Tuesday, 29 April 2014

New comixology app isn't actually that bad.

I'm probably going to earn the evil glare of a million comic book geeks worldwide for saying this but it's true, I don't think the new comixology app is that bad.

Ok, ok, hear me out before you all hit me!!!

This time yesterday I had written a post (which, before you go looking, didn't get published) ranting about the Comixology app and its lack of a store on there. To be fair, this made it a valid rant as Comixology's whole idea of removing the app's store is incredibly dumb, making the whole buying digital comics experience much more complicated and time-consuming than maybe it should be. Now, maybe it's a legitimate change, as an interview with Comic Book Resources states that the change was made to be more in line with Amazon's procedures , however it seems a bit hypocritical given Amazon have an app which you can buy through.

Nonetheless, after having my little rant I realised that as much as I can complain the new setup sucks, I haven't really tried the new purchasing system. Therefore, last night I bought Black Science #5 (which, had the added bonus of allowing me to catch up on that series) through Comixology.co.uk.

Doing this required a little more work but the purchase pretty much happened as follows:
1. Select the book
2. Go to the cart and proceed to checkout (all very Amazon so far)
3. Add a debit/credit card (hopefully this is just a one time thing)
4. Complete order.
5. Return to Comixology app and download

And that was it. So in the end, the whole 'buying a digital comic' thing took me about three minutes, with two of those being about inputting payment details which, I'll confess, is annoying but then I'm sure I would have done the same with the app way back when. So, really, the whole process took me a minute and, although it meant going through safari to buy and then to the app to download, I bought the whole comic through my Ipad.

So, what am I trying to say? Well, I guess what I'm saying is this, yes, Amaxology screwed up by taking away the store and yes, it makes a little bit more work before reading the comic book goodness we all want, but then again the setup that's now in place is certainly not the worst thing in the world and, in fact, doesn't fundamentally change the ease with which to buy off comixology (ok, maybe to start with but it's one time, deal with it).

All I can say is if you read this and were not convinced by the changes we've all had to face because of Comixology's change, I'd say give it a go, you may find that all us fans were actually worrying about nothing (well, until Amazon does something worse I guess).

Sunday, 27 April 2014

July 2014 Solicitations.

Finally!!! They have taken their time, but now Wondercon is over (these big cons always seem to delay solicits. Can't imagine why??) the new solicits are out in full and I get to decide what will make my pull list for July 2014.

Now, I'm kinda looking forward to this month's solicitations as it will be the first time that I am working to my new, lower budget. This, of course makes things slightly tougher in regards to what makes the cut and what doesn't, but (strangely) with the culling of every Marvel book I collect (Yes, in the end I dumped the lot. My decision making still sucks) I've found that the decisions as to what to pick up surprisingly easy.

So, what am I wanting this July? Well, here's my list:-

Low #1 - This makes the list more on a bet than anything else. My mate recommended it and his recommendations have been.... above average (Harvest and Punk Rock Jesus scored. Five Ghosts tanked). If he fails he's 2 for 4, but I'm quietly confident on his behalf as the premise sounds good, although Tocchini's art isn't my favourite (though maybe it'll grow on me).

Spread #1 - Another newbie to the list and, after proving himself to me, Justin Jordan is getting another shot with a book that sounds like a really cool (if overused) concept. With the imagery already in my head looking fantastic, here's hoping the art is THAT good.

Alex + Ada #8 - Ah, Alex + Ada. At this point I'm not sure I need to justify buying this series. Granted, there's two issues between where I am now and issue 8, but unless it tanks horribly, I will still not give this book up.

Black Science #7 - I gotta confess, Black Science is a bit of a dark horse (no, not the publisher). I picked up issue 1 during Comixology's giveaways a couple of months back and now I'm hooked. I've gotten 3 issues in and I'm catching up like crazy, but so far this book has been incredibly engrossing and I think it's worth a place at my table.

Lazarus #10 - I gotta say, when I first gave this title a chance I had no idea it would actually be as good as it is (and good is an understatement by far). Lazarus is a quality title that is grossly underrated. The solicit for this issue sounds like it'll deviate from the series protagonist briefly but don't matter if it's still present with the same terrific skill and style.

Earth 2 #25 - Still (in my opinion) the best series DC put on shelves, the solicits tease of a battle between Supermen which, with Scott's art, will sure be something worth seeing.

Dark Horse-
Mass Effect: Foundations #13 - Though I'm yet to see the Dark Horse solicits, the end is finally here!! I'll be honest and say I've found this series a little hit and miss, but overall it's been ok. But as I've made it to the finale I might as well pick up the final issue.

Honourable Mention
Fantastic Four #7 and Daredevil #5-6  because, as of April 24th (when I wrote this), both series have one last issue left for me to pick up before they get canned. Though the decision has been made, based on its' past efforts, to drop it, if the book somehow pulls off an absolutely brilliant installment in their final issue with me, then it will be allowed a return to the table. However, with my budget practically gone by this point, I have to confess that I don't rate the titles chances too highly.

And that's it. Seven titles (8 if you count the honourable mention) which, if I'm honest, I'm (mostly) very excited about. However, with a couple of months between now and then I'm sure my opinion will change and some of these books will go (and those I've cut will sneak back, I'm fickle that way). I have done it before after all.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Which Marvel books to hit the chopping block?

I have a bit of a full on weekend this coming Easter. First up is a few days away with my beautiful wife to be followed by a few additional days hanging with the in-laws.

It's during this second part that my weekend hits important heights as I need to go through all my current Marvel Now titles and make a decision that may have huge ramifications to my collection going forward: What Marvel books should hit the chopping block and be cut from my pull list.

Now, I often talk about cutting books, but on this occasion it is a little more extreme. Due to financial problems (like my wedding. Damn, those things are expensive!!!) I'm having to cut the funds I give to comics by a staggering 50% (wow). Actually, it's not that much (only £20/$33.67), but it still means cutting away a LOT of books that have now become very ingrained in my monthly ritual of travel to shop, pick up, read.

So, what are the candidates? Well, I've got to read a total of nine issues from 5 titles between now and Tuesday morning (that's 4 and a half days from time of writing) with only 1 to remain. They include:

Fantastic Four #1 & 2 - I have issues going back to 2001 for FF, so I'm a little hopeful that the series stays. Coupled with Leonard Kirk's art this might make it a favourite, but Fraction's run left a bitter taste in my mouth and I'm wondering if now's the time to end my allegiance.

Daredevil #1 & 1.50 - Again, I have a LOT of issues of this series, going back to Brubaker's time. Also Waid and Samnee's last run was incredible, so this might be the favourite. But the first issue didn't wow me and I wonder if the new number 1 took away some of the magic.

She-Hulk #1 - 3 - This is the title most likely to be canned, simply because I continuously am umming and erring over whether it deserves to stay. However, it's got a similar premise to Hawkeye (it's more day to day, less super heroics) that might give it a fighting chance.

Inhuman #1 - Admittedly, only has one issue to prove itself and it did well, but I need to be tough and the artwork alone might not save it, which I still think is its main draw for me.

Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #1 - Ok, I find myself leaning toward this one for no other reason than Iron Fist is awesome. But I need to find more in order to make it worthy of saving and after one read, I'm on the fence about it.

So, I got a lot to read, not much time to read it in and a lot on the line once it's done. I hate making decisions on a general basis and it was tough going up until this point as I had already gone through my DC and Image books and decided they were all good enough to stay (so kudos to them). However, it's hard deciding amongst these five Marvel books, which either means they are equally good or (more worryingly) equally bad. I guess I've got four days to figure that one out, and just hope I've got the discipline to cut those that aren't worth keeping.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

New 52 DC books get new Issue 1's. Um...why??

So this week (for reasons I'm not quite sure about) DC have unveiled new issue 1's for a "new" Teen Titans series and a "new" Suicide Squad series.


I'm a bit confused as to the reasoning behind this in painful honesty. I mean, I totally get that issue 1's sell better than any other numbered comic (as Marvel seem to think, what with their new issue 1's hitting shelves every five minutes. But I digress), but Suicide Squad and Teen Titans are series that were still running up until this point. Why create new first issues for these series now?

The logical reasoning would be that it's a series that hasn't been around for a while, but that's obviously crap because both were in the June solicits and Teen Titans was actually confirmed to be cancelled only a few weeks ago.

The next rationale behind it would be the change of these books creative teams. I mean, Marvel constantly relaunch a series with a new issue 1 whenever their creative teams change up (or, in Daredevil's case, when the creative team stay the same) so it stands to reason that DC could emulate that. However, though Teen Titans had Scott Lobdell from the very beginning, I'm pretty sure that Suicide Squad have had a few different creators on this book since the title was released.

Beyond those, I'm not sure of any other viable reason to release new issue 1's for already existing titles beyond some sort of vanity exercise.

Now, I've no doubt that they'll make more sales because of these issue 1's, but it just disappoints me that they went this way. I figured, after the reboot, these series would go on to issues 100, 200, etc like comic books used to do before everyone(and I mean Marvel) felt the need to to relaunch a book every 10 seconds.

Also, if both these books were doing poorly enough to be cancelled (which I assume is the case for Suicide Squad), why are they being given this second chance? What about Demon Knights, Grifter, etc? The books that weren't superhero based (which, admittedly, I don't remember the names of) which didn't last long and have returned to the ether, where are they?

At the end of the day, I'm a little disappointed that DC are doing this. But then again, I doubt these series would have impressed me any more had they remained with issue 30 something instead of going back to issue 1. It just worries me books like Action Comics' #900 from a couple of years back (which was awesome) will be a one off and comics will never see three digit numbering ever again.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Review: Inhuman #1

Inhuman #1 came out this week, the first of three brand new issue ones I'll be picking up during the month of April. As I've said previously, Inhuman was a bit of a late entry, which I only picked on account of the fantastic art shown in the previews. However, after the first issue, I've got to admit that it's not just the art that makes me a little tempted to go for number 2.

Inhuman #1
The title picks up from Marvel's Inhumanity event (which I didn't read, though I didn't seem to find that as a problem). With the Inhuman's city of Attilan destroyed, Black Bolt (possibly) dead and a cloud of Terrigen Mists traversing the globe converting ordinary people who have the bits of Inhuman genes into full-on Inhumans. With this going on, Medusa attempts to salvage what's left of her people, but a new villain has arrived on the scene who wishes to claim the new Inhumans for his own.
The way I've described the plot, I think, makes for a pretty great book. Unfortunately, the issue seems to get bogged down at the beginning by exposition which, though necessary (because I doubt I'm the only person who didn't read inhumanity) made it difficult to to get into. That said, once all the necessary is done with, things do pick up and Charles Soule writes a great first issue. Medusa, who has always been a character in someone else's shadow, comes across as a strong character in her own right, while new Inhuman Dante already seems very interesting as he gets to grip with his new predicament. The only sticking point is the villain Lash, who comes across as the Inhuman version of Apocalypse and maybe needs more back story to come off as more compelling.
The new villain, but
what's his deal?
The art, of course, is what brought me to this book and it does not disappoint. Joe Madureira's pencils are truly fantastic from beginning to end, especially in regards to the characters. Then there is Marte Garcia's colours which, being so deep greatly enhance every panel. My favourites throughout the issue though are the shots with Medusa herself, who's signature long hair actually looks like it has a mind of its own whenever it is drawn, not to mention the unbelievably cool shots of her in shadow, which I think make the character way more bad ass.
Being the first of three issue ones that I'm picking up, Inhuman has made a strong argument for me to upgrade to a permanent place on my pull list, although what concerns me is that each issue will take half of its content before it gets good. However, although it'll now have to wait for what Secret Origins and Iron Fist bring to the table, Inhumans #1 has set itself up as a good contender for that coveted pull list spot.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

How to decide what to buy digitally?

Ok, so this has been bugging me for a while but how do I decide what comic books I should buy digitally?

Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoy digital and print comics in equal measure, but how my pull list is divided between them is not so equal, with print getting the lion's share. This, of course, becomes a problem as print issues take up a lot more space. I've got seven short boxes and two long boxes, along with three shelves of trades throughout my home (not to mention the tonne of physical books, dvd's and video games, but that's a conversation for another time).

So, I ask this question because I figure, maybe it's time I started to readdress the balance between print and digital and save myself some space. That said, how do I choose what to buy digitally and what to buy as print?

In order to decide this, it's probably best to show what the current split looks like. When I buy digitally, books consist of Alex + Ada, Dead Body Road and Serenity: Leaves on the Wind. With Print however, the books are Earth 2, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, She-Hulk, Lazarus and Mass Effect: Foundations.

Based on those lists, print books consist of (mostly) ongoing series while digital are made up of limited series. This, I think is a good way to differentiate as Ongoing series could be considered more collectable while, at the same time, if I had 50 issues of Daredevil on my Ipad (my primary source of digital comic reading), then a) disk space would be all gone and b) my OCD would go crazy at having so much on my Ipad.

Of course, it becomes an problem when I pick up an ongoing series that ends up finishing after, say, 12 issues. Uncanny X-Force (Remender's run) was terrific and I got every issue. However, if I'd known it would have ended at issue 30 then I would have considered getting the whole thing digitally. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

This month I'm picking up issue 1's of Secret Origins, Iron Fist and Inhuman. I'm highly suspicious that none of these will last past 30 issues and am tempted to digitally pick up either Inhuman or Secret Origins. However, if by some miracle that were to happen, then the above problems for me would kick in, which I don't really want to face (though maybe I should).

Maybe I should stick with the division method I currently have in place; ongoings in print, limiteds by digital. However, with less limited series making my list that is becoming very skewed against digital and that's not what I want. I want to lessen the burden on the space in my house, which means digital is the way forward. I want to balance out my collection between the long box and the memory box, I just need a new criteria with which to distinguish between them.

If anyone who reads this can give me a suggestion, I'm all ears.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Bring forth the Book of Life

I received an exciting piece of news in my Twitter feed earlier this week. Jon Lock, the writer and creator of the brilliant (and it is brilliant, as I've mentioned here and here) smash indie series Afterlife inc. who I met at last years' Bristol comic expo, was bringing his heavenly title back to us fans in a new, fancy hardcover omnibus.

The Book of Life by Jon Lock
On Tuesday, April 1st 2014, a kickstarter campaign begins to help in the funding of the printing and distribution for the Book of Life, a 376 page title which not only collects the first three volumes of Afterlife Inc. in full colour pages, but also includes tonnes of special features including covers, art and a never before seen tale. It's a fantastically packaged set and all it needs is your help to become a reality.

For those not in the know (and haven't read what I've previously written), Afterlife inc. tells the story of Jack Fortune, a smooth-talking con-man who, following his untimely death, finds himself in an afterlife in chaos. At that point he decides, with the help of an eclectic team of souls and angels, to take over and run the place like a business.

If you want to hear more about Afterlife Inc. and the Book of Life project, check out this video, which is narrated by Jon Lock himself.

Now, if you haven't gotten onboard with Afterlife Inc. yet then I assure you, now would be a great time to start. It's a fantastic series (As I suspect I've mentioned before) with a premise unlike anything else you can hope to read at present, panels just exploding off their pages and stories that are thrilling and downright enjoyable from start to finish. The Book of Life can bring to you this awesome saga in its entirety and, while it will retail for £40, if you step up and help make its existence a reality, then you can pre-order through Kickstarter for just £35. A nice reward for helping bring this book TO life!

The board meeting is back in session!
Of course, you could get in there REALLY early with your support, in which case you can secure an early-bird price of only £30 for a copy - and that, I think, is a bargain. However, there is only a limited number of copies for this deal so you might want to get in there quick. Be sure to add yourself to their official mailing list for lots of information and to be notified when the kickstarter launches so you can get in there before all others for that great deal.

If you want more info on the series or the creator himself, visit Jon's website at www.jonlock.com.

Trust me when I tell you that this series is a must-read, which makes this campaign a must to fund. It's an incredible series which is one of the top 100 indie books on Comixology  (you can pick up all three volumes here), however this campaign is also a must to support because of the creator. Jon Lock has done what many independent creators wish they could do and has put together three great volumes based on a single exciting and compelling world filled with likeable characters. The Book of Life is a testament to the commitment of great storytelling away from the big publishers and, because of these reasons, it deserves to exist. So, all I can say is show your support and help Jon Lock make this book a reality.

Update: The Kickstarter has begun! If you fancy backing this project (and hopefully, all I've said before has convinced you) click here to reach the page and make you contribution.

Review: Alex + Ada #5

Ahh, finally. It's been a bit of a hectic month for me and this has meant a lot less visits to the local comic shop than I would like, but this week was a bonus as, while the regualr comic pick up was still a no-no, it meant the release of my digital books, consisting of Dead Body Road #4, Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #3 and then, what always make comic reading worth doing, Alex + Ada #5

Alex + Ada #5
Picking up right where issue 4 left off, Ada's artifical intelligence blocks have been removed and she (she right?) now has the ability to feel and express. However, after making a large amount of noise, this seems to have been too much as she ends up shutting herself away within her mind. Now it's up to Alex and Franklin (the little android who helped them) to try and help Ada recover, while not being caught by anyone for doing what they've done.

Now, all of that makes this issue sound rather action packed, although don't let appearances deceive you. However, the lack of action does not make this book any less enjoyable, in fact it probably makes it more so. Since the beginning, Alex + Ada has, essentially, stripped any other aspect you would find within a sci-fi comic (and it could be loosely categorised as that), focusing solely on the interactions between and emotions of characters. No more on show is that focus than in this issue, as Alex and Ada bare their souls out to each other in order to come to terms with what is happening.

A great final panel, but the
story isn't over yet!
This is, essentially, Ada's birth as, despite coming across very well in previous issues, her character really begins her growth and the writing does well to reflects that. The art, however, is what makes this issue truly great. I'd previously said that panels appear to have been reused with slight differences and inferred it was an problem. However, I gotta go one-eighty on this as those slight differences between panels really gives the story a very moment by moment feel. I really felt like I was watching every single second of this heart to heart which just tugged at my heart strings all the more.

This issue is very much the end of a first act as Ada's journey from appliance to individual is resolved so touchingly while leaving options open to continue the tale. However, even without further entries, this issue would have capped off the tale so well that further installments would have been demanded anyway (certainly by me). If there is one book on my pull list that could have picked up this week, I'm always so glad it's Alex + Ada, everything else is just paling by comparison.