Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Lately I've been contemplating selling off my comic book collection.

It's not something I really want to do, but it is getting harder to justify continuing the hobby.  The space required to store my books is one consideration (I always dread loading the comics when moving), and the cost is another.  Comics are not getting cheaper, and with a new bundle of joy at home my expenses are not getting cheaper either.

I love my comics.  I love reading about heroes who do what is right simply because it is the thing to do.  I love the creative application of superpowers, in both combat and non-combat situations.  I mean, I'm just as interested in the creative application of super powers to clean the Mansion as how they would be applied to defeating Ultron. 

I have long dreamed of the day when I could share my love of superheroes with my son.  I don't think I've bought him anything superhero related yet (other than a stash of birthday presents he'll be ready for a few years down the road) but friends and relatives keep buying him Spider-Man stuff just because of my love of comics.

However, with the cost of comics these days, am I doing him a disservice by getting him into the hobby?  I've spent a lot of money on comics, and the majority wasn't purchased at the current prices!  To start collecting now with the prices as they are would be pretty expensive getting towards a collection as extensive as mine.  And a lot of the comics I have from back in the day can be read as stand-alone issues, which isn't the case now.

As I write this though, I do recall the argument I used to give to my father when he would rag on me for buying comics; "Would you rather I spend my money on reading material or on cigarettes & alcohol?".  He never had much of a comeback for that one.

Still, the thought of selling off my collection and getting out does have some appeal.  Going digital has some appeal, if the prices were to drop; having my comics accessible on my tablet and not taking up space in the basement is pretty handy.

For now I think I'll be standing pat and continue my love of comics, but I have to admit the temptation is there to get out.  The idea that a long-term fan like myself (20+years) is thinking of getting out due to the current story structures and pricing should be an alarm bell to the publishers, but it doesn't seem like it's much of a consideration.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Today is a Great Day

I just discovered a blog dedicated to the Martian Manhunter, "The Idol-Head of Diabolu, a Martian Manhunter Blog".  This is a very happy day.  The Manhunter is one of my favourite characters, and is definitely my favourite DC character! 

I'll have some actual content for my own blog next week, this one has been nuts!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Stupid Real Life

Crazy week, hope to have something up Friday or Saturday.  Sorry True Believers!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Youtube Friday - Justice League Live Action

This was just a quick project I put together a few years ago.  I took the opening theme music from Justice League, and set it to footage from the pretty-darn-awful Justice League live action pilot.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Time for a Change

So last week I left off saying I was making some changes to my reading list, so let's continue.  To recap, my pull list is currently:

Captain America
Captain America & Bucky
Journey Into Mystery
Secret Avengers
Alpha Flight
Avengers: Children's Crusade
Avengers Solo (slot "any solo Hawkeye books" here)
Now before I continue, I thought I should add the books that I collect in the form of trade paperbacks.  I have an all-hardcover collection of all of the cosmic books going back to Annihilation, with the exception of Nova which is in softcover (as the entire run is not collected in hardcover).  Even though I'm not wild about the concept, I am waiting for the collected edition of Annihilators: Earthfall.
I also collect Fables and Jack of Fables in trade format, though I am a little behind on Jack (which I think has ended, which I'm fine with because I've never loved the character).  I will probably get the Cinderella spin-offs as well.
Up until the Mark Waid "relaunch" I have a full run of Daredevil going back to the Smith & Quesada "relaunch".  I'm undecided if I will continue with the Waid books simply because I have a nice book-ended run right now and the collector in me likes that.
So what have I added? 

Fantastic Four and FF.
I keep hearing about how good Hickman's run has been, and a reluctance to add more titles is what kept me away.  With that being said though, I am happily jumping in now, for the following reasons:
- The books I've been reading have been kind of dreary, especially because of Fear Itself tie-ins (lately).  I'd like a more fun, upbeat read, and the Fantastic Four fits the bill.
- The Fantastic Four is a book about family, and now that I'm a father myself I love the scenes with the kids even more (and I've been a fan of the family stuff for awhile)
- The books should be fairly self-contained.  Marvel's events lately have revolved around either the Avengers or the X-Men, the FF dont' usually headline events.  Hopefully that will continue going forward.
- The Fantastic Four actually go on adventures!  I remember when the Avengers and X-Men used to do that, it's been awhile.
I am also very close to adding Avengers Academy to my list; I've read some issues digitally and I really like what I've been reading.  The completist in me likes to go back to the beginning, and since Marvel tends to cancel every new series anyway I'm thinking of just waiting for it to be canceled and getting a full run at a discount.  It sounds terrible but really, what book has Marvel launched in the past 10-15 years that made it past 30 issues?
I also considered the X-Men, as I really like what I read in Schism.  However, there are simply too many titles that tie into each other for me to get into it.  If I could get the story of Cyclops' team in one book and Wolverine's in the other, I'd be okay with that, but there are I believe 8 different books, with 4 per devoted to Cyclops' side and 4 more to Wolverine's, plus whatever other X-Books there are.  Too big for the kind of money comics cost these days, so I'll pass.
My comic book store has put together a Fantastic Four and FF run for me, all of Hickman's issues, and they're giving me a bit of a price break, so I'm looking forward to picking them up next time I'm in the city.  I may be paying in installments though, that's a fair number of books!  Fortunately my shop is awesome like that.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Avengers vs X-Men...Pass

So Marvel has announced their big event for 2012, Avengers vs X-Men. From what I've read ( and, it will be a bi-weekly 12 issue event created by a whole pile of creators.
Writers - Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, & Jonathan Hickman

Artists - John Romita Jr., Adam Kubert, Frank Cho, and Olivier Coipel

From what I've read it seems like individual writers will script each issue, and each artist will be responsible for a 4 issue arc of the series.

I will be passing on this event.

12 issues for such an event seems really stretched out, even as a bi-weekly. And currently Marvel is doing an Avengers/X-Men crossover called X-Sanction, which I am assuming will lead into Avengers vs X-Men. So before you add any tie-ins that is a massive main event, which is funny since a couple of years ago Marvel said they were going to focus on "smaller" events, like Siege, which clocked in at 4 issues (and I hate to say it, should have been 6 to give each plot point enough room to breathe).

I also am not wild about so many creators working on the book. Maintaining a cohesive story with so many hands in the pot is going to be tough. For example, Coipel and Romita Jr. couldn't have more dissimilar styles. On the writers side, maintaining a consistent voice is going to be difficult, especially with Bendis' dialogue style.

It really is too bad, because there is some potential for some good stuff here. Seeing how the Beast, Wolverine, and other X-Avengers react to being put in the middle could be good stuff. I'm a fan of the old Avengers vs X-Men mini-series that saw Magneto tried for crimes against humanity, but it was a much more reasonable 4 issues (that will probably hav more story content than all 12 here).

I skipped Fear Itself because of event fatigue, and now Marvel is launching a 12 parter that will get its start in another crossover (again, my assumption, not confirmed), I will definitely not be adding this to my pull list.

Fortunately most of the titles I read should be immune from this crossover, or at least I can hope.

Every Neighborhood Needs a Friendly Spider-Man

Not much time today to work on the blog, so I'll leave you with my son and one of his favourite toys (which is actually mine but I'm okay with him having it), the Itsy Bitsy Spider-Man.

Friday, 2 December 2011

State of the Longbox Address

I've been feeling for a little while that the crop of books I'm buying is getting a little stale.  Here is my pull list:
Captain America
Captain America & Bucky
Journey Into Mystery
Secret Avengers
Alpha Flight
Avengers: Children's Crusade
Avengers Solo (slot "any solo Hawkeye books" here)

I've found that some books just haven't been getting me very excited lately, and it was time for a change.

I think Ed Brubaker does a spectacular job with Captain America, but I'm getting kind of bored with all the WWII/Cold War stuff in the title.  Going to the well here and there is great, but it gets a little old after awhile, and Brubaker has been on the book for quite awhile now (a great accomplishment in this day and age).  That theme doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, since he will be launching a Winter Soldier ongoing (provided Marvel doesn't cut the feet out from under it before it launches) in 2012.

I was tempted to get the Winter Soldier seres, to have a complete collection of Brubaker's work in the Captain America universe, plus he will be re-teaming with Butch Guice, but as I said, I'm burnt out on the old war story stuff.  Therefore, I made the decision to axe Captain America & Bucky from my list, and will not be getting the Winter Soldier series.

Thor has been a disappointment for me ever since Matt Fraction took over the title.  I feel he has ignored recent continuity, as established by J. Michael Stracynski and Kieron Gillen, and that really makes it hard to enjoy the book as an ongoing series.  I feel that the dialogue is terrible, as Fraction cannot decide if Thor is eloquent or a brute, and the rest of the characters aren't much better.  Fraction is good at starting things at a slow boil, but his conclusions leave a lot to be desired.  With the price of comics today it is really hard to justify buying the book, even though I have a complete run going back to Volume 2 (and we're on the equivalent of Volume 4 right now). 

Secret Avengers was a book I was really excited for.  I don't care for Bendis' Avengers, and Brubaker picked a really great line-up for the book; Steve Rogers, Sharon Carter, Ant-Man (Eric O'Grady), War Machine, Valkyrie, Beast, Moon Knight, and Nova.  This was a great blend of characters I thought would play well off of each other, but unfortunately the book under Brubaker always felts like "Steve Rogers and friends", not a true team book.  I gave the Warren Ellis issues a try but they haven't really seemed to be going anywhere, and I have no great emotional attachment to the series (as I do Thor) since it never quite achieved its potential to my mind, so cutting it off is just the way to go.

So now we are at:
Captain America
Captain America & Bucky
Journey Into Mystery
Secret Avengers
Alpha Flight
Avengers: Children's Crusade
Avengers Solo (slot "any solo Hawkeye books" here)

Of the remaining books, Journey Into Mystery is a real treat.  I feel that Kieron Gillen has a grasp of Thor and the world of Asgard second only to the great Walt Simonson himself.  Gillen's fill-in work on the Thor title, before Fraction took over, was spectacular.  I firmly believe that he should be the writer of the main Thor book; I would be back in a flash if that were to happen.

Even though I am tired of the World War II inspired stories in Captain America, Alan Davis is coming on board as the artist starting with #6, and anyone who follows this blog know how much I love Alan Davis.  Therefore Captain America's main book will be spared the chopping block.

I absolutely love Alpha Flight, and I have every issue of their various on-goings and mini-series ever produced, and am working on getting their notable appearances in other titles (I am a proud owner of their first full appearance thanks to a trade with Tom Breevort, in Uncanny X-Men #121).  I was very sad that Marvel toyed with my emotions by announcing the mini-series by Pak and Eaglesham would be made into an ongoing (yay!), then they later announced it was reduced back to a mini (boo!).  While I haven't completely fallen in love with the current story, I think it was going to establish a good base to go forward with.

Avengers: Children's Crusade has been alright, though I'm starting to find Young Avengers books to be a little formulaic; kids confront a problem, Avengers tell them to stay out of it, kids defy Avengers.  And if there is an in-story reason why these kids aren't a apart of Avengers Academy I'd love to hear it; I assume the in-story is that the Children's Crusade book couldn't even keep to a bi-monthly schedule, makes it hard to include them in other books. 

Avengers Solo #1 was okay, though I wasn't blown away.  I think I need to re-read it, as part of the problem may be that it was a fairly dense read, and I'm not as used to that as I used to be, with the way comics are currently written.  I will still collect the whole mini-series though.

So with all that being said, I felt it was time for a bit of a change.  What books have I added to the mix and why?  Stay tuned for "Time For a Change", same Blog Time, same Blog Channel!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Is He Pictures

Blogger was being a total dink yesterday and I could not get all of the images I assembled into the post without completely mangling the text, so here they are in all their glory!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

If He Be Worthy

I'm fairly certain anyone reading this blog is familiar with the stipulations attached to wielding Mjolnir, but just to cover the bases here is how it works.

Fans love to debate exactly what constitutes "worthiness" of the hammer, and who can lift it.  The following is a post I made at the Thor Message Board on the subject, though I've had to adjust it a little after the events of Fear Itself. 

In general, I think we can all agree that to be worthy of Mjolnir you have to have a heroic nature. Self-sacrifice, honour, desire to help others, that is all a part of the package. Describes a lot of heroes though, doesn't it?

Spider-Man is certainly self-sacrificing, arguably even moreso than Thor. He lives by the adage "with great power comes great responsibility", and Mjolnir is obviously a great power. However, Spider-Man is more motivated by guilt than a purely altruistic nature, and I think that is what takes him out of the running to lift the hammer.

If there is one character around who I personally think would be worthy, it's Ben Grimm. Ben is a hero's hero, sacrificing his own happiness to turn back into the Thing when others need him. He has dedicated his life to helping others as a member of the Fantastic Four. His never-say-die attitude is legendary (eg. his battle with the Champion). So why isn't Ben worthy? Quite recently we saw him try to lift the hammer and fail. I think the reason is Ben's own self-loathing and insecurity about his appearance. He doesn't have the self-confidence/esteem needed to wield Mjolnir.

This brings me to Captain America. Cap certainly embodies everything discussed thus far, without the guilt or self-loathing to weigh him down. Confidence is certainly something he doesn't lack. Cap has lifted the hammer on two occassions now, and it is worth noting that both times he has not undergone a transformation into a Thor-like being.  My feeling here is that while Cap had need of the power, he has never intended to take it from Thor, rather he has borrowed it. 

This leads me to the conclusion that to lift Mjolnir, you must have need of it. Beta Ray Bill certainly had a need, as his world's champion against Surtur and his hordes. Superman managed to use it once, and that was when the entire DC and Marvel universes were at stake. When there was no longer a need, even though he was just trying to return it to Thor (in far less perilous circumstances than when Steve did the same), Superman could not lift it.

Which ultimately leads us to why isn't Superman worthy. Again, this comes down to need. Superman doesn't need the power of Thor, he is just as powerful on his own. He exemplifies many of the same characteristics as Thor, but since he has no need of the power of Thor, he cannot lift the hammer either.

And before anyone asks about Wonder Woman, as far as I know the only Marvel/DC crossover that is actually in continuity is JLA/Avengers. That being said, you could argue that Wonder Woman was fighting for her entire universe, and since she lost to Storm (due to fan voting) she obviously could have used the power boost.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

More Digital Musings

I've been reading, and researching, more on digital comics over the last few days, and while I still like my idea of a digital download code being standard with the print version of the comic, I have to wonder how the Netflix model would work with comics.

For anyone unfamiliar, Netflix charges you $8/month and lets you then stream as much of their content as you like.  They rotate through what is available and what isn't, but I've seen a fair amount that interests me and I just signed up for a free trial last week.

So could a NetComics fly?  Marvel does, or did, I'm not sure, have their own digital subscription service that let you pay a monthly fee to read their digital content, but I've always felt that initiative suffered due to the rather random assortment of books available.  When it comes to the older books, don't put up a random smattering of titles, at least do it by story arcs.  The titles available were pretty random, without much rhyme or reason to which books were available.  I'd rather see more complete listings rotated on a monthly basis than random books here and there.

I'd like to be able to use an app like Comixology to pay a monthly fee, and I can read as much or as little of what is available as I want.  Give me an option to pay to download the comic to my hard drive, or to order a print copy.  This way readers can sample a wider variety of titles than they might normally and could lead them to purchasing more titles.

I love my print comics, but I am really enjoying reading digital comics on my tablet as well, but the current digital model exactly having me rushing to purchase digital comics.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

When the Preview is the Best Part

I admit, I got burned on a recent Marvel purchase.

*X-23 #17 Spoilers!*

I saw the preview for this comic and it looked like a lot of fun, so I thought I'd get purchase the digital copy to read on my tablet.  Something I think a lot of comics miss these days is the fun factor, and from this preview page alone made me think this issue would be a lot of fun.

Full preview can be found at

That last panel alone lead me to think this would be great fun, so I downloaded it.  Now to be clear, the previewed pages are a lot of fun!  X-23 is an assassin trying to learn how to live like a normal girl, and babysitting is a pretty common activity for young girls (and boys; my first job was a three times a week babysitting gig).  Throw in the shenanigans kids can get into, then amplify that by the setting of the Baxter Building, and we're in for a fun ride.

The problem is, the preview pages were by far the best part of the issue.  I made the assumption the preview pages were the opening pages of the book, and I would therefore be treated to 20-22 pages of babysitting adventure.  In actuality, the preview pages didn't show up until the middle of the book, after dealing with some Schism housekeeping details that I'm not terribly interested in.

The book ends with the kids and X-23 off on a madcap adventure, but I had hoped I was getting a one-and-done when I bought the book.  I'm going to have to research if #18 wraps everything up or if this will be a 4 part arc, because I'm not willing to shell out full price on a digital run of a comic; the odd issue here or there is okay, but not on a regular basis.

The issue is a fun one; if I hadn't of already read the preview pages I would have liked it more.  The art is good, the story is good, the dialogue is good, it's not a bad issue at all.  It's just too bad that the best part of the issue was in the preview pages (or too bad I bought the book not knowing I'd already read the best pages!).

Friday, 18 November 2011

All Ages Does Not Mean "For Kids Only"

One of the criticisms levied against the DC Heroes Reborn New 52 was that the content in some of the books is too adult (the biggest examples being Starfire in Red Hood & the Outlaws and Catwoman in her own mag), and not all-ages friendly.  The response from some readers was that comics aren't necessarily for kids.

Now, I certainly think there is a place for more adult story-telling in the comic book medium; I'm not going to give an 8 year old Batman: The Killing Joke or the Watchmen to read.  But I do feel that there is a distinctive difference between books suitable for all ages and those intended only for kids.

A good all ages story has elements that kids can enjoy, that adults can enjoy, and that everybody can enjoy.  If you want to look outside of comics, Pixar's movies are a perfect example.  The movies are marketed to kids, but adults enjoy them just as much or more.

Comic books, at least the mainstream Marvel and DC books, all used to be all ages!  Stan Lee made a point of not writing down to his readers, instead he did his very best to challenge the reader to keep up!  As a kid I always did well in subjects like language arts and spelling, and was told that I had a very large vocabulary.  I attribute that directly to my love of comics, because I was exposed to these big words and concepts that prose books aimed at my age level could give me. 

I look at my progression with Spider-Man as a good example of how stories can cater to all ages.  As a kid, I was drawn to Spider-Man.  He was brightly-coloured, funny, had awesome powers, and fought cool supervillains.  In Grade 3 I tried my hand at my own Spider-Man comic, which was painfully brutal (but my Mom saved all the same, I wonder if she still has it...); the story featured Spider-Man foiling Electro from robbing a bank. 

Here is the important part of that comic I tried to make; Peter Parker wasn't in it, it was all about Spider-Man.

As I grew older, I came to care about Peter Parker, the man behind the mask, more and more.  I'm at the point now that I'm far more interested in Peter than Spidey; when I came out of Spider-Man 2 in the theatre, I commented that the movie was so good I didn't even care if he ever put on the Spider-Man costume.  The life of Peter Parker was far more interesting.

Thus Spider-Man, for a very long time, was an all ages book.  Kids might focus on the cool powers while adults (who still appreciate the powers and the fights, don't get me wrong) catch more of the nuances of the plot.

It takes real skill to do a good all ages book.  The best example I can think of, in any medium, of all-ages writing is Calvin & Hobbes, by Bill Waterson.  Kids love the strip, and adults love it just as much or more. 

It's easy to throw in some T&A and make verything dark and gritty to make a book "adult" and "edgy".  It's far harder to craft a story that everyone can enjoy, and it's a shame that more Marvel and DC titles aren't even making the attempt.

The other night my son was crying in the car, so after awhile I pulled out my tablet to read him a story.  Unfortunately I discovered the storybooks I thought I'd downloaded needed an Internet connection, so I got the idea to read him a comic.  I had downloaded some free comics from Marvel and DC's Comixology pages, and I figured I could just adapt the story to the pictures as we went; he's only 7 months old, he's not going to know the difference!

I chose "Billy Batson & The Power of Shazam", and let me say, I enjoyed the story more than my son did!  Reading about a kid with the power of Superman, and how he uses it, was a wonderously fun adventure.  The little touches like Billy transforming into Captain Marvel and then putting on civilian clothes to go to Parent Teacher interviews as his own father, that's exactly what a kid would do if they had the power to do so!  I think the rest of the series is only $.99 an issue for the remaining 5 so I am going to be picking this up next time I am on Wifi.

All ages does not mean just for kids, there are lots of great stories out there without blood, guts, and women in thongs.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Asus and DigitalComics

Recently for my birthday (and Christmas) my wife got me a tablet.  I have been wanting a tablet for quite some time, but she's always told me that I couldn't get one, which of course didn't stop me from doing a lot of research on the cheapies out there.  Anyway, she surprised me with an Asus EEE Transformer, with the help of my buddy who owns a computer store, and I absolutely love it.

One of the primary reasons I wanted a tablet was to read digital comics.  I love my hard copies and don't intend to stop collecting them, but I have all these Git Corp collections that I want to read, and I hate reading digital comics at my computer desk.  I want to relax on the couch or lounge in bed, like I do with a physical comic.  I was looking into cheapie tablets for this purpose, and was about to launch into serious research on the Amazon Kind Fire before I got my Asus.

Fortunately for me, my Asus is good for a lot more than just reading comics.  However, if reading comics will be a priority if you get a tablet, the 10.1 inch model is perfect perusing your favourite titles.  The dimensions of the screen are better suited to a comic than an iPad, as a page fits perfectly on the screen.  When I get to a two-page spread, I just tilt the screen and everything fits.  While there is a zoom option I find that I don't really need it, I can read everything quite easily.

Now if only somebody would create an App that would let me play VS system on my tablet...a touch screen computer for a card game would be pretty darn awesome.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Real Men Wear Skirts...Don't Believe Me?

I mentioned that Darkseid, before Jim Lee got his hands on him, could rock his skirt, but he's not the only comic book tough guy who can make the look work.  I could keep going, but here's just a smattering of superheros and villains who aren't afraid to define fashion.  Here's proof!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Real Men Wear Skirts

DC unveiled Jim Lee's redesign for Darkseid, a character that I didn't really think needed one.  Much like the rest of his redesigns, it looks very nineties.  Sometimes less is more, but I don't think that Lee has ever adhered to that.

This look is very busy, and needlessly so I feel.  Having the Omega symbol plasted all over every aspect of this design is like Superman being covered in S-shields, or Batman in Bat-symbols.  A logo or symbol should be a single focal point, not plastered over the outfit over and over again like we see here.

I liked the old Darkseid look far better; few men can wear a skirt and still look badass doing it (hello Dr. Doom), and Darkseid is one of them.  Here is his original look, as interpreted by Michael Turner.

The look is very simple, but he still looks like a guy I don't want to mess with.  The focal point on Darkseid should be his face, as it is his distinguishing trait, not at multiple Omega symbols all over his body.

And as always, I feel that if a character is going to be popular, kids need to be able to draw the character.  Darkseid is one of the premier, if not THE, premier supervillain at DC Comics.  Kids should be able to draw him.  Alex Ross made this point recently, and it's very true.  Look at the most popular superheroes out there; Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk, etc, are all simple enough for kids to draw.  This new Darkseid is going to give professional artists problems, let alone the amateurs out there.

Maybe comics would be delayed less if their costumes were easier to draw!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Let's Get Digital

I came to the computer today planning to write an entry about how the major comic companies should be letting someone who buys a physical print copy of a comic access to download it as a digital comic for free.

Then Comics Alliance posted that Marvel has announced they are doing just that.

Now, they are not doing it for every comic they publish, for now it is just the Ultimate line.  However, this is a really big step towards where I think digital needs to go.  I am not willing to pay the same amount for a digital copy and a print copy, as digital copies are one hard drive failure away from being lost, which is far more likely to happen than a flood or fire destroying my print comics.  However, I absolutely love reading comics on my Android tablet (Asus EEE Transformer ftw!).

This is the perfect solution for me.  I still buy my physical comics, can hold them in my hands, but if I'm away from home I don't have to haul my comics along with me (risking damaging them in my travel bag even though they are bagged and boarded). 

I don't think that polybagging every comic sold is going to be an option, but for now to get the ball rolling it's acceptable.  If I'm on the fence about picking up a book not being able to flip through it can be a deal breaker.  It does remove the "this is not a library" problem though I suppose, but realistically polybagging the books is an extra cost Marvel is going to want to eliminate.

My first thought was have a code you can scan with your device to get the book, but then someone could just scan it on their phone in the store and in effect "steal" the digital copy.  Maybe each store is given a list of codes for the comics they ordered, and they give them out upon purchase?  The bonus there could be is that after say, 2-3 months, the store could sell the upload codes separate from what are now back issues, which would be a nice show of support for the stores.  I can see problems with that system too, but I'm sure something can be worked out.

I do wish that digital titles were priced at $.99, as I would end up giving Marvel more money every month than I do know, as I would buy some titles digitally and others in print form (though I'd hope for the free download of that comic as well, as I've suggested).  I can see how that might be a concern to the brick and mortar stores though, as that price would cause some people to switch entirely.

Still, good start Marvel!

Friday, 4 November 2011

What Makes a Good Superhero Movie?

Due to the close release dates of Thor and Captain America the two movies get compared a lot, unsurprisingly so.  After seeing Captain America, one of the guys at my local comic shop asked my opinion on the two, and I said without hesitation that Captain America was better.  He said that he had heard conflicting sides on that debate, but he put a lot of stock in my opinion because I am a big fan of both characters (as almost all of the books in my pull box are Captain America or Thor related).

To clarify, I thought Thor was great.  I may have dreamed of seeing a Thor movie in my lifetime, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever see a good Thor movie, let alone a great one.  But I still think Captain America was better.  Why?

The character development in the opening act was so good I didn't care if there was any action at all.

Now of course I wanted to see Captain America's mighty shield standing up for freedom, but there is a man behind that shield and he is a great man indeed.  Before being exposed to the Vita-Rays and taking the Super Soldier Serum, Steve Rogers was a sickly, small man.  He had a list of illnesses pages long, but he still tried to enlist in the army 5 times, coming back after every rejection.  Why?  Because he doesn't like bullies.

I am far more interested in this man, who does everything he can to join the army, not for glory, but because he wants to help.  This man, who threw himself on what everyone thought was a live grenade to save a group of soldiers who had shown him nothing but contempt.  This is a guy I want to see more of.

Often I spend superhero origin stories just waiting for the hero to emerge, but when the story is told as well as this one, I don't care if he ever picks up that shield.  I felt the same way about the second Spider-Man film; I was so invested in the story of Peter Parker I didn't really care if he starting shooting his webs.  The first Iron Man also did a good job on focusing on Tony Stark more than Iron Man.

The Dark Knight is interesting because it is obviously one of the most successful superhero movies ever made, but I was far more engaged by the Joker than I was by Batman.  I didn't care at all about Bruce Wayne or Batman, I wanted to learn more about what made the Joker tick.  And really, Bruce/Batman came in a distant third because the fall of Harvey Dent was equally as captivating.  I almost wish they were not making a third film in this franchise because I doubt it can top the Dark Knight.

What is funny about this is that Stan Lee was doing this in the comics years and years ago; he took cardboard cutouts with different superpowers and gave them personalities, made them real people.  It's a wonder that so many superhero films can't seem to grasp that.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Aunt May vs Ma Kent

I saw this yesterday and had to share it, it's hilarious!  Ty Templeton does some hilarious stuff, and this is no exception.  Thanks to Battle Wizard over at the Comic Battle Board for sharing!

Monday, 31 October 2011

Princess Batman

I don't care for the "spooky" part of Halloween, the dressing up as gory monsters and demons. I don't like the egging of houses and other similar Halloween pranks.

What I love about Halloween is summed up perfect in this picture of Mabel, the Batman Princess.

I love the FUN of Halloween! Kids getting to use their imaginations to the fullest, dressing up as their favourite characters or people, or whatever they can come up with. In Mabel's case, she responded to the question of what she wanted to be for Halloween with "Batman Princess". And great credit to her mother, that's what she got! This is what Halloween to me is all about, and even though I don't usually buy DC comics anymore I would buy the first issue of Batman Princess in a heartbeat.

The original (very short) article about Mabel the Batman Princess can be found at

Friday, 28 October 2011

Youtube Friday - Five for Fighting

There are a lot of Five for Fighting Superman clips on Youtube, and this is just one of them, but man are they good.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Where Has My Marvel Universe Gone?

I've been reading comics for about 20 years, which is kind of scary when I think about it since I started reading them when I was 8 years old.  I got my start with Marvel, and while I spent some time collecting a lot of DC and read books from other publishers as well, I have always read Marvel books during those 20 years. 

I hardly recognize the Marvel Universe anymore.

I am finding it harder and harder to stick with the characters that I have loved for all these years. 

This is what Spider-Man
should have done.
I refused to buy the Spider-Man titles (other than the very rare mini-series, such as Spider-Man/Human Torch) after the resurrection of Aunt May, as Amazing Spider-Man #400 is one of the best "death of" stories ever.  I was at the point where I was willing to forgive and come back when the reveal of Gwen Stacey and Norman Osborn's twins came about.  That drove me futher away then the Aunt May thing did, and since then the added atrocity of (poorly) magic-ing away Peter and Mary Jane's marrage came to pass.  It's too bad, because Spider-Island sounded like a pretty fun concept, but since I now feel I've outgrown the character I haven't picked it up, nor will I return to the Spider-titles.

I no longer recognize the Avengers.  Ever since Avengers Disassembled I haven't recognize the team.  To me, the Avengers are the go-to team when the world is in danger, and around the time I dropped New Avengers (approximately #35), I really felt that the then-current line-up would have no real chance against a Skrull Invasion or the Masters of Evil.  That line-up mostly remains in place today, and I cannot stand the writing of Brian Michael Bendis on the Avengers to even entertain picking up the current adjectiveless Avengers title.  From what I've seen on-line it's still not "my" Avengers anyway.

Thor has undergone some really great character development over the past few years under J Michael Stracynski and Kieron Gillen.  Then Matt Fraction took the reins and I no longer even recognize the character.  Under JMS Thor was quicker to think and slower to act, he had a grandeur to him that made you feel he truly was a god.  He no longer spoke in Shakespearean tones but still had a tone of voice that conveyed he was something special.  When Fraction took over, that was all thrown out the window in favour of a brute who smashes first and thinks later, if at all.  He is a petulant man-child who is angry at his resurrected father (despite the two making peace under JMS), who recently died as prophecized (even though JMS made a large point of the breaking of the Ragnarok-cycle signalling a fresh start for the Asgardians).  If not for the hammer I don't know if I'd recognize him.

Continuity is ignored, a lot.  I'm not talking about contradicting a story from 20 years ago, I'm talking about contradicting a story that came out 2 months prior.  As mentioned with Thor, it looked like Matt Fraction didn't even glance at the issues put out by JMS or even Gillen before he got started.  Characters are free to be on multiple superteams across the country at the same time.  Wolverine has long has the superpower to be in every book put out in a month, but to have him be a regular member of the X-Men, Avengers, and X-Force is a bit much, especially when the X-Men were living in San Fransisco while the Avengers are based in New York!  Spider-Man is having solo exploits, running around with the Avengers, and is a member of the Future Foundation!  Considering how often Marvel has their books crossover with each other, this is pretty hard to swallow.

I remember when a character crossing over to another book was special.  It didn't happen every issue because the books had sub-plots, character development, and a main plot of it's own to move forward.  Now it seems almost every book has to be tied-in to whatever Event-of the-Month is happening, and it really derails the other books from doing anything of note.  The best books from Marvel, I feel, are the ones that can hide in their little niche corner away from the main events to tell the stories they want to tell.  Daredevil, up until Shadowland, was a great example of a brilliant book that pretty much got left alone.

There is a splash page in Secret Invasion that has always stuck with me.  In it, a ship full of Skrulls disguised as "classic" Marvel heroes is squaring off against the then-current Avengers, and honestly, I found it very hard to not root for the Skrulls since they looked a lot more like heroes I know and love.

I just cut out The Mighty Thor and Secret Avengers from my pull list, and I'm not sure how long my other Marvel titles are going to last.  As a Marvelite for 20 years, that makes me really sad.