Return of the Panaromic Covers

Remember the comic buying craze in the 80s/90s where fanboys buy comics in bulk to collect the ultra rare variant covers? Those were the days of gimmicks such as holographic covers, die cut covers, fold out covers, pencil sketches covers, and my favorite the “combine our 1000000000 difference covers to form a hug-eass awesome poster” covers.

Marvel has done it again with Siege… Apparently the variants of Siege combine to form this little treasure… The look on Norman Osbourne’s face is priceless!

And now that they just announced the offshoots for Siege  (namely Siege: Captain America, Siege, Spider Man, Siege: Loki, Siege: Young Avengers and Siege: Secret Warriors), they decided to follow up with the announcement of the 5 variant covers by the super talented Marko Djurdjevic. The covers for the issues will form the panorama below.. Simply awesome…

While we are on the subject of variant covers, I decided this to be one of the best I’ve seen in recent times… For Blackest Night #3

Speaking of the ongoing feud between Siege and Blackest Night, Marvel just issued this little press release to comic book retailers…

In an effort to provide assistance to comic retailers in 2010, Marvel is offering retailers an opportunity to turn unsold comics into an extremely rare Siege #3 Deadpool Variant!

Retailers – for every 50 stripped covers of the following comics sent to Marvel, you will qualify to receive one FREE Siege #3 Deadpool Variant.

Is it any wonder most of the listed titles are Blackest Night Tie ins? Apparently, retailers had to order large quantities of these Blackest Nights Tie Ins in order to get super rare limited editions of Green Lantern power rings.

And said Deadpool Variant?

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The Siege Continues..

Not much activity on the Blackest Night front this week, so I just swinged (swung?) in on the other company’s major event – Siege… again. With issue 2, we are officially halfway through this event… *celebratory cheers for short events*

Being such a short event, things have to move fast.In this issue, we see the fall out of the Take Down of Thor. Captain A.. I mean Steve Rogers rallied the troops (All versions of Avengers, except “Dark”, for obvious reasons, along with Nick Fury’s Secret Warriors) and they prepare to deliver the Mother of all Ass Whoppings on Norman Osbourne.

With all the space in this issue used up for the rallying and the ass kicking, who has space for pansy stuff such as character development? Siege #2 is just a candyfloss issue of big fight scenes, violent explosions, bone crunching takedowns and Mortal Kombat worthy fatalities (ok.. fatality). Yup.. “Fatality”. Marvel wasn’t kidding when the publicity material of this issue reads “An Avenger dies”.

While the “Branded”-ness of said Avenger is debatable, it does pave the way for something big later on in this event. I know Marvel is trying to establish this death as “significant” but I think someone in the bullpen probably missed the irony when they effectively *spoiler alert* reinstated Steve Rogers as Captain America in this issue.

The death of Steve Rogers and the establishment of the Winter Soldier as Captain America was THE Significant fallout from their “Civil War” only 2 years back. They’ve easily wipe away any impact of THAT event with this move… (along with the re-masking of Peter Parker, of course)

Dubious though the death was, it was definitely one of the bloodiest death scene I’ve seen in comics. Pretty damn awesome. Say what you will about “Siege”, the art work is really something you’ll want to write home about.

What I am more personally invested in, for this issue is the involvement of the New Warriors… I’ve been a big fan for the longest time and it was really quite a trip to watch these “Warriors” grow… The last few pages of Siege were dedicated to a “conversation” between Nick Fury and his New Warriors just prior to Cap’s rally. It is just text but the dialogue is sharp and, along with the Death of The Avenger, and a plot development in Siege #2, Bendis seemed to be setting things up for a major plot line for at least one of the New Warriors…

I am suddenly reminded of this scene waaaaay back in New Warriors #2.

I am excited to see if any of these comes to pass in the pages of Siege.

And the final word that I have for this entry?

“Incoming”

Comic of the Week – Week of 17 Sep

Before I go on any further, I must make a disclaimer..

I Trade wait.

And I suppose this is the only reason why Fables and Ex Machina had not made their appearances on this list yet. I try very hard not to get any spoilers, so yes, I don’t read the individual issues.

Having said that, brilliant though Fables and Ex Machina might be, I’m wondering if they would be good enough to unseat the best books the awesome Blackest Night and the sometimes brilliant Dark Reign had been serving up so far.

Blackest Night has yet to hit a false note (discounting Blackest Night: Teen Titans, but Teen Titans had not been a heavyweight contender for a very long time), serving up suspense, horror, mystery and superb story telling in fell swoop.

Dark Reign, no matter what critics had been saying, managed to massively shake up the status quo in the Mar-verse. The sheer volume of work and the number of characters shaken up by the mega event is truly mind blowing.

True, some of the not so good (ok, horrible) issues of this mega cross over stinks strongly of geek-xploitation, but even the staunchest critics have to admit that the best issues of Dark Reign features some of the best story telling and intriguing character development in the medium for a very long time.

Which brings us to the 2 contenders for the Comic of the week for the week of 17 Sep.

First up, we have Dark Avengers #9. Nick Fury and his “Caterpillars” seems to be everywhere this month.And in Dark Avengers #9, they had a confrontation with Phobos’ Dad, Ares, the @#$% God of War with his “No @#$%” Axe given by Zeus.

Dark Avengers

By all accounts, it is an inevitable face off. I mean, Nick Fury all but kidnapped his @#$% kid and pitted him against the Dad. What would’ve turned out to be a mindless slugfest in lesser hands became a real character exploration of the various (ok, Ares and Phobos) characters featured in the issue.

Quite a lot of people had been complaining about how the Dark Avengers series had been missing one crucial ingredient, namely…. The Dark Avengers. The Dark Avengers rarely feature in their own monthly, preferring to pop up in other Dark Reign Titles – to the extend of seeming to have the ability to be at multiple places at the same time ( I am looking at you, Dakan). But I prefer to think of each issue so far as Bendis adding layers to each of the Dark Avengers individually.

Dark Avengers #9 certainly shows Ares to be more than a mindless war mongering piece of meat at Norman Orsbornes’ beck and call.

Dark Avengers

Contender 2 for this week, is of course, Blackest Night #3. Besides continuing the slug fest between the Black Lanterns with Hal Jordan and Barry Allen, (adding the Ray and Firestorm to the lineup for good measures), this issue shows the first movement of the mysterious Indigo Lanterns.

Below is the cover for Blackest Night #3.

Blackest Night #3 Cover

With this, I declare Blackest Night #3 the winner of the Comic of the Week for the week of 17 Sep.

No, you did not miss any paragraphs.

The cover is that Awesome.

Out.

Comic of the Week – Week of 29 Jul

With no real Blackest Night installment this week, I was pretty convinced that this would finally be the week for Wednesday Comics (WC). WC is a new anthology that comes out every Wednesday (REALLY), or in sunny home town, Thursday featuring many one page stories of (relatively) popular DC heroes… much like the 1 page comic strip serials seen in the newspapers( think Prince Valiant, Dick Tracy, etc…)

The cool thing about WC is that they have a truly hardcore stable of creators which translates to some (wet) dream pairing up of writers and artists working on hugely established characters.

Exhibit A: Post 100 bullets (something I should definitely blog about) Azzarello and Risso working on a noir-ish Batman murder mystery. Hot dames, check. Wittily punny (or is it punnily witty?) dialogue, check. Hard talking, smooth dealing men, check. Batman? Check! Check! and check!

Exhibit B: Neil Gaiman (yup, HIM again) and Michael Allred in an almost trippy Metamorpho adventure. Neil Gaiman, check! Michael Allred, check!

Wednesday Comics 3 Cover

The whole comic is consistent in keeping with the tone of  the newspaper strip. The dialogue is accessible (meaning comic nerd will not be the only ones who will understand the speech) and a lot of this is because, like all Sunday comic strips, the stories does not carry the baggage of continuity. EVERYONE can just hop on and be entertained.  We have Agatha-ish mysteries, Last boy on Earth fantasy adventures, War stories and of course, Super hero tales. There really is something for everybody.

And did I mention the art? The deliberate news paper-ish lettering and adding of color half tones to the images to make the strips more vintage looking really brought on a wave of nostalgia… in a VERY good way

Halftones, barry allen, iris west, flash, wednesday comics

Sample art. Un Photoshopped

The reasons why WC is not top of the pops this week?

1. It’s an anthology. For every cool Busiek Green Lantern story, there is one lousy and confusing Wonder Woman one. Having a book with something for everybody means everybody has something not to like in the book. Though the average quality of the book is good to rock your heart out superb, there are still some jarring tales that just does not sit very well with you (I’m looking at you Wonder Woman)

2.  Three words. Brian Michael Bendis with his Secret Warriors.

The Group that Fury built during Secret Invasion finally come of age. With the addition of a new kick ass member and the return of the Howling Commandos, the Secret Warriors are slowly shaping up to be the prickly thorn in Osborn’s backside. It’s like watching the growing of the Rebel movements in Star Wars.

Nick Fury, secret warriors, brian michael bendis

Finally. Reason number 3.

And the top reason why Wednesday Comics is not the king of the hill THIS week.

thunderbolts

Post Secret Invasion, we’ve seen this team take a beating week after week after week. We bemoan the lost of the darkly humored Thunderbolts and silently, we think that this incarnation of Thunderbolt is just gonna be the forgotten step sister to the Dark Avengers.

I mean… villains masquerading as good guys that save the world for personal gains. That’s basically the premise of Thunderbolts since its conception. So with the Dark Avengers around, who need the Thunderbolts?

The final page of #134 throws that question right open. The final reveal shows the huge and intricate web of deception that has been built around the readers. We’ve been played for WEEKS. And this normally means 2 things.

1. The old direction for the book is not working and the editors decide to take creative liberties and give a big twist in the tale to bring it in a whole new direction (think soap operas)

or

2. It was planned for all along. (Much like George Lucas planned his Star wars to be part of a nine-0-logy. It’s all bout the money, it’s all bout the dum dum de de de dum) (think soap operas)

Either way, consider me gullibly swindled due to the smoothness in the handling of the twist.

Without giving too much of a spoiler away, I’ll say this image of a future cover of Thunderbolts says it all…

thunderbolts, mach 4, songbird, fixer, black widow

It begs the question… WHO are the Thunderbolts?

And for those not afraid of a spoiler, I would say this lil minx will be getting a LOT of exposure in the coming year.

scarlett johannson black widow iron man 2

Oh, I forgot to include the context…

scarlett, robert downey jr, mickey rourke, iron man 2, iron man, black widow, entertainment magazine