Tag Archives: Comics

Comics Hunter

Introduction (My Brief History in Comics)

Over the weekend, I realized that I never edited nor posted the comics themed podcast that Chris and I recorded a couple of weeks ago. The realization came as my computer was out of commission during our scheduled recording time for the main title podcast. It works out for this week. I can just release it this week and we can record for next week. The only issue is that I did both of my “state of” articles last week. I might be able to do them monthly, but it will more likely be every other month. I certainly wouldn’t do them weekly. As a result, I had to come up with two different comic themed articles for this week to stay current with the podcast.

I’m not sure, other than the articles last week, if I’ve mentioned Chris and my newly discovered love of comic books. Mine is more newly discovered than his as he generally has a smaller reading list than me and thus doesn’t have to spend as much. I did find a cheaper way to read the comics digitally, but I found myself missing the hunt, so to speak. I’m a collector at heart, so it just didn’t feel right not having those issues.

To set the scene for new readers, I have been collecting comic books since I was in high school. I’ve been collecting Magic the Gathering cards for almost as long. Sounds impressive, no? Imagine all of the profits from those books and cards that I sold. I should be retired on some tropical island surrounded by beautiful people and sipping on a never ending line of drinks with umbrellas in them, right?

Alas the closest I have come is I drank way too many free mai tais on a sunset cruise during our honeymoon in Hawai’i.

Granite State Comics Fest (April 22, 2018)

Why am I not? The short version of the story is that I haven’t been collecting comic books the whole time. I do take breaks every now and then, one time for almost a decade. Another tiny problem is that I threw away all of my comics from when I was a teenager. My wife (then my fiancee) and I moved a bunch before we found our house. During one of those moves, I decided I didn’t want to move the comics anymore. If I had anything worth anything it was either poached by a dumpster diver or recycled into printer paper.

During this most recent break, Chris has been in constant contact. He’s told me about all of the cool stuff in DC’s Metal event. He’s tried to convince me, more than once, that Midtown’s discount is worth it. As a quick aside, he finally got me on board with that one. I’m quite stubborn sometimes, but eventually make the right choice.  I wasn’t ever completely out this time.

The true turning point came during our visit to the Granite State Comic Fest. Both he and I went to the larger convention several years ago. I saw that they were doing a smaller show and suggested that we go. He agreed and both Liam and Aiden expressed interest in joining us. It is one of the most fun days I’ve had in the last few months. More than that, it gave me additional reasons to want to collect comics books.

What’s Next? (Comics on my List)

Our trip to the comic fest and a costly trip to a local store inspired to update my inventory.  I’m a bit jealous of the set up that Chris has for comics now and I want one, too. With renewed purpose and focus, I can do that.

My first idea was to fill out my Spawn run as much as I could. That’s not entirely true. I said to Chris, “I want a full run of Spawn. Shouldn’t be too hard.” Spawn is the first comic not named Spider-Man that made a strong connection. Unfortunately, it has been much harder than I anticipated to pick up the missing books. I guess I still have a 1990s over production mindset and one of the times that I took off collecting must have been lean for Spawn. As Chris tells me, we’ll find them eventually.

After I fill in all of my interested titles from the Rebirth relaunch, I want to start working backwards to the “Final Crisis”. I have some New 52 titles and I have most of the Countdown books. Filling in the New 52 will be an impressive accomplishment. Chris told me this one might be difficult, too. I can fill in with trades. Not as interesting, collector wise, but I’m not going to be an issue snob in the face of overwhelming prices.

I have a few ideas for my Marvel collection. I’m only a couple of issues short of completing Totally Awesome Hulk. I also have most of the (She-)Hulk series that was just cancelled. Other than that, I went crazy on eBay and bought a whole bunch of Marvel Team Up issues and am going to work on finishing that whole run as I’m less than a dozen missing.

Conclusion

I enjoy reading comics. Especially now, the stories and art are great in almost every book that you get. I should know, I had a 50 dollar a week habit for a while. Like Magic the Gathering, which I enjoy playing, I am more of a collector. I love opening packs and seeing what cards I have and need to finish a set. With comics, I enjoy the books. There’s also something to be said for scratching that itch that you get when you realize there’s a book missing from your collection. I’ve been scratching that itch quite a bit recently. Stay tuned to see if I can keep the momentum.

State of DC Comics

As mentioned in my previous article on the state of Marvel comics, Chris and I have recorded a pilot for a new podcast. I am close to finishing the edit on that, so it should be available soon. I had hoped to take the occasion of the new show and my new interest in comics to write down a few words about the state of the two larger comics publishers. If you’ve read that article already, you know the deal. If not, here’s the short, short version. This isn’t an in depth analysis of the financial and social impact of DC Comics. It is simply the thoughts of one fan and the likelihood of that fan remaining for the foreseeable future. If that sounds like something you’d like to read, let’s get started!

The State of DC Comics (as I see it)

First, a little history. This is partly inspired by comments made in my Marvel comics article. It is also a result of my attempts to organize my comics. During those efforts, I ran across my issues of the 52 and Countdown weekly series. That led to a Google search for DC “continuity” surrounding those series and, more importantly, the series following. Apparently I stopped collecting comics after Week 41 of the Countdown series. In a conversation with Chris, I think that is because the local comic book store in town closed.

I was for years under the impression that these guys were just falling. Maybe their impact is what caused the final crisis and New 52? I may never know.

Chris got back into Batman during New 52. He also enjoyed Swamp Thing. I knew nothing about the actual plots of any of the books during this time. In the Marvel article, I touched on New 52 and Rebirth because Marvel seems to be in the same rudderless ship that DC was back then. I ignorantly made the assumption that DC used New 52 as a way to clean up their timeline and further ignorantly assumed that maybe Marvel was doing the same by rebooting so soon after their Legacy announcement.

In my searches, I found that New 52 was actually, other than maybe a few issues, an absolutely disaster. I don’t know if any of this is true, but I learned that Batman was actually his dad because it was Bruce who was killed and Wonder Woman declared war on Aquaman (maybe?) that destroyed all of Western Europe. It all reached a head when (as it often does when DC wants to reset continuity), Flash royally screwed up the timeline by going back in time to save his mother.

Seriously, there are a few things we can rely on in comics. Flash will mess up the timeline and any time Marvel wants to be taken seriously, they “end” the Fantastic Four.

That has led to Rebirth, which almost everyone agrees is the most successful relaunch of a comics line, maybe ever. It has been successful in one way that is personal to me. It’s kept me collecting comics. I might have gotten back into comics because of Secret Empire, but DC is the reason I’m still here. I’m enjoying nearly every story that I read from them. They have some of my favorite writers and artist working for them. Things right now are just really good.

My Future with DC Comics

I think I’ve made the point that I think that Rebirth has be overwhelmingly successful. It’s given me reason to keep buying comics and unlike previous times that I’ve gotten back into collecting, I have reasons to stay. First, DC Comics are really good right now. Secondly, the Rebirth reboot has given me a focus to the collecting. I might never be able to collect all 1000 Action comics, but there’s nothing preventing me from collecting the ones from the start of Rebirth. Finally, my kids are showing an interest in comics. Similar to my other hobbies, they are much more enjoyable when I can share with them.

In case you haven’t read my previous article, I’m much more optimistic about the future of DC Comics than Marvel right now. Chris and I have talked and I realize that the market is cyclical. Any time you have competitors, they generally take turns at the top. Right now is DC’s turn to be at the top. Thing is, I don’t see Marvel making the moves necessary to even compete, let alone make a run for that number 1 spot.

Speaking of #1, I just realized that they’re killing the Incredible Hulk line to make room for this one. Hulk has been so mistreated recently.

The one thing that worries me is that DC has given into market pressure and they’re raising some cover prices. While that might have been inevitable and that’s just what they believe the market can bear, it’s not an encouraging sign. I know I’m an old man who refuses to come into the present when it comes to game and book prices, but this is one thing that I truly can’t understand. Maybe I’m looking at it the wrong way. In addition to just getting with the times, I need to realize that this isn’t just a “32 page” book as I’ve said in the past. This is, often, a great story with accompanying art that should be appreciated. Besides, thanks to Chris, I now realize that only chumps pay full cover price.

State of Marvel Comics

Chris and I recorded a pilot for a new show this weekend about comics. In the episode, we mostly talked about our history with comics. For future episodes, we hope to discuss titles, possibly eras of comics (we both stubbornly still like the 1990s in spite of all the flaws), and of course the big two, DC and Marvel. I hope to take the lead in that last topic this week by writing a couple of article about the states, as I understand them,  of our favorite (or maybe just favorite to hate since this is is the age of internet trolling) comic book companies.

As a consequence of that parenthetical, I will lay some ground rules. Do arguments about politics in comic books excite you? You’ve come to the wrong place. If you want analysis of current trends and what they might mean for future decisions, look elsewhere. What about deep financial insight into the industry? I can’t provide that. What I can do is give you one fan’s opinion of Marvel Comics and how likely it is that I’ll continue to collect them beyond the ones that I consider necessary. For those keeping score, that’s Spider-Man and Hulk.

And, if Marvel ever wants to take all of my money, Spider-Hulk!

The State of Marvel Comics (as I see it)

Chris and I touched on this a bit during the podcast episode, but we didn’t dig too deeply this time. I don’t want to step too much over that conversation here. However, I know that in text conversation, we’ve both discussed our concern about Marvel Comics and that one of the episodes of the comics podcast will revolve around our thoughts concerning the company. My main problem with comics generally, and Marvel comics specifically, is cover price. As that is something that I can’t do anything about and Marvel has repeatedly said they won’t do anything about, I will leave that point for the next section.

Another topic of conversation between Chris and I has been the “reboots”. I was on board with Secret Empire story line. In fact, it was that story that got me to start collecting again. I was even with the for their “Legacy” reboot. Heck, I though, it worked for DC Comics with “Rebirth”, so why not try it. I just saw earlier this year (and it is reflected by the books being posted on my pull list) that they have another reboot planned.

Again, this is not entirely without precedent. After their Infinite Crisis event, DC launched the New 52. I have no idea if this was the plan the entire time or not, but those titles only had 52 issues and then led right into Rebirth. Also, this article isn’t about DC. That article is coming either tomorrow or Friday.

New 52 also introduced me to the dream team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, so I’m willing to give it a pass.

Back to Marvel, the rebooting titles soon after a reboot has happened before. Furthermore, it has been successful. However, and this is what bothers me slightly about it, now that I think about it, the new 52 into Rebirth makes sense as a planned event. This move by Marvel feels more like the panicky decision of people who have run out of ideas.

My future with Marvel Comics

First, let’s address the topic of cover prices. I already said that nothing is most likely going to be done about it. So, why bring it up? Well, they are the main reason that I took my most recent break from comics. I was fully ready to just let them be a part of my past with maybe the occasional visit to a flea market, convention, or dollar bin. Then, Chris convinced me to try Midtown because they offer cheap cover prices. He then found out about DCBS and their prices are even lower. Cover prices shall no more be a gate beyond which I can’t pass.

Because, DC might be drawing some cool things, but this line is no longer one of them.

It’s still too early in the process for me to know if the rebooting a reboot will work out for Marvel as it seems to have for DC. I will say that I’m keeping an open mind about it. If, in fact, it is a plan to remove some of the messiness of recent story lines and streamline their line up, then I’ll happily eat my words. I did say to Chris a few weeks ago that I was combing through archives of the page and found an article bashing DC for what Marvel is doing right now, so things can definitely change. I will finish with this. For the first time ever, as one of the most unabashed Marvel zombies out there, I have more DC titles on my pull list than Marvel.

Welcome Back?

Introduction

A few days ago, as we tend to do every now and then, Chris and I were talking about comics. This is only newsworthy because I haven’t been reading them for the last 6 months or so. You may remember last year that I had a 50 dollar a week habit that I had to quit because it was becoming financially untenable. I tried to go the same route as Chris and order from Midtown Comics, but I have been trained by Amazon to not pay anything for shipping and they charge. I then tried an alternate way of getting and reading them, but I didn’t have a good way to do that.

As a result, I have been out of the loop for quite a while. It’s not that I don’t like comics. In fact, I had been enjoying comics more than I had in a long time and more than many other fans seemed to have been enjoying them, Chris included. Oh, he’s solidly in DC’s corner, but has nothing but contempt for Marvel right now. I actually enjoyed most of the books from both companies when I was reading.

I was even in their corner through Secret Empire and Legacy. I may be faltering with their latest reboot of their most recent reboot of their reimagining of their lineup.

While we were talking, he mentioned that the final issue of the Dark Nights Metal series was imminent. I went into the series 100% on board, enjoyed all of the one shot tie in issues, and gave it a chance. However, as you will hear either in the “bonus” section of the podcast, we both got a bit tired of the series and the fact that it seemed to be getting a little out of hand. It isn’t explicitly why I stopped reading, but I did stop reading comics in the middle of the series. Chris assures me that it has gotten better and that I should give it another shot. As a result, in my words to Chris, “I’m acknowledging the existence of comics again.”

Marvel

Being an unabashed Marvel zombie for life (and it appears afterlife), I first checked out a couple of Marvel books. I went with two comics that I had really been enjoying in my most recent comics life, Dr. Strange and Old Man Logan. I don’t remember any of the other titles, but I think that there might have been a Spider-Man title in there and perhaps The Avengers (which Chris says is good). I looked into The Avengers, because I remember it being good before when Mark Waid was writing it and he still is, so it’s probably still a good title.

These guys. Perhaps not so much…

Dr. Strange was, as I said to Chris, Dr. Strange. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad, either. It was what Dr. Strange is supposed to be, I guess, and perhaps speaks to the holding pattern that Marvel comics is, and has been, for a few years now. They have not been able to translate the success of their movies and some of their TV shows into their comics. They keep trying things, but nothing is working.

The reason for this is obvious and both Chris and I have said it several times. It’s easy to get people into the movie theater. Every geek who’s ever gotten a girlfriend and had kids is an automatic audience. I speak from experience. I have taken my girlfriend, now my wife, to many Marvel movies. Now that my kids are getting older, I generally spare her and take them. She wants nothing to do with comic books other than for a while, she was reading Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Now, she just rewatches the shows with the kids.

All three kids did show an interest in the comics and they would read them after I was finished with them. Though, to be honest, Liam was only reading Secret Empire because he overheard me flippantly saying that Captain America is a Nazi and he’s at the age when he starts to learn about that part of history and was intrigued. Aiden only read Flash comics and much of what I got was too far above Quinn with the violence. But, and this is important, I only ever bought one copy of the books and rarely went out of my way to buy other books that I didn’t want to read.

Are we really going to discuss cover price again? You betcha!

Because, the fact of the matter is that the rate at which I was spending money on comics was absurd. I could not continue to drop that much money every week and I was at a minimum of books that I actually wanted to read. Truth of the matter is that I could have spent twice as much with all of the good content out there. Again, Chris had the idea of Midtown, which I probably should, but I haven’t taken the plunge yet. So, I just stopped buying.

I’m not completely back into comics, but I have taken that first step, so to speak. I think that’s usually in the context of quitting an addiction, but this is one from which I won’t ever be completely free. The other book that I read was Old Man Logan. Chris recommended it through his friend’s words, so I checked it out. This one was better than Dr. Strange and more in line with what I remember from last year when I was reading it. I’m not sure where the story is going, but it has an interesting take on the nature of reality and if it is just planned with no true free will. It’s always a question that has interested me, so I’m willing to keep giving it a read.

DC/Independent

After talking to Chris, I found the archives of one of my now defunct web pages. One of the articles was an article that I could have copied, done a fine and replace of “DC” with “Marvel” and released it as new content. It was during the time of the New 52 content and DC seemed just as rudderless and without direction as Marvel does now. I made the joke that in 3 years, if comics are still around, maybe Marvel will be good again.

Chris contends, and sales figures back him up, that DC is far superior to Marvel right now. I won’t argue that point. I will simply state that as I ease back into comics, I have not read a single DC title over the past two weeks. That is neither an endorsement nor a indictment. It simply is and I want to be intellectually honest about that. I haven’t read any independent books, either, but I hadn’t read nearly as many of them as DC and Marvel before the break.

What Does it all Mean?

Who knows? I should, but I don’t. I don’t have the money for comics. I don’t have the time for comics. I really enjoy comics and want to read them, but when? And, who is paying? I thought I found a way to solve both of those problems, but so far, it hasn’t worked as planned. I guess stay tuned to see if more review are forthcoming.

That, folks, it what we call a teaser.

Comic Haul! #3

This haul from the middle of December strays from my usual ordering habits as I usually don’t order runs of one title. Last summer Shawn had mentioned that the Aquaman series was pretty entertaining. Being the comic nut that I am I made a mental note to give it a shot once my pull list thinned out a bit. Once Secret Empire ended, I had the room but then those godamn Marvel Lenticular covers came out and I was suckered. Needless to say Aquaman was an afterthought until a coworker mentioned how he really liked the series. About a month ago I finally ordered the first seven issues since they were all on sale.

Note: I’m slightly tweaking the way I’m writing these posts to include the official solicitation for each comic followed by my thoughts about it. The reason being that I’m self critical and don’t believe that my previous overviews of the plot were giving you guys enough information.

Aquaman vol.6 #1 (DC Comics, 1st printing, Rebirth)

THE DROWNING’ Chapter one Black Manta returns, and as Aquaman attempts to broker lasting peace between Atlantis and the surface world, his greatest foe engineers a plan to destroy everything and everyone the undersea hero loves.

I’ll admit that I wasn’t expecting too much to begin with as I’ve never been a big Aquaman fan, so my expectations were set low. Fortunately, this issue was fantastic. The Black Manta terrorism angle added a serious overtone to this otherwise fun issue. The art of Brad Walker really impressed me and the story was a solid start to the series. I’m hooked. Get it? Because it’s Aquaman…fish?..hooked? Eh, I’m not proud of that one either. 8/10

Aquaman vol.6 #2 (DC Comics, 1st printing)

THE DROWNING,’A�Chapter Two: In issue #2, unity between land and sea is Arthur Curry’s greatest dream. But Black Manta has a dream too: to destroy everything Aquaman stands for, starting with the sea king’s Atlantean embassy and everyone in it.

Again, another solid issue. The Drowning storyline is really good so far. *****SPOILER ALERT***** After the Black Mantis blows up the Atlantean Embassy (issue #1), Aquaman finds himself at odds with the United States military. 8/10

Aquaman vol.6 #3 (DC Comics, 1st printing)

THE DROWNING,’A�Chapter Three: In issue #3, Aquaman’s mission of peace is dealt a devastating blow when Atlantean terrorists attack the surface world in retribution for Black Manta’s deadly assault on their embassy.

****SPOILER ALERT**** The “twist” in this book was very predictable..clearly it wasn’t “Atlantean terrorists” that took out a navy ship. I mean, we just got through 2 issues where the Black Manta made it perfectly clear that he wanted to destroy Aquaman by any means necessary and we all know that he isn’t the only one who shares that sentiment. What better way to take Aquaman down? Frame the guy and let him get locked up or killed. 7/10

Aquaman vol.6 #4 (DC Comics, 1st printing)

The Drowning’A�part four. Aquaman is arrested for a war crime he didn’t commit: ordering an Atlantean terrorist attack on the surface, killing hundreds! The young king is willing to sit behind bars if it means peace between two worlds, but one ally is determined to break Aquaman out, no matter the cost: his girlfriend Mera!

I was really loving this Aquaman series until I hit this book. Pet peeve: switching artists in the middle of a storyline. The art fell flat in this issue, good thing the story is definitely pulling the weight. 7/10

Aquaman vol.6 #5 (DC Comics, 1st printing)

The Drowning’A�part five. Unjustly branded a murderer and a fugitive, Aquaman’s forced to defend himself against the might of America’s military. Meanwhile, Black Manta and the deadly underwater crime cabal known as N.E.M.O. advance their plan for revenge on Aquaman.

This one is basically one long action scene with Aquaman and Mera fighting the military to get back to the water. Also Black Mantis reminds us why he is not one you want to screw with after coming across fairly weak at the end of #2. No real surprises in the issue besides Black Mantis meeting the head of N.E.M.O. 7/10

Aquaman vol.6 #6 (DC Comics, 1st printing)

THE DROWNING’A�conclusion! As this first epic concludes, Aquaman and Mera are on the run for a crime they didn’t commit. They’ve fought through every kind of firepower the U.S. military has thrown. Now all that’s left between them and Atlantis is the Man of Steel.

This was a crazy issue! Who would win in a fight? Supes or Fishguy? It’s not as one-sided as you might think as Aquaman can hold his own. Right when he throws the first punch my jaw dropped and it stayed that way until the end. It didn’t feel like the usual superhero kind of fight though, more of a fight you would have with your brother in the backyard. It was really, really interesting to see how Aquaman views himself within the Justice League as his frustration bubbles to the surface (I swear I didn’t mean that pun). The ending was decent but didn’t feel like the true ending of the story, more of a direct bridge to the next arc. 9.5/10

Aquaman vol.6 #7 (DC Comics, 1st printing)

‘Who framed Aquaman?’A�The investigation into the Atlantean attack on American forces kicks off a mystery as the criminal collective N.E.M.O. unleashes a new and terrible weapon that threatens the existence of Atlantis itself.

This is the beginning of the next arc, where Mantis and N.E.M.O wake up a giant unstoppable creature to tear through Atlantis. Right when the creature wakes up it has a “Doomsday” feel to it as it smashes the Atlantean army flat. Entertaining issue and spoke to the B-monster movie guy in me. 8/10.

Ok, that’s it for the Aquaman portion of my order, I did grab a couple of other comics:

Hawkman Found#1 (DC Comics, 1st printing, Metal tie-in, foil cover)

One of DC’S greatest heroes is missing! No one has seen or heard from Carter Hall-a.k.a. Hawkman-in years. Reincarnated repeatedly since the dawn of humanity, Hawkman has spent his many lives uncovering history’s most fantastic mysteries, and now he has become one himself! Take a journey into the one of the darkest corners of the DC Universe as a mysterious man tries to piece together what happened to Hawkman, and how it all connects to the events of DARK NIGHTS: METAL!

I mentioned in one of my previous comic hauls that I felt “Metal” was kinda going off the rails and becoming convoluted. Thankfully, this book is more straightforward than the main Metal books. One of the main plot lines of Metal has been that Hawkman is incredibly important as he is the guardian of “The Forge” of the universe but he is awol. This one shot is focused on reintroducing Carter Hall as he fights to rediscover who he is in order to escape a psychic prison. It’s entertaining and worthwhile to check out but I didn’t feel like it added a ton to the overall story. It did make me think that there should be a Hawkman series though. 8/10

Avengers vol.6 #672 (Marvel Comics, Lenticular cover)

WORLDS COLLIDE Part 1A�
Following the events of GENERATIONS comes the long-promised clash between the Avengers and the Champions! The countdown has started as the High Evolutionary, a twisted scientist determined to create a better world at all costs, sets the Earth on a collision course with destruction! The Avengers and the Champions are ready to meet this threat – but will their first cataclysmic clash deter them from changing theA�world?

Wow! Just look at the synopsis! Looks entertaining doesn’t it? Yeah, I liked the cover. Haven’t read this one yet. N/A

That’s it for this haul, as always thanks for reading!

Comic Haul! #2

Comic Haul #2 (Midtown Comics -link to site below)

Hey gang! I’ve got another comic haul to share with you. As you know, I’m running behind on sharing my hauls so this one is from the beginning of December.

Batman Lost #1 (DC Comics, 1st printing, foil cover)

Gotta tell you, For the most part, I’m loving all of these Dark Nights Metal one shots. This one was really well done. It starts with an elderly Bruce Wayne reading a story from his past to his grand-daughter. The story she chooses is the first adventure he had as Batman. As he reads the story there are discrepancies from what he had originally wrote. I won’t give to much away but I’ll just say that it ties in nicely with the main Metal story. 9/10

Batman the Devastator #1 (DC Comics, 1st printing, foil cover)

Another Metal one-shot. This issue tells the origin story of the Batman-Doomsday hybrid baddie. Batoomsday? Doombat? Eh..you know who I’m talking about. Anyways..SPOILER ALERT……………………….On Earth 0, Batman is forced to infect himself with the Doomsday virus in order to put a beating down on Superman who has gone…batty. Heh. You see what I did there? I’m not proud of it. Pretty action-packed issue. 7/10

Batman the Merciless #1 (DC Comics, 1st printing, foil cover)

Metal one-shot. I’ll level with you, while this story was okay, it definitely wasn’t as good as the others. So what makes this one not as good as the others? Simply put, it’s wordy. Too wordy. Blocks of text friggin’ assault you on every page. Listen, I can understand that the writer has only one issue to fill in the backstory of the evil Batmen but this one felt too ambitious. Well if you’re curious…….SPOILER ALERT……………………………………..On Earth -11, Batman loses his woman, Wonder Woman to be exact. Ares kills her and Batman takes care of him..and then puts on his helmet, which he was warned not to do, and this turns him into The Merciless. Buy this issue if you’re trying to collect all of the one-shots, otherwise save yourself the money and be happy with my synopsis. 5/10

Mighty Thor vol. 2 #700 (Marvel Comics, 1st printing)

This issue starts the Death of the Mighty Thor storyline, which so far has been pretty good. Jane’s cancer is getting worse as a beast called Mangog shows up to unleash his final judgment on the gods of Asgard. War Thor, the blood thirsty badass that he is, decides that he can take it down and goes to fight it, leading to one of the biggest ass kickings I’ve seen in the pages of a comic book. I won’t tell you who is doing the kicking though. 8/10

Monsters Unleashed vol.2 #7 (Marvel Comics, Lenticular variant cover)

I..uh..I didn’t read it. I bought it for the lenticular cover that pays homage to Fantastic Four #1. Therefore I can’t give this a rating. N/ A

Spider-Gwen vol.2 #25 (Marvel Comics, Lenticular variant cover)

Ok, so this starts out with Spider-Gwen doing spidery stuff and..I…didn’t actually read the issue. I’m a mark for special covers!! Oh god, I grew up in the 90’s, I saw what all those prism, foil, and hologram covers did to the industry yet I cant stop myself! To be fair, this cover is the Lenticular version of one of my all time favorites, Amazing Spider-Man #316 so it was a no-brainer for me to pick it up. N/A

Batman White Knight #1 (DC Comics, 1st printing)

This is the first issue in a 7 part series. Batman, finally has enough of Joker and beats him half to death, the brutality of said beating is too much for Gotham City who now view Batman as a maniac and Joker, cured of insanity, as the hero. The Joker, now known as Jack, sets out to right his wrongs by trying to save the city from Batman. I really enjoyed this issue, it was a really fresh take on the Batman-Joker relationship and has become a must-read for me. 9/10

Batman White Knight #2 (DC Comics, 1st printing)

Issue 2 of 7. Jack (Joker) focuses on exposing corruption within the Gotham City PD, while he also forms an army of super villains. Meanwhile, public support is not on Batman’s side. This issue, while really good, didn’t quite have the pacing of #1, which made some parts feel slow. 8/10

Dark Nights Metal #3 (DC Comics, 1st printing, foil cover)

I’m going to catch a lot of flak for this but Dark Nights is getting confusing. I feel like there are too many side stories that Scott Snyder is trying to pull together into one cohesive story and it’s just not working. Listen, I loved the previous Batman series, even though it was very wordy (something I pointed out to Shawn a few times), but as Metal has progressed it feels like the overall story is suffocating in over-exposition. Is it awful? No, it’s still entertaining at times. To me, Capullo’s art is what is keeping me buying this series. It’s too bad that some of the art is getting covered up by huge text bubbles. 6/10

That’s it for this haul!

Midtown Comics:
www.midtowncomics.com

2 Generations Gaming 2017 in Review

Introduction

It’s the first day of 2018.A� This is the time every year that is traditionally set aside for reflection on the previous 365 (or 366) days.A� There are countdowns, marathons, and years in review.A� This article falls into the last category.A� While it has been difficult to maintain a consistent video or podcast schedule, I’ve done okay at updating the web page with at least one article a month.A� I’ve also kept busy with plenty of other geeky fun.A� Let’s reminisce on the best, the worst, and the ugliest.

The Good

APBA Baseball:A� I only recently rediscovered this game in one of my closets and I’m going to write an article this week about the couple of games I played last week.A� I know that others might prefer Strat-O-Matic or another simulator, but this is the only one I’ve played and it does what I want it to do.A� Overall, this has been a great addition to my gaming life again and I can’t wait to dive deeper into the baseball simulation greatness.

Mobile Gaming:A� Old school favorites like Candy Crush and Angry Birds.A� New favorites like Sim City Build It, Fallout Shelter, Magic the Gathering Puzzle Quest, and Pokemon Go.A� All of these games have been played with great regularity over the past year on my phone.A� In fact, most of my video game time has been spent on my phone.A� That’s saying something for a person who used to denigrate all mobile games as shovelware.

Eternal/Hearthstone:A� Yes, these are both games that could have technically been included in the mobile section.A� However, they’ve had more impact on me than the other games included in that list.A� I started playing Eternal during one of my rage quits from Hearthstone earlier in the year.A� I had seen Brian Kibler playing the game on stream and figured I’d give it a chance.A� I’m glad that I did.A� While I don’t play it as much as when I first started, it still has a place in my weekly rotation.A� I have had an up and down relationship with Hearthstone.A� However, as I said to Chris a couple of days ago, I seem to have found my comfort zone in the game.A� I have little to no interest in competitive play of any sort.A� I generally just log in every couple of days to do quests, earn gold, and every now and then win a pack that I won’t open.

Comics:A� 2017 was the year that saw me get back into comics.A� Marvel’s Secret Empire event led to a discovery of the well executed DC Rebirth titles.A� Following them for a few months led right into Metal and sticking with Secret Empire to the end let me experience the start of Legacy.A� Almost all of these events were well executed, but it wasn’t all good for comics this year.A� More on that later.

Magic the Gathering:A� You wouldn’t think that I’d rank this so highly in the good category.A� Given that Chris and I discussed a few times how little we had played the game this year.A� I wasn’t even watching streams.A� It just looked like the game had run its course for us.A� Then, a couple of things happened.A� Well, on my end, one major thing happened.A� During one of our summer trips, I played Magic with all three boys.A� First, we played a couple of two headed giant games with decks that I had built over the years.A� Then, I picked up the Nicol Bolas box set and finally the Explorers of Ixalan.A� We haven’t played the Explorers yet, but there is time.A� Any game that gets me closer to my kids is a great game.

The Best:A� I know that it came late in the year, but any time a Star Wars movie is released and it is half decent, that will be the best thing about my year.A� When it is one of the best of the franchise, it will be the best thing of the decade.A� When I get to experience it with my kids and father in law, it just might be one of the highlights of my life.A� I won’t say much more because I have an article planned to go into more detail, but I absolutely loved this movie and it was a perfect way to start my holiday break.

The Bad

No New Console:A� This is the first year in a few that we haven’t gotten a new console.A� I was going back and forth for a few weeks on whether or not to buy an XBox One Minecraft edition.A� I’ve had my eye on it for a while.A� Then, there seems to have been a mix up with my last December check and unless I sub in January, I won’t get paid at all, so economics won out.A� Liam did buy himself a Gamecube and we found the Dreamcast (but it needs to be repaired), so there are some “new” games being played right now, but no new hardware makes me feel a bit sad.A� We won’t be down for long, though.A� We are looking at a Switch and I’m almost positive that I’ll get an XBox in February.

The Worst:A� Only two for this one?A� Yep, and only two for the next one, too.A� By now, you should know my very positive outlook on things and this shouldn’t come as a surprise.A� Also, the fact that I just talked so much about how comics were a good thing this year might also make this choice for “the worst” seem weird at best and probably perplexing.A� But, I have a valid explanation.A� I loved the stories and art of the comics, but hated the cover prices.A� I was spending far too much money on them and I couldn’t justify doing so anymore.A� At least with games, I get massive replay value from them and they allow me to spend more time with my kids.A� Comics did neither of those.A� It was 3-7 dollars spent on 10-15 minutes of enjoyment.A� That’s just awful.

The Ugly

Our Podcast Lineup:A� I was just talking to a friend (and one of the first fans of the page) about the 2 Guys Gaming podcast.A� He said something about how he thought it was damn good and that it could have been something.A� Not one to take compliments very gracefully, I changed the subject quickly.A� However, the podcasts are fun for me to do and I really want to get back to doing them.A� There have been a few that I listen to that have taken long breaks and come back stronger.A� One, in particular, stopped and started a few times, but it is again one of my favorites.A� So, our planning is ugly, but hopefully by this time next year, it will be good.

Nerd on Nerd Violence:A� This is something that I’ve often spoken against.A� However, as nerd culture has become popular culture, the nerd on nerd violence has increased to an unacceptable level.A� It used to be that when you were picked on by somebody, you always had your nerd buddies to get your back.A� If there was an actual fight, you’d all get your butts kicked, but they were there to take your mind off of being the brunt of some sort of physical or psychological abuse.A� Now, some of the worst abuse of nerds is coming from other nerds.A� It isn’t just good-natured joke fights about whether Star Trek or Star Wars is better.A� It’s full on attacks of each other and the things we hold dear.A� I’m going to talk about this more in my Star Wars article and it might just be that all violence is increasing, but this makes me incredibly sad.

The Verdict

2017 wasn’t all fun and games.A� It wasn’t all poorly executed puns, either.A� It was a good bordering on great year that gives us an excellent foundation to make 2018 even better.A� Happy New Year, All!A� Make it the best one ever!

The State of Comics

Introduction

I guess you could say that I’m concerned about the future of comic books.A� Over the last few days, I’ve had two conversations with two different people (Chris and my cousin) about Marvel comics mostly.A� Neither conversation was completely out of context, but they were both initiated by me.A� I’m not usually one to fall into the trap of nostalgia, but there are a few things from my childhood that trigger it.A� As I have recently learned, comics are definitely in that category.

The Good

I mentioned that both conversations revolved around Marvel.A� I also wrote that I’m concerned about where comics are going.A� So, you can probably deduce that there might not be much in this section about Marvel.A� As you’re right, I will start there in an attempt to build some positive capital so that it doesn’t look like I’m piling on later.

First, other than the slightly (but understandable) disappointing ending, Secret Empire was a good story.A� Nick Spencer took what could have been a disaster and made it work.A� Then, while I didn’t like all of the titles that have come out of Legacy, I did like the idea of tying the past to the present and attempting to build a bridge to the future.

You can see from the cover that they had a slightly darker ending initially. However, apparently due to fan pressure, they succumbed to the obvious. More on that soon.

So, decent stories and characters, what’s the problem?A� Patience.A� I will get to the bad and ugly (in spite of my promise of possibly doing away with this format) in the net sections.A� For now, that is the good of Marvel.A� In contrast, DC not only has good stories (better than Marvel some would say), but their cover prices are so much less.A� I know that sounds odd when the difference is only one dollar, but a dollar per books adds up.A� At the standard prices of 2.99 v. 3.99, you get an extra DC book per $12 spent.A� If you were on a $50 a week habit like me, that’s four books a week.

As a result, even if the books are of equal quality, the DC books will have more value.A� That point, in fact, came up in my conversation with Chris.A� He said how he wasn’t buying Marvel anymore unless they were on clearance.A� He then went on to mention that he thought the DC books were of better quality.A� I initially agreed and probably still do.

However, the more that i thought about it, the more that I realized that might be a false narrative.A� At the least, it is an exaggeration.A� Sure, Batman is the best book currently and might be one of the best ever.A� Scott Snyder has blown it out of the stratosphere with Metal.A� After those and maybe Tom King’s other book, Mr. Miracle, there is a definite drop off in quality.A� I sense a turn for the negative here, so let’s trot out that by line.

The Bad

In contrast to the last section, I am going to start out with DC here to keep the thought going and then switch to Marvel, because as it stands, the only ugly is going to be Marvel, so that thread will continue from this section into that one.A� I’ve already said that most, if not all, of the DC books have good characters and stories.A� Their Rebirth has been a reboot that has worked on so many levels.A� However, it hasn’t all been completely positive.A� Other than the books mentioned in the last section, there isn’t much that is worth the cover price.A� Wonder Woman without Greg Rucka has been quite the drop off.A� No other book makes me want to shell out 2.99 for 32 pages worth of entertainment.

I get that creators need to do what they enjoy and I actually like Black Magick very much, but I selfishly want him back on WW.

Well, if there’s nothing in DC that I’m willing to pay 3 dollars for, then there’s certainly nothing that Marvel is putting out right now that I’d pay 4 dollars for.A� I liked Secret Empire and was willing to give Legacy a chance.A� I liked that, too, and especially liked that it wasn’t a reboot.A� However, all of this was secretly while hoping that they might come to their senses and drop their cover prices.A� They never did, so I’m officially out again from comic collecting.A� I just cannot justify the price for what I’m getting.

The Ugly

So, perhaps I’m part of the problem.A� The other major revelation came during the conversation with my cousin.A� It actually started while I was talking to Chris, but when combined with the subject matter of the conversation with my cousin, it crystallized into a more solid form.

My cousin and I were talking about the new Star Wars movie (impressions coming in a couple of days), and I said something about Star Wars fans being the worst, but Marvel comic fans giving them a run for their money.A� While talking to Chris, I made the point that comic fans have disproportionate power right now.A� Star Wars can tell each individual fan to go fly a kite because they’re still going to make a billion dollars on every movie.

The profit margin is so low for comics and the audience is so small that every fan they lose is a huge blow to the bottom line.A� I thought that Disney might allow the comics division to be a loss leader because the movies have proven to be a money printing machine.A� Perhaps that was true for a while, but there seems to be a turning tide and that they are putting pressure on the comic guys to deliver the goods.

This is how I imagine all the Broflakes who get mad about the changes to the Marvel universe.

The main driver for this train of thought is that they are killing the Guardians of the Galaxy (or that was the chatter a couple of weeks ago) book in January even though it is one of their better movies.A� Chris mentioned that Marvel just doesn’t have the talent that DC does and I reiterated my point that they could drop the price, try out some “new” talent, and take a chance.A� However, that doesn’t seem to be an option anymore and now they’re stuck with this mess of a situation and no good plan as how to proceed because their fans have dictated so much of their recent plans.

The Verdict

Things don’t look good for comics.A� Like I said to my cousin, because he’s not a comics fan, just a fan of the movies, “Who cares, right?”A� Well, I care.A� Comic books were an outlet for an awkward teenage me and they have been a steady force in my life ever since.A� Whenever things start to get a bit too chaotic in the real world, I can pull myself into the pretend world of Gotham or Wakanda and forget about it for an hour or so.A� Video games also became that for me, but it’s been harder and harder to sit down to play a video game now that I’m older.

I honestly like what comics are doing now.A� I don’t mind the new characters, enjoy most of the events that have happened in my time back in the books.A� What I don’t like is the cover price and it isn’t just because it’s prohibitive for me.A� I can find ways around that.A� It’s also prohibitive to new fans that they are courting with these new characters.A� Who is going to take a chance on something that is so obviously and grossly overpriced?A� I will be the first to admit that I don’t have answers, but I’m hoping that someone out there with the power to do something will figure it out.

Comics Round Up: World’s Finest

Introduction

At this point, I don’t think that I even have to mention that I’ve been back into comics since the Secret Empire event sucked me back in.A� However, even I am surprised that I’m still reading them now that the event is over.A� I didn’t last much past Civil War during my previous comics phase.A� We will obviously see if this current run continues, but I haven’t missed a week in nearly three months and getting a steady paycheck through December means that I probably won’t for the foreseeable future.

Justice League

The Good:A� I wasn’t terribly impressed with the first issue of this story arc.A� It wasn’t terrible.A� I just thought that they could do so much more with the premise.A� ranted, it was an introductory issue.A� I kept that in mind and I held out hope that it might get better.A� This is usually where I say, “I’m glad I did” or “I shouldn’t have bothered”.A� While I’m not sorry that I continued reading, I won’t quite say that I’m glad I did, either.A� Wow, what a weird good section, right?A� Don’t get me wrong.A� The story is decent.A� It’s just a bit too generic “coming back to the present to save the future” for me.

The Bad:A� Well, if that’s “the good”, then there must be plenty of bad.A� No, not necessarily.A� Overall, the story isn’t good more bad.A� It just sort of is.A� With both Marvel and DC playing with the idea of a multiverse, alternate history, and reinvention, this is one story that really didn’t need to be told right now.A� At least, it should have spent a little more time in development.

The Ugly:A� Loo, I get that I’m a frustrated writer.A� I also understand that critics are often failures in whatever they criticize.A� That is why I’m very careful and overly positive in my reviews.A� I’m not going to tear into this book.A� But, as you’ve seen, I haven’t been able to give it the full stamp of approval, either.A� For someone like me, that feels ugly and like it betrays my positive outlook on creative projects.

Justice League America

The Good:A� Similar title, similar heroes, vastly different results.A� This has been a much better book overall than the other Justice League title right now.A� That is in spite of not focusing too much on the main heroes.A� Maybe it is because they haven’t centered the story around them.A� I mean, the book has Lobo in it.A� The story revolves mainly around a character with size manipulation powers that travels to the “microverse” to find his mentor.A� It controls the narrative by itself and lets the JLA do theri things in the background.A� It plays much better than the Justice League title right now.

The Bad:A� This one, too, started off a bit slow.A� Like the other Justice League book, I almost didn’t give it more than one issue.A� Seeing as how this is a recurring theme, I suppose that I just have to realize that DC arcs–other than their big ones–use the first issue to set the stage.A� I will accept it, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

The Ugly:A� Speaking of Lobo, I’m glad that he has only a small supporting role.A� Similar to Deadpool, I can only tolerate Lobo in small doses.A� Anything more and the schtick just gets tired.A� Kudos to DC for recognizing my aversion to the character and writing specifically for me.A� Otherwise, it could have gotten ugly.

Wonder Woman/Conan

The Good:A� As far as I know, this is an original story, which is hard to find in a medium that has been around for 70? 80? years.A� Furthermore, it is an entertaining blending of the two mythologies.A� Of course, I’m not a comic book scholar, so this might have been done before.A� Alsok if I’m being honest, the story is simply an alternate telling of the Wonder Woman origin in the context of the Conan world.A� Still, the first issue was good.

The Bad:A� As I jus wrote, they may have done this crossover before.A� Now that I think about it, I’m sure they must have done this a least one other time during the “wild and crazy” 90s.A� I’m too lazy to Google right now.A� If so, then there’s no shock here.A� If not, or if there are new fans due to the movie, then the retelling of the Wonder Woman origin might turn some away.

The Ugly:A� Look, I know the rather sordid background of Wonder Woman.A� More specifically, a few months ago, I read an article about some of the stuff that her creator wrote into the book because of his “preferences”.A� The end of this book, while not fully embracing the roost of the character, came uncomfortable close to those dated and ugly themes.

Wonder Woman

The Good:A� While the stand alone title has not been as good as it was in the beginning when Greg Rucka was writing it, the lastest storyline has grown on me over the last few issues.A� As mentioned earlier, an all too familar refrain with DC arcs is that the first issue is very weak.A� Since that introduction, the story has improved enough to keep me buying a book that I thought might end up only being “I bought this for Greg Rucka.”

The Bad:A� I hate to harp on a point over and over, but DC really has to work on their intro issues for new stories.A� As a frustrated writer, I understand that stories have a certain structure; introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution.A� I also understand that ever since Brian Michael Bendis changed the format, comics are all about setting things up for the eventual trades.A� As a result, that first issues ends up being a throw away for the minor stories.

The Ugly;A� I guess that, ultimately, my quarrel is with the structure of comics in the current era.A� Since every story has to be a 5 or 6 story arc and there isn’t much room for the random one off issue.A� Although, I will say that Batman did a successful one of team up with Swamp Thing that I thought was going to span multiple issues.A� That’s how ingrained the thinking is.A� I just wish that there were more of those and less focus on dragging their feet to fill the issue quota.A� Oh well, something ugly that I’ll just have to live with for now.

Next:A� That’s all we have time for in this review.A� I’ll be back in a few days with my thoughts on how Aquaman is succeeding (or not) in taking back his throne, how Batman is dealing with a war between two of his worst enemies, and how another Batman is coming face to face with nightmares from other universes!

Fail Hydra

(Editors Note: A�We’ve reached the end of Secret Empire and, with it, comes my review of the overall event. A�I’ve already done at least 2 (maybe 3) reviews of the beginning and middle (so, I guess 2) and promised that when all was said and A�done, I’d be back for the big send off. A�Away we go…)

The Good: A�This was a good story. A�I remember when the event started that I wasn’t completely on board with the idea. A�It seemed to go against everything that the Captain America character has ever stood for. A�How are you going to make Captain America into a facist? A� I understand that comics maybe aren’t selling as well in the face of movies and television shows that provide the same entertainment value at a possibly reduced cost for the consumer. A�But, come on, there are some things that you just don’t do. A�Turning Captain America into Hydra is something that you just don’t do. A�There are numerous instances of him fighting facists. A�One of the most recognizable images in comic book history is Cap punching Hitler straight in the face. A�I’ve shared that very image on this page probably to prove a similar point.

And, if punching Nazis is wrong, I don’t ever want to be right. Give ’em hell, Cap.

I won’t say that I ever came to terms with Captain Hydra. A�However, this story did a decent to good job of explaining a situation that, for many (myself included), had no good explanation. A�Granted, they jumped through hoops and the suspension of disbelief was almost too much at times. A�Still, it got me back into reading and enjoying comics and that is the name of the game. A�Well played, Marvel. A�Well played.

Aside from all of that, the story was compelling. A�It followed a good, logical arc with plenty of all the good kinds of conflict that make me want to invest my time in the story. A�In fact, I became so invested in the story that I did what I told myself I wasn’t going to do and I bought all of the crossover issues for the event, too. A�The last time I fell for that trick was the first Civil War and some of those books just felt like filler. A�That wasn’t the case with this event. A�Every book, even the crossover books, told a piece of the story. A�When you put them all together, you get a well executed event.

The art, for the most part, was very good, too. A�In a previous review, I mentioned that one of the reasons I enjoyed Civil War was Steve McNiven’s art. A�He didn’t do all of the books, but there was only one or two that I didn’t care for the art because another one of my favorite artists, Leinil Yu filled in for a couple of issues.

The Bad: A�I already mentioned that there were a couple of issues that I didn’t like the art. A�Granted, in the issues that I didn’t care for the art, there was a reason to use that particular style. A�I understand that, but I just didn’t care for it. A�It took me out of the story and, for me, had the exact opposite of the intended effect.

By my understanding, the art is supposed to convey an otherworldly or dream feel. It does make sense as this is an alternate reality, so every once in a while, it was interesting to have the art break down into the gauzy and ephemeral which was a stark contrast to the hyperrealism of Steve McNiven. A�However, for me, it was a reminder that this was only temporary. A�Steve Rogers was not going to remain a Hydra agent and Marvel insisted that things weren’t just “going to magically go back to normal at the end” during the whole event.

The art isn’t bad. It’s just different. Normally, I wouldn’t have a problem with that, but it just didn’t fit well in my opinion.

I’ve recently heard rumors that initially, they meant for the Captain Hydra event to lead to another “Dark Reign” type storyline, at least temporarily. A�But, response to the change in Cap’s character was met with such resistance (probably the most out of any of the recent changes) that they had to figure out another way to wrap it all up. I don’t know about all of that, but I will say that another bad thing about this arc is that it got pretty dark in the middle. A�Granted, there were things happening in real life that probably exacerbated my feelings about Hydra ruling the country. A�But, I strongly considered not reading anymore.

The Ugly: A�Other than that middle “despair” arc of the story, the ending was not all that great. A�I think that we all agree that if they were going to end the story in this fashion that this was the only logical ending. A�Still, I’m a guy who likes a good ending and this one was just okay. A�It was what was supposed to happen and it happened.

So, why put this one in the ugly column? A�Well, it’s disappointing for one major reason. A�They said all along that this wasn’t going to be one of those stories where everything just gets fixed and we pretend that nothing happened after a few months. A�Before reading that, I was convinced that the cube would realize her mistake and work to fix what she broke. A�Then, I read that’s not how it would end and I was intrigued as to how they would end it. A�Chris suggested the old Dallas “it was just a dream” ridiculousness. A�While I didn’t have to make good on my threat and return all of the books that I bought if they actually went through with that, the ending was sort of along the lines of what I initially suspected. A�Okay, fine, but given everything that they said about it not being that ending, this deserves an ugly.

The Verdict: A�Similar to Civil War, this event will go down in history as bringing me back to comics. A�I didn’t enjoy this one as much as that one, but I did like the cohesiveness of this story with the crossover titles. A�So, this one might end up being more enduring and keep me in comics for at least the next year, if not more. A�Soon after Civil War ended, I found other things to spend my money on and quickly dropped comics.

Even though I complained to Chris about not having enough comics as the event wound down, I still found a way to spend almost 40 dollars this week. A�I’m back into comics in a big way. A�I have branched out from my almost 40 (well, with a few decades of breaks in between) year status as a Marvel zombie to read far more DC books that I’ve ever read. A�I have even picked up several independent books that aren’t Image while sticking with Spawn long enough to start to appreciate that book again. A�I have no idea what the future of comics holds but, I’m along for the ride no matter what.