I’ve been doing this breakdown of my comics pull-list as I adjust and budget for the future and have made a few observations.  I’m going to break it down by company.

  • With DC Comics, I continue to collect several titles.  Aquaman, the Flash, Batgirl, Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, Batwoman, Batman, All-Star Batman, Wonder Woman, and Scooby: Apocalypse.  Most of these titles I’ve collected consistently since the onset of the New 52, with a few changes made here and there.  I’ve thought about collecting Superman or Action Comics again, but I only have so much money to work with and I have to draw a line somewhere.  Although if there are enough ongoings out of the way, I might add them again.  Despite the flaws with the New 52 and Rebirth, I’ve actually been really impressed with a lot of what DC Comics has done.  It does feel like they have a good plan and are more willing to take chances with that plan.
  • Independent Comics are a steadily growing part of my collection.  From Dynamite Entertainment, I’ve been collecting the James Bond title.  Mostly because Warren Ellis had been writing the title, might drop that one now that some one else has taken over.  From IDW I have been collecting My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic as well as My Little Pony: Friends Forever, which is being replaced by My Little Pony: Legends of Magic.  Despite an exgirlfriend’s best efforts, I never could stand the television show, but the comics were top notch.  And this new comic is supposed to deal with the history of magic in the MLP universe.  From Image Comics, it has been a steady lineup of Bitch Planet, East of West and Sex Criminals.  All three of which have been excellent.  From Titan Comics, the Doctor Who series focusing on Doctors 9-12.  Kept meaning to get into the Torchwood comic as well, but never did.  Again, budgeting.  The last Independent comic I’ve been keeping on is Insexts, which has been this weird, delightful story.
  • Which leaves Marvel Comics.  This is where I’ve cut most of my books actually.  Mostly I’ve been collecting the Star Wars comics–Star Wars, Poe Dameron, Doctor Aphra, Darth Maul–while the core superhero titles is down to the Avengers, Hulk, the Mighty Thor and the Unworthy Thor.  Hulk has been a really good PTSD story, while Avengers and the Thor books have been fairly solid and consistent.

So I’ve outlined what I’m actively collecting right now.  I’ve observed this general shift away from Marvel, which has been for a number of reasons.  Not likely to ditch any Star Wars titles, but the core titles have been dropping fast.  Even the Thor or Avengers titles could go soon.  And here’s why.

  1. Creators.  Not that long ago, Marvel Comics had writers like Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Kelly-Sue DeConnick, Jonathan Hickman, Rick Remender, and Kieron Gillen working for them.  Artists like John Romita Jr., Dale Eaglesham and Declan Shalvey has since moved on from Marvel.  Every one of those that I’ve just listed had some role in the overall redefinition or rejuvenation of a character.  Most of them have gone to do work at Image or other independent companies.  Meanwhile, I look at DC and think they have done a pretty decent job of finding good fits for their overall plan and keeping them in positions to be at their best.  Not all the time, but a lot of the time.  I think it would have established a better consistency of tone with Marvel if they hand been able to keep a couple more of those writers and artists around.
  2. Stories.  Despite their flaws and missteps, DC seems to be sticking to a bigger vision for their titles and that comes out in stories on all levels.  From the solo street level characters up to the big cosmic team books, there has been a solid and consistent vision.  Marvel on the other hand, I just think they’ve been telling mediocre stories.  So many of their books are just building up to the next event so we don’t have an opportunity to see any character development.  Stories too dependent on ex machina gimmicks and Macguffins.  DC might be guilty of that too with the Watchmen button, but I argue the return of Wally West and the Pre-New 52 Superman made that a bit less of an annoyance.  Cosmic Cubes and Infinity Gauntlets are more what has become an annoying dependency for Marvel.
  3. Pricing.  I think Marvel could make more of an effort to keep more of their books under $3.99.  It is more the nature of the business, but I think DC has made a much more obvious effort to keep their prices under control.
  4. Diversity.  Marvel has tried to blame slumping sales on too much diversity at one point or another.  The one way that happens is if they force things too much.  I do think they have tried too hard to diversify, but haven’t necessarily given the conditions for those titles to succeed.

For if one is remembered by a friend, one is never truly gone.

-Star Wars: Thrawn

  • Finally broke the hour mark in Overwatch with Orisa.  In some ways she can be annoying, but her abilities can be useful.  I probably will play as her more often than I play as some others.
  • Weekend off coming up.  Hopefully going to power through some reading, writing and drawing that I’ve been putting off.  Getting closer to Comic Con season, so I stepping that up is a priority.  Might also start the process of selling off my comics.  That is a bit of a trickier thing, as I want to have a steady flow of books getting signed and graded as I sell them.  Maximize and extend my profit window.
  • I saw recently that Greg Rucka’s run as writer of Wonder Woman will be coming to an end relatively soon.  Part of me is kind of glad about that.  It’s not that he’s a bad writer, but I just get tired of him working with lesbian characters all of the time–I could argue Wonder Woman as more bisexual, but in the current storyline she has not necessarily shown an overwhelming interest in men.  Regardless, Rucka’s work–thinking of Rene Montoya, Kate Kane, Carrie Stetko–tends to focus on lesbian heroines.  I’m all for diversity, but I think there could be a bit more variation to the diversity.  Kind of goes along with my biggest complaint about Tracer from Overwatch.  I thought there were more powerful statements to be made with the character and the game in general.
  • Finished reading the new Star Wars: Thrawn novel.  Pretty solid stuff.  Think Timothy Zahn did a good job building up the characters and showing the functioning of the Empire at that time.  I was a bit taken aback when Disney announced that the novels and comics and video games from the last couple of decades were no longer canon, but I understood the need to declutter.  A lot of the material was clutter and detracted from the better stories of the Expanded Universe.  I’m glad they brought back Thrawn though.  The Thrawn books were some of my favorites from the novels, probably the most well written.  Makes me wonder if Thrawn or Eli Vanto will appear in Last Jedi or Episode IX.  In some form, maybe the character portrayed by Benicio Del Toro?

“I am only an egg.”

-Stranger In A Strange Land

  • Saw something about Twitter changing the default avatar from an egg to a silhouette.  I was preferable to the egg myself.  In the novel Stranger In A Strange Land, Michael Smith often repeats the phrase, “I am only an egg.”  Basically he’s saying, “I still have a lot to learn.”  Having the egg I think was a good reminder that people people don’t necessarily know everything and that we all still have a lot to learn.  We all have something to learn and something to teach each other.  Plus, Twitter does have the bird theme.
  • Was trying to figure out if there was going to be a trade paperback of the Overwatch comics coming out anytime soon.  Doesn’t look that way.  I think Dark Horse has been putting them out digitally, but I would like to get a hard copy at some point.  It is really interesting how they have developed the world and characters of the game, in that there is no real story in the game play.  Been taking a break from that anyway.  A lot of Batman: Arkham Knight and Mass Effect: Andromeda with some Skyrim thrown in.  Finally cracking into the stack of games I haven’t gotten into as heavily yet.  Gave brief thought to plugging the Playstation 3, which I still haven’t done since I left Shoreham.
  • Saw an article the other day about how some people at Marvel Comics is blaming their drop in sales on “pushing too much diversity” in their comics.  Seriously?  You basically have all your books leading from one event to the next, constantly restart the titles each year, and recycle plots from the last few decades.  On top of that, Marvel has lost a lot of top talent over the last few years, probably on some level due to Editorial issues.  But anyway, tell me how “too much diversity” is the real problem.
  • Joss Whedon has apparently taken on the task of making a Batgirl movie.  At the first glance, I was excited.  Whedon has done an excellent array of work with female characters that most find admirable.  And the plan is to base it off Gail Simone’s New 52 run with the character, which was arguably one of the better parts of that initiative that DC Comics put out.  So that seems like a recipe for success.  However, he did have a brief flirtation with a Wonder Woman movie that failed to pan out.  And there was Avengers: Age of Ultron, which featured a disappointing direction for Black Widow.  Some of that could be attributed to creative issues with the studio, but it does raise a red flag or two.  So I’m cautiously optimistic.

Do you know what thinking is? It’s just a fancy word for changing your mind.

–The Doctor in Doctor Who “The Zygon Inversion”

 

  • Continuing with a previous post: Freedom of Speech.  I was thinking about the Bill Maher/Yiannopoulos interview and a point occurred to me.  I like to think that the whole point behind Freedom of Speech is the exchange of ideas.  Put forth new ideas that open people’s minds and get them thinking.  There’s a difference between trying to pick a fight and putting forth a new idea.  Ideas encourage thought and discussion.  Whenever I’ve tried to write seriously about any topic–guns, religion, relationships, politics, social issues, etc.–I’m really just trying to give people new ideas to think about.  I don’t necessarily overburden myself with a notion of being right or wrong.  And any of those ideas I usually think on more after I write about them and would be willing to have a discussion about.  I know that probably was never really possible for some people and probably never will be, but I wouldn’t mind discussion where possible.  Being challenged helps new ideas to form.
  • I’m pretty impressed that I’m holding steady at 175 pounds right now.  My diet and exercise routines seem to be working effectively enough and I’m ramping up the cardio lately.  Made it to 6.5 minutes on the elliptical machine.  Can’t wait to kayak and hike again.  I pretty much cut out cardio completely for the winter under the rational that I’m on my feet and running around for most of my eight hours at work every night so that should amount to something and I was trying to gain some significant weight.  Still not where I want to be in regards to sleep, but there’s always something to work on.
  • Trying to figure out how one is really supposed to celebrate President’s Day.  What is one supposed to do?
  • Lately, I’ve been giving more thought to bringing back Chlorine and Acid.  I almost did a special page about something that was going on at work, but events unfolded so it was unnecessary.  I feel like it is needed again.  Going to do some page layouts and maybe redraw some of the early pages.  Maybe even make some use of various reference pictures I took.

Right now the song “Battle of Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)” from Hamilton has been stuck in my head for the last couple of days.

  • Getting political again.  I’m making plans to get more involved in some political stuff.  Looking into some local groups, going to try to help out.  Advocacy groups and the like.  Voices need to be heard.  Thinking of starting a new blog with more focus on politics.  Might help to organize and focus my thoughts.
  • I was watching Bill Maher’s season premiere the other night and he said something I found interesting.  Talking about the Clintons, he expressed the thought of, “Thank you for service, now I never want to see you again.”  When Bernie Sanders really began to pick up momentum in the primaries, I read that as a sign that the political world was changing.  The era of the Bush and Clinton dynasties was coming to an end.  For a number of reasons, I look at it less as Trump winning and everybody else losing.  Trump’s election was less the will of the people and more… backlash from the attempt to resist the natural direction our political landscape was trying to go.  Trump is very much an establishment figure.  Power is going back to the people, but Trump is not the champion of that.
  • Enough political talk.  Let’s talk about sex.  Was working on a comic script and there was a sex scene.  In writing it, I was going through a bunch of sex positions I had bookmarked at various times.  One stuck out to me.  This has intrigued me for some time.  I think there was a variation where the man and woman are reversed, but it makes me wonder how likely a back injury would be with this.  Admitted I’m in pretty good shape right now, but I’m not sure whether or not I have enough body fat to pad myself or enough flexibility.  It would be a hell of a reason to call out from work though.
  • After being sick for most the last two weeks, I did end up losing a bit of weight.  I had been hovering around 180 pounds.  Now I’m sitting at 175.  I was going to do a bit of a cut, not to serious of one because I like where my weight is.  Basically I’m going to use up what I have left for Serious Mass and maintain for the foreseeable future.  175 was right about where I wanted to be anyway.
  • Reading about how lack of sleep affects your stomach bacteria.  Hint: it isn’t good.  I have noticed I am more prone to upset stomaches and related issues lately, despite improving my diet.  One more reason it was a big mistake to make the jump to working nights.
  • Thinking a little further on the post I did on Monday, I’m going to make a bit of a declaration.  I’m going to think of myself in one word: Human.  Stop with seeing myself as a male, absurdist, romanticidal, feminist, nerd, athlete, artist, writer, loser, etc…  Just see myself as “Human.”  We’ll see how that goes.
  • I realized the other day I actually do have fifty-something followers on this blog.  I find that mind-boggling sometimes.  I mostly do this more for myself, so I’m never really sure how to feel about people actually reading it.  I hope I’m putting some good ideas out there.

I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.

  • So this flu–going to call it that based on the myriad symptoms I’ve exhibited–has dragged on for about a week.  I’m getting tired of it.  Mostly I just want to breathe again.  Haven’t been able to bench for a few days, lying back on the bench when you struggle to breathe is quite the challenge.  Hopefully I will be back to doing a flat or decline bench at the end of the week.  Did a pretty decent workout today, which is a very good sign.
  • Got the last of my NYCC books back from CGC.  This round of books were the set I got signed by Jim Starlin.  I got a 9.2 on Avengers Annual #7 (Conclusion of the first Thanos Saga and the “Death” of Adam Warlock), Infinity Gauntlet #1 got a 9.4, Infinity Gauntlet #2 got a 9.4, and Infinity Gauntlet #3 got a 9.6.  Not a bad hull.  The Avengers Annual actually has Thanos’ first “death” as well as his assembling the Infinity Gems, although he does not use them as the Gauntlet until the series of the same name.  Very pleased, fits right along with my plans for these and the books I got signed by Stan Lee as well.
  • Trying to budget more time for drawing, optimize my abilities.  I’ve been doing a lot of side stuff, but I’d really like to get back to comics.  I’m going to try drawing more by hand, with actual pencil and paper.  I’m not necessarily a fan of being purely digital.  Definitely feel like I draw better in pencil first, then pretty it up in Photoshop.

Been thinking about doing a recurring thing about comics lately.  I still get my newstands mailed to me every month, so might as well do some review type stuff.  Right now I’m collecting the following titles:

Marvel: Thor, Avengers, Uncanny Avengers, Hulk, Star Wars, Star Wars: Poe Dameron, and Star Wars: Doctor Aphra.  I’ve been cutting back on the Marvel a bit, mostly keeping the Star Wars titles.  I’ve really liked what Thor is doing lately and the first issue of Hulk was actually pretty decent.

DC: Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Scooby: Apocalypse, All-Star Batman, Batgirl, Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, and the Flash.   I’d collect more DC titles like Action Comics, Detective Comics, and Superman, but there have been some need to keep to a budget.  Scooby: Apocalypse is fascinating if only for the reimagining of the gang in a post-apocalyptic hell-scape.

Others (Image, Dynamite, IDW, Titan, etc.):  East of West, Sex Criminals, Doctor Who (4th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th Doctors), My Little Pony, My Little Pony: Friends Forever, Insexts, and James Bond.  Kinda kicking myself for not collecting the Torchwood series, but probably should cut back the number of books.  A lot of these are just odd ball series I collect because I’m intrigued by the creative teams, etc.  I used to get the MLP stuff for my ex, but I actually do like reading them and it is one of better all ages books out there.  Might try to complete the run and collect the series at some point.

 

I’ve collected others but there have been a few cuts of late.  Some were series that just came to their own conclusions–Darth Vader, Han Solo, A-Force, etc.–and others that just have lost me or had to be dropped for budget reasons.

The biggest one that’s lost me is Captain America.  I collected that book for a long time.  First there was Ed Brubakers run with the character and his spin-off work with the Winter Soldier, which was fantastic.  He did an amazing job of bringing the spy noir quality back to the character and much of his influence has been felt in the Winter Soldier and Civil War movies.  After that, the title was followed up with Rick Remender taking over as writer.  He brought it more to a traditional superhero story and played a lot more with the “Man Out of Time” aspect of the character.  That period also featured Sam Wilson becoming Captain America and a more team dynamic.

Which brings us to the present.  After the “Secret Wars” event, Remender concluded his work at Marvel and the Captain America title was turned over to a new writer, Nick Spencer.  Sam Wilson was still Cap, as Steve Rogers had been aged after his encounter with a supervillain called the Nail.  This led to a more interesting take on the character that started out with Sam Wilson trying to take a more socially aware approach.  This involved intervening when a number of illegal immigrants were being abducted by members of a terrorist group called Sons of Serpent.  His actions put him at odds with Steve Rogers who is a high ranking member of SHIELD and he finds himself a bit more on his own.  Then the events of Avengers: Standoff! unfold and Steve Rogers is restored to his younger self and we go straight into the secret agent of Hydra nonsense.

The basic premise of Avengers: Standoff! was that somebody leaked the existence of a SHIELD black site, called Pleasant Hill.  At work there was a sentient cosmic cube in the form of a little girl calling itself Kobik who is essentially brainwashing and altering villains to live peacefully in the idyllic little town.  When all the heroes go to investigate she loses control and the villains revolt, led by Baron Zemo.  As events unfold, elderly Steve Rogers finds himself face to face with Crossbones who begins to beat him to death.  At this point Kobik intervenes and restores Rogers’ youth and strength.  Later it is revealed that the Red Skull has made contact with Kobik and when she restored his youth, he is altered to believe he has always been a Hydra operative in service of the Red Skull.

Even before the obnoxius Deus Ex Machina aspects of Kobik and the Red Skull having Professor X’s mental abilities–a completely different storyline that annoys me–the storyline has fallen off the rails.  Steve Rogers would trust Sam Wilson.  He would trust his friend.  This is before Kobik and the Red Skull did their thing.  Rogers would trust the judgement of his friend.  He would not come down on his friend in the ways he did.  Not even Old Man Rogers would do that.  If he was not going to trust his friend and back him up, why give him the Shield?

So yeah, that’s why I stopped reading Captain America.  For something trying to be socially conscious in its own way, it does not seem will to push things like it should.

Also got my second round of CGC signature series books back  They are as follows:

Fantastic Four #46: signed by Stan Lee, graded at a 5.0.  Came back a bit higher of a grade than I thought it would.  First appearance of Black Bolt, King of the Inhumans.

Fantastic Four #66: signed by Stan Lee, graded at a 7.5.  Hoped for a wee bit higher.  First part of the two part story that Adam Warlock appears in.  Gives his origin.

Fantastic Four #67: Signed by Stan Lee, graded at a 6.5.  Hoped for a bit higher here too, but still a nice book.  Second part of the first Adam Warlock story and his first brief appearance.

Thor #165:  signed by Stan Lee, graded at a 7.0.  First full appearance of Adam Warlock.

Thor #193:  I had gotten this signed at NYCC in 2015, by Gerry Conway and John Romita Sr.  Last issue of Thor that Stan Lee worked on in his original run on the character.  In 2016, I got Stan Lee to sign it.  Came back at a 9.4.

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