Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Post No. 503"

REVIEWING: The Savage Sword of Conan Vol. 1 trade paperback, published by Dark Horse Comics; 2007, 544 pages, B&W, $17.95.

You would think that Marvel Comics would have published this collection of "Conan the Barbarian" since all of the material contained within it originally appeared in the Marvel magazines, "Savage Tales" and "The Savage Sword of Conan". But Dark Horse has the Conan publishing rights these days and thus it's so. Who cares? Damn nice collection of the best of what those magazines presented in the early 1970's. The difference between this collection and a Marvel Essential, is perhaps the absence of some material that didn't really deserve to be included that didn't dwell in particular on the character.

Otherwise we begin this volume with some fine work by Barry Winsor-Smith that was originally in Savage Tales #'s 1 thru 5 including "The Frost Giant's Daughter" and the complete "Red Nails", then "Night of the Dark God" with Gil Kane artwork, and "Dweller in The Dark" (Smith artwork again), before we move into mostly John Buscema reprints from the first ten issues of "Savage Sword".

Along the way we encounter work by Alex Nino, Neal Adams, Jeff Jones, Walt Simonson, Alfredo Alcala, Tim Conrad (plus others) and of course, it's all written by Roy Thomas. We even have a nice full color cover painting by Boris Vallejo.

The black and white format, as in the originals of these stories, gives one a good aspect of the way the original artwork would have appeared, and leads to a better understanding of just how fine a craftsman someone such as Barry Winsor-Smith became, with this freedom in his style away from the typical 4-color comic book in his earlier days at Marvel (and as well why he became so closely associated with the Conan character). John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala's work is definately much better in black & white and ink wash and these earlier Conan tales shows their professionalism. Starlin's work is more quaint as it predates his association with such titles as Warlock and Dreadstar, but indicates the developement he eventually "grew into" artistly.

You may even be amazed at just how much material Roy Thomas was able to create regarding our favorite Robert E. Howard barbarian. In fact, if one already has "The Essential Conan" tpb, or, the color versions of the Smith and Gil Kane tales from the original Marvel comic book series (No.'s 1 thru 24), "Marvel Masterpiece" editions, etc., this is a definative bookend to those and with this first volume it would probably be all of the Conan tales you'd ever want in your comic book library unless you're just truely a die-hard fan of the character (as Marvel presented him).

I give this collection : "A+" in the way of a rating, (and give a reader the same if they can actually wade through all 544 pages of it).

Monday, May 26, 2008

"Post No. 502"

"It's raining, it's pouring, and this day is boring me, to piec-cessss......"

And so much for Memorial Day '08 here in S-Central Kentucky where I'm sure the wetness has put an end to many planned outdoor activities.

For myself I had wanted to mow this yard, but this morning (with the day off) I first went down to the local flea market where I picked up a handful of misc. Whitman titles from the '70's. Nothing really special in them save that the stack contained a couple of issues of Super Goof, a comic of which I have a silly affection.

Then back by a yard sale or two, and my wife wanted to go to Wallyworld, which I took her as I needed a new pair of shoes. On the way home it began to sprinkle and I knew right then that I "should have" gotten out there and mowed early this morning. But, digressing aside...

Today's blog post is actually an inquiry as the which year the above pictured UK Rupert Bear Annual this might be? My best guess is late 1940's-Early 1950's, but I need an accurate and exact year if any of you out there is familiar with it. ("Rupert" is, of course, a famous children's character first created in the UK in the earlier part of the 20th. Century and still popular today). So sumbodi let me know (IF YOU know). Thanks!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Post No. 501"

I was down at the local flea market a couple weeks ago and this one guy has quite a few modern-type comics. Going thru them I pulled out a stack of Incredible Hulks, a little over 40 issues ranging from 1983 or so into the early 2000's from both the original (formerly TTA series) as well as the 1999 one. He wanted $40. for the lot and I passed on them, but later on I noticed he still had the stack so I offered him $30. on it and he took it. I figured it was a pretty decent deal as the majority of these issues were like newstand mint (altho none had bags or boards).

It's taken me around a week to read thru all of these, and after doing so I can see "why" Marvel decided to reboot the series in 1999. Honestly, writer Peter David had done about all he could with any originality to the character.

I don't recall exactly which issue he began writing that series, but it was in the early #300's; probably a good 150 issues plus a couple of mini series. There's one thing you can say about David's writing is his stick-to-it-ness on one title, like his 80 issue + 2 annual run on the '06 DC Supergirl series. He continually tried to keep the storyline fresh. But I'm afraid that towards the end of the first run of HULK it was just every ten issues or so of re-telling his origin, flashbacks, and dream sequences. Not that there wasn't a few decent stories thrown in there.

The stories where they were self-contained in a single issue were the best. Some were pretty dismal, especially his battle with The Abomination and The Circus of Crime. The artwork (by a variety of artits) ranged from very good to hacky. Towards the end of the (formerly TTA run), over-all, the title was pretty bad.

The issues in the1999 series I got were from between #'s 4 and 41 (18 misc. issues), which started out as many revamped titles do with John Byrne at the helm attempting once again to rewrite an iconic character "in his own image", but he left before the first dozen of these were published, and it was then that Hulk got some more interesting challenges.

The artwork was much better for one thing, several issues being drawn by Kyle Hotz, who has this Arthur Sudyam style, that's a bit quirky but pretty decent. And the stories, many of which were written by Paul Jenkins, gave us a choice of which Hulk we liked the best: the old "Hulk Smash!" version, the gray-skinned "Joe Fixit", or the combo/intelligent more handsome version with Banner's mind. It was a good play on the combined personna storyline that David had begun back around #370-something (or maybe before that; I forget) in the previous series, and well-handled.

Even the covers got more interesting. John Rominta Jr. came in for a while and gave us some nice artwork around issue #27. (His style has definately gotten more refined than his days of doing "Punisher".)

HULK, like a couple of other Marvel titles, would be a good one for me to collect if not for what I mentioned in a previous blog regarding the pricing of many new comics. Four bucks a pop is just too much for any comic that has no more content than the ones that they'd been charging $3. for per issue. More pages for more money I can see, but just because it's a limited series or reboot upping a price does not warrent more money. There's just not enough "bang for the buck" with such books especially when you combine that with the padding of full-page spreads as filler material and a sparce dialogue. If this is going to continue to be the practise of various comic book companies, then they simply need to have the balls to take the next great step in the history of the medium, which is a total transaction into the Trade Paperback format. After all, the spinner rack days are as dead as hippies, and a reduction of the number of titles being published, and a concentration on their major characters into a more lengthly format such as quarterly TPBs (or, even bi-monthly ones for that matter), just seems to make more sense. And with this economy being as such in this country, I'm sure that it'd also make more sense financially for these companies as something to consider.

Personally I'd rather pay $4.99-$6.99 for a book which has the equal to three comics, that $3.99 for something that's not even a "whole" issue.

Friday, May 16, 2008

POST NO. 500!!!"

You would think that I'd have some really wonderful things to say here at this 4th. Anniversary of "Elmo's Junction" that you've never read before. But the honest truth is...that I'm pretty much just all "talked out".

In fact, when I began this blog as just a second thought back four years ago, I never dreamed that this long afterwards I'd still be rambling on regarding myriad and sometimes mundane things about my collecting habits, ideas, rants and personal comments about my life. In this past four years, a lot of shit has passed under the proverbial bridge.

My wife lost her father, and this year, I lost my own. That was a major thing in both of our lives. My wife became an orphan, and my mother, although relatively healthy, is frail at age 83.

I still have the same job I had four years ago, and not really any better off. In fact, if anything, I'm a little worse off due to the lack of any extra help and increasing responcibilities always piled upon me.

But then, the world is a different place in some respects, and in other respects, much the same.. Four years ago, we were at war in the Middle East. Okay. We're still at war there, but at least gasoline was cheaper and the economy was better. We were always busy at work, every day, even in the Winter time. Now we've cut back to three employees in retail and work no more than two at a time.

I was collecting comic books four years ago. I collect comics now, but each year have created a much better collection. Four years ago people were arguing about politics and presidential cantidates. And the same holds true this year.

So all's about the same, save for one thing. I'm four years older, and four years more tired. And I'm going to wind down this blog again for a while and go back to one or two posts a month, at least for a while, just to catch my breath and get some things in my personal life more in order. When I do blog a post, it'll contain assorted and random thoughts and stuff from a few days at a time (again), unless I really deem that something "important" has happened this deserves special mention.

Thanks to all who's been here with me (especially Steve W. & Dave J.). See everyone again in a bit.

~D. Puck'

Monday, May 12, 2008

"Post No. 499"

Sad news today. As many of you have already read in several different blogs, artist Gene Colan is very ill. Hope everyone keeps him in their thoughts. This gifted man gave us many a good memory especially in the silver age at Marvel, including such unforgetable work on titles such as Daredevil & Tomb of Dracula.

The above comic cover looks interesting, or so I thought while thumbing through a spinner rack in a nearly town today on my way back from picking up my repaired t.v. set (at last). I mean, here's two of Marvel's best: "The Hulk & Iron Man", together in one comic promising a great slug fest.

Oh, how wrong I was.

Comics such as this one is the main reason I don't buy many these days, and especially not Marvel titles. Within these over-priced (a whoppin' $3.99 cover price) pages I discovered 22 or so pages of artwork (counting the cover) of which were either full page or double-page spreads containing little or no dialogue. In fact, the whole script couldn't have taken over 20 minutes to write.

There was also 7 or 8 full size pages of advertisements, mostly for other Marvel titles. The story was only so-so with just a small amount of actual fight scenes. Here's a rarity for me to give any comic, but a deserving one for this issue of HULK (2008 series from Marvel) No. 2 (04/2008)="D Minus" (and shame on you, Marvel for even publishing it).

Thought about mowing today but after really taking a good look at my back yard have decided to put that off until Saturday, and then do both my own and my mom's yard. Besides, I'm having to charge that darn car battery again.

Had around a dozen full-size garbage bags full of (uncrushed) soda cans that I took for recyling for mom today. It was at least a year's worth and they brought $41.00, which just shows that it's hardly worth the effort to do this. In fact, I've stopped recycling cans now and willlet others at work keep any they find. I've been on this recycling cans since the early 80's and feel like I've done my fair share.

And, in other things...I'd noticed my car had been sluggish the past few days when I started it, but had always kicked on off since I charged the battery last week. When I left work last night it was very overcast and rainy so I turned on my lights, and wouldn't you know it? I forgot to turn them back off immediately after I got home.

However, I wasn't in the house a good ten minutes when I noticed we needed a loaf of bread and walked next door to the grocery. On my way back (maybe another 10 minutes later), I saw that my lights were on. I went right away, turned them off and started the car. So's, I thought all was well.

Then this morning I tried to start it again and it was a "no go". So I've got the charger back on the thing for another 3 hours to see if that'll finally correct the problem. I think I'm just going to have to stick me a note on my steering wheel to ALWAYS check the lights before exiting the vehicle!

NEXT: Post #500 & the 4th. year Anniversary of "Elmo's Junction".

Sunday, May 11, 2008

"Post No. 498"

A rather dismal day here weather-wise for Mother's Day, but it didn't seem to stop people from doing last minute shopping buying presents for their moms. In fact, the whole weekend has been very steady; one of the busiest of the year.

The post office always reports that it's Mother Day (and not Valentines Day, or Christmas) that they're the busiest delivering cards. This is a rather special mom's day since it's 100 years old, started in 1908! Estimated sales for this year are $15 billion!

We had really strong winds this morning and I was out early, hauling off a good three arm loads of downed limbs from my trees to the brush pile out back. Came home to find probably a good two more arm fulls plus one huge branch which it was all I could do to drag it back there. The temperatures never got out of the low 50's.

As you can tell by the names of my posts here of late, I'm counting down to Post #500, (which will be on May the 14th.) and that will also be the 4th. year anniversary of this blog. Not sure if I'm planning anything special for that yet or not.

My wife and I had a cookout for my own mother last weekend while I was off work (since we were both working today) and gave her a card a present then. Of course I called and wished her a nice day today. Can't forget you mama.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

"Post No. 497"

Found a like new copy of the DK volume of Batman: The Ulitimate Guide to The Dark Knight at the flea market today for a buck. Pretty neat book. Nice sections on things like his origin, his villians and comrades, the Bat-Cave, The Batmobile, his utility belt, etc., etc. Even a time line of Batman's history from GA to current in the back. About 150 pages and over-sized, hardcover. Not sure if I'd ever want to collect others volumes in this series (Superman, JLA, etc.), but this one's pretty good.

Just finsihed mowing most of the yard. Grass a good 5 inches tall again and rain in our forecast for tomorrow so I thought I'd best get that done tonight although I did work my regular 9 hr. shift today.

Won a copy the the 1960's DC title, The Secret Six #1 today, cheap. Never cared much for the interior artwork on this title but it has a pretty decent and unusual cover for the era in which it was printed. One of those odd, black covers, with the logo in the center of the artwork. Of course, DC's done a recent version of this SA group.

One more day until I get a day off. Monday when I go pick up my repaired t.v. set, I think I'll haul off one last huige bunch of cans to the recyler for my mom, and then, stop collecting them completely. I've done this since 1980 and dare say I've recycled at least a quarter of a million cans over the years.

Friday, May 09, 2008

"Post No. 496"

Read an article today that eBay is making it mandatory for all sellers and buyers in Australia to use only PayPal. Seems they're experimenting with that there, and you never know when that'll end up here in The States. Needless to say, Australian sellers are pretty outraged by the whole thing, and I can't blame them.

I personally buy off of eBay by either personal check or money order 99% of the time. In fact, the only time I use PP is when I've sold something and the buyer's paid me through that method, putting some funds in my PP account. I never use a credit card through PP or have bank transfers.

If they initiate that method here it would certainly cut back any buying I'd do thru eBay. I would think that it'd hurt eBay's business considerably, but that's not the way it appears to them as they state that it cuts back on fraud. Now if PP wasn't owned by eBay, it'd be different, maybe. But since PP has charged a fee for sellers accepting that method of payment for some time now, it just seems another method of fattening the wallets of the fat cats at eBay.

What it would do is increase the outright sales to other businesses. I for one would simply just save my cash and go to a comic specialty shop more often for my comic fixes instead of looking for deals on eBay. Let's hope the exec's there have better sense than to actually make it mandatory "over here".

And today at work was the usual hectic Friday. I pulled two more pages of tools for my section of the store than usual, leaving half a basket that I didn't have time to put out to work on in the morning. I'm not sure if people are getting their tex rebates or "whatever", but they're certainly spending more than usual this week. We were hard-pressed to get out on time at closing.

And, hey! The t.v. repairman called and my set's ready for pickup! Shame he wasn't opened yesterday when I went by the store as I'll have to wait until Monday to pick it up, but maybe now my days of squinting at this 10" screen are over.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

"Post No. 495"

This morning I went by and spoke with a man here locally regarding a position as a security guard at a factory. It's not that I don't like my current position, but now they've cut back store hours by 30 minutes (and are talking about cutting back the open hours even more), and here I've been there now over eight years, topped out on any pay increases, and have absolutely no health insurance benefits.

And too, I'm getting on in years (will be 57 in July) so I think about health benefits even more so all the time, and that all of the heavy lifting I do isn't as easy as it was, say, ten years ago. I need to try to find something a little less strenuous and less hectic.

Unfortunately, they'd already hired someone for that position and the guy said he'd have to give that guy a chance, but he did interview me and took my name and phone number. That position's also several miles closer to home, and what with gas prices and all, it'd just be a better deal for me all the way around.

On the way back home I stopped here in downtown for a while and just walked around and looked in what various stores that are still open. One consignment shop had gone out of business, which made me glad that I didn't put several boxes of quarter comics in it to sell on commission. Last time we did that, my wife put several boxes of crafts in such a store and they went out without any warning or even calling us, then simply disappeared! At the end of the year we had to write those off as either lost or damaged.

When I was at the doctor's office today (took my mom there, not myself personally) I got a phone call from my mechanic who told me he'd gotten the heater coil in the ol' Cheve pickup fixed. $168.00; he had to remove the entire dashboard just to get to the thing. That's over $200. I've put in dad's ol' truck (that I paid mom $600. for), but now perhaps it's roadworthy (especially since I discovered to my joy that the gas gauge does indeed work!

Also today I stopped by the t.v. repair man to get my set that's been in his shop close to a month now. Was going to bring it back home whether he'd gotten it fixed or not, but the place was closed. Forgot that my wife said he'd had a death in his family this week (probably the reason "why"). Oh well. Another week of squinting at this 10" screen on my spare tv set.

In fact, I'd thought about stopping at a couple other places, like an antique store or two and Wallyworld, but this weather has been so lousey today with torrents of rain that mom and I just came on back home. What with the extra expensives and all this week, plus I won't get a weekly check tomorrow (due to my vacation I got both checks together last week) I need to watch "where the money goes" anyway.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Gas, Crass, & Re-Hash"

Well... I was going to rant about how silly a new law that's been passed in the next largest city south of here (Bowling Green, KY., which is the home of Western Ky. U) where one can't smoke outdoors in their public park (except in the parking lot), although all of those "good intended" folk don't want to ban the SALES of tobacco products in their city (much like they complain about drunk drivers there, but when they voted out the country "dry", they left the city "wet"), but that's a mute point anyway. I used to think that I'd really like to move back to BG because of the fond memories I had living there in 1977-79. Not anymore.

Back then they had an active town square, a great old Woolsworth, etc., etc. Now all gone. In fact, the only place that draws me there anymore is The Great Escape Comic (Record-Tape) Shop where I sometimes go to buy comics-both new and back issues-but that's usually just when they have a good sale going. And, honestly, I haven't visited one of their public parks in many a year. other's finally happened at work. You may recall my mentioning previously that sometimes only one of us works the entire shift (9-1/2 hours) in retail per day (like I did today). Now the owners have cut back the store hours 30 minutes, and perhaps even more depending on how future sales go. It's this gasoline that's killing everyone. With local prices so high that one can't even afford to drive themselves to the poor house, all one can do is go to and from work. Today gas prices hit a high of $3.70 gal. at the Interstate stations, and no less than a nickle away from the interstate areas. I saw where one auto manufacturer is offering a three year gas card with the purchase of a new vehicle that allows 700 gal.s a year to be no more than $3. per gallon (just to boost their sales).

Been reading a really good TPB collection from Image. It's Volume 4 of Paul Grist's old series, Kane, which is crime-drama and really excellant. That guy can draw and write anything, I tell you what. One of dem "A+" reviews from me on this material.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

"Reviewing: The new Blue Beetle-Part 3/Conclussion"

Reviewing and summerizing issues of the new DC Blue Beetle title No.'s 15 thru 25:

In #15, Jaime Reyes decided he needs a better handle on how to best use his BB armor and pays a visit to STAR Labs to see if they can help him figure it all out. When he gets there, however, he's been detected as a U.F.O. and is met by guards. His suit automatically armors up, and out comes "Livewire", who has gone there via Superman's request (demand) that they help her control her own power.

But rather than fighting BB, she starts feeding off of his energy giving the volumpuous LW a charge of her own (if you get my drift, there). Superman shows up and gets things straightened out and in the end, he and BB fly off together on a little training mission.

In #16, BB battles yet another victim of the "Eclipso curse" and calls in for help with his sorceress girl friend, Traci ,who welds one of the most powerful and ancient weapons on earth: The Staff of Aaron (Yes, The Staff of Aaron which transmutes The Power of God), and between them they take care of the situation, ending the tale with a bit deeper involement between the two romantically.

In later issues we find BB fighting the likes of "Giganta", trying to face down The Spectre, and eventually fighting and defeating "The Reach"( the inventors of the technology of his own armor). He has a LOT of help from such heroes as The Peacemaker, Guy Gardner, Fire & Ice, Danni Garret (the original BB's neice), and Booster Gold. And he even has help from his own mother and father who have come to terms with Jaime being a real hero; not "just their boy", but now a young man.

Thus with #25 it reaches the end of a continuing storyline that was set in issue #1. All of these issues are at least "good", MOST are very good, and some just downright excellant. If I could find anything at all to complain about it would be that they need a regular artist back on the series. Not that the ones they've chosen were bad as all of the artwork has indeed been at least passable. If I could choose one artist from the lot that I like the best it would be Rafael Albuquerque (but that's just because his style appeals to me personally the most). And even the guest writers have presented some decent and entertaining stories.

I think DC has real winner with this character, even if he did come out of a lame series such as Infinite Crisis (just shows there's "some" good in all things). Do I smell future JLA membership?

Monday, May 05, 2008

"Last Day of Vacation=Comic Reviews and Misc."

Justice League of America #20 was a pretty decent tale. All about Wonder Woman wanting The Flash to be more active in The JLA, and he telling WW that with all that's gone on with him lately, including the myriad events of his family life, that it was difficult to participate "that much" in the team. Even so, he managed to help capture "Queen Bee" and release her mental control over a large number of drones, and in the end, the two came to terms. This title still delivers to me: "A"

Supergirl #24: an issue I'd missed and went back to pick up in the run had Superman taking his cousin out into space to observe life on krypton before its destruction by watching the light from the planet as it passed through space, much as we see a star which may not still exist but due to its distance we still see its light as well. We see Supergirl's folks as well as Supermans, and she's reminded some of "why" she was sent to Earth in the first place. The story was good enough, but it sets me to wonder, as always, what with Krypton having so much advanced technology the reasons they were unable to save their people or believe Jor-El of its oncoming destruction in the first place. Even so, this issue gets a "B".

In my most current issue of this series, #28, Supergirl tries to enlist the help of "The Resurrection Man" so that she can keep her promise to that child she made some issues back to cure him of cancer, thus saving his life. She finds she'll need the assistance of the scientist that gave RM his ability originally, and busts him out of prison, and as this issue concludes we see Superman (aka "Clark Kent") in a rather pissed off mood due to her doing that. Overall, another "A" issue.

The above photo scan is of this year's Easter Seals. Right purdy. Shame you can't tell that they have metalic backgrounds but it didn't come across on the scan.

And Sunday was rather uneventful for me. Had wanted to go see "Iron Man", but I really hate to go alone to see some movie and with no one else available for company today. So instead I tried to catch up on some house chores and, since the riding lawnmower is still not repaired, I used the push mower on the entire back lot, then went down to my mom's and mowed about 80% of HER back yard as well before I needed to refill the gas tank. But then, it wouldn't restart and stay running. After removing and trying to clean the spark plug numberous times I finally gave that up for the day, resolving tomorrow to purchase a new plug. I added some top soil to her flower garden as she's requested and planted a couple of flowers for her, came home and took about a 2 hour nap due to all the exertion from pushing (shoving) that mower all day through grass as thick as shag carpeting. (Then today I got a couple of new plus, fixed the mower and in 2 more hours that job was finally done.)

And, over on Johnny Bacardi's blog, he's playing a little Q&A game with collectors. We're "supposed" to link to five other people, but...) Anyhoo--

There's these three questions one's supposed to answer:

1) What's the first comic you remember reading?

2) What comic made you realize you might be in for the long haul

3) What one comic or run or comics if you were stuck on a desert island would you want to have to read?

Actually, I've answered two of these questions over the years save perhaps the second one. The answer to No.1 is "The Story of Jesus" 3 Camels cover version published by Classics Illustrated is the earliest comic in particular I can remember reading, even though I'd read or at least looked thru many, many others before that due to my brother who was 6 years my elder buying comics, mainly Superman titles, Disney & Archie's.

The answer to No. 3 would be, once again, Classics Illustrated (the whole run) as it combines both comic books and literature.

The second question is NOT as easy to answer, but I think it must have been one of those Super Comics reprints from the late 1950s-early 1960's. Maybe it was one with Plastic Man, or The Spirit, or The Blue Beetle, or Dollman. Or maybe it was those extremely early "Legion" stories in Adventure Comics, or Superman in Action Comics, or those pre-hero Marvel fantasy tales. For me to pin-point an actual moment in my life that I knew I'd always be interested in comics is near impossible, but I'd say it was a combination of them all. One comic does stand out, though, and that was Fantastic Four #11 with the "Visit w/The FF" and 1st. "Impossible Man" stories.

I was sort'a surprized by an eBay win last night. I was looking through the "full runs" section and came across a run of the 1960's Marvel Spotlight #'12 thru 33(last issue) and placed a minimum bid only to win it! That's a 22 issue set which includes a full run of "Son of Satan", along with such other ditties as the first solo "Moon Knight" issue (and 3rd. app.), the first app. of "Spider-Woman"(and the cover used on the Marvel U.S. postage stamp), plus "The Scarecrow", "The Warriors Three", "Night Fury", "Deathlok", etc. Geez. Since I have a few others before #12 I might try to complete that run sometime! I also got 3 misc. early issues of Image's powers I needed (#'s 2-4), and I believe that I only need maybe less than 10 issues now to finish that run of 37 issues + an Annual.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

"Free Comic Book Day 2008"

I almost didn't make it to "Free Comic Book Day" yesterday.

I awoke that morning to rain here in S-Central, KY., and a very gloomy sky, draining me of the energy and enthusiasm it takes to drive in such for a good 35 miles or better to attend the festivity. In fact, my wife and I had already decided just to stay around here when around 9AM a friend stopped by just to see if I wanted to ride down there with him? My wife told me to go ahead as she really wanted to look around at a city-wide yard sale they were having a few miles up the road.

So by the time we finally got there it was already at least 10AM and the comic book store was crammed. Even so I managed to get around to some of the back issue comic boxes which were all at 20% off marked prices and bring my sets of the current runs of both justice League and Supergirl up-to-date. I also picked up around 15 more issues of Powers since that's a title I've sort of gotten hooked on lately. Grabbed a hundred boards and bags and headed for the checkout.

As they were checking me out I asked the store manager where the freebies were today and he said they were behind the counter, and asked me which ones I wanted? I told him "whatever I could get" and ended up with eleven different FCBDay giveaway comics as well as an "Iron Man" HeroClix figure.

Then outside on the sidewalk sale I found a copy of Paul Grist's "Kane" TPB collection for a mere $2.50. Paying for that, off we went to the mall.

The only store I looked around in there was Walden Books and almost bought some other new comics, but changed my mind as there's only "so much" one can keep up with these days and put them back on the rack. And, we returned home.

In the FCBDay Giveaways this time I acquired copies of such things as: "Devil" (a revival of the GA "Daredevil"), Gyro Gearloose (with Rosa and Barks art), "Owly and Friends" (a wonderful comic!), "Tiny Titans", "Sonic Hedgehog", "Jughead", "X-Men", "Bongo Free-For-All", "Wizard's How to Draw", "Comic Book Diner" and "Marvel Adventures". A no show on a few such as "All-Star Superman", "The EC Sampler" and "Hellboy" that had been advertised as available today, but I suppose certain books only get certain distribution (or, perhaps, they'd already given all of those away by the time I got there).

Of the most interest was "Owly", "Gyro Gearloose", "Devil", and the "Bongo Free-For-All". The Bongo book showed Bart Simpson reading a copy of Amazing Fantasy 15 while eating an ice cream cone and the "comic book guy" frantically trying to stop it. The lead story was actually a take-off of "Powers" (speak of the devil) where Springfield had outlawed all superheroes, leaving the super villians to take over the town.

The "Devil" book was somewhat interesting as it also featured the GA "Black Terror", and the "Jughead" , of all things, was sort'a good with Archie getting a security guard job protecting Steve Geppi's Entertainment Museum (although it was really pretty much just an advertisement for such). I'd given up all the other freebie comics in exchanged for the ones they didn't have!

Later on in the day my wife and I had a cookout at my mom's, then came home and watched The Derby, and were saddened by "Eight Belles" having to be put down due to breaking both front ankles. People don't, in general, realize just how hard a ride that race is on a horse.

(And thus went Day 5 of my vacation.)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

"Reviewing: Blue Beetle-Part 2"

To fully appreciate the current DC Comics version of "The Blue Beetle", one must first try to make sense of his first app. in the DC limited series Infinite Crisis, which ran seven issues from Dec.'05 - June, '06, plus a "Secret Files & Origins" issue.

The new BB's alter ego, "Jaime Reyes", first appears in issue #3 of this series (Feb.'06) where he finds the "beetle scarab" while he and his friends are walking through a vacant lot (a tale also related in the first issue of the current series). It isn't until #5 (April'06) that we first see the new BB actually in costume when "Booster Gold" takes Reyes to "The Batcave" and recruits him to help the various JLA members to detect the presense of a machine being built by Alex Luthor (of "Earth Three") to seperate and reverse the multiple worlds which had combined during the 1985 DC l.s., Crisis on Infinite Earths.

This entire storyline is pretty confusing, and probably just another needless attempt to try to correct all of bs that's gone on since 1985 with the various DC characters, but its end effect was the reason "why" we saw the disappearance of such major players as Superman, Batman & Wonder Woman for a year as they tried to take time off from the customed activities and get back to relating what being a hero is all about.

Along the way in Infinite Crisis, we saw the return of the original Golden-Age Superman and Lois Lane, the latter of whiuch dies of old age and the result being that the original Supes had a hard time taking that. We saw the last of Alex Luthor and the "Superboy-Prime" character was inprisoned (at least, for the time being). The Spectre goes a bit nuts due to the influence of "The Psycho Pirite", and finally a new DC hero, albeit a far cry from the original GA BB , or even the later Ditko version.

Let's hope to God that DC is finally out of "Crisis" ideas. You can only beat a dead horse so long until what you end up with isn't just a dead horse but a messy, bloody and unrecognizable pulp. They don't need a gimmick storyline to create new characters. They've created thousands of them over the years that had absolutely no connection to such a silly theme, and I as a long-time reader was much more satisfied with a simplier explanation of the acquisition of various powers and origins of their heroes and heroines without that.

I still stand that the new BB character is a good one even with the before published l.s. as an introduction, and well-worth the buying and reading. The IC l.s. is one of those C- to D+ things though that we'd been better off without.

(Stay tuned for some future post when I present "Reviewing: Blue Beetle Part 3-Conclussion"!)

Friday, May 02, 2008

"Mid-Vacation Ramblings"

I've been reading thru these misc. issues of Powers I won recently just because I heard it was good stuff. Damn! They ARE good! Why didn't anyone tell me this??? (Oh, okay...people have and I didn't listen.) I've read 15 or so issues that were published by both Image and Icon/Marvel, and it looks like I'll be going for more of these, although I'll probably just opt for some TPB reprint collections (especially the first one). Really recommended work by Bendis and Oeming.

In a related story regarding the original artwork for Amazing Fantasy #15, publisher Greg Theakston posted to the Yahoo comicart-1 group that he knows where the original artwork to the origin story in Fantastic Four #1 resides!


"The origin story to the F.F. was reprinted in the first FF annual. The Torch figures were whited over and the more modern version was substituted. The pages were then placed in storage with the rest of the book. In 1971 it, and a mess of other stuff was stolen from the warehouse and offered for sale at Phil Seuling's July 4th con. A friend of mine bought them not realizing that they were not Jack retelling the story years later, but the real deal. They reside here in New York City. I have not seen them."

Now isn't that just wonderful to know that "somewhere" these treasures still exist and haven't been completely lost to time? By the way, speculation is that perhaps it was Steve Ditko himself that donated the AF pages and the tale of where the donater alledgely asked Ditko "if it was okay first" if he could give The Library of Congress the artwork, may well be a bit of a cover-up (perhaps just to protect Ditko's privacy). There's been other names from the comics' industry mentioned as well, but we'll never know unless that information is finally (if ever) made public.

And here on my 4th. day of vacation I haven't done much (for a change), save go get my paycheck from last week and deposit that, stopped by the flea market and bought a couple of individual Beatles' 45 RPM's (one from Lennon and the other McCartney), then back to the house to relax. Looks like I'll wait until Sunday afternoon to see "Iron Man' as the first showing of this locally is at 8:P.M., which means it'd be fairly late before I'd get back home. Waiting until Sunday will thin out the crowds and get me home a lot earlier.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

"The Vacation Continues"

In a follow-up to my previous post regarding The Library of Congress acquiring all of the interior artwork to Amazing Fantasy #15, HERE now is an update. Click onto the pages and bring them up-to-size and I'm sure you'll see some interesting tidbits. Like a partial showing of one of the fantasy tales that was a back-up in this issue. Plus, on the "splash" page, it appears that Ditko was unsatisfied with either his penciling or inking of "Sally's" face (due to the use of white-out). "vacation" continues.

I didn't get to Elizabethtown to buy any new comics today. Both my wife and I were so tired from work (her usual job and all the things I did around here the day before) that we stayed pretty close to home. Instead, we went by the local flea market (didn't see anything), one place to get some potting soil, another to get some new flowers to plant, another to get some Quite-Crete, a few groceries, a couple of yard sales, went out to eat lunch, then back home.

Returning here I first attempted to repair the curved latis over our walkway that was literally falling apart. Finding this unrepairable I cut it off at the bases, left those, and then repainted everything with a fresh coat of white. We then put "shepherd's hooks" on either side of that with hanging baskets of flowers.

We planted many new flowers this time, opting for a variety of different types and different colors, and buying ones that we previously never had around the house.

Then my wife wanted me to reset one of the clotheslines outside, the post that is, which had started leaning over the years making the line droop.

We rarely ever hang up our laundry that way and just use the dryer, but it is handy for large sheets and the like to give them a fresh air smell, so it was break up the old concrete with a sledge and dig all of that out, deepen the hole a bit, mix new concrete and reset/support the pole.

And, that's all for today. Actually, I'm pretty much caught up on all the chores I'd planned on doing, and all I have planned for the rest of the week is going to see the new "Iron Man" flick tomorrow and "Free Comic Book Day", Saturday.