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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Happy Veterans Day!

Okay, I think it's tasteless to spec or do any kind of comic investing piece on Veterans Day, but that is just me and my opinion. When it comes to those who sacrifice and serve in the military, I do hold a special place for them in my conscious and heart.

There is a story behind that, and while it's not really an American story per say, it is one of the many reasons why I deeply respect my country's service men and women. Hmmm...I am an American, so I suppose it is kind of an American story but in a not so typical way.

While my grandfather was not a U.S. veteran, he is military and sacrificed his life for what he believed in. As most know since watching the newly launched Comic Book Brigade videos, I am Asian-American, born in Illinois and still a Chicago Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs, and White Sox fan that transplanted to and grew up in NorCal.

My gramps was a two-star general for the Republic of China, which was the government of Taiwan until another party took over recently. Don't get that mixed up with The People's Republic of China which is communist.

He did fight against the Japanese during World War II, and my grandma does have pics of him with U.S. military advisors. Well, to make a long story short, the RoC used much of their energy and resources fighting against the Japanese while the commies were recruiting and building up their army. 

After WWII, the commies struck when the opposition was weary and weak. We all know the outcome, the commies won China and my grandpa was captured and died in a P.O.W camp while the leader, Chiang Kai shek, and others fled to Taiwan, including my parents' folks. 

Whatever the People's Republic says about them being the main force against Japan in China during World War II is complete garbage. My pops grew up without a pops and didn't really know him whatsoever. I obviously never met my gramps.

However, his presence was always felt. I grew up during a time when Vietnam war movies were hitting the theaters a lot more - Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Born on the Fourth of July, Good Morning Vietnam, Casualties of War and Hamburger Hill just to name a few. I was first introduced to Vincent D'Onofrio in Full Metal Jacket.

There were also comics like The 'Nam that I grew up on as well. I was all over the issues when Frank Castle's pre Punisher 'Nam stories were told in that comic series.

Anyway, I remember watching one of those movies (forgot which one) and there was a scene in which a veteran coming home was spit on and called a "baby killer". I was confused about it, and my dad told me that it was unacceptable and wrong.

He told me to always respect those who serve and the veterans of this country. Be grateful for what they sacrifice so we can live out our lives doing whatever it is we do.

He was stern about it and then told me of my gramps sacrifice and how he was shunned after making that sacrifice. So my gramps was sent to one of the last stands near the very end of China's modern civil war.

While he was basically sent on a suicide mission to see if he could hold that military position, this stand did give extra time for leaders and civilians loyal to the Chinese Nationalist or Kuomintang party to flee the mainland to Taiwan.

Now, according to military custom in most Asian cultures, capture was or still is considered disgraceful. It is expected that you die fighting rather than be captured by the enemy, so my gramps was not considered a hero but a disgrace.

I think the scene in that movie hit a nerve with my pops, and the story my pops told me about my grandpa because of that movie scene has stuck with me all my life. When I tell service men and women I am grateful and appreciative of their service, it is not contrived even if it sometimes may be taken that way. How do they know my family backstory?

But there is a story behind why I will always honor the men and women of the U.S. armed forces. Thank you for your service and happy Veterans Day! I hope you all come back home safe to your families and loved ones.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Runaways Key Issues & 1st Appearances Part 2

To be perfectly honest with you guys, some of the keys in Part 2 of this is actually swiped from the Key Issue Comic Investments Still Under $100 Part 3 done back in 2016. I may add a bit to the listing's description but not much.

I've spread myself pretty thin and have a lot going on these days. Not to say that I won't be digging up useful knowledge about Runaways comics that should be snagged or not and giving you in-depth knowledge on some sleeper comics that might become hot and should become hot.

I'll still be doing what I've doing since this beast started without apology, care nor reservation. Okay, if you know nothing about these comics but are looking forward to the show and DO NOT LIKE SPOILERS, this article is not for you!

Click out this now, because the show is based on these comics and there WILL BE SPOILERS! With that said, you have been warned and onward to the goodness!

1st appearance of Victor Mancha
1st appearance of Excelsior

Cutting and pasting this from the Key Issue Comic Investments Still Under $100 Part 3 series done a little over a year ago. These have still remained over-looked since then.

The Runaways main cast of characters in the 1st limited series would have other members join the team in comics. Yes, peeps do die in the series.

This is the volume 2 series of the Runaways, and Victor Mancha is one of the new characters introduced.

The dude is a cyborg that was created by Ultron himself, and he ends up joining the Runaways in a later issue, I believe it is issue #6. Team Excelsior also make their first appearance in this comic.

The team is Phil Ulrich, Turbo (Mickey Musashi from the New Warriors), Ricochet, Lightspeed, and Geoffrey Wilder. Yes, that Geoffrey Wilder, as in Alex Wider's pops.

He is a time displaced and younger version of Alex's father. He joined the team under the guise of Chamber. As already mentioned in Part 1, his real first appearance is in Runaways #1 2003 series.

Definitely over-looked currently and I have not seen any CGC or graded copies of this one at the time of this writing. Victor Mancha could possibly be introduced if in the show if Hulu decides to order a full season and it even goes to a 2nd season.

Either way, I see a version of the Excelsior team play out in the actual TV series. Most likely not the same one in this comic here but a version of it. 

Maybe not in season one or two, but definitely in the near future. Since Alex Wilder is dead, Nico Minuro becomes leader of the Runaways in the 2nd volume to their headlining comic series.

There is a sketch variant of this issue as well. Do not know how limited it is at the moment and could not find any info on that.

April, 2005 is the cover date for Runaways #1 volume 2.

1st appearance of Lotus, Stretch, & Hunter
Origin of Victor Mancha
Victor Mancha joins Runaways

A door closes and a new one opens. The original Pride is dead, but this does not mean that a new incarnation of the Pride can be born from its ashes.

So Lotus, Stretch and Hunter make their first appearance in this issue as the new Pride. They are actually Alex's old online gaming buddies.

Hunter is a hacker who hacked into Alex's computer to find out what happened to Alex. He found out that Alex had died trying to help the Pride and gave instructions on how to bring him back if need be.

Hunter recruited his friends Oscar, Stretch and Lotus and went to the Minuro's summer retreat to perform the retrieval ritual or spell. This ended up killing Oscar and bringing back a time displaced Geoffrey Wilder instead.

Of course, being the cunning man that he is, Geoffrey made Hunter and his friends the "New Pride" but was tricking them in the end or so it was eventually revealed. Is that it to this key issue? Anymore key issue goodness?

Yep, this issue not only sees Victor Mancha finally join the Runaways, but also reveals his origin. Can anyone say an Ultron connection here?

I'm pretty sure that if Victor Mancha is eventually worked into the Runaways Hulu show, they'll probably tweak the origin so there isn't an Ultron connection. It would be super cool if they kept that in, though.

Highly doubt it, but just saying is all. Cool stuff and September, 2005 is the cover date for Runaways #6 volume 2.

1st appearance of Xavin

The character of Xavin also makes /his/her first appearance in the 2005 or volume 2 comic series and joins the Runaways. The character is a Super-Skrull and first appeared as a male.
Xavin would change his gender to female often after discovering that Karolina Dean is a lesbian, but Xavin would switch back and forth among the team. The character was a prominent member of the Runaways for  a while, but his current where about is unknown. 

No telling about this character's possibility of being on the show since Agents of Shield already has the Skrull thing going on, but since the CW and CBS did the whole Supergirl/Flash crossover, I think Marvel TV just might be allowed to do the same. Not sure though, but I do think this character may very well be seen in a later season.

Over-looked as well as the news that Hulu ordered a Runaways pilot is still pretty recent (note: old writing and info with that sentence). High grade copies most likely are still pretty cheap and under the $100 mark. Not sure about CGC or graded copies since I've yet to find any online.

Runaways #7 volume 2 has the cover date of October, 2005.

Karolina rejoins team
Xavin joins team

Despite Xavin debuting prior to this issue, the Skrull does not join the team until this issue. In fact, in his first two appearances in issue #7 and #8, Xavin came to Earth in order to marry Karolina. 

Apparently, her parents arranged some kind of arranged marriage between the two. There also seems to be a lot of bad blood between those two alien species as well.

This issue reveals that Xavin is the son of a prince that led an invasion of Earth and was stopped by Karolina Dean's parents. They betrayed their own people and gave Xavin's father the coordinates to the Majesdan home planet.

Apparently, the Deans had been exiled from Majesdan due to criminal activities there. The Deans offered their only child's hand in marriage to Xavin but expected that the Skrulls from Tarnax VII and Majesdan would annihilate each other.

Xavin was there to hopefully wed Karolina and help build a bridge between the two races that were on the brink of destroying each other. This is all revealed in issue #8 of the second Runaways comic series.

In issue #8, she does end up leaving to her home world. However, and as this issue reveals, it did not work, and they did not become betrothed. However, they remained lovers and returned to Earth.

In this issue, Karolina rejoins the team and Xavin joins the Runaways. Major key? Most likely not but worth mentioning as Xavin does become a prominent member of the team for a while.

Runaways #17 from the 2005 series has the cover date of August, 2006.

Death of Gert
Chase is bonded to Old Lace
Chase & Old Lace leaves team
New Pride disbands

As most of you know, I'm usually not that into deaths of comic characters. Usually, they end up coming back and the whole stakes or death is lessened and becomes unimportant.

However, in the case of Gertrude, her death is important as it adds to the mythos of Chase Stein who is empathetically and telepathically bonded to Old Lace. This does change the whole dynamic in more ways than one.

Saddened by Gert's death, Chase and Old Lace do leave the team for awhile. On the baddie side of things, Geoffrey is caught being deceptive to the New Pride and they disband after he is defeated and sent back to his original time.

Perhaps not a major key, but important issue for both Chase Stein and Old Lace. September, 2006 is the cover date of Runaways #18 volume 2 or the 2005 series.

1st appearance of Klara Prast

Plant manipulator, Klara Prast is from the past when the Runaways were displaced in time. She was working in a sweat shop in New York City.
Married young, as was permitted at the time in the early 1900s, her husband was abusive. After seeing this, Molly Hayes invited her to join the team, and the two become fast friends as they are roughly the same age and a mutant as well.

She would leave the team after a beating from her husband, but would eventually rejoin and travel to the present with the Runaways. As a result of the time period she is originally from, she has difficulty in accepting Karolina and Xavin's lesbian relationship due to her conservative upbringing.

While Molly has become close to Xavin, Klara has not. Her first appearance is another highly over-looked key comic. No graded copies as of yet, so high grade raw might be the way to go.

If this character is introduced, I'm thinking it may be in a later season or episode if there is one or the other. August, 2007 is the cover date for Runaways #27 volume 2, and the estimated print run is around 41,239. 

1st headlining Nico Minoru comic
1st solo story

Did I mention that Nico Minoru was the only member of Marvels the Runaways to get a self-titled one-shot in a limited comic series? Well, at least, at the time of this writing so far. 

I believe my man, Kevin Erickson, brought this comic to my attention, and the limited series lasted only 4 issues. I should say one-shots to be factual and more on par.

Like I mentioned earlier, Kevin believes Nico is going to be a break out character, and I have to agree that she has a very good chance. The Hulu show is going to give these characters and these comics a lot more exposure.

The comic series is great, and if the show follows much of the actual comics, I think it'll be great as well. I am now super excited for it, but back to this comic.

As for the Mystic Arcana titled series, it is a four issue limited series that each had a one-shot story for a certain magical-based character or character whose mythos was deeply magic rooted.  First one-shot was Magik, and the second was Black Knight. The third was Scarlet Witch and you know what the fourth one-shot is.

This comic ties the Minoru family to the Black Mirror (debut in Doctor Strange #42 volume 2) and there is a connection to the Darkhold as well. Yep, the Darkhold again, and January, 2008 is the cover date to Mystic Arcana: Sister Grimm.


After reading series one and two, I am a definite fan of this comic series. It's pretty hilarious and in a very good and clever way.

I surely hope that the actual Hulu series picks up on the humor, but a lot of the humor in the comics is entrenched in the world of Marvel superheroes like when Wolverine first meets Molly Hayes in issue #12. In short, the Runaways is one of the best comic book series I've read in long time.

So, I'm a fan now. I hope the show is just as good if not better, and for the record, there is more interest in the show as opposed to other Marvel shows.

How do I know that? I'll get to that in another post  soon enough.

Some other honorable mentions? Yes, of course, but let's begin with issue #1 of the volume 3 series.

This issue debuts the Light Brigade, and they are an elite Majesdane Military group who came to Earth to get Karolina Dean. She was to pay for her father and mother's crimes against Majesdane.

Conflict? You bet. The Runaways would not let that happen without putting up a fight for their friend.

So, the main Light Brigade in this comic series are General vaDrann, Lieutenant vRikk, and deHalle. If these guys show up, it would make the show quite interesting. I'm betting this story line will play out somewhere, but as villains for the Runaways, they are currently pretty minor.

Issue #6 is another turning point of sorts. Xavin realizes that resistance against the Light Brigade is futile. Out of love, he/she ends up impersonating Karolina Dean and is taken away to pay for her father's crimes.

So he leaves the team in issue #6 and it's revealed that he sacrificed himself for Karolina. It is not known what happened to Xavin after.

I smell a mini-series explaining that if Marvel should ever decide to knock out one if the Hulu series is a hit. At least, this inquiring mind wants to know.

Runaways #11 volume 3 sees the death of Old Lace. Say what? 

Yeah, I know. That bummed me out after reading that issue as well.

Issue #11 also sees the first appearance of Chase's uncle, Hunter Stein. Minor character for sure.

Viola! As requested, here's what I've uncovered when it comes to the Runaways, and there is more to just issue #1 as villains and some members die and others are introduced. 

I'm predicting this Runaways Hulu series is gonna be a big hit and these comics are going to see increased interest. #1 has pretty low distribution and just might sky rocket (it's lower than NYX #3). Actually many Runaways comics don't have high print runs, including volume 2, and are highly likely to have low distribution as well. 

We shall see! Can't wait for this series to hit Hulu. Damn, Punisher and Runaways