Cyberspace Comics market report, reviews and more

September 18, 2010

Minimate Spotlight #20 Cylon (Battlestar Galactica)

Filed under: Minimate Spotlight — Donny B @ 10:13 pm

Action figures have long been a perfect compliment to comic books, since every kid (or kid at heart) has that natural desire to act out adventures with their favorite heroes off the drawn page. Every so often, a unique style of figure comes along that breaks the mold, so to speak. Each Saturday, Donny B will be showcasing various offerings from Art Asylum’s take on the ‘block figure’, with a weekly spotlight on Minimates.

One of Art Asylum’s licensing deals gave them the opportunity to make Minimates from the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica tv show. The big problem with this license is that most of the releases were humans in rather bland clothing. Sales were decent, but not as well as they could have been had the majority of the character designs been flashy and more appealing to buyers unfamiliar with the show.

However, the one market-friendly thing that this license had to offer was the villainous robotic Cylon design. It just screams “cool looking thing that needs to be part of my collection”, and Art Asylum didn’t fail in their task of adapting the Cylon look into Minimate form. It is easily one of their more impressive releases.

Behind the Image:
This one was amazingly simple. I just placed the Cylon in front of a lamp, and set another light in front of the Minimate to add illumination and prevent a silhouette. The red glow was done through Photoshop.
On Ebay: Battlestar Galactica

September 17, 2010

Retro-Read #24 the Tick: Luny Bin

Filed under: Retro-Read — Doorman @ 8:35 am

With years spent reading single issues here and there, juggling storylines of dozens of titles, I decided it was time to find a better way to read comics. So, it was off to the back issue bins armed with the longest want list you’ve ever seen! Putting together series after series and reading them in their complete goodness, I was reborn as the Retro-Reader!

Publisher: New England Comics
Number of Issues: 3 (and a preview)
First Issue: August 1998 ($3.50)
Last Issue: December 1998 ($3.50)
Writer: Eli Stone
Artist: Eli Stone

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

The Tick is mind-controlled by J.P. Lovecraft into returning to the Evanston Clinic (the place he’d just escaped from prior to his first appearance way back the Tick #1). Incarcerated there, Lovecraft forces the Tick to re-experience his past – involving scenes of him and his wife, Cloris, separating; life at the Clinic, etc

Back in the City, its most nefarious villains, led by Chairface Chippendale, have gone on a crime spree now that they know the Tick is safely locked away and unable to stop them. But, after striking an unholy alliance with Barry Hubris (the original Tick – who has now reclaimed the mantle), they quickly find he can’t be trusted or contained. Meanwhile, it’s up to Arthur and the Mystic Order of Archnid Vigilance to free the Tick from Evanston and thwart Lovecraft’s evil plan to return him to … normalcy?

The Bad: While this series certainly answers some of the questions surrounding the Tick’s past, it doesn’t even come close to satisfying all of them. But, to be fair, all solicitations for this series told us that flat out.

the Good: For starters, the final issue features a cover by the Tick’s creator, Ben Edlund (his first Tick work in years!). This series (which is really just the tail-end of the Tick: Big Blue Destiny) is one of the best Tick tales out there. Maybe even the best (aside from the original, naturally). It’s got some significance to it by revealing why the Tick was at Evanston, how he got there and what Lovecraft’s intentions were. It’s got lots of Tick-style fun and plenty of characters from the Tick-universe. Eli Stone is easily the best writer that has been put in charge of filling Ben Edlund’s Tick-sized shoes!

The Verdict: This is easily the most important and high-quality Tick story since the original series was published. It provides some insight into the Tick’s past and answers some questions while dancing around many others. The artwork is superb and certainly fitting for a Tick comic … and it progresses the Tick story along in ways that other series haven’t (I’m looking at you the Tick: Karma Tornado!) If you’ve read the first Tick series and are looking for more Tick-fun … then this should be your next step.

On Ebay: the Tick | Eli Stone

September 16, 2010

Famous Fanmail #24 Catherine Yronwoode

Filed under: Famous Fanmail — Doorman @ 12:04 pm

You may not be surprised to learn that most people in the comic business grew up reading comic books. However, you might be interested in knowing what they were reading. Here’s a look at “Famous Fanmail”!

catherine yronwode served as editor-in-chief for Eclipse Comics, overseeing fan-favorite indy titles like Miracleman, the Rocketeer, Zot! and dozens of other works. Prior to her job with Eclipse, she got a letter printed in Thor #278 (cover date – December 1978), proclaiming her excitement over Roy Thomas’ new role as writer.

Thor letters page with Catherine Yronwode

On Ebay: Thor | Cat Yronwode

September 15, 2010

Glow in the Dark Comics #10 Spirits of Vengeance

Filed under: Glow in the Dark Comics — Doorman @ 7:39 am

During the speculator boom in the 1990s comic book market, publishers enhanced comic covers to increase sales. These gimmicks included shiny foil, holograms and even pop-ups! But, one of the coolest enhancements was the glow in the dark cover. Let’s shed some light on the subject, shall we?

Ghost Rider/Blaze: Spirits of Vengeance #12 glows in the darkPublisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: July 1993
Cover Price: $2.75
Cover Artists: Adam Kubert, Andy Kubert

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was the “cool thing” to create an edgier, modern version of a classic character. Spider-Man had Venom. Iron Man had War Machine. Thor had Thunderstrike. Cap had U.S.Agent. And Ghost Rider? He got Vengeance.

In this same time period, Ghost Rider books were hot and several spin-off series were being published. One such spin-off featured the alter-ego of the original Ghost Rider alongside the newest incarnation. Throw in Vengeance and you’ve got yourself a whole lotta leather and motorcycles. Oh … and make it glow in the dark, too!

On Ebay: Ghost Rider

September 14, 2010

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #24 Dawn of the Dead

Filed under: Swiped: Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed! — Doorman @ 3:30 pm

After looking at hundreds of comic book covers, it becomes quickly apparent that not every cover is 100% original. Whether done intentionally or even underhandedly, there’s something about uncovering these “swipes” that adds a new element of fun to reading and collecting comics.

George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead was released in 1978. It was a sequel to Night of the Living Dead and went on to be followed by four other sequels. The zombie element played an important part in Deadpool: Merc With A Mouth, so it was fitting that issue three gave us this swipe.

Dawn of the Dead
Deadpool: Merc With A Mouth #3
Deadpool: Merc With A Mouth #3
November 2009
Arthur Suydam

On Ebay: Deadpool | Arthur Suydam | George Romero

September 13, 2010

One-Shot At Greatness #24 JLX

Filed under: One-Shot At Greatness — Doorman @ 5:58 am

Because publishers want you to buy their product every month, comics are typically serial in nature. However, occasionally (and more often nowadays than ever before) publishers launch a comic title that is only meant to last for one issue. While ongoing series often have multiple chances to hook in new readers, the comics highlighted in this ongoing investigations only had One-Shot At Greatness!

JLX #1Publisher: Amalgam Comics
Cover Date: April 1996
Cover Price: $1.95
Writer: Gerard Jones and Mark Waid
Artist: Howard Porter

When the DC and Marvel Universes merged in Marvel vs DC, a new one was created: the Amalgam Universe. This one-shot combined the Justice League with the X-Men.

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

The mutant members of the Judgment League Avengers left to join a new team led by Mr. X. The current team includes:

  • Apollo (Cyclops & the Ray)
  • Nightcreeper (Nightcrawler & the Creeper)
  • Runaway (Rogue & Gypsy)
  • Firebird (Jean Grey & Fire)
  • Mercury (Quicksilver & Impulse)
  • Wraith (Gambit & Obsidian)

The JLX embroils themselves in a deadly battle to free Mariner (the first mutant, an Atlantean/human hybrid; a combo of Sub-Mariner & Aquaman) from imprisonment by the JLA. Once freed, they hope that Mariner will lead them to Atlantis (the birthplace of mutant-kind). But, once they finally get there, they find it all but abandoned. Although they discover someone beat them there. Someone who wants them and all mutants dead: William Magnus. Armed with his Sentinels, Magnus intends to wipe out mutant-kind, starting with the JLX. Naturally, our heroes aren’t going to let that happen but, before they send Magnus and his mutant-killing robots packing, Mr. X‘s true identity is revealed! Finally, with the threat removed, the JLX are now free to discover the secret of why the Atlanteans deserted their city and where they’ve gone.

This book’s got colorful, dynamic art, action, politics, more action and mystery going for it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer much room to develop the eight main characters and I was certainly interested to learn more about Nightcreeper. The book unveils a secret identity and motivation behind Mr. X and leaves a new mystery to be unveiled but it doesn’t really leave me with much desire to actually care about the fate of the Atlanteans. And, truth-be-told, the JLA look like a very cool team and I think I’d actually rather have read a story about them instead.

On Ebay: Amalgam | Gerard Jones | Mark Waid | Howard Porter | JLA | X-Men
On AtomicAvenue: Amalgam Comics

September 11, 2010

Minimate Spotlight #19 Phoenix

Filed under: Minimate Spotlight — Donny B @ 8:16 pm

Action figures have long been a perfect compliment to comic books, since every kid (or kid at heart) has that natural desire to act out adventures with their favorite heroes off the drawn page. Every so often, a unique style of figure comes along that breaks the mold, so to speak. Each Saturday, Donny B will be showcasing various offerings from Art Asylum’s take on the ‘block figure’, with a weekly spotlight on Minimates.

Another Minimate with a huge fan outcry, Phoenix (Jean Grey’s most popular incarnation) finally got her day with the Secret Invasion boxed set. As I had mentioned in the past, a toy company needs to “reinvent” the products they sell every so often in order to keep a line alive and healthy. One of the methods that Art Asylum picked up over time was to design waves around current comic book events or storylines. This hasn’t become their only focus, as they have recently been dipping into the 90’s for new characters and costume variations, however, they have been consistently integrating boxed sets that compliment the big comic book happenings as they are in their prime. Through this, we have seen releases for Civil War, Secret Invasion, Dark Avengers, and even the new X-Force that is just now gearing up.

And Art Asylum isn’t just in it for the money. They do indeed like to give something back to the fans. With the Secret Invasion boxed set, they took the opportunity to give us a Minimate of Jewel, who would never have been released any other time, along with a retro release of Beast (the first Minimate of Hank McCoy that wasn’t the kitty version or the movie version), a first appearance costumed Wolverine, and of course, the ever coveted Phoenix.

Behind the Image:

This is another image that might look super-imposed, but in reality, the Minimate was simply standing in front of a computer screen displaying a painting of a traditional phoenix that I pulled off the internet.
If you are a Minimate collector, you might notice that this isn’t the face that comes with this particular release. I didn’t really like the official one, so I replaced it with the “New X-Men Phoenix” Minimate.

On Ebay: Phoenix

September 10, 2010

Retro-Read #23 Avengers: the Initiative

Filed under: Retro-Read — Doorman @ 11:09 am

With years spent reading single issues here and there, juggling storylines of dozens of titles, I decided it was time to find a better way to read comics. So, it was off to the back issue bins armed with the longest want list you’ve ever seen! Putting together series after series and reading them in their complete goodness, I was reborn as the Retro-Reader!

Avengers: the Initiative #2Publisher: Marvel Comics
Number of Issues: 35
First Issue: June 2007 ($2.99)
Last Issue: June 2010 ($2.99)
Writer: Dan Slott, Christos Gage
Artist: Stefano Caselli, Steve Uy and others

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

Following the events of Marvel’s Civil War, Iron Man (then-current director of S.H.I.E.L.D.) set up the Initiative to supply each state with their very own team of super-heroes. In order to produce fifty super-teams, the government has to find, recruit and train plenty of super-powered individuals. A group of new would-be heroes (Armory, Cloud 9, Hardball, Komodo, MVP, Slapstick, Thor Girl, Trauma, Ultra Girl and many others) make up the first wave of recruits to enter Camp Hammond and get whipped into shape by their drill sergeant, the Gauntlet. The higher-ups at Camp Hammond include Justice (former New Warrior and Avenger), Yellowjacket (Hank Pym), Henry Gyrich (Secretary of the Superhuman Armed Forces) and Baron Werner Von Blitzschlag (former Nazi scientist).

Avengers: the Initiative #26In an unfortunate accident, one of the new recruits gets killed in a training accident and the team sees the not-so-innocent face of the Initiative, as it tries to sweep the incident under the rug. The kids continue to develop their powers as well as their battle skills and quickly get caught up in the Hulk‘s invasion of New York. During this time, we also see the Shadow Initiative in play. This is Gyrich’s “secret” team of more experienced ex-villains including Bengal, the Constrictor and the mysterious Mutant Zero (a red-headed female with fire powers. hmmmm…..) who are available for shady ops. The team also included the Scarlet Spiders, a group of three clones wearing armor previously designed for Spider-Man.

As time progresses, more recruits are added to the Initiative including Ant-Man III, Crusader, Dragon Lord, Diamondback, Batwing, Prodigy, Annex and another experienced instructor … the Taskmaster! And, as much as it seems that they’ve got a few snakes in their grass … the Initiative learns of even more during the Skrulls’ Secret Invasion. In fact, one of the top leaders of the Initiative is a skrull agent and has planted a skrull in every super-team that it’s churned out! With the help of the new 3-D Man‘s glasses, along with the new Skrull Kill Krew, the Initiative is able to pinpoint the skrulls and join in on the final battle to ward off the alien invasion.

Avengers: the Initiative #30After the Secret Invasion, Norman Osborn replaced Iron Man as the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. He shut down Camp Hammond, cleaned house and renamed it Camp H.A.M.M.E.R. with much the same focus. However, many of the true heroes left (including the Gauntlet and Tigra) to form their own group, the New Warriors – the Avengers Resistance, with the purpose of defying Osborn’s new evil order. Meanwhile, the Shadow Initiative was on a mission in Madripoor to take down a Hydra cell but were left without any assistance when Norman’s Dark Reign took over. Upon their successful return, they and the newest recruits of Camp H.A.M.M.E.R. were sent as cannon fodder to weaken Blastaar and his forces. They had gained control of Prison 42 in the Negative Zone (where all the villains get locked up) and Norman wanted it back in his command. After the initial attack against Blastaar, Osborn sent in his Thunderbolts to secure the situation.

The final story arc of this series followed the Taskmaster as he was promoted within the Initiative. It asked the question: how can a money-hungry mercenary hope to survive amongst the likes of truly evil villains like Doctor Doom and Loki? He, along with many other heroes and villains, was brought along on the Siege against Asgard where he had to make an important decision between his latest job or his life.

The Bad: Each story arc is heavily tied in with the current Marvel Event that was happening at the time. And, there are easily more than 50 characters found within these pages. Readers unfamiliar with the Marvel Universe will likely feel extremely lost.

Avengers: the Initiative #32the Good: For a Marvel Zombie like me, this book is pure sugary goodness. There’s plenty of great characterization of D-list characters to be had and the extremely detailed artwork by Caselli makes it even sweeter! All of the events are used to progress the characters and don’t feel all that forced. The final story arc puts a bright spotlight on Taskmaster and really delves into what makes him tick. In an era where decompression has become a major gripe with many fans, this book shines as a beacon of awesomeness – stuffing TONS of story into each issue. The entire series was filled with fun and wonderment with a great side of secrets, conspiracies, mysteries and paranoia.

The Verdict: As long as you’re a big Marvel Fan, you’re going to love this book. There are so many familiar characters here, as well as plenty of brand-new ones (many of whom have interesting ties to established Marvel characters). Since the book initially follows these new recruits into the world of superheroics, the narrative gives us a great chance to take a look at some of the heroes we’ve come to know so well in an all-new light. Caselli’s art is ultra-detailed and truly a delight to admire. And, while the other artists suffer only by comparison, the second runner-up has got to be Molina (the artist of the last story arc). A book like this, full of D-Listers, is so great because it can actually move the storyline of these characters ahead. Watch for important developments here in the lives of Tigra and the New Warriors (especially Speedball/Penance), as well as some great moments between Diamondback and the Constrictor. The other great part of this series was the characterization. Amidst all the action and adventure, the writers were able to plug so many moments into the series that shined a light on who these characters are and what motivates them. And, with that in mind, the final story arc must not be missed by any Taskmaster fan. This series reminds me of why I enjoy comics so much. The great art, characterization, intrigue, plot developments and references to previous continuity kept me coming back for more. I can only hope that this quality is continued when it’s relaunched as Avengers Academy.

On Ebay: Avengers | Dan Slott | Christos Gage | Stefano Caselli

September 9, 2010

Famous Fanmail #23 Ralph Macchio

Filed under: Famous Fanmail — Doorman @ 8:51 am

You may not be surprised to learn that most people in the comic business grew up reading comic books. However, you might be interested in knowing what they were reading. Here’s a look at “Famous Fanmail”!

Comic book editor, Ralph Macchio , has a strong handle on Marvel continuity. Here he is complimenting writer Gerry Conway on his integration of previous Marvel characters into his “cosmic” Thor storylines. This one was printed in Thor #220 (cover date – February 1974).

Thor letters page with Ralph Macchio

On Ebay: Thor | Ralph Macchio

September 8, 2010

Fan Art #1 the Tick

Filed under: Fan Art — Doorman @ 3:00 pm

Sometimes comic fans go over and above while doing business with me. Here’s a look at some cool art that’s been sent to me.

Along with syntheticsarcasim‘s payment for the Tick #1-12 (a great score, by the way!), she sent this very cool, hand-drawn ‘thank you’ note featuring everyone’s favorite big, blue bug of justice. Enjoy!

On Ebay: the Tick

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