Posts Tagged ‘Hulk

28
Apr
13

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 288: Free Comic Book Day 2013 Preview

showcase logo smallNext week is Free Comic Book Day 2013, and once again, Blake and Erin are here to walk you through the books being offered. What are this year’s can’t-miss titles? What are books you’ve never heard of that may be worth your time? And what special treat has Blake cooked up for you guys? Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 288: Free Comic Book Day Preview 2013

02
Dec
12

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 279: Wizard World New Orleans 2012 (II)

showcase logo small

It’s the second Wizard World New Orleans convention for 2012! Why? Blake and Kenny try to solve the mystery. The boys also talk convention shopping, cosplaying, Star Trek panel mayhem and close encounters in the Men’s Room. In the picks, Blake is reasonably impressed with Indestructible Hulk #1. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 279: Wizard World New Orleans 2012 (II)

08
Jul
12

2 in 1 Showcase Episode #269: The Ultimate Top Ten Avengers

It’s time for another Showcase top ten! This week, Mike, Kenny and Blake count down their top ten favorite Avengers, then tabulate the votes sent in by you, the listeners, to construct the Ultimate Top Ten Avengers! We also chat briefly about Marvel Now! and the upcoming changes to the Avengers family. In the picks, Mike digs Batman #10, Kenny’s been playing Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, and Blake chooses Monkeybrain’s new title Edison Rex. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 269: The Ultimate Top Ten Avengers

30
May
12

Everything But Imaginary #450: Five Superhero Movies Hollywood Needs to Make

So this whole Avengers movie… made a buttload of money, right? The thing is, it did it with superheroes that the general public, until a few years ago, had never heard of, or at most vaguely remembered in a nostalgic kind of way. So let’s look at some other superheroes from outside of the A-list and see how Hollywood could make their movies into hits.

Everything But Imaginary #450: Five Superhero Movies Hollywood Needs to Make

10
May
12

Everything But Imaginary #447: Avengers Assembling a New Cinematic Landscape?

It’s a day late thanks to the great CX Server Malfunction of (Early May) 2012, but it’s time for this week’s Everything But Imaginary. With The Avengers outpacing everyone’s wildest expectations, it’s time to take a step back and think about what the film may mean for the future… the future of the Avengers franchise, of Marvel Studios, of superhero movies, and of Summer blockbusters in general.

Fair warning: although this is not a review of the film, there are spoiler herein. Read at your own risk.

Everything But Imaginary #447: Avengers Assembling a New Cinematic Landscape?

22
Apr
12

100 Comic Book Movies

With a little time to kill this afternoon, I decided to make one of those “Movie List Challenges” over on Facebook. Being the sort of nerd I am, I whipped up a list of 100 movies based on comic books, graphic novels, and newspaper comic strips. Some of these are kind of indirect — the comic strip was made into a broadway musical, the musical was made into a movie. Some of them will be movies you’ve seen but maybe didn’t know were comic books first. Some of them will be foreign and some of them, especially the movie serials of the 40s and 50s, will be characters you’ve heard of in movies you didn’t know existed. And although I tried to stay with theatrical films, it’s possible a made-for-TV movie or two snuck in while I wasn’t looking. But let’s see how many of ’em you’ve seen. For the sake of fairness, I’ve put an asterisk next to each movie that I’ve personally viewed…

1. The Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941) *
2. Batman (1943)
3. Congo Bill (1948)
4. Batman and Robin (1949)
5. Superman and the Mole Men (1951)
6. Blackhawk: Fearless Champion of Freedom (1952)
7. Lil’ Abner (1959)
8. Batman: The Movie (1966)*
9. A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969)*
10. Tales From the Crypt (1972)
11. The Vault of Horror (1973)
12. Superman (1978)*
13. Flash Gordon (1980)*
14. I Go Pogo (aka Pogo For President, 1980)*
15. Popeye (1980)*
16. Superman II (1980)*
17. Annie (1982)*
18. Swamp Thing (1982)
19. Superman III (1983)*
20. Supergirl (1984)*
21. Howard the Duck (1986)*
22. Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1987)*
23. Akira (1988)*
24. Batman (1989)*
25. The Punisher (1989)*
26. Return of Swamp Thing (1989)
27. Dick Tracy (1990)*
28. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)*
29. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)*
30. Batman Returns (1992)*
31. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)*
32. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles in Time (1993)
33. The Crow (1994)*
34. The Mask (1994)*
35. Batman Forever (1995)*
36. Judge Dredd (1995)*
37. Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight (1995)*
38. Barb Wire (1996)*
39. Tales From the Crypt: Bordello of Blood (1996)*
40. Batman and Robin (1997)*
41. Men in Black (1997)*
42. Spawn (1997)*
43. Steel (1997)
44. Blade (1998)*
45. X-Men (2000)*
46. Ghost World (2001)*
47. Blade II (2002)*
48. Road to Perdition (2002)*
49. Spider-Man (2002)*
50. American Splendor (2003)*
51. Daredevil (2003)*
52. Hulk (2003)*
53. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)*
54. X2: X-Men United (2003)*
55. Blade: Trinity (2004)*
56. Catwoman (2004)*
57. Garfield (2004)*
58. Hellboy (2004)*
59. The Punisher (2004)*
60. Spider-Man 2 (2004)*
61. Batman Begins (2005)*
62. Constantine (2005)*
63. Elektra (2005)*
64. Fantastic Four (2005)*
65. A History of Violence (2005)*
66. Man-Thing (2005)*
67. Sin City (2005)*
68. Son of the Mask (2005)*
69. V For Vendetta (2005)*
70. 300 (2006)*
71. Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties (2006)
72. Over the Hedge (2006)*
73. Superman Returns (2006)*
74. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)*
75. Ghost Rider (2007)*
76. Persepolis (2007)*
77. Spider-Man 3 (2007)*
78. TMNT (2007)*
79. The Dark Knight (2008)*
80. Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)*
81. Iron Man (2008)*
82. Punisher: War Zone (2008)*
83. Surrogates (2009)*
84. Watchmen (2009)*
85. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)*
86. Iron Man 2 (2010)*
87. Jonah Hex (2010)*
88. Kick-Ass (2010)*
89. The Losers (2010)*
90. RED (2010)*
91. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World (2010)*
92. The Adventures of Tintin (2011)*
93. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)*
94. Cowboys and Aliens (2011)*
95. Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2011)*
96. Green Lantern (2011)*
97. The Smurfs (2011)
98. Thor (2011)*
99. X-Men: First Class (2011)*
100. The Avengers (2012)

11
Feb
12

What I’m Watching in 2012

Just like yesterday’s post about books, I also keep a running list of the movies I watch each year. You know you do it to. Okay, some of you. Three of you? Harvey?

Anyway, for those who are interested, here’s the tally thus far. As with the books, if I happen to write a review of any of these films, I’ll throw up a link. And, should I happen to watch a movie as it’s being riffed by the likes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Rifftrax, or Incognito Cinema Warriors XP, I’ll provide a separate “grade” for the riff.

1. Tucker and Dale Versus Evil (2011), A
2. Little Shop of Horrors (1960), D; RiffTrax, B+
3. Eurotrip (2004), B-
4. Barely Legal (2011), D
5. TransFormers: Dark of the Moon (2011), B
6. Lady Frankenstein (1971), D; ICWXP, B+
7. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011), B+
8. Serenity (2005), A
9. Bloody Pit of Horror (1965), F; ICWXP, B
10. Werewolf in a Girl’s Dormitory (1961), F; ICWXP, B+
11. Cedar Rapids (2011), B
12. Pontypool (2009), B+
13. Atlas Shrugged Part I (2011), B
14. Ghosthouse (1988), F; RiffTrax,  B+
15. The Slime People (1963), D; MST3K, C+
16. The Crucible (1996), B+
17. Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop (2011), B+
18. Chronicle (2012), A-
19. Justice League: Doom (2012), A-
20. Timer (2009), B+
21. Tree of Life (2011), D
22. Another Earth (2011), B+
23. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), A-
24. Phineas and Ferb: Across the Second Dimension (2011), A
25. Real Steel (2011), B
26. In Time (2011), C-
27. John Carter (2012), A-
28. My Week With Marilyn (2011), A-
29. The Adjustment Bureau (2011), B+
30. The Help (2011), A
31. Forrest Gump (1994), A
32. The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones (1987), B
33. The Flintstones (1994), C
34. The Hunger Games (2012), A-
35. Hereafter (2010), C+
36. The Task (2010), B
37. Cabin in the Woods (2012), A
38. The Adventures of Tintin (2011), B
39. Win Win (2011), B+
40. Millennium (1989), C
41. Immortals (2011), B
42. Iron Man (2008), A
43. Being Elmo (2011), A
44. Incredible Hulk (2008), B
45. Iron Man 2 (2010), B+
46. Apollo 18 (2011), C+
47. Reefer Madness (1936), D; RiffTrax, B+
48. Them Idiots Whirled Tour (2012), B
49. Thor (2011), B+
50. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), A
51. The Avengers (2012), A+
52. The Muppets (2011), A
53. The Goonies (1985), A
54. Spaceballs (1987), B+
55. Airplane (1980), A
56. Men in Black 3 (2012), B+
57. The Descendants (2011), A
58. Insidious (2011), D-
59. Muppets From Space (1999), B
60. Pom Wonderful Presents the Greatest Movie Ever Sold (2011), A-
61. The Swing Parade of 1946 (1946), D; RiffTrax, B
62. Lucky (2011), B+
63. Exporting Raymond (2010), A
64. Alien (1979), A+
65. Aliens (1986), A
66. Prometheus (2012), B
67. I Want Candy (2007), B-
68. Sirens (1993), C
69. Superman Vs. the Elite (2012), A-
70. Drive (2011), C
71. The Wizard of Oz (1939), A
72. Blade Runner (1982), B+
73. Total Recall (1990), B+
74. Rock of Ages (2012), D
75. The People Vs. George Lucas (2010), A-
76. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (2012), C-
77. Brave (2012), A
78. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), A
79. Media Malpractice (2009)
80. Batman Begins (2005), A
81. The Dark Knight (2008), A+
82. The Dark Knight Rises (2012), A
83. Troll 2 (1990), F
84. Silent House (2012), B-
85. 50/50 (2011), A
86. Total Recall (2012), C+
87. The Darkest Hour (2011), C
88. Moneyball (2011), A-
89. The Expendables (2010), B
90. The Expendables 2 (2012), B+
91. Red Tails (2012), B
92. Walkabout (1971), C
93. Finding Nemo (2003), A
94. The Woman in Black (2012), C-
95. The Incredibles (2004), A
96. The Boys (2010), A
97. In the Realms of the Unreal: The Mystery of Henry Darger (2004), A-
98. In the Mouth of Madness (1994), B
99. Act of Valor (2012), B
100. Project X (2012), C+
101. Tales of Terror (1962), B
102. The Birds (1963), B+
103. Hellraiser (1987), B+
104. Child’s Play (1988), C+
105. Looper (2012), B
106. Cinderella (1950), A
107. The Ghost Breakers (1940), B+
108. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), A+
109. Young Frankenstein (1974), A
110. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978), C-
111. An American Werewolf in London (1981), B+
112. Ghostbusters (1984), A+
113. The Toxic Avenger (1984), C
114. Beetlejuice (1988), A-
115. Arachnophobia (1990), B-
116. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992), C+
117. Army of Darkness (1992), B+
118. Bride of Chucky (1998), C
119. Bubba Ho-Tep (2002), A-
120. Eight Legged Freaks (2002), B-
121. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006), A
122. Slither (2006), A-
123. The Evil Dead (1981), B-
124. Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987), A-
125. Trick ‘r Treat (2007), A
126. Zombieland (2009), A
127. 2016: Obamas America (2012), B
128. The Lorax (2012), B
129. The Pirates! Band of Misifts (2012), A-
130. The Room (2003), F
131. Skyfall (2012), A-
132. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977), A
133. Home Alone (1990), B+
134. Finding Mrs. Claus (2012), C+
135. Disney’s A Christmas Carol (2009), B
136. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), B+
137. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964), D; MST3K, B
139. Santa Claus (1959), F; MST3K, B+
140. Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (1972), F-; RiffTrax, A
141. Magic Christmas Tree (1964), D-; RiffTrax, B+
142. Santa Claus: The Movie (1985), B
143. Arthur Christmas (2011), A-
144. A Christmas Story 2 (2012), C+
145. Trading Places (1983), B+
146. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989), A
147. Nativity! (2009), B
148. A Christmas Story (1983), A
149. Love Actually (2003), A
150. Scrooged (1988), A
151. Die Hard 2 (1990), B
152. Django Unchained (2012), A-
153. Les Miserables (2012), A

–Updated January 5, 2013.

03
Apr
11

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 216: Green Lantern Footage and More From Wondercon

Blake and Erin chat this week about the new footage from Wondercon of the Green Lantern movie! Then, Blake reviews the new movie Limitless, Erin reviews Bomb Queen Vol. 1, and they talk about the rest of the Wondercon News — Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, DC’s Retro-Active specials, the Artist’s Edition of Walter Simonson‘s Thor, and much more! In the picks, Blake loved the Jimmy Olsen one-shot, and Erin is enjoying the novel John Dies at the End. Plus: more information about Blake’s new eBook! Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 216: Green Lantern Footage and more from Wondercon

01
Feb
11

The movies of 2010… Yep, you read it right

Okay, gang. Just before the new year celebrations kicked off, I was about to do the obligatory “best movies of the year” post, only to realize I hadn’t actually seen all that many movies made in 2010. To correct this, I added a buttload of 2010 movies to my Netflix queue and moved ’em up to the front. Since then, I’ve been cycling through them relatively quickly in the hopes of putting together a more comprehensive list. Well…by the time I was done, I’d racked up 39 2010 releases… still not enough to average one a week for the year, but better than the 22 I had at the end of December. So let’s take a few minutes and talk them out.

My Favorite Movies of 2010:

1. Toy Story 3: This should be no surprise, if you know anything about me. The Toy Story films have always been remarkably powerful, character-driven masterpieces of animation, and this may have been the best of the lot. Wonderful, emotional, and uplifting. There was no other film last year I loved nearly as much.

2. Inception: Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi thriller took an intriguing idea — traveling into the dreams of others — and blended it with all the best elements of a heist movie to create a mind-bending trip through the subconscious. It’s not an easy movie, it’s a movie that demands your attention, and in the end I don’t think there are nearly enough of those.

3. True Grit: I love a good western, and while I was initially nervous about anybody taking on Rooster Cogburn after John Wayne’s legendary performance, this movie more than set my mind at ease. Not a remake of the Wayne movie, but rather another take at filming the novel, the Cohen Brothers and Jeff Bridges made this story their own in a remarkable way. Matt Damon and Josh Brolin also turned in good performances, and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld held her own against some of the greatest actors working today. She more than deserves the Oscar nomination she just got.

4. The Social Network. I, like you, have heard a lot of debate about the accuracy of the Aaron Sorkin/David Lynch take on the life of Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, and I certainly am not qualified to speak about how accurate the movie was. But taken just as a pure movie and not a historical document, the film is a brilliant character study of someone who’s a narcissist with potential. There are no heroes in this film, just villains, victims, and a few people (including Zuckerberg himself) that seem to straddle the line between the two.

5. The Town. This one snuck in at the last minute — I just saw it yesterday. Ben Affleck, again proving that he can actually direct, helms this heist film based on the novel by Chuck Hogan about a bank robber who starts a relationship with a hostage who doesn’t know he’s the man who kidnapped her. This isn’t a high-action, thrill-a-minute heist like Ocean’s 11, or even the aforementioned Inception. Yes, there is action, and it’s good, but like most great films, this is much more about the characters, where they come from, and where they may wind up.

Big Surprises of 2010

This is a category for movies that may not have cracked the top 5, but were way better than I expected them to be. Here they are, in no particular order:

Batman: Under the Red Hood. Based on a kinda mediocre Batman comic book and written by the same man who wrote said mediocre comic, this tale of the return of the second, long-believed dead Robin really packed a whallop. It’s strange, the only significant change in the plot was the removal of one element that didn’t really make any difference at all. Is the dreaded “Superboy Prime Punch” the only thing that made us think the comic book was weak, while this animated film was great?

Easy A. When I saw the trailers for this Emma Stone comedy very loosely based on Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, I dismissed it as a stereotypical brainless teen comedy. Instead, I found a really smart film about high school politics, the power of perception and peer pressure, and the importance of self-acceptance. The cast was really funny and talented, and in the end, I felt like I’d spent my two hours very wisely.

Hot Tub Time Machine. Where Easy A just looked a bit typical, the trailers for this looked outright moronic. Still, I pulled it in from Netflix and was delightfully surprised. John Cusack, Craig Robertson and Rob Cordray star as three friends who get tossed back in time to re-live the greatest weekend of their lives. The film gets deeper than that, though, playing with time travel theory, the delicate balance of family and friends, and what it takes to give a few guys past their prime the spark back. The movie turned out to be part Back to the Future and part City Slickers, with a few 80s ski comedies mixed in for flavor. I couldn’t believe I loved it.

Worst Movies of 2010

This, of course, is based entirely on my own personal perceptions, so if you disagree… well, more power to you.

5. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. goes to show you how few films I saw this year, that this cracked the bottom five, because it honestly isn’t a horrible movie. It’s weak, though, very weak. Jake Gyllenhall doesn’t for a minute come off as a Persian prince, the villain’s plot is ludicrous, and the time travel mechanics are screwy. Disney struck out here.

4. A Nightmare on Elm Street. While I still think Jackie Earl Haley was a good choice to take over the Freddy Kruger role from Robert Englund, this remake of the horror classic was dull, lifeless, and often just plain stupid.

3. Clash of the Titans. Amazing, how remakes keep cropping up here at the bottom. While the original Clash was not, I admit, Citizen Kane, it was a fun romp through a specious understanding of mythology with awesome Ray Harryhausen special effects. This was a painful look at mythology based on the understanding of a writer who is probably resting his entire knowledge base on three episodes of the old Disney Hercules cartoon. Sam Worthington turned in yet another wooden, glass-eyed turn as an “action hero,” Gemma Arterton (just as she did in Prince of Persia) looks good on camera but adds nothing to the film, and Liam Neeson evidently lost a bet. And yet enough of you people saw this monstrocity for it to get a sequel. For shame. FOR. SHAME.

2. Splice. Adrien Brody stars in a sci-fi thriller about a couple of scientists trying to… hell, I don’t even know what their actual goal was, but they whipped up a hell beast that was part human and parts a lot of different animals and really deadly. It was actually really close, if I would put this at #2 or #3 on the list. What finally put this below Clash was that, although it did have Sam Worthington tromping around ancient Greece for months without ever outgrowing his buzzcut, it did NOT feature (SPOILER WARNING: DO NOT CONTINUE READING THIS PARAGRAPH IF YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO BE SURPRISED WHEN YOU SEE THIS MOVIE AND/OR HAVE A MODICUM OF GOOD TASTE) Adrien Brody having sex with a half-human/half-animal clone of his wife in the middle of a barn. That was hands-down the creepiest scene in any movie in this year. In most years. Maybe ever. I want to boil my brain.

1. Jonah Hex. Now I’m going to be fair here. Objectively, this Josh Brolin/Megan Fox/John Malkovich western based on the DC Comic probably wasn’t the worst-made movie this year. But it was without a doubt the one that made me angriest. I love the Jonah Hex comic book. It’s a brilliant piece of comic literature that could have made one of the greatest, grittiest westerns of all time. Instead, we got a bastardized hybrid of the character mixed in with The Crow, The Sixth Sense, and some leftover set pieces from Wild Wild West. There may have been worse-acted, worse-written, or worse-directed films this year, but nothing had me walk out of the theater this angry. On the other hand, let’s hear it for Josh Brolin? How many people can say they were the hero of the year’s worst cowboy movie and the villain of the year’s best cowboy movie in the same year?

Conclusion

Okay, guys. All that’s left is the comprehensive list. Before I give it to you, though, let me just say I rather enjoyed this experiment, and I’ve still got more 2010 films left on my Netflix queue than I’ve actually seen. Maybe in a couple of months I’ll want to reevaluate this list. Maybe it’ll be totally different. Maybe I should start quantifying all years in cinema this way. Compulsive list-maker that I am, that could be a lot of fun. When I see a film, I’ll open up that year’s list and pop it in where I think it belongs. Of course, I’m not about to start going back and ranking every movie I’ve ever seen that way, that would be preposterous. I’d have to do that just with movies I see from now on. By that rationale, of course, it means Logan’s Run was the best movie of 1976, since that’s the only movie from that year I’ve seen recently. Of course, that may actually be the best movie of 1976, so why belabor the point?

I’m rambling now. Thanks for taking the time to read, guys, and who knows? Maybe I’ll do some updates in the future. I leave you with the complete list of 2010 releases I have seen, in order of preference:

  1. Toy Story 3
  2. Inception
  3. True Grit
  4. The Social Network
  5. The Town
  6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
  7. Tron: Legacy
  8. Hot Tub Time Machine
  9. Iron Man 2
  10. Easy A
  11. Buried
  12. Tangled
  13. Despicable Me
  14. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole
  15. Shutter Island
  16. Batman: Under the Red Hood
  17. How to Tame Your Dragon
  18. Due Date
  19. Waking Sleeping Beauty
  20. Predators
  21. Kick-Ass
  22. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
  23. Superman/Batman: Apocalypse
  24. Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics
  25. The Losers
  26. Dinner For Schmucks
  27. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
  28. The Wolfman
  29. Planet Hulk
  30. Survival of the Dead
  31. Alice in Wonderland
  32. Repo Men
  33. Robin Hood
  34. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World
  35. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
  36. A Nightmare on Elm Street
  37. Clash of the Titans
  38. Splice
  39. Jonah Hex
05
Jan
11

Classic EBI #71: Good Things Come in Small Packages

DC Comics is turning Green Lantern from a character into a franchise, but this isn’t the first time that trick has been tried. This week in EBI, I look back at past attempts…

Everything But Imaginary #381: Green Lantern-The Franchise

But in this week’s classic EBI, we’re going back to July 15, 2004, when we talked about tiny comics that were big readin’…

Everything But Imaginary #71: Good Things Come in Small Packages

Good Things Come in Small Packages

Once upon a time, comics came in all shapes and sizes. Marvel and DC did the giant treasury formats, there were black-and-white magazine-sized comics, comics would get reprinted in paperback books and everywhere you looked, there was the digest. As companies these days are looking for new ways to get comics in the hands of new readers, these alternative formats are coming back in a big way.

Even when I started reading comic books in the mid-80s, digests were ubiquitous. DC had its Blue Ribbon Digest series, Marvel reprinted the best comics of its Star imprint in digest form and Gladstone had a line of digests for its Disney comics. Then, of course, there was the king of the medium, Archie. Even as the digest seemed to die out from all other publishers, Archie, Jughead and Betty and Veronica remained a staple at supermarkets and drugstores, and are still huge sellers today.

Why did Archie digests last while the others fell by the wayside? I think a lot of it has to do with the art style. Archie — and most humor comics in general — is drawn in a much simpler style, less detailed, and easier to reduce in size to fit the digest page. If you look at DC digests of the era, the action scenes look cramped and the dialogue starts to get muddied up together. You could get eyestrain trying to read that tiny print.

The other alternative with action-oriented comics was done by both Marvel and DC — cut up the panels and rearrange them so they’ll fit on a page of a standard-size paperback book. They weren’t reduced that way, but it often jumbled up the storytelling, especially with longer panels that would literally get cut in half, making you scratch your head as you read them trying to figure out what the characters were looking at. DC recently reissued some of the paperbacks in this line, including the Untold Legend of the Batman — if you see a copy in the store, it’s worth at least flipping through so you can see what I’m talking about.

So with the exception of Archie, digest comics were essentially dead. So what happened? How did they come back? People tried different things… black-and-white reprints like the failed “Backpack Marvels,” repackaging things in “manga” sized books… but things didn’t quite take off.

DC’s Paradox Press tried a smaller line of mainly crime comics, but it quickly went under. Only one title, Road to Perdition found new life, and that was primarily because it got snapped up by Dreamworks to make a pretty good (and Academy Award-nominated) movie out of it.

So how did digests go from Archie and other niche projects to becoming a viable format again?

I’m giving the credit to CrossGen.

I was an unabashed fan of CrossGen Comics. I still am. I hope against hope that somehow we’ll at least get the last few issues of Negation War. But even if that never happens, I’m going to take the chance to point out some of the cool things they did introduce to the industry. A while back, CrossGen launched their “Traveler” line (I actually did an “Everything But Imaginary” about it, back in the day — Born in a Wagon in a Traveler Show).With the advancement of computers, CrossGen proved it was now possible to shrink down artwork and text without dirtying it up or losing quality in the reduction. While the Travelers may not have caught the world of comic books on fire in a sales perspective, I do not believe it was a coincidence that Marvel, DC and everyone else started putting out smaller paperbacks, in color, not long afterwards.

Right now, the majority of these digests (like Archie) are geared towards newer readers. DC uses the format mainly for its Cartoon Network titles like Justice League, Powerpuff Girls and Scooby Doo. Gemstone comics prints one digest in addition to its regular Disney comics, Donald Duck Adventures, which takes advantage of the format to reprint some of the longer European Disney comics that wouldn’t fit into the regular titles without being chopped up and serialized.

Marvel, as is often the case, has taken the most aggressive stance in pushing its new digest line — conveniently titled Marvel Age. Taking the name from their old magazine title that filled you in on all the cool stuff Marvel had coming up (this was before magazines like Wizard), the Marvel Age line has two prongs. First, it takes classic stories of characters like Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four and The Hulk, re-tells the stories with a new script and artwork but keeping the basic feel, and aims them at new and younger readers. I admit, I was skeptical about this idea at first, but when I read the Marvel Age Spider-Man giveaway from Free Comic Book Day, I’ve got to admit, I was pretty impressed. I don’t know if I could read this title on a regular basis — unlike stuff like Gemstone’s Disney comics, this title was aiming directly at kids instead of telling a story that is fun for kids and adults. The dialogue felt a bit simplistic, and if I read too much of it I’d feel like I was being patronized. But for a brand-new reader trying to get into the superhero universe, I think it would be a great entry-level title. In fact, talking to the manager of my local comic shop last week, he told me that the only title to see a significant sales spike due to Spider-Man 2 is Marvel Age Spider-Man.

But back to the digests — that’s the second prong of the Marvel Age experiment. The reprints of these comics are in the smaller, digest form, with the artwork perfectly intact, and they come out lightning-quick. In fact, the first Marvel Age Spider-Man digest actually collected an issue from the regular series that hadn’t been released yet.

In addition to just reprinting the Marvel Age titles, though, Marvel is reprinting other comics that could appeal to a younger demographic in this format: Spider-Girl and the fan-favorite Sentinel, for example. After hearing for years how great a comic book Spider-Girl was, I finally picked up the first Marvel Age digest, and I really enjoyed it. So much so, in fact, that I read issue #75 of the title and wound up adding it to my monthly pull-list. Granted, I’m not the sort of “new reader” this sort of thing is necessarily geared towards, but they at least got one more monthly sale out of it.

I know a lot of purists don’t like the digests. They like their individual issues, which is fine (I do too). If they must purchase a paperback, they want one where the artwork is presented as “originally intended,” i.e., its regular publication size.

But the way I feel about it is this — I’m getting the same story with the same quality artwork, it’s taking up less storage space and it’s cheaper, usually anywhere from 25 to 50 percent less than a full-sized trade. Hell yeah, I’ll take a digest! You wouldn’t hear me complain if I never had to buy another full-sized trade paperback again!

When you get right down to it, this is another format, another choice in how you get your comics. I’m of the opinion that the more options there are available, the more people we’ll be able to get to join us on our four color adventures. And if you ask me, that’s the most important thing we could do for comics as a whole.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: July 8, 2004

This choice is probably going to surprise you guys. It surprised me too. I don’t normally get this title at all, and in fact, I only picked it up this week because of the “Avengers Disassembled” stamp on the cover, but friends, Thor #82 blew me away. Asgard is in ruins. The Warriors Three are down to one. Ragnarok is finally upon the Aesir! Mythology buff that I am, I’m tickled to see how much classic mythology the writers are managing to inject into this story. Plus the art by Andrea DiVito is simply superb. It was a dark horse candidate, but Thor narrowly edged out DC Comics Presents: Batman to take the top spot last week.

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast and the weekly audio fiction podcast Blake M. Petit’s Evercast. E-mail him at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page, and check out his new experiment in serial fiction at Tales of the Curtain.

 




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