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Comics "Grails" Update: Early October 2020

2020 has certainly been a heckuva year. While I believe it was spring 2019 that I acquired Uncanny X-Men #266 in "my price range," I feel like it’s really been this year that I found myself much more proactively seeking out "grails."

That is, specific comics that I’ve wanted for a long time, and/or that I canNOT "simply" go to mycomicshop.com or such and place an order when the localest shops don’t have the issue(s).

Whether it’s that online shops and sellers I know of don’t have the issue(s) period or that they’re not in my price range, at the start of the year, I made a list of grails I planned to seek through the year at the various shows and conventions…having no idea (obviously) of what 2020 would be.


It’s been years, I think, since I’d made it to one of the Harper shows in the area. But things fell into place and I was able to attend the Cleveland Comic Book & Nostalgia Festival on October 4th at the Westlake Hilton.

It was about what I remembered; I went in knowing it would basically be a "dealer room," and got what I expected. However, it seemed a bit more open, and much less crowded than shows past…which was obviously a good thing.

Ohio, so masks required; AND for the first time in everything this year, a place where my temperature was taken before admission. Apparently I was slightly cool–so be it! No fever here.


Once in, I loosely scanned the place. I had zero intent of squeeeeezing in between people or crowding/being crowded. I spotted a booth/table with some open space and checked stuff out.

I noticed a box with a tab for TMNT, and browsed. Not much selection…more TMNT Adventures than I’d have expected, and I nearly let it go at that, but did a second flip-through…and spotted a cornerbox referencing Fall 1994. Thinking there’s no freaking way… I pulled the issue up…to see that image. THE TMNT Special #10 cover I’ve been looking for! My top/#1 grail book. The issue that–to the best of my knowledge–completes my collection of every TMNT issue published by Archie.

And it was only $10!

Browsing a bit further, I found a Spawn issue–#135–for a decent price, and snagged that.

After browsing a few more booths–mainly checking for Uncanny X-Men #141 for a decent-to-me price or Avengers Annual #10 for same–I found a good-looking copy of Avengers Annual #10…and was shocked to see it priced at $10! I’ve had $30 in mind for awhile…so $10 was absolutely worthwhile to me!

AND…that was TWO GRAILS in short order at one single show!

I even got to thinking how "freeing" it felt to be "able to" consider some of the higher-priced books. Even though I’d still topped out at $10 for any given issue at the show…I was actually looking at "wall books" and considering issues!

Yet further into the show, browsing for the facsimile edition of The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 (the wedding issue), I’d come across a few copies of the original edition. $30 for the newsstand "Spider-Man and MJ" cover. $25 each at another booth for my choice of the "Spider-Man" or "Peter Parker" cover. I wanted the "Peter Parker" cover. $22 for the "Spider-Man" cover at another booth. And then…jackpot, Tiger! A copy of the "Peter Parker" cover…for $8!

Considering I went into the show prepared to (grudgingly) pay $10 for the facsimile edition…$2 less for an original was ABSOLUTELY fine-by-me!

convention_haul_cleveland_harper_show_october4_2020

At that point, I was ready to call it a day overall. I wasn’t seeing Uncanny X-Men #141 at all to even price-compare; and me being me I prefer to browse without questioning if dealers have an issue–I go with face value WYSIWYG. At shows like this, I’m going for impulse-buys…not extended deals, possible phone calls and such. Either it’s there and in my price range or it’s not; end of story.

I found a booth with a mix of issues that somehow caught my attention. Spotted a copy of the Superman issue with a familiar cover from my youth…Must There Be a Superman? For $5. And as I’m getting to be a broken record about…considering a meaningless 1 of a dozen covers latest issue of WHATEVER is often $5 nowadays, $5 for a decades-old back issue doesn’t phase me anymore. (Not to mention depending on the issue and condition, being willing to go higher than I ever dreamed as a kid…and as I think I’ll get to below). Also snagged a copy of Superman Adventures #1. I am not sure if I already have the issue or not, but it seemed well worthwhile to me, and again…good for the price!

As I was paying, I noticed a wall book–Uncanny X-Men #158…for $10. With #s 141, 143, and 158 being the three issues I was missing between #141-421…I’d been mildly curious as to why no one seemed to have #158. This copy was marked with a note of being the first appearance of Rogue (as Avengers Annual #10 has always been that to my understanding, I take it 158 is the first Uncanny X-Men appearance of the character!). But if it’s at all a first appearance or second appearance or whatever…that explained its scarcity for casual browsing and the like.

Though I’d had the $5 in mind on the Superman issues, they were actually discounted a bit. As I was pulling out my wallet for the extra couple dollars to add the X-Men issue to my purchase, the guy paused on grabbing my change…and said we’ll call it even! So, actually got the issue for a little less than the $10…which made an EXCELLENT capping-off point for the show for me!

Including admission, I spent less than $65. While I hadn’t had Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 on my "grails list," it was absolutely a "grail" going in, or rather, the facsimile edition was.

The TMNT issue, the Avengers issue, and the Spider-Man issue were all issues I’d resigned myself to being in the $30 range each…but $28 scored all three of them for me.

Having several other issues I’m very satisfied with to own were welcome bonuses; as well as checking off another X-Men issue before it gets to the point of being elevated to an individual-issue "grail" status

All that said…it’s time to update the grails lists.


Default text==no change
Green==change/addition
Grey Strikethrough==acquired

Individual-issue ‘Grails’

  • TMNT Adventures Special #10 (Fall 1994)
  • Prime #1 (hologram cover, silver OR gold)
  • Uncanny X-Men #141 (~$30-40)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1984) #1 (~$100; 3rd print)
  • Avengers Annual #10
  • DC Comics Presents #26 (~$20-30)
  • Dreamwave TMNT #7 ($5-10)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1984) #44 ($5-10)
  • Uncanny X-Men #143 (~10)
  • TMNT Adventures: Year of the Turtle #1
  • Wolverine (1988) #145 (foil edition)


High-interest Multis:

  • Spawn #s 132-134, 136-256
  • Uncanny X-Men #s 422, 455, 460, 464, 465, 467, 481, 482, 489, 492, 493, 494, 501, 503, 504, 505, 506, 507, 508, 511, 513, 514+
  • Archie C.O.W. Boys of Moo Mesa (vol. 1) #s 1-3
  • Archie C.O.W. Boys of Moo Mesa (vol. 2) #s 1-3
  • Mirage TMNT #s 3-5
  • Mirage TMNT vol. 2 # 10
  • Mirage Tales of the TMNT vol. 1 #s 1-5
  • Mirage Casey Jones/Raphael #s 2-4
  • Mirage Donatello: The Brain Thief #4
  • Image TMNT #s 1-18, 21+

comic_grails_update_early_october_2020_blogtrailer

The Weekly Haul: Week of November 13, 2019

weekly_haul_header

This past week felt like the sort of balance I REALLY prefer to have with new comics. Though I may be "missing out" on other stuff…it’s still a bit more than I may have "time" for…especially with other distractions that I’ll get into down below!

weeklyhaul_20191113a

Though it’s another $6 book, Dark Multiverse: Blackest Night (the 3rd in a series of these specials) is sorta worth it…I’m willing to let it slide by for being a squarebound thing AND coming out alongside a $1 reprint of the original Blackest Night #1. Plus, having enjoyed plenty of Elseworlds stuff back in the day…if DC isn’t going to bring that imprint back, I can handle stuff like this. I’m still a bit wary and suspicious that this is leadup to some major event for the sake of a major event–and I’ve little intention of "buying back in" on such a thing with the way the new status quo is shaping up (and with Superman revealing his identity for the 2nd time in half a decade).

The Catwoman issue I bought because of having read that it offers her side to "the Wedding stuff," and I’m interested enough in that. And the "fancy cover" for the SAME PRICE AS USUAL is a very positive factor!

GI Joe: A Real American Hero is a title I’m still woefully behind on reading, but am still very supportive of, if only for its high numbering! I have a large amount of the original run and have the notion of filling in earlier issues in this run to eventually have the whole series. But time will tell.

I believe this 6th issue of the IDW run of Usagi Yojimbo is the 30th anniversary issue. I’m pretty sure I saw something on Facebook from Stan Sakai about that.

And then the The Tomb of Dracula facsimile edition is another I got on simple principle OF being a facsimile edition. I’ve lost track of the number of these…I’m not sure if they’re quite "weekly," but I’m certainly appreciating their frequency. I’d probably be quite happy if Marvel (and DC!) simply did a "series" that itself was simply these reprint editions–where one could "subscribe" TO the "line" without hassle to the comic shops.

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Having already had the first 5 of the 6 issues of Event Leviathan, I decided to finish that out. I’m continuing to be discouraged by the issue apparently "ending" with the "launch" of another event/series already. But at the same time, that also backs up my notion of it being time to back away from a lotta this stuff.

I’m not entirely sure what this Marvels X thing is that headlines the previews thing…but it seems like they missed the 25th anniversary of the original series. As a contained thing I might be interested, but time will tell.

And finally, Comic Shop News, spotlighting Superman revealing his identity to other heroes…and the reason I finally pulled the trigger on dropping Superman and Action Comics.

weeklyhaul_20191113c

On a more positive side…a Kickstarter project I backed recently came in! The second issue of Cat & Mouse by Roland Mann & Co. with the revived Silverline. As a Kickstarter thing, I’m more forgiving of variants and such, especially the Kickstarter Exclusive Edition covers–because the CONTENT is still available to anyone, even if the special cover isn’t. As a sucker for nostalgia, I’m cool with the Retro edition. There’s even some difference to the coloring, it looked like–which I appreciate! Finally, the "graphite edition" is not JUST a "sketch cover" (which I dislike as variants). This is a whole different edition of the issue, where the interior is also like this–so the cover is NOT some "inferior" thing, it’s actually a perfect match to its interior! And it gives a different look at the contents of the issue that I find rather cool as a novelty like this.

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The new Pokemon game came out last Friday. I broke with "tradition" of getting the "red" versions to get Sword…largely because of knowing a friend had pre-ordered Shield and I wanted to know I had a trading buddy. Then I realized that when I’d bought in on the Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon re-issue of the previous game, I’d also gone "blue" so…c’est la vie.

pokemon_plush_and_banner

I also snagged this nifty felt banner (the flip-side is a map of this new games new "region" in the Pokemon world) as well as the plush starter critter, Scorbunny. I’d gotten the plush of Litten 3 years ago with Pokemon Sun, so it just seemed fitting to make that a tradition of getting the plushie of the critter I’d start the game with!

I also then promptly blew away the weekend with first being up Friday night into the wee hours of Saturday, then spending the majority of the day Saturday and again into wee hours, and a decent chunk of time Sunday playing. As of this typing Monday evening, I’ve left off having acquired 5 of the 8 "gym badges" in the game. I also "bred" a couple Farfetch’d and Scorbunnies for trade, but pulled myself away from that side of the game for the time being. Mindless stuff with that almost 3 years ago is what led to my binging the entirety of How I Met Your Mother into 2017!

Heading fast toward "the holidays," I don’t know how long it’ll take me to "finish" the play-through of the "main game," but I’ve already sunk more time into this game than any other game since the original Pokemon Sun, in such a short span of time. I’ve probably got a way to go yet to match Breath of the Wild, but that was spaced across weeks before I lost interest. I certainly feel like I’ve already more than gotten my money’s worth out of this game compared to every other game I’ve bought other than Breath of the Wild.

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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!).

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