Happy Easter and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look back at the comics and other stuff we’ve checked out recently.
To see what Chris and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click the link below.
The average comic is around 21 to 24 pages of story. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but in all, we can agree that there’s some breathing room in comparison to your standard Sunday comic strip. In those 21 to 24 pages, there is space to tell a story or, in our current state of affairs, part of one. Despite the shaken fists to the sky and grumbles from the masses, there are comic book writers who write for the trade paperback, making each issue a piece of a much larger puzzle. Your monthly comic would then hold a clue or a twist that would add to the readers’ understanding of the over-arcing plot, causing them to come back for more in search of the final resolution.
This creates an audience. Wondering what comes next or “whodunnit” keeps readers turning pages and the writer with some steady income as they bring the story to life in their allotted time and space once a month. It’s hard work these days to keep the public’s attention, so taking a story of significant impact and drawing it out over a few months has a beneficial side if you’re thinking fiscally. This practice can leave a lot of people in the cold, especially those who come in at the middle of the story rather than its start. Let’s say someone wanted to pick up an issue of Amazing Spider-Man, just to see where Peter Parker had gotten himself to lately. Considering he’s working in a high-tech science lab rather than the life of the common Joe might be a little confusing for some, but add to that his side jobs with the Avengers or, more importantly, the Future Foundation, and you have a lot of explaining to do about why he took those jobs and what the heck a Future Foundation is.
To help usher in the new reader and perhaps give long-term readers a little space between major arcs, Marvel released Point One issues: single issues of story to explain a little about the character and where he’s at. Something that began and ended within that book. For the Invincible Iron Man, it was a character study about who Tony Stark was then and who he is now. For Wolverine, it was a well-meant birthday party with his supporting cast and a dust up with some bad guys. Some times more, some times less, these Point One issues were created to communicate the concept of the book, storyline or even just the character in 21 to 24 pages.
But! What if I told you that you (yes you!) could introduce someone to a book, storyline and character in just three panels! Sound amazing? Let me show you how!
(WARNING: this Fifth Color will contain spoilers for Avenges Academy #12. Three panels worth to be exact. If you haven’t read it yet then run, don’t walk, to you local comic shop and ask for it by name! You could also take a car if it’s a long walk.)
Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly discussion about the comics we here at Robot 6 have been checking out lately. Today’s special guest is Lauren Davis, who blogs about webcomics at Storming the Tower and io9, and is the editor of the San Francisco comics anthology The Comic Book Guide to the Mission.
To see what Lauren and the Robot 6 gang have been reading lately, click below …
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on what we call our “Splurge” item.
Check out Diamond’s release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.
If I had $15 this week, IDW would be seeing a lot of it. It’s a cheat, because I’ve actually already read both Doctor Who Vol. 2 #1 and GI Joe: Cobra II #12 (both $3.99), but both are licensed comics done right in my opinion; Who in particular really catches the tone of the TV show in a way that the last series, as fun as it was, didn’t quite do (despite the writer, Tony Lee, being the same for both), and Joe has an ending that’ll get the nostalgics in the audience jumping up and down. It’s a weird mix of anti-nostalgia and art appreciation that gets me looking at my other pick of the week, Marvel’s Invincible Iron Man #500, which I’ll be picking up less for the story – although I like the “What if this really was #500 of the current series, and set 40-odd years in the future?” idea behind it – than the art, seeing as the wonderful Nathan Fox, KANO and Carmine Di Giandomenico join the okay-if-you-like-photo-tracing Sal Larroca for this oversized issue.
To see what Caanan and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
A few weeks back, while I was in the midst of finalizing this email interview with Marvel exclusive writer Christos Gage, Marvel was kind enough to share preview pages from Gage’s Avengers Academy 7 (set for release this Wednesday, December 15). I contacted Gage to discuss the appeal of going exclusive with Marvel, his work on Avengers Academy; his collaborations with Mario Alberti; the Invaders Now miniseries; and his love of letters columns–as well as juggling myriad assignments along with his video game writing.
Tim O’Shea: In terms of the life of a freelancer, how less stressful is it when you gain an exclusive contract as you currently have with Marvel?
Christos Gage: Well, as any freelancer will tell you, a big part of your job is lining up future work. So knowing that I am guaranteed work from Marvel is a load off my mind, allowing me to focus less on nailing down that next job and more on making the stories I’m writing the best they can be.
O’Shea: With Avengers Academy–while the students are the core of the series, it’s the instructors that offer almost as much interest for me. For example, I love your use of Quicksilver. Was it your idea to have him in the cast, or how did he get added? Are there certain eras of Quicksilver history that appeal to you and fuel your approach to the character?
Gage: I asked for Quicksilver because I thought he fit in perfectly with the theme of the instructors being Avengers who have flawed, checkered pasts. Avengers Academy is meant to be a place of redemption for student and teacher alike. Just as the best counselors for people trying to stay off drugs are recovered addicts, the Avengers Academy teachers are people who’ve been down some tough roads and come back. Quicksilver was a teen villain, then a teen hero. He was raised to be a terrorist and grew to be an Avenger. My favorite point in Quicksilver history is when he first joined the Avengers…he did this incredibly heroic thing in terms of breaking from Magneto, and putting himself out there in front of a world that hates and fears mutants…but the whole time he was constantly backseat driving and second-guessing Captain America, of all people! Now that’s what I call cojones. Quicksilver is so much fun to write because he gets to say all the snarky things I want to say to people who irritate me, but don’t want to get smacked in the mouth for.
Avengers Academy #7 brings the return of Hank Pym’s Giant-Man alter ego, as he and the rest of the AA crew take on the Absorbing Man. The issue is written by Christos Gage and drawn by Tom Raney. Marvel released some preview pages for it already, but they were kind enough to send over three more for us to share with you.
Our own Tim O’Shea has an interview with Gage coming up in a couple of weeks, so keep an eye out for it!
If it’s Tuesday, it must be time for Food or Comics?, where every week some of the Robot 6 crew talk about what comics we’d buy if we were subject to certain spending limits — $15 and $30. We also talk about what we’d buy if we had extra money to spend on what we call our “Splurge” item. Check out Diamond’s release list to see what arrives in comic shops this week,then play along in our comments section.
I’m running behind and want to go vote, so I’ll try to make this quick:
If I had $15:
The Boys #48 ($3.99) and Godland #33 ($2.99) are the the two must buys for me this week, along with the 17th issue of Berlin ($4.95). It’s been awhile since Jason Lutes published a chapter in this now-decade-plus long serial set in pre-Nazi Germany. I’m just impressed that he’s still sticking to the serial pamphlet format while every other indie artist has abandoned it. Bully for you, Lutes.
Marvel has released two covers for December’s Avengers Academy #7 that tease the return of Giant-Man, which I presume means that Henry Pym, the man of a half-dozen identities, is giving up his current moniker — the Wasp, a slightly creepy tribute to his dead wife — in favor of his more classic costumed persona.
Pym, who debuted as Ant-Man in September 1962′s Tales to Astonish #35, first adopted the Giant-Man identity more than a year later, in Tales to Astonish #49. Over the decades, he has appeared most frequently as Ant-Man and Yellowjacket, and last returned to the Giant-Man guise in (I think) February 1998′s The Avengers (Vol. 3) #1.
See both covers, by Ed McGuinness and Mike McKone, after the break.
Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Today’s special guest is STORM, who works at San Francisco’s Isotope Comics, is the creator of Princess Witch Boy (the second issue of which will be available at APE this year), reads Heroic Tarot with X-Men cards and is a member of Writers Old Fashioned.
To see what STORM and the Robot 6 crew are reading this week, read on …
Some weeks ago, Marvel announced the student body of the upcoming Avengers Academy title by Christos Gage and Mike McKone. They were announced in a similar style to how Marvel rolled out their Avengers, New Avengers and Secret Avengers line-ups, but may not have had the same effect, since most of the students are characters we’d never seen before.
But every school needs some teachers, and at today’s Mondo Marvel panel at C2E2, Marvel revealed that the faculty for the book will include Hank Pym, Quicksilver, Justice, Tigra and Speedball. “He’s trying to move past the horrible things he’s been through as Penance, but he’s going to find out it’s not as easy as changing clothes,” Gage said.
With that being said, is there anything else out there that could signal a lighter, friendlier Heroic Age coming to pass than Robbie Baldwin — who was at the heart of the big disaster that kicked off Civil War, the 50 States Initiative and the whole superhero registration thing — dropping the S&M gear and returning to his old identity?
This week we were treated to the announcement of an all-new title for our upcoming Heroic Age: Avengers Academy. From Mike McKone of Exiles fame and Christos Gage of Avengers: The Initiative fame, one may take a moment and think to yourself that this whole ‘Academy’ idea sounds like a less-ROTC version of the Initiative program. In fact, one could say that giving up four Avengers titles (New, Mighty, Dark and the Initiative) for … four Avengers titles (‘Adjectiveless’, New, Secret and Academy) might seem a little ‘welcome to the old boss, same as the new boss’ by the mighty Marvel marketing machine. On the other hand, this is the Heroic Age; it wouldn’t be the same if all slates weren’t cleared, new #1s heralded and new storylines started afresh, even if they are rather similar to the stories we have right now.
In fact, Avengers: The Initiative eventually grew out of its Event Book origin into something more important than the title on the cover of the book would suggest: essentially, it was a start point for the Marvel Universe. Enough old characters came and went, new characters allowed the reader to have a fresh look at teams and tropes on how heroes and villains worked in the ol’ MU. With the groundwork well laid out for Avengers Academy (well, suspected groundwork considering how much we have to go on with the title right now), this could be the most important book coming out of the new age of heroes.
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