Storm, Forge, Naze, & Your Face.

So, if you’d listened to The Comics Podcast before it went on an indefinite hiatus, you’d know that I’ve started reading Uncanny X-Men from start to now-ish. The books from the 60’s were a tough pill to swallow but I got through them, exclamation points and all. Once Giant Size X-Men #1 kicked in, things hit a new gear. A highly enjoyable gear. I passed through the Phoenix Saga, The Trial of Magneto and have moved into the motley crew era of Wolverine, Longshot, Dazzler, Psylocke, Rogue and occasionally Storm.

I say occasionally because Storm has gone after Forge to close the book on their rocky relationship. (He shot her with a gun and she lost her powers - I cried.) If you want to read one of the most powerful X-Men books, pick up Uncanny X-Men 186 - Lifedeath.

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Some good thoughts over at iFanboy regarding the digital comics landscape. While at first glance you may think that Brion is against the digital wave, you learn that it’s quite the opposite. Digital comics are here, but without the publishers jumping into the water, we won’t have much a comics industry to care about in the future.

I do take issue with a few points;

The lack of content is only one part of the problem. Let’s say that all the major publishers did go day-and-date digitally. All of the current digital solutions offer you the ability to buy your comics through their online store and read it with their proprietary software. You don’t physically own a copy of the book and they don’t make it easy to read wherever or whenever you want. You have to be logged in to their system in order to read the books you purchase and you cannot trade them with your friends. It is much more like renting a movie than buying one but it costs the same and I can’t bring it home.

The current system that I favor would be ComiXology’s. I purchase on iPad inside of their app and I can read it whenever I want inside that app locally. I can also read on the web using their viewer. The movie renting analogy, while seemingly accurate, may be an overselling of the shortfalls. You can read your purchased books whenever you want, wherever you are.

Brion then goes into two analogies. The first being one involving an actual store which involves the delay it get a new book:

Options A: Joe runs all over town to every comic book shop he can find. Most of the stores don’t have the latest issues of the titles he wants, but they do have some back-issues if he wants to catch up on his favorite character. Does he want to start with the Golden Age stuff or just jump in to the latest Big Event from three years ago? No, sorry we don’t have the hot new issue of that title yet but check back in a few months and maybe it will be here. One more thing, I’m sorry but you can’t take that out of the store, you’ll have to read it here.

Option B: Joe is walking down the street and trips over a big box full of all the latest comics. There is a note on the box that says “Take me”.

With the first one, the statement is that you cannot read, or do anything with the comic outside of our specific applications or viewers. I have no problems with reading a comic book inside of ComiXology’s apps. The viewing process is so fluid and well designed that it’s much more desirable than reading a scanned comic on the same iPad, using a third party app.

Which ties into his final point:

What the comic book industry needs to do is stop fighting against the inevitable change from print to digital. Learn from the history of other industries so that they can make the transition less painful for everyone involved. Look to the future as a possibility to expand your base instead of simply trying to hang on to something you will never be able to keep. There are generations of kids yet to be born who will possibly never own a printed comic book or walk into a comic book store but hopefully that won’t stop them from reading them.

Digital Comics are not the future, they are already here.

If the publishers fail to realize that the readers are their true customers and not the retailers, we won’t have much to read in the next 5 or 10 years. Hell, maybe even the next 3 years. Obviously we are still in the early stages of digital comics, but we can’t say that line for much longer.

When it comes to digital comics, publishers need to shit or get off the pot.

Editor’s Note: Listen, the audio in episode 1 and 2 is really bad. Things happened. Mistakes were made. Skip these episodes and go right to 3, please.
001 | Underboss
Oh, snap. We’re back in the saddle again and bassy as all get-out. The world needs another comics podcast. We ran news, comics, book club, and close out the show with some letters to the show.
Topics included, but were not limited to:
Amy Adams as Lois Lane
Aquaman as written by Geoff Johns
Mark gushes over Geoff Johns
Aquaman battles whalersa
Flashpoint is Age of Apocalypse
Flash is the the glue of the DCU, apparently
Fear Itself not going to suck?
Dwayne McDuffie’s impact on us before & after
Captain America’s new movie trailer, Skrulls in the Avengers movie?
Comic book chatter
Underboss discussion
Special thanks to YOU for our iTunes reviews; they help spread the word about the show.
Sponsor: The Comic Book Shop. The best place to grab your print or digital comics.
Links: Download MP3, iTunes.

Editor’s Note: Listen, the audio in episode 1 and 2 is really bad. Things happened. Mistakes were made. Skip these episodes and go right to 3, please.

001 | Underboss

Oh, snap. We’re back in the saddle again and bassy as all get-out. The world needs another comics podcast. We ran news, comics, book club, and close out the show with some letters to the show.

Topics included, but were not limited to:

  • Amy Adams as Lois Lane
  • Aquaman as written by Geoff Johns
  • Mark gushes over Geoff Johns
  • Aquaman battles whalersa
  • Flashpoint is Age of Apocalypse
  • Flash is the the glue of the DCU, apparently
  • Fear Itself not going to suck?
  • Dwayne McDuffie’s impact on us before & after
  • Captain America’s new movie trailer, Skrulls in the Avengers movie?
  • Comic book chatter
  • Underboss discussion
  • Letters!

Special thanks to YOU for our iTunes reviews; they help spread the word about the show.

Sponsor: The Comic Book Shop. The best place to grab your print or digital comics.

Links: Download MP3, iTunes.

How Bruce Timm Got My Groove Back…

The Warner Bros logo fades to two glowing eyes that reveal themselves as spotlights on some mysterious airship. Below on the streets two figures lurk in front of a bank, suddenly an explosion marks their intentions. As if answering the carrion call another explosion rockets out of the back of a mysterious black car.

Cut back to our bank robbers, who are out matching the chasing police, getting away — something else is needed, something more. There in front of them, seemingly falling from nowhere: an amalgam of Bat and Man that sends shots of ice through their veins. Guns won’t save them, not here, a smooth object sails through the air striking them both, the mark of a master.

As the lagging police finally catch up to their prey, they sit waiting for them, a gift from the night itself. Above, trimmed by cape and lighting is our hero: The Batman.

It’s quite possible that my love of comics, writing, fantasy, and so many other things can be pinpointed to the minute long opening of Batman: The Animated Series. But it wasn’t just me who started something there, Bruce Timm and Paul Dini’s work on Batman TAS jump started many young viewers into a love and interest in DC’s characters. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that if it wasn’t for Timm’s iconic work in the 90s comics might not be where they are today.

That’s not to say that X-Men and Spider-Man (spider blood, spider blood) weren’t beloved in their own rite, but when it comes to story telling, they weren’t even close. Each episode, usually a stand alone, led the viewer into Bruce Wayne’s world, and it wasn’t just flashy or gimmicky either. Most episodes of TAS were, at heart, detective stories that captured your attention and just as often showed Batman’s brilliance as well as his prowess in a fight. As far as I know, for a kids show that was unheard of at its time. Where Spider-Man was off fighting spider hunting robots and mooning over Mary Jane, Batman was seducing a replicant robot while solving the mystery of Rossom’s supercomputer that was bent on replacing imperfect humanity.

And that’s the real proof of Bruce Timm’s legacy on viewers. I own both the entire X-Men 90s animated series and the Batman TAS run. If you were to question me on X-Men, I could give you the gist of the series, and name some episodes that are near and dear to me. Question me on Batman though and I can pretty much spit out episodic capsules and start nitpicking story arches with the best of them. From discussions with my own friends, I gather they feel similarly.

Batman TAS, and Bruce’s Timm’s other works (Superman, Justice League, Batman Beyond) are just that good. They’re timeless, they hold up, and they provide an escape for that nine year old inside of you that’s using a bath towel as a cape and is setting up your Batcave under the basement steps.

In conclusion: Bruce Timm even made me like Booster Gold. For me, that’s saying something.

F@$& Waldo! Where’s Wally?

Three years ago, we comic fans were told that Barry Allen would be coming back. Barry Allen, the second Flash who had died in the 80’s saving the multi-verse from the Anti-Monitor. But the question that came to me and many other readers was “What about Wally?”  And nearly two years later and nine issues of Flash. We’re still asking that question, what about Wally?

Now let it be known I’m not the world’s biggest Flash Fan. I’ve known of the character for years, but would hardly rank him in my top five. I mostly took notice of the character due to his excellent rendition on the Bruce Timm “Justice League” cartoon. I’ve read a number of Flash stories here and there and found that I really enjoyed Wally. But I didn’t mind the idea of bring back Barry. I thought that could be interesting and as we’re seeing currently in the Batman titles, if there can be two Batmans then there can be two Flashes (three if you count Jay Garrick, four if you count Bart Allen, I’m going to ignore the “Quick” family for the time being).  And even had DC decided to kill of Wally in “Final Crisis”, “Flash Rebirth” or “Blackest Night”, that would have been okay with me. Because if we as comic fans know anything, characters come back. Even if not in normal continuity they’ll be back in an Elseworld, an OGN or Johnny DC. The characters never go away (Sorry Johnny Storm). But so far, that hasn’t even happened.

At the LBCC of 09’ Geoff Johns told us that Wally would be getting a co-feature in his new Flash book that was to be drawn by Scott Kollins. Wally would be around, and there was no reason to think otherwise. He was featured in Flash Rebirth, and Blackest Night. But that co-feature didn’t happen. “Flash” was going to be all about Barry. Okay, surely Wally would be appearing in other books, he’s a prominent  and very well loved character. He’ll be around somewhere right? Right?

Nope! Sadly that ended up not being the case. Wally’s finally appeared in the background of the last issue of Flash #9, at a Flash picnic of some sort, playing football with his kids. That’s a year in between appearances. Where has he been? What’s he been doing? Just hanging out? Has he just been throwing that ball around? Did he suffer some kind of PTSD due to Blackest Night? Did he take a vacation in the speed force? Do none of the other characters in DC care? With two Batmen running around not one of the worlds greatest detectives could figure out what happened to Wally West? Gee, Dick Grayson, way to be a friend!

It’s not like we don’t see the others in the Flash Family. Bart is featured heavily in Teen Titans and he’s getting his own mini for the Flash Point event. Jay Garrick is in JSA, Barry has “Flash” and any other appearance the Flash makes including Green Lantern or Brightest Day. Wally? I mean he’s one of the main characters in “Titans”, oh wait, Wally hasn’t been in “Titans” since May last year… I guess he’s just been hanging out in that park all this time.

My complaint in the end is the lack of story telling. Had they killed Wally or even “retired” him as heroes have done, and he’d gone off to raise his kids. Fine. Totally fine, the stories been told and I have an explanation. But we have had none. Wally got a new costume in Rebirth and he helped in Blackest Night and then…nothing. Until he popped up in Flash #9 I had just considered that he had been killed in Blackest Night and no one knew about it.

Let me give you a scenario, let’s say the same thing happened at Marvel and let’s say it had happened with Wolverine. Now I understand Wolverine sells better then Flash most of the time and is one of the most popular characters ever. I’m not comparing character to character I’m merely bringing up a similar situation. So let us say when the character of Daken, Wolverine’s son became the main character in  the Wolverine Solo book (which happened) Wolverine had disappeared from the Marvel landscape completely. Here was Daken and there was no more Wolverine, not in X-men, New Avengers or even random appearances in Spider-man. Wolverine was gone, despite Marvel saying “No he’ll be back, we’re going to put him in another book.” And then a year of nothing. Spider-man makes no joke, The Thing has no comment about his poker buddy, even Cyclops says nothing. Only for Logan to pop up in the background of “Daken Adventures” making a sandwich. No dialogue. comic fans would be scratching their heads. Sure we got Daken a character with a similar power set, but where the hell was Wolverine!? Also not comparing Daken to Barry Allen. I understand one has a huge legacy and is beloved by comic fans around the world, and the other is Barry Allen :p.

I do understand that Wally didn’t have a lot of love going his way over the last couples years. The Flash book wasn’t great and the introduction of his kids turned a lot of people off. But that doesn’t mean all the Wally stories are over and that there can’t be more good ones. Hell Johns had a co-feature he was working on, which means there were still stories planning on being told. And this article is by no means a judgment over the current Flash book, which I’m loving. I’d just like to know where Wally’s been.

The question becomes, “Where are you Really Really Big Man?” I mean Wally. Where are you Wally? 

So what’s the solution…

Now we have a Flash event coming up, I would think, nay, hope that Wally appears or at least has some dialogue. There’s also an Omnibus of Johns’ Wally work coming out soon. Does this bold well for the person we’ve called “The Flash” for over 20 years? We’ll have to wait and see. But this fan hopes that we get something from Wally soon. At the recent C2E2 it was announced that “Flash” is ending at issue 12 going into “Flashpoints” so we’ll have to wait and see what happens there, if “Flash” comes back or we get a new book called “Flash Family” or “Speedsters”. For the time being, you can enjoy Wally as a kid in the “Young Justice” cartoon and comic, which for the time being, seems to be the only place for Wally.

Creator-Owned Comics Are The Future

It’s about to get preachy up in here.

You have friends, right? I hope so. Although, you’re reading a Tumblr about comic books so we’re not off to a great start. That doesn’t say much about me - but screw it.

I’m guessing you have probably gotten some of your friends into comics in the past few years. Me personally, I’ve gotten a handful into reading a monthly book. I know a few people that have gotten reading but mainly pick up trades after a few months. Here’s the thing; every single one of these books have been creator-owned.

I’ve gotten a few friends into reading Chew, Sweet Tooth, The Walking Dead, Invincible, Daytripper, Moon Girl, and even The Umbrella Academy. I have gotten zero friends into X-Men, Batman, Superman, or even Spider-Man. Why is that?

Recently I came across an article that had come out just as the first X-Men had come out. It talked about how sales were sinking for X-Men to a low, at the time, of 200K(!) a month.

After a quarter-century of plot twists, Marvel editors are beginning to worry that picking up an issue of X-Men as a new reader is about as easy as starting to watch The X-Files during the second half of the fifth season. “It’s nearly impossible for the casual reader to follow that many different threads and that many different characters,” says Brian Hibbs, owner of the San Francisco store Comix Experience.

Who in their right mind would walk into a comic shop these days, for the first time, to pick up the newest issue of X-Men? For that matter, what non-comic reader would walk into a comic shop these days period? Marvel does try their best around movie release time and will relaunch a title with a brand new #1 and a “new direction”. Does that ever work for bringing non-readers into the industry? I doubt it. Have you ever handed off Captain America #1 to your friends in order for them to get into comics?

There is just too much history behind so many of the most popular characters we grew up with. And I suppose that’s it right there, too. We grew up with these characters.

When books like Chew come out, it’s a fresh idea. We’re experiencing these characters and stories for the very first time and we want others to become a part of that. Invincible has been going on for several years but it’s a completely fresh take on the young superhero with an actual life to maintain. There are only a handful of trades your friends need to get the entire history of that characters.

That’s not to say those titles are at the top of the sales list every month. The event titles are big Marvel & DC hitters usually stake claim to the top 10 every month. But, how long will that last? How long will it take for the big event books to dwindle down further until they are neck & neck with Chew and Invincible and Scalped and whatever Mark Millar has decided to turn into a movie that month?

New readers aren’t coming into shops to read what we grew up on. They’re coming to shops to discover books we just did ourselves. This is the future of comic books.

Recommending Comics Should NOT Be This Hard

I’m really starting to dread when people ask me, “I’m looking for something new to read, do you have any suggestions?”

Whenever I’m at my local shop I almost always ask people if they need help over at the Trades. Mostly because it’s a shop I’ve been at so long I know were a lot of stuff is located. Usually what seems to happen is I get asked the above question. A question that every reader who has been reading for a while dreams of getting. It’s an opportunity to turn someone to a fantastic book they otherwise would have never touched. To shape the future of comic reading!

But I’ve noticed a growing trend with this question. Parameters, restrictions, requirements.

The last time I heard this question at the shop it came with restrictions that not only tied both of my arms behind my back, but changed halfway through. It started with, “I really like Deadpool and I’m looking for other things with that kind of humor.” When I started to think of something it mutated before I had a chance to respond to, “I really want to find something that’s not a stereotypical superhero like Batman, Spider-Man, or Superman.”

When hearing that I got excited again. My hands became untied and I could work. Being someone who doesn’t read Deadpool and honestly can’t think of too many titles to recommend based off what he said, it was a relief to hear something different. Thinking not Superhero, I went with a pretty safe recommendation in my mind, 100 Bullets. I started to explain a little bit of the plot and was responded with.

“I really want to stick with Superheroes.”

CRAP! Really dude?

I then went to recommend Irredeemable and Invincible. Two books that aren’t Superman, Batman, or Spider-Man like he said earlier. After explaining both a little bit the question changed to the complete opposite of what he stated earlier.

“Hmm maybe it would be better if it was a classic superhero story. Maybe something with Batman, Superman, or Spider-Man.”

Let me remind everyone, I’m not getting paid for this, but I really want to see a sell happen for one of my favorite stores. Also for whatever reason I really wanted to see this guy buy something I recommend. It’s become a challenge at this point. I’m David fighting some sort of schizophrenic Goliath who doesn’t even know why he’s fighting me let alone what this analogy relates to.

At this point I started rattling off all sorts of stuff. Spider-Man Brand New Day, Batman Hush, Red Son Superman, Watchmen (which he hadn’t read), etc.

Sadly this probably resulted in overloading his brain. I was thanked for my help and he said he would do more research. The nice part is I could tell he was sincere. Hell he even shook my hand for taking time to come over and help him.

Here’s what really annoys me about this, I seem to be at my shop when these people show up. The other part is I’ll even say, “You know there are TONs of comics out there I would easily recommend that don’t fit into that category, comics that are some of the best things I’ve ever read.” I don’t understand why people restrict themselves so much when it comes to comic reading. I know we want to stick to something we feel safe and familiar with, but come on! Think outside the box a little.

This is why I’m glad to be a contributor for Paperkeg. Regardless of what your parameters are for the age old question, I will shove whatever recommendation I can down your eye holes when you stop by this site. Don’t like Black and White comics, too fucking bad I’m going to recommend Box Office Poison or Local. Don’t want to read something without superheroes, too bad I’m recommending Hack/Slash and if you don’t try it after what I have to tell you about any of them, you’re clearly crazy in my book.

From now on if I hear, “What’s good, do you have any recommendations?” I’m going to respond with, “Yes, but I’m recommending things regardless of what you say from this point forward.” And when you come to the Paperkeg for recommendations rest assured regardless of your taste you should pay attention. What someone is recommending is something you should be reading.

Unless it’s from Slim, I hear he likes lady comics.

We got to get our digital shit together. We haven’t yet, we’re very poor in that area, just because we’re in the beginning,” he said. “Nobody gets it right. Once we get that started, we won’t have the distribution choke that we have right now in the direct market. Things will get more interesting. I don’t see any way we don’t expand in the next 10 years.

It’s nice to hear someone from Marvel saying what we’re all thinking.

(via Robot 6)