#2
As far as Epiphones go, the Zakk Wylde model is one of the best, if you can live with the bullseye design.

The best feature IMO is the neck, it's got a great profile and doesn't have a stupid gloss finish on the back. I believe the newer models come with the EMG 81/85 combo as well, the older ones had EMG HZ passive pickups.

I was surprised at how light the one I played was, but others may like that. Also the bullseye "paint job" is clearly a sticker doesn't look that great close up, but for the price it's a decent guitar.
#3
Yeah, the newer ones are excellent guitars for the money, the older ones...not so much, if your pickups say EMG, you're good, but if it says EMG-HZ...well, if you didn't spend too much, it'd be a great guitar with better pickups