Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Girl Scouts Comics Badge

My wife and I are Girl Scout leaders. Right now we have a troop that is almost entirely Juniors (this includes mostly elementary school aged girls). I am a 'tech guy' at a law firm for a living, and I was going to lead a computer related badge, only most of them are annoyingly lame in my opinion and require a lot of work outside of the meeting. We have generally found that our girls don't have a lot of time for scouting activities outside of our official meetings, but we can usually get them to finish things at home if we have to. I was a bit discouraged, until my wife told me she had found a Comics badge online. It turns out there was a 'Council's Own' badge that had been created by the Virginia Skyline Council. I printed out the requirements (we already had permission from that council to use their badges), and set to planning a meeting.

The meeting was tonight, and I had forgotten how draining running a meeting could be. The girls seemed to enjoy it, and most had a pretty good handle on ideas about comics. The majority were very familiar with Comic Strips, and a number of them were already manga fans. We did a lot of talking about all the forms that comics can take, and the many different ways the medium could be used. Most of them already knew what genre meant, so talking about comics as a medium vs a genre made sense to some at least. I had a TON of props to pass around, including newspapers, and nearly every format of comic you can get. I showed Persepolis, and Chiggers and Minx titles, Baby Mouse, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Scott McCloud Google Chrome comic, Tiny Titans and a handfull of different single issue comics, Owly, Amelia Rules, Several Manga titles, even Cynicalman (I just showed selected strips, as not all are age apropriate, but I wanted to show them how varied the art styles can be, and that even stick figures can be awesome).

We talked about finding webcomics, and getting comics at the library, I mentioned bookstores and comic shops, but stressed the free places the most, since we are all about inclusiveness, and everyone can afford free, even if not everyone has a computer at home, etc.

The biggest hit, in addition to letting them have time to think about a character and draw it as part of a larger activity they will continue at home, was the emotions activity.

My oldest got a good handful of screen caps of panels from Manga that showed emotions in the various ways that manga does, and we discussed them. I had a big pad of paper and periodically drew sweatdrops and thought bubbles that I held up over the girls nearest to me, to illustrate how the various visual devices were used. We then broke off into 2 lines and the girls did an exercise where they made facial and body expressions to get points across. The idea was to show how to communicate things in still images. Then each pair did a sort of freeze frame scene to show a particular set of emotions or conflict, etc. The girls loved this.

I am sure there was a little more, and despite a few people drifting off a little, almost everyone stayed into it. Hopefully we will be able to do a field trip to the local comic shop if I can coordinate it with the owner. My next step is getting the rest of my handouts together and distributed to them with URL's and suggested reading lists.

Another big hit with the girls was my youngest daughter's Owly that was signed and had a sketch in it that Andy Runton did while chatting with her at Heroes last year.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Memoirs Of An Occasional Superheroine

I was following and enjoying Valerie D'Orazio's blog "Occasional Superheroine" for a good while before I ever read her personal account of events that lead to her departure from a job in an industry she lived for. I have only been really heavily reading comic blogs for a year or so. This Blog in this form is only about seven months old. Prior to that I wrote about comics in my personal journal on LiveJournal a lot. I started following Val's blog with no knowledge that she had ever posted a very graphic very public account of events in her life surrounding her love of comics and her dream of working in the industry, and ultimately her departure from a job in that industry after refusing to be silent about harassment in a culture that seemed far too casual and accepting of abuses toward women and minorities that ranged from subtle to blatant.

I was already very much a fan of her humor and insight, and her willingness to force discussion or at least consideration of uncomfortable but important/relevant subjects when I finally read "Goodbye To Comics" . Reading it, filled me with a variety of emotions and thoughts on it. they ranged from disbelief on some level, to shock, disgust and empathy on other levels. Even if I didn't have a mother, a wife, a sister, and two daughters, that I loved and cared about, and even if I hadn't spent much of my life with more female friends than male (back when I had friends), I would still be touched and hurt and angered by this, and the understanding that what she has gone through in her life and career is nothing close to a rare occurrence.

If you have not read 'Goodbye to Comics' and are not overly squeamish, go and follow that link and read it. It is pretty graphic and raw and uncomfortable to read. It is pretty well written, and while it is not without some humor to it, I think if you can read it and it doesn't make you uncomfortable, there may be something wrong with you, or you are a woman who has had to endure similar situations in your life.

The thing is, that if you read this and your only reactions are negative ones, then I think you may be missing a point. The very fact that this was written and posted as it was is a triumph. It is an important part of a healing process, and the sort of thing that needs to be public so that we can see it and hopefully evolve from it. A single light shone on a single life may not change the world, but I honestly believe that every story that is made public can help others in similar situations find strength and courage to make their own situations known, or at least let them know that they aren't alone in what they have been expected to endure. The more people that refuse to be silent about abuse, the harder it will be for abusers to get away with things, the harder it will be for them to make their targets accept that they somehow deserve what is happening to them, or that it is somehow socially acceptable.

'Memoirs Of An Occasional Superheroine' is a larger scale memoir that includes the full account of the events recalled in 'Goodbye to Comics' and expands greatly upon it, as well as giving us more detail and insight on her life prior to working at DC. It is a bit informal, but not completely unpolished. I found the writing style to be fast moving, insightful, and full of humor. I read it in two sittings. The first one kept me up until nearly 4am, and i would have finished it then except quite literally my eyes were giving out on me. The world described in this work is almost completely foreign to me, but it's a good read. I think it is critical that we see things outside of our comfort zones, outside of our own personal realities, and Val's story exists firmly outside of mine. It is impossible for me to read her story and not think about my daughters. It is gut wrenching to think of them ever being subjected to the sorts of things she has gone through, way too many of which are the sorts of things that a multitude of women have gone through, and still go through. It just makes me realize how important it is to let them know that they never have to be silent about abuses, and that the words ' our little secret' or 'don't tell' should set off alarms for them.

The memoirs are $10 dollars for an electronic copy, and are not currently available in hard copy, but if you have a printer, you can probably print it out if you have problems reading things online... I wouldn't use that excuse to not read this book. This is definitely not something for the kids, but if you have kids, it may prompt you to have a general discussion or two with them. It isn't a comic itself, but a large enough part of Val's life, and story, are certainly what you could call 'Comics related' to merit being reviewed in forums related to comics and the comics industry.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Boom! Kids - Incredibly Muppetational

I almost didn't pick up these two comics, but then someone pointed out the glaring omission in my Comic Book Day post.

The Incredibles #1
The Muppet Show Comic Book #1

I was in the comic shop looking at everything that had come in. I saw these, and while not all that interested in the Incredibles (other than liking the movie, and being a fan of comics for kids). I was very excited about the Muppet Show book. I have no idea what distracted me, but I ended up turning around forgetting to pick it back up. I posted my CBD post, and then when it was mentioned the next day in a comment, I stood up and took my lunch hour at the comic store.

I wanted to go back to the store, as it is my happy place, so I didn't really need much prompting. I am really glad that I did.

The Muppet Show Comic #1 - I watched the Muppet Show pretty religiously when it first aired. I loved everything about it, and didn't mind that I was sometimes made fun of for singing the theme song at odd times in school. I owned a Miss Piggy hand puppet, and an Animal puppet as well, and saw nothing odd about that. It was definitely MY SHOW at the time. This comic seriously captures the feel of the show. The humor is spot on, the writing is great, the characters are like old friends. Will this have the same impact on people that didn't grow up with the show? Will this only be purchased by folks like me for nostalgia, or folks unlike me that grew up at some point but bought the DVD's of the show for their kids.

This comic has the Muppet Show just as you would remember it. It is certainly a kids, or all ages comic as far as the nature of the content is concerned. The art is great, without working too hard to make the characters look like photos of the originals. It even has celebrity guests in the form of a Keith Richards/ Mick Jagger analog. It has songs and gags and skits, and perhaps more 'behind the scenes story than the tv show, but rightfully so. I think this works really well, but as I said, I am not sure if it will draw the sort of audience it deserves. Hopefully good reviews will prompt people to read it, and recommend it.

The Incredibles #1 - I loved the movie. I guess it seems like a reasonable jump, but I am still not convinced that there needs to be an Incredibles comic. In comics, kids could read stories about the characters and settings that the Incredibles was in homage to. The movie was great, but why not just read a Marvel Adventures book? I think that question may miss a few possible points. There are plenty of kids for whom super hero MOVIES are their real introduction to superheroes. There are plenty I am sure, for whom the Incredibles specifically may have been the first super hero related thing that caught their interest (I suggest this because it makes sense, not because I have any real proof of this). Like the movie, this comic focuses on the family and the family dynamic, and has a bit more of the parents perspective than something like Sky High for instance. The kids are featured, but it is about the family, and the parents run the family. That isn't a bad thing to see. I think the comic is well written (Mark Waid), and looks good, but it doesn't particularly wow me. I am not sure what I would have thought of it as a kid. I think I would not have considered it a real 'Super Hero Comic', but it is better than a lot of licensed things, and hopefully finds an audience.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Comic Book Day 3/25/2009

In my past several visits to my LCS, I have cancelled some titles. I really need to keep my weekly spending down, so I have been making some room by letting some things go. There are a few titles coming up that I want to get, so every little bit helps. Now I need to not purchase the titles i have cancelled as impulse buys... Responsible spending is no fun. Even semi-responsible spending is no fun.

What is fun, though... is comics! (and comic related magazines of decent quality).

Amazing Spider-Man #589 - The Spot returns! I have always liked the Spot. This is a decent enough issue, and we get to see the Spot in action, and Spider-Man making fun of Christian Bale as Batman I guess. Not the best or worst.

Incredible Hercules #127 - Dark Regn tie in, but it really just continues a bunch of way cool, but semi confusing stuff that has been brewing for a while. I'll give it to Dark Reign... for an event it is doing a good job of having tie-ins that don't suck. It's still Herc, I still love it.

The Umbrella Academy #5 - Fantastic issue. Awesome way to segue into a time travel event that we are joining in media res. This is a good, fun and interesting comic. The art is great, characters are great, and... it's holding my interest. Just one issue to go.

Runaways #8 - I love Miyazawa's art on this. I think it works really well, and seems more natural than Ramos's, while bringing the same sort of youthfulness and style. This is the series I dropped this week. I like it, but in the grand scheme I can live without, or pick up in trades if i want.

Last week I dropped Madame Xanadu. My respect for Wagner and my love of Amy Reader Hadley's spectacular art is no longer enough to keep me purchasing a book that has a potentially fantastic premise, and great writing, but still falls flat for me. I also dropped JSA, even though I know it is going to get a cool writing change soon. Compared to the things I am loving, and the things I want to try, it just doesn't merit my continued cash on a regular basis.

I plan to start reviewing and discussing more online offerings soon. I need to broaden my horizons beyond the very excellent Zuda and the many terrific titles I regularly read there. I am having a bit of a malaise with regard to writing things out right now, and it isn't ALL because of my current X-Box 360 Fallout 3 addiction... Some of it is because I am lazy too!

Also.. I started getting Comics Foundry starting with the previous issue... and now... I just got the last issue of it as a magazine. It's pretty good stuff, but it's gone now! :( <-- that is an official journalistic notation I must point out.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Daredevil Director's Cut

I was on business travel in Chicago when Daredevil was released. I went with a co-worker and we both enjoyed the movie just fine, but I had a lot of issues with a lot of things about the movie, because I am a geek, and that's what we do. I asked for, and received the director's cut dvd a long time ago, for some gift getting occasion. I never watched it until last night.

My daughters mentioned wanting to see the movie. I can't recall what triggered them to ask, but they did, and we watched it together last night. They didn't have any issues with it, and enjoyed it plenty. I still have some issues, but there are a lot of things I don't have issues about.

Ben Affleck is a good Matt Murdoch, and a perfectly fine Daredevil. That stuff you don't like in there... that's called sub-par writing and misguided direction.

Colin Farrell is not someone I generally care for. I think he was good in the role of Bullseye, but I think the role of Bullseye in this movie was fairly crappy from a fan of Bullseye and Daredevil from way back. He should have had a costume, he should have been less over the top goofy, while still being over the top badass.

Jennifer Garner was a fine Elektra. I think she was way better than the role (see above). They really did take a lot of what Elektra should be, and what makes her cool and interesting, and tossed it out the window in order to make her something else.

Michael Clark Duncan was a fantastic chouce for the Kingpin. The red rose thing was dumb. What he should have done is said something catchy at each kill... something about dancing and devils and the paleness of moonlight maybe...

The only better choice for Kingpin would have been King Kong Bundy in his prime!! He was born for the role!! if not him, then Duncan certainly has presence as well as size. His character was written pretty well.

Lots of action and some humor, etc filled out the movie. It has... even in the director's cut... the ridiculous ending where Ben Urich hits the delete key (located directly next to the print key on his keyboard) and it deletes from the end of the document, removing a character at a time going back through his document... Did he really do it that way? What computer or program has EVER deleted documents that way?

Otherwise... Honestly this isn't even close to the worst comic related movie. I'd like to see them do another one where they take better care with the writing.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Comic Book Day 3/18/2009 - Outrage!

Ok, not really outrage, but almost. I almost didn't pick up my comics this week because money is tight. I got a few extra dollars, though, and figured that I could at least grab what was pulled for me. I got to my LCS, and right there on the shelf was Courtney Crumrin's Monstrous Holiday. I love all things Courtney Crumrin, and get excited when a new book comes out. Unfortunately for me, this isn't a new book. This is a collection of two previous stories that were released in their own slim volumes already. NOWHERE on this thing does it say that it contains items previously published elsewhere. Every bit of it is listed as copyright 2009. It is volume 4, There isn't even a mention of Vampires or Wolves on the blurb in the back. Most Trade collections at least tell you what issues went into them, etc. I think this was a fairly underhanded thing to do. I bought it, I paid eleven bucks and got something I already had. Shame on me for not paying better attention. For it's part, though... I can't stay mad. If You didn't pick up Fire-Thief's Tale or Prince of Nowhere, you should absolutely pick this up. Courtney does some growing up in these stories, and seemingly a little growing apart from her Uncle. It's good stuff in the sort of horror/occult/folklore mold that Hellboy works in, celebrating tales and lore(real or imagined) as much as the characters that show up in each issue. (I apologize for comparing comics to Hellboy, but... I mean... It's a compliment, obviously, and has no negative to it ).

So there was that.

Otherwise, here is what I picked up:

Dark Avengers #3 - Bad guys are like good guys, and they travel in time to help Dr. Doom beat up Morgana Le Fay to keep her from coming forward in time over and over to kick their butts. I have a thing against The Sentry. I just can't stand him in normal continuity. This issue has more Sentry than I like, but overall it's good stuff.

Amazing Spider-Man #588 - This is part 4 of the 4 part 'Character Assassination' Arc. It's a great end to a good storyline. This issue ties things up well, features a prison break, a fight with the Menace, a conspiracy blown apart, and Harry Osborn back in goblin gear! Pretty good stuff. Well written, with solid art by Romita Jr.

Spider-Man Noir #4 - This was a good solid mini-series. I thought it ended strong and hit a lot of good Spider-Man beats while still keeping a ... Noir...ish feel about it. Noir Aunt May is a little less annoying than regular Aunt May.

Tiny Titans #14 - I swear, if I had to cancel all of my comics I would still pick this one up. It is the warm & fuzzy, cute and funny that we can all use in these tough economic times! Pet Club Paradise Island!!! The boys all stand on a table... because they can't touch the ground of course! This comic makes me happy, and it's PERFECT for kids of all ages.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My Marvel Year (3/15/2009)

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:

AMERICAN EAGLE: JUST A LITTLE OLD-FASHIONED JUSTICE #1 - This is labeled as a 'digital exclusive'. It is penned by Jason Aaron with art by Richard Isanove. I love Jason Aaron's writing. I base that mostly on Scalped, but I think that can stand on it's own as a sign the guy can write. I am hoping to read at least some of his Ghost Rider soon (in addition to the most recent issue that I picked up and enjoyed last week). This is a 9 page story featuring American Eagle and the Villain CottonMouth. It features some on and off Rez interplay, and was enjoyable with a little twist to it.

KID COLT #1 - This is another thing labeled as a 'digital exclusive' I am not sure if this is some extra thing, or just the first part of the first issue of the mini series. The art is not my favorite, but it's a pretty good read so far. Kid Colt is wanted for a crime that isn't what it seems. He needs to find an eye witness who will testify to his account of the incident and get to trial before hired killers stop him dead. Sounds like a decent western to me.

SUB-MARINER #1 - 4 of 6 - I wish the whole mini-series was online. I am generally indifferent about Namor, but I thought this was pretty good, and definitely want to finish it some day. The art is solid, and the plot is good. The fights (especially Namor v Venom) are really good as well.

Avengers Fairy Tales #1 & 2 - This is written by CB Cebulski, and features Avengers themed takes on Childrens story classics. Issue 1 is Peter Pan, with art by Joao Lemos. It has Wanda, Pietro, Captain America, Hawkeye, Thor, Iron Man and Klaw. Issue 2 is Pinnochio with art by Nuno Plati. It has the Vision, Scarlet Witch, Henry Pym, Wasp, Ultron and Jocasta in it. I think Cebulski is pretty great at doing funny or quirky/interesting well written stuff. In my opinion, while this is cute and well done, I think the art is what really sells it. Beautiful work on both of these by 2 different artists. I own at least the first issue of this, but read both online in the past week.

X-Calibre #1 & 2 - This is a mini series written by Warren Ellis. I actually kind of like this, despite loathing all things apocalypse related, and not liking the art all that much either. I promise it's because I think there is some actual good and interesting stuff here, and not just because it's written by Ellis. It takes place in the Age of Apocalypse setting, and is at least so far about the safe-haven Avalon. I think it's weird to think of Nightcrawler throwing around the word Mom as much as he does in the second issue, but it really isn't awful.

Marvel Digital Comics - My only real complaint or comment this time isn't much of either with regard to the actual service itself. In fact, it is a bit of a compliment to the Marvel offering. I have found myself several times since I subscribed thinking... I'll just look that up and read it... only it's been DC comics that I have thought that about. I really do wish I could just pop on line and read old Green Lantern and Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman stuff. I think as a public service, DC and Marvel should make everything prior to a certain point in time available for free online. They could do it in conjunction with like... Universities? The Smithsonian? um... Libraries... Ok , I haven't thought this through, but for my purposes it would be way better than having to buy a ton of Showcase volumes so that I may better know my history...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Comic Book Day 3/11/2009

Really really slow comic book day for me.

My only pull was
Umbrella Academy #4 - I can't say much but this... Another great issue. I love the art, the writing... the characters, the everything. Good stuff!

My two impulse buys were:

Astonishing Tales #2 - I like this more than I can explain. I kind of love that it is a comic with multiple unrelated serialized stories. None of them are ones I would buy a book for, but together it's kind of fun and awesome. I also sort of totally love the covers, and the art on the Wolverine & Punisher story (Kenneth Rocafort). I like that you get four installments at a time, with different art, and stories with some humor in them, but not all the same humor. 32 pages of story, 3.99. Not sure if it's the best bargain or anything, but especially on a slow day it was nice to have.

Ghost Rider #33 - I am a huge fan of Jason Aaron's Scalped. I have wanted to read his Ghost Rider since he started doing it. I think this was a pretty neat issue to pick up. It has a running narrative that takes us through a long history and tradition of spirits of vengeance. The issue ends with a new Caretaker taking up the caretaker mantle. Especially funny is the Smokey and the Bandit bit. If you haven't picked up an issue in a while, this seems like a stepping on point, as you get a sort of recap and what seems like a new beginning.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Wonder Woman

I rented the new Wonder Woman today. I should have skipped that part and just bought it, as I knew I would want to own it, but instead I rented it first.

The female clerk at blockbuster commented that she had watched it and that it was really good. We then had a brief conversation about the comic related animated features that have come out, and the Green Lantern one that is in the works. She seems like she is probably a comic reader, but I guess she could be a comic watcher. Either way I feel like I should have given her the url to this. I think if you are a fan of comics it should always make you happy to find others who are also fans, and if they are in a different demographic than you you should be twice as happy. Wait... I was discussing a video I think.

Wonder Woman is rated PG-13 and I think it sort of benefits from this. I watched it with my 9 and 15 year old daughters and they both loved it as much as I did. My youngest only asked a question about a comment referring to Themyscira as 'chastity belt island', but other than that they laughed a lot at Steve Trevor's attitude and the interactions between him and Wonder Woman.

The plot, aside from the basic origin story, is a pretty standard 'Ares likes war a lot' setup. The thing that makes everything work well in this movie, really is the relationship between Diana and Steve Trevor. There is a good bit to enjoy, but that is what really shines. It is pretty standard stuff, and in a way is the same sort of dynamic that works in other things, like the TV show Bones, where you have a woman who sees everything through a scientific filter, and a cast of characters around her (including but not limited to her male 'partner' who is not exactly her opposite, but close).

I think Diana is portrayed well in this. I think her strong traits of duty and honor and strength and determination, etc. really come through, and she is capable, independent and a powerhouse.

The story has plenty of mythology-ness about it, and lots of action. The humor and relationship aspects are smoothly distributed and nothing really gets in the way of anything else. I think another pretty great thing in this is the fight 'choreography' Wonder Woman definitely has her own fighting style in this and it is portrayed very well and consistently. There are also some scenes with animated corpses who again fight in a different way than everyone else. There is a lot of fighting in it, but that isn't the only thing in it.

I think this movie is probably over the heads of the littlest comic fans, but it was well within the grasp of a 9 year old. The important thing is to watch things with your kids and be ready to explain if they ask questions, and talk if you judge from their reaction to what they are watching, that they need something explained.

I highly recommend this. Hopefully they use this as a starting point and we will get a series of really great WW features.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Zuda's competition for March

I just recently finished reading all of the entries in this month's Zuda Competition. There's some really good stuff as usual. Not all of the entries are to my tastes, but there is a very nice variety of styles and genres represented here, though, and that certainly makes it worth checking out.

The two entries that I personally liked the most this month are:

Lani, The Leopard Queen

The Dirty Mile

Neither of these are very high up in the voting, but both stand out to me. The style used for The Dirty Mile is just cool as can be, and it is written really well. The premise as it seems from the 8 pages is similar to a number of things we've seen before, but the execution seems good enough that I don't imagine it will be an issue.

Lani, The Leopard queen is one that unfortunately the 8 pages on their own may not convey enough to fully hook people to what looks like a fantastic synopsis if they don't actually take a moment to read the synopsis. It starts with an abandonment dream sequence, which seems a little risky in a competition like this, as it may not show enough of what you are going to get if you keep reading. What it does show you is an absolutely beautiful illustration style. It has an old feel to it, and a very admirable conscious direction of being an all ages comic. That is part of the creators specific vision for this, based on comments he has made in the feedback

Check out all the offerings, let me know what you are liking there this month. More importanly though, let THEM know what you are liking.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Comic Book Day 3/04/2009

Not a lot for me this week, but pretty great as far as quality goes:

Ultimate Wolverine VS Hulk #3 - I should probably make a point of not indulging companies and creators by rewarding a three year or so delay between issues in a mini series by buying the issues when they finally come out, but I did... so there. I liked it. I kind of hated Yu's art in the New Avengers, but I kind of love it in this title. I really like how this is written. I don't know how it stands up to anything else, and I almost don't recall the previous two issues, but I thought this was good. I love Hulk-Buddhism, and again... If you start a mini series with Wolverine looking for his lower half, you may have me for a few issues. They seem to have made it longer... from 4 issues to 6 I think... I wonder if that's because they have to pretend the actual first two issues don't exist. There was a lot of catch up in this issue, but it was fun enough for me to not think too harshly of it right now.

Agents Of Atlas #2 - This is a perfect series for me. I am just crazy about how cool this stuff is. It is a very well crafted and well... constructed title. Great compelling characters, a plot with some fun twists in it and some drama and interpersonal stuff as well as action and humor... This isn't the only series that has found this formula, but good writers just do it. I know I said this before, and hopefully I will get to keep saying it on a regular basis.

Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures In The 8th Grade #4 - How did I not realize this was a mini series until just now? WHY is this a mini series? I really think this series started good and is getting better with each issue. This one features the best Streaky the supercat ever. It also continues to give us characters that have strengths and flaws, etc. without taking away from the fun.

Those were my pulls this week, and that left me with a few bucks to pick up another book on not quite a whim. I have wanted some more Matt Feazell in my collection for a long time. I have the issue of Zot that he did, but other than that, nothing.

The Amazing Cynicalman by Matt Feazell is the size of one of the little Far Side collections, and it is non-stop funny. It is a bit dated (56k connections and Geo Metros get nods in the strips in this volume, but that's fine with me as I am equally dated, and it is funny regardless. This collection covers 1997 - 2002, and the subject matter of the strips runs the full range of subject matter while being clean cute and something my mother could read, but she probably wouldn't.

Go buy it now! (assuming you can get it that way...)

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 Marvel.com 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 www.marvel.com.

Best regards,