Sure, comic books are an old art form, dating back to the 1930s in American culture. The four-color sequential art format has had some major success as well as several dips in its fortunes over the intervening eighty years, but the comic book is very much alive and well at this point in time, thanks to a resurgence of the comic book movies and television series currently in vogue.
There are so many new books out there as a result, that it’s hard to choose which ones to pick up and read when you head to your local comic book shop (still the way most of us get our comics). If you’re picking up two to three-dollar single issues, things can add up quickly. That’s why we’re here — to get you a sampling of the finest comics your money should buy, right now. Scroll through the images above to see what we’ve put together for you.
Warren Ellis is one of the best comic writers out there right now. From his brilliant run on his own series, Transmetropolitan and Planetary to his time on the Astonishing X-Men, Ellis continually takes standard comic book tropes and turns them in on themselves while turning in characters that live, breathe, and speak like the rest of us do. No purple prose here. Trees plays out like an epic story already at seven issues, with no real sign of letting up. Giant alien artifacts named Trees appear in various places across the globe with no warning or explanation, and the mere presence of these massive enigmas is enough to change things for everyone. The various stories within these pages offer tantalizing glimpses at what it means to be human -- one of the best things about science fiction as a genre. Photo: Image Comics
At only two issues, the new female Thor is the epitome of "just getting started." While the first issue waited to the final page for her reveal, the second issue just released gives us an inside look at an unnamed woman who can wield the power of Mjolnir, the God of Thunder's famous hammer. What's most intriguing to this reader, anyway, is the way this woman's thoughts and her speech are so very different. She speaks like a Norse god, but thinks like a modern woman. It's a great mystery, and much more important than the rest of the story, which drops us in media res to an attack on a multinational company with a minotaur for a CEO that's being attacked by frost giants. Very Thor, and very...not. Be sure to give this one some space on your pull list. Photo: Marvel Comics
The Roche Limit describes the distance within which a planet will disintegrate due to a second planet's tidal forces exceeding the first body's own gravitational pull. This gorgeous hard science fiction comic of the same name focuses on one woman's search for her missing sister Bekkah Torin. Set on the Roche Limit Colony, a manmade space colony near the cusp of an energy anomaly in the Andromeda Galaxy, this comic pulls in some great themes, like violence against women, the drug trade, organized crime, and humankind's place in an uncaring universe. Uplifting stuff, for sure. Photo: Image Comics
From the anthology comic company 2000 AD comes a fantastic new steampunk comic book called Brass Sun, which focuses on a teenage girl (Wren) and her quest to make it to the center of her world's clockwork solar system and restart the literal brass metal sun that lies at the heart of it all. There's a corrupt Church of the Cog with it's own hypocrites and true-believers, a crazy cult devoted to the secrets of the Brass Sun, and some fantastic sequential storytelling. It's a quality book with amazing art and a deliciously engaging storyline with characters you'll root for on every page. Photo: 2000 AD Comics
Coming off a brilliant Gail Simone run, Batgirl has a new writing team, a new costume, and a whole new sensibility. Her exploits are still superhero-centric, fighting off bad guys (and gals) across a variety of settings. What's new here is Barbara Gordon's life as a college student in current times. She's navigating social reality, dealing with dating apps and other bits of current technology that puts the action clearly in today's world. Babs Gordon is a young woman living in our world with the typical issues that plague all young women in our society. And then the whole crime-fighting thing. It's a fun read, and worth your comic dollars. Photo: DC Comics
“Who got you into comics? Was it your mom, you sister? ” Photo: Buzzfeed
“So, what do you cosplay as?” asks this geek girl in the comic book shop. “Slutty Hawkeye? Slutty Thor? Slutty Iron Man?”
The video below is one of those “funny because it’s true” situations, as many women who love superheroes and comics hear the same kinds of questions and face the same sort of dismissive candor from geeky men who can’t seem to realize that everyone loves comics and superhero movies.
Check it out and see how annoying it would be to face this kind of discrimination.
Update: The leaked Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer has been pulled from several sources, but once the toothpaste is out of the tube, even superheroes can’t put it back. Marvel Entertainment has responded with an appropriately cheeky tweet (see below) and released the official trailer in HD.
It’s hard not to contain our excitement for the upcoming Joss Whedon joint, Avengers: Age of Ultron, especially with this new leaked trailer. It’s not the high-quality one you’ll likely see when Marvel Studios puts the official trailer up on YouTube, but it definitely looks legit.
The trailer gives us our first glimpse of baddie Ultron, voiced by James Spader, and features some creepy use of the Pinnochio song, “I Got No Strings” — a reference to the fact that Ultron is no longer a puppet, perhaps?
Frankly, Scarlett, I don’t give massages. Comic by xkcd.
One of iOS 8’s great new features is Quick Type, which scans your history for your most commonly used word combinations and suggests the word you’re most likely to use next, which can be selected with just a tap.
That said, Quick Type is hardly perfect… a fact made abaundantly clear by the latest xkcd comic, in which iOS 8 mangles famous quotes from Scarface, Wizard of Oz, Serenity, Goonies, Lord of the Rings and Goldfinger.
Dave Marshall, Editor Dark Horse Comics, holding a coffee table book of video game art. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
SEATTLE, Washington – Walk into a comic shop, and you’ll probably see titles from publisher Dark Horse Comics. Known for its creator-owned series like Mike Mignola’s Hellboy and Sergio Aragonés’ Groo the Wanderer as well as television and movie adaptations like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or 300, the comic book publisher has a booth at the Penny Arcade Expo this weekend in Seattle to show off a different genre of comic.
The booth at the Washington State Convention Center in is full of video game-themed books of all stripe, from Mass Effect and Tomb Raider single-issue comics to larger, coffee table volumes like Hyrule Historia, which is chock full of the lore of The Legend of Zelda, and The Art of Naughty Dog, an art book that focuses on the popular game developer’s artistic output.
Dave Marshall says that video game books are the third pillar in the Dark Horse publishing strategy, and have become just as valuable a content stream as the creator-owned or media-based titles.
“We get the original writers and artists from the video games themselves to actually write or consult on these books,” he told us at the Dark Horse booth Saturday morning, “so we can come to the fans at a deeper level than just a crummy tie-in or cash grab.”
In an amazing twist of celebrity, Community star and rapper Donald Glover has gotten to voice Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man, in the Disney XD animated series.
As it’s Glover that was the original inspiration behind the alternate universe Spidey, written by comics star Brian Michael Bendis, this is a treat for fans and the actor himself.
“That’s the great part about the Spider-Man costume: He can be anybody,” Glover told USA Today. “Spider-Man could be a girl. Spider-Man could be an old man. You don’t know. So I just tried to be as me as possible, because you’re always just going to bring it back to yourself when you watch the show.”
Check out the clip below as Peter Parker (voiced by Drake Bell) meets Miles Morales, voiced by Glover.
Following the success of movies like The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, and TV hits like Arrow and The Walking Dead, we're suddenly seeing a host of comic-book-based shows in development for the upcoming television seasons.
Whether it's the sure bet of Gotham (which takes a backward glance at Batman's famous city) or more-obscure fodder like iZombie (in which a young Veronica Mars-type character eats brains), many cable and broadcast networks are getting into the act.
We're lucky to live in what's truly a golden age of comic book media. Here are the upcoming comic book shows we're looking forward to most.
The Flash is a direct spinoff from The CW’s surprisingly better-than-expected Arrow (which is based on DC Comics character Green Arrow). The Flash will focus on the fastest man alive and his struggles to control his mystical Speed Force powers, plus the guy from Ed is in it — yes!
There’s nothing better in comics than a good origin story, and The Flash's is pretty fun. The show debuts Oct. 7 on The CW.
Constantine is based on the long-running Vertigo comics series Hellblazer. First appearing in Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing back in 1985, the character of John Constantine has evolved over a stellar print run, with a huge cast of authors and illustrators leaving their own marks on the character.
We’re hoping the television version of JC will retain much of the character's arrogance, sarcasm and substance abuse. Constantine debuts Oct. 24 on NBC.
Brian Michael Bendis' Powers is one of our favorite comics to read, as it offers a fresh perspective on the superhero genre. Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim are quintessential homicide detectives, only they investigate crimes committed by people with extra-human abilities. It's like Law & Order: Superpowers.
Here’s hoping Sony Pictures Television takes this one seriously and really digs into the grime of the comic book's storylines when it streams the show on PlayStation Network his December (it's slated to be PlayStation’s first original series).
It's 1946, and Strategic Scientific Reserve agent Peggy Carter must balance her office work with the secret stuff she does for Iron Man's dad Howard Stark. This spinoff of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. got started as a one-shot special that came bundled with the Iron Man 3 home movie release.
Agent Carter garnered enough interest to warrant its own show, which will air on ABC starting in January 2015 and be helmed by some of the big Marvel movie directors.
Another safe bet here is Fox’s Gotham, a look at the city that birthed the Batman. This is a prequel of sorts, with a focus on Detective Gordon long before he becomes police commissioner.
Gotham looks to be cut from the same cloth as Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with most of the superhero stuff on the sidelines (making things much more television-friendly in terms of budget). While we're kind of over all things Bat, this could turn out to be the sleeper hit of the season — we’re willing to keep an open mind until it debuts Sept. 22 on Fox.
Preacher, based on the ultra-violent and incredibly profane comic book series from Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon at Vertigo, is a not-so-safe bet. That’s why we’re super-glad that AMC (The Walking Dead) has picked up this amazing look at American culture and its obsession with big guns, Christianity and hyper-masculinity, all filtered through a Texas setting. The show reportedly will debut in 2015.
Veronica Mars' Rob Thomas has taken on another powerful teen female show with iZombie, loosely based on the Vertigo imprint of the same name. Starring Tinkerbell from ABC's Once Upon a Time, the show will look at what it takes to be a young zombie. The Eisner Award-winning comic should prove to be a great live-action show, if the CW doesn’t totally soft-focus everything. The show is expected to debut during the 2014-15 season.
Thank the gods for Netflix, which has corralled a bunch of Marvel characters — including Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders — to create original programming. While many of these are second- or third-tier characters, Daredevil is a personal favorite of mine; a good TV show could go a long way toward rinsing out the bad taste left in our mouths by that Affleck-powered movie a while back.
Daredevil is penciled in for a May 2015 release, with all 13 episodes being unleashed by the streaming service at once like a gang of Hell's Kitchen hoods.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie put us to sleep when it came out in 2003. Alan Moore's comic book, which began in 1999 and continues to this day, should be a fantastic story engine, since it ties into many fictional heroes and villains from the past, like Allan Quatermain, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man and Captain Nemo.
As huge Superman and Batman fans, no-one is more excited than we are. With that in mind, here are the 9 things we hope more than anything that director Zack Snyder is able to get right for history's most eagerly-anticipated team-up. Check out the gallery to find out what they are.
While The Joker is, without a doubt, the ultimate Batman villain, we’ve seen him too recently thanks to Heath Ledger’s brilliant performance in 2008’s The Dark Knight. Instead, I’d like to see the filmmakers revisit the Batman antagonist with the most promise yet to be given the proper big screen treatment.
By this, I refer to Mr. Freeze, who was last brought to unconvincing life by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1997’s dreadful Batman & Robin. Since then we’ve had a superb New 52remix of Freeze’s origin, downplaying the character’s tragic origins in favor of an added dose of insanity.
Play Freeze as a (no pun intended) coolly calculating criminal mastermind, like Kevin Spacey’s John Doe in Se7en, and you have a character who could mentally torture both Batman and Superman equally. Freeze’s love for cold would even tie into Superman’s arctic Fortress of Solitude.
We’ve already heard that we’re getting Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. The last thing this movie needs is an overload of villains, so hopefully Zack Snyder will concentrate on getting Luthor right, as opposed to adding more enemies from Superman’s rogues gallery.
Although Bryan Cranston and Bruce Willis would’ve been picks more in line with the Lex Luthor of the comic series, Eisenberg has the makings of a great Lex Luther reimagining, particularly if he can channel some of his Mark Zuckerberg character from The Social Network. Since The Man of Steel was all about Superman being challenged physically, this could be a perfect inversion of that concept.
Besides, forget industrialists -- the real power brokers today are the billionaire techies from Silicon Valley.
Chris Nolan ticked off a lot of the Batman characteristics in his landmark Dark Knight trilogy, but very rarely did Batman venture into the Dark Knight Detective persona he is presented as in the comics. In a movie that looks like it’ll be filled with super powered heroes, Batman is going to be very quickly outshone if he doesn’t have something to set him apart.
That "something" should be his intelligence, which was presented so well on paper by Grant Morrison in his classic run on JLA. Zack Snyder’s films are sometimes singled out for being more about surface than about substance. By making Batman into the thinking man’s hero, a lot of that criticism could be allayed.
This point cannot be stressed enough. The Batman movies especially have always focused on the duality of Bruce Wayne/Batman, and this is the opportunity to take that idea one step further. Batman and Superman are polar opposites, and this could have the makings of a great on-screen chemistry provided the two lead actors are up to it..
Yes, everyone wants to see the heroes fight (more on that later) but Bruce and Clark’s opposite ways of looking at the world could give us the best back-and-forth dialogue this side of Captain America and Iron Man.
Highlight the difference between Gotham and Metropolis
It’s not just Batman and Superman who need to have the right dynamic: the two heroes’ respective home towns also need to emphasize the differences between both. The closest we’ve come to the right architecture for Gotham was in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman, while Snyder’s The Man of Steel offered a perfectly acceptable Metropolis.
Where Batman’s city is full of rain, gargoyles, and perpetual nighttime, Superman’s Metropolis should be sunny, gleaming and brimming with skyscrapers. Batman is more at home in Gotham, while Superman feels more comfortable in the Big M. Hopefully Snyder has a plan for taking both heroes out of their comfort zone at one point in the flick.
Let’s be honest: if a movie called Batman V Superman doesn’t feature a slugfest between our two titular heroes, fanboys are going to riot. The San Diego Comic-Con already hinted at this confrontation by invoking the image of Frank Miller’s legendary graphic novel, The Dark Knight Returns, which ends with an all-out slugfest between the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel.
The challenge with Batman V Superman is going to be having the two clash in such a way that it neither weakens the heroes for future standalone movies, or makes it nonsensical that they’d team up for the sequel. There are plenty of ways to do this: we just hope the writers pick the right one.
Easier said than done, given that the movie’s title alone sets this up as essentially an extended preview for a Justice League flick. But fans have waited more than 70 years to see Batman and Superman together on screen, so it’s vital that this film feels like its own animal rather than just a stepping stone to a bigger team-up.
It’s one thing to want to see the sequel the moment the credits roll; another one entirely to feel like the producers are already tugging at your wallet.
In a post-Kickass world, the idea of a Hit-Girl style sidekick is no longer unrealistic. Why not set Batman V Superman apart from the Nolanverse, then, by featuring Batman’s crime fighting partner, Robin? To continue the Dark Knight Returns vibe, perhaps even make Robin the female Carrie Kelley incarnation for good measure.
...And give us a proper Batmobile while you're at it!
Yeah, we get it: the Dark Knight's Tumbler was how the Batmobile could conceivably look in the real world. But can we please have one that looks somewhat like a bat this time? I don’t think too many fans would complain if we got Tim Burton’s sleek Batmobile back.
It’s definitely trailer week, especially for comic book and other genre movies, but here’s one for an upcoming DC television show based on the Vertigo property, Hellblazer. The show will cover the exploits of a certain John Constantine, supernaturally sensitive wizard-type who wears a trench coat, smokes incessantly (in the comics, at least) and does smart-ass battle with the angels and demons who plague us mere mortals.
The trailer really brings on the horror tropes: the creepy bugs on the wall revealing a scary message, the creepy flat-affect kid with the sharp knife, the broken-neck demon in a human body shot. You know, all the hits.
Check out the trailer below for all the creepy footage from what could be the best comic book show of the upcoming season.
If you’ve been wary of joining the digital comics revolution because of digital rights management (DRM) concerns, Comixology, a comics portal and mobile app, is creating a solution.
Announced Thursday at the company’s San Diego Comic-Con panel, the new DRM-free backup service will let you keep a local copy of your purchased digital comics from the likes of Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Zenescope Entertainment, MonkeyBrain Comics, Thrillbent, and Top Shelf Productions. You’ll be able to save a local copy in PDF or CBZ (a comic-book archiving format) right on your iPad.
“For those out there who have not joined the comic reading community because of DRM – you have no excuse now,” said ComiXology’s John D. Roberts in a statement. “We’re excited about the launch of DRM-free backups today and look forward to announcing more innovative features as we move ahead with our mission of making everyone on the face of the planet a comic book fan!”