Thursday, February 9, 2012

Unbridled Capitalism: Borderlands Sale 2012

Last weekend was the Borderlands Big Annual Sale once again.  And as has been the trend lately, it was pretty miserable weather-wise.  Cold and damp, with a light rain as we were standing outside, I think most of us wanted to get inside just to stay dry more than anything else.  Sure it wasn't the ice storm from a few years back, but it still pretty bleah.  

Once inside, it wasn't much of a rush for me since once again I was not buying any miniatures.  I did partake of the action figures, picking up 5 vintage GI Joe toys for 50 cents apiece (for those who are interested: Straight-arm Rock n' Roll, BAT v.1, Sea Slug, Dice, and Dojo), but mostly went through the "$5 Trade" table and of course the 3/$1 bins.  

All in all it was an odd sale.  Neither me nor many of my friends were really into combing through the discount bins because a lot of us loaded up at the trades table.  And the wet and cold weather meant everyone was wearing coats and such, so it got very warm and very uncomfortable very quickly.  So I didn't go through every single discount box like I had in years past.  Which was alright, since we got out of there and did some damage at Mr. K's before heading back to the house for a shrimp boil.  

Still, had a good haul all told.  Here's what I picked up.

The Flash: Slowly but surely I am buying up my Pre-Crisis Flash collection.  Heck at some point I will actually read it (besides the Showcase volumes, anyway).  Out of the discount bins I pulled Flash v.1:no.242, 247, 275, and 287.

GI Joe: Since I have nearly all of the collected editions of the Marvel GI Joe series, I typically don't buy single issues.  But in this case I couldn't pass it up -- GI Joe: Order Of Battle #1-4 for 33 cents apiece.  The Order Of Battle series was the Joe version of Who's Who or OHOTMU, with two issues devoted to the Joes, one to forces of Cobra, and one to the various vehicles and hardware.  Pretty freaking sweet!  I also grabbed (off the $5 table) the vintage GI Joe: Special Missions trade, which collects the first four issues of Special Missions.

Oddball: I got a lot of random or otherwise unusual comics this time out, so I am just sort of lumping them altogether.  House of Mystery #269 has a cover which pretty much screams that NOTHING WILL EVER BE AS AWESOME AS THIS.  Teen Titans Spotlight #8 features Hawk, so I had to buy it.  Similarly, Marvel Premiere #45 stars Man-Wolf, and since I think I have the other part of the story, I owed it to myself to buy it.  I have been really digging the Mark Evanier Blackhawk so grabbing issue #271 was a given.  

I also managed to snag three oversized books out of the 3/$1.00 bins which surprised me.  First up was the Masters Of The Universe: The Motion Picture novelization.  What's interesting about this book is that it doesn't seem to use the movie designs, but instead uses the traditional toy/cartoon imagery.  Which is a plus to me!  (Marvel was publishing a regular MOTU series at the time, so this makes sense.)  Secondly, I got the square bound Amazing Spider-Man: Soul Of The Hunter GN.  I haven't read "Kraven's Last Hunt," so this should be interesting reading.  And finally, the one I liked best, I pulled Uncanny X-Men & The New Teen Titans!  Pretty swank stuff, this one is towards the top of my reading pile.

And the most odd of the oddball: The Cerebus Guide to Self-Publishing, the 2010 edition.  I found this on the very small "$1 trade" pile, much like I found... 13 volumes of Cerebus last year.  I guess I am the only Sim fan in town!

$5 Trades: And now the meat of the money I spend (well, in addition to the Green Lantern bookends I picked up for Adama), the $5 trade paperbacks.  First up, I got Watchmen, which I actually have read before.  Once.  But I did dig it, so I figure it's good to have it on the bookshelf. Up next is The Dark Knight Returns, which as I mentioned earlier in the week, is going on my To Read pile, so I can read another one of those 80s stories which I have never read.  Finally, I picked up Avengers: Operation Galactic Storm v.1-2!  These were a swanky find considering their list price, and the fact that I think I only have the Iron Man issues of this story, which I have heard very good things about over the years.  

Like I said, a good haul.  DKR is coming with me on my business trip, and the oversized comics might as well.  I always enjoy the Borderlands Sale, but lately I have more fun just hanging out with my pals and watching MST3K and Alligator on DVD.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What Looks Good?

Well, being as this is Wednesday and all, I was going to make a post about which comics looked good to me this week.  Standard comic book blogging stuff, right?  Well, that was the plan anyway.

The plan was then derailed because after looking over the Previews shipping list for this week, there are no comics I which I am buying!  I can't remember the last time this happened to me.  Usually there's at least one which sneaks in there, but it's a shutout this time out.

This does have a certain benefit, however.  I can use this time to tell all of you nice folks that I am not sure what kind of schedule I will be keeping for the next few weeks.  I am heading up to beautiful West Grenwich, Rhode Island for business, which is one of the many places one never thinks they will visit until they end up working here.  (You can also put Springfield, MO, Rockland, MD, and Bay City, TX on that list.)  I am supposedly getting a laptop some time today for the trip, and I should have internet access at the hotel.  So it may turn out that I can actually be more frequent with my posting.  Of course, it may not work out.  So it's sort of up in the air right now.

I have listened to some of the comments here regarding The Dark Knight Returns.  In a stoke of good luck, I found it this past weekend at the Borderlands Big Annual Sale (report forthcoming... as soon as I remember to bring my comics punchlist and notepad... grr...) for $5!  So I will be checking that one off of my "To Read" list shortly.  Do you folks want me to handle that like I did Crisis, and give you a blow by blow of my opinions while reading?  Let me know.

Also, I have threatened to do it and I may still do the same thing for... Contest of Champions!  (I need to find a copy of Secret Wars to keep this trend going.)

In any event I want to try to get more regular content... hrrm.  I want to get content on here more regularly (much better!), even if it is only a few days a week, and not just the same easy posts all the time.  Since the Crisis series I have tried to make even the easy and newsy posts a little more meaty and more worthwhile reading.  So hopefully you folks have appreciated my efforts.  

Uh, so what looks good to YOU?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What Looks Good?

It's Wednesday once again, as it always seems to be in the middle of the week, which means its time for more 4 Color Goodness in the form of comics!

Hawk and Dove #6 -- I have to read #5 first, but this issue holds a special interest for me because this issue is written by Rob Liefeld -- meaning that it will serve as the first of three "try outs" of a sort for me to read his writing style before he takes over on The Savage Hawkman.  I said I was going to give him a fair shake and that starts here and runs through the end of this title two issues down the road.

Men Of War #6 -- Another DC title kicking the bucket shortly, this one has been a pleasure to read but I can't say I am surprised to see it not be super successful.  For one thing, I think it would have been better off had it been just a straight War title; the story in issues #3 and #4 was excellent, but the mix of military and sci-fi seemed to put people off.  Of course these are the same people who "didn't get" the SEAL backup in the first three issues, so who knows?

OMAC #6 -- The third of three DC titles I am buying this week which is ending at issue #8, this one will be probably the most missed just because it is the most fun book I read every month.  I read #5 last night and it was one of the best "two characters brawl for the length of the issue" comics I have read in a few years.  Hopefully DiDio and Giffen will at least bring the character of Kevin Kho to a satisfying conclusion (for now).

GI Joe: A Real American Hero #175 -- While the mainline Joe books get most of the attention online, this title is consistently one of the best reads I buy each month.  Hama can just plain write GI Joe, and he's doing month in and month out.  The last issue featured one of the best running armored battles I have seen in a long time, and the Blue Ninjas plot is really shaping up as well.

Charmed #18 -- The only comic I buy which my wife also reads, this is a good expansion and continuation of the TV show.  There was a great dig at the much maligned character of Billy and her sister (who's name I can't be bothered to look up) a few issues ago which betrays the target audience for this book -- which is fine with me as I have seen every episode of the show!

Futurama Comics #59 -- I finally sat down and watched "Season 5" (I thought the 4 movies were "Season 5?") of Futurama a few weeks back, and it's like the show never went away.  Of course, part of that is this series right here, which really delivers the goods for a Futurama fan like me.  

So, what looks good to YOU?

DC Announces 'Before Watchmen' Series

From Newsarama, we have the official announcement of DC's upcoming Before Watchmen event, with 7 prequels to the seminal superhero epic.  The titles are:

Rorschach (4 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: Lee Bermejo
Minutemen (6 issues) – Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
Comedian (6 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: J.G. Jones
Dr. Manhattan (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artist: Adam Hughes
Nite Owl (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artists: Andy and Joe Kubert
Ozymandias (6 issues) – Writer: Len Wein. Artist: Jae Lee
Silk Spectre (4 issues) – Writer: Darwyn Cooke. Artist: Amanda Conner

For reference, I have only read Watchmen once, and that was in 2009 (yes, it was before the movie came out!).  So while I enjoyed the story I do not have the history with it that some of you may have.

First off, I have to say that if DC is going to do any more Watchmen material, going the route of a prequel is probably the smartest decision you could make while still using the known Watchmen characters.  A sequel offers too many options of where you can go, and, frankly, considering the ending of Watchmen itself, it would be difficult to craft some sort of coherent storyline in that sort of setting.  with a prequel, you are in the same "box" which George Lucas was in with the Prequel Trilogy; you have to wind up at the Start/Finish line (so to speak).  Whether this allows the creators enough leeway to tell compelling stories or not, I don't know.  We'll have to wait and see the final products to be able to judge that.  

As for said products, they're a wide assortment to my eye.  Azzarello seems like a good match for Rorschach, and pairing him with his Joker GN collaborator Lee Bermejo is a sound play.  Azz should handle the grit and violence quite well.  Similarly, he is a good draw for The Comedian.  I can see JG Jones bringing the same sort of pulp feel to that title as he did to DC's Doc Savage.  I think that works.

Amanda Conner is a strange choice to my mind ONLY because of how visually different her stuff is that Dave Gibbons; that having been said, I can't wait to see what her take on Silk Spectre looks like.  Not sure about Darwyn Cooke handling the writing chores on that one, though.  Not who I would have thought DC would have pegged.

On the other hand, Cooke on Minutemen has me intrigued.  I'm imagining that thematically and visually this will be very close to New Frontier, as, I am sure, DC wants me and my fellow fanboys to imagine.  There could be some real meat to that series.

The most compelling of all of these is the Len Wein/Jae Lee team on Ozymandias.  I found Ozy to be the most compelling of these characters when I read the series just from his duplicitous nature and supreme self-confidence.  Wein still has the chops to write in today's market and I am eager to see his take on such a flawed character.  And putting Jae Lee on art is a choice which has me anticipating seeing preview pages.  Lee's work is so stylized and unique, so I definitely want to see how that translates to Ozy.  (Had you told me that Lee was working on one of these series but not told me which one, my guess would have been Rorschach -- the almost graffiti like style in his work would be a good fit for him.)

The two books by JMS don't hold much interest for me, unfortunately.  Nite Owl drawn by the Kuberts should look pretty amazing -- I'm envisioning Nite Owl truly as a Batman allegory -- but Adam Hughes on Dr. Manhattan is less clear.  I have never seen him do much work on the male form -- much less the nude blue male form -- so I don't know what to expect.  JMS is hit or miss with me, so I am hesitant no matter who the artist.

In any event I think it is pretty clear that DC is putting a lot of effort and talent behind these series and wants them to be a big hit.  One of the most inane (comic book related) conspiracy theories I had read was that DC wanted to make more Watchmen material and have it be poor to somehow "get back" at Alan Moore.  Don't ask because I haven't figured it out myself.

So, what are YOUR thoughts on Before Watchmen?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What Looks Good?

Time keeps marching on, and with it, comics keep on getting released, like clockwork.  Amazing to me that my kids are not going to know what "clockwork" means.

Creepy Comics #7 -- I really like this book, but it comes out so irregularly that I routinely forget about it.  Still, can't be black and white horror comics!

Aquaman #5 -- With the Trench defeated (for now), it's time for Johns and Reis to show us what they have in mind for Aquaman and Mera next.  Reading this series reminds me of the "old days" (*cough*) of reading JSA in trade or Johns' Flash monthly when I was college.

Blackhawks #5 -- Unfortunately, this book has been cancelled as of issue #8, but I for one liked the idea of building a new Blackhawks team.  Hopefully they will find somewhere else to appear in the New 52 DCU.

The Flash #5 -- One thing I have come to count on with the New 52 is that this book is going to look amazing every month.  I am also enjoying the story, with Barry trying to "think fast" rather than just "run fast," and the strange new baddie Mob Rule.

The Savage Hawkman #5 -- Changes are coming for this book, but for now I am very much looking forward to the next story arc, involving "everyone's favorite" Hawkfoe, the Gentleman Ghost, and a legion of the undead.  (I put that in quotes because while I like the Ghost, he's not my favorite Hawkfoe.  That honor goes to Shadow-Thief!)

Archie #629 -- You wanted the best!  You got the best!  This inane crossover has been a lot of fun so far, with KISS showing up in Riverdale to battle a crew of unusual monsters, including a Valley girl mummy and a very... emotional vampire hunk.

Robocop: Road Trip #2 -- Dynamite's Robocop series sort of ended on a weird note, so I am glad to see them at least finishing the story up.  I'm a sucker for Robocop, and the Dynamite series was a worthwhile read, so I am excited to get ahold of this one as well.

So, what looks good to YOU?