Back Issue Haul Comics

This Week’s Comics Haul, 4/8/23

And here I thought my last trip to Vintage Stock was dangerous. What a fool I was! Clearly the worst thing for me is the big holiday buy-one-get-one sale — wherein I think, “oh, yeah, I should totally just indulge myself with a bunch of issues of this series and that; when are they ever going to put, say, Thunderbolts in a category sale?”

Y’know, I didn’t even hit both of them this time. My credit card was stinging so badly from hitting the one at the mall that I just told David, “yeah, let’s just hit Target, then these two Walmarts, get dinner and be done with the trip.” And even then, the Walmarts had a bounty I did not foresee …

(And yes, I’m only finally getting this posted the very morning before the next trip out. It’s been a rough couple weeks, I tell ya.)

Anyway, on to the books!

Adventures of Superman (1939) 571, 588, 594-595 — Some turn-of-the-century Superman written by Louise Simonson (a odd one-off that appears to be well after her departure from Man of Steel) and Joe Casey (whose run on this title I’m always fishing for more issues of); the last two are installments of the “Our Worlds At War” crossover, which I guess I’d have seen on a spinner rack when I was getting back into comics in college, drawn by the much-missed Mike Wieringo — looks like one of seven issues of the title he drew. Guess I’ll be hunting down the rest in the near future.

Ant-Man (2022) 1-4 — The very recent Al Ewing/Tom Reilly mini-series cutting across the entire history of the character. Honestly, I should just be ordering literally everything Ewing writes; almost picked up the first issue of the follow-up Wasp mini as well, but the pile, as you’ll be seeing as you scroll down, did get way out of hand and sacrifices had to be made.

Astonishing X-Men (2004) Annual 1 — Christos Gage and David Baldeon doing a one-off featuring Northstar and his then-fiancee against the backdrop of the X-Men dealing with the usual well-armed bigot villains. Hilariously, the main feature is a page or two shorter than a usual monthly comic and half the book is a reprint — without credits! — of the issue of Alpha Flight where Northstar came out as gay.

Avengers: War Across Time (2023) 3-4 — The first two of this currently-running Paul Levitz/Alan Davis mini-series are still on the to-read pile; of course, there’s a lot currently on the to-read pile. Stunned on leafing through issue 3 to find a good ol’ fashioned letters page in the back.

Battletide II (1993) 2 — The only Marvel UK book I tossed in this week, one of only a couple of dollar books I decided to take home, and wouldn’t ya know it, it turns out this was drawn by the man, the myth, the legend, longtime Transformers artist and Death’s Head co-creator Geoff Senior. So if nothing else, it’s absolutely gorgeous. (That said, it is written by Abnett & Lanning, the duo who redefined the Guardians of the Galaxy into the version of that property that became stars of the silver screen — no slouches themselves.)

Giant-Size Black Cat: Infinity Score (2022) — This one-off wraps the second Jed MacKay-written Black Cat series, which of course then rolls into the “Spider-Man: Beyond” Mary Jane & Black Cat one-shot, the Iron Cat mini-series, and the currently-running Mary Jane & Black Cat mini tying into the “Dark Web” event. Weirdly, this was the other dollar book I grabbed; considering it’s only a little over a year old and in pristine shape, all I can figure is they must have a longbox full of these in the back.

Cable (1993) 17, (2008) 14 — At this point it always feels weird grabbing an X-book from the era when I was first reading ’em that I genuinely don’t recognize — and the first of these two issues of Cable, which opens with some early Scott & Nate father-son bonding and is Jeph Loeb’s first as the series’s regular writer, falls into that era, when they were doing the fancy paper $1.95 “deluxe” X-books in the direct market. The latter issue is from Nate’s second ongoing, part of the “Messiah War” crossover — the second of the crossover events focused on “mutant messiah” Hope Summers, this one smack-dab in the middle of Cable’s mission to keep running further and further into the future to protect her from an unhinged Bishop — and, during the crossover, from his arch-nemesis and loser-who-just-won’t-quit-and-stay-dead Stryfe as well. (Reflecting on this period, it seems weird as hell that the upcoming “Children of the Vault” book is a Cable-Bishop team-up book — I wonder, are there any lingering hard feelings between those two dudes at this point?)

Captain America: Symbol of Truth (2022) 11 / Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty (2022) 11 — The new issues of the Cap books, the last two before the crossover “Cold War” begins. Still have to read the last couple issues of Sentinel of Liberty.

Captain America and the Falcon (2004) 2-4 — These were two bucks each, and I’ll probably have to snag another copy of issue 2; this one’s gotten wet or something on the lower right hand corner. This was the book Priest launched, with Bart Sears at his absolute Bart Sears-iest (lots of truly grotesque over-inflated anatomy and weird pin-up shots here) after The Crew got smothered in the cradle, and unfortunately this got derailed by “Avengers Disassembled” pretty quickly after this arc and then immediately overshadowed by the subsequent launch of Ed Brubaker & Steve Epting’s mighty & influential run; after this title crashed & burned Priest wouldn’t write anything for Marvel for just shy of a decade (the streak was broken by a story for the ginormous Deadpool wedding issue, which I think had a contribution by every writer the character’d had up to that point). Anyway, obviously I used to have all of these and I haven’t read ’em since then; I remember being disappointed at the time, but mostly turned off by the art, which if anything looks even more ridiculous now.

Catwoman (2018) 53 — New issue of Catwoman, as usual; only, what, eight issues behind now?

Classic X-Men (1986) 27 — Yeah, I’ve started grabbing these on occasion; this one’s interesting because not only does it have one of those backup strips that are the book’s claim to fame (not by Claremont! Ann Nocenti & John Bolton do this one!) but there’s three extra pages drawn by Kieron Dwyer, mostly of Canadian government officials yelling back and forth, slipped into the Claremont & Byrne original. Very weird.

Clobberin’ Time (2023) 1 — The first issue of Steve Skroce (who also drew that first issue of Cable I snagged from almost thirty years ago)’s new The Thing mini-series that I waffled on ordering from my usual comic supplier. I did wind up ordering the second issue, so I was obligated to grab this one this weekend. Doesn’t look like it’ll disappoint, but I’ve also still got most of that last Thing mini-series to read.

Daredevil (1964) Annual 9, 355 — I’d been thinking of snagging this annual off eBay for a bit since it’s one of the handful of issues from this era I was still missing, so this was a lucky find (lots of those this weekend!); this is even still sealed in the polybag with the trading card featuring the new character introduced in its pages, the Devourer, who … uh, looks like never turned up again. Huh. Bear in mind, this was the same year that gave us the X-Force annual I finally got the other week that introduced memorable laughing stock Adam-X The X-Treme, who still turns up from time to time (even just finally had his full origin revealed two years ago!). The later issue features lovely art by both Cary Nord and Steve Epting(!) over Larry Hama layouts(!!) … but also, the cover is completely detached from the comic. Half-tempted to do the ol’ “pull the staples, apply some tape to the inside of the cover, and restaple the comic” trick, except that is always a pain in the butt. Y’know, give me a second here, I think I am going to do that …

Okay, yeah, pain in the butt as always, but that worked! Moving on …

Defenders (2005) 2, (2021) 5 — Goodness, yes, it’s been eighteen years but I finally snagged the second issue of Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire’s attempt to apply the tone of their Justice League International work (or, more accurately, the more comedy-focused revivals of such) to Marvel’s classic non-team team book, the Defenders. (Now watch, I’ll go to file it away and find out that I’d jotted it down wrong and it was, like, issue three I was missing …) And then I spotted the last issue of the 2021 Ewing/Rodriguez mini-series that rolled into last year’s Defenders Beyond, which I’d quite enjoyed, so now I can finally sit down with that.

Dirty Pair: Sim Hell (1993) 2-4 — Here’s one I really wasn’t expecting to find: the remaining issues of Adam Warren’s first Dirty Pair mini-series, the first of which I’d grabbed in a round of comic shopping on eBay a couple of years ago. There were a few of the earlier Eclipse issues, written by Toren Smith, and some of Viz’s prestige format film comics in the longboxes as well, which I might have to grab next time ’round … unless the other two Warren minis (Fatal But Not Serious and Run From the Future) turn up instead. Honestly can’t wait to dig into these.

Grayson (2014) 1-2, 9, 11, 16, 19-20 — Nearly done filling in the holes in this run: Seeley, King, and Janin’s Dick Grayson: Superspy spectacular. Okay, actually the last two issues are Jackson Lansing & Colin Kelly (the current Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty writing team, hey!) and Roge Antonio wrapping the thing up. That team handles the last three issues for some reason; I suspect King & Seeley jumped ship to get a head start on their then-impending Batman and Nightwing relaunches, respectively, that were part of the big DC Rebirth reset, since almost all of the Rebirth-era DC titles shipped twice monthly. It’ll be nice to go through all this again, especially chasing it with Seeley’s Nightwing.

Invincible Iron Man (2023) 4 —  New issue of Iron Man, which I think I start getting from my usual shop with the next issue. This is the one where X-villain Feilong is revealed as the new big baddie for Tony for the foreseeable future, also I guess wrapping this book into the X-fold for maybe the next year or so? We’ll see.

Nightwing (2016) 5-6, 29 — All weird crossover issues (first the “Monster Men” crossover across several Bat-books, then a “Dark Nights: Metal” tie-in), but also all written (or co-written) by Tim Seeley, so I guess they count as part of the run. I do think I’m down to two issues of Seeley’s Nightwing that I’m missing.

She-Hulk (2006) 38 — Ever since the Disney+ series came out, She-Hulk back issues have gotten a lot more scarce and a little bit pricey; this final issue of her ’06 series which started with Dan Slott at the helm for a second go-round before becoming Peter David’s possibly ill-conceived “Jen Walters: Bounty Hunter” run, was priced at eight bucks. Which was fine, because I already had another eight dollar book in the stack (remember, the screwy way Vintage Stock handles these sales is it’s buy-one-get-one by price point). Looks like this is another Peter David final issue that acts like he got the rug pulled out from under him, like Captain Marvel before, and ends in kind of a pissy, cliffhangery way. Oh well.

Spartan: Warrior Spirit (1995) 4 — Another lucky find, the last issue of that Busiek/McKone mini-series giving the WildC.A.T.s’ android leader an origin I’m still not sure about. This, after reading that third issue mere weeks ago and going, “oh crap, this was a four-issue mini??”

Sensational Spider-Man (1996) 6-8 — Having enjoyed J.M. DeMatteis & David Baldeon’s Ben Reilly mini-series from last year, I considered it a weird lucky break that this weekend there was an odd cluster of two dollar Reilly-as-Spidey-era books, all from the middle of the summer of ’96. And the artists on these things are great — issue 6 of Sensational has Dan Jurgens inked by Klaus Janson, and issue 8 is where Mike Wieringo jumps on the book — he’s on it for about a year and a half.

Spectacular Spider-Man (1976) 224, 237-238 — Meanwhile, we start with an issue featuring the Scarlet Spider and Kaine and other directly clone-related nonsense … that happens to be drawn by Sal Buscema inked by Bill Sienkiewicz. Amazing-looking stuff. And Buscema’s still there for the other two, though with a far less mighty inker finishing his work; in fact, it looks like 238’s where he bids farewell to the title he’d been on for over a hundred issues straight. Crazy.

Spider-Man (1990) 70-71 — And then, of course, two issues drawn by John Romita Jr. Yeah, I’ll even endure Howard Mackie’s writing to bask in the glory of another couple twenty-two page installments of Romita Jr. illustrating Spidey. Yes, even smack-dab in the middle of the Clone Saga.

Supergirl (1996) 37 — Speaking of weird versions and eras of characters, an issue of Peter David’s Supergirl, one crossing over with David’s other DC title at the time, Young Justice. I may have mentioned before how this is a title I very rarely see issues of at Vintage Stock, and a run I’d love to actually set aside some time to dig into before too long.

Superman (1987) 117 — The busy tabloid cover featuring extremely obvious Ron Frenz art caught my eye, so I tossed this mullet Supes-starring lead-in to the ol’ “Final Night” event into the pile.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2011) 58, 70-73, 81 — Six issues of IDW’s Turtles which, thanks to them being priced at two bucks each and the buy-one-get-one, set me back six bucks total — a steal. Now, here’s hoping that with all the overcooked continuity and side-stepping into spin-offs of the first nine or so years of the book (one of the reasons I dropped the title to begin with way back during the book’s second year — with what I was making then, there was no way I was working all those extra one-shots & mini-series into the budget) I can make heads or tails of any of these.

The Thing (2006) 5, 7-8 — I first spotted issue 8, the big “Ben Grimm’s superhero poker night” issue, which is, again, a comic I used to have but either sold off like a fool or mislaid, one or the other. The covers on the other two — issue 5 a moody piece with Ben dressed like a local Don, a lady valet holding an umbrella over him; and issue 7 featuring Ben squaring off against Hercules with a local artisan capturing the conflict on a decorative vase — convinced me to take them with as well. Despite the fact that there’s rarely enough of an audience for it, I don’t think there’s ever such thing as a bad Ben Grimm solo title, and I seem to recall Slott really had a lot of fun with the all the drama and comedy of the premise spinning out of Straczynski’s FF run: that Ben’s discovered, during an otherwise bleak conversation the Fantastic Four are having with their accountant, that he’s actually independently wealthy since his finances aren’t co-mingled with Reed, Sue, and Johnny’s. This series only lasted the eight issues; I really should track down the other five.

The Mighty Thor (1998) 15, 26-27, 30 — Random issues of Jurgens’s Thor featuring a series of tremendous artists — Lee Weeks, inked by Klaus Janson, does a staggering job contrasting down to earth drama with some of the finest daft Kirby costuming the King ever devised; Erik Larsen does his own Kirby-inspired thing with a two-issue dust-up with the Absorbing Man; and then Andy Kubert … well, his issue seems to be a lot of hero drama, but then you get a rad splash page welcoming Beta Ray Bill back to the title. You wouldn’t think the space-horse-who-is-also-a-Thor would necessarily be in Kubert’s moody-piercing-glare-wheelhouse, but he does a bang-up job rendering that magnificently weird-ass dude in action.

Thunderbolts (1997) 33, 37-38, Annual 2000, 40, 43, 53-57, 69, 143, 146, 148-149, 152, 162, 163.1-167, 169, 173 — Twenty-five issues of Justice, Like Lightning, covering two distinct eras of the book: the original run, written first by Busiek and then by Fabian Nicieza; and then Jeff Parker’s lengthy run that ends the revived first volume of the title — dude wrote fifty-some issues of the title, if you count the last year and a bit where it becomes the second volume of Dark Avengers. Honestly, everything in the middle seems a bit miserable; I’ve skimmed synopses of Parker’s stuff, and it seems like it eventually settles into a state of enjoying being a Marvel superhero book again, much less in the sleazy, teeth-gritted, “we’re a bunch of sick-in-the-head assholes” mode of the whole “Norman Osborn’s kill squad” era. Guess I’ll see for sure when I sit down with the whole stack at some point in the future.

Uncanny X-Force (2010) 6, 17-19, 29, 32, 34 — Still missing most of the first year of this title; in fact, this leaves me with I think literally a dozen issues missing, which ain’t bad. By and large, Remender was paired up with a murderer’s row of artists here: Esad Ribic on that first one, Jerome Opena drawing the hell out of the two “Dark Angel Saga” issues, and Phil Noto on those final two “Final Execution Saga” installments. I also dig Robbi Rodriguez’s broad, angular cartooning on the issue right after “Dark Angel” ends. ‘Twas a good book, and as I think I said last time, I really do need to sit down and read how it ends one of these days.

Uncanny X-Men (1963) 236 — Ah, here’s the other eight dollar comic: a Claremont & Silvestri issue smack dab in the middle of the original Genosha story, one of the handful of issues I failed to snag a copy of during my big Uncanny-buying & reading binge over the past couple of years — I think from 170 ’til Claremont leaves I’m now missing six issues, at least one of which will remain impossibly out of reach forever (issue 266, the first appearance of Gambit). A nice find!

Wolverine (1988) 63 — Spotted this and went, hey! That’s a Mark Texeira cover I don’t recognize! Into the pile it goes. One of these years I’ll wind up with most of Hama’s run on Logan’s original ongoing (I’m sure, like the Gambit issue of Uncanny X-Men mentioned above, his first run-in with Deadpool — issue 88 — is going to remain hard to snag as a single issue for the foreseeable future, but most of the rest should be relatively “normal” priced for a non-crappy reading copy, generally speaking.)

Wolverine Origins 2006 29-30 — Generally I don’t buy Daniel Way comics — guys who only write titles like Wolverine, the Punisher, and Ghost Rider usually aren’t my cup of tea (plus I still resent him for stapling the stupid dueling caption box internal narration gimmick onto Deadpool, which at least got “resolved” by a later writer, AND for, even farther back, the shittiest interview responses I’ve ever seen a so-called professional do when [barely] trying to promote a quickly-canceled Ant-Man mini-series) — and on top of that the mid-2000s were not a banner period for Wolverine comics: this is the era (and title) where Logan, now in complete possession of his unlocked memories, discovered he had a son, Daken (who I’ve never really taken a shine to on account of being a product of this creator & this era), and also had another master manipulator toying with him before Weapon X, the ridiculous overpowered ancient wolf-man Romulus. But these issues cross over with Mike Carey’s X-Men Legacy, and I planned on digging into all of that sooner or later, so I figured I’d best have these on hand. Pretty sure this is all Logan trying to get Xavier’s help to de-program poor Daken while also squaring away resentments between them.

X-Factor (1986) 9, 36-37 — Three Louise Simonson X-Factors I didn’t have but have read pretty recently thanks to them being collected in the X-Men omnibus editions for the ’80s crossovers. First one’s a dust-up between X-Factor and Mystique’s government stooge squad Freedom Force, the former Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, with art by journeyman X-book fill-in guy Terry Shoemaker while the latter two have Walt Simonson letting ‘er rip on installments of the original Inferno, his swan song on the title.

The X-Men and the Micronauts (1984) 2 — One more issue of one of the rare X-Men stories (co-)written by Claremont that’s never going to be reprinted thanks to their titular co-stars, currently owned by Hasbro; I’m now just missing the first installment. Funny, that, since this is the story featuring the first “dark mirror of Xavier” (the Entity), a trope that would reoccur in decades to come in the form of Onslaught and Cassandra Nova.

Young Justice (1998) 1, 22 — I’ve mentioned before what a miracle it always seems to be when I find a first issue of anything in the Vintage Stock longboxes, and here we find the first monthly issue of Peter David & Todd Nauck’s five-or-so-year, not-Teen Titans young hero title. And then, go figure, I wind up with one of the few issues of the title not by David or (totally) by Nauck — it’s a collection of vignettes by an assortment of creators (not surprised to see Chuck Dixon writing the Robin & Nightwing story, very surprised to see Brian K Vaughan on the Wonder Girl story), with a framing sequence featuring Superboy & Impulse written by Todd Dezago & penciled by Nauck. It’s cute.

ALSO ON THIS TRIP, the Walmarts are finally putting out some of the later Transformers Legacy figures, so I finally got my hands on such late Generation One luminaries as Pointblank, with his Targetmaster partner Peacemaker; former Pretender Skullgrin; and former Triggercon Crankcase. All a bit hobbled in some way — Pointblank’s elbows stink, Skullgrin still has the same crappy “tank” vehicle mode he had in ’88, and at this late date I still haven’t opened Crankcase but I hear he’s not great. But the ones I have opened are fun enough, and I’m sure Crankcase is fine for what he is; I’m largely just happy to see these characters back in circulation.

Transformers Legacy Skullgrin in his utterly terrible tank mode.
Behold, Skullgrin’s utterly terrible tank mode. Remarkable for how close it is to the original toy’s equally bad vehicle mode and, unlike the original, how much work it takes to get it looking like this.

Oh, and I also got Legacy’s take on Beast Wars Inferno, who I also still haven’t opened yet, but just based on the fact that he’s got a flappy jaw and presumably better joint tolerances he’s got to be an improvement over the late ’90s original figure (which I even still sorta like, but the ball joints in the ant mode legs have always been a problem).

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