Digital CA: ‘JLA: The Nail,’ ‘Casanova: Avaritia,’ and ‘Empowered Megabootybundle’
Welcome to Digital ComicsAlliance, your headquarters for digital comics news and recommendations. This week, we're spotlighting some classic Alan Davis work, the return of Matt Fraction and Gabriel Bá's Casanova, and celebrating a big, fat, can't-miss sale on Adam Warren's Empowered.
1. Name: Justice League: The Nail
Creative Team: Alan Davis (story/pencils), Mark Farmer (inks), Trish Mulvihill (colors), Pat Prentice (letters)
Platform: ComiXology (iOS, Web, Android)
Format: 3 issues
Why: I somehow managed to miss out on Alan Davis when I was a kid, despite being a huge X-Men fan. I picked up The Nail after I got back into comics and was pleasantly surprised. Davis and Farmer soon became one of my favorite art teams in comics. Their figures feel legitimately iconic; they're smooth and perfect in this way that reminds me of Silver Age comics, when the characters were all rounded edges with none of the rough spots that the '80s brought to cape comics.The Nail is even Silver Age in tone. The roster is the classic JLA, but due to the Kents getting a flat tire, Superman is not part of the team, or even a hero. His absence is keenly felt throughout the comic. This book is goofy and comic book-y in all the right ways, as well as being a fun trip through a DC Universe that's slightly different (but still pretty violent). Killer creative team and a fun book.
Creative Team: Matt Fraction (writer), Gabriel Bá (art), Cris Peter (color), Dustin Harbin (letters)
Platform: ComiXology/Marvel (iOS, Web)
Format: Ongoing miniseries
Why: Casanova is one of those comics that I'm always pleased to see. Mainstream comics often feel like the assembly line products they are. The writer writes, the artist draws, the colorist colors, and the letterer letters all independent of one another. The magic of true collaboration is missing. There's no conversation between the creative team on the page, just script robots and art robots. It's no fun at all, really. But Casanova shows you how it's done.
These are super-sexy super-spy comics, sure, but it's as much about Fraction working out his influences and interests on the page as it is Casanova Quinn shooting people in the face. It feels like a conversation. Fraction, Bá, Peter, and Harbin are talking to each other, causing all of them to up their game, and talking to us, daring us to pull the comic apart and figure out why it works as well as it does. It's the kind of comic where reading it is just half of the equation. You have to talk about Casanova with other people to get the full experience. Your Casanova is not their Casanova is not Fraction's Casanova. By talking it out with others, you aren't getting a picture of the true Casanova so much as another Casanova. It's not a puzzle. It's personal.
Creative Team: Adam Warren (cartoonist)
Platform: Dark Horse (iOS app that syncs to your account on the web)
Format: One bundle, 1353 pages
Why: First: go buy this now, because the sale expires on Wednesday. It's a tremendous deal. You get everything Empowered for a little more than the retail price of two printed volumes, including the two pamphlet-format specials. That's 1353 pages of high-quality material, delivered directly to your browser or iPad. Second: If you don't know what Adam Warren's Empowered is yet, let me clue you in. He calls it a "sexy superhero comedy." I call it one of my favorite things, and I've talked about it several different times. It's a comic I believe in, and with good reason. Warren has managed to make something that looks like a regular old cheesecake cape comic into a series that is more full of life than 99% of anything else in its field. The dialogue is stylized, smart, and believable. The cheesecake parts are appropriately sexy. The cheesecake parts are also appropriately self-conscious, so it never tips over into being creepy, rather than just cute or funny. On top of all of that, there's a strong strain of humor running through the book, which makes the characters involved feel extremely real. And when Warren ratchets up the tragedy, which he does on a few different occasions, the effect is multiplied. What would be a death that we all see through in, say, Fantastic Four, turns into an actual tragedy, something that makes you tense up and squeeze your book (or iPad I guess!) a little too hard. Thirty five bucks gets you everything. It's totally worth it, believe me.
And I mean, if all of that stuff doesn't do it for you, there's always the cheesecake. "Empowered: It's callipygian!"
-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. There is also a page on Dark Horse Digital that lists ongoing specials.
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])
Double Feature (iOS, Web)
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])
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)
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.