Okay, so I joined the Digital Comics Revolution. Somewhat. More accurately, thanks to my uncle who was kind enough to buy me a subscription, I joined the Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited service a week ago yesterday. Since I don’t have a job currently, and I have a year’s worth of free comic reading available to me, this is a good deal.
For those unfamiliar with the Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited service, it allows you to read an online library of Marvel Comics spanning from the 1930s to the present day, more or less. The catalog is a work in progress, but they already have several thousand digitized comics ready to be read by anyone who coughs up a low monthly fee – even lower if you pay by the year, and even less than that if you happen to catch them in the middle of a sale, as I did. For around $41 (normally $60 per year), I have a lot of reading to do, so why not document my travels across the Marvel Universe here in my blog on a weekly basis?
My first comic book as a kid was Alpha Flight #13, so I figured why not start with my favorite Canadians? To that end, I’ve read Alpha Flight V1 #1-6. Looking now, I see that V1 of Alpha only goes through #8 as far as their digital library is concerned. I must confess to being disappointed by that. I wanted to reread the entire series digitally, but I suppose I’ll be stopping after #8 until they get some more of them put up on the site. One would think they’d go as far as #12 and the death of Guardian, but I suppose not. From what I understand, #1-8 are the contents of the first Alpha Flight Classic collected edition. Volume 2, containing #9-19, will be out in September or October of this year, so perhaps they’ll add those issues then. I suppose that at least part of the Digital Unlimited service serves as a teaser for the trades Marvel has released. If so, they’re an effective one, because several of the books I’ve read, I now want a print collection of them. Anyway, now I’d like to say a few words about the display format.
On a good-sized monitor, the picture is pretty good. A full-screen option for the browser-based viewing application is nice and keeps the books the way I like, as big as possible while still being able to view two-page spreads nicely without having to scroll and read or view only part of the page at the time – which you can also do if you prefer, though I personally wouldn’t. You can also choose to view one or two pages at a time. I prefer the two-page method. The cover starts out by itself, then the first page by itself, and the comic is then shown in pairs of pages thereafter, as if you were reading a printed copy without ads. If the page counts don’t add up, though, Marvel does space out the page before the two-page spread so that it doesn’t break up the two-page splash. Usually. They didn’t do so during Alpha Flight #3 for some reason, and that was quite unfortunate. Luckily, that was the only instance where that has happened. So far, at any rate. Otherwise, it’s a great experience. The colors are crisp and vibrant, and really stand out on my monitor. Although it’s not as good as having the real thing in your hand, if you’re on a budget, it is a more than acceptable substitute which will give you hours of reading pleasure. But back to what I’ve been reading…
My plan was to have three regular titles that I would read an issue of each day, and then one or two mini-series. So far, I haven’t implemented this plan fully, but I did take the first step toward it immediately. One of the first titles I told myself that I wanted to read was the Frank Miller run of Daredevil. I like the concept of Daredevil, but it’s not a title I would probably follow regularly, no matter who the creative team was. Until now. This past week, I’ve read Daredevil #158-164, the first half of the first Daredevils Visionaries: Frank Miller trade, according to Wikipedia. The art is a lot better than what I expected, and the stories…well, the stories so far have been very entertaining. My first issue was the second half of a two-parter. Rather than read the issue preceding it, which I could have done, I just decided to forge ahead as if I had picked my first issue up off the newstands like I did when I was a kid. Despite the digital nature of the books, it felt authentic to do it that way, and that was kinda nice. I also found out that Black Widow and Daredevil used to be an item. I did not know that before reading these issues, but it is an interesting combination. As for whether I like the book – I’m happy to say I did. It read like the Englehart/Rogers Batman my best friend insisted I read once before. Good stuff, and I’m looking forward to continuing with Daredevil at least through the end of the Miller run, but honestly, if it’s all this good, I may just keep going with the title.
My third “regular” title was Captain Britain and MI:13. I had heard good things about this series – many good things, and though I had the opportunity to buy this when it was actually coming out every month, I did not do so. I liked Excalibur as a kid, but it was mainly because of Kitty Pryde and Lockheed. Captain Britain was actually my least favorite character in the book, until Pete Wisdom came along later. So a book with the two of them as the lead characters…I had to pass. I regret that very much. It may have been silly, but I didn’t like Pete Wisdom because I was jealous of him and Kitty. Yeah, I can have fictional crushes, no big deal. I don’t hate him anymore, but while he’ll still never be a favorite, I can tolerate him here. He’s not that bad. Captain Britain isn’t that bad either. Again, though, neither is my favorite character. I like Black Knight, I like Spitfire, I like Faiza Hussain, and to see a female Muslim carrying Excalibur in this multi-cultural world we live in is quite glorious indeed. This series gave us a lot of cool ideas and imagery in its brief little life, such as Doctor Doom and Dracula in a clandestine meeting on the Moon, and I cannot say I am sorry an adequate number of times to express my regret at not picking it up when it first came out.
On a whim, I decided to check out Marvel Zombies. I like The Walking Dead, I love Marvel in general, so this was pretty much a safe bet for me. Again, never read it when it first came out, and that’s my fault and no one else’s. I read the first four mini-series as well as the Dead Days one-shot this past week. Not bad at all. Although I love Fred Van Lente’s work on the new Alpha Flight series this year as well as the later issues of Incredible Hercules and Prince of Power mini-series, I think Kirkman’s two stories were more interesting. They read like an extended What If?, which is good, because I loves me some What If? books. Having said that, however, I did enjoy the third and fourth minis as well, because they brought the zombie threat home to the 616. They also had z-list (no pun intended) heroes deal with the threat, which is good. You know they wouldn’t kill off the Human Torch or Captain America for cheap thrills, so having Morbius, Machine Man, Jocasta, and Jennifer Kale fight the undead was the only way to go. Even so, that’s not as bad as it sounds, and you actually worry about whether or not they will be taken out by the zombies. This is good, because it made me more invested in the story, even if I’d really rather be reading the further adventures of Zombie Wasp who, I’ll admit, is kinda hot. Although Zombie Hawkeye with breasts is just an image I will never ever forget, though thankfully for completely different reasons.
Last but not least, for my first week of reading, I read the Korvac Sage Premiere Hardcover and followed it up with a digital version of What If? V1 #32, “What If the Avengers Had Become Pawns of Korvac?” This book was the first issue of What If? I ever owned, and to this day, it is still one of my favorites. You see, for the longest time, this was the only version of the Korvac Saga I had ever known. This week is the first time I’ve ever read the original, and the only thing missing from the collection, in my opinion was the What If? alternate ending. Whether you’ve read the original story or not, I recommend this one for the sheer cosmic shenanigans going on. It’s good stuff and as Stan Lee would say, ’nuff said!
One more thing before I end this first post, and it pertains to the Digital Unlimited service itself. They keep track of which books you read, organized by title, and they give you the option of printing out a list of everything you’ve read. It’s a neat little feature for those of us who plan on doing a metric ton of reading over the course of the next year. So anyway, until next time, Make Mine Marvel Digital Unlimited!