I started to write this round-up of the as-ever ridiculous pile of comics I walked away from the two Vintage Stock locations with on the Thursday following that weekend run; it was the first time I’d felt clear-headed and wide-awake during an evening all week long. Heaven knows this ain’t ever happening the night after — no, Saturday evenings after a successful outing are spent doing the ritualistic peeling of all the tape and price tags off the comic bags. Maybe if I’m lucky, actually opening one of the action figures I bought. Deeply silly how exhausting peeling a bunch of labels and tape can be, but after the twentieth time a piece of Scotch tape has decided to rip instead of cleanly come off of a poly bag, I’m sure you wouldn’t want to expend a lot of extra effort for the rest of an evening either …
Then the rest of that week and the following week got away from me, and … well, at first I thought wouldn’t it be funny if I pulled this whole thing off on a Saturday evening, like I said I couldn’t? And, reader, I did manage to finish writing up the pile from April 22nd, but I only managed to get this past weekend’s books unstickered and organized before crashing.
Let’s dig into the piles, shall we?
Backlash (1994) 12, 15, 21 — More $1 Wildstorm books! One thing that buying all this old Wildstorm stuff has done is finally explained to me where some of these creators who we still see on books today came from. For instance, Backlash here is the answer to the question, “Why is Brett Booth a thing?” Poor Backlash, one of the early Stormwatch characters who got spun out into their own solo titles, alas, is not a thing. These wind up in my pile largely because they’re always a dollar; I do, however, keep actively looking for the issues that are part of the 2nd and final “glory days” Wildstorm crossover, because dudes on eBay seem to think those are the issues of this title that are worth money.
Battletide (1992) 1-3 — Once I discovered last time that the second Battletide mini from Marvel UK was drawn by Geoff Freakin’ Senior, obviously I figured the first had to as well and tossed these into the stack when I spotted ’em. And I was right! Abnett, Lanning, and Senior doing ridiculous violence comics with Death’s Head II, Wolverine, Sabertooth, Psylocke, and a bunch of very British sci-fi-lookin’ weirdos. Looks like a good time to me!
Captain America: Cold War Alpha (2023) — The one-shot that starts the Cap titles’ crossover. If one of these politicians who is also a nerd would please introduce legislation to outlaw overpriced crossover-opening (and ending!) one-shots, I would absolutely take the money I’d be spending on those and put it towards their campaign.
Catwoman (2018) 54 — Another new issue of Howard & Leon’s Catwoman for the stack.
Cyberspace 3000 (1993) 4, 6-7 — Gary Russell’s far-future Marvel UK space adventure takes a turn and pulls in Warlock & Thanos, which I do find interesting. The artist on the title, Steve Tappin, apparently only ever did this series for Marvel, but has a number of credits on 2000 A.D., and what I’ve seen of that work looks a lot better than these.
Death’s Head II (1992) 1, 4, 9-10 — Four issues of the surprisingly short-lived ongoing series featuring the Wolverine of Marvel UK. Liam Sharp draws the first two, but Simon Coleby & Dougie Braithwaite’s work on each of the latter two issues equally puts most of the other Marvel UK output to shame. (I swear, it seemed like each dollar longbox had some weird Marvel UK book in it I half-remembered that made me go “what??” and, more importantly “why??”)
Digitek (1992) 4 — Speaking of, I snagged this Marvel UK book out of the dollar bin just because of the nifty painted cover, only to find, oh, the whole book looks like that. The artist, Dermot Power, naturally has a small pile of 2000 A.D. credits to his name before he got much more lucrative work as a storyboard & concept artist in film. Smart!
Dirty Pair (1994) 1 — As promised, I did grab an issue of the Viz film comic of the Lovely Angels’ animated exploits in the absence of any of the Adam Warren comics I’d missed two weeks prior. Looks like this is the first episode of the TV series, which at time of publication would have been about nine years old — but hey, it would’ve been new to most of the audience that found it at their local comic store! Hell, we wouldn’t see it on home video over here for another decade and a half!
Drax the Destroyer (2005) 4 — Huh, another fourth issue of a mini-series I wound up buying on its own. However, this one I used to have all of; not sure what happened to ’em. Must’ve parted with them when I bought the hardcovers of the Annihilation event that followed not too long after since I think they included this as well. It’s the Keith Giffen-Mitch Breitweiser mini-series that reinvented Drax as the prototype for the guy Dave Bautista plays in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, with the knives and the red tattoo-like markings and all. I remember really liking it, and hope I can track down those first three again.
Excalibur (1988) 105 — Okay, that’s weird — here’s Keith Giffen again, with Bryan Hitch on art. I know I have this issue (there’s maybe two issues of the original Excalibur run I don’t have?), but my mental picture of this mostly black cover has it heavily worn with white markings, so I figured it was worth grabbing this pristine copy.
Fantastic Four (1961) 350 — An oversized Walt Simonson issue of Fantastic Four for two bucks — like I’m gonna pass that up!
FF (2011) 20 — Just slowly picking up all these Hickman-Dragotta issues of FF one-or-two at a time. Even if the stories are so-so, I absolutely adore Dragotta’s cartooning.
Gen 13 (1995) 66, 72 — I shouldn’t have been surprised to see these in the longboxes after finding those Dirty Pair comics two weeks prior; it’s two issues of Adam Warren’s run (first with a slew of artists, including the Dodsons and J. Scott Campbell his-own-self; then with his usual collaborator on this book, Ed Benes), which is honestly the Wildstorm run I started trying to pull together before I then went, “hey, let’s pull together a WildC.A.T.s run,” and then “oh, I guess it crosses over with all this other stuff,” and then, “hey, these Grifter solo issues are all only a dollar,” and then … well, you see where we are now, with me buying dollar issues of flippin’ Backlash.
Gen 13/Generation X (1997) — Thumbing through longboxes many months ago I was stunned to see how many properties the Gen 13 kids crossed over with in their heyday — not just this obvious pairing with their nearest peers, but also with Superman and the Fantastic Four (the latter featuring the great Kevin Maguire, of the “bwah ha ha” Justice League fame, on art and I think story as well?), and when I am reminded what creative teams did those crossovers (indeed, just reminded of the above by thumbing thru the longboxes today!) there’s a fair chance I’ll come home with those as well. (This one? Drawn by Art Adams. So, yeah, a no-brainer.)
G.I. Joe Special Missions (1986) 1 — This is a very nice copy of the first issue of the second Joe title, by Hama & Trimpe, that was a dollar. Sometimes I wonder about the way Vintage Stock prices this stuff, I tell ya.
Kitty Pryde and Wolverine (1984) 2 — Given what that recently concluded Claremont-Larroca X-Treme X-Men mini was all about as. well as Kate soon moving to a more ninja-like look over in Duggan’s X-Men, figured I should snap this up when I saw it. Just the one issue, but I think I have the full mini-series in the relevant X-Men omnibus.
Lazarus Planet: Revenge of the Gods (2023) 1-4 — I tried to avoid Lazarus Planet, but I’m pretty sure this is crossing over with the tail end of Cloonan & Conrad’s Wonder Woman (which I’ve been enjoying well enough when I remember to read it, but I’m awfully behind on), or pays off some of the threads from it, and also sets up the Waid-Mora Shazam! book. So, onto the stack these go. (The first three were grabbed on the 22nd, the fourth & final today.)
Mys-Tech Wars (1993) 3-4 — The back half of a sort of miserable-looking “let’s get a bunch of heroes together & kill off half of them” crossover amongst the out-there Marvel UK books, by Abnett & Bryan Freakin’ Hitch before he was a superstar. Thumbed thru these and saw both Summers boys taken out gruesomely and Jean Grey, incredibly out of character, so devastated that she took her own life right in front of Charles Xavier. But this does appear to be a big turning point for these titles, and Hitch makes it at least look sharp.
Rune (1994) 1, 3 — Barry Windsor-Smith’s Ultraverse book about an ancient alien vampire that I recall being hyped to all hell when it was new. Found issue 1 for a dollar two weeks ago and issue 3 this week — and in-between I saw a few folks on Twitter talking about it for some reason, which made this all feel weirdly destined.
Sandman Mystery Theatre (1993) 39 — One of these years I’ll have enough of these to sit down & read them; I keep picking up Wagner, Seagle, and Davis’s Wesley Dodd-focused psuedo-spin-off of Gaiman’s Sandman one dollar back issue at a time.
Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man (2017) 298 — I may have soured on writer Chip Zdarsky in the wake of his Batman & Daredevil runs, but T’challa on the cover & Adam Kubert on art can forgive a lot.
Superman: Lois Lane (1998) 1 — Another one of the “Girlfrenzy!” one-shots, which from what I’ve seen seem to be so much better than the way they’re marketed; this is written by Barbara Kesel with art by Amanda Conner (not some of her earliest work — but looks like it might be her earliest at DC?) & Jimmy Palmiotti. Looks both charming and unexpectedly dark.
Tellos (1999) 1 — I forget if I have a copy of the first issue of Wieringo & DeZago’s fantasy adventure (I’m pretty sure I used to have a trade paperback of the first several issues), so when I saw this I tossed it into the pile.
Uncanny X-Men (1963) 379-380 — The last two issues of Alan Davis’s run, with art by Tom Raney, in which the High Evolutionary removed all mutants’ powers & mutations otherwise for such-and-such a time and then I guess was convinced to reverse himself? Haven’t read these yet, but skimming them it seems that way. The very next issue is the first issue of Claremont’s 2nd run, the short-lived “Revolution” era that sank like a rock, freaked out the normies in the wake of the first Fox X-Men flick, and got truncated in favor of Casey’s Uncanny & Morrison’s New X-Men, with Claremont allowed to continue his storylines in X-Treme X-Men. So, issues that preceded interesting & turbulent times.
Waller Vs. Wildstorm (2023) 1 — The oversized Black Label book that pits Amanda Waller and Deathstroke against Jackson King of Stormwatch at the tail end of the Cold War, written by Evan Narcisse and renowned national security reporter Spencer Ackerman, of all people — the latter is the reason I almost put this in my regular comics order, the idea of a guy like that co-writing a comic featuring all these characters. This is a comic with the classic version of Michael Cray, Deathblow in it. Spencer Ackerman knows who Deathblow is. That’s a weird thing to think about.
Warheads (1992) 6-7 — More Marvel UK nonsense that I mostly bought because they were a dollar and the latter of the two had a cover featuring such ridiculous hard-to-parse high-tech violence that I was like, “that is such a weird-ass UK dystopian action/sci-fi comic, into the pile you go.”
Wetworks (1994) 23 — I was surprised to find a dollar issue of Wetworks that I didn’t have last time out; I’m now missing, it looks like, one issue up to & including issue 26, which is crazy, but given how I recall poring over an early Comics Scene article on the title, it feels like a prophesy fulfilled.
Wildcats (1999) 6-7 — A couple early issues of the second volume of Wildcats, minus the acronym, before Joe Casey & Sean Phillips took the reins and turned it back into a monthly title. (Casey co-writes issue 6.) Kinda been avoiding these due to Lobdell writing the book for, I guess, the first year since the relaunched title was bi-monthly, but the dollar bin makes me do silly things like this.
X-Factor (1986) 112-114, 116-117, 120, 124, 126, 131-133 — Like this, a collection of nine “after the rot set in” issues of X-Factor, the “Havok’s powers went nuts, Forge and Mystique are the main characters now, and here’s Sabertooth & Wildchild because people liked that pairing in the Age of Apocalypse” era. Totally spaced that John Francis Moore, whose Doom 2099 was solid and whose X-Force I’ve been enjoying, wrote a couple of these issues — mostly I think of this as Howard Mackie’s era, with first Steve Epting and then Jeff Matsuda drawing the books to make them look a whole lot better than they read (though digging thru the pile it looks like Matsuda’s one of those “regular” artists who couldn’t keep up with the monthly grind).
X-Men 2099 (1993) 4-9, 12-14, 19, 22 — Speaking of John Francis Moore, here he is, with Ron Lim, cranking out month after month of the far-future X-book. I think I mentioned this last time, I did buy the first issue of this when it was new, but as a kid with limited comic book begging power, heaven knows I could barely get my “usual” titles on a regular basis, let alone this weird sci-fi spin-off, and I don’t remember the first issue really grabbing me at the time. We’ll see how this sits with me thirty years later.
So, with the exception of a few series I grabbed issues of both weekends, which I’ve already noted — that’s the Lazarus Planet mini, Rune, and X-Men 2099 — we’ll get to this week’s books a little further below … but first, the figures from two weeks ago were the new Across the Spider-Verse Spider-Gwen, because I think I’ve got almost every Legends version of the breakout star of the original Spider-Verse event and this one has some design/costume notes I really dig; Transformers Legacy Dead End, which puts me one step closer to complete Stunticon power; Transformers: Rise of the Beasts Skullcruncher, a li’l gator guy who turns into a Targetmaster-style weapon for larger figures (currently being held by Crankcase, and also the first figure branded as part of the new movie product that I’ve gotten); and, as pictured below, the McFarlane DC Multiverse Gold Label Impulse, who’s a bit tall for ol’ Bart Allen, but you can’t quibble with that head sculpt, with its oh-so-appropriate smirk and wild unruly hair.
Todd’s classic-style Tim Drake Robin figure can’t come soon enough.
Alright, onto the fruits of the first trip of May!
Avengers: War Across Time (2023) 5 — Final issue of the Lee & Kirby-days mini-series by DC’s former president and my evergreen art fave Alan Freakin’ Davis. Charming if inessential, but I really will buy almost anything Davis draws.
Blue Beetle (2005) 2, 10 — Two issues from the first year of the original Jaime Reyes series by Keith Giffen, John “co-creator of TV’s Leverage” Rogers, and Cully Hamner. Used to have these in trade paperback, grabbing issues now pretty much whenever I see them.
Captain America: Symbol of Truth (2022) 12 — Did I see that right, there’s like one big one-shot after this crossover is over and then they’re relaunching Cap again? Ridiculous. Anyway, this is the second chapter of the crossover. Still haven’t read the launch one-shot yet. Might still have the previous issue of this series to read, now that I think of it.
Cybersuit Arkadyne (1992) 1 — I will buy every dollar bin Tim Eldred mecha comic book I come across. This one’s published by the old Protoculture Addicts folks and is co-plotted & scripted by one Jonathan Jarrard. Slow burn, lots of space politics and non-robot action until the very end of the issue.
Fantastic Four (1998) 21-22, 24, 28, 31-32, 58, 69, 503-505, 507-508, 512, 514, 517-519, 522-523, 604, 605.1-608, 610, (2018) 7-9, 22, 37; FF (2011) 3 — Could you guess that the May Vintage Stock buy-one-get-one book is Marvel’s First Family? The first six issues are from Claremont & Larroca’s run, which I’m interested in thumbing thru at this point in light of their recent X-Treme X-Men reunion. Then we have an issue of Adam Warren & Keron Grant’s brief fill-in right before Waid & Wieringo’s run … and then we get into that stuff, though just over half of the Mark Waid issues I grabbed were drawn by Wieringo, a number of them were the bulk of Howard “JLA” Porter’s fill-in stint, plus an issue drawn by Paco Medina. Then, seven Hickman issues by various artists (Steve Epting, Mike Choi, Ron Garney, Giuseppe Camnucoli), and finally five from Dan Slott’s recent run, three of which feature at least two different pencilers per issue — is this a “Dan Slott can’t turn in a script on time to save his life” issue, or was something else up with this book, because the Reckoning War issues I’ve got have the same thing going on?
Green Lantern (1990) 77, 90 — At long last, twenty years on from I think the last time I grabbed any of these, filling in some gaps in my Ron Marz Green Lantern collection. When I was in college I ordered a whole boatload of the original Kyle Rayner issues of GL from Mile High, back when they weren’t pricing everything on the site like every back issue’s stables were made of gold or something. The first one is part of the team-up arc featuring Kyle and the Connor Hawke Green Arrow, and the second is very much in the spirit of the classic Hal & Ollie team-ups while being a solo affair, a very preachy tale of Kyle trying to talk a pal through his alcoholism.
Marvel Comics Presents (1988) 5 — A very early issue, featuring Claremont, Buscema, and Janson on Wolverine and a Steve Gerber Man-Thing tale (with art by Tom Sutton).
Superboy: The Man of Tomorrow (2023) 1 — The first issue of the new Kon-El mini-series that I seem to recall was the winner of one of those annual “which pitch gets to be a book?” polls.
Thunderbolts (1997) 32, 39, 157-159, 161 — One Busiek issue, one Nicieza (both with art by Bailey) , and a few of those early 2010’s Jeff Parker issues.
Uncanny X-Force (2010) 5, 8 — Was surprised to find some early Remender X-Force this time out. I think I’m down to ten issues I’m missing?
Wonder Woman (1987) 10, 12 — It’s weird how often I’m finding just random early issues of Perez’s Wonder Woman at Vintage Stock these days. Never read any of this, but having followed Diana off and on for the past several years now and read smatterings of Simone’s run, I’m interested in giving these a look.
X-Factor (1986) Annual 5; X-Men (1991) Annual 2 — Early ’90s X-Annuals, the first featuring the Man of Steel creative team of Louise Simonson & Jon Bogdanove pitting X-Factor against whiny time-lost Franklin Richards, and the second being one of the rare 1993 X-books I didn’t own, which explains why Revanche (Kwannon’s mind in Betsy Braddock’s original body) having the Legacy Virus seemed to come out the blue to me back in the day.
Young Justice (1998) 5, 14-15, 20-21, 38, 43, 45 — More of David & Nauck’s turn-of-the-century teen superheroics, and this time it’s all by them! It’s crazy, the Rangeline Vintage Stock’s got a lot of these priced at two bucks an issue, and while I think there were one or two that made me think, “ah, I see why,” I do believe everything I grabbed was in solid shape. These, I’m really looking forward to digging into soonish.
And the one figure I grabbed alongside all of this was, in the wake of seeing the film, the new Marvel Legends Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Rocket Raccoon — because at the end of all that, of course I needed a figure of the true hero of these movies. Probably going to grab a Nebula this week if I see her.
ALSO: Yes, the temporal references are all over the place in this post. What can I say, it’s been written over the course of a whole month and I’ve had a hell of a time straightening things out each time I sat down to work on it.