I know you guys remember watching the X-Men animated series, thus I also know that you’ve seen the Apocalypse episodes, where Angel transforms into Archangel and goes crazy? He buys up all of those ancient Egyptian artifacts trying to find Apocalypse’s weak spot and it turns out it’s a weird little thingy behind his neck? Good times, good times…
Anyway! What I’m trying to say is remember how awesome Apocalypse and his Horsemen were? Famine, Pestilence, War, and Death were just so freaking cool, and in the latest run of Uncanny Avengers the Apocalypse Twins have raised a whole new retinue of Horsemen: Banshee, Grim Reaper, Daken, and the Sentry. That’s right, the little blighters have resurrected some seriously powerful beings to do their bidding. Not good. Kinda dickish too, turning Sean into a bad guy…
This week my favorite issue was Uncanny X-Force #34. I had been reading the book on Marvel Unlimited and it was awesome to see everything come to a head. Get out there, read my Unlimited Highlights, and let me know which of the Horsemen is your favorite!
With all of the craziness of these past two weeks, I totally forgot about Unlimited Highlights last week – we featured the lovely ladies of Brian Wood and Olivier Coipel’s new X-Men #1! I have yet to pick up my copy of the book, I was in Denver at a comics conference Wednesday – ROMOCOCO 2013, but I was happy to read up on the girls and hit you with some of their incredible exploits. We’ve got Kitty Pryde, Storm, Psylocke, Rogue, and Jubilee
My favorite book for this particular Highlights was Uncanny X-Force #8, simply because it turned me on to the series. I had never gotten my hands on the title before but I was more than pleasantly surprised. In this issue Psylocke faces off against the Shadow King as he threatens a heedless populace with atomic annihilation. So much fun. And the Apocalypse/Archangel stuff later in the series is an absolute blast!
Feel like you’re missing out? You are! Head over to Unlimited Highlights and check out all the great comics featured last week!
This week in our uncanny Unlimited Highlights I got to talk about one of my current favorite series hitting newsstands, Daredevil! Post-Shadowlands I wasn’t sure where Matt Murdock was going. He went off and did a little soul searching, kicked some ass, then he decided Hell’s Kitchen was still the place to be. That’s when Waid took over and charted a course for the crimson clad crusader that has remained solid over 25 issues. It doesn’t hurt that he has an absolutely crack team of phenomenal artists backing him up, Chris Samnee, Paolo Rivera, Khoi Pham, killers all.
My favorite issue this week? I mean it’s gotta be Daredevil #1. The artistic use of onomatopoeia in that issue, and really the entire run, is really just beautiful but that was the first I had seen it so I’m definitely giving it the mention. I mean just look at that cover! Ok that’s a tiny image, click the link and you’ll see I swear! Not only that but it sets the stage for this new Matt, one who has decided to be happy, against all odds and in the face of his own brutal history.
If you haven’t gotten out and grabbed up #25 absolutely do. Matt goes up against a new foe with his own set of super senses and kung fu power and is pushed to his limits. And go check out Unlimited Highlights folks, you’ll be glad you did!
What’s the world’s most violent mutant been up to? Oh you know, massacring everything that bleeping moves! I kid, I kid – but not really. Anyway, this week’s highlights star the killer Canadian himself! Marvel’s got this MASSIVE hardcover coming out in June, Wolverine: The Adamantium Collection and to get people hyped we want to give you a small taste of Wolvie’s long and tortuous life.
I gotta say that my favorite issues this week were Wolverine #1 and Wolverine & the X-Men #1. You just can’t beat the sordid tale of love and loss that is Mariko Yashida. And Wolverine as headmaster of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning? That my friends, that is a recipe for a very delicious disaster! So go, read Unlimited Highlights and let me know what you think!
How much do you know about the Shi’ar’s most awesome fighting force? Oh, next to nothing? THEN GET LEARNED SON! I’ve always been a huge fan of Gladiator, excuse me, Emperor Kallark’s abilities – powers fueled by confidence? Man where can I get me some of that?
And now that Isabel Dare is the first terran member of the Imperial Guard, new Superguardian Smasher no less? I gotta say, I’m very excited for the future. Oh and go pick up Avengers #5 if you want the skinny on that story! Anyway, my favorite book this week has gotta be New X-Men #124. There’s just nothing like the Cassandra Nova storyline. She’s so damn evil and horrible and it’s terrifying.
I’m really excited about Marvel’s new digital reader, and even more excited about the fact that they are soliciting feedback from their subscribers. It’s one thing to roll out new technology, but it’s another to ask your users what they want to see, what they don’t like, and what could make the digital comics experience that much more awesome. As of this writing it’s unclear, at least to me, whether or not there were specific issues they want to address or if they just wanteded to upgrade a relatively old reading technology. It might be latter, because this new reader doesn’t require flash, and they’re trying to streamline the MDCU for a growing host of mobile devices.
Also keep in mind that we’re talking about a beta and that the issues I’m bringing up here are by no means an indication of the final product!
Wait, you don’t know what the MDCU is? Ok let me break this down for you. Basically, for a yearly fee, I believe right now it’s around $60, you are granted access to Marvel’s massive digital library. They have thousands upon thousands of awesome comics for you to peruse and read and new books are being added every day. However this service is only available with a dedicated internet connection and you don’t get to keep any of the comics or download them to your machine, but I like to think of it as a very cool magazine subscription.
But hey, we’re here to talk about the beta, so let’s dig right in shall we?
Navigation For me, navigation is key in readers. We take it for granted while we’re reading, but there is a very definite, artistic, almost scientific way through which artists guide our eye through a book. Thus readers need to be able to replicate this unconscious movement on digital devices. However, because we are so often reading these books on devices much smaller than the printed stuff we’re used to, problems sometimes arise. So how do we move through the beta?
Essentially you navigate through the comic by either clicking the big arrows that appear on either side of the screen when you over your mouse above a comic page, or you can use the left and right arrows on your keyboard. I personally enjoying using the keyboard because it’s a little less distracting. At this point in the beta, oftentimes when you move your mouse across the screen the navigation toolbars show up, and while they are translucent, they’re still very obvious, which like I said, can be a little distracting.
The reader starts you out in 2-page view, which is always nice because that’s how you read comics normally, however the up and down arrows, which in the previous reader had been relegated to moving the user into and out of the Smart Panel view, no longer do anything. Now the Smart Panel option is something that you trigger using your mouse. You have to hover your mouse at the bottom right part of the screen click on the opening book icon, and then change the view manually, though I’m sure this will be streamlined in the future.
There are three different views available to readers: 1-page view, 2-page, and Smart Panels and it can be tedious switching between them. In most cases I went from 2-page view to Smart Panels, because text can be a little difficult to read on the big page because of my smaller laptop screen.
As of this writing the Smart Panels aren’t displaying all of the relevant information every time in every panel. I’m going to assume that they’re still working on figuring out the exact dimensions for each comic, but sometimes you can miss out on important aspects of the narrative because they are off-screen.
This wasn’t such an issue in the previous incarnation because you could easily hit the down arrow to move you out to the full size, or you could move the page using the trackpad, which would keep you zoomed in but allow you to navigate the zoomyness.
While we are talking about navigation, one thing that I noticed that’s different is the page-finder at the bottom of the screen. In the reader’s previous incarnation, as the pages loaded you could click below the screen and open the page finder, which had thumbnails of all the pages. If you had to close out of an issue, say your boss was coming by, the page finder’s thumbnails gave users an easy way to get back to the good stuff instead of clicking the right side of the screen or the right arrow a bunch of times.
That’s no longer available, or hasn’t been implemented as of this writing. Now it’s been replaced by a white bar with white boxes that indicated the pages. If you know generally how are you were into the book this is fine and you can slide the red little slider along the pages and stop anywhere, picking up where you left off. Also it should be noted that there’s less delay when moving through the comics this time around, so it’s easier to just click or key your way to where you need to be.
Probably the most glaring omission at this juncture is the fact that you can’t just immediately read the next issue from the comic you’re in. When you reach the end of the book, instead of providing you with a menu of subsequent issues like in the last reader, it just brings up the current issue’s information. Before you could just make with a little clickity click and you went right to the next titillating tale and that was great . I really do hope they include this little bit in the final version of the reader.
What’s new though, and something I totally appreciate, is the fact that they’ve integrated social media into the mix. It shows in the menu after clicking through the last panel, which is nice because it doesn’t pester you beforehand. It also allows you to Google+, Facebook, and Twitter – a pretty acceptable assemblage I’d say.
Right now the reader is shaping up to look pretty nice. I don’t know any dates, or when Marvel plans to roll this bad boy out, but I’m excited to see what they come up with. And last but not least, if you’re an MDCU subscriber you should definitely check this thing out. Let Marvel know what you think! They want our feedback!
Unlimited Highlights: Morbius
Check out this guy right here, all smiling as he’s about to suck the life from your veins. That’s right folks, this week’s Unlimited Highlights stars the one and only living vampire, Morbius, formerly known as Dr. Michael Morbius. A failed experiment to cure his rare blood condition transformed the mild mannered PhD into something even more terrifying than your standard health care professional.
This week my favorite issue of the five that were featured, well crap it was a freaking hard tie. We’ve got Marvel Zombies 4 #1 and Punisher (2008) #12 coming in at first place. And if I HAD to pick between the two? Gosh, I’m giving it to Punisher. I’m sure all of those hard core Frank Castle fans wanted to do a little punishing of their own with the introduction of the Frankencastle madness, but honestly, I loved it. I’m not a real big reader of the Punisher, but this little series is an absolute pleasure to read and breathtaking to gander on thanks to the phenomenal work of Tony Moore. I have to hand it to Remender for turning me into a Punisher reader, if only for a few fantastic issues.
And then there’s Marvel Zombies 4 #1. Such a fun book to read if only because we’ve got some of the Marvel U’s most volatile monsters hunting down the disembodied head of zombie Deadpool. Seeing Morbius as a team leader was very cool, simply because I’d only really ever seen him as the tortured scientist figure, a loner through and through. I was also really impressed with Daimon Hellstrom in this issue. I’d never given the Son of Satan much thought but here he kicks some serious butt and comes off as both hilarious and dangerously psychotic at the same time. Kev Walker did a brilliant job with them pencils too!
Anyway, stay tuned for more Marvel pieces, more comics talk, and more fighting game stuffs in the very near future!