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Alex Spencer

Alex's column, The Issue, looks at a stand-out standalone comics single every month. In his life as a non-comics journalist, he writes about videogames and all things mobile for publications including Kotaku, Rock Paper Shotgun and Killscreen. He also has a dog, who may or may not be named after a comics character. Find all this and more rambling on Twitter @AlexJaySpencer.

The Issue: Time To Choose Your Own Adventure Time [Kids’ Comics]

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Adventure Time #10, "Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-Time," by Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, and Braden Lamb, puts you in charge of Finn and Jake as they try to overcome a dastardly spell, by picking their actions, from punches to toots.

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The Issue: 28 Days Later in ‘Locke & Key: February’

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Welcome to The Issue, where we look at some of the strangest, most interesting and most distinctive single issue comic stories ever to grace the medium. You know the ones; silent issues, sideways issues, backwards issues... and issues that tell a whole month's worth of story, day by day.

“February” is the third issue of Locke & Key's fourth volume, Keys to The Kingdom, by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. Given the way the comic plays around with its format, trying to match it seemed like the right thing to do. So here are 28 reasons this issue is great.

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Filed Under: , , Category: IDW, Opinion, Reviews

World Building: Character And Color in Stokely And Spurrier’s ‘The Spire’ [Pride Week]

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With its eighth issue, Si Spurrier and Jeff Stokely's The Spire wrapped up last week, bringing the the series' whodunnit to a satisfying and surprisingly emotional conclusion. Given that it starred one of my favorite queer characters in recent comics, this seemed like a great time to look back over the Boom Studio series and to try to tell you, the lovely ComicsAlliance reader, why those eight issues are worth grabbing hold of as soon as you get the chance.

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The Issue: ‘Generation Hope’ And The Pain Of Being Different [Pride Week]

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One of the most notable things about queer characters in comics, especially in the heart of the superheroic mainstream, is their absence, at least on a textual level. Queer subtext, though? There's plenty of that, whether it's same-sex relationships that read as romantic, or in the use of mutants as a metaphor that can be applied to LGBTQ experiences.

Which brings us to Generation Hope #9, “Better”, by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. It's not an issue explicitly about the LGBTQ experience, but it uses the mutant metaphor to tell a standalone story about real-life events that very much are.

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Our Mission Is To Make Everybody A Comics Fan: Comixology’s David Steinberger Talks Comixology Unlimited

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Digital comics app Comixology pulled off a major surprise this week with the launch of Comixology Unlimited, a monthly subscription service that's hoping to be the Netflix of comics, the Spotify of sequential art, the Marvel Unlimited of books not published by Marvel.

The Twitter reaction since the launch suggests the news wasn't just a surprise to readers, but to many of the creators involved too. ComicsAlliance spoke to Comixology CEO David Steinberger about the rollout, what is and isn't available on the service, and what the future might hold for Comixology Unlimited.

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The Issue: X-Amining (and Re-X-Amining) X-Factor’s Therapy Sessions [Mutant Week]

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Welcome to The Issue, where we look at some of the strangest, most interesting and most distinctive single-issue comic stories ever to grace the medium. To mark the upcoming release of X-Men: Apocalypse, and the upcoming reveal of the top 100 X-Men of all time, we're also celebrating our own "Mutant Week" here at ComicsAlliance.

For the Mutant Week edition of The Issue, we're looking at two issues published nearly 15 years apart, in two completely separate runs with a largely different roster of characters, and a core concept that switched from government-sponsored superteam to mutant detective agency --- but it's the same title, the same writer, and almost exactly the same format. The books are X-Factor Vol 1 #87 and Vol 3 #13, "X-Aminations" and "Re-X-Aminations" --- or as they're more commonly known, those issues of Peter David's X-Factor where the team goes to therapy.

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Spider-Man Uncovered: Why The Half-Mask Look Is So Important to Peter Parker

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For a film where he's maybe the dozenth biggest character, Captain America: Civil War does an incredible job of introducing the MCU version of Spider-Man. (Moderate spoilers follow if you haven't yet seen the movie.) Heartbroken as I still am that it's not Miles Morales and/or Donald Glover under the mask, Tom Holland's performance and Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely's screenplay manage to get a lot right about the character, in a way that other adaptations just haven't.

Nearly every single thing that comes out of Spidey's mouth is funny, in just the right awkward way. Next to the low-saturation burgundy costumes of the other Avengers, his stark (no pun intended) reds and blues really pop. Peter talks and moves like a kid, a geeky fan whose presence makes the film lighter and bouncier. But more than all that, the film manages to include the single most important thing about the entire Spider-Man mythos: a bit where his mask is rolled halfway up his face.

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The Issue: Escaping the Box in Morrison & Van Fleet’s ‘The Clown at Midnight’

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Welcome to The Issue, where we look at some of the strangest, most interesting and most distinctive single issue comic stories ever to grace the medium. You know the ones; silent issues, sideways issues, backwards issues... and issues that make you ask questions like 'When does a comic book stop being a comic book?'

Batman #663 is 22 pages of words and pictures --- the former courtesy of Grant Morrison, just a few issues into his landmark run on the title, the latter by digital artist John Van Fleet --- but the two elements are mixed into something that's closer to an illustrated storybook. Look at any given page, and you'll be faced with as many words as an average issue of traditional comics, interspersed with Van Fleet's posed CG characters resembling a gritty reimagining of '90s animated series ReBoot.

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The Bleakness + The Delight in ‘Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl’

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Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie are probably now best known for their Image series The Wicked + The Divine, set in a world where popstars are gods. Their other Image sieres, Phonogram, is set in a world where music is magic. The two books have a similar premise, and deal with some of the same ideas and themes, but they attack them from completely different angles.

While The Wicked + The Divine is about making art, Phonogram is about consuming it. The former is about being young and deciding to give up your life to music, but Phonogram – and The Immaterial Girl in particular – is about living with the consequences of that deal. Not burning out in your early twenties, but fading away into middle age, with a great record collection instead of a family.

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The Issue: The Not So Just So Story Of Rudyard Kipling And ‘The Unwritten’ #5

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Mike Carey and Peter Gross' The Unwritten is a Vertigo fantasy thriller starring Tom Taylor, the namesake --- and potentially word-made-flesh incarnation --- of fictional boy wizard Tommy Taylor, as he tries to take down the shadowy cabal threatening his life. At the end of issue #4, we're left with a major cliffhanger, with Tom arrested for a murder he didn't commit, a killer on the loose, and the unexplained appearance of his magical alter ego's pet winged cat.

Instead of picking up those threads, The Unwritten #5, "How The Whale Became," recounts the life story of Rudyard Kipling, author of The Jungle Book, a full two centuries before Tom's tale begins. There's no explicit magic in the issue, and most of the events it depicts are a matter of historical record. But only most of the events in this issue are true, and that's where it starts to get really interesting.

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