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Action Comics #976 [Review]

action_comics_0976Superman: Reborn Part 2

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Pencils: Doug Mahnke
Inks: Jaime Mendoza, Christian Alamy, Trevor Scott
Colors: Wil Quintana
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover: Patrick Gleason & John Kalisz
Associate Editor: Paul Kaminski
Editor: Mike Cotton
Group Editor: Eddie Berganza
Special Thanks To: Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: Late May 2017
Cover Price: $2.99

[ SPOILER WARNING! This issue WILL BE SPOILED below… ]

I suppose I shouldn’t be entirely surprised, yet I still managed to be: after three issues building toward something HUGE…this felt very anti-climactic. Rather than coming off as "organic," to me–at least on this initial read-through–it came off as rather forced and after-the-fact than an organic, planned development.

[ I really will be spoiling this below, so consider this your final warning…spoilers after this line are preceded by plenty of SPOILER WARNING to absolve me of feeling guilty for discussing the issue in detail plainly. ]

We open on Mxy going off on Superman…or at least A Superman. In Mxy’s pocket-existence where Jon’s being held, A Superman and Lois have arrived. Jon recognizes them…they fail to recognize him. While Mxy revels in the chaos, even taunting this Superman, Jon realizes with horror that the woman he believes to be his mother doesn’t even remember him. While two spheres of blue energy approach Jon, Mxy opts to leave, warning of someone far beyond even himself as the cause of everything. That he–Mxy–was merely taking advantage of a situation already present. Channeling power from the blue ‘ghosts’, Jon manages to oppose Mxy, who offers him one last chance to leave this existence. Jon refuses, and Mxy leaves. As the reality crumbles, the blue energy merges with the New 52 Superman and Lois, restoring their memories of Jon and their lives together…and all reality re-knits, merging what we knew from pre-Flashpoint and the New 52 into one continuity, with Superman simply…Superman. But married to Lois, and with their son–Jon–as Superboy. Somewhere else, Mr. Oz looks on and marvels at the situation, at the love shared between Lois, Clark, and Jon, and how it unites realities. And finally, a hint that there’s someone–and/or someTHING–else out there still influencing things.

I feel like this was telegraphed a mile off, so to speak. New 52 Superman and the "real" Superman would merge, their realities fused/merged into one, to simply BE Superman, supposedly no more "divide" and smooth over stuff.

It doesn’t really work for me, as far as the in-story stuff goes. I could even have probably "bought" the notion of Mxy re-setting stuff somehow, though usually his machinations are undone when he disappears. Just continuing to merely "hint" at something else out there is getting old, and I’m ready to just be TO whatever ‘event’ that will be, and get beyond it. To just have A single DC Universe, even if it’s actually a multiverse, and either the New 52 completely wiped away or officially merged and just have a set UNIVERSE that is what it is and get on with stuff.

Visually, parts of this issue were quite "off" for my preferences, but not bad. I really like the "new costume" for Superman, essentially being the classic costume minus the trunks, and a modified (solid) belt (instead of the dots of red thing that’s been going on awhile). We seemed to have pre-Flashpoint Lois and Clark turned into energy and merged with the New 52 versions…but then a sort of switch up with the new costume, and it seems that Jon’s been given additional power (I had it in my head that he couldn’t fly, and he seems to be, here).

This resolution and issue as a whole seems to be an attempt to bring stuff together and "unify" fans of either Superman by making it so that both are one and the same–that New 52 Superman was always part of THE Superman, and the pre-Flashpoint Superman we had from Convergence, Superman: Lois and Clark, and the past ten months of Rebirth was not himself whole, but is now, with the merging of the new. This combined with stuff from last November’s Superman Annual would seem to have stuff in line for that, to firmly establish Superman is Superman and now whole, PERIOD.

I guess time will tell.

There’s still plenty of dancing around the fine details…even with the double-pager showing stuff from "both" continuities, it’s hard to tell–for me, at least–exactly what’s what, or supposed to be what–and what’s just looking different because of the artist’s rendition.

While I’ll grant that the "new costume" deserved its full-page "reveal" and the double-page spread of the "new history" deserved the room, I’m also a bit disappointed at how quick a read this was.

My feelings on this issue are certainly victim to the "hype machine," and to wanting to see some overt reference to Superman Red/Superman Blue, to SOMEthing more with the notion, at least, of Red and Blue, and some overt explaining of things. Instead, a lot seems to have been left to the visuals, to whatever the reader wants to interpret. Maybe it’s stuff to be explored in coming issues–but to consider this a conclusion seems to understate things, and though I certainly appreciate NOT having stories stretched out, I think Superman Reborn certainly deserves to be at least another chapter or two, to really lay things out and concretely state what’s what and when and all that.

Superman Reborn started strong, with a lot of epic possibility and potential. Sadly, it–at least for me–ends far short of what I’d hoped for, underwhelming me despite itself. I trust that stuff will play out in coming weeks and months, with further details and ramifications touched on…and hopefully this mainly just means that we’re NOT locked into "the graphic novel" of exactly X issues to a story with hard stop/starts. Perhaps this is just a "main event" and the full details WILL be revealed here and there–organically–as things continue.

I had to go to two different shops to find a copy of this issue, and got the last copy at the second shop…so I’m pretty sure that a number of people have been grabbing this issue even if they hadn’t been getting previous issues. Perhaps the nostalgia, more likely the hype–particularly from sites like Bleeding Cool–and jumping on for whatever this one issue would hold, regardless of continuity. Story-wise, art-wise, it’s a solid enough issue (note my feelings of its failings above) well worth getting if you’re already following either/both titles or this particular story.

But it’s not worth the "hype," at least on one read-through and thinking on it. That said, I won’t be surprised to have my feelings on it changed by further thought, analysis, and points of view…this post simply being my initial thoughts/reaction to the issue on a single read-through.

action_comics_0976_blogtrailer

Superman/Wonder Woman #29 [Review]

supermanwonderwoman0029The Final Days of Superman part 7: Fire Line

Story and Words: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Colors: Alejandro Sanchez
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover: Karl Kerschl
Assistant Editor: Andrew Marino
Group Editor: Eddie Berganza
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: July 2016
Cover Price: $3.99

This is it–the penultimate chapter of The Final Days of Superman, and of the New 52 Superman’s story, period, it would seem, at least as he’s been given to readers since September 2011.

We have Solar Flare Superman facing New 52 Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Meanwhile, Convergence/pre-Flashpoint Superman gets his wife and son to the fortress he’s kept secret from them, and he and his Lois have a ‘discussion’ over the matter. While Batman gets New 52 Lois away from Solar Flare, New 52 Superman and New 52 Wonder Woman do a number on Solar Flare Superman, before the Flare entity gains the upper hand. Learning of the ongoing battle, Supergirl leaves the DEO only partially-powered to join the fray, and we leave off with New 52 Superman in the clutches of Solar Flare.

Which is all a slightly obtuse, quasi-intentional way of expanding on the fact that not much of anything really HAPPENS here, except some pieces are moved around the board, marking time for the concluding chapter yet to come as we head into Rebirth itself as well next week…and to emphasize the fact that we have three different Supermen in play in this issue alone, as well as two Loises who don’t even meet.

Story-wise, this isn’t BAD at all–that’s not what I’m saying. But we basically have a big fight scene punctuated by accounting for several “subplots” (as much as such things actually exist in 2016 DC comics). Being well aware of this being chapter 7 of 8, and of what’s about to happen, and expecting it to unfold in the final chapter of this story and spill into the big Rebirth issue next week, I can’t truly fault the writing for not being able to DO much in this issue except move pieces around the board.

Visually I’m not enamored…while everyone’s quite recognizable, the linework just makes everyone look a bit “off” to me…and that is something firmly accentuated with the addition of color effects, to say nothing of just not caring for–or being used to–a Superman in any sort of armor, whatever its backstory/reason/necessity (or lack thereof). I also don’t care for the layouts…though they vary page to page, many pages seem to have too-big panels with too few words…and whether that’s art expanding to fill a lack of script or a script allowing an expansion of art, I’m not sure…but it makes $3.99 feel that much more expensive for the quick read this issue is as a whole (particularly compared against comics read this week from 1996, 20 years ago, purchased for 20 cents each!).

Finally, the cover isn’t all that appealing…I’ve not gone back to check out later printings of earlier chapters, though I saw a couple in passing and this one seems to fit those. The cover copy “Burning Love!” seems ill-placed as well, and the entire image is a bit misleading as Supergirl is not involved in the core action of this issue.

All in all…this issue is for those following the entirety of The Final Days of Superman, or completing a run of this particular title. If you’re just looking for the apparent death of the New 52 Superman, that should be next week; and if you’re not already following stuff, this chapter does not give enough to justify itself in and of itself for anyone to try to “jump in” just for this particular issue as any sort of “random” purchase.

New 52 Zero Omnibus

One large part of it being rather disconcerting randomly purchasing the Dark Knight Returns/Death of Superman hardcovers the other day was that I was already planning on another large purchase: the DC Comics New 52 Zero Omnibus.

An employee at Half-Price Books had recently–in asking if I was on the marketing list–mentioned their huge sale coming up with the daily coupons 20/20, 30/30, 40/40 and 50% off.

I was unwilling to pay even HPB‘s price on this particular volume…but take an additional 30% off? That brings it very much into worthwhile pricing territory!

dc_new52_zero_omnibus

I drove out of my way after work specifically to get this, figuring copies were fairly limited and others might take advantage of the sale the same way I intended…so I bought it with a 30% off coupon, rather than wait a couple more days for 40% (and I’d be shocked if any remain by Sunday’s 50% off). All told, I saved over $100 off the cover price of this thing, and 70% off total between the already-discounted price and the coupon, with some tax thrown back on.

While I’ve no idea when I’ll get around to reading from this, it (and the Villains Month Omnibus I got last year) are especially appealing to me for the issues largely being one-shots (to my understanding) even if they serve an ongoing narrative…so while this has but one single issue from any given title of the 52 or so…it’s still a bunch of issues that I’d hope I can enjoy well enough on their own one at a time.

Now, I guess there’s just a matter of finding that Futures End Omnibus and waiting to see if they do an omnibus of the weekly series. And for around the price I paid for this, I would not be opposed to the #1s omnibus.

That said…there are loads of other books I’m interested in and want to get in the near-ish future…but I’ve gotta try to back off the spending a bit, with some personal stuff going on. I’d been looking forward to this one for weeks, between spotting it at a HPB and then weeks after that learning of the upcoming sale and resolving to get it–if available still–using a sale coupon.

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 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 Weekly Haul – Week of February 4th, 2015

This seemed like the smallest week in quite awhile. “only” the three DC weeklies, two Valiants, and Star Wars from Marvel.

weekly_haul_20150204

And I don’t quite get why we have two issues of X-O Manowar in a row…that’s even more clustering than the usual for Valiant.

Next week is gonna be huge, and with DC‘s news today about the changes to the line in general, I’m rather discouraged toward continuing with any of their output.

The Weekly Haul – Week of December 31st, 2014

Final comic shops visit for 2014…

weeklyhaulweekofdecember312014a

Despite being a really "small" week for DC…since I’ve been getting the weeklies, I didn’t notice a "break" in things at all. Image had a $1 issue, and Valiant actually had one issue out.

I also took advantage of an after-Christmas 20% off sale for a couple more Walking Dead volumes, working on getting caught up there.

weeklyhaulweekofdecember312014b

It’s been a number of years since I’d gotten a new Walking Dead "standard" TPB. (I started with this format, and am too far in/committed to switch to any of the other formats). My last was vol. 13, and 22 is the newest. I’d "gone back to" the single issues for a couple years or so; dabbled in digital for a couple years, and outright passed on the series entirely since All Out War ended (thanks to my continued personal boycott of comixology since they did away with in-app purchasing for iOS).

But it’s been bothering me, to look at my bookshelves and see that gap, to be missing nearly HALF of the series, so I’ve been working on "catching up" on the 9 or so volumes I’d not yet picked up. I snagged 3 volumes from Half-Price Books; I’d picked up vol. 22 as an all-new read at the start of Comic Heaven‘s 20% off sale; and then vols. 20-21 this week. I intend to finish up with 14-15 and 17 via eBay or otherwise online to get ’em for around half-ish off.

Superman Unchained

superman_unchained_02In early 2013 or so, I recall a bit of personal excitement that had me ready to jump back into the Superman books…the prospect of a quasi “return” to there being several familiar titles each month. Superman and Action Comics were (and are, and remain) two “staples” of the New 52, and aren’t likely to disappear regardless of creative team turnover. There was the digital-first Adventures of Superman, and the pending Scott Snyder-takes-on-Superman fourth title, rumored at the time to be “Man of Steel” or such with the new movie on the immediate horizon.

The Snyder book wound up being Superman Unchained, and quickly soured me. I remember a fair bit of hubbub over the price point on the title–the first issue was $4.99, apparently super-priced due to the inclusion of a pull-out “poster” that would actually tie to the story. I got the issue, and was VERY disappointed with the so-called poster, as it was just some stupid, giant-sized “panel” of Superman crashing through a satellite. Nothing that couldn’t have simply been done as a “regular” double-page spread or such. It by no means needed a poster or pull-out or whatever, and was nothing “worth” putting on a wall or framing for the wall.

That the title was a $3.99 book–to my knowledge–combined with the frustration over the vastly over-hyped pull-out soured me. Add to it the slew of expensive variant covers and I didn’t even bother to pick up #2, accepting my loss on the first issue and moving on.

Flash ahead to present, and this “new series” had turned into a “limited series,” ran late, lost steam, etc. and generally fell off my radar.

But there’s a collected volume, a deluxe oversized hardcover…collecting the ENTIRE SERIES, the entire story into a single, nice-looking volume.

superman_unchained_01And while this would EASILY be a $50-$60 book (if not $75 just for the sheer heckuvit) from Marvel…from DC, Superman Unchained is a WHOPPING $29.99 cover price as an oversized hardcover. 9 issues, content from a Director’s Cut of #1, PLUS a cover gallery of all those too-many-to-count variants of the first six or so issues (presumably before the title ran late and lost steam and all that). 9 issues at $3.99 apiece would be $36ish. $37 for that first issue being an extra $1. Add another $4 for the Director’s Cut (I think it was actually $4.99 if not MORE, though) and we certainly hit the $40 mark. Heck, even at a mere $2.99/issue…9 issues and the director’s cut puts us squarely at $30 MINIMUM.

This book–oversized, hardcover, no ads, no wait between issues, no screwy over-hyped poster gimmick, everything in one volume–is $30.

I have yet to read the story itself…but it’s Snyder. It’s SUPERMAN. It’s A STORY, it’s significantly longer than the Earth One OGNs that I’m willing to buy despite the $20+ cover price. So it’s safe to say that yes…I’m happy with my purchase. The volume is seems a good value. I can’t imagine I’ll dislike the story enough to “ruin” having bought the book. Having followed Doomed earlier this year, I didn’t notice anything in that that was truly impacted by this story; nor have I seen anything else I’m consciously aware of that ties back to this.

So I get an epic-length self-contained Superman story and even if it sucks, it’s done in one at this point and I’m not going to be led into buying other titles or having to track anything down. Money well spent, and an impressive volume for the shelf. 

That I enjoyed paging through the cover gallery as much as I did almost warrants the purchase by itself.

This is truly an example of why I–by FAR–prefer the collected edition format to the single issues.

I don’t have to track down all the variants to get to ENJOY them, their very existence, seeing them with the logo/trade dress. Below, see (on the right-hand side) the “Superman Reborn” series of variants, reuniting classic ’90s Superman creators with the post-Death of Superman-era characters.

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Above: Covers from Superman Unchained #1…

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Above: Covers from Superman Unchained #2…

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Above: Covers from Superman Unchained #3…

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Above: Covers from Superman Unchained #4…

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Above: Covers from Superman Unchained #5…

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Above: Covers from Superman Unchained #6.

DC Futures End Month, Week Four

FUTURES END: SUPERMAN#1

futuresendsuperman001While the Green Arrow one-shot gave some interesting background details to get me a bit more interested in getting back into the ongoing Futures End book, and the Booster Gold issue added to that, those were general things, and more interesting than anything else. This issue is the first of these one shots to specifically address any of the “mysteries” I was expecting to be dealt with in this manner. Namely…who IS the masked Superman? It seems the secret was revealed a number of weeks ago, but I’d missed that. So here, now, this finally shows me who’s behind the mask…and why. And it makes sense on the powerset, and even the motivation…though Lois makes a good point, and it’s good to see the characters tep back out of the shadow of Superman to do their own thing by the end. Given the Superman title itself seems to be off doing its own thing while the other Superman-related books have been dealing with Doomed, it’s nice to have this issue firmly in-sync with the other DC titles. Also love the cover…quite a nice one and certainly one of my favorites of the month.

FUTURES END: FLASH#1

futuresendflash001It’s been quite awhile since I’ve read/checked in on Flash. To be honest, I’m not even sure I bothered to give the title a chance at the relaunch–I grew up on Wally, and was thoroughly tired of Barry being forced back to the forefront in his place toward the end of the pre-52 (though I was ok with Flashpoint). That said, this issue seemed to have *A* Wally, just obviously quite different than the one I was used to, and unfortunately set in a future that may or may not ever come to be, so it’s more tease than not. I’ve always enjoyed the “legacy” nature of the Flash stuff (I think in some ways that’s part of what drew me to the title initially), and that’s on display here, making for a rather enjoyable issue. I’d be interested in more with the characters seen in this issue, and further expansion on the situations hinted at. For an issue that I wasn’t certain I’d get until I actually grabbed it off the shelf, this was worthwhile as a one-shot…though I’m not sure it changed my mind any regarding the current ongoing series.

FUTURES END: RED LANTERNS#1

futuresendredlanterns001One of the earliest comics I can recall getting at the start of my “second phase” was Guy Gardner #1. I had no idea who this character was, what his story was, but hey…it was a #1 issue, he’d cameoed in that Action Comics Annual, so hey, check it out, right? And through the years I’ve had mixed feelings on the character, but here it was rather interesting to me to see him as a hopeful character, seeing the positive and good in the universe rather than the aggressive, angry, in-your-face sort. Sure, that’s partially the influence of a blue ring, but it’s far from inconceivable that Guy would be capable of such a change, and it adds another layer to the character. I snagged this issue to round out having gotten the other Lantern books this month. Yet–perhaps for simply being the most recently-read–I think this one was my favorite, sort of capping off Guy’s story as well as stuff with the Red Lanterns (that I have not been following) and it seemed more fitting and certainly a happier ending than in the other Lantern books.

FUTURES END: SINESTRO #1

futuresendsinestro001While I quite enjoyed the role Sinestro took on during Johns’ run on the GL title, this is the first solo issue I’ve picked up. I didn’t know what to expect, but it’s Sinestro, and come to think of it…it’s thus a Lantern book (five now?). I’m not sure I totally “got” the way things worked for harnessing the yellow, or any light energy, as shown in this book and Sinestro’s escape. However, this touched on some “interesting” points, and the way it ended, giving Sinestro a whole different spin, certainly seemed feasible and far from being out of the realm of likelihood. I don’t know that I’d want to read anything ongoing with that, but I’m quite glad to see the continued use of the various Lantern Corps and that they seem to have “legs,” to have become a fairly permanent element/addition to things. I’d worried they’d be a limited time thing heading up to and as part of the “fallout” from Blackest Night. As a character practically as old as Green Lantern in general, it’s good to see Sinestro fleshed out, fairly complex-ish, and not just some “joke” of a villain. I’m glad I didn’t pass on this particular issue…though again, it’s not enough to hook me into the ongoing series.

FUTURES END: HARLEY QUINN#1

futuresendharleyquinn001Harley’s become a sort of “DC’s Deadpool” it seems, and for that reason alone, I wasn’t gonna even bother considering this issue. But then it was the last copy there, and after some annoyance earlier in the month tracking down issues, I figured I’d grab it–worst case, the issue sucks, but at least I wouldn’t change my mind and face the hassles of tracking the issue down LATER. This wasn’t a bad issue, though I wasn’t particularly enthralled. I get that characters have to grow and change rather than be chained into their original appearance (literal and in the sense of being introduced to us), but I’ve not care much for the “New 52-ization” of Harley in general. This issue, though, was fairly “fun” in putting Harley and Joker back together, dealing with a wedding for the two and reminding me of the messed-up nature of both characters, and how much better Harley is having HAD a history with Joker but getting beyond it. I would not have picked this up as just some Harley issue..u.but as a one-shot it was worthwhile, and I’m glad to have gotten it and having this “check-in” with the character, though (like a lot of the other issues this month) it doesn’t necessarily tie directly to the “core” story running through the ongoing weekly Futures End title.

OVERALL THOUGHTS ON WEEK 4

futuresendboostergold001I’m definitely quite glad to be done with the month, given how wildly expensive it got! Still, it’s a once-a-year thing, and having been through two of these now…three if we count the initial launch, as I skipped the Zero Month a couple years ago. I might actually look forward to next year’s thing and pre-order to get more of a discount. I still wound up with more than half of the books, and am convinced that I’m going to go ahead and catch up on the main weekly book, and maybe follow this thing through to the end after all…or at least further than I left off!

Definitely loved the Booster Gold book–it was such a standout that I gave it the solo treatment for a review. But as it is, for the upcoming week’s worth of books, looks like it’ll be more than 50% cheaper than any of the past month’s weeks, which is a releif, though I might offset that a bit with a bulk catch-up unless I go with a several-week thing.

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