Tales from the Bargain Bin…

Tales from the Bargain Bin and Review: Last of the Viking Heroes #1

last-of-the-viking-heroes-1Title: Last of the Viking Heroes #1

Publisher: Genesis West

Cost: $1.50 (cover price in 1987), I got it for free!

Storytellers: Michael Thibodeaux (writer, artist, colors and letters), Jack Kirby and Michael Thibodeaux (cover)

At some point last summer, while back home in South Jersey, my friend, LabyB, found this little gem for her boyfriend, who has a minor swords-and-sorcery comic collection.

Well, fast forward to today, when I discover that he’s “trimming-the-fat” from his collection and he gives me this issue, because he noticed that it had a cover by Jack Kirby. I thanked him for the gift and flipped though it, disappointed that it didn’t have Kirby art or story on the inside, but having just read Silver Star, and getting myself in a Kirby-mood, I decided to read this issue anyway, and boy am I glad that I did!

While Kirby only provides the cover, the story and art belong Michael Thibodeaux, a name I wasn’t familiar with. This comic has fantasy elements and takes place at the end of the Viking Era and features a group of Viking Heroes that could rival the Warriors Three. This issue sets up our heroes and their conflict and does it by telling an interesting story with interesting characters and does it in an “old-school” manner that hasn’t been seen in a while. Even though it’s not Kirby, the art really holds up and pretty darn good for the genre, feeling like a marriage between the Marvel’s Conan comics and their Epic Illustrated magazine.

I’m glad that my friend was cleaning his collection and that this little gem could have landed in my lap, because I now on the hunt for the remaining issues, because I need to know what happens to our Last Viking Heroes! 



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Tales from the Bargain Bin- Valiant Victories!

Archer & Armstrong - Eternal Warrior #8I know that this is late, but while at Twin Tiers Comic Con in mid-August, I came across a few Valiant finds while searching the dollar bins. Anyone who’s read my blog before, knows how much of a Valiant fan I am, and this includes both the original publisher by that name and it’s current incarnation. While digging through the $1 boxes, I always keep an eye on the look out for several of the original Valiant issues I had growing up, or maybe some that I didn’t, that I want to enjoy now. This time, I found a bit of both. I only came away with two issues, but they are wonderful finds. The first comic I found is the gem to the left, Eternal Warrior/Archer & Armstrong #8, a comic I once owned that I loved. The other is one that I didn’t own, but do now, and that is the Magnus, Robot Fighter Yearbook #1. Maagnus Robot Fighter Yearbook #1I love the character of Magnus and the world he inhabits, and especially love the old Gold Key issues and the early run during the VH1 days. This yearbook had art that reminded me of those old Gold Key issues, so I decided to add this one to my collection. Was it worth it and does nostalgia cloud the memories of the past, well we’ll find out!

Title: Eternal Warrior/Archer & Armstrong #8

Publisher: Valiant Comics

Storyteller: Barry Windsor-Smith (writer and artist)

Combining both series’ 8th issue into one, this over-sized issue has Armstrong telling young Archer a tale of his brothers AS the three musketeers. The brothers are drawn into a plot to free the king’s twin brother from a prison and replace him with the current king. However, this time period’s Geomancer is incorrect, as the freed brother is worse than the current king and now he must be stopped before he takes France down with him. In the end, Gilad and Ivar come to blows over the whole situation and their rivalry is never resolved. We also learn that Ivar is a time traveler, as well as immortal, like his brothers.

A classic issue, which still holds up today. I really miss Barry Windsor-Smith’s art, as it WAS the early Valiant Universe! This story features a twist on the classic, The Man in the Iron Mask story and introduces us to Gilad and Armstrong’s brother Ivar. While the issue doesn’t have any connection to the current storyline, at the time, it was just an interesting diversion, that gave us an instant classic!


Title: Magnus, Robot Fighter Yearbook #1

Publisher: Valiant Comics

Storytellers:  Mike Baron (writer) with Paul Smith (artist)

While Magnus and Senator Clane are trying to limit the need and use of robots in society, there are senators that are opposed to the idea. When a malfunctioning taxi bot leaves Senator Clane off on the lower levels of North AM, he is attacked by some ruffians, but is saved by a beautiful young woman. The woman is actually a robot created by a manufacture that wants to change the laws and start producing robots that look more human. He plans on using this beautiful woman to seduce the senator, in order to kill him or blackmail him into cooperation, and help him get his new laws passed. However, Magnus is on the case and is able to help the senator and retrieve the blackmail footage taken of him with the female robot.

A really good issue of Magnus, Robot Fighter, that feels more Gold Key than Valiant. With the exception of some dialogue and the ending, this issue could fit right in with the original Gold Key run, because both the story and the art have a retro feel to them. I guess this issue could be considered an early Valiant Magnus tale, but if you’ve read enough Gold Key Magnus, like me, you’ll think otherwise. Even though the story is retro, it’s still interesting and worth picking up, especially if you can get it for a dollar, like I did.

So, do these two random Valiant issues hold up? I’d say yes! The Archer & Armstrong/Eternal Warrior issue has no real connection to the great Valiant Universe, so as long as you know that the brothers are all immortals, then this is just a fun retelling of the Three Musketeers, while the Magnus Yearbook is a timeless Magnus story that could be inserted into any Magnus timeline, run or series. The art for both books is great, and while I really love Barry Windsor-Smith’s artwork, my pick is going to the Magnus story, because I really love those old Gold Keys so much and that issue drips of nostalgia.

So yes, these are my Valiant Victories: cheap, random Valiant finds that still hold up to memory and can entertain even after all these years!

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Store Review AND Tales from the Bargain Bin…Crossroad Comics & Collectables

Crossroad Comics & CollectablesIt’s been a while since I’ve done a Tales from the Bargain Bin and I’ve never done a comic store review, but now I’ve got a chance to do both in one review.

So last weekend, my friend, LadyB, and I went back home, to South Jersey, because she had a wedding and I had a family event to deal with, and we got to stop at several of our favorite places, like the Berlin Farmer’s Market, All Things Fun, and The House of Fun. While driving though Pitman, NJ, we discovered that there was a new comic store, one that wasn’t there before we moved to NY. It was open and not busy, so we decided to stop in and give the store a shot.

First off, I must say that the store was well organized, uncluttered and well stocked, especially with back issues and dollar comics. The store has a lot of Star Wars Power of the Force figures and a decent, but small selection of new comics. Also, they had comic boxes, in both sizes, and bags and boards for really good prices. I needed a new longbox, so I grab one of those and two comics from the $0.50 rack, as I didn’t need any new books. I was able to pick up two old school Valiant comics, one that I had been searching for, for some time now, and the other I had never read back in the day, and was more than glad to read it now. My friend, also got some $0.50 books and even picked me up a complete, vintage Star Wars Bossk for my birthday. I love the layout of the story, because everywhere I turned, there was something drawing my attention…if only I had more money to spend on comics and collectables! Next time I’m back home, I’m definitely stopping by again, as the store had a great atmosphere and the owner/manager was very friendly and nice.

X-O Manowar DatabaseAs for the two bargain bin comics I picked up, they are both very awesome, as long as youEW Yearbook #1 enjoy the classic Valiant Universe. The first title I grab, I have been looking for, for the past few years. The X-O Manowar Database originally came in the X-O Manowar Paperback Collection, but as I got mine second hand in a bargain bin, I never got this issue…until now! It’s a very quick read, having only 8-10 pages, but it gives so much information on the Shanhara armor, that it’s great. It may be out of date now, seeing as how the Valiant Universe has been rebooted, but it’s still an interesting read. The second issue that I picked up is the Eternal Warrior Yearbook #1. This stand-alone issue features a good story, giving us several flashbacks into Gilad’s past, and involves the Geomancers and their powers. I feel that the story still holds up, but those unfamiliar with the classic Valiant U won’t understand the Geomancer’s abilities.

All-in-all, these issues were great, and I only spent $1.00, total, on them, so even if there were horrible, I wasn’t out too much. So the moral of this story is, stop by new comic shops, as you never know how good (or bad) they are and what you will find inside. Always shop the bargain bins, that’s where some of the best treasures lie!

RecommendedFor both the comics and the comic store!


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Tales from the Bargain Bin…Marvel Two-in-One Annual #7 featuring The Thing

Marvel Two-In-One Annual #7Title: Marvel Two-in-One Annual #7 featuring The Thing

Publisher: Marvel Comics (October 1982)

Price Paid: $2

Location: Charging Star Comics in Johnson City, NY

Storytellers: Tom DeFalco (writer) with Ron Wilson (pencils) and Bob Camp, Mike Esposito, Frank Giacoia, Dan Green, Armando Gil, and Chic Stone (inkers)

While with my friend LadyB, we ventured to Johnson City, New York to seek out the new location for Charging Star Comics in the Oakdale Mall. While they have plenty of action figures for me to ogle, we were most interested in their back stock of comics. While digging through their longboxes, LadyB discovered a few old issues of Mister Miracle and two John Carter of Mars Annuals that I did not have and this gem. While I am a big Fantastic Four fan, and the Thing is my favorite Marvel hero, I’ve never collected this series, as it was Thing’s team-up title throughout the 80’s. Since this issue was only $2 and it was an annual, meaning that I would get a one-shot, extra long story, I decided to grab it. I sometimes love these old comics, as they give us a glimpse into comics past, a time that I sometimes miss. These fun, four-color tales are all but gone in this day-and-age of comic book movies and massive events. Heck, some of your mainstream titles sometimes border on the mature, with graphic violence and adult situations. This issue made me feel like I was ten again, with it’s simple story and fun premise.

In this issue, the Thing and all the heroes on the cover are taken by an unknown alien promoter to find someone to battle the Champion, and elder of the universe that cannot be beaten. As the heroes of the Marvel Universe struggle to find their missing comrades, the stolen heroes train to battle this elder champion. Eventually, all but the Thing is disqualified and he alone stands against the Champion. Much like Rocky, the Thing doesn’t win his match, but survives longer than anyone else in the cosmos ever has against the elder god, and earns the respect of everyone on Earth and the elder himself.

That is a simple story that gets to the heart of what it means to be a hero and is a perfect example of who the Thing is. Comics don’t get much better than this. So, if you find yourself digging through some back issues, and discover a comic you’ve never seen or a cover that catches your eye, grab it, as you never know what hidden gem you’ll find.

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Tales from the Bargain Bin…Jack Kirby’s Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers

Captain Victory Collage Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers is an independent comic series published by Pacific Comics. The series was bimonthly and was published in the early 1980’s, with the first issue releasing in November of 1981.  Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers is set in the modern day (of the 1980’s) and follows the adventures of the titular Captain and his army of Space Rangers as they battle the Insectons, an bug-like race, led by their queen, the Lightning Lady. The series starts out among the stars, but the Lightning Lady and her Insectons soon discover the existence of Earth and head to the blue planet to consume its natural resources. Captain Victory (who looks human, but it’s not determined what race he actually is) and his alien crew follow the scavengers to Earth and help the citizens of the planet fight back against the Insecton menace. This storyline covers the first six issues of Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers (the only issues I own).

I recently discovered these issue while at Intervention, the INTERnet conVENTION! I was there helping some friends demo their new board game, Cache Me If You Can. While taking a break from gaming, we walked around the con and found one booth that actually had comics for sale. The comics were separated by title, as usual, however one longbox was separated by artist and it had a Jack Kirby section. Looking through the Kirby section I found mostly a bunch of Captain Victories and a lot of the Topps comics from the 1990’s. Wanting to read something actually written and drawn by the King, I snatched up a small, complete run of Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers, issues #1-6 and the Special.

I waited until I finished everything else on the docket, but eventually I got to reading these issues, and I must say, they’re pretty good. While the dialogue is cheesy and the plot is a little hokey, Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers is good, classic science-fiction with a superhero twist. Everything I love about Kirby and his art is here: Kirby-tech, Kirby Dots, double splash pages and his over-the-top action. While Kirby isn’t known for being a great writer, I love the stuff he’s done (mostly his Forth World stuff) and this series feels like it could belong in the Forth World…and that’s one of this series’ downfalls. Some of the characters and plots feel like they were meant for Kirby’s New Gods stories, which he never got to finish: Captain Victory feels like Orion, Lightning Lady like Mantis and the Insectons are the Bugs. Heck, Captain Victory uses a device to defeat the Insectons that uses “Anti-Death”…”Anti-Death”! I really wish Kirby had gotten to finish his Forth World Saga, because I would have like to know what he had planned for it all. All-in-all, Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers is a good series and is pretty cheap to find. Give it a shot if you love all things Kirby and/or weird science-fiction stories.

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Tales from the Bargain Bin…Deathmate!

Deathmate PrologueIn the 90’s, comics exploded and several smaller publications gained the limelight and gave the “Big Two”, Marvel and DC, a run for their money. Two of the biggest, of these smaller, companies were Valiant Comics and Image Comics. In 1993, these two companies decided to team-up in an extravagant crossover  that hadn’t been seen before. Enter Deathmate! A six issue series of one-shots that contained the crossover goodness. There are two bookends, Deathmate Prologue and Deathmate Epilogue, both of which carried a $2.95 cover price, and four random one-shots, which could be read in any order so instead of numbering them, they went with color titles: Deathmate Black, Deathmate Blue, Deathmate Red and Deathmate Yellow. Half of the series was published by Valiant, while the other half was published by Image. These color issues carried a hefty price tag of $4.95 and were more like graphic novels than regular comics.

Deathmate BlackAs a kid, I never owned every Deathmate One-shot, only possessing the Prologue, Epilogue, Black, and Yellow. The high price tag of the color books prevented me from owning every title. I remember loving this event and ‘thinking’ it was the best crossover that I’ve ever read. Eventually I sold off much of my collection of the years, whether for space or finical reasons, but my Deathmate comics were ones that I had parted with. Just recently, my local comic store, Heroes My Mom Threw Out, was having a moving sale and had a bunch of comics outside the store in longboxes, for a quarter! In these longboxes, I found an Deathmate Bluealmost complete run of Deathmate, everything except Deathmate Red. Since they were only $0.25, I snatched them up! I’ve been in a Valiant Comics mood lately. If you hadn’t noticed that in the past month or so, I’ve read and reviewed about 7 different collections (the Volume 1s and Volume 2s) from the new Valiant Comics. So a chance to read and review Deathmate, albeit minus Deathmate Red, was on my mind when I grabbed these issues.

Now, I not totally oblivious to the fact, that most things that I loved as a child, with the exception of the original He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, don’t hold up as well as I remember. So going into this ‘Deathmate Experiment’ was scary. I didn’t want to tarnish something that I remember being good, but I also know that pretty much everything from Image Comics that I loved is utter, utter crap. However, to my surprise, Deathmate is not as bad as I was expecting, although, its not as great as I remember either.Deathmate Red

Most of the story occurs in the Prologue and Epilogue, where the heroes and villains prevent a split Solar from embracing…mating…no, Deathmating with Void, an Image WildC.A.T.S character. ‘Deathmate’ Solar and Void meet in the Prologue and the two company’s universe merge because of their love. However, the two universes should not be combined and all of reality is collapsing in one itself, from both the future and the past. The four colored one-shots give us a glimpse into this combined universe, however I can’t tell at times if Deathmate Yelloweach book is a separate world, or if they all take place on one combined Earth. Deathmate Black is a full issue tale about the the Gen 13 Resistance fighting back against Mother May I and her servant X-O Manowar. A bleak setting where characters die or are already killed. In this story, the heroes free Union, an Image character or instrumental in Deathmate Epilogue. In Deathmate Yellow, we get several stories, which involve: Armstrong and Ivan time jumping and witnessing the end of the future, an attempted assassination of Harada by Zealot, the end of the H.A.R.D.C.A.T.S., a battle involving Shadowman and Grifter and Master Darque making his plans to use Deathmate to his advantage. In Deathmate Blue we get more short stories, mostly involving Geoff, a Geomancer, and his quest to warn Harada about the Deathmate problem. Once young Geoff is able to convince Harada, the Harbinger calls on Solar for help. Solar then acquires Supreme for his assistance and the two meet up with Master Darque and his lackey, Doctor Eclipse. Together, the four make their way into Unreality and try and stop ‘Deathmate’ Solar from meeting Void. Everything ends in Deathmate Epilogue, where Solar, Supreme, Master Darque and Doctor Eclipse are meet by Union who joins them in stopping Deathmate. However, Master Darque has plans of his own and wants Deathmate to happen, so he can claim the power and become THE supreme being. Deathmate EpilogueEventually, Darque’s plan is foiled and Union and Solar prevent Deathmate and restore each universe.

OK, not great but not bad! While the story feels lacking, because they only have so many pages to tell a pretty epic story and because Image’s creators are mostly artists and not writers. On the art front, I find that the 90’s/Image art style is very dated and does not hold up well. The art in the beginning of the Prologue, which is penciled by Barry Windsor-Smith, and the art in the Epilogue, which is penciled by both Marc Silvestri and Joe Quesada, are amazing and hold up very well. I have a place in my heart for the art of the original Valiant Comics, which is featured heavily in Deathmates Yellow and Blue. There’s something about Valiant’s art that I love! Being a bigger Valiant fan, it was easier for me to know who all the major players were, but most of the Image characters have faded from memory and I didn’t know who some of them were.

All-in-all, I still like Deathmate! It had a fun premise, interesting characters and a lot a different creators. With all of the stories being one-shots, you can read this series in any order and still understand what’s going on. Also, Deathmate is STILL the biggest crossover event in comics history…in my opinion, anyway!


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Tales from the Bargain Bin…Book Store Finds!

While exploring the beauty of the Watkins Glen State Park with my friends LadyB and BookReview Banzai, we stopped into an old bookstore in Watkins Glen. My appoligies, I’ve looked on Google and still could not find the name of the store, however it is located on Route 14, the same road as the State Park. While looking inside, like usual, I’m drawn to the comics (which is places like this, are located in the back). All the comic were $1.00, no matter the condition, age or rarity. I picked up 4 gems for my collection and 1 for a friend. My haul is as follows:

Turok #1Title: Turok, Dinosaur Hunter #1

Publisher: Valiant Comics

This title is a little dated, but brings back found memories of collecting comics in the heyday of comics, the 1990’s. This issues chromium cover is a shining example of how the 90’s changed/effected comics and their perceived value. I picked this up because of my love for Valiant Comics and because I want to frame this cover (along with Bloodshot #1 and X-O Manowar #0).






Coneheads #4Title: Coneheads #4

Publisher: Marvel Comics

This is the issue that I picked up for my friend, who’s a big Coneheads (movie) fan. The art looked on-par for the 90’s, which is to day rushed and sloppy and the story seemed similar. Didn’t fully read this issue, so I can’t give a good assessment!







The next three books are all Superman titles. Yes, I may have an obsession for bargain bin Man of Steel books!

Superman KalTitle: Superman Kal Graphic Novel

Publisher: DC Comics

This is one of the few Elseworlds comics that I did NOT read growing up! In this graphic novel, Kal-El’s rocket lands in medieval England, where he grows up to be one of the Knight of the Round Table. I loved the Elseworlds’ stories as we got to see something completely different than what was going on in the main continuity. And speaking of Elseworlds…






Superman Speeding BulletsTitle: Superman Speed Bullets Graphic Novel

Publisher: DC Comics

I know, a Superman comics with Batman on the cover…what’s the world coming to! This Elseworlds tale is my favorite, not counting Kingdom Come. This story sees Kal-El’s rocket land in Gotham City, where he’s adopted by the Wayne’s. This is where Batman’s origin and Superman’s origin combine, and we see a Batman with all of Superman’s powers. You should read this graphic novel. The art may not hold up as well as I remember, but it’s got one hell of a story!






Superman #212Title: Superman #212

Publisher: DC Comics

Now, my rare find…Superman #212 from 1968! This 80-page giant contains Superman and Supergirl stories involving them as children or being transformed into children! Yes, you read that right, child Superman stories…god I love the Silver Age!

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Tales from the Bargain Bin…with Superman

On a recent trip to my local flea market, I discovered that the magazine shop inside had newer DC Comics’ titles for $0.75 each or 3 for $1.75. Most of what this shop carries is Superman related titles (or that may have been all that was left). Thinking that $1.75 for three comics that would have cost me, collectively, $9.97 was a steal, I picked up three Superman comics.

First, I’m not a fan of the New DC 52 initiative! I didn’t think that the DC Universe needed a continuity reboot, maybe a bit of an overhaul, but what do you expect when you Crisis or Zero Hour every other year! Anyway, with that being said, I did pick up the first issues of both Action Comics and Superman (among other titles) because Superman is one of my favorite heroes. Hell, my nickname is just an alteration of Kal El (Carl…Kar El)! I was not impressed by the first issues of Action or Superman. I had (and still have) no idea where Grant Morrison is going with Action Comics and Superman was underwhelming and uninteresting. First impressions being everything, I simply gave up on reading a decent Superman comic (until maybe Superman: Earth One Volume 2 comes out).

So now, its almost a year into the DC 52 initiative and I find really cheap Superman comics and decide to give the Man of Steel a second chance. Action Comics #11 was the first I picked up (and read). Almost a year later and this title still makes no freaking sense. I loved Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman, but this title is nothing like All-Star! Superman’s in jeans and a t-shirt in one scene and in the next he’s in his Superman costume…wtf! Clark Kent is ‘dead’ and Supes is playing firefighter….what am I missing? OK, now on to Superman #7 and #8, a two-parter which features Helspont (yes, the WildC.A.T.S villain) as the main villain. Other than Lois and Clark no longer being married and the awful costume, these issues felt like the Superman I knew. We get huge battles, awesome villains, Clark interacting with Jimmy and Lois, and Superman being Superman…that’s all I want!

I’m not convinced enough to add Superman to my pull-list at my local comic shop, maybe these issues were flukes. I hope not! However, just as Superman won’t give up on people, I won’t give up on Superman and I’ll grab more Superman comics (especially if Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen is writing) and maybe…just maybe, that costume will eventually grow on me!


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