3 things

1. SDCC is happening and I'm getting married tomorrow, that means no time to read all the awesome stuff on comicvine etc.

2. SDCC is happening and I didn't think of taking my honeymoon in san francisco (it would be worth the annulment)

3. Comicvine is advertising Internet Explorer...on a website designed by whiskey media...which any tested.com fans will know Comicvine's current format is optimised for chrome as the developers use chrome!

***Also I'm watching Cowboys Vs Aliens and the only noteworthy things I can say is...Walton Goggins is a very good actor.

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Pleasant Surprises & Disappointments

So I was sorting out my piles of comics books that have stacked up in the past year and thought I'd write a list. Firstly covering the disappointments from the past year or so. Secondly the pleasant surprises.

Disappointments

  1. The final X-23 issue, #21. Well firstly the disappointment was that they decided to cancel one of the best series on the shelves. Anyway, this final issue had no words and no real compelling story. It felt like empty, the lack of words felt gimmicky and like Liu didn't know how to end the series strongly. So sent Laura into the woods with wolves and on a spiritual journey...sounds like something Wolverine has done a bunch of times. Didn't we just spend 20 issues establishing Laura isn't Logan? A weak end to a brilliant series.
  2. Uncanny X-Force's art since dark angel saga. It's like going from Michealangelo to a 3 year old kid with dyspraxia. The art for the recent arc has been really unpleasant and worse when comparing to the previous artists.
  3. Green Arrow in the new 52. First series I dropped, felt to much like a cross between smallville version and a cartoon. No depth, character and poor stories. This is not Oliver Queen.
  4. Teen Titans, new 52. Surprised me this one, I love Tim Drake so tried really hard to like it but it just never felt like it got anywhere. Shame as I really liked the art. I dropped it after 5 issues.
  5. GL Corps, new 52. Guy & John being badasses, sounds good right? Well it got a bit boring after about the 6th issue of reiterating, Guy's a badass. I've dropped it now but keeping my eye on it as I like Guy & John.
  6. DC's digital strategy. When the new 52 was launched I was like hell yes I will pay 50p extra for a digital copy. One of the main reasons I bought my ipad was for reading comics. Thing is when you stack it up those 50p amount to a lot and prices are going up when converted to GBP. Plus the pricing is a joke, it costs £2.49 for me to get a comic on the ipad through comixology, I can order the physical copy for £2.10-£2.60. How does that make sense? (this pricing part also applies to Marvel)
  7. Justice League, new 52. I know a lot will disagree with me but I feel that story so far has been really weak. Very formulaic, Darkseid was a silent enemy that got beaten by a kid hacking his tech. It was just so underwhelming, art is great but at the end of the day it needed a stronger story. Go back and read Grant Morrison's starting run on JLA and you'll see what I mean.

Which brings me onto action comics. Now hold on there's a tenet here, I'm conscious we tend to hold Grant Morrison up to higher standards than anyone else, and what seems weak now will usually look genius when you see a Grant series in it's full form. So I'm holdin this one not as a disappointment but as a...wait and see.

Pleasant Surprises

  1. Hickman's Fantastic Four run, why I'm surprised I do not know. I loved Hickman's secret warriors and I should have been onto this earlier.
  2. Red Hood and the Outlaws. Despite being a little taken aback by the initial Starfire controversy I have really enjoyed the depth this series has brought to Jason Todd and to an extent with Starfire (we'll probably see more of that in the next arc). Roy Harper seems to have a purpose here and the art is great.
  3. The Carnage Series', both have been excellent. I love Clayton Crain's art, he was great on x-force but the writing on these books has also been good. Not really a spider-man guy but I bought the books for Clayton Crain. I'm glad I did.
  4. GL New Guardians. I love this series, I feel it's the strongest of the GL line up. Some will disagree of course but that's your opinion, while I like the GL series I could drop it GL New Guardian's though has just been really enjoyable. It's the team book that Justice League should have been, slowly building the team dynamic and giving a strong enemy with motivations, not just a mute statue.
  5. Batman & Robin. Scott Snyder's Batman is clearly the strongest Batman book in new 52, B&R though hasn't been too far behind, it's great to see the difference in dynamic compared to Dick & Damien. Bruce just doesn't seem to know how to be a father but this book is showing him learning pretty quickly.
  6. Daken's finish. For a book I was ready to drop at an early point, this ramped up a lot towards the end. Ever since the x-23 cross over this has been a crazy book, I felt the whole Heat/Roston stroyline dragged on a bit but the way Daken finished his run was pretty damned good and left it open.
  7. Marvel's online strategy. Bundling in the codes for no extra cost, Marvel Mondays reducing new series to 69p. I am well on board the Marvel train, they're clearly looking at Music industry model and thinking "you're competing with free, so you have to be better than free". Well bundling is one step, who's going to scan the book when they can just type in a code. And reasonable pricing is a big win, I can't count the amount of Monday's where I've woke up looked and thought, "I'll buy one" 12 issues later and I'm very happy. There are a whole lot of series I wouldn't be on board with if it wasn't for Marvel giving me these tasters.
  8. Comicvine being bought. Pleasantly surprised that CBS took comicvine in the sale too, I hope they really invest in the site as it's a great site and the guys have really worked hard. BRING BACK THE UNSCRIPTED REVIEWS!!!
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Jumping off...

Okay so been a lot of talk recently about jumping on point with superman: earth one, the new .1 initiative and the start of Batman Inc. It got me thinking, at what point does a comic reach a jumping off point? 
 
Now I'll admit this is very similar to Bab's recent post about dropping titles, I'm thinking have you ever wanted to drop a title cos it's starting to drag a little? Both on your time and comic budget? However, it's not that bad that you'd drop it straight away so you see the arc out and then think, well that wasn't that good I think I'll drop that book now. Maybe it's just me, am a little OCD in that I'd want the whole set but sometimes it works out. I was quite happy to drop Daken as much as a few days ago but then I got #3 and I'm interested in the series again. After all it was only one arc. 
 
I know for me a jumping off point for the hulk books was after world war hulks, it just got a bit boring for me and the idea of incredible hulks sounded banal and it just wasn't something I wanted to keep investing in.

I imagine there may be some out there thinking of dropping bat books over this whole Batman inc scenario, I'll put my hands in the bucket and say I'm intrigued. I think it's a bit of a radical direction but it's good to see risks being taken with a marquee character. It's usually very difficult to make major changes to a character with such rich history without messing it up (cough, brand new day) but i know some people are disgusted with the idea and will probably move on for a bit.  

Going back to Bab's recent post on dropping titles and wonder woman, are there any of you out there who would consider dropping the book after this arc? Or have you already dropped it out of disgust? 

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Digital Future

 So we've got a lot of potential for digital comics in the future, we've had the comixology family of apps(marvel, DC, Boom etc.) on ios devices(iphone, Ipad) for a good while now. There's Marvel's own viewer on it's website, and DC have intergated onto comixology's web viewer too.  
There's a clear market in a digital future, as evidenced by not only the popularity of the aforementioned viewers but also the pirate market.  
 
However, I'm of the opinion physical comics simply will not die out. It may contract and become simply a collectors or even a niche market but it will still be there. 
 
Thing is I'm wondering how the publishers are going to control this future without compromising their base suppliers and also are they going to learn from the music/movie industry's mistake in entering digital? 
 
Points to note:  

Piracy will always exist. This is a fact, it was there in olden times when paintings would be forged and even in the 80's when people would copy cassette tapes with music on for their friends. Difference today is it's easier.  
However, Norm (of tested.com) made a good point on a podcast that piracy takes up too much time and if you can add such value to a product that the price makes me think it's worth it then I'll buy it. Example of this being itunes, apple took ahold of the music market and made it cheap, easy and accessible. Piracy hasn't died in the music industry but serious money is still being made.  
This is one of the big wins of the marvel & comixology apps, the free comics hook you in then you buy the next chapter and the next one before you know it you've spent serious wedge! (this doesn't apply to the DC app though as they tend to be more expensive with few free 'hook' issues)
 
Monopoly/Control 
Publishers need to be careful not to fall into the same trap as the music companies. Itunes took off in such a big way and became ubiquitous that it's now a situation where apple have a prettty big hold over the music companies. Publishers should look to protect themselves by not relying on the ipad/iphone, get some android apps out there. Same goes for comixology, it's a great UI and so simple to use but if they become the only game in town they could be the next diamond. Help some new start ups, competition is key to driving business. 
 
DRM 
A thorny issue, you've got to protect your IP but if you goto far there can be rebellion. Customers could walk away or worse someone could breach your DRM and create a easy way to access your IP just to spite your efforts. Look at a physical comic book and think about what I can do with it, I can take it anywhere, read it in any room of the house even lend it to my friend if I choose to. Now I'm not saying just let people have free rein but allow me to buy a comic and then view it on any platform i.e. if I have a collection on the ipad but buy and android device I shouldn't have to sacrifice my collection. Let me view it on the multiple devices I have in my home (PC, Phone, Ipad, any other future viewer...TV?) and keep it simple so it doesn't detract from the experience. 
 
Retailers/Price
So how to integrate this digital future without sacrificing your brick & mortar base? Well for a start I wouldn't recommend going the Sony route, the PSP Go was an abject failure some retailers refused to stock it as they knew they're helping destroy their business. Also Sony have reasoned they can sell digital games at the same price if not more.  
Customer's aren't stupid, they know a digital copy is massively cheaper as no middle man, no physical costs, no transportation costs. Sell the digital copy cheaper so people see the value of it but give the physical copy a unique selling point.  
Look at triple-play blurays, I actively look to buy these as I know I can get a physical copy that's worth my cash and a digital copy for convenience. Publishers could include a code for a free download version with the physical version, people would pay for the physical copy but if they wanted to travel or didn't want to damage said copy they could store the book and read it on a reader whenever they wanted.  
 
When it comes down to it, digital is here and it's only going to get bigger. Should be interesting   
 
Digital comics & the ipad

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Hickman's bigger picture

Just re-read all of Johnathan Hickman's run so far on Secret Warriors, wanted to give my thoughts...
 
Hickman's been showing Hydra rebuilding itself, Fury rebuilding from the ground up and Leviathan re-awakening. That's been the theme right through he's building these sides up for a major showdown and it's really feeling like a major storyline despite the fact it's been pretty quietly put together. I especially liked the first arc, Agent of Nothing, it felt so meaty I was reading it for ages and didn't realise how much time had passed because I became so absorbed.
 
When all read together you get a real sense that this whole rebuilding and mutually assured destruction between the three sides is part of a larger thing, I'm thinking either zodiac or intergration of hickman's shield book. I picked up so many things I clean forgot about,    things like gorgon saying "..they are the shield" which was also said in the shield book. Or Gorgon once again saying to Kraken I would like to kill a god, which leads up to the Gorgon/Phobos showdown coming this week (i haven't got that yet). Also Phobos' clairvoyance which has been downplayed a bit, his comment to JT about the money and his predictions about the rest of the team (Druid?).  
I don't want to ruin everything for anyone who hasnt read it but I would definitely recommend getting the trades and playing catch up, when you combine this with Hickman's Shield series you just sit there in awe of the writing.  
 
Let me  know your thoughts if you've read Hickman's run... 

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Osborn Vs Lex

Just been reading the CV mailbag post and they got me thinking about this as a crossover.... 
 
It got me thinking on two levels...  

I mean immediately said Lex, I mean it's a no brainer isn't it?? Well maybe not , Norman's got the goblin strength and during the early dark reign before he started to crack he was pretty on the ball. When he's sane he's really pretty conniving.  
So if it was a short battle I'd go with Norman but for the long game it's always going to be Lex he's just too smart and not nearly as insane as Norman.
 
2nd level....Orange Lantern Lex Vs Iron Patriot Norman.....nah Lex again haha

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X-force

Wonder if they'll do a mini series on the fallout of being on x-force. They sort of did one with Warpath early in the run where he struggled with the killing but maybe another one would work well.  
Say Elixir struglling with his turning gold problems 
Angel and his Archangel issues, considering how his friends (beast, psylocke) are now scared and distrustful of him. 
  
It'd have to be Warpath, Elixir or Archangel though. As Wolverine's not bothered by the killing (and he's in enough books), X-23 is getting her own mini, Domino's a mercenary plus she's getting featured in 'sex & violence' & wolfsbane's going to be in x-factor.   

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Time

Was thinking of something recently when reading Batman Beyond. Terry makes a comment about how he struggles to fit everything in his life and he cant fit justice league in. Pretty refreshing to see this addressed but why isn't it ever addressed by other characters? 
EG Logan on all his teams or Superman balancing his job with his otherworldly duties....

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