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It's Year in Review Time...



Yes, it's 1/2 thank yous, 1/2 eulogy, 1/2 goals accomplished, 1/2 goals to finish, 1/2 reflection, 1/2 looking ahead.

You totaled that up right, it's a review of 600% of my 2015! But before I begin reminiscing about comics and comic related accessories, I need to start with the most important part and acknowledge my wonderful new wife, who puts up with my hobby and doesn't bat an eye when I occasionally spend a few hundred bucks on the latest and greatest addition. Now, you might be asking yourself -- "Why is this clown writing a journal entry for the registry on New Years Eve instead of spending it with his new bride?" Funny you should ask; she's fast asleep in the bedroom in advance of her 11 PM - 7 AM shift. Our alternate schedules are tough, but we make them work. One of the many, many reasons I love her so dearly. With that said fearless reader, for tonight it's me, you, the pets, and a cold one (or three).

While I've been pre-planning what to write in this entry for several days, I kept waffling on where to begin. Ultimately, I think the best place to start is with the biggest accomplishments -- I've finally reclaimed both the Wolverine 1988 and 2003 thrones. For now anyway, you can never underestimate my worthy competitors. Any of you who have followed those sets through the years has probably noticed that I've been locked in an epic, yet friendly, competition with frostking and worldsbestcomics for several years. I think the camaraderie we've shared throughout the process has made it that much more enjoyable.

As for how it happened, the 1988 set owes some thanks to frostking's oldest for starting college and usurping some of his comic budget :). In all seriousness though, what really made this year happen were a cavalcade of Larry Hama and other contributor appearances that teamed up with a lost and found box of extra books recovered from my parents' house as well as some minor buying risks that really paid off. One particular lot I snagged off of eBay turned out to be graded far too conservatively and produced eventual SS 9.8 copies of the non-Deluxe editions of 87, 88, 90, and possibly 89 (pending the book's return from AwesomeCon). Those 4 slots began the year completely empty in my set, an immediate deficit of 112 points. Filling 84 of those obviously gave me a massive boost.

Now here we are at the end of 2015, and it's almost surreal to say that my 1988 set is nearly complete (to my SS 9.8 or mint standard). Since the X-Men cartoon of the 1990s, and more specifically Wolverine, are the reason I got into comics to begin with (starting with Wolverine 61), I can't even put into words how much completing the set will mean to me. But, there's always obstacles to conquer, most notably the boogey man books -- the ones that you just can't seem to find a potential 9.8 copy of. For me its been 21, 31, 32, 34, 35, 143, 184, and the 2001 Annual. Couple that with a dearth of Erik Larsen and Steve Skroce appearances (I vehemently refuse to have non-contributors sign random issues), and completion by the end of 2016 may be a tad optimistic. Doesn't mean I won't try though!

The 2003 set's journey back to the top really doesn't have any fun anecdotes, I've just plugged away at it relentlessly. Although the 2015 London Super Comic Con certainly helped with its Simone Bianchi, Klaus Janson, and JR Jr. infused line-up. Charlie Dyer also deserves credit for selling me a nice run of SS 9.8 Civil War issues. 2016 should bring more of the same, with some extra emphasis on searching for high grade 2003 copies at C2E2 and WW Chicago.

So is that all I did? Why no! I kicked off a Maximum Carnage set, pared down my Dark Tower books to the Gunslinger Born issues only (storage space considerations), COMPLETED my Wolverine: The Origin set, and kept plugging away at my Uncanny X-Men set. I won't go into great detail on any of them here as it would result in a journal that's WAY too long, but suffice to say I've adequately written about them within the sets themselves. There's also a particular investment I made in my Wolverine Limited Series set, but that won't be journaled about until the final results are in.

Alas, it hasn't been all kittens and sunshine in the comic world though. To explain why, we have to rewind into the fall of 2014, when the sophomorically written tragi-comedy that was the "death" of Wolverine and its banal aftermath was released. One weekend afternoon while my wife and mother-in-law were getting their eyebrows done, I walked up the street to the local comic store and picked up as many issues as I could. I figured I'd read our dear Mr. Logan's end since there was no way Marvel could disappoint me any worse than killing off my favorite character of all time. Or could they?

Yes they could. I was forcefully proven wrong. After a greatest hits of forced villain cameos, a recycled back story, a recycled quasi-bad guy with the common sense equivalent to that of a standard sheet of dry wall, and a "death" that could've skipped the whole drawn out lead up to it, Charles Soule had thoroughly and totally insulted my sensibilities. Fury ensued. The only reason the Marvel Now! garbage polluting my collection was saved from the fire pit was because it all quickly sold on eBay in one fell swoop.

That could've been the end of my disappointment, except it got me to thinking. Specifically, what the (multiple expletives) is Marvel doing to its history? Characters were no longer iconic, they were simply interchangeable fodder for what I call the pander machine. Thor is now Thorina. Steve Rogers is old for some reason, making way for anyone else to pick up Captain America's shield. Seemingly half the longtime population of the Marvel universe is now gay because, why exactly? As time went on, Wolverine became Wolverina (as I sadly predicted) and the Hulk is now the Totally Awesome Hulk. Seriously, the "Totally Awesome" Hulk. "Like check out my shades bro, totally gonna get some rays! Hulk Tan!"

Diversity is a great thing, our world is obviously filled with it and we all benefit from the exchange of ideas throughout cultures. Age, sex, gender, religion, preference -- go to a convention, take a visual survey of the attendees, and then ask yourself if anyone has these things at the forefront of their mind. Diversifying the cast of characters isn't the issue.

What I can't understand is how every one of Marvel's writers and editors is so brain dead that they can't come up with an original idea. You mean to tell me no one could hatch a Falcon series, especially after Anthony Mackie was fantastic in "The Winter Soldier"? Or create one that could sustain X-23 or Lady Sif as the main protagonist? Or, heaven forbid, create a NEW superhero with a NEW moniker that happens to be female, black, Jewish, hispanic, tattooed, libertarian, and/or whatever?


Apparently not, because Marvel has instead chosen to push the icons aside but still does not have enough confidence that their newly diversified roster can survive without piggy backing on the icons' legacies. I find it pathetic and an insult to every demographic they're trying to attract.

And let's not forget the variants. Lots of them. Thor 7 can't have just one cover. It needs 26 of them! 1:500, sketch, hip hop, death me


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