Exciting Update

What few readers I have might have noticed my recent lack of productivity. It all comes with good reason though. Firstly I won’t lie was a lack of creative juices flowing in me. Which is something that the people at my second reason won’t want to hear so shhhh. So on to the good I mean great news. As of early July I will be writing a weekly blog for Richard and Shawn of Language of Bromance fame (www.languageofbromance.com). The guys put out a great podcast on all things nerdy so if your not listening check it out. Its available at all the usual podcast outlets or click the link above. They are in the process of revamping the website and were looking for bloggers. I put my name in the hat and so far we’ve clicked. I can’t thank the guys for the positive feed back they’ve given me so far. These are really going to be fun and exciting times.

PS so from here on out my #TBOCHT will be superseded by #LOBarmy

PPS New email not that I’ve ever been contacted by a reader ianwells87@hotmail.com

PPPS I need to come up with a sign off…

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Exciting Update

No Local Con!

So last year on FCBD I wrote about how I no longer have a Local Comic Shop. Earlier this year I discovered I wouldn’t be having a local con for the foreseeable future either. If you read my Con Diary entry last year for Collectormania 23 you probably assumed I wouldn’t miss it. But of course I will. Who wouldn’t miss a con ten minutes from their front door and with free entry? I’ve come to accept that last years failings were probably down more to the venue owner than the Showmasters staff and the dealers. I like to think if another alternative venue became available in Milton Keynes both Showmasters and the dealers would be welcome to get the con on again.

Now if my memory serves me correctly the first Collectormania took place in 2002. The venue back then was inside the local shopping centre. It took place over a bank holiday weekend and yes I went all four days. I was in my element! I went a little berserk! Back in those days I was still operating on pocket money. It must’ve taken me months to save up for it. A small sacrifice. Now I won’t bore you with a list of every item I brought. A particular golden moment in my collecting career was a Wolverine TPB f the original mini series for £1! Ray Park was the biggest guest signing that year. He was fresh of the back of portraying Darth Maul (Remember him he was meant to be huge) and Toad (Remember him he was lame). Recently when I was tidying up some nerd stuff I discovered some photos I took. Yes back in the day when you still had photos developed. They were of The Arc of The Covenant and a Snowspeeder. I don’t know if they were replicas or actual props from the films but they made the con feel authentic. This is what San Diego must be like I was thinking.

Collectormania Milton Keynes popularity grew so quickly they started having two a year. The local newspaper was always bragging about how people would come from all over the globe to come to our little con. The guests grew in calibre. The year Elijah Wood was there was fucking manic. It was between LOTR films so he was a big deal. None of the guests ever took my fancy. My sister did meet Carrie Fisher. She was seated next to Billy Dee Williams  and neither of them looked silver screen ready back then. Episode 7 was nothing more than a pipedream. By the way Lando has to be in Episode 8! Over the years over two different venues I’ve seen dealers come and go. I’ve seen dealers go through changes in what they consider best selling items. I’ve even seen a dealer be there on the Friday and disappear by the Saturday. The annoying thing being I was mulling over buying something from them as well.

I once out nerded a guy at Collectormania. I live off of this story. I was purchasing a Sabertooth Bowen Designs bust when the guy takes down an Iron Fist #14 and asks if I want that too. I tell him no and then I hit him with my encyclopaedic knowledge. I ask him if he knew #14 was the penultimate issue of Iron Fist and it got cancelled after #15. Of course he was dumb founded. I payed for my bust and walked off… Okay I may have over sold that story.

When the venue was changed to The Stadium MK it made it feel bigger and better. ‘All New All Different’ if you will. It allowed  a little more space to spread out. Guest signings weren’t getting in the way of dealers. The best part was it stopped gormless none nerds getting in the way. Which was a big bug bear when the con took place in the middle of the local shopping centre. I was once pushed out the way by a member of Dave Prowse’s entourage. Now here was a guy in a movie 30 years ago under a helmet. I can assure you ninety percent of the attendees had no idea who he was. There was no need to move me out the way there was no clamour to get to him. Because it was now on the outskirts of down it made it more of an event. You would go there lose a couple of hours walking the concourse. Then grab some lunch and head back for some last minute purchases.

All in all down the years I’ve enjoyed Collectormania. I got all my Wolverine Bowen Designs bust there. Its also accountable for the bulk of my back issues.  Like I said earlier a local con with free entry was hard to dislike. It was love hate at times but I guess that’s all part of collecting. I’ll miss it in the long term. If I didn’t do any cons through out the year I always done Collectormania Milton Keyens. So come on Showmasters work at getting it back next year!

No Local Con!

The Ultimate Wolverine Reading List

So recently I was logging my recent comics on my Excel spreadsheet (as us nerds do) and it came to my attention that Wolverine has been dead for a year now. I was planning on writing a blog defending his character when he eventually returns but I think letting the comics speak for themselves is a better way. At the time of writing this there doesn’t seemed to be any immediate plans to bring him back. That being said I’ am really enjoying both Wolverine related titles on the shelves at the moment for different reasons. In ‘Old Man Logan’ I look forward to seeing what directions Lemire goes with his revenge/future prevention story line. Is it an ongoing or a maxi series? In my opinion if its ongoing it will eventually have to change its formula. If and when regular Logan does return keep Sorrentino on the book! Over in ‘All New Wolverine’ Tom Taylor is delivering non convoluted action, which massively appeals to me! Its very reminiscent of what made Wolverine popular in the early days of his ongoing series.

On to my list. I originally set out to make a list that was accessible to new readers, Then thought ‘fuck ’em’. So now I have a very diverse and in depth list of what I consider to be Wolverines best stories.

Needless to say spoilers…

14. Classic X-Men #10 Chris Claremont and John Bolton.

No I’m not selecting this for the reprint of  ‘Who Will Stop The Juggernaut’. I’m selecting this for the vignette by Claremont and Bolton. It is titled ‘Tag, sucker’ and is the first tease of a history between Wolverine and Sabertooth. Predating Wolverine #10 by two years it tells the story of Wolverine chasing a vicious killer through NYC. Although the killer is never fully seen its heavily implied he shares a connection with Wolverine. When people read it at the time it probably wasn’t seen as more than an enjoyable back up now however it is an important part in Wolverine and Sabertooth’s long running rivalry.

13. Wolverine Annual ’97 John Ostrander, Joe Edkin and Leonardo Manco

You can’t have a list like this and not include a legend like Ostrander. It’s just a simple done in one story. Manco’s sketchy style is perfect for the werewolf element and the story moves along at a good pace. The Cold War, a werewolf, a dame looking for Logan’s help and a vendetta. Ostrander ties all these plot devices together into an enjoyable read. Marvel bring back entertaining annuals please.

12. Uncanny X-Men #133 ‘Wolverine: Alone!’ Chris Claremont and John Byrne

The title of the issue says it all. When I re-read the issue I wasn’t sure if four pages of story and a kick ass cover were enough to merit a place on the list. But you have to take into account how this was a character defining moment. Widely considered as the first time Wolvie really cut loose and the fact it takes place during the amazing ‘Dark Phoenix Saga’ cement its place in comics history.

11. Uncanny X-Force #9 Rick Remender and Billy Tan

This issue gives a usually action packed series a breather. After the global and mutant threats across multiple time lines in the opening arcs this done in one story settles for more real world issue. WWII was character defining for both Wolverine and Magneto and it is used to good effect here. Magneto wants revenge on a Nazi from his POW camp. The fact he would even ask Wolverine to do it for him is ballsy but add into the mix that now Magneto knows of X-Force’s existence. Wolverine uses his samurai sword for the deed rather than just giving it the snikt! Making these a great character piece.

10. Debt of Death David Lapham and David Aja

Once you flip past Aja’s stylized cover there is no turning back from getting sucked into the action. Nick Fury, Japan, intelligence leaks we enter some familiar areas for Wolverine but Lapham still makes it feel fresh. Japanese WWII robots have been stolen and are now being used by the Yakuza. Enter Wolverine. If that sentence can’t sell a story I don’t know what will.

9. Wolverine #16 ‘Wolverine Forever’ (2011) Jason Aaron and Goran Sudzuka

Another interesting character piece coming off the back of a big story arc. Melita Garner is interviewing a wide range of people who know Wolverine trying to paint a picture of the man he is. At the same time Wolverine has gone feral after his latest ordeal and is hunting with a wolf pack. He comes across some backward folk who are doing wolf fights and kidnapping children. Anyway the beat of the story Melita asks Logan who he thinks he is. His reply being he considers himself still a work in progress. Maybe some one could tell me if Sudzuka done anymore at Marvel?

8. Uncanny X-Men #268 ‘Madripoor Knights’ Chris Claremont and Jim Lee

Maybe not the first but certainly one of the best times Wolverine’s past had been explored within the context of other heroes in the Marvel Universe. If you’ve never heard of this issues all you need to no is Wolvie and Cap fighting the Hand in Madripoor during WWII to save a young Natasha Romanov.  Its like the comic equivalent of a popcorn flick.

7. Wolverine #87 ‘Showdown in Lowtown!’ Larry Hama and Adam Kubert

This issue is just pure 90’s goodness. It has 3 double page spreads! To me it feels like Kubert is channeling Jim Lee, he’s not refined like Kubert today. A Team X flashback and me being a total Maverick geek make this issue just cry out to me. It must be said Larry Hama done a lot of work in shaping the modern Wolverine just in sheer weight of issues he done. In my opinion after he left the title was rather hit and miss till the early 2000’s.

6. Wolverine #119 – #122 ‘Not Dead Yet’ Warren Ellis and Leinil Francis Yu

Before I delve into this one lets take a moment to imagine if Ellis took the reigns of a major character for a two year plus stint! It would be sense shattering! The status quo would never be the same again! What Ellis does here is he keeps it simple. In a flashback McLeish a contract killer from Logan’s crosses him and is left for dead. In the present McLeish is seemingly alive and believes he knows how to kill Wolverine. What transpires is a test of both Wolverine’s powers and will. In some panels you can see Yu honing his skill and moving away from a house style of art.

5. X-Force: Sex and Violence #1 – #3 Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost and Gabriele Dell’Otto

I’ll be honest I never saw Wolverine and Domino as potential bed buddies before this mini series. Being only three issues helps the story settle straight into its stride. Dom and Wolvie get caught up between the Hand and the Assassins Guild, ‘Nuff Said. Dell’Otto’s art is so gorgeous! You could easily and still enjoyably follow the narrative of the story with just his art. The appearance at the end of Kyle and Yost’s X-Force make this a perfect coda to that series.

4. Wolverine #20 – #25 ‘Enemy of The State’ (2004) Mark Millar and John Romita jnr.

It was literally a toss of a coin to decide which of Millar’s blockbusters made the list. Given  ‘Old Man Logan’ recent press I went with this. Millar is at his best when he just breezes in and throws everything including the kitchen sink into a story. It probably got dragged out a bit too long with the ‘Agent of S.H.E.I.L.D’ arc but this arc is so enjoyable. Wolverine brain washed by the Hand killing capes, what’s not to love? Was just a privilege to see Romita drawing Daredevil again! Elektra is well used and new addition Gorgon is a great addition to the Marvel Universe.

3. Marvel Comics Presents #72 – #84 ‘Weapon X’ Barry Windsor Smith

I took some convincing to put this masterpiece in the list. Let me explain. It is solely for hard core Wolverine fans. It is still his definitive origin story, but in all honesty not a lot happens. It is essentially a scientific diary. But what a diary! Windsor Smith brings his A game pulling triple duty to tell his tale. The art is on another level with the detail and colour palette lifting the story. Wolverine’s past pre and post Weapon X has been retconned so much this story can often be over looked. Like it said though for me its definitive. Without it he’s not The Best There is…

2. Wolverine #1 – #4 1982 mini series Chris Claremont and Frank Miller

The series that cemented Wolverine as a solo superstar and firmly cemented him in Japan. From reading articles over the years it feels others at Marvel only saw him as the beserker the  hot headed team member. Claremont had faith and once he hit on his failed samurai idea everything else fell into place. It elevated the character to the one we all know today. Miller’s cinematic style works for the story. Weather its the elegance of the fights or the neon loneliness of Tokyo he nails it.

1. Wolverine #162 – #164 ‘The Hunted’ Frank Tieri and Sean Chen

Originally I was toying with the idea of having Tieri and Chen’s whole run as my number one, but I decided I had to be more cut throat so I settled on what I think is the standout arc. This arc takes the reader on a few different genre types to tell its tale. We have government conspiracy, Wolverine and Beast on a buddie road trip. Prison drama, a touch of horror and the return of Weapon X. People expected Mark Millar to do a blockbuster on Wolverine but for me this matches it in terms of cast and scope. Giving Sabertooth adamantium is one thing, restoring Weapon X is the kicker! Nick Fury pops his head in, Brent Jackson is the asshole we love to hate, (how has he not been on AOS)? Shiverman and Mauvais are genius new additions. The latter of which dines on Wolverine’s eye! The arc also features Wolverine alum Windsor Smith doing some Weapon X flashback art and Mark Texeira filling in on an entire issue. Lastly ‘The Hunted’ is the first and last comic to use Peepers in a slightly credible way!

So those are my picks and this being the internet I guess I will have some feedback. Positive or negative I welcome it. Got you own list or agree with mine? Tweet me @IanWells87 or email me ianwells87@yahoo.co.uk If I get some interesting responses maybe I can do a follow up piece for all the stories I forgot!

The Ultimate Wolverine Reading List

Convention Diary Part 3

London Comic Mart. So you might have deduced from my previous diary entries that I’m not a con guy. But they are such a part of the industry I keep giving them a bash. But LCM is the right con for me. I would say its 90% long boxes! You can not beat the smell of old comics! Its not just the long box dominance that makes this con great. Firstly its only a five minute walk from Euston Station so you don’t need to mess about on The Underground. Also it is free entry. There is a £5 early entry fee. But it is advised on the website not all sellers will be set up the earlier you attend. I never got the appeal of early entry. At this or any con. Yeah you might walk straight in and fall in love with a bust or statue. Its yours before anyone else lays eyes on it. Chances that someone is looking for the exact same back issues as you are slim. There is not a huge amount of space assigned to the con. From my review of Collectormania you know I’m a stickler for foot traffic getting bottle necked. I would say it was slightly smaller than my previous visit but the space given was utilized very well. I was happy from the moment I walked in. There seemed a buzz about the place too. There were dealers buying from each other and talking grades. A discussion about CGC over doing things on another stall. There were a lot of the old 70’s Marvel magazine sized issues. One dealer had a whole issue worth of George Tuska originals. Another dealer was making a killing on loose heroclix. I myself brought a DOFP Wolverine. I made a quick circuit before delving into the action. I made Incognito Comics my first stop. Back issues at 50% off marked prices So picking up Daredevil #161 priced at £18 was a no brainer. From Kent Comics I picked up four more Daredevil issues for a total of £10.50. From another dealer who’s name I didn’t catch I picked up the four remaining issues of Kitty Pryde/Wolverine which I have been looking for for ages and 25% off. I got my hands on Elektra Assassin #1 for £3.50. I know its not a highly sought after book but it is in great condition for the price I paid. Another prized item was A TMNT: Raphael micro series from the colour classics range. Retailer Incentive cover only £10. So all in all a good day. I noticed that graphic novels seemed to be down on last time. I mean most stalls had them but just not as many all round as before. Plenty of stuff on offer. Ranging from more current back issues, variant covers and whole sets for sale. If I didn’t all ready have a lot of the issues someone had the first 40-45 issues of Classic X-Men for £65. (I do have a whole blog post planned for Classic X-Men, so I could have put the expenses down as research). The con takes place at The Royal National Hotel London. Usually the first Sunday of every month. However next year I think they are changing to the last Sunday of every month. (www.londoncomicmart.co.uk). So if like me you like long box conventions and aren’t expecting a side show of cosplay, gaming and other miscellaneous shit give it a visit. I think I’m done for cons this year. Going to try and fit in a visit to Ace Comics in Colchester for some X-Mas shopping. hopefully next year I’ll be attending LSCC and really hope Collectormania MK learns from this years mistakes.

Convention Diary Part 3

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) A 50 Issue Retrospective

When I read this comic I am the fifth turtle. Anyone remember that episode? I can smell NYC and the pizza. I can hear the weapons clashing. But it wasn’t plan sailing. It began with the saga of the overseas licensing. I had to buy an #1 variant on eBay for £10. Luckily for me I got the Raphael cover. #2 and #3 were also eBay purchases but by #4 the UK got its act together any boy was it worth the wait.

The Turtles have and I guess will always have a special place in my heart. I was the biggest fan of the cartoon, I had all the toys, the movie then blow my tiny mind. Being an internetless kid in 90’s UK I had know idea of their comic book origins (sorry). So this series is like my little baby. I always read it first when I get my weekly titles and it makes me feel warm inside. The blend of the best from the comics, cartoons and movies keeps a thirty year old franchise fresh and it keeps delivering month after month.

Going into #1 I did’t really know what to expect having never read a TMNT comic before. Like I said the franchise is thirty years old. Were we going to get a first issue that went straight into the action? With everyone knowing what the Turtles are all about. Or were we going to get a bad origin rehash? What we got was simple but brilliant beginning to an origin story. There was plenty of fan service yet it stayed accessible to new readers. The first four issues set up the charatcers personalities. (Splinter, Turltes, Hob, Casey and April). #2 gave us some TMNT gold straight off the bat with Raph and Casey teaming up. The ‘Chowabunga’ t-shirt was a nice touch. Having Old Hob as the series first villain proved they didn’t need to go straight to Shredder. He has been a great addition through out and linking him into the Turtles origin was again a simple yet effective idea. Its because of him Raph is seperated from the others. So makes things more personal. On a negative note they have done away ith the DD tie-in. A highlight of the lab breakout was seeing two foot soilders being out smarted by a rat carrying a sack of turtles was an amusing visual. Another great part of the series is the art of Dan Duncan. Ninja Turtles should be cartoony to a degree but the tone of the story deserves a touch of darkness. Duncan along with Ronda Pattison have a perfect blend for this. #5 was just beautiful. In the first four issues the three Turtles wore red bandanas as they searched for Raphael. As red is his favourite colour. In this pre Christmas issue we get Splinter sneeking around the city before returning with colour bandanas for the others. Genius! Touching! Oh this issue also laid the early groud work for a possible reincarnation story line. What?!

#6-8 was laying a lot of plot threads whilst fulfilling fan service. There were developments with The Foot and the Savant. “War is coming”. Casey and April meeting and interacting. Baxter Stockman taking a villainous turn with creating his Mousers. #7 gave us looks at Neutrino and Krang. So as well as ninjas and mutants we were now getting hints of other dimensions and aliens. Krang has been handled very well in the series. Not a jokey Saturday moring cartoon villain. #8 apart from carrying my favourite cover it also contains another TMNT staple. April fainting upon meeting them for the first time.

#9 Final page reveal of Shredder! At last! #10 adds more weight to the reincartion story. Shredder attributes things Splinter says/does to Hamato Yoshi. When Shredder removes his mask Splinter recognises him as Oroku Saki. After 10 issues it would be a good time to point out when I read this the voices are the voices from the first movie.

#11-12 Gave us the throw down the movies never could do justice. Splinter vs Shredder! One thing I’ve enjoyed from this series is Splinter being youngish so he can still kick ass! Much like the Splinter in the new film, who was awesome.

#13-14 A new addition to the art team and another great choice. Andy Khun. Another great Splinter moment and a very brief glimpse of the Technodrome. I always thought this was more suited to the cartoon. But the way Eastman and Waltz are tearing it up on the series I had faith in it being given a fresh take.

#15-16 Enter Slash. A fan favourite I have to admit I wasn’t familiar with! Here again they took an old character and mad him fresh. The 24 panel fight scene between Turtles and Slash is just beautiful. Mikey maybe the youngest but he is also the most emtional. This is evident in the story with his brotherly love for Slash despite his violent tendancies. Also the last panel of the story is Leo paying tribute to his fallen brother which I felt was over looked compared to Mikeys reaction.

#17-20 Krang War. This isn’t my prefered type of TMNT story. Again it is something I associate more with the cartoons, but I understand there is a place for it.  Some classic teamwork moments and another TMNT staple, Mikey falling for a princess. IDW continue to match great artists to this series. Ben Bates style matches up to this story arc so well.

#21 We get a nice little treat in the shape of Eastman pulling writing and pencil duties on this stand alone issue. The kind of story telling IDW have set up in this series is something I would love to see Marvel do. Shorter story lines, everything is so convoluted at The House of Ideas lately.

So before I get into the next story arc I want to take a detour to one of the mini series that has run along side the on going since it started. The Secret History of The Foot Clan by Erik Burnham and Mateus Santolouco. Immediately my first thought was ‘oh no a different creative team on an important story. How wrong was I? Right from the off you could tell this series would be huge. In a nutshell it explains the mythos of The Foot (obviously). How they went from noble tribe to band of outlaws. It shows a love rivalry between Yoshi and Saki. How Saki became evil through the spirit of Tatsuo Takeshi and his relationship with Kitsune. The real curveball in the story arc is Kitsune striking a deal with a Utrom. The important parts of the story are in the flashbacks. In the present time there is a Professor named Miller. A Frank Miller homage no doubt. He has dedicated his life to the book of the Foot Clan so obviously the Turltes and Shredder are seeking him out. In #2 there is a car chase sequence which is just pure joy. Mikey reads Japanese without realising. Adding weight to the re-incarnation theory. All in all a great series which would make a absolutely brilliant TMNT movie and it leads nicely into City Fall. Which would be the sequal.

#22-28 City Fall The greatest TMNT movie never made! Santolouco sticks around for this story arc and no complaints from me. I love his little detailing on each bandana. Now I have read the first TMNT annual but I have to admit I have no idea whats going on with the Savate. I think their appearances have been few and far between. Starts with a bang Raph and Casey are ambushed by Foot, Raph escapes but Shredder now has bait in the form of Casey. The obligatory Raph and Leo arguing over how to do things. I’ve enjoyed the development of Angel over the series and here she gets some play. Knowing the Turtles are loyal and all about friendship Shredder SPOILER stabs Casey a fight ensues. So BOOM! City Fall doesn’t hold back at the end of the issue Casey is dying and Leo is kidnapped. Next issue is your basic get Casey to hospital and Leo being brainwashed. Oh and Hob has teamed with a still living Slash. In a epic story arc like this you know the action is coming so its the little character moments that are more enjoyable. You have the Casey, April and Angel human triangle. Mikey treating Slash like a brother, Raphs distrust for Hob with Splinters reluctance to accept his help. Leos brainwashing is completed by the addition of a black bandana, cause his evil now. Raph and Leo fight breaking internet forums everywhere over the rightful winner. Nice geek moment in #27 at Shredders gangland meeting we have Heisenberg, Mohawk Storm and The Warriors in attendance. Now I don’t know to this day how it happened but I’m missing #28! I only remembered when I was doing my research for this blog. eBay here I come.

#29-32 Northampton The calm after the storm. But with this series the next storm isn’t far away. I like the intro showing all the locations which were pivotal in City Fall all now deserted. Would the Turtles really sleep with their bandanas off? Ross Campbell comes on board for this arc and IDW’s talent scouts strike again. We get some development between Raph and Aloplex. Now I don’t think the writers would go for a full on physical relationship further down the line. But if  the Turtles in all the formats over the years have taught us anything its that family and friendship can come in any form. New antagonist in Koya, who is a  great visual. This story arc took me back to my favourite part of the original movie. At the farmhouse Casey and April are talking when the Turtles approach them with the killer line “It’s time to go back.” and that baseline drops in and the music starts. Bliss!

#33-35 Interestingly this series tackled a real world problem, well kind of. Aprils Dad is terminally ill and the mutagen acts as an instant cure. Maybe some issues down the line there will be draw backs. The question of weather it should be shared was raised by April rather than just saving it for her Dad but it hasn’t been touched on since. First appearance of Metalhead given the name by Angel who is also set up with a new story arc teaming with tech guy Harold, all be it reluctantly. Wearing a tech suit and going by the name Nobody. When you think about it, its such a simple codename whys it never been in comics before?

#36-37 Enter The Rat King. I loved the way he was portrayed here. Really hope to see more of him in the new direction after #50. Coincidently the same week this issue came out I caught an episode of the new TMNT cartoon which also featured Rat King. Two different takes but both enjoyable none the less. There is something insanely cool about Shredder and Krang meeting on a yacht in the Atlantic Ocean. If done on film it would have seemed out of place. The issue just spoke to me for some reason. This is why comics are cool I suppose. Another new antagonist in Bludgeon.

#38-40 These issues are really setting up the next storm. Shredder is now at war with Krang and the Turtles. Angel continues to clear the streets as Nobody. Eventually teaming with Aloplex. You think these two and Raph and Casey will double date? Another geek moment, Harold’s radio call sign is ‘Kirbyfan’. Slash can now talk and Hob is building his own mutant army including Mondo Gecko and Herman. A lobster with a wheelie bin shell? Only in comics.

#41-44 Attack on Technodrome. Like I said I had faith in Eastman and Waltz turning the Technodrome into something more than a toy line mode of transport. firstly they ditched the giant eye ball. Having the TD act as a device to terraform Earth into ‘New Utrominon is what makes the story and the idea of the TD work better. Talking of toy lines the Turtles and the Might Mutanimals teaming up is every kids dream. Did anyone know the spoilt kid that had every character? I had the 4 Turtles, Splinter, Shredder and for some reason Usagi. I didn’t even know he was another comic character till much later. His toy looked badass though. Be really cool if they could work him into the IDW series for an appearance. The main talking point of this story arc comes in #44 so SPOILERS if you haven’t read it yet….Bebop and Rocksteady kill Donatello! The imagery of the crow bar coming down with the KRAK is not lost on any body. Its the modern day equivalent of the Sai going through Elektra. If you didn’t well up by the time you got to the last page your not human. I liked Angel being close to the trauma shows the characters growth and addition to the extended family. I didn’t see Stockman saving Shredder coming but hopefully this is a good direction to take things.

#45-49 Who didn’t see this coming? Be honest? When Metalhead was first introduced I thought he would go sentient. But after #44 this seemed obvious. I suppose it is their way of doing Metalhead and the infamous ‘Mecha Donnie’ story line from way back when in one hit. Donnie is going to be back after #50 right? For #45 I got the amazing Eastman Casey Jones cover. Professor Miller sets April onto a group called The Pantheon. This is being told in another mini which I will pick up in trade and I hear it leads into #51. Miller is killed, stabbed through his car seat alas Elektra saving Ben Urich in his cinema seat. These issues are mainly serving as set up for the big #50. Hob makes a move, breaking Hun out of Police custody, Mousers are set to kill Splinter and there is friction between Karai and Stockman of course. And Leatherhead!

#50 Firstly as a Marvel fan and someone that has kept one eye on DC’s New52 it does feel a little weird holding a comic that has reached #50. It’s a good weird though. The quality of the book is beautiful. I don’t what the issue retailed at in the US or elsewhere in the UK, but I was more than ha[[y to lay down £5.94 to my LCS. The story delivers in every possible way. Tying up everything that came before and setting the characters off in new directions. Remember years back when Daniel Way used a whole story arc for Wolverine and Cap fighting. Well take note Daniel this is how you do an epic fight in one issue! Lots of questions coming out the other end. Why would Leatherhead help save Donnie? Who saw the romantic connection between Koya and Bludgeon? What’s going to happen with Kitsune/Aloplex? At first I didn’t want to spoil the issue that’s why I have waited for #51 to come out before posting. When Shredder took the fight to the roof the child in me cheered for one last movie homage. If the first movie had censorship trouble with Shredders death they would have struggled even more with his demise in this issue. Is Splinter and the Turtles taking over The Foot a clever story direction or even further Daredevil homages? As a romantic I’m just going to say it’s a little of both. Just a shame Mikey doesn’t share my romanticism. The young Saki and Yoshi bit towards the end was teary. The last page was possibly the most intriguing though. It appears we may be getting some answers to the re-incarnation vs science theory soon.

It has been a joy reading the first 50 issues of TMNT. Having read #51 as well it looks like there is know slowing up. Again IDW hit a home run with the artist choice. Ken Garing’s renderings of the Turtles are right up there. I hope everyone that has read the series so far has enjoyed it as much as me. Maybe this blog will attract new readers to the title. I have a friend who has the first two trades. I’m continuously on at him to keep going with it. I suppose now the best thing to do is say thank you to everyone involved on the series.

Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz, Dan Duncan, Ronda Pattison, Andy Kuhn, Ben Bates, Mateus Santolouco, Ross Campbell, Cory Smith, Erik Burnham, Bobby Curnow, Shawn Lee. Everyone that worked on all the tie-ins, Everyone who makes the credits page, Everyone who doesn’t make the credits page.

Turtle Power!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) A 50 Issue Retrospective

Batman Day

Happy ‘Batman Day’ everybody. ‘Happy’ now theres a word you don’t often associate with The Dark Knight. I suppose today is like the scene at the end of The Dark Knight Rises. Somewhere someone is unveiling a statue of Batman from underneath a blue drape. Blue like Adam West or Neal Adams Batman whichever you remember more fondly. I didn’t really have a single thing I wanted to concentrate on about Gothams protector so this blog is more a collection of ramblings, top 10 lists and fan fiction on everyone’s favourite vigilante.

I suppose the best place to start is the recent news about Bill Finger. For those that missed it he will be receiving a credit on Gotham and next years Batman v Superman. Why not the comics? I dunno I want to keep things positive here and this is a huge step on the right direction. The Finger family must be so proud. It made me a very happy comics fan last week reading all the positive tweets. Lost count of the amount of times I saw the word legend.

What can I say about Batman The Animated Series that hasn’t already been said over the years? It really is a work of art. Everyone working on it brought their ‘A’ game. For me it is the best, most definitive Batman. When I read the comics my Batman is Kevin Conroy. What makes it great is that I didn’t try and cater for children. Instead it catered towards excellent story telling. Every episode is like a movie. The music s simply beautiful. I used to love the black and white Title Cards. Before the action started they offered me a few seconds to imagine what the episode had in store. Very few weeks was I disappointed.

Top 10 Batman The Animated Series Episodes

1.Over The Edge

2. Old Wounds

3. On Leather Wings

4.Beware The Grey Ghost

5. Robins Reckoning (both parts)

6.Two Face (both parts)

7. The Laughing Fish

8.The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy

9. Jokers Wild

10. Pretty Poison

Now if Mask of The Phantasm was a two part episode it would slot in at No.2. Its a perfect take on Bruce Waynes early days. That bit where he sees the future Batmobile at the Worlds Fair just brings a smile to my face every time. The first time I saw that flash back scene of his first night out is genius. Little touches like having Bullock as a beat cop make it. The amped up the music for this feature length and the scene where he first dons the cowl…. nerd nirvana!

Going back to The Dark Knight Rises boy did that movie have a lot of expectation to live up to. It done a lot right. I mean it was no Dark Knight but it was still a good movie. Tom Hardy as Bane gave us some great villainous lines to quote for years to come. My biggest problem with it was the jumps in the time line. The previous two films seemed to be about four days each Can you imagine how great it would have been to of had the whole ‘No Mans Land’ homage as a whole film before having things wrapped up and ended in the next film. (by the way No Mans Land should be the next animated film). I liked the ending. I know it gets flak, OK the Robin bit was hokey. But I admire Nolan for the direction he took. He effectively killed Batman and had the mantle pass to someone else. Yeah Grant Morrison done it but he thinks hes fucking Jesus or something! Another thing I didn’t like was the cops. Why weren’t thy just called Bullock, Montoya and Driver? I suppose they already had Gotham in the pipeline. But they dropped the ball on that show. Why they are at it why not make Rucka and Larks Gotham Central the next animated film?

Top 5 Batmobile

1. Batman The Animated Series

2. Batman 1989

3. The Tumbler

4. Batman 66

5. The Batpod

OK the last one is strictly not a car but bikes for vigilantes are a must.

Growing up I always leaned more towards Robin. Maybe I thought I could do the hot pants and pixie boots justice. Finding out he became Nightwing as I hit puberty was like reading my own autobiography… sort of. Any story revolving around Robin/Nightwing is right up my street. I read Kyle Higgins entire Nightwing run and just need to find time to delve into Grayson. Batman Eternal Year 2 and Robin War are books on my radar.

I suppose with my blog being called what it is and Batman being a comic book character I should talk about comics. Well I’m a Marvel guy. I own a total of eight Batman TPB’s. But I always keep up with what is going on in the Bat books. Snyder and Capullo are tearing up trees in the Batman ongoing since the New52 began. The Court of Owls have gone into the top ten of Batmans rogues gallery straight away. Its such a cool concept. Batman Year One will forever remain my go to Bat book. In my eyes it is very hard to top. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Zero Year but for me it was a little too long.

Top 5 Batman Recommendations

1. Year One
2. Gates of Gotham
3. Cacophony
4. The Long Halloween
5.Cataclysm

So now I’m going to self indulge a little bit here. The other year I was thinking of doing a fan fiction blog. What I would do is do well known characters from the beginning. I planned to start with Batman so now I’ll share some of those ideas here. Like I said I haven’t read millions of Batman comics so if any of my ‘fresh’ ideas already exist it is merely coincidence.

  • 1st issue was to be narrated by Alfred and have Batman appear on the last page.

  • Told what happened to main cast on the night Waynes were gunned down.

  • Bullock & Essen were beat cops first to arrive in Crime Alley. Gordon & Flass were late because of a cop poker school.

  • Selina was a pick pocket who stole Marthas pearls before she was killed. (my spin on the now famous pearl scene).

  • 2nd issue was Batmans first night out with flash backs to training.

  • Trained in martial arts by Kyodi Ken in Japan. Trained in weapons by Floyd Lawton in France.

  • In both countries Bruce saw some tagging which would eventually be revealed to be League Of Shadows.

  • While training he was using the alias Thomas Elliott. Which would lead to my version of Hush later in series.

  • 3rd issue Was Jokers origin. In my story he was a street level crook for Maroni.

  • He was selected to kill Joe Chill to keep him quiet.

  • Then he went crazy for not getting recognition for killing the murderer of Gothams favourite family.

Other ideas included having Harvey Dent setting up Two Face as an alias to conduct crime whilst being DA. Eventually he would become Two Face. Didn’t really put much meat on the bones for this one but I believe it had legs. Like if Two Face was a Kaiser Soze type character so anything Dent couldn’t deal with as DA he took care of as Two Face. Penguin was to be an arms dealer, an idea I stole from very early Dark Knight rumours.

Well I hope this has been an enjoyable if not disjointed journey around my love of the Dark Knight. Enjoy Batman day everybody. See you next year. Same Bat month, same Bat day… or something like that.

Batman Day

Convention Diary Part 2

COLLECTORMANIA 23 Milton Keynes

After MCM I wanted to bring a positive review to my convention visits this year. Unforunately I can’t. Well thats not entirerly fair. I was able to get my hands on some key Daredevil issues and some other cool items.  The range of merch on offer was more wide ranging than ever and kept my interest while walking around at a snails pace.  Which leads into me saying that this year the con was a logistical nightmare. Those of you familiar with Collectormania know the changes of venue it has gone through. For those not so in recent years the con moved from its orginal home in the local shopping center (mall to Americans) to the football (soccer) stadium. The Stadium MK. Guest signings and sellers were all situated around the stadium concourse overlooking the pitch. There was a small function room used inside for more sellers. Depending on the weather the concourse wasn’t an ideal setting. It could often get very windy and damp. Being a massive circle there would be throngs of people moving one way and more throngs moving the opposite way. It often made it difficult to get across at look a particular stall. The inside are was also very compact and could get ridculously warm. Last year they moved to a exhibition hall at one end of the stadium and to me this space was perfect. The signings were at one end upstairs and down.Which left the hall space for sellers and plenty of room to move inbetween. Around the concourse of the stadium were some more guests and a few displays for photo ops. Like Star Destroyer decks, Ghostbusters trap and Vigo painting replica. Then for some inexplicable reason the con was moved back to the concourse of the stadium and a pitifully sized marquee next to it this year. Now the owners of the venue can’tbe help responsible for the weather. My understanding is that sellers set up Friday afternoon ready for Saturday morning. It rained most of the night and all of Saturday. The marquee floor was soaked and the tent was hot. This created condensation issues. As tables are expensive to have some sellers were unfortunate that their stock was on the floor. I heard one seller daying he had lost £500 of merch and it wasn’t even midday. Its also important to remember some people paid £5 for early entry just to be get into this wet humind venue. I saw a few complaints about this on twitter and even more whilst I was walking around. I just hope next time they move back into the exhibition hall.

Onto the positives. I picked up some key Daredevil issues all from one stall. The condition of some was not great but they are some of the older Stan Lee issues so I’m happy to have them. All the comics I brought were half price!! So I got Daredevil #18 (1st Gladiator) for just £10 and Daredevil #42 (1st Jester) for £5. There was only one other stall selling older back issues but they didn’t have anything I need. Most of the comic stalls were selling newer issues, trades and variants. This is a trend I have noticed in recent years at UK cons. I guess the owners know what sells but I’m a back issue bin fiend. So if your like me I would say again Collectormania isn’t a ‘long box con’  but you can get lucky depending on who is there. As it is over 10 years old now you can pretty much guess which sellers will be there. Every now and then there will be a new one. Incognito Comics is one who I’m pretty sure has always been there. They used to be my go to stool. They always had a great selection of statues and busts and back issues galore. Like I said the owners of these stalls most know what sells but over the years I have been buying less from them at Collectormania. They still have a great online service. A couple of years ago they only had Marvel back issues. Now this wasn’t an issue for me but imagine being a DC fan and turning up to a usually reliable seller and be disappointed to find all Marvel. They still had all the statues and bust and alot of Star Wars merc. Then it became just trades and £1 bin comics. I hate seeing that at cons!  I think last year was the worst when they were selling trades, £1 bin comics (shudder) and signed photos. Actually they might not even have been signed just glossy photos to get signed. This year they had a few back issues just major charatcers though. I just hope they are saving there back issues for the London Comic Mart becasue that is where I’m off to next.

Another trend I have noticed and its not exclusive to cons its the same on eBay but figures, statues and busts seem to be so expensive. You really have to keep an eye out for bargins. Luckily for me I’m running out of shelf space so its not a major problem for me but it must be frustrating for new collectors. I picked up The Arrow (masked) Funko Pop for £12. Again lots of Pops on offer the dearest seller was the only one with The Arrow and I really wanted it so hey ho! After I’ve done my back issue searching I like to have a look aroud for a good what I call knick knack item. I found a modeling clay Wolverine by Bonnie. A cheap £5 were a few other characters to choose from and should keep me busy for a while despite the box saying for ages 5+. Will post the end result on instagram (ianwells87).

All in all Collectormania is a pretty consistent convention. Being my local con with free entry I will always give it a visit. I suppose I have a soft spot for it as it came along around the same time I was discovering comics. I have watched it evolve for good and bad. There always seems to be a positive attitude between sellers and punters. I would like to see more comic book guessed but I know they are hard to book. This year they had four; Martin Griffiths who I’ve met before, Lew Stringer, Mike Collins and Lee Townsend. Wrestling seems to be getting  a bigger presence and the sport section is growing year by year.

If you live near by its worth checking out. I have seen people travelling from miles to attend and that shows commitment. Like I said not a l’ong box con’ but then again it doesn’t have comic in its title so can get away with it more. It is very good for signature hunters but thats not my thing. Don’t by food in the venue being a football stadium it is a rip off.  Some other pluses are that a free bus runs to the town center so if yor not local you can visit the shoping center if you exhaust the con. Bletchley Park is not too far away either so can take in some history too if you so wish.

Not 100% sure yet what my next con will be but rest assured there will be another riveting review to follow once I attend one.

Convention Diary Part 2