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‘Avengers Alliance’ heads to ‘Infinity’ — but who is that mystery man?

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Note: This post could contain SPOILERS for Marvel’s Infinity, so read at your own risk.

Marvel and Playdom’s popular Facebook game Marvel Avengers Alliance has been chugging along since early 2012, drafting new SHIELD recruits, teaming them with various Marvel characters and sending them on the hunt for SHIELD points and silver as they fight through the ranks of Marvel’s baddest villains.

In addition to the regular game, players are also treated to special operations every so often, which are sometimes based on storylines from the comics — like the recent one that drew from Dark Reign. Each special operation is typically limited to about three weeks, and if you complete all the mission objectives during that time, you unlock a new playable character — past missions have allowed you to unlock Emma Frost, Magik, Hank Pym, Vision and, most recently, Ares, among others. Occasionally they’ll also have you collect lockboxes that, through a process that’s probably long and boring to anyone who doesn’t play the game (and can be extremely frustrating for those of us who do), lets you gain a second character for your rather large team of Avengers. So far those characters have all been characters who have been both heroes and villains during their career — Magneto, Juggernaut and Elektra, for example.

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‘Shadow Man’ game returns with digital distribution

shadowmanThere were precious few comic-book video games in the late 1990s that were actually, objectively good. (Remember Superman 64? Terrible, just terrible.) However, one decent game that got both console and PC treatment was Shadow Man, based on the Valiant comic of the same name. Released to solid reviews, the game was published by Acclaim, back when the company held the rights to the Valiant characters.

For those wishing to relive the glory days of Shadow Man and late-’90s gaming, digital game distributor gog.com has made Shadow Man available for purchase for a mere $5.99. To sweeten the deal, Valiant Entertainment has partnered with gog.com to give those who purchase by Sept. 24 a free digital copy of Shadowman #1 through comiXology, and a $5.99 discount off an upcoming Shadowman T-shirt design through Cinder Block.

The Shadow Man game centered on literature student-turned-hitman Michael LeRoi, whom players controlled to stop the villainous Legion and “The Five,” five serial killers, from bringing the apocalypse to the living world. The game slightly tied in to the Acclaim Shadowman title of the time by incorporating the Deadside concept created by Garth Ennis. The game did well enough that a sequel was released in 2002: Shadow Man: 2econd Coming.

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‘Gold Digger’s’ Fred Perry turns to Kickstarter for ‘LVL UP!’

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Fan comics might have a stigma in the United States, but in Japan they reach an audience that exceeds the entire American comics market. And now longtime American manga artist Fred Perry is looking to create his own.

Based on the popular MMORPG Final Fantasy 11, Fred Perry’s LVL UP! is a webcomic that follows the adventures of the cartoonist’s character Calcula Mihgo as she explores the video game world of Vana’diel. Perry has been producing LVL UP! since 2005, and is turning to Kickstarter this month to finance a print collection of the long-running series. As of this posting, Perry has raised roughly $6,500 of his $13,000 goal, and has until Oct. 2 to generate the rest.

Although Perry might be new to Kickstarter, he;s comics veteran who works in a subset of the industry many people overlook. Perry got his start in 1989 with a pin-up for the series Ninja High School and later worked on several manga imports before making a name for himself in 1993 with the launch of Gold Digger. Although Perry has done some moonlighting into the “mainstream” American comics world, Perry’s remained entrenched with Gold Digger and various other side projects, mostly through Antarctic Press.

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Batman tops YouTube’s list of most popular superheroes

Adam West In 'Batman'

Despite competition from cinematic upstarts like Iron Man, Wolverine and Captain America, Batman reigns as the most popular superhero on YouTube, with more than 3 billion views of a staggering 71,000 hours of video. But the character at No. 2 may surprise fans, and undoubtedly please Marvel Studios. Verily.

That’s according to research released today by the video-sharing website as part of its “Geek Week” celebration. The breakdown is based on keyword searches since 2008 for everything from film trailers to fan originals to video-game play.

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Comics A.M. | Boston Comic Con a boon to local retailers

Boston Comic Con

Boston Comic Con

Conventions | Retailers in the Boston area talk about the importance of Boston Comic Con to their bottom line. This year’s event will be held Saturday and Sunday. [The Boston Globe]

Creators | Leslie Chew, who recently faced legal action because of his political cartoons on Facebook, and his attorney talk about Chew’s cartoons and the legal case against him. [PRI's The World]

Creators | Nate Powell, who got his start distributing photocopied minicomics at punk-rock shows, talks to his hometown newspaper about working with Rep. John Lewis on March, drawing a Percy Jackson graphic novel, and life as a full-time comic artist: “There’s a whole lot of constant hustling as a cartoon artist, and really I credit DIY punk as far as shaping the way that I navigate the world to allow me to still tap into the constant hustling necessary to keep my head above water.” [Arkansas Times]

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SDCC ’13 | Dark Horse to publish ongoing based on ‘Halo 4′

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Dark Horse, which earlier this year acquired the comic-book license for Halo, will launch the first ongoing series based on the blockbuster video game franchise in December. According to Wired, the announcement will be made today at Comic-Con International in San Diego by franchise development director Frank O’Conner.

Based on the storyline of Halo 4, which arrives in November from Microsoft Studios, Halo: Escalation will be penned by the game’s lead writer Chris Schlerf, with art for the first three issues provided by Omar Francia (Mass Effect and Star Wars: Legacy comics). The covers will be illustrated by Dragon Age comics artist Anthony Palumbo.

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SDCC ’13 | DC’s ‘Mad Max’ motion comic ties into video game

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DC Entertainment will release a motion comic the explores the backstory of the upcoming Mad Max video game from Avalanche Studios and WB Games.

Written by Tom Taylor (Injustice: Gods Among Us, Earth 2) and illustrated by Jason Shawn Alexander (Legends of the Dark Knight), the story introduces Max’s trusted mechanic Chumbucket, who plays a central role in the game, which will be released next year in conjunction with director George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road.

“I love the Mad Max movies,” Alexander tells USA Today, adding that the motion comic “was a great bit of nostalgia for me and also an opening to lend my own touches to this iconic character.”

In the game, set in the post-apocalyptic world of the movie series, Max must cross a desert wasteland after his Interceptor his stolen by a gang of marauders.

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Comics A.M. | ‘Superman Unchained’ #1 locks in $1.25M at retail

Superman Unchained #1

Superman Unchained #1

Comics sales | ICv2 reckons that at $4.99 a copy and more than 250,000 copies sold, Scott Snyder and Jim Lee’s Superman Unchained #1 brought in $1.25 million at retail. John Mayo has additional sales analysis at Comic Book Resources. [ICv2]

Creators | Stan Lee shows off his office, which is pretty darn nice. [CNN iReport]

Creators | Writer Steven T. Seagle talks about the genesis of his new graphic novel, Genius, which started with his wife’s revelation that her father was in on one of the secrets of the century. [Hero Complex]

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Shelf Porn Face-off | Who has the best Shelf Porn? You decide!

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I’ve noted in the past that Shelf Porn isn’t a competition — it’s a celebration of the diversity of collections from fans all over the world. Well, today we’re going to push that philosophy to the side for a good old-fashioned, knock-down, drag-out Shelf Porn Face-off! Two collections enter, but only one can leave the champion.

It started when I received an email from Tommy Baldwin, who said that he and his friend Shawn Hoklas wanted us to help settle the question “Who has the better room/collection?” I suggested we put it out to our readers to help decide. So, I’ve posted both sets of pictures today, and I’ve set up a poll so that you can vote for the room you think is better. If you aren’t sure how to decide, you can use the same criteria they use on Chopped — creativity, presentation and taste.

You can view Tommy’s collection below, then jump over to page two to take a look at Shawn’s. Finally, on page three, you’ll find a poll so you can vote for your choice. I’ll leave it open for a week, and then next Saturday we’ll declare a winner. Update: And we have a winner! Click over to the poll page to see who won.

Special thanks to Tommy and Shawn for sharing their collections with us. Now check them out!

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‘Mass Murderer of Steel’: Kyle Baker’s brutal (if fun) film critique

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Countless words have already been written about the carnage and wanton destruction depicted in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steelthe big Metropolis battle would’ve left an estimated 129,000 dead and another 250,000 missing — and many more will likely be devoted to the subject. But leave it veteran cartoonist Kyle Baker to come up with an imaginative and (dare I say it) fun critique of the blockbuster that’s more devastating than any long-winded review or essay.

Mass Murderer of Steel is a browser game that allows players to try their hand at recreating the citywide brawl between Superman and General Zod. With the click of a mouse, you can send the two Kryptonians hurling into a building, raining down bricks onto the streets of Metropolis and death onto its screaming citizens. Not even the city’s sole tree is safe …

‘Avengers Alliance’ coming to mobile phones (plus: Squirrel Girl)

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Marvel’s popular Facebook game, Marvel: Avengers Alliance, is coming to Apple devices on June 13, according to USA Today, with an Android version to follow “soon.”

Designed by Playdom, one of Marvel’s sister companies within the Disney media empire, the game allows players to assemble a team of Avengers from all corners of the Marvel U. to fight through various missions involving a host of villains. Recruitable heroes include everyone from Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, Deadpool and the Fantastic Four to heroes with, um, lower profiles, like Union Jack, Black Knight and Thundra.

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Comics A.M. | Calgary Expo sells out; Wizard World loses $1M

Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo

Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo

Conventions | Kandrix Foong, founder of Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, cautions latecomers that all 56,000 tickets for this weekend’s event are sold out. “We tell everybody now: ‘There are no on-site ticket sales,’” he said. “So they say: ‘OK, I’ll just try my luck when I get there.’ ‘No, no, no, you don’t understand. There are no on-site ticket sales. The end. If you show up you will be turned away. Sorry, but that’s the way it’s going to be.’” [Calgary Herald]

Conventions | Wizard World has released its annual report for 2012, and while its convention business was way up, from $3.8 million to $6.7 million, the company still finished the year with a net loss of $1 million. [The Beat]

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Comics A.M. | Graphic novel sales jump 38% over January 2012

Fables, Vol. 18

Publishing | Comics sales were up 22 percent in the direct market over January 2012, and graphic novels increased by nearly 38 percent. This good news is tempered a bit by the fact there were five Wednesdays in this January (or 25 percent more Wednesdays, if you want to look at it that way), but that fifth week is usually a quiet one for new releases, so I think we can call this a win. The retail news and analysis site ICv2 credits Marvel NOW! and a strong backlist for the boost. [ICv2]

Publishing | Dark Horse’s video-game art book The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia last week was the No. 1 book in the United States, according to Nielsen BookScan — not merely in the graphic novel category, but in any category. The initial print run was 400,000 copies. (Comic Book Resources interviewed the book’s editor Patrick Thorpe last month.) [ICv2]

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The Walking Dead’s new online hub launches Sunday

The Walking Dead #106

Robert Kirkman and Skybound Entertainment will debut a new digital hub for the hit Walking Dead franchise on Sunday, timed to coincide with the midseason premiere of the television adaptation.

According to USA Today, TheWalkingDead.com will contain information about the long-running Image Comics series, the AMC drama and the growing list of games (which include the recent Telltale episodic series, the Walking Dead: Assault app and Activision’s upcoming Survival Instinct). In addition, there will be special-event updates, wikis for character biographies, and, of course, a store for exclusive merchandise. At the moment, fans have to visit multiple websites for that information.

AMC’s The Walking Dead returns Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC. The Walking Dead #107, by Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn, goes on sale Wednesday.

Magneto friends the Avengers in Avengers Alliance Facebook game

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a fan of Marvel’s Avengers Alliance on Facebook, the turn-based social media game that lets you recruit Marvel characters and send them on missions to beat up the bad guys. The game launched almost a year ago, and it’s still going strong, with new chapters introduced at a steady pace, new player vs. player tournaments providing the opportunity to fight for in-game rewards, and special operations that introduce new characters to your ranks. They do a fairly good job of giving you something new to do at any given time. For instance, as the latest PvP tournament was getting close to completion (with the big prize being early access to recruiting the Punisher to your team), they introduced a new special operations quest “Cry Havok.” As you might have guessed, it introduces Havok … as well as the first “villain” you can recruit, Magneto.

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