixed in feelings on the visuals…I’m not entirely thrilled with them, but the art worked well here. Particularly seeing Immonen‘s name, I feel like I should enjoy the art, and there’s that part of me that wants to say something proactively positive about it, but flipping back through the issue, I’m not really struck by anything overly stand-out about it. It is not bad, but it’s–as with most comics–not one that blows me away with some sense of singular awesomeness. The story is definitely gotten across, and here perhaps more than on other related issues, the fade-to-white is extremely effective both visually and in serving the LoSH story while also tying it concretely to Zero Hour.

Though this does not directly move the plot of Zero Hour forward, it is certainly a worthy tie-in, and one of (continually, surprisingly) few to carry the crossover banner that seems to have been justified in doing so.

Zero Hour Revisited – Legionnaires #18

90srevisited_zerohour

legionnaires_0018End of an Era part 4: Changing Times

Story: Mark Waid
Pencils: Chris Gardner
Inks: Dennis Cramer
Letterer: Pat Brosser
Co-Plotter/Colorist: Tom McCraw
Assistant Editor: Mike McAvennie
Editor: KC Carlson
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

I continue to find myself a bit disappointed at these early tie-ins to Zero Hour…as they don’t really seem very much like tie-ins, or only just briefly, tangentially tie in to the Event story.

This issue is both a Zero Hour issue as well as chapter 4 of a 6-part 3-title crossover. Coming in on the start of the back half of the story is not the best place…especially with no "previously" page or such to highlight key developments so far. In that regard–the lack of conscious context makes this seem a lot more like it’d fit contemporary comics, where "jumping in" at the fourth chapter of six is not very prudent.

The main thrust of this issue is that the current Legionnaires fail to stop a couple of baddies from gaining Ultimate Power…and said baddies remake the universe–or at least parts of it…including their own "dark" Legionnaires. Combine that with time-issues associated with Zero Hour anyway, and it’s a bit confusing for a reader not overly familiar with the characters involved. Adding to the confusion is the knowledge (or so I think) that the Legionnaires are "younger versions" of the older Legion of Super-Heroes characters so there’s already at least two versions of several characters without even getting to Time anomalies. We do see several Legionnaires trapped in the 20th century who receive the Superman/Green Lantern/Metron call-to-arms, but outside of that, this issue has nothing useful to add or expand upon regarding Zero Hour itself so far.

The art’s not bad, though I’m not now (nor have ever been) all that familiar with the characters, so there’s no significantly defining version of the characters nor a favorite artist for me to compare this to. Even elements I’m lost on are more my own lack of immersion than necessarily any fault of the art…the characters just ARE what they are…and they’re familiar enough that I’d just have to say that I have no problem with the art itself.

I’m also in a weird place in trying to critically consider the writing…because as said, this is the FOURTH chapter of six…so while I did not enjoy the story, it’s not to say that it’s bad writing or anything. It’s my slogging forward into  this chapter due to it having the Zero Hour banner on the cover, instead of going back to seek out the first three chapters of this story, at least, to gain context on what’s up.

I’m pretty sure I remember Zero Hour being a fairly major "break point" for the Legion books, or so I’d heard, and that would make sense–this seems like an ok chapter within the context of the Legion/Valor stuff…but this really adds nothing of particular value to my reading of the Event itself, and is an issue that should be easy enough to skip without missing out if you were to try to read the event in general.

Zero Hour Revisited – Flash #94

90srevisited_zerohour

flash_0094Reckless Youth chapter three: Just Do It!

Story: Mark Waid
Guest Pencils: Carlos Pacheco
Inks: Wayne Faucher and Jose Marzan Jr.
Letterer: Kevin Cunningham
Colorist: Gina Going
Assistant Editor: Ruben Diaz
Editor: Brian Augustyn
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

Well, that explains a bit, on multiple fronts. Some early Wally/Bart interaction, as well as (now) confirming [1.] that yes, that was “the” Wally in Zero Hour #4 and [2.] How he wound up in the future with no real context provided.

We open on Bart, with Wally’s narration…Bart’s not familiar with his own power/abilities, and Wally’s job is to keep an eye on him. Iris Allen–Barry’s wife–is present, and plays coy on details of Wally’s future. Meanwhile, Linda’s got a guy named Argus involved in some current investigation (I think he’s the Bloodlines character introduced in the Flash 1993 Annual). Wally’s none too happy about being pressed into responsibility for Bart…and takes full advantage when Argus phones in a tip. Wally investigates,and finds himself about to get some really good intel on Kobra when Bart rushes in, spoiling things. Resigned, Wally joins the fight, but soon finds himself facing Kadabra…and then he’s pulled into the far-future, Kadabra’s own time…and while still trying to get his bearings, Waverider appears.

The credits list Pacheco as a guest penciller…which explains my relative (but only slight) surprise at this not being a Weiringo-drawn issue. Though some panels come off slightly more cartooney than I’d prefer, with an odd sort of simplicity to them, on the whole the issue is quite good-looking, and not bad to see. I can mostly follow stuff, though I’m mentally piecing together context, as this is listed as part 3 of a story, but I’m reading it because it’s a Zero Hour tie-in. We get plenty of linework to suggest Flash’s speed, but nothing special or surprising. I “get” that Flash is fast, but there’s no particular creative styling to suggest the speed in a way that the very layout of the page does it, and the art style in general isn’t something drastically different from other contemporary books. It’s “just” superhero art, works well, and fits the issue.

Story-wise, I’m a bit lost, with not knowing where the story began (if this is part 3, I can assume #92) nor how long it should go (six issues from this would be #100, though there’s the #0 yet between). Similarly, given the tight continuity, I spent most of the issue wondering how Wally’s here doing this stuff when in Zero Hour #4 he’s in the far future, apparently having just captured someone (Kadabra). That does get addressed at the end of this issue, and perhaps my expectations were thrown by the Batman issue: that one shared several pages’ worth of story with Zero Hour #4…this one basically a panel. I’d “assumed” we’d get something a bit more detailed in this issue on Wally’s actions trying to shut down the Time Rift…but apparently that was “uniquely” contained to the Event Book itself.

I’d half thought/assumed over the years that Bart–Impulse–first appeared in Zero Hour itself, that this story shoehorned the character into the Flash mythology…but it would seem that I was wrong…and that has me all the more interested in getting up to speed (no pun intended) with the Flash book. This was a first-time-through for me with this issue…I didn’t read it back in 1994, nor had I ever read it prior to this reading project…so it’s actually rather cool to get this taste of the Flash’s own story, knowing the exact point it’s taking place in relation to a bunch of other ’90s issues…namely, during July 1994, and the Zero Hour event.

As this issue is part of the earliest stage of the story, the Time Anomalies are just being discovered, the wibbly-wobbly-ness just started to get noticed, so the bulk of the issue really IS “just” a typical Flash story, just any issue of the Flash book.

I enjoyed it, and look forward to the #0 issue, and eventually/someday getting fully caught up contextually with Wally’s time as the Flash.

My Multiple Editions of Kingdom Come

While it’s only more recently with the release of the 20th Anniversary Edition of the book that brought it back to my attention (as well as several podcasts and other recognition being given to celebrating the 20-year-history of it), Kingdom Come is truly one of the "classics" from my formative years being into comics.

kingdom_come_multi_editions

Pictured here are the 4 original issues, the hardback of the novelization, the 2008 new edition TPB, the original 1990s edition TPB, and the just-released 20th Anniversary Deluxe Hardcover.

Consciously missing are the Absolute Edition as well as some other ’90s hardcover, and the MMPB edition of the novelization (which as of this morning ranges from ~$32 with shipping on Amazon for "used" copies and ~$84-87 for "new" condition).

I had tried the first issue or two "off the rack" 20 years ago, based on the Alex Ross art, and I think a bit of the "collector" mentality–this being the "next" Alex Ross project, or DC‘s version of Marvels. (having little idea that he’d be a key foundation for Earth X as Marvel‘s version of Kingdome Come!).

I never initially finished out the story–it was a couple years later at least before I got a copy of the first TPB edition and finally read the entirety of the story. And of course, the novelization was a real treat, roughly in the age when I so thoroughly enjoyed other novelizations like The Death and Life of Superman and Batman: Knightfall (and though I didn’t know they were novelizations of comics at the time, several Aliens and Aliens vs. Predator novels).

While I’m not opposed to owning any of the "missing" editions, the only one I’m particularly interested in is the book-on-tape "audio-drama" edition, though I don’t expect to ever find that for anything resembling a reasonable price.

I missed Dark Knight and Watchmen by just a couple years…but it’s been an interesting experience seeing what an integral part of the "landscape" Kingdom Come has been, for my actually being there from the start.

Now, DC Comics just needs to do a single-volume edition of the Johns story from JSA a few years back–Thy Kingdom Come and include the Kingdom Come Specials in the volume.

New Old Books: Kingdom Come and Hellblazer

Considering I just placed the order on Friday, receiving books on Tuesday is excellent service from InStockTrades! I’ve been keeping up with the new Hellblazer editions–here we have vol. 13–which catches the series up to about where I first came into the series back in 2001 with Azarello‘s run…and off the top of my head, I believe this now gives me a complete run of the entire 300-issue Hellblazer series in paperback volumes! (From here, it’s just a matter of swapping out the old editions for the new on a rolling basis, I think!)

kingdom_come_20th_and_hellblazer_vol13

While I don’t like the cover nearly as much as I liked the image on the original paperback, that had much more of the “feel” of the story…this seems to be what DC is sticking with for now, taking the cover they’ve used for roughly 8 years over the one they used for about a decade or so…or over one of the original covers or even a celebratory new cover image.

That said, I quite like the 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Kingdom Come, and for a very rare thing, part of that is the extras the book contains.

kingdom_come_20th_extras_interior

I don’t care much for sketch material or pencils-only stuff–I’m just not a “primarily-for-the-art” kinda guy when it comes to comics. And I prefer to write about, talk about comics more than any true interest in actually writing comics, so even seeing script pages doesn’t tend to do much for me (though I tend to prefer those more). But there’s plenty of text with the sketches and whatnot, and lots of images reproduced in full color, some even full-page, and this is a volume, a story, a creative team, a singular truly special isolated thing that (to me) actually deserves “extras” and such be thrown in.

But the quality of the extras, their relevance and insight, the smile I found myself with, grinning as I flipped through them–some of the pages bringing back memories, others a bit of wonder, some just pleasant, collected excitement seeing stuff I haven’t seen in years or am simply curious about and look forward to reading in-depth. And this is without even getting to the core of the book, the story itself, to get to re-read in this format.

I have the original single issues; the original paperback collection, the 2008 paperback with this new green cover, as well as the hardback original edition of the novelization (bought from a local comic shop at initial release), and even bought the mass-market paperback edition of that for a friend shortly into college. I do not have the Absolute Edition and don’t truly expect I ever will unless it’s reprinted and the timing and finances are just right. But for this not being the Absolute Edition, I really dig this one.

Thanks to the online order, but including shipping, I think I functionally paid about $22 for this, which at the price of a mere 5 single Marvel comics and some shipping, I find to be an extremely reasonable price and very much worthwhile for this.

I also find myself feeling a bit old, that I now own a 20th-Anniversary edition of something I remember buying the original first issue of, new, when it first came out. Time flies…

The ’90s Revisited: The Flash #142

flash0142Get Me to the Church On Time

Writers: Mark Waid, Brian Augustyn
Pencils: Pop Mhan
Inks: Chris Ivy
Letters: Gaspar
Colors: Tom McCraw
Assistant Editor: L.A. Williams
Editor: Paul Kupperberg
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: October 1998
Cover Price: $1.99

This is one of those issues whose cover served as an extremely powerful selling point: “The Wedding of The Flash.” OK. I knew Wally and Linda were married…and that it happened SOMETIME before #200, as that was about the time their kids were born, and I was pretty sure they’d been married awhile prior. So spotting this in the quarter bin without any significant “run” to grab, I still figured it would be a good one-off/isolated issue to read.

We open on Wally dealing with Kobra and his crew, and find he’s got a very personal stake in dealing with the current situation: the terrorists are quite inconsiderate, after all, attacking on his wedding day. Linda and Wally put the last-second finishing touches on wedding plans as Linda’s family arrives. While things get into motion for the wedding, Wally can’t quite shake the feeling that something’s wrong or forgotten. The Justice League arrives, and there’s still no villain attack to disrupt things…as Wally and Linda get a moment to confirm they’re going through with the wedding. As the couple prepares to deliver their wedding vows, Wally realizes exactly what he’s forgotten: writing his. Of course, he doesn’t need to write them–he just reflects quickly on their time together, what they’ve been through–and he’s good. As he slips the ring onto Linda’s finger, there’s a flash of light, and he’s alone with no recollection of Linda’s existence nor that they were at the altar to be wed…while a mysterious figure looks on as Linda screams for help.

As said, the issue’s cover grabbed me. This is “THE” wedding issue. Great, ok, cool. Regular-sized, nothing fancy, just a one-issue key moment, something that happens, but while the same length as any other moment in time, is still one of those key moments one can go back to. Right? And being so used to covers “spoiling” otherwise ‘surprise’ villains or guest-stars, giving away what the issue is about (yet, the cover DOES have to “sell” one on buying the issue if they aren’t already planning to, and I’m certainly guilty of disliking generic, unrelated covers)…I figured I knew what this issue was, and was just going through the motions reading/enjoying the story, but I wasn’t expecting to be surprised. But surprise me it did, and now I very definitely want to read more.

The story itself is very good, mixing “regular” super-speed action letting us see the Flash do what he does, and that not EVERY threat has to be spread across exactly six issues of formulaic structure for a graphic novel collection. Some threats can be handled in a few pages to move the story along. Also signifying this being from an age when there were no routine collections of every half-dozen or so issues, the credits page is worked into the story itself somewhat cinematically–or at least, in a “tv” sort of fashion…showing the Kobra attack to be mere prologue to fulfill our expectation of the Flash in action in-costume and allowing the rest of the issue to focus on Wally, Linda, and co. for the wedding itself. Working other key characters in–like Impulse and Nightwing were nice touches, and though I’m more aware of than familiar with Bart, I appreciated the bit with him and seeing dynamics of “the Flash Family” that I’ve often read of but read very little of myself as yet.

The art is good, and really never left me wondering. It’s not my favorite visual style, and is rather “isolated” here as I’ve not read any significant runs on this title in probably almost a decade. I’m sure I’d appreciate it more in context, and assume it’s consistent with surrounding issues. Where varying visual styles play on actual memory for me with the Superman family of titles, I don’t have that for the Flash, which for every issue of the title I read makes me further regret never jumping in back in the ’90s when these were fresh, current, ongoing episodes of the character.

Despite mentioning “isolation” above in regards to finding this issue and how I see the art on it…the issue on the whole is not the quasi-self-contained or isolated unit I was expecting. I thankfully never got the sense that I “should have” read the previous issue to “get” what’s going on here, so it’s easy to jump INTO…but it certainly doesn’t have a hard-stop point to conclude, and successfully leaves me eager to read more, to find out who the mystery-villain is, to see how Wally and Linda get out of this mess…find out if this truly IS “the wedding issue” or if that “moment” occurs down the road in another issue, etc.

For a one-issue quarter-bin find, this issue was more than worthwhile, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would (in retrospect) gladly pay several dollars for it (though for bulk/quantity I’d prefer to get to load up on the series from quarter-bins!).

The ’90s Revisited: The Flash Plus #1

flashplus0001nightwingThe Flash + Nightwing: Doorway to Nightmare

Story: Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn
Pencils: Eduardo Barreto
Inks: Gerry Fernandez
Letterer: Gasper
Colorist: Ian Laughlin
Assistant Editor: Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt
Editor: Paul Kupperberg
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: January 1997
Cover Price: 2.95

I’ve seen a number of these Character Plus+ issues through the years…acquired some myself, even…though I don’t know that I’ve ever actually gotten around to reading any. But being in a Flash mood recently, and this being extra-sized as well as knowing it “had to” be more of a one-shot, it was something I knew immediately would be well worth a quarter, fishing it out of a quarter bin.

Wally and Dick are headed out on vacation. Dick’s a bit peeved that Wally yet again failed to do the planning for their vacation, so he had to make all the plans/arrangements. And Wally–impatient as always–is not happy being stuck in a car to make their way to a destination rather than being able to simply run under his own speed. The two arrive in New Orleans at a haunted house/attraction…and though Wally couldn’t see how there’d be anything special to it, the two soon find themselves up to their necks in trouble. They ultimately uncover plans of an alien invasion and must work together to stop it, beat back existing aliens, and save the world.

…Which is a really simplistic summation of the issue, considering its extra size. But I’m not writing this as a wiki piece of the issue–this was yet another of my embracing a ’90s comic and enjoying it.

With The New 52 having done away with the DC Universe I grew up on several years ago, and Wally being sidelined for years before that, I’d forgotten about the friendship he and Dick shared. Both started out as sidekicks (Robin and Kid Flash), both “graduated” into their own identities–Dick as Nightwing, Wally embracing and living up to his part in the Flash legacy), both are now (at this point in the continuity) adults, and there’s that sense of history and friendship with them…at least from my knowledge of the characters.

The cover is rather generic…yet I definitely enjoy it. I like the shadowy effect with mostly-black, but the lightning in the background showing us key parts of the characters and their costumes so we know who they are. I’m pretty sure genuine lighting doesn’t work that way in actuality…but the effect for this image is plenty cool enough for my eye! I also like the quasi-“grid” effect at the top…whether it’s supposed to be part of the logo or not, it reminds me of classic DC covers in a very subtle way.

The art on the interior is quite good, and I enjoyed it. It was solid, conveying what needed to be conveyed, and never particularly took me out of the story; there were no pages that left me curious about creative human anatomy or if I missed something, and so on. Truth be told, I actually hardly noticed it, which is how I’d prefer: I should enjoy the story in general, and not be relying on the art to carry a poor story nor be taken out of a good story by poor art. I’m not yet familiar enough with this period of The Flash or Nightwing to know offhand if Barreto is the “regular” artist for either character…but while specials and annuals can often have the “look” of being just some random story or fill-in with a non-series-regular artist, this issue did not have that feel for me.

That this issue IS basically a one-shot and not part of a crossover, longer story, event, or so on nor an Annual for either title, I don’t think we’d get something like this today. A single issue playing well within what I’m aware of continuity-wise with both characters, yet doesn’t rely on an individual/ongoing story for either nor require reading of both titles…and lacking a specific-arc tie-in and not ending with a lead-in to some other story…this is a unique piece of history, and an issue well worth its cover price.

Some of the quality probably does come from this being written by Waid/Augustyn–names I’m starting to notice repeatedly cropping up together, though I was already aware of Waid‘s significant (and highly-praised) run on the Flash title. This one issue gives us a good beginning, middle, and end; as well as giving insight into both characters, while sticking primarily with the Flash (Nightwing IS the “plus” after all, not the headlining character).

In an age of $4 comics, where I got to buy and read this for 1/16th that price, by default the issue is very much worth what I paid for it. Even at full cover price, though, this issue would seem to me quite worthwhile compared to a modern issue, and “experiencing” the quality of the story from nearly two decades ago for myself continues to build my interest in reading “classic” Wally West Flash stories, and put shame to the notion of all ’90s comics being crappy stories and periods for characters.

The ’90s Revisited: Flash #79

flash0079The Once and Future Flash

Story: Mark Waid
Pencils: Greg Larocque
Inks: Roy Richardson
Letterer: Tim Harkins
Colorist: Gina Going
Assistant Editor: Ruben Diaz
Editor: Brian Augustyn
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: August 1993
Cover Price: $2.50

I snagged this issue for 25 cents…the primary reason that it caught my attention was that it felt as thick as an annual…spotting the price, I saw it was priced as one also. Looking at the cover a bit closer, then, I realized it was an issue by Waid, and had the Reverse-Flash on the cover…a dynamic more interesting to me now as a fan of the tv series than any time previous. Plus, it has a nice “old-style” feel to it with the Flash’s speech balloons on the cover getting me curious. “You messed with my memories, threatened my city, and hur tmy friends…now you’re gonna pay!!”

Turns out…this issue seems to cap off the The Return of Barry Allen story that I’ve heard of, but never yet read for myself. So coming in, I’m at a loss of specifics to this story…but still felt like I was able to follow along without much issue, given my prior knowledge of Wally as the Flash, and stuff I’ve read about the character’s development aside of what I’ve actually read OF the character through stories.

Eobard Thawne–Professor Zoom–the Reverse Flash–apparently was posing as Barry Allen. Or rather, for a time he THOUGHT he actually WAS Barry. He stands revealed here, and ready to rumble–as he and Wally collide to fight out who gets to be THE Flash. We learn how Thawne wound up in the position he did, how he came to hate Barry, and so on…this is a younger Thawne, before he ever actually met Barry. Given the history that’s unfolded, he must be returned–alive–to his own time, that events might unfold as they’re known. This puts the entire timeline at risk, meaning that Wally can’t just kill him. In the course of the story we see the damage Thawne has caused, as well as the allies by Wally’s side, and it seems this is “the” issue where Wally fully, truly came into his own, getting out from under Barry’s shadow, etc.

Visually, this was a very solid issue. I read through it pretty quickly, and it wasn’t until I reviewed the first few pages that I really caught on to a nifty element: that we’re seeing Zoom’s fist get closer and closer until he and Wally collide–but interspersed between the fractions of time, we’re given flashbacks and context to bring us up to speed as things then jump to “real time.” On realizing this, it seems extremely cinematic–at least TV-cinematic. And that alone works very well for me. While my mind wants to compare this to the tv series, there are obvious elements that do not sync on a literal panel-to-screen basis…but the tone itself does. Leaving aside the visual differences to the tv show (which came some 20-21 years after this issue was published), the art is quite good and I have no problem with it at all. Given the size of this issue–at least double, if not TRIPLE–there was room for a lot to be packed in, as well as other moments spaced out…which allowed several full or double-page splashes to be VERY effective in a way that seems like a lost art in contemporary comics.

Story-wise, this had plenty of context–it’s from an era when it was NOT “inevitable” for everything to get a collected volume–so even coming in on the final chapter, I picked up readily on the overall “core” story beats related to this issue as I read. There’s plenty of detail, certainly some great moments and such that went over my head or that were in other issues so not even in my realm of awareness–but this felt like a season finale that I jumped in on, and didn’t feel LOST.

The prime drawback to me of reading this issue isolated and now lies in the fact that it illustrates to me–in one issue–just how deserved Waid‘s reputation on the book is and leaves me interested in the rest of the story, as well as more Flash (comics) in general.

I still know very little regarding the other speedsters outside of Jay and Wally…but I appreciate their presence, recognize them by name at least, and enjoy seeing the “Flash family” united, with a great sense of history and development. Though this issue leaves me interested in more Flash comics, it’s an interest tied to this era, to this particular incarnation of the series, emphasis on Wally…as opposed to much from the final several years before and thus far in the New 52.

I enjoyed this on reading it…and in typing the above roughly as stream-of-consciousness, I’m left simply feeling this was a fantastic issue, very well worth my time and money. Consciously knowing it is the end of a larger story, I’m hesitant to recommend this solely as a single issue…but if this one issue is an indicator of the quality of the entire story, I’ll “blindly” recommend that for now, containing this issue.

Age of Apocalypse Revisited: X-Men Omega

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xmenomega001_front…Endings

Story: Scott Lobdell
Dialogue: Mark Waid
Pencils: Roger Cruz
Inks: LaRosa, Townsend, Kesel, Candelario, Hanna, Milgrom
Letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Colors: Steve Buccellato, Electric Crayon
Cover: John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: June 1995
Cover Price: $3.95

While not nearly as "iconic" as the Alpha issue to me…this issue is still one of THE most iconic comic issues of my youth. Though the majority of the context comes from the various individual titles that make up the Age of Apocalypse, this is THE issue they all led into, after spinning out of X-Men: Alpha. As such, while I didn’t remember details of most of the individual series, I remembered where things wound up because of this issue.

We open on a full-page of Magneto, bloodied and energy crackling around him, standing defiantly against an off-page foe, who we find is Holocaust, battering the leader of the X-Men for Apocalypse’s amusement before the villain reveals his final plans. Meanwhile, Angel finds Karma, while in the pens, the X-Men arrive via Blink’s portals. As they contemplate the lack of opposition and come across Beast, we move to see Cyclops and Jean leading freed humans across the bridge away from Apocalypse’s stronghold. Apocalypse’s forcefield is taken down by Angel’s suicide bomb…his sacrifice allows Nate (X-Man) access to Apocalypse…where he finds and is recognized by Magneto as The One that Forge had long ago promised to deliver.

while Nate takes on Holocaust, the X-Men have found the M’Kraan crystal, and Destiny confirms Bishop’s claims and everything comes down to Illyana choosing to help restore broken reality. The three enter the crystal, leaving the X-Men to fight Apocalypse’s forces. On the bridge, Jean realizes the bombs have been launched and throws up a psi-shield…holding them back as long as she can. In the crystal, Destiny guides Illyana in unlocking her powers, getting Bishop back to the moment things went wrong. Back on the bridge, Havok reveals himself, unleashing his powers to take out Jean and Scott before being taken out himself by Weapon X. The X-Men rescue baby Charles, mess up Beast’s escape attempt, while others have fallen in battle and misunderstanding.

In the past, Bishop confronts his past self and Legion, preventing Legion from killing anyone…and closing a loop that sees the X-Men ripped back to their own time and the chronal energies erasing their presence and Legion’s from the memories of all left behind…that events would unfold as they had with no taint from Legion’s obtrusive presence.

Nate finally gets to Apocalypse before being attacked again by Holocaust…using a shard of the M’Kraan crystal he and Holocaust are unexpectedly removed from the equation. The distraction is enough for Magneto to summon the power to rip Apocalypse apart, finally killing the evil mutant and ending his reign. In the last few moments left to him, he rejoins Rogue and his son, while reflecting on the importance of one man to the world itself…as the nuclear blast is about to engulf them. Hope is left behind, in Bishop accomplishing his mission…and preventing any of this from ever having happened.

This issue being what it is, as mentioned above…there’s little separating its nostalgic and emotional, lasting impact on me from the technicalities of the issue itself.

At this typing, I don’t particularly recognize Cruz‘ name or art…and would have sworn there was someone else on the art. Looking back, Cruz contributed to a couple previous X-issues, and was the penciler on the Alpha issue as well…so while the art isn’t ENTIRELY consistent with the individual series, it provides a definite consistency to the other bookend issue of this entire mega-arc. In and of itself, I really don’t have any complaints on the art…everyone is recognizeable and obvious for who they are…and though many of the characters don’t look quite as well-done as they were in the individual books, given this issue involves so many without being a "jam book," that’s hardly an issue for me. We have numerous inkers and a full roster of Letterers and Colorists…whether that was to get the book out "on time" or to allow more hands to touch the project, be a part of it, I don’t know. It’s really something I mostly notice for specifically scoping out the credits to write this up.

Story-wise, I see Mark Waid on dialogue, as with X-Men: Alpha…which is interesting again as before given I wasn’t consciously aware of him 20 years ago but know him as a writer whose work I like present-day…and realize how much I like his dialogue through this issue, hokey and cheesey as parts are. Magneto’s final moments in the issue resonate particularly for me.

Given the specific issues that things unfolded in, this is the first we’ve "seen" of the "regular" X-Men in the entirety of the labeled Age of Apocalypse issues. The brief bit we get with them–specifically of Storm realizing the true battle was fought elsewhere–is something that has stuck with me since originally reading the issue, and worked its way into my head over the years as a concept that truly influences my understanding and conception of time travel and alternate reality stories…really in a way I can’t quite put to typed words.

The Age of Apocalypse ends, the "true reality" is restored…but this story left lasting repercussions (and characters) on the X-universe and the Marvel universe in general. Fitting in a way, perhaps, that present-day 2015 we’re about to get major changes to the very fabric of the Marvel universe, as I’ve just finished re-reading this tale.

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