Monday, March 2, 2009

My Marvel Year (3/03/2009)

The following is a list of comics I have read online at Marvel Digital Comics, as well as some lip-service on my experience with the service since my last update:

Deadpool #1 - Deadpool has never been a character I have had the least bit of interest in. He lives in a special category for me that includes Cable and Mr. Sinister, and some other X- type folks that came out in a period where comics were dead or dying for me, and when I got fully immersed in them again, Those sort of characters just made me think of the bad old days, and generally failed to make me care about them at all. I watched the Hulk VS video(s) recently, and loved deadpool in it, so I thought I would use this cool service I am paying for to dive right in and catch up on some deadpool... This comic is Secret Invasion related, and despite that, I thought it was pretty great, and funny. More on my Deadpool quest below.

All-Winners Comics #1, 2 - I worry sometimes that people will call me out about all the comics and beloved notions that I just have no real affection for. Golden Age comics in general are just another thing on that list. All Winners is a quarterly compilation of stories from other comics that were being published (as far as I can tell). You get a ton of stories in each issue, and mostly it isn't the worst stuff I have ever read. I am interested in them to some degree as these are just prior to WW!! and in Issue 2 the Destroyer gets a story in it. Otherwise, you get Captain America and Bucky, Human Torch and Toro, Namor, and more! I was most surprised by how un-Namor-like the Sub Mariner was at first. It's strange to see him running around more or less like all the other heroes in the books. He has the same accent and uses all the same expressions that the rest of the gang does. In my opinion there is a sort of lazy sameness to most of the characters. That doesn't mean the stories are bad, but they aren't really my cup of tea.

Amazing Spider-Man: Extra! (the Spartacus Gambit) #1 - This supplemental piece to the last Amazing Spider-Man issue was kind of neat. You certainly didn't have to see it to get what was going on in the print series, but it did give you a glimpse in-between panels to see a bigger version of events than you got in the issue alone. I think supplemental material is a nice thing to throw into the subscription service

Avengers Forever #5 - I read this in my pursuit of all things related to Agents of Atlas. The story in this features the same lineup of 1950's Avengers as the What-If story did. I love how that What-If was just blended right into continuity without seeming hokey or bogus.

Thor #337 - I wanted to read Walt Simonson Thor. I didn't dig the idea of the alien Thor at the time, and because of that I totally skipped one of the best regarded runs of a creator on a single character book. Because I am not all knowing... sadly...

X-treme X-Men #13 - I think this was listed as an issue that Deadpool was in. I was trying to snatch up as much Deadpool as I could, and I ended up reading this, and pretty much loving it. It's a big giant against all odds kind of set up, and in this issue Sage fixes Rogue so she can access the powers of everyone she has ever absorbed. There is some joy in the sequence of her kicking butt using a wide variety of powers.

Marvel Digital Comics - I have this nagging suspicion that is growing within me about this service. I like it, I think the browser is decent. I think even as it stands, the value is there at 5 dollars a month. I really wish I knew their actual vision for the service, though. It would help me control my expectations, and it would also change some of my opinions on it, I think. If this is just a way to get 5 bucks a month from people and not offer up digital as an option for people to choose for delivery of their comics, if this is not a serious endeavor for them, then I have an issue. My inclination at the moment is that they don't intend to give up much with this service. I have found what looks like a trend where they have broken up runs of comics so that you are missing key pieces of story lines, broken up so that you don't get an entire trade worth of story. Exceptions may exist with something like the Agents of Atlas mini series. One might argue that they are giving you that because there is a new ongoing series that just started. I don't know. My ONLY issue if that is the case is that they shouldn't be charging for a service that just let's you read the odd handful of issues in sequence, or a historical collection that lets you see the publishers rich heritage without eating into their trade sales in their minds. Ifit is just a taste to get people into specific storylines they will buy in print, then make it free.

If there is truly a goal of filling things out over time and filling in storylines, etc., and they aren't just being sneaky by cutting some of the guts out so that if you want to read it you have to buy the trades, then I don't have so much of an issue. I am not even suggesting they should put full runs of everything, up to this past Wednesday's shipment online for 5 bucks, but right now I just can't get a feel for what they want this to be. Are they taking it seriously? Are they giving their subscribers what they think they are getting?

I sent in feedback through the channel the say to, and I was a bit disheartened to receive a form email that didn't actually address anything I had put forth in my email. I had 4 very specific and very different points/questions. One about partial issues, one about gaps in series, specifically the seaming surgical removal of some big storylines, one about character indexing, and one about issues with 'smart panels'. Here is the response I got:

Thank you for contacting Marvel Entertainment Inc.'s Online Support

We are constantly updating the site and there will be a variety of
classic and new titles added to the site every week. We are aware that
there are gaps in the series and we want to make sure that we offer a
satisfying reader experience to our subscribers, so this is an issue we
are bearing in mind as we make improvements to Digital Comics Unlimited.
Please let us know if there are any specific titles you would like to
see on the site in the meantime.

Also, every Thursday, we do a feature on called Storyline
Spotlight, which features complete digital comics story arcs. Here is
an example:

We are constantly striving to make sure that users have an exciting and
entertaining experience with our site. We appreciate your loyalty to
Marvel Entertainment. For more information on our characters and any
upcoming news or events, please continue to visit

Best regards,


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