Happy new year! For my first solo column of the new year, not counting the GOTS Awards column which was a family affair, I thought I’d tie up some loose ends leftover from 2018. It’s almost like a New Year’s hangover, if you will. You know, a bunch of things hanging over from last year. Plus, this week’s trip to the comic shop seemed to really lend itself to updating some recent column topics. So here are a few quick hitters in no particular order:
The End of My Action Comics Experience:
So I picked up Action #1006 by Brian Bendis and Ryan Sook and stuck it in my stack without any hesitation. Here’s the link to my glowing review of Action 1001-1005. The art has been top notch (still is), the story has been engrossing (still is), and DC was actually putting digital codes on their books for once (–hold up). That’s right, they put codes for parts 1-5 of this story and stopped for part 6. That’s a D
iC k move if I’ve ever seen one. It’s really frustrating to see this practice changed mid-story.
I don’t need digital codes on all of my books, but it’s really nice to not have to worry about where I put the last issue while I’m waiting for story-lines to build up. They’re just waiting there, hanging out on the ipad waiting for that last readthrough once the story finally sees a “the End” in the corner of the last page. It’s so convenient. I don’t have to keep a long-box within arm’s reach to stay updated on my books.
Not everything needs a digital code. The Walmart 100-page giants don’t have digital codes, but they haven’t had them from the get-go. I know not to expect them (even though they would be nice). I’ve been happy to pick those up thanks to the quality of the creative teams and the story content. Plus the thrill of the hunt thanks to Walmart’s pretty terrible distribution keeps me intrigued. Also, most trade paperbacks don’t have the codes, either, but they’re much easier to keep organized because the story is all in one place. The bottom line is simple: Either put the codes on a story or don’t, but don’t go half way. So, even though I’m enjoying Action Comics, I’m done. I’ll wait for this to hit trade paperback form if I really still want to read it down the line. That’s if I remember to go back to it. At least that way, they won’t sell me on 5 issues of a 6 or 7 issue storyline and then cut the trade off half way. Or if they do, I’ll be able to see what I’m getting into as I fish it out of the bargain bin.
Before I jump off of the DC wagon, I will say their Stan Lee tribute this week was classy. It’s nice to see respect shown across the companies.
The Infinity Wars Mini-Series: Infinity #1
The Gerry Duggan run that began with Guardians of the Galaxy and went through Infinity Wars wrapped up this week with Infinity Wars: Infinity #1–except it didn’t. Wars artist Mike Deodato provided the cover, and then made way for Mark Bagely to handle interiors here. This issue wasn’t really so much of a coda on the Wars series as much as it was a setup issue for Duggan’s next mini-series: Infinity Watch, with Phoenix-forcified Wolverine wielding the Infinity Gauntlet. Meh. I haven’t decided yet if I’m in for this one. I’ve really enjoyed the Duggan run thus far, but Wolverine isn’t really my bag. Wolverine with hot claws and an infinity gauntlet–who knows? I’ll probably let this series release an issue or three before I make the final decision to dive in or not.
Speaking of Phoenix and Wolverine stuff, though…
Santa Claus Remembered to Bring the Gift that is X-Men Grand Design: Second Genesis!
I haven’t had the chance to dive into this too deeply just yet, as Ed Piskor’s re-weaving of the X-Men history into one cohesive tale can be a bit dense. It needs a bit of room to breathe, I feel. But man, oh man, is it great to look at! Plus, Piskor recolored what is probably my favorite X-Men image ever: the Art Adams group shot from X-Men Classics #1. Any excuse to see that again is a welcome one.
Thankfully, Santa *via amazon gift cards* ended up providing plenty of reading material to help fuel my articles for the coming weeks, but I couldn’t wait to show off this beauty ahead of time.
A Heart-Warming Ham-Based Tale (I Think, At Least):
Previously, I lamented the lack of a solid in-scale Spider-Ham for my Spider-Verse squad. I bit the bullet and tried my hand at the Funko Mystery Minis collection for my shot at Ham. The thing is, these toys are blind boxed, and they’re not all that cheap. $6 is a lot when you don’t know what you’re getting. Before this point, I tried my luck at just randomly picking out one for me and one for the kiddo: we got a Miles Spider-man and a Peni Parker with Sp//der Robot. Cool selections, but not what we were looking for.
Most times with blind-bagged toys especially, there are ways to game the system. Numerical codes listed on the package will often tell you which figure is inside. If the kiddo is looking for a Mario guy or a specific blind bagged Teen Titan or Madball or whatever, I check those codes. Some companies like Lego won’t do numerical codes, but they will do dot-patterns on the package–at least that way you can make sure you’re not buying doubles. Blind bag doubles are the bane of any collector! You could even go the old fashioned route with the bags and feel for certain features or weapons before you make your selection, but usually a quick googly search will show you how to find the right character.
With Funko’s minis–I haven’t found a way to crack their system. They’re bagged inside a cardboard box wrapped in cellophane, and they sort their figures not by actual model, but by rarity (common/rare/ultrarare–that sort of thing). There’s no code, no touchy-feely stuff, nothing–except one thing. The only thing I could find online to differentiate the toys was the weights of the various figures. So one night, after my shift at one of my side gigs, I went to the local game shop 30 minutes before close, and I noticed the fresh case of Spider-Verse boxes. Hooray for me!
I’ve worked at retail, and I know when someone comes in that close to the end of the night, the natural instinct of the retail worker is to sigh in disgust. There were a handful of other customers in the store, so I wouldn’t be the only one causing these beleagured and holiday-season-beaten retailers to stay, so that was a plus. Also, I knew that Spider-Ham, by a matter of ounces, was the lightest figure in the case and a fresh case meant the best chance to get Ham. So, like a lunatic hobo that’s wandered in off the street 30 minutes to close, I start picking up each individual package to find out which is the lightest one. One by one, the lighter one stays, heavier one goes into the throwback pile. If it’s too close, I would put one in a maybe pile for later. I’m sure I looked like a crazy person. The assistant (to the) manager politely asked me if he could help, and I explained my plan to ensure that I looked like a crazy person. Then, he did the oddest thing: he went into the back and brought out the scale they use for counting change at the end of the night. He proceeded to individually weigh each figure until he found the lightest one.
How cool is that?
Maybe he really did think I was a crazy person and he wanted me out of his store before I had that Falling-Down style moment Andy always thinks I’m ready to have. Understandable. Maybe he just wanted to move me along so he could start closing up his store. I would understand that, too. But in my heart of hearts, I feel like he genuinely wanted to see me (and by extension, my kiddo) get that Spider-Ham. Also, he told me out loud that he really wanted to see if we figured it out. He asked if I wouldn’t mind either opening it there or at least coming back to let him know if he got it. I tore into the package at the counter, and by jove, he did it! The assistant (to the) manager and his fancy scale helped get my fam our Ham! I’m sure that part of the fun of the Funko mystery products is the mystery itself, but it was even more fun to not spend $6 in vain and I think the game shop guy understood that. Now our Spider-Verse is more complete and more Spider-Versey than ever! Huzzah! It was a holiday ham-based miracle and a kindness I will remember.
So many thanks go out to those that are keeping things cool out there, and best wishes for all (several) of my faithful readers for this new year!
Until next time, I’ll be the guy who looks like a crazy person who might just be a crazy person but I’m harmless and just looking for toys or comics or cool stuff!