Yesterday DC Comics launched its new Batman: Arkham Origins - A DC Comics MultiVerse Graphic Novel app, which serves as a choose-your-own-adventure style motion comic prequel to WB Games Montreal's video game of the same name. Befitting of its status as a video game tie-in, this is a "freemium" experience. You download a free 8-page setup before reaching a fork in the narrative road and pay more (it's being serialized, you see) for the full range of story content as it's released. As a bonus, readers who pay to read halfway through the story get a code to unlock a new playable skin in the Origins game. Those who pay for a season pass get the first skin, plus an additional costume for Batman to wear.
In an interview with Wired, Hank Kanalz, SVP of Integrated Publishing at DC Comics, characterized the effort as an experiment. Financially, this model could prove to be a success -- especially with its downloadable content (DLC) incentives for hardcore gamers. Creatively? So far it leaves something to be desired.
Q: Can Santa Claus beat Superman in a fight? Can he beat Batman? --@byharryconnolly
A: You, Harry, have been affected by the cynicism of a cynical age. Any schoolchild could tell you that Santa Claus would never fight Superman or Batman, because they are all on the same side. Then again, I suppose that's why you didn't ask a schoolchild and instead went straight to someone who specializes in providing needlessly elaborate answers to yes-or-no questions about fictional vigilantes.
So today, on this wintry Christmas Week Eve, I'm going to take up the spirit of the holiday and give you the answer you asked for. The short version? Yes. Santa Claus could beat those dudes like government reindeer. It wouldn't even be close.
While Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is in the midst of a creative renaissance at IDW, with the current series making our own Best Comics of 2013 list, the publisher continues to release reprints and collections of stories that had been unavailable for years. Recently, IDW released a new hardcover edition of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: 25th Anniversary Collection, which was originally published in 2009 (the actual 25th anniversary) through co-creator Kevin Eastman’s Heavy Metal publishing house, re-mastering the artwork and providing some stories with color for the first time.
Unlike ComicsAlliance editor Caleb Goellner -- who seems to bleed green -- I’ve only read a few issues of the new series. I really, genuinely liked it, but felt like my memories of the original comics, if not the comics themselves, were better. For that same reason, I haven’t bought a single issue of IDW’s Classics reprints; just saw enough of the first collection to know that I didn't like the cold digital coloring. Really, I didn’t want to see TMNT with new eyes; I wanted it to remain great in my recollection, rather than diminished by the reality. I didn’t want to find out that literally the most important comic in my life was reduced to trash because of the passage of time and changes in perception.
It was announced recently, on this very site, that I'll be co-writing, with John Barber, and drawing Transformers vs. G.I. Joe series for IDW. While my car was being inspected, I stopped at a nearby comics shop and bought $70 worth of dollar back issues of Larry Hama's Marvel G.I. Joe comic. It's since become one of my all-time favorite comics. I wish I would've read these sooner, but I'm kind of glad I didn't because now I can enjoy them for the first time.
This week, Marvel posted a few preview pages from its newly "remastered" first issue of Miracleman. Before the images were even officially released Wednesday, fans had gotten a hold of the new images and posted comparisons to the original black-and-white versions from the magazine Warrior, Eclipse Comics' original issues, and recolored versions from the original Eclipse collected edition.
It seems like any time the major publishers issue a high-profile reprint of a comic that's more than 25 years old, they consider it a necessity to recolor them. Maybe it is. Maybe old-fashioned colors are a turn-off to readers who are used to modern techniques. But I do wonder how much changing the colors changes the actual comic.
Q: How do the holiday mythologies compare between Marvel and DC? -- @crcovar
A: How did you know, Crovar?! Another excuse to drop nine thousand words about the underlying differences in the structure of imaginary universes and how they've affected their storytelling over the past seventy years? It's exactly what I wanted for Christmas!
Nah, I'm just kidding. We can probably get through this one in five or six thousand. Seven, tops.
Last week, cartoonist Rachel Dukes posted some eye-opening statistics to her Tumblr about a comic she made about what life as a cat owner is like. She originally published the comic with a copyright notice and a URL to her website. That version of the comic has been seen about 81,600 times.
Another version, from which someone removed the URL and copyright info, has been seen nearly 600,000 times, mostly on Tumblr and Facebook. This problem of lack of credit is one that lots of artists have dealt with and quite a few have talked about over the past several years, but it continues to persist. It makes me wonder if there could be some kind of fix.
Q: What do you think about Harley Quinn? --@Gavin4L
I'll be honest with you, Gavin: Harley Quinn is a tough character to write about. I've been struggling for a long time now trying to figure out how to get started, because there's so much there built around a single character that gets into a lot of tricky, complicated areas, from her almost accidental creation and often mystifying popularity to how much she's changed and been altered in a relatively short period of time, and how you can almost chart the changing aesthetic of the entire company just by looking at a single character. It's a lot to get through, even if you're someone who lived through every bit of it as a fan.
Really, I guess that's as good a starting point as any. What do I think? Well, I like the character a lot, but when you get right down to it, she's one of the most misunderstood and misused characters in all of superhero comics.
Last week's Uncanny Avengers, by Rick Remender and Steve McNiven, killed off a whole bunch of characters. The last issue of Avengers Arena, by Dennis Hopeless and Kev Walker, came out the same day with that book's final death tally. It was a good day for funeral directors in the Marvel universe.
The deaths in these two titles ran the gamut from newly minted minor characters seemingly created just so they could die to major Marvel heroes with substantial fanbases and decades of history. Does that distinction matter in a genre that takes such a light view of death?
Spoilers for Uncanny Avengers and Avengers Arena follow.
Last week, I took a hard look at DC's recent Superman: A Celebration of 75 Years hardcover, and to say I found it lacking is putting it mildly. Despite reprinting some very, very good stories, the tone of the collection was overwhelmingly, oppressively grim at best, and felt like the publisher was embarrassed by the very character they were claiming to celebrate at worst. It was more than a little disheartening, because it didn't have to be that way. It's not an accurate look at Superman's past, and really, it's a narrative that you'd have to go out of your way to create.
But let it never be said that I complain about things without offering a viable solution -- even though I do that pretty much all the time. With the same amount of space and the same division of eras in Superman, you can create a sequence of stories with the same resonance and the same level of quality that shows Superman at his best, triumphing over evil and making the world a better place.
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