Sunday, 29 January 2012

My Comics - Well, those from the last few weeks (and before) anyway

At the weekend I half of my pull list (and then some) through the post, which I then proceeded to read in a very haphazard fashion (meaning, when I wasn't having to do other things). However, I did get through them all (eight of them to be exact): 6 regular entries, one tie-in and a possible new addition (which has actually been out a month).
Demon Knights #5 is certainly a calm before the storm comic, setting up for the inevitable all out bloody siege that can only come from a comic like this. Whereas the first 3 issues were slow burn, this installment builds on #4 with snippits of deep insight into the main cast, ending with a (slightly) surprising reveal and cliffhanger into that (supposedly) chapter of the series. Cornell, continues to prove his skill at writing heavily interesting and complex characters, which is cemented here when bringing each character individually to the forefront of the story. Diogenes Neves' very unique pencils continue to impress on this book, proving he's certainly a good fit for the medievel content. I now firmly think this is Cornell's spiritual successor to Captain Britain and MI:13. Long may it continue.
Black Panther: The Most Dangerous Man Alive #528 is the second from last issue of what has been an incredibly underrated series. David Liss continues to write an immersive and engaging story while continuing to build T'Challa into a complx character that is quite unique to anything else in the Marvel U. Sadly, this issue (as well as the previous one) is let down by the artwork of Michael Avon Oeming, which does not hold a candle to the book's portrayal at the beginning of it's run. Nonetheless, it's still interesting to see where the Panther's status Quo winds up for the future in next month's finale.
Although I picked up a copy late, The Activity #1 is full of potential to be a mainstay on my monthly pull list. Nathan Edmondshon delivers a book that feels almost identical in scope as his previous work, Who is Jake Ellis? Continuing to delve into the espionage genre (which I rarely see enough of, to be honest) this book starts with a very quick action type cold-open before the slow burn of the introduction to the protaganists. The art, though not as stylishly colourful as Jake Ellis, still has very crisp images, as well as colours that fit the story nicely. If every issue is as good as this one then I'm happy to say I'll be sticking around for a good long while.
Being a DD fan, I also just had to get Amazing Spider-Man #677 due to it's 2-part crossover with the Man without Fear. By Daredevil scribe Mark Waid, This book is beautifully written, with Waid showing his time on Spidey previously not being wasted. All the characters feel exactly how they should which allows them to contrast with each other nicely. The artwork by Emma Rios has a very cold, crisp feel that certainly gives me the feel of the winter environment it so apparently is in the story. Left with two noticable cliffhangers, one seemingly more urgent than the other. I'm definitely looking forward to the second part.
Which really made me decide what was next to read, and I wasn't disappointed. Daredevil #8 continued both the story and the quality of the writing. Continuing from where he left off in Spidey, Waid beautifully finished this tale, weaving it into other ongoing story threads from his current Daredevil run. This book became very much all about the Man without Fear as Waid dispatched Spidey mid-way through and focused (almost) solely on the book's main hero. The art certainly helped this transition as Kano's work felt like a seamless change from the art used in part one of the story to the regular, exceptional art we've come to expect in this book. Waid has set up a couple of nice stories for the next few issues, which certainly makes me decide to stick around for them.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Should I move to Digital Comics???

Over the weekend I got together with my family. This isn't exactly a rare occurance, but what is rare is getting pretty in depth look at my aunt's Ipad, which her granddaughter was playing games on. After a bit of time helping her with some game called water, I was finally able to steal it away and for the rest of my time there I was investigating what all the fuss had been about.
Now for me, there are very few reasons to even consider buying a tablet pc of any kind. However, the idea of digital comics has always intrigued me and so (with my aunt's permission of course) I download the comicology app and, from their store, two free comics, Green Hornet: Blood Ties #1 and Walking Dead #1.
After reading them both though in this format, I gotta admit that I'm so much more tempted to acquire myself and Ipad or something similiar. I loved that like a comic, you can take as long as you want but, also, you can zoom in to specific panel and follow it like a storyboard. There was even one panel (where Rick gets shot in Walking Dead) where the software followed the panel backwards, revealing Rick getting shot AND THEN Shane shouting his name. This, in my opinion, is a downside to hard copy comics. While you get the viewing choice with digital, a hard copy shows the whole page and can take away shock moments like that.
So, yeah, I'm tempted on going digital. It's cheaper, it's less hassle delivery wise and it can, essentially, be made in to a story that can shock you going from panel to panel instead of page to page. However, is reading comics really enough of a reason to buy an Ipad. It seems like lots of people have them, but yet i don't know what any of these people use them for. Also, in terms of comics, by going digital doesn't the collector miss out on the experience of buying? Though it's a rariety for me now, I used to love going to that shop, picking up my stuff and talking about the comic world: The industry, the characters, the creators, the whole nine yards. You can't do that online (except with Forums and I'm not much of a fan of them). Then there are the comics themselves. I have a fair few comics all in long boxes and I take pride in that. It's something that I could tangibly sell in years to come (though A. I dunno if I would and B. I doubt I'd make much) and it's something I can say believably that I own. It's like my dvd collection, my xbox game collection or my book collection. I have video's and music on itunes and my girlfriend has a kindle with books on, but I don't ever count any of them as actually things I own based on the fact that they are just pixels on a computer.
So, should I convert to digital? It's a tough call, the technogeek in me is shouting at me yes and in truth, if I think of another use, I may start picking up one or two that way. However, I think I will always be (well, for quite a long time anyway) a proper, going to the shop itself, hard copy comics man.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

It's not easy budgeting for comics

Every day now, I seem to be trying to work out how to buy more comics with the same budget I set myself. Now, like most people, I am not paid large sums of money for doing little (quite the opposite in fact) and with what I do recieve monthly I have to pay bills, buy food and spare some change to take my girlfriend out ever now and again.
Because of this I set myself, every month, the relatively modest sum of £30 (that's about $46) to fund my comic habit. Now, you'd think "Oh, well that's more than enough money to get plenty of comics. They only come out once a month." and I would agree with that except for the fact that there is WAY too much out there.
At the present moment, I pick up about 13 titles a month. These include ten ongoing series (one of which will soon be cancelled) and three limited series (all of which end by March). Therefore, once all those that end do end, I'll be down to 9 titles. This should be a joyous moment, except for the fact that four of the titles are priced at $3.99. What makes it more difficult for me is that I buy my books from a store that is not local and therefore I have to bump up the price with a delivery fee every two weeks. Also, I was recently told that Marvel want to get out 15 issues of each comic a year instead of the normal 12. Because of this, and because I have 5 Marvel titles in my pull list, I have to pick up 15 additional comic books a year.
So, after all this, once the numbers have been crunched and the all series' releases have been taken into account, all that is left is enough to purchase one ongoing series monthly and (maybe) one 5-issue limited series. The question then becomes, what do I get?
As this is only January, I can't even imagine what will start later in the year, but already there are so many titles I seriously want. DC's new 52 has at least two I'm eyeing up in Animal Man and Suicide Squad, but this then means tracking down all issues from issue 1 and thats more money gone. Same can be said with Wolverine and the X-Men at Marvel, with the added wrinkle that I'd have to get 15 issues a year (so the limited would be a no for the year). The option would, therefore be get something yet to start. Sadly, only two spring to mind. Image's The Activity is only one issue out so far making it less costly and the preview pages I saw of it were breathtaking. The second is the rumoured upcoming Justice Society of America from DC by James Robinson. DC have missed out a large number of great characters in the relaunch and after watching the JSA related Smallville episode I have to admit I'm more than tempted.
What I do know is what limited series I'm getting and, honestly, I'm holding out for a second Who is Jake Ellis? series, although, knowing my luck, it will most likely be released as an ongoing.
At the end of the day, what would help me out is for comics to become cheaper. Actually, if I wanna wish for things, it's wishing for the salary that pays for my comics to get bigger.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

The Walking Dead is how you convert someone to comics

My girlfriend is no fan of comics. She has no problem with my little addiction, but she has never had any interest in reading anything. I've tried to tempt her with everything: Batman, Spiderman, Video games, Movies, tv series, you name it. Sadly she's never wanted to know and, to be fair, after the initial attempt I've simply left it be. As long as she let me continue collecting (which she has) I've never tried to shove them down her throat.
So, with that, God bless the Walking Dead.
It started at Christmas, when I received AMC's television adaptation as a gift. I believed from the get-go that she would not want to see it because it's a zombie show and my lady, bless her, is not the biggest fan of the horror genre. So, with that in mind, I woke up early to watch an episode or two, deciding to split them out over a couple of days. Sadly, she woke up early too on that first day but allowed me to continue watching, saying she would simply read a book.
Before the end of that first episode, her eyes were looking over the book towards the tv screen and by the end of the second episode questions were being asked about who the characters were, what was going on and various other queries.
Now, you'd think that a tv show is easy enough to enjoy, it doesn't mean someone will convert to the comic medium. Well, after watching season 1 with her over the holidays, I packed the first three Trades of Walking dead into my bag and travelled to her's. Once there I dropped them on her coffee table and said one thing about them "This is what that show was based them. Only read them if you want". By the time I'd left for the weekend, she was almost finished with volume one. I'm more than confident that she'll have read all three within a week.
I don't know if she'll collect and enjoy them as heavily as me, but she is reading and enjoying one book and that's enough for me. I've often wondered how comics can attract more readers as it's an industry that doesn't have the same reach as other mediums, but this is an example that such a thing is possible. Maybe the superhero books are not the way to go, maybe these indie books with talented creators are what will save the industry.
For me though, I now have a new connection with my girlfriend, thanks to messrs Kirkman, Adland and Moore and it certainly proves that if you know someone who says comic books are not interesting, give them the Walking Dead and you may convert them.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

So long 2011, the year of DC!!!

As I woke up this morning, what went through my head (apart from a killer hangover from the night before) was the question what would 2012 bring me, and who would it belong to. I thought that 2011 had, most predominantly, belonged to DC based on the fact that no sooner had the year started had the rumours begun to surface as to what we would be seeing would be major changes to their world and the characters that inhabited it.
Rumour became fact by May when Flashpoint spun out of the pages of the Flash to bring us a story that changed everything. Indeed the story did as much, although it gave very little to it in terms of an engrossing story or even a definitive rationale as to why the changes occured. However from September onwards "New DC" hit the shelves and we all got the DC universe, reinvigorated, revamped and renewed (well mostly) and DC entertainment (as their sign above the door said) overtook Marvel for the market share and top spot in Diamonds top selling books for the next three months leading into the new year.
So, DC took a gamble and it paid off in spades, but the question is: what comes of 2012? What is there to look forward to in the new year?
For me, I'm looking forward to the possibility of upping my comic book budget and getting in some new titles, although I'm somewhat jaded by what's on offer. DC, despite their success, has not got me hooked with the relaunch, with my current followings of Action Comics and Demon Knights struggling to keep me invested to any great degree and very few of the others grabbing or holding my attention due to any number of reasons.
So, for me it must be Marvel all the way? I wish this was true and indeed the opening salvo of the new Thunderbolts issue having a new artist certainly cements this view, backed up by the intrigue as to what's next for Rick Remender's Uncanny X-Force after one of the best story arcs in recent times.
However, the loss of many niche titles (including the highly underrated Black Panther series) as well as very little reasons for investments in the bigger titles have me considering steering clear. Even Fantastic Four, a series I've been following for the longest, is struggling to keep me on tenderhooks with it's current arc as I was with prior runs.
In truth, I suspect 2012 could see independent titles making more of an impact on my life. 2011 brought the incredible Who is Jake Ellis? series into my pile (to which I'm hoping there is a follow-up) and the recent improvements in Boom's Irredeemable and Incorruptible series' of late as well as the most recent Hellboy runs certainly say to me that the more compelling stories will be found in these sandboxes, with newly formed characters making their presence known in compelling, creator owned stories.
But, this is my opinion and view on what is to come. Now let's see if the year follows through.