Monday, October 31, 2011

Just In Time For The Holidays...Morbius

    We here at Comical-Musings hope that you are having a spooky season and are happy to bring you something vampiric today.  That's right, everyone's favorite, kind of good, vampire, Morbius is back in action in the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man # 95-96.  You will remember how much I personally love Ultimate Spider-Man from the many posts that I have done and will do on Brian Michael Bendis' instantly classic series.  It seemed that near the twilight of Bendis' run with Peter Parker's Ultimate Spider-Man, he got a little bit bold.  Story after story featured failed concepts from original Spider-Man stories and Bendis somehow made them all between ok and interesting to great and iconic.  He even re-worked and re-told the much hated "Clone Saga" for goodness sake.  The "Morbius concept" is no different.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tomorrow Dies Today

    So, I have decided to stop welcoming you to Comical-Musings whenever you arrive and instead just jump into the selected content for the day from now on.  All that being said, welcome to Comical-Musings.  Today, we deal with another sticky time travel story.  In my opinion, this one is much better than the previous offering, but much more difficult to explain.  I am going to try to review this book/sell you on why you should check it out, so here we go.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Ultimate Adventures

    As I'm sure you have figured out by now, you have arrived at Comical-Musings and we are big fans of everything "Ultimate" in the Marvel Universe.  We have talked over and over again about hom much we like Ultimate Spider-Man and The Ultimates and Ultimate Human and Ultimate Origins blah blah blah.  We have been up and down the Ultimate street, seen many of the cool re-vamped characters, and ultimately, we love Ultimate stuff.  I have read much more in the Ultimate Universe than I have even reviewed.  It is just ingenuitive stuff and you can expect to see more Ultimate books reviewed as time goes on.  Today, I thought that I would take a look at a secret corner of the Ultimate Universe with Ultimate Adventures.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Wolverine Goes To Hell

    Coming back to the world of comics after years in absentia leaves me not being an expert on any characters, storylines, artists or writers. This is not nearly as crippling as it would seem. Without the expert credentials also comes an utter lack of prejudices and favorites with very few exceptions. One of those exceptions is Wolverine. I have always had a fondness for Logan and his utterly tortured past. Scott's piece about Jason Aaron got me interested in my favorite furball's current storylines. I chose to pick up issue #1 and became engrossed. The graphic novel covers issues 1 through 5 of Wolverine by Jason Aaron which is what I present to you today.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Avengers vs. The Hood

    Hello all.  This is a quick post to follow up one that I did on The Avengers of the Heroic Age (the latest Avengers).  The whole reason that I had read issues 1-6 was to get to issues 7-12.  I had read a preview at Barnes and Noble and after realizing that one of my favorite characters was a prominent figure, had to get it.  Not one to skip the background story of 1-6, I read that first and then with bated breath, cracked issue 7.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How To Read Comics... (Part 2)

DISCLAIMER: There is significant debate about the morality of downloading any copyrighted material through means other than from the publisher and while I don't feel this debate is necessarily appropriate for this series I wanted to mention it because the app I am going to talk about could be used to read what amounts to pirated comic books. The medium Comical-Musings provides me is not the proper venue for delving in to the morality of intellectual property. There are plenty of places to legally acquire comic books and graphic novels for use with the reader suggested below so we will talk about that. Websites such as InStockTrades and MyDigitalComics.

There are quite a few third party comic book readers out there for the Android platform and I have tried most of them. I had found that most of the time it is a feature set or comfort with an interface that makes one app shine over another but in this case the only third party viewer that is worth your time is Perfect Viewer (PV). The rest don't really even hold a candle to it. If it is not force closes, it is a lack of compatability or one of the myriad issues I found with all the rest that I have tried. Admittedly I am using a tablet so some of the issues might be the lack of coding for tablets but Android 3.2.1 has a very nice stretch/zoom option so the app shouldn't even know it's on a tablet. I know I am getting a little technical here but I want to make sure that if there is a reason some of these apps are better on a phone device I am not missing it. Although I can't see reading comic books on a phone sized screen as there just isn't enough room to really appreciate the art or to take in full scenes.

PV is by far the fastest viewer for Android at the moment. It even surpasses ComiXology's viewer in that category. (I use ComiXology and like it because I can buy my comics from inside the app which is all sorts of convenient). It handles every format imaginable including PDF. It supports a bookshelf with multiple folders and does recursive scanning so you can keep your collection neatly formatted. It supports swiping to turn pages and has a screen based shortcut system that allows you navigate through a book easily and even from book to book without any effort at all. It even allows you to reverse reading direction in case you are a manga fan. In short it is one of the best applications I have used by far. I don't just mean comic book readers either. The developers looked at their target audience and designed an application that feels like it was designed by people who actually do the thing it is meant to do which, in this case, is: read comic books. For those in the audience that don't have a pocket protector hidden somewhere, that might seem like a foregone conclusion but in the world in which I exist having a UI that actually makes it easy to do what the application is supposed to do is pretty darn novel so I had to give credit where it was due. The overall feature set is pretty amazing with four different filters available for smoothing, the ability to set a page from a book as your background, browse inside the image archive, pinch to zoom, bookmarks, favorites, caching for next and previous pages, and image adjustment functionality.

Once you get PV from the market and start it up you will need to tell it where you store your comics on your device. This is where there is a feature I could see being improved. PV only supports a single directory for your books. Sure you can navigate to each book through a series of file management windows but honestly who wants to do that when the bookshelf interface is so nicely done. The way I organize my books is by having a base folder for each title and subfolders if necessary all under single directory. An easy example would be my collection of Batman issues. I would have a folder on my SD card called comics and under that one called Batman and under that: Batman, Batman & Robin, Batman: The Dark Knight and so on. PV scans all of these and presents each folder on the bookshelf so I can go read any of the books by simply selecting its folder and choosing an issue. I would like to see multiple folder support so that different base locations could be used, but in the end, that's a totally personal preference and doesn't detract from the usability of the application at all.

The small nagging problem that bugs me about this one is not a usability or interface issue. It is that it doesn't handle crashes well, which means when I am engaged in my book and my battery dies that PV is going to complain when I charge the battery and turn it back on. It seems to be a crapshoot as to whether or not my place in the book was saved. It is never more than a single page off but I think that it could be handled a little bit better. This issue is not one that often comes up, at least not for me, so it is not an inconvenience all that often but I felt it should be mentioned.

For completeness here are the image formats supported and a list of the archive formats supported with a brief explanation of each one:

Image Formats
JPEG/JPGPNGBMPGIF
Archive Formats
CBZ/ZIPCBR/RARCB7/7ZLZHPDF
A zip archive containing files consisting of the image formats listed above named in alpha-numeric order. This archive can be named .zip or .cbz and PV will recognize it.A rar archive containing files consisting of the image formats listed above named in alpha-numeric order. This archive can be named .rar or .cbr and PV will recognize it.A 7Z (7Zip) archive containing files consisting of the image formats listed above named in alpha-numeric order. This archive can be named .7Z or .cb7 and PV will recognize it.An LZH archive containing files consisting of the image formats listed above named in alpha-numeric order. This archive must be named .lzh for PV to recognize it.Adobe's PDF format.

That's a lot of data on one little program but my computer nerd came out a little more than I expected. I hope I didn't get too technical for everyone and that if you have an Android device, you will give PV a shot! Stay tuned for the next piece in the series in which I will write about reading comics on your desktop/laptop.


~ Romeo Sid Vicious ~

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I'm Feeling Lonely For Quality After Reading "The Loners"

    Hi.  We are Comical-Musings, you are the reader and the subject is C.B. Cebulski's "The Loners."  This group was a direct spin off from the wildly successful Runaways series and had great potential.  So when we look at "The Loners," do we leave with a positive feeling or a bad taste in our mouths?


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Super?

    Greetings and welcome to Comical-Musings.  Today we are wrestling with a subject of a different nature than commonplace comic book reviews.  Although heavily related to comic books, vigilantism is not necessarily caused by them.  Through movies like Kick-Ass and Super, we the people have been fed the idea that one person can make a difference in the war on crime.  This is not a bad idea and we can look at many single individuals throughout history who have effected great change.  Martin Luther King Jr. springs to mind immediately.  He led the civil rights movement in America.  Mohandas Ghandi fought against tyranny in his own way.  Many thought that our President Barrack Obama was going to come in and be the superhero to the American people.  These individuals were able to change things for the better in their own way, but they suffered many hardships.  The films Super and Kick-Ass do a good job highlighting the beatings that costumed vigilantes receive while trying to stop crime.  The whole thing works out because people see the beatings in the films and think "wow, that is fun to watch, but should not be done," and then they look at actual leaders in our country and others and think "there are ways to create change without punching someone or getting punched in the face."  No one would ever actually try to fight crime in costume, would they?


Friday, October 14, 2011

Our 100th Post!

    Welcome, welcome to Comical-Musings' 100th post ever.  That's right, we have been around for 100 posts.  Much like Legion, that is many.  It is crazy to look back on all of these posts and realize that this is something that I spearheaded, then created, then maintained over the last 8 months.  To think that I now have The Writer's Blok working with me and contributing little gems when they have time and unction is humbling.  We have some really good writing going on here and I am proud of what we are doing.  I don't really have a way to celebrate, but I feel that celebration is in order.  If you have been a faithful reader of Comical-Musings, you have been treated to 100 opinions, reviews, and humorous anecdotes and we are BEYOND grateful for your patronage.  I hope that you have found many worthwhile comic books to read in the 5,012 views that we have had to date.  Thanks for the memories!  Here are some of my favorite pictures from these last 8 months:


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ultimate Knights

    Sometimes, when you hear about something, it sounds so good that you HAVE to check it out immediately.  This was the case with the Ultimate Knights story arc in Ultimate Spider-Man.  I heard the boys from Ifanboy.com mention it briefly on their Pick of The Week Podcast and had to stop what I was doing and get to Barnes and Noble for Ultimate Spider-Man trade paperback number eighteen.  The concept pitched to me was "Ultimate continuity versions of many different Marvel characters fighting together."  I was sold.  By the end of this review, you should be too.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How To Read Comics... (Part 1)

Being a nerd in oh so many ways I thought that today, on Comical-Musings, I would write a little bit about different ways to read comic books on your various electronic devices. While I can appreciate that reading electronically doesn't have that romantic feel to it that you get from holding some dead tree in your hands does, it is a viable way to achieve comic goodness these days. I plan for this to be a little series that takes us a little off the standard path of writing about comics and write a little bit about reading them. So I won't go into the pros and cons of reading digitally today, but you can rest assured that the topic will come up during this series.

I am going to start with talking about Android apps because that's what I am using the most of right now and with DC offering their own branded reader for Android based on comiXology (the best digital delivery service for comics and where I get my Skullkickers) and Marvel announcing their own Android app, the Android comics scene is booming. It should be booming to be perfectly honest. The tablet form factor, for which there a ton of Android devices, is just about perfect for reading comics. I personally use a 10" Asus EEE Pad Transformer for getting most of my daily dose and absolutely love it. I have done some reading on my HTC EVO 4G but even with the large screen it's not great. I mean it is doable but you are much better off with a tablet. (I guess here's where I have to admit I am not iPad user but will do my due diligence and write up the readers available based on what I can find on the intertubes.)


For my money the best reader, hands down, is the standard comiXology app as it has a huge selection of available titles and all of them are priced well. The display is clean and crisp and it has nice features like swipe to page turn and so on. The biggest draw for this app is that it has iOS and web versions as well and a purchase on any platform can be viewed on any other platform. So if you had, let's say, an iPad and you purchased 30 or so issues and came to the realization that Android was the way to go and picked up an Android tablet you could simply install the app and be right back to reading your library without any issues at all. While that's fairly easy to accomplish, a lot of digital delivery services outside of the world of comics spend a lot of time trying to restrict the method by which you can you use your purchases so having this be an advertised feature is very nice to see. Outside of Marvel and DC the selection is also amazing as evidenced by their list of publishers for this week:

  • AC Comics
  • AdHouse
  • Antarctic Press
  • Ape Entertainment
  • Archaia
  • Archie
  • Aspen Comics
  • BOOM! Studios
  • Dark Horse
  • Drawn and Quarterly
  • Dynamite
  • Fantagraphics
  • IDW
  • Image
  • Oni
  • Previews Publications
  • SLG
  • Skybound
  • Top Cow
  • Twomorrows
  • Vertigo
  • Viz

If you can't find something you like to read from their list of titles you are doing it wrong for sure! So bring out your inner nerd and pick up comiXology for your Android tablet today. It's free after all and there's better than 300 free titles for you to sample. What have you got to lose?

Next time I will talk about other readers for Android and methods of acquiring digital comic books so stay tuned...


~ Romeo Sid Vicious ~

comiXology for Android
DC branded comiXology for Android
Marvel's Android app

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Single Issue Adventure Week 3: It's Month 2, How Do You Like Me Now?

    Welcome back to the Single Issue Adventure my friends.  We We began last month with the acquisitions.  If you have been reading our posts recently, then you probably know that I am trying something new in my comic reading.  I am purchasing single issue comics monthly, not reading trades at Barnes and Noble or at the library or buying trades from Instocktrades.com or Half Price Books or TFAW.com.  The Single Issue Adventure is now in full swing as we hit month two.  We had some very startling surprises in our first month and saw Stormwatch hang in there as we hung Justice League International out to dry.  We added Resurrection Man and found enjoyment there, but it's month two and it is time to circle the wagons, kick the tires, and get going:



Friday, October 7, 2011

Heroic Age: The Avengers #1-6

    Welcome to Comical-Musings on this beautifully particular day.  On a day with such particularity, we are tasked with reviewing the first 6 issues of Brian Michael Bendis' 2010-2011 series, The Avengers.  The Avengers have been through quite a bit over the years, but when they found Bendis, the stories just got consistently "good."  Warning Before You Read Ahead: This series is not for the "time-travel" faint of heart as these issues are chock full of Kang the Conqueror.



Thursday, October 6, 2011

A funny little video about drugs and hypocrisy...

    Greetings and welcome to Comical-Musings.  Today I present to you a funny little video that my friend Chris, of 360wlo.com, shared with me for the blog.  I had been a huge fan of the arcade game that inspired and provided the template for this video.  I really enjoyed it, as I do much from Collegehumor.com and thought that you might like to see it too:


  It got me thinking..."How many superheroes do use drugs?"  There is Captain America, obviously after the video, who used super soldier serum.  Hourman from DC takes drugs and turns super strong for an hour.  Green Arrow's superhero sidekick, Speedy, used heroin to get sup...actually that is one of the most controversial and sad storylines in comics ever, so never mind.  Even Hank Pym has to take Pym particles to get big or little (Giantman or Ant Man) and who knows if those are carcinogenic or even addictive.  I'm pretty sure that Iron Man has to have a couple of drinks for the suit to work...or maybe he's just an alcoholic.  Have a great day faithful readers

~ Scott Deaux ~

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man...Now with Added Soul Power!



Madrox

    To all of you that are viewing this blog for the first time, "Hello!"  To those of you that "this ain't your first rodeo," we say, "welcome home."  Comical-Musings is your source for recommendations on good comic books to read past and present.  Whether you are a tried and true comic reader with 6 longboxes in your mom's garage or the greenest of rookies, we look to provide good jumping on points to the hobby, love, passion of comic books.  It seems appropriate after saying all of that to tell you that today's offering is a prelude to the wildly popular X-Factor by Peter David.  This series, Madrox, was printed as a 5-issue Marvel Knights tale and was meant to set up the new ongoing series by focusing on it's enigmatic main character.


Eating crow NEVER tasted so delicious!

    Hello and welcome to Comical-Musings.  Today, we will be breaking down prejudice and stereotypes in a magical way.  You may think that I am referring to Ultimate Spiderman's Miles Morales, which is a great breakdown of racial stereotypes in superheroes, but I am not.  I will actually discuss this sometime rather than just teasing it, but today we are talking about a hate crime involving Atlanteans.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Top 5 Worst Hair Cuts In Comic Books

    Welcome to Comical-Musings, your place for reviews and suggestions on what is good to read past and present.  We are thankful that we have your attention for this hot minute as we present our Top 5 list of the month.  Much deliberation went into this Top 5 list and we ultimately decided to go with Top 5 Worst Hair Cuts In Comic Books.  These haircuts, no matter what their reasoning end up ultimately damaging, dating, or embarrassing the characters and even us as readers.  Without further adieu: