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Archive for July, 2008

NECA hit it out of the park recently with the release of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures inspired by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s original turtle designs, as featured in the B&W Independent comics. Besides just looking dang cool, there’s a raw energy explosive to the early turtle design and I jumped at the chance to own the fully-articulated 4-piece set. Simply put, they’re awesome, so how great is it to find out that NECA is extending the series by giving us the original Shredder, April O’Neil, and Foot Clan in detailed sculpts as well!

The figures were displayed last week at the San Diego Comic-Con and I wanted to post a sampling of them here given how impressive they are (yea, pardon the gushing praise). To the best of my knowledge the figures aren’t available for pre-order just yet but should be released this Fall so keep an eye out.

Images courtesy of The 5th Turtle and Steve Murphy:

TMNT Shredder_Neca 1smTMNT_April f1TMNT FS2TMNT FS1

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There was a lot of news coming out of the San Diego Comic-Con, but of great interest to me was a bit of news that Newsarama reported only today, which is that Gold Key characters Magnus, Robot Fighter & Solar: Man of the Atom will be returning to the four-color page in all new adventures! According to Dark Horse President Mike Richardson:

We’ve been republishing collections of the Gold Key Magnus and Solar, Man of the Atom, books for a reason,” he said, backstage in the Dark Horse booth at the San Diego Comic Con. “When those are done, we’ll be coming out with new adventures.

To tell you the truth, I’m glad that Dark Horse has obtained the license for new adventures. I’ve long enjoyed their approach to comics and classic characters and despite my fondness for Valiant and the direction that it took the characters there for awhile, I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do. It’s the classic Magnus, Robot Fighter reprints by Russ Manning that first caught my eye years ago, and it was that version that has captured my imagination over the years (though I certainly enjoyed Shooter’s Magnus) so I’m hoping that Dark Horse can tap into that same sense of wonder and adventure of the original stories and create something new and compelling from there. As far as Solar is concerned, Valiant did a fantastic job with the character and that version will remain a favorite, but here again I’m excited about the prospect of seeing what DH can do based on the original Gold Key character, assumming they’re going that route. We have no real particulars here so there’s an awful lot that can help or hamper my enthusiasm between now and then but today…fantastic news on both fronts!

Now if only we could clone Steve Rude so he could illustrate both Magnus and Nexus!

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Well, it’s official.

Outside of a small handful of creator-owned, independent, titles that I simply want to support from month to month as best I can to best enjoy and help promote their work (including Madman Atomic Comics, Usagi Yojimbo, Nexus and a couple of others) I’ve officially gone the ‘way of the trade’ for the foreseeable future where Marvel, DC, and other Independents are concerned. I had talked about doing so for months, and have slowly been weaning myself off of the monthly books as story-lines ended as a way of doing so. The advantages simply outweigh the disadvantages for me at this point, and I thought I’d discuss those briefly below:

Time: I’m busier than I’ve been in years and I’m finding it harder and harder to keep up with what’s going on in individual books from month to month. These 12-part stories are often good, but broken down over the course of the year even the best stuff can lose steam. Likewise, the wait between issues isn’t the exciting prospect that it used to be (with some exceptions) and I find myself having to catch myself up far too often as I crack the pages of the newest issue. “Now, where are we again?.” The TPB collection will help in that I can devote a good hour or two to reading an entire storyline, or at least a huge chunk at a time, and I think I much prefer that option as things are now.

Money: These things are getting dang expensive. And while I know that’s not news to most of you, I often wonder just how many of us actually add up the cost-to-product ratio from time to time? The stands are literally chock full of 32-page books with $3.99 price tags and 23-pages of story and these days (with very few exceptions) that just doesn’t fly with me. Checking this month’s previews and solicitations there are literally TPB collections that I can buy for nearly half the cover price, thanks to local discounts, which is significantly down from an already discounted price when compared to the individual issues. This move will potentially save me loads of money where the hobby is concerned.

Format: I love the floppy, I’ve got a closet full of them, and I’m very proud of my collection but at this age I have to say that more and more I prefer the collected format. It offers durable covers, often features greater production values, includes extras more often than not, and simply displays that much better in a much more convenient, accessible, way. I’ve had a lot of fun re-arranging my bookshelves to feature the best stuff and it’s constantly changing.

Interest: Don’t get me wrong, I’m having some of the best experiences reading comics than I’ve ever had, and I’ve had my head in the funny-books for over 20 years – so that’s saying something – but Marvel and DC have dropped the ball so far and so often in the past 5+ years that I’m out there on the outskirts, only collecting a few titles at most from either company at any given time these days, and for the most part I’m just not as involved in the “big picture” as I used to be. Certainly there are still “event storylines” that excite me, but those are usually the more natural ones that are born from books that I’m already enjoying, like the recent Sinestro War, or that address something I’ve been clamoring for for years, such as the return of Earth-2 or Barry Allen as the Flash! The big picture can change with time, and I’m hoping that it does (for the better) where both companies are concerned, but for now I’m happy with the handful of books I’m enjoying and I look forward to sitting down with a hefty collection and having the time to immerse myself in these worlds.

Now, I will still buy some individual issues, so as to try out new stuff, etc. but I think this is going to be very beneficial to me, in a number of ways, so for the foreseeable future I’m going to give this the good ‘ol college try!

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Ha, I love the cover (and as good as it is in color, it’s even better in B&W)!

Anyhow, just wanted to remind you good folks that Usagi Yojimbo #113 shipped last week, so if you haven’t picked up your copy, or are just looking to see what so many of us are always going on about, be sure to check it out. “Snitch” appears to be something of a stand-alone story, so no doubt a new reader can jump in an enjoy the adventure right off the bat. Though I have to wonder if ‘the mysterious stranger’ shows up in this issue at all, what with his foreshadowing last issue and the upcoming story in UY #114?

I haven’t had the chance to run by the shop to pick up my order yet this week, so I haven’t been able to sit back and read this one yet, but expect a review of the issue in the days to come.

Here’s Dark Horse’s solicitation for“UY #113:

The rabbit ronin Usagi and his bounty-hunting friend Gen pursue a dangerous criminal only to find themselves at odds with their sometimes-ally Stray Dog!

After missing out on the reward for the rogue swordswoman Inazuma, Gen coerces the reluctant Usagi to join him in pursuit of another outlaw. Little do they know that Stray Dog is after the same bounty and determined to get it. One person knows where the outlaw is, and he’s willing to tell, but for a price! Aware he has landed himself in a profitable situation, this scheming individual plays Gen and Stray Dog off each other–leaving Usagi caught in the middle!

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Later this year, Gemstone plans to release a new entry in the Walt Disney Treasures collection entitled Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Death Valley! by Floyd Gottfredson.

As reported by The Scoop:

Like all comics publishers, Gemstone’s Walt Disney unit works months in advance of press date. That means that as the summer sun beats down, we’re actually working on fall and winter books, including our annual DVD trade paperback tie-in, Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Death Valley!

Though not fully set in stone as yet, this 168-page graphic novel is presently slated to celebrate the Main Mouse’s 80th anniversary with two feature length adventures, both of them long demanded by readers.

In the 1930s groundbreaking “Mickey Mouse in Death Valley,” by Walt Disney, Floyd Gottfredson, and Win Smith, a desert treasure trek turns grim when crooked lawyer Sylvester Shyster forces Mickey to become a vigilante. Then in the 1960s, new-to-North America “Chirikawa Necklace,” by Romano Scarpa, captures the hunt for priceless jewelry which ensnares Mickey, Pegleg Pete…and snarky gun moll Trudy Van Tubb!

“Death Valley” is particularly renowned as the first work of beloved “Mouse Man” Floyd Gottfredson, the most famous Mickey comics creator of all time. Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Death Valley will be the story’s first reprint since 1978 and the first ever to feature the story’s original English dialogue. The 1978 reprint reproduced the strips at a very small size, enlarged the text to keep it readable, and condensed it extensively in the process. Gottfredson aficionados have been looking forward to a more complete reprint ever since then!

Gemstone is still in the early stages of the restoration process, but the rare 1930 story is slowly coming together, mastered from a number of sources including Disney studio photostats, French proofs recovered from a Paris cellar, and tabs provided by the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art. We’ll update you further as publication gets closer.

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“Lightning Strikes Twice!”

I’ve been on vacation this week and I had planned to take a quick breather from the net, and a few other things, to recharge my batteries for a few days — but I had some free time tonight and thought I’d see what, if anything, had been announced in the four-color world…

…and, wow, talk about an announcement!

At the San-Diego Comic-Con it was officially revealed that the Flash, a.k.a. Barry Allen, has returned to the DCU — and that he’s here to stay! Further, it was announced that he’ll be the central focus of a mini-series by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver in early 2009 that will delve into the return and what it means for Barry, Wally, and this cornerstrone of the DC universe. From Newsarama:

I think this book is going to have a new tone from any Flash book that’s been done before. Simply because it’s about Barry, and we haven’t seen Barry for over 20 years…I think the whole idea is going to shift…What we want to try to do is take everything we’ve done with The Flash: Iron Heights and Green Lantern: Rebirth and Sinestro Corps and present a new look at The Flash, super-speed and superheroes that move fast, and what that means, while also exploring Barry Allen as a character…Barry’s outlook and everything are different — as a character, he’s different because of his intrinsic values and what he believes in and how he approaches crime and how he approaches criminals and how he approaches the guilty and the not guilty. There are very specific details to his character and personality that we’ll be exploring on a completely new level. The other cool thing is that he has been gone for so long. ‘Cause he’s never met Tim Drake, and he’s never seen these other things. There’s so much that has happened in the DCU that he hasn’t seen. To me, Barry Allen led the way in the Silver Age. But now that he’s been gone, bringing him into the Flash Universe is going to make everything very different from anything we’ve seen in a Flash comic for a very, very long time.

When Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver brought us Green Lantern: Rebirth, and the return of Hal Jordan, I was beside myself not only for the fact that Hal would be back, redeemed, but also because I would have the opportunity to read the adventures of an old friend once more. There was so much potential there for Hal and the Green Lantern concept and dang if Johns & Co. haven’t knocked it out of the park over the last several years! With that success in mind, I believe there’s that much more potential for Barry, Wally, Jay and the rest of the Flash cast and I can’t tell you how happy I am that these two are stepping up to bat again (bringing their legions of fans) and that when the dust settles, a childhood hero, and one of my all-time favorites will be back in action again! This is easily the best news I have heard out of DC in well over 10 years.

Can lightning strike twice? Well, if anyone should know, it’s Barry and I”ve no doubt that this is going to be one heck of a run!

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I just wrapped up my Top-Ten favorite Marvel Heroes list and for anyone just tuning in, here’s a quick recap of the outcome:

10. Black Bolt (& Medussa)
9. The Thing
8. Invisible Woman
7. Nova
6. Nightcrawler
5. Hawkeye
4. Daredevil
3. Silver Surfer
2. Spider-Man
1. Captain America

But as anyone who has attempted to make a Top-Ten knows, there are literally dozens upon dozens of other characters that you have to hold back as you whittle it down to so few, so while I’m on vacation this week, here are a number of “Honorable Mentions,” or other favorites of mine that juuuust missed the list. Call it a Top-20 if you will and truth be told, I could probably make it a Top-50 if I really wanted to…

20. Beta-Ray-Bill
19. Hulk
18. Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers)
17. Rachel Summers
16. Spider-Woman
15. Iron Man
14. Nick Fury
13. Thor
12. Captain Britain (& Meggan)
11. Bucky Barnes (currently Captain America)

It’ll definitely be interesting to see if, or how, things continue to change in the years to come. Thanks again for chiming in, and by all means, feel free to comment on your own favorites. See you folks again shortly.

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