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New Comic Book Day May 27, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week (And An Attempt At Normalcy)

For the past two months, it seems everyone is longing for or agonizing over a sense of normalcy. They look back on the days of being able to go to a movie theater, sit inside a crowded restaurant, or smell someone’s breath while they stand in a crowded subway car. While that last one might not be that fond a memory, it still symbolizes the same idea.

We miss that sense of normal. Even if the concept of “normal” had its problems, as it often does, we miss it. We’ve all spent the last two months enduring extended isolation while watching increasingly grim news surrounding a global pandemic. People don’t agree on much, but they can agree that this abnormal experience sucks.

I’m of the opinion that we can never truly go back to the “normal” we once knew. I’m also of the opinion that “normal” is an overrated concept. At the same time, I long for some aspects of that pre-pandemic world. That’s why the prospect of New Comic Day returning is such a relief.

It’s still not back to full capacity, but it’s getting there. Books that were supposed to come out back in late March are finally starting to hit both comic shops and Comixology. This week marks the first week where all the major comic companies make a concerted effort at returning to normal. I can’t speak for all comic fans, but I’m rooting for them to succeed.

As part of that effort, I’ve assembled a pull list and pick. It’s still too early to call this a return to normal, but I’ll take it.


My Pull List

Amazing Spider-Man #43

Aquaman #59

Avengers #33

Batman Beyond #43

The Flash #754

Marauders #10

Go Go Power Rangers #31

Supergirl #41


My Pick Of The Week
Marauders #10

There’s an inescapable law in superhero comics that’s right up there with characters not staying dead or Deadpool being annoying. If you invent a certain technology that can be used by villains, then there’s no uninventing it. You can scrub your computer. You can burn on the schematics. You can even try to mind-wipe everyone you told about it, which is possible in worlds that have telepaths.

There’s no getting around it. Some asshole will find it and use it to inflict harm, suffering, and chaos. That’s a lesson that Forge, and all of Krakoa, learn in “Marauders #10.” For the last several issues, someone with ties to corrupt, mutant-hating Russians has been using power dampening technology to abduct mutants and harass Krakoan exports. It has cost Krakoa money and it may have cost Kitty Pryde her life.

I say “may” because X-Men comics have really twisted the meaning of death and dying after “House of X/Powers of X,” albeit in a very awesome manner. However, Kitty’s status among the living is only secondary. What happened to her is just more motivation for Emma Frost and the rest of the Marauders crew to get back at the Russians who think they can get away with trolling Krakoa.

It’s a serious effort that has serious ramifications for Krakoa’s emerging status among nations. That doesn’t stop writer Gerry Duggan and artist Stefano Caselli from having fun with it. This isn’t some standard clash where the X-Men take down a few evil minions and blow up a few killer robots. There’s some real strategy and cunning employed.

By that, I mean Emma Frost weaponizes her tits in battle.

Yes, that really happened.

Yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds.

Naturally, Emma Frost steals the show, but there’s a bigger picture in “Marauders #10” that goes beyond stopping a bunch of renegade Russians. It’s another step in Krakoa’s growing pains as a nation. Mutants have established themselves as a world power. They’ve shown that they have valuable resources to trade.

Naturally, those resources are going to come under attack. Like any nation, Krakoa has to deal with competitors, enemies, and rogue elements from unfriendly nations. When mutant powers are involved, both the threats and the geopolitical implications are compounded. Smaller conflicts are now much bigger in scope.

It doesn’t help that things like power dampening technology and mutant killing robots are still out there in the world. Chances are the schematics are available on the dark web for a few bitcoins. When mutants were just scattered or on the brink of extinction, these dangers were localized. Now, they’re a matter of geopolitics.

That’s the kind of world that the X-Men live in now and “Marauders #10” builds on it. There are still plenty of obstacles for the X-Men and Krakoa to deal with. Some will be harder to overcome than others, as the loss of Kitty Pryde has shown them. However, even if they can’t undo technology like Sentinels and power dampeners, they can still fight through it and thrive.

It’s a testament to both Krakoa’s emerging power and Emma Frost’s uncanny tits.

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New (But Still Limited) Comic Book Day: May 20, 2020

Another Wednesday is upon us. Sadly, the world is still an omega level clusterfuck. While some parts of it are re-emerging, the road to something more tolerable is nothing short of glacial. This extends to the world of comics, but there’s still some progress to note. Some is still better than none. At this point, the bar is just that low.

That should pick up, assuming things don’t go to Hell again, in the coming weeks. Both Marvel and DC Comics have finalized release plans for new books, some of which were originally set for release two months ago. That’s a long time to wait in the comic world. Even comic fans like myself have endured agonizing delays before, this is uncharted territory for the industry.

Will comics as we know it return?

Will the industry be able to change and adapt to a new marketplace?

Will stories, plots, and plans have changed as a result?

Will Wednesdays be worth waking up at 4:30 a.m. anymore?

These are all unanswered questions. A lot of it depends on the world becoming less awful in the coming months, which is hardly a guarantee. I’m not going to assume anything at this point. I’m just going to craft a pull list from the limited releases this week and make a pick.

Believe me, I want things to get better too. It’s just going to happen painfully slow. At the very least, New Comic Book Day is taking its first steps.


My Pull List

2020 Ironheart #1

DCeased: Unkillables #3

Hawkeye: Freefall #5

Red Hood and the Outlaws #45

Red Sonja #15

Star #4

Wonder Woman #755


My Pick Of The Week
Wonder Woman #755

Sometimes, it’s just not enough to have your heart in the right place. You could have the best of intentions and do everything you do out of love, but still end up the center of someone’s unflinching hatred. That’s a position Wonder Woman finds herself in more than most and “Wonder Woman #755” perfectly highlights the price that comes with that approach.

There are a great many superheroes in comics whose sincerity you can question, but Wonder Woman isn’t one of them. She’s a warrior, a demigoddess, a feminine ideal, and a beacon of wisdom and truth. You can usually assume that she does what she does out of sincere love and be right every time. For some characters, though, that’s just not enough.

That’s what makes Wonder Woman’s part in Paula Von Gunther’s story so tragic, but revealing. Paula, also known as Warmaster, is someone Wonder Woman attempted to save from a hateful environment full of hateful influences. She did what she did out of love and compassion, as she often does with everything. However, in trying to protect her from hate, Paula comes to hate her.

It’s a tragic setup that reveals what happens when Wonder Woman’s innate sense of compassion fails her. At the same time, Paula rightly points out that her compassion was still built on a lie. On top of that, she had no say in living that lie. Wonder Woman made that decision on her own and with no input whatsoever from Paula. Intentions or not, she had zero agency in this decision.

It poses some difficult questions that Wonder Woman cannot readily answer. Writer Steve Orlando puts her in a very strenuous position where she has to fight someone she cares about, but that battle is never more than secondary. Even as it plays out, courtesy of quality art by Jesus Merino, Paula uses her words to hurt Diana the most.

She’s still not the only target. While the battle is personal for Paula Von Gunther, there’s still a larger war for her to wage as Warmaster. It’s not just about Wonder Woman. She’s poised to wage war on the Amazonian homeland and she’s willing to sacrifice an American city to do it. She is a villain by her own admission, but she never comes off as a villain without depth.

What makes “Wonder Woman #755” great goes beyond the battles, the art, or the heroic struggle it explores. It dares to ask how much we’re willing to entrust our fate, our lives, and our agency in the hands of superheroes. Even if those heroes are as honorable and compassionate as Wonder Woman, is it still the right thing to do? Should heroes ever have that much say in how our lives play out?

These are profound questions. As Warmaster, Paula Von Gunther reveals how bad this can go. It’s a powerful message. It brings out both the best and worst of Wonder Woman, as well as the ideals she embodies.

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New (But Limited) Comic Book Day: May 13, 2020

Comic book fans are in the same boat as everyone with respect to navigating this awful pandemic. We’re just waiting out the worst of the storm. Eventually, it’ll pass. Then, slowly and steadily, life will get back to a new form of normal. Let’s face it. There’s no going back to the way things were before. The best we can do is forge a new normal out of this crisis.

The world of comics is already making an effort. As I noted last week, major comic companies are preparing a gradual relaunch of the industry. That means comic shops will finally get new books in stock. Digital comic outlets like Comixology will get to release mainline titles aside from the usual digital-only series. It’s still nowhere near the size of the traditional stock for New Comic Book Day, but it counts as progress.

As it stands, Marvel is still a couple weeks away from releasing a slate of new books. DC, however, is getting back in the swing of things earlier. This week marks the first week in which they’re releasing some mainline titles to market. Again, it’s not much, but it’s much better than nothing. Rather than showing my pull list, I’ll just offer a list of the releases for today, as well as links to previews.

Harley Quinn #72

Justice League #44

Justice League Odyssey #20

Lois Lane #10

Metal Men #6

After weeks on end with no new comics to speak of, this is the first true taste of a new normal for comics. Unlike major sports or movies, comics have an opportunity to get going and thrive once more. There’s still going to be some major upheavals and restructuring, but that process can finally begin. At a time when good news is hard to come by, I’ll take it.

In what I hope isn’t too minor a celebration, here’s a pick of the week that I hope boosts everyone’s spirits. We all need it.


My Pick Of The Week
Justice League #44

Some comics try to be deep, introspective, and profound. Writers and artists attempt to craft a complex story that they hope will leave a profound impact on reader on the best possible way. I fully support these kinds of comics. It’s part of why “Watchmen” is such a groundbreaking achievement for the genre.

At the same time, however, I support books that take the opposite approach. In lieu of being deep, it sticks to the basics of what makes comics fun, but still leaves room for novelty. That’s exactly where books like “Justice League #44” come in. It doesn’t try to reinvent any genre. It just tries to have fun with DC’s most iconic characters.

After weeks on end with no new comics for mainline books, “Justice League #44” is just what we need to remind us why New Comic Book Day is the best day of the week. Writer Robert Venditti and artist Xermanico stick to a basic formula. Take the Justice League, have them answer a distress call, and then unleash giant mythical monsters for them to fight. It’s every bit as entertaining as it sounds.

That’s not to say its shallow or crude. There is a deeper plot at work here. It’s hinted at through some mysterious monologues throughout the issue. We don’t find out who it is until the end, but they provide that extra bit of novelty that makes “Justice League #44” more than just a generic heroes vs. monster brawl.

Those versed in Greek mythology will recognize some of those monsters. Others versed in Wonder Woman’s lore will also sensed something amiss before the fighting stops. What starts off as a distress call from Aquaman in Antarctica turns into a much larger threat that even the Justice League is ill-equipped to handle. The how and the why are teased, but the extent and breadth of that threat are abundantly clear.

In a sense, Justice League comics are the comic book equivalent of comfort food. They’re what you go to when you want something as warm and familiar as an old pair of sweat pants. Between global pandemics and massive upheavals in the comic book industry, we all need a little bit of that comfort food. Even with a limited selection, that’s exactly what “Justice League #44” provides and it’s delicious.

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Another (Almost) Empty New Comic Day, But With A Timeline To Return

Since this pandemic began, everyone keeps asking when we’ll return to “normal.” I use quotes because I’ve since accepted that “normal” is a flawed concept at this point. I don’t think we’ll ever go back to the way things were before terms like social distancing became a thing. I question whether we’ll go back to shaking hands.

Flawed or not, we will return to some semblance of “normal” eventually. Movie theaters will re-open. Sports will return, even if it means playing games without fans. For comic book fans, the biggest return will be the release of new comics. Last week, I reported that there were some tentative signs of a break. This week, those signs are no longer tentative.

While none of the major publishers are set to return to full production, they have announced their plan to get New Comic Book Day rolling again. Some series are still on hold. Others are ready to return. Both Marvel and DC have announced new release schedules. Assuming aliens don’t invade or another pandemic doesn’t take hold, we now have dates to look forward to.

Marvel: Marvel Comics to Resume Wednesday Releases for New Comics and Collections Starting May 27

Cosmic Book News: DC Comics May 2020 Release Schedule

For this week, however, the pickings are still limited. There’s not enough to compile a standard pull list, but there are enough new releases to make a pick. Again, the books that came out today are largely digital releases, but there’s still quality awesome to be found. Hopefully, the industry will get going again and Wednesdays will be awesome once more.

It’s not quite the “normal” I fondly remember, but it’s getting close to it. After over a month without comics, I’ll gladly take it.


My Pick Of The Week: Dr. Aphra #1

What do you get when you take a gleefully amoral archaeologist/adventurer and put them in a galaxy far, far away? The short answer is a uniquely lovable woman named Dr. Chelli Lona Aphra. The long answer is an incredibly elaborate, but wonderfully fascinating story.

In the vast landscape of Star Wars lore, Dr. Aphra is a relative newcomer. She debuted in the pages of Darth Vader #3 in 2015. I vividly remember reading that comic. I had a feeling that she’d go on to have a major impact on the galaxy. In the brief time that Marvel has been producing Star Wars comics, she certainly has. I would argue that she’s one of the greatest achievements of this modern Star Wars comics.

If you need convincing, then “Dr. Aphra #1” makes a solid case. What Kieron Gillen created five years ago, writer Alyssa Wong and artist Marika Cresta run with in this issue. It effectively demonstrates who Dr. Aphra is, what she’s about, and how she conducts herself in the middle of a galactic war.

In terms of canon, the events of this issue take place after the Battle of Hoth from “Empire Strikes Back.” However, Dr. Aphra is no Rebel agent or Imperial operative. In fact, since her debut, she’s done plenty to piss both sides off. Darth Vader wants to kill her. The Rebel Alliance wants to kill her. She’s ticked off so many people in the galaxy that a lesser character would’ve been frozen in carbonite by now.

The fact that she isn’t and is still pissing off imperial and rebels alike is a testament to her skill. She’s part Indiana Jones, part Lara Croft, part Boba Fett, and part Black Widow. She doesn’t have a political agenda and she doesn’t take sides in wars. She’s just out to explore the galaxy, find new artifacts, and steal massive amounts of credits along the way.

Dr. Aphra #1” has her do a little of everything. It starts with stealing from the Empire on Hoth. From there, it becomes a setup for a heist that requires a bit of archaeology and a crew that’s as brazen as her. Wong takes every opportunity to highlight Dr. Aphra’s most defining traits along the way.

She might be an amoral thief who hangs out with questionable characters and pursues unhealthy romantic interests, but she has a charm to her that’s unique in the galaxy. She’ll push buttons, break rules, and draw the wrath of Darth Vader himself, all while having fun along the way. “Dr. Aphra #1” dares you to have a little fun with her while exploring a less scrupulous side of a galaxy far, far away.

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Another Vacant New Comic Day, But With The Endgame (Tentatively) In Sight

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There are some things we just shouldn’t get used to. Things like racism, bigotry, and injustice are definitely at the top of that list. For lifelong comic fans like me, a Wednesday without new comics is right up there as well. Thanks to this goddamn pandemic, that’s what I’ve had to endure alongside those fans.

I remember the days of waiting anxiously for the mail to arrive, hoping that my weekly comics weren’t late, which they usually were. I had to get used to that, to some extent. Then, digital comics like Comixology came along and I never looked back. These past few weeks of having no comics while being stuck at home have been torturous, but I don’t want to get used to it.

Sadly, this week brings us yet another week in which no new comics are being released, aside from a few independent titles and some digital-only books. However, there is some tangible hope in sight. According to Newsarama, the current plan is for comics to resume shipping on May 20th.

Right now, that seems like a lifetime from now. At this point, I’m so stir crazy that my entire concept of time has been hopelessly disoriented. However, one way I’ll know that the world is starting to recover is when I wake up Wednesdays to see new comics in my Comixology account. If May 20th is that day, then that’s a day I intend to celebrate.

In the meantime, I have no pull lists to share. However, I was able to find a nice little gem from the digital only selections from DC Comics. It’s not the same as the regular ongoings that I’ve been following, but it’s better than nothing. At this point, that’s the most anyone can hope for.


My Pick/Gem Of The Week

Wonder Woman: Agent of Peace #2

I have mixed feelings when it comes to digital-only comics. In a perfect world, they would have the same weight as their paperback counterparts. Sadly, we don’t live in that world. Digital comics are still treated as more a novelty than a legitimate medium for expanding the comics world. The impact of a global pandemic may change that and books like “Wonder Woman: Agent of Peace #2” will certainly help in that effort.

It doesn’t somehow further the vast, complex tapestry that is the DC’s mainline continuity.

It doesn’t reinvent or redefine an iconic character.

It’s just a solid, well-rounded story about Wonder Woman and Lois Lane. Writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmoitti keep things simple with this story, but still find a way to give it that dramatic impact that Wonder Woman comics have given us for decades. For Lois Lane fans, it’s a nice bonus in that she gets to shine in a role outside of being Superman’s love interest.

Lois does her part as a brave, intrepid reporter in this story. She willingly gets on a rickety old plane and flies into the Himalaya Mountains in search of some lost mountain climbers. Since she’s Lois Lane, this ends with her confronting an ancient bloodthirsty monster intent on turning humans into kabobs. This is where Wonder Woman plays her role.

There’s plenty of combat and volatility to go around. Daniel Sampere’s art makes it the wondrous spectacle that it deserves to be. Wonder Woman gets to fight a monster. Lois gets to save some intrepid mountain climbers and secure a story that’s sure to strike all the right chords, even in the era of fake news and internet trolls.

It’s as pure a story as anyone could hope for with these two iconic characters. Wonder Woman gets to be a warrior of compassion. Lois Lane gets to be the champion of truth, justice, and the American way, albeit without the cape and red underwear. Even if it isn’t some game-changing story in the larger continuity, “Wonder Woman: Agent of Peace #2” is a solid story that’s well worth the price.

Did I also mention that digital comics tend to be substantially cheaper than paperbacks? If not, I probably should. At a time when we’re all stuck home and in need of discount entertainment, this is as good a time as any for digital comics to show their worth. Hopefully, “Wonder Woman: Agent of Peace #2” can demonstrate just how valuable they can be.

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How To Save The Comic Industry (In Four Easy Steps)

The comic book industry is in a state of crisis. I know you can say that about a lot of industries amidst a global pandemic, but the comics industry has been extremely hard hit. Shipments of new comics have ceased. Comic shops are likely to go out of business without that influx of new product. The industry that I’ve loved since I was a kid has never been this vulnerable.

It’s very depressing. I certainly have felt that after multiple weeks of no new comics. A handful of people, namely the whiny agenda-pushing loser types, have been talking doom and gloom about the comics industry for years. However, this hit has nothing to do with some overly political T-shirt that Mockingbird wore.

Even after the pandemic ends, this industry that I love will never be the same. It can’t go back to the way it used to be. This crisis has shown, among other things, that the current model that the comic industry utilizes just isn’t sustainable. It needs an overhaul of some kind.

I’m certainly not smart enough to know what that overhaul entails. I doubt few people are. However, as a long-time fan and follower of the industry, I have a few ideas. To keep it simple, here are four steps to saving the comic book industry in a post-pandemic world.


Step 1: Emphasize Quality Over Quantity

This is a simple metric. There are just too many books coming out all at once. However, this is a problem that predates the current crisis. It’s a problem that has lingered since the industry almost crashed completely in the early 1990s. It came down to simple economics. Publishers made too many books that not enough people bought. Even if they were only a dollar apiece, there’s only so much consumers can consume.

This is not a sustainable business model. Companies like Marvel and DC Comics grew the most when they were just publishing a dozen or so titles a month, with a few mini-series on the side. You could, conceivably, follow every major event in the Marvel or DC universe for less than $40, adjusted for inflation. That kind of easy access is what helped create the massive fandom that these franchises enjoy today.

That said, this isn’t the mid-1960s. The world is changed. Markets and consumer habits have changed. However, there’s still a place for comics in the publishing world. It’s just a matter of making those products more valuable. Books like DC’s Earth One series are basically single-issue graphic novels that tell a rich, complex story at a higher price and it’s worth every penny.

At a time when people are strapped for cash and looking for value, the comics industry is in a perfect position to tap into it. Make every comic count. Make every dollar feel like it was well-spent. It won’t just keep new fans happy. It’ll help create an entirely new generation of fans who are less inclined to go to crowded movie theaters.


Step 2: Embrace Digital (In A Novel Way)

This step plays directly off the first in that it embraces new technology. Decades ago, comics were easy to access because you could buy them at news stands and grocery stores. As a kid, I got most of my comics from the grocery store at first. They were easy and, much to my parents’ delight, cheap ways of putting a smile on my face.

These days, you can’t find comics in grocery stories. However, digital comics have grown a great deal and are more accessible than ever, thanks to companies like Comixology. Most comics are already released digitally on the same day they come out in shops. That’s great, but it’s basically just an extra convenience for those who don’t live near comic shops. That can’t be the extent of how digital comics impact the industry.

At the moment, digital comics are only a small part of overall comic sales, but they’re growing rapidly. In conjunction with that growth, the industry needs to embrace the other opportunities that digital offers. Services like Marvel Unlimited are nice, but they’re just giving us products that were already released. Why not give us something we can’t get anywhere else?

I’m not sure what that something is, be it a motion comic or something that sets itself apart from a traditional paperback. I’m not smart enough to figure it out, but digital offers so many rich opportunities. The first company to figure it out will make millions and entice a new generation of fans.


Step 3: Make Comic Shops More Than Comic Shops

I love comic shops. Some of my fondest memories have occurred in comic shops. I don’t want them to go away. However, embracing digital comics doesn’t mean the same as ditching these important brick-and-mortar structures. It just means changing their role in the overall comics infrastructure.

When I was a kid, there were two types of stores. One were the stores you could hang out in and the other were the stores in which the owners kicked you out if you lingered for more than 10 minutes. The future of the industry needs to embrace the former rather than the latter.

Comic shops can’t just be about selling comics and merchandise. Too much of that is online and relying on that model is doomed to failure. Instead, comic shops need to be part comic shop and part coffee shop. Make it a place where you don’t just browse the racks for new material. Make it a place where you can sit down with friends, get some coffee, get a snack, and enjoy comics in a communal manner.

Once comic shops are an experience again, people will visit them and not just because there are new comics to buy. If comics can become a popular hang-out once more, then they’ll have a place in a new market.


Step 4: Empower Creators (Instead Of Screwing Them Over)

As much as I love comics, I don’t doubt that it has engaged in some shady business practices. There are many stories about comic creators getting screwed over by major publishers. While every industry has shady practices, the comics industry relies too heavily on brilliant creators to screw them over.

While Marvel and DC have their Disney/WB overlords to please, they can’t just rely on being farms for intellectual property. There has to be a new and better way for compensating creators. Alan Moore may be a cankerous blow-hard, but he really did get screwed over when DC flat out broke their promise to him.

Broken promises always cost more in the long run, especially with respect to comics. It’s not enough for the publishers to just acknowledge the contributions of creators. They need to have a way to profit. It’s not impossible. Apple does it with their app store, creating a means for creative developers to profit from their creations while still making Apple billions.

When both benefit, everyone benefits. It’s really that simple.


I know the comics industry is undergoing rapid change. I don’t doubt I’ll be upset with some of those changes. However, I also understand that the industry needs to change in this increasingly chaotic world. These are just some ideas on how to go about it.

Whatever happens, I hope this industry that I love continues to thrive. I don’t know how, but I do know that a lot of people love it and they’ll find a way to make it work.

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