Friday, October 23, 2020

X-Lapsed, Episode 047 - X-Men + Fantastic Four #1 (2020)

X-Lapsed, Episode Forty-Seven

X-Men + Fantastic Four #1 (April, 2020)
"The Impossible Boy"
Writer - Chip Zdarsky
Pencils - Terry Dodson
Inks - Rachel Dodson, Dexter Vines, Karl Story
Colors - Laura Martin
Letters - VC's Joe Caramagna
Edits - Ballesteros, Smith, Brevoort, Cebulski
Cover Price: $4.99
On-Sale: February 5, 2020


Today we begin the story I've been looking forward to since we first saw the tense confrontation between Reed Richards and Scott Summers way back in House of X #1 (Episode 001 of this very program)!  Today we bear witness to the skirmish over "The Impossible Boy", the recently-rapidly-aged, Franklin Richards!

An Omega Level Mutant, Franklin would definitely be an asset for the growing mutant nation of Krakoa... there are just four things standing in the way. Also, our boy Franklin's powers are depleting with each use... wassupwitdat?  Hopefully we'll find out here!

Starting this miniseries, X-Lapsed is now officially on the road to our milestone fiftieth episode... a milestone only to me! 

--

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Thursday, October 22, 2020

X-Factor #13 (1987)

X-Factor #13 (February, 1987)
"Ghosts!"
Writer - Louise Simonson
Pencils - Walter Simonson
Inks - Dan Green
Letters - Joe Rosen
Colors - Petra Scotese
Assistant Edits - Bobbie Chase
Edits - Bob Harras
Chief - Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.75

Today I'm going to start a project that I've wanted to start for... literally years.  It started life as an episode of Weird Comics History... shifted over to an episode of Chris and Reggie's Cosmic Treadmill... and then, well... we just never got around to it.  Listeners of X-Lapsed might know that there's this weird topic that I sometimes wax nostalgic over... one that, I perhaps romanticize more than I should, because... really, it's not all that important.

It's just that, during my late-teen years, when I was a USENET addict - trying to absorb as much as I could about "everything X", I remember sitting under the learning tree of more seasoned X-Fans... who would write at length about some "what could'a beens", and dangling plot threads, and aborted storylines.  These tales were always fascinating to me... but none more so, than that of THE TWELVE.

Of course, "The Twelve" would eventually pay off around the turn of the century... but, not in a way anyone would've expected... and, for the most part... not in a way anyone really dug.  That's probably the innate problem with "armchair plotting" these stories that might actually happen... they never wind up being anywhere near as good nor as memorable as we plan them to be in our minds!

And so, today - we're going all the way back to where the very concept of The Twelve originated - and over the course of the next little while, follow along with the handful of twists and turns that lay ahead for this topic.

I'd like to say I'll be updating this regularly... I really would... but, ya see... nuBlogger still sucks eggs, and is wildly user-unfriendly.  Wish I wasn't such a coward, so that I could just jump to a different platform!  Guess that's the problem of having already logged like two-million words on this page.  Oh well - let's kick off the coverage with X-Factor #13 (if only they started it one month earlier!)

--


We open with the Master Mold slamming down into the Bering Strait from the orbiting observatory where it had been defeated.  It sinks like a stone... where it will surely just harmlessly remain, right?  From here, we shift scenes over to the X-Factor Complex in Manhattan, where some of the younger folk (and Beast) have themselves a game of... I dunno, dodge ball?  There's a ball involved, but that's really all we know.  Anyhoo, Cyclops is preparing to head out to try and reconcile with his estranged wife, Maddie Pryor... and says his goodbyes.


We follow Scott as he enters a cab, intending to swing by the hospital to check in on Warren's recovery after their
Mutant Massacre run-in with the Marauders.  During the ride, he thinks a lot about everything that's happened of late... re: Maddie and Jean.  This is a man who is familiar with the sensation of regret.


At the hospital, Warren is joined by Jean, who is also talking a thing or two about regret.  She's very upset about everything going on with Scott's family... and also, she and Warren were just recently "walked in on" by Candy Southern... who assumed her beau was cheating on her with the redheaded returnee.  During this conversation, Scott approaches the door... but decides not to enter.


As luck would have it, Jean happens to peek out the window just in time to see Scott's cab pulling away.  She uses her TK to halt the rig, and heads into the parking lot to have a chat.  She gives Scott a hug and kiss... and says she's only here to say goodbye.


Once Scott's on his way, Warren is visited by Cameron Hodge who reveals that Worthington Industries is being sued due to Angel not being completely forthcoming with his finances, re: his X-Factor holdings.  Hodge pretty much tells him that he's on his own here... 


We return to Scott after he arrives back at his and Maddie's place.  He's surprised to see that the house is up for sale.  Scott can't blame her for moving on with her life, but stews about how often he's left alone all the same.  He then worries about what baby Nathan will think about him as he gets older.  Oh buddy, you just wait...


Scott tries to get inside his own home, only to find out that Maddie changed the locks.  Lucky for him, he has something of a "master key" in the form of his optic blast.  He proceeds to shoot the lock to gain access.  In so doing, however... PINGS the Master Mold, stirring it back to sentience!  And, we're looking at this book today simply because of this single panel.  Master Mold awakens... and makes the first-ever reference to the fabled
Twelve!  Ya see, old Double-M is here to stop them from... well, doing whatever it was they were supposed to do!


Inside the house, Scott finds diddly and squat.  The whole joint is empty.  He decides to head over to the "Anchorage Hilton", which looks like it shares a building with Larry and Balki's apartment.  Hank calls him to check in, while the kiddos are still roughhousing.  They destroy some furniture, which gives us the opportunity to chat up another obscure mutant... the young fella known as
Ape!  Ape has a close pal who shows up for a bit, but this other one's got a pretty problematic name.


Back to the Master Mold -- who has just risen from the, assumedly, cold waters of the Bering Strait.  It takes chunks of material from an oil rig, and proceeds to rebuild itself.  Oh, and apparently, this mechanical bugger is mentally "Steven Lang" now.


Later, we rejoin Scott as he checks in with the Real Estate Agent about his house being on the market.  The associate he chats with claims to have spoken to a "man named Summers" on August 5th... which, just so happens to be the same day Scott left to join X-Factor.  Our man gets a bit lippy, and so, the young lady sets off the silent alarm to have him dragged away.


Back to Master Mold... where the big bot tries out its hand blasters.  Looks like they're working just fine!


Next, Scott heads over to North Star Airlines, hoping to check in with his grandparents.  Welp, they sold out... someone came in and made 'em an offuh dey couldn't refuse... on August 5th!  Whatta coinkidink!  Oh, and what's more... the new owner fired everybody else as well!  Scott, once again gets (awkwardly) uppity (I mean, really dude - a cross-face chicken-wing)... and gets tossed.


After a stop at the bar, Scott gets an idea -- he'll head to the Anchorage Hospital where his son was born and try to dig up the records.  After breaking in and scouring the files, however, he's still got bupkis.  Worth noting, he had to use his optic blast to break into the filing cabinet... which, once again, pinged the Master Mold.  Ya see, Scott -- is one of
The Twelve!


Next stop for Scott is the public library, where he checks out the ol' microfiche doohickey looking for records of Maddie's crash back on September 1st of whatever year that was.  If you recall, everybody in that crash perished... except Maddie, who walked away without a scratch.  He once again... finds nothing.  It's as though she never existed in the first place!
 


Flippin' through the fiche, Scott happens across the news item for
another crash on the same day... one in Jamaica Bay.  One that resulted in an apparent death of one redhead.  Scott digs into the retcon a bit more, and deduces that - hey, if the Phoenix Force could've tricked everyone into thinking it was really Jean - could it also have manifested Madeline Pryor into the world?  Scott freaks out at the notion, and rushes back to the house.


There, he's met by... Maddie and Nate!  But, he knows better.  He calls them fake, and blasts away at them.  Maddie, smiling, doesn't deny anything - but mentions how convenient it must be for Scott for her to enter his life upon Jean's "death" - and for she and baby Nathan to vanish into thin air upon her return.


She then shape-shifts from Madeline... to the Phoenix... to Jean... to Dark Phoenix, all the while taunting Scott with her fakeness.  Scott blasts her again, this time taking out a radiator in the corner of the room.  This is a radiator that Nathan would always lose his rattle behind, and - check it out, his rattle is right there!  Maddie and Nate
do exist.


We wrap up with a pair of epilogues.  First, a body of a redhead is found, facedown in the drink.  The police officers wonder if this might be the same woman that weirdo with the shiny red specs was asking about.


The second, is the Master Mold... getting ever closer to his target.  Mister One-Twelfth himself: Cyclops!


--

Loved this issue!

What a great character-piece for Cyclops.  Here's a guy, who - muddled with regret - is trying to make things right with his estranged family, only to learn that - this family might never have existed at all!  Makes you wonder just who might be screwing with him like this?  For a sorta-paranoid fella like myself, this is completely up my alley.

It reminds me a bit of one of my favorite underrated television shows, Nowhere Man starring Bruce Greenwood.  In the pilot episode, Bruce's character is out for drinks with his wife - he leaves to use the restroom - and upon return, it's as though his entire life has been erased.  His wife is gone... when he returns to their house, he finds that she's married to another guy... and, in fact never even knew him.  It's a pretty wild ride... until the network (either UPN or WB) totally gave up on it.  That's the sort of story that really gets into my head... and, it manages to do so here as well.

I love how Scott was able to find Nathan's rattle.  Whoever is screwing with him, didn't do a thorough enough job cleaning things up.  Really clever way to give Scott a little bit of assurance that his family actually did exist... and weren't just manifestations of the Phoenix Force (or whatever).

We get some bubbling subplots here, which are always a delight in these 80's X-Books.  Warren getting sued, Cameron Hodge not being all that great of a help, Beast trying to keep the kids in line... really good stuff.

Then, there's the Master Mold - and the revelation that there are Twelve strong, pivotal Mutants "around which others will gather".  We haven't the slightest idea what that's all about just yet... and, we know how disappointingly it'll all wind up - but, hey... let's pretend and be blissfully optimistic!

Overall - it'd been a long while since I'd last read these early X-Factor issues.  At this very moment, I've actually got the first Essential X-Factor volume sitting on my nightstand - just waiting for me to actually pick it up and read it again.  Maybe one'a these days.  Heck, maybe one'a these days I'll figure out how to just read comics for fun again!  Fingers crossed...

--

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--

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X-Lapsed, Episode 046 - New Mutants #6 (2020)

X-Lapsed, Episode Forty-Six

New Mutants (vol.4) #6 (March, 2020)
"Not As Hoped"
Writer - Ed Brisson
Art - Flaviano
Colors - Carlos Lopez
Letters - VC's Travis Lanham
Design - Tom Muller
Head of X - Hickman
Edits - Bissa, White, Cebulski
Cover Price: $3.99
On-Sale: January 29, 2020

Today we wrap up our time at the Bohusk Farm... and, it gets far bloodier than you might imagine.  We learn a little bit more about the Cartel, DOX... and those creepy grey-skinned black-eyed children.

It's a good time as always... as we head toward the "landmark" fiftieth episode of X-Lapsed (can it really be a landmark, if I'm the only one that cares?  Don't answer that!)

--

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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

X-Lapsed, Episode 045 - Fallen Angels #6 (2020)

X-Lapsed, Episode Forty-Five

Fallen Angels (vol.2) #6 (March, 2020)
"Conclusion"
Writer - Bryan Hill
Art - Szymon Kudranski
Colors - Frank D'Armata
Letters - VC's Joe Sabino
Design - Tom Muller
Head of X - Hickman
Edits - Robinson, White, Cebulski
Cover Price: $3.99
On-Sale: January 29, 2020

What is that blinding light?  It's as though we're at the end of a seemingly endless tunnel!  That's right, friends... today, it ends.  After this episode of X-Lapsed, we never have to (knock on wood) discuss another issue of Fallen Angels... ever again.

Crank up the orchestral soundtrack for your favorite Final Fantasy game, because we're about to see Psylocke battling a bona fide god... for, like a page or two.  Lotsa build-up... for very little payoff, but we'll do our best to have fun talking about it.

Also: A lookback at the entire Fallen Angels miniseries, including taking a peek at its surprisingly solid sales figures... and another X-Tended Mailbag segment, featuring missives from a pair of listeners who just finished HoXPoX for the first time!

--

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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

X-Lapsed, Episode 044 - Excalibur #6 (2020)

X-Lapsed, Episode Forty-Four

Excalibur (vol.4) #6 (March, 2020)
"Verse VI: Watch the Throne"
Writer - Tini Howard
Art - Marcus To
Colors - Erick Arciniega
Letters - VC's Cory Petit
Design - Tom Muller
Head of X - Hickman
Edits - Bissa, White, Cebulski
Cover Price: $3.99
On-Sale: January 22, 2020

The King is Weird... Long Weird the King!

As Excalibur (hopefully) wraps up its Otherworld arc, the place gets a new ruler... and he's a weirdo pervert.  At least he's a Braddock!  Today we have dueling siblings, crushed nuts, and perhaps the quickest resurrection of the Dawn of X era!

--

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Monday, October 19, 2020

Morituri Mondays, Episode 31 - Strikeforce: Morituri #31 (7/89) w/Brent Anderson!!!

Morituri Mondays, Episode Thirty-One

Strikeforce: Morituri #31 (July, 1989)
"The Bitter End"
Writer - James D. Hudnall
Pencils - John Calimee
Inks - Carlos Garzon
Letters - Phil Felix
Colors - Max Scheele
Edits - Marc McLaurin & Carl Potts
Chief - Tom DeFalco
Cover Price: $1.50 USD / $2 CAN / 50p UK
On-Sale: March 7, 1989


Finally folks... we come to the end of our (regularly-scheduled) run on Morituri Mondays... but, never you fear - we've still got (at least) five thick issues of Strikeforce: Morituri - Electric Undertow on their way in the not-so-distant future.

But, that's a story for another day...

Today, not only do we wrap up the monthly run of Strikeforce: Morituri... but the Chris's had the absolute pleasure and privilege of chatting with Strikeforce: Morituri co-creator and artist - Brent Anderson!!!  Brent was kind enough to join us for nearly two-hours to chat about, not only this franchise that we hold so dear... but to answer some questions from our faithful friends and listeners!

It's a bittersweet episode - and we cannot wait for you all to hear it!

--

Check out Brent's work and upcoming projects at:

http://www.brentandersonart.com/

El Jaguar: Origins:

http://eljaguarorigins.com/

In exchange for a $6 donation to the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco - you can get yourself an awesome Strikeforce: Morituri Insignia sticker - Make your donation through Brent's Contact/Order link at: http://www.brentandersonart.com/contact.asp



To order an email file of this art (see just below) from The Cartoon Art Museum Scrawl-O-Ween Fundraiser go to: https://cartoonart.org/store And make a $5.00 donation to the museum.



Follow Brent on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BrentEA

--

Your July, 1989 Strikeforce: Morituri Roster - Scanner, Revenge, Lifter, Burn, (The Ghost, The Wind, The Tiger)

Alumni - Snapdragon (#4), Vyking (#6), Marathon (#12), Adept (#13), Wildcard (#13), Radian (#15), Scaredycat (#19), Blackthorn (#20), Toxyn (#21), Backhand (#22), Hardcase (#23), Silencer (#23), Scatterbrain (#24), Shear (#25), Brava (#28)

--

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--

For some extra fun, check out Brent having some fun with our faves with a patriotic take - It's Strikeforce: Amerituri!




Sunday, October 18, 2020

Firestar #1 (1986)

Firestar #1 (March, 1986)
"Mark of the Mutant!"
Writer - Tom DeFalco
Pencils - Mary Wilshire
Inks - Steve Leialoha
Letters - Tom Orzechowski & Lois Buhalis
Colors - Daina Graziunas
Edits - Ann Nocenti
Chief - Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.75

Today we're going to take a look at one of the first (comic book) appearances of Angelica Jones - Firestar!  While she's gone on to be featured in a whole lot of comics over the years, perhaps most notably the New Warriors and a stint with the Avengers... I gotta figure a lot of folks reading this probably associate her more with the media she actually first appeared in - as one of Spider-Man's Amazing Friends in, well... Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends.

I never really watched that cartoon growing up... but, I certainly remember my first time ever seeing it.  It was at Brooklyn Hospital in 1984... and my mother had just given birth to my younger sister.  Naturally, I already knew who Spider-Man was... but, hadn't the first clue who his Amazing Friends were.  I couldn't tell you which episode is was... but I know it opened with, if I'm remembering right... a pan over a swamp, with Stan Lee's narration introducing the story.

It's been a long while since I'd last read this... probably over a quarter century.  Let's give it a goo, and see what we see.

--


We open with our titular character, Angelica Jones having her palm read by her beloved Nana.  The lines on her left hand converge to form the letter "M"... which, according to Nana means she's special.  My hand also has an "M" on it, and I'd contend that Nana, beloved or not, might just be full of it!  Ehh, at least she means well.  Anyhoo, it's time for Angelica to leave for her first day at a brand-new school.  Her father, Bartholomew
 gets shuffled around quite a bit due to his job, and so... this "first day of school" isn't an altogether new sensation for our young Ms. Jones.


Once they're left alone, Dad and Nana chat a bit.  Dad thinks Nana should maybe lay off suggesting that Angelica is in any way "special".  Wow, father of the year, ova hea'.  While trying to do some dishes, Nana has herself a little scare.  Bart offers to take her to the doctor, but she refuses... citing that they can't afford it.  I wonder if
this'll come up again... ehh, prob'ly not.


We next follow Angelica to school, where she immediately runs afoul of some... rather foul-looking "mean girls".  They don't cotton to the new redhead on campus... and whisper mean nothings about her to one another... just loud enough for our gal to hear 'em.


Suddenly... a wild hunk appears!  The leader of the "mean girls", Cassie decides to head over to him... and he kind of looks like a stoner version of Prince Adam from
He-Man.  First thing he does is... ask about the cute new redhead.  Cassie ain't diggin' this one bit... even still, Chuck the Hunk saunters over to see if the new girl needs any help.


We shift scenes over to Xavier's School, where... shock of shocks... Cerebro is on the fritz.  Seems like they're always trying to fix that, doesn't it?  Oh well, at least this helps expedite the Jim Shooter demandment of filling in any potential new readers on the finer points of the issue in hand.  Kitty Pryde fetches what looks like a soldering iron, but is actually a "continuity pulse tester" (which I feel like Marvel can use a box of nowadays), for Professor X and Nightcrawler to continue tinkering.  We get a glimpse of the New Mutants having themselves a volleyball game on the school grounds as an example of the sort of young people Cerebro might help the X-Men track down.


Here's the thing though... they're not the only ones looking for fresh young mutants.  From here we jump over to the "famed" Massachusetts Academy... where one Ms. Emma Frost has the same sort of mission in mind.  We watch as the conservatively-dressed Headmistress enters a hidden elevator... and lowers down to a more Hellfirey floor below.


She sees that one of the Hellfire Goons she has posted are kind of being lax in their duties.  Ya see, nobody is manning the "Mutavac", which I suppose is the anti-Cerebro.  Emma flips out a bit and psychically assaults her underlings... because this lapse in surveillance very well may have cost them a new mutant.


Let's head back to West Morris High School.  Angelica is being questioned by her teacher about the Treaty of Versailles... which, she admits she never learned about at her last school.  This prick of a teacher doesn't wanna hear any excuses... and tells her she needs to keep up with the rest of the class.  Okay, jerk.  Whatever the case, it gives the Mean Girls the opportunity to make fun of her for not knowin'.


Then, it's lunch time... and poor Angelica can't find anyone to sit with.  She attempts to make nice with the Mean Girls, but they ain't feelin' it.  This really upsets our gal... who, at this very moment id beginning to manifest her mutant power.  Unfortunately her manifestation "climaxes" while she's opening her little carton of chocolate milk... and so, she winds up climaxing all over her teacher's face.  Um... I really ought to say some of these things out loud before committing them to the blog.


This "climax" manages to ping on the White Queens Mutavac or whatever... but, as quickly as it comes, it goes.  We jump ahead a few months... and it's December.  Angelica and Chuck the Hunk are palling around, and we learn that our gal is something of an artist.  She's going to be in an ice-sculpture competition.  Ice sculptures?  What kind of high school is this?  Does Zack Morris go here?  Turns out Angelica is quite good at this... much to the annoyance of Cassie the B*tch.  Cassie also ain't pleased at how close Chuck is getting to Angie.


The next day, our gal prepares to head to school... and her dad leaves for work.  Once all alone, Nana decides to die.  Well, she really doesn't have much choice in her expiration... but, she does pass.


Angelica arrives at school, to find that the Mean Girls destroyed her ice-angel.  The Mean Girls don't even bother to deny it!  Angelica goes back to staring at her hand... which, I don't know if I've mentioned it... but, she keeps staring at her hand, because of the "M" on it.  One of the Mean Girls notices this, and asks why she keeps doing it.  Angie tells them that... she does so because her Nana told her it made her special.  Oh, honey... don't do that.


She's none too pleased that Nana lied to her, and so, after the Mean Girls scatter, we get another instance of her powers manifesting.  This time she climaxes in the direction of all the other ice sculptures.


Chuck the Hunk then hunks on over to see if everything is okay... but Angelica runs away before they can talk.  She goes over to a payphone to call her Nana... and give her the business for lying to her, but... she's in such a panicked state that she winds up melting the receiver.  This exhibition of power is enough of a "ping" for Emma Frost to deduce our heroine's location.


From here, Angelica decides to rush home... only to be greeted by a whole bunch of police, an ambulance, and her dad.  She learns here that her grandmother had passed.


We jump ahead to Nana's funeral, where Angelica brings up the notion that she is "special".  Daddy Bart doesn't wanna hear none of this spoo... but then, our gal demonstrates her specialness, by melting all the snow around her.  This... isn't very well received.  Her father laments the fact that his kid is a "blasted mutie".


That evening, the Jones' have a surprise visitor... someone who calls themselves "a friend"... who can help them with their new situation.  It's... duh... Emma Frost.  She offers to take Angelica back with her to her special school.  Welp, all our gal needed to hear was the word "special", and she was all about it!


We wrap up with Professor X and Nightcrawler pulling up to the Jones house... and upon seeing their rival already there, figure all hope is lost in recruiting young Angelica Jones.


--

This was really good!

I really enjoyed this story.  I wasn't prepared to feel quite as bad for Angelica as I wound up being.  This poor girl didn't stand a chance.  I felt legitimate sadness when she told the Mean Girls why she stares at her palm.  That's... that's just rough.  It kinda hits you where it hurts.

I was something of an outsider myself during my schooling years... I didn't stare at my hands or anything, but I wasn't especially well-loved by any of the popular groups.  I guess I can kind of relate to those feelings of isolation and solitude.  It was really well done... though, perhaps a bit tropey in the "hunk with a heart of gold" aspect.

I appreciated watching the manifestation of Angelica's powers... "climax" gag and all.  I thought this was a great way to depict her abilities making their presence known.  It also drives home the point that, Angelica is potentially dangerous... especially around a tiny cartons of chocolate milk.  I will admit that I wasn't all that keen on her being able to control her powers following her Nana's funeral.  That seemed a bit too convenient... and almost makes it so she doesn't actually need all that much in the way of training.

Speaking of training... having Emma Frost and Professor X in a race to recruit the new mutant was really cool.  Reminded me of how things went when Kitty Pryde first made the scene... which, I'm guessing was probably the intention.

Coming into the comics when I did, in the early 1990's, I missed out on this weird, almost cold-war-esque rivalry between the New Mutants and the Hellions.  They were rivals, yes... but... maybe not actual "enemies"?  By the time I became an X-Fan, things were a bit more black and white.  Good guys were good... bad guys were bad.  It wasn't quite as nebulous nor as deep as the Frost v Xavier deal.

The art here was wonderful.  Mary Wilshire is great with facials, and makes Angelica actually look like a thirteen year old girl.  This felt very high in quality... in a way that plenty of miniseries' don't.  Really good stuff!

I'd definitely say this one's worth tracking down... it isn't likely to break the bank if you're out hunting in the cheapo bins... you'll probably find all four issues in the dusty recesses of the store where very few brave souls (like us) bother to dwell.  For the less ink-and-pulp dependent among us (oh, how I envy you!), you can find this in digital format both at Comixology... as well as part of Marvel Unlimited.

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