Welcome to Digital ComicsAlliance, your headquarters for digital comics news and recommendations. This week, the biggest story in the history of Hellboy, Hellboy: The Fury #1, costs just $0.99, and we take a look at the second volume of Casanova, and the introduction of a new Power Man. If you like good comics, this is the column for you.

1. Name: Hellboy: The Fury #1

Creative Team: Mike Mignola (story), Duncan Fegredo (art), Dave Stewart (colors), Clem Robins (letters)

Platform: Dark Horse (iOS app that syncs to your account on the web)

Price: $0.99 (from 08/08-08/10, $1.99 thereafter)

Format: One issue

Why: Fact: The two best ongoing comics series right now are BPRD and Hellboy. I talked about the introductory scene elsewhere, but in short, Hellboy is in the middle of a genuine apocalypse. Nimue, the Queen of Blood is risen, and her goal is complete and total domination. You can't make deals with the devil and expect fairness, of course, and she's managed to open the doors for something even worse than herself to emerge into the world.

Hellboy is an old hand at fighting evil, and completely out of patience, but even he's in over his head now. This is a true event comic, the sort of comic where anything goes and everything will burn in the end. There's no going back. It's beautiful, from the story to the art, and epic in scale. This series will be one of the best of the year. Issue 3, the last of the series, hits comic shops this Wednesday and Dark Horse Digital next week. Now's the perfect time to get on the train.


2. Name: Casanova: Gula


Creative Team: Matt Fraction (writer), Fábio Moon (artist), Cris Peters (colors), Dustin Harbin (letters)

Platform: ComiXology/Marvel app (iOS)

Price: $1.99 each

Format: Four issues

Why: The bastard child of Howard Chaykin, spy movies, and more is back, and this time the question is "WHEN IS CASANOVA QUINN?" Our evil twin turned good twin disappears into time, and no one has any idea when. His absence doesn't stop the show, though, as EMPIRE and WASTE continue their head to head battle. To make matters, worse, Zephyr Quinn, Casanova's twin sister, is back and on a rampage. The phrase "no one ever really dies" echoes throughout the series, but that's small comfort when you watch Zephyr and a friend rip through everyone you ever loved with callous glee. Casanova: Gula takes the secret agent cool of Luxuria to the next level, and throws a big splash of violence into the proceedings. Gula is about the inevitability and pain of death, among many other things, and this one is going to punch you right in your heart. Read this and Luxuria before Avaritia kicks off next month.

3. Name: Shadowland: Power Man


Creative Team: Fred Van Lente (writer), Mahmud Asrar (pencils), Scott Hanna (inks), Bruno Hang (colors), Dave Sharpe (letterer)

Platform: Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited (Web)

Price: Free (with subscription)

Format: Four issues

Why: While Shadowland was, on average, pretty terrible, the absolute highlight was Fred Van Lente and Mahmud Asrar's Shadowland: Power Man. This series introduced Victor Hernán Alvarez, Power Man. This kid has taken Luke Cage's former supranym and gimmick for his own, and he's down to protect Harlem by any means. Less enthused about Victor's new career is his mother, who doesn't know that her son's a hero, just that he's flaking out, and Luke Cage, who doesn't like this punk kid bogarting his name. Not to mention the drug dealers, muggers, and punks that Victor is chasing out of the neighborhood. This introduction to the character is fantastic, with beautifully realized city and characters, in terms of both writing and art. I was skeptical, but once I tried the series, I was hooked. Hopefully this new Power Man sticks around, Agents of Atlas-style, and adds a little more flavor to the Marvel Universe. I instantly became a fan, and I'm willing to bet that you will, too.

THE SALES


-ComiXology runs Marvel Mondays sales (wait for it) every Monday. Certain Marvel comics, usually ones from a specific series or united under a theme, are offered for half off. You can check their blog for the current sale on Monday mornings, and sometimes Sunday nights. Once Monday is gone, though, so is the sale. Keep an eye on their blog for other sales, too.

-Dark Horse runs themed sales every weekend. They've run sales on Serenity, The Goon, Conan, and Fray, among others, so you're pretty much sure to find something to like at some point. This week's sale hasn't been announced yet, but stay tuned to the Dark Horse Digital blog.

THE PLAYERS


There are a few different ways to get digital comics right now. Here's a selection of the methods, listed by company in alphabetical order, and the formats they support:



Archie Comics
(iOS)

Boom! Studios (iOS [identical to the Boom! offerings on ComiXology and syncs with your ComiXology account])

Comics4Kids (iOS [ComiXology for all-ages comics])

ComiXology (iOS, Web, Android)

Dark Horse (iOS app that syncs to your account on the web)

DC Comics (iOS, Web [identical to the DC offerings on ComiXology and syncs with your ComiXology account])

DriveThru Comics (CBZ, PDF, ePUB, and more)

Dynamite Entertainment (iOS,Web, Android [identical to the Dynamite offerings on ComiXology and syncs with your ComiXology account])

eManga (web)

Graphic.ly (iOS, Web, Android, Nook Color)

IDW Comics (iOS)

Image Comics (iOS [identical to the Image offerings on ComiXology and syncs with your ComiXology account])

iVerse's Comics+ (iOS, Nook Color)

Marvel Comics on Chrome (Web)

Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited (Web)

My Digital Comics (PDF, CBZ, and more)

The Illustrated Section (PDF)

Square Enix Manga (web)

Viz Manga (iOS, web)

Yen Press (web)



THE BASICS

There are a few things you need to know. You no longer need an iOS device (you know: iPad, iPod, iPhone), but you will need an internet connection, web browser, and, usually, Flash. Generally, you don't get to actually own your digital comics. You're paying to read them, and while this has been a fairly smooth process this far, that may rankle for some readers.

Are all these distributors different? Functionally, no, they aren't that different at all. Most of them allow for panel by panel reading (or a variation thereof) or page-based reading. The main differences are in selection. Frustratingly, certain comics are offered on several services, but released at different times. Marvel alone offers five choices. Most other publishers keep to one distribution method, and if they don't, they tend to keep their stuff mirrored across the various methods. If you want DC Comics, you're using ComiXology, for example, but Boom! Studios has comics on both. For Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, you'll have to pay a subscription fee. It's essentially Netflix for comics, however, so that may be worth it for you.

Personally, I use a mix of all the services, which is far from an optimal configuration, but one that works well. Poke around and see which one you like the most.

When do digital comics come out? Marvel has a weekly schedule, with an option for viewing the next month's releases. That's as close as you'll get to a release schedule. To see what's new on ComiXology, subscribe to this RSS feed. IDW generally releases books four weeks after they ship in print. ComiXology updates on Wednesdays, Graphic.ly updates throughout the week, and IDW's app updates on Tuesdays, with day-and-date books arriving on Wednesday. Dark Horse updates on Wednesdays. This category on iVerse's Comics+ site lists the updates for the week. Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited releases books every Monday.

I'll update with RSS feeds and landing pages that show new releases as they appear! If you're a digital comics publisher and you don't have a feed or page that users can visit... well, please create one. We'd all appreciate it.