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Food or Comics? | Cupcakes or Cave-In

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop 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 a splurge item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Invincible #100

Chris Arrant

If I had $15 this Wednesday, it’d be all Image for me – starting with Nowhere Men #3 (Image, $2.99). The Beatles as a scientific supergroup, through the lens of Dr. Strangelove? Let’s do this. I’ve been a big fan of Nate Bellegarde for a while, and this book finally seems to capture what’s unique about him – his comedy, his stark scientific acumen, and his humanism. After that I’d get Glory #32 (Image, $3.99). Beautiful cover by Ricken here, and reads like a great manga building up to some epic battle. After that I’d get Brian Wood and Ming Doyle’s Mara #2 (Image, $2.99). I tried to hold back my expectations before reading Issue 1, and I was blown away – so now Issue 2 has something to prove. Finally, I’d get Invincible #100 (Image, $3.99) (Cory Walker’s cover, if you want to know!). I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I think Invincible is better than The Walking Dead. No need to compare the two really, though, because no matter how you cut it, this series is great … and what Kirkman and Ottley have planned for the 100th issue looks to be unique – both for the promised deaths and the promise of seeing what could have been had Mark Grayson chosen differently.

If I had $30, I’d make up for lost time and get Brian Ralph’s Cave-In (Drawn & Quarterly, $14.95) . I’m reticent to admit this, but I’ve never read this book. I loved Daybreak, but never found a copy or the motivation to seek out more … but this Wednesday that will change.

For splurging, I already have most of this in the single issues, but I can’t help but splurge on the new collection X-Men: Mutant Massacre (Marvel, $34.99). This was my first crossover in comics, buying back-issues before I discovered events like Crisis on Infinite Earths and Secret Wars. In my rose-colored glasses, it’s an ideal crossover for not being too overbearing and relating to a conflict or situation that isn’t superhero-specific. Love the Morlocks, love Uncanny X-Men and the associated books around this time, so I’m buying this and spending an evening enjoying it all over again.

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Food or Comics? | Yogurt or Young Avengers

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop 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 a splurge item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Young Avengers #1

Graeme McMillan

If I had $15 this week, it’d be all first issues, all the time. Being a Trek fan, I couldn’t resist IDW’s Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #1 ($3.99), offering some glimpses into the new movie for the first time outside of the trailer, for one thing. Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Young Avengers #1 (Marvel, $2.99) looks to be equally unmissable judging from both the previews and interviews heralding its launch, and also Gillen’s performance on Iron Man and other titles recently, so that’d make it in there, too. Finally, I’d grab The Answer #1 (Dark Horse, $3.99), Dennis Hopeless and Mike Norton’s new superhero/mystery series. I’ve been back and forth about Hopeless in the past (loved his X-Men: Season One; hate his Avengers Arena), but the hook for this one looks pretty solid and Norton’s work is always nice to gaze at.

Should I suddenly find myself with an additional $15, I’d add some current favorites to the pile: Chris Roberson and Dennis Calero’s pulp dystopia Masks #3 (Dynamite, $3.99), Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opena’s Avengers #3 (Marvel, $3.99, and less a “favorite” than an “undecided about, but was surprised by how much I appreciated that second issue”) and Greg Rucka and Matt Southworth’s Stumptown #5 (Oni, $3.99). After the fourth issue of Stumptown, I’d pick that last one up even if Rucka had accidentally forgotten to write any dialogue in there. Did you see that last issue? Man …

Were I to splurge, it’d almost feel greedy after this week of bounty. Nonetheless, I’d grab The Spider, Vol. 1: Terror of The Zombie Queen (Dynamite, $19.99), the collected edition of the first storyline from David Liss’ revival of the pulp hero that I loved based on the first issue but somehow fell off of before the end of that first arc for reasons that escape me. Definitely curious to revisit it.

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Comics A.M. | Amazing Spider-Man #700 racks up $1.6 million

The Amazing Spider-Man #700

Publishing | The Amazing Spider-Man #700 led the pack in the December comics numbers with 200,000 copies selling to comics shops, and with a cover price if $7.99, it racked up a cool $1.6 million in sales. Avengers #1 sold 186,000 copies but at a more reasonable price, so the dollars didn’t pile up as high for that one. ICv2 also has the December charts for the Top 300 comics and graphic novels in the direct market. John Jackson Miller takes it to the next level with sales estimates for the top 1,000 comics and trades of 2012. [ICv2]

Publishing | At the other end of the scale, Rob Clough talks to Chuck Forsman, the guy behind micropublisher Oily Comics. [The Comics Journal]

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What Are You Reading? with James Asmus

Revival

Welcome to What Are You Reading? Today’s special guest is writer and comedian James Asmus, who you know from Gambit, Thief of Thieves and the just-released The End Times of Bram & Ben.

To see what James and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …

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What Are You Reading? with Brian Cronin

Mara #1

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where we take a look at the comics, books and other things the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately. We kick off the new year with Brian Cronin from Comics Should Be Good! as our special guest. In addition to running our sister blog, Brian is also an author, having written two books on comics trivia. He also runs the blog Urban Legends Revealed, where he talks about sports and entertainment urban legends.

To see what Brian and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …

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The Grumpy Color | Tom and Carla wreck 2012, Part 2

He won't admit it, but "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" always makes Galactus cry

At the end of every year, ROBOT 6 contributors Tom Bondurant and Carla Hoffman get together over the e-mail tubes and talk Big Two comics.  Part 1 is here.

Tom: Something I’ve been curious about, off and on — what did Metro‘s customers think of the Man of Steel trailer? What do you think the average superhero fan wants out of a Superman book?

Carla: It’s mixed. It really is, some love it, some are grumbly and already ready to complain. I think what the average superhero fan and what the general fan wants are entirely different. Superman’s a difficult character to get right because of his status as a cultural icon and how much that character can mean to different generations. Some people just know Smallville and, at least from the trailer, it doesn’t even seem to be that. [Producer Christopher] Nolan’s influence looks pretty strong and, as much as formula might work in the Avengers movie mythos, the same style and tone for Batman really doesn’t jibe with the Man of Steel. Well, for me. Others might totally want a deep, emotional connection to an outsider and an outcast. Mind you, I’d tell them there are some great X-Men comics out there, but eh, what do I know? It’s a trailer, and very hard to judge on what the movie is going to be like when we see the full thing this summer.

What do you think the Man of Steel trailer is all about? What kind of Superman do we need in the new millennium?

Tom: To me, the basic Superman approach is that Superman always does the right thing. It’s not about the powers. The powers just underscore that he can do whatever it takes. So it’s easy for Superman to punch something, or fly into the sun. The question should be, how can he do what’s right? I think that applies regardless of millennium.
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The Grumpy Color | Carla and Tom wreck 2012, Part 1

The holidays always brings folks together

At the end of every year Carla Hoffman and Tom Bondurant exchange emails about the fortunes of the Big Two. Look for Part 2 on Wednesday!

Carla: Here we are, heading toward the year the Mayan calendar might not have thought would ever come: 2013. The future gets closer and closer! Technology advances! Politics change! And yet, comic books are still here. How cool is that? It’s been a heck of a year, full of ups and downs, movie premieres, new #1 issues and the never-ending race to produce better, faster comics.

I have to admit, Image has been doing a really great job keeping up with the Big Two, producing award-winning books in a variety of formats and getting involved in TV to draw new readers into a wide array of comic book genres. But we’re not here to talk about them! We’re here for the greatest shows in town, the Merry Marvel Marching Society and … our Distinguished Competitors.

My first question is kind of a no-brainer: How’s the New 52 treating you these days? And, after a year, is it still the “New 52″?

Tom: Well, as a practical matter, it’s the “New 52″ for as long as DC wants it to be. Actually, I think I have stopped seeing that little blurb on the covers. I happened to look at Aquaman #15 yesterday, kind of out of the corner of my eye, and was surprised it was there. Part of me thinks that it could confuse those hypothetical new readers, but then I thought that about “Earth One,” and that doesn’t seem to have hurt those books.
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The Fifth Color | Who are the Avengers NOW?

NOW is the time for adorable variants!Marvel NOW! is not half bad! In fact, from this new vantage point where we’ve mostly seen the first major debuts roll out through November, I can say that it’s a bigger success than the Heroic Age. There’s been some significant changes to theme and tone of our superheroes while still leaving continuity intact and everyone recognizable to the public. Everything that happened in the past few months of comics has carried over into the NOW!, we’re just looking at it with a new style, a fresh coat of paint and, of course, oodles of variant covers.

Story styles and artistic choices come and go, and while we might love a particular run or artist team, we have to adapt and move into more modern and evolving ideas for the Marvel Universe. Sure, I’m not too on board with the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy series because I really enjoyed their previous iteration, but if you look at the last series, it was a far cry from what it was when it started. Why not give the new book a chance and see if it can hook me in all over again? Losing Peter Parker as Spider-Man (for a while) is a big deal, but why not watch just to see how Dan Slott pulls this whole thing off? Change is good is what I’m trying to say, and Marvel NOW!, while still essentially the same heroes and villains we know and love, is also a lot of change.

It’s weird to think that Brian Michael Bendis pretty much set the Avengers for the modern era. Yes, great storytellers had come before to establish what we all know and love about Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, but Bendis really did blow all that up and rebuilt Marvel’s premier super-team from the ground up. From Stark Tower to the essential leadership of Captain America and Iron Man to who’s on the roster and why, to endless, endless lunches, most new comic readers know of the Avengers through Bendis’ work. He’s the man who made us read the book, for better or for worse and for six years, he’s been the bottom line in Earth’s Mightiest Heroism. It’s a really tough act to follow, but if anyone is going to make us say “Bendis who?” in the next few months, it’s Jonathan Hickman. Starting from the first issue (on sale this week!), there’s a stage being set that will change the way we view the Avengers and their place in the grand scheme of the universe.

But who are the Avengers? What does it mean to join their ranks? How is it that, within the confines of a single issue, we’ve learned the essential secret to this new NOW! series? Click on, Dear Reader, and I will explain.

WARNING: I’ll be talking about the contents of Avengers #1, but you still probably want to read Avengers #1 and see for yourself if any of my theories match up. So grab a copy and read along!

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Chain Reactions | Avengers #1

Avengers #1

The Avengers are once again assembling, this time under the watchful eye of writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Jerome Opena.

“The idea is that the Avengers have to get bigger,” Hickman told Comic Book Resources. “That means bigger in every sense. That means the roster has to be bigger, and the missions have to be bigger, and the adversaries and scenarios they find themselves in have to be larger. I’ve played with this stuff a little bit over in the Ultimate Universe. Obviously, it’s a completely different weight class here, but in a lot of ways that’s the kind of velocity that the book should have. We (Tom Brevoort and I) also felt like that if the book was going to be about an Avengers world, it should look more like the world. Of course there are complications starting out when the necessary movie characters are five white dudes and a white lady, but, you know, bigger roster. Frankly, I’m really, really excited at how we address that. The lineup is killer.”

Is bigger better? Here are a few thoughts from around the web:

Martin Gray, Too Dangerous for a Girl: “Writer Jonathan Hickman makes a confident Avengers debut, introducing new threats, promising big things and couching it all in a framework that manages to feel mythic, but not pompous. Ex Nihilo, apparently a ‘Higher Evolutionary’, has the calm arrogance of the supposed superior being, while main Avengers players Iron Man and Cap carry the assurance of men who have stared down gods, and beaten them. The capture of five Avengers, prompting Cap to break out the new team, has echoes of the All-New X-Men’s debut with Krakoa, but it’s a classic set-up because it works. And the difference here is that Iron Man saw that something this big was coming, so he and Cap have spent the previous month signing up new recruits, putting them on call.”

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Comics A.M. | Canadian city learns to love Marvel’s ‘origin bomb’

From "Avengers" #1

Comics | Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan, appears to be embracing its role in this week’s Avengers#1 as a target of an alien “origin bomb” that struck the city, changing its biosphere and altering billions of years of evolution in mere minutes. Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice present and executive editor, tells a local newspaper he’s unsure why Regina and Perth, Australia, were selected, but local retailer Chad Boudreau seems glad it happened. “We had no advanced notice of it,” he said. “It just happened that someone reading the comic saw it in there.” He expects strong sales at Comic Readers, with those who don’t typically follow comics buying the issue out of curiosity. [The Star Phoenix]

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Watch Marvel’s first-look trailer for Avengers #1

Marvel has released a trailer featuring the first look at Avengers #1, the new series by Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opena debuting today as part of the publisher’s Marvel NOW! initiative.

The greatest heroes in comics together on one unbeatable team! Now shipping twice a month, the Avengers “go large,” expanding their roster and their sphere of influence to a global and even interplanetary level. When Captain America puts out his call, who will answer? Big threats, big ideas, big idealism — these are the Avengers NOW!

Hickman took to the Comic Book Resources forums over the weekend to answer questions about the new series, and teased how he plans to approach such a large cast: “3 issues everyone, 3 issues smaller teams, rinse, repeat (until I don’t).”

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Food or Comics? | Avocados or Avengers

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop 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 a splurge item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Avengers #1

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d start out with Legend of Luther Strode #1 (Image, $3.50). I was behind the times on the first series, but now I will raise my fist to the air and decree “NO MORE!” (to the stunned silence of my local comic shop owner). Justin Jordan really brought a different take on this story, but for me the sizzle on this is Tradd Moore’s art. It reminds me of Sam Keith’s middle-period during his Marvel Comics Presents Wolverine run, and that’s nothing but a good thing. After that I’d get Stumptown #4 (Oni Press, $3.99). Some might compare Dex’s journey to that of Jessica Jones in Marvel’s Alias, but it’s anything but. Greg Rucka really knows how to make a story feel more than just mere fiction. My third pick this week would be Invincible #98 (Image, $2.99), seeing Mark Grayson get his powers back – just in time to be stomped into the ground, from the looks of it. Reading this series since the first issue, I’m noticing the colorist change more and more here; John Rauch definitely is a step removed from FCO Plascencia, and I’m still getting used to it. Kirkman and Ottley are delivering here so well that Domino’s should be jealous. (ba-dum CHING!) Last up in my Wednesday haul would be Avengers #1 (Marvel, $3.99). I’ve noticed in doing Food or Comics for as long as I have how I’ll routinely follow writers but when they manage to get an artist I particularly like I’ll fall over myself trying to get to it. Case in point, this book, with Jonathan Hickman joining forces with Jerome Opeña to kick off a new era for Marvel’s flagship book. I’m all for “Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers,” but I’m even more excited to see Opeña’s take on this.

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Comics A.M. | Disney demands dismissal of Stan Lee Media lawsuit

Legal | Disney has filed a motion to dismiss a $5.5 billion copyright-infringement lawsuit filed in October by failed dot-com Stan Lee Media Inc. in its sixth attempt to claim ownership of the Marvel characters co-created by Stan Lee. SLM, which is no longer affiliated with its co-founder and namesake, asserts Lee didn’t properly assign ownership of the works to Marvel, and that Disney didn’t file its Marvel agreement with the U.S. Copyright Office. Disney calls the lawsuit “completely frivolous,” and argues, in part, that the claims have already been litigated and rejected. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Publishing | As final print edition of The Dandy promptly sells out and the venerable U.K. children’s comic migrates online, David Fickling briefly discusses why he launched The Phoenix — a weekly geared for readers ages 6 to 12 — nearly a year ago, and why comics aren’t dead: “Reading comics was always a delight. Reading them under the bedclothes or the desk, even better. Now at last the experts are understanding the importance of reading comics. The loss of reading for pleasure has been identified as one of the principle reasons for falling standards of literacy. Perhaps part of the reason for our disgraceful literacy rates is that we don’t have comics. Comics are a link to books not competition; in short they are a great leveller.” [The Telegraph]

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More Cyber Monday deals: Avengers, IDW, Mouse Guard & more

Mouse Guard "Peacock Print"

Although we compiled a list of Cyber Monday sales on Sunday, it looks like the comics-related savings don’t end there. Here are some more deals for you to take advantage of today (and in one case, beyond):

In addition to its continued “Blackest Friday” sale, comiXology today is offering 99-cent digital editions of Marvel’s Avengers titles, 50 percent off select IDW Publishing comics, and up to 80 percent off select Dynamite Entertainment collections.

NBM Publishing is giving 20 percent off all orders of $20 or more from its web store (enter code “112”).

The DC Entertainment web store is touting “Cyber Monday Madness,” with savings of up to 85 percent on collectibles, DVDs, jewelry and more.

David Petersen is looking well beyond Cyber Monday with a 10-percent discount on orders from the Mouse Guard online store through the end of the year (enter code “mouseguard”).

And don’t forget that some of the sales we mentioned last weekBOOM! Studios, Oni Press and Robert Kirkman’s Skybound, notably — continue through the end of the day.

The Fifth Color | Forward into the past with Marvel in February 2013

Powers: Bureau #1

Powers: Bureau #1 - Who wants to bet this comes out in February?

Now that more books are out and more of the lineup is being revealed, letting us know what’s in store, we’re in a better position to understand Marvel NOW! This week was a big one as All-New X-Men hit the stands with Fantastic Four, Thor: God of Thunder and the possibly underrated X-Men Legacy. The two X-books are important. and I might talk a little about the books as we go along, but the reason why is because, before today, I had no idea what on Earth Marvel’s Merry Mutants were going to be doing. We knew the school was intact, but … that was it? What about this semi-villain team that Scott’s in? He seems to want mutant unity, but has he crossed the line into superiority? Is he just the bad guy now or are we getting two “social justice” stories, two ways of handling the issue of being hated and feared? We may not have gotten all the answers, but there’s a lot more to go on than what we had by the end of AvX: Consequences.

We’re going to be waist deep in Marvel NOW! by the end of the month, so the questions about the new landscape can be more specific instead of just “Wait and see the first issue!” Looking at the solicitations, we start to put what we’re seeing this month with what will be happening three months from now and, like focusing a telescope, stories and characters are becoming more clear.

Despite being in a better position, there’s still going to be a lot of questions and some I’d even like ot pose to you, Dear Reader, as we take a stroll through February 2013 and see what Marvel will be putting to the printed page. Let’s take a look!

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