Thursday, June 9, 2022

POBB June 8, 2022

Pick of the Brown Bag
June 8, 2022
by
Ray Tate 

Welcome to another brand spanking new Pick of the Brown Bag.  I'm Ray Tate, and I review comic books, prose novels and movies.  You however know the gist of the blog.  If not, stick around, and you'll find out.  This week, I'm looking at a doublet: Batgirls and X-Men.

One of the things I look for in a good comic book is whether or not you can just dive right into the story with little to no exposition.  Both of these books meet that criteria.  Somewhat.


Given my history with Batgirl, Batgirls is a book you may think I would be reading regularly.  Truth is.  I got a sample of it in Batman or Detective Comics and really didn't care for the style of art, which also emphasized Barbara Gordon's newfound green eyes.


They look like green marbles.  For somebody who knows better, they're blue, baby, blue, that's a lot of exposure to erroneous visuals.

They're Blue, Baby, Blue

Though, in general, I like the Spoiler, I never cared about Cassandra Cain.  The exception being when Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner took her out of that awful black formless costume and put her into something awesome.


They're Blue, Baby, Blue

There's only one tag for Cassie Cain, just to emphasize my loathing, but I'll make it easy for you.  Click here to see my review of Conner and Palmiotti's superb Birds of Prey and also glimpse the gorgeous costume they designed.


They're Blue, Baby, Blue

What's interesting is that artists Jorge Corona and Sarah Stern are really beneficial to Cassie Cain's traditional ink upchuck gear.

As you can see they create a number of striking contrasts that highlight the black and the shape of the figure.  Very few artists ever did that with Cassie Cain.  She always just looked like a thumbprint smudge somebody shaped into a sort of bat as an afterthought.

Primarily I bought this issue of Batgirls for the emphasis on the one and only Batgirl.  


Barbara Gordon in modern costume with a bat cowl and not the Linda Turner Black Cat styled mask.  Furthermore, since the modern costume opts for slits covering her eyes, I don't have to worry about the green ones.

It's through Corona's and Stern's depiction of the genuine Batgirl  I started to see just how good they are.  And baby, she's all over this.  She's in action as Batgirl for seven pages.  As Barbara Gordon only two.


It's those green eyes.  Really.  I hate them.  I'm ecstatic that the New 52 granted Babs mobility, but the green eyes, which appeared after the modern Batgirl of Burnside run, repel me.  


They're Blue, Baby, Blue

Not real green eyes.  Let me emphasize.  I have no issue with a person that has green eyes.


However, the biologist in me says you can't just magically change somebody's eye color on a whim.  That said I'm willing to put up with the offense, if she's Batgirl, not Oracle.  There's a difference.  A huge difference.  

Having good experiences with Becky Cloonan's writing in the Southern Cross, I suspected this would be well-written and Batgirl positive.  I was not disappointed.



Cloonan teams up with Michael Conrad to relate an action-based story that turns Gotham City into a 90s post-apocalyptic hellhole complete with robo-hitmen hired by Simon Saint.


You may be asking.  Who's Simon Saint?  


Nope.  Not him.  Not even close.  Although I'm sure somebody thought Simon Saint was a good alliterative villain's name because of the infamous Simon Templar.  


You can just see the thought process.  

"Simon.  Simon Samuels.  Simon Sophie.  No! Simon Saint!"  
"That sounds amazing!"
"I know.  It just hit me!"
"Sink me, you're a poet!"

Simon Saint is the Big Bad that nobody cared about in the Batman titles.  Some creator, with a poor memory, introduced him somewhere at sometime during the Infinite Frontier era of DC Comics.  Not exactly a reboot of Rebirth or the New 52, but not exactly a harmless redefinition either.  

That's all right though.  Even if you're not quite sure what's going on, and you're really not likely to during the second half, Babs is tearing through garbage on her motorcycle and demonstrating just how smart she is.


That's really all I look for in a Batgirl book.  That and blue eyes.  Alas.  Two out of three.


The other book I want to draw your attention to is X-Men number 10.  If you'e an All-New Wolverine Laura Kinney fan, this book is for you.  


Seriously.  WTF?

Now, if you haven't been keeping up with the many, many         X-Men titles, that's all right.  You know as well as I do, no X-Men book will ever make any sense to somebody that hasn't been along for that ride since the very beginning.  And I don't mean either the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby originals, the Thomas/Neal Adams run, nor the Byrne/Claremont era.  If anything, the X-Men have gotten weirder, and not in a good way.


The X-Men books started to go off the rails when Storm shaved her head and started wearing tight leather.  Coincidental redhead, Madeline Pryor showed up.  Scott Summers who grieved to all hell for the doomed Jean Grey fell for her, and he wasn't a dick for doing that.  However, you still could read The Uncanny X-Men with little threat of brain damage.  

So, I advise you to skip the first page.  That's just X-Men type nonsense.  Simply accept that something mutant-like brought Laura Kinney back from the dead and everything's good now.

"Wait? Laura died? When did she die?" 

Not even important.  At some point, she died.

"Okay, but even if she's a clone of a clone, she shouldn't have the memories of--"

Shhh...It's just a comic book.  Relax.

Rogue on the second page may convince you to read it, I don't advise that.  Skip the confusing dialogue and narration.  Just enjoy the beautiful rendition of Rogue by Javier Pina and Marte Garcia.  She's not here for just eye candy.  She becomes a crucial player later in the story with a nostalgic move that paints her as a hero.


The main plot begins on page five.  That's when you see Laura suiting up to go investigate adamantium on the Big Bad's base.


"Wait.  Who is the Big Bad?"

 
No idea.  Some red guy.

This guy's identity is immaterial to Laura attempting to discover the mystery of the adamantium/mutant signal.

The rest of the story spotlights Laura as Wolverine doing what she does best.


We see her tracking.


We see her stealthy. 

We see her clawing to where she hopes her cloned sister Gabrielle Kinney alias Honey Badger lies imprisoned.


It's not Honey Badger.  

I'll not spoil the surprise because the infused adamantium identity of the occupant in the box is a classic X-Men character that you could have encountered multiple ways, even outside the higgledy-piggledy of X-Men continuity.  

No, it's not Logan.


In addition to all of this Laura Kinney goodness ably choreographed by Pina as if X-Men were a Mission Impossible episode, we have a philosophical conflict.


Laura is a clone of Logan the original Wolverine.  Logan as many can point out was a Canadian intelligence officer who was turned into an adamantium-clawed killing machine code-named Weapon X.  I know.  Canada seems so nice.  In the Marvel Universe, they are real bastards.  

The fact is that even though Wolverine is really good at killing with those claws of his, he grew extremely dissatisfied.  He left Canadian Intelligence, became a hero in the X-Men and eventually stopped murdering everything in his longer reach.  Mostly.  

Laura was Weapon X-23.  Another Canadian import.  I know.  They seem so nice.  She realized her ethical dilemma much earlier than Wolverine.  And has since sworn off killing with a much more reliable track record than her genetic stock.  That doesn't stop Pina beautifully beating out a fight sequence where Laura also makes use of her super cool foot claws.  

So, if you're a fan of Laura Kinney.  This one is the exception that proves the rule.















Friday, May 20, 2022

POBB May 15, 2022

Pick of the Brown Bag
May 15, 2022
by
Ray Tate

Welcome to a focused issue of The Pick of the Brown Bag.  This week I look at the new Conan related title Belit and Valeria from Ablaze Comics.  Courtesy of Max Bemis, Rodney Buchemi and Dinei Ribeiro.

So, I'll level with you.  I'm not really a huge fan of Conan the Barbarian.  I've liked the selective doses I've experienced, and I've liked what I perused from creator Robert E. Howard.  I just never harbored the desire to be a completist. 


That said.  I've read "Queen of the Black Coast," Belit's first and only appearance and its counter Red Nails; the novella introducing Valeria. 


These stories by the way are available at Project Gutenberg, a superb source for free electronic public domain works.


The new story's relatively simple.  Belit comes back from the dead, satisfies her urges, somehow overwhelms Valeria and intends to trade her for a sorcerer who may be able to explain the necromancy that brought her back to life.  Double-crosses result in Belit battling a giant serpent and those she intended to barter with.


The tale begins with Belit arising from her watery grave and encountering mermaids.  By far this is my favorite scene.  It's a good dovetail of continuity from "Queen of the Black Coast."  The mermaids behave very naturally.  They're not luring men to their deaths, nor falling in love with surface dwellers.  They're just hanging out and eating fish by the shore.

Belit in this scene is as naked as a PG book will allow--a head scratcher given this book should, by MPAA standards, be rated R.  I'll address that factor later.

Robert E. Howard describes Belit as being somewhat of a nudist.  She only typically wears a girdle...


...and the jewels she plundered.  While he describes her breasts as bare, he doesn't say anything about the nipples.  

As Miley Cyrus sagely pointed out: 



The link will take you to one of my older postings but more importantly it also features a playable Youtube video of Miley singing a very clean version of "Jolene."  Not her usual fare and quite melodic.  Women should never be dismissed as mere sex objects, nor should their sexual nature as human beings be repressed.


Those hoping to eventually see Belit's nipples will be disappointed.  Though, she shows as much skin as possible, again, as much as a PG book will allow, Valeria is the one who flashes her tits.  


Ah, spoiler alert, I suppose.  Surely, this scene if not Valeria's second bare-breasted moment should earn the book a big fat R.  That begs the question.  Why so, dainty when depicting Belit?


Valeria in fact is clad head to toe in Red Nails until she's selected to be concubine and then sacrifice.  None of her nudity is by choice, and she doesn't seem to be the type to flash her knockers, even as a tactical distraction.  

According to Red Nails, Valeria is a seasoned pirate.  Her background is only hinted at but her characterization crystalized:

"You walk more like a hillman than a sailor," he said. "You must be an Aquilonian. The suns of Darfar never burnt your white skin brown. Many a princess would envy you."

"I am from Aquilonia," she replied. His compliments no longer irritated her. His evident admiration pleased her. For another man to have kept her watch while she slept would have angered her; she had always fiercely resented any man's attempting to shield or protect her because of her sex. But she found a secret pleasure in the fact that this man had done so. And he had not taken advantage of her fright and the weakness resulting from it. After all, she reflected, her companion was no common man.

Valeria's philosophy is suffrage based, and that's where I feel the tit-flashing conflicts with her persona.  She doesn't mind if somebody sees her naked after a fight that tears off her clothing.  She's not going to try to cover up her naughty bits to emulate a comical figure in some sort of bad, broad burlesque.  It would be more like.  Yeah, I'm naked.  I'm beautiful.  So what?  Stop staring, and hand me that shirt.

Valeria's willingness to display her goods is only one problem with her characterization.  In Red Nails, Robert E. Howard depicts Valeria, in contrast to Belit, as thoughtful and pragmatic.  Like Conan she doesn't waste words.  

Bemis on the other hand gives Valeria quite a chattery disposition, which disagrees with Howard's buccaneer. 


Valeria is a mistress of the sword and has a mean right cross.  In Red Nails only the sheerest brute force overcomes her.  That and sorcery.  In other scenes, Howard demonstrates her prowess.  She fights side by side with Conan, slaying three warriors in one clash.

Bemis offers no explanation as to how Belit captured Valeria, in the first place.  Valeria is just introduced in a cage.  I don't understand.  I can buy the idea that the newly resurrected Belit crosses paths with Valeria.  I just cannot comprehend how she bested her without so much as a scratch on either.

Artist Rodney Buchemi's Valeria also differs too much from Howard's imagery.  She looks and behaves more like a bad imitation of Gabrielle from Xena Warrior Princess.  She doesn't once exhibit the corsair's bearing that Robert E. Howard paints so vividly.

She was tall, full-bosomed and large-limbed, with compact shoulders. Her whole figure reflected an unusual strength, without detracting from the femininity of her appearance. She was all woman, in spite of her bearing and her garments. The latter were incongruous, in view of her present environs. Instead of a skirt she wore short, wide-legged silk breeches, which ceased a hand's breadth short of her knees, and were upheld by a wide silken sash worn as a girdle. Flaring-topped boots of soft leather came almost to her knees, and a low-necked, wide-collared, wide-sleeved silk shirt completed her costume. On one shapely hip she wore a straight double-edged sword, and on the other a long dirk. Her unruly golden hair, cut square at her shoulders, was confined by a band of crimson satin.

Against the background of somber, primitive forest she posed with an unconscious picturesqueness, bizarre and out of place. She should have been posed against a background of sea-clouds, painted masts and wheeling gulls. There was the color of the sea in her wide eyes. And that was as it should have been, because this was Valeria of the Red Brotherhood, whose deeds are celebrated in song and ballad wherever seafarers gather.

Pertaining to Belit, Rodney Buchemi's artwork is utterly magnificent.  He definitely channels the late great George Perez when rendering the female form.


Belit moves like a panther, and that's congruent with Howard's descriptive.  He doesn't indicate she's the giantess that Buchemi makes her to be, but I'm perfectly willing to accept that as artistic license.   

According to Bemis' story, Belit returns to the world sexually frustrated.  

I'm okay with that, makes perfect sense, really, but I object to the coarseness when she phrases her desire.   Bemis continues this crude dialogue throughout the book, and it becomes quite tiring especially when compared with the bad poetry Robert E. Howard wrote:

"Look at me, Conan!' She threw wide her arms. 'I am Bêlit, queen of the black coast. Oh, tiger of the North, you are cold as the snowy mountains which bred you. Take me and crush me with your fierce love! Go with me to the ends of the earth and the ends of the sea! I am a queen by fire and steel and slaughter—be thou my king!"


Now, look, compared to actual poets, that's not good by any measure, but it's better than this:


And certainly better than this:


So, should you buy Belit and Valeria? I'd have to say not at full price.  I can only recommend Bucehmi's marvelous artwork.  Bemis' story glosses over a matter of plot importance, laces the dialogue with crudity not pleasing for the Robert E. Howard fan and fails in a number key elements of characterization. I also question the restraint when depicting the nudity of one character but not the other.  If Bemis had stretched a little and provided some his own bad poetry instead of gutter tongue and Ablaze Publishing decided exactly who the audience was going to be, this might have been an at least mediocre pairing.



Wednesday, April 27, 2022

POBB April 27, 2022

Pick of the Brown Bag
April 27, 2022
by 
Ray Tate 

Welcome to the Pick of the Brown Bag.  In this special edition I review the film The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.   Also known as the one where Nicolas Cage plays himself.


This is a surprising, hilarious film that also benefits from one helluva cast.  The story begins with a well choreographed action sequence that one may find in any good suspense film.  You may wonder what it's doing in a comedy, but this is the initial motivating force of the main plot twist.

The movie cuts next to our star Nicolas Cage in full Nicolas Cage mode.  This obviously is not Cage portraying his biographical self but rather a slice of his true personality mixed with reflective bits and pieces gleaned from other people.  What's interesting is that blended together, the end product resembles a comedic and tragic figure that works extremely well in character-based comedy.


Self-deprecation catalyzes Nicholas' journey and simultaneously introduces Cage's fictional inner circle.  Sharon Horgan, Lilly Sheen and Neil Patrick Harris essay these roles.  With only Harris demonstrating overt comedy chops.  The problems associated with Cage's ex-wife and his daughter are all part of the more nuanced gag, a send-up of biopics creating weight to tabloid gossip.


Unbearable goes off the rails in a good way when Nicholas Cage meets his number one fan, olive millionaire Javi Gutierrez, played by chameleon actor Pedro Pascal.  Yes, the Mandalorian.   Funny, that word isn't in the dictionary yet and requires spell check learning. 

Now, we enter absurd comedy nevertheless drawing strongly on several Abbot and Costello films.  In some of Bud's and Lou's movies such as Meets Frankenstein and The Time of Their Lives, Abbot and Costello played different characters, always comedic, in plots with dramatic consequences.


Backed by an able support team including a shockingly skull shaven Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barrinholtz, playing it straight, Nicholas Cage becomes Nicholas Cage reluctant action hero.  

In these scenes, the filmmakers parody the idea that if an actor or actress can do their own stunts they are better equipped to survive life and death situations.  They are in essence their characters.  

This farce serves Cage in curious set-pieces that evolve naturally out of a strong script.  They're at once typical of action films but also benefitting from atypical deviations.

Unbearable is a very strange, funny film and highly meta, but in ways you really don't expect.  The comedy is so well-acted, so well-directed that sometimes the dramatic moments suck you in, particularly the bromance between Cage and Javi, and you fall for the joke.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

POBB April 15, 2022

 

Pick of the Brown Bag
April 15, 2022
by
Ray Tate

Welcome to part two of the Pick of the Brown Bag's recent Spider-Man comics exploration.  Last post I discussed the first of the overlapping series Amazing Spider-Man Beyond.  Mainly.

In summary, Iron Fist cast members Colleen Wing and Misty Knight, under contract for the Beyond Corporation, trained Spider-Man clone Ben Reilly to substitute for a waylaid Peter Parker.

This week's Spider-Man reviews begin with, from my perspective anyway, The Death of Doctor Strange Spider-Man special.

I just picked up the entirety of Death of Dr. Strange in two thick trade paperbacks.  It would have been horrendous trying to read it all as floppies and keep up.  

I guess I wasn't paying that much attention, because the Spider-Man special is the first I saw of maxi-series on the racks.  

Unlike other one-shot tie-ins, the story in Death of Dr. Strange actually connects with events occurring in Spider-Man's regular and irregular titles.  This just complicates matters for somebody who still sees Spider-Man as appearing in Amazing, Spectacular and Marvel Team-Up.  Or wishes it so.

The story opens with Felicia Hardy alias the Black Cat visiting a comatose Peter Parker.  Felicia is an associate and a friendly neighborhood ex-lover of Spider-Man, which is why she knows his secret identity.  


Black Cat is Marvel's top thief.  Like the original Arsene Lupin and Japan's animated Lupin III, she also suffers from bouts of decency.  Jed MacKay writing the Black Cat is a must-buy for me.  I enjoyed the hell out of her title.  So, I knew I would enjoy this.

Ben Reilly pops in to check on Peter, and boy, is Black Cat not happy.

An emergency magical hologram from the now deceased Doctor Strange intervenes in the ensuing argument.


Boom.  Black Cat accompanies Spider-Man to the sanctum of Dr. Strange.  What follows a bit of amusement with Wong is a whirlwind tour of what Dr. Strange did on a steady basis.  For example...

The art by Marcelo Ferreira, Wayne Faucher and Andrew Crossly is stunning.  Far better than what you would expect from a one-shot tie-in.


MacKay's magical anthology is imaginative, frequently hilarious and surprisingly anti-violent.  Except when bringing in a guest-star from another of MacKay's recommended reads.


From this one-shot we move over to MacKay's next.  Mary Jane and Black Cat Beyond.  I've said my piece about the subtitle and weirdly numbered Beyond books.  


However, I don't actually know how Mary Jane and Black Cat rates a Beyond when it's self-contained, connecting only as much as Death of Dr. Strange, and doesn't actually feature any Beyond story devices or characters, including Ben Reilly.

Anyway, on this hospital visit, Black Cat finds Brian Bendis' pet character the Hood holding Mary Jane Watson at gun point.  


I loathe this character.  Bendis channeled his hatred of Tigra into a punk with a magic hood.  

Sometimes, I'm a critical analyst.  Sometimes, I'm along for the ride.  Every once in a while, somebody writes something that just makes my brain crackle.


Her dismissiveness.  Her delivery.  The poise.  From artists C.F. Villa and Erick Arciniega.   Every creative element makes that line sing.  It's the cat's meow.

The Hood doesn't exactly know what Black Cat's connection to Peter Parker may be, but he knows one exists.  So, he strikes a deal to keep everybody alive.  Magnanimous since he's the little shit that threatened everybody's happy existence in the first place.  In any case, Felicia is the one who saves M.J.'s life.  The Hood intended to kill her.


And that's pretty much all you need to know regarding how Mary Jane and the Black Cat wind up working together.  Though it's not quite so simple as that.  There's a lot of ifs when acquiescing to a villain's whims, and Mary Jane helps keep Peter safe by demonstrating the art of the bluff.


With credentials established, MacKay presents a contrast in the two ladies: hardly the Betty and Veronica types that everybody thinks of doing.  Rather MacKay creates winning personalities for both stars.  Playing no favorites. Generating a brilliant character dynamic.


The hunt for the Hood's namesake takes the duo to interesting corners of the Marvel Universe.  MacKay uses the history of both femmes in surprising ways.  


A number of favorite Spider-Man villains enter the picture.  Sometimes, what the ladies cannot schmooze, they simply beat the tar out of.


All roads lead to a major Spider-Man foe that requires some serious out of the box thinking from the Black Cat and M.J. 
It's in essence a variation on the traditional tactic of the World's Finest over at the Distinguished Competition.  

I'll keep quiet on the Big Bad.  As a hint, I'll note that he only became an A-List villain in modern times.  Like Darth Vader, originally, he only rated flunky.


The Black Cat concocts a means to satisfy her contract with the Hood and double-cross him at the same time.  The method is unique, absurd and sooooo very fitting.  Remember, I hate this guy.

Peter regains consciousness at the conclusion of this special.  I suppose you're wondering why there's no spoiler ahoy on this one.  Because, Peter regaining the webs is inevitable and if you're following this storyline, you should know where it begins. After all somebody following Amazing Spider-Man just may skip this femme-centered special.  Though why anybody would escapes me.

After Peter awakens, Black Cat and Mary Jane have an insightful conversation that's likely to gladden the hearts of old Spider-Man fans.  

Though it may puzzle others unaware of Spider-Man's sixties and seventies history.  For some, Mary Jane and the Black Cat may be an education as well as a good ride.  That makes it doubly valuable.


Once you've got Mary Jane and the Black Cat out of the way, Peter's recovery begins properly in The Amazing Spider-Man.  That's right.  Just Amazing Spider-Man.  No, Beyond.  

So, that means we naturally begin with Beyond Corporation and the birth of the Queen Goblin.


I've got to hand it to whomever designed the newest Goblin.  Queen Goblin is a beautiful creation.  Current Amazing artists Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessey, John Dell and colorist Bryan Valenza.  If not progenitors, they nevertheless do the character proud.

She's a vivid combination of color and costuming, with a brave diversion from the traditional green.

While this occurs, Spider-Man discovers he's less than one-hundred percent.

Felicia returns to keep him safe in the most embarrassing way.  


This moment nicely highlights Black Cat's and Spider-Man's close relationship.  I doubt anybody not intimately familiar with a web shooter can use it properly like that.  So, kudos to the insight from writer Patrick Gleason, whom I only knew as an artist.

Incidentally, the Queen attacks The Daily Bugle in order to protect the Beyond Corporation from damaging information.  It's not just a whim.

Unfortunately, Mary Jane is the custodian of that data, and the Goblin quickly scoops her up.  Not realizing she's no damsel.


Fortunately, M.J.'s not without friends in high places.  Once again, it's time for Black Cat's attack of decency, which makes her so winning and darn entertaining.  Mind you.  You'll get more out of this with the bond between M.J. and the Cat reinforced by that one-shot.

What neither M.J. or the Cat know is that there's more than enhanced physique and Beyond gadgetry backing the newest Goblin.

Now, you may say.  That's not fair, and it doesn't even fit the traditonal Goblin precepts.  Well, Emerson stated that "Foolish  consistency is the hobgoblins of little minds."  I'm wondering if the creators of the Queen Goblin didn't think of that quote as a kind of rationale for the gaze.

Once the Goblin has Felecia in her stare, the worst thing imaginable happens in an exquisite, expressive sequence by Bagley and company.  Thank the cosmos, Ben Reilly stepped up to prevent this horrific tragedy.


Nah.  Nah, mate.  Just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, banged up and bedraggled but, never the less, the top hero of the book.  Because...ahem..."With great power comes great responsibility."



Last but not least, the finale of our two part Spider-Man book exploration.  In issue ninety, Spider-Man introduces himself to the new Queen Goblin.  It ain't pretty because the Queen really hasn't contended with Spidey's mouth.


Yeah.  I seem to recall a scene where the Spidey villains talk about the worst thing about fighting Spider-Man is that he can't shut up.  He's not only going to beat you senseless.  He's going to humiliate you first so that every insult is ringing in your head.  Of course, the Goblin does have two things going for her.  The Despondence Stare, and the fact that Spidey happens to fighting on half-speed and half-strength.


Oh, well then.  Skoom to you as well.  As you might expect there's some Beyond Corporation and Ben Reilly stuff in this book but meh.  It's actually Peter's concept of Ben Reilly and writer Gleason's willingness to treat him fairly that's his saving grace.

Wow.  That was a lot, but all these Spider-Man books are worth reading and adding to your collection.  These two overlapping stories will also be likely easy to find at your local comic book shop.  I recommend buying each issue.  Who knows how Marvel will collect them?